Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Doing the Air Force Shuffle

Remember, I'm a teenager in 1965, so maybe my typin' skills ain't so good, you know what I mean? That, added to the fact that I've scanned a carbon copy, makes for a so-so version of a letter I clickity-clacked out on my trusty old manual typewriter. Now that I've self-exonerated, here's the story:

In July of 1964 -- three months after the famous Socorro, NM UFO incident, as a point of reference in time -- four boys camping out in Syracuse saw three objects high in the sky, each displaying a single red light. The story was prominently written up in The Syracuse Herald-Journal of July 15, 1964, the same date as the sighting.

Now, in this particular case, I didn't care a proverbial hill of beans (I don't even know what that means, for gosh sakes) whether these boys saw three jets, three balloons equipped with flashlights or simply experienced mass hallucinations induced by nocturnal bat droppings. Distant lights in a darkened sky are so hard to pin down.

The problem is, each boy reported three objects -- yet a local Air Force spokesman threw out the explanation that they probably saw a satellite. One satellite.

For reasons I don't remember, I didn't get around to checking this incident out until the next year, and three letters shown here illustrate the path followed. On March 15, 1965 I wrote the Air Force facility at Hancock Field, and in a response two days later from Maj. George Potter, director of information, I was rebuffed in typical official fashion and informed that my letter would be forwarded to Washington. In September, an Air Force representative in Washington replied and informed me the Air Force had no record of a July 15, 1964 incident -- rather difficult to swallow, considering that a local Air Force spokesman had a role in explaining -- badly explaining -- the sighting. No records in Washington? Whatever important or trivial things four boys saw in those early morning hours, reported immediately in a major newspaper which stimulated even more publicity, you can bet there existed an official report, and the Dept. of the Air Force in D.C. must have been fully and routinely informed. Couldn't they just acknowledge the report?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Thin Blue UFO Line

This 1965 letter received in response to my inquiry about access to official UFO information via the Syracuse, NY Police Dept. seems innocent enough, and it is. But, for me, pulling Chief Smith's reply out more than four decades later reminds me how different things were in the later seventies when Central New York experienced a flurry of impressive UFO reports. The ensuing confusion caused chaos amongst local and area law enforcement agencies, ill-equipped to deal with UFO sightings since the closure of Project Blue Book -- when witnesses were asked to report future UFO reports to local policing agencies.

Sometime way in the future, I hope to explore that period of time, but for now I just want to contrast Chief Smith's letter with the official bedlam that would grip Central NY years later, when police officer and sheriff's deputy tempers flared, altering careers and, indeed, causing law enforcement agencies to withhold UFO reports from the public. I doubt that Chief Smith would have approved, but he was long gone by the time the 1970s UFO reports exploded on the scene. Even The National Enquirer showed up for a story, which it obtained, while Dr. Hynek's Center for UFO Studies looked for facts -- and was denied. More on that at another time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Remembering Coral Lorenzen

This, my remembrance of Coral Lorenzen (shown in the photo with her husband Jim) with minor revisions made in August of 2000, was originally submitted to Pursuit, journal of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained. Like APRO, NICAP and so many other fine organizations dedicated to exploring UFOs and other scientific mysteries, SITU folded unceremoniously, and my thoughts on Coral remained unpublished. The disappearance of well-regarded research organizations — and seasoned investigators such as Coral — is a tremendous loss in the battle for truth vs. what some among us prefer to pass off as the truth.



Coral E. Lorenzen, co-founder of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization in 1952,
and co-author of several books with her late husband, Leslie James Lorenzen, died in Tucson,
Arizona, on April 12, 1988. Her passing also signifies the end of APRO, a pioneering UFO
investigative organization renowned for an extensive file of international UFO reports and
occupant cases.

Unfortunately, the close of APRO's chapter in UFO research arrived tragically. Mrs.
Lorenzen, long plagued by health problems that ranged from breaking her neck in 1979 during a
fall to the endurance of severe lung problems which required home oxygen on a daily basis, also
suffered the tragic death of her daughter a month before her own demise.

Born in Wisconsin in 1925, Mrs. Lorenzen's interest in UFOs dated back to a childhood
sighting at age nine. She created a UFO ground observer corps in 1952 in Wisconsin, the same
year the Lorenzens created APRO, of which she became international director and editor of
APRO's membership publication, The A.P.R.O. Bulletin.

Notably, Mrs. Lorenzen worked in U.S. defense plants during World War II, and in 1952
was employed by the Air Force in the range scheduling office at New Mexico's Holloman Air
Force Base, at that time "a discussion center of UFO activity," according to her first book (1962),
The Great Flying Saucer Hoax.



This writer knew Coral and Jim Lorenzen since 1965 as an APRO member, later as a field
investigator, and over the years was pleased to stay in touch with them via
correspondence and phone conversations — mainly with Coral, who seemed often more visible
than her husband; Jim usually seemed content to let Coral vocalize about their work. It would be
phony and presumptuous of me to portend an extremely close relationship with the Lorenzens, for
this was not the case, nor ever had I the pleasure of meeting them face to face. But they were
always there when I wanted to ask questions about UFOs as a teenager, nor were they too busy
or remote to offer a few words of encouragement when I found myself military-bound during the
Vietnam years. Afterwards, they arranged the break I desperately needed to write for national

Honesty, loyalty to her contacts and outspokenness were among Coral's most remarkable
qualities, the latter of which earned her detractors as well as friends. She knew the ins, the outs,
the dirt and the depths of UFO research and investigators everywhere, and if anybody inspired her
wrath she felt obligated to tell those whom she trusted about the indiscretions, always with a
sound moral attitude. And when she and Jim released yet another of several paperback books on
UFOs printed by a major publishing house, that particular one contained an acknowledgments
section in which they kindly thanked and honored each and every one of their many field
investigators by name, state by state, nation by nation.

While she had the talent to relate important issues in a very serious manner, Coral could be
quite light and humorous. One time, though, she made me laugh on the inside, for I dared not
confront her outrage as she described an interview of the Lorenzens conducted by a supposedly
nice enough reporter — which ended up being published in a popular monthly men's magazine
noted for nude female pictorial features. Coral had no idea that the article was destined for this
"trash," as she called it, and even though the piece proved excellent and informative, her fury
from a moral standpoint exceeded the heat of a blast furnace.

Nor was she a fan of Steven Spielberg's movie, "E.T." Perhaps with some justification,
Coral worried relentlessly during one of our conversations about the harm that the then-popular
fantasy image of a friendly little alien could do to research and reporting of the real, anything but pleasant encounters with UFO entities. Considering that the Lorenzens soberly entertained the
legitimacy and potential consequences of UFO occupant incidents long before most other research
organizations, their files bulging with international entity cases, it would not be unusual for Coral
to question the dangers of the seemingly innocent "E.T."

If there was a side to Coral that seemed particularly striking in the last three or four years,
it was her growing hostility toward "personalities" in the UFO field and their misuse of publicity
apparently for the sole purpose of making names, if not riches, for themselves: Stardom first,
science second, in essence. In fact, among her final wishes was the stipulation that after her death
APRO's membership lists would be destroyed, apparently to protect her beloved membership
from the unscrupulous. "I've just about had it," she once told me. "Everybody's fighting to be on
top. They all want to be famous and nobody wants to do the work. There are times when I tell
myself just to give it all up."

But neither Coral nor Jim gave up on APRO, and even after Jim's death a couple of years
ago she seemed determined to keep the organization and its Bulletin in progress, relying
increasingly upon deputy director Robert G. Marsland to accomplish the goals.

My last contact with Coral occurred about a year before her passing, when she phoned to
ask assistance with a project involving the famous Ubatuba "UFO fragments" case. (Note: See my article, "Coral Lorenzen and the Ubatuba UFO Fragments," at NICAP.org via the site search engine,) Thinking
back, her request had the urgency of perhaps somebody trying to tie up some loose ends before
her own departure. She had mentioned lightly in a conversation several months after Jim's death
how sometimes shortly after a spouse dies the remaining partner follows, so longevity was
apparently on her mind. As it turned out, while I felt honored to help, I accomplished virtually
nothing. Nevertheless, Coral, kind Coral, thanked me profoundly for my attempts.

In the context of our remaining phone conversations, we chatted about UFOs, APRO and
the usual mundane things that work their way into casual discussions. And yes, Coral was feeling
better, especially since her move to a new home at a higher elevation in Tucson, though oxygen
supplementation was an essential daily necessity. Coral had recently experienced a fungal lung
infection, and my suggestion that population growth in the Tucson area probably didn't help her
health prompted her to protest that the real culprits are the plants easterners bring along and
transplant in Arizona, creating an increasing breathing dilemma for allergy sufferers.

Speaking of Jim's death from cancer in recent months, Coral clearly had a rough time with
it. Talking about him was difficult for her, and she would abruptly end discussions about Jim,
saying "I still can't..." However, his presence remained strongly with her, because in the flow of
conversation she would still say "we" ("We have air conditioning," for example), rather than "I."

Coral had "guts and grit," and those of us who had the pleasure of knowing her and appreciating the enormity of her contributions are nothing less than fortunate as a result.

Fame Was Never More Fleeting

When the motion picture, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was released in 1977, I didn't rush out to see it the first week. But some of my friends did, and one (that would be the very observant Mark, living happily in Canada, last I knew) phoned me immediately thereafter with some news. It seemed that, at some high-drama point during the movie when the character portrayed by actor Richard Dreyfuss was destroying news clippings and articles about UFOs, a familiar page appeared for mere seconds in the background. Indeed, advised young Mark, this particular visual among visuals was an article I wrote for the May, 1977 issue of Argosy Magazine's Argosy UFO.

As capable as the next guy to have a skeptical moment, I didn't believe it -- until I saw the movie for myself. At around, what was it now, about an hour and 40 minutes into the film, there it was in the background for two or three seconds, a black page with a big white circle and the term, UFO, in the middle. My article. Obviously, the attraction for the movie production crew wasn't my article, it was the captivating graphic illustration produced by the Argosy art department.

The truth is, "How to Conduct Yourself Inside a UFO" was just about the worst thing I ever wrote for
publication. You know how sometimes actors appear in movies so bad that critics say, wow, they must have done that one for beer money? Well, this article, this thought piece, was my "beer money" article, but it wasn't accomplished for beer, just for a few innocent dollars. I had written better in the past, and certainly
better in the future. But there it was, my crummy article showcased, albeit for mere seconds with the bonus of my name being illegible, in a major motion picture.

I guess it wasn't really so terrible, my brief "role" as an unknown paper movie star. What really hurts is all the wasted years, anticipating that Steven Spielberg and Co. would cough up those precious residuals due me. Must be millions of dollars by now. Oh well, maybe tomorrow. . .

Thursday, May 17, 2007

APRO Membership in 1965

In 1965, I inquired about joining the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), at that time the most famous UFO membership organization after NICAP. APRO was formed in 1952, NICAP in 1956. The letter shown here (Jan. 18, 1965) from Coral Lorenzen is essentially my first contact with Coral, who founded and operated APRO with her husband, Jim.

While NICAP maintained an impressive file of important domestic, and to a lesser extent, foreign UFO cases and was noteworthy especially for lobbying Congress to initiate a Congressional UFO investigation, APRO's concentration involved a wealth of international UFO reports -- and a very sober attitude about UFO occupant cases, the kind that a cautious NICAP wouldn't warm up to for several years, and even then not until the evidence for occupants increased significantly. For NICAP, the Barney and Betty Hill story tipped the balance, as did the Pascagoula (Hickson and Parker) case. APRO, however, had already investigated and documented similar cases for years.

Unfortunately, the far less reputable "contactees" of the world, already holding reign for a long time, had firmly established their absurd stories of visits with residents of Venus and other nearby planets, and their often easily-determined lies had muddied the UFO research waters profoundly, leaving little or no room for credible UFO occupant/abduction/trace evidence reports.

APRO folded with Coral Lorenzen's death in the eighties, a few years after Jim passed on. I'll post more about APRO soon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New Link - Detective Fiction

A step away for a moment, please, from UFOs and other matters of scientific intrigue. I've added a new link to the page today, and I want to submit a few words about it.

I've known Jeffrey McGraw since the seventies, and he really ticks me off. Why? Because he has the ability to weave intricate plots and incorporate them into detective fiction novels, one after another -- a gift I happen not to possess! It's true, I've tried twice in my life to write book-length fiction and in each case, after finishing about 75 percent of the manuscript, out it went, trashed. With me, it's nonfiction or bust. Curses!

That's why I stand in awe of Jeff and other authors who conjure up stories that excite, tales intended to whisk us away to some other place, holding our attention all the way through. You'll find him mentioned on various web pages, but here's part of a current blurb describing his status from amazon.com:

JEFFREY MCGRAW has written six books including the "Ross Malone" thriller series and the "Eric Geiger" series. He also created and wrote the original audio series, "Mace Conners on the Long Haul" as well as the audio series, "Metro Heat" for virtuallyaudio.com. He is currently finishing the next Ross Malone thriller, "Breeder," scheduled for release in spring 2007. His passion for writing is only matched by his passion for baseball.

Not bad for a guy who started out writing humor, doing a little stand-up comedy and even writing sports articles way back. His books often reflect a "noir fiction" flavor and, as he continues working on novels, I know he's also involved in radio creations again, and I wish him continued success with all of his efforts. If detective fiction interests you, please check Jeff's web site, linked above.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Unclaimed Vehicle

Near the end of the previous (Part 4, final) entry about The Les Crane Show, the transcript indicates that just before the program is over Crane reads a letter from Air Force spokesman Maj. Maston Jacks. Jacks' official letter of reassurance wishes the American people to know that, essentially, there's no evidence that UFOs represent anything of concern.

How strange then, less than three weeks before Maj. Jacks' comforting letter to ABC-TV, that I also received a letter from the same Air Force officer. Widely circulated over the years since January, 1965, Maj. Jacks' letter uses the extremely interesting word, vehicle, in reference to the April, 1964 UFO encounter in Socorro, NM by patrolman Lonnie Zamora. Never, not to this very day, has the U.S. government explained the Socorro event, and the word, vehicle has never again been brought into play officially. Just what, then, was on the Air Force's mind that would precipitate a "no evidence was found which indicated that the vehicle was from outer space" response?

There seems to be some speculation out there in blog land recently that the culprit vehicle was a super-secret government lunar test device or some such. We'll predict right now that hell will freeze over before this theory gains "legs" -- particularly because this thing barely missed a dynamite shack upon takeoff. First of all, what idiocy would require testing a secret device near a dynamite shack? Surely, the government would know it's there in plain sight. And second, if it were a test vehicle that developed problems in maneuvering, there wouldn't be any sense in attempting renewed propulsion out of the desert in consideration of the very real possibility that you might collide with the dynamite shack, thus risking lives and showering classified bits and secret pieces of said test vehicle all over the place.

Using the letter posted here (click to enlarge), I wrote an article about the Socorro case back in the eighties for Pursuit, journal of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained, and though SITU is no longer in existence, NICAP posted the article on its web site, and the article may be accessed directly at: http://www.nicap.org/zamora6.htm

Whatever officer Zamora saw on the desert landscape that day, so long ago in 1964, apparently there is one thing the Air Force and the rest of us can agree upon: The thing was a v-e-h-i-c-l-e. A vehicle is a vehicle is a vehicle. Ain't no other way to spell it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The TV Show Destroyed by UFOs - Part 4 (Final)

Sandwiched in between the explosive publicity surrounding the 1964 Socorro, NM UFO incident and the 1966 UFO "flap" in Michigan and other parts of the country, this 1965 episode of The Les Crane Show consumed the remainder of its nearly 20-minute segment on UFOs by bringing in a professional astronomer who did everything but chew the furniture to both deny the UFO mystery and dismiss established knowledge that fellow astronomers ever saw the truly unexplainable in the skies. Mind you, this was also the time period when Air Force chief UFO consultant and astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek experienced a gradual change in attitude about the enigma. Officer Lonnie Zamora's Socorro UFO encounter served as the impetus for that transformation.

Frankly, if we may wander a bit here, the fact that members of the press almost always seem to consult an astronomer as the "first choice authority" whenever a UFO is reported in the news is disturbing in itself.. Astronomers spend considerable time and effort concentrating on teeny-tiny fields of telescopic vision in the sky, thus negating their chances of ever seeing any UFO activity passing before their field of view. Yet, these are the sources the media desire for quick answers, and a quick, obliging "solution" from the "experts" is what they generally get.

I wish Les Crane had interviewed somebody such as professional astronomer Hubert J. Bernhard, lecturer at California's Morrison Planetarium. Within two years after Crane's program, Bernhard recorded a record album entitled, The UFOs -- The Planetarium Lecture Series No. 3. When I heard this LP for the first time, expecting the worst, I think I really did almost fall out of my chair as Bernhard offered an extraordinarily fair insight into the UFO phenomena from ancient to modern times -- and he wasn't about to exclude the possibility of an intelligent extraterrestrial identity.

What lessons can be learned from the transcript's final portion below? Here's a brief summary of the qualities necessary to insure a bad talk session: First, when a broadcast program invites people to talk about UFOs, and they appear in good faith with the best of intentions, make sure you surprise and blind-side them with some debunking member of the scientific community. Remember that getting laughs is always more important than getting truth, and if you really believe that something is impossible just because it can't possibly be possible -- well, you just go by the standard recipe. Find that well-credentialed authority figure who really knows nothing about UFO evidence and put that person right out in front. Then, after all is said and done, and you've insulted and crushed the opposition with unreliable statistics and science as you perceive it to be, don't forget to pull out and read that "damned impressive" letter from an official source. After all, who can argue with government denials? Governments never mislead. . . do they?

Okay, we’ve heard about UFOs, or whatever they are, and I’m going to be neutral for a minute or two more. However, you mentioned astronomers, reputable astronomers, have corroborated your sightings and your documented evidence. I would like to introduce to you now, and to my audience, Dr. I. M. Levitt. Dr. Levitt, would you come out here, please? [Applause] Have you met these gentlemen before, Major Keyhoe and. . .?


All right. Dr. Levitt is the director, gentlemen, the director of the Fels Planetarium in Philadelphia, probably one of the most famous planetariums. . .And what do you think about all of the pictures you just saw and all the evidence in Major Keyhoe’s books, the UFO books?

Well, I haven’t had very much chance to go through this book, [reference to “The UFO Evidence.”] but from what I have, there are some very striking examples of taking too much for granted. Astronomers have seen them. In the book they list two, Clyde Tombaugh, Seymour Hess. Clyde Tombaugh did not say he saw a flying saucer, he said he saw something. Seymour Hess also said “I saw something.” Now, no one is going to say to you that you do not see anything, for us to do so is to say that 5,000 people or so who have contributed to this book, except for those who have played deliberate hoaxes, and there are those -- those people are suffering from hallucinations, we will not say that. They are seeing something, but what they are saying is, you describe precisely what you saw in great detail, and chances are we can tell you what this was is the operation of a natural law. The Air Force has done this in Project Bluebook, and I think 97% of the sightings have been identified, and have been explained as the operation of a natural law. And of course, the first thing the people who have fostered flying saucers and who would like to believe this may be extraterrestrial life will say, well, it is not the 97% I’m thinking about, it is the three percent. And my answer for that is, if it was 99.99%, they would say it’s that one-hundredth of one percent. That’s the bunch we’re talking about, not the others. And so, in an argument like this, you cannot lose. You must say these people are seeing something, and the scientist will say, tell us what you are seeing, precisely.

Let me cut through, because we do have a time problem, doctor. In all your years, looking at pictures - most of astronomy today is studying photographs, is it not?

Well, in my case, studying the sky.

Okay, and looking at the sky, and discussing astronomy and phenomena with all of your colleagues, have you ever, in your entire career, ever come across an instance that would lead you to believe that there was an object manufactured on some other planet, and now in our…[Levitt responds before the question is finished]

It is not only that, I have never seen it. But I don’t know of a single astronomer, other than those two, and there must be several thousand of them in the country who have seen one of them. You must recall that these people look at the sky each night. I do. I run an observatory, and I take several hundred people up occasionally, and I point out constellations, and if there should be a star there that doesn’t belong there, I can tell you. And if there should be a star missing, I can also tell you, if it’s a prominent one. [Much conversation occurs between Crane and Levitt, each tries to talk at the same time. Levitt continues.] This has never happened, but should there be, again, where there should be a star, the chances are I would know it. I know the constellations very well.

I would like to say that there are far more than two, doctor, that you are simply not acquainted with.

Well, I am only taking what is in this book…

Just A minute, please. You said that Dr. Hess did not say that he saw a UFO. We have a report from him in which he says he saw a powered disc. The report is here and I’ll be glad to show it to you. There is another planetarium up in Boston, the Hayden Planetarium. One of their staff, Mr. Walter Webb, had a sighting up there which was reported to us. Dr. James. . . [interrupted by Levitt]

What did he report? Did he report he saw . . . [both start talking over one another for a moment.]

He reported an object moving at tremendous speed under intelligent control, making maneuvers faster and tighter than anything that we had.

[All four start talking at once and finally Les Crane gains control]

I’m not going to get in here, either, right, come on, I’m the leader out here. Simon says [audience laughter] that we only have a minute left.

I know - I was trying to get half of it.

So, I’m - no, what I’m - but I just want to ask to cover it. Number one, this is a non-profit organization, is that right?

That’s right, in Washington, D.C., and we have thousands of reports from people.

[More confusion erupts as all talk at once.]

And also, Major Keyhoe, you earn a good part of your living by writing books and talking about flying saucers?

No, I lost money on that. You know that I have written. . .[Levitt interrupts]

I wish I got your fee for this TRUE story magazine. I’m going to plug it, but I sure wish I got your fee for that.

Now, I wrote a story 15 years ago on this cover. Now, I made a lot of money on those two articles in 15 years for that.

[Noticing that Bryan said something] What did you say, Colonel?

I said I think the doctor is getting a little off the subject and time is running out.

[Cheers from the audience]

Don’t you get paid for working, too?

Oh, yes, but I’m trying to find out if you get paid for this, can you view it as objectively as someone who is completely divorced from it? This is the question which I am asking.

Doctor, of course it's only a minor thing, I have a bachelor of science degree which doesn’t match yours, of course. But I regard myself as a very careful reporter. I have examined and interrogated over 400 pilots, foreign pilots and American pilots. We have signed reports, almost 1,000 of them, and they include reports by astronomers. And I would challenge you to come down to our organization sometime. We will show you these records, and if you can explain them satisfactorily and the Air Force can’t, we will disband our organization.

Do we have one more minute for a comment on this? A few seconds.


You know, for someone to sit here and say we can prove everything, and to say that there is no more necessity for research - now, there are aerial phenomena taking place of which we have no knowledge, simply because we have not yet discovered what are the basic laws, the natural laws under which these operate. And so, there could be many of these things which have been sighted by intelligent people, by people of integrity. And this is right, except for one thing, and that is that it is still the operation of a natural law, perhaps a natural law that we do not understand at the moment.

Doctor, did you ever hear of Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, former head of the CIA? He was the chairman of our board, he was on our board for five years. He issued a statement that these things were real and were under intelligent control and it was a dangerous situation because, several times, there have been scrambles of the Strategic Air Command, where these things were mistaken for a Soviet attack.

Well, that could be a danger. Scrambling our Air Forces to run after something that could be a danger, especially if there's nothing there. . .

These things have been picked up on radar repeatedly and these disc-shaped objects have been seen at the same time.

Before we attribute all sorts of things to the Air Force, let me conclude, uhh, we’re out of time. I want to thank you gentlemen, all. I want to conclude just by -- we contacted the Air Force, and this is the - from Major Maston Jacks, who is the Pentagon UFO project officer. [Crane reads Air Force letter:]

“The Air Force has a responsibility for the air defense of the United States and is also interested in aerial phenomena. In 16 years of tracking down reports, 9,000 of them, not one [Crane repeats, “not one”] has ever turned out to be a threat to American security or an example of advanced technology, nor of interplanetary or extraterrestrial origin.”

I just thought I’d throw that in because . . .[audience laughs and Keyhoe counters quickly]

That’s a special policy which has been carried out. We have on our board one former monitor of the entire project, and he says that for years the Air Force has been hiding the facts from the American public.

Well, in any case, it was interesting, right? RIGHT? [Applause] We’ll be back in a minute from right now.

[Fades to commercial] - END -

“The Les Crane Show,” was produced for ABC-TV, and this prerecorded program aired on January 27, 1965.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The TV Show Destroyed by UFOs - Part 3

Highly publicized UFO activity in the mid-sixties afforded Major Donald E. Keyhoe and other NICAP officials (broadcaster Frank Edwards high among them) the opportunity to appear on numerous TV and radio programs all over the country. Keyhoe received, for example, excellent variety show hospitality and exposure on such nationally syndicated TV programs as The Mike Douglas Show and The Merv Griffin Show. Maybe that's why his appearance on The Les Crane Show provided a contrast so dark and extraordinarily embarrassing that viewers flew into a rage, inundating ABC-TV with telegrams and letters of protest. While the following show excerpt continues to demonstrate the host's appeal for the laugh factor, the blog entry I post next time should tie up the paramount reasons for audience outrage in a neat little package.

We’ve got some pictures on the aerial phenomena we’re talking about. It’s up to you, you make up your own mind about the UFOs. NICAP [he again pronounces it kneecap], uh, NICAP supplied us with them. I like kneecap better! That’s a much catchier way of, you know, however, and I think they’ll show up pretty well on your TV set. First, this is a picture taken May 11, 1950, by Paul Trent of McMinnville, Oregon. It was examined and published by Life Magazine, and Life described him as an honest individual and said the negative appeared to be untampered with. Here’s another picture taken by the famous Paul Trent of Oregon.

Okay, August, 1951, one of the most famous American UFO sightings, in Lubbock, Texas. The photo was taken by Carl Hart, Jr., of a V-shaped light formation known as the Lubbock lights. The Air Force said it was a light reflected from a high-flying bird. That’s pretty weird! [Laughter]

Okay. Here’s an official U.S. Coast Guard photo taken by Shell Alpert in the Salem, Massachusetts Coast Guard station in 1952. He watched bright lights in the sky, watched them for a few seconds more, called in another Coast Guardsman and then took this picture. In 1964, the Coast Guard added this note to their caption on the picture, saying they have “no further explanation or information to add concerning this photograph, and no official opinion as to the identity or origin of the lights.”

Now, here’s a surprise. Take a look at this. This photograph was published in the official organ of the Royal Air Force, the RAF Flying Review, which the magazine said “seemed one of the few photographs of UFOs that does appear to be authentic.” The photograph was taken in Rouen, France, in 1954, and it looks identical with the Paul Trent photo we already showed you, taken thousands of miles away, four years earlier. . .

Here are a couple of pictures taken in 1957 over [unintelligible] in Japan. NICAP isn’t very strong on these, right Major?

That’s right.

You feel they’re the most dubious of the samples that you brought, but we thought we’d include them anyway to spend the time. Here’s a long-range shot of a Japanese capsule sighting and here’s a close-up of it. That could be anything, that could really be anything.

Okay, back to our country. Here’s a photograph taken on the Pacific Coast near San Pedro, California, in December, 1957, by radio officer T. Fogl aboard the British ship, S.S. Ramsey.

And a series of pictures off Brazil, by the Trindade Islands, as the unidentified flying object was in motion. These pictures were taken by a Marine photographer on a Brazilian ship, participating in the International Geophysical Year. I can hardly see anything there. Oh, I see, up in the corner, okay. . . oh look, there's a whole bunch of them (Keyhoe points out that there is only one). . .oh, I'm looking at the clouds, I thought I spotted four of them. It's contagious.

I think that’s enough, right? Oh, wait. There is one I do want to show you. Can you skip down to slide number 16? Okay, now, this is interesting. An aircraft company that we cannot name took this picture as a promotion picture for this airplane, the B-57. But they never published it!. And the reason why they never published it is because in the upper right hand corner there is something which showed up on the print of this picture which you can’t see in this picture, for which we’ll show you right now. {Enlargement shown] This is a blow-up of the upper right-hand corner of that picture of that B-57 airplane, and this picture was only recently submitted to NICAP, which estimates that it was taken between 1958 and 1960. Okay? That’s enough.

I think this has more weight to it than the other photographs which you might show. This is an official Air Force Intelligence sketch based on 3,000 reports, which described these things as disc-shaped objects, apparently metallic, which can maneuver at speeds up to thousands of miles an hour. Now, that was circulated secretly to all Air Force Intelligence sources at the very same time the Air Force stated they had no idea what these things looked like. This not only proves the secrecy, but also that they have a very good idea what these things are.

Well, all I can tell you, all I can reiterate again is that for the four years that I was in the Air Force, and a pilot, and I had secret clearance and all the rest of it and . . .

Well, what you don’t realize, probably, this document, “The UFO Evidence,” is based on an eight-year investigation. The board of governors of NICAP include admirals, generals, colonels, scientists, technicians, pilots - over 200 experts in this field. Many of them are top scientists. We’ve investigated over 5,000 - at least a thousand of these represent airline pilots of every major airline, and all the air services in the United States, tower operators, missile trackers. All of these people saw something, and sometimes the radar trackings compared them to visual.

Professional astronomers, too, as you inquired.

That’s right.

Professional astronomers?

Professional astronomers.

That’s very interesting, and I’ll tell you why that’s interesting in a minute from right now.


Continued in the next blog entry. “The Les Crane Show,” produced for ABC-TV, prerecorded program aired January 27, 1965.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The TV Show Destroyed by UFOs - Part 2

Les Crane was neither the first, nor the last, broadcaster to inject humor or ridicule into the UFO issue. In a way, he was a victim of circumstance. At any other time, the events of the evening may have gone unnoticed, but the country had been on high-interest alert about the UFO issue because of so much publicity about the wave of sightings engulfing public concern. The viewing public judged The Les Crane Show harshly that night, assuring more negative ratings for a show probably already in trouble. If there's one thing that everybody connected with the broadcast industry realizes, it's that viewer ratings are everything. Everything.

LES CRANE begins the show’s UFO segment:
[First several words were not recorded]. . . flying saucers, and there is a lot of interest in that, and they constantly kept referring to Mr. Keyhoe, Major Keyhoe, Mr. Keyhoe, who apparently is the authority of authorities on flying saucers, or unidentified flying objects, in America.. So, we thought for fun, just for a short while, it would be fun to bring him back. So here is Major Donald Keyhoe, ladies and gentlemen. [Applause] And over on this side, this is Col. J. Bryan, Col. Bryan. [Applause] Major Keyhoe is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis. You were an aircraft and balloon pilot in the Marines, you were, lecturer, author of four books about UFOs - is that right?

That’s correct.

And you are currently the director of NICAP. [Mistakenly pronounced as kneecap]



Yes, National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena.

The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, NICAP, okay. Col. Bryan is a graduate of Princeton, a former special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Forced - uh, Air Force. What did I say - Air Forced? I was in it for four years, can you imagine that? I’m mispronouncing it already! A distinguished magazine editor and writer, and he’s an editor for Town and Country and Saturday Evening Post. So, you know that these gentlemen are not just [whistle] “I saw one over there in my garden! Oh,” [whistle] “there goes another one!” You know, it’s not that type. These are distinguished gentlemen who really believe that there are such things as extraterrestrial explorations of our planet.

That’s correct.

You really believe this?

We agree with the Air Force. They have a top secret conclusion that these thousands of objects that have been seen by pilots and tracked by radar are real and are superior to anything we had, so there’s, somewhere, someone ahead of us.

Do you agree with that, sir?


You really do?


Always? [Laughs]


Well, [turning his attention to Keyhoe] you charge that the Air Force has been suppressing information, deliberately withholding back facts about these?

Well, that’s right. They have an order, Air Force Regulation 200 [reference to AFR 200-2] which orders anyone in the Air Force to withhold information unless they are okayed by headquarters.

Well, information about ob. . .

About UFOs - unidentified flying objects.

Yeah. I was a pilot in the Air Force for four years - well, it was about three years - it took me a year to learn how. [Laughs] Well, that’s alright. That’s the right time. [Laughs] The right length of time. And I never heard anything about, you know, I never heard anybody ever tell me if I spotted something, I couldn’t tell anybody.

What time was that, what year?

I - my pilot training class was 57-0, which means I got my wings in 1957, and I flew through ’60.

Well, the order was in effect then, but it probably hadn’t been circulated by that time.


We have a copy of it, in case you’d care to see it.


Mr. Crane, you know, your producer has seen one, did you know that?

My producer has seen one? First of all, it’s not my - I think you’re talking about Mr. Norman [Clenlan?] of our staff.


Who, A, is not my producer, forgive me, I didn’t know, and, B, is a little weird. [Laughs] He is just a little bit funny, you know, but we humor him. I mean, we don’t - as a matter of fact, if he’s around, he may be coming out to get me - or they may be coming to get him. Okay. Do we have time to show the slides or do we have a commercial first? We have got pictures. We have a commercial first, is that what you’re getting at? [Talking to audience.] We have some pictures of some - you figure it out. We’ve got some pretty strange pictures to show you in about a minute from right now.


Continued in the next blog entry. “The Les Crane Show,” produced for ABC-TV, prerecorded program aired January 27, 1965.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The TV Show Destroyed by UFOs - Part 1

UFO sightings in the mid-sixties represented far more than lights in the sky. Reports of close encounters with strange objects, electrical interference seemingly precipitated by UFOs and even documentation of physical traces caused by apparent UFO landings became common. By the end of 1964, UFO investigators working on a number of credible cases still felt preoccupied with the blockbuster incident of the year, police officer Lonnie Zamora’s dramatic observation of a daylight UFO on the ground, complete with small beings nearby, that quickly roared off into the skies over Socorro, NM, barely missing a dynamite storage shed and leaving behind landing marks and burning desert vegetation that still smoldered 24 hours later, as government and civilian investigators at the scene scratched their heads in wonder. The scratching and wonder continue today.

By January, 1965, public and media interest in UFOs positively crackled with curiosity. With major UFO encounters yet to come, January had already produced a major and disturbing UFO article by Major Donald Keyhoe in True Magazine. Keyhoe was then director of the Washington, D.C. UFO lobbying organization, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). As the month progressed, NICAP mailed out an announcement to its vast membership (see postcard), vowing to take advantage of the publicity to gain a serious investigation of the UFO phenomenon. A series of incredible sightings near the nation’s Capitol added considerable fuel to the media fire, as NICAP was then looking into cases such as a December 21 landing report near Roanoke, VA, where electromagnetic effects on an auto were noted. On December 29, the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland allegedly tracked two UFOs on radar at an amazing 4,800 m.p.h. velocity. An engineer in Wallops Island, VA, reported a round, glowing UFO on January 5.

With obvious enthusiasm, the NICAP announcement mentioned one more thing near the end. NICAP representatives were scheduled to appear on ABC TV’s “Les Crane Show” of January 27 at 11:30 p.m. EST. Launched by ABC in November, 1964, to compete with NBC’s popular “Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” Crane’s attempt at national entertainment lasted only four months, though the network would bring him back briefly much later to try -- and fail again -- to usurp the immovable Carson show’s audience.

NICAP held high hopes for the Crane show appearance. Under Richard Hall’s superb editorial supervision, NICAP’s document, The UFO Evidence had collided with Washington and the rest of the nation in July, 1964, and pressure was building for Congress to investigate UFOs. NICAP assumed the Crane show would encourage a “major breakthrough.” As it turned out, a breakthrough did happen, but initially not exactly the sort NICAP had intended.

Les Crane possessed an enviable radio broadcast background and, according to his own assertions during the program, was a former Air Force pilot. During his brief TV tenure, his best interviews often involved rock stars, and he would later enjoy moderate national success with his own recording, a somewhat new age-type music and narrative mix entitled Desiderata. I remember this well, as I purchased the LP out of curiosity when it first hit the stores. Unfortunately, the disc I selected was a defective pressing, and all of the songs were distorted, the sounds often akin to fingernails scraping on a blackboard. I later found a better copy, but I cherish the first recording because its flaws just seem so appropriate when I think back on the infamous Crane/Keyhoe interview.

When the program aired on January 27, 1965, Les Crane often made light of the UFO subject, and thus suffered his guests, NICAP director Keyhoe and NICAP board member Col. J. Bryan III (USAF, ret.). Also invited to participate in an evening of derision and obfuscation was noted and extremely skeptical astronomer I. M. Levitt, Ph.D.

Keyhoe brought along copies of official documents concerning the government UFO investigation, but Crane expressed little interest in televising them. Discussions about censored UFO information were impossible, as either Crane or the astronomer seemed to change the subject during what might have been sober moments. Topping off the hapless session, during the show’s final moments Crane produced a statement from Air Force spokesman Maj. Maston Jacks, which offered up the tired old official negative “party line” statement about UFOs. This was a knee-slapper for me because, earlier in this very same month of January, Major Jacks had sent me a letter referring to the still-unexplained Socorro UFO as a “vehicle!” (Note: I'll post that Air Force letter here at another time.)

Mercifully, the Crane session ended and Keyhoe and Bryan departed, each disgusted and concerned about the show’s effect on NICAP’s integrity and the status of UFO research. But surprisingly, there resulted very swift and decisively negative reaction against, not NICAP, but against Crane’s show and perceived mistreatment of his guests.

On April 20, 1965, with Les Crane having lost his show just weeks previously (reportedly in significant measure because of “that UFO show”), Major Keyhoe again appeared to talk about UFOs before a national TV audience. This time, however, in the same 11:30 evening time slot, there was a revamped show, now called “The ABC Nightlife Show” and hosted by the eminently beloved and respected veteran broadcaster, Dave Garroway. Joined by co-host and famed broadcaster William B. Williams, Garroway conducted a warmly professional session with Keyhoe. Even comedian Morey Amsterdam took part in this informative discussion. Astronomer Levitt also made a return appearance, but this time his skepticism seemed more reserved and the comments he did make pretty much spoke for themselves.

It is of some interest that Garroway, like Crane, had to read the apparently obligatory Air Force UFO comments, again from Major Jacks. However, this time the statement was read at the beginning of the program, thus giving Keyhoe a little more clout, since his facts wouldn’t be squelched with the finality of a last-minute Air Force blanket denial.

Make no mistake, this return visit can only be viewed as ABC TV’s apology to Major Keyhoe and millions of viewers, and the network did exactly the right thing (a survey I once did for Argosy UFO Magazine on the three major TV networks, regarding their UFO programming in the fifties, sixties and seventies, easily suggested that ABC provided the most balanced UFO reporting). ABC had apparently been as stunned by Crane’s sophomoric treatment of Keyhoe as the viewers.

The Crane show audio was originally taped by me on a reel-to-reel recorder, and I made a transcript decades ago. To my regret, some of the words on the tape were inaudible, but thanks to a restoration copy via Faded Discs (see link at top of page) I was able to retrieve most of what I didn't have on my own recording. I have excluded words here and there in transcription, but they should be of no consequence. It must be emphasized that the printed words hardly match the ridicule and attempts to play the UFO topic for cheap laughs which were so prevalent on the television screen. Nevertheless, some of this atmosphere should become apparent in this transcript of The Les Crane Show of January 27, 1965, which begins in my next blog entry. Also. . .

I wish to offer my profound thanks to Mark at Old TV Tickets for permission to use a surviving Crane show audience ticket here. Mark's unique website, spanning decades of TV shows and the tickets required to gain studio entry, is certain to bring back memories for veteran TV viewers. Please be sure to visit www.oldtvtickets.com

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Begging for More

Long before the cable and satellite TV industry entered the broadcast game with major and lesser studios and gobbled up rights to most cinematic gems, commercial TV stations all over the country routinely showed great movies regularly on their late-late, morning or afternoon schedules. That's how I happened to see the 1956 United Artists documentary movie, "U.F.O." In later years, I researched the movie, interviewed major participants and wrote a series of articles about it (see the NICAP link above, go to the site search engine and type in my name -- the NICAP site carries my two original magazine articles).

Central NY station WHEN-TV (now WTVH-TV) first showed "U.F.O." in 1964 and, as a teenager highly impressed with the movie, I would write letters to the station often, literally begging them to run it again. For my New York readers, I'll offer three WHEN-TV responses here for old times' sake. The two earliest were signed by Gordon Alderman, a very respected Syracuse broadcast industry member who possessed a wonderful voice that any broadcaster would crave. I hope it wasn't because I made a letter-writing pest of myself, but Mr. Alderman died a month after his May, 1965 letter, and thus his successor inherited my annoying and ongoing requests to screen "U.F.O." again.

Friday, May 4, 2007

UFO Landing Frenzy in 1964

After the alleged Socorro, NM UFO landing (see previous blog entry, "The UFO Landing Heard Around the World"), NICAP became inundated with highly unusual UFO reports whose details extended far beyond mere lights in the sky, many of them in reference to UFO landings all over the country. The organization was being impacted by this UFO "flap" just as the staff struggled to publish its long-awaited report for Congress, entitled "The UFO Evidence."

In the two-page Special Report issued June 8, 1964, shown here (click to open), NICAP offers members a brief glance into the kinds of "things" their investigators were involved with. Indeed, while UFO landing reports were not commonplace in NICAP's experience dating from the fifties, nor were they unusual. What was unusual this time, at least in the USA, were scattered instances of small beings sometimes seen near the objects, and in at least one case (Gary Wilcox) a seemingly reliable witness reports conducting a conversation with small, apparently alien, entities during daylight in his farm field!

Note that all of this occurred several years before the considerably different and generally frightening "UFO abduction" incidents entered the arena of mystery in the USA. The famous Barney and Betty Hill "abduction," for example, would have taken place years before the 1964 landing cases -- yet another enigmatic potboiler which, when at last revealing itself to the world years later, brought with it an ongoing parade of similar events rarely, if ever, seen by investigators before.

Contact Me???

Should you wish to CONTACT ME, my e-mail address appears in the profile information, and I'll also list it here. As you know, spam has become an insurmountable blight on Internet communication, and "spam-bots" cheerfully roam the Web, looking for people who reveal e-mail addresses. Therefore, to foil them -- I mean, I'm sure the time will soon approach when even this won't work -- I'm forced to break my address up into portions. So, to contact me:

(Type the word) rob
(Type the underline character once)
(Type the word) wildwinds
(Type the @ character)
(Type the words) yahoo.com

Thursday, May 3, 2007

NICAP Link Added

So far, I've sprinkled references to NICAP.org all over these blog entries, so it's great to finally put a link up in the link list. The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena closed around 1979-80 after a long run since 1956. During the powerful NICAP era, the "best and the brightest" of UFO witnesses and cases were documented, resulting in some of the most compelling incidents on record, especially those involving military and commercial airline reports.

Thanks particularly to UFO investigator, writer and former NICAP associate Francis L. Ridge, NICAP's history lives on through a fully authorized, official web site initiated in 1997. At nicap.org you'll find not only a collection of the best UFO evidence in the world, there's also a great on-site search engine to assist in locating the facts, not the fallacies, of UFO investigations. The site is supported by the Fund for UFO Research. If you check out the section offering materials for sale, you'll discover some worthwhile items. The NICAP link is very important to this blog and I'm happy to add it above.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Socorro: The UFO Landing Heard Around the World

To exemplify the definition of the term, "when all hell broke loose," we need only remember April 24, 1964, the day when patrolman Lonnie Zamora allegedly had a somewhat close encounter with a landed UFO in Socorro, New Mexico. A roughly egg-shaped object with strange markings on the side, small beings on the ground who scurried back inside, a terrific roar and flame as the thing ascended quickly and shot out of sight, apparently just missing a dynamite shack, and landing marks on the ground where vegetation continued to burn 24 hours after the event -- this incident had it all. National news headlines could barely hold the volatility of this incredible report as details exploded and shot like missiles to news agencies all over the world.

The Socorro event was hardly an isolated incident, however, as NICAP and other organizations, began receiving sighting -- and encounter -- reports nonstop. In response, as May, 1964 arrived, NICAP issued to members an alert about the Socorro case, and also dispatched postcards intended to capitalize on media attention. NICAP, we must realize, was very much a lobbying organization, in addition to serving as a profoundly effective UFO investigative entity, and when UFO publicity was high on the public mind there was no better time to "strike while the iron is hot" to increase public, and especially, Congressional attention.

Also mentioned is NICAP'S The UFO Evidence, an amazing 1964 report on the verge of publication, under assistant director Richard Hall's brilliant editorial supervision, which would be sent to every member of Congress in 1964. Filled abundantly with important military, government, airline pilot and other UFO reports to confound conventional scientific explanations, this NICAP document remains one of the top publications ever released about the UFO enigma.

For more on the Socorro incident, consult the nicap.org website and other reliable sources. Note, too, that Wendy Connors' Faded Discs (see link above) project offers digital recordings containing audio recordings of principal players in major UFO cases such as the Socorro incident.

Faded Discs & Virtually Strange

While this blog has a long journey ahead, I'm pleased to put up its first two links today, and fine sources they are.

Faded Discs is an historical project initiated by respected UFO researcher Wendy A. Connors years ago. Her goal was to literally rescue, clean up and convert to digital format old UFO-related recordings, otherwise doomed because of the deteriorating and unreliable media (reel-to-reel and cassette tapes, for example) upon which they were stored. Confronted with thousands of recordings (long forgotten radio and TV shows, case reports, witness interviews, military UFO accounts and so much more), Wendy has accumulated a collection of documentary gold, intended eventually for The National Archives, and she also offers much of it publicly in return for donations to purchase equipment and to keep this essential historical project afloat. Having heard, contributed "oldies" myself, and reviewed her work (my reviews may be read via the UFO UpDates archive of the Virtually Strange Network -- but more on that link shortly), I can say categorically that if Wendy hadn't begun this project, an immense amount of irreplaceable history and evidence for UFO existence would be lost forever. Thanks for your long dedication out there in New Mexico,Wendy, you're one of a kind.

Canada is indeed fortunate to call Errol Bruce-Knapp its own. For many years he has hosted his "Strange Days...Indeed" weekly radio program, part of the Virtually Strange Network, now available via pod-cast, and it's my pleasure to include above a link to his bustling website. If you want to stay current, I mean literally day-to-day current, you absolutely must check out the "UFO UpDates" section, where an ever-expanding list of written contributions from respected UFO researchers, scientists, intellectuals, media representatives and just plain folk continuously takes the "pulse" of the international UFO subject's status. Errol is a great talk host and mediator, very congenial and every bit the gentleman. Click the Virtually Strange Network link at the top of this page and explore the truth.