Thursday, July 7, 2022

UFO Expert and Lecturer, Norman S. Bean


Norman S. Bean was a first-generation ufologist. He was born in 1906, so he was a full-grown man when the 1947 news of flying saucers captured his life-long interest. Electronics engineer by trade, his 1967 profile in the Palm Beach Press described him as a graduate of Tufts College, Mass., who had “designed electrical equipment for Pan-American Airways, Philco Corp. and RCA. In 1943 he designed a television camera for guided missile projects: after the war he is credited with designing the first RCA commercial TV camera for both sports and studio use.”

Broadcast News, Oct. 1946

Around 1950, Bean became the electronics and TV engineer for station WTJV in Miami, Florida. In his spare time, Bean kept up with UFO literature and gathered enough knowledge that in 1952, he began lecturing locally on the topic, sometimes as often as three times a week, His position was that flying saucers were real, and he believed them to be spaceships from another planet. 

He didn’t speak much about it publicly, but Bean and his wife Louise had a strong interest in psychic phenomena. “I read a book about Edgar Cayce's life in 1952. It opened my eyes and changed my way of thinking.” His passion was flying saucers, and he connected with others who shared his interest, including the saucer clubs that started forming. He also became friends with a notable UFO witness from Miami, Pan American World Airways pilot Bill Nash, of the July 14, 1952, Nash-Fortenberry UFO sighting.


Bill Nash

Bean’s First Saucer Sightings

They say, “seeing is believing,” but up until late 1953, Bean had been believing without seeing. From Bean’s letter to The Little Listening Post newsletter:

"There have just been two saucer sightings over Miami. March 18 [1954] I had my first daylight sighting. Saucer was following a B-36. Several witnesses, (one my technical assistant, Carl McClure, is an ex-navy spotter.) It was his first sighting. I had a night sighting ln Sept. [1953], through my telescope. On that occasion I watched the object hover for four minutes. It was glowing red."

As we shall see, Bean was just getting started.


Norman Bean on left. From PIC magazine, June 1954

At the beginning his ufology career, James Moseley went to Miami in Feb. 1954 to meet William Nash and “contacted a number of interesting people... Norman Bean, a pseudo-engineer and saucerer who'd invented a psychic machine that he claimed healed people at a distance; and marine PFC Ralph Mayher, whom Nash had put me onto. In late July 1952 Mayher had shot some movie film of a saucer. His superiors took the film to a local television station to have it developed, where it was processed by none other than Norman Bean.” (Shockingly Close to the Truth, 2002). Bean only played a minor supporting role in  this UFO case, but the full story can be found at NICAP’s page on the Mayher film

Besides his frequent lectures, Bean also frequently appeared on local radio stations to talk about flying saucers and their origins. At these appearances, members of the audience would sometimes tell him stories they heard about captured flying saucers, and even alien bodies. When in March 1954 Bean was unable to speak as planned, he asked his friend Bill Nash to fill in.

The Saucerian, Jan. 1955

Based on some of those second-hand tales, Nash said in his lecture on saucer, he said he was convinced, "the Air Force has collected hardware from outer space." That caused quite a stir and launched even more rumors and speculation. (For more on that story, see Captured UFOs and Building Hangar 18: A Chronology.”

Agent of N.I.C.A.P. 

NICAP (the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) described both Bean and Nash as “member-investigators” and also on their “Panel of Special Advisors.” They’d later refine that a bit, listing Bean among their “Scientific and Technical” panel.  

Bean in 1959

With Sputnik and the UFO flap of 1957, his lectures had titles such as, “Satellites and Saucers, and "Mystery from Outer Space." Things slowed down but never stopped. The 1966 saucer flap put UFO speakers back in big demand, and it kept Bean in front of eager audiences.

Here is What Bean Believes about UFOs

Now for our feature presentation, an excellent profile on Norman S. Bean’s first two decades as a ufologist, from the Tampa Bay Times, July 22, 1973, written by Gene Rider.

Illustration by Rick McCormick.

13 UFOs over Miami

The press continued to be interested in Bean’s views on UFOs. The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon), Jan. 9, 1974, reported that Bean believed saucers were extraterrestrial ships that are magnetically controlled, powered by atomic reactors for anti-gravity flight, and that when an earthly nation discovers the secret, “it will rule the skies.” The Miami News, Nov. 6, 1975, reported, “Bean, who says he has seen 13 UFOs over Miami in the last decade or so, said it is not unusual for the objects to sit suspended over airports.” Bean said, "This happens at airports all over the world. It's as if they are curious about our methods of flight."

The Bermuda Triangle… and Roswell?

Charles Berlitz's 1974 book, The Bermuda Triangle included some UFO cases, and two of them were provided by Norman S. Bean. 

In the 1979 documentary based on the book, the credits listed a few ufologists among the technical advisors including William L. Moore, Don Berliner and Bean.

Bean was also mentioned in 1980 book by Berlitz and Bill Moore, The Roswell Incident. It was in a section titled, “Holes in the Cover-up,” a passage about a rumor that had been repeated about an of alien autopsy…

Norman Bean, Miami, Florida, electronics engineer, inventor, and lecturer on UFOs, remembers an incident that took place in the mid-fifties. After a lecture he had just given he had a conversation with a retired air force officer, a Colonel Lake, who informed him that a close friend had talked to a doctor in Dayton, Ohio, at some length about the autopsies of the "saucer" crew in which he had participated. According to Colonel Lake, the internal organs were similar to those of human beings, with basic organs "just like chickens and people." Colonel Lake, naturally aware of security regulations, said he could talk about this now in a general way because "all this is going to be a matter of public information in a few months." 

By the time of the Roswell book, Bean was in his mid-70s, and retired, but not from ufology. The Feb. 1981 MUFON Journal announced him as their new State Director for Florida. 

“It is an extreme pleasure to announce that one of the pioneers in UFOlogy in the U.S.A. has accepted the position of State Director for Florida. Norman S. Bean, a retired RCA engineer… Norman has interviewed several thousand UFO sighting witnesses during the 30 years he has been lecturing on UFOs. Many of our new MUFON members in Florida have joined as a result of the radio talk programs that Mr. Bean has participated in around south Florida.” 

After serving almost four years, Bean retired from the role in late 1984 due to “his inability to travel and advancing age.” A few years later, the MUFON Journal, April 1987 carried some sad news. 

Bob Pratt learned from Mrs. Louise Bean that her husband Norman Bean, former State Director for Florida, died on December 8, 1986 at the age of 80. Mr. Bean, a retired RCA engineer with many television related patents and truly a UFO pioneer, was recognized by Larry King on his CNN radio show, featuring the Japan Air Lines flight 1628 UFO sighting report. Norman had appeared on many of Larry King's radio programs when they both lived in Miami, Florida. 

Norman Stuart Bean 1906-1986

Gone, but we remember...

. . .


For more news clippings on Norman Bean’s UFO cases and lectures, see the PDF clipping collection at NICAP.


  1. Good job on this, "Gone, but we remember..." I wish I could say that was true for me but I'm sorry to say that I don't which is sad given how much media exposure he had over the years. His good fortune was having Ralph Mayher's film just dumped into his lap when he was was working at that TV station just because the Navy was like, "well they're the closest place to do this kind of work.". It's important to increase an awareness of guys like this because people really do not realize the true nature and scope of the research that has been done.

    1. Thanks! Researching the piece, I saw clues of a lasting influence by Bean, but not much of it was documented.


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