Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Life and Legend of Otis T. Carr - Part 3: The Trial

 Continued from

The Life and Legend of Otis T. Carr, Part 2: Countdown to the Saucer Launch


The Trial of Otis T. Carr

The Oklahoma Securities Inquiry

In February 1959, C.E. Booth, chief securities investigator of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission regional office in Fort Worth, Texas, began a three-month investigation into OTC Enterprises. The investigation dug into activities across several states, and apparently Scott Berner, a reporter for WKY-TV in Oklahoma City caught wind of things and insisted the county attorney’s office prosecute Otis T. Carr for selling securities in the state without a license. Following the Frontier City fiasco, Oklahoma County attorney James W. Bill Berry revealed there was an investigation into securities violations by OTC Enterprises. The Daily Oklahoman, April 28, 1959, reported Berry would be delayed a week to allow Otis T. Carr’s attorney Hubert Gibson time to familiarize himself with the case. “Among those subpoenaed were Otis T. Carr, president of the firm; Norman Colton, publicist; Maj. [Wayne] Aho, 1400 N Drexel; Otto Hess, manager of Aircraftmen Inc., builder of the saucer; Charles O. Rhoades jr. reported seller of stock options; John A. Green, attorney for OTC, and James Burge, operator of Frontier City.”

Hubert Gibson advising Carr to take the 5th
WKY-TV News filmed the court hearing, and their YouTube channel hosts clips showing Carr, his attorney and OTC associates. WKY News: Monday, May4, 1959 

OTC associates, believed to be: Wayne S. Aho, Charles O. Rhoades Jr., Lari Kendrick, and Norman E. Colton.

The Daily Oklahoman, May 5, 1959, reported on Carr’s hearing. “Charles Gregory, assistant county attorney said the legal investigation was “primarily interested in the stock angle and not in the performance of the OTC-X1 (saucer).” Under questioning, "Carr invoked the fifth amendment when asked if OTC had issued a block of 21,000 shares to Jimmy Burge, Frontier City promoter. He also declined to state whether or not stock had been issued to Frank Buttram, oilman, or E. K. Gaylord, president of the Oklahoma Publishing Co." Wayne S. Aho, testified, but insisted he was not familiar with the finances of the company… He had no scientific experience but believed in Carr’s invention. “I’ve spent all of my time touring the country explaining the device. I have studied the principles of the outer space ship and know it will work.” Charles Rhoades Jr. identified himself as a test pilot for the OTC-X1, and testified he’d been selected to fly into outer space. As for the technology, “I know generally what will make it fly. There are a lot of things I don’t understand about it.” Rhoades admitted he’d never seen a Carr model fly. Lari Kendrick identified himself as the southwest representative of OTC Enterprises Inc., testifying, “I have no personal knowledge of the financial structure of the company. I know I have been getting some expense money.” When asked about his solvency, Carr said he had only $17.01 left in his bank account.

Oklahoma County Attorney James W. Bill Berry

WKY News: Tuesday, May 5, 1959“Footage of county attorney Bill Berry in an interview where he discusses the OTC Enterprises, Inc. investigation. Berry discusses OTC's technical violations of Oklahoma's security's law and the factors determining whether or not the state will file charges against Otis T. Carr.”

Bud Gosnell finally severed his ties and wrote Otis T. Carr a letter of resignation from OTC Enterprises, Inc. on May 11. At about the same time he sent his last letter to the SEC, which ended with the sentence, “These men have received and dissipated approximately three to four hundred thousand dollars and are, apparently, continuing to extract more money from the hard-headed, stupid and greedy investors, such as myself…” By that point, Gosnell had lost $10,000 investing in Carr.

The Daily Oklahoman, May 20, 1959

The United Press reported that Carr along with Norman Colton, Wayne Aho and Lari Kendrick, were charged with violating Oklahoma state securities regulations. The other three were not present, but Carr's attorney, Hubert Gibson, said Aho and Kendrick were still in Oklahoma and would surrender for their arraignment, but he said Colton was out of the state, "and we do not believe he will return." Carr entered a plea of not guilty and was released on $1,000 bond. The preliminary hearing for trial was set for June 12.

Miami Daily News-Record, May 20, 1959

Carr v. the SEC

While the Oklahoma case was looming, Carr still had to face the Securities and Exchange Commission. On May 28, the case was presented to Judge Ross Rizley, of the U.S. District Court. The SEC complaint charged that Otis T. Carr, Lari Kendrick (the Horizons Unlimited president) and Charles O. Rhoades had “engaged in practices in violation of the securities act of 1933...” and said since Nov. 18, 1955, Otis T. Carr had been selling securities, options and rights to purchase shares of OTC capital stock. SEC investigator C.E. Booth was able to document that Otis T. Carr had never registered to sell stock and estimated that OTC had raised at least $150,000 in Baltimore, then collected a total of $61,007 from more than 400 people between March 11, 1958 and February 7, 1959. They’d also used the U.S. mails to solicit the sale of stock.

The Daily Oklahoman, on May 29, 1959, revealed some of the most damning evidence against Carr in, “‘Flying Saucer’ Trio Is Ordered To Stop Sales” by Jim Reid. “C. E. Booth, Fort Worth, chief securities investigator of the SEC regional office… said an option receipt book confiscated from the company's Baltimore office shows that during the period March 11, 1958, to Feb. 7, 1959, more than 400 persons all over the country had paid a total of $61,007 to Carr for stock. Booth estimated that the OTC firm raised approximately $150,000 before coming to Oklahoma City… afterward, an additional sum of $34,997.38 was deposited at Liberty National Bank.”

During a prior questioning session with SEC investigators on May 12 and 13, Carr “took the fifth amendment 84 times... Aho took the fifth amendment eleven times...”

The Daily Oklahoman, on May 29, 1959

U.S, district Judge Rizley issued a temporary restraining order barring further sale of stock, and on the follow-up June 5, session, entered a permanent injunction halting OTC Enterprises, Inc. from selling stock. Otherwise, there was no penalty.

SEC News Digest, June 9, 1959


Back to Business

Meanwhile, Carr’s greatest success, the Frontier City saucer ride was completed and officially opened to the public. The Daily Oklahoman, June 7, 1959, story, “‘Saucer’ Takes Off.” reported, “The OTC-X1 spaceship ride, only one of its kind in the world went into operation this week at Frontier City.”

From the park’s literature: Space Ship OTC X-1

Passengers on the OTC X-1 will experience the fantastic sensation of a thrilling ride into space. Inventor Otis T. Carr, who plans to fly to the moon in a ship exactly like this one, explains to those aboard the “wheel within a wheel “principle that enables the ship to ride the earth’s magnetic waves. The OTC X-1 is firmly anchored so as to prevent its taking off into orbit unexpectedly.

The Daily Oklahoman, June 7, 1959

Tourist photo, circa 1960

On June 2, 1959, there was an event at the Penn-McKee Hotel in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, where Contactee author Dana Howard spoke to promote OTC Enterprises. FBI files state that the speaker “was unable to answer technical questions and that certain engineers who attended this meeting described the events which took place at this meeting as “electronic gobbledygook.” The

Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, June 11, 1959 ran a story on Carr’s operation that included reports of inquiries on it to the Better Business Bureau there and in Baltimore. It also included a description and photo of the OTC literature that they were selling from their office in the area.


Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, June 11, 1959

The Pennsylvania OTC group arranged another meeting two weeks later to present the technical details, but since Carr was busy with legal matters, Norman Colton took his place. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 19, 1959, reported that nearly 50 scientists and engineers from the area turned out. They were shown a color movie of what was described as a “structural prototype” of the spacecraft, the amusement park ride. Colton told the group that he was not a scientist, but a “professional communicator” and that he could not answer all their questions because some of the OTC technology details were “secret.”

Investor Eugene Carini of Connecticut still believed, so reported the Manchester Evening Herald, June 19, 1959. He asserted Carr’s ship would fly and the stock troubles had been cleared up. Carini was setting up his own business based on Carr's concepts, “developing a power on the ‘free energy principle’” for home and industrial use, opening a shop with a friend in Bridgeport.


Carr v. the State of Oklahoma

The SEC injunction was finished, but Carr still faced charges from the state of Oklahoma. The Daily Oklahoman, June 6, 1959, reported that “Carr and two of his associates, Wayne Aho, public information director, and Lari Kendrick, sales director, are charged with selling stock in the space ship without registering with the Oklahoma securities commission. Art Minick, investigator for the county attorney’s office once estimated that Carr and his associates had sold Oklahomans more than $50,000 worth of the stock at $1 a share. Carr declined to testify when arraigned on the charge and was released on a $1,000 bond. His attorney Hubert Gibson said his client would ‘talk at the proper time.’”

Despite the legal woes, in July 1959, Carr sent out a news release stating that he was proceeding with his plans, building the Space Research Institute in Oklahoma, and launching his flying saucer powered by “antigravitation.” Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the OTC staff shut down the former headquarters on N. Calvert Street, leaving stacks of bills unpaid. The few remains of OTC Enterprises were fragmented. The United Press story from Aug. 8, 1959, reported that Carr and associates would be arraigned in Oklahoma City on Aug. 14, but that “Norman Colton of Baltimore, was listed as a fugitive... a warrant issued for his arrest.” In court, nothing changed and Carr remained free on bond, his trial set for November.


Aho's Plea to NASA

On Aug. 17, 1959, Wayne Aho appealed to the US government. Using the (outdated) OTC Enterprises, Inc. letterhead, he sent a letter to Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, the chairman of the US Senate Committee on National Aeronautical and Space Administration. Aho informed him of the “heroic effort being made by Otis T. Carr,” and asked for NASA’s support of OTC-X1 research and development. He included a picture of the prototype as proof of their progress. Maybe Aho dreamt that with NASA backing, Carr’s legal problems would vanish, but that didn’t happen.


Coral Lorenzen in APRO Bulletin, July 1959, said, "Considering the dubious talents of the Carr crowd, it is quite likely that should they be convicted of a violation, a hue and cry will go up from their followers; ‘Persecution,’ ‘suppression,’ etc., etc., ad infinitum.” She was right. Art Minick, Oklahoma County investigator, told True, “I interviewed ten to fifteen people who had invested $10 to $1,000 in the scheme and they were a little indignant when I asked them why they invested. They said they would like to put more in." Gray Barker sympathetically updated the OTC saga in his column in Flying Saucers magazine, portraying Carr as a victim, asking, “was this only a part of the persecution which always seems to arise when a method of providing cheap power is discovered, or allegedly discovered?”


The OTC-XI Goes on the Road

AFSCA World Report, Sept. Oct. 1959

Legend has it that soon after the Frontier City fiasco, “a fire of unknown origin destroyed the OTC-X1,” but that’s not true. Carr attended the Second Northern California Spacecraft Convention, Sept. 5-6, 1959, in Pleasanton, CA, where he made the first public display of the OTC-X1 prototype. Carr claimed he hoped to fly it at the convention, if he could get “the remote control system perfected on time.” Despite the criminal charges, Carr was still welcomed at flying saucer conventions and continued to promote his spaceflight project alongside Wayne Aho. The Sept. 1959 Spacecrafter reported, “The show got off to a slow start Sunday, but the tempo increased as the day progressed with Orfeo Angelucci, Reinhold Schmidt and Otis Carr putting it in full swing with messages of spiritual and material progress.”

Oakland Tribune, Sept. 6, 1959: Rev. Marke A. Norman and Dan Fry of Understanding Inc.

 

The Oklahoma Conviction:

Carr’s one-day trial by jury in Oklahoma was presided over by District Judge Clarence M. Mills on Nov. 19, 1959. Although Carr had sold thousands of dollars’ worth of stock far and wide, he was tried for a single crime. “Specifically, Carr was charged with selling 100 shares of stock to Gurney G. Warnberg, Yukon, a professional pilot and railroader.” Warnberg identified Carr’s signature on a receipt and describe the stock transaction with Lari Kendrick, who said he had authority to issue this stock and to sign it. “I said well you don't mean anything to me, I want Mr. Carr's signature on there and Lari left Dolores Restaurant and went across the street to the motel and came back again in a few minutes with the signature of Mr. Carr on there and I recognized it as I had seen it before in connection with this flying saucer. I had seen some literature about it."

The State's key witness, Gurney Warnberg.

Carr’s attorney Hubert Gibson claimed Warnberg‘s $410 was only a loan that would allow him to subsequently purchase stock options. Gibson said Warnberg wouldn’t seek a refund “because he wasn’t quite sure whether Carr was a genius or a damn fool.” As for the source of OTC revenues, Carr testified that rather from stock sales, they came from sale of the model plans and the space ride. Under cross-examination, Carr admitted that under the contract, he wouldn’t profit from the ride until the saucer was flown at Frontier City, but assured the court that, “We will fly the X1.” After the case was presented, it took the jury less than forty minutes to agree on a guilty verdict.

Bill Barry, Otis Carr and Hubert Gibson from an earlier court hearing.

Somehow, Carr’s associates were spared. Norman E. Colton was lying low to avoid the law, and there is no record of a trial or settlement for Aho or Kendrick. The company bore Carr’s name, but Colton was just as responsible for making it all happen. The authorities got their conviction of the perceived ringleader, so Colton escaped justice.

As Carr and his attorney were leaving the courtroom, there was some violence from an angry OTC investor, but not towards Carr. Outraged at the “persecution,” Cleve Bordner struck Scott Berner, who was filming the scene for WKY-TV. Bordner was subsequently charged with assault and battery.

The Daily Oklahoman, Nov. 20, 1959

Carr faced the possibility of three years in prison, but instead received a fine of $5,000, which was the maximum amount allowed under Oklahoma law. Carr’s attorney filed an appeal to avoid the $5,000 fine, and Carr was released on a $1,000 bond. Hoping to find greener pastures, Carr and his wife quietly moved to California. In Apple Valley, he was closer to the support system of the west coast’s flying saucer community; Dan Fry’s Understanding, Inc, Gabe Green’s AFSCA, George Van Tassel’s Giant Rock, and the thriving Contactee convention scene. December 7th came and went without the long-promised Carr-Aho flight to the moon in the OTC-X1.

 

1960: A New beginning at Apple Valley as OTCA

Otis T. Carr’s supporters didn’t hear from him again until January 1, 1960. True magazine reported that Carr sent out a letter saying he was “making wonderful progress in spite of extreme pressures... This work... has brought us closer than most would suppose, to the free intercommunication between planets...” He enclosed a photostat of the page of the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent office, November 10, 1959, showing the “Amusement Device,” stating it “now heads the list of hardware items that will whirl us toward full accomplishment and become the dynamic physical trademark of the Third Electrical Age…” Carr’s letter closed by saying that he would be glad to hear from his friends, and could be reached via “our Baltimore regional office at 9 West Redwood Street…” That was the new base for Norman E. Colton and Hildegarde W. Shea, who were still promoting OTC.


In California, Carr renewed some old acquaintances and made a few new ones. Ralph Ring turns up nowhere in period literature, but he surfaced around 2001 with some colorful stories claiming to be a pivotal Carr associate. The credible portion of Ring’s account is about how he attended a meeting of Daniel Fry’s Understanding, Inc. flying saucer group in late 1959 or early 1960, where Otis T. Carr was lecturing. “This was in Costa Mesa, California, where these 'Understanding' meetings were and that's where I met Carr.” He said he became interested and later joined Carr’s crew. “I met with Carr and his entourage… Dennis Rapolti, Norman Colton, Wayne Aho… about six of them... Shortly thereafter...we got down into the laboratory down in Hesperia, down in Apple Valley... we started setting up shop.”

Back east, Norman Colton represented the Carr cause as the guest for the debut episode of Long John Nebel’s (short-lived) half-hour television show. The Daily News, Feb. 18, 1960, reported, “[Nebel’s] guest, Norman Colton, exhibited a model of a saucer-shaped craft which he assured viewers could make a trip to the moon in five-and-a-half hours. Colton gave absolutely no proof that his craft would function and proved to be most evasive in his answers.” Nebel and his Party Line regular (science fiction author) Lester del Rey “tore his arguments to shreds.” 

Newspaper ad for the first episode, featuring Norman Colton, and an illustration of the OTC saucer.

Things were also happening in Pennsylvania with the Carr’s branch. FBI files show that a “representative of this organization caused a disturbance at the public library in Homestead by demanding that the library remove certain science books from the shelves and replace them with books supplied by OTC Enterprises. It was claimed that the library’s books were inaccurate and did not contain the true facts concerning atomic science and space travel.”

On March 2, 1960, True magazine reporter Richard Gehman travelled to Apple Valley to interview Carr, but Otis told him he would not be able to see the new project. “My two engineers out here are violently opposed… declared the area off bounds to everybody… we can’t show you the physical equipment at all.” That included the OTC-X1 prototype, which Carr said was still under construction. “It’s more than a mock up. Parts of the material for the physical makeup are being purchased this very day.” Gehman left without seeing much more than Carr’s motel room. 

On April 12, 1960, Carr signed the lease for the old Osbrink building on Bear Valley Road. The enterprise was rechristened “Otis T. Carr and associates.” 


As for the OTC-X1 prototype from Oklahoma City, it wasn’t in the shop, instead it was being readied to mount on the billboard out front, the closest thing it ever achieved to flight.

The billboard erected at the plant stated: 

“OTC-X1 Spacecraft

Work scheduled to begin here June 1, 1960

(Prototype) This 6 ft model of the OTC-X1 built by Aircraftsmen, Inc of Oklahoma City. Improved full scale 21 ft and 45 ft models on order to be fabricated and tested here.

With new concepts in aerial transportation utilizing gravity, electro-magnetism, electro-motive force and electro-chemicals in new dynamics

Otis T. Carr and associates

Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Kansas, Oklahoma, California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, and other states.”

Carr and his plans were getting coverage in the local news, and he issued a press release stating the purpose of his new operations: "The plant will be used by Mr. Carr to further his developments in space research, which will include fabrication and assembly of space exhibition rides, such as were developed by him and associates in Oklahoma City…” It described their contract to construct a new saucer, "a 21-foot craft with a passenger capacity of four persons is on order for Frank Santora of Wilmington, Del.”

The San Bernardino County Sun, April 16, 1960

The Desert Valley News-Herald, May 5, 1960, featured a cover story written by Norman Evans Colton, “Carr Explains How the OTC-X1 Works.” Colton described the OTC-X1 "as being two tops that spin in opposite directions around a single axis... The entire circular-foil craft that is Mr. Carr’s most profound development…an assembly of only two major moving mechanical parts." More press coverage came in The San Bernardino County Sun, May 22, 1960, reporting that Carr “said last week that he intends to build space vehicles for amusement parks.” He planned “to begin work this summer on the OTC-X2...” but would not set a target date for the moon flight, since last time, that “ran into difficulties.”

On May 30, 1960, Carr held an open house and dedication ceremony for his “OTCA Space Research Center” facility in Apple Valley, with over 200 people present, and told them,“It is a treacherous misstatement of fact to say or infer that we are coming to California to raise money in stock sales.” He told the press that he would manufacture an “electro-magnetic powered” spacecraft that would reach the moon “with ease,” and that the principle was no more than two months from reality. Among Carr’s associates was Dennis Rapolti, dressed in a flight suit, who described himself as “director of sales engineering for the Pennsylvania organization OTC Enterprises, with headquarters in Pittsburgh." Carr also told the press, “We may have franchises to offer for the area.”


Back in Oklahoma, the legal problem remained unsettled. The Daily Oklahoman, June 5, 1960, recapped Carr’s trial and verdict, and of the $5,000 fine, “Carr’s attorney here, Hubert Gibson, has since filed an appeal with the state court of criminal appeals, claiming his client is ‘practically destitute’ and is without funds to pay the fine. Similar cases are still pending in district court here against two of Carr’s cohorts - Wayne Aho and Lari Kendrick. And a felony warrant is out for another - Norman Colton.” Carr said his Apple Valley efforts were concentrated on three goals: the OTC-X1, developing more spaceship rides, and finally, a new 500-watt “power package” for industrial use.

Carr revised the company name and billboard to “OTCA Research,” but everything carried on much as before. He bought a full-page ad in an Apple Valley newspaper stating that the company was expanding, seeking to hire a sales and advertising manager and 1,000 scientists, engineers, and skilled workers. Work would begin on Sept. 15, 1960, on their first goal, 100 antigravity motors, and after that, a prototype 21 ft vessel powered by such an engine.

Riley Crabb of the BSRF, Borderlands, Vol. L, No. 2, 2nd quarter 1994

Eugene Carini still admired Carr and shared his technological dreams, but he thought OTC had collected and wasted over a million dollars, his $10,000 among them. He made a trip to visit Carr in Apple Valley, California, but couldn’t locate him, or even get inside the OTCA Research building. But he did see the billboard, which featured the famous OTC-X1 prototype he’d wired, now bolted to the sign as a prop. The saucer later vanished which led to rumors of its destruction or confiscation. Carini said that the prototype was later stolen from the billboard by someone he knew, taken to Dike, Iowa, where it ended up stored in a barn.

Sign minus saucer.

Carr’s Apple Valley endeavors were not picked up as national news, but the money lost in OTC stock sales was still making news. SEC chairman Edward N. Gadsby spoke before theAmerican Society of Corporate Secretaries in French Lick, Indiana, on June 7, 1960. Gadsby’s lecture was serious, but he opened and closed with jokes about investing in Carr’s moon flight.


Major magazines such as 
CosmopolitanHarper’s and Newsweek mentioned the SEC action taken against Otis T. Carr’s illegal stock sales. Changing Times: The Kiplinger Magazine, July 1960, also mentioned it in their cover story, “Don’t Fall For These Frauds and Gyps.”

Paul Coates talk show on KTTV in Los Angeles was called “Confidential File,” and he had a column for The Los Angeles Mirror News with the same name. Coates interviewed Carr and published an article on it on June 28, 1960, "Otis T. Carr All Set to Send Man to Moon," the filmed version aired on July 7. Coates hit Carr with tough questions, grilling him about the legal troubles and the money received from investors. Carr reluctantly estimated he’d collected $300,000, and that the Frontier City ride had cost $35,000 to build, the prototype $60,000. He admitted improperly selling stock but gave the excuse that he was no legal or financial expert, saying, “In certain matters, we erred.” Carr refused to comment on his attorney’s claim that he was destitute, but said, “As for the Oklahoma City conviction, that’s still being appealed.” Carr still insisted that the saucer could be built and flown to the moon if he had the money.


Carr v. the State of New York

New York State Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz issued a press release on Aug. 11, 1960, stating he was investigating the defrauding of New York state residents by Otis Carr and associates, who he characterized as, "space age charlatans” who had “victimized investors of more than $50,000 in the sale of stock in O.T.C. Enterprises, since 1958." Lefkowitz had “obtained an order requiring the promoters and designers of the alleged space ship to appear for questioning by members of his staff on September 26, 1960.” He noted that, “Often, the interested investors contacted the company after listening to Carr or Colton address a local club or after they appeared on a radio program.” Carr appeared on many shows, but none had a further reach than that of Long John Nebel.

New York Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz

Other than Otis T. Carr and Norman E. Colton, the NY attorney general named the following individuals and entities in his order: Utron Atomic Development Inc, Carrotto Dynamics Inc., Hildegarde Shea, Alex Andreotta, Melvin Mills, Frank Santora, Margaret Storm, and Peter Varlan. Unfortunately, Lefkowitz had no jurisdiction outside of New York, and no power to compel the OTC officers to appear. Possibly it was a bluff just intended to shut down their activity in New York. Nevertheless, it resulted in a lot of press.

 

The Last Conventions of Otis T. Carr and his Saucer

The third Annual Northern Space Craft Convention was held in Berkley, California, Aug. 27 - 28. Wayne Aho was the master of ceremonies, guests included: Otis T. Carr, Rev. Chief Standing Horse, Dan Fry of Understanding, Inc, and George King of the Aetherius Society.  The next weekend, Sept. 3 - 5, was the International Space Craft Project Convention, hosted by Reinhold O. Schmidt, at Rosamond, CA. The announced guest list included Otis T. Carr, Wayne Aho, Daniel Fry, and others. Both Schmidt and Carr were facing legal problems for their saucer-related investment schemes, but sadly there’s no record of their conversation.

Reinhold O. Schmidt and Carl Anderson, backed by host Karl Veidt.

The OTC brochure “Atoms For Peace” was translated as Atomer för fred in 1959, and it helped establish Carr as a saucer celebrity in Germany. The International UFO Congress in Wiesbaden, Germany, was held on Oct. 22 - 24, 1960, and they had invited Carr to speak, but he was unable to attend. Instead, two Contactees from the US were featured as guests, Reinhold O. Schmidt, and Carl Anderson. Anderson stood in for Carr, bringing along one of his small saucer models and lecturing on spaceship propulsion as an employee of OTCA Research. His talk was full of tall tales, and he said Carr’s antigravity engine generated a magnetic field that interfered with radio remote controls, causing three models to be lost in the sky. However, Anderson claimed that there had been a successful demonstration just the month before - during Reinhold Schmidt’s convention. "It was about three feet tall and the small round ship ran like a big top.” Rocket scientist Dr. Hermann Oberth was another guest, and he posed on stage with Carr’s model saucer for the crowd.

From UFO-NYT, the magazine of Scandinavian UFO Information (SUFOI), Feb. 1961“Report from Wiesbaden” and Journal für UFO-Forschung No. 12, 1980, “Der Otis T. Carr-Bluff” by Werner Walter.


In late December True magazine (cover dated Jan. 1961) featured a scathing exposé of Carr by Richard Gehman, "King of the Non-Flying Saucers." The article was a by-product of the trip by John Nebel’s Party Line to chronicle the events at the Oklahoma City non-launch. Panelist Ellery Lanier was originally writing a piece, with Sam Vandivert providing photographs, but it seems the article grew in scope and True editors assigned the story to Gehman instead. The article was revealing, particularly in its interviews with Bud Gosnell and Carr. Many supporters still believed in Carr and his dream even after the failure of the OTC-X1 prototype and trouble with the SEC. Even Margaret Storm and Gosnell, who had lost all faith in the man himself still believed in Carr’s concept of an antigravity engine. Storm regretted her involvement in OTC and said she was attempting to repay the $15,000 raised through her mailing list. The True article portrayed Carr as a fraud and a crackpot, and it exposed his flawed and criminal enterprises to a national audience.


1961: Otis T. Carr Sent to Jail

On Jan. 11, 1961, Carr was back before a judge at the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The original trial judgment was affirmed and Carr was ordered to pay the $5000 fine. See the court records, CARR v. STATE, 1961 OK CR 15, 359 P.2d 606., Case Number: A-12907, Decided: 01/11/1961, Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals”

The Miami News, March 11, 1961

In seemingly unrelated matters, Wayne Aho ran into some trouble of his own. After a series of saucer lectures at New Age churches in Florida, he was speaking in New York City. During his talk there, Aho was acting strangely and “went off onto a weird religious theme,” and subsequently went missing. When found on March 29, he was committed to the mental ward at Bellevue Hospital in New York for a short stay. (As reported in “Wayne Aho Falls Victim to the Men in White Coats,” Saucer News Non-scheduled Newsletter #13, June 13, 1961.)

After seven months of being unable to pay his $5,000 fine, Otis T. Carr was locked up on Friday morning, July 14, 1961. The Daily Oklahoman, July 18, 1961, reported: “Carr, convicted of selling stock without project proper registration, was ordered jailed Friday morning by District Judge Clarence M. Mills.” Attorney Hubert Gibson said, “Carr doesn’t have the money to pay the fine. Under the judge’s ruling he would languish in the county jail for 5000 days at a dollar a day.” After the order, ”The pudgy inventor watched the district court maneuvers intently, then was led to the jail elevator by a deputy sheriff. He said he had no comment.”

The Daily Oklahoman, July 18, 1961

With Otis T. Carr locked up, Norman E. Colton tried rebranding the merchandise. He moved to Ben Lomond, California, and on July 13, formed “The Millennium Agency,” registered as “a sales engineering consulting business.” The next week, he was advertising the free energy Carrotto Gravity Motor under a new name. On July 20, 1961, The Millennium Agency issued a press release “To all news editors of the world press and radio,” stating: “I, Norman Evans Colton, do hereby declare under oath that I have perfected a machine to draw electricity from the atmosphere without the use of any fuel. The machine is operated entirely by environmental gravitic forces. A newly constructed ‘Colton-Gravity-Electric-Engine’ has been installed at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, CA, where it may be seen, examined, evaluated and photographed.”

Colton’s press pitch made no mention of  Carr, but he later issued a “special confidential bulletin” claiming that: “On May 1st 1961 The Millennium Agency was assigned worldwide manufacturing and marketing rights to the discoveries and inventions of Otis T. Carr as committed by assignment and inherent right to OTC Enterprises Inc.” Colton said the Millennium Agency’s “own independent research and development,” had them “ready to design, manufacture, and start selling the first prototype production models of several new kinds of electric engines.” The brand was to be known as “Colton Gravity Electric Engines. They were ready to accept orders, and “Dealer and Distributor appointments are now being arranged. Manufacture and supply contracts are now being negotiated. Employment opportunities… Offices… are now being established in principal cities of the United States and Canada.” There was one thing Colton’s hype did not mention: spaceships.

Some modern articles sources report that Carr was “sentenced to a 14- year jail term,” but that’s false. Six months in the county jail is all he ever faced. “Carr in Jail Talks of Moon” by J. Nelson Taylor, from The Daily Oklahoman, Aug. 5, 1961, featured an interview while he was behind bars. “Otis T. Carr, 58, rotund ‘space craft’ inventor and promoter, still plans a trip to the moon when he gets out of county jail.” Carr was interviewed from the jail kitchen where he was peeling potatoes, and he blamed his troubles on others.” I have been double-crossed two or three times.” He said, “I can take this six months in jail, but I will be on top again. The only thing I worry about is my wife. She is getting up in years like myself. She is living in Washington and, of course, worries.” Otis dropped the “we” affectation, at least while in jail. Sheriff Bob Turner explained the sentence: “Carr is really serving out a $5,000 fine at $1 a day. Under the law, however, after six months he may take a pauper’s oath and have the remainder of the fine suspended.”


Meanwhile, things were happening in California. Carr had hoped to place his saucer rides across the USA and in other countries, but his product was not unique. Walt Disney got into the space age amusement business with the "Flying Saucers" bumper car ride at Disneyland on August 6, 1961.

Norman Colton had set up shop in California, but he sent a letter to prospective Millennium Agency customers on Aug. 20, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He claimed that his successful gravity engine demonstration in California had been witnessed by 600 people, yet word of it had been suppressed, “the press was told to stay away.” Colton said, “Nobody can stop a lot of independent individuals like ourselves as long as we are sincere and honest, and determined to pitch in…” He gave the name of Melvin Mills of New York, NY, as the contact for more information or to place orders for power plants. Colton did not state what he was doing in Canada, but on Sept. 22, a summons for his appearance in California court was published for him to face charges by the County Bank of Santa Cruz. Later letters for the Millennium Agency indicate he moved back to Baltimore. In late 1961 he sent out letters to promote the “Colton Milliplant Gravity Electric Engine Mark II,” saying its miraculous performance had been observed by thousands on its nationwide tour. Colton set up a demonstration of the free energy engine in New York, but like his alleged tour, no records of the event were found in the press.


Dodging Bullets and Leaving Jail 

New York Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz charged that the promoters of OTC Enterprises Inc. were “space age charlatans.” The Associated Press story from Sept. 23, 1961, reported the NY State Supreme Court ordered the halt of OTC stock sales, but the stock had already been shut down by the SEC. Lefkowitz had been unable to locate Norman Colton, and Carr was already in jail as a pauper in Oklahoma. After a year of fierce pursuit, nothing further came of the New York inquiry, probably abandoned since there was no way to recover any of the lost money.

The FBI was still processing information on Carr in relation to the possibility of criminal charges. In a memo dated Sept. 25, 1961, it stated that in 1939, “Otis T. Carr, of New York City, tried to interest the Bureau in a fingerprint device... Examination of the device by a Bureau representative showed. that it was. a simple piece of prismatic glass… The ‘highly developed chemical liquid’ inside the prism was determined to be simple corn syrup.”

Like New York, the FBI ultimately decided that pursuing the case was of little value.

The Springfield News-Leader, Sept, 26, 1961, reported that Carr had two ways to get out of jail, clemency, or “Oklahoma law provides for release after six months imprisonment for a fine if the person can prove he has no estate of any kind to pay the fine.” Carr petitioned for release but was denied. See, Ex Parte Carr, Opinion No. A-13082.  September 27, 1961. 

At the end of the year, James W. Moseley reported on the incarceration of both Reinhold Schmidt, Otis T. Carr, and the freedom and activities of Norman Colton in "Report on Saucerers Recently and Currently in Confinement," Saucer News, Dec. 1961. It reported that Colton was demonstrating his free energy motor in NYC. That was the last the UFO world heard of Norman Evans Colton.

Saucer News, Dec. 1961

Carr was released on Wednesday morning, Jan. 17, 1962, reported as, “Saucer Promoter Carr Leaves City” in The Daily Oklahoman. “Under Oklahoma law a person cannot be incarcerated more than six months for failure to pay a fine, no matter what amount was assessed.” Carr was photographed but refused to talk to the press. Upon his release, “He left by air to visit his wife in Baltimore, Md., his hometown.”

The Daily Oklahoman Jan.18, 1962


Carr Gravity-Electrodynamic Systems

Carr still had big plans, but after his time in jail, his days as a celebrity were over. He was seldom mentioned in the press, or even in contemporary literature, usually unfavorably. From Wall Street's Shady Side by Frank Cormier, 1962: “[A] measure of the mass craving for common stocks during the big bull market was the success of crackpots and con men who peddled shares in the most improbable and harebrained projects — until the government caught up with them. Between 1955 and 1959 Otis T. Carr of Baltimore persuaded an impressive number of his fellow citizens to invest in O.T.C. Enterprises, Inc… grounded permanently when S.E.C. obtained a federal court injunction to halt Carr's stock sales.” NICAP’s UFO Investigator, Dec/Jan. 1963-1964, featured an article on man-made saucers, “Disc Aircraft Inadequate to Explain UFOs.”  They mentioned Carr, saying, “A fanciful plan to build a spaceship to fly to the Moon with a totally unexplainable power system... Hoax.” 

The Daily Oklahoman, April 18, 1965

Oklahoma's Orbit, the weekend magazine of The Daily Oklahoman, April 18, 1965, carried a UFO article on the fifth anniversary of “Demo-Day.” It was by ufologist Hayden Hewes, “Flying Saucer Mystery Still Unsolved”, with a brief mention of Carr and his saucer: “April, 1959, Otis T. Carr attempted to launch an ‘electro-gravitational’ flying saucer. The OTC-Xl was six feet in diameter, four feet high, weighed about 600 pounds and cost over $25,000. It never got off the ground.”  


The 1967 Flying Saucers special from Look magazine featured a section of various “Man-Made Flying Saucers” over the years, and it included a photo of one of Carr’s OTC-X1 models, with a caption stating that after the government’s rejection, he had become discouraged with the project. (photo: Look Flying Saucers 1967)

 

Carr Gravity Electrodynamic Systems

Carr himself, had moved on. Possibly due to the old Pennsylvania OTC Enterprises branch, headquartered near Pittsburgh, Carr set up a new shop in McKeesport. Carr dropped both flying and amusement ride saucers, to focus solely on his “power package” for industrial use. The trademark and nickname for Carr’s new free energy device was “Hummingbird.” Carr incorporated “Carr Gravity Electrodynamic Systems” on April 4, 1964.


 Carr’s advertising for his new company appeared in McKeesport Daily News (PA), June 5, 1965,

“Free Energy Comes to the Planet Earth.” It advertised “Perpetual Energy-Motion Machines,” and included a photo of its building, which carried the name, “Carr Gravity Electrodynamic Systems,” and the facility’s purpose: “Research - Development - Manufacturing – Marketing.” Carr’s new venture was all about free energy, not spaceflight. Part of the plan, like before, was to sell franchises, and the new company was also registered to do business in New Brunswick, Canada.


The final news article we could find on Carr’s business was from April 2, 1966, in The Daily Oklahoman, “UFOS Man-Made, Otis Carr Believes” by Katherine Hatch. The story brought the Carr saga up to date, reporting, “For the past two years, Carr said he has been doing research on an electrified magnetically propelled engine... and has made a proposal to the government...” The article stated that “Carr said he moved from Baltimore... because materials he needs in his experiments are plentiful in Pittsburgh.” Describing the device, he said, “It’s a gravity motor. I have been successful in my research and have built a machine that creates more energy than it uses.” On the topic of UFOs, he seemed to think that sightings were proof that his work was valid. “I don’t say the craft are from somewhere else. I have proved in laboratory experiments that you can levitate a body electrically.” He asserted that flying saucers were real, saying, “There is a lot of phenomena that is natural, and a lot is speculation. But it’s ridiculous in my mind, to pass it all off.”

The Daily OklahomanApril 2, 1966

Without Norman Colton to polish and package his concepts, Carr’s new venture failed. Around 1967 Carr lost the lease in McKeesport, PA, for the Carr Gravity-Electrodynamic Systems building. Otis wanted Eugene Carini to come in to take the equipment, but it did not work out. The bulk of the gear went to someone else, another investor that had lost money on Carr.

In the fall of 1970, Carr had another burst of activity. He sent out a 4-page flyer to select parties about his “Carr Model A-XI Interdimensional Perpetual Free Power Machine” sold for $4,500 + tax and shipping, paid in advance. 

Link to PDF of the two letters and the brochure: Carr Gravity Electrodynamic Systems Inc. 

There were no takers. On Nov. 16, 1970, he sent a letter to Edith Nicolaisen of Sweden, hoping she would become his first customer. Quoted in part:

“During the past three months I have mailed more than 100 of the brochures to Agencies of the U.S. government, Leading Manufacturers and the Energy Field and Celebrated Individuals who claim they are interested in humanities welfare. Not a one has responded.

     The cruel dictatorship the rules this planet with an iron fist is afraid to challenge me, one poor, lone, weak individual!

     In their mad quest to maintain their murderous dynasty wherein they will gladly trade a gallon of blood for a barrel of oil they still, with all their powers, or afraid of Free Energy and Free Power.

     It was only through divine guidance that I conceived of the plan expressed in the brochure, payment 90 days in advance, This is my protection – it also separates the sheep from the goats and puts an end to hypocrisy.

     The way to become associated with me is to buy a machine, when 300 of these machines are in 300 different places performing it will be impossible for the news not to become known and the ‘New Age’ will be here.

     Inter-planetary beings will never make themselves known to earth being so long as we exalt murder as a way of life.

     If you and those whom you know can get together the money to buy the first A-X1 please forward the same and I will fulfill my end of the bargain.

Very sincerely and best regards,

Otis T. Carr”

Carr's offer was not accepted.


The Final Days of OTC

In the early 1960s Eugene Carini became the director of a chapter of the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America in Bolton, CT. Later, he moved to Vero Beach, Florida, and was developing electric cars, and he patented four Carr-style inventions using principles like counter-rotating flywheels.

Eugene P. Carini from his 2001 interview with Lance Moody.

Carini stayed in contact with Carr over the years, and in 1971 came up with a plan he hoped would re-motivate and revitalize Otis’ spirit and productivity. Carini offered to bring him to Vero Beach and finance the materials to continue the free energy research. Carr accepted and made the trip from Pittsburgh to Florida and stayed with him for their work together. Together, they built some models of the OTC-X1 and Hummingbird (free energy machine) that Carini said showed promise but needed “modifications.” After three weeks, Carr went back home. That was last Carini saw of Otis T. Carr.

Carr’s last known saucer business was chronicled by Douglas Curran in his 1980 book, In Advance of the Landing. In 1977 when Warren Goetz, an old OTC Enterprises investor, had similar spaceship plans. Frustrated by the lack of progress, one of his partners paid Carr a visit for some technical guidance. Carr was in poor health and living in a “slum tenement in Pittsburgh.” Otis told him the plans for the OTC-X1 had disappeared many years earlier and he was unable to provide any help.

Project U.F.O. episode, The Howard Crossing Incident

The next year, Otis T. Carr may have seen a bit of himself and Colton in the March 19, 1978, episode of NBC’s of Project U.F.O., “The Howard Crossing Incident,” written by Donald L. Gold and Lester Wm. Berke. In the secondary storyline, the Air Force received a report from Mrs. Marshall, a woman that was concerned that her husband had made a $10,000 bad investment in a flying saucer factory, Advanced Aerodynamics Corp. Darryl Cochran said his company was building saucers powered by an anti-matter energy source, and when they flew in six months, their investment would be worth millions. The Air Force investigators exposed Cochran as a flying saucer swindler, his craft nothing but a prop from an old science fiction movie. Mrs. Marshall’s husband was livid that the saucer hadn’t been given a chance to fly and told them, “I could have made a fortune on that stock if you hadn’t butted in.”

Otis T. Carr spent the rest of his days quietly with his wife Eleanor. He died Sept. 20, 1982, at the age of 77. Eleanor Carr died on February 4, 1994 and was buried beside him.

Pittsburgh Press, Sept. 21,1982

Norman Evans Colton left the saucer life, and he eventually moved to Pennsylvania and reportedly ran a florist shop. It’s unknown if he ever contacted Otis again. Colton was last mentioned in contemporary literature by Paris Flammonde in his 1971 book, The Age of Flying Saucers: Notes on a Projected History of Unidentified Flying Objects. Flammonde said that many people believe Norman E. Colton “to be the inventor of Otis T. Carr.” Colton died on July 29, 1997, at the age of 83.


Epilogue: Taking Stock of the OTC Story

What’s most interesting about the Otis T. Carr story is not so much his failed saucer, but how and why people believed in him. Carr made his public debut in late 1957, but months earlier, Harold J. Berney had been arrested by the FBI for saucer-related fraud. Reinhold O. Schmidt also got his start in 1957, and eventually convicted in 1961 for two counts of saucer-related grand theft. The three saucer swindlers had much in common. Berney, Schmidt and Carr all collected money from investors in saucer schemes, all involved an element of free energy, and all were convicted for their crimes. All of them, especially Carr, capitalized on the intersection of saucer belief and the dawning of the space age.

The only question is: Did either Carr or Colton actually believe in their own legend? Carr probably did, but Colton was a salesman, the real saucer swindler in this story. With the OTC Enterprises, Inc. façade, they attracted chiefly two different types of investors, businessmen and believers. When Lance Moody interviewed the surviving players in the Carr story in 2001, he found out that after 40 years, some still held on. Eugene Carini had kept the faith in the free energy antigravity principle, and Gurney G. Warnberg also told Moody that he still believed that Otis T. Carr might have been on to something. In reality, OTC Enterprises, Inc. was never much more than that glossy brochure and a handful of dreams.

. . .

What happened to...?

Mrs. Hildegarde Wheeler Shea left when Carr’s Baltimore office closed and became a partner in a wildlife park where OTC associate Dennis Rapolti worked for her. She died following an illness on April 20, 1966, at the age of 40.

Wilfred C. “Bud” Gosnell returned to his old job in the dairy industry until his retirement. He died in Baltimore at the age of 65 in June 1967.

Eugene P. Carini continued inventing, and he patented several devices into the 1970s. However, there’s no record of his success with a free energy device or a flying saucer. He died in Florida on July 13, 2003, at the age of 81.

Wayne S. Aho continued to lecture on UFOs, but his message became increasingly more religious in tone, with a heavy dose of Biblical prophecy. In Oct. 1960, he was elected to the board of directors of Daniel Fry’s Understanding, Inc. His Washington Saucer Intelligence “organization” faded away, but in 1963, Aho created something else for himself to be director of, the New Age Foundation, which held annual spiritually-themed seminars for decades at Mt. Rainer, the holy location of Kenneth Arnold’s famous 1947 saucer sighting. He died Jan. 16, 2006, at the age of 89.

The Frontier City OTC-X1 ride? In 1960, a bigger and better-known saucer opened in New York, the Braniff "Space Ship" at Freedomland. There was no documentation found for when the OTC-X1 attraction was shut down, but no advertisements for Otis T. Carr’s space ship ride at Frontier City were found after 1961. 

. . .

For Further Reading:

The FBI opened a file on Wayne S. Aho when it received a citizen’s letter warning that he might be impersonating a military officer. Aho might have exploited his status as a retired Army intelligence officer, but that alone was not a criminal offense for them to pursue. The FBI dossier on Wayne Aho also contains many documents from the Otis T. Carr’s file, which has yet to be published. The PDF of the Aho's FBI file can be found at John Greenewald’s The Black Vault site

Collection of Carr’s letter and Space-O-Gram announcements about the 1959 Frontier City “Demo Day” for OTC-X1, including correspondence about it from Canadian ufologist Wilbert B. Smith. OTC-X1 Documents

 Otis T. Carr and Dimensions of Mystery” is a Facebook page that features many newspaper clippings, photos, and other items.

Otis T. Carr: Utron” is a crackpot web page with some coverage of the Carr story, featuring transcripts of some period newsletters, articles and interviews.

 Contactees, Cults and Cultures” by David Stupple & William McNeece, 1979 MUFON UFO Symposium Proceedings pp. 46-61, tells the story of Warren Goetz (whom they call “Gordon’), who was inspired by Otis T. Carr’s efforts and later formed the cult, “The Institute for Cosmic Research” and tried to build their own flying saucer, the Bluebird. Video of the fate of the Bluebird, circa 1995.

Lance Moody, as part of a planned OTC Enterprises film project, interviewed James W. Moseley of Saucer News and Saucer Smear in 2001. While Moseley didn’t have anything to say about Carr himself, he briefly discussed his cohort Wayne Aho. More importantly, Jim talked about Long John Nebel and his radio show, providing some backstage details and insight into Nebel and his involvement with ufology. See the video at Jim Moseley, Journal Subscriber, 1931-2012

Lance Moody presented a lecture on his investigation, “Daylight Disk: The Otis T. Carr Story,” summarized by Bob Streifthau in Cincinnati Skeptic, April/May 2003.

Way Out World, 1961, by Long John Nebel has a chapter on Carr, "The $20,000,00 Ticket to the Moon  Plus Some Impossible Inventions."

. . .


Acknowledgements

 A special thank you to Lance Moody, whose research informed much of this examination. In 2001 he began conducting interviews for a proposed documentary on the OTC story and spoke with six key participants in the OTC story, Eugene Carini, Ellery Lanier, Wayne Aho, Gurney G. Warnberg, Ralph Ring and Dennis Rapolti. Details from those conversations were invaluable. Lance also furnished another key reference used to recreate the Carr timeline, the outstanding article by Richard Gehman from True magazine, Jan. 1961, "King of the Non-Flying Saucers,” as well as scans of the notebooks made Gehman made while researching it. Lance also provided the title art for this project.

Also, thanks to:

Louis Taylor of Information Dispersal for several original Carr documents and photos.

Isaac Koi for help in tracking down early flying saucer magazines and for his contribution in archiving them with the AFU, the Archives for the Unexplained

David Houchin of the Gray Barker UFO Collection at the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library, Clarksburg, WV, for documents on Norman Colton. Håkan Blomqvist of the AFU for sharing rare documents, including Carr's 1970 correspondence. Håkan Blomqvist´s blog.

2 comments:

  1. Super storytelling! Great documentation with the illustrations!

    Question: near the top of Part 3 it states OTC was prosecuted in OK for selling securities “with a license”. Could it have been for selling securities without a license?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments. Yes, that was a typing gaffe, and we appreciate you pointing it out. Fixed now, thanks to your help.

      Delete

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