Monday, June 4, 2018

The Day After Saucergate

Robert S. Carr said the US government secrecy about UFOs was
"a cover-up that makes Watergate look like a trivial neighborhood incident.”
-The Tampa Tribune, Oct. 16, 1974

After Carr’s UFO Crash Disclosure

At the 1974 Flying Saucer Symposium in Tampa, Robert Spencer Carr disclosed that the CIA led the US government cover-up of two crashed flying saucers and the bodies within, hiding them at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Hangar 18. The subsequent exposure of Carr’s tale as a recycled old hoax did not receive anywhere near the publicity of the original news.

Professor Marvel

While he was often called “Dr. Carr,” or “Professor,” it was humbug. He held no Ph.D, no degree, and had not attended college. Some people hearing his UFO story probably thought Carr held a doctorate in a scientific discipline, but no. Bob Carr’s academic background was limited to him being a former creative writing instructor at the University of Southern Florida. Carr’s first job was an author of fiction; he was an experience professional writer, and those skills, along with his talent as an orator won him the job as a university lecturer. Carr was a master storyteller.

In interviews Carr was questioned about his sources, and he admitted that he had not personally witnessed the UFO, but said he had trusted sources whose identity must be protected; a high ranking Air Force officer, a Wright-Patterson security guard, and a biologist. Carr was a writer and a master storyteller, and it’s as if he created characters who each had a role to play, a job in moving the plot of the story along. The officer transported the bodies by plane, the biologist provided Carr with details of the scientific analysis of the alien body, the security guard protected the saucer itself and the bodies. The guard supposedly had even secretly photographed the bodies, and his sister was in the process of selling the pictures (suggesting that they’d be published soon). At some point after the lecture, Carr introduced a new character, a nurse who had participated in the alien autopsy. Still later, two Air Force men who had study the technology behind the saucer’s propulsion were added. Any holes in the story were not Carr’s fault. He could only dutifully share what the witnesses told him.

Another fantastic Professor.
Scully’s story was a bit flat in regards to plot and characters; he had only a few main players, himself, Silas Newton, Dr. Gee and some unnamed scientists. All the drama in the Scully tale came from the novelty of the saucer and the bodies. Carr made the story come alive with verisimilitude, and made the audience connect emotionally with the story. There was a lot to feel, too, from the tragic loss of the saucer’s noble crewmen to the injustice of the cover-up, and the prospect of a happy ending, the hope of what open alien contact could bring.

Post-Disclosure Reactions

As the news of Carr’s story continued to circulate, there were some who championed the story as the truth, while others attempted a rational examination of the evidence.
There was some accurate reporting:

Lebanon Daily News (PN) November 11, 1974
“UFO Crash Of 1940s Is Drawing Local Interest” by Curtis K. Sutherly, .

There was some sensational reporting:

The National Tattler Jan. 5, 1975,
“U.S. Air Force Hiding Bodies Of 12 Men From Outer Space”

The major UFO groups responded to the Carr controversy. Unfavorably.

MUFON Journal (Skylook) Dec. 1974
“Frozen bodies from saucer a l950's hoax”
Through the dubious efforts of a retired University of Southern Florida instructor, the old, old undocumented and discredited story of a crashed UFO, the finding of 12 bodies, and the "deep-freezing'' of those ; bodies by the Air Force has been publicized again. Robert Carr, who apparently was attempting to generate interest in a symposium Nov. 1-3 in Tampa, Fla., told the story on radio talk shows in California and Florida... A quick check of responsible UFO groups indicates that not one takes the case seriously, despite the fact that Carr has publicly claimed a longtime affiliation with NICAP.

“Hidden Body Rumor Back Again”
Many readers of the UFO Investigator may have heard from the news media that Robert S. Carr, a retired associate professor, was going to make a very “dramatic” announcement... We feel an obligation to our members to inform them of the discrepancies and Robert Carr’ statements and most of all to make it now and that they are simply hearsay and not substantiated with any valid information.

“Little Frozen Aliens”
During the last part of October and early November, a story was circulated, first by UPI, then by many (about 200) radio stations subscribing to the Zodiac News Service to the effect that a dozen bodies of small aliens from space were being kept in a deep frozen condition at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base… Like the Aurora, Texas Spaceman Hoax, it seems to be just another wild tale dug up for another round of unsubstantiated sensationalism… those who recirculate these tales either have not done their homework or do not care. It's this sort of irresponsible hoaxsterism that casts a shadow on serious objective research.

In the mainstream press, United Features Syndicate newspaper columnist, John D. Lofton, Jr., interviewed Carr in early 1975. Carr stuck by his story, steadfastly refusing to name his eyewitnesses. From The Yuma Daily Sun February 12, 1975, “Now the CIA’s Even Accused Of Hiding Little Green Men.”

United Features Syndicate newspaper columnist, John D. Lofton, Jr., interviewed Carr in early 1975. Carr stuck by his story, steadfastly refusing to name his eyewitnesses. From The Yuma Daily Sun February 12, 1975, “Now the CIA’s Even Accused Of Hiding Little Green Men.”
...Carr says it is "the worst kept secret in America.” He says “at least 500 highly placed people in the medical profession, the academic world, and the intelligence community have examined the humanoids and the craft they arrived in.” ...he would not betray his sources, that he would not “finger’ these individuals who he praised as “people of vision and courage.” He said if I were “acquainted in these circles it would be common cocktail party talk.” Besides, he said, it’s coming out “bit by bit.”
The CIA took notice of Carr mentioning them, and the Philadelphia Inquirer version of the article is in the CIA files:

The press continued to be interested in Carr’s story, and he was still in business with Lawrence Brill, who served as his manager, booking his many lectures at college campuses. In the interviews and lectures that followed, Carr was asked to tell the story again and again. The basic tale stayed the same, but sometimes new characters surfaced, such as a nurse who had participated in the alien autopsy.
Official UFO magazine, Oct. 1975
Mike McClellan wrote the article,The Flying Saucer Crash of 1948 was a hoax” for  Official UFO magazine, Oct. 1975. He had interviewed Carr, and recapped the Aztec story and its debunking in 1952 by J. P. Cahn for True magazine. McClellan also interviewed residents of Aztec, but the few who had heard of the saucer crash story remembered it as a joke. McClellan had this to say about Carr in the aftermath of the publicity:

He abhors the “lurid sensationalism – the vulgar sensationalism” that the media has afforded him. Yet, he is lecturing frequently at Florida universities and has appeared, according to his own statistics, on 144 radio shows, 33 television appearances, and 50 newspaper interviews; in addition to a well-attended symposium he recently held in Florida. His new book on UFOs is near completion and is forthcoming. He employs an agent to book his lectures.
(Reprinted in 2005, with annotations by Matt Graeber.)

Carr responded to the article, revising his claims, as seen in this clipping from The UFO Verdict: Examining the Evidence by Robert Sheaffer.

When Carr was challenged, he changed the beginning and end of his story, but not the middle, saying he might have been wrong about where the saucer crashed, and where the wreckage was stored, but of the crash, the cover-up - that part was right.

Whether or not anyone believed Carr, he'd relaunched the topic of flying saucer, crashes as this 1975 ad for the UFO Report radio show demonstrates.

Broadcasting, Nov 24, 1975

Getting the Truth Out There

With the coverage of Hangar 18 story, Carr’s reputation as a UFO expert was secure, and he began lecturing on the topic, most often at college campuses. The topic was “Our Friends From Outer Space,” once again pitching his plan for contacting aliens.

The pitch:
A review of the same event.
The Independent Florida Alligator, Jan 27, 1975

Carr’s lecture career may have been cut short by the death of his manager, Lawrence Brill in 1975, but his interest in UFOs and advocacy for Project Lure remained strong. By 1976, Carr was no longer touring, but the force within him was still strong, as seen in the interview his hometown paper, The Clearwater Sun July 23, 1976. Carr was interviewed about his thoughts on what NASA's Viking lander might find on Mars.
“UFO Expert: Viking Will Find Bugs, Other Life on Mars” by Tom Keyser

“It will find life, but only small forms… microbes or little bugs… It is inconceivable the saucers originate from Mars, unless there’s an underground civilization on Mars, which all serious students of outer space doubt. But I believe the space travelers use Mars as a stepping stone to other places just as were used islands in the Pacific is stepping stones to Japan in World War II.”

Carr said that the United States should develop a program of searching for alien life on Earth.

“It is indeed ironic that the finest minds in the scientific society or spending billions of dollars to travel to Mars looking for life when little men are getting out of flying saucers and walking right here on Florida real estate. I’m confident that the occupants of UFOs would respond intelligently if they were reassured we will cease the insane policy we’ve followed since 1952 of shooting at UFOs to kill.

I believe we should build a safe landing zone on the highest mesa in New Mexico, which is government land, and assure the aliens it is not an ambush. I feel confident they would land. I’d like nothing more than to see Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger sitting on a mountaintop at a card table with two or three little beings from outer space asking, ‘What do you want? What can we do for you?’ If we can achieve detente with the alien minds in the Kremlin, which I can promise you are stranger than any man from outer space, we wish we surely have the capability to achieve detente, intelligent conversation, with the immensely wise little beings that pilot flying saucers.”

In 1978, veteran UFO researcher Leonard Stringfield contacted Carr about the Aztec UFO crash story, and it was influential in refocusing Stringfield’s research around the crash/retrieval topic. Carr continued to be a Stringfield source as late as 1982, however, Carr apparently never said a word about Roswell, just repeated his story of the Aztec crash and claims of having witness testimony to the bodies and craft stored by the military.

The X-Files debuted on Fox, 1993, and its sinister UFO cover-up conspiracy closely resembled Carr’s tale of a “Saucergate,” with the government hiding the secrets of saucers, crashed or otherwise, from the American people. The show featured little of the hope that Carr showed in Operation Lure, however. Robert Spencer Carr died April 28, 1994, during the first season of The X-Files.
X-Files: The Erlenmeyer Flask

An Insider Speaks Out

Robert Carr's son, Timothy Spencer Carr wrote an article printed in The Skeptical Inquirer July 1, 1997, “Son of originator of 'Alien Autopsy' story casts doubt on father's credibility.”

To say he had a vivid imagination is an understatement. His imaginary world was more real to him than the real world. He often seemed unable—no, unwilling—to distinguish between fantasy and reality... spinning preposterous stories in front of company or complete strangers. Tales included finding a Lost Horizon— like Shangri-la in New Mexico, befriending a giant alligator in the Florida swamps, and sharing complex philosophical ideas with porpoises in the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn't the tall tales themselves that hurt so much but his ferocious insistence that they were true...But when it came to flying saucers, he finally found an audience that would believe anything he said, no matter how bizarre or unlikely.

He provides some further examples of Robert S. Carr’s fanciful tales, then...

In conclusion, I know with certainty that the myth/legend of the "Alien Autopsy" and UFO at Wright Patterson AFB is nothing but total fantasy, not based on even a scintilla of reality. I am so very sorry that my father's pathological prevarication has turned out to be the foundation on which such a monstrous mountain of falsehoods has been heaped.

Leaving a Legacy

The Hangar 18 tale was all baloney, but not much more than a tangent from the main thrust of Carr’s UFO lecture or message, sort of a parable to introduce his Operation Lure dream of initiating formal ET contact. Ultimately, Carr wanted something not so different from the Contactees, peace here on Earth and peaceful relations with our space brothers.

Part of the reason Carr’s story took hold was that it was so familiar, people wanted something like it to be true, and that it seemed to come from an authority figure, a university professor with official governments contacts and sources It also struck a chord with the public, capitalizing on their distrust of the government following the Vietnam war and Watergate scandal. A good story is seldom discarded in popular ufology. When discredited, the author may be cast aside, but the story or concepts that made it popular will live on.

. . .

For more on the life and careers of Robert Spencer Carr

For Carr’s film career, see his autobiographical letter in The Screen Writer Feb. 1946

“Robert Spencer Carr and the Pickled Aliens Hoax”
by Damon C. Sasser from REH: Two-Gun Raconteur (archived).

Joshua Blu Buhs’ review of Carr’s 1951 science fiction collection, Beyond Infinity:

“Robert Spencer Carr as a Fortean” by Joshua Blu Buhs’ From an Oblique Angle

The STTF collection of articles on Robert Spencer Carr from newspapers and magazines:
Robert Spencer Carr

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