Thursday, July 29, 2021

Hey, Kids! Hoax UFOs!

Real UFO sightings in 1947 inspired flying saucer hoaxes and the exploitation of the topic for sales and marketing. It took a while for hoaxing to be commercialized for the retail market, but by the early 1960s, kids were being encouraged to buy and fly their own phony saucers.

"Out of this world (it even looks like a flying saucer when inflated!)... The neighbors will run screaming!"  Versions of the ad below ran in Warren magazines such as SpacemanFamous Monsters, and Creepy from the 1960s into the 1970s.

The Space Age Distributing Company began manufacturing and advertising a 9-foot hot-air balloon in 1964.

Within two years, the company offered a similar product in the shape of a flying saucer. The ad below is from Boys' Life July 1966. "Are these what people are seeing?"

Similar advertisements ran in other magazines and comic books, like this one from the Johnson Smith Co. circa 1968, featuring two pesky UFO suspects. 

Both the balloon and saucer required considerable assembly, probably a disappointment for most buyers. Wire, sting and tissue paper were included, but the builder supplied his own glue. The saucer model was included white tissue paper for the body, red to be used to paste on "portholes."

Unlike most hot-air balloons, these were not self-propelled by candles or any internal flame. The balloons were made to be filled with indirect hot air from a flame, rise for a relatively short flight, and then fall to be recovered for the next launch.

The product was advertised by by Edmund Scientific Co. as, "Hot Air Flying Saucer Kit." This ad ran in Popular Science throughout 1970. The version pictured below also included an ad for "Giant Weather Balloons."

UFO Cases

There's at least one instance of a similar balloon being reported as a UFO.

UFO Photographs: Portraits of a Myth? by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
(page 41 of the PDF)
"MESA, ARIZONA:  On November 11, 1972, a group of children in Mesa, Arizona, were playing in the garden when they saw a strange object hovering in the sky. One neighbour, Mr. Lee Elders came out and took several photographs during the long period the object stayed there, so much that witnesses preferred to went home to watch a football match on TV! Here, a couple of the photos. 
This object was later on identified as a tethered, helium balloon sold by Edmund Scientific Co."
There was another Arizona case where such a balloon was a suspect. Ufologist Raymond E. Fowler wondered if there was some hot air involved in the 1975 Travis Walton UFO abduction case. He thought it could have been staged by... 
"Planting an accomplice(s) behind the pile of slash with a flash-gun and a tethered glowing (from candles within) 'flying saucer model' such as sold by Edmund Science. (See attachment). If one allows for some misconception, by the innocent observers and exaggerations by the hoaxers, the model (powered by hot air) would look similar to the sketch made by the witnesses. The 'ribs' for example, which are not usually reported by other legitimate observers, would be reported if such a model were employed."
Raymond E. Fowler letter to J. Allen Hynek,  Feb. 11, 1976 (page 39 of PDF)

Later versions of the saucer product were called, "The Original Space Age U.F.O." The pictures below are from an old eBay auction listing.

The hot-air saucer product was sold throughout the 1970s. The last ad we spotted for it was in the Johnson Smith's Fun Catalog in 1979, rechristened "9-Ft. flying U.F.O." 

Were these big hot air balloons responsible for UFO sightings in the 1960s and 1970s? Unless modified with an internal heat source, for or self-propulsion, these couldn't fly very high or far. The flimsy paper construction would billow in motion, not providing the illusion of a solid metallic craft. It's possible, a few people might have been taken in, but unlikely that anyone who got a good look was fooled. 

Hot air balloons with internal heat sources can fly high and long enough to be seen at great distances, and have been responsible for many UFO sightings over the years. Back around the 1960s most youthful hoaxers preferred to build rather than buy balloons or sky lanterns, making them from plastic bags and candles. See our earlier article, The U.S. Air Force vs Man-made UFOs for several documented cases.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Claude Degler, One of The Ufologists That Time Forgot

A short article on one the brief career of one of the earliest and most obscure flying saucer authors.

Claude Williamson Degler of Newcastle, Indiana, was a legendary figure in early science fiction fandom. He was known not only for his zealotry in promoting the idea that SF fans represented an evolutionary bound forward, but also for his unprecedented ability to make an unwanted guest of himself at the homes of fans across the nation. Due to his extreme beliefs, Degler became an outcast in science fiction circles in the mid-1940s. Shunned in part because he had delivered a message from extraterrestrials in 1941. 

The only known photo of Degler scanned from Harry Warner's All Our Yesterdays.

From the The Canadian Fancyclopedia:
"Late in the 1941 Denver World (Science Fiction) Convention Western Union delivered a telegram... but the infamous Claude Degler got a hold of it and insisted on reading it aloud to the congoers, arguing that it was most likely not a hoax. The telegram claimed to be from Martians dwelling secretly among us Earthlings, the vanguard of a vast migration... Martians were fond of Science Fiction fans because "fans are evolved centuries beyond their times..." 

What makes Claude Degler a Ufologist that Time Forgot is the fact that he's responsible for the first publication devoted to flying saucers, Weird Unsolved Mysteries in the fall of 1947. It was published by Degler using the pseudonym John Chrisman. Weird Unsolved Mysteries was a 16-page mimeographed fan magazine. It's very rare, but the bulk of it was reprinted by Loren Gross in The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse UFOs: A History 1947, August 1st - December 31st Supplemental Notes, 2001, starting on page 57.

It provides an excellent snapshot of the first few months of the flying saucer mystery. Writing as Chrisman, he presented reports on UFOs from various sources, from Kenneth Arnold and Roswell, to some of the early hoaxes, and discussions from prominent figures speculating on saucer's origins. In his his policy statement Degler said:
"A very long time before the erstwhile 'Flying Saucers' made their flashing debut above the peaceful Cascade countryside of Washington and eventually on the front pages of the nation's newspapers... we had thought about issuing such a magazine as this, but not necessarily about 'flying discs or saucers.' Because we had not yet ever heard of them, save in the collected clippings of Charles Fort... It took us ultramoderns in this age of cynicism, the year 1947 A.D., to tack that descriptive appellation on what has quite evidently been a phenomenon of quite long standing."
This was apparently Degler's sole publishing foray into the world of UFOs. Degler had made a huge impact on the early science fiction fan club scene, but virtually vanished after a few years.

According to, Degler dropped out of fandom but, "In (Sept.) 1950... Degler showed up at the Norwescon in Portland and presented a motion to the convention that it should officially denounce communism." Later that year, there was serious trouble back home, Degler's brother murdered their mother and subsequently committed suicide. Claude was questioned, but had been in another city at the time. See, "Worker Ends Own Life, Bares Mother's Killing,"  The Indianapolis Star Indianapolis, IN, Nov 1, 1950.

Claude Degler did not surface again until he was seen at a Oklahoma science fiction convention in 1957. He surfaced for the last time decades later at a convention in Indiana in 1981, and said he was living in an Indianapolis suburb. 

For more on the saga of Claude Degler and his cosmic Circle, see: 

and the entry at

Thursday, July 1, 2021

The UFO Prophecy of Frederick G. Hehr

Chariots of the Gods? popularized the ancient astronaut theory in the 1960s, saying that in ancient times extraterrestrials landed on Earth in spaceships and guided the development of mankind. It was not new. The idea of ancient aliens was first published by an engineer and prophet in 1929. 

Frederick G. Hehr (1890 - 1970)

A Pioneering Ufologist that Time Forgot

The coming of the saucers in 1947 launched the public’s fascination with unidentified flying objects. However, there were people already quietly pondering aerial mysteries and extraterrestrial visitation, individually and in groups, long before flying saucers. Many of these people were meeting or corresponding via the technology of the day in sort of a network, an informal Invisible College, to share their hypotheses, observations, and data. Among them, there was a significant overlap between readers of fantasy and science fiction, members of the Fortean Society, and students of the occult. A few individuals had interests in all three topics, and one such influential figure was Frederick George Hehr.

Frederick G. Hehr was born in Germany on April 11, 1890, and immigrated the USA in 1928 by way of Cuba, formally becoming a citizen in 1934. We were unable to locate a single photograph of Hehr, but his naturalization records document him as being a white male with fair complexion standing 5’8”, 190 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair. A mechanical engineer by profession,  between 1929 and 1950, Hehr patented several inventions, from engine and pump designs to a sound recording device. However, his deepest interests were in unconventional sciences, and he was described as a “born Fortean,” who was “deeply learned in occult matters.” Hehr was also an amateur archaeologist and a “master dowser.” 

Approaching the paranormal, Hehr ranged from pragmatic to the fantastical. His first UFO sighting one night around 1909 when he was a young man living in Germany. He briefly mentioned it in a letter to The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 8, 1948, as “that rare phenomenon called ball lightning.” He also wrote to Fate magazine, July 1951, printed as, “I Have Seen a Fire Ball,” saying that in “the moors of Ostfriesland,” he saw an unearthly bright white light “doing a curious dance” in the sky to one side of the distant village. Afterwards, it shot past him at a tremendous velocity and passed over the horizon. 

Hehr actively shared his views in correspondence with other like-minded students of the paranormal. He joined organizations such as Meade Layne’s Borderland Sciences Research Association (BSRA), where he was a frequent contributor to their journal and newsletter. Hehr was also an avid reader, and he found much truth between the lines in fantasy and science fiction pulp magazines. It was in his letters of comment there that his thoughts about alien visitation were first published. Hehr stated as a matter of fact that the spaceships of extraterrestrials had landed on earth. Some people were thinking the same thing after the big Kenneth Arnold flying saucer story broke late in June of 1947, but Hehr had been saying it since the 1920s.

Hehr’s core belief was rooted in Theosophy and he was certain that aliens had been visiting earth for millions of years, guiding humanity. Earth’s civilization had destroyed themselves several times and we were headed for another fall, this time from atomic bombs. Flying saucers were literally the vehicles of our salvation, coming to rescue the best of humanity to help us start again as a “new race.”


Hehr’s Letters to Science Fiction, Fortean and Occult Magazines

Frederick G. Hehr frequently shared his ideas through private correspondence, but only a little of that has survived and surfaced. We do have fragments of his thoughts from many of his letters, mostly those published in magazines. Below is a portion from of the first known one, followed by key passages from his other notable pre-saucer letters.

Amazing Stories July 1929, page 381: “Being a reader of Amazing Stories as long as I'm on this side, I find it time to put my oar into the discussion. First about the covers. Why do they have to be so lurid and screaming? ... Really I get tired trying to convince my friends that Amazing Stories is not just cheap fiction as appearances are too much against it. ...

About interplanetary travel: Do you know that there is an old saga which says that long ago, when humanity was still young, a space ship came to earth in a blinding flash and a terrible roar. That it brought far advanced people who ruled and taught the young humanity. That they brought wheat, bananas and bees from their planet and that for several centuries there was quite a traffic between Venus and Earth. That, as soon as they had established a school and trained a staff of rulers and teachers, the bulk of them went back to Venus for good and that only four of them remained and became the real rulers of this earth.

Another thing. Why do you always knock the so-called psychical? Anybody that ever has had a real psychic or super physical experience and is honest, can not deny that there is such a thing as a superphysical existence.”

You might otherwise imagine that letter came from a teenaged science fiction fan, but at the time, Hehr was 39 years old and working as an engineer in New York. For his claims about the advanced people from Venus “who ruled and taught the young humanity,” Hehr was drawing material from Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society as presented in Man, Whence, How and Whither: A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation, by Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater, 1913. The book described the arrival on Earth of the “Lords of the Flame” from Venus in a magical chariot of fire. In Hehr’s view, that chariot was a spaceship. 

The next year, Hehr wrote a letter to editor Hugo Gernsback, and discussed Theosophical concepts in terms of benevolent extraterrestrials along with the involvement of spaceships in earth’s ancient history.

Air Wonder Stories, May 1930, page 3046: "... Then your space flying stories, every one of them is based on cheap excitement raised by the introduction of war. As it is self evident that the rulers of the universe would never permit the knowledge necessary to conquer space to get into hands morally unfit to hold them. Please read up on the legends about the flood and Atlantis and about former visitors from space and you may detect a certain law pertaining to the distribution and use of power. 

May I add for the peace of mind of timorous souls that a malevolent incursion from space is an impossibility and that benevolent incursions will come as soon as we are morally fit to entertain visitors, from space. I wish I had the writing ability as I would like to write a story based on actual conditions on the planets of our solar system." 

Amazing Stories March 1932, page 1148: “ unbiased attitude towards the records of India would bring about a revolution in history and the moral outlook of mankind. ...historians and archaeologists are either complete numbskulls or racketeers who discover and admit only those facts which fit into their preconceived theories. You mean I have no proof? ...Do you know that in India records are in existence proving interplanetary travel from Venus to Earth?”

Astounding Stories Feb. 1935, page 158: “As to open-mindedness, I’ve found the ‘scientific mind’ a pretty closed affair. The value of books like [Charles Fort’s] Lo! lies in the assembly of facts which are uncomfortable to the Sacred Cows.”

Astounding Stories March 1935, page 159: “There are a large number of independent thinkers which maintain that humanity has a much greater past than generally assumed or conceded by organized science. The stories of past and gone civilizations, greater than ours to-day in material science, are too persistent and widely spread to be dismissed with a ‘Nonsense’ or ‘Old woman’s tales.’”

Astounding Stories July 1935 page 157: (On human mutation and evolution, pivoting to the advanced civilization of Venus.) “Let’s look at the whole matter from the point of view of a member of humanity so much older than ours that our best minds appear as prattling three-year-olds to an octogenarian. Let no one say that such humanity does not exist. It does, even in our own solar system on a planet which is supposed to be in its infancy and unfit for human habitation. Their mastery over nature and its laws has been complete for hundreds of years. And some of their knowledge has been available to a few on Earth.”


On to the 40s: the Forteans, and the Flying Saucers

Hehr left his New York engineering job and moved to California around 1937, in what must have been a period of big changes in his life. There’s no documentation of just when he switched careers, but by the mid-forties Hehr was corresponding with Forteans and working as a dowser, specializing in artesian wells. His instrument of choice was a 2-inch pendulum that he used to both dowse and make psychic readings.

Hehr continued to read and write to science fiction magazines, among them, Amazing Stories, which featured the Shaver Mystery, a series of stories about the subterranean remnants of an ancient extraterrestrial civilization. The author was Richard Shaver, and presented by editor Ray Palmer as non-fiction. Many readers believed all or part of it, and the Shaver Mystery had a devoted following many students of the occult, Hehr included.  

Doubt (The Fortean Society Magazine) #14, Spring 1946, page 202: Hehr had been a member of the Fortean Society since at least 1943. Editor Tiffany Thayer wrote on FGH’s investigation of the alleged “anti-gravitational electromagnetic field" at John Lister's “Oregon Vortex” near Gold Hill, Oregon, (one of the “Mystery Spots” that would come to figure prominently in Hehr’s story). He said Hehr reported “that he... ‘found a force which does affect gravity... which I have reason to suspect emanates from a machine or instrument buried at this place in pre-historic time, perhaps Atlantean or even extra-terrestrial origins.’ (Mr. Hehr has before this reported upon his personal acquaintance with inhabitants of Venus.)”

Ancient alien technology hidden beneath the earth? That sounds like something right out of the Shaver Mystery, but as we’ve seen, Hehr believed extraterrestrial spaceships were connected to Atlantis decades before the Shaver stories. 

Meade Layne

Round Robin, Vol. 2, No. 9, September 1946, page 18: Hehr joined Meade Layne’s Borderland Sciences Research Association (BSRA) in 1945, where he was known as  by his initials as “Frater F.G.H.” Layne introduced an article by Hehr by noting that F.G.H. was, “a clairvoyant and competent occultist.” Hehr cited the influence of Theosophist Charles Webster Leadbeater, and described himself as a “Helper,” someone who assisted the newly-dead transition into the afterlife. Later, in Round Robin Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1947, Hehr provided some background, printed as "Of Biographical Interest," where he modestly responded to being called an “Adept,” by saying, “...I am an initiate of sorts, a pupil of the Collegium of Masters, and, of course, their servant. As such I naturally have certain knowledge and powers which are regarded as magical and mystical by the uninitiate.”  

Amazing Stories Sept. 1946, page 175: In a "Very Interesting Letter," Hehr responded to Edward John’s report from the May 1946 issue. John claimed to have found the entrance to one of the Shaver Mystery caves at spooky ranch in California. Hehr confirmed it and claimed to have evidence. “I have gone over the matter thoroughly with him and found if to be true... We even have photos of the things in that section. The cave is there. Although even if you will have difficulties in getting there, you won’t find any dero in there.”  


The Coming Atomic Catastrophe

F. G. Hehr’s focus began changing after the use of the atomic bomb in World War II. He didn’t give up on spaceships, but his thoughts were dominated by an alleged prophecy of atomic doom he’d received in his youth back in Germany.  Hehr published a 24-page booklet in 1946, where he introduced himself as a prophet. The pamphlet was written as a catechism designed to gently transition the reader away from traditional religious conventions towards occult beliefs. In a few passages, his Theosophist positions are explicitly stated, and Hehr also lightly touched on alien races and the advanced technology of ancient earthly civilizations. 

Here are two key quotes from Religion Versus Creed:

“Is Man the Crown of Creation? No, he is a rather small and backward child. There are many races in the Cosmos which are far older than he, and infinitely wiser. Nor is he the only race on this planet.” 

Later, Hehr talked about how atomic war destroyed ancient, advanced civilizations. 

“Is this the first real civilization Humanity has attained? No, there have been many which were even further advanced… But every time greed and lust for power... have destroyed it utterly. ...This is not the first time that an atomic power has been in the hands of man. The first time was over 3,000,000 years ago.”

Hehr’s booklet was focused on promoting occult religious teachings, but the warning of atomic doom was in there, and it would come to be the central part of his message.  

In late 1946, Hehr received some national media attention. The article, "Atom Bomb Haven” appeared on page 77 of Life magazine, Oct. 14, 1946. Maurice Doreal (real name Claude Dodgin) of the Brotherhood of the White Temple was building a sanctuary for believers to save them from the A-bomb. Hehr thought Doreal had it wrong, even though they actually had much in common, including similar occult beliefs, and both followed the Shaver Mystery tales presented in Amazing Stories. Hehr sent a letter to correct Doreal, printed in Life Nov. 4, 1946, page 16: 

“Professor Doreal's information is faulty. Atomic cataclysm will come in 1960. Few regions in U.S. will be untouched. I will supply the names of a few safe regions on request." 

The publication of Hehr’s letter resulted in the Santa Monica Post Office being flooded with mail requesting those locations. Unfortunately, there’s no documentation to show what he sent them.

Associated Press, Nov. 11, 1946 

In his letter to Life, Hehr hadn’t mentioned the source of his knowledge, but he was more forthcoming to Meade Layne’s readers in Round Robin Vol. 2, No. 12, December 1946. In “The Coming Catastrophal End of Our Civilization,” Hehr described how when he was 12 or 13 years old, a prophet told him about atomic wars, both past and future: 

“In 1902 a man who must have been an Initiate gave me a preview of the happenings of this century ... the series of world wars and the destruction of our civilization.”

Hehr said humanity was composed of two types in eternal conflict, the bad, selfish, predatory “I-conscious, and the good, unselfish, cooperative “WE-conscious.” He revealed that, “the indications are that the I's will destroy cooperative civilization, but that the WE's will save enough to rebuild it quickly,” but he didn’t say how. 

Hehr’s 1960 doomsday scenario was not yet complete. What it really needed was a savior from the skies.


The Coming of the Saucers

In 1946, the year before Kenneth Arnold’s flying saucers, there were signs and portents of what was yet to come. A prophetic science fiction novel by a famous psychic prefigured UFO lore was published appeared in the Oct. Amazing Stories. It was Harold Sherman’s novel, The Green Man, the story about contact with the people who flew spaceships, a benevolent advanced extraterrestrial race. Hehr wrote to editor Ray Palmer praising it, and the note appeared in Amazing Stories Dec. 1946, page 165. It was exactly the kind of story about peaceful aliens Hehr insisted on many years before, but uncharacteristically, he didn’t have that much to say about it. “Sirs: A small correction on footnote on page 120, Vol. 20, No. 7: Man began to take physical appearance over 5 million years ago, on this globe and in this humanity. Otherwise Green Man best story of last ten years.”

In the real world, there was an alleged spaceship sighting that made international news. On Oct. 9, 1946, some people in San Diego reported seeing a bullet-shaped object with bat-like flapping wings, “twice as large as the largest airplane.” 

Marine Corps Chevron, Oct. 18, 1946 

Luckily for Meade Layne, his psychic friend Mark Probert was a witness. Probert’s contact from "the other side" said that the object was the space ship named Kareeta, and it came from another planet. Layne wrote extensively about the story, and it served to refocus BSRA on otherworldly visitors. Over the next several months, Kareeta was the subject of much discussion - and some controversy.

Round Robin Vol. 3, No. 3, March 1947, “Round Robin in Review”: There was one unlikely naysayer. F. G. Hehr advocated the reality of spaceships and aliens, but he thought Kareeta was something else. Hehr wrote to Layne saying it was not a spaceship but, “Evidently an etheric materialization of a nature spirit.” Apparently, it led to a spat. 

Doubt #17, 1947, page 252: Tiffany Thayer of the Fortean Society snubbed the Kareeta story in Round Robin as coming from a “spiritualist paper,” and said, “MFS Hehr (who knows people from Venus) told Layne his space-ship was a condor, and broke up a beautiful friendship.” It didn’t. Or, at least not right away.

Round Robin Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1947, “Dero-Queero Business”: Amazing Stories, June 1947, was an all-Shaver Mystery issue, but included some non-fiction articles, three of them by Forteans. Vincent Gaddis’ piece on unidentified flying objects, prompting Meade Layne to give it his endorsement saying: “We recommend it especially to Tiffany Thayer, Editor of Doubt, who has consistently jeered at the ‘Kareeta’ story... T.T. got the notion there was something ‘occult’ mixed up with the K story... We also recommend it to F.G.H., who was, is, and we hope continues to be a friend of RR (in spite of T.T.'s pious hope to the contrary).”

In early 1947 Hehr was preoccupied by the atomic doom of 1960 and continued to share details with Layne’s BSRA. When the news of Kenneth Arnold’s story of flying saucers broke, it gave Hehr a new hope for mankind’s survival, but strangely, he didn’t think the saviors were from Venus. Hehr sent a letter to the saucer pioneer, Kenneth Arnold, and a portion of it was quoted in the United Press story as an example of the mail that Arnold was receiving from kooks. Hehr’s name was not given, he was just called “a Santa Monica man,” giving his opinion on the origin of the saucers. 

"It is possible they belong to one of Atlantean societies which survived the great disaster. They may now be getting them ready again and crews trained to use them when the atomic war around 1960 comes.”

Another reference to Hehr’s  letter seemed to land in “Utahns Sure Sky Saucers No Delusion,” The Salt Lake Tribune, July 6, 1947, p. 8A: "’Flying saucers’ continued to confound sky-gazing Utahns... Explanations for their strange and fleeting appearances ran the gamut from ‘Atlantis’ to ‘atomic’...”

About the same time, Hehr also sent a letter to Meade Layne who relayed it to BSRA members via postcard on July 13, 1947. F.G.H. said that the saucers belonged to “an old Atlantean Arcane Order, which has held them in caches; their present mobilization is for trial and for training of crews; they will be used for emergency rescue craft and to gather key personnel and material. They have gravity control, and a speed up to 4000 mi./ hr. above the atmosphere. They become invisible by bending the light rays around them, and are invulnerable to attack by our own forces.” (As quoted in The Mystery of Unidentified Flying Objects: 1896—1949, Loren Gross, 1971, page 308.) 

Hehr also shared the prophecy with the Fortean Society. In Doubt No. 19, Nov. 1947,  Tiffany Thayer printed a special issue on flying saucers, and noted page 285:

“MFS Hehr (our man who has contact with Venus) writes that the ‘airships’ are manned by descendants of Atlanteans, and that they are training now ‘for this salvage work necessary in 1960. Certain persons and material will have to be collected and placed in safekeeping for the restart of a new civilization’.”

Hehr’s package was complete, and it was a template for many flying saucer beliefs that followed. It seeded the tropes, ancient aliens from an advanced civilization steering humanity, back now in preparation for their role as saviors to rescue mankind from extinction by the atomic bomb.


Further Disclosures 

The Flying Roll, Sept. 1947, “An Elder Brother Makes Affirmation”: F.G.H. shared his experiences and beliefs: “I am 57 years old, an engineer, and have lived in many parts of the world... interested in fundamental questions...,” He said that he believed in a Creator, but not the Biblical version; that there was life beyond the physical, that he had proof of reincarnation, and:

“I also have proof for myself that this race of man is not only race either on this earth or in the cosmos. There are many races, some younger, some far older than man. And man can get the aid of the Elder Races as soon as he learns that destruction is not his business and is evil for him.”

In the January 1948 Round Robin, “F.G.H.  Reviews,” he talked about the Shaver Mystery and hollow earth notions. He did not think humans lived in Shaver’s subterranean caverns...

“But there are Deva races which often resemble humans in form and activity. Once on a large airport we observed a crew of beings about 6 ft. tall, manlike in every way except that they were green, scaly, and had a more reptilian head... One followed us for about ten miles as if checking our altitude, flying alongside the car.” He also talked about flying saucers and other matters, saying the greatest authority was “the Great White Brotherhood.” Those were the ascended masters from the Theosophical teachings of Helena Blavatsky. The issue had another piece by Hehr, “Areas of Danger and Comparative Safety,” a map related to his prophecy of doom in 1960. 

Hehr had been a frequent correspondent in Meade Layne’s, pages but The Flying Roll, March 1948, was his last BSRA contribution for many years. He ended his commentary with a summary of his belief in a cycle of the earth’s destruction.  

“About 5 million years ago Man reached a state physically comparable to ours... with some power of reasoning. He developed rather rapidly under the tutelage of Elder Brethren. ...the Greedy Ones organized one civilization after another during the last 100,000 years, each only lasting a short time and leaving a desert behind in each case.”

After that, Hehr’s name surfaced a few times in the news a few times in 1949, once in a nationally syndicated story. The Los Angeles Times, March 21, 1949 carried a letter from Hehr about his sightings of several giant condors. A born Fortean, he said. 

The Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1949 carried an unusual letter from Hehr. He often wrote the papers about earthly topics, but seldom mentioned his paranormal interests. This one was a Fortean-style rant about how science doesn’t know everything, a rebuttal to someone else’s letter dismissing “water witching” or dowsing. Hehr cited his own experiences as evidence that such things are possible, boasting that for decades he’d been using his dowsing pendulum to determine the gender of unborn babies, and on photographs to determine whether the subjects pictured was currently living or dead. 

Later that year, E. V. Durling’s syndicated gossip column carried news on a prediction: “Recently a Californian claimed that if shown a profile photograph of a woman whose period of expectancy has been underway five months or more he could tell whether the expected offspring would be a girl or a boy. On December 17 this Californian, Frederick Hehr, of Santa Monica, sent me a postcard reading: ‘Just saw a photo of Rita Hayworth. Using pendulum I predict the baby will be a healthy girl.’" 

Hehr’s chances of being right were about 50%, and Hayworth delivered a daughter on Dec. 28.

Thrilling Wonder Stories, Dec. 1949, page 141: “I have been a reader, off and on, of TWS & AS since the early days… You ask about those vortices which dot the West Coast…” (He goes on to describe his pendulum dowsing method to investigate the gravity-defying forces generated at these “Mystery Spots.”) “Their origin and purpose? My guess is that an older race, probably from another planet, planted certain machinery there for their own purpose. I would strongly advise against trying to dig it up. One of our A-bombs might appear squiblike against it.”

Into the 1950s: Connecting with UFO Authors

Throughout the 1950s, Frederick G. Hehr continued to write to science fiction authors and magazines, but with the emergence of flying saucer organizations and publications, he had a new audience.

Future Science Fiction, Sept. 1951, page 85: In a letter to editor Robert W. Lowndes, Hehr wrote: “Now anyone who has read widely in many languages has come across plentiful evidence that ... Many old races and cultures have retained sagas describing super-human visitors coming in fiery ships from the skies and giving aid to the catastrophes, and/or teaching arts and crafts. The "flying saucer” story contains quite a number of appearances of craft which are not flying saucers, but which would fit space-craft.” 

Fantastic Adventures, Nov. 1951, page 123: In a letter to the editor, Hehr wrote about saucers and his prophecy of atomic war: 

“The whole plan behind all life is growth, evolution and a march towards perfection... At certain periods there are periodic checks in which the unsuitable units are weeded out and sent back for rework. We had two such in the past and the third one is just coming up in the next war... The next war will start in 1960 and will initiate a revolution which will last five years. As soon as the first phase is over, extra-terrestrial help will appear in certain oases already set aside where the seeds of the next civilization will be started...

The cosmos is full of sentient life. Naturally, with all the secrets of nature at the disposal, of advanced races, destructiveness and typical rambunctious adolescent gall has no place in it. That’s why we have been given the means to burn out our cancerous growths and wild flesh, but not enough knowledge to escape into space or even, smash this planet. And some alien forces have been implanted to act like maggots in an ulcerated wound, cleansing it by consuming the infected tissue.”

In 1952 (according to When the Earth Nearly Died by Delair and Allan, 1995) Hehr discovered and photographed a portion of iron chain embedded in solid sandstone in the side of a deep ravine in California, and he’d also discovered traces of a paved road, both alleged to be evidence of a vanished ancient technologically advanced civilization. 

Circa 1952: Awareness Volume 20 No 3, 1995, page 5: Brinsley Le Poer Trench was the editor of the UK’s Flying Saucer Review from 1956 to 1959, and when he’d become interested in UFOs in 1952. Through BSRA, he was introduced to Hehr and they began corresponding. Hehr, “ … supplied him with many hundreds of original newspaper cuttings recording contemporary UFO events published by the local press ...” Trench said that Hehr was a "perpetual fountain of energy and interest,” and Trench developed views on UFOs that were straight out of the occult Theosophical strain, similar to Hehr’s take.  


Collaborating with APRO

Hehr was a member of the UFO research group started by Jim and Coral Lorenzen in January 1952, the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO). 

APRO Bulletin Sept. 1952, page 16: A UFO sighting report from Hehr from 1952.  “August 30, Santa Monica, Calif. Frederick G. Hehr watched series of rectangular-shaped objects playing among breaks in the clouds at about 7:30 a.m...” There’s a Project Blue Book file that seems to connect to this sighting, a photo from the same time and place. Located at Project Blue Book: File 2014: August 30, 1952.

APRO Bulletin Jan. 1953, page 5: Frederick Hehr wrote a letter with his theory of flying saucer propulsion. “In my opinion... magnetic fields are used which react against the magnetic currents, surrounding our planet.” Then in APRO Bulletin March 1953, page 3, Hehr passed on a rumor that pilots “who have departed from their lives on earth” were dropping notes on European airbases to let their loved ones know that they were well, and on an “unbelievable and wonderful mission.”


Hehr and Harold T. Wilkins 

Hehr corresponded with British author Harold T. Wilkins from 1952 to 1953. Some of his letters were quoted in chapter 8 of Wilkins' Flying Saucers on the Attack, 1954:
"On a June day in 1953 I had a unique experience. Twice in one day I saw saucers and witnessed a whole squadron of them go through various maneuvers, lasting ten minutes.”

Flying Saucers on the Attack

More interestingly, Hehr described how he was told about flying saucers in the same prophecy that described the atomic war.

“In 1903, an old man told me of many future things I should live to see. I should see radio, television, aeroplanes, submarines, and three world wars which would destroy our civilization. He described the flying saucers and space ships, their owners and their purpose here ... In one year, I have had more than 20 independent sightings of a shell-like space ship, seen all over the globe.” 

In another section, Hehr was more specific about the old man’s prophecy:

“I was told in 1903 that a third world war may wipe out our civilization, and that an older race on Venus is taking measures to re-establish a new and better order in the shortest possible time. The saucers have been taken out of storage, and are now being tested, in order to train crews in their handling. When the atomic bombs begin to fall, these extra-terrestrial aeroforms may be used to salvage what is good in our civilization, either persons or things. The target date for the start of the third war will probably be in 1960, the re-establishment of peace in 1965. In between, there may be little active war, but five years of chaos and total anarchy.” 

Wilkins used more of Hehr’s correspondence in his 1955 book, Flying Saucers Uncensored.

“Telepathy is something the saucer entities possess. I have had proof that they can read the thoughts of people with accuracy fifty miles away. Identification of certain no-good people, like brutal militarists and politicians masquerading as statesmen, is easy for them.” 

Hehr also discussed how “Mystery Spots” were markers for flying saucer navigation:

“The satellite discs have a drive, I think, utilizing magnetic ‘currents’ found round the planets. The big space ships obviously use a reaction drive. The satellites are probably not flown across space. In many respects these aeroforms tally with the most advanced flying ships ever developed in Atlantis. I know of one place which might be a space ship port, and it is located in California... My opinion is that the saucers look for ‘markers’ scattered all over the world in far past ages. Some of these ‘markers’ must have grown dim. They are in straight lines and about fifty miles apart. ...In my opinion, the saucers are left-overs from one of the Atlantean civilizations and there may be a few from a Lemurian civilization.” 


1955 and Beyond

Mystic Oct. 1955, page 59: Hehr wrote an article for Ray Palmer’s Mystic Oct. 1955, “Jealousy After Death,” appearing alongside authors such as Richard Shaver and Mark Probert. It was printed in the feature, “It Happened To Me...” which hosted allegedly true supernatural stories sent in by readers. Hehr’s tale was about a poltergeist in Germany, supposedly the ghost of a dead husband who wrecked the new marriage of his widow.

Eric Frank Russell was a science fiction author and the British representative of the Fortean Society. In Russell’s files there are two letters from Hehr, from Nov. 1955 and Sept. 1956, where Hehr shared the story he’d been building for years: This time, civilization would be destroyed as a result of an evil European conspiracy that included Robert Vansittart, the Churchill family and a group of Jews grown rich from World War I. Their attempt at world domination would lead to the atomic war of 1960. The saucer people had influenced earth’s development in the past, and they’d salvage the best of mankind for a new start after the bombs fell. In preparation for that, their flying saucers had frequently been seen at the “Mystery Spots” and vortices around the world. Hehr told Russell he should write about a book about it, but suggested it be packaged as science fiction instead of fact or history. Hehr also told Russell he had learned that people possessed by evil races could be identified by a “blank blackness” in their eyes. For whatever reason, Russell did not pursue the project.

In 1956 Hehr offered his opinion on the sighting of E.T. Scoyen of California, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Scoven had reported seeing a ball of fire flying upwards in the sky in 1953 and puzzled over it for years. Hehr declared, “What you saw was a large spaceship. I saw it a year ago when it maneuvered with a large group of flying saucers. It has also been seen by me and many others at night. Its size is judged from 300 to 1,000 feet in diameter. My guess about 800 to 900 feet. Another smaller one has been seen often, last a short time ago in Sweden. Its shell form is about 30x100 feet."

Frederick G. Hehr continued to send Fortean clippings to Doubt until 1957, and also was wrote to newspapers, mostly griping about mundane issues such as the weather and automobile pollution. There was one notable exception, one about flying saucers, to Marvin Miles, aviation editor of The Los Angeles Times. On Feb. 24, 1957, they carried a reply to Hehr’s unpublished letter, which advocated the expertise of UFO researchers over those of the Air Force or scientists. Hehr’s tone and opinions led Miles to dismiss him as a crackpot.

Hehr’s last published letter touching on the paranormal seems to have been to The Amarillo Globe-Times, April 25, 1957, about his work as a dowser. Hehr had recently visited the Texas Panhandle and located two springs there. He complained about the public distrust of dowsers, and said:

"It takes natural sensitiveness, a good knowledge of geology and a thorough training for which schools do not exist in this country. The general attitude: It's just a superstition and nonsense. The lack of a legal basis has so far driven almost every dowser out of the business.” 

The columnist said that Hehr was finished with dowsing for water, that, “Locating oil and minerals is a lot easier and much more remunerative.”


Schooling Gray Barker

In the fall of 1957, Hehr wrote to Gray Barker, publisher of the Saucerian Bulletin. He sent Barker an unsolicited letter on Sept. 16, 1957, after reading his book, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, saying, “I might have the answer to some of the questions bothering you and others.” As an introduction, he told Barker of how he’d been given the prophecy of UFOs and more in 1903, then mentioned some of the ufologists he’d collaborated with. Hehr said he had secret UFO information including the location of UFO bases and he described a few of his sightings. His note closed saying, “If you want to know more, just ask questions.”

Barker replied on Oct. 10, 1957, and he gave no indication of recognizing Hehr from his BSRA collaborations. His only question was not about UFO secrets, but on an aside Hehr had made on Russian military superiority, which Gray thought might refer to a satellite weapon.

Hehr’s reply was dated Oct. 15, 1957, saying he had knowledge that the Russians were ahead technologically and had developed the atom bomb one year before the USA, but they feared going into war since that would lead to an internal revolt. Barker hadn’t asked, but Hehr still offered some saucer prophesy:

“As the UFOs have been coming here for millions of years and have often taken an active part in human affairs, they certainly know all about us… they also have schools here in which certain people were educated… and I have reason to believe I belong to such school.”

Hehr closed with his special knowledge of the past and future:

“Here is the dope on the purpose of UFOs: This civilization has run its course and is doomed … as everything evil, it will commit suicide in its own poison. It has happened before here twice and every time a new race is formed out of the best of the old race. … Just before the bombs fall the Saucers will go into their action and snatch members of the New Race out from under and salvage as much as they can of things worth preserving.

Most of the Saucers are remnants of Atlantean stocks stashed away in several depots [around the world]. …

If you have more questions, ask them.”

Barker did not. But it’s likely he did send something back. A note in the margin of Hehr’s letter stated, “Enclosed $2.00 for subscription.”

For the complete correspondence, see, F.G. Hehr’s letters to Gray Barker.

Hehr made a return of sorts to Round Robin, Oct. 1958, with the reprinting of two of the 1940s articles, "The Catastrophe of 1960 and Zones of Comparative Safety" and "The Coming Catastrophal End of Our Civilization." 

Hehr and Professor Charles Hapgood shared an interest in unconventional archeology. Hehr wrote Hapgood in February 1959, saying that, “Aside from the records laid down in geologic formations, Sagas and holy records I also gained access to a part of the records as taught by our Venusian teachers of civilization.” 

On Nov, 10, 1958, F. G. Hehr sent a letter to author P. Schuyler Miller, book review columnist for Astounding Science Fiction magazine. The letter was typed, single-spaced on a single sheet of paper front and back, his last known correspondence on flying saucers, and it contained his only known comments on George Adamski and the Contactees.

“Re UFOs, I may be called a qualified observer because I am trained by many years as an engineer, more than 10 years at sea and natural equipment to observe carefully and skeptically. I first heard about them in 1903, so I was not surprised when they made the headlines. I’ve seen them since in many different shapes and movements. In group maneuvers and singly. Several times whilst watching something else through 7 x 50 binoculars. To me they are just interesting machines to be analyzed as such in regard to performance and structure.

As to the Adamskis, Betherums, etc., some of them honest people but simple, one factor gives me the clue to their experience. I know that the crews of these craft can read minds at fantastic distances. You watch one for quite a while and let your eyes be off just 1/10th second and it just disappears. Have also seen them just disappear whilst making like a planet. Just blink out. So if contact is impossible to avoid, they enter the persons mind and suggest just like in hypnosis what the person thinks they should look like and say. Thus, take them for rides to New York and to the Moon etc. whilst not moving a step.

…One has to have quite a frame of engineering and also a psionics to be able to get anywhere in the solving of UFO enigma. The dirtiest aspect of it is the effort of the authorities to hush the matter of because they cannot cope with that and are scared silly about it.”

His letter weighed in on other issues; ancient runes, Donald Keyhoe, ESP, Russian history, and science fiction. PDF of F.G. Hehr to P. Schuyler Miller, Nov. 10, 1958.

The next mention we found of Hehr was his one-line note complimenting World Oil magazine on their January 1959 issue, where he gave his address as “Hehr Subsoil Analysis, Los Angeles.” Apparently, he spent some of his later years dowsing for black gold. 

1960 and the End

1960 came and went, but we found of no mention of Hehr during that year. Spacecrafter March-April 1961, contained a rare mention of Hehr, second-hand information from a letter on the “Santa Cruz Mystery Spot” and Vortices. Hehr noted some facts about “vortices,”saying, “Flying saucers have been noted to follow these lines and make right angle turns where such lines cross.”

Hehr’s final saucer-related item that we could find was his return to Round Robin, June 1961, credited as “Associate Frederick G. Hehr.” The new article was on the topic of reincarnation but had a misleading title, “Stop Abusing your Wife.” The closing paragraph revisited his prophecy of doomsday, which he thought was still imminent:

“It is evident to me that a New Age is coming. The present humanity with its concentrated dregs will be wiped out by its own hands and bombs and a new race will come forth to take its place. I have met many members of this new race and here is their description: Tall, brunette, very healthy and intelligent.

...It is my opinion that the Flying Saucers are here to salvage these seeds of a New Age when the bombs begin to fall; as they have done before in several, major, man-made catastrophes.” 

1960 had passed without the atomic war, but Hehr had always said the prophecy’s date might be off by a year or so. Hehr kept on believing that “The thousand-year reign of golden justice and progress will begin... humanity is being cleansed by fire and sword.”

Frederick G. Hehr barely gets a footnote in paranormal literature, but his contribution deserves to be acknowledged and remembered. Hehr took Theosophical concepts and coupled them with spaceships and alien visitors, and he spread the message to science fiction readers, Forteans and occultists. Hehr may not have been alone. Possibly he was part of a circle of friends with shared beliefs. If so, he deserves recognition for spreading the concepts and sticking with it for forty years. He was preaching the gospel of the Space Brothers back in 1920s, long before the coming of the flying saucers.  

Frederick G. Hehr died at the age of 80 in Santa Barbara, California, on August 2, 1970. 

. . .

For Further Reading

Joshua Blu Buhs, “Frederick G. Hehr as a Fortean,” From an Oblique Angle, Sept. 8, 2014

Charmaine Ortega Getz, “The (Sort Of) Amazing Story of Maurice Doreal & The Brotherhood of the White Temple Revealed At Last!” Sept. 6, 2015

Curt Collins, “UFO History: The Saucers from Atlantis”, July 13, 2018 


Extra: Two Items That Wouldn't Fit

Round Robin, Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan, 1947, “Notes Concerning Huna, the Bell Witch, and Analogous Cases” : F.G.H. disclosed how he’d learned about the technology of ancient civilizations: “control of gravity, transmutation of elements, atomic power, molecular manipulation of matter, etc... Huna was the Atlantean form of Masonry as preserved in the colony of Lemuria. Its deeper secrets and the four higher Initiations were abolished about 75 years ago by the remaining higher Initiates. The secrets were transmitted by word of mouth, and what now remains is greatly distorted.”

The Flying Roll, Sept. 1947, Frederick G. Hehr gave his thoughts on the Richard Shaver Mystery:“Shaver is a typical example of the lower mental who simply adds 2 plus 2 - not caring whether it's two frankfurters and two dogs. His 'experiences' are far more common than he realizes and land other dreamers in the booby hatch in extreme cases.” 





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