Showing posts with label UFO History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UFO History. Show all posts

Thursday, December 23, 2021

UFOs: The Long Black Road


Dreams have provided inspiration for the creation of both fiction and physical inventions. From time to time, I have what I call OC-Dreams (for obsessive-compulsive) where a thought or situation replays in a loop while I try to solve it. Sometimes it’s about writing or editing a UFO article. When I woke from the last one, I was left with a powerful urge to make the article real, but as in many dream-inspired ideas, additional ingredients from the real world are required to make it work.

It began with a statement that most UFOs reported could be identified or explained, with only a small subset left as unknowns. Dr. J. Allen Hynek cited the unknowns from Project Blue Book as 23%, but his colleague Allan Hendry at the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), concluded in The UFO Handbook, that of the 1307 reports made to them, only 8.6% remained unidentified after analysis. Often, the unknown status is given chiefly due to insufficient information. However, this void is exploited by promoters who portray it as evidence of physics-defying performance from anomalous aerial vehicles made by no civilization on the earth.

The King of the World? - Amazing Stories, May 1946

The problem is that such notions about UFOs are often based on something other than facts. Take the extraterrestrial hypothesis for the origin of UFOs. Long before Kenneth Arnold’s famed flying saucers sighting, spiritualism and science fiction spread ideas and beliefs about extraterrestrial beings coming to earth and interacting with humans, with or without spaceships. When the summer of saucers came along in 1947, some followers pointed to the news and said, “toldja so!” The spiritualists used the saucers as the proof behind their cosmic gospel for a new age. 

Kenneth Arnold’s UFO that was not like the other 8.

Others factions championed UFOs as extraterrestrial based on a science-flavored belief system. In the absence of tangible evidence, they became convinced that the elusive saucers represented physical structured technological craft made by an intelligence from another world. The tenets of their faith stated that flying saucers are extraterrestrial spacecraft, and that their reality is covered up by the U.S. government. But someday soon, the truth would be known. 

The Flying Saucer Are Real, True magazine, Jan. 1950.

Opportunists, hucksters, and frauds mixed the spiritual humbug with the pseudoscientific humbug into a message that the 10% or so of UFO unknowns represent spaceships of extraterrestrial origin, and there are far more of them that are never observed or reported. There are more they say, since many explained cases are just cover-ups. Lack of evidence is evidence – of the cover-up.

Vickie Landrum

Bringing that fantasy-based baggage into a UFO case virtually guarantees the investigation will be doomed to myth-building, such as what happened in the Cash-Landrum case and countless others before and since. As Vickie Landrum said in 1981
"I don't want no more (UFO) investigators having me go over the deal... I don't, and there's a lot of quacks, there really is, that's supposed to be big UFO dealers and wheelers, and they're not after hunting the truth, they're after something, proving something that's unreal." 
Anyone rationally interested in the UFO mystery must become aware of the history of the topic and the unscientific beliefs that were baked into the topic from the start. Seek out primary documents and put away the notions from books and TV shows produced for entertainment. UFOs are real, but very little of what’s believed and said about them is. The beliefs are interesting to folklorists, but otherwise, they need to be left in the past. The hard question to ask is: What does the actual evidence show and where does it lead?

In my dream, the article was only one paragraph long, which prompted me to find a song quotation that served as a coda, cautioning that the work to finding UFO solutions was more of a grind than a glamorous endeavor - and it provided no guarantee of a happy ending. From Jeff Lynne’s “Long Black Road” for Electric Light Orchestra (ELO):


“You gotta get up in the morning, take your heavy load
And you gotta keep goin' down the long black road.”

. . .

 

For more information on the foundational fantastical UFO concepts and their promoters, see these articles from The Saucers That Time Forgot.

Pre-saucer beliefs:

Theosophy and Spiritualism - The UFO Prophecy of Frederick G. Hehr

Meade Layne and the Occult - 1946, Before Saucers, Kareeta: UFO Contact in California

Charles Fort and the ETH - The 1st UFO book? Forgotten Mysteries by R. DeWitt Miller


Science-flavored beliefs:

 Frank Scully’s Conspiracies - Operation Hush-Hush: The UFO Crash and ET Bodies Cover-Up

Mixing science with fantasy - The UFO Evidence of Robert C. Gardner

From fact to fantasy - Tracing the UFO Mothership Connection


Friday, July 13, 2018

UFO History: The Saucers from Atlantis



Many of the articles at BBL and STTF begin with a question, and this piece is no exception. Ufology inherited much about exploring the unknown from those who had gone before, from Forteans, science fiction fans - to mystics and spiritualists. When asking how a UFO-related concept originated, it’s often a bit like the chicken or the egg conundrum. The topic in question was prompted by a high-profile UFO interview.

One of ufology’s most prominent figures was awarded the title “UFO Researcher of the Year” in February 2017, and the following October, he was interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan asked where the alien Greys come from, and the guest replied: 
“I don’t know. I do know that there’s connections to -umm, eh, you won’t even f***ing believe it... Atlantis... There’s a connection... a very advanced group that left after a catastrophe and hung around in a small outpost here, and throughout time would push civilization forward, and that’s who the Greek gods were... and that’s why it’s very interesting when the Roswell wreckage, there’s Greek writing... It’s online, type in Roswell wreckage... Roswell I-beam, you’ll see it, and it’s got these Greek markings...

Kevin Randle wrote about the source of the visual evidence:
“... about Greek writing found on the Roswell wreckage... The photo they bring up at that point is a shot of the I-Beam... created by Spyros Melaris as part of the alien autopsy hoax.” A Different Perspective, Oct. 31, 2017
The Greek inscription was part of a hoax, but what about the rest - was it based on any better evidence? Even some scientists have given some support to a hypothesis that there is a connection between UFOs and Atlantis.


Dr. Eric Davis works with Dr. Hal Puthoff at EarthTech, formerly a sub-contractor to Robert Bigelow for the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program run by the DIA, often referred to as the “Pentagon UFO Study.” On June 24, 2018, Eric Davis was interviewed on the radio show Coast to Coast about his role in the project. Host George Knapp asked if the study found the answer to the “big questions” about UFOs. Dr. Davis replied:
We know what they are not... They’re not made here, George, but we don't know where they come from. Hal (Puthoff) has a favorite hypothesis, he calls it the Ultraterrestrial Hypothesis. They could be advanced technology - aerospace technology that are produced by a group of evolved hominins that split off from the main human race and they might be that fourth unidentified hominin that was discovered and announced in the news over the last couple years, they are the fourth one after the Denisovans. So yeah, you have Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, and you have the Denisovans, and there's the genetic evidence of a fourth hominin, and so maybe they split off and they became very advanced, they could be the basis or the foundation for the legend of Atlantis, for all we know. And they saw the human race arising, they didn't like our warlike nature and they probably went underground and shielded themselves with their advanced technology to protect themselves from us, and they're the ones who have the Tic Tacs and other UFOs. ...that’s a hypothesis.
That ultimately set the question in motion, and I wondered:

How did flying saucers get connected to Atlantis?

The myths and arguments about Atlantis itself are not the question; we’ll just be looking at how it was tied into UFOs. In The Coming Race, the 1871 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, there was a hidden race who were descended from people who in ancient times, escaped “the flood,” by taking refuge in mountain caverns which led to “the bowels of the inner earth.” They created a technological utopia, and their greatest achievement was  mastery of the force, the “Vril,” an energy that could be used as a weapon or to heal. The story has been incredibly influential and laid the foundation for much since, from science fiction to spiritualism and ufology.

As to Atlantis itself, Ignatius Donnelly is to blame for reviving and popularizing it. A passage from his presentation of Plato's History of Atlantis from The Antediluvian World, 1882 by Ignatius Donnelly:
“Now, in the island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire... shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind; for she was the first in courage and military skill...”
The Atlantean civilization was said to have art and science beyond the rest of the world, and as the legend was retold, it was updated with more miraculous technology to keep ahead of the present day.
Atlantis was embraced by mystics, and they were the ones to connect Atlantis to outer space, but in a dreamy, quasi-religious sort of way. Gareth J. Medway wrote that Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, in her
“...key work Secret Doctrine was taken up with the theory (derived in some obscure way from Hindu scripture) of the seven "root races" of humanity, of which we are the fifth. The fourth race had lived on Atlantis, and the Third on Lemuria, these two being lost continents of the Atlantic and Pacific respectively. Atlantis, whose legend goes back at least as far as the time of Plato, had recently been publicised in a book by Ignatius Donnelly... 
In 1883-6 Frederick S. Oliver, then a teenager living with his parents near Mount Shasta in northern California, penned a lengthy manuscript entitled A Dweller on Two Planets... an entity called Phylos the Tibetan had dictated it to him... More than half the narrative concerned the author's past life as Zailm, an Atlantean, with many details of that civilisation. They had developed "vailxi", aerial ships of torpedo shape which could travel at hundreds of miles an hour (an incredible speed in the 1880s)."
"Beyond the Reality Barrier, Part One: Many Mansions,” Magonia 94, January 2007

Atlantis and Space Ships

 There was a widespread interest in Atlantis without the spiritualism, and it was assimilated into popular culture. The immensely popular newspaper comic strip Buck Rogers by Philip Nowlan and Dick Caulkins featured a serialized that began in 1930, the “Sunken City Of Atlantis.” 



Science fiction to millions of readers, was Buck Rogers. In the story, the Atlanteans had advanced technology, even flying machines, but after surviving the sinking of the island they lived in secret, but sent expeditions out monitor and influence civilizations on the surface world. The Atlantis serial can be read at the Roland Anderson site, Old Comic Strips: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.


The story was adapted into a Big Little Book in 1934 as Buck Rogers in the City Below the Sea, and also part of a Buck Rogers game, as “Search for the Secrets of Atlantis.”

Peeling the Aquatic Onion

Frederick G. Hehr was a Fortean and “deeply learned in occult matters.” Using his initials as F.G.H., he was a frequent contributor to Meade Layne’s Round Robin, the journal of the Borderland Sciences Research Association (BSRA) which accepted “a great mass of psychic and occult data as factual, as established...”

Hehr was talking about spaceships, Atlantis and extraterrestrial seventeen years before the big Kenneth Arnold story broke in July of 1947. Here’s a portion of his letter of criticism to the early science fiction magazine,  Air Wonder Stories, May 1930, edited by Hugo Gernsback.

"Then your space flying stories, every one of them is based on cheap excitement raised by the introduction of war. As it is self evident that the rulers of the universe would never permit the knowledge necessary to conquer space to get into hands morally unfit to hold them. Please read up on the legends about the flood and Atlantis and about former visitors from space and you may detect a certain law pertaining to the distribution and use of power. 
May I add for the peace of mind of timorous souls that a malevolent incursion from space is an impossibility and that benevolent incursions will come as soon as we are morally fit to entertain visitors, from space. I wish I had the writing ability as I would like to write a story based on actual conditions on the planets of our solar system. "

Hehr was not alone in this type of thinking. In 1943, Richard Shaver wrote to Amazing Stories magazine with “Mantong,” a lost ancient alphabet and language, which was supposed to be “definite proof of the Atlantean legend.” From there, Shaver wrote "A Warning to Future Man," and editor Ray Palmer rewrote it and published it as “I Remember Lemuria.” Thus, "The Shaver Mystery" was born, which was the stepping stone between Theosophy and the imaginative side of Ufology. Shaver’s story was about ancient extraterrestrials, the Titans and the Atlans who had lived under the surface of the earth in Lemuria. The backdrop for Shaver’s stories were a virtual blueprint for tales of ancient aliens.

When the flying saucer wave hit, Frederick G. Hehr was ready with an explanation. He sent a letter to Meade Layne who relayed it to BSRA members in a postcard on July 13, 1947. As F.G.H., Hehr stated that the flying saucers were flown by: 
“an old Atlantean Arcane Order, which has held them in caches; their present mobilization is for trial and for training of crews; they will be used for emergency rescue craft and to gather key personnel and material. They have gravity control, and a speed up to 4000 mi./ hr. above the atmosphere. They become invisible by bending the light rays around them, and are invulnerable to attack by our own forces." As quoted in The Mystery of Unidentified Flying Objects: 1896—1949, Loren Gross (1971) page 308. 
The BSRA opinion only circulated amongst their members, but early ideas of an Atlantis-saucer connection were mentioned in the newspapers, but as just one of many ideas circulating.
Utahns sure sky saucers no delusionThe Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), July 6, 1947, p. 8A:"Flying saucers" continued to confound sky-gazing Utahns... Explanations for their strange and fleeting appearances ran the gamut from “Atlantis” to “atomic”... 

Putting it into the Mainstream

Desmond Leslie (1921 - 2001) was a British writer who went on to co-author Flying Saucers Have Landed with George Adamski in 1953. In an advertisement from the British Book Centre he was described as “Desmond Leslie, Historian,” and it states that, “He spent years in research gathering information about flying saucers from ancient times to present." Leslie said he was inspired by finding a copy of The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria by William Scott-Elliot, which described “airships” that he thought sounded like flying saucers. See the clip from UFOs: The Contacts – The Pioneers of Space by Michael Hesemann, 1996.


From The Saucers That Time Forgot:


Leslie began researching the connection and asked Meade Layne if he had seen the
“... detailed occult account of the VIMANAS or ancient aircraft in Scott Elliott’s “ATLANTIS”: the exciting Sanskrit reference to an ‘airlift’ to evacuate Atlantis in (Helena Blavatsky's) SECRET DOCTRINE Vol III,  their use in war in the ancient Indian poems such as the RAMA BHARATA,  also an account of a working drawings seen in James Churchward in his MU books.” 
The Meade Layne - Desmond Leslie Correspondence by Håkan Blomqvist, Dec. 1, 2017
Leslie went on to say that he’d been obsessed with the subject, "for over two years ever since I first read a flying saucer report and realised it was synonymous with accounts of the VIMANAS as the 
disks were called in the Sanskrit.”

Leslie’s discovery led him to write Flying Saucers Have Landed, and title a chapter, “Saucers in Atlantis.” The connection made in Desmond Leslie’s mind of flying saucers to Atlantis is directly responsible for giving us the “Ancient Aliens” version of ufology. It might not have mattered if it hadn’t appeared in a best-selling book, but it was a tremendous influence.

Leslie’s use of the term, “Vimanas” for saucers was embraced by many followers and the notion of ancient ET visitations became a given, a canonical UFO belief, and later popularized by Erich von Däniken. Leslie’s connection of Atlantis to saucers, however, was less widely accepted, but there were some notable converts.

George Hunt Williamson and Daniel Fry
George Hunt Williamson’s 1953 book, Other Tongues, Other Flesh, shows that he was an early adopter.
“...during the catastrophes that struck both Lemuria and Atlantis, groups of people were evacuated from the Earth and taken to other planets. Especially Mars and Venus.”
Williamson also said, “The Vril Stick was used in Atlantis and later in Egypt.” 

Daniel Fry, author of The White Sands Incident, told his story at the first annual international Flying Saucer Convention in 1954, how he’d taken walk in the desert one night and encountered a landed flying saucer. A voice from it spoke to him, the voice of a spaceman operating it by remote control from a parent ship. The Herald-Express reported:
The spokesman, whose name was A-Lan, told Fry his ancestors originally came from earth. They got away in a hurry after the big battle in which Atlantis and Mu destroyed each other with weapons that would make the hydrogen bomb look sick. Now A-Lan’s people were figuring on another descent to earth. They needed samples of our air and the bacteria it contains to see if they could take it.
- The Los Angeles Herald-Express, June 5, 1954, “Space Pilots Give L.A. Smog Wide Berth”

Gavin Gibbons’ 1956 book, The Coming of the Space Ships, covers the flap of UFO sightings that began in June of 1954 in the UK and he was on board with Leslie’s notions of saucers from Atlantis. As his title suggests, Gibbons regarded flying saucers as extraterrestrial space ships, and like Leslie, Gibbons preferred the Atlantean/Sanskrit term “vimanas” (chariots of the sky) for disc-shaped scout craft, and notes:
In 30,000 B.C. Lemuria was destroyed... The few survivors of this cataclysm founded Atlantis. Some survivors from the Atlantis disaster are believed to have escaped disaster by fleeing in machines to another planet, from whence they now send out their patrols to scan the Earth for signs of further atomic activity.
In 1957, The Case for the UFO, M.K. Jessup said: 
"The traditions agree that "Atlantis" or its equivalent, was destroyed about 9,000 years or so BC. ...we are interested in showing that such an antiquity did exist, and that it is conceivable that some very early race, 200,000 years ago or so, may have developed space flight, and after the cataclysm of 12,000 years ago may have chosen to stay in space, thinking it a safer habitat than this uncertain planet.” 

The Atlantis-UFO meme was transmitted to and from such figures as Harold T. Wilkins, George Van Tassel, Brinsley Le Poer Trench Ruth Norman of Unarius, and even Charles Berlitz, the mainstream best-selling author, connected Atlantis to UFOs - and the Bermuda Triangle. Today, it’s mainly up to the Ancient Aliens camp to keep up the Atlantis-UFO connection vital.
. . .

Epilogue: Another Warning to Future Man

In the September 1946 Harper's Magazine, William S. Baring-Gould took a look at science fiction and its fandom in “Little Superman, What Now?” He highlighted a passage from Thomas S. Gardner’s article in Fantasy Commentator, bringing the criticism to a much wider audience. It was a scathing condemnation of proto-Ufology, of Ray Palmer’s “Shaver Mystery” in Amazing Stories - and of the readers who bought it.
"The crackpots, as they are usually called, number at least a million in the United States.  ... A great many harbor seriously delusions of ancient civilizations superior to ours, believe in pyramidology and the like. Indeed, there are today in this country several esoteric societies based on Lemuria, Mu, Atlantis... In fact, these groups are in a way semi-religious... and some have gone so far as to state that they abhor mathematics and allied modern sciences because they disprove their beliefs…Nevertheless, these crackpots constitute a large potential buying-power... To capture these readers it is only necessary to publish... stories which propitiate these crackpots’ views...  Palmer has instituted this very trend.”
Harper's Magazine, Sept. 1946
Ray Palmer left Amazing Stories shortly thereafter, but went on to create Fate with Curtis Fuller in 1948, a non-fiction magazine devoted to just the stew of esoteric topics that Gardner had railed about. In Fate, ghosts, telepathy, reincarnation and Atlantis were regarded as scientific fact, right along with flying saucers. Seventy years later, not much has changed.
. . .


Sources and Further Reading 

Frederick G. Hehr, for more information see:

Of Biographical Interest,” by F.G.H., Round Robin April 1947

BSRA Principles (Letter to Roger Graham, Oct. 1946)

Many of Ufology's concepts had their origins in 19th century mysticism. Here's a discussion of those occult ideas from Astounding Science Fiction, May 1947, "Pseudoscience in Naziland," by Willy Ley. https://archive.org/stream/Astounding_v39n03_1947-05_AK#page/n89/mode/2up

Desmond Leslie, “Desmond Leslie, George Adamski, and Ancient Aliens”

On Atlantean airships and ancient astronauts: “How to Write a Bestseller” by Gareth J. Medway, Magonia 81, May 2003
“When Atlantis became popular in the late nineteenth century...”
http://magoniamagazine.blogspot.com/2014/01/bestseller.html 

Coast to Coast, Dr. Eric Davis interview, "Pentagon UFO Study,” June 24, 2017.

Also, a special thanks to: 

Roberto Labanti,  author of “Totò e i dischi di Atlantide”
UFO - Rivista di informazione ufologica No. 43, Sept. 2017 pps. 38-43

Isaac Koi, for his preservation of UFO documents.
. . .


Bonus: A Book Review of Venus Speaks


From Uranus Vol. 1 No. 2, Oct. 1954edited by E. Biddle, a review of Venus Speaks by Cyril Richardson, Regency Press, 1954:

It is claimed that the contents of this little book were obtained by direct telepathy from the Chief Scientist of the planet Venus! It is a book which will appeal to some, while others will be strongly repelled by it. 
The Venusians, we are told, were originally natives of Earth and lived here in the days of' Atlantis and the old Inca civilisation of S. America. Until one day strangers filled with greed came to the land of the Incas (we are not told who the strangers were but it was evidently long before the days of the Spanish conquistadores). Where upon the Incas took to flight in spaceships and after finding the Moon unsuitable, went on to Venus, where they settled and lived in peace and harmony, despite what must have seemed a very trying climate. From time to time they kept an eye on the Earth and of late have been very active in the Flying Saucers. Their motives are wholly friendly and they promise us instant and decisive help should an atomic war start. If, however, their help is on a par with their scientific knowledge as expounded in this book, we should do well not to rely too much on it! 

The latter part of the book contains interesting remarks on Diet, Sound Vibrations, the Power of Thought etc. 

Quite fantastic and entirely contrary to elementary scientific facts, however, are many of the statements regarding the origin and end of worlds, conditions on other planets (including Venus!), the past history of the Earth, etc. 

Indeed, I find it impossible to take this part of the book seriously, though others may think differently, of course. If you have an inclination towards the hazier forms of Theosophy, Occultism, Spiritualism, etc you may be glad to have this book. If, on the other hand, these things are anathema to you, you will do better not to listen to the voice of Venus....  
E.B. 

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.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

UFO Origins: Saucers That Time Forgot & The Outer Limit

There's a companion blog to Blue Blurry Lines, one exclusively focused on the forgotten history, folklore and origins of ufology, The Saucers That Time Forgot.


A five-part series was just completed, at STTF, an examination of "The Outer Limit" by Graham Doar, a science fiction short story from 1949 that deals with an interrupted journey, the test flight of an experimental rocket plane, and features now-familiar UFO case elements, put together for the first time:

A close encounter with a UFO, an alien abduction, missing time, contact with an advanced benevolent extraterrestrial race, telepathic communication, and a dire warning to the Earth about the use of Atomic weapons. At least one adaptation of the story includes the use of hypnotic regression to recover memories of the encounter. It's a prophetic tale of a credible witness of a relatively incredible event, but the colonel in charge chooses not to believe, and there's the strong suggestion that the UFO report will be the subject of a cosmic cover-up.

The series starts with the historical setting of the late 1940s, A-bombs and the arrival of the flying saucers, introduces the story itself, and shows how the tales was further spread through popular culture by being adapted into several radio and television programs, and how it was absorbed into ufology through George Adamski and the Contactees. The finale examines how it was imitated in several movies ranging from The Day the Earth Stood Still to Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space, and even echoed in much more modern films.

The complete collection, linked for your convenience:

Flying Saucers, the Atomic Bomb and Doomsday: The Outer Limit (Part 1 of 5)
The Outer Limit by Graham Doar: The UFO Parable (Part 2 of 5)
Radio, Television & The Outer Limit Legacy (Part 3 of 5)
Ufology & The Outer Limit Legacy (Part 4 of 5)
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Other articles focus on weird, warped, and sometimes fraudulent UFO cases that were newsmakers in their day, but lost through the cracks of time, forgotten- or perhaps even suppressed- by UFO historians.  STTF is written by Curt Collins, with the support of Claude Falkstrom, backed by the input of UFO buffs - and sages - both known and unknown, of this world and perhaps others.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

General John A. Samford's 1952 UFO Disclosure

The new blog, The Saucers That Time Forgot  presents "the cases that UFO historians either missed, or would like to keep buried." This piece was originally written for STTF, but since it's not exactly about a saucer case, and is more about UFO history, culture and the media, it's appearing here at BBL.

Most people know the Air Force's Major General John A. Samford from his historic July 29, 1952 press conference given after the Washington, D.C. radar incidents, where he talked about the small but troubling percentage of UFO reports "from credible observers of relatively incredible things." 

Major General John A. Samford, July 29, 1952 

Captain Edward Ruppelt in the notes made in preparation for his 1956 book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects,  described Gen. Samford in his entries on the key figures involved in the Air Force's Project Blue Book:

An earlier draft of Ruppelt's notes.

Samford, Major General John 
General Samford never committed himself one way or the other on the subject of UFO’s. He was always very much interested and gave me the utmost in cooperation, but he never said much. He used to ask many of the other people at meetings what they thought and there were a lot of “pro” answers but he never agreed or disagreed with anyone. The only time that I ever heard him say anything was when Col Porter got real nasty about the whole thing one day and began to knock ATIC, UFO’s, me and everything associated with the project. Then the General said something to the effect that as far as he could see, I was the first person in the history of the Air Force’s investigation that had taken a serious approach to the investigation and that he didn’t see how anyone could decide until I’d collected more data.
At the present time the General is the one who is so rabid on the fact that nothing will be released. He got “burned” real bad on the press conference in July 1952. His statements were twisted around and newsreel shots of him were “cut and pieced” to get him saying things that he didn’t. He wanted to play along with the writers but they misquoted him so badly that now he is saying absolutely nothing. Donald Keyhoe keeps writing about the “silence group” in the Air Force, those who want to clamp down on UFO news.  Gen Samford is the silence group and friend Keyhoe can take all of the credit for making him that way. 
 (From "Figures Associated With Project Blue Book")

Samford's Dynamic Disclosures in See Magazine


No mention of saucers on the cover.
See magazine, dated March 1953

See was a bi-monthly magazine, sort of a more sensational version of Life, but featuring a heavier emphasis on entertainment. See's covers featured beautiful buxom women, making it look more like a girlie pin-up magazine, but they did cover news and current events. In their last issue for 1952 See made news for its coverage of the flying saucer controversy in an exclusive interview with General Samford of the USAF.

"It would be foolhardy to deny the possibility that higher forms of life exist elsewhere," reported the general just as it would be "unreasonable" to deny that we may already have been visited by beings from outer space. Regarding the, unexplained phenomena, and the possibility of the presence of an alien intelligence, General Samford added, "We believe that all of this eventually will be understood by the human mind, and that it is our job to hasten the understanding." 
 - - -

In Loren Gross' UFOs: A History 1952 November—December,  he summarizes the same interview from See, but emphasizes different points than the newspaper article.
See talks to General Samford.
The November issue of See magazine featured an interview with Chief of Air Force Intelligence General John A. Samford by the periodical's Washington editor Serge Fliegers. The General, for the most part, repeated what he said during the big press conference at the end of July. He acknowledged that 25 per cent of UFO reports were made by military personnel, rejected professor Donald Menzel's theories, and insisted that evidence of visitors from space was lacking. Have UFOs been seen over Russia, asked Fliegers? The General replied that the U.S. Air Force didn't know. The Air Force, according to Samford, also lacked satisfactory proof of the supposed "ghost rockets" reported in 1946. Before Flieger left Samford's comer Pentagon office overlooking the Potomac, he questioned the General about the possibility Communist agents were spreading flying saucer reports to put fear into Americans about Russian secret weapons. The General answered: "We cannot discount that possibility. It is under investigation." 
Indiana Evening Gazette, Dec. 26, 1952

Says Space Visitors Possible

NEW YORK -- It is definitely possible that intelligent beings from some other world have been able to visit our planet, or at least to travel within our atmosphere, Major General John A. Samford, Chief of Air Force Intelligence now investigating the Flying Saucer mystery, said today, in an exclusive interview in the current issue of See Magazine, just released.

"It would be foolhardy to deny the possibility that higher forms of life exist elsewhere," reported the general just as it would be "unreasonable" to deny that we may already have been visited by beings from outer space. Regarding the, unexplained phenomena, and the possibility of the presence of an alien intelligence, General Samford added, "We believe that all of this eventually will be understood by the human mind, and that it is our job to hasten the understanding."

In commenting upon the 20 percent of flying saucer reports which remain mysteriously unexplained, General Samford declared the saucers' behavior indicates they "either have unlimited power or no mass." Many "credible people have seen incredible things," he asserted, "some of which have later been satisfactorily explained, while others so far have defied explanation."

General Samford said that the Air Force is keeping nothing from the public regarding Project Flying Saucer. The only information not disclosed is names of those reporting saucer sightings and the method used by Air Force Intelligence to investigate and evaluate these reports.

A Harvard professor's theory that flying saucers are caused by reflected light has not yet been proved, General Samford reported. Even if it were true, he stated, "It would not account for all reports, by any means."

The general branded as false the rumor that jet pilots have had orders to shoot at saucers. "We have thousands of letters and telegrams begging us to rescind this 'shoot-on-sight order. But no "such order was ever given."

The theory of the late Secretary of Defense, James A. Forrestal, that flying saucers were related to this country's experiments with "man made moons" -- platforms that could be suspended in the atmosphere for defense and observation -- was categorically denied by General Samford. "Saucers are in no way related to these moons," he said.

Here's a partial transcript of the See magazine article itself:

Flying Saucers- the last word!

SEE presents an exclusive interview with the worlds best informed military man – Major General John A. Samford – on the worlds most exciting modern mystery 




Frequent Queries Answered Below
What do flying saucers look like?
Why did they make no sound? 
Are they really caused by reflected light? 
Does mass hysteria explain them?
Do they contain visitors from space? 

No other mystery has so inflamed the imagination of The 20th century man as the Mystery of the Flying Saucers. And no one else among us knows more about the flying saucer stand Major General John A. Samford, a tall quiet gentleman with penetrating eyes and a crack record as a fighter pilot, who sits in a corner Pentagon office overlooking the Potomac. General Samford is Chief of Air Force Intelligence. As such, he is head of Project Saucer, which has been investigating the enigmatical objects which have streaked across our heavens.

Last summer, when another rash of saucer sightings spread from coast to coast, General Samford how they press conference to quiet public furor. But that conference left a number of points on answered or unemphasized. Hence, in an effort to fill the gaps in public understanding of the subject, the questions which appear below were put to General Samford by Serge Fliegers SEE's Washington editor, who has followed saucer report from Stockholm to Seattle.

Q: General Samford, what do flying saucers look like? 
A: There is no single pattern. Unidentified aerial objects, as I prefer to call them, have been described as having cone shapes, disc shapes, ball shapes. Reports have them going and incredible speeds. 

Q: When did the reports start coming in? 
A: Here in the U.S., the Air Force started investigating such reports in the fall of 1947. On December 30, 1947, it directed its Air Force Material Command, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio to set up a project to evaluate all facts concerning them. 

Q: How many reports of come in since then?
A: Serious reports analyzed by Dayton center total about 1500. Sixty-odd percent come from the civilian population. About eight per cent come from civil airline pilots, and about twenty-five per cent from military personnel, including military pilots.
 
Q: But doesn't that destroyed the "mass hysteria" explanation of saucer signings? After all, most pilots are pretty reliable man. 
A: The Air Force has never believed that all reports on unidentified aerial objects are caused by hysteria. But careful evaluation by our Dayton center showed fully 80 per cent of the reports concerned natural, explainable occurrences. 

Q: What is your reaction to that Harvard professor's (Dr. Donald Menzel) theory that flying saucers are caused by reflected light? 
A: The theory is appealing, but has not yet been proved. Therefore the Air Force cannot yet accept it as a satisfactory explanation. Furthermore, it would not account for all reports, by any means. 

Q: Violent headlines have declared that jet pilots had orders to shoot at the saucers. Is that true? 
A: We have thousands of letters and telegrams begging us to resend this "shoot on sight "order. No such order ever was given. I repeat, the Air Force never ordered it to pilots to shoot down any of these so-called "flying saucers." The pilots had orders to find and find out what they were all about. 

Flying Saucers Not Hostile 
Naturally, if a jet fighter pilot sees an object approaching at great unknown speed,  heading, say, for New York City, he is going to try to contact it. Then, if it proceed against his warnings and its actions appear hostile, he will try to intercept it. 

Q: Has the Air Force any reason to believe that these unidentified aerial objects may be a danger to us, or may be trying to harm us?
A: None whatsoever. 

Q: You say that 80% of the sources reported could be explain naturally. What about the other twenty per cent? 
A: The Air Force is still trying to answer that. 
 - - -

Something Was Not Right. Fake News?

The part about Gen. Samford saying it was unreasonable "to deny that we may already have been visited by beings from outer space" was a pretty spectacular claim to be coming from the United States government. In response to the See article, the Air Force issued a press release to correct the record. We've been unable to locate the document, but have the fragments from it carried in newspaper articles.

Oil City Derrick, Dec. 29, 1952
"As limited as man is in his knowledge and understanding of the universe and its many forces, it would be foolhardy indeed to deny the possibility that higher forms of life existed elsewhere. 
It would be similarly unreasonable to deny that intelligent beings from some other world were able to visit our planet, at least to travel within our atmosphere. 
"However, the Air Force desires to reiterate emphatically that there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that this possibility has been translated into reality."
According to Donald Keyhoe's Flying Saucers from Outer Space, the See interview was a fake:
"I saw the AP story on it," I said. "But the Air Force is a little sore about that article. (Al) Chop told me they didn't interview General Samford directly—it was supposed to be labeled a hypothetical interview based on public statements he'd made."

Who was Serge Fliegers?

Mike Wallace (L) interviewing Serge Fliegers (R) in 1962.
 "Serge Fliegers See's Washington editor..." was best known as a European correspondent for Hearst newspapers. A mini bio of him appeared in The Freeman magazine, April 1953:
Serge Fliegers was brought up in Switzerland, educated at Cambridge and Harvard. As a correspondent he has traveled in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, speaks eight languages, including Arabic. Between covering the United Nations for the Inter Continental Press and writing magazine articles, he manages to find time for his special interest- opera and instrumental music.
In 1964, Fliegers' name came up during the Warren Commission's investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Word got to them that Fliegers claimed that an anti-Khrushchev, pro-Chinese group in the Soviet Union had trained Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate the President. Investigating the credibility of Fliegers and his sources, investigators contacted Dan Brigham, an editor of the New York Journal American newspaper. Brigham was able to give them Fliegers' location for questioning, and reported that Fliegers was "one of the biggest fakers in the business and anything he says has to be taken with a large grain of salt." 

Warren Commission Exhibit No. 1444
https://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh22/pdf/WH22_CE_1444.pdf

When Fliegers was questioned about the source of his assassination information,  he said that his source may received this information from another source who, in turn, may have received the information from contacts in Russia. Pressed for the identity of his source  Fliegers was evasive and said it was impossible for him to contact him by telephone. The information went nowhere, and turned out to be rumors and speculation repeated by a reporter as if it were facts.

Silenced

Was the See interview an example of what Ed Ruppelt was saying, that Gen. Samford's comments were "cut and pieced” to get him "saying things that he didn’t?" Samford's statements were similar to his remarks from the July 29, 1952 press conference on the Washington, D.C. UFO radar incidents. 

Project Blue Book's files has the AF transcript of Samford's press conference:
https://www.fold3.com/image/1/12428060
Saturday Night Uforia has an easily searchable version of the transcript.
http://www.saturdaynightuforia.com/html/articles/articlehtml/samfordpctanscript.html

If the See "interview" had it's origin there, great dramatic license was taken with Samford's words. Maybe after getting burned by Serge Fliegers in See, Gen. Samford set an example for the Air Force, setting the policy that the best way to handle the press on the UFO topic was silence, "saying absolutely nothing."



Thanks to The Saucers That Time Forgot's Claude Falkstrom for the lead on this article, and to Jan Aldrich for additional details on the AF press release refuting the See article.

. . .


Footnote: Forrestal's Military Man-made Moons

The man-made moons comment in the See story was referring to data discussed in this story from Mechanix Illustrated, Apr, 1949 :
Secretary James Forrestal disclosed recently that his department is working on a “satellite base” to revolve around the world like a miniature moon, as a military outpost in space.
“The earth-satellite vehicle program, which is being carried out independently by each military service, was assigned to the committee on guided missiles for coordination,” he revealed in his first annual report on the national military establishment.
Mechanix Illustrated, Apr, 1949