Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Life and Legend of Otis T. Carr - Part 1

You may know of the company that was first launched with a press conference about their plan of using UFO technology to build a spaceship. Led by a maverick artist, its members included some former US government employees, most prominently, a former military intelligence agent. To raise capital for their venture, they sold stock in the company and had a publishing division. Their spaceship would fly to the stars, but their first goal was a trip to the moon.

Illustration by Lance Moody

UFOs became a topic of commercial exploitation within days of the first saucer flap of 1947. Ten years later, an inventor entered the UFO scene, incorporating his business as the world’s first flying saucer company. Otis T. Carr created an ambitious aerospace enterprise that was eventually grounded by an unlikely agency, the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In this examination, we will look at how Carr’s project was entangled in the flying saucer Contactee culture, and we’ll also discuss the role of the other players, from Carr’s partners in crime, to the victims of his saucer enterprise.

This Otis T. Carr saga has been documented in bits and pieces, and we’ve used period books, newspaper and magazine articles, saucer newsletters, FBI files, and court record to assemble this report. Lance Moody is a film editor, animator, and skeptic with an enduring fascination with the Carr saga, possibly the most knowledgeable living person on the topic. In 2001 Lance Moody began conducting interviews for a proposed documentary on the OTC story and spoke with six key participants in the OTC story. Most of them have since died, but their recollections revealed details and insight not found elsewhere. Moody did not complete his documentary, but he filmed an interview with Eugene P. Carini that was particularly revealing. Quotes from that discussion and Moody’s other research play a huge role in this article.

No doubt, some events were not recorded, there are missing pieces, and some players carried secrets to the grave. What follows is the epic saga of OTC Enterprises based on the best documentation available. It’s told in three parts; The Rise of OTC Enterprises, Countdown to the Saucer Launch, and the conclusion, The Trial of Otis T. Carr.

 

The Rise of OTC Enterprises

In 1957 retired Marine major Donald E. Keyhoe began leading the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). Keyhoe’s quest was to make the public believe that not only that flying saucers are real, but also that it was a respectable topic worthy of scientific study. Unfortunately for his mission, the sensational tales of Contactees, charlatans and hoaxers often drowned out the legitimate cases. Otis T. Carr’s story launched in late 1957, but Keyhoe and Carr might as well have been from different planets.

Otis T. Carr: Who He Is and How He Came to Be

Otis T. Carr has a past that contains many extraordinary claims, so it requires separating what the man said while promoting himself and his company from what can be documented. Carr came from Elkins, West Virginia; the family had two stepsons, a daughter, and four sons, Otis being the youngest. Carr left public school at age 13 and was self-educated thereafter. In his teens he worked for Western Maryland Railroad, then at a generating plant. He spent 2 years studying art in New York City, supposedly while working as a hotel package clerk. In 1930 he was living in Baltimore, Maryland, with brothers, Homer and Pritchard, who worked as hotel clerks, Otis, as a store manager. Carr later told his followers that during these early years he had studied and worked with several prominent scientists and engineers and began developing his revolutionary aerospace concepts in the late 1930s.

The Charleston Daily Mail, (West Virginia) July 3, 1932

In 1932 Carr was the advertising manager for Levin Brothers Department Store in Charleston, WV, and he married Eleanor Matthews. The 1940 census showed him employed as an artist in advertising, living in New York with Eleanor, but by 1942 they settled in Baltimore, where Carr began working as a hotel night clerk. As for his personality, Carr was described as soft-spoken, reserved, almost shy, with the mild appearance of a Sunday school teacher. Somewhere along the line, Carr formulated some grandiose plans, and began referring to himself in the editorial “we” when speaking in evangelical tones about his fantastic work.  

The flying saucer portion of Otis T. Carr’s life that can be documented really begins in 1955 with his registration for an invention. Carr filed a trademark on Aug. 1, 1955, for the name “Carrotto,” with the United States Patent Office. It was within the listings for “Electrical Apparatus, Machines and Supplies.” Carr secured a trademark, but not a patent. At that time, Carr worked for the Southern Hotel in Baltimore, managed by Harold I. Fink, who said he was employed there as a room clerk from Dec. 16, 1942, to Dec. 20, 1955, at a salary around $250 a month. “Mr. Carr was very irresponsible and would hit the bottle quite frequently… he would imagine that he was a great scientist and inventor. The last time he was on a drunk, he was fired, and the next day he invented a space ship…” According to documents, Carr incorporated OTC Enterprises in 1955 and began selling stock, based on plans for the company to manufacture a “free energy” generator that would power a spaceship. Carr’s story reached the public in late 1957, just weeks after the news of Sputnik, the earth’s first space satellite. 


1957: To the Stars with OTC Enterprises Inc.

Ralph Elsmo ran a prominent advertising business in Baltimore and Otis T. Carr became his friend and client, perhaps connecting due to both being members of the same Alcoholics Anonymous group. Elsmo believed in Carr’s project to the extent that he supported the venture by donating the space at 2502 N. Calvert Street to serve as headquarters for OTC Enterprises, Inc. It was a three-story white brick building that had once been a residence, but recently remodeled and elegantly furnished as offices. Carr and Elsmo’s first project together was to package the OTC brand and grab the attention of the public.

In his 1961 book, Way Out World, Long John Nebel wrote, “Who is the man who is often called the ‘brains’ of Otis T. Carr? His name is Norman Evans Colton... a small, well-dressed, dark-haired, blue-eyed man with a very charming manner ...who may be the greatest salesman I ever met.” Norman Colton entered the story in an unexpected way. Eugene Carini said, “Norman Colton used to do work for the Army, used to write technical manuals for the Army… a good talker… pretty knowledgeable with words. But he also had another side to him where he had an attitude of grabbing things and thinking like more of his own behalf than really the good of the project and somebody else.” Colton worked as a civilian for the illustrated mechanical maintenance magazine Army Motors magazine during World War II with comic strip artist Will Eisner. The magazine’s success due to it conveying technical information in a simple and memorable graphic form, often with comics illustrations.


Colton approached Eisner in 1949 about a similar project, and the artist created PS: The Preventative Maintenance Monthly magazine for the Army in 1951, shortly after the US involvement in the war in Korea. Eisner described him as “a strange guy, a quiet guy, but an incredible promoter... quite devious in his ways. His talent was his ability to put these things together.” Colton served as editor, but Eisner was annoyed by his relentless pursuit of stock ownership of the Army’s PS, which would have been illegal. Colton’s run as editor ended on July 22, 1953, when the FBI came after him for “violating administrative procedures” (aka cheating the Army on business expenses). (Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman, 2015.) FBI records indicate that Colton was twice investigated by the FBI in relation to PS, once for fraud, and later for “graft” and “forgery,” but “prosecution was declined.”

After PS, Colton went into advertising and promotion for Ralph Elsmo and Associates, then in June of 1957, given the job of editing a brochure for OTC Enterprises. Colton was about 43 years old at the time, and later said, “I was brought into the picture when Mr. Carr was ready to put some of these discoveries and accomplishments policies and objectives on paper... brochures, mailing literature...” Carr could confidently talk about his notions, but much of what he said was incomprehensible. He was the “talent” while Colton served as manager, handler, and sometimes, his interpreter. Colton was effective in promoting Carr’s message in dynamic comprehensible terms, so the two were made a good partners, like a barker and a carnival act.


Carr had been tinkering with saucer concepts since at least 1952 but had attracted only a few local supporters. Colton took Carr’s ideas and made them sing, packaging them into a colorful spiral-bound pamphlet, published in October 1957, “OTCEnterprises, Inc, Brings You Atoms For Peace.” Long John Nebel later described it as “thirty-two beautiful pages rife with elaborate diagrams, graphs and renderings, including a 40” × 8” foldout... that ranks with the best that Madison Avenue has to offer...” It was available to anyone for $1 “to help cover the expense of postage and handling.” It carried the slogan: “Peace and plenty through the application of free energy to supply all things for all people.” Two subsidiaries were listed, Carrotto Dynamics, Inc. and Utron Atomic Development, Inc.

Carr was portrayed as bigger than life, the successor to great scientists and inventors from Galileo to Einstein, and as the creator of the solution to power sources, “free energy” produced by the “Carrotto Gravity Motor.” The limitless energy from it could power anything. Carr’s most sensational invention was powered by the “Utron Electric Accumulator,” described as “a fourth dimensional space vehicle... the OTC-X1 circular-foil spacecraft...” In other words, a flying saucer.


Several pages were devoted to the layout of the proposed campus, the “Plan of Research Institute for OTC Enterprises, Inc.” This was to be Space, Maryland, set on 67 acres of land with six buildings in its first phase, and Salvador Dali contracted for a great mural of “Ezekiel’s wheels” on the dome of one. Later additions were planned to include homes for thousands of employees, hotels, and a spaceport.

Following the publication of the OTC brochure, a press conference was held on Oct. 28, 1957, and as hoped, it put Carr’s name in the papers. The Associated Press story on Carr was distributed nationally, carried in some newspapers as front-page news. The Independent from Long Beach, CA, ran the headline, “Invents Space ‘Saucer,’” but most papers used Carr’s preferred term, “Circular Foil Craft” to describe the form of his planned spaceship. The OTC-X1’s anti-gravity propulsion was supposed to be generated by the counter-rotating forces of the “wheel within a wheel” of the saucer. In his literature, Carr explained that:

“Any vehicle accelerated to an axis rotation relative to its attractive inertial mass, immediately becomes activated by free-space-energy and acts as an independent force.”

The Hartford Courant, Oct. 29, 1957

Carr announced that he had sent his 16-page copyrighted brochure to President Eisenhower, members of the Cabinet, and the Atomic Energy Commission. The purpose for the press conference was to get help with the OTC Enterprises’ only problem. Carr said he could build the spacecraft, but only, “if someone puts up the money.” He estimated the capital needed to construct the manufacturing facilities and deliver the OTC-X1 at $20,000,000.

It didn’t seem that unbelievable. Many people believed that flying saucers were secret US military aircraft, and the Army had announced a contract with John Frost of AVRO Canada to build a man-made saucer. Maybe, just maybe, Carr was on to something.


Bud Gosnell Joins the Team

Wilfred C. “Bud” Gosnell was a prominent Baltimore businessman in his mid-fifties who had served in the Army during World War II, retiring as lieutenant colonel. Gosnell was friends with Ralph Elsmo, who told him about the exciting new client signed by his advertising business, Otis T. Carr, a fellow member in their Alcoholics Anonymous group. Gosnell was interested and given a tour of the OTC offices, and heard the origin story from Otis himself. Carr told Gosnell that he’d been working to perfect his engine for about twenty years and had filed a patent in 1949 for the “Utron Electric Accumulator,” which he’d developed while partnered with the Glenn L. Martin Company. Carr said he built a small working model in 1952, but that the project ended when an airplane crash killed officials from the company. OTC Enterprises would now complete what he started then, but he needed financial backing. Gosnell found Carr’s stories persuasive, so he invested his first $1,000 in the company, and went further still. He took a leave of absence from his job, joining OTC Enterprises full-time as sales manager without salary. He would be repaid and rewarded when the company succeeded.


Gosnell worked with Carr and two other OTC officers, the charming and capable Mrs. Hildegarde W. Shea, the “Historian and Research Consultant,” and Norman Evans Colton, who had been hired as “Director of Sales and Engineering.” (Carr was fond of giving such grand hyperbolic titles to his companions.) The crew was supported by a small staff of secretaries and assistants, and other officers were hired. Tom Burnett, a licensed stock broker, was brought in as vice president and financial advisor, in charge of the sale of OTC stock to the public. Later, another specialist was hired, Margaret Storm as “publications editor,” working from her home in Pennsylvania. Margaret Storm was a flying saucer lecturer, and the publisher of “Interplanetary Sessions Newsletter.” In her newsletter of June 1957, Storm announced that she had “been assigned to certain work with the Space People... writing a book - Return of the Dove - a story of the life of Nikola Tesla... Tesla was a Venusian, brought to this planet as a baby, in 1856...” Carr paid Margaret Storm to use her flying saucer fan mailing list to spread the word about the OTC-X1 progress, and to solicit investors.

Carr holding Utron Electric Accumulator, 1957.

In November, Carr went to nearby Washington, DC and pitched his OTC-X1 concept to the Pentagon, interesting them enough to send a team to visit his office. On Dec. 16, 1957, Army representatives met with Carr in Baltimore, but a spokesman made a disappointing disclosure right before Christmas. “Model shown does not meet present or foreseeable needs of the army and the army has no further interest in the project as presented.” A government condemnation is usually a bad thing, but things work differently in the flying saucer business.

Albuquerque Journal, Dec. 21, 1957


1958: Contacting the True Believers

OTC Enterprises was building a following, but not all the attention was positive. On February 28, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was tipped off by a man who found the Otis Carr story suspicious, but if true, the technology “should be in the hands of the Department of Defense.” The FBI began an investigation on Carr and company for potential criminal activity, and also for the secondary possibility that OTC could "attract the interest of the Soviets and that it might be used as build-up material in one of your double agent operations." The espionage angle didn’t pan out, but it helped keep Carr on the FBI’s watch list. They also had reports of him selling unregistered stock, so they shared the information gathered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Carr buzz reached the Party Line, the nightly talk show from after midnight until morning from WOR in New York City. Long John Nebel was the host, joined by a group of panelists who interviewed guests involved in offbeat or unconventional topics – frequently flying saucers. On his March 9th show, Nebel discussed the lavish OTC Enterprises brochure, and while impressed, he thought the spaceship claims might be too good to be true. Minutes later, ufologist Gray Barker joined the program via telephone to endorse Otis Carr and to suggest he’d make a good guest for the show. Nebel agreed.

Otis Carr and Norman Colton in The Enterprise, April 3, 1958

Later that month, on March 30, 1958, Otis T. Carr appeared with Norman Colton on Washington, D.C., station WTTG’s program, “The Week in Review.” They displayed models of Carr’s inventions and told about how they would revolutionize technology and facilitate space travel. On April 3rd, The Enterprise, a Baltimore weekly tabloid newspaper carried a front-page photo from the show with the headline, “Space Craft Designer Otis T. Carr Impressive in Telecast.” Also, in a somewhat related article, Carr talked about “the Revelation of the Easter Message,” saying that his Utron Electrical Accumulator was based on the secret hidden in the form of Christ’s cross. The paper also featured a two-page spread advertisement for OTC Enterprises, which explained how they would transform: transportation, the economy, industry defense and employment. It would affect our daily lives; in effect, OTC said they could put a saucer in every garage:

“The OTC spacecraft will look very much like what you have been hearing people describe as a flying saucer. The first experimental models will... cost millions of dollars as do the first prototypes of any aircraft. But unlike conventional aircraft, OTC space vehicles will be very soon be brought down to family size... to sell for less than the cost of a modern automobile, and take your family across town, across the nation, or around the world in absolute comfort and safety...”


The ad closed with a paragraph saying they’d send the OTC brochure including photos and pamphlet, you just needed to send $1.00 “to help cover the expense of postage and handling.” 
At the bottom of it all was the disclaimer: “THIS IS NOT AN OFFER TO SELL STOCK…”

Carr was building a reputation as a space expert, and the April 10th issue of the weekly Baltimore Enterprise carried the story where a reporter asked him about a theoretical rocket atomic warhead test on the moon. Carr replied, “...if anything should start a chain reaction on our moon... or even give it a hard push that could knock it momentarily off rotation or out of orbit... we could be all burned to a crisp in seconds...” This became part of Carr’s lecture material and provided a contrast to his own spacecraft design, which he claimed was safer. more economical and safer for the planet. The article was reprinted in S.P.A.C.E. July 1958

Other saucer fan magazines were eagerly following the story, and the March-April 1958 issue of The Ufologer said, “Your editors… after having talked with Mr. Carr personally, we are convinced that this man must have something great.”


An Upturn in Fortune

“It was the upturn point in his fortune.” That’s how Bud Gosnell described Carr’s debut on Long John Nebel’s radio show. Though Nebel and his panelists frequently challenged the claims of “crackpots,” the exposure they provided served to boost a lot of careers. Carr and Norman Colton packed up their saucer models and traveled to New York to appear on Nebel’s Party Line on April 19, 1958. It was broadcast on station WOR which had a signal powerful enough to reach half the USA and a fair chunk of Canada as well.


Nebel asked about the possibility of flying saucers coming from other planets, to which Carr replied, “We believe that there are unidentified electrified objects in the air. We have seen three on three separate occasions... in 1951 and 1952, they were definitely electrical, and they were very close to what we had already designed.” Carr said his space vehicle, unlike rockets, was not expendable, and that it could “leave the Earth's atmosphere and… could make a trip... from here to Baltimore or from here to the Moon and return.” 

As for the scientific background that made his discoveries possible, Carr cited Professor Albert Einstein, “…we corresponded with him and we had the great good fortune of being advised by him at one time... We worked for a considerable time with and had many conferences with the great Nikola Tesla...” Carr also had contemporary help with his antigravity formula, saying, “I found it with the assistance of Mr. Colton in the evaluation. Mr. Colton researches very heavily in all the work that I do and we collaborate very closely. Also Mrs. Shea collaborates with me in research.” Nebel asked Carr if he was selling stock in OTC. Carr replied, “We have not... we are in the processes of setting up the machinery that will make it possible for a public offering.” Colton added that before accepting an order for the OTC-X1, “we will manufacture and demonstrate a miniature prototype model of say ten-foot diameter, to prove that our statements are correct, and that we can do what we say we will do.”

With their out-of-this-world plans, Carr and Colton were just the kind of offbeat guests Nebel liked, so they were invited back for several return visits. Carr’s appearances on Long John Nebel’s show made him a star with what Gosnell called the “The Believers,” those convinced of flying saucer contact tales, which included a faction of followers of fringe religions. One such listener would go on to become a significant investor and partner in OTC Enterprises, a young man from Connecticut, Eugene P. Carini.

Flying Saucers July - August 1958

Following Carr’s appearance on the Party Line, he began to get more attention. Gray Barker published his interview with Otis T. Carr in Saucerian Bulletin, May 1, 1958, later expanded as four-page article, “Has Man Conquered Gravity?” for the Flying Saucers July - August issue. Carr said that the press photos showing the interior of the OTC-X1 model revealed the secret propulsion principle of the device, and enigmatically alluded to the Biblical verse, “He who hath an eye let him see.” Barker wrote, “[Carr] believes in Flying Saucers… they may come either from space or some unknown source on the Earth. He offered certain information to the Government in 1949, feels actual development from that information could have been made by Uncle Sam… some saucers could be ‘electrical life’ created in atomic explosions.”

Barker published a follow-up in Saucerian Bulletin, Vol 3, No. 3, June 15, 1958, “Late Report on Otis T. Carr.” Barker had Eugene Villagret investigate OTC Enterprises, Inc. in Baltimore. Villagret had been given a tour of their offices, including Carr’s workshop on the top floor. In his meeting with Norman E. Colton, he was told that the US government rejected Carr’s free energy saucer because they were protecting “vested interests,” the oil and automotive industries. Colton mentioned OTC’s forthcoming stock offering, which he said would be preceded by a public demonstration of the space ship.

Otis T. Carr made his UFO convention debut as the keynote speaker for the third annual Flying Saucer Federation convention in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Another guest was (retired Army) Major Wayne S. Aho, a Contactee, and the director of “Washington Saucer Intelligence,” whose message was an early version of UFO “Disclosure,” and was in the middle of  cross-county lecture tour with another Contactee, Reinhold O. Schmidt. At these saucer events, Carr found a built-in audience. They already believed in spaceships, and his spiritual message of an idealistic peaceful new age via technology seemed just what the Space Brothers intended for the universe.

 

Oklahoma Beckons

Back in Baltimore, Bud Gosnell began to feel that something wasn’t right with OTC Enterprises. Early on, Gosnell, who worked without salary, was surprised to see Colton riding in high style behind the wheel of a telephone-equipped Cadillac. Money was flowing towards travel and entertainment, such as the time OTC chartered a plane to court a prospective investor in Canada.

OTC was keeping many secrets. According to True magazine, “Both Norman Evans Colton and Hildegarde W. Shea kept the doors to their offices locked at all times. Gosnell occasionally surprised them talking and low intense tones in front of a huge electric coffee percolator… when he approached, they at once fell silent.” Another Secret was the power source for the X1’s Utron Electrical Accumulator. The Utron was a machined out of metal, two conical parts that fit together to form a bicorne, which when viewed in different profiles, “completely round and completely square.” The hollow center formed a sphere-shaped cavity which Norman Colton said, “contains the electrolyte... to produce what is known as the galvanic action or the generation of an electromotive force.” The ingredient in the center was a trade secret, but Gosnell was finally able to pry it out of Carr. Otis said it was, “One of the greatest catalytic agents, known only to a few men. Honey.”

Gosnell felt adrift and was frustrated because as sales manager, because he didn’t know what he was supposed to be selling. There was no actual product, and despite the influx of cash from investors, Carr’s checks were bouncing. Besides the finances of the company, Gosnell was also concerned about Carr’s frequent mysterious absences from the office and his casual attitude towards selling (and recording) stock shares. Due to his diminishing faith, there were several times Gosnell warned prospective investors away.

Carr began spending a lot of time in Oklahoma, and a big part of that was due to Lari Kendrick. In June of 1958, a flying saucer club was formed there, Horizons Unlimited, with Kendrick as president, and their first guest lecturer was Otis T. Carr. Kendrick a big supporter and encouraged Carr to build OTC Enterprises’ Space headquarters not in Maryland, but in Oklahoma City instead. There, Carr met with several prominent local business leaders, including oil millionaire Frank Buttram and E.K. Gaylord, the owner of the Daily Oklahoman and WKY-TV. James C. Burge, manager of the amusement park, Frontier City, U.S.A. Burge paid Carr $10,000 for the exclusive rights to build a replica of the OTC-X1 saucer as a feature ride in his new section called “Space Frontiers.” As part of the contract, Burge also became a shareholder in OTC for 21,000 shares, his total investment, $32,800. Carr was finding a lot to love about Oklahoma City.


 

Carr's Scientific Education 

Part of the Otis T. Carr’s legend was built on his status as a student of inventor Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943). Curiously, Tesla appeared nowhere in Carr’s 1952 Dimensions of Mystery or the original OTC promotional literature, but in time, became a prominent part of Carr’s mythology. It seems to have been a later addition, and the first mention of Tesla that we found was in Long John Nebel’s Party Line on April 19, 1958. Carr claimed that while working in New York as a package clerk at the Hotel Pennsylvania, he had befriended Nikola Tesla, who lived there in a suite. Supposedly, Tesla became his scientific mentor, nicknaming Carr “the sponge” because of his “ready ability to absorb and retain knowledge.” The 1944 biography, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla by John J. O`Neill (a personal friend of Tesla) detailed the inventor’s life during the period of the alleged Carr-Tesla friendship but contained no mention whatsoever of Otis. The UFO organization Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York (CSI) concluded that Carr knew nothing about the man and had manufactured the friendship after hearing about the saucer fringe’s veneration of Tesla. When Carr appeared on the Party Line program of June 28, 1958, he boasted of Tesla’s countless discoveries, prompting a panelist to ask him to name just one or two. Carr was stumped. “That's funny — I cannot remember even one.”

Since Carr had no scientific education, having Tesla as a secret mentor fixed that problem and supposedly explained why his inventions were so advanced beyond conventional science. Although Carr had no photos or correspondence to document his claim, supporters accepted Carr’s word as fact.

When Margaret Storm appeared with Carr and Norman Colton on the Long John Nebel show of July 11, 1958, she explained how she became involved with Carr, and why he was included in Return of the Dove, her book on Nikola Tesla: “...I had almost completed the book, when I learned that Mr. Otis T. Carr had been one of Tesla's disciples… I didn't spend very much time investigating him… I decided very quickly that his work belonged in the book.”

Storm’s chapter, “The Otis T. Carr Story,” explained that while Otis was not a Contactee, it was safe to assume that the space people had been carefully watching his work, and that, “Tesla and the Dove have assuredly directed it from the scientific department of Shamballa, making certain that it will fit into the Divine Plan at exactly the right moment.”

Returning to more earthly matters, during the show with Margaret Storm, Nebel asked Carr about whether OTC had stockholders. Otis replied there were some private stockholders, and he had a brokerage firm preparing a prospectus for the SEC, when approved, “our subsidiary stock will probably go on the market at ten dollars a share.” Colton later emphasized, OTC would not “offer the public a single share of stock... before we have made a physical demonstration of these principles in a flight-worthy craft.”

Despite his claims to the contrary, Colton was sending out letters from OTC Enterprises soliciting funds. FBI files contain a copy of a letter dated Aug. 20, 1958, stating: The development or our device has now reached a point where those, like yourself, who are interested in making an investment, either large or small, can take advantage of our partnership-option plan. These options are given on a dollar per share basis. They will be offered only until the date on which the demonstration model spacecraft is launched, or prior to the public stock offering.”

 

The OTC Moonshot

From the start Carr had said that his saucer could fly to the moon, but then he raised the stakes by announcing a deadline for the voyage. On August 7, 1958, Carr gave a lecture for the Baltimore Kiwanis Club where he announced that within 16 months, OTC would build a 45-foot saucer and launch it to the moon. About the same time, Dan Fry, the leader of Understanding Inc. stopped in Baltimore to visit with Carr. The two became friends and Carr traveled to the first Northern California Spacecraft Convention in Pleasanton on Aug. 23 & 24th, hosted by Fry’s friends. Understanding Sept. 1958 reported, “Major Wayne Aho did an excellent job as M.C., keeping the program moving... Among the outstanding new speakers was Otis Carr, from Baltimore, a dynamic and enthusiastic backer of Spacecraft… Free Energy and the Saucer principle... Other speakers were Dan Fry, Reinhold Schmidt... Calvin Girvin, Carl Anderson...” Carr also took part in a panel discussion there with Fry and Aho.

Flying Saucer Review Nov- Dec 1958
Wayne Aho was skilled at working the saucer convention and lecture circuit, and more importantly, the press. He had just wrapped up several months in a successful lecture tour partnership endorsing Reinhold O. Schmidt, the new Contactee who’d met the people from Saturn. Carr recognized Aho’s value and brought him into the OTC team. Carr always brought along a model of his saucer and the Utron as a visual aid to wow the crowd, but with Aho he had a good lecture partner and a living stage prop. At their first event together, Carr announced that Maj. Aho would join him on a flight to the moon set for Dec. 7, 1959.



Akron Beacon Journal, Sept. 7, 1958

The moon launch became the hook for Carr’s enterprise, and he and associates took it on the road for a bigger audience. Contactee Howard Menger held his own version of a Giant Rock Spacecraft convention, the "First East Coast Interplanetary Space Convention," held Sept. 13-14, 1958 at Swiftstream Farm, Lebanon, New Jersey. Flying Saucer Review, Nov.-Dec. 1958, reported: "Newspapermen, radio and TV reporters were there in force. Long John Nebel, of WOR's all night off-beat program was there with his crew of panel guests and technicians… Among the guest speakers were Major Wayne Aho, of Washington Saucer Intelligence; Otis T. Carr, designer of the world's first free energy device space ship; Norman Colton, Carr’s engineer; Margaret Storm, author of the forthcoming book Return of the Dove, about Nikola Tesla; Gray Barker, author of They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, and many others."

Carr and Aho at Menger's 1958 convention.

Carr with Aho, and Gray Barker of The Saucerian.

Menger’s space convention was where Eugene P. Carini first met Otis T. Carr, and he became a major supporter. Carini was an electronics buff with an interest in saucers and new energy sources, and they had a mutual friend in Margaret Storm. He began corresponding with Carr and visited him at his Baltimore headquarters. Within months, Carini offered his services as a technical consultant. More importantly, he contributed $10,000 to the OTC-X1 project, which also bought him the exclusive distribution and manufacturing rights for the area, as “OTC Enterprises of New England. Carr met Carini in New York City to pick up the check. Carini didn’t learn the rest of the story until much later. After meeting Carini, Carr went missing from Baltimore for three days. Fearing foul play, Bud Gosnell demanded to know what had happened to him, so Norman Colton and Hildegarde Shea went looking. They found Carr with the money in NYC at the Waldorf-Astoria, drunk to the point of being “well beyond taking care of himself.” Gosnell realized this solved the mystery of Carr’s many other absences. Under the merciful principles of A.A., Gosnell forgave Otis, remained loyal and offered his support.


On Tour


Carr and Aho toured throughout the country in September and October, appearing at high schools, Masonic temples, civic clubs - anywhere, for anyone that would host them. On Oct. 12, Carr and Aho spoke in Kansas City, MO, for 
the U.F.O. Study Club. Members asked what he thought he might be on the moon and Carr replied, "We expect to find bases there established by beings from other worlds."

News Journal, Sept. 30, 1958

 At lectures such as these, FBI files show that they collected donations of $2 “per person to help finance Carr’s anticipated trip to the moon.” The FBI was watching in part because they had received a citizen’s letter warning that Wayne Aho might be impersonating a military officer, so the agency began an investigation into his identity and credentials. Aho might have exploited his status as a retired Army intelligence officer, but that alone was not a criminal offense for the FBI to pursue.

WKY News Oct. 1958
WKY-TV News inOklahoma City covered one of the Carr-Aho lecture appearances there from Oct. 1958 and filmed a rare surviving on-camera interview with the pair. From Understanding, Oct. 1958:“Major Wayne S. Aho, Director of Washington Saucer Intelligence (along with his bride, Dorothy), and Mr. Otis T. Carr, Inventor of the OTC-X1 Spaceship, who also heads OTC Enterprises of Baltimore, Maryland, will be speaking in California during the month of November for most of the Flying Saucer Groups and for others. They have just finished a lecture tour of the Central and Northern States and will return to Washington and Baltimore by way of the Southern States.” 


Carr’s contract with James C. Burge for the OTC-X1 space ship ride at Frontier City, U.S.A. was taking shape, and information about it appeared in the park’s promotional material and in the media. “Frontier City Due Expansion” was the headline for the story in The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Nov. 23, 1958. “Twenty-six new rides and concessions... will be installed at Frontier City, U.S.A., now undergoing an $800,000 expansion program... There will be room for 35 passengers in the cabin of an aluminum ‘saucer’ which is the exact model of a space ship, now being designed by Otis T. Carr, Maryland scientist, for his proposed trip to the moon in December 1959. The outside shell of the ‘saucer’ will orbit counter-clockwise and the inside, clock-wise. Passengers will get the effect of floating through space by a hydraulic lift. Inner workings of the space ship can be seen by passengers through a plexiglass window. A lecture prepared by Mr. Carr will be tape recorded and played each time to explain the project to the visitors. Frontier City has the exclusive rights to the cable car and spaceship rides for one year.” Carr’s ride would complete the illusion of space flight with “an animated movie of heavenly bodies above the passengers to give the passengers an impression of leaving the earth and approaching a distant planet…” The spaceship ride might stand on its own, but its design and promotion were tied to the successful flight of Otis T. Carr’s saucer to the moon.


The Occult Studies of Otis T. Carr

Norman Colton was always hustling for the OTC brand. Lance Moody contacted Colton’s son, Richard around 2001. “He told me a great story about his dad calling him in Baltimore from NY and asking him to bring up one of the models to him for a radio appearance. So, the boy, very young 10-12 got on the train to bring it up to NY.” Carr and Colton travelled a lot in promotion, frequently to appear on Long John Nebel's show.

Photo and caption from Carr's model literature.

On Nov. 15, 1958 Otis T. Carr & Norman Colton paid another visit to the Party Line. Nebel expressed concern about the shift in Carr’s focus, saying, “you seem to be getting involved in metaphysics, in the occult… bringing a little mysticism into something that originally you presented as something you considered to be scientific.” Carr replied that he considered all his work to be scientific, but “There is nothing wrong with mysticism… It is knowledge, gained by a past. We have had some training in these fields and have been a great help to us in the further development of our enterprise.”

After getting a non-answer from Carr on a question about saucer kooks, Nebel asked Norman Colton about OTC’s association with the Contactees, saying, “...as a director of a corporation, if you tie up with Van Tassel, and the Dan Fry, and the Menger, and the Adamski stories, it is only natural for people listening to presume that you have a lot of wild tales too.” Colton replied, “...if your assumption is that we discolor ourselves by association... Mr. Carr's appearances before them and among them have resulted in very wide publicity and very serious identification for the principles he has set forth. This has been our purpose, our mission... very largely accomplished...”

Later in the show, a Party Line listener asked Carr why he was associated with the Rosicrucians, “a metaphysical group.” Carr replied, “There is nothing mysterious about the mystical, as we have mentioned before - it is a path of learning. It is a very happy, wonderful organization. We have found much information in there that is actable to science.” Nebel was often frustrated by Carr’s balderdash-laden rhetoric, and later asked a follow-up question, “Mr. Carr, again, as a scientist, as an inventor, as a pioneer in space. Don't you think it's a little ridiculous to constantly tie in metaphysics into this subject, sir?” True to form, Carr replied, “The definition of metaphysics is oftentimes loosely used.”

Long John Nebel’s concern about Carr’s fringe associations were sincere, but he was likely was unaware of how central they were to the enterprise. Carr was a Rosicrucian, a member of the “The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosæ Crucis” (AMORC). The Rosicrucians fancy themselves to be the caretakers of secret ancient wisdom, guarded through the centuries until the time is right to share it with the world. Carr was doing his part. In 1958 OTC Enterprises quietly began publishing occult books as “Millennium Publications.” Carr later talked about his interest in the occult in a 1960 interview with True magazine reporter Richard Gehman, saying, “We always were of an inquiring mind. We have explored the philosophies of the Rosicrucians and the Russian lady, Madam Blatafsky. We also have been interested in Christian Science and other metaphysical and occult groups seeking better understanding.” Carr mangled the name, he was referring to Helena P. Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society, and the last part referred to Dan Fry’s Understanding, Inc.


Carr also told Gehman about his flying saucer sighting from April 1952, “…by the time my startlement and amazement had completely registered, the craft was gone. It disappeared as quickly as a soap bubble. The descriptions that have been given by people who have made contact have invariably identified such a craft as a Venusian scout ship.” That’s the model of saucer George Adamski first described. Another area of Carr’s studies was
The Oahspe Bible, of which he said, “This is one of the most profound scientific documents ever published! Isn’t anything Dr. Einstein ever found out that isn’t in here! Space ships, landings, cosmology - everything!”

Build Your Own Saucer

Otis T. Carr began marketing the company’s first physical product in October, a set of model plans for the “OTC-X1 Space Craft” sold at $5, two for $9, or three for $12. The 17’ x 22” color plans were mailed in a tube and could double as decorative posters. In connection with this product, Carr had his concepts copyrighted, not patented: the Carrotto Gravity Motor, the Utron Electric Battery/Utron electrical accumulator, and the OTC-X1 space craft, all © 1958.

Link to PDF of the 4-page model brochure

Carr brought his soon-to-be released model plans to the Party Line show. Long John Nebel found it to be a strange venture and asked why he was selling them. Carr told him it was a good way to accelerate interest in the space age, and to educate the public about the technology that would replace rockets. “If they will take these plans... and faithfully follow them...  they can then... order machine made parts... and when properly qualified to do so... they can build a model that will fly. Not only in our atmosphere... but out of it.” Nebel asked about his own success and Carr said he had built a flying model himself, “That's the one that's missing.” He said it flew away and was lost - apparently in space.

Advertisements for the model plans were sent to names on the OTC mailing list, and it promised excitement:

“ANIMATE IT! SEE IT WORK! EVEN FLY IT YOURSELF! 
(Under proper qualification, of course).”

 The flyer also offered information on how to become an “exclusive distributor” for OTC Enterprises, which involved the purchase of shares of stock in the company. Carr was trying to pitch these to the toy market and leased an office in Homestead, Pennsylvania to do so. As for the question of “proper qualification” to fly the Carr Model, there was a section in the plans, “Who Qualifies?” Sorry kids, only “people already engaged in an aircraft production or the making of energy machines of older kinds… mature professional people at all levels… of laboratory research and development in our institutions and industries.”

The model plans also included a note that for $5.00 you could receive a kit of literature including photos, a copy of the OTC brochure and Carr’s book, Dimensions of Mystery,“100 pages of revelation and prophecy in mystical allegory.”

Dimensions of Mystery: A Message for the Twentieth Century was written by Carr in March of 1952, but not published until 1958. Up until then, Carr had presented himself as a scientific inventor, and this was the first hint of his occult interests. Carr’s colleague, Margaret Storm said, “It makes delightful reading for everyone, but will be of especial significance to all true mystics, adepts, and other illuminati.” In the segment, “Mystical Revelations,” Carr told how in 1909, at the age of five years, the Sphinx appeared to him and said, "Earth child, thou who wast chosen by the Cosmic at the turn of the century for a particular task...” But it wasn’t until 1938 when his second message came to clarify his mission, “Build thyself atomic-powered aircraft of circular foil, as it were, a wheel within a wheel, and I will join thee on thy ascent to Heaven where we will shake our fists in the face of the Omnipotent God!” Carr’s concluding “Testament” explained that “...within these pages in simple words and phrases, yet hard to decipher are the complete specifications for a fourth dimensional gravity engine that utilizes the straight line and the curve! This engine will operate continuously without tension or the dissipation of the energy that causes it to operate!”

In his marketing of OTC Enterprises, Norman Colton downplayed Carr’s occult side and pitched the message as more conventional, about science, industry, and progress. However, Carr spent most of the end of 1958 lecturing with Wayne Aho for Units of Contactee Dan Fry’s spiritually themed flying saucer organization, Understanding, Inc. While on tour they were photographed for the Tucson Daily Citizen, Dec. 5, 1958, “Uneasy Over Trip To Moon? Not Flying Saucer Man Aho” by Jack Carson. Aho stated, “I hope that by this trip we can do something to bring a peaceful space age into being.”

Tucson Daily Citizen, Dec. 5, 1958

One of the few negative pieces on OTC was the exposé in Saucer News, Dec/Jan 1958-59, “Otis T. Carr and the Free Energy Principle,” written by Robert J. Durant (of Donald Keyhoe’s NICAP). Referring to Carr’s pseudo-scientific double-talk, Durant said, “For all most people know, he might well be a great scientist. After all, he is completely unintelligible, isn’t he?” Most notably he reported that OTC Enterprises was selling stock, perhaps the first public disclosure of the crime.

Meanwhile, back in Baltimore, Bud Gosnell was one of the few original supporters still on board with OTC Enterprises. Four founding players had left, including George Mahone and Ralph Elsmo. Although funds from wealthy investors were coming in, Gosnell was becoming increasingly unhappy with how the company operated. When Otis T. Carr announced that he had decided to transfer all operations from Baltimore to Oklahoma City it was the breaking point for Gosnell. He wrote a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 3, 1959, informing them of the illegal practices of OTC Enterprises and told them about the several of Carr’s big investors, including: Eugene Carini and his $10,000; K. M. Jesse of Wichita, Kansas, who had invested and set up the OTC Commercial Corporation; Frank Santora of Wilmington, Delaware, who pledged $10,000; and Dr. and Mrs. Jenkins of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, who put in “several thousands.” Gosnell stayed with OTC, apparently in hopes of recovering his lost investments and to keep an eye on things for the SEC.

Back in Oklahoma, Carr’s contract with Frontier City was on the verge of making something real. The saucer ride was being constructed, and the OTC-X1 prototype was scheduled to be launched for its opening day in April 1959.

Continue reading

Part 2:

 Countdown to the Saucer Launch

2 comments:

  1. This is a monumental work, Curt! Kudos!

    ReplyDelete
  2. At the center of this whole thing was the Utron Electrical Accumulator. I'm thinking that Carr may have gotten the idea for those from Wilhelm Reich and his Orgone Accumulators. I swear, that 'in two planes bisecting the central axis it's a square and in the other plane it's a circle' line.. That has got to be the ultimate 'if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with b***s***' sales point of all time.
    I guess shaping these things to look like little teddy bears wouldn't be as convincing to potential investors would it?

    ReplyDelete

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