by Peter Carlson
February 19, 2004
- Page C01
Fifty years ago tomorrow - on Feb. 20, 1954 - President Dwight Eisenhower
interrupted his vacation in Palm Springs, Calif., to make a secret nocturnal
trip to a nearby Air Force base to meet two extraterrestrial aliens.
Or maybe not. Maybe Ike just went to the dentist. There's some dispute about
The Ike-met-with-ETs theory is advanced by
Michael Salla, a former American
University professor who now runs the Peace Ambassador Program at AU's
Center for Global Peace.
The Ike-went-to-the-dentist theory is advanced by the folks at the
Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kan. And by James M. Mixson, a dentist,
professor of dentistry and historian of presidential dental work.
Just to make things more intriguing:
On the night in question, the
Associated Press reported this: "Pres. Eisenhower died tonight of a heart
attack in Palm Springs." Two minutes later, the AP retracted that bulletin and reported that
Indeed, Ike was alive. And he continued living until 1969. But in the
decades since his death, his activities on the night of Feb. 20, 1954, have
become fodder for strange theories about alien beings.
Some facts are beyond dispute:
Eisenhower was on a golf vacation in Palm
Springs on Feb. 20, 1954.
After dinner that night, he made an unscheduled
departure from the Smoking Tree Ranch, where he was staying.
morning, he attended a church service in Los Angeles. Also that morning, his
spokesman announced to the press that Ike had visited a dentist the previous
night because he'd chipped a tooth while eating a chicken wing at dinner.
Salla, who has a PhD in government from the University of Queensland in his
native Australia, doesn't believe it. He figures the dentist trip is just a
cover story. He believes Ike went to Edwards Air Force Base, where he met
with two ETs with white hair, pale blue eyes and colorless lips.
These aliens - nicknamed "Nordics" in UFO circles because they resemble
Scandinavian humans - traveled to Edwards from another solar system in a
flying saucer and, Salla says, they spoke to Eisenhower.
"There was telepathic communication," says
Salla, 45, as he sits in his
suburban Falls Church living room. "It's as though you're hearing a person
but they're not speaking."
The "Nordics" offered to share their
superior technology and their spiritual
wisdom with Ike if he would agree to eliminate America's nuclear weapons.
"They were afraid we might blow up some of our nuclear technology,"
says, "and apparently that does something to time and space and it impacts
on extraterrestrial races on other planets."
Ike declined the ETs' offer,
Salla says, because he did not want to give up
Sometime later in 1954, Ike reached a deal with another race of
extraterrestrials, known as the "Greys" - allowing them to capture
earthling cattle and humans for medical experiments, provided that they
returned the humans safely home. Since then, Salla says, the "Greys" have
kidnapped "millions" of humans.
Salla, author of "The Hero's Journey Toward a Second American Century,"
published his ET theories in his new book, "Exopolitics
Implications of the Extraterrestrial Presence" and in
an article on his
For much of the '90s, Salla studied conflict resolution and tried
unsuccessfully to apply that knowledge to prevent war in East Timor and the
Balkans, he says.
Frustrated, he began looking for an extraterrestrial
connection to human misery and, he says, he found evidence of ET visitations
- including the Ike encounter - on the Internet.
"There's a lot of stuff on the Internet," he says, "and I just went around
and pieced it together."
Meanwhile, he taught at the
School of International Service at American
In 2003 he founded the university's Peace Ambassador Program,
described on the AU Web site as a,
"summer program that combines study,
meditative practices, and prayer ceremonies at selected Washington DC sites
aimed at promoting individual self-empowerment and Divine Governance in
Salla stresses that his
ET research is not connected with his work at AU's
Center for Global Peace. The folks at the Center for Global Peace are also
quite eager to stress that fact.
"The research that Michael Salla is doing is not research that he is
conducting on behalf of the center or in collaboration with the center,"
says Betty Sitka, associate director of the Center for Global Peace. "This
is his own personal research."
Meanwhile, the question remains: Did
Ike really meet with ETs 50 years ago?
"Not to our knowledge," says Jim Leyerzapf, an archivist at the
Library. "There's nothing in the archives that indicates that."
Then Leyerzapf bursts out laughing.
He has heard this theory before.
"We've had so many requests on that subject
that we have a person who specializes in this."
That person is archivist Herb Pankratz.
"He specialized in transportation,"
Leyerzapf says, "and we decided to add
UFOs to that. He does trains, planes, automobiles - and flying saucers."
The library fielded dozens of questions about the alleged
Ike-ET meeting in
the late '80s and early '90s, when several UFO books advanced the theory,
"It's interesting how these stories have changed,"
Pankratz noted in an
e-mail. "Initially, the accounts claimed the President made a secret trip to
Edwards Air Force Base to view the remains of aliens who had crashed at
Roswell, N.M., in 1947. Later stories then claimed he had actually visited
with live aliens."
Pankratz doesn't buy either theory.
He believes the dentist story, and he
cites James Mixson, the dental historian and professor at the University of
Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. Mixson's article "A History of
Dwight D. Eisenhower's Oral Health" - published in the November 1995 issue
of the Bulletin of the History of Dentistry - is the definitive work on Ike's teeth.
Citing the U.S. surgeon general's records on Ike's medical and dental
history, opened to researchers in 1991, Mixson reported that on the fateful
night of Feb. 20, 1954, Ike chipped the porcelain cap of his "upper left
central incisor" and it was repaired by Dr. Francis A. Purcell.
Purcell is unavailable for comment.
He died in 1974, according to Pankratz.
"The lack of a dental record from
Purcell's office," Mixson wrote, "has
helped fuel belief in this UFO encounter."
But, Mixson quickly added, "the President had well-documented difficulties
with this crown."
Indeed, the crown, which was installed in July 1952, was chipped and
repaired in December 1952, the February in question, and again in July 1954,
when the president's dentist, Col. James M. Fairchild, replaced it with a
"thin cast gold/platinum thimble crown."
That may be more than you wanted to know about Ike's dental work. If not,
Mixson goes on at some length, quoting a long, lyrical passage written by
Fairchild on this troublesome presidential incisor.
Meanwhile, there's another perplexing question: Why did the AP report that
Ike died that night?
"Somebody was fooling around and it went out,"
Pankratz says. "It wasn't
supposed to go out but it did."
Ike never made any public statement about meeting
ETs, Pankratz says. But
did he perhaps spill the beans to his family? Ike's son, John S.D.
Eisenhower, is a retired Army brigadier general and author of several books
on history, including "General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence."
Asked via e-mail if his father had ever mentioned meeting with aliens, Eisenhower responded with a short but emphatic reply: "No."
He declined to