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 NICAP.org, 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."