Monday, April 30, 2007

NICAP Membership in the Mid-Sixties

My first venture into joining UFO investigative organizations involved NICAP, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. I joined NICAP in March of 1964 and kept my membership current until the organization folded in 1979. Concerned particularly as this blog is with UFO antiquities, I thought it might be of interest to feature old NICAP mailings now and then. (For extensive information about the NICAP years and the excellent UFO reports the organization investigated, be sure to visit the official NICAP website at: )

Today, from 1964, here are two mailed documents. One is an information sheet about NICAP (notice on the list of advisers the name of Albert M. Chop, discussed on this blog on April 19). The other is the standard "welcome" letter for new members, with NICAP director Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe's (USMC, ret.) signature at the bottom.

I had the pleasure of visiting Washington, D.C. the following year, where I briefly met Major Keyhoe, assistant director Richard Hall and NICAP secretary Mrs. L. Day. This was the summer of 1965, when the nation was experiencing a flurry of UFO reports, and the NICAP staff was very busy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

As Weird as it Gets - Part 5 (Final Chapter)

Serious UFO-related journalism has often been hard to come by via the conventional media, especially in the U.S., but recent events may encourage more credible reporting of the seemingly incredible

Robert Barrow

An ideal place to look for reasons why the national press doesn't go rightfully bonkers over the UFO issue is the past. The very early 1950s were truly the most open U.S. government period in the history of UFO reporting, despite an avalanche of sightings by military pilots and other qualified observers in the late forties that concerned government sources greatly. Such prominent magazines as LIFE and LOOK were allowed access to government UFO reports and documentation suggesting the existence of something strange in our skies. The summer of 1952 precipitated a wave of hundreds of UFO sightings all over the U.S., climaxed by incidents a week apart over Washington, D.C. where UFOs not only appeared on radar, but visually surrounded a military pilot as well before disappearing.

Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a long-time UFO researcher who has worked in a non-UFO capacity with the government in the past, reminds us in his writings that on July 29, 1952, three days after the dramatic radar-visual UFO chase over Washington, General John Samford held a famous and well-attended D.C. press conference to calm an anxious public about the flying saucers. While in agreement that not all sightings had yet been explained, Samford's reassuring voice wanted the press and public to know that essentially all was well and that reports could generally be explained as natural phenomena.

According to Maccabee, however, even as Samford was effectively chopping the seemingly profound UFO enigma into harmless specks of magic dust before the eyes of a hungry press, something else was going on behind closed official doors on the same day: Air Force Intelligence personnel were telling the FBI that a small percentage of UFO sightings could not be explained and high-ranking military brass were considering that some reports might involve "ships from another planet." Considerable speculation exists as to whether this version of the situation was actually a hair's breadth from being reported to the press at that fateful press conference in 1952. But what was done was done, the press grumbled, and in large part accepted the sanitized official stance then and in years to come.

Thanks primarily to the Freedom of Information Act, a wealth of old government documents pertaining to UFOs have seen release in recent years, though often blacked out judiciously. Still, the government's concern with the subject is obvious, as it should be, because there are numerous dramatic UFO encounters on record, some having endangered commercial airline passengers when pilots had to take evasive actions to avoid possible collisions with unknown objects.

Most recently, the best place to look for some insight on just how seriously the U.S. government takes the UFO question is our neighbor to the north. From 1950 to 1954, a Canadian named Wilbert Smith, senior radio engineer at the Dept. of Canadian Transport, was involved in the secret "Project Magnet," which was set up to investigate antigravity and other propulsion methods and to investigate UFOs and their inherent propulsion technology.

It turns out that the Canadian UFO project participants also worked with U.S. officials, and amongst all the documentation generated in secret was a "top secret" memo written by Smith in 1952, describing the true American stand on UFOs. Smith kept and hid a copy of the memo after Project Magnet disbanded, and several years later as he was dying of cancer instructed his wife to hide his papers because one day after his death officials would be coming to take his records.

Smith's wife wisely followed his advice, eventually turning the papers over to a well known Canadian UFO researcher for safekeeping; however, he, like Smith, also had a high-level security clearance in his past and couldn't do anything about turning the papers over to the public or he would be in serious trouble. And, indeed, as Smith had predicted, Canadian, American and Russian officials visited Smith's wife in search of documents and she informed them all that they were no longer available.

Nick Balaskas, a researcher at York University, was recently in receipt of Smith's papers, and even a couple of extra and essential pages were just found to complete part of the puzzle. Smith's own copy of the 1952 formerly secret memo is now on the Internet ( and makes two intriguing points about the American UFO project's conclusions in the early fifties that he learned through his routine work with the mutual U.S.-Canadian teams: That "flying saucers" exist and that the subject was the most highly classified subject in the U.S., rated higher than the H-bomb.

Currently, there are said to be anonymous representatives in Congress concerned about the UFO issue and decades of secrecy. If one listens to the buzz on the UFO circuit, it is claimed that neither Congressional leaders, nor even the President of the United States, can gain access to the ongoing, highly classified UFO project. At this level of rumor, documentation of the seemingly absurd becomes nearly impossible; however, the viewpoint that some information has recently been leaked to the press about Middle East matters, so all information - even about UFOs - would logically be leaked at some point, is a pathetic dream derived from a fool's paradise.

The next time you venture outside during a crystal-clear evening, by all means scan the stars and the unfathomable depths of the universe, and keep honing the sense of wonder that keeps our minds sharp. But don't neglect to look down at the grass under your feet, too, because, somewhere between the earth on which we stand and the deep space whose borders we have yet to comprehend, the concept of here vs. there may be irrelevant, and every place the same, except with the furniture rearranged, the flowers in a different vase and the faces. . .and the faces? Oh, what about the faces?

"They better wake up and start believin'. . .they better start believin'. . .They won't believe it. They're gonna believe it one of these days. Might be too late. I knew all along there was people from other worlds up there. I knew all along. I never thought it would happen to me." -- Charles Hickson speaking to Calvin Parker at the sheriff's office in 1973, alone and unaware their voices were being secretly recorded.

As Weird as it Gets - Part 4

Part 4

Serious UFO-related journalism has often been hard to come by via the conventional media, especially in the U.S., but recent events may encourage more credible reporting of the seemingly incredible

Robert Barrow

Mike Cataldo, now long retired from the Navy, served in 1973 as a chief petty officer in Mississippi. Like most of the country, he was familiar with the Hickson-Parker report and never met or spoke with either man, but for all the years that followed he shared with friends and family another side to the story, something of vital significance that he finally decided to impart publicly late last year. He tried to locate a reporter in Pascagoula who wrote the original UFO story, and eventually was put in touch with Natalie Chambers of the Associated Press.

Chambers' interview with Cataldo appeared in The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal of October 21 last year, but it failed to make the coast-to-coast splash it should have, though even famed radio commentator Paul Harvey realized Cataldo's importance and devoted part of his Saturday, October 27 national broadcast to Natalie Chambers' shocker.

"When Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker told the world in 1973 they were abducted by aliens while fishing on the Pascagoula River, few believed them," her article began. "Now, after 28 years, it appears they weren't alone in their experience on that October 11 night." Indeed, at about the same time and in the same area as the UFO incident, Cataldo and fellow crew mates Ted Peralta and Mack Hanna were driving on U.S. 90, heading to Ocean Springs. Cataldo was in the back seat.

"We saw a very strange object in the horizon going from northeast across Highway 90," Cataldo recalled. "It was going pretty fast. It went down into a wood area and into the marsh. It hovered over the tree line. . .maybe a minute. We actually pulled off the road and watched it. We said, 'My God, what is that?'" Cataldo said the thing looked like a large tambourine with little lights flashing on it. "As quickly as we saw it, it just vanished." Some daylight still remained as dusk approached, so the men got a good look at the object. But Cataldo tells of a second sighting minutes later, this time in St. Andrews, as he neared his home. "It wasn't as high up as we saw the first time. It was real."

Almost hyperventilating when he ran inside to tell his wife, Cataldo knew he had to tell Navy officials. As a member of the pre-commissioning crew of the USS Tunney, under construction at Ingalls Shipyard, he reported for work the next morning and immediately contacted his executive officer to make a statement. After the weekend, he contacted Keesler AFB in Biloxi and left his phone number. However, if Cataldo expected tea and sympathy, he was mistaken. "My executive officer and crew members thought we were just lunatics, just whacked out," he told Chambers. "It never came up again. Keesler never called or did anything."

UFO researcher Kenny Young (Author's April, 2007 notation to this 2002 article: Mr. Young is now deceased) also contacted Cataldo following Natalie Chambers' article, also attempting - so far unsuccessfully -- to locate his two fellow Navy witnesses. Cataldo provided a few more details of the object, perhaps the most intriguing being that it "was less than half a mile away and looked as big as any big American airliner I've ever seen." He also confirmed that other motorists had slowed down to look at the seemingly inexplicable sky object. "We were the only ones on the road to stop and look at it though," he advised.

Importantly, Cataldo admitted, "I never knew of the Hickson-Parker abduction until days later. It happened on Thursday and it was not until the following Sunday that I saw the headline in the morning paper about two men taken aboard a flying saucer, I'm telling you I about died." He emphasizes that he can't be absolutely sure that his UFO and the fishermen's were the same, but the place and time were so close that the relationship must surely be taken seriously.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

As Weird as it Gets - Part 3

Part 3

Serious UFO-related journalism has often been hard to come by via the conventional media, especially in the U.S., but recent events may encourage more credible reporting of the seemingly incredible

Robert Barrow

"I can tell you here and now, and God is my witness and I believe in God, that when I die I'll tell everybody what I saw. And it'll be the same story." -- Charles Hickson, quoted by authors Ralph & Judy Blum

If there exists a "bigger picture" in this anomalous concoction of mysteries that only the most science-minded of scientists prefer to tackle, that picture still lacks identification. The casual mind, familiar with UFO sightings in the U.S., sometimes notes a pattern, albeit a general one - essentially, that UFOs were reported as balls of light or disc-like objects in the sky in the forties and fifties, observed landing and hovering at close range in the fifties and sixties, also causing a fair share of electromagnetic effects (stalling cars and affecting power supplies, for example), and in the sixties and seventies heralding the introduction of alleged abductions and examinations by entities. From the seventies and eighties have emerged credible reports of UFOs approaching high-security military areas and even causing entire missile defense systems to become inoperable during their presence (a treasure trove of solid military and well-documented UFO cases are on file at ). That's right here in the good old USA, mind you.

What you are about to read should have been a major story at every news outlet in the country last year, but it was largely ignored. To be properly updated and launched on the track of terror to a world that lurks beyond our supposed wisdom, we must first journey back in time three decades to an incident that actually did make headlines all over the world.

On October 11, 1973, Charles Hickson (42) and Calvin Parker (19) enjoyed a leisurely early evening of fishing from a river pier at the abandoned Shaupeter Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Suddenly, as documented in their separate accounts, they were distracted by something behind them and turned to get the shock of their lives. A short distance away, a strange, domed oval object making a buzzing sound hovered just above the ground, and bizarre-looking beings had exited the craft, floating through the air, moving right toward the fishermen. One grabbed Hickson's arms with claw-like hands, creating pain in his left shoulder, and he immediately became immobile. Another entity grabbed Parker by the arm and he lost consciousness.

Hickson and Parker were floated off the ground and taken inside the craft, its interior a place of intense light with only a viewing screen on a wall. The entities totaled three, all robot-like, around five feet in height. They had no discernible necks, had slits for mouths and pointed noses and ears. Where eyes might have been there were either little slits, or perhaps nothing. They were covered with grayish, elephant-like skin and feet, and functioned with claw-like hands at the ends of long arms.

A device appearing like a large eye emerged from a wall and Hickson recalled that it moved up, down and all around him, as if scanning his entire body. The beings were observed to perform their work stiffly, mechanically and quickly. One emitted a buzzing noise. After examining the two men, the three disappeared briefly before returning and floated Hickson and Parker back outside. Hickson fell as soon as his feet touched the ground, while Parker was apparently in shock and just stood where he was put. The next thing the men knew, the craft was speeding skyward and out of sight.

A very shaken Charlie Hickson contacted the sheriff and by midnight he and Parker were seated in a room at the sheriff's office, answering questions posed by a no-nonsense officer. One maneuver that lent immense credence to their claims occurred when the sheriff left the room briefly on the pretense of something he had to take care of. Unknown to the two men, a tape recorder was secretly recording their words in his absence to try to catch them in a fantastic lie. On the contrary, however, they continued speaking to one another about their experience, trying to make sense of it, and Calvin Parker's recurrent concern in the conversation was that if they tell people about the experience, the creatures will return in and do something to them. The sincerity in their voices is overwhelming (the tape, of very poor quality by this time and in need of a digital cleanup, was recently put up on the Internet for listening, free of charge, at ).

By the following morning, Hickson and his wife noticed his left arm bleeding at the spot where the being had grabbed him, and he was destined for a wealth of nightmares as time progressed.

Both men passed polygraph tests and hypnosis sessions were invoked to get the full story. The late astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, former Air Force chief UFO consultant (who started out highly skeptical but eventually viewed UFOs as a real and important subject of scientific study) walked away highly impressed after speaking with them, convinced by that time that UFO abductions were a legitimate phenomenon. In fact, a succession of scientists and investigators found Hickson and Parker honest and deeply concerned about their experience. Hickson, older and more laid back, handled the encounter far better than Calvin Parker, who suffered a breakdown and remained devastated. Hickson commented to the Associated Press of his close friend, "He's not the same man as before. It just ruined him." Even Sheriff Glenn Ryder, who remembered getting a phone call from Hickson at a pay phone around 11:00 p.m. on that fateful night, was impressed with the situation, whatever its meaning: "Calvin Parker was just hysterical. He was having fits. I took them in the patrol car to the sheriff's office."

Other people had reported a possible UFO that night, but statements were generally vague, some making reference to a streak of light in the sky. And so went the Pascagoula case for almost 30 years, another bizarre little UFO story consigned to history, believed by some and dismissed by others. But then the unexpected happened: A new witness stepped forward.

Monday, April 23, 2007

As Weird as it Gets - Part 2

Part 2

Serious UFO-related journalism has often been hard to come by via the conventional media, especially in the U.S., but recent events may encourage more credible reporting of the seemingly incredible

Robert Barrow

Currently, the authorities in this and other countries are forced to puzzle over the phenomenon of cattle mutilations. Researchers have reported on these downright bizarre manifestations since at least the sixties, and some western states are reporting them this year with some regularity. Earlier this year, Montana's Great Falls Tribune alerted its readers to a new round of mutilations. On July 31 The Las Vegas Weekly informed its readers that cases had increased and the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), a private organization noted for in-depth investigations of mutilated cattle and other creatures, stated that reports had climbed to about a dozen, with input from Utah and other western states.

So, what's the big deal about dead and mutilated animals, anyway? Plenty, as it turns out, because the instances in question encompass far more than those mere words betray. Veteran investigators of the "real deal" mutilations generally discover animals that have died quickly and are slow to decompose as they remain watched - but untouched - by predators that would usually waste no time in consuming a carcass. Stranger yet, in the remote areas where cattle are often found, there are no tire tracks or human footprints nearby, and sometimes all the evidence indicates the animals were dropped from the sky, leaving depressions in the ground where they lie. In an uncomfortable number of cases, strange and silent bright lights are observed flying or hovering over pastureland the evening before the animals' discovery. Burned grass and scorched ground is sometimes found adjacent to the bodies.

However, the genuinely frightening kicker here is the condition of the mutilated cattle. Specific body parts such as eyes, ears, genitalia and jaw portions are not only missing, but apparently removed with surgical precision, and frequently with the surgical precision of something akin to a laser. It isn't uncommon to find rectums cored out cleanly and the occasional fetus is said to have been removed with skill. But particularly shocking is the generally reported total absence of blood in and around the carcasses. In recent cases where blood samples were available, lab tests indicate peculiar changes perpetrated by forces unknown on the animals' hemoglobin, and tests are ongoing to establish the process involved.

For several months, South American farmers and ranchers have experienced an ongoing siege of mutilations, especially in Argentina, where the tally of mysterious cattle deaths now exceeds 400 by some estimates. While Uruguay has seen an increase in recent weeks, Argentina by far holds the current record as the South American cattle mutation capitol. Thanks to U.S. researchers such as Scott Corrales, who translates reports from various S.A. newspapers and sends them on to English-speaking countries, it is clear that the mystery mutilators, whomever or whatever they are, show no prejudice in treating their kill exactly as they do in the U.S. and other nations.

Once the Argentine deaths began to multiply this year, the government quickly dispatched a scientific team to investigate and quiet the fears of ranchers who experienced not only the trauma of these bizarre killings, but also the terror of seeing strange lights in the sky prior to their grizzly discoveries.

Faster than you could say "experts," the Argentine government announced a solution to the mutilation onslaught: A particular variety of predatory rodent, the "red-muzzled mouse," was essentially attacking cattle that already died from natural causes and were tearing off body parts with seeming precision! However, even as veterinarians and other scientists who were well versed on the peculiarities of the mutilations were picking themselves up off the floor in disbelief, the absurd mouse explanation began to crumble to dust. The first clue to this idiocy arrived when locals realized the type of mouse in question wasn't even indigenous to the areas in question; further, the sheer numbers of mice necessary to produce the widespread carcass damage would be immense, and there was no evidence of rodent droppings that would certainly have accumulated at the scene of each mutilation. And, as noted previously, predators of all varieties simply wanted nothing to do with the typical mutilation.

The cases continue today and even police officers have reportedly encountered UFOs in cattle mutilation areas. In one instance, an officer's patrol car stalled and lost all power as a strange object flew slowly by. But farmers and ranchers have become infuriated and disgusted with the government explanations and some victims now refuse to report their mutilations officially. Police agencies are said to have stopped accepting reports since the official government mouse explanation hit the streets, and this has affected access of journalists to the latest incidents as well. As if the situation isn't tense enough, there have been reports of large water reservoirs emptied mysteriously overnight, and toward the end of June, 19 dead and dying cattle were alleged in a newspaper report to have been found piled together inside a reservoir, the animals placed there by means unknown. The integrity of the cattle owner was impeccable, and the acutely strange aspect is that the tank was an Australian version, with a conical top and sheet metal on the sides. Under the best of circumstances, determining how the cattle made their entry into such a structure is a mind-bender, though theories of even teleportation have been bandied about.

If all of this doesn't wax imponderable enough already, another report describes the seemingly well-witnessed arrival recently of, not a car full, but a large truck full of U.S. advisers of some sort, supposedly visiting Argentina to examine the mutilated cattle.

As mutilations and the enigmatic crop circles continue to appear in several countries, UFO reports also seem on the increase. India has been much in the news lately because of supposed attacks and deaths blamed on UFOs. Particularly in the western states, numerous after-dark sightings of huge, silent triangular objects occur. There is some well-founded speculation that at least some of these are secret military aircraft, perhaps incorporating high-tech lift and dirigible characteristics, used to transport who-knows-what under cover of darkness. But a disturbing number of other UFO reports, here and abroad, clearly have nothing to do with conventional aviation.

As Weird as it Gets - Part 1

Way back in 2002, amidst some very interesting UFO activity, I wrote an article entitled, "As Weird as it Gets." I intended it as a general interest UFO article which perhaps could be placed with a regional newspaper. However, after multiple attempts and no editorial interest, I withdrew the piece and filed it away. While there won't be anything new here to those eminently familiar with UFO reports, I think the article stands up well for a general readership. The piece is lengthy, so I've broken it up into five separate and consecutive blogs.

Part 1

Serious UFO-related journalism has often been hard to come by via the conventional media, especially in the U.S., but recent events may encourage more credible reporting of the seemingly incredible

Robert Barrow

While most of us slept during the wee small hours of July 26, oblivious to the routine world of consciousness, a fast-paced drama portrayed to the press in benign terms, yet of perhaps immense significance simply because the public learned of it at all, was playing out over the skies of Maryland, not all that far from the highly restricted air space of the nation's Capitol. While the basics happened to emerge here and there from the deluge of information that confronts newspaper and electronic media editors daily, chances are good that the story escapes you to this very day.

Around 1:00 on that otherwise quiet Friday morning, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado made radar contact with an apparent low, slow-moving aircraft outside of D.C. Unable to establish radio contact with this unidentified target in a post September 11 country that can no longer afford to leisurely ask questions first and shoot later, NORAD immediately scrambled two armed F-16s from the 113th Air National Guard squadron at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington.

We are told that as the jets investigated, the image faded from NORAD radar and the pilots returned to base after seeing nothing in the skies. However, as peculiar stories often tend to do, this one became increasingly mysterious.

WTOP-AM, an all-news radio station in D.C., began getting calls from listeners near Andrews AFB who were not only "shaken from their beds" as the jets took off in a hurry, but claimed to have seen either a bright blue or orange ball of light moving very fast while the jets screamed overhead in pursuit.

By the next morning, reporter Steve Vogel of The Washington Post had sorted out the facts and revealed a few surprises as well for the daily edition. He, like WTOP, spoke with witnesses and was given particularly to quote from one named Renny Rogers of the nearby Maryland suburb of Waldorf. Rogers, whom UFO (unidentified flying object) researchers later learned had actually run in and outside of his house twice as the jets were engaged in an apparent chase, described seeing a "light blue object traveling at a phenomenal rate of speed."

"This Air Force jet was right behind it, chasing it," he added, "but the object was just leaving him in the dust. I told my neighbor, 'I think those jets are chasing a UFO.'" Rogers had already insisted to a WTOP reporter that the object displayed no smoke or trail, no flashing lights, appeared smooth and seemed "eerily silent."

Maj. Douglas Martin of NORAD in Colorado, according to Vogel's report, stated that radar had detected "a track of interest," but fighter pilots observed nothing. "Everything was fine in the sky and they returned home," Martin advised. Maj. Barry Venable, another NORAD spokesman, bluntly told The Washington Post, "There are any number of scenarios, but we don't know what it was."

Other than the Post, media coverage of this incident, intriguing especially because of the official candor involved in even confirming publicly the presence of an unknown on radar that necessitated a military scramble, proved pathetically sparse and the incident received brief mention in a handful of cable news programs and newspapers before disappearing into accounts on various Internet sites.

Nevertheless, the fact that The Washington Post bothered to cover this story at all further authenticated its significance. Incredibly, just a few days before the scramble, TWP reporter Peter Carlson had written an astonishingly open-minded look back 50 years ago, when Washington experienced well-documented instances of UFO activity, including reportedly solid radar returns and pursuing pilot visualization. UFO researchers, accustomed to decades of abundant UFO-ridiculing newspaper reports in the U.S., were taken aback that a major U.S. newspaper afforded the subject a thoughtful examination. This writer's brief query to Carlson revealed that his article did elicit a good response from readers.

In an intriguing footnote to Carlson's piece, the July 26 F-16 scramble coincided exactly 50 years to the day with July 26 of 1952, when a major multi-UFO event occurred over the Capitol.

Not surprisingly, aviation writer Phil Klass, who seems never to have met a UFO he couldn't explain away in his books and articles, chimed in on an Internet UFO discussion site and suggested a temperature inversion as the culprit. Klass is also a prominent member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, headquartered in Amherst, NY. Reporters appear to enjoy consulting CSICOP each time something anomalous happens, and rarely do they go away without CSICOP having whipped up a conventional explanation to chase away the bogeyman and lull the masses. But for those who think of CSICOP as the know-all and end-all corridor of scientific inquiry, the reader may wish to examine an article widely available on the Web called "sTarbaby." Not only is this lengthy article an intriguing fact-based condemnation of CSICOP's true colors -- it also happens to have been written years ago by CSICOP co-founder Dennis Rawlins, who couldn't depart the group quickly enough when he discovered its true longings.

To many people, the fictional crop circle movie "Signs" might seem the strangest event of 2002. In truth, however, the year is shaping up as noteworthy for well-witnessed UFO sightings in the U.S., Canada and numerous other countries, accompanied by bizarre animal mutilations and allegedly "real" crop circle formations whose genesis should perk up every truly scientific mind.

For better or worse, the mainstream American media is frequently more concerned with things important to their audience and the bottom line than with far-flung topics such as UFOs. Major news organizations searching for tangible stories have little patience for ubiquitous lights in the sky or apparently wild tales of abductions by alien critters, unless useful for the humor section. Beyond the obvious, there have also long been nagging questions about the relationship between media conglomerates and high-ranking government sources holding reign over the release of juicy stories to journalists who play the game vs. those who don't. This is not intended as a conspiratorial accusation, but only a perspective allowing that the UFO question isn't to be asked of Washington officials (e.g., there's nothing to it anyway, wink, wink...) because it annoys them to the point where troublesome TV network A or pain-in-the-butt newspaper B might just find their competitors, and not themselves, in receipt of The Big News on a daily basis, while their degrading reward for being really good journalists might be some meaningless story about who spilled a drink in the White House rose garden, or something equivalent.

Or, to narrow this train of obfuscation down further, anybody waiting for a major media reporter at a press conference with President George Bush to raise their hand to ask when this government is going to tell the people what it knows about UFOs is likely to have a very, very long and disappointing wait.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Lovely Evening with the U.S. Secret Service

Oh yes I do, I know exactly how Billy the Kid felt -- well, except for the fact that he was guilty of something, or actually a few somethings. At least ol' young Billy wasn't involved in UFO research, otherwise he'd have dropped his gun and run screaming into the night.

The night. That night. I remember that night when the U.S. Secret Service agent came looking for me. But his inevitable visit had been written in stone days, not hours, ago.

These were the years of the Jimmy Carter Administration in the seventies. One afternoon while visiting a friend, there was a cryptic phone call for me from a family member. A Secret Service agent was at my home, in search of me, and rather energized about accomplishing his task. However, because my drive back would require about a half hour, he "kindly" announced an evening and time when he would return, and off he went into the daylight. All I could surmise was that he must be after something important, because it was a Saturday afternoon. Not the usual working hours one might expect of the government in a routine matter.

In the meantime, I was able to piece together his reason for visiting, and I was hardly alone in this situation. A threatening letter of some kind had been sent to the Carter White House with my name at the bottom. Further, other names were implicated, people I knew who were all involved in some way with an interest in UFOs. These included an amateur astronomer, a local TV news anchor, a writer and, I was told at some point, even Dr. J. Allen Hynek's name appeared at the bottom. There were probably other names as well. Because of standard procedures, I don't believe any of us had an opportunity to see the letter or know precisely its contents.

By the time the evening arrived for the agent's visit, I was pretty certain that my name was clear; I mean, if the Secret Service thinks you sent a naughty letter to the White House, do they make an appointment for your convenience?

However, one of the people named in the letter wasn't so lucky. It was his misfortune to suffer a visit early on by two Secret Service agents, and according to him they played the good cop/bad cop routine with him. He endured a most unpleasant experience. (ADDENDUM: In a conversation on May 26, he wanted me to add that he was interrogated for four hours, the agents demanded a handwriting sample for analysis, and they also asked if he knew "an Allen J. Hynek" -- obviously a reference to Dr. J. Allen Hynek, whose name, as stated, was also apparently included in the letter. When Monday arrived following the Saturday experience, the person stormed into the U.S. Attorney's office in Syracuse and issued a heated complaint about his treatment at the agents' hands. He, like the rest of us, had played absolutely no role in the White House letter incident.)

So, at last I met Agent X (I'll call him Agent X because that sounds far more mysterious and sinister than Agent John Smith, and I wouldn't dare disclose his real name -- hmm, if indeed HE had disclosed his real name to me...). To my good fortune, he was the "good cop" of the investigative duo, and appeared perfectly calm and conversational. He stayed about a half hour, a very pleasant man who never reached for handcuffs or a firearm even once. In fact, I was somewhat taken aback by how normal he seemed. During my Air Force years, I had met members of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (OSI) and they could appear almost other-worldly.

None of us named in the letter ever knew the disposition of the White House letter incident, though we were informed that these phony threat letters are received at the White House more frequently than we realize.

As for me, well, I certainly had no connection to the letter hoax, but I'll tell you this: I'm darned grateful, darned grateful that the agent was so consumed with the letter thing that he never noticed the elaborate counterfeiting operation concealed in the garage. (Just kidding. . .)

("Billy the Kid" poster credit: Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Albert M. Chop: One of the Last Honest Men?

It's more than appropriate that Al Chop be mentioned prominently here. Albert M. Chop died on January 15, 2006 in Palm Desert, CA after a long and interesting life. Numerous books and web sites discuss his life and work with the U.S. government, so I won't belabor what can easily be found elsewhere. However, Chop was particularly noteworthy for two things.

First, in the early fifties he served as chief of the press section for the Air Force at the Pentagon, and gradually converted from being highly skeptical about UFO reports to embracing their existence, based upon his "ringside seat" ability to review highly intriguing military reports about strange flying objects with apparent intelligence behind their control. Chop and other government officials, faced with mounting evidence as well as some interesting films of UFOs, cautiously became part of an impressive group by 1952 who seriously entertained the impression that UFOs may well be extraterrestrial spacecraft. Al Chop (pictured here) eventually became the subject of a movie about his UFO project involvement entitled "U.F.O." Appearing in 1956, this United Artists documentary includes two actual UFO films, still unexplained to this very day. Two of my articles about the movie may be found via the search engine at, if you type in my name.

The other visual here is the reverse of a book jacket for the American version of Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe's (USMC, ret.) 1953 book, Flying Saucers From Outer Space. Henry Holt & Co., the publisher, had asked Chop for a recommendation about Keyhoe's veracity and work. Al Chop, simply reflecting a positive UFO view, popular among some government officials at the time, replied on official Dept. of Defense letterhead. To the surprise and chagrin of both Chop and his superiors, Henry Holt printed this official, candid response, unintended for direct publication, on the book's jacket. Be aware as you read the letter that it originated during the very last period in U.S. history when the government was so open publicly about the UFO subject.

Chop's career also boasted a great affiliation with NASA public relations in the sixties, where he could sometimes be heard as "the voice of mission control" during a space launch. Especially notable was his push for NASA's "Snoopy the Astronaut" program, intended to interest children in the space program. He actually had to visit "Peanuts" creator Charles Schultz personally -- and successfully -- for his endorsement of the idea, because the newspaper syndicate running the "Peanuts" cartoon series initially took a very dim view of the NASA/Snoopy affiliation.

In the future, I hope to offer considerably more about the movie, "U.F.O."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Who am I?

Why UFOs?

I became actively interested in UFOs as a teenager in 1963. Part of this interest can be attributed to childhood visits with an uncle, an amateur astronomer with a large library of books relating to science, science fiction, the UFO subject and other topics of the unknown. Like many people intrigued by "things" that don't quite add up to society's quest for the supposedly normal and rational, the first volume I read from his library was a collection entitled, The Books of Charles Fort, an early classic among books dealing with strange occurrences.

Inspired by a real scientific mystery that even most scientists wouldn't touch, I went on to become a member of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in 1964 and a field investigator for the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) in 1965, and joined with organizations such as (Ivan T. Sanderson's) Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained (SITU) and the International Fortean Organization (INFO). Somewhere in the mix, I also became a member of the International Platform Association. In early research years, I wrote to and received replies about UFOs from political figures such as Gerald Ford when he was House minority leader, Sen. Robert Kennedy and Sen. Everett Dirksen.

My first letter-to-the-editor about UFOs appeared in a newspaper in 1965, with many more to come over the years, along with numerous regional radio and TV interviews in NY. Still a teenager, my first magazine article, about UFOs in New York, appeared in Syracuse Magazine in 1967.

With the military draft barking at my heels during the Vietnam years and having "successfully" completed a pre-induction physical, I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, trained as a medic and then cross-trained as a physical therapy specialist, a critical field which produced only about 30 graduating airmen a year. Following education at the Air Force Medical Service School, I served at the large Sheppard Air Force Base hospital in Texas, and for the last 15 months of service operated my own independent duty physical therapy clinic at Moody AFB, a pilot training base, in Georgia.

While stationed in Texas in 1970 I wrote an article, eventually printed in The A.P.R.O. Bulletin (Mar-Apr 1971 issue) following scientific review, regarding the possibility that some UFOs may utilize ultrasonics as part of their function. This theory came about based upon my observations and use of ultrasound to treat clinic patients. I was somewhat hesitant to submit the piece because of my then-current association with the U.S. military, which even in those days was leery of its members bringing the UFO topic into the mix, but there were no repercussions. In fact, when on military leave, I appeared on TV and participated in radio UFO discussions, keeping my military affiliation separate.

In the years following military service, I continued a college education which began prior to and during my military time, and by 1976 entered the world of national magazines when my expanded article on the UFO ultrasound theory appeared in the May issue of Official UFO. This kindness is directly attributed to the late Jim and Coral Lorenzen of APRO, who offered my name as a writer to the magazine's editor.

For the remainder of the 1970s my articles continued to appear in Official UFO, Argosy Magazine's Argosy UFO and True Magazine's True Flying Saucers & UFOs Quarterly. In addition to these and various regional newspaper and magazines, my articles and media reviews since the 1970s have appeared in Pursuit, journal of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained, the UFO Research Newsletter and the International UFO Reporter, journal of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies.

One of my Argosy UFO articles turned up briefly as a prop in the motion picture, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (black page, big white circle with the term, UFO, encased in large white letters). Also in the late seventies, I assembled and taught several sessions of one of the USA's first (non-credit) courses about UFOs at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, NY, entitled "UFOs: An Introduction." In addition, I once received a Congressional recommendation suggesting my participation in an alleged new government UFO study -- a study, however, which apparently never materialized, so no further action was initiated.

It's a pleasure, a thrill actually, to see that my writings about UFOs have been quoted in such books as Strange Skies: Pilot Encounters with UFOs, by Jerome Clark (Citadel Press, NY, 2003), pages 83-84, and Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis, by former NASA scientist Paul R. Hill (Hampton Roads Publishing Co., VA, 1995), pages 129-130. Several of my magazine and journal articles are listed in the exhaustive two-volume reference book set, UFOs & the Extraterrestrial Contact Movement: A Bibliography, by George M. Eberhart, first edition published by Scarecrow Press, NJ, in 1986. Issue #154 of Great Britain's TV Zone Magazine carried a brief interview with me (2003) in a lengthy article primarily concerning a sixties British sci-fi TV series entitled "UFO."

In recent years, I've had the honor of donating numerous reel-to-reel and cassette recordings about UFOs to Wendy Connors' Faded Discs (click on link at top of page) project (New Mexico), her goal being the rescue, conversion to digital format, and preservation for posterity important UFO-related broadcasts, government interviews and case reports. The project also accepted some 12 hours of taped Central NY TV/radio interviews with me encompassing the years 1965-1978 and put them into digital audio format, to become part of the vast Faded Discs collection whose intended destination one day is The National Archives.

What are UFOs? The primary conclusions one might reach from examining the evidence: (1) They are "real" and (2) there appears to be intelligence involved, to say the least.

One primary concern for me at this point is to encourage interest in the 1956 United Artists documentary motion picture, "U.F.O." (not to be confused with the British science fiction TV show mentioned above). I've written extensively about this rather obscure film and two articles are available for free viewing on the Internet, on at least three web pages (one version is in French). More recently, I wrote two articles for The International UFO Reporter (CUFOS). Concerned with the U.S. government's official UFO investigation in the late forties and early fifties, this dramatized feature-length film called upon former government and military UFO investigators to create a script for an incredible story -- and it is my firm conclusion that "U.F.O." may one day become the most important movie ever made.

As I write this in April of 2007, I must confess that I'm only marginally active in UFO research now, and surely offer my best wishes and encouragement to younger and, especially, scientifically oriented researchers who join the ongoing quest to determine just what UFOs are. In these pages, it's my hope to offer an assortment of miscellaneous things from my old files and the UFO research/history area in general that might be of interest to one and all. But be forewarned: The word "miscellaneous" very much applies here, while I serve as something akin to an UNpack-rat.

A few of my older articles, recent web posts and items related to my UFO interest may be found via one's favorite search engine, and would be a nice site to consult. Simply type in : robert barrow ufos or robert barrow ufo. Thanks for stopping by.