by Timothy Good
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, established in
1958, coordinates and directs the aeronautical and space research
program in the United States. Its budget for space activities alone
is larger than the general budgets of a number of the world's
Although officially a civilian agency, NASA collaborates with the
Department of Defense, National Reconnaissance Office, National
Security Agency, and other agencies, and many of its personnel have
security clearances owing to the sensitive intelligence aspects of
its programs. Research into UFOs is one such program.
In May 1962 NASA pilot Joseph A. Walker admitted that it was one of
his appointed tasks to detect unidentified objects during his
flights in the rocket-powered X-15 aircraft, and referred to five or
six cylindrical shaped objects that he had filmed during his
record-breaking high flight in April that year.
He also admitted
that it was the second occasion on which he had filmed UFOs in
"I don't feel like talking about them," he said
during a lecture at the Second National Conference on the
Peaceful Uses of Space Research in Seattle, Washington. "All I
know is what appeared on the film which was developed after the
Britain's FSR magazine cabled NASA headquarters
requesting further information and copies of stills from the film
taken by Walker.
"Objects reported by NASA pilot Joe Walker have
now been identified as ice flaking off the X-15 aircraft," NASA
replied. "Analysis of additional cameras mounted on top the X-15
led to identification of the previously unidentifiable objects.
. . . No still photos are available." [Emphasis added.]
In July 1962 Major Robert White piloted an X-15 to a
height of fifty-eight miles at the top of his climb, and on his
return reported having seen as strange object.
"I have no idea what it could be," he said. "It
was grayish in color and about thirty to forty feet away."
according to Time magazine, Major White is reported to have said
excitedly over his radio:
"There are things out there. There
"Two years ago," a NASA scientist said in 1967, "most of us
regarded UFOs as a branch of witchcraft, one of the foibles of
modern man. But so many reputable people have expressed interest
in confidence to NASA, that I would not be in the least
surprised to see the space agency begin work on a UFO study
contract within the next twelve months."
One of those who expressed interest was Dr.
Allen Hynek, who wanted NASA to use its superlative space-tracking network
to monitor and document the entry of unidentified objects into the
Earth's atmosphere. The problem then—as now—is that UFO sightings
tracked by NASA remain exempt from public disclosure since they are
classified top secret. But there have been leaks.
In April 1964 two radar technicians at Cape Kennedy revealed that
they had observed UFOs in pursuit of an unmanned Gemini space
capsule. And in January 1961 it was reliably reported that the
Cape's automatic tracking gear locked on to a mysterious object
which was apparently following a Polaris missile over the South
A 1967 NASA Management Instruction established procedures for
handling reports of sightings of objects such as,
"fragments or component parts of space vehicles
known or alleged by an observer to have impacted upon the
earth's surface as a result of safety destruct action, failure
in flight, or re-entry into the earth's atmosphere," and also
includes "reports of sightings of objects not related to space
A rather euphemistic way of putting it, to be sure,
but the internal instruction continues:
"It is KSC [Kennedy Space Center] policy to
respond to reported sightings of space vehicle fragments and
unidentified flying objects as promptly as possible. . . . Under
no circumstances will the origin of the object be discussed with
the observer or person making the call.'' [Emphasis added.]
A 1978 NASA information sheet gives the agency's
official policy on the subject:
NASA is the focal point for answering public enquiries to the White
House relating to UFOs. NASA is not engaged in a research program
involving these phenomena, nor is any other government agency.
Reports of unidentified objects entering United States air space are
of interest to the military as a regular part of defense
surveillance. Beyond that, the
U.S. Air Force no longer investigates reports of UFO sightings.
In 1978 CAUS (Citizens Against UFO Secrecy) filed a request for
information relating to a NASA report entitled UFO Study
Considerations, which had previously been prepared in association
with the CIA.
In his response, Miles Waggoner of NASA's Public
Information Services Branch denied this.
"There were no formal meetings or any
correspondence with the CIA," he stated.
Following another enquiry by CAUS, NASA's Associate
Administrator for External Relations, Kenneth Chapman, explained
that the NASA report had been prepared solely by NASA employees but
that the CIA had been consulted by telephone to determine,
"whether they were aware of any tangible or
physical UFO evidence that could be analyzed; the CIA responded
that they were aware of no such evidence, either classified or
NASA's statement in the 1978 information sheet that
it was not engaged in a research program involving UFOs, "nor is any
other government agency," is demonstrably false, as is its denial of
Air Force investigations.
In a leaked secret document purporting to originate with the Air
Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) headquarters at
Boiling Air Force Base, DC, there appears an intriguing reference to
clandestine government UFO research, led by NASA.
The document is dated 17 November 1980, and includes
this relevant passage:
SEVERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, LED BY NASA,
ACTIVELY INVESTIGATE LEGITIMATE SIGHTINGS THROUGH COVERT COVER.
. . . ONE SUCH COVER IS UFO REPORTING CENTER, U.S. COAST AND
GEODETIC SURVEY, ROCKVILLE, MD 20852. NASA FILTERS RESULTS OF
SIGHTINGS TO APPROPRIATE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS WITH INTEREST IN
THAT PARTICULAR SIGHTING.
"We have no information relative to the contents of the
document," NASA told me in 1985. "Additionally, we have been
informed that [it] is not an authentic AFOSI document."
In this case, NASA is right. Although substantially
legitimate, the document is a re-typed version containing errors,
including the reference to NASA, which should be NSA—the National
PRESIDENT CARTER SEEKS TORE-OPEN INVESTIGATIONS
During his election campaign in 1976, Jimmy Carter revealed that he
had seen a UFO at Leary, Georgia, in 1969, together with witnesses,
prior to giving a speech at the local Lions Club.
"It was the dandiest thing I've ever seen," he
told reporters. "It was big, it was very bright, it changed
colors, and it was about the size of the moon. We watched it for
ten minutes, but none of us could figure out what it was. One
thing's for sure; I'll never make fun of people who say they've
seen unidentified objects in the sky."
Carter's sighting has been ridiculed by skeptics such
as Philip Klass and Robert Sheaffer. While there appear to be
legitimate grounds for disputing the date of the incident,
Sheaffer's verdict that the UFO was nothing more
exotic than the planet Venus is not tenable. As a graduate in
nuclear physics who served as a line officer on U.S. Navy nuclear
submarines, Carter would not have been fooled by anything so prosaic
as Venus, and in any case he described the UFO as being about the
same size as the Moon.
"If I become President," Carter vowed, "I'll make
every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings
available to the public and the scientists."
Although President Carter did all he could to fulfill
his election pledge, he was thwarted, and it is clear that NASA had
a hand in blocking his attempts to re-open investigations. When
Carter's science adviser, Dr. Frank Press, wrote to NASA
administrator Dr. Robert Frosch in February 1977 suggesting that
NASA should become the "focal point for the UFO question," Dr.
Frosch replied that although he was prepared to continue responding
to public enquiries, he proposed that "NASA take no steps to
establish a research activity in this area or to convene a symposium
on this subject."
In a letter from Colonel Charles Senn, Chief of the Air Force
Community Relations Division, to Lieutenant General Duward Crow of
NASA, dated 1 September 1977, Colonel Senn made the following
"I sincerely hope that you are successful in
preventing a re-opening of UFO investigations."
So it is clear that NASA (as well as the Air Force
and almost certainly the CIA and National Security Agency
anxious to ensure that the President's election pledge remained
DR. JAMES MCDONALD
Dr. James McDonald, senior physicist at the Institute of Atmospheric
Physics and Professor in the Department of Meteorology at the
University of Arizona, who committed suicide in unusual
circumstances in 1971, tried unsuccessfully to persuade NASA to take
on primary responsibility for UFO investigations.
He reported in
Curiously, I have said this both in NASA and
fairly widely reported public discussions before scientific
colleagues, yet the response from NASA has been nil. . . . Even
attempting to get a small group within NASA to undertake a study
group approach to the available published effort seems to have
generated no response. I realize, of course, that there may be
semi-political considerations that make it awkward for NASA to
fish in these waters at present, but if this is what is holding
up serious scientific attention to the UFO problem at NASA, this
is all the more reason Congress had better take a good hard look
at the problem and reshuffle the deck. ...
I have learned from a
number of unquotable sources that the Air Force has long wished
to get rid of the burden of the troublesome UFO problem and has
twice tried to "poddlo" it to NASA— without success.
While McDonald recognized that there were
"semi-political considerations" affecting NASA's reluctance to
become publicly involved in UFO investigations, he failed to
perceive that UFOs are more an intelligence problem than a
He was simply unaware of the true extent of NASA's
One of the great pioneers in astronautics is Dr. Hermann Oberth,
whom I had the honor of meeting in 1972.
In 1955 Oberth was invited
by Dr. Wernher von Braun to go to the United States where he
worked on rockets with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, and later NASA
at the George
C. Marshall Space Flight Center. Oberth's statements on the UFO
question have always been unequivocal, and he told me that he is
convinced UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin.
In the following he
elaborated on his hypothesis for UFO propulsion:
. . . today we cannot produce machines that fly
as UFOs do. They are flying by means of artificial fields of
gravity. This would explain the sudden changes of directions. .
. . This hypothesis would also explain the piling up of these
discs into a cylindrical or cigar-shaped mothership upon leaving
the earth, because in this fashion only one field of gravity
would be required for all discs.
They produce high-tension electric charges in order to push the
air out of their path. . . and strong magnetic fields to
influence the ionized air at higher altitudes. . . . This would
explain their luminosity. . . . Secondly, it would explain the
noiselessness of UFO flight. Finally, this assumption also
explains the strong electrical and magnetic effects sometimes,
but not always, observed in the vicinity of UFOs.
Earlier, Dr. Oberth hinted that there had been actual
contact with the UFOs at a scientific level.
"We cannot take credit for our record advancement
in certain scientific fields alone; we have been helped," he is
quoted as having said. When asked by whom, he replied: "The
people of other worlds."
There are persistent rumors that the U.S. has even
test-flown a few advanced vehicles, based on information allegedly
acquired as a result of contact with extra-terrestrials and the
study of grounded UFOs.
In 1959 Dr.
Wernher von Braun, another great space pioneer, made an
intriguing statement, reported in Germany. Referring to the
deflection from orbit of the U.S. Juno 2 rocket, he stated:
"We find ourselves faced by powers which are far
stronger than we had hitherto assumed, and whose base is at
present unknown to us. More I cannot say at present. We are now
engaged in entering into closer contact with those powers, and
in six or nine months' time it may be possible to speak with
more precision on the matter." [Emphasis added.]
There has been nothing further published on the
matter. As Dr. Robert Sarbacher has commented, von Braun was
probably involved in the recoveries of crashed UFOs in the late
1940s, and it is my opinion that he was constrained from elaborating
on the subject owing to the security oath that he must have been
subject to. I cannot prove this, of course, any more than I can
substantiate information I have received from a reliable source that
top secret contacts have been made by extraterrestrials with
selected scientists in the space program.
It must be admitted, though, that von Braun's
statement comes close to corroborating this. What else could he have
meant when he said,
"We are now engaged in entering into closer
contact with those powers"?
NASA WITHHOLDS PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
That NASA has been engaged in UFO research behind the scenes is
alone proven, to my satisfaction at least, by its shady involvement
in the analysis of metal samples discovered at the site where
Sergeant Lonnie Zamora encountered a landed UFO and occupants at
Socorro, New Mexico, in April 1964. On 31 July 1964 Ray Stanford and
some members of NICAP * visited NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center at Greenbelt, Maryland, in order to have
a rock with particles of metal on it analyzed by NASA scientists.
National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena
Dr. Henry Frankel, head of the Spacecraft
Systems Branch, directed the analysis.
The particles had apparently been scraped on to the
rock by one of the UFO's landing legs. On first inspection of the
rock through a microscope, Dr. Frankel declared that some of the
particles "look like they may have been in a molten state when
scraped onto the rock," and expressed the desire to remove them from
the rock for further analysis. Stanford agreed to this, but said
that he wanted to retain half of the particles for his own use.
The researchers were invited to go to lunch while NASA engineers
conducted their analysis. After lunch, Stanford and the others
(Richard Hall, Robert McGarey and Walter Webb), returned to the
A NASA technician brought the rock over to the
"As he handed it to me," said Stanford, "I was
able to carefully observe it in the bright light inside the
room. The whole thing had been scraped clean. Someone had gone
over that rock with the equivalent of a fine-toothed comb. There
was nothing, not a speck of the metal left. . . even the very
few tiny particles that I had known were rather well-hidden had
When Stanford complained, the technician insisted
that half of the samples were still on the rock, as promised, but
seeing Stanford's disbelief hastily left the room.
Dr. Frankel then
returned, and after Stanford had remonstrated with him, explained
what had happened.
"Well, we tried to leave you some," he said, "but
we also had to get enough to make an accurate analysis. The
sample will be placed under radiation this afternoon, where it
will remain the entire weekend. Monday, we will remove it for
X-ray diffraction tests. That should tell us the elements it
contains ... if you will call me, say on Wednesday, I should be
able to tell you something very definite."
Before contacting Dr. Frankel again, Stanford and
McGarey had a meeting with a U.S. Navy captain in Washington who was
interested in the Socorro case. The captain told the researchers
that they would never get their metal samples back from Frankel.
"If that metal is in any way unusual," he said,
"he will never give you any documentation to prove it . . .
Those boys at Goddard know that they must report any findings as
important as a strange, UFO alloy to the highest authority in
NASA. Once that authority receives the news, the President will
be informed, for the matter is pertinent to national security
and stability. A security directive will instruct those
self-appointed authorities at Goddard as to just whose hands the
matter is really in. .. ."
On 5 August 1964 Ray Stanford phoned Dr. Frankel at
the Goddard Space Flight Center.
"I'm glad you called," the
scientist said. "I have some news that I think will make you happy."
He went on:
The particles are comprised of a material that could not occur
naturally. Specifically, it consists predominantly of two metallic
elements, and there is something that is rather exciting about the
zinc-iron alloy of which we find the particles to consist: Our
charts of all alloys known to be manufactured on Earth, the U.S.S.R.
included, do not show any alloy of the specific combination or ratio
of the two main elements involved here. This finding definitely
strengthens the case that might be made for an extraterrestrial
origin of the Socorro object.
Dr. Frankel added that the alloy would make,
"an excellent, highly
malleable, and corrosive-resistant coating for a spacecraft landing
gear, or for about anything where those qualities are needed."
also said that he was prepared to make a statement before a
Congressional hearing to this effect, if necessary.
Frankel went on to say that further analysis would be carried out,
and that Stanford should call him again the following week. On 12
August Stanford placed a call to Frankel, but was told by his
secretary that he was "not available" and suggested he try
contacting him the following day.
On 13 August Stanford phoned again.
"Dr. Frankel simply is not available today," the
secretary announced. "He wonders if you might try him the first
part of next week?"
On 17 August Stanford rang Frankel's office, only to
be told yet again
that he was not available. Ominously, the secretary added:
"Dr. Frankel is unprepared, at this time, to
discuss the information you are calling about."
On 18 August
Stanford tried again.
"I'm sorry," the secretary said, "but Dr.
Frankel is in a top-level security conference. I doubt that he
will be able to talk with you until tomorrow or the next day."
Failing to get hold of Frankel the following day,
Stanford left a telephone number with the secretary. On 20 August
Thomas P. Sciacca Jr. of NASA's Spacecraft Systems Branch phoned
"I have been appointed to call you and report the
official conclusion of the Socorro sample analysis," he said.
"Dr. Frankel is no longer involved with the matter, so in
response to your repeated enquiries, I want to tell you the
results of the analysis. Everything you were told earlier by Dr.
Frankel was a mistake. The sample was determined to be silica,
In 1967 Dr. Allen Hynek invited
Ray Stanford to a
lecture he was giving in Phoenix, and afterwards Hynek asked:
"Whatever happened with the analysis at Goddard
of that metallic sample from the rock you took from the Socorro
Both Hynek and Stanford had been closely involved in
investigations at the landing site, but Stanford was puzzled as to
how Hynek knew about the NASA analysis.
"I was not sure where Hynek had learned of the
fact that I had taken the rock which Lonnie Zamora had pointed
out to both of us, and which the astronomer had ignored," he
said. "I was interested to note that he specifically knew it was
analyzed at Goddard. That fact had never been published."
Stanford told Hynek that NASA's "official" analysis
had revealed it to be common silica.
"That cannot be true!"
"I am familiar with the analysis techniques
involved. Silica could not be mistaken for a zinc-iron alloy.
They haven't given you the truth! I would accept Frankel's
original report and forget the later disclaimer."
Given that the original analysis was accurate it is
worth recording NASA Administrator Dr. Robert Frosch's statement in
the letter he wrote to President Carter's science advisor, Dr. Frank
Press, in 1977:
"There is an absence of tangible or physical
evidence available for thorough laboratory analysis ... To
proceed [therefore] on a research task without a disciplinary
framework and an exploratory technique in mind would be wasteful
and probably unproductive."
THE SILVER SPRING FILM
In my first book I devoted a chapter to the controversial 8mm color
movie film taken by
George Adamski in the presence of
Madeleine Rodeffer and other unnamed witnesses outside Madeleine's home at
Silver Spring, Maryland, in February 1965.
I have been taken to task
for endorsing the authenticity of this "obviously fake" film taken
by a "proven charlatan," but I have yet to see any conclusive
evidence that it
was actually faked. Both my co-author Lou Zinsstag and I exposed as
many of the inconsistencies in Adamski's claims that were available
to us at the time of writing, but that short piece of film, taken a
few months before Adamski's death, remains authentic in my opinion
Sometime between 3 and 4 P.M. on 26 February 1965 an unidentified
craft of the famous type photographed by Adamski in 1952 (and others
subsequently) described a series of maneuvers over Madeleine's front
yard, retracting and lowering one of its three pods and making a
gentle humming and swishing sound as it did so.
filming the craft with Madeleine's 8 mm camera.
"It looked blackish-brown or grayish-brown at
times," Madeleine told me, "but when it came in close it looked
greenish and bluish, and it looked aluminium: it depended on
which way it was tilting. Then at one point it actually stood
absolutely still between the bottom of the steps and the
The craft then disappeared from view, but reappeared
above the roof and described maneuvers once more before finally
disappearing vertically. Madeleine told me that she could make out
human figures at the portholes, but details were obscured.
When the film was developed the following week something was
obviously wrong with many of the frames and it was apparent that it
had been interfered with. Obviously faked frames had been
substituted by person or persons unknown.
"They took the original film," Madeleine
believes, "and what I think they did was rephotograph portions
of the original... and then fake some stuff. The film I got back
is not the original film at all."
Fortunately enough frames showing the craft as they
had remembered it survived out of the twenty-five feet that had been
taken, and these were analyzed by William T. Sherwood, an optical
physicist who was formerly a senior project development engineer for
the Eastman-Kodak Company in Rochester, NY. I spent many hours
discussing the film with Bill, and in 1968 he provided me with a
brief technical summary of his evaluations as they related to the
prints he made from the "original" film.
It's hard to capture the nuances of the original film. None of the
movie duplicates are good: too much contrast. The outlines look
"peculiar" due to distortions, I believe, caused by the
"force-field." The glow beneath the flange is, I think, significant.
Incidentally, the tree [near the top of which the craft maneuvered]
is very high (90 ft?).
Roughly, the geometry of imagery is this:
In 1977 Bill Sherwood sent me further details of
his evaluations: The camera was a Bell & Howell Animation
Autoload Standard 8, Model 315, with a fl.8 lens, 9-29 mm, used
in the 9mm position.... As you can measure, the image on the
film (original) is about 2.7mm maximum. So for a 90 ft distant
object, [the diameter] would be about 27 feet. ... It was a
large tree, and the limb that the saucer seems to "touch" could
have been about that distance from the camera . . . but
unfortunately I could not find a single frame where the saucer
could clearly be said to be behind the limb. So it is not
conclusive as for distance, and therefore for size. ... In some
of the frames of the original, portholes are seen.
In reply to my query as to whether it was possible to
authenticate the film unequivocally, Bill said that there is no
absolutely foolproof way of assessing whether a photo is "real" or
not. One must just take everything into account, including as much
as one can learn about the person involved, and then make an
In the final analysis, he said, it comes down to
"Is this the kind of person whom I can imagine
going to all the trouble and expense of simulating what only a
well-equipped studio with a large budget could begin to
approximate, and defending it through the years with no apparent
gain and much inconvenience?"
One of the peculiarities of the film is that the
outlines of the craft look peculiarly distorted at times. Bill
Sherwood believes this is due to a powerful gravitational field that
produces optical distortions, an opinion that is shared by Leonard
Cramp, an aeronautical engineer and designer who has worked for De
Havilland, Napier, Saunders-Roe, and Westland Aircraft companies.
his pioneering book,
Piece for a Jig-Saw, Cramp proposed a theory to
account for this peculiar effect:
Earlier, when discussing light in terms of the G
[gravitational field] theory, we saw how we might expect such a
field to form an atmospheric lens, producing optical effects
which might be further augmented by other field effects as well
as the gravitational bending of light...
Now it follows that
if there would be a local increase in atmospheric pressure due
to a powerful G field, then similarly we could expect a decrease
in atmospheric pressure to accompany a powerful R [repulsion]
field, and again we would not be surprised to find optical
effects... we can now say, while a G field might produce
optical magnifying properties, an R field could produce optical
Leonard Cramp had not seen the Silver Spring film
prior to publishing his book, and was delighted that it seemed to
confirm his hypothesis. Like Bill Sherwood and myself, he is in no
doubt that the film is authentic.
On 27 February 1967 (two years after it had been taken) the film was
shown to twenty-two NASA officials at the Goddard Space Flight
Center. Discussion afterwards lasted for an hour and a half, and
just before Madeleine left, one of the two friends with her was
allegedly told that it was "a very important piece of film" and that
the craft was twenty-seven feet in diameter (the figure calculated
independently by Bill Sherwood). Unfortunately, I have been unable
to confirm this.
In reply to my queries, NASA scientist Paul D. Lowman Jr., of the
Geophysics Branch at Goddard, stated that according to one of those
present, Herbert A. Tiedemann, everyone considered the Silver Spring
film to be fake.
Dr. Lowman, who had helped set up the meeting but was
unable to attend, offered the following comments on the color photos
from the film that I sent him:
First, it is not possible to make any precise
determination of the object's size from the relationship (which
is basically correct) quoted by Mr. Sherwood. Given any three of
these quantities, one can calculate the fourth. The focal length
and image size are obviously known, but not the distance, which
can only be roughly estimated. The equation can be no better
than its most inexact quantity, and one might as well just
estimate the size of the object directly.
My own strong impression is that these frames
show a small object, perhaps up to 2 or 3 feet across, a short
distance from the camera. Judging from the photo of Mrs.
Rodeffer's house, a 27 foot UFO would have occupied most of the
cleared area in the front yard, and from such a short distance
would have been a very large photographic object.
Although Bill Sherwood readily concedes that his
estimate of the precise distance from the camera is arbitrary, he is
sure that it is reasonably accurate, and my own tests at the site
show that, with the camera lens set on wide angle (as it was at the
time), an object of this approximate size and distance would appear
exactly as it does on the film.
That either Adamski or Madeleine (or both) could have
faked the film using a small model, and then have the audacity to
show it at NASA, seems far-fetched in the extreme. Moreover, to
produce the distortion effects as well as the lowering and
retracting of one of the pods with a small model, is out of the
question as far as I am concerned. As a semi-professional
photographer I can speak with some authority on the matter myself.
Following the death of Adamski, Madeleine Rodeffer experienced a
great deal of ridicule and harassment, and nearly all copies of the
"faked" film have been stolen—in the United States and elsewhere.
Two photographs of an identical craft were taken by young Stephen Darbishire in the presence of his cousin Adrian Myers in Coniston,
England, in February 1954. For the benefit of those who contend that
Darbiahire had faked the pictures and recanted later, the following
statement from a letter he wrote to me in 1986 is illuminating:
.. . when I said that I had seen a UFO I was
laughed at, attacked, and surrounded by strange people. ... In
desperation I remember I refuted the statement and said it was a
fake. I was counter-attacked, accused of working with the "Dark
Powers". . . or patronizingly "understood" for following orders
from some secret government department.
There was something. It happened a long time ago, and
I do not wish to be drawn into the labyrinth again. Unfortunately
the negatives were stolen and all the prints gone ...
In the early 1970s I had the pleasure of several meetings in Britain
and the United States with the former U.S. Navy test pilot,
intelligence officer, and pioneer astronaut Scott Carpenter, who had
reputedly seen UFOs and photographed one of them during his flight
in the Mercury 7 capsule on 24 May 1962. Scott vehemently denied
this, and poured scorn on other reports of sightings by fellow
I noticed that he appeared to be ill at ease when
discussing the subject, and whenever I produced documentary evidence
for official concern in this area he became visibly nervous. But in
November 1972 Scott kindly wrote on my behalf to astronauts Gordon
Cooper, Dick Gordon, James Lovell and James McDivitt, asking about
reports attributed to them.
James Lovell replied as follows:
I have to honestly say that during my four
flights into space, I have not seen or heard any phenomena that
I could not explain.... / don't believe any of us in the space
program believe that there are such things as UFOs.... However,
most of us believe that there must be a star like our sun that
also has a planetary system [which] must support intelligent
life as we know it.... I hope this is sufficient information for
Tim Good, and I hope he isn't too disappointed in my answer.
But according to the transcript of Lovell's flight on
Gemini 7, an anomalous object was encountered:
SPACECRAFT: Bogey at 10 o'clock high.
CAPCOM: This is Houston. Say again 7.
SPACECRAFT: Said we have a bogey at 10
CAPCOM: Gemini 7, is that the booster or is
that an actual sighting?
SPACECRAFT: We have several, looks like
debris up here. Actual sighting.
CAPCOM: . . . Estimate distance or size?
SPACECRAFT: We also have the booster in sight
. . .
Franklin Roach, of the University of
Colorado UFO study set up by the Air Force in 1966, concluded that
in addition to the booster traveling in an orbit similar to that of
"there was another bright object [the "bogey"]
together with many illuminated particles. It might be
conjectured," he said, "that the bogey and particles were
fragments from the launching of Gemini 7, but this is impossible
if they were traveling in a polar orbit as they appeared to be
James McDivitt confirmed that although he did see an
unidentified object during the Gemini 4 flight on 4 June 1965, he
does not believe it was anomalous:
During Gemini 4, while we were in drifting flight, I noticed an
object out the front window of the spacecraft. It appeared to be
cylindrical in shape with a high fineness ratio. From one end
protruded a long, cylindrical pole with the approximate fineness of
pencil. I had no idea what the size was or what the distance to the
object was. It could have been very small and very near or very
large and very far away.
I attempted to take a photograph of this object with each of the two
cameras we had on board. Since this object was only in my view for a
short time, I did not have time to properly adjust the cameras and I
just took the picture with whatever settings the camera had at that
time. The object appeared to be relatively close and I went through
the trouble of turning on the control system in case I needed to
take any evasive actions.
The spacecraft was in drifting flight and when the sun shone on the
duty window, the object disappeared from view. I was unable to
relocate it, since the attitude reference in the spacecraft was also
disabled, and I did not know which way to maneuver to find it.
After landing, the film from Gemini 4 was flown back to Houston
immediately, whereas Ed White and I stayed on the aircraft carrier
for three days. During this period of time a film technician at NASA
evaluated the photographs and selected what he thought was the
photograph of this particular object. Unfortunately, what he
selected was a photo-graph of sunspots [flares] on the window and
had nothing whatsoever to do with the object that I had seen. The
photograph was released before I returned and had a chance to point
out the error in the selection. I, subsequently, went through the
photographs myself and was unable to find any photograph like the
object I had seen.
Apparently, the camera settings were not appropriate
for the pictures.
I do not feel that there was anything strange or exotic about this
particular object. Rather, only that I could not identify it. In a
combination of both Gemini 4 and Apollo 9 I saw numerous satellites,
some of which we identified and some of which we didn't. ... I have
seen a lot of objects that I could not identify, but I have yet to
see one that could be identified as a spaceship from some other
planet. I can't say that there aren't any, only that I haven't seen
any. I hope this helps Tim.
Neither Gordon Cooper nor Dick Gordon replied to Scott's letter, it
seems, and I have never been able to receive a reply from Cooper,
although he has spoken publicly of his interest in the subject.
In fact, interest in UFOs was one of the reasons that
inspired him to become an astronaut.
"I... had the idea that there might be some
interesting forms of life out in space for us to discover and
get acquainted with," he wrote in 1962. "As far as I am
concerned there have been far too many unexplained examples of
unidentified objects sighted around the earth ... the fact that
many experienced pilots had reported strange sights did heighten
my curiosity about space . . . This was one of the reasons,
then, why I wanted to become an Astronaut."
In 1978 Cooper attended a meeting of the
Political Committee United Nations General Assembly in order to
discuss UFOs. Later that year a letter from Cooper was read at
another UN meeting:
... I believe that these extraterrestrial
vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other
planets, which are obviously a little more advanced than we are
here on earth. I feel that we need to have a top-level,
coordinated program to specifically collect and analyze data
from all over the earth concerning the type of encounter, and to
determine how best to interface with these visitors in a
friendly fashion. Also, I did have occasion in 1951 to have two
days of observation ... flights of them, of different sizes,
flying in fighter formation, from east to west over Europe.
Cooper said that most astronauts were reluctant to
discuss UFOs "due to the great numbers of people who have
indiscriminately sold fake and forged documents abusing their names
and reputations without hesitation." But he added that there were
"several of us who do believe in UFOs" and who have had occasion to
see a UFO on, around, or from an aircraft.
"There was only one occasion from space which may
have been a UFO," Cooper's letter revealed, without elaborating.
A UFO seen on the ground by an astronaut?
The only reference I have to such an incident is
contained in an article which the late Lou Zinsstag translated from
the French for me in 1973. Unfortunately, I have neither the name of
the paper nor the date, but the article was written by J. L.
Ferrando, based on an interview with an astronaut at a congress in
New York in mid-1973, tape-recorded by Benny Manocchia.
The name of
the astronaut? None other than Gordon Cooper!
The following extracts
are highly significant—if true:
For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on
all specialists in astronautics. I can now reveal that every day, in
the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and
composition unknown to us. And there are thousands of witness
reports and a quantity of documents to prove this, but nobody wants
to make them public. Why? Because authority is afraid that people
may think of God knows what kind of horrible invaders. So the
password still is: we have to avoid panic by all means.
I was furthermore a witness to an extraordinary phenomenon, here on
this planet earth. It happened a few months ago in Florida. There I
saw with my own eyes a defined area of ground being consumed by
flames, with four indentations left by a flying object which had
descended in the middle of a field. Beings had left the craft (there
were other traces to prove this).
They seemed to have studied
topography, they had collected soil samples and, eventually, they
returned to where they had come from, disappearing at enormous
speed.... I happen to know that the authorities did just about
everything to keep this incident from the press and TV, in fear of a
panicky reaction from the public.
I immediately wrote to Cooper at Aerofoil Systems Inc., Cape
Canaveral, Florida, asking if there was any truth to these
"If the whole story is a hoax," I said, "somebody
ought to be sued."
But there was no reply from him, even when I sent
reminders and a stamped addressed envelope. I then wrote to Scott
Carpenter, asking if he would forward it to Cooper, and this he
promised to do.
To this day, I have heard nothing.
In the same letter to Scott I asked for the complete story of the
photo-graph he took during his flight in Mercury 7 on 24 May 1962.
According to a commentator on BBC TV in 1973, Carpenter had been
withdrawn from duties as an astronaut for wasting time taking
pictures of "sunrise." I thought this was rather unlikely,
especially since Scott's friend, Andre Previn, told me that Scott
had not been allowed in space again owing to a slight heart murmur.
The released photograph shows what some have interpreted as a UFO,
others as a lens flare, ice crystals, or the fabric and aluminium
balloon that was deployed at one stage. I wanted the facts.
When I reminded Scott of my request a year later, he replied that he
. . . your continuing implication that I am lying
and/or withholding truths from you. Your blindly stubborn belief
in Flying Saucers makes interest-ing talk for awhile, but your
inability to rationally consider any thought that runs counter
to yours makes further discussion of no interest— indeed
unpleasant in prospect—to me. I have sent your letter to Gordon
Cooper without comment other than a copy of this letter to you.
Let's do be friends, Tim, but let's talk about such things as
music and SCUBA diving where maybe both of us can learn
I have never insisted that Scott Carpenter
photographed a UFO, but because of the rumors surrounding the
incident I wanted to know the truth. To me, that seems reasonable.
In any event, my friendship towards, and respect for Scott remains
An anonymous source with secret clearance claims that Carpenter told
him that at no time when the astronauts were in space were they
alone: there was constant surveillance by UFOs. And Dr Garry
Henderson, a senior research scientist for General Dynamics, has
confirmed that the astronauts are under strict orders not to discuss
their sightings with anyone.
Dr Henderson says that NASA,
actual photos of these crafts, taken at close range by hand and
In November 1979 Lou Zinsstag and I received an unofficial
invitation to visit the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The invitation came from Alan Holt, a physicist and aerospace
engineer whose main work at that time centered on the development of
the astronaut and flight controller training programs associated
with the Spacelab. He is also engaged in theoretical research into
advanced types of propulsion for spacecraft, and has long been
involved in an unofficial NASA UFO study group called Project VISIT
(Vehicle Internal Systems Investigative Team). I asked about
photographs and films of UFOs allegedly taken by astronauts and was
simply told that the National Security Agency screens all films
prior to releasing them to NASA.
It may be coincidental that a former Director of the National
Security Agency and Deputy Director of the CIA, Lew Allen, was
appointed head of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in June 1982. JPL
runs NASA's unmanned planetary space program, whose phenomenal
achievements include the landing on Mars by the Viking probes and,
more recently, the Voyagers which transmitted such spectacular
pictures of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.
Allen had also been the USAF Chief of Staff, and as
one of the pioneers of aerial espionage served as deputy director
for Advanced Plans in the Directorate of Special Projects of the
National Reconnaissance Office, and later director of the NRO's
Office of Space Systems. NRO—America's most secret intelligence
agency—liaises closely with the CIA, NSA—and of course
In an interview in 1986, Lew Allen stated that up to a third of
JPL's work was funded by the Department of Defense, but gave details
of various fascinating civilian projects.
"One of the most exciting of these future
programs, called Cassini," he said, "is an investigation of
Saturn's moon Titan. Its atmosphere was too dense for the
Voyagers to give us any clues about what lies beneath. The
Cassini mission . . . would probe this atmosphere . . . we've
concluded that it is very similar to what the earth's must have
been at the earliest stages of its evolution."
Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA
communications systems, claims that all the Apollo and Gemini
flights were followed at a distance and sometimes quite closely by
space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin, but Mission Control
ordered absolute secrecy. Chatelain believes that some UFOs may come
from our own solar system—specifically Titan.
During a BBC radio interview in December 1972, astronaut Edgar
Mitchell, lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, was asked by a listener
if NASA had made any provisions for encountering extra-terrestrials
on the Moon or nearby planets. He replied in the affirmative. When
the interviewer intervened and suggested that, if and when we
ultimately come into contact with other civilizations, it would only
be via radio-astronomy, Mitchell emphatically disagreed, making a
point of recommending Allen Hynek's book, The UFO Experience, which
contradicted official policy on the subject.
I wrote to Dr. Mitchell and asked him to elaborate on this and
another statement he made on the program, to the effect that there
had been no concealment of UFO sightings either in transit to or on
the Moon, and that such information was open to all.
assistant, Harry Jones, replied:
"Dr. Mitchell asked me to write and
tell you that to his knowledge there have been no unexplained UFO
sightings. All unexplained sightings have subsequently been
explained. Dr. Mitchell personally attests that there has never been
any lid of secrecy placed on any NASA astronaut that he is aware
of." [Emphasis added.]
Although puzzled by this contradictory reply I did not pursue the
matter further, since the publicity from UFO reports in 1973 led to
a number of positive statements by some other astronauts.
"I'm one of those guys who has never seen a UFO,"
said Eugene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, at a press
conference. "But I've been asked, and I've said publicly I
thought they were somebody else, some other civilization."
In 1979 former Mercury astronaut Donald Slayton
revealed in an interview with Paul Levy that he had seen a UFO
while test-flying an aircraft in 1951:
I was testing a P-51 fighter in Minneapolis when I spotted this
object. I was at about 10,000 feet on a nice, bright, sunny
afternoon. I thought the object was a kite, then realized that no
kite is going to fly that high. As I got closer it looked like a
weather balloon, gray and about three feet in diameter. But as soon
as I got behind the darn thing it didn't look like a balloon
anymore. It looked like a saucer, a disc.
About that same time, I
realized that it was suddenly going away from me—and there I was,
running at about 300 miles an hour. I tracked it for a little way,
and then all of a sudden the damn thing just took off. It Suppressed
Inventions and Other Discoveries pulled about a 45-degree climbing
turn and accelerated and just flat disappeared.
A couple of days later I was having a beer with my commanding
officer, and I thought,
"What the hell, I'd better mention something to
him about it."
I did, and he told me to get on down to intelligence
and give them a report. I did, and I never heard anything more on
DID APOLLO 11 ENCOUNTER UFOS ON THE MOON?
According to hitherto unconfirmed reports, both Neil Armstrong and
Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin saw UFOs shortly after that historic landing on
the Moon in Apollo 11 on 21 July 1969.
I remember hearing one of the
astronauts refer to a "light" in or on a crater during the televised
transmission, followed by a request from mission control for further
information. Nothing more was heard.
According to former NASA employee Otto Binder, unnamed radio hams
with their own VHF receiving facilities that by-passed NASA's
broadcasting outlets picked up the following exchange:
MISSION CONTROL: What's there? Mission
control calling Apollo 11.
APOLLO 11: These babies are huge, sir. . . enormous. . . .
Oh, God, you wouldn't believe it! I'm telling you there are
other spacecraft out there . . . lined up on the far side of
the crater edge . . . they're on the moon watching us... .
The story has been relegated to the world of
fiction since it first appeared, but in 1979 Maurice Chatelain,
former chief of NASA communications systems and one of the
scientists who conceived and designed the Apollo spacecraft,
confirmed that Armstrong had indeed reported seeing two UFOs on the
rim of a crater.
"The encounter was common knowledge in NASA," he
revealed, "but nobody has talked about it until now."
Soviet scientists were allegedly the first to confirm
"According to our information, the encounter was
reported immediately after the landing of the module," said Dr.
Vladimir Azhazha, a physicist and professor of mathematics at
"Neil Armstrong relayed the message to mission
control that two large mysterious objects were watching them
after having landed near the moon module. But his message was
never heard by the public—because NASA censored it."
According to another Soviet scientist, Dr.
Kazantsev, Buzz Aldrin took color movie film of the UFOs from inside
the module, and continued filming them after he and Armstrong went
outside. Dr. Azhazha claims that the UFOs departed just minutes
after the astronauts came out on to the lunar surface.
Maurice Chatelain also confirmed that Apollo 11's radio
transmissions were interrupted on several occasions in order to hide
the news from the public. NASA chief spokesman John McLeaish denied
that the agency censored any voice transmissions from Apollo 11, but
admitted that a slight delay in transmission took place, due simply
to processing through electronic equipment.
Before dismissing Chatelain's sensational claims, it is worth noting
his impressive background in the aerospace industry and space
program. His first job after moving from France was as an
electronics engineer with Convair, specializing in
telecommunications, telemetry and radar. In 1959 he was in charge of
an electromagnetic research group, developing new radar and
telecommunications systems for Ryan. One of his eleven patents was
an automatic radar landing system that ignited retro rockets at a
given altitude, used in the Ranger and Surveyor flights to the Moon.
Later, at North American Aviation, Chatelain was offered the job of
designing and building the Apollo communication and data processing
In his book, Chatelain claims that,
"all Apollo and Gemini flights were followed,
both at a distance and sometimes also quite closely, by space
vehicles of extraterrestrial origin—flying saucers, or UFOs ...
if you want to call them by that name. Every time it occurred,
the astronauts informed Mission Control, who then ordered
He goes on to say:
I think that Walter Schirra aboard Mercury 8 was the first of the
astronauts to use the code name "Santa Claus" to indicate the
presence of flying saucers next to space capsules. However, his
announcements were barely noticed by the general public. It was a
little different when James Lovell on board the Apollo 8 command
module came out from behind the moon and said for everybody to hear:
"Please be informed that there is a Santa Claus."
Even though this happened on Christmas Day 1968, many
people sensed a hidden meaning in those words. I asked Dr. Paul
Lowman of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center what he thought about
the Apollo 11 story.
Most of the radio communications from the Apollo
crew on the surface were relayed in real time to earth. I am
continually amazed by people who claim that we have concealed
the discovery of extra-terrestrial activity on the Moon. The
confirmed detection of extraterrestrial life, even if only by
radio, will be the greatest scientific discovery of all time,
and I speak without exaggeration.
The idea that a civilian agency such as
operating in the glare of publicity, could hide such a discovery
is absurd, even if it wanted to. One would have to swear to
secrecy not only the dozen astronauts who landed on the Moon but
also the hundreds of engineers, technicians, and secretaries
directly involved in the missions and the communication links.
Yet the rumors persist.
NASA may well be a civilian
agency, but many of its programs are funded by the defense budget,
as I have pointed out, and most of the astronauts are subject to
military security regulations. Apart from the fact that the National
Security Agency screens all films (and probably radio communications
as well), we have the statements by Otto Binder, Dr. Garry Henderson
and Maurice Chatelain that the astronauts were under strict orders
not to discuss their sightings.
And Gordon Cooper has testified to a UN committee
that one of the astronauts actually witnessed a UFO on the ground.
If there is no secrecy, why has this sighting not been made public?
Not all communications between the astronauts and ground control are
public, as NASA itself admits. John McLeaish, Chief of Public
Information at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now Lyndon B. Johnson
Space Center) in Houston, explained to me in 1970 that although
there is no separate radio frequency used by the astronauts for
private conversations with mission control, private conversations,
"usually to discuss medical problems," are re-routed:
"When the astronauts request a private
conversation, or when a private conversation is deemed necessary
by officials on the ground, it is transmitted on the same S-band
radio frequencies as are normally used but it is routed through
different audio circuits on the ground; and unlike other
air-to-ground conversations with the spacecraft, it is not
released to the general public."
But is there any truth to
the Apollo 11 story?
friend of mine who formerly served in a branch of British military
intelligence has provided me with unexpected corroboration. I am not
permitted to reveal the name of my source, nor the location and date
of the following conversation that was overheard and subsequently
confirmed by my friend, which will inevitably lay me open to charges
of fabricating the story or being the victim of a hoax. Yet the
story must be told, however apocryphal.
A certain professor (whose name is known to me) was engaged in an
earnest discussion with Neil Armstrong during a NASA symposium, and
according to my friend's recollection, part of the conversation went
PROFESSOR: What really happened out there with
ARMSTRONG: It was incredible ... of course, we had always known
there was a possibility ... the fact is, we were warned off.
There was never any question then of a space station or a moon
PROFESSOR: How do you mean "warned off"?
ARMSTRONG: I can't go into details, except to say that their
ships were far superior to ours both in size and technology—Boy,
were they big! . . . and menacing. . . . No, there is no
question of a space station.
PROFESSOR: But NASA had other missions after Apollo 11?
ARMSTRONG: Naturally—NASA was committed at that
time, and couldn't risk a panic on earth. . . . But it really
was a quick scoop and back again....
Later, when my friend confronted Armstrong, the
latter confirmed that the story was true but refused to go into
further detail, beyond admitting that the CIA was behind the
What does Neil Armstrong have to say about the matter officially?
reply to my enquiry he simply stated:
"Your 'reliable sources' are unreliable. There
were no objects reported, found, or seen on Apollo 11 or any
other Apollo flight other than of natural origin. All
observations on all Apollo flights were fully reported to the
Back to Contents
Back to Astronauts and Apollo's Missions
Back to The Saga of Flying Objects