Thursday, June 11, 2020

Foundations of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) - Part I


Foundations of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) - Part I

By Dr. Raymond A. Keller, author of the international awards-winning Venus Rising Trilogy, available on amazon.com while supplies last.


Extraterrestrial Hypothesis

By July 1952, many of the leading, most widely-read publications in the United States, such as Argosy, Life, Look and Reader’s Digest, were getting on the “Flying Saucers are Interplanetary Spaceships” bandwagon. In the estimation of Coral Lorenzen, the National Director of the then largest civilian UFO research group in the world, the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, these aforementioned periodicals were “printing articles dealing with what has heretofore been regarded, by them, as a controversial subject, and with the sanction of the Air Force have planted the seed that the saucers could very well be interplanetary or interstellar vehicles.” Lorenzen believed that the United States government was stepping up its program of the “slow enlightenment” of the American people to the idea that extraterrestrial entities have somehow “beat us to the punch” insofar as the development of interplanetary space travel is concerned. Clearly, Lorenzen and the APRO membership were of the opinion that those in the Air Force hierarchy were knowledgeable about the existence of the flying saucers as real, physical spaceships, dispatched to Earth and manned by intelligent beings from other planets. But for reasons of their own, the Air Force brass were of the mind to leak this information at a snail’s pace, perhaps to avoid another panic such as occurred back in 1938 with Orson Welles’ famous Halloween Martian invasion of New Jersey “War of the Worlds” broadcast.

*Coral Lorenzen, “The Saucer Bandwagon,” APRO Bulletin, July 1952, vol. 1, no. 1, Box 358, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet

Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus

Cosmic Ray's Excellent Venus Adventure

Flying Saucer Landing

The imminence of such a flying saucer disclosure on the part of the Air Force seemed highly probable. On 2 July 1952, the Mutual Broadcasting Company’s primary news reporter, Walter Winchell, quoted a rumor on air to the effect that scientists from the Mt. Palomar Observatory in Southern California were on hand to watch the predicted landing of a flying saucer from Venus out in the Mojave Desert. Four alien cosmonauts allegedly disembarked, looked around, re-boarded the ship and then just blasted off. Winchell informed his radio audience that a source deep inside the Air Force had assured him that the military organization would be making some kind of an “official announcement” concerning this later that fall.

In 1952, APRO director Lorenzen was but 27 years old. She had sighted many unknown objects in the sky throughout her young life, and prior to the arrival of the age of flying saucers in the summer of 1947, as inaugurated by the Kenneth Arnold sighting over Mt. Rainier in Washington state, had classified these strange lights and objects as typical manifestations of Fortean phenomena. Lorenzen became more interested in the flying saucers, particularly, and their possible extraterrestrial origin, when she and her husband, Jim, lived out in Los Angeles in 1950 and 1951. While there in Southern California they had the opportunity to visit the famous contactee, George Adamski, who by then had gained considerable prominence and notoriety because of his claims of having photographed flying saucers close up, which he referred to as Venusian space ships. His followers called him a “professor of the mystic arts,” for he studied esoteric knowledge in Tibet when he was a ten year-old boy, living there with his uncle Sydney. The Lorenzens and Adamski became fast friends; and they found him to be a charming man. The advantage of being in Adamski’s inner circle, however, was that the Lorenzens got to know many of the astronomers from Mt. Palomar who would come down the mountain observatory for breakfast, lunch or dinner in Alice K. Wells’ roadside diner, where he worked as a chef. In between serving customers, Adamski would show these astronomers some of the photographs he had taken of the space ships and share some of the telepathic communications that the Venusians had transmitted to his mind.

Besides participating in the diner conversations with Adamski, the Lorenzens also made friends with most of the Palomar astronomers. One of these scientists told the couple that he had reliable information to prove that the space ships come from three planets in our solar system: Mars, Saturn and Venus, as well as a planet in the Wolf 359 system, about eight light years distant. This astronomer, besides authenticating Adamski’s claims, said that the extraterrestrials from this Confederation of Planets “range in size from three to six-and-a-half feet in height, depending where they come from, and are well developed physically and mentally. They can speak the major languages of Earth, learned by monitoring our radio broadcasts, and have their own personnel spotted here and there all over our planet, undetected by Earthlings.” The assertions of this astronomer certainly lend credence to Winchell’s speculations about a saucer landing in the Mojave witnessed by a scientific team dispatched from Mt. Palomar Observatory. I believe that I uncovered this leaking astronomer’s identity, with all the substantiating details published in my second Venus book, Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus (Terra Alta, West Virginia: Headline Books, 2017), pages 110-113.

Of further interest, Lorenzen writes concerning the rumor circulating throughout Southern California of a mysterious planetoid some 300 miles in diameter that had been discovered by astronomers at the Palomar Observatory back in 1950, entering our solar system from above the plane of the ecliptic. The rouge planetoid dipped behind the Sun and was never detected since. The APRO director wondered if this wandering orb may have served as a base for the intense flying saucer flap that took place in the past two years. As the planetoid had changed its course, Lorenzen speculated that it might have been artificial, some kind of huge outer space station positioned behind the Sun to avoid observation by Earth-based telescopes.

Sky Watchers

No one could say in 1952 that the Air Force was close minded when it came to the subject of UFOs. Air Force brass were even inviting the public to become involved with UFO research, playing the role of “spotters” in the vicinity of strategic air and missile bases in the United States. This program of recruitment came to be known as Project Skywatch and was instituted by the Air Force on 15 July 1952. Project Skywatch was originally set to go into effect on 17 June 1952, but the Air Force hierarchy determined that slightly more time would be required to coordinate the program with the national defense grid, thereby ensuring that any spots where the country’s radar blanket was incomplete could be appropriately filled. Besides, Project Bluebook personnel noted that “Saucers have a tendency to be sighted in July, August and September with more frequency than at any other time of the year;” so waiting another month to “dot every i and cross every t” wasn’t going to hurt anything.

The emphasis of this program was on 27 of the then 48 states, these being the ones where most UFO sightings had been reported in previous years, as determined by Project Bluebook. Air Force administrators of Skywatch had sent out invitations to members of APRO and other flying saucer/UFO civilian investigations groups, attempting to recruit reliable spotters who could dedicate two or three hours in their community each week in manning a UFO observation post. It was a wonderful opportunity for budding ufologists, for in doing so, they would not only serve the national defense interests of protecting the country, but also be in a position to actually see a flying saucer with their own eyes, and actually be believed after reporting it. Lorenzen was encouraging the APRO membership to take advantage of this Skywatch program. Of course, in these early days of UFO investigations, there was always that fear of ridicule. To overcome this, Lorenzen wrote that, “You can bet if a saucer is sighted by an observation post, the information will not be made public.” Besides the data being protected under the aegis of the Air Force, Lorenzen noted that, “If you are on the job, you will at least have a chance through inquiry among other members of the watch to get the details.”

One of the greatest benefits of working on the inside with the Air Force on Project Skywatch was described by Lorenzen: “The evidence at hand seems to indicate that the Air Force, having had dead specimens from the saucers (the Mexico crash-landing and the New Mexico crash-landing referred to by Scully), are now concentrating on shooting down a ‘live one’ for the purpose of contact.”

Back in the early 1950s, of course, the possibilities of using radar as a UFO tracking device, or even an anti-UFO air defense weapon, were just beginning to be explored. So until such a time as these emerging radar technologies could be perfected to cover the whole of the United States air space, having active civilian UFO spotters in place to augment the defense grid would be ideal for both the Air Force and the Skywatch enlistees. As to radar systems, Frank Edwards, a Mutual Broadcasting news analyst sponsored by the American Federation of Labor, noted on the air during his 14 April 1952 reporting that, “I have it from the authority of the big brass at the Pentagon (Air Force) that the general belief among them is that the saucers are interplanetary vehicles and that contact has been attempted.” Edwards also declared that, “Last September an attempt was made to contact a saucer hovering over an undisclosed military base in Maryland. The attempt was made by means of ‘shooting’ into the saucer with a radar beam. The saucer was at a very high altitude; and when the beam was trained on it, it wobbled.”

The radio broadcaster further explained the situation: “Military men present could not discern whether the movement was a sign of recognition or whether the radar beam affected the controls or power supply of the craft.”

Lorenzen, although a patriotic American, came to question some of what she deemed an overly aggressive policy toward the UFOs being pursued by authorities in the Air Force, especially since the extraterrestrials, at least in the past, had displayed no signs of hostility toward humankind. As one of the roles for the spotters was to alert anti-aircraft installations along the projected route of a saucer, Lorenzen thought of issues inherent in this that even the Air Force personnel had not contemplated. The APRO director mused that, “Some of the things the Air Force evidently hasn’t considered, or are too thick-headed to give much thought to, is the rumored toughness of the skin of the saucers, their high altitude flying, rendering inaccessibility to anti-aircraft, and the probable consequences involved in shooting one down, should we somehow succeed in doing so. Besides, do you think they’ll hold still for that kind of ‘greeting’?”

While Project Skywatch never truly sparked the imagination of the American public, it did with the UFO community and members of APRO were among the first to sign up for it, being so urged to do so by Coral Lorenzen. While there was an evident downside, she and the membership found it difficult to pass up an insider’s pass to the workings of the Air Force’s ongoing UFO investigations and research.

Space Spies

The closer that APRO got to working in tandem with the Air Force, the more it seemed that other-worldly powers were taking an interest in the organization’s members. By the summer of 1952, Coral Lorenzen was aware of at least two of her APRO field investigators that were approached by so-called “space spies.”

An active APRO member and field investigator living in New York City told Lorenzen that he had reasons to believe that he contacted one such “space spy” at an atomic energy exhibit held in Manhattan in 1951. He said that the man gave him some sort of written message at the convention that he could not comprehend. In the ensuing year, he had shown the message to numerous linguistic experts at various New York colleges and universities; but none of these were able to make even an ethnic identification of the script. The APRO representative decided to keep the mysterious note writer under observation and promised to inform Lorenzen if any unusual behavior was evidenced by the possible spy.

Lorenzen became even more concerned when APRO’s Canadian representative reported the receipt of a letter from an airman stationed at Wright-Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio. In his letter, the airman said he had overheard a rumor making the rounds on his base that the Air Force believes “space spies have landed and some on Earth are actually working in close conjunction with them.” The Ohio letter writer also wanted APRO to know that, “Those suspected of interplanetary espionage are being watched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”

Keep in mind that other civilian flying saucer and UFO investigators were under surveillance by the FBI Counterintelligence Program around the same time. Some like Albert K. Bender, founder of the highly successful International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB) in Bridgeport, Connecticut, reported several visitations by agents whom he described as the “three men in black.” These dark figures from the pages of ufology’s history allegedly threatened Bender’s life if he published some information in the IFSB’s monthly Space Review that he and his organization uncovered about the origin of the flying saucers and the aims of the alien operatives here on Earth. By 1953, Bender and other members of the IFSB had become so afraid of these visits by these three men in black that they unanimously decided it would be better to disband the group. After disassembling the IFSB, Bender warned fellow ufologists that, “We (he and the editorial staff of the Space Review) advise anyone involved in saucer work to please be very cautious.” The silencers had won the day.

And from the very start of his career as an author of UFO articles for Fate magazine and other periodicals, George Adamski of Mt. Palomar fame was the subject of intense FBI surveillance and intimidation. You can read all about Adamski’s run-ins with the FBI and its director J. Edgar Hoover in my second book of the Venus trilogy, Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus (Terra Alta, West Virginia: Headline Books, 2017), pages 46-76.

*Coral Lorenzen, “Grapevine,” APRO Bulletin, July 1952, vol. 1, no. 1, Box 358, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
*Coral Lorenzen, “Explanation Needed,” APRO Bulletin, July 1952, vol. 1, no. 1, Box 358, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
*Coral Lorenzen, “Public Apathy Fouls Skywatch,” APRO Bulletin, July 1952, vol. 1, no. 1, Box 358, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin



Brazilian Saucer


On Wednesday, 7 May 1952, a flying saucer, blue-gray in color, was witnessed by hundreds of people passing over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fortunately, a cameraman and a journalist from the ever-popular O Cruzeiro magazine were in the area to faithfully record this spectacular event, hanging out, as it were, on the Tijuca Beach (Barra da Tijuca) when the object first appeared out over the ocean, heading toward the city at a fast clip. O Cruzeiro’s staff photographer, Ed Keffel, took five snapshots of the saucer. In the photographs, the UFO looked akin to a pot lid with a knob-like protuberance in the center. Keffel described the saucer as “coming in from the sea and passing several hundred feet over our heads. It appeared to be rocking like a slowly falling leaf, moving in a type of swooping motion.” The cameraman added that, “The object made a slow curve, picked up speed, headed back to sea and disappeared.” Keffel estimated that the object he saw and photographed was larger than a commercial airplane. It was round and wingless, definitely conforming to the traditional image one has of a flying saucer. The journalist accompanying Keffel, Joao Martins, wrote the original two dispatches for the International News Service (INS) about the incident that appeared in the cited Rio de Janeiro newspaper and other periodicals throughout Brazil, and a more detailed account in the 24 May 1952 issue of O Cruzeiro weekly magazine.

The second INS dispatch by Joao Martins declared that on Friday, 9 May 1952, a military attaché at the United States Embassy in Rio de Janeiro got involved in this case. United States Air Force Colonel Jack Worley Hughes, in the company of Brazilian Air Force officials, paid a visit to the offices of the news magazine O Cruzeiro to examine and study the series of five photographs taken by Keffel of the flying saucer, as well as to interview the photographer and the journalist Joao Martins. Martins noted that at first glance, the object “looked like an airplane coming at us, while we were in the outskirts of Rio. As the contraption neared, however, it looked like a plane flying sideways.” Martins then added that, “As it approached even closer, it was definitely an object, perfectly round, wingless and absolutely noiseless.”

Colonel Hughes, upon hearing Martins’ rendition of the UFO incident, expressed a special interest in the noiseless feature of the flying saucer, as well as its tremendous speed. The colonel told the editors of O Cruzeiro, “Frankly, I have no doubts on the authenticity of the photos taken by Keffel. There is no trick in them.”

Lorenzen somehow managed to get hold of an actual set of these photographs. Speaking for APRO, the director declared that, “We have seen and examined the pictures of the Rio saucer; and they are the clearest photos giving exact detail as to physical characteristics. The side view, as the saucer came in from the sea, showed a knob on top as if it were the cabin, another circular raised portion encircling the entire object, the rim or airfoil, and another circular protuberance on the bottom.”

An interesting aspect of this case is an oblique connection to George Adamski. Following the successful public reception of their Tijuca Beach story, the team of Keffel and Martins would go on to write many more articles about the UFO situation on a global scale for O Cruzeiro. One of the more important events they covered was the flying saucer convention held at the Skyline Lodge on the slopes of Mt. Palomar, California, on the 7-8 August 1954. The featured speakers were the prominent contactees George Adamski, Truman Bethurum and Daniel Fry. At the assembly, quite a stir was caused by the presence there of three persons, one young lady and two young men, believed to be Venusians by many in attendance insofar as the woman, Dolores Barrios, looked remarkably like a painting unveiled by Adamski of the Venusian flying saucer pilot called Orthon, who he claimed that he had talked to standing outside a Venusian scout ship that landed in the Mojave Desert back on 20 November 1952. All three remained aloof throughout the convention. Despite their shyness, Martins was able to interview Dolores Barrios and her two male companions, Donald Morand and Bill Jackmart, on 7 August 1952 at the convention; and on the following day, with the conclusion of the event at noon, Keffel was able to take a series of photos of the mysterious Dolores Barrios and her escorts standing along a tree line at the edge of the Skyline Lodge parking lot. A swarm of bees besieged those curiosity seekers streaming down a hill into the parking lot, coming after the trio. The bees kept the throng at bay long enough for Keffel to snap the now famous photographs of the “Venusian trio” before Dolores and her posse dematerialized in a luminous column of ionized air. For a more detailed history of Dolores Barrios and her friends Morand and Jackmart, in addition to viewing other never-before-published photographs of her at other locations in Southern California, some with myself, please check out my three books in the Venus Rising trilogy.

It now becomes clear that Martins and Keffel had their contacts in the American ufology community with Coral and Jim Lorenzen at APRO, who were also friends of George Adamski. Over the years, the Lorenzens’ connections with Brazilian ufologists would only intensify, with Brazil becoming the locus of APRO’s attention in the Western Hemisphere. Coral and Jim Lorenzen even wrote a groundbreaking book about UFO sightings and encounters with flying saucer occupants in our neighboring countries to the south, UFOs Over the Americas (New York, New York: Signet, 1968), which also highlights the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency in the UFO cover-up in Latin America.

Intelligent Life on Other Planets

Besides the proliferation of flying saucer and UFO articles in mainstream publications, such as Life and Look, Coral Lorenzen took note that the subject was also catching on mightily along the fringes of pop culture, i.e. in science fiction novels, the tabloid press, men’s magazines, etc. As odd as it seemed in the early 1950s, it was the outlying currents of the pop culture that would carry a consciousness of the flying saucer occupants as interplanetary emissaries to the fore in the emerging contactee movement, largely focused in Southern California. This, of course, would lead to a plethora of science fiction movies being produced in Hollywood that were subconsciously addressing the dire issues brought forth in the Cold War as well as the implications that any possible extraterrestrial disclosure would have on the future of American society in the atomic and space ages. Lorenzen, for her part, was greatly impressed with an article buried in the August 1952 issue of Man to Man, “There is Life on Other Planets,” authored by Leslie Lawrence (New York, New York: Volitant Publishing). She highly recommended that all APRO members go out and secure a copy of the August issue of Man to Man, then just hitting the newsstands, insofar as it completely embodied her vision of the cosmic powers behind the flying saucer phenomenon and the direction, along scientific lines of exobiology, where she wanted to steer APRO.

Here are some of the excerpts from Lawrence’s article that Lorenzen felt were of significant import for the APRO membership:

Fred Hoyle, scientist at Cambridge University in England, states that there are at least 100,000 planets capable of supporting life such as we know it within our Milky Way...:

“No recognized scientists have denied the existence of flying saucers. Reports of these vehicles were hushed only by official government agencies. Leading astronomers advance the following theory: Human civilizations exist elsewhere on planets similar to Earth. On older planets, this civilization is vastly superior to ours. There, human beings, much in appearance such as we are, have undoubtedly learned to live in peace; and to preserve their peace they have approached Earth in flying saucers in an effort to assure the safety of our futures. Until now they have failed. But someday they will arrive in sufficient numbers and they will force us to be sane. Scientists welcome this strange invasion. They do so for one important reason: They realize our need for the lesson that has already been learned on some other world.”

The revolutionary and visionary perspective of Coral Lorenzen saw a wider role for the enlightened membership of APRO in developing a more expansive and planetary consciousness in the world at large. I am proud to have been a member of APRO and to have known and worked with such APRO luminaries as Coral and Jim Lorenzen, Krsanna Duran of the Timestar website, Dr. James E. McDonald of the University of Arizona at Tucson, Earl J. Neff, Director of the Cleveland Ufology Project and Ohio APRO Representative; Dr. Frank Salisbury of Utah State University and Dr. Leo Sprinkle, now professor emeritus of the University of Wyoming at Laramie, who wrote the introduction to my first book in the Venus trilogy, Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet (Terra Alta, West Virginia: Headline Books, 2015).

*International News Service dispatch in Dario da Noite newspaper, dated 8 May 1952, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
*International News Service dispatch in Dario da Noite newspaper, dated 9 May 1952, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
*Coral Lorenzen, “Recent Sightings,” APRO Bulletin, July 1952, vol. 1, no. 1, Box 358, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
*Joao Martins, with Ed Keffel, photographer, “Discos Voladores,” O Cruzeiro, 16 October 1954, pertinent pages seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUdCl2n-DWI
*Coral Lorenzen, general commentary, APRO Bulletin, July 1952, vol. 1, no. 1, Box 358, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, page 9



*****

Editor’s Note: If you would like to ask the Cosmic Ray any questions about Venus or life on other planets, do not hesitate to send him an e-mail at rkeller1@mix.wvu.edu. The doctor will be appearing with Omnec Onec, the Ambassador from Venus, along with premier ufologist Laura Eisenhower, at the Promise Revealed Meet the Venusians Mt. Shasta Summer Conference, to be held Wednesday, 26 August 2020 through Sunday 30 August 2020 at the Siskiyou Masonic Lodge, Mount Shasta, California. For event information or to purchase tickets, please call Rob Potter at (530) 925-3502. Until then, in the profound words of Venusian Moon Base Clarion Commander Aura Rhanes, “Work, study, and meditate on all good things!”


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