High Strangeness: UFO Power

Friday, September 20, 2013

UFO Power

There is a strange power at work in my life right now, and I'm at a loss to explain it. For a while now, just when I've need something for my book--a reference or a quote or an inspiration--it has come falling out of the sky and into my lap! Or sometimes delivered to my door by the mailman. But the effect is the same!

This past week has been a standout. I had been struggling with a few segments of my book on the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. First was my write-up about the 1952 Washington, DC UFO sightings. As spectacular as the sightings were, I was unhappy with my first pass at describing the event because it didn't have any dramatic or visual punch. The passage needed more, but I was not finding any inspiration so there it sat...

Well, a few days pass and I go to Kalamazoo to spend the weekend with the Council of Elders. I bring up the Washington events and that starts a roundabout discussion of the Elders' book, "UFOs and Government." I decide to revisit that book when I get home, and I come across a long quote from Dr. Hynek about a completely different matter: the Robertson Committee and its dismissive attitude towards the mind-blowing Tremonton movie film. I look up where this quote came from, and, lo and behold, it's from a UFO book from 1974 that I have never heard of: "UFO's, Past, Present and Future," by a guy named Robert Emenegger. I order the book from Amazon, and a few days later it drops into my lap. In the mailbox.

I start reading the book and what do I find but the most riveting description of the Washington DC flap, given in an interview by Al Chop, who was an Air Force spokesperson and PR flack in 1952 and was in the control tower at Andrews Air Force Base when the UFOs were flying around in the sky all over the capital... His account of what happened when the Air Force scrambled some F-94 jets to intercept the "unknowns" on the tower's radar screen was just what I needed for my book:
"The two F-94s appeared about two-forty A.M. on the scope, but as they appeared a frightening thing happened... the target blips disappeared off the scope. Our interceptors flew around for about fifteen minutes and returned to the base with negative results. As our interceptors left the scope, our targets reappeared.
Then Chop described what happened when one of the pilots turned back to try again and found himself among a group of "tremendous blue-white lights":
“We could tell by radar that they were getting very close. Then a second report came in. (The pilot) was somewhat excited, and I don’t blame him; he reported, ‘They’re all around me now.’ A pause, then: ‘They appear to be closing in on me…’Moments passed and the last remark I remember hearing was the pilot’s voice almost pleading: ‘What shall I do?’ Chop recalled. “Well, we saw the ‘unknowns’ appear to place themselves in a ring around his aircraft. We all just looked at each other. Ten or twenty seconds later, he reported, ‘They’re moving off now.’
That's some dynamite stuff, and I wouldn't have found it if I hadn't been looking for something completely different... 
Then there's item two. Up until 1952, Hynek had been a complete skeptic where UFOs were involved, but right around the same time as the Washington sightings, he starts to change his mind and wonder about things... It's a huge turning point in his life, and a huge moment in the book. But how to convey it? I was pretty happy with what I had on the page for starters but still felt there was something missing: I had it all down how he changed his mind but didn't quite have a handle on the essential "why?"

Well, as fate would have it, one of my readers here had commented recently about meeting Dr. Hynek back in the '70s, along with one of his best researchers, a guy named Allen Hendry... Ever since, I've been trying to find out how to talk to Mr. Hendry, but everyone tells me that he absolutely will not talk to anyone -- not even someone as charming as me -- about UFOs.
MISSING: One UFOlogist. Answers to "Allen." But then, don't they all?

It seemed I would never be able to learn anything about Mr. Hendry... but Mr. Hendry had made one mistake: he had written a book. And then he made another mistake: he allowed it to be sold, and resold. Sensing an opening, I tracked down and ordered a used copy of Hendry's long out of print 1979 opus, "The UFO Handbook," from Amazon and it fell into my lap two days ago. In the mailbox.
So I open my hardcover copy of Hendry's book and the first thing I see is that it's on loan from the Butte County Library, so God knows what the late fee's going to be on that. Next thing I see is that the foreword was written by some guy named Dr. J. Allen Hynek... Wait! What? Stop the presses!

I start reading Hynek's foreward, and there, in his own hand, is his account of WHY he changed his mind about UFOs... 

You will not be surprised to learn that I am not going to share that entire quote, because it's central to my book, but I will give you this teaser:
"I recognized that in the majority of cases the answer to this question was 'No.'" 
You know what you'll have to do to learn the rest of the story...

PS: Thank you Department 47 for the tip on Allen Hendry!

PSS: I also found what I was originally looking for at the beginning of this story! I figured you'd want to know.


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