1977 as Turning Point in Global UFO Research; Big UFO Revelations May Be Coming Soon
By Dr. Raymond A. Keller, a.k.a. “Cosmic Ray,” author of the international award-winning “Venus Rising” series of books, available on amazon.com or headlinebooks.com, while supplies last
Keep watching the skies, and the nightly news for big UFO revelations coming soon! Photo source: dreamtimes.com.
Spielberg’s Movie “Tip of an Iceberg”
Most ufologists, if hard-pressed to pinpoint the year when global UFO research began to receive the recognition that it so rightfully deserved, would probably select 1977. The more obvious event in that year was the premiere of director Steven Spielberg’s Columbia Pictures blockbuster film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, on 16 November. The title of this movie derives from a classification system established for encounters with UFOs and their occupants, presumed to be extraterrestrials, by the former scientific consultant on the UFO phenomenon for two of the United States Air Force UFO studies, Project Sign (1947-1949) and Project Blue Book (1952-1969), Dr. J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.
Spielberg, greatly impressed by Hynek’s assessment of the UFO situation, even brought the astronomer on as the scientific consultant in the production of Close Encounters, whence he makes a cameo appearance in the scene depicting the arrival of the mothership on top of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming at the end of the movie. What became clearly apparent with the march of time, however, was that the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was just the “tip of an iceberg,” at least insofar as revelations about the UFO phenomenon were concerned. Perhaps the very purpose of the film was to prepare the American public for receiving the startling truth about flying saucers, i.e., that they are interplanetary spaceships piloted by advanced humanoid beings.
But apart from the stunning visual effects in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and all the ballyhoo and praise it received from the press and the public, I would beg to differ that it its premiere was the preeminent event in the history of ufology that signaled the turning point for research into this most important phenomenon of the modern age. Rather, I would point to First International Congress on the UFO Phenomenon that was held in Acapulco, Mexico, from Monday, 18 April through Saturday, 23 April 1977, where scientists from around the globe, frustrated by the lack of progress being made in the study of UFOs in their respective countries, came together to put pressure on the governments of their countries to open up their files on this controversial subject. This meeting represented the birth of the UFO disclosure movement in respected, scientific circles.
From the American contingent at the scientific congress, UFO researchers maintained that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the various branches of the United States armed forces were suppressing information on the sightings of flying saucers and other types of inexplicable aerial objects. William H. Spaulding, the director of Ground Saucer Watch, a civilian-based UFO group operating out of Phoenix, Arizona, declared that, “The CIA says it hasn’t worked on UFOs since 1953 and the Air Force says it stopped its project in 1969; but we have evidence that both are still working on the subject. We want Congressional hearings to obtain the release of all information on UFOs obtained by American intelligence agencies.” Spaulding also expressed concern that, “Until now, the whole of idea of the government has been to ridicule us. The Air Force’s Project Blue Book, for example, was just a public relations effort to tell people they hadn’t seen what they had seen” (New York Times News Service dispatch, “Ufologists pressing government to open files,” Thursday, 21 April 1977, Post-Crescent, Appleton, Wisconsin).
Here we are, 44 years later, and at last Spaulding’s words are being vindicated. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting passage of the $2.3 trillion dollars, 5,500-page appropriations bill that was signed by President Donald J. Trump last year, a small fraction of that aid money was set aside for research into “Advanced Aerial Threats,” which included UFOs in specific stipulations in its section titled “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.” The rationale for this funding was that the United States defense establishment, while more vulnerable to attack due to the virus, should become fully aware of all possible threats originating from outside the country, or the Earth, for that matter, in order to properly harden all our early threat alert and defensive grids. One of these provisions in the paragraphs reserved for “Committee Comment” mandates that the director of National Intelligence work with the secretary of defense on a report detailing everything the government knows about unidentified flying objects — known in agency lingo as “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAPs) or “anomalous aerial vehicles” (AAVs). See Reis Thebault’s article, “Thanks to Trump-era covid-relief bill, a UFO report may soon be made public, and it’ll be big, ex-official says,” 23 March 2021, Washington Post, Washington D.C.
President Carter’s UFO Sighting
The ufologists at the 1977 conference consisted of aerospace engineers, qualified astronomers and scientists from many fields of research from notable academic institutions- colleges, think tanks and universities, in addition to the research and development sector in private industry. Many of these in attendance noted that they were particularly encouraged in their investigations by President Jimmy Carter’s affirmation of having sighted a UFO outside of a Lion’s Club at Leary, Georgia, back in October 1969.
On 18 September 1973, while serving as governor of Georgia, Carter filed a report of this sighting with the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a civilian research group headed up by ufologist Hayden C. Hewes. According to this report on file with the UFO group, while waiting for the Lion’s Club meeting to begin, Carter and about a dozen of the club’s members were waiting outside the entrance of the hall around 7:30 p.m., when the future president and the Lion’s Club members spotted what Carter called, “the darndest thing I’ve ever seen,” up in the sky. Carter also described the object as being “very bright with changing colors and about the size of the Moon (as viewed from an arm’s length).” The future president added that, “The object hovered about 30 degrees above the horizon and moved in toward the Earth and away before disappearing into the distance.”
During the heat of the 1976 presidential campaign, while running against incumbent Republican president Gerald R. Ford, Democratic challenger Carter was forthcoming about his belief that he had seen a UFO. He also told a reporter at that time, “Since that incident, I have never ridiculed anyone who claimed to see a UFO, nor will I ever.” And during the 1976 presidential campaign, he further promised that, if elected president, he would encourage the government to release “every piece of information” about UFOs available to the public and to scientists. Following Carter’s being elected in 1976, we then see him being sworn in as president of the United States on 20 January 1977. Therefore, hopes were high that his administration might adopt a more open policy toward the dissemination of information on UFOs. After winning the presidency, though, Carter backed away from this pledge, saying that the release of some information might have “serious defense implications and pose a threat to national security.”
Project Blue Book Dismissed
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, then a 66-year-old delegate to the First International Congress on the UFO Phenomenon, explained that between 1952 and 1969, Project Blue Book was carried out by the United States Air Force for the purpose of recording and studying reports of UFO sightings. During the period of the project’s operation, slightly over 12,000 UFO reports were registered; and while about ten percent remained classified as “unidentified,” the Air Force never accepted that those inexplicable cases could be of an extraterrestrial origin. The former scientific consultant to the Air Force project, Dr. Hynek declared that, “Blue Book was almost a cover-up. There was no scientific approach to the problem. The party line was that all sightings were misperceptions. An initial report might say that a sighting was a possible balloon or a probable aircraft, but the words ‘possible’ and ‘probable’ would be dropped in the final report.” Dr. Hynek was not sure if officials at levels of government higher than the Air Force had substantive information about UFOs that might comprise a major breakthrough in the study of the phenomenon; but he and the other investigators attending the congress were requesting permission to study any confidential, official reports on sightings, insofar as President Carter had promised he would allow this during his 1976 election campaign.
French Scientist Opines
On the general state of ufology in 1977, the French delegate, computer scientist Jacques Vallee, also the author of several books on the UFO phenomenon, noted that, “The last Gallup Poll on the subject, taken in 1973, indicated that 15 million Americans had seen UFOs and that some 51 percent of the population believes that the UFO phenomenon exists. There is a rapidly changing attitude by the public toward UFOs.” However, Vallee was saddened that, “Scientists and governments are lagging behind.” Considering this matter, he noted that, “It doesn’t even matter if UFOs are real because the social effect of the phenomenon is now more important than the phenomenon itself.”
UFO Subject as “Political Football”
Since the days of President Jimmy Carter’s administration, there has always been some hard talk from the politicians about revealing to the public the truth about flying saucers with an imminent disclosure that, unfortunately, never materializes. It seems that the subject of UFOs is just another “political football” that continually gets passed along to each succeeding generation of do-nothing politicos, be they Democrats or Republicans. Now the former Trump administration National Intelligence director John Ratcliffe is stating that under the provisions of the ongoing UAP investigation, the findings are to be publicly announced sometime in June of this year.
“Frankly, there are a lot more sightings than have been made public,” said Ratcliffe to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Friday, 19 March 2021, adding that when the report on these sightings has been made public, it will be nothing less than a “big revelation.” According to Ratcliffe, the forthcoming report must include a “detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence” gathered by the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in order to be in conformity with the provisions of the Intelligence Authorization Act, which also calls for “a detailed description of an interagency process” that will ensure that data can be gathered and analyzed across the federal government. The report will not confine itself to UFO incidents occurring in the United States, but could document sightings from “all over the world, and even in outer space as viewed by the astronauts,” Ratcliffe said.
When President Trump approved the spending package on 27 December 2020, a 180-day countdown began, giving intelligence officials until June to deliver lawmakers their final UAP/AAV report. However, since Trump was a lame-duck president at the time he signed the appropriations bill, a lot of questions have since arisen as to just how enforceable this UAP provision will be, especially since it is now dependent upon the graces of the Biden administration to carry it out. Other factors to consider are that various federal agencies have missed similar congressional reporting deadlines in the past; and the provision is not technically binding, as the language was included in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the bill and not the bill itself. One Senate aide, familiar with the UAP legislation, informed reporter Thebault that, “In other words, it isn’t statute, but the agencies/departments generally treat report language as bill language.”
Insofar as the fate of the UAP provisions are dependent upon the political powers that be, let’s briefly examine the political response to date:
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declined to comment on the UFO report. A spokesperson for the intelligence director’s office blatantly said, “We have nothing to offer.” Senator Warner’s reluctance to speak out on this issue does not bode well, insofar as the Democrats barely control the Senate, 51 to 50, with the vice-president Kamala Harris casting that deciding vote.
On the other hand, former senator Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), a longtime backer of UFO research, when opining on the footage released by the Pentagon last year of three grainy videos of UFOs recorded by U.S. Navy pilots using infrared cameras, showing the objects moving rapidly quickly across the screen, remarked that, “This footage only scratches the surface of research and materials available. The United States clearly needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed.” Whether anyone is paying any attention to Harry Reid on the left side of the Senate aisle remains to be seen. Hopefully, he will be able to convince at least a few of his fellow Democrats that studying UFOs is essential to maintaining our country’s security, if that is the most propitious way to frame this issue.
Since President Trump, the creator of America’s newest branch of the military, the Space Force, signed the bill, naturally most of the Republicans are all on board with it. Among the Grand Old Party, the most vociferous proponent of the UAP investigation and the release of its findings is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), vice chair of the Intelligence Committee, who stated in a July interview with Miami’s CBS4 News, that the prospect that something otherworldly is behind the flying objects does not concern him as much as the idea that an adversary of the United States could be making secret technological advances. “The bottom line is if there are things flying over your military bases and you don’t know what they are because they aren’t yours and they are exhibiting — potentially — technologies that you don’t have at your own disposal,” explained Senator Rubio, adding that, “To me, that is a national security risk and one that we should be looking into.”
It is clear that the process of legitimizing UFO research, that began with the First International Congress on the UFO Phenomenon in 1977, has come a long way in moving the idea of extraterrestrial beings visiting the Earth in solid, physical spaceships to the point that it is no longer simply written off as pure speculation based on science fiction. In Ratcliffe’s Fox News interview he described UFO sightings thusly: “We are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery, that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for or are traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom. There’s actually quite a few of those; and I think that that information is being gathered and will be put out in a way the American people can see.”
Christopher Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, applauded Ratcliffe’s disclosure. Mellon, who also worked with Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, called the UFO revelations so far revealed in the Navy videos as, “an important and noteworthy admission.”
In the Fox interview, Ratcliffe noted that, “There are instances where we don’t have good explanations for some of the things that we’ve seen; and when that information becomes declassified, I’ll be able to talk a little bit more about that.” Hopefully, that time could be coming soon; but given the lousy track record on this subject by American politicians, I wouldn’t hold my breath about it.
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Raymond A. Keller is a UFO consultant on the Board of Directors of Paranormal Search in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He can be reached through his e-mail at email@example.com.)