Carpenter was the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space, following Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn. Carpenter and Glenn are the last living members of the Mercury Seven.
His famous remark concerning UFOs is:
"At no time, when the astronauts were in space were they alone: there was a constant surveillance by UFOs."
After joining NASA, Slayton was selected to pilot the second U.S. manned orbital spaceflight, but was grounded in 1962 by a heart murmur. He then served as NASA's director of flight crew operations, making him responsible for crew assignments at NASA from November 1963 until March 1972. At that time he was granted medical clearance to fly, and was assigned as the docking module pilot of the 1975 Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, becoming the oldest person to fly in space at age 51. This record was surpassed in 1983 by 53 year old John Young and in 1998 by his fellow Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who at the age of 77 flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-95.
Deke Slayton, admitted years after his experiences with the program that as a pilot in 1951, he had an encounter. As he was approaching a runway to land, Slayton, piloting a P-51 Mustang spotted an unidentified aerial object, aborted his landing, and pursued the strange airborne anomaly. He attempted to make a high speed turn in order to intercept the UFO, but said that his prop driven fighter was no match for the mysterious intruder.
"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 I realized that no kite is gonna fly that high.
As I got closer it looked like a weather balloon, grey 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 disk.
About the same time, I realized that it was suddenly going away from me - and there I was, running at about 300 miles per hour. I tracked it for a little way, and then all of a sudden the damn thing just took off. It pulled about a 45 degree climbing turn and accelerated and just flat disappeared."
On July 17, 1962 Major Robert Michael White reported a UFO during his fifty-eight-mile high flight of an X-15. Major White reported: "I have no idea what it could be. It was grayish in color and about thrity to forty feet away."
Then according to a Time Magazine article, Major White exclaimed over the radio: "There ARE things out there! There absolutely is!"
Probably one of the first US astronauts to report the existence of UFOs in the vicinity of his craft was Joe Walker, a seasoned test pilot who flew in the X-15 program. Incident occurred in 1962.
On May 11, 1962 NASA pilot Joseph Walker said that one of his tasks was to detect UFOs during his X-15 flights. He had filmed five or six UFOs during his record breaking fifty-mile-high flight in April, 1962. It was the second time he had filmed UFOs in flight.
Joe Walker, made a public statement after seeing objects he could not identify that were pacing his high speed space plane. The X-15 was probably the fastest manned experimental test plane ever flown by the pilot himself attaining speeds of 5000 mph and altitudes exceeding 100,000 feet. It was the first manned craft to transition from the earth’s atmosphere to the very fringes of space and then re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and land. The astronaut did this without the modern onboard assistance of flight computers automatically adjusting the spacecraft in-flight. Today’s complex fighter aircraft and space re-entry craft have computer aided in-flight control making split second adjustments that a human pilot could never manage.
NASA’s official version of test pilot, Joe Walker’s, report was that he was seeing frozen fuel or ice that had broken off the fuselage of the craft and were gliding alongside the X-15. Walker did not agree with that assertion by authorities and on another mission again reported a sighting.
During a lecture at the Second National Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Space Research in Seattle, Washigton he said:
"I don't feel like speculating about them. All I know is what appeared on the film which was developed after the flight."
To date none of those films has been released to the public for viewing.
Walker would later die in a fatal episode while flight testing the Valkerie XB-70, a high speed, high altitude bomber for Rockwell International. According to Chuck Yeager, the first pilot ever to break the sound barrier, and a World War II ace in air to air combat, Walker was a cocky individual, who didn’t like to take advice, advice that could have saved his life.
Chuck Yeager himself, who had flown the Bell X-1 to a speed of mach 1.3 in 1947 had admitted to not only seeing UFOs but using code phrases with control tower operators in order to pursue the occasional unknown object during his test flights, but he never made an official statement. He did say, publicly that those pilots who did report UFOs rarely received promotions or experienced promising career opportunities as a result. I met a relative of Brigadier General Retired, Chuck Yeager, who said that only to friends and family did he ever admit to seeing UFOs or chasing them in air to air engagements while involved in test flights.
In June 1965, Gemini IV astronauts Ed White (first American to walk in space) and James McDivitt were passing over Hawaii in a Gemini spacecraft when they saw a weird-looking metallic object. The UFO had long arms sticking out of it. McDivitt took pictures with a cine-camera. Only one of those pictures have been released.
Astronaut James McDivitt publicly stated that, “UFOs are out there.” He said this while among reporters in Dallas. During a Gemini Mission in the two man spacecraft while in orbit, contact was made. He and fellow astronaut Ed White while on Gemini Mission 4 in 1965 sighted and took photos of a cylindrical object that paced their spacecraft for hours. One observation made by McDivitt was that the unknown object actually had mechanical arms. Photos taken by the astronaut were analyzed by Mission Control officials, but were never officially commented on.
With White asleep McDivitt reports an unidentified object. He manages to take some footage of the object on a movie camera that was mounted inside the capsule. The object was first spotted over the Hawaiian Islands. Later over the Caribbean both astronauts report seeing two more objects. One of the movie frames was released to the press and has been reprinted in many books including Frank Edward's book "Flying Saucers Serious Business". The photo shows an egg shaped object with a comet like trail or glow coming out of it. The movie camera was using 16mm Eastman color film shooting at 6 frames per second.
When asked if he believed that UFO's were real; "Yes as a matter of fact I do." He was also asked if he had ever seen a UFO and he said he had, on his Gemini mission. He went on to say that he tried to take a picture of it, but it did not come out.
The object was yellow - white in color. In the transcript that follows McDivitt is reporting to the Capsule Communicator;
29 40 45
. . . Hawaii . . .
29 52 09
Gemini 4, Guaymas CAP COM
29 52 12
Go ahead. Guaymas. Gemini 4.
29 52 14
Roger. We've got you green, how are you doing up there ?
29 52 17
Fine. I just saw something else up here with me, but just as I was getting close enough to take a good picture the sun got in the way and l lost it.
29 52 26
Roger. We got some flight plan changes for you. Want to stand by to copy ?
29 52 29
Yes. Stand by and let me see if I can find this thing again.
29 52 45
. . . and there are a great number of thunderstorms around at the present time. Lightning is actually lighting up the interior of the spacecraft... activity ...thunderstorms . . .
29 53 35
Okay. ,Go ahead. It doesn't look like I'm going to see him again.
29 57 09
That's affirm --- you still looking at the thing up there ?
29 57 12
No I've lost it. It had big arms sticking out of it, it looked like. I only had it for just a minute. I got a couple of pictures with a movie camera and one with the Hasselblad; but I was in free drift, before I could get the control back I drifted and lost it.
29 57 29
McDivitt has later publicly denied having seen an "alien craft" and states that the released picture was not the object that he saw. The released picture was a light reflection off the copilot's window. McDivitt believes that what he saw was a manmade satellite which was probably not acknowledged for defence security reasons. Unlike many of the astronauts McDivitt has been willing to speak about his incident with the public and press.
Once again in 1965 during a record breaking 14 day mission, the Gemini team of astronauts, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell made a startling UFO sighting. Cape Kennedy control attempted to explain away the sighting as being the Titan booster rocket, but James Lovell stated that he and Borman could see not only the jettisoned booster, but the unexplained object that was shadowing their craft from a distance. Both astronauts knew they were not alone.
In December 1965, Gemini astronauts James Lovell and Frank Borman also saw a UFO during their second orbit of their record-breaking 14 day flight. Borman reported that he saw an unidentified spacecraft some distance from their capsule. Gemini Control, at Cape Kennedy told him that he was seeing the final stage of their own Titan booster rocket. Borman confirmed that he could see the booster rocket all right, but that he could also see something completely different.
Lovell is reported to have taken some magnificent photographs of two mushroom shaped UFO's on December 4. The pictures seem to show the glow of a propulsion system on the underside. The pictures were taken at a range of several hundred yards. Some believe this picture to be a blatant forgery accomplished by airbrushing a picture of light reflecting off the nose of the spacecraft.
Lovell also witnessed an incident during flight Gemini XII (James Lovell, Edwin Aldrin): On November 12 both astronauts are reported to have spotted 2 UFO's approximately 1/2 mile from the spacecraft. They were observed for some period of time and photographs were taken.
During the flight of Apollo 8 on Dec. 1968 (Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, William A. Anders) as the command module emerged from behind the moon Lovell transmits "We have been informed that Santa Claus does exist!".
As this occurred on christmas day 1968 it is deemed by many to have been Lovell's sense of humor for the kiddies watching the broadcast. Some speculate that it is the use of the code word originally employed by Walter Schirra on the Mercury 8 flight. On Christmas eve Borman and Lovell are reported to have seen a UFO. It is reported that an unidentified language was picked up on one of the NASA frequencies used during the mission.
Astronaut Gordon Cooper was one of the brave men who dared to expose the government cover-up of UFOs. The below article on his life and death in CNN is amazing in that it mentions his passion for lifting the secrecy on UFOs. In the final paragraph, he states, "For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on all specialists and astronauts. I can now reveal that every day, in the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us."
USA Today's article on Gordon Cooper included this in the final paragraph, "Cooper also authored the 2000 book Leap of Faith, in which he discussed NASA's early days, his experiences on the Mercury and Gemini missions and his belief in extraterrestrial intelligence. Cooper in the book said that as an Air Force pilot in 1951 that he chased UFOs while based in Germany."
The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribuneincluded this quote, "In the book, Cooper also embarrassed some of his old NASA colleagues with tales of UFO encounters and conspiracy theories. Claiming that film that he shot from Gemini 5 had been confiscated, he quoted President Johnson telling him, 'Son, I ordered it classified.'"
The fact that CNN, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and others reported this information is a significant shift from the past lack of reporting on UFOs.
"At Edwards Air Force Base I was having some of the cameramen film precision landings. A saucer flew right over them, put down three landing gears, and landed out on the dry lakebed. They went out with their cameras towards the UFO. It lifted off and flew off at a very high rate of speed. ... I had a chance to hold it [the film] up to the window to look at it. Good close-up shots. There was no doubt in my mind that it was made someplace other than on this earth. ... In my opinion they were worried it would panic the public if they knew that someone had vehicles that had this kind of performance. So they started telling lies about it. Then I think they had to cover it with another lie. Now they don't know how to get out of it. "
Gordon Cooper is one of the original Mercury Astronauts and the last American to fly in space alone. On May 15, 1963 he shot into space in a Mercury capsule for a 22 orbit journey around the world. During the final orbit, Major Gordon Cooper told the tracking station at Muchea (near Perth Australia) that he could see a glowing, greenish object ahead of him quickly approaching his capsule. The UFO was real and solid, because it was picked up by Muchea's tracking radar. Cooper's sighting was reported by the National Broadcast Company, which was covering the flight step by step; but when Cooper landed, reporters were told that they would not be allowed to question him about the UFO sighting.
Major Cooper was a firm believer in UFOs. Ten years earlier, in 1951 he had sighted a UFO while piloting an F-86 Sabrejet over Western Germany. They were metallic, saucer-shaped discs at considerable altitude and could out-maneuver all American fighter planes. Major Cooper also testified before the United Nations: "I believe that these extra-terrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets... Most astronauts were reluctant to discuss UFOs." "I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation, generally from east to west over Europe."
And according to a taped interview by J. L. Ferrando, Major Cooper said: "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 indentions 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 authority did just about everything to keep this incident from the press and TV, in fear of a panicky reaction from the public."
Gordon Cooper was one of the best trained US astronauts having flown on Mercury 9 and Gemini 5. Yet he was not selected to fly an Apollo mission. It is speculated that Cooper did not play the game correctly when it comes to the UFO situation. It is interesting that Cooper has developed an interest in ancient civilizations and in fact participated in an expedition to South American that discovered the remnants of a very old and advanced civilization dating back over 5000 years. One is tempted to ask why the sudden interest on the part of a former astronaut in "ancient astronaut" type endevours.
A fellow officer once said of Cooper. "We all knew where Gordon was going to end up in ten years. He was going to be Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff. (what happened that he didn' ?)
In July 1960 Cooper was interviewed by Yvonne S. Durfield and had this to say about UFO's. "I don't take UFO's seriously. I would be very skeptical." In March 1978 Cooper stated to the National Enquirer "UFO's are definately real" It is interesting that his two flights into space occurred between the dates of the two interviews. Cooper went on to make a written statement to the United Nations supporting Grenada's Prime Minister Eric Gairy proposal that the UN establish a UFO agency.(1979 ?)
In his book MJ12 & THE RIDDLE OF HANGER 18 Beckley quotes Cooper as saying "UFO's are, I believe, very likely travellers from some other planet; visitors from some other world that is hundreds of thousands of years more advanced than we are, and they certainly have a far more efficient sytem of propulsion than we have."
During an interview on the Merv Griffin Show, Merv asked the following of Gordon Cooper. "There is a story going around, Gordon, that a spaceship did land in middle America and there were occupants, and members of our government were able to keep one of the occupants alive for some period of time. They've seen the metal of the aircraft and know what the people look like -- is that a credible story ? To everyones surprise Cooper answers with a straight face "I think it's fairly credible. I would like to see the time when all qualified people could really work together to properly investigate these stories and either refute or prove them." Later the next morning Lee Spiegel a UFO researcher and aquaintance of Cooper talked to Cooper on the phone. During this conversation Cooper admitted that he could have revealed further information on the Merv Griffin Show but did not because he did not want to raise too many official eyebrows.
From an interview with the National Enquirer on 14 Jan. 1997, with Gordon Cooper:
"I know other astronauts share my feelings," declared Cooper, 69, who went into space aboard a Mercury craft in 1963 and on a Gemini craft two years later. "And we know the government is sitting on hard evidence of UFOs !" Cooper said he first encountered UFOs as a military pilot in Germany in the early 1950s, when unidentified craft were spotted over an air base.
"We thought they could have been Russian we regularly had MiG-15s overflying our base. We scrambled our Sabre jets to intercept and got to our ceiling of 45,000 feet . . . and they were still way above us traveling faster than we were. These vehicles were in formation like a fighter group, but they were metallic silver and saucer-shaped. Believe me, they weren't like any MiGs I'd seen before ! They had to be UFOs."
In 1957, Cooper was one of an elite band of test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base in California, in charge of several advanced projects, including the installation of a precision landing system.
"I had a camera crew filming the installation when they spotted a saucer. They filmed it as it flew overhead, then hovered, extended three legs as landing gear, and slowly came down to land on a dry lake bed ! These guys were all pro cameramen, so the picture quality was very good. The camera crew managed to get within 20 or 30 yards of it, filming all the time. It was a classic saucer, shiny silver and smooth, about 30 feet across. It was pretty clear it was an alien craft. As they approached closer it took off."
When his camera crew handed over the film, Cooper followed standard procedure and contacted Washington to report the UFO and "all heck broke loose," he said. "After a while a high-ranking officer said when the film was developed I was to put it in a pouch and send it to Washington. He didn't say anything about me not looking at the film. That's what I did when it came back from the lab and it was all there just like the camera crew reported."
When the Air Force later started Operation Blue Book to collate UFO evidence and reports, Cooper says he mentioned the film evidence. "But the film was never found supposedly. Blue Book was strictly a cover-up anyway." Cooper revealed he's convinced an alien craft crashed at Roswell, N. Mex., in 1947 and aliens were discovered in the wreckage. "I had a good friend at Roswell, a fellow officer. He had to be careful about what he said. But it sure wasn't a weather balloon, like the Air Force cover story. He made it clear to me what crashed was a craft of alien origin, and members of the crew were recovered."
Why has the government kept its UFO secrets for so many years ? "It started in World War 2, when the government didn't want people to know about UFO reports in case they panicked," said Cooper. "They would have been fearful it was superior enemy technology that we had no defense against. Then it got worse in the Cold War for the same reason. So they told one untruth, they had to tell another to cover that one, then another, then another . . . it just snowballed. And right now I'm convinced a lot of very embarrassed government officials are sitting there in Washington trying to figure a way to bring the truth out. They know it's got to come out one day, and I'm sure it will.
GORDON COOPER & UFOs: AN ASTRONAUT SPEAKS OUT by Timothy Green Beckley
One of the few individuals whose prominence is beyond question has, however, over the past few months, dared to open his mouth and challenge the status quo.
Gordon Cooper was one of America's original astronauts. He helped pioneer this country's space exploration efforts when, aboard a tiny space capsule known as Mercury [Faith] 7, Cooper orbited the Earth for 34 hours, proving that man could live outside our atmosphere for prolonged periods. His patriotism, bravery and respectability go without saying...
Cooper has recently made several public pronouncements concerning his strong belief in UFOs. While a guest on the Merv Griffin Show, Cooper shocked the viewing audiences by speaking for over five minutes on a topic that was only within the past few years often considered too bizarre for polite conversation.
But there were some things that Cooper wouldn't even discuss on the air in front of the curious multitudes. Luckily Lee Spiegel is a personal friend of Gordon Cooper. They have conferred on several occasions, and while in the company of the man who is bound and determined to crack the 'Cosmic Watergate' which he is convinced exists within the higher echelon of government, the former space traveler is more than happy to talk about his UFO experiences - and they are many.
In the early 1950s, Cooper was assigned to a jet fighter group in Germany. While stationed there, he remembers very vividly the week an entire formation of circular objects passed over the Air Base on almost a daily routine.
'We never could get close enough to pin them down, but they were round in shape and very metallic looking,' Cooper points out. UFOs were to continue to haunt him when the Air Force Colonel was transferred several years later to Edwards Air Force Base Flight Test Center in the California desert.
What happened one afternoon while he was on duty at this military base is evidence enough that the government definitely does keep a lot of secrets when it comes to UFOs!
The incident took place in the late 1950s, either 1957 or 1958 - as Cooper can best recall; and to this day, the photographic evidence of an actual UFO touching down upon the Earth is being kept under wraps.
During this period, Cooper was a Project Manager at Edwards Air Force Base, just three or four years before entering America's space program. After lunch this particular day, Cooper had assigned a team of photographers to an area of the vast dry lake beds near Edwards.
In a taped interview with UFOlogist Lee Spiegel, the former Astronaut disclosed that while the crew was out there, they spotted a strange-looking craft above the lake bed, and they began taking films of it.
Cooper says the object was very definitely 'hovering above the ground. And then it slowly came down and sat on the lake bed for a few minutes.' All during this time the motion picture cameras were filming away.
'There were varied estimates by the cameramen on what the actual size of the object was,' Cooper confesses, 'but they all agreed that it was at least the size of a vehicle that would carry normal-sized people in it.'
Col. Cooper was not fortunate enough to be outside at the time of this incredible encounter, but he did see the films as soon as they were rushed through the development process.
'It was a typical circular-shaped UFO,' he recollects. 'Not too many people saw it, because it took off at quite a sharp angle and just climbed straight on out of sight!'
Cooper admits he didn't take any kind of poll to determine who had seen the craft, 'because there were always strange things flying around in the air over Edwards.' This is a statement Lee Spiegel was able to verify through his own research efforts, having obtained closely guarded tapes of conversations between military pilots circling the base and their commanding officers in the flight tower, tracking the presence of unknown objects.
'People just didn't ask a lot of questions about things they saw and couldn't understand,' notes Cooper, who adds that it was a lot simpler to look the other way, shrug one's shoulders, and chalk up what had been seen to 'just another experimental aircraft that must have been developed at another area of the air base.'
But what about the photographic proof - the motion picture footage - that was taken? 'I think it was definitely a UFO,' Cooper states, as he makes no bones about it. 'However, where it (the object) came from and who was in it is hard to determine, because it didn't stay around long enough to discuss the matter - there wasn't even time to send out a welcoming committee!'
After he reviewed the film at least a dozen times, the footage was quickly forwarded to Washington. Cooper no doubt expected to get a reply in a few weeks' time as to what his men had seen and photographed, but there was no word, and the movie *vanished* - never to surface again....
On coast-to-coast television, Cooper recently made a blockbuster statement that had the telephone lines tied up the next day, as viewers telephoned the stations which carried the syndicated Merv Griffin Show, anxious to find out if their ears had been playing tricks on them the night before.
Toward the end of the talk-show host's interview with the former Astronaut, Merv broke into a secretive tone of voice right on the air, and aimed a hundred-thousand-dollar question at his guest: 'There is a story going around, Gordon, that a spaceship did land in middle America and there were occupants, and members of our government were able to keep one of the occupants alive for a period of time. They've seen the metal of the aircraft and they know what the people look like - is that a credible story?'
For all intents and purposes Cooper should have laughed for assuredly such a speculative story belongs in the category of science fiction or space fantasy. But Gordon Cooper kept a straight face when he replied: 'I think it's fairly credible. I would like to see the time when all qualified people could really work together to properly investigate these stories and either refute or prove them.'
The bombshell had been dropped. Cooper went on to say that from the various reports of UFO contacts and abductions he had been privy to, he was convinced that the occupants of this crashed UFO were 'probably not that different from what we are,' - that they are almost totally humanoid (i.e., have two arms, two legs, a torso and readily identifiable facial features) in appearance.
Taken aback by what Cooper had said over the national airwaves, Lee Spiegel telephoned Cooper's office the following morning and managed to get past his private secretary, though others in the media were getting the cold shoulder.
'Cooper admitted to me that he could have revealed more on the air, but he decided not to play his entire hand because he felt certain that some 'official eyebrows were going to get raised'.'"
Source: "MJ-12 and the Riddle of Hangar 18" by Timothy Green Beckley; 1981; Inner Light Publications P.O. Box 753, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903; p.12 - 14.
The following article was originally written as a book chapter in 1983, and sent to Cooper for his comments. From that point on he refused all further correspondence with me. However, it seems to me that he kept the manuscript and he (or his co-author) used it for some info in his book 'Leap of Faith', while deliberately avoiding other results of the investigation. [ James Oberg ]
The commercialization of astronauts has certainly been extensive, but one bizarre attempt reached astronomical heights. During the publicity blitz for Columbia Pictures' "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", toy UFO aliens appeared in stores around the world. A plastic model called "Authentic Bendable Extra Terrestrial Figure" even today sits on my desk, his (its?) right hand altered with glue to present the middle finger defiantly in my direction. On the back of the cardboard wrapper originally containing the "authentic" (whatever that meant!) alien was a sensational quotation from two-time space veteran Gordon Cooper.
The passage read: "Intelligent beings from other planets regularly visit our world in an effort to enter into contact with us. NASA and the American government know this and possess a great deal of evidence. Nevertheless, they remain silent in order not to alarm people. I am dedicated to forcing the authorities to end their silence."
Now, astronauts (or cosmonauts, for that matter) are not known to be frequent visitors at the United Nations. When they do came, it is usually to discuss their own space vehicles. But in March 1978, the same Gordon Cooper addressed a UN committee on somebody else's space vehicles: aliens from space were flying to Earth on exploration voyages of their own. The ex-astronaut declared that since it was a planet-wide problem it demanded international attention.
The United Nations maintained a stoic, even embarrassed silence, nonetheless. Part of Cooper's problem might have been that he was visiting under the auspices of the then dictator of Grenada, the madcap "Sir" Eric Gairy. Gairy's excesses and crackpottery, added to his alleged corruption and brutality at home, later led to the New Jewel coup-d'etat led by Maurice Bishop, and indirectly to the US intervention five years later.
Since his retirement from the space program two decades ago, Cooper (now in his 60's and an engineering consultant in Los Angeles) has become an outspoken advocate of the reality of UFOs. Personal experiences with UFOs contribute to Cooper's authority as a commentator on the controversial topic. His experiences have literally become legend....
Persistent accounts in some leading UFO books describe a UFO encounter with Cooper's Mercury-9 space capsule in May 1963. In addition, Cooper himself has talked about the disappearance of photographic evidence for a UFO landing at an Air Force Base in California where he had served prior to being picked for spaceflight. And most spectacular of all is his account of "fleets of UFOs" soaring over his Air Force base in Germany, where he began his pilot career in the early 1950s. Clearly, Cooper is a very experienced UFO witness, and a very persuasive one.
Cooper has been quite outspoken about his evaluation of the UFO phenomenon. As early as 1974 (three years after he left NASA) he was being quoted as saying, "People have seen flying saucers at close hand. And in many cases they have been verified on radar. It is ridiculous for anyone to say that they're all completely unreal."
In a letter to the United Nations on occasion of the November 27, 1978 discussion of UFOs, Cooper wrote believe that these extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets, which obviously are a little more technically advanced than we are here on earth."
Earlier that same year, Cooper had been on late-night TV's Merv Griffin Show (April 10,1978) when the question of UFOs came up. Griffin asked Cooper if he thought any extraterrestrial visitors had "ever been here", and Cooper was explicit in his answer: "Yes, I think they have and are here regularly."
Griffin pushed into an even more sensational area: "There is a story going around, Gordon, that a spaceship did land in middle America, and that there were occupants and that members of our government were able to keep one alive for a period of time.... Is that a credible story?" Again, Cooper didn't waffle. ~I think it's fairly credible," he replied candidly, "Apparently from everyone who has been abducted or who's had contact with UFOs, they seem to agree that the occupants are really not that different from what we are."
"I would like to see the time when all qualified people not trying to make a dollar selling some weird and way-out stories could really work together," Cooper told Griffin, "to really properly investigate these types of stories and either refute them or prove them.... I'm rather interested in maybe eventually in the near future putting together a few people of science and engineering, and so on, to properly investigate this type of thing." Later, in an interview in OMNI magazine (March 1980), he described his preferred research strategy: I�m not really of the school that feels you should go back historically and correlate all the sightings. I think we'll probably find out more by looking harder now and in the future." Elaborating, he also declared, "Very likely we'll find out about them sooner or later, but probably not just by analyzing past sightings."
"I've always been honest about my views on this subject," he added. "Because the astronauts have been so badly misquoted by irresponsible journalists, it's up to each of us to say what he believes in."
Perhaps related to Cooper's complaint about irresponsible journalists, a particularly amazing claim was described by paranormal publicist Timothy Beckley in 1980. Citing an interview in the "National Enquirer", Beckley claims that Cooper has revealed that, "There are those connected with our space agency -- NASA -- who (allegedly quoting Cooper) 'have had contact with the creatures on board UFOs', apparently right here on Earth." Beckley publishes several newspapers and magazines, and regularly advertises in the weekly grocery store tabloids.
Cooper's quotation about NASA's "UFO secrets", printed on the back of Columbia Pictures Productions' "alien figure", received widespread circulation. The quotation was subsequently reprinted widely, including in Margaret Sachs' "UFO Encyclopedia" (Perigee Books, G. P. Putnam, 1980), and in an article in the September 30, 1980 issue of the tabloid newspaper "The Star", published under the by-line of America's most respected ufologist, astronomy professor Dr. J. Allen Hynek.
Hynek later admitted he had made a mistake in allowing the newspaper to compile the article from his previous publications while paying him a fee for the use of his name as author -- since he hadn't reviewed the written material prior to publication. Such are the perils of UFO journalism. Cooper, too, was being victimized.
That statement attributed to him was finally too much for ex-astronaut Cooper. In August 1978 he filed suit against Columbia Pictures Industries for false use of his name. The suit sought two million dollars in damages and a "fair percentage of the profits, totaling not less than $750,000, for the use of his name and reputation. Part of the problem was that the quotation, according to Cooper, was entirely counterfeit: "The quotation attributed to me by Columbia Pictures is entirely a fabrication", he wrote in 1978, calling it fakery".
Yet in 1980 when a new version of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was released, Columbia Pictures used the same counterfeit quotation again in its promotional literature! And the lawsuit disappeared into the bowels of L.A. law courts, its resolution never disclosed by either party.
Despite his often involuntary association with such activities, the quality of Cooper's testimony has been universally recognized. His integrity, intelligence, and technical competence have never been questioned. If a man like Gordon Cooper, a veteran of travel through outer space, can believe in UFOs and can publicly testify to that effect, ordinary citizens are bound to conclude that there must really be something to the subject after all.
Indeed, anyone who ventures to raise questions about the validity of Cooper's UFO experiences runs the risk of appearing to want to smear a genuine American hero with the cinema-certified "Right Stuff" or UFO proponents, Cooper's accounts were too useful to risk solution; for UFO skeptics, Cooper's personal prestige called into doubt the practical value of such research (who wants to look like an unpatriotic iconoclast?). Besides, the stories deal with events several decades in the past, and experience has repeatedly taught the frustrations of attempting to track down clues and leads across such a span of memory-benumbing and records-losing decades.
But the Cooper incidents kept being flaunted in pro- UFO tracts, while the failure of skeptics to "explain" such authoritative and impressive testimony was portrayed as almost an admission of intellectual incapacity. I kept running into the same questions at lectures and seminars. The "UFO Bulletin" of APRO, a leading American flying saucer group, repeated the challenge in 1981, and editor Gordon Creighton of Britain's "Flying Saucer Review" made the same challenge over a radio debate in 1982. A recent major UFO book by Timothy Good ("Above TOP SECRET") endorsed the cases again.
The challenge has appeared in OMNI magazine and in tiny UFO newsletters, in letters and private conversations: "If you skeptics are so smart, how come you can't explain Gordon Cooper's UFOs?" In late 1982, Dr. J. Allen Hynek blasted the British Broadcasting Corporation for its production of "The Case of the UFOs" (aired in the US on NOVA in October 1982) for avoiding any mention of Gordon Cooper's UFO experiences, which Hynek clearly portrayed as genuine and unsolvable. As recently as January 1, 1990, the "Current Affair" tele-tabloid show referred to Cooper's accounts of chasing UFOs in his jet.
I, too, had been interested in researching these stories. Could the Cooper UFOs be accounted for in terms of prosaic phenomena? Were Cooper's published recollections of the incidents, often after decades of hindsight, reasonably accurate? Were there any lessons about contemporary UFO research standards which an analysis of the Cooper cases could define? Those were questions well worth asking. Those were answers well worth seeking.
THE FIRST HUNT
The most famous UFO associated with Cooper's name reportedly occurred on the Mercury-9 space flight in 1963.
By 1967, Frank Edwards gave these details of the event (in Flying Saucers -- Here and Now!, Lyle Stuart, New York). To the question, "Who was the first astronaut to see a UFO in orbit?", Edwards responded: "On the record it was Major Gordon Cooper, over Muchea Tracking Station near Perth Australia, on his final orbit of Earth on a night in May of 1963. The object which approached him was also seen by the two hundred persons at the tracking station. It was reported twice on the NBC radio network before Cooper had been picked up by the rescue craft. He was not permitted to comment on it."
Other details appeared in Is Something Up There (Dale White, Scholastic Book Services, Doubleday, 1968): "The astronaut radioed the tracking station that he had sighted a greenish object moving east to west. This is contrary to the orbits taken by man-made satellites. Nearly one hundred persons, some of them technicians, saw the UFO appear on the Australian radar."
The story spread as years passed. In 1973, ufologist George D. Fawcett was writing: "The UFO... was seen, recorded and tracked by the Muchea, Australia, tracking station, where hundreds of technicians and newsmen saw and heard the reports. This was good enough for the experts Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Dr. Jacques Vallee, who (as mentioned earlier) used Fawcett's data (unverified) in their book Edge of Reality as follows: "Gordon Cooper reported a greenish UFO with a red tail during his fifteenth orbit. He also reported other mysterious sightings over South America and Australia. The object he sighted over Perth, Australia, was caught on screens by ground tracking stations."
In 1977, Leonard Stringfield's book "Situation Red - - The UFO Siege!" (Fawcett Crest) reported further details: "According to a reliable and well-informed Australian businessman who visited my home in October 1975, a luminous green UFO with a red tail, witnessed by hundreds of Australians, flew in the opposite direction to Cooper's spacecraft. During the UFO's overflight, he learned from a military source that it caused an electrical outage at the Dry Creek Tracking Station and at the rocket range in Woomera, including a blotting out of radar. The low-level, football-shaped UFO was also witnessed by Australian scientists, and cameramen took sixteen thousand feet of color movie film of the object. My informant told me that he learned from a military source that the film was sent to Washington, D.C., for evaluation. No jet interceptors were scrambled, because the military feared they might be affected by the powerful force field created by the UFO". Stringfield added that Cooper denied reports "he had seen the UFO during his overflight of Australia".
What purported to be an actual transcript of the astronaut's description of his UFO encounter was published by UFO author Dan Wilson about the same time, in his book Our Mysterious Spaceship Moon (Dell, 1976, -- his editor, James Frenkel, assured me that "all the references are checked, within reason", and that Dell lawyers had reviewed the manuscript and determined there was nothing libelous in it). Wilson wrote, "Cooper described the object as being of 'good size', and claimed, 'It was higher than I was. It wasn't even in the vicinity of the horizon..." This is indicated that the bogey (NASA's slang term for UFOs) was not a star or other object, either natural or manmade".
"The important thing to remember," continued Wilson," is that the incident was seen by all those present at the Muchea Tracking Station. And this included civilian observers as well as newsmen. In fact the entire incident was reported to the world at the time by NBC News. So something was seen out there -- not fabricated by a UFO writer."
This story must be unraveled in reverse order to the way it developed. Wilson's alleged quotation can be checked first, because he footnoted the source. What was actually happening was that on his third orbit, five hours into the flight, Cooper was describing auroral activity ("Northern Lights"). He reported, "Right now I can make out a lot of luminous activity in an easterly direction. I wouldn't say it was much like a layer. It wasn't distinct and it didn't last long, but it was higher than I was. It wasn't even in the vicinity of the horizon and was not well defined. A good size -- it was a good sized area. It was very indistinct in shape. It was a faint glow with a reddish-brown cast." And whatever it was, it wasn't a UFO, as Wilson's doctored excerpt of the transcripts would otherwise lead trusting readers to conclude.
In an OMNI interview published in March 1980, Cooper was asked about the reports of astronauts seeing UFOs in space. He replied, "It got so bad that there were deliberately falsified tapes of communications with the astronauts, where UFO material was simply edited in." Cooper explicitly denied that there had been UFO sightings on his two flights. In a 1978 letter to me, Cooper stressed "the non-occurrence of a sighting on Mercury 9. I have the original on-board tapes in my possession which also refute this."
The actual source of the original report, attributed to NBC radio news, remains obscure. In 1979 I asked the NBC Radio News archives to check on transcripts from the period, but according to Lyn Myers, executive producer of NBC Radio News (letter dated August 8,1979), "We... can find no transcript concerning an incident such as you describe". There the matter rests.
As so often happens, there probably was some spark that set off the blaze -- but the actual stimulus was too minor to have left any trace. Some UFO enthusiast probably half-heard a garbled radio account, told associates about it, and developed the recollection at conferences and conclaves. Before long, the story had spread in so many garbled versions that the different tales appeared to be independent corroborations when in fact they were only multi-generation mongrels.
A minor footnote to Cooper's spaceflight UFO connection is a report from his second (and last) orbital mission, Gemini-5 in August 1965. Researcher Alan Frank Sandler found some air-to-ground voice transcripts which seemed to refer to a radar sighting of a UFO. He used this material in a movie, "UFOs Past Present and Future", and author Robert Emmenegger adapted the screenplay to a paperback book of the same name published by Ballantine in 1974.
On a pass across the US, the astronauts were told that Cape Kennedy radar was tracking another object "two to ten thousand yards" from their spacecraft. They were asked if they had seen anything, but they replied in the negative. "And that is the last that the public knows about what was sighted during the Gemini 5 flight", intoned Sandler. The story subsequently appeared in UFO magazines and newsletters.
If Sandler, who did the research in Houston, really believed that assertion, then it was only because his research was deficient. At the very next "change of shift" press briefing, two hours after the incident was reported, flight director Christopher Kraft (who, contrary to Sandler's claim, did not himself talk directly to the astronauts) answered a newsman's question about it: "The radars at the Cape apparently were tracking a side lobe which gave them two returns from the spacecraft.... We're fairly certain that it was some kind of phenomenon like that.... The Merritt Island and Patrick radars were tracking what appeared to be two objects with similar signal strengths about two to ten thousand yards from the spacecraft and we really believe they were tracking the side lobe". These comments were on transcripts of the conference, available to this day at the Public Affairs Office in Houston.
Kraft was referring to a not-uncommon problem with space radar. It is associated with the fact that the radar beam (which is used to obtain a reflection when the radar is operating in the "skin track", or entirely passive mode of tracking) is not a pure cone-shaped projection, but is accompanied by weaker parallel projections as well. Sometimes the target acquisition logic circuits can become confused by reflections of these "side lobes", and this is what NASA decided had happened. Gemini-5 was a particularly difficult flight to track, according to a post-flight report entitled "Network Performance Analysis for the GT-5 Mission" (U66- 11760). Explained the report, "Due to the fuel cell problem the spacecraft beacon was turned off for long periods to conserve electrical power. Therefore, more effort than usual was directed towards skin tracking.... Significantly, many stations scheduled to skin track were either unable to acquire, or were unable to lock on the target". So the incident was neither exceptional nor particularly baffling.
The last word on this incident should lie with the astronauts involved. Cooper and his co-pilot Charles "Pete" Conrad have denied seeing such UFOs, and Cooper's candor is unquestionable. Another witness whose testimony UFO buffs should trust is the "capcom", the astronaut who was talking to Cooper and Conrad during the incident. It was James McDivitt, who has never made any secret of his own UFO-related experiences in the space program. Neither of these men ever considered the Gemini-5 incident as having anything to do with UFOs.
Sandler had missed another trick by not digging deeply enough into the Gemini-5 material. Cooper had in fact described something which could well have been verbally converted into a UFO, during the post-flight crew debriefing. His co-pilot Conrad had started off with the remark, "Okay, now that satellite ---" to which Cooper replied, "Satellites --- we never saw any of the scheduled ones. There was one time when Pete and I thought we saw something and we didn't have time to identify it. We were in drifting flight and we never could identify it. I don't even know if it was a satellite. So many things are going by when you're drifting that it's difficult to say...."
(It is not known what McDivitt, who had seen his own famous UFO while in the same kind of "drifting flight" just ten weeks earlier, thought about Cooper's comment.)
In OMNI, Cooper summarized the whole mythology: "To my knowledge, the only astronaut on any of the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo missions who ever saw anything that might have been a UFO was Jim McDivitt, but he didn't get enough pictures to prove anything substantial. That's the only case, in spite of all the stories you hear" --- stories from the books and articles by Edwards, Vallee and Hynek, Don Wilson and Robert Anton Wilson, Sachs, Stringfield, Fawcett, and many others. So the famous Mercury-9 story is false -- it never happened.
THE SECOND HUNT
Cooper had been a student at the USAF Experimental Flight Test School at Edwards AFB, California, from 1956- 1957. After graduation he served as an experimental flight test engineer and a flight test pilot at the Air Force Flight Test Center at the base. He was there when in 1959 he was selected as one of the "original seven" Mercury astronauts recently celebrated in "The Right Stuff".
What has been portrayed as "an alleged case of suppression of photographic evidence of a UFO that landed near Edwards AFB" has become part of the Cooper UFO legend. His own words on the case, told in 1977 to interviewer Lee Spiegel for the "The Credibility Factor" (the UFO record), are as follows: he recalled "...the case of one that landed out on the dry lake bed right out from a number of camera crews we had who filmed it. And the film was there and was sent forward to the safekeeping somewhere in Washington, never to be seen again."
A detailed account of the incident appeared in Timothy Green Beckley's booklet, Hangar 18 (Global Communications, 1980). "After lunch this particular day", wrote Beckley, "Cooper had assigned a team of photographers to an area of the vast dry lake beds near Edwards". The team spotted "a strange-looking craft" which, in Cooper's words, was "hovering above the ground -- and then it slowly came down and sat on the lake bed for a few minutes." All during this time the cameras were supposedly filming away. Then, in words again ascribed to Cooper, "It took off at quite a sharp angle and just climbed straight out of sight." The film, sent off to Washington, vanished almost as quickly. As recounted in Penthouse ("Cosmic Coverup" by Tony Scaduto, October 1978), "Gordon Cooper says the film that he knows was taken of a UFO landing near the astronauts' training base in California has disappeared somewhere within official vaults....(It was) a film of the UFO that his men photographed, a film that has keen suppressed.".
Early in 1979 I had only begun pursuing this story. My first step was a call to the Public Information Officer at Edwards, Paul Sewall. He readily recalled the incident Cooper must have been talking about, but with some differences. Although the widespread story was that the UFO had set down on Haystack Butte out on the range, the two witnesses to the incident only described it as slowly flying past them. They had indeed made a lot of theodolite (tracking camera) exposures, which had keen developed in a base lab and them sent away for analysis..
When I called John ("Jack") Gettys, one of the witnesses, he sent me a file of material on the sighting, which had occurred on May 3, 1957. He had never even realized that future astronaut Gordon Cooper had keen at the base at that time (he had no connection with the incident). He also proudly recalled that the case had been extensively investigated by a UFO researcher named Dr. James McDonald -- who had been one of the leading ufologists in the world in the 1960s. The "coverup" story seemed to be unraveling..
In fact, McDonald had described his findings on July 29,1968, during his testimony on UFOs to a congressional committee. This is the way he described it: "James D. Bittick and John R. Gettys... were at the time Askania cameramen on the test range, and spotted the domed-disk UFO just as they reached Askania #4 site at Edwards, a bit before 8:00 AM that day [JEO: Compare this with Beckley's account of "after lunch" -- evidently pure dramatization]. They immediately got into communication with the range director, Frank E. Baker, and asked if anyone else was manning an Askania that could be used to get triangulation shots. Since no other camera operators were on duty at other sites, Baker told them to fire manually, and they got a number of shots before the object moved off into the distance. Bittick estimated that the object lay about a mile away when they got off the first shot, though when first seen he put it at no more than 500 yards off. He and Gettys both said it had a golden color, looked somewhat like an inverted plate with a dome on top, and had square holes or panels around the dome. Gettys thought that the holes were circular, not square. It was moving away from them, seemed to glow with its own luminosity, and had a hazy, indistinct halo around its rim, both mentioned. The number of shots taken is uncertain: Gettys thought perhaps thirty. The object was lost from sight by the time it moved out to about five miles or so, and they did not see it again.... The photos were shortly taken by base military authorities and were never seen again by the men. In a session later that day, Bittick [was] informed that they had seen a weather balloon distorted by the desert atmospheric effects.".
When I told Gettys in 1982 that McDonald had used his case in congressional testimony, the UFO witness was pleased but surprised. McDonald had never gotten back to him about the use he'd put his testimony to. So the pro- UFO people kept some secrets, too!.
Now, in fact those photographs did not vanish after all: they had been sent to Project Blue Book, at Wright- Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, per regulations (I even have talked to the officer who did the original Blue Book interviews, former Captain Hubert Davis, who had been greatly impressed with the witness's sincerity) . Years later the photos were pulled out of the retired Air Force files by UFO writers and investigators, as yet ignorant of the still-unpublished "Cooper connection". Two of the photos appear in Brad Steiger's paperback "Project Blue Book" (Ballantine, 1976) in the set of illustrations between pages 360 and 361. Wrote Steiger in the caption: "UFOs on target! Photos taken by United States military personnel" for case #4715, Edwards AFB, May 2 [sic!] 1957. But that case number did not appear on another list in Steiger's book, which included all "unsolved" cases. The Air Force must have found a satisfactory solution -- but what?
That answer had been around since 1957, but not widely circulated in the UFO media for obvious reasons: the Air Force said it had been a weather balloon (as the witnesses had been told the very day of their sighting) and had the evidence to prove it. In a letter to a UFO newsletter in June 1957, Major Robert F. Spence of the Edwards AFB Office of Information Services wrote as follows: "The alleged UFO was conclusively identified as a balloon from a weather unit a few miles west of the observer's location. This was corroborated by an independent report which discloses that this balloon was being tracked at that time with precision recording devices. The data show that the balloon passed the observer's location at almost the precise time, bearings, elevations and speed reported by them.... Objects in the photographs, even after magnification, were found to be small white specks, alternately changing from elliptical to round in shape. These are typical of a number of similar reports received by the Air Force, which upon investigation were found to be balloons, the odd appearances being caused by specular reflection of sunlight and other atmospheric conditions peculiar to desert regions. It is the opinion of the Air Force that any attempt to attribute anything unusual or mysterious to the incident is unwarranted and not supported by the facts."
But oddly enough, even though the original sighting was published in numerous newspapers (and made national wire services), the explanation was written up in no newspaper that I have been able to find. Nor did the pro- UFO McDonald (who hardly could have failed to be aware of it, since he had been sent the same material by Gettys) mention it before the congressional committee. Of course, the explanation "weather balloon" elicits snickers of disbelief from anybody familiar with how the term was over-used for other cases -- but this case looks pretty solid..
There is no evidence that Cooper ever heard this explanation, but he evidently had same misgivings about the case. In 1978, in his second interview with Spiegel (this time for OMNI), he evaded any discussion of the Edwards case by saying, "I'd just as soon not get into the Edwards incident. I didn't get to see anything personally, it was all second hand evidence really." That it was, and Cooper's caution was commendable -- if perhaps a bit tardy. His name had already been interwoven with the incident, and probably permanently.
A careful reading of his previous testimony indicates that he had ascribed no ominous motives to what he honestly thought had been a "disappearance" of the film. Instead, he had testified, the UFO-related material had probably been gathered together in a storage room and just forgotten. As for deliberate cover-ups, he has always disputed such a notion. "If any UFO information is being suppressed," he told OMNI, "it's certainly not by the U.S.. Air Force, because I was at a high enough level to know about it." That's just the opposite of how many "UFO promoters" portray his feelings..
As to the accuracy of the rest of Cooper's recollection of the "Edwards UFO", eyewitness Gettys had this to say in 1982: "I am amazed that Gordon Cooper said the object landed -- as far as I know, he never even saw it.... His story sounds kind of funny to me." And Gettys -- who still does not believe the '"weather balloon" explanation -- was there; Cooper, contrary to legend, played no role at all.
Whatever the true identity of the 1957 Edwards AFB "balloon/UFO", it is clear that the "Cooper UFO legend" is quite inaccurate here. No coverup or information loss was involved. The "UFO" never landed. Cooper had nothing to do with the incident (he was not connected with the film crew in any official capacity, and they had never heard of him) but was only an accidental bystander. But as a certified hero, his persona has been exploited by others who spread the legend for excitement, for ego, of for profit. That's a theme that far predates the space age!
THE THIRD HUNT
The most sensational UFO encounter of his life happened to Cooper while he was a fighter pilot in Germany in the early 1950s. "Hundreds of UFOs" flew over his airbase near Munich over a two-day period.
In the 1976 production of the long-playing record of UFO-related testimony, Cooper gave the following description of the incident: "A weatherman spotted some strange objects flying apparently fairly high altitude with some large binoculars while tracking a weather balloon, and reported, and before long the entire fighter group was out peering through binoculars at these groups of objects coming over, all heading generally from easterly to westerly direction, and all in very strange patterns resembling fighter formations. But unlike fighters they would stop, almost stop in forward velocity and change ninety degrees sometimes in their flight path. And within the next two or three days we had practically all the fighters we could muster on the base up flying as high as they would climb with guys with binoculars still trying to spot these strange devices flying overhead. We never could get close enough really to pin them dawn but they were round in shape and very metallic looking.".
A year later, during an interview with Spiegel for OMNI, Cooper elaborated: "They were large groups of metallic saucer-shaped vehicles at great altitudes coming over in flier [sic?] formation in various sized numbers and for the greater part of two days these kept coming by. They were in fingertip formation, flights would cross under, back and forth, just the same kind of formations we used in fighter groups. They had the capability of changing directions a little faster than a typical fighter would, stopping, rapid starting, changing directions....".
Another interview in the "National Enquirer" (March 28,1978) gave additional details: "I spent two days trying to get to them. We got as high an altitude as we could, and they were still well above us. Probably twenty or thirty planes, at least, went up after them. F-84 and F-86 jets, fairly high-speed jets. The UFOs came over in groups of four, twelve, sixteen, twenty. They came over regularly, at intervals, all day long for two days. They came right over the air base. We could only get to about 45,000 feet, but we did get close enough to see what they looked like. They were actually shaped like saucers. we had no idea whether they were looking at us, or what they were doing. And after two days they simply disappeared.".
A search for primary sources was bound to be difficult. The incident was in 1951 (according to Cooper's UN letter in 1978), probably in the summertime. The location was Neubiberg Air Force Base, in a suburb of Munich. The unit was the 525th Fighter Squadron of the 86th Fighter Wing, which was assigned to Europe between 1947 and 1952. Since there were about twenty five aircraft per squadron and the 525th shared the base with the 526th and the 527th, there might have been upwards of a hundred additional witnesses involved, not to mention the inhabitants of the large city nearby..
In 1979 I wrote to contacts in Munich and received a negative reply: "Neither the Munich newspapers nor the police records of that period give any mention of the case", wrote Wolfgang Kuchler of "P.M." magazine. An inquiry to the Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center at Maxwe11 Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, obtained the declassified unit history records for the 86th for the period in question -- and there was no mention of anything remotely similar to Cooper's description..
As a last stab in the dark, I wrote to several Air Force related publications with a request for general information (such publications have special columns for people doing historical research, seeking contact with missing former buddies, or organizing unit reunions). Months passed with no further results.
A year went by. Then the break came: a letter from John Bonner in Los Angeles, who had flown with Cooper. He had been looking through an old pile of "Air Force" magazines and spotted my letter in the February 1980 issue. On March 10, 1981, he wrote: "Once, while in a large group formation, I spotted a large number of objects very high above us. I do not think anyone had a chance to climb up to investigate that time. Another time on a Sunday morning two of us were scrambled to intercept a large number of objects coming in from the east. We did not intercept these as they turned back before we got there." In a second letter two months later, in discussing the first sighting, he added, "I felt they were not balloons, stars or debris. I was suspicious of the Soviets. I guess I could not rationalize to myself what I saw." Bonner's descriptions did not tally with Cooper's at all, but he did provide another lead: a unit reunion for the 86th was planned for that very summer in San Antonio..
I immediately contacted the organizers and discussed my research. None of the people could recall the incident but they promised to ask around. On June 5-7, 1981, more than a hundred pilots gathered for the party (many of them had left Neubiberg before, or had arrived after, the date of Cooper's incident). On August 3 I called Colonel "Swede" Larson, the reunion chairman, and asked about my favorite topic. His reply was negative: ~I talked to a few people who might have known, and they couldn't recall the incident. I was there then, and I was a flight commander, but I don't remember anything either."
As a last effort, I wrote letters to two dozen people whose names were listed in a special directory published by the reunion committee and who had been contemporaries of Cooper in the 525th. The directory also contained a reprint of the December 1950 base phone book; recalling Cooper's comment that it had been a weatherman who first spotted the objects, I wrote off to every member of the base meteorological staff whose names were listed in that phone book, too. My letters went out across the country and beyond to Guam, Israel, Paraguay, and wherever the veterans of the 86th had dispersed..
The answers trickled in over the passing weeks. Nobody knew what "Coop", as they called their former flying buddy, was talking about (along with frequent testimonials to his honesty and integrity, which have never been in doubt). "I never experienced such sightings," wrote one. "If I had it would be indelibly inscribed in my memory, and I'd be happy to share any such recollections with you." Another former Air Force pilot who later entered the priesthood and became a state bishop wrote, "I recall nothing about any UFOs.... As to what Gordon Cooper saw, I have not the slightest idea." Another: "Absolutely no recall of any such incident.".
One wrote: "I was at Neubiberg Air Base from July 1950 to July 1953 as Weather Officer and Detachment Commander. During this time I did not make any unusual sightings that could not be explained as light reflecting from a high-flying weather balloon, or as a lenticular cloud group over the mountains". Another pilot wrote: "I do NOT recall any comments that Gordon Cooper made concerning UFOs -- I was his squadron commander sometime in '51, then got the 86th Fighter Group later, and I never recall even hearing anything along that line.... I'm sure if these UFOs had become a serious subject during my almost 5 years at Neubiberg, I would have remembered something -- and I flew most every day during all those years.".
Other veterans of Cooper's unit concurred. "I was a pilot and weather officer at Neubiberg 1948 thru 1951, but I can't recall any reports of these sightings," wrote one. Another pilot, a retired brigadier general, wrote: "No, I am not aware of any UFO sightings. I'm fairly certain that I would have heard about it." Another: "I was at that time 'A' flight commander and was therefore 'in the know' of most of the flying activities in that area. I flew at least 25 hours each month. The flying saucer report made reference to by Cooper is unknown to me." Another: "I never heard mention of it before. At that time I was Wing Communications Officer .... If true it was one of the best kept secrets!" The base weather officer at the time wrote: "I draw a complete blank: can remember no facts, no discussions -- in fact, not even a rumor." And another Neubiberg veteran flier had absolutely no recall of any such incident.".
In all, a total of more than a dozen men had responded to my letter (including commanding officers and weather officers) : their opinions were unanimous that no such event had occurred at Neubiberg..
Cooper, in his first interview with Spiegel for the "Credibility Factor" record, had made a possibly relevant comment. When asked if it hadn't been exciting to return from the UFO chases and compare notes with his fellow pilots, Cooper had replied cautiously, "Yeah, it was [but]] I'm not sure we really ever realized the impact of it, at that point in time, really." What Cooper seemed to be saying was that the incident itself seemed hardly memorable when it happened, which would explain why no other witness could remember it thirty years later. But if so, one is forced to ask how accurate can Cooper's own memory be under the same circumstances?.
One more comparison is possible, thanks to yet another freak stroke of luck. During an idle luncheon conversation late in 1982 (four years after I had become interested in researching the case), the talk turned to the topic of UFOs. One retired NASA engineer began to regale his table with an account of UFOs seen by his friend Gordon Cooper (I was at the table, and hadn't even initiated that topic -- what an extraordinary coincidence!). All the familiar elements came out, including the "fleets" over several days, the inability of the jets to reach them, and the bafflement and frustration of all the pilots. But two new factors appeared: first, the event was supposed to have happened in the "American Middle West" [later clarified to mean the Rocky Mountains or New Mexico, but NOT California or the "Midwest"], and second, there had been an official explanation provided for the UFOs, an explanation which the pilots had rejected: seed pods. My story teller recounted Cooper's reaction to this explanation: "Seed pods at 50,000 feet!", he described Cooper snorting with derision.
This account was based on a conversation which took place at the NASA installation on Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, in late 1963, more than a decade before Cooper publicly referred to his UFO experiences.
But is THIS version of the account accurate? That question remains open, but at least it shows that Cooper was telling some sort of UFO story privately for years. The account also suggests that Cooper's story has undergone considerable evolution over the years, as well.
So the "fleets of UFOs" story must remain "unsolved", in large part because the story's reliability must be judged highly questionable. The popular version of the legend, placing the action in Germany in 1951, simply cannot have occurred as Cooper has described it -- if the vast majority of the witnesses are to be believed.
HINDSIGHTS & INSIGHTS
What can be learned about the UFO world from Cooper's association with and exploitation by it? Several interesting and uncomplimentary conclusions can be reached.
Through it all, Cooper's behavior has been exemplary. He has been candid in his feelings and curious about UFOs and other topics generally considered "far out", but he has every right to such interests.
This candor and cooperation has been met with exploitation and misrepresentation from UFO promoters and publicists. From Beckley's "Hangar 18" fantasies to the Columbia Pictures Industries false advertisements to Dr. Hynek's explicit endorsements , Cooper has found himself on the receiving end of frauds and fabrications attached to his name. His usefulness to UFO proponents is based on his honest advocacy of serious UFO research (a desire shared by many serious researchers in the field, including myself) and on the UFO stories associated, not always accurately as we have seen, with his name. The image appeared good -- all the more reason for UFO promoters to carefully avoid checking up on the UFO incidents even though (if they paused to think about it) their past experiences would have warned them that Cooper's decades-old recollections were quite probablys (better than 90%) based on prosaic, explainable stimuli. But solving the cases was the last thing the UFO promoters were interested in. People who have used Cooper's stories to "prove" the reality of UFOs (respected ufologists such as Frank Edwards, Leonard Stringfield, J. Allen Hynek, and less respected ones such as Timothy Beckley) seem to have neither known nor really cared about the real truth behind the stories.
Their goal evidently was to piggyback on Cooper's reputation to further their own ufological careers, not to take the opportunity to see what Cooper's actual experiences could teach them about the real UFO phenomenon. The truth behind Cooper's stories was the last thing that seemed to interest them.
Neil Armstrong & Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin & Michael Collins
- Apollo 11 -
The Apollo mission was to unveil even more controversy in man’s conquest of our natural satellite and first interplanetary venture. There have been reported sightings by Apollo astronauts while enroute to the moon as well as sightings made while on the surface after making successful landings. Once again Mission Control refused to acknowledge sightings made public with any comments other than explaining the unknown craft as the jettisoned Saturn booster rocket that was merely in the distant vicinity, which most scientists considered an impossible explanation.
It is rumored that as Apollo Missions proceeded that the Astronauts were instructed to use code words instead of describing their sightings as UFOs or their conversations would be scrambled all together to prevent the public from tapping into their conversations. In 1969 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin reported that alien spacecraft were literally parked on the edge of one crater watching human activity. At one point the astronauts reported light inside a particular crater, which would have been impossible had the moon been unoccupied, while the intense shadows would have been blinding to personnel attempting to explore there.
According to the NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the Aliens have a base on the Moon and told us in no uncertain terms to get off and stay off the Moon. According to un-confirmed 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 television transmission, followed by a request from mission control for further information. Nothing more was heard. According to a former NASA employee Otto Binder, unnamed radio hams with their own VHF receiving facilities that bypassed NASA's broadcasting outlets picked up the following exchange:
NASA: Whats there?
Mission Control calling Apollo 11...
Apollo11: These "Babies" are huge, Sir! Enormous!
OH MY 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!
Timothy Good uses "SAGA UFO SPECIAL #3" as a source for this quote.
[ From the book "Celestial Raise" by Richard Watson, ASSK, 1987, page 147-148 ]
Supposedly two ufo's hovered overhead as Armstrong prepared to step down the ladder of the LEM at the Sea of Tranquility. Aldrin is reported to have taken several pictures of them.
According to a Dr. Vladimir Azhazha: "Neil Armstrong relayed the message to Mission Control that two large, mysterious objects were watching them after having landed near the moon module. But this message was never heard by the public - because NASA censored it."
According to a Dr. Aleksandr Kasantsev, Buzz Aldrin took color movie film of the UFOs from inside the module, and continued filming them after he and Armstrong went outside. Armstrong confirmed that the story was true but refused to go into further detail, beyond admitting that the CIA was behind the cover-up.
Modern People magazine published what they claim to be some of these photographs in their June 1975 issue. They claim to have gotten the pictures from a Japanese source.
During the broadcast of this historic event on the Canadian network coverage, they were discussing at some point a light which kept appearing while the astronauts were actually on the surface. Then it just seemed to be dropped.
One explanation for the halo's seen around or near some of the Appollo astronauts was that it was gases being vented from their backpacks.
Timothy Good writes that HAM radio operators receiving the VHF signals directly picked up the following message which was screened by NASA from the public.
What's there ? Mission Control calling Apollo 11.
These babies are huge, sir ... enormous....Oh, God, you wouldn't believe it! I'm telling you there are other space craft out there... lined up on the far side of the crater edge... they're on the moon watching us.
Timothy Good uses "SAGA UFO SPECIAL #3" as a source for this quote.
From the book "Celestial Raise" by Richard Watson, ASSK, 1987, page 147-148;
"During the transmission of the Moon landing of Armstrong and Aldrin, who journeyed to the Moon in an American spaceship, two minutes of silence occurred in which the image and sound were interrupted. NASA insisted that this problem was the result of one of the television cameras which had overheated, thus interfering with the reception.
This unexpected problem surprised even the most qualified of viewers who were unable to explain how in such a costly project, one of the most essential elements could break down... Some time after the historic Moon landing, Christopher Craft, director of the base in Houston, made some surprising comments when he left NASA.
Author Sam Pepper (otherwise unidentified and he has since vanished) gave this version of "the top secret tape transcript" from "a leak close to the top", as follows:
Those are giant things. No, no, no - this is not an optical illusion. No one is going to believe this !
What ... what ... what ? What the h--- is happening ? What's wrong with you ?
They're here under the surface.
What's there ? (muffled noise) Emission interrupted; interference control calling 'Apollo 11'
We saw some visitors. They were here for a while, observing the instruments
Repeat your last information !
I say that there were other spaceships. They're lined up in the other side of the crater !
Repeat, repeat !
Let us sound this orbita ... in 625 to 5 ... Automatic relay connected ... My hands are shaking so badly I can't do anything. Film it ? G--, if these d--ned cameras have picked up anything - what then ?
Have you picked up anything ?
I didn't have any film at hand. Three shots of the saucers or whatever they were that were ruining the film
Control, control here. Are you on your way ? What is the uproar with the UFOs over ?
They've landed here. There they are and they're watching us
The mirrors, the mirrors - have you set them up ?
Yes, they're in the right place. But whoever made those spaceships surely can come tomorrow and remove them. Over and out.
When the "Pepper Transcripts" first became public, UFO buffs wrote to their congressmen demanding that NASA officially confess to the coverup. 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 T.V. 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 reporting UFOs."
NASA claims that all photos, all voice transcripts, all debriefings are in the public domain and are available to the news media. ...
...Who has taken the trouble to check out this material ? Well, James Oberg has, for example. Alan Sandler did. Dr Hynek visited the Houston space center in July 1976 and was shown the material in question. NASA's original story, surprising, has been
...From internal evidence alone, it looks more and more like a crude hoax. This can be deduced from the vocabulary itself.
"Mission Control, this is Mission Control..." this was NEVER a phrase used by NASA, which instead always referred to "Houston".
Technical-sounding gibberish such a "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".
In addition, interviews with the handful of amateur radio listeners who are known to have tuned in to the S-Band (2270 megahertz) moon signals produced testimony that they heard the same conversations which were released by NASA. Since listening to the m
...The unavoidable conclusion is that the "Pepper Transcript" was either fabricated or that Pepper used very poor judgement in allowing himself to be victimized by somebody else's fake.
The following is an excerpt from the transcript of the Apollo 11 technical debriefing:
The first unusual thing that we saw I guess was one day out or something pretty close to the moon. It had a sizeable dimension to it, so we put the monocular on it.
How'd we see this thing ? Did we just look out the window and there it was.
Yes, and we weren't sure but what it might be the S-IVB. We called the ground and were told the S-IVB was 6,000 miles away. We had a problem with the high gain about this time, didn't we ?
There was something. We felt a bump or maybe I just imagined it.
He was wondering whether the MESA had come off.
I don't guess we felt anything.
Of course, we were seeing all sorts of little objects going by at the various dumps and then we happened to see this one brighter object going by. We couldn't think of anything else it could be other than the S-IVB. We looked at it through the monocular and it seemed to have a bit of an L shape to it.
Like an open suitcase.
We were in PTC at the time so each of us had a chance to take a look at this and it certainly seemed to be within our vicinity and of a very sizeable dimension.
We should say it was right at the limit of the resolution of the eye. It was very difficult to tell what shape it was. And there was no way to tell the size without knowing the range or the range without knowing the size.
So then I got down in the LEB and started looking for it in the optics. We were grossly misled because with the sextant off focus what we saw appeared to be a cylinder.
Or really two rings.
Two rings. Two connected rings.
No, it looked like a hollow cylinder to me. It didn't look like two connected rings. You could see this thing tumbling and, when it came around end-on, you could look right down in it's guts. It was a hollow cylinder. But then you could change the focus on the sextant and it would be replaced by this open book shape. It was really weird.
I guess there's not too much more to say about it other than it wasn't a cylinder.
It was during the period when we thought it was a cylinder that we inquired about the S-IVB and we'd almost convinced ourselves that's what it had to be. But we don't have any more conclusions than that really. The fact that we didn't see it much past this one period --- we really don't have a conclusion as to what it might have been, how big it was, or how far away it was. It was something that wasn't part of the urine dump, we're pretty sure of that.
Some time ago the Science Channel (Original Source) aired a program called "First on the Moon: The Untold Story.' One segment described a UFO encounter that Apollo 11 astronauts witnessed during flight to the moon. Aldrin spoke of something he saw.
'To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that Buzz Aldrin, an Apollo 11 astronaut, had ever publicly recounted any UFO experience associated with the Apollo 11 moon mission,' wrote Dave Stone.
Buzz Aldrin remarked, "There was something out there that, uh, was close enough to be observed and what could it be?...Mike (Collins) decided he thought he could see it in the telescope and he was able to do that and when it was in one position, that had a series of ellipses, but when you made it real sharp it was sort of L shaped.'
"NASA knew very little about, um, the object reported by the Apollo 11 crew. It was obviously an unidentified flying object,' said Senior NASA scientist, Dr. David Baker. "But such objects were not uncommon and the history of even earth orbit space flights going back over the previous years indicated that SEVERAL CREWS SAW OBJECTS".
"Now, obviously, the three of us were not going to blurt out, 'Hey Houston we got something moving along side of us and we don't know what it is,' observed Aldrin. "We weren't about to do that, cause we know that those transmissions would be heard by all sorts of people and who knows what somebody would have demanded that we turn back because of Aliens or whatever the reason is, so we didn't do that but we did decide we'd just cautiously ask Houston where, how far away was the S-IVB?'
The S-IVB served as the third stage on the Saturn V and second stage on the Saturn IB. It had one J-2 engine. For lunar mission it was used twice: first for the orbit insertion after second stage cutoff, and then for the trans lunar injection (TLI). Now NASA reported the separated stage 6,000 miles behind. Obviously they didn't detect any UFO.
Aldrin replied: "And a few momentswe decided that after a while of watching it (UFO), it was time to go to sleep and not to talk about it anymore until we came back and (went through) debriefing."
NASA scientist, David Baker said, "There were a lot of people within the program who went off later and became convinced that UFOs existed and that led to some concern on NASA's part where they got the agreement of the crew never to publicly talk about these things for fear of ridicule."
In his book "RETURN TO EARTH" Colonel Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. writes the following on pages 223-224;
In the middle of one evening, Houston time, I found myself idly staring out the window of the Columbia and saw something that looked a bit unusual. It appeared brighter than any star and not quite the pinpoints of light that stars are. I pointed this out to Mike and Neil, and the three of us were beset with curiosity. With the help of the monocular we guessed that whatever it was, it was only a hundred or so miles away. Looking at it through our sextant we found it occasionaly formed a cylinder, but when the sextant's focus was adjusted it had a sort of illuminated "L" look to it. It had a shape of some sort -- we all agreed on that -- but exactly what it was we couldnt pin down. We asked Houston some casual questions: "How far away is the Saturn third stage?" The response was in the vicinity of six thousand miles. That wasn't it.
It could possibly have been one of the panels of the Saturn third stage which fly off to expose the LM and cannot be traced from earth. We could see it for about forty-five seconds at a time as the ship rotated, and we watched it on and off for about an hour. We debated whether or not to tell the ground we had spotted something, and decided against it. Our reason was simple: The UFO people would descend on the message in hordes, setting off another rash of UFO spottings back on earth. We concluded it was most likely on of the panels. Its course appeared in no way to conflict with ours, and it presented no danger. We dropped the matter there.
In his book "Carrying The Fire" astronaut Michael Collins the command module pilot makes no mention of this incident.
A certain professor, who wished to remain anonymous, was engaged in a discussion with Neil Armstrong during a NASA symposium.
Professor: What REALLY happened out there with Apollo 11?
Armstrong: It was incredible, of course we had always known
there was a possibility, the fact is, we were
warned off! (by the Aliens). There was never any
question then of a space station or a moon city.
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 panic on Earth. But it really was a
quick scoop and back again.
In 1979 Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA Communications Systems confirmed that Armstrong had indeed reported seeing two UFOs on the rim of a crater. Chatelain believes that some UFOs may come from our own solar system, specifically Titan.
"The encounter was common knowledge in NASA, but nobody has talked about it until now." "...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 absolute silence."
"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."
The rumors persist. NASA may well be a civilian agency, but many of its programs are funded by the defence budget 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 United Nations 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?
"when James Oberg contacted Chatelain's employers he learned that Chatelain was no longer employed by them when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. If he was no longer an employee of a NASA sub-contractor then he could not have been present in any so-called "secret room" where he could overhear the confidential communications of the astronauts on the lunar surface. He was a low-level engineer who worked for a NASA sub-contractor who built the Apollo communications systems. His status as the "head of communications" (as some UFOlogists have claimed), is entirely false."
Unlike the first landing on Apollo 11, Conrad and Bean achieved a precise landing at their expected location, the site of the Surveyor 3 unmanned probe, which had landed on April 20, 1967. They carried the first color television camera to the lunar surface on an Apollo flight, but transmission was lost after Bean accidentally destroyed the camera by pointing it at the Sun. On one of two moonwalks, they visited the Surveyor, and removed some parts for return to Earth. The mission ended on November 24 with a successful splashdown.
On day out on the earth moon leg of the trip the astronauts radioed Mission Control that two flashing lights had appeared off the bow of their capsule. After rejecting the possibility that the objects could be spinning pieces of the Apollo booster rocket the capcom suggested that they could be the jettisoned protective panels. One of the astronauts replied " Gee that could be, but one of those lights just shot out of here at tremendous speed ".
Take the Apollo 12 case. In this famous incident the initial reports are indeed true, as the astronauts jokingly asked the earth about some flashing lights. When told that they were probably tumbling pieces of space debris (which do in fact accompany the Apollo in the vacuum of space on the way to the moon), the crew accepted this and began discussing how far away they would be. When asked how fast the pieces had broken off the rocket the previous day, the astronauts replied that when they had turned their Apollo around some pieces were flying off at a very fast velocity. That had been the day before!
The flashing lights out the window didn't go anywhere but gradually faded out as the day went by. What happened was that UFO researchers ( I use the term loosely) had simply misunderstood the space jargon and had completely missed the gist of the conversation from Apollo, and had then (probably quite honestly, with good intentions and closed minds) reworded the phrases to make them "clearer" to the general public. In fact they had totally altered the meaning.
In this incident it should be trivial to get to the root of the matter. All we need is the tape of the actual conversation or the true unaltered transcript. We could then see if Olberg is right on the money or not.
During the flight of Gemini XI September 12, 1966 (Richard Gordon, Charles Conrad), A long object was reportedly observed over Madagascar. NORAD indicated that it was Soviet PROTON 3 but it turns out that that satellite would have been over 350 miles away at the time of observation. (Bruce Maccabee). Three pictures of the object were taken which enlarged have been widely publicized. The pictures are fuzzy and don't look at all like what the astronaughts described having seen with their eyesight.
NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, a member of the Apollo 14 mission that landed on the moon in 1971, elaborated on his own fluid thoughts on the universe, arguing that alien visits to Earth have been covered up by governments for more than 60 years.
"I happen to be privileged enough to be in on the fact that we have been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real," Mitchell said on Britain's Kerrang Radio. "It has been covered up by governments for quite some time now", added Mitchell, who grew up in Roswell, N.M., the location of the controversial 1947 incident in which some believe the U.S. military covered up the crash scene of an alien spacecraft.
"Yes, there have been ET visitations. There have been crashed craft. There have been material and bodies recovered. There has been a certain amount of reverse engineering that has allowed some of these craft, or some components, to be duplicated. And there is some group of people that may or may not be associated with government at this point, but certainly were at one time, that have this knowledge. They have been attempting to conceal this knowledge or not permit it to be widely disseminated. ... People in high level government have very, very little, if any, valid information about this. Most have no more knowledge than the man in the street. ... [As to] the question, "How could it be kept secret?" It hasn't been kept secret. It's been there all along. But it has been the subject of disinformation in order to deflect attention and create confusion so the truth doesn't come out. ... I believe it is a very important effort that we get Congressional oversight of all this."
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell – the sixth man to walk on the moon – laid a bombshell on ABC News with the comment "the UFO phenomenon is real" last July. Yet why didn't other major media pick up on this fascinating story? Wouldn't the public be interested to know? Wouldn't you want to know?
The article on ABC's website leads with "Of the more than 6 billion people in the world, only 12 have ever set foot on the moon." Edgar Mitchell is a member of that elite group of 12 space pioneers. Astronauts are some of the most highly trained and respected members of our society, yet the major media seems to feel that the comments on UFOs of this most esteemed American on the subject are not newsworthy. There are a few exceptions, including the ABC News article mentioned. Below are key quotes from this excellent article on the revelations of Edgar Mitchell regarding UFOs.
In fact Mitchell, pioneering founder and board member of the highly respected Institute of Noetic Sciences, has spoken out numerous times in a variety of major events about UFOs, yet received amazingly little coverage. The only other major media source to give significant coverage to Mitchell's intriguing claims to my knowledge is Larry King on CNN. In a fascinating interview with King last July, Mitchell talked about his experience with the famous Roswell incident in 1947.
"All of my experience comes from what I call the old timers. Because I lived in the area ... and because I was an astronaut, some of them wanted to get it off their chest before they passed on. We knew many of the people, including the ranch where this was discovered, and in spite of all of the security oaths, the talk in the community was ... that it was an alien craft.."
“I am an American astronaut and a trained scientist. Because of my position people in high places confide in me. And, as a result, I have no doubt that aliens HAVE visited this planet. The American government and governments throughout the world have thousands of files of UFO sightings which cannot be explained. As a scientist, it is logical to me that at least some of these will have been witness of alien craft. As a former astronaut, the military people who have access to these files are more willing to talk to me than to people they regard as mere cranks. The stories I have heard from these people, who are more highly qualified than me to talk about UFOs, leave me in no doubt that aliens have already visited Earth…”
… “when I learned that aliens really do exist, I wasn’t too surprised. But what did shock me when I started investigating extra-terrestrial reports a decade ago is the extent to which the proof has been hushed up. It isn’t just the US government which has kept quiet about alien visits. It would be arrogant of an American like myself to assume that ETs would only choose to visit my country. Indeed, I’ve heard convincing stories about governments all over the world that know of alien visits – including the British government.”
Brian Todd O'Leary (January 27, 1940 – July 28, 2011) was an American scientist, author, and former NASAastronaut. He was a member of the sixth group of astronauts selected by NASA in August 1967. The members of this group of eleven were known as the scientist-astronauts, intended to train for the Apollo Applications Program - a follow-on to the Apollo Program, which was ultimately canceled. In later life he became an advocate of utilizing exotic energy sources to resolve humanity's energy problems.
Clark C. McClelland, a senior member of MUFON from 1958 to 1992, has revealed in the Canadian press that secret details of an amazing incident occurred during the On STS-80 mission (November 19 to December 7, 1996) aboard the space shuttle Columbia.
Disc-shaped object appeared beneath shuttle. Top space officials panicked and rushed to hush it up...
According to internal reports — confirmed by Dr. Story Musgrave, a Payload Specialist crew member aboard the STS-80 Mission—a disc-shaped object much larger than the orbiting American spacecraft suddenly appeared beneath the shuttle. At the time the Columbia was maintaining an altitude 190 nautical miles above Earth.
Musgrave admitted that, although he got a good look at it, he wasn't able to identify the object.
"I don't know what it is. Whether it's a washer, debris, ice particles, I don't know. But it's characteristic of the thousands of things which I've seen. What is not so characteristic is it appears to [have] come from nowhere. You would think that if it's facing the dark side or facing a side towards you which is not reflecting the sun, you would think that you would see something there. It's really impressive."
After the shuttle returned to Earth, Musgrave was interviewed about the unworldly encounter. According to the report, the scientist reviewed a video recording of the encounter between Columbia and the UFO as the orbiter flew above Denver, Colorado. The disc-shaped object suddenly appeared, seemed to be intelligently controlled, changed its flight vector and — most unnerving of all — seemed to track the Columbia and her crew through space.
After the mission, the space scientist retired from NASA. Convinced that alien intelligence not only exists, but is indeed here, the NASA astronaut has embarked on his own personal mission of disclosure.
Musgrave — who logged 25 million miles during six space shuttle missions and who developed the spacesuit that was used by shuttle astronauts for space walks — says that, despite dozens of military eyewitnesses, photos, films and corroborating radar reports, he's still not convinced.
Yet on a recent speaking tour, he gave a presentation about astronomy. At the end of his lecture, he projected a slide upon a large screen depicting an artist's conception of the infamous "Grey" aliens that have become a part of modern day culture. His final words shocked many in the audience when he proclaimed: "These guys are real…I guarantee it!"
My Views On Extraterrestrials
My view, and that is a critically important preface to anything that I communicate, MY VIEW of the goings on out there is that Cosmic Evolution including Biological Evolution has produced trillions of planets conducive to life as we know it and our universe has been around for 12 billion years. Life is everywhere out there in trillions of forms including very advanced evolutionary strings that have had millions or billions of years to develop the technologies to do star travel, that is to venture outside their particular solar system. I cannot know but I would venture to speculate, and believe, that there are millions or more star-travelers in our universe. And, while passing on that I do think and believe in multiple universes. So that is my interpretation of that side of the coin.
I have been out there alone in the forests at night at the age of three, with the confidence and faith that whatever was out there would recognize a fellow spirit and would take care of me. I build my own rafts and river rafted alone at the age of five. I have immersed myself in nature; I have explored and surrendered to whatever was there. I became super sensitive to the goings on out there and, as you will learn, brilliant in my methods of observation especially in the aviation and space environment. I worked very hard at catching and experiencing all of it and expressing it to others. It was a privilege to have the amounts of time that I was given in aircraft and spacecraft and did my best to be to be a true witness to the world.
Nothing that I ever witnessed or observed in any situation leads me to think or belief that an extraterrestrial vehicle or being was in my presence. I prayed for them to come and get me, but they have not, yet. No evidence presented to me by other astronauts or others has lead me to think or believe that we have been visited here on earth. That is also true of all my observations taken during STS-80. I will present all my observational methodologies, particularly aviation and space at MUFON. I will present the observations that I made and MY INTERPRETATION of these findings. No stretch of the imagination could lead ME to interpret the events of STS-80 as being a visitation from out there. Unfortunately most of the STS-80 videos on youtube.com are not the ones that I photographed. I don't know how someone created them, but it was neither me nor mine.
Bottom line: My personal interpretation of the cosmic goings-on is that there are trillions of life forms out there and millions or many more of them are so advanced as to be travelling outside their home solar system. My personal immersion in the cosmos and all of the empirical evidence brought to me by others leads me to think that we have not been visited by extraterrestrial vehicles or beings here on earth.
There were four different types of UFO phenomena observations during the STS-115 Space Shuttle flight.
The first sighting was a long, dark rectangular object that appeared to be keeping pace with, or in the same orbital path as the Atlantis. The transparent UFO appears in the right hand corner, while astronauts film the falling fuel tank.
A logical explanation could be, that the object appears to be a reflection of the interior flood light, which is directly behind the view port. These shots are usually filmed through the flight deck "window" directly above and behind the cockpit. In any case, the 'glass' used for these windows are comprised of multiple layers. That considered any sort of light caught in it will look pretty much the same - whether it's from the interior or even sunlight reflecting directly off the shuttle itself. It is not an ice particle or an object between the shuttle and the jettisoned tank. In all likelihood it is a light artifact of either the camera lens or the window itself.
It looks as if the camera is tracking inside a perspex dome and the "UFO" could be a crack or chip on the dome which is catching the light. Instead of the object appearing to move into the frame of a stationary camera it is the opposite. A moving camera capturing a stationary object. I don't know if the camera is mounted in a dome or behind glass but this is just what it looks like to me.
The second sighting happened on Day 11. During the morning of day 11 (19-09-2006), astronauts Brent W. Jett, Jr. & Chris Ferguson tested Atlantis' reaction control thrusters and practiced for landing using on-board computers. The thrusters will be used to position the shuttle during re-entry. The crew also took some time for interviews, with Ferguson telling the media that everyone on board was looking forward to landing. "I think we all, thus far, feel pretty good about the job that we did," Ferguson said. "We are looking forward to a successful re-entry and landing sometime tomorrow." Following the interviews, the crew continued their preparations for re-entry by stowing unnecessary equipment and other tasks prior to landing.
However, the crew informed the Mission Control Center later in the day that, following the test of the reaction control system, an object was seen moving in a co-orbital path with the Orbiter. The astronauts spotted the object using an on-board TV camera, but unfortunately the resolution of the images was not high enough to identify the object. The object was observed by Mission Control near the orbiter following standard tests of Atlantis’ reaction control system about 1:45 a.m. CDT
"Mission control spotted the baffling object -- the size of which was not immediately determined -- with a video camera in the shuttle's cargo bay. The object, which circled the Earth in the same orbit as the shuttle, probably came out of the cargo bay around 2:45 a.m. EDT Tuesday because some jets had just been fired on Atlantis, (NASA spokesman Doug) Peterson said." [Source: CNN]
NASA mission managers have informed the STS-115 crew that given a poor weather forecast for a Wednesday landing at KSC and the observation of an object floating near Atlantis that they have waived landing to no earlier than Thursday, Sept. 21.
The images were sent down to the MCC for further analysis by flight controllers, who were concerned about the possibility that the object may have come off Atlantis, and as such wished to identify the object. The most likely scenario was that the object was benign, such as ice or a piece of shimstock (observed earlier in the flight protruding from the heat shield) that may have shaken loose. However, the possibility remained that the object may be of critical importance, such as a tile from the Orbiter's thermal protection system. As such, the Mission Control Center asked Atlantis' crew to power up the shuttle's robotic arm ready to reinspect the orbiter, and drew up plans for a series of tests which took place on flight day 12 to determine whether or not the shuttle was safe for re-entry. This extra inspection, added to poor weather forecasts predicted for the Shuttle Landing Facility for Wednesday, meant that the de-orbit burn and landing were delayed by a day.
The third sighting also happened on Day 11. These pictures of unidentified possible "small debris" was recorded with a digital still camera by astronaut Daniel Burbank onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis around 11 a.m. (CDT) today. Engineers do not believe this to be the same object seen in video taken by shuttle TV cameras earlier in the day.
Atlantis commander Brent Jett described objects first seen on Wednesday as two rings and a piece of foil. He told mission control that one of the objects, about 30 metres from the shuttle, was "a reflective cloth … It's not a solid metal structure."
S115 (19 Sept. 2006) --- This picture of unidentified possible small debris was recorded with a digital still camera by astronaut Daniel Burbank onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis around 11 a.m. (CDT).
[Source: Collect Space]
S115-E-07201 (19 Sept. 2006) --- This picture of unidentified possible small debris was recorded with a digital still camera by astronaut Daniel Burbank onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis around 11 a.m. (CDT) today. [Source: NASA]
Space shuttle program manager Wayne Hale confirmed that the photographs of "debris" above were of the second event "sparkly" reported by the STS-115 crew earlier today. "There is a considerable thought that it is just a plastic bag that came loose," said Hale during a media briefing held at Johnson Space Center. Hale said they are not concerned by this particular debris.
In regards to the "first" debris event that caused the initial concern by mission control, there is not enough information to determine its nature. One of the more likely candidates is the piece of shim stock that was seen protruding from the port external tank door at the beginning of the mission.
[We have reasons to believe that this sighting is an example of » energyzoa.]
The fourth sighting happened on flight day 12 (20-09-2006). More objects were photographed and videotaped, this time with remarkable resemblance to the now infamous STS-75 "tether" footage from The Secret NASA Transmissions: The Smoking Gun, where massive, pulsating, "dropa stone" shaped objects, many miles wide, can be seen passing behind the 12 mile long tether as it drifts into space after snapping loose. The tether provided a varitable measuring stick for size and distance for the swarm of mysterious, pulsating saucer-like craft.
The "debris" videotaped yesterday has the same qualities: ring or donut-like white objects, pulsating or throbbing with light. Has NASA been caught off guard and forced to call these objects "debris" when they know otherwise? NASA even went as far as to speculate that the debris could be items torn loose from the shuttle or accidentally discharged from the payload bay! An inspection was conducted revealing no damage to the Shuttle, including no missing heat resistant tiles.
Atlantis flight director Steve Stitch said it's common to see pieces of floating debris when astronauts open the payload bay doors at the beginning of the mission, although "it is a little bit unusual to maybe see objects this late in the mission." (1)
NASA contends that the objects are small and close to the Shuttle (within 30 meters), possibly even ice (here we go with the ice again!), rather than large objects at a greater distance.
"It doesn't look like anything I've seen outside the shuttle," Atlantis Commander Brent Jett said. (2). This "debris" is clearly unlike the commonplace sparkling, dust-like particulates that are often seen floating about the Shuttle when ships jets are fired or the payload bay doors are first opened.
The object to the far upper right differs from the two ring like objects below and to the left of it. This different object stands stationary while the other two objects move independently. The two ring-like objects appear to pulsate while the stationary object remains constant in its brightness, though it does appear to spin or turn in place revealing its strange shape.
Positive remarks about UFOs by government officials
Brian O'Leary and Dr. Musgrave are not alone in their assertion that UFOs and RTs are a reality. In past years other NASA personnel have struggled to get the word out. Such space-faring luminaries as Gordon Cooper, Donald Slayton, Gene Cernan, Frank Borman (former chairman of Eastern airlines as well), Neil Armstrong and Scott Carpenter… all insist UFOs are real and alien intelligences exist.
These astronauts are not alone among famous and respected people who have had experiences with UFOs. Here are some famous quotes by government officials:
"I can assure you that, given they exist, these flying saucers are made by no power on this Earth."
-- President Harry S. Truman, 4 April 1950, at a press conference.
"While working under President Eisenhower,I discovered that Eisenhower had a keen interest in UFOs, but that he came to realize that he had lost control of the subject".
-- Brigadier General Steven Lovekin
"The US Airforce assures me that UFO's pose no threat to National Security."
-- President John F. Kennedy
"We must insist upon full access to disks recovered. For instance, in the LA case the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination."
-- J. Edgar Hoover
"I certainly believe in aliens in space, and that they are indeed visiting our planet. They may not look like us, but I have very strong feelings that they have advanced beyond our mental capabilities."
-- Senator Barry Goldwater (1965)
"I'm not at liberty to discuss the governments knowledge of extraterrestrial UFO's at this time. I am still personally being briefed on the subject!"
-- President Richard M. Nixon
"In the firm belief that the American public deserves a better explanation than that thus far given by the Air Force, I strongly recommend that there be a committee investigation of the UFO phenomena. I think we owe it to the people to establish credibility regarding UFOs, and to produce the greatest possible enlightenment President Gerald Ford (during his years as a US Congressman).
It was the darndest thing I've ever seen. 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.
-- President Jimmy Carter
"I looked out the window and saw this white light.It was zigzagging around. I went up to the pilot and said,Have you ever seen anything like that? He was shocked and he said, "Nope." And I said to him: "Let's follow it!" We followed it for several minutes. It was a bright white light.We followed it to Bakersfield, and all of a sudden to our utter amazement it went straight up into the heavens. When I got off the plane I told Nancy all about it."
-- President Ronald Reagen (Describing his 1974 UFO encounter to veteran newsman Norman C. Miller, then Washington bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal.)
"The phenomenon of UFOs does exist, and it must be treated seriously."
-- Mikhail Gorbachev
"All our astronauts have seen these objects but have been ordered not to discuss their findings with anyone."
-- Dr. Garry Henderson
A quote from former CIA Director Admiral R.H. Hillenkoetter in a New York Times article dated Feb. 28, 1960 is quite revealing:
"It is time for the truth to be brought out in open Congressional hearings. Behind the scenes, high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about UFOs. But through official secrecy and ridicule, citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense. To hide the facts, the Air Force has silenced its personnel."
Why was this quote buried on page L30 of the Times and not reported widely in other media at the time?
"I have frequently been asked why a person of my background — a former Chief of the Defense Staff, a former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee — why I think there is a cover-up [of] the facts about UFOs. Governments fear that if they did disclose those facts, people would panic. I don’t believe that at all. I’ve said so in print. There is a serious possibility that we are being visited by people from outer space. It behooves us to find out who they are, where they come from, and what they want."
Why is the media paying so little attention to all of this?
For the testimony of dozens of other highly respected individuals on the UFO phenomenon, click here.
This publication leans heavily on the research of several people, most noticiably that of Harvey S. Stewart. His sources where:
Aldrin, Edwin : Return to Earth, Random House, 1973
Beckley, Timothy : MJ-12 and the riddle of Hangar 18, Inner Light, 1989
Chatelaine, Maurice : Our ancestors came from outer space, Dell, 1979
Collins, Michael : Carrying the fire, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974
Edward's, Frank : Flying sausers serious business, Bantam Books, 1966
Emenegger, Robert : UFO's past present & future, Ballantine Books, 1974
Leonard, George : Somebody else is on the Moon, Pocket Books, 1977
Steckling, Fred : We discovered Alien bases on the Moon, G.A.F, 1989
Good,Timothy : Above top Secret, Sidgwick & Jackson Limited, 1987
Moore, William : The Roswell incident, Berkley Books, 1980
Story, Ronald D. : The ecyclopedia of UFO's, Doubleday, 1979
MUFON UFO Journal #252 April 1989
MUFON UFO Journal #256 August 1989
SAGA UFO Special #3
TRUE FS & UFO Quarterly #6 Summer 1977
IDEALS UFO Magazine #4 December 1978
IDEALS UFO Magazine #6 June 1979
"Great Mysteries: UFOs" by Robert Jackson
"Above Top Secret" by Timothy Good
"The UFO Encyclopedia" by John Spencer
"Genesis Revisited" by Zacharia Setchin
Watson, Richard : Celestial Raise, ASSK, 1987
National Enquirer, 14 Jan. 1997
Astronaut "UFO" Sightings
- by James Oberg -
THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER
Journal of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
Volume III, No.1, Fall 1978
The glamour and drama of manned space flights has been transferred to the UFO field via a highly publicized group of "UFO sightings" and photographs allegedly made by American and Russian space-pilots. Hardly a UFO book or movie fails to mention that "astronauts have seen UFOs too."
Careful examination of each and every one of these stories (and they total more than 20 or 30) can produce quite reasonable explanations, in terms of visual phenomena associated with space flights. On a visit to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston in July 1976, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, of the Center for UFO Studies, concluded that none of the authentic cases (as opposed to the majority of reports, which are fictitious) really had anything to do with the "real UFO phenomenon."
Skeptical investigators, while pleased that Hynek had dismissed all "astronaut UFO reports" as unreliable, have insisted that this body of stories has quite a lot to do with the major problems besetting the UFO community. How, they ask, can a body of stories so patently false and unreliable obtain such seeming authenticity simply by being passed back and forth among researchers without ever being seriously investigated? Is this a characteristic of UFO stories in general; and if so, the skeptics ask, can a study of how the "astronaut UFO" myth began and flourished help us to understand better the UFO phenomenon in general?
Hynek's disavowal of the stories came after his book Edge of Reality (coauthored with Jacques Vallee) carried a long list of astronaut sighting reports. Hynek told colleagues that the inclusion of the list (compiled by George Fawcett) in the book was Vallee's idea, not his, but that even so he just wanted to generate interest and discussion. He insisted that inclusion of the list was not a judgment on his belief in its credibility and that readers had no right assuming that the data had actually been verified just because they were included in his book. Fawcett, on the other hand, claims that he just assembled the list from all available sources and assumed that somebody else would check the accounts before publication. "Maybe 1 percent of the stories are true UFOs," Fawcett suggested in 1978.
This is the complete "Fawcett List" as printed in Edge of Reality. Following each incident, we supply the most likely explanation of the report.
February 20, 1962-John Glenn, piloting his Mercury capsule, saw three objects follow him and then overtake him at varying speeds. Glenn also said that these "snowflakes" were small, and seemed to be coming from the rear end of his capsule. Later flights also observed them and were able to create "snowstorms" by having astronauts bang on the walls of their capsules. Verdict: Significant data was withheld, totally altering the nature of the incident.
May 24, 1962-Mercury 7: Scott C:arpenter reported photographing firefly-like objects with a hand camera and that he had what looked like a good shot of a saucer. Carpenter did see "fireflies, " as well as a balloon ejected from his capsule. The claim that he reported photographing a "saucer" is counterfeit. His photo, taking into account the glare of sunlight, smeared window, and gross enlargement of the small image, has been widely published as a "saucer" but was in fact the tracking balloon.
May 30, 1962-X1S pilot Joe Walton photographed five disclike objects. This story appears to be a complete fabrication. The real pilot's name was Joe Walker.
July 17, 1962-X1S Pilot Robert White photographed objects about 30 feet away from his craft while about 58 miles up. Right -- and as he reported, the objects were small, "about the size of a piece of paper," and were probably flakes of ice off the super-cold fuel tanks. Verdict: Important information withheld by authors.
May 16, 1963 -- Mercury 9: Gordon Cooper reported a greenish UFO with a red tail during his fifteenth orbit. He also reported other mysterious sightings over South America and Australia. The object he sighted over Perth, Australia, was caught on screens by ground tracking stations. Cooper has recently denounced all stories of UFOs on his space flights as fabrications. The multicolor UFO is based on a deliberate misquotation by an author of Cooper's postflight report on a sighting of the Aurora Australis. Verdict: Fraud.
October 3, 1963 -- Mercury 8: Walter Schirra reported large glowing masses over the Indian Ocean. Indeed he did, referring to lightning-lit cloud masses over the ocean a hundred miles below. The author of this story deliberately quoted out of context. Verdict: Fraud. And note: Wrong date (really 1962), and Mercury 8 follows Mercury 9 in this "reliable" chronology.
March 8, 1964 -- Voskhod 2: Russian cosmonauts reported an unidentified object just as they entered the earth's atmosphere. Several hours before returning to earth the cosmonauts spotted a cylinder-shaped object they assumed (probably correctly) was just another man-made satellite. Such sightings were becoming more and more frequent as the number of manned flights and unmanned satellites rose.
June 3, 1964-Gemini 4: Jim McDivitt reported he photographed several strange objects, including a cylindrical object with arms sticking out and an egg- shaped UFO with some sort of exhaust. This is the most famous "astronaut UFO" case, and it has been embellished and distorted in dozens of publications. McDivitt saw a "beer-can shaped" object which he took to be another man-made satellite (some observers believe it was his own booster rocket), and tried to take a few photos which did not turn out. A still from the movie camera (which McDivitt insists he never touched during the sighting) was mistakenly released without the astronaut's review, showing what turned out to be a light reflection off his co-pilot's window, according to McDivitt. UFO buffs took this photo and acclaimed it as one of the best UFO photos ever taken, showing (they claim) a glowing object with a plasma tail. McDivitt never saw anything like that in space. Verdict: Gross exaggeration and distortion on the part of UFO writers. Also, the year is wrong -- it should be 1965.
October 12, 1964-Voskhod 1. Three Russian cosmonauts reported they were surrounded by a formation of swiftly moving disc-shaped objects. This story appears to be a complete fabrication, but UFO buffs cling to it while challenging skeptics to "prove it did not happen. "
December 4, 1965-Gemini 7: Frank Borman and Jim Lovell photographed twin oval-shaped UFOs with glowing undersides. This famous photograph is a blatent forgery, in which light reflections off the nose of the spacecraft are made to look like UFOs by airbrushing away the vehicle structure around them. Verdict: Fraud
Figure 1: Famous McDivitt "UFO" photo (actually a still movie film), which has been reprinted in dozens of UFO books and magazines, is only a reflection of the sun on co-pilot's window, according to McDivitt. The astronaut did see a nearby satellite, but did not succeed in getting a photo; he never even touched the movie camera. Yet UFO groups have selected this as one of the "four best UFO photos ever taken" and theorize that the "tail" is actually a "plasma jet" for interplanetary propulsion.
Figure 2: Photo of nose of Gemini-7 with sunlight gleaming off two rocket thrusters. Dark nose almost blends in with dark earth background. With the help of airbrushing, the Gemini-7 photo became a view of two glowing UFOs. Forgery was first published in Japan and subsequently in an American tabloid newspaper. Hoax eventually appeared in Edge of Reality, by Dr. J. Allen Hynek.
July 18, 1966-Gemini 10: John Young and Mike Collins saw a large, cylindrical object accompanied by two smaller, bright objects, which Young photographed. NASA failed to pick them up on screens. The astronauts reported two bright fragments near their spacecraft soon after launch, presumably pieces of the booster or of some other satellite. No photos were taken. They were out of range of NASA radar at this point anyway. Dramatization of ordinary space event.
September 12, 1966-Gemini 11: Richard Gordon and Charles Conrad reported a yellow-orange UFO about six miles from them. It dropped down in front of them and then disappeared when they tried to photograph it. The astronauts described the close passage of another space satellite, identified by NORAD as the Russian Proton-3 satellite but later shown to have been some other object. The men got three fuzzy photos, which, much blown up, have been widely published. But their eyesight accounts describe a solid satellite-looking object on a ballistic non-maneuvering path.
November 11, 1966-Gemini 12: Jim Lovell and Edwin Aldrin saw four UFOs linked in a row. Both spacemen said the objects were not stars. Indeed they were not, since the astronauts were talking about four bags of trash they had thrown overboard an hour earlier! Deliberate misquotation by a UFO-book author.
December 21, 1968-Apollo 8: Frank Borman and Jim Lovell reported a "bogie" -- an unidentified object -- ten miles up. Actually, Borman referred to a "bogie" on his first spaceflight three years before, describing some pieces of debris associated with his spacecraft's separation from the booster rocket. The reference to Apollo 8 is careless, possibly even fictitious.
Figure 3: Photo of "Snowman UFO" reportedly made by "Buzz" Aldrin in lunar orbit (also described as "a mass of intelligent energy" in Science Digest). A series of pictures of this event appeared in a Japanese magazine, were widely publicized in America by Bob Barry (20th Century UFO Bureau), and have now been entrenched in UFO folklore.
Figure 4: The forgeries have been widely printed in the UFO media, along with fabrications about "NASA cover-ups."
Figure 5: The "Snowman UFO" photo is a forgery. Scenes such as this one from Apollo-ll film magazine "F" were heavily retouched to eliminate other reflections and accentuate sharpness of primary reflection of interior lights.
July 16, 1969-Apollo 11: This was a mission on which a UFO reportedly chased the spacecraft. "Reportedly, " indeed, but not very accurate. Actually, several UFO stories have attached themselves barnacle-like to man's first moon landing. A photo of an insulation fragment taken soon after third-stage separation has been widely published as a "UFO." The astronauts watched their booster through a telescope on the way to the moon. A series of "UFO photos" allegedly taken by astronaut Aldrin in lunar orbit are actually forgeries by a Japanese UFO magazine. An alleged "astronaut radio conversation " describing a UFO ambush is a hoax.
November 14, 1969 -- Apollo 12: Astronauts Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, and Dick Gordon said a UFO accompanied them to within 132,000 miles of the moon, preceding them all the way. No, they never said that. They were joking with the ground control room about a tumbling piece of their booster rocket that was flashing in the sky. UFO buffs completely misunderstood the meaning of the conversation and conjured up a UFO. On the way back to earth, the astronauts were puzzled by a light between them and the earth, which turned out to be the reflection of the moon behind them on the night-time Indian Ocean below them.
Many other "astronaut reports" have been added to this list, including photographs from Skylab (of a passing satellite, distorted by some camera artifact), from Apollo lunar flights (movies showing debris floating around inside the cabin), and from other Mercury and Gemini flights. None, when investigated with an appreciation of the actual spaceflight environment, appears to be "extraordinary" or "unusual," although many sightings of passing satellites remain technically "unidentified," since the actual satellite has never been named (nobody has taken the trouble to spend several hours of computer time searching memory banks).
Figure 6: Strange squiggle photo from Skylab is probably a film or camera fault, since crew testimony and other photos show this was a bright point source -- clearly a nearby artificial satellite.
The entire phenomenon of the "astronaut UFO sightings," however, does explicitly demonstrate the carelessness and lack of verification among UFO circles eager to exchange the latest hot stories without any regard for authenticity or accuracy. Skeptics have claimed that this characteristic is not limited to the "astronaut UFO sightings." The topic is not one to which UFO specialists can point with pride in their own behavior and standards of reliability.
Closing note: A common claim is that there is some sort of NASA "cover-up" of secret photographs and/or voice transcripts from space. In fact, every photograph taken by NASA in space is available for publication and can be inspected by accredited news media representatives (there are tens of thousands of photos -- there is no way to arrange public viewing). And volumes and volumes of voice transcripts are readily available at Houston.
Often astronauts are quoted about UFOs. Sometimes they are referring to experiences they have had before or after their roles in the space program. In other eases they are making general statements based on reading the news media. Many quotations are fictitious. Only one astronaut claims to have seen a UFO in space, and that is Jim McDivitt, who stipulates that his definition of a UFO covers the probability that his object was some other man-made satellite which has not been identified. He does not think it was an alien space vehicle or any such similar "real UFOs".