par le major Donald E. Keyhoe
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I'm going to tell you an eerie story, labeled a "rumor" by the Air Force, which you haven't heard before. The fact that you haven't heard it - haven't been allowed to hear it - is as frightening as the story itself.
On April 8, 1964, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration launched from Cape Kennedy the first two-man Gemini capsule, a crucial step in our effort to land an astronaut on the moon. The capsule went into its planned orbit around the earth, and sensitive instruments began gathering data that would reveal flaws and point out possible improvements in the design. This first test flight was a great success. You read about it next morning in your paper.
But there was something you didn't read. This report was given to me confidentially by two scientists present at the test. The Gemini capsule was still in its first orbit when four spacecraft of unknown origin flew up to it. While startled radar trackers watched their screens in open-mouthed amazement, the four took up positions around the capsule - two above it, one beneath, one aft. Whoever was inside those strange craft appeared to be inspecting the capsule minutely and with care. They drew close to the capsule and paced it for a full orbit of the earth. Then, apparently finished with their scrutiny, they pulled away and vanished into the unknown.
What were these four mysterious space travelers? Where had they come from? What mission had brought them into the earth's space neighborhood? What people, what beings, were at the controls? I fervently wish I could answer those questions. And I wish I could satisfactorily answer one other: this eerie episode, this incident so fraught with implications for all who live on earth - why was it kept secret?
This much I know: the Gemini episode was not an isolated case. For in the past three years, unknown to the general public, there has been a tremendous new wave of incidents in which unidentified flying objects (UFO's) have been sighted around the world, often near rocket test ranges, satellite orbital pathways and airfields. The U.S. Government has been aware throughout that time that enigmatic alien craft of some kind are watching our outer-space operations. The new wave of UFO appearances fully matches in magnitude the great "flying saucer" scare of the late 1940's and early 1950's, when it wasn't unusual for dozens of UFO sightings to be reported in a single week. UFO activity slowed down somewhat in the late 1950's. But now, suddenly, the UFO's are back - their numbers greater, their origin as obscure, their purpose as unfathomable as ever before.
You haven't heard or read anything about this great new wave. No. Back in the early 1950's the Air Force, charged with investigating UFO's, adopted the posture of "debunking" flying-saucer stories and ridiculing anybody who claimed to have seen an alien craft. Now the tactic has changed. The tactic is total suppression of news. By a strict Air Force order, entitled AFR 200-2, Air Force personnel are forbidden to talk in public about UFO sightings, and information about UFO's is to be withheld from the press unless the thing seen "has been positively identified as a familiar or known object." The U.S. government can also exert indirect pressure on employees of companies working in missile projects, on airline pilots, and on others subject to some measure of government control. Result: news blackout.
Why the blackout? I can only guess. Perhaps the government knows something so startling that it fears the public would be panicked. Perhaps the Air Force is afraid that the public, fed too many UFO stories, might come to believe UFO's are unbeatable new Russian war weapons. Maybe the Air Force now regrets a long-ago decision to hide the true nature of UFO's, but fears that to admit the long cover-up would bring on a storm of public anger.
I don't know what the Air Force's motives are. But I do know - I know beyond any possibility of doubt - that a great new wave of UFO's has arrived to patrol our skies and our space neighborhood. I don't know any more about these inexplicable craft than anybody else. I know only that they are under intelligent control and appear to have been produced by some technology more advanced than our own. They are real. Whether the Air Force admits it or not, they are definitely, patently, inescapably here.
How do I know? I'm going to tell you how. I'm going to submit documented case histories to you, evidence that can hardly be doubted, reports signed by sober, reliable men whose very livelihoods depend on their ability to see things clearly and note facts with minute accuracy. But first let me tell you a little about myself and the basis on which I ask your credence. I am a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Before and during World War II I was a flying officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. My whole life has been involved with aircraft, either flying them or writing about them. I mention this to show that I'm in a position to assess the facts when a pilot tells me about something he has seen in the air. I'm familiar with mirages, sundogs and other optical phenomena encountered by pilots, and I know which optical illusions fool you and which don't, and when.
After the war I became a writer on technical aspects of aviation. One day I was approached by the editor of TRUE. He wanted me to investigate the so-called flying saucers that were just then beginning to get into the news. Frankly, I was skeptical. Flying saucers were just illusions. I thought. But I investigated anyway, out of curiosity. And after talking to scores of people who had sighted UFO's - government officials, pilots, scientists - I came away convinced that UFO's are in truth what they seem to be: visitors from somewhere else in the universe. I was so thoroughly convinced that I became director of an organization called NICAP, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, whose sole purpose is to get to the bottom of the UFO mystery. NICAP now has some 5,000 members in 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
The members of NICAP include veteran officers of all the services including many from the intelligence branches. Other members are pilots, astronomers, space and rocket experts and scientists. Many top scientific minds are on the board of NICAP and others serve as advisers to the organization. I myself have carried on extensive research in the UFO field over the past 15 years and have written a number of books on the subject.
Over the years NICAP has become a kind of central collecting point for UFO sighting reports. People who are afraid to report to the Air Force or to newspapers, fearing public ridicule, report to us. People under news-blackout orders often report to us in secret. This is how we learned about the Gemini episode, for example. The news cover-up has leaks, and they often flow quietly in NICAP's direction.
Consider another leak. In our files is a photocopy of an official tracking log from Cape Canaveral (now Cape Kennedy), covering operations on January 10, 1961. A Polaris missile was fired that day. According to the log, the missile was on its way up when an "unidentifiable flying object" came in over the range. The UFO was evidently so big and maneuvered so close to the Polaris that automatic tracking radar on the ground, set to follow the Polaris, locked onto the UFO by mistake. The UFO eventually flew out of the radar's "sight." It took trackers 14 minutes to find the Polaris again. Did you read about this in your paper? Certainly not.
Nor did you read about the weird events of May 3, 1964. So puzzling were these events that they caused a flurry in the U.S. State Department, and the State Department felt it necessary to send a report on the affair to the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Army and the Navy. The security lid clamped down before the facts got to you, but here they are:
Just before dawn that day, near Canberra, Australia, several observers on the ground saw a large white-glowing object traveling northeast across the dark sky. It moved with a peculiar wobble as though losing power or partly out of control. The gaping observers then saw a smaller object, visible with a faint red light, hovering not far ahead. The big white craft flew right up to the smaller one and appeared to strike it. Then the large UFO turned, no longer wobbling, and streaked out of sight. The small red light sputtered briefly and went out. Judging from the baffled observers' report the incident could have been either an attack by the big craft on the smaller object, or else some odd kind of mid-air refueling or recharging process.
The observers' report was investigated by the Scientific Attache of the American Embassy at Canberra, Dr. Paul Siple, and two NASA engineers. They concluded, in the first place, that the observers had indeed seen what they said they'd seen. They also concluded that the mysterious objects were not earthmade craft of any known kind. The embassy reported all this to Washington, D.C., in Airgram A-894 - a copy of which was secured and deposited in NICAP's files.
The Air force has also kept suspiciously quiet about scores of recent encounters between UFO's and aircraft. In 1962 and again in 1964, the Air Force alleged in various press releases and press interviews that the whole UFO investigation was finished: all sightings had been explained as balloons, hoaxes, illusions and other known phenomena, and the books were closed. This was a strange thing to say. For the Air Force, in effect, was denying that the following documented incidents ever happened:
September 21, 1961: A British and an American jet liner, flying over the Pacific, independently saw a huge round craft fly above them at incredible speed.
May 21, 1962: An Irish International Airlines plane encountered a round, metallic flying device at an altitude of 17,000 feet over England.
December 22, 1962: At Ezezia International Airport, near Bueno Aires, a curious round machine appeared shortly before dawn and put down at the end of Runway 1-0-2-8, blocking a Panagra DC-8 jet that was preparing to land. After a while it took off and sped out of sight.
July 18, 1963: Near Sunnyvale, California, four Air force jets tried to intercept a disc-shaped UFO in the air. According to a report signed by a qualified ground observer and filed at NICAP, the strange craft was much too fast for the jets. It "pulled up in a short arc and shot up out of sight in an estimated three seconds."
This kind of thing has been going on throughout the 1960's. The Air Force persists in denying it, even though - as in the 1963 Sunnyvale incident - observers have clearly seen the Air Force's own planes chasing UFO's. The fact is, the Air Force seems seriously concerned about UFO's and is still investigating them intensively. The Air Intelligence group that is charged with checking up on UFO reports (its code name is Project Blue Book) is still in existence and still active, despite protestations that the book is closed.
The truth is, there is no longer any reasonable doubt that alien spacecraft are visiting the earth. The statement may sound startling at first, but when you think about it, it actually becomes quite mundane. It is not much more startling than the statement that, if you stand on a street corner, sooner or later somebody will pass by. In the light of recent scientific calculations, it seems likely that several million of them have planetary systems, and at least some of these planets must support life. It would be arrogant of us to suppose that we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, and just as arrogant to think that we are the first to develop space travel. Civilizations far older than ours may have orbited their first satellites when human-kind was just learning to light fires. Such a civilization would eventually send its astronauts out to explore nearby space, and if they found a planet that harbored intelligent life - a planet such as our own - they would undoubtedly hang around and study it at length.
The Air force is aware of all this. Back in 1949, in fact, before the decision was made to keep UFO facts secret, the Air Force issued a fascinating document called the Project Grudge Report. Project Grudge was the predecessor of Project Blue Book, and the 1949 report dealt with UFO sightings after World War II. The report pointed out that intelligent beings might conceivably exist on Mars or Venus. It speculated on the possibility that a civilization on one of those planets might have begun its technological advance thousands of years before ours did, and that the people of that civilization might now be interested in watching our own advance - out of scientific curiosity, perhaps, or out of fear of future aggression. "Such a civilization might observe." Said the report, "that on earth we now have A-bombs and are developing rockets….We should expect at this time above all to behold such visitations."
As, in fact, we are. The alien visitors are evidently interested in anything we send up off the ground - airliners, missiles, satellites. When our first astronauts travel to the moon and planets, they will almost certainly see UFO's following them, watching, studying.
The Air Force, of course, no longer talks in these terms and no doubt wishes it had never published the Grudge Report. The official Air Force attitude now is one of scoffing at all that was said in the 1949 report. Anybody who talks about UFO's today is a "crackpot" or is "misguided." When the news can't be suppressed, the Air Force hopes, it can be laughed away.
We at NICAP are aware, of course, that not all UFO sighting reports are genuine. We know there are crackpots and publicity-seekers in our field of inquiry, as in all fields of human endeavor. We are not strangers to the elaborate hoax, the alcoholic hallucination, the bizarre mental aberration. When a man comes to us and says he has taken a flying-saucer trip with nude maidens from Venus, or his back yard is swarming with little green men smoking purple cigars, we nod politely and go our way. We screen all sighting reports with care, for our position is a ticklish one. The Air Force would laugh us out of business if we published reports of UFO incidents that later turned out to be demonstrably hoaxes or illusions.
But there are reports every month that come through the screening process as unarguably genuine. Reports from airline pilots, for example. Consider the position an airline pilot is in. Here is a man who, in the first place, guards his health carefully. He must be in top physical condition to hold his job. His eyesight and other health parameters are checked repeatedly. At the first sign of lapsing health he will be grounded. No airline carrying passengers could afford to be careless about this. Thus it can safely be assumed that a pilot is not subject to visual or other aberrations that will make him see things which aren't there. With literally millions of miles of flying behind him, he is not likely, either, to mis-identify things he sees in the air.
He isn't likely to mistake a star, a balloon or another plane for a flying saucer. Alcohol is absolutely out of the question If he were to report for duty drunk, he would be fired on the spot. In fact most airlines forbid even a glass of beer for flying crews for at least 12 hours (often 24 hours) before takeoff. Moreover, a pilot is not likely to perpetrate a flying-saucer hoax. Even when he genuinely sees a UFO he hesitates to report it. He risks being ridiculed and being identified as a man who sees what isn't there. He risks his very job. A pilot pretending he'd seen a UFO would be like a surgeon pretending he had shaking palsy.
Despite all this, the Air force still tries to raise doubts about the occasional pilot who defies the news blackout and tells his UFO story to the public press. For example, there was the famous Killian Case of 1959 - an incident that occurred before the hush-up seemed to be fully in effect. On the night of February 24, 1959, an American Airlines DC-6 was flying across Pennsylvania toward Detroit. At the controls were Capt. Peter W. Killian and First Officer John Dee, and the passenger cabin was well filled. Suddenly three large, brilliantly lighted, round or disc-shaped craft appeared in the air nearby. One of them maneuvered close to the DC-6 as though for a brief inspection, then went back to join its companions. Eventually the three streaked off into the blackness from which they'd come.
Captain Killian, a man with 15 years and 4 million miles of airline flying behind him, told the curious story to the press. The Air Force instantly jumped on him. What he'd really seen, said the Air force, was a group of three stars appearing and disappearing behind scattered clouds.
Impossible, replied Killian. "The sky was absolutely clear above us. Federal Aviation Agency records show we were flying at 8,500 feet. The clouds were at 3,500. Let the Air force explain how we saw stars through clouds 5,000 feet beneath us."
American Airlines then got behind its man and announced that other pilots had often encountered UFO's in the same area. The argument grew hotter. In an interview with a New York Herald Tribune reporter, an Air force spokesman remarked that some UFO witnesses "were so drunk they couldn't remember what they saw." This harpoon wasn't aimed directly at Killian, but it was a hell of a nasty implication to make under the circumstances.
Other people now began to jump into the debate. In Washington, Congressman Sam Friedel of Maryland offered Captain Killian a "day in court" if he wanted to come to the Capital. Evidently seeing that the "star" theory wouldn't hold up if this happened, the Air force hastily came up with a new explanation: Killian had seen a KC-97 tanker refueling three B-47 jets. This was nonsense too. All aircraft flights in the U.S., including refuelings, are reported to both the FAA and the Air Defense Command. If there had been a refueling operation that night over Pennsylvania, the fact would have been known and released at once - not "discovered" two weeks later. In any case, it is inconceivable that a veteran pilot would fail to recognize a familiar aircraft when he saw it.
And there were other facts in the case that the Air Force could not explain away. Specifically:
First Officer Dee and the passengers also saw the alien craft. They corroborated Captain Killian's story.
Two other American Airlines crews, flying in the vicinity, were alerted by radio. They saw the UFO's too.
Three United Air Lines planes were plying the airways in that sky neighborhood that night. They had no contact with Captain Killian or the other American Airlines crews. But they, too, saw and privately reported three UFO's.
All this might have come out in a public debate. But then, abruptly, Captain Killian stopped arguing. In a statement to NICAP, his wife said that American airlines had been instructed by the Air Force to muzzle him. As of mid-1964, he was still forbidden to say anything more in public about that strange night in 1959.
The Air Force has other means of shutting people up. As an example, consider the infamous Stokes Case. This occurred in November, 1957. James Strokes, an engineer at the Air Force Missile Development Center close to Alamogordo, New Mexico, was driving his car down a highway when a gigantic oval-shaped machine flew overhead at an estimated 1,500 to 2,00 mph. Other witnesses on the highway also saw the enigmatic craft. Stokes' car radio failed and his engine stalled when the device passed over him, and he sat and stared in amazement as it streaked over the horizon.
Stokes talked to the press. The first result was that an order suddenly went out to all personnel at the Missile Center. The order, approved by Maj. Gen. L. I. Davis, the commanding officer, forbade everybody at the Center to comment publicly on UFO reports from then until further notice. This by itself indicated that the Air Force was anxious to keep something from the public. The next step was the issuance of a nationwide press release that bluntly called Stokes' story a hoax. Muzzled by General Davis's order, Stokes could not argue with this. The Air Force also took another step, a very suggestive one. Stokes was quietly promoted two grades.
The Stokes Case and the Killian Affair, and other, similar episodes, have had the effect of tightening the news cover-up. Pilots report quietly to their supervisors and to NICAP, but seldom to the press. Understandably, they fear the consequences of any public statement.
Les déclarations publiques de l'Air Force dans le même temps, have gone virtually unchallenged by the public at large. But this state of things can't last forever. The American public isn't as gullible as some government officials seem to think. Sooner or later a day has got to come when the public asks a question that the air force won't be able to answer. "See here," dira le public, se pourrait-il, se pourrait-il vraiment, que chacun de ces milliers de témoins d'ovnis se soit trompé ?
Bien sûr que cela ne se pourrait pas. Et l'Air Force sait que cela ne se pourrait pas. Ce fut quasiment admis il n'y a pas si longtemps par ne serait-ce qu'un homme comme le Dr. J. Allen Hynek, un astrophysicien éminent qui fut longtemps consultant-en-chef pour l'Air Force sur les ovnis. Ecrivant ses idées sur les ovnis dans le journal de l'Université de Yale, le Dr. Hynek indiqua : L'intelligence des observateurs et des gens qui signalent des ovnis est certainement au moins moyenne, dans de nombreux cas au-dessus de la moyenne, et dans certains cas au-dessus de la moyenne d'une manière embarrassante.
Le NICAP connaît 2 cas où des avions de chasse de l'Air force eurent apparemment maille à partir avec des ovnis et furent perdus. Il pourrait aussi s'agir d'événement semblables que l'Air Force a gardés cachés. Un est le fameux cas du capitaine Thomas Mantell, l'autre un épisode qui eut lieu le 23 novembre 1953. Un objet inconnu fut signalé dans le ciel au-dessus du Lac Supérieur. Depuis la base aérienne de Kinross dans le Michigan, un jet F-89 décolla pour investiguer. Aux contrôles était le lieutenant Felix Moncla, Jr., et dans la cabine arrière, se préparant à suivre l'ovni au radar, le lieutenant R. R. Wilson. Une équipe radar de l'Air Force suivait toute l'opération depuis le sol. Ils virent le F-89 suivre l'ovni pendant 160 miles au-dessus du Lac Supérieur. Il n'y eut aucune indication préalable d'un problème quelconque. Mais soudain les blips du jet et de l'ovni fusionnèrent sur l'écran du radar.
Le reste fut un silence. Les appels Radio à Moncla et Wilson restèrent sans réponse. Une recherche de 2 jours du lac ne révéla pas un seul morceau d'épave, pas un gilet de survie, pas une trace de carburant. On ne revit jamais ni Moncla, ni Wilson, ni leur F-89.
L'Air Force tenta par tous les moyens d'essayer d'expliquer ce bizarre épisode. Au début l'ovni fut expliqué comme étant un avion de ligne canadien sorti de sa trajectoire, puis un avion de la Force Aérienne Royale Canadienne. Mais aucune de ces explications ne tenu. Il est un fait catégorique, soutenu par l'armée de l'air canadienne elle-même dans des lettres au NICAP, qu'aucun appareil canadien d'un type quelconque ne se trouvait dans le voisinage à ce moment. L'ovni était assez certainement un véhicule spatial extraterrestre. Mais ce qui eut lieu précisément entre lui et l'avion de Moncla est un mystère total.
Bientôt nous pourrions en découvrir un peu plus sur de tels épisodes, et beaucoup plus sur les ovnis en général. Car la pression s'accumule à Washington pour que l'Air Force mette fin au secret. En particulier au Congrès, grandit le sentiment que des auditions publiques devraient se tenir pour to air the entire mysterious subject. Le NICAP a soumis au Congrès un rapport documenté sur son investigation minutieuse de 7 ans dans l'espoir d'une action stimulante.
Une explication complète des "soucoupes volantes" semble due, dit le sénateur Vance Hartke de l'Indiana dans une lettre au NICAP le 5 Juin 1963. Dit le sénateur William Proxmire du Wisconsin en 1963 : Le fait-même que tant d'incidents si inexplicables soient arrivés est une raison suffisante pour une investigation poussée. De nombreux autres membres du Congrès, des 2 partis, ont également fait des déclarations fortes pour soutenir les auditions publiques.
Tôt ou tard la vérité doit sortir. Un secret aussi grand, avec des implications aussi énormes pour l'ensemble de l'humanité, ne peut être conservé éternellement. Les auditions au Congrès are almost bound to be held eventually - probablement l'année suivante. The basic finding of these hearings - that we are indeed under surveillance of some kind by visitors from the universe - will undoubtedly startle and frighten many people throughout the world. But it shouldn't surprise you at all. The facts, the evidence, are before you right now.
-Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe
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