Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dr. Hynek's Record of UFO Encounters


There's a strange relationship between fact and fiction in the UFO business. J. Allen Hynek consulted for the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, had a cameo role, and he also wrote the epilogue for the novelization. The publisher, Dell, also issued the non-fiction The Hynek UFO Report, which is regarded as a classic. Without Hynek, there might not have been a CE3K, and if not for the film, the Hynek book might not exist. Or some other commercial products.


Panama City News, March 28, 1966 

Dr. Hynek began working for a consultant for the Air Force in 1948, providing them with explanations for UFO sightings based on his knowledge of astronomy, but did so in relative obscurity. At the Detroit Press Club, on March 26, 1966 Hynek was propelled into the public spotlight, initially unfavorably, due to his remarks about “swamp gas.” Nevertheless, he became the top authority on the UFO topic, and in demand. In a heel/face turn, he went from being the Air Force’s senior debunker to being the most famous UFO advocate. Jacques Vallee, from Forbidden Science Vol. I, his entry for 11 April 1967:

"I miss the days when he was not such a celebrity... The topic has become fashionable entertainment, not serious science. Media men hire Allen as they would hire a guitar player. He rushes wherever he sees a spotlight, and if the spotlight moves he moves with it."


Jacques Vallee described Hynek’s gig as a consultant for Stephen Spielberg’s UFO movie in Forbidden Science Vol. II, in his entry for Friday 27 August 1976:

“Allen called me last night, cheerful... Dell is sending two writers to help him with a hurriedly-compiled paperback about Project Blue Book. As for the Spielberg movie, he will indeed have a silent role in it, making his way to the front of a crowd of technical people who surround the first landed saucer. I'd love to see the out-takes: They shot a sequence where Aliens surrounded him, pulled on his beard, took his pipe and poked it into their nose.”


Hynek took an active role in helping promote the film and appeared in the theatrical trailer for it.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind theatrical trailer

The book he and the ghost writers cranked out was The Hynek UFO Report, which hit the market in late 1977 to cash in on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and his epilogue for the movie novelization closed with a plug for his Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and their magazine, International UFO Reporter.  

UFO Encounters: The Record Album


Dr. J. Allen Hynek and his Center for UFOs Studies were partners in the production of a double LP audio documentary, Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters. A news story in The Chicago Tribune, Jan. 14, 1979, told how the project began when Investigative Research Associates approached Hynek at a UFO convention in 1977. Hynek was initially reluctant, fearing it would be “schlocky,” but IRA convinced him of their sincerity, so together they set out to cover the most significant cases and record first-hand testimony about them.

The Chicago Tribune, Jan. 14, 1979

Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters was a two-disc LP, also released on cassette and 8-track tape. It was released in 1978 on the IRA label.


It was reviewed in UFO publications such as the A.P.R.O. Bulletin, but the most comprehensive review was in the MUFON UFO Journal, Feb. 1980,“In Others' Words” by Lucius Farish: 

“A new 2-album record set, "UFO Encounters," presents an interesting selection of testimonies and opinions by UFO witnesses and researchers. Contributors to the album include Kenneth Arnold, Colonel Robert Friend (former Project Blue Book Director), Bill Pecha, Ted Phillips, Travis Walton, Father William Gill, Herbert Schirmer, former Air Force Major Paul A. Duich,

Louise Smith, Leonard Stringfield, Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle, Betty Hill, Marjorie Fish, Stanton Friedman, former astronaut Gordon Cooper, Jacques Vallee, David Saunders, and others. An additional bonus is President Carter's personal recounting of his 1969 UFO sighting. A special section inside the album cover contains 6 pages of UFO photographs, plus photos of most of the persons heard in the records. Some of the material relating to "crashed saucer" stories seem questionable, but all in all, this is a good selection of recorded UFO material. Available from: Investigative Research Associates, Inc., Suite W, 430 West Diversey Parkway, Chicago, Illinois 60614; the price is $8.95.” 

 Crashed Saucer Investigation

 The red banner across the cover of the album touted “Crashed Saucer Investigation,” and the interior, a described the track:

“Since the 1940s, rumors have circulated indicating the possibility that extraterrestrial spacecraft have crashed on Earth and have been recovered by the American military. Investigative Research Associates decided to pursue these reports…”

The segment is interesting in that it documents the marketability of crashed UFO stories even before the revival of the Roswell incident. I had begun when Robert Spencer Carr rekindled interest in a discredited aspect of ufology in 1974 by reviving the story of little men found in a saucer in Aztec, New Mexico. Leonard Stringfield was the chief crashed UFO researcher, but for the album, even Dr. Hynek got in on the act.

The “Crashed Saucer Investigation” was the next to last track on the album. It opened with former astronaut Col. Gordon Cooper vaguely discussing second-hand rumors he’d heard about saucer crashes:

“There were some accident involving a UFO, and from there it varies greatly. There were occupants and in each of the rumors that I've heard, but from there on, it varies greatly as to whether they were all alive, or some alive, or what the extent of damage was to them, and then as to what happened to them is quite variable. The particular rumors aren't necessarily from people who've been involved, but they come from so many different sources, that it would lead you to believe that it certainly is worth investigating a little further.”

Dr. Hynek shared his view:

“Over the years, these rumors have persisted. Hardly a week goes by without my being asked about the ‘crashed saucer’ stories. My response to these rumors has always been complete skepticism. Recently however, some of my colleagues, Investigative Research Associates, have probed into these stories and some intriguing information has surfaced. I believe it is quite worthwhile to let listeners to this record have the benefit of some preliminary findings.”

Hynek went on to introduce the (now-discredited) story of Robert B. Willingham and his recovery of a piece of a crashed UFO at Del Rio, NM, in 1948.

Next, Herbert Coyer told about a story he heard from an aide to an Army general about a 1951 saucer crash at White Sands where alien bodies were recovered and an autopsy was performed. Both Willingham and Coyer’s stories featured metal from the UFO that was incredibly tough and could not be burned or cut, a detail we’d see hear again when the Roswell crash was resurrected.

The Final Track: Summaries and Theories 

The final segment was “Summaries and Theories,” which featured comments from Stanton Friedman, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Dr.  Jacques Vallee, and Dr. David Saunders. Hynek suggested that UFOs might be from another dimension or a parallel reality rather than being something from another faraway planet. He was the researcher given the last word on the album and drifted a bit into mystic concepts:

“The idea of other intelligences in space is not so radical or new. It's in both the ancient Eastern religions and the more modern faiths. The prophets in the Bible and many philosophers have been telling us for centuries that there are other planes of existence. So why do we find it so difficult to acknowledge that there might be other highly developed life forms or forms of consciousness that might surpass our own? In fact, it is now widely accepted that the universe may well be teeming with life.”

Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters is worth a listen, for the chance to hear rare recordings with witness and researchers, and for a look at the state of serious ufology at the time it was recorded. The full album is available via YouTube. 

 Another version features each track individually. Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters

UFOs and science fiction have a complicated history together, and there’s no doubt there has been a mutual exploitative relationship. That’s show business, and it makes for some strange bedfellows. 

Dr. Hynek with characters from Star Wars, and with Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame. 

Track Listing and Credits

Below are the track titles and lengths to Factual Eyewitness Testimony of: UFO Encounters, followed by the album’s credits.

Introduction 4:24

Foo Fighters 2:08

Kenneth Arnold Sighting 3:40

Government Involvement 2:04

Simi Valley Sighting (CE-I) 5:08

Pecha Case (CE-I) 5:44

James Richard Case (CE-II) 6:59

Travis Walton Abduction (CE-III) 15:44

Father William Gill Sighting (CE-III) 4:51

Officer Herbert Schirmer Abduction (CE-III) 8:29

Louise Smith / Kentucky Women Abduction (CE-III) 7:20

Charles R McQuiston PSE Evaluation Summary 1:14

Betty and Barney Hill Abduction (CE-III) 7:42

Crashed Saucer Investigation 10:09

Summaries and Theories 4:46

 Credits, as listed on the back cover:

Produced by: Investigative Research Associates, Inc., Chicago, Illinois. 
Producer: Steve Cronen. Exec. Prod.: Ben Christ.
Scientific Consultants: Center for UFO Studies, Evanston Illinois, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Sherman
J. Larsen.
Investigation, Research, Writing: Peter Bordwell, Steve [Thom].
Narration: Walt Peters.
Music: DeWolfe Music, Inc. 
Music Coordination: Walt Peters. 
Musical Effects: Ron Figura.
Recorded at: Starbeat Recording Studios, Deerfield, Illinois. 
Engineering, Editing & Mix: Steve Cronen.
Album Design: Steve Schaul.
Album Cover Trifid Nebula Photo: Copyright by the California Institute of Technology and the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Reproduced by permission from the Hale Observatories UFO Photos & Documents: Center For UFO Studies.


 . . .

Close Encounters: The Slide Show

Dr. Hynek had been involved in some other commercial enterprises before the Spielberg movie. In 1976 he had produced a set of UFO slides and audiotapes for Edmund Scientific, but with release of CE3K, it was a hotter item.

It was advertised in Popular Science and was featured in an article in the April 1978 debut issue of Future magazine (the companion to Starlog). Below is a YouTube video of the Hynek audio, sadly without the accompanying slides shown.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Saucer Pin-up Girls of 1947


There have always been objects in the sky that could not be identified; therefore, UFOs are real. But what’s said and printed about UFOs is often far from reality. From the start, there was a lot of sensationalism and exploitation.

Flying saucers made a splash in late June 1947, but newspapers need photographs to go with the stories, and those were in short supply. An early example of a semi-legitimate saucer picture was produced by the Central Press, which distributed news photos for International Soundphoto, a photowire service. Farmer Sherman Campbell found a rawin target on his farm, but his daughter Jane was photographed holding the “flying disc” for the camera. (The next day, another rawin target was in the news from Roswell, New Mexico.)

Jane Campbell, 17, of Chillicothe, Ohio, exhibits an unidentified mechanism which fell from a balloon and landed on her father's farm. The father, Sherman Campbell, said the vaned object, may have caused some of the reports of “'flying discs.”

The same day, and in the weeks that followed, there were many less legitimate photographs, some of them more in the way of pin-ups. Newspapers staged their own photos, often printing pictures of pretty young women allegedly searching for saucers, or posing with bogus UFOs, or sometimes no saucer at all, just mentioned in the caption. A few novelty pieces featured flying saucer hats or other out-of-this-world fashions.

The Decatur Herald, July 7, 1947

The Dispatch, July 7, 1947

The Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1947

The Miami News, July 7, 1947

The Dayton Journal, July 8, 1947


WHO SAYS THOSE FLYING SAUCERS are just high-powered hallucinations? If you do, check this, son. ...Journal Reporter Mary Ellen Lynch makes a stab for her first saucer. Reaction: "Whatta jar!" 

The Daily Times, July 9, 1947

The News-Herald, July 10, 1947

Syracuse Herald Journal, July 12, 1947

The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 13, 1947

The Madera Tribune, July 16, 1947

Vilnis, July 25, 1947

The Victoria Advocate, June 15, 1950

Vilnis, July 25, 1947

Science fiction pulps had long featured buxom damsels in distress. 

Amazing Stories, Feb. 1942, Dec. 1945

Once saucers were proven to be an enduring product, publishers borrowed the concept, and even some of the same artists.

When Behind The Flying Saucers by Frank Scully was issued in paperback in 1951, it featured a painting on the cover by Earle Bergey.

Startling Stories, March 1951 and Frank Scully's book.

When the first full-length motion picture about an extraterrestrial flying saucer was released in April 1951, the ads and poster for The Thing from Another World prominently featured actress Margaret Sheridan.

Later that year, the second ET saucer film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, also featured a damsel in distress in the promotional art.

 Many subsequent posters followed the example, regardless of the films’ content.

Invaders from Mars, 1953, The 27th Day, 1957

It wasn't just Hollywood. Life magazine published perhaps the second most important article in UFO history. Their issue dated April 7, 1952, featuring the bold declaration, "There Is A Case For Interplanetary Saucers." H. B. Darrach Jr. and Robert Ginna's article, "Have We Visitors from Space?" provided millions of readers with a non-threatening introduction to the hypothesis of an extraterrestrial origin for flying saucers. 

However, the image used for the magazine's cover, was not of UFOs, but a photograph of Marilyn Monroe.

For good or bad, UFOs have been routinely marketed with a sexual tease from 1947 up to today. We’ll close this entry on exploitation with two more examples on the less serious side.

Actress Penny Edwards in a 1950s publicity still from Republic Pictures.

Finally, “Miss Flying Saucer” by legendary pin-up artist Bill Randall.

From the 1959 Date Book Calendar published by the Osborne Kemper Thomas Calendar Company.

. . .

Thanks to UFOPOP: Flying Saucers in Popular Culture for a few of these entries. 

Frank Edwards: Making UFOs Newsworthy

Dr. J. Allen Hynek on UFO literature (in  The Edge of Reality , 1975): “If I were to recommend anything in the popular category, I would cho...