Monday, June 4, 2018

Hangar 18 and The Saucers That Time Forgot

The companion blog to BBL is The Saucers That Time Forgot, where the focus is strictly on historical matters, "Flying Saucer tales that UFO history has overlooked or would rather forget." Besides lost saucers, we look at topics like the underappreciated influence of seminal events, hoaxes, and the people behind the stories. 


Most often the stories are prompted by original newspaper coverage of the events, and other primary sources. For STTF, Curt Collins relies heavily on Claude Falkstrom who has a knack for unearthing news stories from local papers that provide details the national wire services often missed. There's also an occasional look at the early flying saucer researchers and authors, "The Ufologists That Time Forgot" as well.

Most STTF articles are stand alone pieces, but sometimes there are longer serialized articles such as the investigation into the origins of the Hangar 18 story. Here's a look at the opening installment: 

After the UFO Crash of 1969

The Dark Days after 1969

The flying saucer fever of 1947 created a big problem for the Government, and the United States Air Force was stuck with the job of  handling it. The fact that there was an official investigation was exploited by believers (and opportunists) who insisted that if the USAF was spending time and money investigating UFOs, that must prove that flying saucers are real - and that they were hiding the evidence. Two decades later, the Air Force finally got out of the saucer business, as briefly stated in their UFO Fact Sheet:
From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force investigated Unidentified Flying Objects under Project Blue Book. The project, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was terminated Dec. 17, 1969... The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled, "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects;" a review of the University of Colorado's report by the National Academy of Sciences; previous UFO studies and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports... 
Following the closure of Project Blue Book, public interest in the UFO subject took a nosedive. 


Empty Space

UFOs and outer space were out of fashion in the entertainment industry as well. Paranormal, ESP and psychic topics were what the public was buying, and shows like Night Gallery and The Sixth Sense had memorable runs on television and in 1973, The Exorcist had been a commercial and critical success. Entertainment was coming out of period barren not of just UFOs, but of science fiction, at least of the outer space variety. In the moves, about the closest thing to space aliens was The Planet of the Apes movie series. On television, NBC’s Star Trek series had been the cancelled back in 1969, but was popular in syndication and alive as a Saturday morning cartoon. On prime time, The Six Million Dollar Man was about as "far out" as TV got.


"Somewhere in the universe there must be something better than man."

The Literary Front

There were a few important UFO books published in those days, some in response to the Condon Report that enabled the Air Force to shut down Blue Book. Dr. J. Allen Hynek and his 1972 book were profiled by Ian Ridpath in New Scientist,  May 17, 1973, “The man who spoke out on UFOs”:
He is highly critical of the report called The Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, produced in 1969 by a University of Colorado team led by Dr Edward U. Condon and based on US Air Force Project Blue Book files. He has since written his own book, called The UFO Experience, which has been called "Hynek's version of what the Condon report should have been." The book is now in its fourth printing in the United States. 
In 1973, Major Donald E. Keyhoe, the man who had written the first non-fiction book on flying saucers, wrote his last, Aliens from Space. He also blasted the Condon Report, depicting it as part of the Government’s UFO cover-up policy. Keyhoe closed the book with a more optimistic note, proposing an ambitious plan to build a facility at a remote location that would attract extraterrestrial visitors, lure them into a landing where a peaceful close encounter would establish formal contact.



Flying saucers were out of fashion, though. About the closest related matter to the UFO topic that the public really cared about was the ancient astronauts theory as popularized in the Chariots of the Gods? books and its sequels. In 1974, Chariots was in it’s 27th printing and still on the bestseller lists. Publishers Weekly, describing the paperback of its second sequel.
“The Gold of the Gods" ($1.75, Putnam), the latest best seller by Erich von Daniken, is getting a cover stamped with gold metallic letters for its paperback edition — the first time that Bantam has used that process, usually reserved for deluxe editions of hardcover books... will have a first printing of 800,000 copies...


Putting UFOs Back in Business


In late 1973, UFOs made a big comeback in the press, jump-started by the media frenzy surrounding the alien abduction case on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, making 1974 a very good year for the UFO business. In Michael Rasmussen’s 1985 book, The UFO Literature: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography of Works in English, he describes the resurgence:
By 1973, a major new wave of sightings was developing in the U.S. and around the world, and public interest in UFOs again began to swell... By 1974, UFO-mania was again in full swing. Ralph and Judy Blum's Beyond Earth — Man's Contact with UFOs was a national bestseller, signaling the dawn of a new boom in commercial UFO literature. The Blums surveyed the recent history of UFOs, and summarized the sensational sightings of the year before, including the Pascagoula abduction claim of Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson.

At the end of 1974, NBC broadcast “UFOs: Do You Believe?” It was a one-hour special that featured UFO witnesses such as Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker, experts such as Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Jim & Coral Lorenzen of APRO, Stanton Friedman, and Walt Andrus of MUFON. The ratings broke records. UFOs were a viable commercial property once again, and there was an explosion in sightings, hoaxes, news coverage, and also an uptick in UFO lectures and conferences. It was a UFO Revival of sorts. 

In the special STTF series that follows, we’ll examine how a particular chain of events in 1974 changed UFO history. It begins with a paranormal conference in the Tampa Bay area by promoter Lawrence Brill.

The saga continues at The Saucers That Time Forgot:






The UFO and Bermuda Triangle with Charles Berlitz  
. . .


Acknowledgements

Thanks and acknowledgements to those who provided support, materials, and background detail for this project.

Claude Falkstrom, my co-author, for his work in digging deeper and finding the stories behind the stories, particularly in the case of Lawrence Brill.

Martin Kottmeyer for reference materials from his own Hangar Minus One.

Isaac Koi, for his dedication to the preservation of UFO literature, which helped greatly in the research of this project.

Also, thanks to those who provided other details, materials and verification:
Lance Moody, Brad Sparks, Roger Glassel, Robert Sheaffer, and Rich Hoffman.

No comments:

Post a Comment