Saturday, May 22, 2010

UFOs In The Desert: 1960-1962.

The FSRs being looked at lately are from the 1960-1962 era. This was referred to by UFOlogical old-timers as "The Desert". The reason was simply that the case incidence was way down and the high-quality cases were few. Most historians feel that if heroes like Keyhoe/NICAP and Lorenzen/APRO hadn't kept energetically at the grindstone, the field might have dropped off media radar, and not have been able to be brought back to any public concern. When cases such as Gill/Boianai and Browning/Cressy came to light, the community would grasp onto them like grim death and use them anytime they could. Because both cases were "far away" in New Guinea and Tasmania, they weren't the powerful cudgels they might have been. Still, the Halls, Bloechers, yes even the Girvans soldiered on and the cause survived. People have wanted to speculate on why the UFOs [relatively speaking] "went away". All that I am willing to say is that they for the most part did. The spectacular exception [in my mind] was the pile of cases that came in their unspectacular ways to Moonwatchers and persons like the slowly-awakening Allen Hynek. Another odd "side-effect" of this lull was that scientists were willing to speak very openly of large numbers of extraterrestrial civilizations probably being "out there", and the SETI movement was founded. Both of these things should have created impressive scientific context for the ETH [and they DO to any open mind] but, in the day, they were still carefully disconnected from UFOs by both the academic community and the media. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Many UFO-interested parties gave up on the subject through the "Desert". Discouraged, they said: we'll never know what if anything this was all about, but the party's over. It's easy to understand why, and cut them some slack. ------------------------------------------------------------------I decided to look at my own files to see if they enlightened me any. I don't have them with me of course, but I did bring the case lists of the files here to West Virginia, so I have at least a whiff of understanding of what they contain. My 1960 files contain only 54 incidents [obviously UFO sites which specialize in lists have far more, but I'm just looking at the relative numbers of my idiosyncratically-constructed set]. For me, for a given year, this is pretty low. Even at that, it is inflated by the work done by my friend Frank Reid when he plumbed the CUFOS files for 1960 on an intuition that something might be there which we missed because it was the Desert. I'd guess the number has been artificially inflated by ten or more. 1961 had 36 cases; 1962, 32. When many other years [in my files] have a couple of hundred, you can see that pickings were slim. Even though I tend to emphasize high strangeness "interesting" cases, only one of three are in the CE2, CE3, or HS categories [HS is my way of designating the sort of high strangeness involved with things like "sawed-off" lightbeams and other such weird case elements]. So those years weren't particularly "strange" either. Low case counts and low strangeness makes for dull news days. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One very good side-effect from the lull was that the media finally decided that the foolishness of the Giant Rock UFO convention was pretty dull, and the field didn't have to endure quite the crushing embarrassment of full page stories featuring trips to Venus and Flying Saucer hats. This thing destroyed credibility in UFO research on a yearly/summerly cycle for several excruciating years. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Other than heroes, what did sustain us through the desert? Well, the UFOnauts gave us just enough to keep things going. My favorite cases for 1960 were Red Bluff, CA [of course]; Cressy, Tasmania; the Grumman satellite photo [with the attendant Moonwatch sightings]; Walkerton, Ontario's CE2; and Stigler, OK's CE2. [look them up]. For 1961 it's White Mountains, NH [Betty and Barney]; Salt Lake City, UT [Waldo Harris]; Wetaskiwin, Alberta's CE3; Meekatharra, Western Australia's angelhair; and Seville, Spain's CE1. For 1962, it's Springfield, PA's CE1 [Gasslein case]; Lake Movil, MN's CE3; Granby, CT's and East Peru, ME's CE1s, and Paul Hill's Hampton, Va sighting [mainly due to him rather than the case elements.] There were several other good "lights" and "objects", and the Moonwatch/Grumman type things count as good photos. But still, scattered across the year and the globe, it was a tough time.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Why, as we got into the mid-1960s, did the UFOs begin to flurry again? Maybe they got as bored as we were.

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