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


Thursday, September 29, 2022

The OTHER Flying Disc Mystery of 1947


The summer of 1947 brought the mystery of unidentified flying objects, known as flying saucers or flying discs. The topic sold a lot of newspapers, and soon was the subject of commercial exploitation.

In Miami, Florida October 21, 1947, a mysterious professional wrestler appeared, going by the name “Flying Disc.” He wore a green hood, and besides his flying saucer name, his gimmick was that he would remove his mask and disclose his identity if an opponent could defeat him. The Flying Disc was a villain who fought with “vicious ring tactics”

Miami News, Oct. 21, 1947

Miami Herald, Oct. 10, 1947

Miami News, Oct. 28, 1947

Not Flying Disc. It's "Mr. X," flying here. Miami News, Oct. 11, 1947 

Miami News, Nov. 11, 1947

Miami News, Dec. 12, 1947

The Flying Disc had a run of 30 bouts with no losses.

From The Big Show-Off, 1945

The Big Test

Miami News, Jan. 30, 1948

Friday night, Jan. 30, 1948, at the Civic Center, Miami, Florida: Flying Disc Vs. Black Jack LaRue. The results were described in Miami News, Feb. 3, 1948, which teased their rematch. 

LaRue unmasked Flying Disc, and he was revealed to be Eddie Parquett. 

Miami News, Feb. 3, 1948

Eddie Parquett continued to wrestle unmasked under his own name, but for a while had to be referred by as the ex-Flying Disc.

Miami News, Feb. 5, 1948

We found listings for matches in Miami with Parquett for the rest of the year, but nothing after that. There was another Flying Disc competing in Miami in 1949-50, but not in the wrestling ring. 

The Hialeah Park racetrack was where that Flying Disc could be found running against the other racehorses.

The Wrestler from Mars

Around the same time , there was another alien-themed wrestler. Below is an excerpt from "The Great Zuma: A Mysterious Martian that Turned out to be a Blue Demon" by By Brittan Nannenga:

“In 1950, the world of wrestling was introduced to a masked competitor that called himself 'Zuma, Man of Mars.' Also known as The Great Zuma, the man entered the ring wearing a long cape secured with a chest plate bearing the letter “Z," and an otherworldly headpiece with an antenna-like top that concealed his face. Zuma gained popularity on the wrestling circuit during his debut year, garnering attention for being quick on his feet and winning the majority of his matches. It was that fancy footwork—and a striking resemblance—that ultimately unveiled the true identity of the mysterious Martian to be Carl J. Engstrom, a DePaul student and former star boxer for the university.”

Probably the most famous UFO-related wrestling product was the 1967 movie from Mexico, Santo el Enmascarado de Plata vs La Invasión de Los Marcianos, aka Santo vs. the Martian Invasion.

While professional wrestling and ufology would seem to have little in common, there is a fantasy element and a substantial show biz aspect to both. And as a spectator sport, both attract a colorful and vocal fan following.

. . .

Exploitations of the popularity of flying saucers began early. See other examples in STTF articles:

Thursday, September 1, 2022

UFOs: Going to the Next Level

In the early 1970s, the Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM) movement was launched by Marshall Herff Applewhite, an ex-music teacher, and Bonnie Lu Nettles, an ex-psychiatric nurse from Texas. Presenting themselves as incarnate aliens, they gathered students to teach the way to extraterrestrial salvation. By 1975, former followers were predicting a tragic end. On March 26, 1997, in Rancho Santa Fe, California, Applewhite and 38 of his followers were found dead from a mass suicide. The Heaven’s Gate story is well known, but so we won’t repeat it all, just focus on how the group interacted with UFOs culture and how they exploited it to influence their followers.

In the 1950s, Theosophical concepts of ancient godlike beings from other planets guiding mankind were redressed for a new audience. George Adamski claimed he’d met a savior in a flying saucer from Venus, becoming the first major Contactee. Many imitators followed with inspirational contact stories of their own, planting the seeds for de facto UFO religions. What happened with Applewhite, Nettles, and their students is a byproduct of the Contactee teachings.


First Contact

In 1973, Applewhite and Nettles took to the road traveling around the country, where they came up with the concepts for their teachings. As the son of a Presbyterian minister, Applewhite had set out to follow his father’s religious profession before focusing on music. Nettles was interested in astrology, Theosophy and UFOs. In 1974, mixing concepts from Christianity, Theosophy, and UFO Contactee lore, they reinvented themselves as celestial saviors. The asexual couple cultivated an air of mystery about themselves. They shed their names and became known as “the Two,” individually as “Bo” and “Peep,” later as “Ti” and “Do.” The Two began taking their ministry public by contacting UFO organizations.

On July 13, 1974, Applewhite and Nettles arrived in Oklahoma City at the office of Hayden Hewes of the International UFO Bureau where he interviewed them for 90 minutes. Hewes asked about whether UFOs were physically real and Applewhite said: 

“…they are real at a vibratory control rate… for example a spaceship can change its vibration rate. An individual who is a member of the next kingdom can change his vibration rate. He can appear and disappear in front of your eyes, because he has developed to that capacity.”

Applewhite also explained how our earthly lives must be shed to reach the heavenly next level: 

“…if you were willing to flake off all your humanity to make this graduation, you would move into an entirely different consciousness, you would change your body over just as the chrysalis in the caterpillar to butterfly.”
The Aerial Phenomena Research Organization was their next known stop. The APRO Bulletin Oct. 1975, described their visit.  

“In July of 1974 a middle-aged couple walked into APRO’s office and held a conversation… The gist of it was that they were some sort of emissaries and that within a year and a half they would be assassinated and would be taken up by a UFO, rejuvenated and returned to earth for some sort of revivalist movement.”

Before their recruiting campaign was properly launched, some trouble with the law resulted in Applewhite spending six months in jail.

Valley Morning Star TX, Aug. 29, 1974

Afterwards, they recruited “students” for HIM by putting up posters for their meetings which featured a UFO headline. Many of the people who were attracted by the group’s posters had a prior interest in UFOs.

In Messengers of Deception, the 1979 book by Jacques Vallée, he wrote about attending the HIM meeting on August 13, 1975, at the Stanford campus. A panel of eight members talked about how they had abandoned everything to follow The Two, and encouraged the audience to join them, saying it was free. When a woman challenged them on this, the speaker replied, "It only costs your life, you know. . ."

Two recruits were students from the University of Oregon, who’d become excited by news about the claims of crashed UFO at Hangar 18 by Robert Spencer Carr. In his final interview, the member said:

“One day in Oregon in 1975 an article showed up in the campus paper… [about] a Florida professor's presentation about the Aztec, New Mexico, crash and the bodies found inside. Autopsies showed the beings had brains capable of superhuman intelligence... I showed the article to [my friend]. This was before we joined the class, and we thought, ‘Wow this is going to be a big story.’ … some months later… we saw a poster that said. ‘UFOs: Why they are here…’”

They and many others left with the cult and were said to have “vanished.”

HIM poster, Calgary Herald, Oct. 17, 1975

To reach the Next Level involved some sacrifice, and their students were required to forsake most worldly pleasures like drugs and sex. Further, they were to sever contact with their families and devote themselves completely to the mission. The press on HIM focused on families that were torn apart by the cult.

The Courier Journal, Nov. 4, 1975

Joan Culpepper, a California psychic was a follower of HIM, but she dropped out and started speaking publicly to expose them.

Tucson Daily Citizen, Nov 29, 1975

The cult continued to recruit, sometimes drawing an audience of several hundred prospects.


Billings Gazette, Dec. 23, 1975

The fame of The Two was growing. In 1976, William Shatner, ex-Captain Kirk of Star Trek, was working on a paranormal documentary, Mysteries of the Gods, based on an Erich von Daniken book. Ufologist Dennis William Hauck was interviewed by Shatner in the film, and wrote in his 1995 book, Captain Quirk, that Shatner believed in alien visitors. He'd heard something about The Two and was curious.

Dennis William Hauck and William Shatner

Hauck told him about attending one of the HIM meetings and hearing about their message. “There must be over 150 members by now. Both Jackie Gleason and musician Steve Halpern came close to joining the group.” Shatner asked, “And why didn't you go with them?” When Hauck told him about The Two’s criminal record, Shatner lost any interest he had in them.

Hayden Hewes met The Two again in 1976 along with Brad Steiger. The interviews formed the basis for the 1976 book, UFO Missionaries Extraordinary. The Two had hoped their message would be spread to the world, but they were unhappy with the book, since it left out their alleged connection to Revelations and their predicted resurrections.

This edition was from the Heaven’s Gate book collection.

Excessive publicity caused Applewhite to become paranoid about being pursued by the law. The Two took their class underground.

The Next Generation

The late 1970s saw a boom in science fiction movies with aliens and other worlds, and this helped the class visualize the next level. Trouble came in 1985, when Bonnie Lu Nettles died from cancer, something not accounted for in their philosophy. It shook the faith, but when prophecy fails, change the prophecy. Physical entry into the spaceship to Heaven was no longer necessary. In 1993 the cult publicly remerged and started recruiting again, eventually renamed Heaven’s Gate. Applewhite had a new plan and taught his followers, “The Shedding of Our Human Bodies May Be Required To Take Up New Bodies in the Next World.”

The group was founded around the principles of UFOs and alien beings, and that was reflected in their allowed entertainment choices. Members were kept from watching TV programs featuring explicit sex but permitted to see shows more aligned to their values such as the Star Trek series, Voyager and Deep Space 9, and The X-Files and Millennium.

Applewhite and students take a trip.

In late 1996, remote viewer Courtney Brown was the guest on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell, claiming a UFO “four times the size of Earth” following the comet Hale-Bopp. A photo alleging to show the was promoted on the websites of Whitley Strieber and Art Bell in mid-January 1997. Applewhite and his followers believed it pictured their ride, and they started preparing for their departure. We know how their story ends, but one of their first stops along the way was at a major UFO convention.

A large contingent from Heaven’s Gate attended the fringy 6th Annual International UFO Congress in Laughlin, Nevada, January 18-24, 1997. Perhaps they were drawn to it since at least two of the lecturers were speaking about the Hale-Bopp UFO, Whitley Strieber and Lee Shargel.

The scope of the IUFOC convention was described in a report from Pete Creelman in the March MUFON-Arizona newsletterNewsweek reported the Heaven’s Gate students were good customers. “While there, they shell out $740.86 on hotels, books, tapes and UFO magazines." Applewhite’s group already had a collection of UFO books, but some of the new items may have been mentioned in The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 21, 1999, when their belongings went up for auction and, “the cult's book collection for $340.” It included:

The Star Trek Encyclopedia, 1994.

Disneyland of the Gods by John Keel, 1995. 

Aliens from Outer Space by David Jackson, a 1991 children's picture book. 

Additionally, news video of the auction showed six boxes of books with at least three other UFO volumes from the collection:

UFO: The Complete Sightings by Peter Brookesmith, 1995.

An Alien Harvest by Linda Moulton Howe, 1989.

UFO... Contact from the Pleiades, by Wendelle C. Stevens, 1979.

There were apparently at least two lots of books auctioned, and a Reddit post pictured some of the volumes said to be part of the Heaven’s Gate collection, books from the 1950s to the 1990s.

 Also, among their possessions were a T-shirt with the picture of an alien and the logo "FARFROMHOME," and two "Star Wars" hats with the logo, "May the Force Be With You."

Astronomers identified the alleged UFO following the comet as an ordinary star, but Applewhite and his class were committed to leaving earth. The Heaven’s Gate site said, “Whether Hale-Bopp has a ‘companion’ or not is irrelevant from our perspective.” 


Out of Their Vulcan Minds

Gene Rodenberry created Star Trek incorporating ideas form classic science fiction, which by that time had folded in quite a bit of UFO and alien lore. Heaven’s Gate was fond of Star Trek and its spin offs, and it was reported that their demeanor was asexual and emotionally aloof, resembling the cool detachment of Vulcans from the series.

One of the members on their voyage to the final frontier was Thomas Alva Nichols, brother of Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Uhura. For their mission, Heaven’s Gate members wore a patch inspired by the series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which called the landing party transported to other planets an “away team.” 

In the videotape made in late 1996, “Planet About To Be Recycled - Your Only Chance To Survive,” in late 1996, Marshall Applewhite said:
“In the eyes of the Kingdom of Heaven, there's no such thing as race or color or religious background... If the extent of your religious background was Star Trek - that in itself could be the best background you could have, if you could accept this as Truth, if you could accept this as reality.”
In the members’ farewell videotape, one trekker used a science fiction analogy to try to explain their choices:
"…to us, this step of laying down... these human bodies [is] simple, like we watch a lot of ‘Star Trek,’ a lot of 'Star Wars’… "We've been on a holodeck, we've been into training... The game's over. It's time to put into practice what we've learned."

They poisoned themselves and died for their beliefs, a twisted religion based on UFOs and aliens. “Going From This World to a New Life” by James Phelan in the Lakeland Ledger, Feb 29, 1976, closed with a quote from Marshall Applewhite:
"Some people are like lemmings, who rush in a pack into the sea and drown themselves. Many migrate to the West Coast. They join any movement – self-discipline, this kind of meditation, that kind of meditation… Some people,” says the former opera singer who claims he will rise from the dead and take his followers to heaven on a UFO, “will try anything.”

. . . 


Frank Edwards: Making UFOs Newsworthy

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