Excerpt from "UFOs and Outer
Web version published with the author’s permission
The epochal flight of Apollo XI to the moon occurred more than a
decade ago -- long enough for it to have become enshrined in our
history books and our mythologies. It marked man’s first landing on
another world in space. It symbolized the capabilities of 20th
Century American technology and management.
For the world of UFO researchers, enthusiasts and opponents, the
flight of Apollo XI was also important. It became the center of a
vast body of reports of alien encounters on this epic space voyage.
Over the years, literally dozens of stories have been written about
purported UFO sightings and photographs made during that particular
mission in July 1969.
Most prestigious of the stories is the note in Edge of Reality in
which Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the ’dean of UFOlogy,’ passes on the
"This was the mission on which a UFO reportedly chased
that spacecraft." A colleague remarked to Hynek that "during Apollo
11, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins said they
observed a UFO."
Hynek agreed, and elaborated:
"Some of the NASA movie frames that
I examined were most interesting -- particularly those taken on
the Apollo 11 flight, one of the few for which NASA has not come
up with some sort of explanation."
Science Digest, the respected monthly
popular science journal, astronomer-author James Mullaney (a former
contributing editor to Astronomy magazine) wrote in July 1977 that,
"the crew of Apollo 11, during the
first moon landing, reporting that their capsule was paced by
what appeared to be a mass of intelligent energy.... NASA
recently released a number of very striking Gemini, Apollo, and
Skylab photos of true unidentifieds."
The UFO press has widely reported such
stories, both in books, movies, and magazines.
UFOs Past, Present and Future (written by
researched by Alan Frank Sandler) reported on "perhaps the most
spectacular of all sightings" which occurred on Apollo 11. On the
way out to the moon, the astronauts watched an object which seemed
to change shape when they switched magnifications of their telescope
"It was really weird," Collins is quoted as saying.
Fate magazine, in editor Curtis Fuller’s column "I See By The
Papers" (November 1970), examined the stories and concluded:
"There seems to be pretty good
evidence that Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins
saw something that hasn’t been made generally known--something
variously reported, ranging from mysterious lights to formations
The authenticity of the Apollo 11
sightings has been vouched for by testimony attributed to CBS TV
news anchorman Walter Cronkite. In an interview with the National
Enquirer, conducted by reporter Robin Leach, Cronkite gives this
"En route for the world’s first moon
landing, Armstrong and the crew transmitted some earthshaking
information, and I was there to hear it for myself."
"Armstrong claimed to have spotted a
huge cylindrical object which was rotating or tumbling between
the ship and the moon. It’s officially recorded in the NASA
record vaults that Armstrong indicated he went to take
photographs but the object vanished as quickly as he’d first
seen it. Neil Armstrong is not a man given to fanciful
imagination and it wasn’t just one of the crew that saw it --
they all did, and you have to respect those men."
That was good enough for Ripley’s
Believe It or Not, too. In late 1978 they published a syndicated
series of cartoon panels dealing with UFOs; one panel contained a
sketch of astronauts and the caption,
"Astronaut Neil Armstrong. . . saw
UFOs while on space mission. But NASA -- according to newscaster
Walter Cronkite -- is keeping the evidence a secret."
But the secret leaked a little,
according to the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. In 1979 they issued
a book by David C. Knight, entitled
UFOs: A Pictorial History. A
full-page space photo on page 171 bears this caption:
"Perhaps the most spectacular of all
UFO sightings from space occurred on July 19, 1969 on the
Apollo-XI flight.... The crew spotted a strange object between
their ship and the moon.... The object still remains
(Purists might have noted that the
object shown on the page was between the ship and the earth, but who
wants to be picky when dealing with such fantastic stories?).
An idea of what these secrets might entail can be obtained from a
summary of the circulated Apollo 11 stories published by Mike Harris
in a New Zealand UFO newsletter in 1974:
From the launching of Apollo 11 on July 16th, 1969 until the
spacecraft passed the midpoint between the earth and the moon the
following day, the three astronauts observed a U.F.O. keeping pace
with them. Two days later, on July 19th at approximately 1800 hours, U.F.O.s made another appearance and were recorded on film. The
details of this extensive film were: the day before the lunar
landing Aldrin transferred to the L. M. "Eagle" and began the final
instrument checks. Whilst checking the close-up camera, the U.F.O.s
came into the picture.
Whilst under observation, the objects
were seen to be emitting what looked like some kind of liquid. The
two objects were in close formation and would come together and part
and after some time separated and went off their own ways. The
objects appeared to be intelligently controlled, the astronauts
said. The third sighting during this epic flight occurred on July
21st, 00.26 hours. About an hour and a half previously, Neil
Armstrong and Aldrin had set foot on the moon. While they were busy
gathering rocks, Collins in the Command Module ’Columbia’ was busy
talking to Houston.
Columbia: Calling Houston. This is
Houston: Go ahead, Columbia.
Columbia: I couldn’t find the L. M. But I saw some weird small
white objects. Co-ordinates are 0.3, 7.6 on the south west edge
of the crater. If they’re there they should have seen them too.
It seems likely that whoever was
interested in our effort was certainly keeping an eye on things. The
report goes on:
These white objects seen by Collins
made a fourth appearance as the "Eagle" was rising from the
Lunar Surface to re-unite with the "Columbia," having left the
moon at 13.55 on July 21st. Their shape in this case was clearly
exposed on film. The fixed camera on the "Eagle" was
photographing the moon’s receding surface when, diagonally from
the lower left to the upper right of the frames, a white,
shining U.F.O. passed directly under the Lunar Module.
This is certainly a sensational scenario
for mankind’s first landing on another world, and it is in addition
a version certainly not described by the standard history books.
Corroborating accounts come from Michael Hervey’s book
American Scene (St. Martin’s Press, NY, 1976). In lunar orbit,
Aldrin is adjusting his camera when suddenly:
...his attention was suddenly drawn
to a bright object resembling a "snowman" traveling from west to
east in sky. He immediately took some shots of the object which
in fact proved to be two UFOs, one larger than the other, and
almost touching. When the film was developed later it included a
shot of the moon’s surface to be followed by a close-up of the
two UFOs moving at a high speed horizontally. They disappeared,
only to return a few seconds later, descended a little, hovered
for a while, and then separated whereupon they were surrounded
by "what looked like a strong halation." They followed this
maneuver by rising vertically and disappearing from sight. In
due course only one UFO returned, and then again took its leave
for the last time. Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin were
naturally excited and perhaps a little apprehensive during those
Yet for all the drama of this event,
none of it seems to have been disclosed by the NASA public affairs
officers in Houston. Clearly, some sort of coverup was involved. The
first major break in this apparent coverup did not occur until 1974,
when the Cosmic Brotherhood Association, a Japanese UFO group,
published hitherto unavailable photos from Apollo 11 with this
The pictures of UFOs taken by Apollo
11 spaceship over the moon’s surface for the first time in the
world and now published by CBA (Cosmic Brotherhood Association)
for the first time, cannot but be considered the firm evidence
that UFOs, so far questioned by many, are actually
spaceship/spacecraft come from outer space as we have been
asserting. They are the absolute evidence sought by the worlds UFologists for the past 27 years.... Following are overwhelming
proof of UFOs, they came from outer space .... They are really
scoop pictures, and not even one of them has been released by
NASA as yet.
This sensational news crossed the
Pacific and was noted by UFO expert Bob Barry of the "Twentieth
Century UFO Bureau," who wrote up a two part survey of astronaut UFO
experiences for Modern People, a weekly tabloid newspaper. The UFO
article was later combined with other similar material which was
published in magazine form as UFO Report (issued in 1975, only one
issue ever came out).
"NASA Hiding UFOs From You!’’ screamed the
"En route to the Moon on their first
day in space, the crew of Columbia sighted a strange object
hovering high above the earth, and managed to capture it on
film. NASA’s photo interpretation lab listed the object as
unidentifiable. But this was only the beginning. Before this
mission would come to an end, the crew of Columbia and later the
Eagle would see a lot more UFO action -- over the moon itself!"
Barry then describes the encounter of
Aldrin with the two UFO zooming across his window in lunar orbit.
Luckily, says Barry, Aldrin was used to seeing UFOs in space, so he
could do the right thing quickly:
"If Aldrin had not been somewhat
conditioned to the appearance of these unusual craft, the shock
of what he saw next might have caused him to miss one of the
most amazing sequences of film taken of UFOs by any astronaut.
For as the objects continued their descent in a formation
similar to that of a "snowman" laid on its side, Aldrin observed
a brilliant emission extending from between the two crafts.
Speculation at the time was that this "trail" was possibly
connected to the vehicles’ motivational systems, possibly even
an exhaust.... During this time, ten other egg-shaped objects
were seen flying in the foreground of the camera view.
Naturally, NASA did not release these photos to the general
public, talking great pains to edit any such mysterious craft
from the final stills which were released.... And even though
almost every crew that has traveled to the moon has witnessed
and photographed unidentified flying objects, NASA officials
still insist that such phenomena do not exist."
But even Barry’s spectacular
photographic evidence is not the most exciting report to come out of
the flight of Apollo 11. For only shortly after the astronauts
returned to earth in mid-1969, a bootleg "tape" and voice transcript
of what was really said on the moon has been circulating
clandestinely in UFO circles. The headline on the cover of National
Bulletin magazine (distributed in Canada but printed in New York
City) for September 29, 1969 cries out that "Phony Transmission
Failure Hides Apollo 11 Discovery... Moon is a U.F.O. Base!"
Author Sam Pepper gave this version of
the "Top Secret Tape Transcript" from "a leak close to the top," as
What was it, what the hell was it?
That’s all I want to know....
These. . . (garbled) . . .babies were huge, sir, they were
No, No, that’s just field distortion....
Oh, God, you wouldn’t believe it....
What... what... what the hell’s going on? Whatsa matter with you
guys . . . ?
They’re here, under the surface....
What’s there.. . malfunction. . . Mission Control calling Apollo
Roger, we’re here, all three of us, but we’ve found some
Yeah, they’ve been here for quite a while judging by the
Mission control, repeat last message....
I’m telling you, there are other spacecraft out there. They’re
lined up in ranks on the far side of the crater edge....
Let’s get that orbit scanned and head home....
In 625 to the fifth, auto-relays set... My hands are shaking so
Film... yes, the damned cameras were clicking away from up
Did you fellows get anything?
Had no film left by the time. . . (garbled) . . . three shots of
the saucers, or whatever they were. . .may have fogged the film.
Mission Control, this is Mission Control... are you under way,
repeat, are you under way? What’s this uproar about UFOs? Over.
They’re set up down there... they’re on the moon... watching
The mirrors, the mirrors . . . you set them up, didn’t you?
Yes, the mirrors are all in place. But whatever built those
spacecraft will probably come over and pull ’em all out by the
When this account was discussed by Fate
editor Curtis Fuller in 1970, he confessed to "extreme skepticism
about the whole alleged transcription". But the account has been
printed elsewhere, (science fiction author and UFO buff Otto Binder
helped spread it widely), and it reminds observers of the radio
signals picked up in Europe in the early 1960s from doomed Russian
cosmonauts on secret space shots which ended in their undisclosed
deaths. Radio amateurs have become very proficient in smoking out ’official secrets’ in the past few decades.
Nor do these eye-opening (and hair-raising?) stories end here.
Another "inside account" appeared in the monthly bulletin of the
well-known UFO group, APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization).
As reported in the February 1976 issue, three disc-shaped shadows
paced the astronauts as they circled the moon, while NASA censors
cut off further live comments from the newsmen. An APRO informant
known as "Mister X" was allegedly present in the "inner control
The astronauts, recalled the otherwise unidentified "Mister X,"
suddenly said, "There they are again," referring to objects spotted
on the first three orbits and the last orbit. It seems to be an
independent corroboration of stories recounted earlier.
Additionally, a new and hitherto unavailable Apollo 11 photograph
was published in the monthly Science Digest in the issue immediately
following that which contained Mullaney’s article. Discussing
Project Bluebook, author Don Berliner’s article includes a
photograph showing the earth receding from the moon-ship, and a UFO
right smack dab in the middle. Says Science Digest (Aug. 1977),
"Arrow points toward an unidentified object."
As might be expected, NASA officially denies it all. No
extraordinary UFOs or other unexplained phenomena have been
When the "Pepper Transcript" first became public, UFO buffs wrote to
their congressmen demanding that NASA officially confess to the cove-rup.
NASA replied that,
"the incidents. . . did not take
place. Conversations between the Apollo 11 crew and Mission
Control were released live during the entire Apollo 11 mission.
There were between 1000 and 1500 representatives of the news
media and TV present at the Houston News Center listening and
observing, and not one has suggested that NASA withheld any news
or conversations of this nature."
(Letter from Assistant Administrator
for Legislative Affairs to several congressmen, January 1970).
In 1976, Chief of the Astronaut Office
Deke Slayton claimed that "I don’t recall any of our astronauts ever
NASA claims that all photos, all voice transcripts, all debriefings
are in the public domain and are available to the news media. This
data is too voluminous to publish openly, but is available to
researchers with appropriate credentials in Houston, Flagstaff, and
Washington. And as a matter of fact, no researcher (UFO or
otherwise) has ever filed a complaint that data was withheld from
him when he tried to get it. (Although Barry and Sandler have made
The photographic documentation, including film magazine inventories,
exposure logs, and control documents, have been examined by
researchers All the film is accounted for. Evidently, NASA is quite
correct in saying that everything is available....
...But to whom? Almost 1500 still photos and dozens of magazines of
film were exposed on Apollo 11. Transcripts run to the thousands of
pages. Who has taken the trouble to check out all this material?
I have, for example. Other writers have. Also, Dr. J. Allen Hynek
visited the Houston space center in July 1976 and was shown the
material in question. NASA’s original story, surprisingly, has been
confirmed: All the material is available. He said as much in a
Playboy interview in January 1978, but his book still carries the
phony list and there is no indication it has be removed from later
editions. Hynek’s opinion: these UFO stories are false.
Fuller’s skepticism about the "Pepper Transcript" appears have been
justified. From internal evidence alone, it looks more and more like
a crude hoax. This can be deduced from the vocabulary itself:
"Mission Control"...this was never a
phrase used astronauts, who instead referred always to
Technical-sounding gibberish such as "field distortion," "orbit
scanned," "625 to the fifth," "auto-relays," etc. were never
found in real transcripts.
"Repeat, repeat" is never used on the radio; instead, astronauts
and Mission Control use the phrase "Say Again."
"Three of us"...actually, only two men were on the lunar
In addition, interviews with the handful
of amateur radio listeners who are known to have tuned in the S-band
(2270 megahertz) moon signals produced testimony that they heard the
same conversations which were released by NASA. Since listening to
the moon required the use of ten-foot diameter radio dishes, few
people actually could do it, and they were known t each other,
having done similar space eavesdropping for years
(The consensus among such experienced American ’’hams’’ is that the
old stories of "radio transmissions from secret dying Russian
spacemen" were either dumb mistakes, outright hoaxes, or playful
publicity stunts by Italian and German radio amateurs.)
The unavoidable conclusion is that Pepper either fabricated the fake
"transcript" himself or used very poor judgment in allowing himself
to be victimized by somebody else’s fake. As is often the case with
UFO reports, it is very hard to prove definitely that something did
not happen. But in this case, fortunately, the hoax was so rickety
that it collapses under its own weight.
More puzzling is Collins’ report about the "weird white objects"
which the Japanese sources said had been spotted near the Lunar
Module. These could have been the same UFO reported in the Pepper
But they weren’t, because here is what Collins really said to
Houston on that orbit:
"I did see a suspiciously small
white object whose coordinates are Easy 0.3, 7.6, right on the
southwest end of a crater, but I think they would know it if
they were in such a location. It looks like their LM would be
pitched up quite a degree. It’s on the southwest wall of a
smallish crater." (Tape 71/16 page 396).
So Collins is trying to spot the LM from
a hundred miles overhead, but he cannot; instead he sees one white
object (a rock?) on the edge of a crater. He doubts it is the LM
because if it were, the LM would be highly tilted and the astronauts
there would have noticed the tilt -- which they didn’t. Collins did
not spot a fleet of UFOs, as the very loose rewording of this
account might lead someone to suspect. Compare the words to the UFO
re-wording -- is it just sloppy, or is it a deliberate distortion?
These are details. How about the key sighting, the "snowman," and
Aldrin’s movie film? What could possibly explain that?
All that is needed to explain it is for anybody to view the film.
The scenes in question come from "Magazine F" (’Foxtrot’), on the
first twenty-five feet or so, and can (as can all other Apollo 11
flight film) be purchased from the National Audiovisual Company,
1411 South Fern Street, Arlington, Virginia 22202.
The actual film shows a window full of dazzling, dancing, dizzying
reflections and glares. Viewing the film in motion, there can be no
question of the lights being solid objects outside the spaceship.
There is no way I could imagine that a viewer could honestly believe
that UFOs were being shown. The "emissions" are just more fuzzy
Examination of a few stills from that filmstrip shows what happened
to the original appearance of the "UFOs." The Japanese UFO group
touched up the photos, enhancing the contrast of the lights, and
cropping out the extraneous reflections. Further, the films were
airbrushed to downplay any additional reflections which might
remain, aside from the two globes of light. They became the supposed
UFOs which, needless to say, the crew didn’t see. (The film, by the
way, was taken from orbit the day before the landing -- not from the
These UFO photos, in other words, are a fraud, plain and simple.
They are part of a space forgery hoax gone wild and run out of
control. There never were any such "snowmen" UFOs as claimed.
But UFO expert Michael Hervey had written that the astronauts had
actually used the words "snowman" and "halation," and that they were
naturally excited and perhaps a little apprehensive. UFO expert
Matsumura in Japan gave numerous details of Aldrin’s actual
movements during the encounter. UFO expert Bob Barry wrote that Aldrin observed the UFOs directly, and that the astronauts
speculated about the mystery emission.
None of these things seems to have happened. The writers were
dramatizing the event based on the forged photographs. Less
sympathetic critics would suggest that the authors were
fictionalizing the event, or even less charitably, were lying.
"That’s a bunch of baloney," Barry
retorted when he heard these charges in 1978. "They can deny all
they want, we have the proof"
But it will take more than Barry’s
bravado to stare down the actual proof of Apollo 11 "Magazine
Foxtrot." The movies do not lie; they show the dancing lights, the
reflections, the glare. They do not show any UFOs.
Nor will Science Digest soon live down its double-barreled UFO flop.
First, Mullaney’s claim about the Apollo 11 crew reporting a mass of
intelligent energy is clearly a further elaboration of the original
Matsumura-CBA forgery, without any effort to check out the story
with NASA. Second, the photograph published in Science Digest the
following month was also retouched: Editor Dan Button admitted that
certain extraneous pieces of space debris were airbrushed out to
avoid detracting from the true UFO, but all previously published and
released versions of that same photograph show absolutely empty
space where Science Digest points to an "unidentified object."
Either somebody got a bad print with an
extra spot on the negative, or somebody at the Hearst Corporation
monthly added the "UFO" into the photo for dramatic effect.
accuses NASA of another coverup; informed observers can now judge
whose dishonesty Button is trying to cover up.
Actually, one Apollo 11 photo does show a true unidentified (but
hardly unidentifiable) object. Soon after pulling the LM out of the
rocket garage, near the earth, a flood of spinning particles rushed
past the Apollo’s windows. One of the astronauts was taking a series
of tourist snapshots of the receding earth, and in one of the photos
was a tiny odd-shaped blob.
There is no indication that any of the astronauts saw it. Since it’s
out of focus on a camera with an extremely wide depth of field,
photographic experts have concluded that it was probably only a few
feet outside the window, and an inch or two across. As on other
flights, pieces of insulation and ice surrounded the Apollo at this
stage in the flight. "Unidentified" it certainly might be, but it
could not by any semantic word game be called an authentic
UFO--except, for example, in McGraw-Hill’s UFOs a Pictorial History!
The crew did indeed report to earth about another tiny object they
watched through their monocular. To some of the astronauts, it
looked cylindrical, just like their spent rocket stage which was
known to be pacing them in a parallel orbit. Said Armstrong,
right at the limit of resolution of the eye; it was very difficult
to tell just what shape it was."
NASA’s reasonable assumption was
that it was indeed the rocket stage, since it was behaving just like
a rocket stage should; other Apollo flights had reported much the
The entire Cronkite interview in the National Enquirer was a fake,
evidently assembled by a free lance writer. The newspaper refused to
take the blame when Cronkite complained--but fired the writer.
And what can one say about "Mister X" report? Again, from the
internal evidence of the details "X" gives in an attempt to
establish credibility with listeners, space experts have quickly
figured out that he never could have been near the real Mission
Control Center--his jargon is so mixed up. In other words. they
concluded this is just another tall tale. Claims that these voice
signals were cut off from the newsmen who were present are also in
complete contradiction with personal accounts of newsmen who were in
Houston: There was no significant tape delay, and there were no
silences indicative of censorship.
But the stories crossed the Atlantic into a French UFO book, and
then came back home reinforced and newly authenticated in Maurice Chatelain’s
Our Ancestors Came From Outer Space (Doubleday, 1978).
According to the author, who claimed to be an ex-NASA space
scientist (actually, he had worked for a space contractor in Los
Angeles for several years):
"The astronauts. . . saw things
during their missions that could not be discussed with anybody
outside NASA. It is very difficult to obtain any specific
information from NASA, which still exercises a very strict
control over any disclosures of these events...It seems that all
Apollo and Gemini flights were followed...by space vehicles of
extraterrestrial origin...Every time it occurred, the astronauts
informed Mission Control, who then ordered absolute silence...."
Chatelain specifically mentions
"made the first moon landing on the
Sea of Tranquillity and, only moments before Armstrong stepped
down the ladder to set foot on the moon, two UFOs hovered
overhead. Edwin Aldrin took several pictures of them...."
Even more sensational was the claim for
the Apollo-13 flight:
"There was some talk that the Apollo
13 mission carried a nuclear device aboard that could be set off
to make measurements of the infrastructure of the moon and whose
detonations would show on the charts of several recording
seismographs placed in different locations. The unexplained
explosion of an oxygen tank in the service module of Apollo 13
on its flight to the moon, according to rumors, was caused
deliberately by a UFO that was following the capsule to prevent
the (nuclear) detonation...."
Of course, the cause of the explosion
was found by NASA later, and there was no nuclear device--rumors of
UFO attacks are absurd. But that’s no reason for some UFO people not
to pass on and embellish such stories, as we’ll see.
The Russian UFO enthusiasts were next in line on this cosmic relay
race. The July 1978 issue of The UFO Journal, published by the
Mutual UFO Network, highlighted a speech made in Russia on November
24, 1977, by Vladimir G. Azhazha. Speaking to a group of NOVOSTI
news service employees, at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow,
Azhazha related that:
"The American astronauts who visited
the moon saw a gigantic cylinder 1500 meters (about one mile)
long there. Aldrin shot it on movie film. The vehicle
accomplished its own interactions with Apollo; it coordinated
its movement with it....
The... reports of the American astronauts who visited the moon
are exceptionally interesting. Their agreed-upon code for
designating UFOs was the phrase ’Saint Nicholas,’ but, they were
so amazed with what they saw when they arrived on the moon from
Apollo that they transmitted to Earth without the code:
’Directly across from us, on the other side of the crater, there
are other spaceships observing us.’ And Aldrin shot his film
which shows the UFOs on the moon...."
Azhazha discloses that his source of
this data is the book by Chatelain, continuing that,
"The moon is evidently a transhipment base for UFOs and every Apollo which has flown to
the moon has been under the ’observation’ canopy of the UFOs. It
was not by accident that the American astronauts were not
successful in their attempt to explode a nuclear device for
scientific purposes on the moon. Instead, the oxygen cylinder on
Apollo exploded. They were also not able to blow up the upper
stage of the booster and so it continues to fly around the
Presumably with a UFO escort.
The MUFON journal editor noted in the preface to this article that,
"...a Washington DC news
source... has informed me that the statements attributed to
astronaut Buzz Aldrin about the UFOs on the moon were confirmed
by his bureau’s space reporter, who covered the Apollo story at
the time. Aldrin said them as a joke. It is possible that the
story filtered through to the Soviet Union in garbled form, as
is evident in some other cases . . . Other portions of this
report still may be significant... "
MUFON, in other words, considered it
sufficient to ask a friend to ask a friend to dredge up ten-year-old
memories--and he called it ’research.’ Andrus continued:
"The previously unpublished Russian
document...speaks of sensational events and high-level
government knowledge that have been withheld from the public.
The alleged events need to be authenticated, for, if true, they
are of profound importance. Astronaut movie films of UFOs on the
moon?...There is a clear need to learn how much of all this
’sensationalism’ is actually true, and to expose as false all
that is false."
These brave words, from a man considered
to be one of the more rational and reliable UFO experts, are not
matched by Andrus’s actions or, apparently, his intentions to
publish any expose. The astronaut UFO stories are too "useful" to
risk examining them very closely.
So widespread is the Russian UFO enthusiasm that official government
denials have become necessary. In the November 1978 issue of Culture
and Life (published in Moscow) Soviet astronomer Vladimir Krat is
asked to refute such stories as:
Interviewer: They say that
the American astronauts who had landed on the Moon ha d to make
a small explosion in order to cause an artificial moonquake, but
that they failed to do this. A mysterious blast on board the
ship broke an oxygen cylinder. It might have been caused by a
flying saucer observing the ship, so as to stop an experiment
which could have destroyed bases set up by extra-terrestrial
civilizations on the Moon.
"What’s this? What’s the matter, damn
it? I should like to know the truth, what is it? There are other
spaceships here!" Armstrong is alleged to have shouted upon
seeing several UFOs on the other side of a crater.
saw at once what the matter was and started communicating with
the Earth in a secret code. Later, all information about the
incident was made secret by the Americans. There is talk about
other cases of cosmonauts seeing UFOs. Special emphasis is laid
on the fact that the first four or five hours of one of the
crews’ stay on the Moon remain a mystery--what the astronauts
did during that time has not been made public.
Krat: The astronauts’ flights to the Moon were followed
by all mankind, their work on the surface of the Moon is known
down to the minute. I see no logic in the talk about any
information being instantly made "classified." Why should the
Americans have made a secret out of their meeting some creatures
from other planets, had any such a rendezvous taken place at
all? Would they have been afraid to cause panic on Earth? But
there were no special grounds for panic."
Clearly, Krat is unaware of the scope of
the distortions in such stories and can only come up with bland
disclaimers which would convince nobody.
What Krat should have done was to examine the hearsay more closely.
The "mysterious blast" was the explosion on Apollo 13, which has
been attributed to hostile UFO action. The "artificial moonquakes"
on later flights worked quite well, although Chatelain and Azhazha
claim that nuclear explosives were to have been used! The "secret
code" is Chatelain’s idea: he claims that the astronauts used the
phrase "Santa Claus" to refer to UFOs. As for the missing "four or
five hours," I drew a blank; so I suspect the Russian just made it
As expected, the phony Apollo 11 UFO stories continue to be recirculated and embellished. In June 1979 a Dell paperback entitled
Secrets of Our Spaceship Moon by Detroit schoolteacher
appeared on the newsstands. Its front cover screams:
"THE NASA COVERUP - Here are the
facts they couldn’t hide! What did the men on the moon really
see?" The front inside page blurb proclaims, "here at last is
the complete uncensored story clear and indisputable facts
offered by astronomers and the astronauts themselves, despite NASAs’ continued official denials...."
The Apollo 11 sightings provide only a
portion of the arguments in the book, but they are highlighted. Bob
Barry’s snowman UFO’ is featured, with Wilson’s claim that "Buzz Aldrin ground away with his camera, taking invaluable (but now
secret) footage of the two mysterious objects." The claim that the
film shows UFOs is, as we’ve seen, silly; the claim that the film is
now secret’ is an outrageous falsehood.
Every other reputed Apollo 11 UFO encounter is faithfully and
unquestioningly reproduced by Wilson, although he does point out in
some cases that they are ’unauthenticated.’ Equally unauthenticated
is UFO buff James Harder’s claim that he found voice tapes of UFO
encounters on Apollo 11, which NASA privately admitted to him had
been suppressed "for fear of public panic."
"The evidence we have cited in this
book," Wilson concludes later, "proves that we have on our hands
today another Watergate--a cosmic Watergate... We showed
incontrovertible evidence that NASA is hiding the fact that UFOs
were seen by astronauts... A study of the records and a glance
at the photos will convince even the most diehard skeptic that
this is exactly what happened when man went to the moon."
Such bluster is not related to the
actual evidence - in fact, the pattern we’ve seen shows that the less
reliable the evidence, the more flowery the boasts and threats.
Wilson blusters--but has only fake evidence. Dell paperbacks,
according to editor James Frenkel, saw no reason to check up on
these incredible accounts, but decided just to trust Wilson.
The Aldrin-snowman-UFO received a new champion in 1980 when another
UFO expert proclaimed that the object was not a space craft but
instead a space creature, or "critter!"
Writing in Frontiers of Science (formerly Second Look, the magazine
which absorbed Hynek’s International UFO Reporter and which for tax
purposes is published under the aegis of the Center for UFO
Studies), paranormal specialist John White (author of
and numerous other books), claims that the space pix are identical
to others taken on Earth by Trevor James Constable, a disciple of
orgone energy advocate Wilhelm Reich.
Constable has pushed the theory that
UFOs are bizarre living (and not necessarily intelligent) creatures
which inhabit the upper atmosphere and - evidently - outer space
as well (in such books as
The Cosmic Pulse of Life
1976). Usually the "critters" (as Constable prefers to call them)
are invisible and can only be captured on infra-red film.
"Even the astronauts who took
pictures of UFOs in space failed to recognize the living
creatures for what they are," wrote White. The snowman photo is
"highly disputed - is the luminous sphere a space critter?"
Acknowledging my published evaluation of the source of the
images, White disagrees but admits he is "not yet in a position
to disprove [(Oberg’s)] contention." He also, displayed in the
article a copy of the outbound blob: "((It)) appears to show a
large critter looming above the Earth."
White has no love lost for NASA.
Earlier, in a guest editorial for Timothy Green Beckley’s UFO Review
tabloid newspaper, White has accused NASA of a nasty coverup:
already exists, much of it long-known to NASA."
White then refers to
the Edge of Reality for a list of astronaut sightings (a list long
repudiated by its authors, as we saw), and Modern People tabloid
(the January 1978 issue),
"for leaked NASA photographs of UFOs
including plasmatic animals [(italics added)]." NASA spokesmen,
according to White, are "either woefully ignorant of the facts .
. . or else deliberately attempt to mislead the public. The
public has more common sense in this matter than most NASA
Constable, meanwhile, was delighted to
endorse White’s interpretation of the Apollo 11 photographs. In a
1981 issue of the irregular Metascience Quarterly, he crowed:
"How strange it seems that NASA has
recorded images just like mine... and suppresses the photos... Thanks to John’s enterprise, we now have a ’NASA Critter
Collection,’ but they are worming out of it by having loudmouth
Oberg identify these photos as frauds. Pure social pathology!"
Aha, social pathology indeed!
(Such ad hominem reaction from the crackpots is hardly unusual. In
1979, Gray Barker, a long-time fringe UFO personality and satirist,
referred to me in a discussion praising Timothy Green Beckley’s
"When these exposes by Beckley and
others began generating letters to Congress, NASA official Capt.
James Oberg led a one-man crusade to squelch these rumors. Many
people in civilian UFO research believe Capt. Oberg was
specially assigned to this mission to discount these news leaks
of astronaut sightings."
And one high MUFON (Mutual UFO Network,
a private UFO research organization) official spread the story in
the mid-1970s that I was Philip Klass’s ’ghostwriter’ in his
anti-UFO books! That’s right, when you don’t like the testimony,
smear the witness - an old crooked lawyer’s trick.)
Fittingly enough, the ultimate word (too date!) in these Apollo 11
absurdities lies with the old familiar National Enquirer, the weekly
grocery store tabloid known for its Hollywood gossip, psychic
predictions, miracle medical cures, and flying saucer stories.
"Aliens on Moon When We Landed" was the
screaming banner headline on the September 11, 1979 issue (the same
story made the September 9 Sunday Mirror in London and was
subsequently endorsed in the backdated July-August 1979 issue of the
prestigious British journal, Flying Saucer Review).
"The astronauts saw UFOs and even
photographed them," wrote the authors (Eric Faucher, Ellen
Goodstein, and Henry Gris), "but the stupefying close encounter
has been kept completely under wraps by NASA until now. . .
(they evidently hadn’t read -- or hadn’t believed -- the
Cronkite interview in their own paper!). NASA’s cover-up was so
massive that the news has taken ten years to reach the American
public -- and had to be first disclosed by Soviet scientists,
who found out about it two years ago."
And that’s the catch: the National
Enquirer, in a man-bites-dog reversal of standard practice, had been
itself a victim of somebody else’s news hoax. The source was none
other than Vladimir Azhazha, who somehow neglected to mention to
Henry Gris, his contact, that the story was based entirely, not on
official Soviet sources, but on Chatelain’s strange ’ancient
"I am absolutely certain this
episode took place," Azhazha told Gris (who is fluent in
Russian) during a telephone interview. "According to our
information . . . his (Armstrong’s) message was never heard by
the public -- because NASA censored it."
According to Gris (who was soon
thereafter discharged from the staff of the National Enquirer) Azhazha,
"refused to identify the source of
his information -- but he and other Russian space experts say
the encounter has been common knowledge among Soviet scientific
To close the loop by swallowing its own
tail/tale, the National Enquirer then quoted from... Maurice Chatelain, "a former top consultant to NASA," who supposedly
corroborated independently the Soviet version of the story! Also
testifying were leading UFOlogists
Leonard Stringfield of MUFON ("If
the government released one little bit of what happened on the
moon, it would be the story of the century" is how he’s quoted,
but he subsequently denied saying anything like that)
John Schuessler ("I work with
astronauts at NASA and have heard the story from them" is how
he’s quoted, but he has since angrily charged that Ellen
Goodstein dropped the "never" which he spoke before "heard.")
Timothy Green Beckley (who has
privately admitted the incidents never occurred but that they
are too good for publicity to criticize)
Joseph Goodavage (a noted
astrologer-author well known for distorting and dramatizing
uncooperative facts, as we’ll see in a later chapter)
"scientist Fred Bell" (who
apparently is a figment of co-author Eric Faucher’s imagination)
So even if the National Enquirer was
originally the victim of Azhazha’s deception, it was the newspaper’s
staff who added their own peculiar brand of journalism, and it was
the newspaper’s readership who were ultimately victimized.
Even Moscow admits that! A lengthy anti-UFO article ("The Legend of
the Visitors," Pravda, March 2,1980, p. 6), by science correspondent
Vladimir Gubarev) reported:
"People have confidence in the testimony
of cosmonauts and astronauts."
"So why not take them as allies,
decided the UFO propagandists? Thus here in the ten years after
the flights to the moon, the fantasists, who sometimes present
themselves as scientific workers, claim in their public lectures
that astronauts, visiting the moon, have many times observed
UFOs, and that Neil Armstrong reported to Houston: Here are
located large objects, sir! Enormous ones! Oh God! Here are
located other space ships! They are standing along the side of
the crater! They are located on the moon and they are observing
Gubarev continued his article:
"It’s a fruitless task to search for
these words in the transcripts of radio transmissions from the
crew of Apollo 11, they’re not there. Yes, and not a single
person listening to the radio-reporting from the moon -- and it
went out over the air live -- paid any attention to similar
information -- strange, isn’t it true?
"At a meeting with Neil Armstrong I asked him about ’flying
saucers.’ "We didn’t see them," answered the astronaut; "and
with what we, cosmonauts and astronauts, are doing in space,
that’s a real wonder."
Gubarev also reported on an interview
with Pete Conrad, concerning his alleged UFOs on Apollo 12 (there
weren’t any), and later also recounts an incident from early 1978
when the Russian crewmen of Salyut-6 were startled to see "UFOs"
near their space station which turned out to be recently trash bags
jettisoned. The article in Pravda closed with very negative
conclusions about gullible people who easily fall for nonsense such
as UFOs and religion! While it may be risky to believe anything
anyone says in Pravda (which means ’Truth,’ in Russian), the
appearance of this article and others like it testifies to the
official displeasure at the widespread Soviet popular enthusiasm for
Wherever there is widespread popular interest in a topic, you will
find the vultures swooping in to prey on eager gullibiles and their
willingness to spend money on books which boast new, lurid
revelations. So it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that
Charles Berlitz (author of several highly profitable ’’Bermuda
Triangle" books) should have decided to "discover" the Apollo 11 UFO
encounters in 1980.
This was revealed in his latest book,
The Roswell Incident (all the actual research seems to have been
done by his co-author William Moore and by UFO advocate and former
nuclear engineer Stanton Friedman), whose main theme is that the US
government captured a crashed flying saucer in mid-1947, along with
the dead bodies of the beings who had made up its crew, and has
successfully stashed it all away since then while studying the
Berlitz has nothing new to offer besides further garbling of the
same old fairy tales. He bases his information on Maurice Chatelain
("based on information picked up from ’inside sources’ while working
for NASA in the 1960s") about,
"reports of these encounters made
during flights in space (which) have generally been censored,
altered, de-emphasized, or simply ignored by NASA."
Here’s the ol’ Apollo 11 story a la
"Prior to the first moon landing two
UFOs and a long cylinder hovered overhead. When Apollo 11 landed
inside a moon crater two unidentified spacecrafts (sic!)
appeared on the crater rim and then took off again. Aldrin
photographed them. Pictures have not yet been released by NASA
to the public."
Mr. Berlitz’s next pages reprint much of
the long-discredited Pepper transcript, as well as a series of other
astronaut-UFO fables. Moore later denied any endorsement of the
stories merely because he put them in the book (he wanted to "set
the stage" and keep an open mind), but Friedman denounced the story
in 1981 and justified his cooperation with Berlitz because he needed
the money and publicity in order to advance his research.
It might be interesting here to learn just what NASA public
information officials think about this long series of retellings of
the great moon flight UFO. To do just that, I arranged an interview
early in 1980 with two highly respected space experts at the Johnson
Space Center in Houston, Terry White and Charles Redmond.
the full flavor of the conversation, here is how it went:
Question: How do you guys
find out about such UFO stories? Do the authors and publishers
try to check up on them?
White: I usually first hear about them when some newsman
telephones me, claiming he’s seen another exposure of some "NASA
coverup." The people who write such stories -- they rarely have
the courtesy or courage to send us pre-publication copies.
Redmond: The only time I recall ever being asked for an
explanation is when my explanations could be played up big as
some sort of coverup -- or dismissed out of hand.
White: Responsible publishers such as Readers Digest,
National Geographic, and the New Yorker make a habit of
following up on the accuracy of their authors by asking us to
check their factual material. But as far as the UFO books or the
tabloid press -- no, they’ve never checked with us before
publishing. . . .
Redmond: . . . or after publishing, either!
Question: For the record, do you have any secrets about
UFOs or alien life?
White: Not a bit. Those stories are garbage and I tell
anybody who calls just that. Normally we don’t want to dignify
such trash with a serious response.
Redmond: We don’t have any UFO secrets. As a matter of
fact, this is an area where our office has spent more time
digging out photographs and transcripts for the news media, in
response to so-called "UFO claims." But as far as the suggestion
that we’re withholding anything, it’s flat out not true.
White: We do know about cases where we have provided
films and reports and technical studies and then seen that
information twisted and give false impressions. That’s where
these stories about astronauts and UFOs come from: unverified or
Question: Was there ever any capability to censor space
Redmond: The Public Affairs Officer -- the "P-A-O" -- in
Mission Control did have an inhibit switch for the air-to-ground
voice signals, which were on a seven second delay to allow
synchronization with the computer-processed television images. .
White: . . . but that switch was never used, to the best
of my recollection. And I was a "voice of Apollo" PAO for many,
Redmond: Right, I suppose it was there to keep a space
tragedy off the air "live" until we could notify any next of
kin, but it would not in any case have affected transcripts,
only the real-time release which was piped to the newsroom and
out to the networks. We only had authority to use it for a
minute or so at most, anyway. The transcripts would eventually
come out, completely uncensored.
White: Occasionally we would configure for private
medical or family conversations. There was no special frequency
or code, we’d just have the rest of the consoles get
disconnected at the communications center.
Redmond: The medical conversations were not recorded, and
were not released -- although we would summarize them in press
conferences. There’s something in the Hippocratic Oath about a
doctor having to maintain confidentiality with his patients.
Question: How often did this happen?
Redmond: During Apollo, quite infrequently. During
Skylab, we’d have such a talk maybe every three days or so.
Question: So there was no special code or secret channel?
Redmond: No, we used our ordinary channels, but the crew
would request the doctor only -- the "flight surgeon" -- and the
rest of us would disconnect.
White: Or else the crew could talk privately to their
families in a back room down the hall from the control room.
Question: Outside of these confidential talks with
doctors, wives, and children, were there any other conversations
not publicly available?
Redmond: No, I don’t think so, I don’t see how they could
have managed it.
Question: Why do you suppose those UFO books and magazine
articles are written with such nasty accusations against NASA?
White: I think they’re only written to exploit public
hysteria, and to hell with the facts. That’s my personal
opinion, that they pander to panic, and appeal to public
Redmond: I feel frustrated by the naivite of the public,
and by the outright profiteering of writers who play on the
public’s desire to be mystified. But they just use cheap tricks,
these writers. They deliver counterfeit goods.
Question: But what damage does it do?
White: Not much. Only a small fringe really believes such
trash, considering the credibility of the sources.
Redmond: I disagree. I think it’s quite harmful in
reducing the credibility of the space program, and NASA’s image.
Allow me a moment for a commentary of my
own: A reader of this report will come to a conclusion altogether
different from that espoused by Wilson, Harder, Barr y, Gris,
Berlitz, and others. A well-publicized collection of cranks,
crackpots, con men and well meaning innocents have created a facade
of ’UFO encounters’ and a counterfeit claim of ’NASA coverup’
concerning UFOs allegedly seen on the Apollo 11 moon expedition ten
For some, the rewards are probably psychological, for
others, publicity; for those portions of the news media which have
eagerly offered them a forum, the juicy rewards have been financial
Explanations and exposes (such as in the
Fall and Winter 1977 Search magazine, the February, 1977 Space
World, the 1978 issues of the Skeptical Inquirer, and official NASA
news releases) are ignored or misrepresented -- and here indeed is
the real coverup conspiracy, if one can be said to exist. The
reputation of the space program and of the astronauts has suffered,
the public has been confused and misled, and the money rolls in.
Where, I often wonder, are the courageous investigative journalists
who will rip the lid off of this UFO scam?
Where does that leave readers after seeing what looked like a
watertight space UFO story fall apart into mistakes, forgeries, and
lies? Experienced UFO specialists must wonder how many other
"classic" UFO cases which look equally as good are equally as rotten
below the surface.
Two questions come to mind, but cannot be answered. First, wasn’t
Apollo 11 exciting enough without the fictionalized UFOs? And
second, if there are so many other truly authentic UFO cases on
record, why do the UFO writers have to rely so heavily on such shaky
evidence as this?
The answers to these questions will help establish the true
importance of what otherwise could only have been a squalid footnote
to a historic chapter in space exploration. But whether future UFO
researchers and enthusiasts will learn anything from it is a good
question. For we can see that UFO stories seem to spring up and
promulgate themselves, even when there is absolutely no foundation
in fact on which they could have possibly been based. And if that is
true in this case, we have to suspect that it has happened with some
frequency in other cases where we can’t determine the facts with
And much as they might like otherwise,
the UFO experts and publicists - Mullaney, Sandler, Emenegger,
Fuller, Hervey, Button, Harris, Binder, Matsumura, Barry, Pepper,
Lorenzen, Harder, Chatelain, Lepoer-Trench, Zigel, Boznich, Wilson,
Gris, Goodavage, Beckley, Pratt, Creighton, Berlitz, Moore, Azhazha,
and others have to somewhat be called to account for promulgating
basically faulty standards.
For no matter what they may admit in
private, their public positions remain deceptive.
That is the true moral of the Phantom UFOs of Apollo 11!