Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Two Arizona UFOs and Lester Bannick

Lester J. Bannick is best remembered for his one-man autogyro, the “Model T of the Air,” but he also experimented with other forms of aircraft. Two models had circular aerodynamic shapes. In other words, he built flying saucers.

Herald and Review (Decatur, IL) Oct. 10, 2007

He built a 17-foot diameter flying saucer, then a much larger hot air balloon in the same shape. At least two UFO sightings were reported due to his inventions.

Arizona Republic Dec. 8, 1969

Great suffering saucers! (Republic Photos by Nvle Leaflham)

Seen against the background of the Superstition Mountains, the silver object at left bears enough resemblance to the classic flying saucer to start a brand new outer-space invasion scare.  

That was exactly the shape Lester Bannick, center, had in mind when he designed his 66-foot-diameter balloon of mylar, silver foil-covered and lifted by hot air generated by a butane torch. Bannick was a Phoenix resident, known for his "flying lawnchair" gyrocopter, but now lives in California.

He built the balloon at Newport Beach but returned here for test flights at an abandoned airfield 10 miles east of Mesa. Even in the desert, the sight attracted a small crowd, including the Republic photographer.

The Engine-Powered Flying Saucer

 Lester Bannick’s first saucer was powered by a "souped-up auto engine. It had flown imperfectly about 17 times up until 1972 when he retired it. 

New Times Weekly (Phoenix, AZ) circa 1980.

The story from the  Yuma Sun June 13, 1982:

The Arizona Republic, July 14, 1982, reported that Bannick’s low-flying saucer had ended up as part of a nightclub sign, but it was removed due to code violations. After that, Bannick gave it to David Farrington, president of the Scottsdale, Arizona chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Farrington kept the grounded saucer alongside his airplanes in his hangar at Falcon Field.


The Mesa UFO Sighting of 1972

Lee Bannick's silver hot air balloon seems to have caused some excitement in the early 1970s. The APRO Bulletin, July 1977 featured a picture of a UFO on its cover, a classic flying saucer. Ufologist Wendelle C. Stevens (promoter of the Billy Meier hoax, and later sentenced for child molestation) wrote a story about the UFO sighting of Lee Elders. “Four color photographs were taken of [a domed cone-shaped object] in the skies over Mesa, Arizona, …on 11 November 1972.”

"The object was originally noticed by two kids who alerted Elders, “He thought that the object was immobile, or at best moving very slowly. …The children continued watching it for another 30 to 40 minutes until it went out of sight. …Mr. Skip Bryant, Ms. Harriet Hineman and 3 other friends… at the Arizona State – Oklahoma State football game, watched a strange pear-shaped bright silver object in the sky to the southeast with binoculars. It appeared to be more of a flat finish… shaped like a fat ice-cream-cone with the large end up… moved very steadily, with no bobble or wobble, and they didn't notice any rotation."

APRO Bulletin & Elders’ color photo from Open Minds: 1972 Mesa UFO Sighting

Stevens wrote there had been “a hot air balloon contest held at Mesa on the two weekends preceding the date…but all of the balloons were gone a week before the day of the sighting and photographs.” One had been flown by a Mr. Marvin Cooley, a silver balloon built by Lester Bannick. Stevens insisted the object photographed could not possibly have been one made by Bannick. “Whether we have a case of UFO mimicry here is difficult to say…. The mystery remains unsolved.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A UFO (Book) Report

Flying Saucers Over America by Gordon Arnold, (2022)

McFarland, $29.95 softcover, $17.99 ebook. 

227 pages and 17 photos, including chapter notes, a bibliography, and index. 


When a scholar or journalist takes a serious look at UFO history, it’s always interesting to see how they approach the topic and present their views and conclusions. Before discussing this book, it’s important to know something about the author, his background, and perhaps his purpose for writing it. From the Montserrat College of Art site, “Gordon Arnold is Professor of liberal arts… He teaches courses in film history, animation history, and the social sciences. Arnold’s research has resulted in a series of books that explore the history and social contexts of U.S. film and culture.”

Professor Gordon Arnold

Subtitled, The UFO Craze of 1947, Flying Saucers Over America, contains a preface where Arnold tells the reader that the book takes no position or promotes any particular UFO belief or agenda. Instead, he states, “…something unusual happened in the [1947] skies… but the jury is still out on what it was. …perhaps it is time to revisit what we do and do not know about these initial events and rethink whatever conclusions we may have drawn.” The author respectfully sets out to do just that, focusing on the foundational events of 1947 and the subsequent UFO investigations and events of the early 1950s, and the evolution of beliefs that sprung up about them. 


Chapter one opens with a quote from Carl Jung’s 1958 book, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. My hunch is that Arnold’s book began as a college course and that Jung’s book was required reading for it. Luckily, for those who haven’t read it, Jung’s classic is freely available at the Internet Archive. Arnold follows Jung’s lead that while UFO sightings are not purely psychological, our attempts to understand them often are. “In very short order, then, the public interpreted UFO sightings in light of what people already knew, or thought they knew, based on previous reports.”


The strength of Flying Saucers Over America is that it provides excellent historical perspective on the early flying saucer events and documents how the media and public reacted as these series of events unfolded. Typically, UFO books neglect to present anything but the sensational highlights like Kenneth Arnold’s historic sighting and the Roswell incident. Arnold covers those but examines the events in between, the reaction of the public and press, as well as the incidents that followed. He also touches on an important issue that’s often overlooked, how UFO activity and public interest seems to come and go, pointing out that after a few weeks in the headlines, flying saucers faded “into the background for a time” but would be rekindled by further events or newspaper stories.


Most of the book’s chapters focus on a single case or topic, so it reads like a collection of short essays or classroom lectures that, while thematically connected, can stand alone. The essays are not always presented in chronological sequence; Chapter 20, “Life on Mars” seems far out of place, as it describes 19th century beliefs that paved the way for notions of little men in flying saucers. Arnold returns to the role of imagination in the UFO topic in the chapter “Going Hollywood,”  discussing how motion pictures featured tales of alien invaders in spaceships before 1947, but by 1950 Hollywood science fiction was rebranded as flying saucer thrillers. He says, “As time passed, it would sometimes be difficult to sort out which ideas about unidentified aerial phenomena referred to actual events versus those originating in fiction.”


In chapter 28, “The UFO Myth” Arnold discusses how decades after 1947, the narrative of the Roswell incident came to encapsulate flying saucer beliefs into a single package. Arnold again seems to turn to Jung for perspective, saying, “In their compelling stories, myths reveal much about the society in which they thrive. Thinking of things as right or wrong in absolute terms may be a mistake.” 


Several chapters focus on the US government’s attempts to wrestle with the UFO problem and examines several aspects of the approach such as in “National Security and the Culture of Secrecy,” “Unknown Knowns,” and “The Bureaucratic ­Merry-Go-Round.” In “Visitors from Mars,” Arnold reminds us that the Cold War with the Soviets had the US in a state of agitation and paranoia, fearful of aerial invasions and of security leaks about their own military aviation weapon developments. This real policy of secrecy fueled the belief in a government UFO cover-up.


The focus of chapter 14, “A Laughing Matter,” is on the toll of ridicule and “jeer pressure” from the press and public towards witnesses. Arnold states, “It surely seems likely that some unknown number of sightings was never reported officially to anyone. Whether any of those would significantly alter our understanding of the phenomenon remains unknown.” 

Readers may be disappointed in the lack of examination of the flying saucer photographs of 1947. The 17 photos and illustrations in the book provide a bit of historical flavor, but they are more decorative than evidentiary, mostly stock photos of locations, aircraft, sample documents, etc. In that sense, it was a poor choice for the publisher to use a UFO photo for the book’s cover rather than a more atmospheric illustration of the author’s exploration of the cultural aspect of the UFO enigma.


Is Flying Saucers Over America a good book? Yes, but not a perfect one. It would be a good choice to read and then share with friends and family who are unfamiliar but curious about the UFO topic and its history. You might bookmark it for them and suggest your own chapter order for optimal enjoyment. For example, if you know they’d be more interested in the US government’s involvement, have them read the chapters on Project Sign, Grudge, Blue Book before some of the other "lectures."


Even a UFO scholar is likely to benefit from Arnold’s perspective as he presents a mosaic of the flying saucer age, the big picture of how UFOs affected our culture, prompted governments to react, and stirred belief in many people.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Dr. Drake and the Visitors

Eugene Harry Drake was a pioneer, publisher of some of the first literature on UFOs, leader of an early organization, discussed alien abductions, and was possibly the first person claiming to have met extraterrestrials and taken a ride in one of their spaceships.

In 1986, Loren Gross’ UFOs: A History, 1952: November–December discussed “George Adamski and the ‘Contactee’ Phenomenon.” Page 40 discussed Adamski’s various influences:

“Certainly a much lesser known source of inspiration but still a valid one, was the writings of Eugene H. Drake, Director of the "Fellowship of Golden Illumination" headquartered on Lake Street in Los Angeles, who penned, in 1950, the booklet: Life on the Planets - A Visit to Venus. Drake claimed a visitation from two Venusian-saucer pilots named ‘[Aramia] and Estralon’ who: ‘... impressed me to go to a certain desert location to be picked up.’"

Drake has been the subject of two previous articles by ufologists, and we are indebted to both of these authors for their work to prevent Drake from being another one of the Ufologists That Time Forgot. 

by Luis Ruiz Noguez, 2016

by Håkan Blomqvist, with biographical data from Joshua Blu Buhs, 2017

Eugene Harry Drake, Sept. 22, 1889 - Feb. 21, 1973

It Began in California 

Drake was born on Sept. 22, 1889, in his early 30s in 1920s, employed as a cashier for the New England Life Insurance company in Los Angeles, California. He had big dreams and started a motion picture company, Eugene H. Drake Productions, incorporated in June 1921. Grace and Carl Moon were authors and illustrators of children's books about Native Americans. Their Lost Indian Magic was being adapted by Drake into a movie, but the project ran into financial problems. Drake’s film business was struggling for cash, and as a result of his short-term solution, he was arrested for a forgery charge of embezzling $6500 from the insurance company. There’s no indication how the case was resolved, but apparently the experience led Drake to pursue other employment.

Stockton Independent, April 21, 1922, Picture circa 1924

Drake’s occupation as shown in the US Census by decade: 1920 - Film exchange manager, 1930 - Building materials salesman, 1940 - Restaurant cook. Drake was not drafted for service In World War II, but his 1942 draft registration card seems to indicate that whatever his profession, he was self-employed. Jumping ahead to 1952, Drake wrote a letter of praise to a spiritualist magazine, The Open Way, giving his occupation as, “Writer, Teacher, Spiritual healer.”  

By 1948, Drake had founded the religious organization, “The Fellowship of Golden Illumination,” based in Los Angeles. He was lecturing in churches about “The Impending Golden Age,” listing himself as a reverend, “Dr. Eugene H. Drake.”


Drake and the Visitors from Space

Drake published the 38-page UFO booklet, Visitors From Spacein 1950. He seems to have “Dr.” seems to have been dropped, and he referred to himself as “Eugene H. Drake, Director.” In the introduction, Drake drew from Theosophical lore, saying: “The Elder Brothers from space, the forces of the White Brotherhood are here in greater array than any time since man walked the earth. They have the answers.” The title page illustration was of several spacecraft of different shapes, one of them, a bell-shaped flying saucer with three balls on the bottom, very much like the one George Adamski would later claim to see and photograph. 

Drake’s booklet is remarkable on several fronts. While lacking the exposure of the others, his publication appeared as early as the first UFO books, Donald Keyhoe’s The Flying Saucers are Real and Frank Scully’s Behind the Flying Saucers. Drake was first into print with a Contactee story; he presented the fully-formed lore of alien contact that served as a foundation for beliefs still held today.

Drake said the earth has long been under observation by spacecraft, and that he personally had “been in contact with them since 1930,” first in a field in Santa Monica.  Drake said the ships  “are powered by a form of magnetic force… heavily armed with powerful ray weapons.” Their technology allows them to fly in any direction, suddenly reverse, hover, become invisible, change to a fluid state, and beam it to “wherever they want.” 

Drake didn’t use the term “downloads,” but stated that the Elder Brothers were behind all our best ideas:

“Many of our scientists, musicians, poets, etc., have received much of their understanding from higher minds both carnate and discarnate who have been drawn close and impressed upon their consciousness ideas which they claim as their own. This intelligence originated in the higher spheres of consciousness and was given to them that humanity be benefited and civilizations lifted to more wonderful expression.”

Describing the various sizes and shapes of spaceships, Drake said they range from giant cigars down to unmanned surveillance discs to 2-feet across, which had been mistaken for “fire-balls or foo-balls.” He said,” The mission of these craft is a helpful and peaceful one... the unfolding of the New Age Plan... the building of a better civilization.” 

Ancient Aliens – Drake said they’ve always been here: “Many visitations... since (earth’s) formation and cooling by these Elder Brothers of Space, and during periods of wars and great tribulations.” He didn’t reference Charles Fort by name but seemed to acknowledge his work by referencing spaceship sightings seen in the past, including “mysterious cigar-shaped airships” in the 1800s. 

The visitors were building broadcasting stations which would send out beams of thought waves of “peace, love, joy, harmony and justice” to break up our native destructive thought patterns. Drake described the commander and crew of one of the ships: 

“...Aramia, is 5 feet 10 inches tall. Very dignified. Solidly built, fairly broad through the shoulders. His hair is long and golden. The cheeks are pink, eyes large and blue, his chin strong. He has a very pleasing expression. He wears a tight fitting tunic of pearl shade pink, with gold and blue trim... His command ship is from the planet Venus... The crew is composed of the Venusians from 36 to 42 inches tall. They are well proportioned. Their skin is a light cream color, covered with fuzz like hair, like the down of a peach. Their eyes are large and blue, with hair blonde to golden, brows fairly heavy, arched but little. …Venusians appear to be highly advanced spiritually, mentally and physically. Being so pure in their thought they seem almost angelic.” 

That’s what we call a “Nordic” today. Other alien races vary, Drake explained, from the little men of Venus to the giants of Uranus and Neptune. Life was plentiful on other planets, and some of the beings resemble earth people closely, but... “Some beings are part human and part animal... in the lower phases of evolvement. They too fell from grace or a higher status by mating with lower animalistic forms, even as some of the first beings on earth, called the sons of Light, who married or mated with sub-human people.” 

Venus: Pretty men and prettier women. Aramia and Estralon

Women were part of the crew, and he was introduced to the second in command:

“This is Estralon, our second flight Commander. She has a ship of her own.” Drake described her as being very beautiful and trim, standing 5 ft. 4 inches tall. Unlike Aramia, she did not speak English, and communicated with Drake by telepathy to give him a tour of the ship. Estralon said they had a device that “demagnetizes whatever the beam is directed on,” which allowed it to be used “to disintegrate any foreign objects that might interfere with our flight,” but it could also be used as a weapon against a hostile force. Another machine harnessed energy for propulsion and navigation, which Drake said picks up “the white substance, vryil, which they claim is more explosive than uranium... concentrated to some odd shaped highly polished crystals.”

Estralon told him the secret of their spaceships’ construction could not be shared with earth while we were so “destructively minded.” She said, “Space craft have been making landings on the earth for many hundreds of years. There are many references to them in your ancient writings.” She cited the lost cities of Mu and Atlantis as places they were used. She told him there were secret civilizations, survivors of Mu living under the south pole, “the Rainbow People,” another colony living on the dark side of the moon, and yet another living underground not far from Mexico City. 

The saucers had appeared due to our atomic explosions which, “disturbed the etheric atmosphere... penetrated lines of magnetic force and spiraled up to the other planets in our solar system.” The Etherians (Elder Brothers) would not allow “civilization to be destroyed as it almost was during the struggle between the Titans and the Atlans, LaMurians prior to the sinking of Lemuria and Atlantis.” The booklet concluded with Estralon and Aramia telling Drake:

“We Space Beings, your elder Brothers, shall if necessary, use powers beyond your knowledge to preserve the earth... Mark it well, you leaders of destruction... we shall move swiftly to purify the earth of your kind when the Supreme Commander gives us the command.”

If that seems familiar, in 1951, Klaatu said much the same thing in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

"(We) patrol the planets -- in space ships like this one -- and preserve the peace... if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder... live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration.”

The first booklet was vague about just how Drake met Aramia and boarded his ship, but the implication is that it a physical, not a psychic experience. Drake mentioned Aramia spoke verbally, but Estralon only spoke to him telepathically, and that would seem to indicate he was describing physical sensations and events.


Second Contact: Touring Another Planet

Drake’s story continued in the 34-page Life On the Planets - A Visit to Venus in 1950In the acknowledgments, Drake thanked his alien friends, including Sunat Kumara among them.

 Life On the Planets: A Visit to Venus in 1950. In the second booklet, Drake emphasized that experience related within was “a journey in the etheric body, not a physical, or a third dimensional trip.” (Apparently the trip was taken in an astral body, not his flesh.) He was reclining on his couch when Estralon entered and led him outside the huge spaceship she commanded. He told of his visit to the planet Venus and interactions with the people, all of whom are kind and beautiful. The cities and the homes contained furniture material made from a wood light as plastic, with knobs made out of gold. They drive aero-cars, and Drake visited their government, the Council of Elders. In the Temple of Music, he met the etheric forms of long-dead musicians such as Liszt, Bach and Beethoven, some of whom would return to earth to help the younger generation channel music. 

It was in their Temple of Wisdom where Drake came to understand his role. The Instructor told him about their mission to set earth people on the right path. “Being here on the planet you can be given information that will correct some of this misunderstanding... As John was selected for preparing the way for your Teacher Jesus…” Drake doesn’t explicitly state it, but by telling the story it shows he has taken on the job to prepare earth for the arrival of the Elder Brothers from space.


Of Alien Abductions and Atlantean Free Energy

Drake published a newsletter, Golden Light, for his Fellowship of Golden Illumination, and there he published a sequel of sorts to his booklets, a statement from Aramia himself that Venusians and their friends were not abducting earthlings. It was reprinted on page 21 of Interplanetary News Digest no. 2, 1954 as: 

Aramia, the Venusian Commander of a Space Fleet 

"Greetings, O people of earth from the Planet Venus. 

We of outer space wish to correct some of the statements being made by earth men. No earth people are being picked up by our craft in their physical bodies, nor using your terms 'being kidnaped.' We are only picking up our own people whom we have landed in certain areas. We operate from a higher dimension. In that density our bodies are more solid than yours, but they vibrate at a considerably higher frequency. 

“We have taken earth people in their more refined bodies, the etheric, that they might be acquainted with our mission, but none in their physical bodies. Such would have to be placed in a state of deep trance or suspended animation in order to withstand the terrific light and power which our craft generate. We are masters of the elements and use our minds and telepathic powers in a manner which earth people cannot comprehend. 

"During the coming months a great deal of mischievous activity shall effect the psyche of earth people, emanating from dark magicians, former Atlantians and Murians, who went underground during the struggle between those two races during the last atomic age. As stated before these are the ones who surround themselves with such noxious odors, who would confuse and deceive man into thinking they come from outer space. They are very cunning, they have considerable scientific knowledge, and are able to use free energy to construct ships of this substance. 

"We caution you to be on your guard. Protect yourself by thoroughly checking all statements, all disc activity, in the Light of your Creator. 

"Keep up your prayers for Peace and impress your leaders that only through peace can you survive." 

Here’s another taste of Golden Light from 1958 with an article on the underground UFO base in Antarctica.


Influence and Imitators

It’s hard to determine how much impact Drake had in 1950, but he was connected with the occult network of Southern California New Age cults and organizations, which had a heavy overlap with saucer circles. Drake lived in Los Angeles, and Dan Fry, founder of Understanding Inc., was based in El Monte.

Did the legendary George Adamski try to top Drake? The “Professor” created a bigger and better story of contact with a beautiful angelic Venusian, but his was supported by witnesses, physical evidence, and later, photographs. It was too good to be true. In the fall of 1953, Truman Bethurum entered the Contactee scene and developed a significant following within the saucer world, second only to George Adamski. Adamski’s Orthon was based on Aramia, and Bethurum stole his female counterpart, Estralon for the star of his story, rechristened as Aura Rhanes, the beautiful female saucer captain from planet Clarion. In 1954, Bethurum’s book, Aboard A Flying Saucer was released, and he sold it and other pamphlets at lectures and conventions. 

By the mid-50s Drake’s booklets were carried across the USA by many saucer clubs and magazines such as Gray Barker’s Saucerian Bulletin, the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America, and Dan Fry’s Understanding, Inc. Drake’s Visitors From Space and A Visit to Venus were listed as the top two in the “Best Sellers in the New York Area” from the Sept. 1955 Flying Saucer News, which said, “Let me tell you that his two books sell GOOD... A few good distributors is all you need plus a good story and have a picture or two in the book.”


Further Illumination

Jan. 1956, as reported in Flying Saucer News“According to Eugene H. Drake [the Fellowship] took pictures on Mount Shasta and also the desert last month, which show several space craft.”

Believed to be one of Drake’s UFO-related photographs, date unknown.

Drake was mentioned in The Saturday Evening Post, March 10, 1956, article, “He Runs Flying-Saucer Headquarters” by John Kobler:

“In Los Angeles, Eugene H. Drake, director of the Fellowship of Golden Illumination, photographs space creatures by infrared light and tape-records their conversations. Drake claims to have toured Venus on a ‘gravitonic sled.’” 

In the July 1956 Golden Light, Drake said that a building of worship “has already been erected on the Upper Joshua Desert.  ...We have had several contacts with beings from space here. …One room will be devoted to the healing arts... light, music, water therapies, rejuvenation methods such as used on the Planet Venus.” He called it the Star Temple of Healing.

Illustration from the May 1962 Golden Light

The Pomona Progress Bulletin, September 11, 1956, advertised his lecture, “The Great World Drama and Advent of Spacecraft” for the local chapter of Dan Fry’s Understanding Inc. group. Drake was a frequent speaker for them and a guest for at least one UFO convention.
“The first Spacecraft Picnic sponsored by Understanding in Alhambra on September 8th (1957) has been acclaimed a success... about 300 friends and members in attendance... Among the guests were Dana Howard, Calvin Girvin, Eugene Drake and Eloise Mellor and many other leaders in the New Age Movement.” (Understanding, Sept. 1957.)

Drake was quoted in Secret of the Andes by George Hunt Williamson (as Brother Philip), 1961:

“In March 1957 the Fellowship of Golden Illumination in Los Angeles, California, said: ‘The call is going out continually to all on the Path of Light to come out from them... the dark forces... and unite for the establishment of the Kingdom of Love and Peace.’”

In July 1959 Drake spoke at Gabriel Green’s the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America “First National Convention,” giving the lecture, "The Pending Golden Age." The 1960 book Faiths, Cults, and Sects of America, by Richard R. Mathison mentions Drake’s organization:

 “…some two thousand saucer fans gathered to hear the talks by ‘contactees.’ There were tape recordings of messages from outer space. The religious flavor of the clubs represented is obvious by their names — Celestial Vehicle Investigation Committee, Christ Brotherhood, Inc., Cosmic Circle of Friendship, First Christian Spiritualist Church, Fellowship of Golden Illumination…”

Drake was mentioned in the story co-written by Cleve Twitchell (Dan Fry’s Understanding Inc.), “Mt. Shasta’s Mystic Quality” from the March 3, 1963, Medford, Oregon, Mail Tribune:

“Still another Mt. Shasta legend concerns the ‘Little People.’ An article by Eugene H. Drake of Los Angeles, for instance, reports that the writer encountered during 1951 and 1952 large numbers of tiny beings who had the ability to appear and disappear at will.”

Like many occultists, Drake subscribed to the belief that the space people were made from ghostlike etheric matter but could become physical if they wished. Håkan Blomqvist published the translation of a portion of Drake’s Sept.19, 1961, letter to Karl and Amy Veit, published in Besucher aus dem Weltraum:  

"There are very few people who have had real physical contact with space ships or space people, like ourselves. I have on various occasions experienced how space people appear in condensed form and I could shake their hands. After the contact they disappeared into a higher frequency."

Golden Light May 1962

We were unable to find what became of the Fellowship of Golden Illumination. The last known issue of the Golden Light "was published in May 1962. Eugene Harry Drake died February 21, 1973, in Los Angeles at the age of 82. Few people remember his name, but almost everyone knows an imitation of his story. 

. . .



Some Notes on Drake’s Influences

Theosophy and the Vril

Drake said the Vensuians’ otherworldly technology was powered by “vryil.” Vril was the magical energy source from the 1871 novel, The Coming Race, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a huge influence on science fiction and Theosophy. In 1947, Ole J. Sneide claimed contact with a celestial being who gave him information on flying saucers and their ancient and mystic extraterrestrial origins.

Drake cited the White Brotherhood and described the Venusians’ benevolence and guidance of earth, all concepts of Theosophy lore, not to mention Atlantis. While he didn’t use the term, “ascended,” the more highly evolved beings were of a higher spiritual nature. He describes the mating of Elders with creatures on earth in similar terms to that of William Pelley and his disciple, George Hunt Williamson. 

Frank Scully

Behind the Flying Saucers was published Sept. 1950. Drake was apparently familiar with Frank Scully’s book and imitated much from it. Drake’s saucers with magnetic propulsion from Venus and the exact measurements of the little men inside must have been derived from the Silas Newton hoax packaged by Scully. According to Scully, the government scientist Dr. Gee said, “we were able to count sixteen bodies, that ranged in height from about 36 to 42 inches.” Drake mimicked nothing about Scully’s notions of a cover-up or government suppression, he just harped on the need to avoid war and the A-bomb. Incidentally, Scully lived in California and was a Holly wood gossip columnist. He was interested in the wild side of flying saucers and read Meade Layne’s publications from the Borderland Sciences Research Associates Foundation. He also and rubbed shoulders with George Adamski.

Richard Shaver/Ray Palmer

Drake talked about core concepts of the Shaver Mystery, the underground beings and ancient Atlan and Mu. Aramia warned about “mischievous activity shall effect the psyche of earth people, emanating from dark magicians, former Atlantians and Murians, who went underground during the struggle between those two races during the last atomic age.” That sounds a lot like Shaver’s Deros. 


For Further Study

For more on the influence of Theosophy and the Occult on ufology, see these articles by Curt Collins: 

The UFO Prophecy of Frederick G. Hehr

Ole J. Sneide: A 1947 Pioneer of the UFO Extraterrestrial Hypothesis

UFO History: The Saucers from Atlantis

1946, Before Saucers, Kareeta: UFO Contact in California


The Professor's Message from Space

In 1952, UFO reports seemed to indicate an impending invasion by monstrous aliens: June 1952: News of Oskar Linke’s 1950 sighting of a lande...