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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.

Two Pilots Saw a UFO. Why Did the Air Force Destroy the Report?

by Greg Daugherty                    August 10, 2018                          (history.com)

• On July 24, 1948, at 2:45 am, twenty passengers and two pilots were in an Eastern Air Lines DC-3 twin-engine propeller plane on route from Houston to Atlanta, flying at 5,000 feet on a clear and moonlit night. The plane was flown by former World War II Air Corps officers and veteran pilots, Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted.

• About 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, Alabama, the two pilots and one passenger, Clarence L. McKelvie, who was the only passenger awake, saw a 100-ft long cigar-shaped UFO with no wings, and having an upper and lower deck of windows. They could see bright light glowing through the craft’s windows. Underneath the craft was a glow of blue light. And it had a flame shooting out from the back of the craft.

• As the UFO seemed to be heading right for them, Chiles said, “We veered to the left and it veered to its left, and passed us about 700 feet to our right and about 700 feet above us. Then, as if the pilot had seen us and wanted to avoid us, it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame out of its rear and zoomed up into the clouds.” All three witnesses watched the craft for ten seconds before it disappeared from view into the clouds.

• The pilots made drawings of the craft and made written statements. (Chiles’ statement; Whitted’s statement) They both provided further details in subsequent newspaper and radio interviews.

• An Air Force department known as the “Air Technical Intelligence Center” reported that in its estimation, the UFO craft was ‘interplanetary’. When this classified report reached Chief of Staff General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, he outright dismissed any extraterrestrial connection. The Air Force was already convinced that these mysterious craft was Soviet spy technology, even though the Soviets wouldn’t even have the A-bomb until a year later. So the intelligence report was unceremoniously declassified and destroyed.

• The sighting was downplayed, alluding that the pilots merely saw a weather balloon or a mirage. The official Air Force determination was that the pilots saw a fireball or very bright meteor. Consultant to the Air Force’s ‘Project Blue Book’, J. Allen Hynek, claimed in his 1972 book, The UFO Experience that “the Pentagon had declared that the problem really didn’t exist.” Edward J. Ruppelt, the Air Force officer who initially headed Project Blue Book, said that “[T]he Air Force tried to throw up a screen of confusion. They couldn’t have done a better job.”

• But Chiles and Whitted always stuck to their story. In fact, Whitted later added a new twist to the story that he felt he needed to withhold at the time. Whitted said that the UFO didn’t just go into the clouds, but it actually vanished in front of their eyes.

 

Whatever occurred at 2:45 a.m. on the morning of July 24, 1948 in the skies over southwest Alabama not only shocked and stymied the witnesses. It jolted the U.S. government into a top-secret investigation—the results of which were ultimately destroyed.

The skies were mostly clear and the moon was bright in the pre-dawn hours as pilot Clarence S. Chiles and co-pilot John B. Whitted flew their Eastern Air Lines DC-3, a twin-engine propeller plane, at 5,000 feet, en route from Houston to Atlanta. The aircraft had 20 passengers on board, 19 of them asleep at that hour. It was a routine domestic flight, one of many in the skies that early morning.

                 Pilots Clarence S. Chiles
                    and John B. Whitted

Until suddenly, it wasn’t. What the two pilots and their wide-awake passenger saw in the skies about 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, Alabama, did more than startle them. It would reportedly become the catalyst for a highly classified Air Force document suggesting that some unidentified flying objects were spaceships from other worlds—a tipping point in UFO history.

Chiles described what he saw in an official statement about a week later: “It was clear there were no wings present, that it was powered by some jet or other type of power, shooting flame from the rear some 50 feet. There were two rows of windows, which indicated an upper and lower deck, [and] from inside these windows a very bright light was glowing. Underneath the ship there was a blue glow of light.” He estimated that he’d watched the ship for about 10 seconds before it disappeared into some light clouds and was lost from view.

Whitted offered a similar description in his official statement: “The object was cigar shaped and seemed to be about a hundred feet in length. The fuselage appeared to be about three times the circumference of a B-29 fuselage. It had two rows of windows, an upper and a lower. The windows were very large and seemed square. They were white with light which seemed to be caused by some type of combustion…. I asked Capt. Chiles what we had just seen and he said that he didn’t know.”

The passenger who was awake at the time, Clarence L. McKelvie of Columbus, Ohio, corroborated the pilots’ account that an unusually bright object had streaked past his window, but he wasn’t able to describe it beyond that.

Both pilots also made drawings of the craft they believed they had seen and provided further details in newspaper and radio interviews, some just hours after the sighting. The Atlanta Constitution headlined its July 25 account, “Atlanta Pilots Report Wingless Sky Monster.” In that article, Chiles described what sounded like an uncomfortably close encounter, as the object appeared to be coming at them. “We veered to the left and it veered to its left, and passed us about 700 feet to our right and about 700 feet above us. Then, as if the pilot had seen us and wanted to avoid us, it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame out of its rear and zoomed up into the clouds.”

Chiles and Whitted weren’t the only ones baffled by what they’d seen.

Asked for comment, William M. Allen, the president of Boeing Aircraft told the United Press he was “pretty sure” it was “not one of our planes,” adding that he knew of nothing being built in the U.S. that matched the description. General George C. Kenney, the chief of the Strategic Air Command, which was responsible for most of America’s nuclear strike forces during the Cold War, told the Associated Press: “The Army hasn’t anything like that. I wish we did.”

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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.

Littlefinger Chases Aliens in History’s Good-Looking UFO Drama

by Tim Surette                 July 18, 2018                    (tvguide.com)

• A television series entitled “Project Blue Book” is in production for the History Channel, based on the real UFO investigations by the Air Force in the ’50s and ’60s. Robert Zemeckis, director of “Contact” and “Forrest Gump”, is behind the show. Aidan Gillen, who plays Little Finger in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, plays J. Allen Hynek in the History Channel series.

• As portrayed in the trailer below, Gillen’s character, J. Allen Hynek, initially doubts the existence of UFOs and then tells anyone who will listen that there are aliens out there, much as the real Hynek did.

• The stories are pulled from the actual declassified files of Project Blue Book, a military program that studied the existence of unidentified flying objects based on eyewitness accounts. However, the series will be more about government cover-ups than the aliens themselves.

 

Anyone who tells you aliens don’t exist is a fat liar, and finally someone on television other than that weirdo “It was aliens” guy is here to help us spread the truth about the existence of our intergalactic neighbors. Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen stars in History’s upcoming Project Blue Book, a drama about real UFO investigations by the Air Force in the ’50s and ’60s, back when our species was still worth it for extraterrestrials to be curious about.

 

 

Aidan Gillen (left) as J. Allen Hynek

The first extended trailer is a two-minute journey of Gillen’s character J. Allen Hynek initially doubting the existence of UFOs and then telling anyone who will listen that there are aliens out there deforming children and tearing up our Air Force. The stories are pulled from the actual declassified files of Project Blue Book, a military program that studied the existence of unidentified flying objects based on eyewitness accounts. However, the series will be more about government cover-ups than little green men, so don’t expect to see the Washington Monument blown up.

       the real J. Allen Hynek

Robert Zemeckis, director of Contact and Forrest Gump, is behind the show, which is the latest from the network that continues to teeter on success with historical dramas after initially being dominated by black-and-white footage of WWII. Vikings is great and will conclude its fifth season later this year, but military drama Six was canceled after two seasons and Knightfall had a lukewarm debut when it premiered late last year.

Project Blue Book does not have a premiere date yet.

 

2:54 minute trailer for the History Channel’s Project Blue Book

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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.

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