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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.

The Real-Life UFO Encounter That Inspired ‘Critters’

by Nat Brehmer                   June 29, 2018                  (bloody-disgusting.com)

• The 1986 cult-classic monster movie, “Critters”, begins in space as the goblin-like Critters break out of their asteroid prison and crash their hijacked spaceship in Grover’s Bend, Kansas. Soon they besiege an isolated farmhouse where the frightened family holds them off with shotguns.

• As pointed out by veteran writer, Matt Molgaard, and by Bruce G. Hallenbeck in his chronology of Comedy-Horror Films, “Critters” is loosely based on a real-life alien confrontation known as the Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter, one of the most well-documented UFO incidents out there. (see previous ExoNews article on the Hopkinsville Incident)

• On the evening of August 21, 1955 in a rural farmhouse located between the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, five adults and seven children were besieged by little monsters from space. As Billy Ray Taylor was drawing water from the well he saw shooting star streak across the sky and land somewhere nearby behind a tree line. Billy Ray and his friend Elmer Sutton went to investigate. They came upon a creature, ran back to the house and barricaded their family inside. Before long many of these creatures were besieging the farmhouse as Billy Ray and Elmer held them off with shotguns. Although the creatures were shot several times, even at point-blank range, they were apparently unharmed. At one point Billy Ray’s hair was grabbed by a huge, clawed hand. And several times family members would leap back, startled, from the glowing eyes and twisted faces of the creatures staring in at them through the window.

• After several hours, the family took an opportunity make a dash to their car, and they drove to the police station where they reported the entire thing. Four police officers raced out to the scene, alongside five state troopers, three deputy sheriffs and four military police from the nearby US Army base. They searched the property and found nothing except evidence of gunfire.

• In the early 1980’s when film writer/director Steven Spielberg was considering ideas for a UFO-themed movie, he planned to do a movie called “Night Skies” about a family besieged by vicious aliens in a farmhouse, while one of the children would befriend a gentler alien who was different from the others. Ultimately, Spielberg split the ideas into two different movies – “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial” about a child befriending an alien, and “Poltergeist” about a family besieged by a paranormal entity. Spielberg also produced Joe Dante’s “Gremlins” which has similarities to the creatures that visited Hopkinsville in 1955, but in a family-friendly way as Spielberg had envisioned “Night Skies”.

• But “Critters” is the film that most closely mirrors the Hopkinsville encounter, complete with a shooting star, vicious creatures from outer space, a family barricaded in a farmhouse with shotguns, glowing red eyes peering in through the window, and a space critter’s clawed hand grabbing one of them.

 

Critters is, with good reason, a cult classic of the mid-eighties. It followed on the heels of Gremlins and certainly has its similarities to Joe Dante’s little monster masterpiece, but Critters still manages to stand apart. It has a flavor all its own.

Whereas the Gremlins remained much more mysterious in origin—unless you go by the novelization, which goes obsessively into detail over their backstory—the Critters are extraterrestrial from the first moment we’re introduced to them. The movie begins in space, watching them break out of their asteroid prison before crashing their hijacked spaceship into Grover’s Bend, Kansas, where the film begins in earnest. That’s not only where we’re introduced to our main characters, but where we set up the surprising siege movie that Critters actually becomes.

For as fun and goofy as it is, Critters takes to heart the inherently unnerving concept of a family in a small, isolated farmhouse being besieged by little monsters. And that’s very interesting, not just because of how well it works tonally and stylistically for the film, but also because of the fact that it was based on an actual, famous real-life incident in which a family in a small, isolated farmhouse was apparently besieged by little monsters.

I’m not the first to make the connection. A great writer named Matt Molgaard, who tragically passed last year, wrote a terrific piece for Blumhouse.com that was how I first learned of the incident and how it connected to Critters. But I thought it would be worth not just looking at the fact that Critters takes its inspiration from this encounter, but specifically breaking down how it takes inspiration and what moments from the encounter clearly made their way into the film.

The incident is now widely known as the Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter, though it has also been cited over time as the Hopkinsville Goblins Case and the Kelly Green Men Case. It is one of the most well-documented incidents in the history of UFO sightings and became famous because of that.

Said incident took place in 1955 in Kentucky, just between the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville. Two families rushed into the police station claiming that they had been holding off vicious, small creatures for several hours, which they believed to have come from a UFO. Five adults and seven children apparently witnessed these events unfold over the course of the evening of August 21st. Elmer Sutton and Billy Ray Taylor seemed to take charge during the farmhouse siege, shooting at twelve to fifteen creatures that repeatedly attacked the group over the course of the evening.

It began around seven o’clock, when Billy Ray looked up while he was drawing water from the well to see what appeared to be a shooting star streak across the sky and disappear behind the tree line, somewhere behind the house. Taylor and Sutton went back out to investigate, running back into the house when they saw a creature outside, kicking off an apparent invasion that would last for the next three hours. At one point, Taylor’s hair was grabbed by a huge, clawed hand. At several points, family members would leap back, startled, from the glowing eyes and twisted faces of the creatures staring in at them through the window.

Although the creatures were shot at several times, none were killed, otherwise the incident would have become much more famous. Once they had a clear shot, the two families piled into their cars and drove to the police station where they reported the entire thing. The police responded, not because they believed the claims, but because they were legitimately worried about a possible gun battle erupting between local citizens. Four police officers raced out to the scene, alongside five state troopers, three deputy sheriffs and four military police from the nearby US Army base. They searched the property, but found nothing but evidence of gunfire; bullet holes were found in the trees, the side of the house and through the screens of the doors.

They found no monsters. No evidence that it was a hoax, either.

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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.

Steven Spielberg’s Interesting Story About Real Aliens & the White House

by Arjun Walia       November 25, 2017        (collective-evolution.com)

• This article is about a part of an interview of Steven Spielberg by Eric Quint of the ‘Aint It Cool News’ website. Spielberg talks about being summoned to the Ronald Reagan White House on June 27, 1982 to present his new movie, E.T. the Extraterrestrial in the White House screening room.

• In the interview, Spielberg says: “He [Reagan] just stood up and he looked around the room, almost like he was doing a headcount, and he said, “I wanted to thank you for bringing E.T. to the White House. We really enjoyed your movie,” and then he looked around the room and said, “And there are a number of people in this room who know that everything on that screen is absolutely true.” And he said it without smiling! But he said that and everybody laughed, by the way. The whole room laughed because he presented it like a joke, but he wasn’t smiling as he said it.”

• Many know that the truth really is out there. There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of credible insiders providing witness testimony, and thousands of declassified files describing bizarre UFO craft. Discussing possible intelligent extraterrestrial contact/visitation is no longer a fringe conversation. It is something that’s been discussed at the highest levels of government for decades.

 

Many of you reading this already know that the truth really is out there. Discussing possible intelligent extraterrestrial contact/visitation is no longer simply a fringe conversation, and it’s something that’s been discussed at the highest levels of government for decades. Whether it’s a five-star Admiral of the Royal Navy and Chairman of the NATO committee telling us that “there is a serious possibility that we are being visited and have been visited by people from outer space,” the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee telling us that the issue has become “so highly-classified . . . it is just impossible to get anything on it,” or the sixth man to walk on the moon telling us that “they’ve been coming here for a long time,” there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of credible insiders now providing witness testimony. To compliment this testimony, we also have thousands of previously classified files showing bizarre craft performing extraordinary maneuvers, and detailing discussions of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

There is also abundant physical and scientific evidence. Dr. Jacques Vallée, for example, notable for co-developing the first computerized mapping of Mars for NASA, and for his work at SRI International on the network information center for ARPANET, a precursor to the modern internet, published a paper in the Journal of Scientific Exploration titled “Estimates of Optical Power Output in Six Cases Of Unexplained Aerial Objects With Defined Luminosity Characteristics” that examines documented cases of UFOs.

In the interview, Spielberg says: “He just stood up and he looked around the room, almost like he was doing a headcount, and he said, “I wanted to thank you for bringing E.T. to the White House. We really enjoyed your movie,” and then he looked around the room and said, “And there are a number of people in this room who know that everything on that screen is absolutely true.”

“And he said it without smiling! But he said that and everybody laughed, by the way. The whole room laughed because he presented it like a joke, but he wasn’t smiling as he said it.”

After Spielberg brings up the issue, he quickly changes the subject and doesn’t bring it up again.
The snippet below is from an interview with Aint It Cool News. Spielberg discusses the time he screened his classic film E.T. at the White House for Reagan and distinguished guests.

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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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