Saturday, December 29, 2007

One More 1978 UFO Report from Central NY

Jan served in Vietnam in the Army and and knows aircraft. That's why I paid special attention to his report, and he kindly allowed me to audio-record our interview in 1978 and use his name when I thought it would be helpful.

On or about April 5, 1978 at around 10:15 p.m. Jan and a female friend were driving on Route 31 in Cicero, NY, when they observed a tubular-shaped object about 10 feet above the trees on the left. The ground was illuminated in four spots by four bright white lights on the object. He pulled the car over and parked as three cars passed by. "When we pulled off the side of the road the object started moving," Jan related. "When the first car went by, the object dipped and turned and looked toward the second and third cars. When they went by, it just started moving slowly, horizontally, alongside the car at 50 or 60 yards away at about treetop level."

The object slowly descended and then turned toward the witnesses, giving off a quiet "thrashing" sound. Reddish-blue lights were noted on its bottom. Further describing the noise, Jan stated that it "sounded like the sticks on the trees may have been clicking." When the object began to depart, it tilted and the four bright white lights went out and the blue-red color underneath became prominent. From the back, a diamond shape was observed and displayed four or five white, twinkling lights. Jan estimated its size as that of a dump truck-and-a-half because of a nearby dump truck used for comparison.

Finally, Jan estimated that the object may have moved at a speed of three to five miles per hour at most when it maneuvered horizontally, but when it departed it simply shot up into the air and disappeared. He offered a litany of details about the observation, but this embraces the main points.

I acquired a file filled with reports and miscellaneous notes about the 1978 UFO wave, and much of it was sent to APRO and/or written up for various UFO organization newsletters. I think this was also a time when I began to wind down my UFO research activities significantly because of all the frustration involved. I was impressed, very impressed, with the UFO activity evidenced in Central New York at that time, but even when you find yourself stone-cold convinced that something real is involved, it all becomes like trying to catch the wind when you have few resources to back you up.

The Great Central NY UFO Wave of 1978 - Part 2

Central New York's UFO sighting "flap" occurred primarily from March through May, 1978, but the reports began surfacing again in the fall. However, whatever was going on in New York seemed ominously overshadowed in October when young (20) Australian pilot Frederick Valentich disappeared during a solo flight originating from Melbourne. Early that evening, he radioed from his Cessna 182 to air traffic controllers that a large object with green lights was in pursuit of his craft. His final words before contact was lost for all time were, "It is not an aircraft," and then some profoundly curious metallic scratching sounds were heard before radio contact immediately ceased. No trace of Valentich or his Cessna was ever located, despite an intensive search. Yes, 1978 was one heck of a year for the books, both "here" and "there."

And returning to "here" takes us back to those early months in 1978, as Central NY UFO reports stubbornly continued without an end in sight. At some point (I'm a little fuzzy on dates right now and currently cannot locate specific notes) I received a phone call from a National Enquirer reporter. While I had spoken by phone with an editor or two in the past, calling from their Lantana, Florida offices, this call originated in Syracuse and this reporter was in town, looking to meet with me.

She and I did meet (I'll call her L here), and after a conversation about local UFO activity visited with some teens who had photographed a possible UFO at night. The pictures ultimately weren't that impressive because, particularly, no landmarks were visible in the night skies.

I directed L to other potential sources of reliable information regarding the local UFO situation and she spent a few days trying to piece a story together. Whatever one thinks of The National Enquirer, I must say that they apparently hire some no-nonsense reporters. This woman was kind but firm and knew how to get a story. In fact, one of the first stories she related when we initially met involved her intensive pursuit of a famous young female singer/entertainer, a member of an equally famous family of recording artists. The National Enquirer, cashing in on the person's fame at that time, insisted that the reporter pursue a story, whatever it took, and ultimately poor L did so many stakeouts that she developed a severe pneumonia. It wasn't easy being a reporter for The NE.

Nevertheless, while in Syracuse L ran into one obstacle after another, especially when confronting local law enforcement agencies for records of their people's UFO sightings or reports. Further, her Enquirer editor, a lady in Florida, was impatient and looking for a good story soon so L could fly out of here and go on to something else.

It turned out that L had a friend whom she stayed with here, the wife of a family well known in local social circles, and one night L and her friend invited me over for dinner and a discussion about the UFO wave. We compared notes and broached relating subjects, such as a tip-off from news personnel at a local TV station about a well-dressed, official-appearing young gentleman who showed up, asking about the UFO situation, but hesitant about identifying himself. Some personnel at the TV station were certain the man had "U.S. government" written all over him. We will never know.

So we talked, we chomped on pre-dinner snacks, we unwound from days of discussions with sighting witnesses that frazzled everybody's nerves. And there was a phone call just before dinner hit the table. I didn't understand exactly what was going on, but it appeared there would be another dinner guest. Indeed, there was, just minutes later -- fresh from landing at Hancock Airport from parts unknown, a man with a heavy Australian, or was that a British accent, dressed neatly with a jacket and tie. L introduced him to her friend and to me, inviting him to sit with us and have dinner, and as he sat he presented me with a business card indicating his position as a senior reporter at The Enquirer. Yes, Lantana was sending in The Big Guns to help L get the UFO story on its way so she could leave this part of the country.

Still, even with two reporters instead of one teaming up to tackle the stubborn things in life they didn't get far. That is, the sightings witnesses proved talkative and giving, but the Syracuse Police Dept. and Onondaga Country Sheriff's Office were another story, a very, very unhelpful story. The very thought of offering assistance and records to The National Enquirer turned a few stomachs and L and her fellow writer finally left Syracuse with far less than they wished. Ultimately, an article about the Central NY UFO wave did appear in the Enquirer, but it was brief and to the point. It could have been so much more, had official cooperation been evidenced.

But at least L and the folks in Lantana did get a story. Things didn't go nearly as well for Dr. Hynek's Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), which found law enforcement authorities in CNY carrying (in their own words) an "embarrassing burden." According to Allen Hendry in the CUFOS International UFO Reporter (Vol. 3, No. 6, June, 1978, page 8):

(A member of) "the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department became the focus for UFO reporting in that area, thanks to local press coverage. He promised me directly (and twice via the press) that the Center for UFO Studies would be the recipient of a considerable package of witness descriptions, sketches, and photos. Then, according to local sources, the heads of the area's law enforcement agencies opted to 'stone wall' the entire situation inexplicably. Repeated appeals by myself, various reporters, and investigator Robert Barrow failed to shift the 'embarrassing' (?) burden onto our shoulders. In the unlikely event that these records should become available in the future, IUR will inform its readers of the results."
CUFOS never received the promised records, and the rest of us are left to ponder why. Or maybe we know why already. The Temple of Nevermind never closes.

The same sheriff's representative publicly dismissed nocturnal sightings as being caused by the planet Venus, which wasn't even visible at those hours. Then he tried to blame the entire UFO wave on balloons, only to be told off on TV news shows by angry local balloonists who denied their involvement in any way.

The Syracuse Police department wasn't much more helpful. In fact, it became something of a joke locally when its late chief, Thomas Sardino, discovered to his anger and outrage one of his own cops with an artist's depiction of the chief flying his own UFO over the city as subordinate police officers watch from the street. The scene was priceless, particularly when the cartoon ended up on T-shirts sold successfully all over town! The cartoon's inception appeared to stem from a warning issued to Syracuse police officers by the chief, instructing them not to publicize their own recent UFO sightings.

Faced with my own problems with local police agencies, I wrote a lengthy letter to the editor of The Syracuse Post-Standard which appeared in the edition of May 18, 1978. I related the promise I had received from Chief Sardino in writing, promising to consult with me on UFO reports (it never happened). The Sheriff's office never bothered to respond to a similar request. When I offered my assistance and tried to leave a phone number, I was told not to bother. When I offered my assistance to one officer (for his own benefit) who had already embarrassed himself in front of the media he snapped at me and accused me of trying to tell him how to do his job.

In the letter, I also referenced the Baldwinsville case, where a UFO also emitted a noticeable humming sound. Then there remained the radar controversy, where sheriffs confirmed radar contact with a UFO in their log, only to be told by the FAA that there was no unidentified blip -- a situation that angered many in the sheriff's office, and all the more when "geese" were said to have resulted in a blip return.

I highlighted other local reports. A couple watched a strange object pace their car at 55 m.p.h. at low altitude until it sped off. There was a possible vehicle electromagnetic interference case. In Auburn, NY something was reportedly witnessed by hundreds and perhaps photographed. In Oswego, a bright object was seen hovering over Lake Ontario, near the Nine Mile Nuclear Plant -- reportedly the topic of many CB radio enthusiasts as both police and Coast Guard personnel watched.

Former Syracuse area resident Mark Bundy wrote a superbly insightful article encompassing 1978's NY UFO madness for the Winter, 1979 issue of Pursuit, journal of the (defunct) Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained. Entitled "The Central New York UFO Wave," Mark's piece included illustrations he accomplished himself to demonstrate the strangeness in the skies over New York. Reflecting the absence of official cooperation from local law enforcement agencies, he lamented that "The Central New York UFO wave became a part of history, a history that is sadly incomplete and lacking in its overall coverage.

"It's a wonder," he concludes, "that the UFOs put up with such shoddy treatment."

Next blog entry: One more report from 1978 of interest, from a Vietnam veteran who knows aircraft and saw something in Central NY that wasn't like anything he saw in Vietnam. To say the least.

The Great Central NY UFO Wave of 1978 - Part 1

Syracuse and Central New York have never been immune to UFO activity, and I doubt that any geographical area on earth can make that claim. The UFO is a universal phenomenon. Or phenomena, take your pick.
Beginning roughly in the spring of 1978, New York's mid-section began bulging with an array of credible UFO reports involving "solid citizens" from all walks of life. The sightings began turning up with a ferocity and volume that took UFO researchers, the press and law enforcement personnel by surprise, and the net result might best be summed up as confusion, cover-ups and national attention of the worst kind. All told, at least 100 separate UFO sightings were involved, and if data from outlying areas within a radius of 50 miles from Syracuse is taken into account, perhaps a figure of several hundred (including sightings by large groups of people, counted as individual observers) is closer to the truth.

Amongst numerous researchers and writers representing several UFO organizations and media outlets involved in investigating this series of events, I gathered what reports I could and sent them along primarily to APRO, and did write articles for The A.P.R.O. Bulletin, The UFO Research Newsletter and other venues. In many cases the witnesses kindly allowed their names to be used, greatly adding credibility to their accounts.

Even though single-witness UFO reports are often considered less significant than those including numerous observers, one such incident in particular impressed me, an encounter of March 30, 1978. Sometime between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m., Joseph, a 20-year-old college student had just dropped his girlfriend off at her home in Pompey, NY, and was returning to his parents' home in Syracuse. The road was fairly deserted on this cool and clear evening, with only one car passing from the opposite direction a few minutes before his encounter.

The witness's attention was not fully directed upon his driving, because he was attempting to tune in an FM radio station in his 1976 Ford LTD, peculiarly finding only static. He wasn't sure whether this might be normal, considering his road location.

At any rate, Joseph happened to notice a light far in back, reflected in his outside and inside mirrors, maybe a car with a single headlight, or even a motorcycle. He returned his attention to tuning the radio, but a few seconds later a bright flash equivalent to that of a camera flash bulb abruptly gained his attention. Quickly glancing all round on the dark road, he looked through the driver's side window and saw an object about 30-50 yards away, gliding above the field off the roadside. The road's shoulders were piled high with snow, which the object caused to reflect brightly white, and any visible trees would be far off in the distance, so the witness was able to get a clear view of the object as it appeared to pace his car.

With his side window closed, Joseph watched this object, as large as a boxcar (40-50 or maybe even 60 feet long and 10-20 feet high), flashing so many lights that it reminded him of a Christmas tree. I had submitted a drawing supplied by Joseph to APRO, indicating the object's shape and light pattern. The middle portion contained numerous bright white lights, while the top and bottom sported dull blue-white panels of light. One crucial observation by the witness was the fact that his car bounced up and down due to numerous post-winter road potholes and uneven surfaces, yet the object paced him smoothly from the field. After perhaps two minutes, the object suddenly ascended quickly in an instant blur of lights, and Joseph feared that it might have taken up a new position above his auto, so he sped away as fast as he could go.

Unnerved by his experience, Joseph pulled into a shopping center parking lot in Dewitt, NY to regain his bearings. His father later stated his son was visibly upset once he returned home, and law enforcement personnel were called and took a report. The witness noted no loss of time or physical effects. He readily admitted that he had indeed seen the new movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," but did not even think of its now famous highway-truck-UFO scene at the time. I found Joseph to be most sincere and he certainly gained nothing by relating his story to me or to others.

Yet, months before this, another highly intriguing incident had surfaced, this time in Plymouth, NY (about 50 miles from Syracuse). Featured in the May 21, 1978 edition of the weekly Syracuse New Times newspaper, writer Robert Monell related the UFO encounter of farmer Thomas Colledge and his family. Just before 1:00 a.m. he and his wife had gone to bed and they suddenly heard "a tremendous roar." Rushing to a window, they observed an arrowhead-shaped object approximating the size of a house. "By the time I could get a good look at it, the whole house was shaking," Mr. Colledge stated. He had never seen an aircraft like this, an object which bathed the entire back yard in intense light. He feared a pending crash directly into his barns, but the UFO went right over them, "putting out a mercury vapor lamp in the process."

Mrs. Colledge reported the object "was covered with flashing and streaming red and white lights. Visible for 20-30 seconds, the thing disappeared over a hill, the loud roar still audible. Adding to the drama, about 10 minutes later a couple and their teenage son heard and saw apparently the same object at the other end of town. And so went that report, until UFOs returned in alarming quantity to Central NY at the end of March.

Six days after Joseph's troubling UFO encounter in Pompey, NY, a police officer and his family living in Baldwinsville experienced an amazing UFO incident on April 5, 1978. According to both the Syracuse Herald-Journal of April 6 (see quoted sections below) and my own inquiry (I met the family, accompanied by Robert Monell, who represented the Syracuse New Times), the police dispatcher and his family observed a revolving, oval-shaped object displaying around its middle blue, green and yellow flashing lights. The object hovered over a wooded area, seemed to rock back and forth and moved in a rectangular pattern.

The officer's wife stated a passenger plane approaching Syracuse flew directly under the object. Significantly, the couple's son "saw two flashes of white light come from the UFO and arc to the ground. . .at the same time, the lights in the home went out." A Niagara Mohawk (power company) spokesman did confirm that "there were two brief, consecutive interruptions in power at 10:15. . .along the company's 115,000 volt line between the Long Branch substation north of Liverpool and Mortimer substation just south of Rochester." Further, a spokesman for the New York State Gas and Electric Power Corp. stated that about 3,000 homes in the Jordan-Elbridge area lost power briefly. Both utilities connect to the Mortimer substation.

The pilot of an incoming aircraft "observed the power blackout but did not see the UFO," while a police helicopter crew "observed the two flashes of light. . .and the temporary blackout." Of considerable interest is the fact that air traffic controllers at Hancock Field stated "an unidentified blip" appeared on radar. However, by the next day the FAA had publicly denied radar contact, and a power company official denied to me the significance of the outages.

Other sightings occurred on following evenings in this and other areas of the county, and there were even nighttime photos taken by teenagers which turned out to be inconclusive after analysis by APRO, though at least one showing a distant light in the darkness of an evening sky was felt to coincide with the photographer's account and integrity.

Reliable accounts of strange things in the sky continued to pummel local law enforcement agencies in early 1978, even as Dr. J. Allen Hynek's Center for UFO Studies took an active interest in the flood of intriguing reports. If harried representatives of official Syracuse and Onondaga County agencies thought the firestorm of public concern couldn't possibly get any worse, they were wrong: The National Enquirer was coming to town, and one of the "alien" faces they sought turned out to be mine. The Enquirer? Yes, The Enquirer -- in an era when The National Enquirer turned out some top-rate UFO reporting. These were the days of TNE reporter Bob Pratt's superb articles and accounts by other talented fact-diggers from Lantana, Florida, the weekly's home base. Surprised? More next time. . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NASA's UFO No-No, 1978 - Part 2

These are the remaining NASA UFO pages to accompany those in the previous post. Please note the last page, where organizations no. 1 (NICAP) and 3 (APRO) are listed, but no longer exist. The others exist but have new addresses, available on the Internet.

NASA's UFO No-No, 1978 - Part 1

So, let's say you're NASA and the Air Force's Project Blue Book is long dead and gone, and you're now assigned to handle queries about UFOs and you wish you didn't have to, no matter how cordial you seem on the surface. What do you do? Why, of course you continue sending nearly useless information sheets to everybody who writes you about the subject. We displayed an earlier version on this blog, and now I'm putting up one I received in 1978. Today, I'm including about half of the pages in this post and will follow immediately with a post (part 2) showing the others.

UFO Course Mail and Startling Student Report

The article I wrote for Argosy UFO in 1977 about the UFO course at Onondaga Community College continued to draw mail from across the U.S. and from other countries, much of it reaching me directly because I had included a post office box address in the piece. Some letters went straight to the college, which couldn't fail to notice (see), and in this instance a letter (see) from a 14-year-old in Iowa was forwarded to me.

Numerous letters were received from young teenagers in the late seventies, and while I have little doubt that the movies "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" influenced UFO interest in some of them, I was frequently impressed by their obvious interest in science. The overwhelming amount of letters received from young people indicated admirable curiosity, and I'm sure many of them went on to obtain degrees in the sciences. When one explores the UFO issue in depth, there is always the added benefit of exposure to multiple disciplines.

Regarding the course itself, one of my students, employed in sales for an airline company, approached me after class one night in 1978 and told me an interesting story about an older incident. In the fall of 1965 he was attending college in Ithaca, NY (we certainly revisit Ithaca a lot on this blog!) and one night around 11:00 he and a girlfriend were driving up a hill, on the way to park in an out-of-the-way farm field. Nearing the top of the road, they noticed a car speeding past them from the opposite direction, and the girlfriend pointed out that she knew the car, and in it were a female friend of hers and her boyfriend. They were amazed to witness the automobile departing the area at breakneck speed.

My student and his girlfriend reached the vacant farm field and parked the car, by then having forgotten about the speeding auto. However, almost at once the two began to feel extreme anxiety and agitation, emotions so intense that the young woman began to cry. They even locked the car doors, thinking they were being watched. Shortly, they left the area, not knowing what fear had overtaken them.

The next day, the two women met one another, and the one in the speeding car explained their haste on the road: A brilliantly glowing object, unlike anything either had ever witnessed, had landed behind trees in the same farm field. Gripped by apprehension, they hit the road and sped away.

According to my student, ever since that night he has felt exceptional anxiety at other times, only to learn later that a UFO had been seen within a few miles of the area where he and his girlfriend had been so frightened that evening in 1965.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Major Keyhoe's Letter: His Plan in 1977

I only met the late Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe (USMC, ret.) once, at the Washington, D.C. office of NICAP in the summer of 1965. I was a teenager then, thrilled to spend even those few minutes at the old Connecticut Ave. office. I guess the experience was something like going to a mini theme park in an office space, so much to see -- and, unfortunately for the office staff, so much work to do. The U.S. was right in the middle of a flurry of UFO reports, and desks were piled high with clippings and files.

The highlight for me was meeting Maj. Keyhoe himself, the NICAP director whose books about UFOs were amongst the first I ever read on the subject. Keyhoe, the Marine Corps veteran who astounded readers of True Magazine in 1950 with exciting UFO reports obtained via official sources. Keyhoe, whose first book about UFOs in 1950, Flying Saucers Are Real was followed by several more in addition to articles in major magazines. Keyhoe, personal aide to Charles Lindbergh during a cross-country flight, documented in his book, Flying with Lindbergh. Keyhoe, who knew Admiral Richard Byrd personally and realized Byrd would have been outraged over fabrications about his relationship to "hollow earth" tales.

I was greeted by Richard Hall, NICAP's assistant director who, as many of you must know, remains active in UFO research and has authored numerous articles in additon to his well known books. The 1964 NICAP publication intended for every member of Congress, The UFO Evidence, was very much Hall's literary baby and remains one of the most respected and most consulted UFO compilations ever produced.

The third person of three whom I met that day and the first whom I encountered was Lelia Day, NICAP's secretary, and she was a very nice lady. In fact, more than a decade later I was searching for her because I never doubted the extent of NICAP knowledge she must have absorbed over the years, and I was working on a writing project longing for her insight. Sadly, however, I learned that she had been long dead even before I began the search. Of interest, however, is the fact that I learned this and other things of significance from Maj. Keyhoe himself in a letter, the only letter I ever received from Keyhoe personally. By 1977, Keyhoe and Hall had departed NICAP, the organization had seemingly been taken over by people with perhaps more than passing government affiliations (see the site and read the NICAP history) and there remain numerous questions about NICAP's eventual administration and downfall that may rival the UFO mystery in some ways.

So, here's Maj. Keyhoe's letter, dated December 4, 1977, with an intriguing reference on the letterhead to his role as NICAP's "former director." Note also my re-posting from an early blog entry of Al Chop's 1953 letter to Holt publishers, vouching for Keyhoe's integrity and actions (though Chop's incredibly open-ended admission regarding some government people accepting the ET theory is the real high point of the letter -- which Holt printed on the jacket of a Keyhoe book, much to Chop's surprise and the Dept. of Defense's probable chagrin).

I had also forwarded a copy of a newspaper review I wrote for Keyhoe's final book, Aliens From Space, referenced in his letter. But of considerable interest here are Keyhoe's comments and plans regarding the Jimmy Carter presidency as it might relate to UFO information release. Based upon information Keyhoe accumulated from official sources, he was poised to write another book, a project of no eventual publication, unfortunately. Keyhoe had briefly outlined his plan to me here in confidence, though I certainly see no point in staying silent 30 years later. Actually, as is the case with so many other documents on this blog, even I hadn't seen this letter since receiving and filing it away.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Not So Official Anymore

I wanted to offer a quick update on my previous comment relevant to the magazine, Official UFO, now long deceased. I did locate a news release sent out by very concerned, more likely outraged, editor Dennis William Hauck, and it served as his resignation letter as well as a further indictment of the publisher-enforced workings of the magazine. The two visuals displayed will tell the story.

I've included additional space on this situation because I wish it to serve as a caution to those who sadly believe that if something is in print it obviously must be true. Editors serve publishers as a rule, and the situation is seldom the other way around.

California Sunshine

1977 continued to be a busy year. True Magazine printed issue no. six of True Flying Saucers and UFOs Quarterly, containing a piece I wrote about the infamous "Robertson Panel," which (in basic terms) set the stage for downplaying UFOs officially in the U.S. to the current day. Argosy Magazine's companion periodical, Argosy UFO, published another of my articles, "How a Ufologist Came to the Aid of the Air Force," mentioned in a previous blog entry.

In the meantime, the letters continued to arrive. APRO forwarded the letter shown here, something from a California writer who seemed to pay more attention to my I-wish-I-hadn't-written-this article, "How to Conduct Yourself Inside a UFO," than I did. He seemed a very loving person, including two hearts on the page (of course, I took out his name here), offering advice for my UFO course students in the mix. I particularly liked the part where he states: " 'How to Conduct Yourself Inside a UFO' is How to Conduct Yourself Inside your Outside! The UFO is your Outside, Inside your Inside, Outside your Outside, Inside."

I know what you're thinking. But I must say, these contemplative letters far surpass the ones that start out, "Let me tell you all about my trip to the Crab Nebula. . .with Elvis. . ."

Well, yeah, except for the true, real occasions where people really, absolutely and undeniably did go there with Elvis. And what kind of souvenirs would people bring back from the Crab Nebula, anyway? I don't want to know.

The Triangle and Rumors

There are a couple of nagging little fragments of intrigue I wanted to touch upon as we prepare to exit 1977 for a bit.

The April 18 issue of U.S. News & World Report (as I recall, we're into the "Washington Whispers" column of that date) casually mentioned this little tidbit:

"Before the year is out, the government -- perhaps the President -- is expected to make what are described as 'unsettling disclosures' about UFOs -- unidentified flying objects. Such revelations, based on information from the CIA, would be a reversal of official policy that in the past has downgraded UFO incidents."

Yes, we continue The Big Wait thirty years later.

And around Central NY in late February and early March there were reports of UFOs around a golf course, near a water tower and in other areas. WSYR-TV (now WSTM, though the call letters WSYR currently designate another Syracuse TV station) News reported on March 6, 1977 of witnesses at a golf course seeing a large triangular object in the sky around 10:00 p.m., only about 300 feet in the air. One corner displayed a red light while another corner was lighted in green. People in vehicles with CB radios chattered about this and other UFOs. Local Air Force authorities insisted there were no test vehicles in the area, but a WSYR reporter suggested, not entirely serious, that maybe test vehicles were involved -- in an attempt to prepare us for contact with real UFOs in the future.

The Library of Congress and UFOs

With so many people consumed by UFO interest in the 1970s because of some rather exceptional reports, members of Congress, too, often exhibited concern -- or were forced to -- when queried by their constituents. In fact, by 1976-77, two of the hottest publications available from the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service, each produced under the guidance of Marcia S. Smith, were The UFO Enigma and Extraterrestrial Intelligence and UFOs: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography.

Like many CRS publications, these were intended primarily for members of Congress, but once word "hit the streets" they became a must-have for UFO researchers, the media and the curious. In those days, even for these bulky, book-sized documents, there was no charge, you just asked your member of Congress for copies.

But aside from these historically impressive documents, the single-page letter accompanying them contained all the ingredients in that second paragraph (click to enlarge) to make one look twice. When Congressman William Walsh's office enclosed the letter with the two publications, it apparently had not been seen by most researchers or UFO organizations, and I quickly distributed copies of the page to interested parties. In his (former) UFO Research Newsletter, Gordon I.R. Lore, Jr. wrote, "In response to inquiries about UFO information, the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service suggests UFOs may be ET."

Time and again, we know that numerous members of Congress have evidenced a sincere concern about the UFO phenomenon, and some of them were quite vocal, while others wanted no public attention whatsoever. The very existence of this letter, and the extensively researched publications it accompanied, indicated that UFOs were and likely still are more than a moot subject amongst congressmen and senators privy to information of note.