The Most Renowned UFO Incidents (Part 4 of 10)

The Most Renowned UFO Incidents (Part 4 of 10) April 6, 2018

[The following is a portion of a chapter in a book manuscript I intend to publish in my Still Here book series on biblical eschatology. I believe some UFO sightings–probably hundreds worldwide in the past two generations–have been unnatural phenomena attributable to angels (cf. Daniel 4.13, 17, 23; Hebrews 1.14; 1 Peter 1.12).]

Dr. Josef Allen Hynek[1]

The UFO story about Dr. Josef Allen Hynek (1910-1986) is most compelling. He was an astrophysicist, a science professor, and the U.S. Air Force’s chief scientific consultant on Project Blue Book. In fact, Dr. Hynek started investigating UFOs earlier, when the Air Force contacted him and then hired him to do so for its Project Sign (1947-1949). That became Project Grudge (1949-1952, which finally became Project Blue Book (1952-1969). At first, Hynek was a UFO debunker. In 1948, he was quoted publicly as saying, “the whole subject seems utterly ridiculous.” Thus, he deemed UFOs as a passing fad.

But after Dr. Hynek investigated UFO reports for many years, he gradually changed his mind. One reason was that some of the UFO witnesses were quite reliable, some even being trained pilots. Being an astronomer, Hynek took an informal poll of forty-four astronomer colleagues during the early 1950s. He was impressed that five of them said they had seen UFOs, though four refused to report it due to fear of losing their jobs. Hynek became upset with scientists’ ridiculing UFO witnesses and the Air Force’s negative attitude toward them and therefore its inadequate investigations of UFO reports.

Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt (1923-1960) had directed Project Grudge and then was the first director of Project Blue Book through late 1953. He had been a bombardier during WWII who afterwards became highly decorated. Ruppelt was the one who changed the popular name “flying saucers” to “unidentified flying objects.” Ruppelt was known for being a talented organizer and a person who was open-minded in solving the dilemma about UFOs. Hynek wrote about Ruppelt, “In my contacts with him, I found him to be honest and seriously puzzled about the whole phenomenon.” Ruppelt said, “Dr. Hynek was one of the most impressive scientists I met while working on the UFO project.”

As director of Project Blue Book, Ruppelt quit in disgust because the Air Force had downgraded it from ten employees to three. Ruppelt then retired from the Air Force and worked briefly as a research engineer for Northrup Aircraft Company. He then wrote a book published in 1956 entitled The Report of Unidentified Flying Objects. Hynek said it “should be required reading for anyone seriously interested in the history of this subject.” Doubleday republished it in an expanded edition in 1960. In it, Ruppelt calls UFOs a “space age myth.” Ruppelt then died of a heart attack at age 37.

Even though Dr. Hynek worked on Project Blue Book throughout its existence, in its latter years he began to disagree publicly with the Air Force about various UFO sightings and even expressed his disappointment with Project Blue Book. He alleged that after Director Ruppelt’s tenure, the Project became mostly a public relations scheme engaging in little or no scientific research.

In 1973, Dr. Hynek founded and thereafter directed the Center for UFO Studies, which stresses scientific analysis of UFOs. In 1978, he delivered a speech on behalf of himself and two other scientists to the UN General Assembly calling for it to create a world authority on UFOs. Hynek was a consultant on Steven Spielberg’s popular 1977 film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” He even made a brief appearance in it.

In 1975, Dr. Hynek delivered a paper to the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics in Los Angeles. In it he wrote concerning UFOs, “If you object, I ask you to explain quantitatively, not qualitatively, the reported phenomena of materialization and dematerialization, of shape changes, of the noiseless hovering in the Earth’s gravitational field, accelerations that, for an appreciable mass, require energy sources far beyond present capabilities, even theoretical capabilities, the well-known and often reported E-M (electro-magnetic interference) effect, the psychic effects on percipients, including purported telepathic communications.”

In 1977, Dr. Hynek spoke to the First International UFO Congress held in Chicago. He said, “I hold it entirely possible that a technology exists which encompasses both the physical and the psychical, the material and the mental.” After examining so many reports of UFO sightings, Dr. Hynek acknowledged a significant association of many of them with paranormal, psychic activity.

Alleged UFO Cover-up

Through the years, various U.S. government agencies that administer aviation have alerted their personnel to avoid public discussion about UFOs. For example, U.S. airport traffic controllers sometimes have reported seeing UFOs appear on their radar systems. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees these thousands of controllers, has advised them and other aviation personnel not to talk publicly about such experiences and not to report them to the FAA.

Many aviation people in the U.S. have experienced much ridicule for reporting UFO sightings. U.S. pilots who have reported seeing UFOs often have been deemed incompetent to fly military aircraft or commercial airplanes. So, they have feared that reporting UFO sightings might jeopardize their jobs.

In the 1970s and 1980s, conspiracy charges about UFOs in the U.S. circulated and increased, even by the media. The U.S. government was accused of a colossal cover-up of its investigation of UFOs. It has often been compared to conspiracy theories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

It appears that U.S. public suspicion of a government cover-up of UFOs has been ill-founded. Many government officials suppressed UFO evidence, not because they thought it suggested aliens, but because they worried that failure of the government to offer a convincing explanation of the best UFO evidence could result in mass hysteria. Plus, the U.S. and Soviet Union were locked in the Cold War, and that contributed to this U.S. government mentality of secrecy, which Carl Sagan even acknowledged.[2]

During this time and thereafter, other advanced nations experienced their own UFO sightings and conducted investigations of them. These included especially the Soviet Union, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. None of these nations ever publicly concluded anything significantly about UFOs that was contrary to U.S. government conclusions about the many reports of its citizens seeing UFOs.

[1] Much data in this subhead is gleaned from the following webpage, accessed January 28, 2014:

[2] Accessed April 13, 2013.

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