Monday, April 1, 2013

Small Matters: The Air Force, not on the UFO Job Again.

Just a little moment in UFO history.

It was late 1966 and the Colorado Project was just getting started. As part of that Airforce/University agreement, Colonel Quintanilla at Project Blue Book promised that he and his team would be vigilant and efficient at collecting UFO information and getting things to Colorado for their use in the study. At the same time, the Wanaque Reservoir business, which they nearly entirely ignored as we recently saw, was cooling down, though other areas of the country would Flap all year.

This post is inspired by what I felt to be an "odd thing" found while looking through Blue Book records trying to get data on Wanaque or the surrounding area. There was a file in those records for "Hazlett, NJ" which contained essentially nothing of interest. BUT IT WAS ABOUT 50-70 PAGES THICK! How was that possible? It was possible because the "on the job" Project Blue Book ace investigating crew had just thrown a half dozen unrelated things in there with no labeling so that they or anyone else would ever guess that the other stuff was buried there.

Most of what was buried was low-grade ore, but, in my opinion, not all. One of the "items" buried was a packet of about twenty pages from an old [young then] UFO field investigator named Don Worley.

Let's dispense with something that I consider irrelevant to this story at the beginning, and then proceed to the true issue. I do not believe that I've ever met Mr. Worley. I "knew" him as an extremely high energy investigative fellow residing in central Indiana in the 1960s, who enthusiastically pursued all manner of UFO cases, and right alongside, all manner of Bigfoot cases, sometimes feeling that there was a connection between them. I have heard a few witness interview tapes of his from that era, and, while very sympathetic to the strangeness of his cases, those interviews are reasonably solid.

The irrelevant issue is that Mr. Worley is still active and presents today a brand of UFOlogy based on assumptions that I do not think have a snowball's chance in Hell to be true. But he doubtless has his reasons. I'm not interested in going into "today" but will, rather, stick with "back then". And back then what I saw was a fairly restrained field researcher indefatigably collecting cases in a "small town"/ rural environment [Indianapolis is sort-of nearby to the west, but elsewise pretty rural], and exercising some decent judgement on credibility of witnesses and levels of incident strangeness. I know that there are people who would like to reject the earlier aspects of a person's contributions because of their later beliefs and activities [you could cite Betty Hill, Ray Fowler, David Jacobs, ... and on and on], but I am not that person.

So.... what happened in late 1966?

What happened is that Don Worley, like many active field researchers who become UFO Storefront Doors for case witnesses, found many instances of aerial funnystuff going on in the neighborhood of his hometown of Connersville, Indiana. He was a fired-up dude; he went out on the highways and byways, and he got a bunch of interviews. Some of those incidents seemed pretty good, and, in what seems in his language to be a patriotic sentiment, thought that these reports should go to the Air Force and Blue Book. You already know what Blue Book did with them.....

You will recognize my "style" of data tabulating above { Hey! It's an Old Man's way of doing things... so what if I'm not up to you youngster's skills. ... plus I think it's prettier anyway}. The tables show details for fourteen incidents that Worley sent to the USAF in a packet. [I left one out since it had almost no detail; something Worley himself noted]. Some cases were one page affairs, but some had up to six pages [mainly due to multiple witnesses].

The array of the cases is fairly interesting: Lights and BOLs, yes, and distant objects, but three, and maybe four, things which look like Close Encounters, and some interesting "abnormal flying motions" going on. No entities, but a nice mix of good old fashioned UFOlogy.

I have my own idiosyncratic way of reminding myself how cases strike me upon finishing their files. I "rate" cases as totally bogus [that would be a zero], "meh"[that would be a wavy lines sign], variously increasing levels of interest ["i", "i+", "i++"] depending either on the credibility side or the strangeness side, and Good to Great cases, to which I'll give stars or star-plusses, or over-the-top "anchors". I thought that three of these cases seemed to be Star quality. One was an object/near CE1 with ten witnesses [and not kids] with lots of descriptive detail. There was another Object case with four adult witnesses with an object which seemed to jump so rapidly from point to point in the sky [then hovering] that it almost seemed like it was merely "here" then "there" without going through the intervening space. One adult witness had always been a rather vicious joker about UFOs. He was emotionally shaken. The third Star was an object with maybe multiple dozens of witnesses, many utterly independent, describing a thing which had many strange characteristics [ability to glow then totally dark, go non-inertial, cause radio disruption, affect cattle to hysteria, appear like "normal" domed disk with colored lights in ring].

In other words: pretty fascinating stuff. AND a lot of it. AND maybe even regularly appearing enough to be worth some instrumental focus. AND not that distant from Wright-Pat to make a visit hard.

What did Blue Book do? Go up there? Nope. Send the info to Colorado so THEY could go up there? Nope. At least correctly FILE the Dammed thing so they could get it if someone asked? Hell, no.

What Blue Book did was not just read this and stuff it away in a "dump" file, but the reader "bothered" to write a couple of wise-assed remarks on it. One witness' name was, unfortunately, "Nutty". The filer was delighted to circle this. One case had a witness who was so disturbed by his encounter that he broke out in some kind of hives. Worley made the error of mentioning not only this but that when this happens his wife has to treat these hives in order for him to get to sleep, and they do this in bed. The USAF filer wrote: "you better get good pictures".

Yep. Our great flyboy crack investigators at their finest.

Sorry for the insult to the Neanderthals....

Till next time, Peace and a Blessed Post-Easter.


  1. Dear Prof

    Im curious to see how's your take on UFO f8ield researcher /investigator who start getting paranormal experience when they go deeper into their research. I read that it happened to some investigator (i think mr J.Clark also stated in FSR that he was terrorized with psychic/paranormal scary stuff that came after his investigation of BOL)

    Do you think the psychic stuff happen to all who is serious/deep researcher in UFO phenomena ? or just those researchers that happened to be a latent psychic/sensitive ?

    From your story i was kinda flabergasted by D.Worley's current assumptions when i googled him. From historical stand point he seems to be a real field UFO Investigator (not armchair) but it is strange that he gravitate toward the lunatic fringe of UFOlogy..


    PS: Nice colour and tabular format report there =D

  2. Here is my intuition on whether psychic things happen to UFO researchers, because of them being deeply involved with UFO research:

    I think that the hypothesis is defensible that NO veteran UFO researchers have any increase in paranormal activities due to UFO involvement. {I might make an exception in this theory for Ray Fowler, but I consider the Andreasson case unique and probably not core UFO phenomenon anyway.) I believe that people like John Keel, or Jerry at that young emotion-loaded stage of UFOlogy, and at least two other prominent UFOlogists who I will not name, basically let the "isolation of their current idea-scape" bend their better judgement out of shape, and they temporarily lost their commonsense grounding.

    UFOs are not, in the core phenomenon, essentially a paranormal aspect of our Universe, but a "mere" physical one. In other words, UFOs have a proper place in the conservative textbooks of the physical and biological sciences and will one day be there. Psychic stuff, though no less real, is NOT conservative academic textbook stuff, as it will not be found to be "physically lawful" --- it operates outside the recognized physical laws of the conservatives. The agency behind the UFO phenomenon MIGHT have some psychic abilities but even if so, they seem to employ them as tools and not as paranormal playthings [like poltergeists] to simply create messy situations for their observers.

    There IS a small rationale that any human who really "opens up" to the possibilities beyond the mundane "normal" may become more aware of the subtleties of the non-mundane going on around, and subsequently meditate more about such matters, but that would be a non-forced "side-effect" of studying anything in the anomalies fields.

  3. Hi, Mike,

    I shudder whenever my name is mentioned anywhere in the vicinity of John Keel's, except as in, say, "Jerome Clark has done everything in his power to distance himself from his youthful infatuation with John Keel, whom in his adult life he judged a dangerous and unpleasant crank." See, for example, my piece "Keel vs. Ufology"in Fortean Times 156 (2002), pp. 39-42. Let us say it is not an exercise in hagiography.

    Of course, you are entirely correct: I was young, frightened, and suggestible, and I swallowed what Keel was serving. I might add, possibly in my defense, that it was also the late 1960s, which didn't help. What I wrote in FSR decades ago should be shoved into the memory hole and then cemented over. And I agree that we ought not to confuse the core UFO phenomenon with paranormal matters. There is no overlap.

    At the margins, as we know, things can get complicated, but they also get more nebulous. And, arguably, less relevant to anything worth getting worked up about. Sometimes, maybe even usually, shadows are just shadows.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks my friend for the response to our reader. It's good to get the "answers" straight from someone other than me. {I wouldn't have even brought this up, but the reader was curious, and the "situation" of the late 60s, UFOlogically and generally, is interesting to understand}.

      Yes... the late 1960s... what a mindscape!!

      p.s., the deletion above was because of me making a stupid spelling mistake, which as far as I can tell, this system will not allow editing even of one's own comments.

  4. Dear Prof

    Thanks for your opinion on this. Me living in a society where spiritual/paranormal stuff are the norm of the day (BOL are tagged as spirits in our culture), its a common occurence for my group of friends to experience things that spiritual/paranormal sightings especially with our office which is especially a not-nice place for sensitive people (built on a demolished graveyard lot). Maybe thats why personally i took the 'UFO is not nuts n bolts' view in which the entities are truly spirits but they have ability to manifest in physical world leaving physical traces , in opposition of your opinion thats those behind UFO agency are physical but can use psychic. All in all i appreciate your blog/diary as the discussion on this blogs are very civil , unlike the UFO forums like ATS where insult and trolling are not moderated.

    Dear mr J.Clark

    The Article i refer from FSR are your story when you and your friends chasing BoL (and got chased by it) on a stretch of a road. i forgot the name of the road but in it you said you can see a shadow on the BoL. Then after that sighting you cryptically said you encounter paranomal / poltergeist phenomenon that scared you. With Hindsight now, could you explain that sighting on that stretch of the road ? or at least your opinion on the BoL and its behaviour ? I understand people understanding can change overtime but i think the facts of what happened that night should remain unchanged, Is it mistaken identity (AKA Swamp Gas) or just a plain BoL (still unexplained) ? or that story is not based on truestory (AKA Fiction) ?

    Regards MiloMilo

    1. You're referring to the Kindred light, which is there to be seen from time to time outside that tiny town on the plains of eastern North Dakota. One night many years ago, I observed it with some college friends, as reported, though the figure in the light ... well, I'm not so sure in retrospect. That's a common sort of visual hallucination.

      If the Kindred light is still there -- there is, as we all know, no shortage of ghostlights, whatever their cause -- it's still there to be seen. I haven't lived in the area in decades, so I can't speak (well, actually, type) with any authority. At any rate, it was subsequent matters, namely Keel's paranoia-inflamed notions about MIB and menacing ultraterrestrials, that had me jumping at shadows in the weeks and months that followed. On several rueful occasions I have remarked that I could write before I could think, explaining most of what I wrote for print during that period. With the exception of a sentence or paragraph here and there, I can live with my early airship articles in FSR. As for the rest, I recommend accompanying saltshaker.

      My mature perspective on things anomalous is expressed in the long essay that opens my most recent book (shameless plug here: Unexplained!, third edition, 2012) and need not concern us here.

    2. Good job, my friend.... but what in the heck are you doing up at 6 in the morning!!! Get some rest! Or I'll send leprechauns over to "go bump in the night".



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