Saturday, August 15, 2015

Flying Saucers Before UFOs - The 1950s Phenomenal Phenomenon



Roswell Daily Record, July 8, 1947, announcing the 'capture' of a 'flying saucer.'
When, on 8 July 1947, Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut, issued a press release stating that personnel from the field's 509th Operations Group had recovered a 'flying disc' which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell, N.M., the press ran with it. Late that day the Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force, Roger Ramey, informed the press that what the RAAF personnel recovered was in fact debris from a 'weather balloon.' On 9 July 1947 the Roswell Record printed a statement by a local named William Brazel about debris that he had collected on a homestead north of Roswell. Brazell's description of the debris did not suggest a 'flying disc' of any kind - rubber that was 'smoky gray in color', 'tinfoil, paper, tape, and sticks', 'no sign of any metal in the area which might have been used for an engine, and no sign of any propellers of any kind, although at least one paper fin had been glued onto some of the tinfoil.'

As it turned out, CG Ramey wasn't entirely forthcoming with his explanation - the crashed device wasn't a weather balloon, it was a device that had been used in nuclear test monitoring.  Apparently the military did not want to disclose that bit of info. The Roswell flying disc story faded into obscurity until Stanton Friedman resurrected it in 1978. But that wasn't the end of the flying disc story - it would become a phenomenal part of 1950s culture. And strangely, one man would be there at every step.
FATE  Vol.1 Num.1 (1948)
FATE magazine's 1948 inaugural issue featured an article written by businessman and aviator Kenneth Arnold who recounted his experience of having seen nine 'saucer-like' objects flying in the sky near Mt. Rainer, Washington in 1947. Arnold's sighting is widely regarded as the spark of the modern UFO age. FATE's editor Ray Palmer is often referred to as 'the man who created the flying saucer.' More will be said about him at the end of this post. You can read Arnold's account here.
The Ether Ship Mystery and its Solution (1950)
Meade Layne's take on the emerging flying saucer phenomenon is interesting as he presents a different concept about their origins and their make up. Layne first off recognizes the variety of shapes and sizes in the descriptions of the craft - he doesn't emphasize the 'saucer' shape. Layne believed that the various craft materialize in this dimension from 'Etheria' (the etheric level). He refers to the inhabitants as 'Etherians'. Layne emphasizes his belief that the visitors and their craft do not come from outer space, Venus or Mars. This take was more ridiculed than the other theories that would become so popular in the 1950s. What is interesting is that this 'fringe' concept can be traced back hundreds of years in philosophy and science.
The Flying Saucers Are Real (1950)
Written by a U.S. Marine Corps naval pilot, The Flying Saucers Are Real is considered to be the first influential work on the subject of flying saucers and the extraterrestrial connection. Keyhoe presents a thoroughly researched look at various encounters with strange sky craft and USAF fighters and personnel, as well as other aircraft, between 1947 and 1950. He concludes that the U.S. Air Force had been actively involved with investigating these encounters and continued to do so, perhaps even obtaining alien technology. Keyhoe was convinced that the U.S. government was suppressing this research and info and believed that the government would release the information once the Soviet Union was no longer a threat.
Behind The Flying Saucers (1950)
Journalist Frank Scully's only book about the flying saucer controversy. In 1952 and again in 1956 True magazine exposed Skully's two informants/sources as hoaxters who duped the author. On a curious note, Scully was bestowed the special honor of Knight of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1956 - The motto of the Order of St. Gregory the Great is Pro Deo et Principe (For God and Ruler).

The Riddle of the Flying Saucers: is another World watching? (1950)
Gerald Heard proposes that the flying saucers are vehicles for a super-intelligent, advanced, benevolent, tiny-in-size, bee-like species from Mars. The primary reason for Earth visitation is their concern that Earth, with the violence and atomic weapons, may be a threat to the galaxy.

Flying Saucers from outer space (1953)
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, aka Invasion of the Flying Saucers was a 1956 film inspired by Major Keyhoe's descriptions and reports in this book.
Fate Magazine (1953)
FATE magazine celebrates five years with a special saucer issue.

WEIRD SCIENCE-FANTASY #26 (Dec. 1954)
EC comics' departure from the usual science fiction fare with a special issue in which editors Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines present a 36 page Flying Saucer Report with twenty-two 'incidents based on true stories.' Their challenge to the U.S. Air Force: answer truthfully a list of seventeen questions about the incidents that are based on reported facts. A photocopy of the article UFOs Over Washington, D.C. was placed in an Air Force records file and is now part of the National Archives.

Aboard A Flying Saucer (1954)
Truman Bethurum's exposé about his multiple experiences aboard a flying saucer in the Nevada desert and his conversations with the sexy captain named, Aura Rhanes. According to Bethurum Captain Rahnes and her crew come from a perfect planet called Clarion blocked from our vision as it is beyond the far side of the sun. Clarionites are Christian but parts of the population are turning towards paganism. They like square dances and polkas, the children are all very well behaved and organizational. There is no need for medicine, government, or laborers. Berthurum's wife gets a bit jealous and files for divorce naming Captain Rahnes in the proceedings. The Captain offers to take Bethurum to Clarion. She never answers their prearranged signals in the desert. Berthurum leaves Nevada and returns to his native California. He went on to write three more books and establish 'The Sanctuary of Thought' in Arizona.
Space, Gravity & The Flying Saucer (1955)
British aerospace engineer Leonard G. Cramp's classic discussing the theoretical necessities for flying saucer interstellar propulsion. He also discusses suppressed technology. Technical and scientific.
Flying Saucer From Mars (1955)
Cedric Allingham relates his experience when, while vacationing in Scotland, he witnessed the landing of a 50-ft flying saucer and proceeded to have a conversation - of sorts - with a tall Martian who emerged from the vehicle. The British UFO community got very excited about it all. Problem is, Cedric Allingham didn't exist. When the man never appeared in public (except once) questions began to arise. Turns out that the book was a rewrite by an Englishman named Peter Davies. Davies admitted that he was asked by the original author to disguise his signature by rewriting the tale in his own voice. After extensive research into the mystery, British UFOlogists Christopher Allan and Steuart Campbell concluded that the original author was an amateur astronomer and known flying saucer skeptic named Patrick Moore. Moore vehemently denied this accusation and went on to become a popular television and radio personality and was knighted by the Crown. Those who believe Moore was indeed the author of the tale are perplexed as to Moore's motives in doing so. Patrick Moore died in 2012 never admitting that he was the author of the 'hoax'.

They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers (1956)
The book that introduced the Men In Black into the flying saucer culture. (M.I.B. - the mysterious men in black suits driving a big black car that intimidate alien phenomenon witnesses into silence.) Author Gray Barker used the funds made from this book to start Saucerian Publications. He became a well known writer and publisher in the field. After Barker's death, author and newspaper editor John C. Sherman wrote an article for The Skeptical Inquirer in which he portrayed Gray Barker as a money hungry fraud - the article is titled, Gray Baker: My Friend, the Myth-Maker.

Flying Saucers Fact Or Fiction? (1957)
Twelve Year Research of U.F.O.'s in Our Skies Revealed by the Top Scientists, Astronomers, Airforce Personnel, and Technical Observers. Author Max B. Miller founded Flying Saucers International in 1952 which still exists as a 'non-profit investigation unit, researching all facets of Unidentified Flying Saucers.' Note the acronym U.F.O. - it would be used more frequently as the 1950s faded as a decade.

Amazing Stories  (October 1957)

Amazing Stories special issue that contains a supplement dealing with 'UFO, commonly called Flying Saucers.' The editors allow free hand to the writers, all of whom have a reputation in the conversation as either believers or skeptics, so that they may represent their viewpoints to the reader. The reader then has a 'broad foundation' with which to make their own opinion.

Flying Saucer Pilgrimage (1957)
'The Story of An Amazing Private Research which took Two Year's Time and Over 23,000 Miles of Travel.' The Reeves began their pilgrimage for the truth about the flying saucer phenomenon by going out to meet some of the more well known witnesses. By chapter fifteen they decide that 'flying saucers themselves per sé are no longer of prime importance . . . it is not physical saucers that are the important thing but what lies behind the physical aspects.' The book then goes into an exploration of the 'supra-physical' or metaphysical meaning behind the experiences. It was after the Reeves met Meade Layne that they took this new approach.

You'll notice that the cover features a craft with quite a different design than the saucer-like design so popular on the other covers. This shape had been used to describe the strange craft by some witnesses for years. This harkens back to Layne's The Ether Ship Mystery in 1950. The idea of the 'flying saucer' was now being transformed - the golden age of the 'saucerian' was fading away.

Another interesting aspect to this is that the Reeve's book was published by Amherst Press - a Ray Palmer publishing house. The same Ray Palmer mentioned at the top of this post. The same Ray Palmer who published Kenneth Arnold's account in FATE magazine in 1947. The same Ray Palmer who published this issue of Flying Saucers in the same year as the Reeve's book - 1957:

Flying Saucers (1957)
Flying Saucers and the U.S.Air Force (1960)
Lt. Lawrence J. Tacker, U.S.A.F., is credited as the author of this 'Official Air Force story.' At the time, Lt. Col. Tacker was the official spokesman for the Air Force on the subject of UFOs. The book is presented as the story of the 'long investigations' carefully conducted by the Air Force for 'each sighting' and their findings. The vast majority of cases are given mundane, and sometimes ridiculous, explanations. Some are acknowledged as unexplained. A number of researchers consider this book to be a kind of Air Force answer to Donald Keyhoe's public success with putting the focus on the Air Force when discussing the flying saucer phenomenon.

The official Air Force story was published in 1960. It was the beginning of a new decade and a new approach to strange sky craft. They would commonly be referred to as Unidentified Flying Objects - UFOs. In a strange sort of way, we come full circle. In 1950 Meade Layne emphasized the diversity of the mysterious sky craft. He also presented the idea that the visitors weren't from 'outer space', but more probably from the space we consider empty - but it's not - 'etheric' space. It all would take a more meta-physical turn.

Flying Saucers (Nov 1963)
Publisher/Writer Ray Palmer had his hand in some of the most curious stories of flying saucer occurrences for years. He started as a very successful editor for Amazing Stories from 1938-1949. Palmer had a very big hand in the strange Shaver Mystery controversy that took hold of Amazing Stories from 1945-48. He went on to edit Fate magazine. It was his influence that drew Kenneth Arnold back into the public eye after Arnold thought of leaving his story behind because of the controversial aspects of his report and the ridicule. Through the years, Palmer worked as editor for a number of other magazines and books through his own publishing houses, including Amherst Press and Palmer Publications. A few of the books mentioned in this post were published by Palmer publishing houses.

One of Ray Palmer's pet projects was Flying Saucers magazine first published in 1957 as Flying Saucers from Other Worlds. It's sort of fitting to end this Flying Saucer post with another of Mr. Palmer's interesting links. The above issue of Palmer's Flying Saucers features an article written by a 16-year-old named Gregory Swofford of Milwaukee, Wisconsin - The Swofford UFO Detector. In that article the young Swofford coined a new term, 'ufology.' Palmer, 'the man who invented the Flying Saucer', managed to associate his name into the new era of UFOs. Kind of remarkable.

So, we leave this subject with a little update. The scorpion-like object in the photo below was sent to the UFO Global Reporting Center by an individual named Jamie O'Rourke. O'Rourke reported that he saw this object in the sky over Los Cristianos, Spain on Saturday, August 21, 2011. The sky craft may have changed, but the commentary between skeptics and believers hasn't.