Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dr. Hynek and CUFOS Reach Out

The Center for UFO Studies (see the link and visit the web site) was a fledgling operation in 1975, the brainchild attributed primarily to astronomer and former Air Force chief consultant on UFOs Dr. J. Allen Hynek. I suppose the easiest explanation for its existence is its fulfillment of the need for something, a reliable reporting source, where UFO sightings could be reported and investigated appropriately. Project Blue Book had folded, thanks, of course, to that ridiculous conclusion conjured up by the University of Colorado and Dr. Edward Condon assuring us that UFOs were no big deal -- worthy of a look by science as time goes on, but nothing to fret over. Yet, internationally the dramatic UFO reports from pilots, police agencies and government entities at many levels continued. CUFOS would be a clearing house headed up by Hynek and other respected personnel, intent upon direct contact with official agencies (not so much with individual members of the public who wished to report sightings) in receipt of scientifically worthwhile UFO information from their own local areas.

I only met the late Dr. Hynek personally on one occasion, following one of his public lectures, but do have a few letters from him going back to the time when the Center was taking form. Two of them are offered with today's entry. Should the reader be familiar with Hynek's bearded face, there is no mistaking him during his cameo role in the 1978 movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Previously, I mentioned that when I purchased and received an autographed copy of Hynek's first book, the pages were all out of order. Impressed as I often am with things peculiarly out of kilter, I wouldn't dream of returning it for a replacement.

There are several pages of notes I had made sometime in late 1974 regarding a lengthy phone conversation with APRO's Jim Lorenzen. To say the least, both Jim and Coral exhibited considerable animosity toward the idea of Hynek taking such a public stance with his new Center, and I'm sure there were issues concerning them all about which I knew nothing, but Jim portrayed Hynek (and others) as too much the publicity seeker.

It isn't easy to understand the intricacies involved with relationships amongst various UFO researchers, but we can say with assurance that the UFO subject has always served as a great avenue for fostering jealousies and mistrust - sometimes justified and sometimes not. And don't for a minute believe that this sort of thing affects only private researchers: The government-sponsored Colorado University UFO project, a study intended as the epitome of pristine science and public spotlessness from start to finish, was itself rife with petty disagreements and displays of professional ego leading to the project's eternal tarnish.