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Unidentified Flying Objects: An Historical Perspective

American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Design Engineering Conference
George W. Earley
Americana Hotel, New York City
May 15-18, 1967


The paper presents an examination of the overall UFO scene during the past 20 years. Several representative unsolved sightings reported in the United States are summarized and the global nature of sighting reports is discussed. Brief mention is made of pre-2Oth Century sightings. The activities of hoaxers, psychotics and liars-for-a-profit are outlined. Attitudes towards sightings and the investigatory efforts of the USAF are examined.

Possible explanations of the causes of UFO sightings are summarized and the hypothesis that some UFO's may be extra-terrestrial vehicles is advanced. 

In conclusion, some general suggestions are advanced for more effective studies of 'the UFO phenomenon.

(The newspapers) did not quote me properly.....When I told the press they misquoted me, and in the excitement of it all, one newspaper and another one got it so ensnarled up that nobody knew just exactly what they were talking about.....These objects more or less fluttered like they were, oh, I'd say, boats on very rough water.....And when I described how they flew, I said that they flew like they take a saucer and throw it across the water. Most of the newspapers misunderstood and misquoted that, too. They said that I said that they were saucer-like; I said that they flew in a saucer-like fashion.

Kenneth Arnold, the civilian pilot who saw something peculiar near Mt. Rainier on June 24, 1947, in an interview with CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow on April 7, 1950, commenting on the odd coining of the phrase "flying saucer"

In opening, I'd like to thank the sponsorsof the Design Engineering Conference for inviting me to New York and giving me the opportunity to speak to you all this evening. My topic is a highly controversial one; and controversy particularly when it grows out of opinions directly opposed to governmental agencies - seems to be a dirty word much too often these days. Now - the things that I have to say, and the things that you all have read and heard about flying saucers will doubtless raise questions in your minds. Fine. I will be happy to answer as many as I can in the time available following my talk.

But first - a word from my sponsor. I am here this evening as a representative of The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, NICAP - a privately supported, non-governmental UFO investigatory organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C. NICAP was formed in 1956 to provide a place where persons could report UFO sightings without being subject to ridicule or harassment. Aided by its Sub-Committees and Affiliated groups, NICAP endeavours, to the best of its ability, to investigate in a scientific manner UFO reports made to it. Operating funds come from member dues - $5 annually for which the members receive six issues of the UFO Investigator, an 8-page newsletter of current UFO events. In July of 1964, NICAP published the UFO EVIDENCE, a documented study of over 7OO UFO cases from NICAP's files. NICAP membership, over ten thousand at present, encompasses a representative cross section of our population. The Board of Governors and Panel of Special Advisers includes scientists, engineers and professional people in a variety of fields. Many of these men have earned doctorates in their specialty.

In the 20 years since the term came into existence, flying saucers have become a scientific controversy second only to the famed Canals of Mars. And, like the Canals of Mars, the term flying saucer is a misnomer created by the press. On June 24, 1947, while flying his private plane in the vicinity of Washington's Cascade Mountains, Idaho businessman Kenneth Arnold observed 9 objects flying near Mount Ranier and Mount Adams. "They flew", Arnold told newsmen, "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water." [1] Arnold's saucers were not disc shaped, but resembled a crescent moon. The press, however, called them flying saucers, and the name stuck. In addition to the disc or saucer shape, other aerial unknowns have been described as having a cigar, rocket, or fuselage-without-wings shape. Arrowheads or flying triangles have also been reported, with Arnold's crescent shape and a rubber-heel shape also being reported in much less frequency. Because it was felt that the term "flying saucer" was misleading, the Air Force and the majority of other investigatory groups prefer the term Unidentified Flying Objects. A sighting is called a UFO when "the description of the object and its manoeuvres could not be fitted into the pattern of any known object or phenomenon."

Once Arnold's sighting hit the press wires, other sighting reports began to make the papers. It wasn't long before people were seeing saucers, hubcaps, sausages, and all manner of peculiar looking aerial objects. About this time, the USAF began to take an interest in flying saucers, but no official conclusion was released until early 1949. Of course individual Air Force officers had voiced opinions, but they had not been representing any official investigatory group. The report released April 27, 1949, stated that 270 sightings had been investigated, including 30 from foreign countries and that 40% could not be explained. Since that time, according to subsequent Air Force press releases, 11,107 sightings have been investigated through December 31, 1966, with about 10% of this total still unidentified.

This, of course, does not take into account innumerable sightings made in foreign countries, as well as sightings made in this country and not reported to the USAF.

I might digress a moment to note that reports of strange aerial phenomena are not peculiar to the post WW II period. As NICAP staffers Lore and Deneault have shown [2], scores of unexplained sightings were reported prior to the 20th century by astronomers and other scientifically trained observers. However, coming back to the recent past - just what have people reported during the past two decades? How reliable are the sighters? I'll recap briefly some of the more outstanding sightings.

In 1956 a Navy Super-Constellation transport was flying west across the Atlantic, carrying aircrews returning from overseas duty in Europe. Nearly 30 men were aboard - pilots, navigators, flight engineers. The night was clear, visibility unlimited. The Connie was cruising at 19,000 feet. Next stop, Gander, Newfoundland; final destination, the Naval Air Station at Patuxent, Maryland. Glancing down, the pilot saw a collection of lights where only open seas should be. The radio man reported no signals from below, and that no ships were scheduled to be bunched in the area. Curious, the pilot put the plane into a circle to examine the lights better. As they circled, the lights dimmed, and then they saw several colored rings appear and begin to spread out. It was then noticed that one ring was rushing up toward the plane. The pilot rolled out of his circle and tried to climb away, but the ring outclimbed him, reached their altitude, levelled off, and raced towards them. Then they realized that the ring of light was coming from the rim of a huge disc-shaped object. By this time, all men aboard were wide awake and watching out the windows. The disc raced toward the plane, flipped on edge, and angled past the port wing tip; then slowed, reversed course, and paced the plane off the port wing. The observers agreed that it was about 30 feet thick and 350 - 400 feet in diameter, with a blurred uneven glow from the rim. The glow was sufficient to show the disc's curving surface. The pilot held to a straight course, while the disc slowly drew ahead, then tilted upward, accelerated sharply, and was lost in the night sky. The pilot called Gander Airbase at once and asked if they had seen anything on the radar. Gander replied that they had had something on the scope along side the Connie, but that the unknown had not answered radio queries. The time it took the disc to get up to the Connie indicated a speed of 1600 mph or more. The speed it made climbing away was estimated at that or greater.

After landing at Gander, all personnel were thoroughly interrogated by Air Force Intelligence personnel. "They asked lots of questions, but gave us no answers," one Navy man grumbled later. When the Connie finally reached Patuxent Naval Air Station, the air crews were again interviewed, and they furnished Naval Intelligence with written statements as to what they had seen. Several days later the pilot was contacted by a scientist in another government agency who wished to talk to him about his sighting. After getting the necessary clearances, the pilot said okay. The scientist showed up, had the pilot go over his sighting again, and then unlocked a dispatch case, pulled out some photographs, and asked the pilot if the object he had seen resembled any of the pictures. The pilot picked out one as being virtually identical. The scientist thanked him, locked up the pictures again, refused to answer questions and left. The pilot, needless to say, was - and still is - a frustrated and bewildered man. [3]

Here's a case which occurred near an Air Force missile site. On August 25, 1966, the officer in charge of a North Dakota missile crew, based in a concrete capsule 60 feet underground, suddenly found his radio transmission interrupted by static. At the same time that he was trying to clear up his problem, other AF personnel on the surface, reported seeing a UFO - described as a bright red light - apparently alternately ascending and descending. A surface AF radar installation also reported tracking the object at an altitude of 100,000 feet. The report of the base operations director stated "when the UFO climbed, the static stopped. The UFO began to swoop and dive. It then appeared to land ten to fifteen miles south of the area. Missile-site control sent a strike team (well-armed Air Force guards) to check. When the team was about ten miles from the landing site, static disrupted radio contact with them. Five to eight minutes later the glow diminished, and the UFO took off. Another UFO was visually sighted and confirmed by radar. The one that was first sighted passed beneath the second. Radar also confirmed this. The first made for altitude toward the north, and the second seemed to disappear with the glow of red." [4] Still unsolved, the case is termed by Dr. J. Allen Hynek as "typical of the puzzling cases" he has studied in his 18 years as the Air Force's scientific consultant on UFO's.

One of the best radar confirmed sightings - so stated by Captain Ed Ruppelt, [5] who headed the Air Force saucer investigations for several years - occurred near Rapid City, South Dakota, the evening of August 12, 1953. The events of that night started out like this. Shortly after dark, a woman spotter of the local Ground Observer Corps rang up the Air Defense Command radar station at Ellsworth AEB just east of Rapid City, and reported an extremely bright light to the northeast. The radar swung to the area the spotter had designated, and picked up a solid blip moving slowly. The heightfinding radar also picked it up and established the UFO at 16,000 feet. The warrant officer on duty at the radar station got a direct wire to the spotter, and they compared notes for about two minutes. In the middle of a sentence, the woman suddenly said that the object was starting to move towards Rapid City. The radar scope confirmed this, and the warrant officer sent two men outside for a visual check. They reported a large bluish-white light moving toward Rapid City. The three groups - the radar people, the outside men, and the woman spotter - watched the UFO make a swift sweep around Rapid City and then return to its original position. The warrant officer then called a jet fighter on patrol and put him on an intercept course. The light was still at l6,OOO feet. The pilot spotted the light visually, and had moved to within three miles of it, when the light took off north towards the Badlands. The pilot followed it 120 miles, with the light staying a couple miles ahead; and then, with fuel running low, the jet returned - with the UFO trailing him!

The jet squadron at the air field then stated that they were scrambling another F-84, with a skeptical combat veteran of World War II and Korea at the controls. Once he was airborne, radar worked him toward the UFO. The pilot quickly reported visual contact, and maneuvered to get above the light. The light headed northeast, with the F-84 behind but several thousand feet above it. The pilot, even though getting radar reports and seeing the light, was still skeptical. Once away from the Rapid City area, he turned off all his lights to see if it was a reflection on his canopy. The light was still there. Next he rolled his plane, to see if some unnoticed ground light was causing it. The light's position didn't change. Next he checked its motion against three bright stars - it moved with relation to them. He then figured, if it is real, my gunsight radar should pick it up. He activated his gun cameras, turned on his radar and got a solid blip. At this point he got scared - and remember, this was a man who'd fought Hitler's best airplanes and tangled with Mig 15's over Korea. But that large, bright, bluish-white light was more than he cared to chase any longer. He requested and received permission to abandon the chase. The UFO headed off toward Fargo, North Dakota, and a check minutes later showed that spotter posts between Rapid City and Fargo had seen and reported a fast-moving, bluish-white light. So there you are - two serial visuals, an aerial radar lock-on, two ground radar sightings, numerous ground visuals from several locations, and gun camera film which, when developed, showed a blurry object. No details - just a light source.

On April 224, 1964, near Socorro, New Mexico, shortly before 6:00 p.m. local time, Patrolman Lonnie Zamora was chasing a speeding car. [6] Seeing and hearing what he then thought was a dynamite shed exploding, Zamora abandoned the speeder and drove over a rough, dirt road towards the apparent impact spot. Briefly, during his approach, he saw a shiny object about the size of an overturned car. Beside it were two "man-like" figures in white - no details of hands, feet or face were visible. Based on a nearby bush, later measurements indicated that the figures were about 4 and a half - 5 feet tall and that the bottom of the object was about the same distance above the ground. Because of intervening hills, Zamora lost sight of the object and when he again had it in view, the figures were gone. Parking about 150 feet away, he began to approach the object on foot when it suddenly began to spew flame from its underside. Believing it was about to explode, he ran the other way. When the noise ceased, he looked back and saw it fly away, narrowly missing a nearby dynamite shed. Investigators from nearby military installations, local police, NICAP representatives, and Air Force investigators from the Air Technical Intelligence Center in Ohio and Northwestern University thoroughly examined the scene. Several depressions, apparently from the object's four legs, were found and nearby bushes and grass appeared to have been seared by intense heat. Soil samples were taken but no traces of fuel residues were found following laboratory tests. Zamora's reliability and integrity are unquestioned and the Air Force still carries the sighting as one of an unidentified vehicle. [7]

Of course, these are only four of many similar outstanding UFO sightings from all points in the USA. But sauceritis is not a peculiarly American ailment. Radar reports, visual reports both day and night, and combined radar-visual reports have also been received from British, French, Australian; Italian, Belgian, and other foreign sources. For example, in November of 1962, the Argentine Embassy in Washington, D.C., furnished NICAP with official reports of UFO sightings made by Argentine Navy pilots. Argentine Navy Captain Luis Moreno informed NICAP that the Argentine Navy had been constantly concerned about UFO's for the preceding 10 years. [8] Representative accounts of puzzling foreign sightings can be found in The UFO Evidence as well as in the works of the French mathematician-astronomer Jacques Vallee. [9] And, of course, even the Russians got into the act - they said that saucers were all a capitalistic hoax designed to keep up the production of war material. [10]

As is often the case with sweeping Russian pronouncements, there is a grain of truth in this one - there have been saucer hoaxes. Some have been of the practical joker variety - cardboard or aluminums discs stuffed with junk radio parts and lit up by railroad flares. One man, to win a bet, bought, chloroformed, shaved, and ran over a monkey, which was then passed off - until a vet queered the game - as a man from Mars. Numerous people have claimed contact with space people - some even claim to have ridden in saucers. I know a man near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who claims that there is a saucer base under the Berkshire mountains. None of these contactees have presented any verifiable proof and most have declined to take lie detector tests. Several hoaxers have gone after money and apparently done pretty well. A few years ago, TRUE magazine reported on Otis T. Carr, a one time elevator operator and hotel night clerk, who has reportedly acquired several hundred thousand dollars from trusting souls who think he has an engine and spaceship that will revolutionize present day propulsion techniques. [11] Frankly, I wish he really did - I'd like to go space travelling myself but based on present day planning, it doesn't look possible for many years. So, hoaxers, psychotics, and liars-for-a-profit are with us, and have contributed quite a bit to fogging up the UFO question. That, however, is no excuse for failure to conduct a proper investigation.

Now - what has the Air Force done in the field of UFO investigations? The answer is, surprisingly little. There have been innumerable press releases telling of all the studies that have been conducted, of investigations and the like; but when you look closely at the record, you see that very little has really been done. For example, even at the height of the UFO sightings, there were never more than three or four men permanently assigned to investigate UFO's. Investigations were usually made long after a report, and the investigators often seemed more interested in seeing how they could explain away the sightings than in getting all the facts from the witnesses. Airline crews have been accused - anonymously - of being drunk on duty. Radar sightings have been passed off as resulting from temperature inversions, even when weather-bureau records did not bear out such a claim. There have been several instances when UFO sightings have apparently resulted in a rapid and substantial increase in background radioactivity, but the USAF has made no attempt to set up any radiation-detection stations in areas where there have been repeated sightings over the past 14 years. NICAP has offered to sit down with the Air Force and review the reports in NICAP's files and to publicly correct those disproved by the Air Force. [12] The Air Force, however, refused such joint meetings and insisted that NICAP furnish its data for secret review. Results released following such secret reviews would not include any basis on which to evaluate the validity of the Air Force conclusions. These are but a few examples. The overall record is worse; and speaking as an ex-Air Force officer, I can only say that I have no confidence in the Air Force UFO investigation program to date.

Criticism of the Air Force position, as well as the position held by far too many of his fellow scientists, has recently come from Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the chief civilian consultant on UFO to the Air Force. Dr. Hynek, head of Northwestern University1s Dearborn Observatory, stated flatly: "No true scientific investigation of the UFO phenomena has ever been undertaken, despite the great volume of hard data... we should put as much effort on one of these puzzling cases as we would on a Brinks robbery or a kidnap case. [13]

In fairness to the Air Force, it should be noted that they are finally coming to realize that their attitude has tarnished their image in the public eye. A civilian scientific review committee was convened in February, 1966, by order, not of the Director of Aerospace Research, but of the Director of Public Information! This civilian scientific panel, while it did not endorse the possibility of extra-terrestrial visitors, did make strong recommendations that the Air Force substantially increase its UFO investigatory teams and solicit aid from the scientific community to more adequately examine both future and past UFO reports. [14] NICAP is fully in accord with such recommendations - indeed, a full-scale scientific investigation on a global basis has long been one of our major goals. In Dr. Hynek's words "Instead of having UFO a synonym for crackpot and ridicule, let's make it scientifically respectable." [15] We know that more and more scientists are willing to discuss the subject of UFO's "off the record" but we sincerely hope that more will follow the example set by Dr. Hynek and by NICAP's own scientific advisers. And, of course, we also hope that the recently begun 15 month study program, funded by the Air Force but to be conducted independently by the University of Colorado, will be the beginning of a full scale, impartial scientific investigation of UFO's. We, quite frankly, see this study as vindication of our long held position that the Air Force investigatory program has been both inadequate and unscientific.

All right - we've looked at some reports of UFO's, and some attitudes towards reports Now, the inevitable questions that arise are, just what are these UFO's and where do they come from? It has been suggested that they are:

Secret Russian devices based on German devices obtained after World War II, 
2. Secret American devices in the missile and/or aeronautic fields,
3. Misinterpretation of various conventional objects such as stars, planets, birds, weather balloons, insects, meteors, airplanes, vapor trails, etc., etc.
4. Interplanetary space ships from outside our solar system.

Let's look at each of these suggestions. The Russian and American origin suggestions can be disposed of together. If the UFO's were of Russian manufacture, this meeting would be sponsored by Soviet Society of Mechanical Engineers and I'd be a visiting Commissar lecturing on Applied Marxism. And if the UFO's were American - well, we wouldn't be spending 13 million dollars per day on Project Apollo.

After all, the speed and manoeuvrability displayed by these UFO's calls for propulsion systems far in advance of anything we now have. The entire vehicle represents, in terms of present earthly knowledge, a tremendous technological break-through. Such a break-through would be quickly reflected in hundreds of allied fields, as well as in fields never dreamed of before. Look at the applications of nuclear energy since 1945 - even the most imaginative science fiction writer never dreamed, before Hiroshima, of all the applications that would be found in less than 20 years. The break through required to create a terrestrial UFO would have even more far-reaching effects.

Misinterpretations? These already account for a large number of the many sightings of UFO's. Perhaps 80% of those investigated by the Air Force to date. There's no denying that many people have been fooled by balloons, meteors, high-flying airplanes, the planet Venus, peculiar vapor trails, and the like - and thought they saw UFO's.

Glowing clouds, resulting from chemicals released hundreds of miles in the air by NASA rockets, have caused UFO reports. So have re-entering space satellites as well as orbiting satellites seen under peculiar atmospheric conditions. These, like the other misinterpretations already mentioned, can be readily explained. They do not, however, explain the sightings I spoke of earlier nor do they explain the hundreds of still unsolved reports made to the Air Force, to NICAP, and to other UFO investigatory groups over the past 20 years.

So we are left with the Interplanetary theory. And when I say "we", I include not only myself and the majority of the Board of Governors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, but also many officers of the USAF, innumerable pilots and aircrewmen - private and commercial, foreign and domestic - many eminent scientists, missile experts, and just plain people. Speaking for myself, I accepted this theory only after examining the UFO question for over a dozen years. No single sighting report led to my acceptance of this hypothesis, but rather the ever growing accumulation of reports by reliable and trained observers. I have never seen a UFO, but as Dr. J. E. McDonald put it, the idea of extra-terrestrial vehicles seems to be "the least unsatisfactory hypothesis for... the intriguing array of credibly reported UFO phenomena that are on record" [16] - reports such as those mentioned earlier in this talk.

Now - regardless of your feelings as to the validity of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, I would hope that we are in general agreement that "something" has been seen and that the recurrence of such reports from reliable observers over the past two decades requires a more extensive investigation than has taken place heretofore.

With that thought in mind, then, I want to conclude by outlining some ideas on what is needed in the way of a more thorough investigation. Let me say too, that these ideas are not just mine but are a synthesis of those of Hynek, [17] Vallee, [18] LeBlanc, [19] the NICAP staff and other sources.

Sighting stations should be established on a global basis These could either be new stations or existing stations, military or scientific, which have been supplied with detailed instructions and instruments to provide for standard observations and records. Photographs, spectrographs, data obtainable by broad band radiation detectors, etc., should be secured if possible.
2. The data on hand, as well as future data secured by field investigations on standardized report forms, should be computerized so that new reports can be rapidly and accurately compared with older reports and trends and patterns in sightings quickly identified.
3. Policemen, civil and military pilots, and others whose jobs keep them outdoors for long periods of time, should be equipped with good cameras and trained in their use. Service or civic clubs could, perhaps, furnish such equipment to their local police.
4. Anthropologists, archaeologists and other students of the past should carefully study
the legends of ancient peoples to determine if contact with extra-terrestrial beings may not have already occurred. Harvard astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan [20] recounts a legend concerned with the rise of the Summerian civilization (4000 B.C.), which is suggestive of such contact and is certainly deserving of further study.
5. Sincere, qualified amateur groups should be encouraged to assist by researching past cases, delving into newspaper files and similar historical documents. Such searches have already turned up much useful data on older sightings; there is little doubt that much more data remains to be dug out. Such research, however, would need to be coordinated by the official group to prevent duplication of effort. Other qualified amateurs, such as ex-military intelligence personnel, could assist in field investigations of current sighting reports. Again, coordination with the official group would be necessary.

Finally, assuming that the efforts outlined above warrant the expense, serious thought should be given to the building of a "saucer trap", not to "capture" physically but to "trap" information by instruments. Many apparently reliable reports have commented on the seeming "curiosity" of UFO's about the works of man. It would seem possible that a large installation, built with a maximum of clearly visible activity and located in an otherwise barren area, might attract the attention of UFO's. If such an installation were equipped with all manner of detection and recording apparatus capable of covering the entire visible, audible and electromagnetic spectrum a wealth of valuable information might be obtained.

All of the above, of course, presupposes a willingness on the part of the scientific community at large to examine the entire UFO question with open minds, devoid, insofar as possible, of emotion charged prejudgment that the entire subject is "utter bilge". [21] It is the hope of all of us in NICAP that the Condon study group will be the beginning of a major change in attitude toward the study of UFO1s by the scientific community.

There has remained a percentage of the total, in the order of twenty percent of the reports, that have come from credible observers of relatively  incredible things...


~Major General John A. Samford

USAF, Director of Intelligence



A UFO is an Unidentified Flying Object which has been identified as a possible or actual alien spacecraft. Such objects include meteors, disintegrating satellites, flocks of birds, aircraft, lights, weather balloons, and just about anything moving within the visible band of electromagnetism.


There are as many photographs of UFOs and they are of equal quality: blurs and forgeries. Other physical evidence, such as alleged debris from alien crashes, or burn marks on the ground from alien landings, or implants in bodies of alien abductees, have turned out to be quite terrestrial, including forgeries. The main reasons for believing in UFOs are the testimony of many people, the inability to distinguish science fiction from science, the willingness to trust men telling fantastic stories, the ability to distrust all contrary sources as being part of a conspiracy to withhold the truth, and a desire for contact with the world above. Belief in aliens in UFOs is akin to belief in supernatural beings.


UFOlogy is the mythology of the space age. Rather than angels...we now have...extraterrestrials. It seeks to give man deeper roots and bearings in the universe. It is an expression of our hunger for mystery...our hope for transcendental meaning. The ancient gods have been transformed into space voyagers.


Dr. J. Allen Hynek, astronomer, foremost proponent of UFOs, and the one who came up with the expression "close encounters of the third kind," defines a UFO as:


The reported perception of an object or light seen in the sky or upon land the appearance, trajectory, and general dynamic and luminescent behaviour of which do not suggest a logical, conventional explanation and which is not only mystifying to the original percipients but remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making a common sense identification, if one is possible.


What Hynek considers to be "all available evidence" may be much less than what a skeptic would require. For example, the evidence appealed to by UFOlogists consists of (1) the testimony of people who claim to have seen aliens and/or alien spacecraft; (2) facts about the type of people who give the testimony; (3) the lack of contrary testimony or physical evidence that would either explain the sighting by conventional means (weather balloon, prank, meteor shower, reflection of light, etc.) or discredit the reliability of the eyewitness; and, (4) alleged weaknesses in the arguments of skeptics against the UFOlogists. The last item is irrelevant to the issue, yet it plays a disproportionately large role in UFOlogy.


It seems reasonable to believe that the only reason we cannot explain these sightings by conventional means is because we do not have all the evidence - not because these sightings are probably due to alien visitations. If we had all the evidence, we would probably be able to explain the sightings by some conventional means. The fact that we cannot prove that Mr. and Mrs. Barney Hill were not abducted by aliens, does not support the hypothesis that they were abducted by aliens.


Many UFOlogists think that if eyewitnesses such as Whitley Strieber, Betty and Barney Hill, or other alleged alien abductees are not insane or evil, then they cannot be deluded and are to be trusted with giving accurate accounts of alien abduction. Yet, it seems obvious that most sane, good, normal people are deluded about many things and not to be trusted about certain things.


UFOlogists would rather follow their faulty logic than accept the conclusions of Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force report which states that "after twenty-two years of investigation...none of the unidentified objects reported and evaluated posed a threat to our national security." (It was in this Blue Book that Edward Ruppelt coined the term "UFO.") UFOlogists are unimpressed with the Condon Report, as well. Edward U. Condon was the head of a scientific research team which was contracted to the University of Colorado to examine the UFO issue. His report concluded that "nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge...further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby."


It is assumed by UFOlogists that the government, especially the CIA, is lying and covering up alien landings and communication. However, there is no evidence for this other than a general distrust of the government and the fact that many government officials have lied, distorted the truth and been mistaken when reporting to the general public. The CIA, however, has shown little interest in UFOs since about 1950, except to encourage UFOlogists to believe that reconnaissance flights might be alien craft. UFOlogists prefer another kind of lie to the government lie. They support the work of NBC, for example, which produced two dozen programs called "Project UFO," said to be based on Project Blue Book. However, unlike the Air Force, NBC suggested that there were documented cases of alien spacecraft sightings. The programs, produced by Jack Webb of Dragnet fame, distorted and falsified information to make the presentation look more believable. No UFOlogist took NBC to task for lying. To the skeptic, NBC was pandering to the taste of the viewing audience. Government agents lie for all sorts of reasons, but covering up alien landings does not seem to be one of them.


Most unidentified flying objects are eventually identified as hoaxes or astronomical events, aircraft, satellites, weather balloons, or other natural phenomena. In studies done by the Air Force, less than 2% of UFO sightings remain unidentifiable. It is more probable that with more information those 2% would be identified as meteors, aircraft, etc., than that they are alien spacecraft.


The reason no logical explanation seems credible to UFOlogists is probably because those making and hearing the reports either do not want to hear a logical explanation or they make little or no effort to find one. In any case, the fact that some pilots or scientists claim they cannot think of any logical explanations for some perceptual observations is hardly proof that they have observed alien spacecraft.

Finally, it should be noted that UFOs are usually observed by untrained skywatchers and almost never by professional or amateur astronomers, people who spend inordinate amounts of time observing the heavens above. One would think that astronomers would have spotted some of these alien craft. Perhaps the crafty aliens know that good scientists are skeptical and inquisitive. Such beings might pose a threat to the security of a story well-told.



A Skeptics Primer


The paranormal phenomenon which receives the most media attention year after year is almost certainly UFOs…..


THE COMMING OF THE SAUCERS by Kenneth Arnold and Ray Palmer; Amherst Press: 1952.

2. END OF A DELUSION - A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF UFO'S by Gordon I. R. Lore, Jr., and Harold H. Deneault, Jr.; Prentice-Hall, Inc., (in preparation, scheduled for May, 1967, publication).

FLYING SAUCERS: TOP SECRET by Donald E. Keyhoe; Putnam, 1960.

"Are Flying Saucers Real?" by Dr. J. Allen Hynek; Saturday Evening Post, December 17, 1966

5. THE REPORT ON UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS by Edward J. Ruppelt; Doubleday, 1956.

6. Associated Press, United Press International and local press reports for April 25, 19624, et. seq.

 Personal communication from Major Maston M. Jacks, USAF Office of Information, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C., dated 29 December 1964.

8. "Argentine Confirms Navy Pilots' Sightings to NICAP" - The UFO Investigator; Vol. II, No. 6, October - November, 1962, NICAP.

9. ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON (Henry Regnery Co., Chicago, 1965) and CHALLENGE TO SCIENCE (Regnery, 1966) both by Jacques Vallee.

10. Radio Moscow newscast on December 7, 1953.

11. "King of the Non-Flying Saucers" by Richard Gehman; TRUE Magazine, January, 1961

12. "Air Force Secretary Offered NICAP's UFO Evidence" - The UFO Investigator, Vol. II, No. 3, January - February, 1962, NICAP.

13. "UFO's Merit Scientific Study" by Dr. J. Allen Hynek; letter in SCIENCE, 21 October, 1966

14. Unidentified Flying Objects - House of Representatives - Committee on Armed Forces, No. 55, April 5, 1966

15. "UFO's Merit Scientific Study" by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, letter in SCIENCE, 21 October 1966.

16. "The Problem of the Unidentified Flying Objects", a talk by Dr. James E. McDonald, Senior Physicist, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, and Professor, Dept. of Meteorology, The University of Arizona; to the District of Columbia Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, Washington, D.C., on October 19, 1966.

17. "Are Flying Saucers Real?" by Dr. J. A. Hynek, Saturday Evening Post, December 17, 1966.

18. CHALLENGE TO SCIENCE, Jacques Vallee

19. "Saucer Trap", a personal communication from Raymond LeBlanc; December 2, 1966.

20. INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE by I. S. Shklovskii and Carl Sagan; HoldenDay, 1966.

21. "Space Flight 'Utter Bilge' Says Astronomer-Royal" TIME, January 16, 1956.



 Frequently-Asked Questions


 1. What is a UFO?

An Unidentified Flying Object is anything seen in the air or briefly on the ground that looks like an unfamiliar object and still cannot be identified after the report has been studied by scientifically qualified persons.

The chances that something seen in the sky (or even on the ground) is a UFO depends on two main factors:

1. Strangeness

, which means how different it is from everything familiar. If it is shaped something like an airplane or a balloon or a helicopter, it probably isn't a UFO. But if it is disc-shaped or oval or cigar-shaped, it stands a good chance of being a UFO. If it flies like an airplane or a balloon or a helicopter, etc., it probably isn't a UFO. If it makes very sharp turns or accelerates suddenly or starts and stops, it may be a UFO.

2. Credibi
, which means how much credit can be given to the witness(es)' descriptions. If there is only one witness, it probably isn't a strong case, unless that witness is a professional pilot or a scientist or a control tower operator, etc. If there is more than one witness, or if the UFO was tracked on radar, or if there are also photographs, the case is much stronger.In general, if it is a UFO, it will "let you know" by its very unusual appearance and very unusual actions. If what you have seen was only slightly unusual, it almost certainly wasn't a UFO.

 2. What is an IFO?

An Identified Flying Object is anything that was first thought to be a UFO, but was then explained by qualified persons. Most things reported as UFOs turn out to be honestly mistaken observations of stars and planets, meteors and fireballs, satellites and satellite re-entries, airplanes, balloons, clouds, etc.

An estimated 75%-90% of all things reported as UFOs turn out to be explainable. This is especially true at night, when all that can be seen is usually a single light, but no object. If the light is going extremely fast, in a straight line, it is almost certainly a meteor (also called a falling star or shooting star). If it is a very large, bright light or group of lights traveling together, it is probably a fireball (a large meteor) or a satellite breaking up. If it is a light travelling slowly in a straight line, it may be a satellite in orbit. An experienced UFO investigator has learned to spot such things quickly in a report. There is less chance for mistakes in the daytime, but since about 1980 there have been far fewer daylight sightings of possible UFOs.


 3. What does a UFO look like?

Most of those seen in the daytime are said to have simple, geometric shapes such as discs, ovals, spheres, cylinders or triangles. They are usually sharp-edged and light colored, like aluminum. They sometimes have domes on top, or on the bottom, or both. Some have what look like windows or portholes.

It is impossible to get very specific about what UFOs look like, since there are no really good photos of them, and no one has been able to make authentic scale drawings with measurements of even one type. Some are discs, shaped like two saucers face-to-face or a discus as thrown in a track meet. Some of them have domes on top, or even on both top and bottom. Other UFOs look like flattened ovals, or airplane fuselages without wings or tails. The best that can be said is what they don't look like. And that is like anything familiar. There appear to be widely differing sizes of UFOs. Some discs may be as small as a few feet across, while more common ones are around 50 feet. The cylindrical ones are the largest, with estimates ranging upwards from 1,000 feet in length.

4. When was the first UFO sighted?

No one knows. Reports of UFO-like sights can be traced back into the middle of the 19th Century and earlier. It is even possible to interpret passages in the Bible as UFO-related. But there is no way to investigate and get additional information on such reports, since the witnesses are long gone. Such reports are interesting, but not scientifically useful.

It would be interesting to know when the first UFO sighting was made, but there is no way to find out. It is possible that "Ezekiel's wheel", as described in the Old Testament, was a UFO, but there is no way to check it out. Ezekiel is long gone, as are any other witnesses, and precise records are not available from that time, so it will have to remain just an interesting possibility. In the mid-1800's, sea-faring men frequently reported strange sky sights which became known as "remarkable meteors" because they sometimes made right-angle turns or stopped dead in the sky and then sped away! Were they UFOs? They certainly weren't meteors.

In 1896 and 1897 there was a great flurry of sightings of what became known as "mystery airships". They were long, like dirigibles, and some were said to have short wings or sails or even groups of men pulling oars! Many of the reports were probably invented by newspaper reporters, an act that would get them fired today. It is also possible that there were some genuine UFOs mixed in with a lot of foolishness and excessive excitement on the part of observers. UFOs were reported sporadically through the first four decades of the 20th Century, before things really got hot with the start of the Second World War. They have yet to cool down.


 5. When was the first major wave of UFO reports?

In late 1944, following a gradual build-up of activity, "foo-fighters" were reported in large numbers. Pilots of American and British bombers and night fighters over occupied France and over Germany
described glowing balls that flew in formation with them for long periods and then just flew away. The first "explanation" was that they must be experimental German anti-aircraft weapons that were being tested prior to being put into action. But the war ended without a single "foo-fighter" showing unfriendliness. Explainers then tried to blame German jet and rocket fighters in night operations. But it was later determined that there may have been only a single night flight by any German jet, and none by their rocket-powered fighters.

At about the same time in the Pacific Theater of War, American bombers were followed for hours by bright lights that eventually turned away. Military officials said they were Japanese suicide planes, and that is how they show up in official mission reports. But suicide planes never flew at night, and they never followed our bombers for long periods of time without doing anything. The war ended with hundreds of reports still unexplained.


 6. What were the "Swedish ghost rockets"?

In a few weeks during the autumn of 1946 there were at least 1,500 reports of cylindrical or "spindle-shaped" objects flying over Sweden, and sometimes crashing into lakes. They were called "ghost rockets" even though they didn't act like rockets. Government officials suggested they might be missiles or rockets being tested by the Soviet Union from the super-secret base at Pennemuünde, where the Nazis had developed the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 stratosphere rocket. But the Soviets never tested anything at Peenemünde, according to experts on the history of rocketry. And what was seen from Sweden didn't look or act like noisy V-1s or super-fast V-2s. No good photos are known to exist, and nothing was ever found (or at least admitted) from "ghost rockets" that were said to have landed or crashed.


 7. When was the first major American wave of UFO sightings?


Americans became aware of what were then called "flying discs" on June 25, 1947. The story of a formation of unidentified craft weaving through the peaks of the Cascade Mountains at more than twice the speed of sound was big news. In the following two weeks, hundreds of reports were published, and spokesmen for the U.S. Army Air Forces fell all over themselves trying to explain them before finally admitting they didn't know what they were.

Not many people took the discs seriously. They figured they were either some secret new kind of military airplanes, or else sheer imagination. If they had known how seriously the Army Air Forces were taking them, they would have been surprised. But all the government studies remained secret for years. Including one that concluded, "This 'flying saucer' situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomena. Something is really flying around."


 8. Could UFOs be alien spacecraft?


It is certainly possible, but it hasn't been proven. Supporting this idea are the shapes of reported UFOs, which make little sense in light of our knowledge of how things fly; and the reported behavior of UFOs (violent maneuvers, silent high-speed flight, extreme acceleration). Opposing this idea are the lack of proof that any form of life exists outside the Earth, and the extreme distance from the nearest star to Earth.


This is the number-one question when it comes to UFOs, and we still aren't close to an answer. But there are hundreds of unexplained reports of people having seen strange-looking vehicles at close range, and then watched them perform maneuvers that are impossible for today's finest aircraft, let alone those from 50 years ago. Added to this is the suspicious behavior of the U.S. Air Force which reacts to talk of UFOs like it has something important to hide.


It is this lack of a firm "yes" or "no" that fuels the continued search for alien life in outer space and alien life on or near the Earth.


 9. How many UFO sightings have been reported?


No one knows. The U. S. Air Force collected 12,500 reports. The UFO Catalog kept by the private Center for UFO Studies lists 50,000. It is well established that only about 10% of all UFO sightings are ever reported, mainly because people are afraid of being laughed at.

There are "UFO sightings", there are "UFO reports", and finally there are "UFOs". The number of sightings could be in the millions. The number of sightings reported to someone is probably around 50-to-60,000. And the number of those reports that turn out to be about truly unidentified flying objects is certainly in the thousands. Those are the ones that matter, because they could be alien craft, or some previously unknown form of natural phenomena, or just about anything. They constitute the mystery. As long as there is a genuine mystery, there is a chance of something important being discovered.


 10. What are Alien Abductions?


No one knows. What are called alien abductions are reports that people have been taken away during the night for a short period by odd-looking beings, subjected to what sounds like unfamiliar medical procedures, and then returned to where they started. Efforts to explain these reports as psychological problems, attempts to get attention, etc. have not yet explained what people continue to report from all over the world.

This is easily the most peculiar aspect of the whole UFO mystery. It is outlandish, it is preposterous, it is bizarre. And it may actually be real. There have been thousands of reports from people all around the world who report complicated, strange experiences that are very much alike. Attempts to explain them have all come up wanting. Victims of whatever "alien abduction" means, remain puzzled, angry and scared. They feel they have been mistreated and robbed of control over their lives. They aren't sure what is happening to them, but they know they want it to stop. With few exceptions, "abductees" thoroughly dislike their experiences.


Explanations generally come from unqualified people: lecturers, self-appointed experts and scientists who specialize in unrelated fields. Those who take the subject seriously don't seem to have any answers,


 11. What do aliens look like?


According to those who insist they have seen aliens, most of them are short and skinny, with big heads and huge, black eyes, and almost no nose or ears. They are said to have wrinkled, greyish skin. They generally resemble the small beings seen near landed UFOs in the 1960's and 1970's.


Those reported by "abductees" are of several different sizes and shapes. The most common are said to be "small greys" - 3.5 to 4 feet tall, with very large heads and skinny bodies covered with wrinkled, greyish skin, and with large black wrap-around eyes, and almost no nose, mouth or ears. Others include larger, more human-looking greys; some that look entirely human, and some that look like lizards.


There is as yet no way to know how accurate any of these descriptions is, nor if different races are present.


 12. Was the "alien autopsy" movie shown on Fox-TV the real thing?


Almost certainly not. There are too many things wrong with the movie, and the owner refused to answer most of the questions put to him by investigators. The body doesn't look like any "alien" ever reported, and the man doing the autopsy failed to treat the body as something of great scientific value.

There is no absolute proof that the movie was faked, but most of the evidence points in that direction. If this had actually been a film of a major historic event, there should have been a more professional laboratory setting, the cameraman should not have been so amateurish, color film should have been used, and there should have also been a still cameraman evident.

One expert in such matters, consulted by the Fund, referred to the material removed from the chest cavity as "stuffing" and suggested the film looked like it had been made by drunken medical students,

As yet there has been no reasonable explanation for the film having escaped from the military security system, as one would expect for something as significant as this is claimed to be. In fact, almost nothing is known about the origins of the film, which make the whole thing quite suspicious.


 13. Didn't the U. S. Air Force investigate UFOs and conclude there was nothing to them?

Yes and no. The Air Force had an official UFO investigation from 1948 to 1969 (Projects Sign, Grudge and Blue Book), and collected more than 12,500 reports. It claims to have explained all but about 600 of them, but the facts of most of those reports strongly suggest that something important was seen.

As so many of these were made by military and airline pilots, and other unexplained sightings involved radar tracking, they are the heart of the matter. Hundreds of other reports in the official files are alleged to have been explained, but are full of unscientific and illogical reasoning.

If so many cases are admittedly unexplained, they cannot be used to support any conclusions, as the nature and origins of unexplained cases are, by definition, unknown. If you add those cases that are only "possibly" explained, the total lacking convincing explanations tops 50%, which strongly suggests that the official investigation was a failure.


 14. Did anything crash at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947?

Almost certainly. Several first-hand witnesses have described very unusual wreckage found at a sheep ranch northwest of Roswell in early July, which doesn't fit the Air Force claim that it was nothing more than the remains of a cluster of weather balloons. Moreover, recent Air Force attempts to end the debate have been so full of errors that even more questions have been raised. There are many other reports and rumors of UFO crashes where the wreckage was quickly removed. Hardly any of them have been properly investigated, and so no one knows which ones are genuine.

The Air Force keeps trying to explain what crashed at Roswell, but seems to get farther and farther from an answer the public will accept. First, it was said to have been a weather balloon, then it was said that nothing crashed, and most recently it was a cluster of weather balloons. If it was anything ordinary, it should be painfully obvious to the Air Force and to everyone else. The fact that 50 years have passed since the event, and the government is still struggling with this report suggests that either it doesn't know what happened, or it doesn't want the public to know.

A World War II veteran intelligence officer, Maj. Jesse Marcel, was among the first to arrive at the scene and he later said that every scrap of wreckage he saw was unfamiliar. No bolts, no nuts, no washers, no rivets, no clamps, no connectors, no hinges or anything else found on known devices. He also said that the most common type of wreckage was very thin and very light material that looked like metal foil, but was impossibly strong. His young son, later a physician and Army Reserve helicopter pilot, confirmed this and added that he saw thin I-beams that had raised pinkish-purple symbols on their webs that looked like no known language or alphabet.

In its response to an investigation by the government's General Accounting Office (GAO), the Air Force said what crashed was definitely not an aircraft, a missile or anything connected to nuclear weapons. The GAO then concluded that "the debate over what crashed at


 15. Are any pieces of crashed UFOs known to exist?

No. Several people have claimed to have pieces, but nothing has yet been seen and tested that has been proven to be non-Earthly. There is still a chance that some of the people involved in recovering the remains of the Roswell crash took small bits, and these may still exist.

16. Why don't UFOs land?

They apparently do. There are a lot of rumors and vague reports of them landing, but only a few cases which have withstood intensive investigation. One of the most impressive was on April 24, 1964, outside Socorro, New Mexico, where city Patrolman Lonnie Zamora reported seeing a UFO descend, then saw it parked with two small beings close by. He watched it take off and then went to the scene and saw charred rocks, singed bushes and impressions in the ground where he said the landing gear had been. The two individuals were not seen after the UFO took off, and the U.S. Air Force declared this case "unexplained".

Whether or not UFOs land is really up to those who operate them, if indeed they are vehicles as they appear. Some UFOs may not be designed to land. Those in charge of other UFOs may not want to land. Some may land in order to make repairs. There is no way to tell. But there almost certainly have been observed landings, even if we don't know why they landed.

17. Why are UFOs only reported by uneducated farmers in places you've never heard of?

They aren't. A study by the U.S. Air Force showed that the most puzzling UFO reports came from people who had the best technical backgrounds. They are reported from everyplace where there are people, though fewer are seen from big cities because less of the sky is visible.

People in rural areas may see more UFOs because they can see more of the sky and because they may look at the sky more often. Big city people have a poor view of the sky, and they are usually too busy to look up. Generally speaking, UFOs are seen by people who happen to be in the right place at the right time.


 18. If I see a UFO, how do I report it?

First, watch carefully to see if you can identify what you first thought might be a UFO. If you can't, then carefully note the time of day, the length of time you watched it, the shape and color of the UFO, what it did and how you lost sight of it.

Then you should report it to someone who can study it and arrange to have it investigated. That's the way you'll find out what it was...maybe.

It will probably be a waste of your time to contact any branch of the Armed Services, your local police, your local airport, a university, an observatory, a TV station, a radio station or a newspaper.

19. Have UFOs ever been tracked on radar?

There are about three dozen radar cases among the admittedly unexplained reports in the U. S. Air Force files, and many more which are only claimed to have been explained. Very few radar cases have been reported in the past 20 years, because almost all radars are operated by governments, and anything they detect can easily be kept secret.

Radar/visual sightings are considered about the most impressive kind of UFO reports, and the hardest to explain as ordinary sights. Probably the most famous radar/visual cases happened in 1952, over and around
Washington National Airport
, and just a couple of miles from the White House and the Pentagon. For several hours on two different nights in July, scores of UFOs were tracked from at least two radar sites, as they sped, stopped and started, and darted all over this sensitive area. Airline pilots who were asked to look where targets were being tracked, confirmed that they could see odd lights.

The Air Force tried to convince everyone that nothing more exciting than mirages were seen and tracked, but this violates well established scientific theory. In fact, one of the two night of sightings is permanently listed as "unexplained" in the official files of Project Blue Book. Its possible to fool radar into thinking certain kinds of weather is really something flying around. But what was seen and tracked in 1952 couldn't be explained that way.


 20. Why is the Government keeping so much information about UFOs secret?

No one outside the Government knows if information is still being kept secret, let alone what it might be. Possible reasons for withholding information may include a lack of full understanding of UFOs, a need to try to make use of UFO technology for military purposes, and a lack of agreement among government people on how the information should be released.

Before the up-dated Freedom of Information Act was passed by Congress in 1975, the Air Force insisted it had released every scrap of unclassified UFO-related documents. Then UFO researchers started getting copies of declassified UFO documents that had been sitting around for years, which proved the Government had been lying about not withholding unclassified information. Several thousand pages of once-classified material have now been released, and more show up every so often. Based on its previous behavior, the Government is almost certainly holding back more.

Most of the documents that have been released aren't very interesting...just routine paperwork. Every once in awhile, something manages to slip through that sheds a little light on what has gone on behind closed doors. Fortunately, there are UFO researchers willing to spend time studying each document to see if there is anything important in it.


 21. If some UFOs are flown by aliens, why don't they land and present themselves to government leaders or to scientists?.

When aliens do land (if they haven't already), they will do what they feel like doing. If they want to meet with scientists or politicians, they will. If they want to meet with ordinary people, then they'll probably do that. And if they want to go about their business as quietly as possible, they'll try not to meet up with anyone. The truth is, we have no idea why aliens will visit Earth, or why they may already have. They may be explorers and adventurers, like the astronauts we someday will send to distant inhabited worlds. On the other hand, they may come here for entirely different reasons.

We can't expect aliens to act like us. We have to face facts: we know absolutely nothing about how a single alien thinks. Just because almost all the aliens described by claimed witnesses are generally human-shaped (and are thus called humanoids) doesn't mean their brains are like ours. Or their kidneys or their livers, if they even have such internal organs. Even if they come from the same original stock as we do, their lives have been so different that they probably won't seem like far distant relatives.

Until we have a lot of direct, meaningful communication with aliens, we won't know very much about them.


 22. Are there any good photographs of UFOs?

Not in private hands. There are a very few UFO photographs that have withstood serious scientific analysis and remained impressive, but they don't tell us much. Most so-called UFO photographs show nothing more than dots or specs or blobs of light, and lack enough information to permit analysis.

The best photos are those that are connected to a good visual sighting, one that would stand without a photo. The worst are photos of "objects" that appeared on a photographic print, even though neither the photographer nor anyone else saw anything when the photo was shot. These are almost always flaws in the emulsion or lens flares.


 23. If there are intelligent aliens flying around in UFOs, where do they come from?

No one knows. If there are any clues to their origins, they have not yet been recognized.

Scientists estimate there could be as many as a billion Earth-size planets in the universe, which means an alien's zip code could require nine digits just to identify its planet.

Betty Hill, one of the first believable "abductees", described a star map she said she saw on board a UFO. It was later suggested that the stars in it could be identified, but far more work remains to be done, as it's possible there are a lot of other star groupings that resemble Betty's amateurish map.

We will almost certainly have to wait for confirmed communication with aliens to find out where they come from.



 24. Could UFOs come from inside the Earth, or from a parallel universe, or from our future?

There is no evidence that any of these things exists, though some may be mathematically possible. To try to explain one mystery with another mystery is sure to increase the confusion, not clear it up. It's best to keep science and fiction separate, and not to let wishful thinking get in the way of carefully weighing the pros and cons of each suggested explanation.


 25. Could UFOs be secret American airplanes?

Yes. Some that have been seen recently could be secret airplanes still being tested, but only if they were seen in areas where such tests are made. Secret airplanes are never flown low over cities where they could be seen. UFOs reported 10 or more years ago were almost certainly not secret airplanes, because airplanes are almost never kept secret that long. We know all about airplanes that were secret in the 1940's and 1950's and 1960's.

It is possible that some of today's highly classified experimental military aircraft have one or more characteristics of UFOs, including silent high-speed flight, amazing maneuverability and extreme acceleration. But that doesn't explain UFOs with such performance that were seen as much as 50 years ago. Flying a round airplane today won't explain UFOs, unless that airplane can perform like a UFO. The idea that some country has had super airplanes for 40 or 50 years makes no sense, as there have been lots of opportunities to use such airplanes to stop or win wars and save lives. Wars can even be prevented from starting by revealing super weapons to a possible enemy and convincing him that he can't win.

Some enthusiasts suggest we are flying advanced stealth airplanes that are being mis-identified as UFOs. It would require huge advances in science and technology to produce stealth airplanes that are not only invisible to radar and infra-red detection, but are silent and can fly so slowly that not enough air would flow over their wings to keep them aloft. If we had such super aircraft, we wouldn't fly them over cities if we were trying to keep them secret. Finally, to have spent trillions of dollars to design, build and test such super airplanes and then not use them could lead to not just the usual grumbling by the taxpayers, but to a genuine revolt.


 26. Are UFOs seen more often in some places than others?

Yes, but rarely for more than a few days. There have been many brief, localized sighting waves. But they soon end, and the center of the action moves somewhere else. There is no known way to figure out where they will be seen next. Usually what appears to be long-term localized activity turns out to be the result of increased interest and increased eagerness to mistake ordinary sights as UFOs.

27. Are UFOs seen in other countries?

Yes. They have been seen wherever there are people. Every continent has had its share, as has almost every country, though local interest plays a role in the apparent level of activity. Wherever there is someone interested in searching out UFO reports, they will be found, but that doesn't mean the investigator lives in a center of activity.

28. What is Area 51?

It is said to be part of the enormous and very secret government proving grounds north of Las Vegas, Nevada, where captured alien UFOs are supposed to have been tested. Secret airplanes have long been tested there, and so the Government has every right to keep the place off-limits. There is no way to inspect the bases to see if any UFO-related work is being done, which leaves nothing more than rumors to support the claims that alien craft have ever been there.

29. What is Hangar 18?

It is a building on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, outside Dayton, Ohio
, where UFO wreckage and alien bodies are said to have been stored. Despite all the rumors, no one has ever found proof of this.

Leonard Stringfield made a specialty of collecting reports and rumors of UFO crashes and retrievals, and found that almost all the stories of people seeing crashed craft and alien bodies in storage pointed toward Wright-Patterson AFB. No one in the Government will admit that there ever was a hangar 18, but a lot of men who were stationed there have testified to it, and so there must be something to it. Even a former Commanding Officer of the base, Brig. Gen. Arthur Exon, said he heard a lot of rumors about alien craft and bodies being stored at his base. He then admitted he couldn't find out if the rumors were true, because he didn't have "a need to know" this very secret information in order to do his job. If the Air Force wanted to create a mystery about Hangar 18, it could not have done a better job.


 30. What is MJ-12?

It is said to be a super-secret operation, set up in 1947, to study the remains of crashed UFOs and alien bodies, and to keep it completely secret. Even though a lot of effort has gone into investigating this, no one has yet come up with any solid evidence that MJ-12 (or Majic-12 or Majestic-12) ever existed.

It started with a roll of film mailed anonymously to an associate of investigator Bill Moore in 1984, which showed a document said to be a 1952 briefing paper for Dwight Eisenhower who had just been elected President. MJ-12 was said to be the most secret group in the USA, formed in 1947 by President Harry Truman to study the Roswell wreckage (see FAQ #14) and to keep it totally secret. In 1993, a roll of film was sent anonymously to Don Berliner, showing what was claimed to be an MJ-12 field manual for GIs engaged in recovering crashed saucers.

Both of these documents, along with others, have been studied and studied and studied. And still we don't know if they are genuine or hoaxes. Many of the claims that they are faked have been shown to be wrong, but that doesn't mean the documents are real. Arguments about MJ-12 often get very hot, which hurts the effort to find out the truth.


 31. Could American U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spyplanes have been mistaken for UFOs?

This is highly doubtful, even though the Central Intelligence Agency claimed this in 1997. Both types of airplanes cruise too high to be seen from the ground, and they are totally unable to perform the kind of violent maneuvers which are a hallmark of UFOs.

When the CIA claimed that spyplanes were responsible for thousands of UFO reports from 1955 to 1970, it had to invent the whole story, as the idea makes no sense. It said there had been a sudden increase in UFO reports immediately after the first test flight of a U-2. In truth, the Project Blue Book files show there was a marked decrease in reports right after that flight. The CIA then said it had conspired with the Blue Book staff to conceal these thousands of alleged sightings of spyplanes by "explaining" them as obscure forms of atmospheric phenomena. A check of the files shows only a handful of reports explained that way, and some of them are explained wrong.

Unless the CIA people responsible for this nonsense are really stupid, the only other obvious possibility is that they are liars.


 32. Why aren't any scientists interested in UFOs?

Some scientists are, but most of them prefer to keep their interest quiet because they are concerned that their fellow scientists may not take them seriously. Men like the late Dr. Donald Menzel, a Harvard astronomer, loudly ridiculed anyone who showed interest in UFOs, and this discouraged other scientists from speaking out. Nevertheless, Northwestern University astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, University of Arizona atmospheric physicist Dr. James McDonald, and a few others have risked their reputations by revealing their serious interest in UFOs.

33. Is there any connection between UFOs and other scientific mysteries such as Big Foot, the
Loch Ness Monster and crop circles?

There may be, but it has yet to be demonstrated. They remain separate mysteries which are deserving of serious scientific study.


 34. Is the U. S. Government still withholding classified UFO information?

Probably. Earlier claims that all UFO information had been released were shown to be incorrect, and some agencies such as the CIA have admitted holding back UFO-related material, claiming that releasing it would harm national security.

35. Have any astronauts reported seeing UFOs while in orbit or on the Moon?

There are many stories about UFOs being seen in orbit and on the Moon, but no astronaut has admitted to having seen more than an occasional odd sight that could not immediately be explained.


36. What was the "Great Airship Wave of 1896-97"?

There were hundreds of reports of blimp-like craft flying over many parts of the USA. Some were obviously made-up, as they supposedly had sails or oars or paddle-wheels. Other stories were invented by unscrupulous journalists. But some may have been UFOs, as they had characteristics that later became familiar.


37. What are "EM" cases?

They are UFO reports involving "Electro-Magnetic" effects, in which a car's engine, headlights and radio stopped working when a glowing UFO was in sight, and then resumed working as soon as the UFO flew away. The first of these was a group of at least eight EM cases around one Texas town in a few hours. The Air Force blamed a severe electrical storm for the EM interference, but later checking showed there had been no storm.


38. Why hasn't Congress ever looked into the UFO mystery?

It is a controversial subject over which few elected officials are about to risk their reputations. Several Congressional committees have spent a few hours, each, questioning military and scientific experts, but nothing has come of it.


39. Have any Presidents shown interest in UFOs?

Jimmy Carter, when he was Governor of Georgia, reported a UFO sighting to a private organization. When he was running for President, he said he would try to have all UFO information released. But after he was elected, he showed no interest. Gerald Ford, when he was a Congressman, took a public stand in favor of an improved investigation of UFOs, but his interest vanished as soon as he became President.


40. Have any UFO-shaped airplanes flown?

Yes, but only at low speed and without the amazing maneuverability shown by UFOs. The most common shapes of UFOs make little sense for airplanes.


 41. Could some UFOs be foreign airplanes?


It's possible, but it makes almost no sense. If any foreign country flew its airplanes over the USA without permission, it could be taken as an act of war. It would be extremely foolish to risk a secret, advanced airplane crashing and revealing all its expensive secrets. Otherwise, we are as familiar with other countries' airplanes as with our own. We know of no high-performance airplanes from any country that look like UFOs and can fly like UFOs.

42. Is there really a huge artificial face on Mars, and what does it have to do with UFOs?


There may be such a face on Mars, but there is no reason to think it has anything to do with UFOs.

43. What is a UFO flap?

A flap is a brief period of intensive, widespread activity, both in UFO sightings and in public interest. There have been American flaps in 1947, 1952, 1957, 1965, 1966 and 1973. There have been British flaps in 1967, French in 1954, Belgian in 1990 and Russian in 1991. When there is a lot of interest and activity, but not enough to qualify as a flap, it is called a flurry or wave, and may be highly localized.

44. What are Close Encounters?

The term was coined by the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who spent many years as a consultant to the U.S. Air Force investigation of UFOs, and then founded the Center for UFO Studies in 1973. There are several types of Close Encounters:


The First Kind (CE-I) - a UFO seen within 500 feet of the observer.

The Second Kind (CE-II) - a CE-I which involved physical effects to the observer(s) and/or to the environment. This can include such things as heat felt by a witness, and impressions left in the ground.

The Third Kind (CE-III) - a CE-I in which the presumed occupants are seen near the UFO. The title of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was suggested by Dr. Hynek.

A Fourth Kind was later added: CE-IV, which is an alleged abduction.

45. What was Project Blue Book?

The U.S. Air Force had a publicly-known UFO investigation from 1948 through 1969. It was first called Project Sign, then Project Grudge, and finally, starting in 1952, Project Blue Book. Following the end of Blue Book in December, 1969, the files were first shipped to the Air Force Archives and then to the U.S. National Archives in Washington, DC. In 1976 they were made available to the public on microfilm, though the names and identifications of all witnesses were blacked out. In 1998, an uncensored set of microfilms of the case files were discovered, and made available to researchers and the press by the Fund for UFO Research.


The development of the UFO myth 1947-1993

Adapted from Watch the Skies, Curtis Peebles, Berkeley, New York (1995) ISBN 0-425-15117-4






High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped craft. May be U.S. secret weapons, Soviet or alien.


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped craft. May be alien space ships.

The Air Force may know more than it is saying.


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed for centuries.

Here to observe human activities such as nuclear testing, which they may consider a threat.

Knows the truth and is covering it up, to prevent panic. May have recovered crashed saucers and alien bodies.


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed for centuries, and picked up on radar, proving their existence.

Here to observe human activities such as nuclear testing, which they may consider a threat.

Knows the truth and is covering it up, to prevent panic. Has not recovered crashed saucers or alien bodies


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed for centuries, and picked up on radar.

Here to observe human activities such as nuclear testing, which they may consider a threat. Have contacted some humans, expressing concern for the future of the human race.

Knows the truth and is covering it up, to prevent panic. "Men in Black" enforce the cover-up by means of coercion and violence.


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed for centuries, if not millenia, and picked up on radar. Sightings by reliable witnesses prove their extraterrestrial nature. Magnetically stop cars and cause sunburn.

Here to observe human activities such as nuclear testing. May have contacted some humans with messages of peace and brotherhood with the intent of avoiding mankind's self-destruction.

Knows the truth and is covering it up, to prevent panic. The Air Force has smeared reliable witnesses. "Men in Black" enforce the cover-up by means of coercion and violence.


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed for thousands of years, tracked on radar and observed by pilots and astronauts, proving their extraterrestrial nature. Have landed leaving pad prints, radiation and metal samples. Magnetically stop cars and cause sunburn. May be hostile.

Here to observe human activity and to save mankind from nuclear destruction. Have contacted some people, taking some aboard UFOs for medical examination and perhaps breeding experiments. May be mutilating cattle.

The Air Force has fouled up their investigation of UFOs and is covering up their existence, in collusion with the CIA. "Men in Black" enforce the cover-up by means of coercion and violence.


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed by millions of people for thousands of years. Undertaking reconnaissance of military bases and nuclear plants. Hover over power lines and draw energy from them. Land leaving padprints, burn marks, radiation. Can stop car engines.

Have been seen in or near flying saucers. Mutilate animals. Interested in human activity. Some people taken aboard UFOs for medical examinations.

Knows flying saucers are real, has proof and is covering it up, to prevent panic. Cover-up directed by CIA


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed for thousands of years. Undertaking reconnaissance of Earth. Draw power from electrical lines and stop cars. Have landed, leaving pad prints and other traces.

Grey skin, short and thin with large, bald heads. Physically weak and sickly. Abducting humans, removing sperm and ova to produce human/alien hybrids and save their race. Wipe the memories of their abductees and control them through nasal implants. Mutilate cattle to obtain genetic material.

Has recovered crashed flying saucers and dead crewmen. Has test-flown rebuilt flying saucers and copied their technology. Cover-up, and slandering and intimidation of witnesses, led by CIA.


High-speed, ultra-maneuverable disk-shaped alien craft have been observed for thousands of years. Have landed, leaving pad prints, caused black-outs and stopped cars. Have crashed, leaving debris and both dead and live aliens.

"Greys" are short and thin with large, bald heads. Weak and sickly, suffering from genetic disorders. Abduct humans and extract sperm and ova to produce hybrids. Erase memories and implant nasal devices. Mutilate cattle for enzymes.

MJ-12 has made a pact with the Greys. Will allow mutes and abductions in exchange for alien technology. Has built huge underground bases for aliens, with money from CIA drug sales and George Bush. Greys and "Ruling Powers" plan to set up a one-world dictatorship and force abductees and others into concentration camps.