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Meet J. Allen Hynek, the Astronomer Who First Classified UFO ‘Close Encounters’

by Greg Daugherty                      November 19, 2018                      (history.com)

• In 1947, a rash of reports of UFOs had the public on edge. The Air Force created Project Sign to investigate these UFO sightings. But they needed outside expertise to sift through the reports and come up with explanations for all of these sightings. Enter J. Allen Hynek.

• In 1948, Hynek was the 37-year-old director at Ohio State University’s McMillin Observatory. He had worked for the government during WWII developing new defense technologies for the war effort with a high security clearance. The Air Force approached him to be a consultant on ‘flying saucers’ for the government. “I had scarcely heard of UFOs in 1948 and, like every other scientist I knew, assumed that they were nonsense,” Hynek recalled.

• Hynek’s UFO investigations under Project Sign resulted in twenty percent of the 237 cases that couldn’t be explained. In February 1949, Project Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge, which said Hynek, “took as its premise that UFOs simply could not be.” The 1949 Grudge report concluded that the phenomena posed no danger to the United States, and warranted no further study.

• But UFO incidents continued, even from the Air Force’s own radar operators. The national media began treating the phenomenon more seriously. The Air Force had little choice but to revive Project Grudge under a new name: Project Blue Book. Hynek joined Project Blue Book in 1952 and would remain with it until its demise in 1969. But he had changed his mind about the existence of UFOs. “The witnesses I interviewed could have been lying, could have been insane or could have been hallucinating collectively—but I do not think so,” he recalled in 1977. Hynek deplored the ridicule that people who reported a UFO sighting often had to endure, causing untold numbers of others to never come forward, not to mention the loss of useful research data.

• “Given the controversial nature of the subject, it’s understandable that both scientists and witnesses are reluctant to come forward,” said Jacques Vallee, co-author with Dr. Hynek of The Edge of Reality: A Progress Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.

• On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union surprised the world by launching Sputnik, a serious blow to Americans’ sense of technological superiority. Hynek was on TV assuring Americans that their scientists were closely monitoring the situation. UFO sightings continued unabated.

• In the 1960s, Hynek was the top expert on UFOs as scientific consultant to Project Blue Book. But he chafed at what he perceived as the project’s mandate to debunk UFO sightings, and the inadequate resources at his disposal. Air Force Major Hector Quintanilla, who headed the project from 1963 to 1969, writes that he considered Hynek a “liability.”

• Hynek frustrated UFO debunkers such as the U.S. Air Force. But in 1966, after suggesting that a UFO sighting in Michigan may have been an optical illusion created by swamp gas, he became a punchline for UFO believers as well.

• In his testimony for a Congressional hearing in 1966, Hynek stated, “[I]t is my opinion that the body of data accumulated since 1948…deserves close scrutiny by a civilian panel of physical and social scientists…”. The Air Force established a civilian committee of scientists to investigate UFOs, chaired by physicist, Dr. Edward U. Condon. In 1968, Hynek assailed the Condon Report’s conclusion that “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified.” In 1969, Project Blue Book shut down for good.

• UFO sightings continued around the world. Hynek later quipped, “apparently [they] did not read the Condon Report”. Hynek went on with his research, free from the compromises and bullying of the U.S. Air Force.

• In 1972, Hynek published his first book, The UFO Experience. It introduced Hynek’s classifications of UFO incidents, which he called Close Encounters. Close Encounters of the First Kind meant UFOs seen at a close enough range to make out some details. In a Close Encounter of the Second Kind, the UFO had a physical effect, such as scorching trees, frightening animals or causing car motors to suddenly conk out. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, witnesses reported seeing occupants in or near a UFO.

• In 1977, Steven Spielberg released the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Hynek was paid $1,000 for the use of the title, another $1,000 for the rights to use stories from the book and $1,500 for three days of technical consulting. He also had a brief cameo in the film, playing an awestruck scientist when the alien spacecraft comes into view.

• In 1978, Hynek retired from teaching. In 1973 he had founded the Center for UFO Studies which continues to this day. Hynek died in 1986, at age 75, from a brain tumor.

 

It’s September 1947, and the U.S. Air Force has a problem. A rash of reports about mysterious objects in the skies has the public on edge and the military baffled. The Air Force needs to figure out what’s going on—and fast. It launches an investigation it calls Project Sign.

By early 1948 the team realizes it needs some outside expertise to sift through the reports it’s receiving—specifically an astronomer who can determine which cases are easily explained by astronomical phenomena, such as planets, stars or meteors.

For J. Allen Hynek, then the 37-year-old director at Ohio State University’s McMillin Observatory, it would be a classic case of being in the right place at the right time—or, as he may have occasionally lamented, the wrong place at the wrong one.

The adventure begins

Hynek had worked for the government during the war, developing new defense technologies like the first radio-controlled fuse, so he already had a high security clearance and was a natural go-to.

“One day I had a visit from several men from the technical center at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, which was only 60 miles away in Dayton,” Hynek later wrote. “With some obvious embarrassment, the men eventually brought up the subject of ‘flying saucers’ and asked me if I would care to serve as consultant to the Air Force on the matter… The job didn’t seem as though it would take too much time, so I agreed.”

Little did Hynek realize that he was about to begin a lifelong odyssey that would make him one of the most famous and, at times, controversial scientists of the 20 century. Nor could he have guessed how much his own thinking about UFOs would change over that period as he persisted in bringing rigorous scientific inquiry to the subject.

“I had scarcely heard of UFOs in 1948 and, like every other scientist I knew, assumed that they were nonsense,” he recalled.

Project Sign ran for a year, during which the team reviewed 237 cases. In Hynek’s final report, he noted that about 32 percent of incidents could be attributed to astronomical phenomena, while another 35 percent had other explanations, such as balloons, rockets, flares or birds. Of the remaining 33 percent, 13 percent didn’t offer enough evidence to yield an explanation. That left 20 percent that provided investigators with some evidence but still couldn’t be explained.

The Air Force was loath to use the term “unidentified flying object,” so the mysterious 20 percent were simply classified as “unidentified.”

In February 1949, Project Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge. While Sign offered at least a pretense of scientific objectivity, Grudge seems to have been dismissive from the start, just as its angry-sounding name suggests. Hynek, who played no role in Project Grudge, said it “took as its premise that UFOs simply could not be.” Perhaps not surprisingly, its report, issued at the end of 1949, concluded that the phenomena posed no danger to the United States, having resulted from mass hysteria, deliberate hoaxes, mental illness or conventional objects that the witnesses had misinterpreted as otherworldly. It also suggested the subject wasn’t worth further study.

Project Blue Book is born

That might’ve been the end of it. But UFO incidents continued, including some puzzling reports from the Air Force’s own radar operators. The national media began treating the phenomenon more seriously; LIFE magazine did a 1952 cover story, and even the widely respected TV journalist Edward R. Murrow devoted a program to the topic, including an interview with Kenneth Arnold, a pilot whose 1947 sighting of mysterious objects over Mount Rainier in Washington state popularized the term “flying saucer.” The Air Force had little choice but to revive Project Grudge, which soon morphed into the more benignly named Project Blue Book.

Hynek joined Project Blue Book in 1952 and would remain with it until its demise in 1969. For him, it was a side gig as he continued to teach and to pursue other, non-UFO research, at Ohio State. In 1960 he moved to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to chair its astronomy department.

As before, Hynek’s role was to review the reports of UFO sightings and determine whether there was a logical astronomical explanation. Typically that involved a lot of unglamorous paperwork; but now and then, for an especially puzzling case, he had a chance to get out into the field.

There he discovered something he might never have learned from simply reading the files: how normal the people who reported seeing UFOs tended to be. “The witnesses I interviewed could have been lying, could have been insane or could have been hallucinating collectively—but I do not think so,” he recalled in his 1977 book, The Hynek UFO Report.

“Their standing in the community, their lack of motive for perpetration of a hoax, their own puzzlement at the turn of events they believe they witnessed, and often their great reluctance to speak of the experience—all lend a subjective reality to their UFO experience.”

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

Former Pentagon Official Calls for Big UFO Reveal After Secret Investigation

by Michelle Basch                   July 26, 2018                  (wtop.com)


• Retired Air Force Col. David Shea, 80, was the U.S. Air Force press spokesman from 1967 to 1971. In 1969 he announced the end of Project Blue Book by concluding that there was no threat to national security, no sign of advanced technology and no evidence that UFOs are extraterrestrial. Retiring from the Air Force after 29 years, Shea then spent 20-plus years working for Hughes Aircraft and Raytheon.

• Shea is a staunch skeptic of the existence of UFO’s from other worlds. “I would believe if I saw some evidence that showed we were visited by alien spacecraft, but there hasn’t been evidence to my mind of such,” says Shea.  (see 2:24 minute video of Col. Shea below)

• In 1947, when a veteran pilot reported seeing nine ‘flying saucers’ near Mt. Rainier in Washington, the Army Air Corps began to investigate. By the end of 1949, the Air Force had determined that “… there was no threat, and there was no visitation, there was no advanced technology.” But the Air Force continued to investigate UFOs under projects such as Project Blue Book.

• As a public relations man, Shea thinks that the Air Force inadvertently created a PR nightmare. “What was initially an intelligence matter quickly evolved into a PR problem of the greatest magnitude,” says Shea. “The Air Force, ignoring public opinion on the subject, failed to communicate its conviction that UFOs were no cause for alarm and consequently was unable to convince the American public that what it was saying about UFOs was true.” “During its more-than-20-year history of investigating flying saucers, the Air Force has been accused of almost every conceivable sin, and had been guilty of most,” says Shea.

• Shea is not swayed at all by the NY Times’ revelation of a recent Pentagon program that studied UFOs and the release of several military videos of UFOs. “They saw something, but we don’t know what it is, and we don’t have the evidence to suggest what it may be. So again, it comes back to the word ‘evidence.’” Shea thinks that with the closing of Project Blue Book, the government ‘washed its hands of UFOs’. So he wonders, “Why would the government want to do that again? …We’ve been there, done that.”

• Shea says that the Air Force was placed in the impossible position of trying to prove that aliens are not whizzing around above Earth. According to Shea, despite “exhaustive” investigations and studies of UFOs, the government has come up with nothing. “No eureka moment. No threat. No advanced technology. No alien spacecraft.” “You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist. Why doesn’t the other guy prove that (UFOs do) exist?” he said. Asked if, to his knowledge, the government has covered up evidence of alien visitation in the past, Shea says, “Absolutely not. It would be impossible to do so in our environment of leakers and whistleblowers.”

• Shea thinks the Air Force is misunderstood. “The Air Force has never said that UFOs aren’t spacecraft from another civilization. What the Air Force has said is that there’s no convincing evidence that they present a threat, or they advance scientific knowledge, or that they are alien spacecraft. Convincing evidence is the key, and that’s what we don’t have,” said Shea. Just because a military pilot spots or chases a UFO doesn’t mean the unidentified object should be considered a threat to national security, said Shea. “I would say we would be concerned if they were fired upon. We would be concerned if they started bombing our bases. None of that has happened, so whatever they’re seeing doesn’t seem to be hostile in nature. Not to worry, is what I would say.”

[Editor’s Note] Where is the evidence of UFOs? Take a look at this website. At 80 years old, Shea is clinging to his Air Force pension with both hands. The government hides all evidence of extraterrestrials, and then uses the lack of evidence to prove that extraterrestrials do not exist. Shea’s reasoning is: ‘so long as the government says that UFOs do not pose a threat, then who cares what they are?’ Shea is completely brain washed. He thinks that the whole issue of UFOs and extraterrestrials should remain hidden from the public in black projects and secret space programs. This is the attitude of the ‘old guard’ military and government authority, and this is exactly why our society has been prevented from making any real technological advancement in the past 70 years. So keep spouting your disinformation, Col. Shea, and keep collecting those retirement checks.

 

NORTHERN VIRGINIA — If evidence proving that extraterrestrials visited Earth has been squirreled away behind locked doors in Nevada, a former Pentagon official is calling for a big reveal.

“Show it to the National Academy of Sciences. Don’t hide it. Show it! We’ve been waiting for it! We’ve been waiting for it forever,” retired Air Force Col. David Shea said, raising his voice. “But so far, that hasn’t happened, and I don’t know why.”

Shea, 80, was the Air Force’s press spokesman on UFOs at the Pentagon from 1967 to 1971. He considers himself an “agnostic” when it comes to whether some unidentified flying objects are ships piloted by intelligent beings from faraway worlds.

      Retired Air Force Col. David Shea

“I would believe if I saw some evidence that showed we were visited by alien spacecraft, but there hasn’t been evidence to my mind of such,” he said in an interview at his Northern Virginia home.

In 1969, Shea wrote the news release that announced the end of Project Blue Book, an Air Force investigation of more than 12,000 UFO reports.

It concluded that there was no threat to national security, no sign of advanced technology and no evidence that UFOs are extraterrestrial.

And with that, it appeared to the public that the government had washed its hands of UFOs.

But in December, almost 50 years after Project Blue Book ended, came explosive news.

The New York Times reported that Bigelow Aerospace had been storing material recovered from “unidentified aerial phenomena” in its buildings in Las Vegas as part of a secret Pentagon UFO investigation project called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).

Shea was not surprised by news of the project’s existence, but he thinks if more people were aware of the government’s history with UFOs, they would better understand why, in his opinion, the government should not get involved again.

“The UFOs never seem to go away,” he said.

 

2:24 minute video of Ret Col. David Shea discussing the lack of evidence of UFOs

 

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When a U.S. Fighter Pilot Got Into a Dogfight With a UFO

by Colin Bertram                 July 19, 2018                  (history.com)

• On October 1, 1948, a 25-year old former World War II fighter pilot named George F. Gorman (standing at left in  above photo) had a 27-minute encounter with a white orb UFO at high altitude above Fargo, North Dakota. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Gorman told a local newspaper following the event. “If anyone else had reported such a thing I would have thought they were crazy.” The incident was recorded both on the ground and in the sky by numerous reputable sources, and investigated by the U.S. Air Force under Project Sign, a precursor to Project Blue Book.


• Gorman was serving as a second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard, and was taking part in a cross-country flight in a P-51 Mustang alongside other National Guard airmen. When the other pilots landed at Fargo’s Hector Airport, Gorman stayed in the air in order to get in some night-flying time in the cloudless conditions. Having circled over a lighted football stadium, he was preparing to land at about 9 pm when he saw the taillight of another craft passing on the right, though the tower had no other object on the radar.

• Gorman closed to within 1,000 yards to see a white orb “…about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely without fuzz at the edges.” “It was blinking on and off. As I approached, however, the light suddenly became steady and pulled into a sharp left bank. I thought it was making a pass at the tower.”

• Gorman tried in vain to catch up with the object, and got behind it at around 7,000 feet when it made a sharp turn and headed straight for his P-51. Almost at the point of collision Gorman dived and said the light passed over his canopy at about 500 feet before cutting sharply once more and heading back in his direction. Then the object shot straight up in the air in climb so steep that his plane stalled. The object was not seen again. Gorman had been engaged in aerial maneuvers with the UFO for 27 minutes by the time he brought his plane in to land.

• Gorman reported that he noticed no sound, exhaust trail or odor from the object. And while he had reached speeds of up to 400 m.p.h. while in pursuit—he couldn’t keep up with whatever it was.

• “I’m convinced that there was definite thought behind its maneuvers,” Gorman said in a sworn statement to his commander. “I am further convinced that the object was governed by the laws of inertia because its acceleration was rapid but not immediate… [and] followed a natural curve.” “The object was not only able to out-turn and out-speed my aircraft… but was able to attain a far steeper climb and was able to maintain a constant rate of climb far in excess of my aircraft,” said Gorman.

• The small white orb UFO was also witnessed by air-traffic controllers Lloyd D. Jensen and H.E. Johnson, who were manning the Hector Airport tower. According to Johnson, the object was “travelling at a high rate of speed” and was “fast enough to increase the spacing between itself and [Gorman’s] fighter.” Johnson described the object as appearing to be “only a round light, perfectly formed, with no fuzzy edges or rays leaving its body.”

• Dr. A. E. Cannon, the pilot of the Piper Cub also flying in the vicinity, and his passenger also viewed the object both in the sky and upon their return to the airport where they immediately joined the traffic controllers in the tower. Two Civil Aeronautics Authority employees on the ground also reported seeing the object.

• Back in Fargo, after the Air Weather Service revealed it had released a lighted weather balloon 10 minutes before Gorman first saw the object, Air Force investigators pounced, proclaiming the balloon the likeliest explanation for the object seen. They determined that Gorman’s own maneuvers and high speed gave the balloon the appearance of moving in opposite directions as he passed by. Investigators also noted the bright appearance of Jupiter on that date, and that Gorman had been attempting to chase the bright dot of the planet at the same time the weather balloon was in range. This became the official government explanation.

• Gorman returned to the Air Force full-time, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1969. He never spoke publicly about the encounter again, though he did tell friends “he was never convinced that he had been dueling with a lighted balloon for 27 minutes.” Gorman died in 1982.

 

In the words of Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the man who investigated unidentified-flying-object reports for the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s, the Gorman Dogfight remains one of the “classics” among UFO sightings.

                     newspaper account

The incident, which still lacks an airtight explanation, involved a 27-minute air encounter between a veteran World War II fighter pilot named George F. Gorman and a mysterious white orb at high altitude above Fargo, North Dakota. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Gorman told a local newspaper following the October 1, 1948 event. “If anyone else had reported such a thing I would have thought they were crazy.”

Captain Ruppelt operated Project Blue Book, which continued the work of Project Sign and Project Grudge, a series of hush-hush studies conducted by the U.S. Air Force between 1947 and 1969. His mission: to determine if UFOs were a threat to national security and to scientifically analyze UFO-related data.

What makes the Gorman Dogfight unique in the now-declassified pages of Project Blue Book is not only the length of the encounter, but that it was recorded both on the ground and in the sky by numerous reputable sources.

Chasing—and being chased by—a light

At the time of the incident, Gorman, a 25-year-old former fighter pilot, served as a second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard. It was this role that placed him behind the flight controls of a P-51 Mustang on Oct. 1, 1948, taking part in a cross-country flight alongside other National Guard airmen.

George F. Gorman in later years

While the other pilots landed at Fargo’s Hector Airport, on that fateful evening Gorman stayed in the air in order to get in some night-flying time in the cloudless conditions. Having circled his P-51 over a lighted football stadium, he was preparing to land at about 9 P.M. Advised by the control tower that the only other plane in the vicinity was a Piper Cub (which Gorman could see about 500 feet below him), he witnessed what he believed to be the taillight of another craft passing on the right, though the tower had no other object on the radar.

Deciding to take a closer look at the unidentified object, Gorman pulled his plane up and closed to within about 1,000 yards. “It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely without fuzz at the edges,” he said of the object in his report. “It was blinking on and off. As I approached, however, the light suddenly became steady and pulled into a sharp left bank. I thought it was making a pass at the tower.”

Deciding to follow, Gorman tried in vain to catch up with the object, reporting that he finally got behind it at around 7,000 feet, where it made a sharp turn and headed straight for the P-51. Almost at the point of collision Gorman dived and said the light passed over his canopy at about 500 feet before cutting sharply once more and heading back in his direction. Just as collision seemed imminent once again, Gorman said the object shot straight up in the air in a steep climb—so steep that when he tried to intercept, his plane stalled at about 14,000 feet. The object was not seen again, but according to Gorman he had been engaged in aerial maneuvers with it for 27 minutes by the time he brought his plane in to land.

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