Tuesday, January 6, 2009

UFOs at the Planetarium

You probably know by now that one of my major annoyances related to publicized UFO sightings is the well-established fact that members of the press usually fall over themselves to locate some local professional or amateur astronomer who can tidily explain the whole thing via a nicely contrived package deceptively resembling science. Or, to be more specific, the chosen "expert" stands there before the cameras and microphones, having conducted no investigation whatsoever, and assures one and all that a meteor or a flare or the moon or Venus or a cloud or an airplane or a satellite or illuminated cow flatulence or any conventional explanation that comes to mind is responsible for the incident. Then, more often than not, heavily sedated with words of authority, the ladies and gentlemen of the press hurry away to prepare for News at Eleven, fully willing to report a lie as the truth -- often encouraged by their editors, who have neither the time nor patience to entertain "saucer" stories as anything more than a momentary amusement to keep viewers tuned in. How I long for investigative reporting the way it once existed, especially in those things currently on life support called newspapers. It's no wonder that a few months ago I entitled one of my blog entries, "When Journalists Roamed the Earth."

So today I'm plowing back through history. At some point after patrolman Lonnie Zamora's famous 1964 observation of a UFO and small entities in the New Mexico desert, and sometime after thousands of people in several western and mid-western U.S.states reported UFOs in 1965 -- subsequently "explained" by the experts as bright stars which, it turned out, were only visible from the other side of the earth at that time -- and not long after the Michigan "swamp gas" (more accurately marsh gas, per Wendy Connors' research) UFO reports of 1966, a little recording history was made: A record album (LP) about UFOs enjoyed a release.

Oh yes, there had been other UFO-related LPs in the sixties, the best-known of them being former Mutual radio network broadcaster Frank Edwards' narration from his best-selling book, Flying Saucers: Serious Business, and that was released in 1966. In fact, while the UFO subject was still hot property in 1966, another famous broadcaster-of-the-strange-and-unknown, Long John Nebel, likewise released an LP entitled, The Flying Saucer Story, containing excerpts of his radio interviews with Edwards, Major Donald E. Keyhoe (USMC, ret.) and, for something totally different, with famous contactees whose wild tales about trips to other planets aboard flying saucers served only to distort the truth about real UFO incidents. More LPs about UFOs followed in the seventies.

But in 1967 there came about another LP, the audiologic horse of a different color. From California's Morrison Planetarium, prepared and cooked up via an entirely non-traditional science recipe, the public was offered an LP entitled The UFOs. Labeled as planetarium lecture series no. 3, lecturer Hubert J. Bernhard narrated for the LP a lengthy history of UFO observations from biblical times to the present. However, the most impressive and perhaps incredible aspect of Bernhard's presentation was the unencumbered possibility that UFO evidence may represent extraterrestrial spacecraft! Trust me, in the vast majority of cases your local astronomer won't be offering a lecture of this nature. Nowhere near!

Bernard offered no excuses, apologies or hesitation as he walked through history with references to UFO incidents all the way. In fact, as you can see in one of the visuals posted today, the record album even displays a photo showing three Canadian airline pilots who experienced an interesting UFO encounter. Other scans here will give you an idea of what was featured on the front and reverse sides of the album jacket.

The UFOs is an immensely scarce album, and I would love to believe that all remaining copies were snapped up by skeptical astronomers forced to rethink their positions on the UFO issue. However, the fact that something of this astonishing nature ever saw the light of day, after miraculously given birth by planetarium authorities, is almost beyond belief by today's disturbing standards of professionally sanctioned scientific ignorance in various pockets of society.