Friday, June 29, 2018

The UFO and Bermuda Triangle Cruise with Charles Berlitz

The Bermuda Triangle Cruise 
In our earlier story on Lawrence Brill and the PSI (Psychic, Spiritual and Intuition) Conferences, The 1974 Tampa Flying Saucer Symposium, we saw that follow-up events were planned, both on land and at sea. Brill did not see live to see his dream of a psychic and UFO conference aboard a sea cruise come true. But in 1975, someone tried something pretty close.

Charles Berlitz was the best-selling author of The Bermuda Triangle which also dabbled a bit in UFO lore (long before he co-authored The Philadelphia Experiment and The Roswell Incident with William Moore). Berlitz was the headliner for a Bermuda Triangle sea cruise that also featured one of Lawrence Brill’s stars from PSI Conferences, Page Bryant, psychic radio talk show host from Tampa.
Page Bryant, from her The Earth Changes Survival Handbook, 1983

The  Pez Espada IV cruise was hosted by WFTL (850 AM) West Palm Beach, Florida. A long article by Jim Gallagher in the Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1975, told the story, warts and all:
What led WFTL to finance the Pez adventure, however, was more a concern for profits than for losses. According to Ted Agnew, afternoon newsman at the station (and no relation to the former vice-president) management at WFTL was looking for a publicity gimmick to attract listeners during its spring rating review period. Realizing that the Bermuda Triangle has become big business Berlitz's book has been No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for two dozen weeks and two paperbacks on the Triangle have sold considerably more than a million copies each they decided to send a ship into the area and have Agnew do live broadcasts from onboard. 
From another section,
Besides Berlitz, the other experts on board were Page Bryant, a corpulant housewife who claims to be a psychic, and Dr. Manson Valentine, an aging zoologist (his specialty is beetles) who believes in the existence of extraterrestrial beings. "We have some very sophisticated friends and ancestors in outer space," Valentine said. However, he has yet to make contact with any of them. Not that he hasn't tried. "I've been telling them for years to come out and show themselves, to talk to me man-to-man," he confided. "But they just won't do it and I'm certainly miffed with them.'" Valentine believes the Triangle disappearances are related to UFO traffic in the area. The exhaust systems of the UFOs, he said, upset the magnetic stability there. Valentine supplied Berlitz with much of the material included in his book "The Bermuda Triangle.
(For a larger view of the newspaper article below, clink on the caption/link.)

Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1975

The second part of the article provides the details on the (low-grade) UFO sighting during the voyage.
Before the voyage began, Ms. Bryant made four predictions: the ship would have engine trouble, there would be a fire at sea, UFOs would be sighted on Friday evening, and the Pez would not fall victim to the Triangle curse. Each was borne out by later events...
At a post-cruise press conference, Allen Moore asked Ted Agnew about the UFOs. "I saw a light... much larger than the running light of an airplane." 
It wasn't much of a UFO, just a light in the sky, but the WFTL promoter pushed to glorify it.
 Moore wouldn't give up, "But it was unidentified, so it would be a UFO," he insisted.
Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1975

Berlitz continued to dabble with the UFO topic in his books, in 1977 with another Bermuda Triangle book, Without a Trace, and in 1978 with William Moore The Philadelphia Experiment, and then together again with Moore in 1980, with UFOs front and center in a book about a crashed flying saucer, The Roswell Incident.

Without Charles Berlitz, these stories probably would have never reached the mainstream public, at least in bestselling books. Berlitz died on December 18, 2003, but the legends he published will be circulated forever.

"Linguist Charles Berlitz Dies" by Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, December 31, 2003.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The UFO Anniversary and the Giant New York Convention of 1967

John Keel, Gray Barker and Jim Moseley

On the 20th anniversary of the historic Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting of June 22, 1947, there was an epic event to mark the occasion, the 1967 New York UFO Convention presented by Saucer News,
James W. Moseley and the Congress of Scientific Ufologists.

Some changes to the final programming were made by the time of the event. Kenneth Arnold himself decided not to attend, as did Ray Palmer. Other guests were added to the roster, most notably actor Roy Thinnes, star of the hit ABC television series, The Invaders, a show about a crusading flying saucer witness.

Donald Keyhoe and his National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon, disapproved of the convention including Contactees, and NICAP published an article in their journal, The UFO Investigator, before the event, condemning it.
The UFO Investigator, May-June 1967 (PDF)
Despite the condemnation from NICAP, the convention went on to be a hit, reportedly the largest indoor UFO convention at the time.
John Keel, lecturing to a packed house.
NICAP did get in a word after the show, though in the forma of a newspaper article by the director of their Connecticut faction.
George W. Earley (circa 2007)
George W. Earley at the time was president of NICAP-CONN, the Connecticut Affiliate of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon, and employed as Aerospace Administrative Engineer at United Aircraft. He wrote an unfavorable review of the NYC saucer convention for the Hartford Courant, July 9, 1967:

"Hippies, Old Ladies, Over 30 Types Orbit in Flying Saucer Circles."

Hartford Courant, July 9, 1967

When James Moseley, congress chairman and publisher of "Saucer News," opened the Saturday session, a surprise guest was discovered in the audience Dr. Edward U. Condon.

A hard-nosed approach to saucer spotting was taken by James Randi, a radio - television personality who has been a UFO buff for many years. The amateur astronomer snapped: "I'm getting damned tired of sitting on a cold car bumper at 4 a.m. waiting for Venus to rise so some fool can tell me it is a flying saucer."
"You people," he said "have got to stop believing everything you are told. There are liars and frauds among us right now, but in among all the trash and nonsense perpetrated in the name of ufology, I think there is a small grain of truth."

The Fall 1967 issue of Moseley's Saucer News carried photographs from the convention, may of them contributed by George W. Earley himself.

For more on the historic 1967 convention, see the article by Rick Hilberg,
"Jim Moseley's Giant UFO Show" at


Saucer News NYC Convention Memories a photo essay by Karl Machtanz

Friday, June 15, 2018

Captured UFOs and Building Hangar 18: A Chronology

Captured Saucers in Hangars and Related Tales

The Saucers That Time Forgot series on Robert Spencer Carr and the revived UFO crash stories stemmed out of an investigation into when the name “Hangar 18” was first used. The first known published mention of Hangar 18 we located was in the news story reporting Robert S. Carr’s university debate about the reality of extraterrestrials visitations:
The Tampa Tribune Jan. 16, 1974: “Does USAF have UFOs?” by Frank Bentayou: “One of the best-kept secrets of the United States Government is that in Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, there are two flying saucers of unknown origin, a University of South Florida instructor said yesterday.”
If Carr wasn’t the first to name it, he is certainly responsible for making the name Hangar 18 famous. However, the notion that the US government had captured flying saucers goes much further back. Here are some of the most notable early claims of retrieved UFOs, especially those said to be hidden in an Air Force hangar.

1947: Fakes, Foil from Roswell, Slag from Maury Island and Beyond

Sampling of crashed saucers covered in previous STTF articles.

Within weeks, maybe days, of Kenneth Arnold’s famous sighting, jokers and hoaxers got started producing fake flying saucers. Reports also came in from Roswell and elsewhere of balloon-launched rawin targets mistaken for flying saucers, with the fakes and mistakes often got more coverage than genuine sightings. Some of the stories talked about the discs being captured or turned over to authorities, and that fueled rumors that an actual flying saucer was in the hands of the military.

1949 - 1950
The January 8, 1950, edition of the Atchison, Kansas Daily Globe, reprinted the Dec. 31, 1949 Amarillo Globe-News page one story by editor Wes Izzard, an anonymously sourced account of the Silas Newton Aztec crashed saucer story:
“... the government has collected several flying saucers and are analyzing them at a secret base in California. This base is not far from Los Angeles.”

January 11, 1950: Variety, “Air Force Asked Twenty Questions” by Frank Scully: 
4. Did the Air Force ever make public what the "Explosives," looking like a dismantled flying saucer, were, which they transported in army trucks from a western research base to Dayton, Ohio?
In Behind the Flying Saucers, Scully has a scene where he and Silas Newton meet with Dr. Gee for an interview.
Newton asked, "Where is the little ship?""We have that one in the laboratories at the present time," replied Dr. Gee. "As soon as I get your appointment through I will be authorized to let you inspect it."In time Newton's appointment came through, but by then the ship had been dismantled and reported shipped to Dayton, and all comment thereafter proscribed, denied, or ignored. (Dayton was referring to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.)
In the section summarizing saucer news stories, Scully mentions his own ‘Twenty Questions,” and comes closest to the Wright Field/Hangar 18 legend:
“Queries indicate that flying saucers were dismantled in New Mexico and Arizona and shipped back to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio and never heard of since.”

Civilian Saucer Investigation's Ed Sullivan, "To the Man with the Pickle Jar." 
“CSI has received hundreds of letters from people seeking the facts behind reports of crashed flying saucers, unknown metals which defy laboratory analysis, mysterious top-level rendezvous in the Australian Bush, and the little man from outer space preserved in a pickle jar... a captured saucer being held under wraps at March Field, as rumor has it.”
Sullivan went on to say that the stories are not backed by any evidence:
“In answer, let us say that we do not believe that any facts are in anyone's possession to support such claims... If there were one single iota of fact, certainly someone, somewhere, would be willing to bring it out into the open.”


Silas Newton had been attending early flying saucer conferences, but at the end of 1953 was facing conviction for fraud for oil swindling, selling phony oil-detection devices he claimed used technology from crashed flying saucers. James Moseley interviewed Newton on Dec. 29, 1953. 
“Newton told me that there are two hangars at White Sands at which captured flying saucers are kept. About 15 or 16 saucers are now in government hands. Ordinarily, saucers float toward the earth... saucers contain a mechanism so... it comes gently to rest... The reason some saucers have crashed is that something goes wrong with this mechanism.”
James W. Moseley: Unpublished manuscript

Bill Nash and the Wright Field Story

There was a story circulating among UFO researchers that there was a captured flying similar to what Scully had said, held in secret by the Air Force at “Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio.” Pan American World Airways pilot, Bill Nash became heavily involved in the flying saucer discussion after his own encounter of July 14, 1952, known as the Nash-Fortenberry UFO sighting. He frequently mentioned the "Wright Field Story” in his correspondence, and it later played into him making a sensational claim during a lecture.

In his Oct. 19, 1953 letter to Maj. Donald Keyhoe, Nash  discussed two rumors from an anonymous source involving captured discs. While appearing on a WJZ television program in the fall of 1952 to discuss UFOs:
Before the program, some tall man… took me down the TV hall…He said that the reason that the saucers were over Wash. in droves in July was because the Air Force had operated a radio found in a cracked up saucer.  That the "Wright Field Story” was true - The Air Force had several saucers. 
(More on Bill Nash and Wright Field in 1954.)


In their final issue, the organization wanted to leave readers with a summary of what their research had determined. Regarding landed or crashed UFOs:
There is no factual evidence to support any claim that a "flying saucer" has ever landed or set down on the ground, even momentarily. (After discussing a It is also easy to understand how a tall tale recounted in a friendly circle can spread until it is accepted as authentic "flying saucer" lore. During the past two years we have followed such a story of a “captured flying saucer” from March Field, where it was kept under a tarpaulin, progressively through three southern California aircraft plants. This is the one made of the transparent metal, which cannot be machined with a diamond fly-cutter. At last report it had been loaded on a truck at the Hughes Aircraft Company plant and was headed for some unknown destination."
Another good quote from the opening:
People want to know what the UAOs are, and where they come from. They aren’t particularly concerned whether the objects are finally proved to be natural phenomena or whether they may be coming from another planet. Just as long as brass curtains cut off from the public the findings of the various governmental investigations, and no other qualified agency is available to give part of the answers, these same people will continue to accept the irresponsible statements of those who would have us believe that the "little men" have landed, or that there is a Venusian living in Pasadena.

Bill Nash again. 
Filling in for his friend, Norman Bean, Bill Nash gave a lecture on flying saucers in March for the Greater Miami Aviation Association. At the end he was asked why he thought the Air force was keeping secrets about saucers. In his answer, Nash gave his opinion based on some rumors he heard, saying he was convinced that the "the Air Force has collected hardware from outer space." There was a reporter in the audience and Nash’s speculative remark became headline news.

The Day, New London, Conn. Mar 23, 1954 
WASHINGTON, March 23 (AP)--A spokesman today termed without basis as assertion that the Air Force has recovered hunks of 'flying saucers' and just isn't telling the public about them... Bill Nash, a Pan American World Airways pilot, told the Greater Miami Aviation association recently he was convinced that 'the air force has collected hardware from outer space. I do not believe the air force cares to make all its findings public so long as the United States is threatened by unfriendly powers,' Nash said.”
In exchanges from the same period with Capt. Joe Hull of Capital Airlines (author of the Airline Pilot magazine article, "The Obituary of the Flying Saucers"), Nash tried to persuade Hull of UFO reality. In his letter of April 18, 1954,  he went deeper into the rumors that ultimately formed the Hangar 18 legend.
He told Hull about this Miami lecture that started the “hardware” controversy, and repeated the WJZ story he told Keyhoe about meeting the mysterious man with saucer secrets.Nash reports how his friend Norman Bean had been told by an AF major that there was “a saucer at Wright Field,” but he couldn’t be quoted. He said Bean also had several reports from “GI’s who saw the thing on a flat-car, but this is a vague one.”Nash goes on to tell about hearing (what he considered to be a deathbed confession) the “Wright Field Story," how “a flying saucer had been found after landing… and the thing had been brought to Wright Field.”

The Wright Field Story by James W. Moseley

The rumors Bill Nash had heard about a captured saucer were widely circulated and reached Jim Moseley, publisher of Saucer News (then called Nexus). From April to May 1954, Jim heard the story and tape recording from Gene Wolfer, about a woman from the Army who was sick with cancer, and through detective work, Moseley tracked down the source to interview her.

She was Vivian Walton, not a WAC, but a former civilian employee of the Signal Corps of Army at Columbus, Ohio. She said that in 1952, a landed (unmanned) saucer was taken through Columbus Army Supply Depot where it where it was photographed before being taken to Wright Field. Moseley checked with the photographer she reluctantly named, who described Walton as “a night girl on the teletype,” without access to secret materials, and was unable to confirm any portion of her saucer story. She’d seemed sincere, but also discussed details like little bodies and the saucer’s magnetic propulsion that couldn’t have come from the experience she described. In Vivian Walton’s library, Moseley spotted a familiar volume, Behind the Flying Saucers.
“It is perhaps significant that the only saucer book that the Walton’s have is Scully’s.”
Moseley’s report on his investigation sensationalized it a bit, emphasizing the ambiguity between the claims versus the denials. It was published in the Sept. 1954 in Nexus as “The Wright Field Story, or Who's Lying?” 

In 1971, the story was expanded into non-fiction book ghost written by Gray Barker,  The Wright Field Story, with some added Saucerian flair and drama. There was no mention of a “Hangar 18” in the story or book until it was reprinted in 1992 with some sensational (not in a good way) new material by Timothy Green Beckley.

Hangar 27?
Valor (The Magazine of Soulcraft), October 9, 1954
Desmond Leslie was the co-author with George Adamski of Flying Saucers Have Landed. When interviewed by George Hunt Williamson for Valor, Leslie said he’d investigated the story of a landed flying saucer held at a California Air Force base. An anonymous witness, "an Air Force man" told him that "President Eisenhower had a 'look-see' at the craft during his Palm Springs vacation." The "rumored saucer at Muroc was actually there," under guard, "in hangar 27." 

The Flying Saucer Council of America' magazine, The Vimana  March 15, 1955, published a story, “Mexican Saucer Landing of 1949 Appears Verifiable... from Three Different Sources” Two versions of the Silas Newton story are given as corroboration, then a 2nd-hand story from an anonymous man’s son: “his son revealed to him, when he was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air base... a huge-semi-truck came into the Air Base, with heavily canopied material jutting out, of immense size... it was shortly driven to a far hangar (was it No. 27? ) where no windows or accessible doors could be discerned.” Frank Scully related either this or a near episode in his ‘Behind the Flying Saucers’ and George Adamski certifies that the above incident is more than likely factual...”

May 23, 1955: Gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen sent an INS wire that "the scientific and aeronautic authorities of Great Britain, after having examined the remains of a mysterious airship… have come to the conclusion that these strange flying objects do not represent optical illusions, nor are they Soviet inventions, but that we have to deal with objects that really fly and that originate from some other planet." It’s believed that she was reporting on the hoax of a flying saucer crash in Spitzbergen, Norway. For a detailed examination of this episode, see Patrick Gross’ page, UFOs at close sight.

Flying Saucer News-Service Research Bulletin Oct 20, 1955 relates a far less specific rumor. Not only was the hangar unnumbered, the name of the base wasn't disclosed, just that the saucer was "being housed in a hangar near the northeast sector" at an “eastern air base.” The Bulletin was published in Ohio, so they weren’t describing Dayton’s Wright Field.


Barry Goldwater was supposedly denied entry to see the saucer secrets at Wright Patterson AFB. The name Hangar 18 or Blue Room seems to have been retroactively attached to this tale in later accounts, not used in describing it originally. The earliest version of this story we were able to locate was in 1974, connected with the news of Robert Spencer Carr’s Aztec revival.
Carr contends that Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) had tried to see UFO material at Wright-Patterson during a visit to the base. Radio station WBSR, Pensacola, reached Goldwater's Phoenix office, where a spokesman said that in 1964. when Goldwater was at the base for a ceremony, he asked to enter a building that he heard contained UFO material. The spokesman said Goldwater was told no one was allowed into the building.
AP story printed in The Circleville Herald, Oct 12 1974 


"Little Men" 
... again

Interplanetary Intelligence Report Vol. 1, No. 4, Nov. 1965, was published by Hayden C. Hewes. It featured a picture of the infamous German 1950 April Fool's Day "Man from Mars" on page 18.  

The photo is described as one of the "little men" from the Aztec, NM crash, the debris from which they say was trucked to Wright-Patterson AFB. 

The text is all recycled material from Frank Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers, just accompanied by a hoaxed picture the book inspired.

(Note: Found in Project Blue Book, erroneously connected to the Atlanta shaved monkey hoax file.)

John Fuller, Incident At Exeter
Fuller repeated a rumor that helped get the juices flowing again.
There have been, I learned, after I started the research, frequent and continual rumors (and they are only rumors) that in a morgue at Wright-Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio, lie the bodies of a half dozen or so small humanoid corpses, measuring not more than four and a half feet in height, evidence of one of the few times an extraterrestrial spaceship has allowed itself either to fail or otherwise fall into the clutches of the semicivilized Earth people.

The rumors continued to circulate, resurface and multiply over the years, but few took them seriously until Robert Spencer Carr relaunched the Aztec story in 1974 with his Hangar 18 story. 
. . .

The Blue Room at Wright-Patterson?
The Blue Room, a 1920 novel by Cosmo Hamilton

There’s also supposed to be a mysterious “Blue Room” at Wright-Patterson where they hide the UFO secrets, or maybe that’s another name for Hangar 18. Like with the Hangar 18 term, it’s hard to pinpoint its origin. Maybe it started as a verbal gaffe by John R. Blandford, chief counsel for the House Armed Services Committee?

The Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown appeared before the House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Washington, D.C., March 31, 1966. After discussing other topics, the chairman turned to the upcoming “Unidentified Flying Objects Hearing by Committee on Armed Services” to be held on April 5, 1966, an inquiry requested by Michigan Representative Gerald Ford. 

Brown answered a few questions in preparation for the inquiry:

Secretary Brown: We have an investigation going. Of course we have been doing this since 1948, you know, Mr. Chairman, and in 1965, for example, we investigated almost 900 reports. We will put out a written report which the committee can use to answer these questions.Whether we will ever satisfy all the people who have seen or think they have seen unidentified flying objects, I doubt. But I think we should try to at least satisfy the committee and the Congress.  
The Chairman: Yes, sir.  
Mr. Blandford: May I suggest to have the officer in charge of this program, at Wright Patterson, here Tuesday morning to indicate that we did have the people who had it — what do they call it, the blue room ? 
Secretary Brown: Blue Book.  
Mr. Blandford: Have that individual here so it can appear in the record.

"Blue Room" was a familiar name, from restaurants to books and movies. Blandford may not have been the first person to say it instead of Blue Book.

United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee No. 3,, . (1966). Hearings on military posture and H.R. 13456 to authorize appropriations during the fiscal year 1967 for procurement of aircraft, missiles, naval vessels, and tracked combat vehicles, and research, development, test, and evaluation for the Armed Forces, and to maintain parity between military and civilian pay, and for other purposes: before the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, Eighty-ninth Congress, 2nd session. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. (1966)

. . .


Thanks and acknowledgements to those who provided support, materials, and background detail for this project.

Claude Falkstrom, my co-author, for his work in digging deeper and finding the stories behind the stories, particularly in the case of Lawrence Brill.

Martin Kottmeyer for reference materials from his own Hangar Minus One.

Isaac Koi, for his dedication to the preservation of UFO literature, which helped greatly in the research of this project.

Also, thanks to those who provided other details, materials and verification:
Lance Moody, Brad Sparks, Roger Glassel, Robert Sheaffer, and Rich Hoffman.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

UFO and Alien Movies: It Came from Hangar 18

Epilogue: The Hollywood Legacy, Hangar 18 to Close Encounters and Back Again

Robert Spencer Carr’s resurrection of the Aztec legend paved the way for Leonard Stringfield’s UFO crash/retrieval studies, and the revival of Roswell by Stanton Friedman, William Moore and Charles Berlitz. Carr’s crash story was part of the UFO revival that led to a boom in space-based science fiction movies such as Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and also was exploited in the movie Hangar 18 which was based on the Aztec legend itself.

UFO Crashes and The Movies
The first saucer crash movie was based on John W. Campbell, Jr’s story “Who Goes There” from Astounding Science Fiction, August 1938. It was adapted into the 1951 movie The Thing from Another World where the spaceship in the story became a flying saucer for the film. The Thing, in the first half, has a few similarities to the premise of Frank Scully’s book, Behind the Flying Saucers; the military’s attempt to recover a crashed flying saucer from a remote location, the retrieval of an alien body from it for scientific examination, and the premise that there’s a UFO cover-up. Like Scully’s book, the film also gets in a few jabs at the Government’s denials of flying saucers.

The Aztec story doesn’t provide the kind of exciting storytelling opportunities that Hollywood likes, though. It starts off dramatically, but essentially, it’s the story of entering a tomb, so the movies focused on the UFO stories with live aliens. One notable exception was The Bamboo Saucer was a 1968 film but based on a script from the 50s. It’s a Cold War parable about two teams from the US and Russia fighting for possession of a flying saucer that landed in China. The crew died off-camera and were cremated by locals before the action begins, so we never see the aliens, just the technological wonder of their saucer. There’s no Hangar 18 in sight, but the story has some Aztec in its DNA.

The 1968 novel, The Fortec Conspiracy by Richard M. Garvin and Edmond G. Addeo featured a plot that had many similarities to the Aztec legend. Bodies from a flying saucer crash were hidden in a laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Unlike Carr’s version, in the book, the alien bodies weren’t frozen, but pickled in glass tubes. Carr claimed not to have read the book, but said it was based on a true story. He was a Hollywood veteran, and may have kept up with the industry news to know of the development of the novel as a motion picture.

Daily Independent Journal (San Rafael, CA) December 27, 1973
Richard M. Garvin of Mill Valley, an advertising agency executive, will have his novel “The Fortec Conspiracy,” made into a major motion picture. Both he and his collaborator, Ed Addeo of Mill Valley, will be given bit parts in the film. Garvin’s novel, a science fiction work dealing with UFO’s, was published in 1968 and has sold a quarter million copies in paperback. It will be filmed by Cine Arts Studios in Hollywood and released through 20th Century Fox. Garvin is a vice president at Richardson Seigle Rolfs & McCoy Inc. advertising firm in San Francisco.

The news was also reported Publishers Weekly and in science fiction magazines such as the Monster Times and Luna Monthly #349, Autumn 1973, which also said, “Top actors selected for the lead parts include one of the of the major names from Star Trek.” Fascinating, but like many optioned film projects, The Fortec Conspiracy died in development without ever being made, but it was just one of many saucer movie projects gestating.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The renewed interest in UFOs started by the 1973 Pascagoula abduction case led to the Flying Saucer Symposium, which gave Carr the platform to thrill the public with a sensational UFO cover-up story. The energy spilled over to reinvigorate the entertainment industry’s interest in flying saucers, and provide Steven Spielberg the chance to fulfill a dream.

As a teenager in 1964, Steven Spielberg had made a full-length amateur science fiction film about UFOs, Firelight. As a professional director he returned to the topic in the early 1970s when he had enough clout to begin choosing his own projects.

“Before he started filming Jaws, Spielberg had signed a development deal for something called Watch the Skies (the closing words from The Thing from Another World, 1951), based on a short story he wrote in 1970 called “Experiences.” In the summer of 1973, producer Michael Phillips (The Sting) started talking about science fiction films with Spielberg, and it was Phillips and his wife Julia who set up the deal with David Begelman at Columbia Pictures. Paul Schrader was hired to write the script in December 1973.”
America's Film Legacy by Daniel Eagan (2009)

However, production complications led Spielberg to choose to direct Jaws before Close Encounters of the Third Kind, chiefly because his “UFOs and Watergate” concept had yet to be developed into a finished story. In an interview in the July 1982, Esquire magazine, Paul Schrader discussed working on the screenplay for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “I was the first of a series of writers. Steve was the last. When I was first approached, Steve had in mind to do a Watergate-like expose of a government cover-up of the fact that flying saucers existed.”

1973 was the year Maj. Donald Keyhoe’s book, Aliens from Space was published, the book that climaxed with Robert Spencer Carr’s plan for initiating a close encounter. Steven Spielberg and his team were aware of the current UFO literature, and influenced by recent events which would have included the headline news that Robert Carr was making in 1974. Carr talked about the UFO situation as being “Saucergate,” and the finale of Close Encounters appears to be the Hollywood version of Carr’s Operation Lure concept.

In Paul Schrader’s first version of the CE3K script, the protagonist, Paul VanOwen, discusses an idea to contact UFO occupants:

“Well look, we haven’t had any success trying to communicate. We beam radio signals, math problems, tonal scales; no response… Well, we’ll have to entice them to come to us. Stop chasing them. Lure them close enough so we can observe and decipher.”

With this idea, “Project Entice” was initiated, a decoy saucer and lighted panels are built at a remote location to lure UFOs into contact. Schrader’s story was scrapped in favor of a new script, but the concept of Project Entice was reworked, incorporated into the climactic scene in the final film.

In a July 23, 1976 interview with The Clearwater Sun, Carr once again described his vision for Operation Lure:
“I believe we should build a safe landing zone on the highest mesa... and assure the aliens it is not an ambush. I feel confident they would land. I’d like nothing more than to see... intelligent conversation, with the immensely wise little beings that pilot flying saucers.”

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released in December 1977. There’s no public record of what Bob Carr thought of the Spielberg movie, but he must have loved it. Carr’s Operation Lure dream come true, at least in theatres, peaceful contact with "our friends from space.”

Contracts with Ufologists

In 1977, two film companies, Sunn Classic Pictures  and Scotia American Productions, were researching projects for documentaries based on the UFO crash story. An article in the newsletter of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) by editor by Todd Zechel showed how Hollywood seemed to be having an influence on UFO research:
Just Cause, April 1978 Vol. 1, No. 1 “Nuts and Bolts Making a Comeback”Despite the steady drift toward (and off) “The Edge of Reality,” physical evidence cases have been making a strong bid for the spotlight of late. Just as everyone was concluding crashed saucers were as much an anachronism as Venusian scoutcraft, suddenly Scully-like stories have reared their nasty heads. Apparently, motion picture companies such as Sunn Classics and a lot of loose dollars have encouraged a revival of “Wright Field" rumors.

The Scotia American Productions film was to have been Skywatch. A piece of art promoting it appeared in the May 1978, UK magazine Starburst.

T. Scott Crain wrote a letter to the Jan. 1981, MUFON Journal about his research contribution to the motion picture industry’s saucer efforts:

Back in March 1977, the production managers of Sunn Classic Pictures contacted a number of selected UFO researchers around the country to do research on various UFO related topics, mainly where, if it exists, is the military holding UFO hardware, and who has the inside facts about what has been going on. UFO researcher Leonard Stringfield, I, and several others were asked to sign a contract to do exclusive research on those questions for Sunn so they could produce a nonfiction film based on the facts showing how the military has captured a UFO and kept this information from the public.

Richard Hall (editor of the MUFON Journal) replied with further details:

Sunn Classics also contacted me, Walt Andrus, Larry Bryant, and others at various stages of researching a UFO movie. Originally it was to be a general documentary. At that stage, I signed a contract and provided material on a number of CE-II cases. Gradually, Sunn Classics saw "sensation" value in the "crashed saucer" stories and focused on them. Meanwhile, Scotia American Productions, New York, was working on a rival documentary (with Todd Zechel as research director). I did considerable research in the National Archives for Scotia. Later, Scotia also began seeking "sensation," and Sunn Classics negotiated with them to take over the film altogether. I do not know the exact deal that was struck, but do know that Scotia acquired the Sunn Classics research files. The Scotia film, also tending toward fiction last I knew, never was completed.

Hangar 18: The Motion Picture

The product that emerged from the documentary research was instead a fictional film, Hangar 18. However, it was advertised as an exposé of a true story, and the film opened with the statement:

“In spite of official denials, rumors have continued to surface about what the government has been concealing from the American public at a secret Air Force hangar. But now, with the help of a few brave eyewitnesses who have stepped forward to share their knowledge of these events, the story can finally be told.”

The Cover-up Classic Ingredients:
Crashed UFO, Space Hieroglyphics,
ET Bodies, and an Alien Autopsy 
Hangar 18 updates the Aztec story to the present day of 1980, with a US Space Shuttle launch of a satellite colliding with a UFO, causing it to crash. The news is too hot to release, but in the movie, it is because the turbulence might derail the re-election of the US president, so it’s covered up. The flying saucer is recovered in secret, and taken to Hangar 18 (in the southwest, not at Wright-Patterson) where they open it to find the alien bodies - there’s even an alien autopsy. The aliens are full sized, but like Carr’s little men, these aliens share our DNA. They are ancient aliens, our ancestors.

In the end credits:
“The producers wish to express their appreciation to the following persons and organizations: Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, The Center for UFO Research, Ground Saucer Watch, NASA, Rockwell International, City of Big Spring, Texas.”

Like with Close Encounters, Robert Spencer Carr’s story lives in Hangar 18, but only the darker portions of it. The movie was awful, but was financially successful… and had a huge advertising campaign, so almost all consumers were aware of the premise of the film:

“The government is concealing a UFO and the bodies of alien astronauts. Why won't they tell us?”
Where Credit Is Due

The most powerful legacy of Robert Spencer Carr is in the Roswell UFO crash story, which millions saw depicted on NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries presentation of September 20, 1989, “Legend: Roswell Crash.” The story was later dramatized for the first time as a Showtime TV movie Roswell on July 31, 1994. Another notable TV production was the 1995 Roswell “Alien Autopsy” film, a hoax with roots that reach back to the stir caused by Carr’s 1974 radio interview.

As Seen on TV.
Much of Carr’s early success came in his motion picture writing, but since most of it was behind the scenes as a researcher, he felt he did not receive enough recognition or credit for his work. His UFO concepts of Project Lure, Hangar 18, and the UFO crash cover-up were the foundation for countless television and movie projects. Sadly, none of them give Robert Spencer Carr a word of credit.

Just as the Aztec and Hangar 18 legends were endlessly are told and copied in ufology, once they were assimilated into Hollywood, the same thing happened with the celluloid versions. Storytellers may die, but the tales live on.

The Professor's Message from Space

In 1952, UFO reports seemed to indicate an impending invasion by monstrous aliens: June 1952: News of Oskar Linke’s 1950 sighting of a lande...