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Dr. J. Allen Hynek

Hynek (Newsweek Magazine) - 10/66

JC: The following article was taken from: Newsweek Magazine, 10/10/66, p. 70. It contained quotes by Dr. Hynek.

Another much longer and more detailed one appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on 12/17 of the same year. I believe that 2nd article may have been a large portion of the major text of the article Hynek herein says he submitted to "Science" journal _prior to their editing._ I'll be posting that shortly.


Begin Newsweek article:



UFO's for Real?

Flying saucers once again have zoomed back into the public eye-or imagination. In the first six months of this year the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book, the official registrar of Unidentified Flying Objects, has duly noted 508 UFO "sightings." Saturday Review columnist and UFO believer John Fuller's "Incident at Exeter" has been sharing space on the best-seller lists with former radio announcer Frank Edwards' book "Flying Saucers-Serious Business." And just last week Fuller began a two-part story in Look magazine recounting the terrifying two hours that a New Hampshire couple claim they spent being interrogated aboard a flying saucer

The Air Force has been chasing-and usually shooting down-such stories since the late 1940s. The issue has always seemed clear-cut: on the one side, the excited believers or someone with a story to sell; on the other side, the sober scientific Establishment which explained away alleged sightings as weather balloons, birds, jet aircraft, cloud formations or even ball lightning (NEWSWEEK, Sept. 5, 1966). But last week one of the leading Establishment members seemed to be defecting to the other side. No less a figure than J. Allen Hynek, the Northwestern University astrophysicist and the Air Force's own UFO consultant, believes something's up. "There is a phenomenon here," Hynek says. "I've studied this for eighteen years and it's not all nonsense."

In a letter to the authoritative journal Science, to be published this month, Hynek calls upon reputable scientists to investigate UFO's seriously. "I'm not saying we are being visited by extraterrestrial beings," Hynek told Newsweek's Richard Steele, "but I believe it is one of the possibilities and I think we should hold an open mind about it. It would be provincial to believe we are the only intelligent beings in the universe." UFO's might even be, according to Hynek, "something entirely new to science. Where would you have gotten in 1866," he asks, "if you had talked to a scientists about nuclear energy?"

Unlike the true UFO believers, Hynek does not cry conspiracy. First of all, he dismisses the idea that UFO's are some secret military device. "I just don't think people can keep a secret for eighteen years," he says. Hynek also acknowledges that most UFO reports can be explained as down-to-earth events. At first, Science magazine rejected Hynek's letter, reluctant to lend its reputation to a controversy that has been the property of publicity seekers and circulation-minded editors. But Hynek's arguments persuaded the magazine to publish an abbreviated version.

In his letter Hynek eloquently seeks to win over "scientists who would like to look into the UFO phenomenon but are so vastly afraid of ridicule . . . They don't dare investigate." He presents his argument in charge and rebuttal form:

  • CHARGE: "UFO's are reported by unreliable, unstable, uneducated people."
    REBUTTAL: "... some of the very best, most coherent reports have come from reliable, scientifically trained people."
  • CHARGE: "The Air Force has no evidence that UFO's are extraterrestrial or represent advanced technology of any kind."
    REBUTTAL: "As long as there are unidentifieds' the question must obviously remain open."

  • CHARGE: "UFO's have never been sighted on radar or photographed by meteor or satellite-tracking cameras."
    REBUTTAL: "This is not equivalent to saying that radars, meteor cameras and satellite-tracking stations have not picked up 'oddities' on their scopes."

Search: To turn UFO's into IFO's (Identified Flying Objects) Hynek recommends reliable reports be searched by computer for common features such as the appearance of the object and where and when it was sighted. Then, says Hynek, the investigators could try to be on scene to observe the UFO's.

Hynek claims a pattern 'has already begun to emerge from the "hard-data" cases. They contain, he says, "Frequent allusions to hovering, wobbling and rapid take-off. Other often reported features are oval shapes, flashing lights or brilliant lights whose glare is uncomfortable." This is an apt description of ball lighting-the glowing mass of ionized air molecules that can occur during stormy weather--but Hynek thinks that relatively few UFO sightings can be explained by ball lighting. (jc: bolding is mine) Many have been seen, he says, when atmospheric conditions are not right for ball lighting.

If an inquiry is launched (the Air Force is searching for a university to do the job) Hynek wants only an advisory role. "I'm not whipping up a bonfire," he says. "so I can dance around it."

Gullible: How soon, if ever, Hynek's program will be carried out is anyone's guess. Yet the need for a systematic investigation of UFO reports to end the uncertainty is undeniable. The national capacity for gullibility is enormous. Look magazine's story, for example, recounts the adventures of Barney and Betty Hill, as revealed under hypnosis performed by a Boston psychiatrist named Benjamin Simon.

Look insists that he story is a "human document" and not an attempt to convince the public that the Hills actually boarded a flying saucer. But the title of Fuller's series--"Aboard a Flying Saucer" --seems to contradict that and so does the prose: Barney found himself remembering that "The men had rather odd-shaped heads, with a large cranium, diminishing in size as it got toward the chin. And the eyes continued around to the sides of their 'heads'." The Hills have earned $24,000 from their story so far and author Fuller and Dr. Simon will share earning from a projected book and possibly a movie.

Until the U.S. acts on Hynek's proposals, it seems, the public will continue to be taken for a ride aboard UFO's.

End - 10/10/66 Newsweek article

Please see discussion below, or use following link to another article.

To: Hynek 12/17/66 Saturday Evening Post Article



A brief discussion concerning the article:

The publication of the preceding Newsweek magazine report is the first time this researcher realized that Hynek was admitting there were cases he couldn't solve and that he believed further study should be performed on them.

We might ask ourselves; "Why did Hynek write the information for that release?" He certainly didn't have to say _he_ thought there could be something to it. What could be gained for Hynek by this move other than to ostracize himself from both the Air Force and the Scientific community? It was almost professional suicide for any scientist to say this. Couldn't he somehow just have explained what happened with the Air Force and let people figure this out for themselves? To me, the answer was simple... absolutely not; some of the A.F. explanations were getting pretty ridiculous, the press was getting annoyed, the "difficult to explain cases" were beginning to mount, the Air Force was embarrassing him, and Hynek probably felt his reputation was already slightly damaged in the process. He obviously didn't like the position the Air Force was putting him in and he really couldn't explain certain cases if he were pressed to do so.

Hynek had previously lived through the embarrassment of the August 2nd, 1965 Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas sightings where those states were deluged with UFO reports including some from police officers. [1] The weather bureau in Wichita tracked an object at 3:40 A.M. Bob Campbell, television newsman in Sherman, Texas near Oklahoma took a picture of a strange object. [2]

The Air Force attempted to explain them away but Robert Risser, the director of Oklahoma City's Kirkpatrick Planetarium disagreed with the Air Force's explanation that the sightings were "either twinkles from the planet Jupiter or stars Rigel, Capella, Betelgeuse or Alderberan." Risser said "Somebody has made a mistake. ... Many of those objects mentioned by the Air Force are not visible until just before dawn in Oklahoma City and other aren't visible at all." [3] Who else bore the direct brunt of this but Hynek, the Air Force's number one civilian scientific advisor. He had to ask himself; "What will the other scientists think of me now?"

Six months later (2/66), an article appeared in Look Magazine by author John Fuller. It concerned UFO incidents that allegedly took place _one month_ after the Texas, New Mexico sightings, beginning approximately Sept. 3, 1965 at Exeter, N.H. [4] (We are all still trying to explain those folks.) The Exeter sightings continued over a period of several weeks and were claimed to have been witnessed by approximately 60 people including police personnel.

Simply for the record, an odd coincidence had occurred just _two months_ after the claimed Exeter incidents, in November 1965, the lights went out along the Northeast coast. We were in the midst of the 1st great Northeast Power Failure. [5] After all the "hubbub" died down, when the final report came in as to the cause of the failure, it turned out to be a relay switch of some kind that had tripped at Niagara Falls. No one knew _why_ it had tripped. They knew the sequence _after_ it tripped but not the reason for its tripping.

And then, Hynek suffered another major embarrassment after a rash of UFO sightings which occurred near Dexter/Hillsdale, Michigan (3/66). Dr. Hynek flew to Dexter/Hillsdale to investigate. Being pressed by reporters as to what he thought the sightings might be, he guessed that some might possibly have been _swamp gas_. [6] The press jumped on this, and both the newspapers and the public went crazy. They had had enough. [7]

Although the Dexter/Hillsdale case wasn't publicized as a strong case, the summation of the aforementioned circumstances, eventually led to Congressional hearings on Capitol Hill. [8] As some of you may remember, those hearings ultimately led to an Air Force sponsored University study concerning UFOs; it was none other than the greatly disputed Condon Study or Colorado Project. [9] (jc 6/7/2006: Please click here to see the actual strength of the Dexter/Hillsdale case. For a probable reason why
more wasn't made of the case by Dr. Hynek, click here.)

After reading this, we get a partial reason as to why Hynek needed to explain to the public (and other scientists) what happened? His reputation as a UFO scientist was on the line here. He had looked at this subject for a period of approximately 20 years. It had become absolutely necessary to have others look closely at something he himself was not able to solve. Hence the Newsweek & Post articles [11] and eventually his book "The UFO Experience" which, amongst a lot of other things finally explained why he had to break with the Air Force. [12]

jc 6/8/2006: My own understanding of the history involved here has grown since I have written this. For a deeper, more complete understanding of what happened back then, one can read some further research I performed to attempt to determine if Hynek was a mole for the Air Force or CIA. Click here.


  1. "Rash of Flying Objects Probed" . The San Antonio Light . 8/2/65 : "Hundreds Sight Flashes" . San Antonio Evening News . Mon, 8/2/65 : "Valley Scientists Study Fiery Objects From Sky" . San Antonio Evening News . 8/3/65 : "Flying Object Reports, Some by Radar Men, Deluge Four States" . New York Times . Tues. 8/3/65 : Flying Saucers, Look Magazine Special: p 34 . Smith, Alan "color photo of UFO witnessed by several people over Tulsa, Oklahoma on 8/2/65" ... note projection at tail: also see .. Current Science Student Magazine . 2/22/67 "pictures taken by 2 brothers 1/9/67 in Michigan" ... note similar fin at back of "craft"

  2. This manuscript, Appendix p 118: Newsday, Long Island newspaper: Wednesday, August 4, 1965 . 'They're Seeing Things Out Yonder": also... Hynek, J. Allen: The UFO Experience, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1972, photographs ... center of book

  3. Newsday, N.Y. Wednesday 8/4/65 "They're Seeing Things Out Yonder"

  4. Look Magazine: 2/22/66 . Fuller, John G. "OUTER-SPACE GHOST STORY" :
    Click here for Exeter Case (Hynek Analysis)

  5. Gersten, Peter . "What the U.S. Government Knows About Unidentified Flying Objects" . Frontiers of Science . May/June 1981 . "Kuwait oil pumping station shut down & restart by UFO" . p 26, col 2, bottom paragraph (Gersten was the attorney, who with the help of the Washington Post newspaper used the Freedom of Information Act to sue the government for additional information to releases previously secured in 1978: also ... appendix "Vietnam UFO Incident Uncovered" (1966 sighting & discussion) . NICAP UFO Investigator . July 1973 More on the Gersten FOIA documents:
    Click here for information concerning 1978 FOIA documents
    Click here for information concerning 1981 FOIA documents

  6. Hynek, J. Allen . The UFO Experience, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1972, Part I, The UFO Phenomenon

  7. IBID: "Science Is Not Always What Scientists Do" . p 195 "In a very real sense ..... ": also... Saturday Evening Post, 12/17/66 . p 20 Col 3 . Hynek, Allen J. "Are Flying Saucers Real?"

  8. Washington Post, 3/22/66 "UFOs Return": IBID 3/23/66 "First UFOs of Season Are Sighted": Evening Star 3/23/66 "Flying Object Reports Have an Unusually Good Week" : Washington Post, 3/26/66 "Flying Objects Identified as College Pranks and Swamp Gas" : Washington Post 4/6/66 . Drummond, Roscoe . "UFOs-Real or Myth" : Saturday Evening Post, 12/17/66 . pp 17-21 . Hynek, Allen J. "Are Flying Saucers Real?"

  9. Washington Post, 3/28/66 . "UFO's Revenge" : Also, University of Colorado "Condon" Study

  10. Newsweek magazine . 12/29/69 . p. 41 . "Closing the Blue Book" : NICAP UFO Investigator / May 1970, p. 3 . "The Blue Book is Closed"

  11. University of Colorado "Condon" Study . "University of Colorado Project": Condon, Dr. Edward U.: Scientific Study of UFOs, New York: Bantam Books 1969 (A New York Times Book): also ... New York Times, 8/14/66 . Sullivan, Walter . "Air Force Selecting University to Study 'Flying Saucer' Data" : Look Magazine, 3/21/67 . pp 76-80 . Rogers, Warren "Flying Saucers .. Why the Pentagon was forced to call for scientific help" : Newsweek Magazine, 10/10/66, p. 70 . Science & Space . "UFOs for Real?" : Hynek, Allen J. Saturday Evening Post . 12/17/66 . "Are Flying Saucers Real?"

  12. Hynek, J. Allen: The UFO Experience, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1972 :
    Hynek's Letter to Col. Sleeper



10/10/66 Newsweek Magazine Article
Hynek 12/17/66 Saturday Evening Post Article


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