Page 20 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - May/June 2022 Edition
P. 20

20                                            Meet J. Allen Hynek

          Meet J. Allen Hynek, the

            Astronomer Who First
             Classified UFO 'Close


                 Continued from Page 19

        There he discovered something he might never
        have learned from simply reading the files: how
        normal the people who reported seeing UFOs
        tended to be. “The witnesses I interviewed could
        have been lying, could have been insane or
        could have been hallucinating collectively—but
        I do not think so,” he recalled in his 1977 book,
        The Hynek UFO Report.

        “Their standing in the community, their lack of
        motive for perpetration of a hoax, their own
        puzzlement at the turn of events they believe
        they witnessed, and often their great reluctance
        to speak of the experience—all lend a subjective
        reality to their UFO experience.”

        For the rest of his life Hynek would deplore the
        ridicule that people who reported a UFO
        sighting often had to endure—which, in turn,
        caused untold numbers of others to never come
        forward. It wasn’t just unfair to the individuals
        involved, but meant a loss of data that might be
        useful to researchers.

        “Given the controversial nature of the subject,
        it’s understandable that both scientists and
        witnesses are reluctant to come forward,” says
        Jacques Vallee, co-author with Dr. Hynek of The
        Edge of Reality:  A Progress Report on
                                                         From Dr. Hynek to Mr. UFO                        have been an optical illusion involving swamp
        Unidentified Flying Objects. “Because their life
                                                                                                          gas, he found himself widely derided in the
        is going to change. There are cases where their
                                                         By the 1960s, Hynek had emerged as the press and “swamp gas” became a punchline for
        house is broken into. People throw stones at
                                                         nation’s—perhaps the world’s—top expert on newspaper cartoonists. More seriously, two
        their kids. There are family crises—divorce and
                                                         UFOs, quoted widely in his capacity as Michigan Congressmen, including Gerald R.
        so on… You become the person who has seen
                                                         scientific consultant to Project Blue Book. But Ford (who later became president), took
        something that other people have not seen. And
                                                         behind the scenes, he chafed at what he umbrage at the apparent insult to their state’s
        there is a lot of suspicion attached to that.”
                                                         perceived as the project’s mandate to debunk citizenry and called for a Congressional hearing.
                                                         UFO sightings. He was also critical of its
        Eyes on the skies—and the Soviets
                                                         procedures, judging the Blue Book staff Testifying at the hearing, Hynek saw an
                                                         “grossly inadequate,” its communication with opportunity to plead the case he’d been making
        In the late 1950s, the Air Force faced a more
                                                         outside scientists “appalling” and its statistical to the Air Force for years, but with little success.
        urgent problem than hypothetical UFOs. On
                                                         methods “nothing less than a travesty.”          “Specifically, it is my opinion that the body of
        October 4, 1957, the U.S.S.R. surprised the
                                                                                                          data accumulated since 1948…deserves close
        world by launching Sputnik, the first artificial
                                                         The feeling, apparently, was mutual. In an scrutiny by a civilian panel of physical and
        space satellite—and a serious blow to
                                                         unpublished     manuscript     unearthed    by social scientists…for the express purpose of
        Americans’ sense of technological superiority.
                                                         biographer O'Connell, Air Force Major Hector determining whether a major problem really
                                                         Quintanilla, who headed the project from 1963 exists.”
        At that point, Hynek had taken leave from Ohio
                                                         to 1969, writes that he considered Hynek a
        State to work on a satellite-tracking system at
                                                         “liability.”                                     Hynek would soon get his wish, or so it seemed.
        Harvard, notes Mark O’Connell in his 2017
                                                                                                          Now facing greater scrutiny in Congress, the Air
        biography,  The Close Encounters Man.
                                                         Why did he stick around? Hynek offered a Force established a civilian committee of
        Suddenly Hynek was on  TV and holding
                                                         number     of    explanations.   “But     most scientists to investigate UFOs, chaired by a
        frequent press conferences to assure Americans
                                                         importantly,” he wrote, “Blue Book had the University of Colorado physicist, Dr. Edward U.
        that their scientists were closely monitoring the
                                                         store of data (as poor as they were), and my Condon. Hynek, who would not be on the
        situation. On October 21, 1957, he appeared on
                                                         association with it gave me access to those committee, was hopeful at first. But he lost faith
        the cover of LIFE with his boss, the Harvard
                                                         data.”                                           two years later when the committee issued what
        astronomer Fred  Whipple, and their colleague
                                                                                                          came to be known as the Condon Report.
        Don Lautman. It was his first taste of the
                                                         If Hynek often angered UFO debunkers, like
        national celebrity, but wouldn’t be the last.
                                                         Quintanilla, he didn’t always please the                                (Continued on Page 21)
                                                         believers, either.
        With Sputnik circling the earth every 98                                                            THE ‘X’ ZONE TV CHANNEL (XZTV)
        minutes, often visible to the naked eye, many                                                                  is now available on
                                                         In 1966, for example, he went to Michigan to
        Americans began looking skyward, and UFO                                                                            SIMULTV
                                                         investigate multiple reports of strange lights in
        sightings continued unabated.                                                                        
                                                         the sky. When he offered the theory that it might
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