Friday, February 19, 2021

George W. Earley on the Rational Study of UFOs


George W. Earley was an aircraft engineer, a writer, a lecturer, a Fortean, and a strong advocate for the scientific study of UFOs. Since 1940, Earley was an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and active in its fandom, with many of his letters appearing in club newsletters and national magazines.

Startling Stories, Sept. 1949

Earley’s obituary goes into further detail on his otherworldly pursuits:

“For 50 years, George was a prolific freelance writer, exploring a wide range of interests: science fiction, space exploration, photography, Dixieland jazz, conservation, and what he termed ‘unexplained phenomena’… In 1968 he published an anthology of science fiction titled Encounters with Aliens. He wrote letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, and other articles for newspapers on both coasts. He formed a Connecticut chapter of the National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena…”

In 1961, Earley was appointed a national adviser for NICAP’s Panel of Special Advisers and was one of its most an influential members.

On May 15-18, 1967, Earley gave an outstanding lecture on the UFO topic for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Conference at the Americana Hotel in New York City. It was a realistic overview of the first 20 years of the phenomena for the general public, and concluded by insisting that it was worthy of "a more extensive investigation." The NICAP site hosts the entire lecture, Unidentified Flying Objects: An Historical Perspective.

Earley attended a less serious gathering in the same city later the next month. It was Jim Moseley’s New York UFO Convention, but he found it far too full of entertainment and Contactees for a “Congress of Scientific Ufologists.” Earley’s unfavorable review was published in the Hartford Courant, July 9, 1967, called "Hippies, Old Ladies, Over 30 Types Orbit in Flying Saucer Circles." See: The UFO Anniversary and the Giant New York Convention of 1967

Earley’s 1968 book combined two of his greatest interests science fiction and UFOs. Ivan Sanderson wrote the introduction to this collection of stories examining the possibility that UFOs are manned by intelligent beings from outer space, and it was titled, Encounters with Aliens: UFO's and Alien Beings in Science Fiction. The anthology featured works by Theodore Sturgeon, Mack Reynolds, Robert F. Young, Avram Davidson, Richard Wilson, and other authors.

Advertisement for the Science Fiction Book Club

Over the years, Earley contributed articles to many UFO and science fiction magazines, Fate magazine, Pursuit, Saucer News, Official UFO, Amra, Beyond Reality, and letters of comment to many, many more. 
Beyond Reality no. 9, May/June 1974, page 39

Beyond Reality no. 31, April 1978, Review of the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

In his UFO writing, Earley interviewed figures from across the belief spectrum, such as skeptic Philip Klass, alien abduction researcher Budd Hopkins, and paranormal researcher Dr. Jacques Vallee. Earley encouraged the exploration of the unknown, but stressed the need for rational evaluation of the data his 1983 letter to the APRO Bulletin:

“There is, it seems to me, a disquieting tendency in some ufological circles these days not only towards uncritical acceptance of many claims/reports, but of accusing those who would question such claims of being [debunkers] or dupes of the CIA.” 

Earley in the the 21st Century

In later years, Earley was a columnist and contributing editor for Bill and Nancy Birnes’ UFO Magazine, and wrote the column, “The Opinionated Oregonian”

UFO Magazine, Oct. 2010 (PDF)

George Earley's connection to the Birnes resulted in him being featured in the first episode of UFO Hunters, “The UFO Before Roswell” about the story of the alleged saucer debris recovered at Maury Island. Later, he was a guest on the Birnes' radio show, Future Theater, July 2011 , where he discussed the history of the Horten wing and addressed Annie Jacobsen’s claims that a was behind the Roswell incident. He also spoke about his research on the Maury Island hoax.

UFO Hunters, “The UFO Before Roswell”

In 2014, Earley wrote  to Loren Coleman, giving an update on his retirement. 

"Be advised this 'dinosaur' of ufology is still alive and reasonably well. At 87, I may be one of the few left who read the original news story on the Arnold sighting..."

Coleman printed the letter as “Old Ufologist Replies To Young Ufologists.” It seems to have been Earley's final published thoughts on the UFO topic.

A Look Back at How it All Began

Finally, we’d like to remember George W. Earley by presenting a collection of his writings from the beginning of his UFO days up until the time he formed a Connecticut chapter of NICAP. 

The first UFO letter we located was from 1955, Earley would have been 28 years old at the time. It was a book review of George Adamski’s Inside the Space Ships.

Hartford Courant, Aug. 7, 1955.

Spaceman: Bookshelf, reviews of Harold T. Wilkins’ Flying Saucers on the Attack, Donald Keyhoe’s The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, and Edward Ruppelt’s The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.

Hartford Courant, June 3, 1956

Spaceman: Bookshelf, reviews including: Aime Michel’s The Truth about Flying Saucers, Gray Barker’s They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, and Truman Betherum’s Aboard a Flying Saucer.

Hartford Courant, Sept. 23, 1956

Review of Arthur Constance’s promotion of “Saucerian Doctrine” in The Inexplicable Sky.

Hartford Courant, Oct. 27, 1957

Letter to the Editor on UFO sightings and NICAP.

Hartford Courant, Dec. 28, 1958

Saucers Analyzed, reviews of Dr. Carl Jung’s Flying Saucers, and Aime Michel’s Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery.

Hartford Courant, May 29, 1960

Letter to the Editor on the diversity of UFO shapes.

Hartford Courant, Oct. 3, 1961

Letter to the Editor on John Glenn’s “space fireflies.”

Hartford Courant, May 5, 1962

Letter to the Editor on the formation of NICAP-CONN.

Hartford Courant, Dec. 17, 1962

That’s how he got his start, and from there Earley was an important voice for NICAP and a rational advocate in the support of research into unidentified aerial phenomena.

The Bridgeport Post,  May 14,1967

George W. Earley, was born February 15, 1927 and died on October 28, 2020. Below is a link to his full obituary:


1 comment:

  1. I knew George Earley. Phil Klass introduced us, sometime during the 70s. I remember going over to his apartment in DC. He was a very genial fellow, he liked to talk. He didn't go for any of the far-out stuff.


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