In the late 1950s flying saucers had been in the public consciousness for about a decade. The shock of the Arnold sighting and UFOs over Washington DC had worn off; saucers, though still mysterious, were now familiar. The government was actively running its third investigation into the reports of unidentified flying objects. Hollywood was incorporating the now iconic saucer craft into films of all budgets. Books had been printed on saucers and UFO magazines were on the newsstands every week. A new culture was being born around the flying saucers and possibility of alien contact. Many people claimed to have been contacted by extraterrestrials and some even claimed to have ridden in their craft. Others maintained that they had been given messages for their fellow Earthlings from the Space Brothers or comely Venusians.
Out of this environment came Long John Nebel and his Party Line radio show, broadcasting overnight six days a week on New York’s WOR. He often brought together a panel of commentators from a variety of fields to help him interview guests. The paranormal was a common focus and UFOs were a favorite topic. Nebel regularly brought in contactees such as George van Tasell and researchers such as Ivan T. Sanderson. In April of 1958 Long John Nebel interviewed for the first time Otis T. Carr, the president of OTC Enterprises, who was marketing his own flying saucer. The first unit would cost $20 million (delivered) but subsequent units would be able to be produced for $4 million each.
Otis T. Carr was not a contactee nor did he claim that his “circular fail spacecraft” had any alien technology in its design. He instead claimed that he had taken the work of Nikola Tesla, the inventor of radio and proponent of AC power transmission, and developed an entirely new type of propulsion. The Utron Electrical Accumulator was described by Carr as not a perpetual motion device but a “self energizing machine” that combined electromotive, electromagnetic and gravity forces in a unified field. He told Long John Nebel and his panel that he had even corresponded with and briefly advised by Albert Einstein. The craft would operate in both the vacuum of space and Earth’s atmosphere, offering speeds and handling superior to any conventional aircraft. Best of all, occupants would require neither g-suits or space suits.
The Utron powered ship was to be saucer shaped and 45 feet in diameter. This size was designed to allow a crew of three to travel in comfort. Thanks to a capacitive plate that would spin counter clockwise while the body of the ship moved in a clockwise direction Carr maintained that the ship would enjoy near Earth gravity while space. The cabin would be pressurized, like a conventional aircraft or submarine. Best of all, he posited that his flying saucer would be able to fly from Earth to the moon in only four or five hours. It would also be able to take longer trips to visit other planets, if desired.
Although OTC Enterprises had yet to build a working prototype, Carr did bring equipment, models and various brochures and sales literature to the Party Line for panel members to examine. Among the materials presented was an Utron Electrical Accumulator which was a simple, two piece device. Carr explained that he had sent his materials to not only the Atomic Energy Commission but also directly to President Eisenhower and other government agencies. He also seemed genuinely surprised that he had not received a response from any level of the government! In 1959 Otis Carr would receive a US Patent for his flying saucer, although it was identified as an “amusement device.” Today the patent drawing is available on the US Patent Office website under patent number US002912244. Carr would return to Long John Nebel’s show again later in 1958 and in 1959. By then he claimed to be ready to demonstrate his flying saucer so Long John took his show on the road to Oklahoma City in April of 1959 to witness the maiden flight of Carr’s device… at an amusement park called Frontier City.
The lift off was to be a simple test flight in anticipation of a trip to the moon scheduled for December. Carr was to be the pilot and Major Wayne Aho, another frequent guest of Long John Nebel, would be co-pilot. It was Aho, who had served as a combat intelligence officer in the Army, who would be piloting the ship on its voyage to the moon in December. Although Carr had claimed to see flying saucers on three separate occasions, he was not a contactee. He also had stated that when he saw the saucers he felt that they confirmed his theories, but he did not claim to derive any of his technology from extraterrestrials. Aho, though, was a contactee who would go on to organize an effort in the late 1970s to convince President Carter to appoint an official US ambassador to space.
The craft never flew. In fact, Otis Carr never even showed himself at the amusement park. He had been missing in the days leading up to the launch but was found in a local hospital by Long John Nebel on the day before the launch. In an interview taped in his hospital room Carr stated that even though the craft was not fully assembled he expected that it would be launched as scheduled, baring some unforeseen mechanical or circuit failure (the type of thing he compared to a “flat tire”). A couple hours after the ship was supposed to take off Wayne Aho announced that a mis-engineered bearing would force the demonstration to be rescheduled. The Party Line broadcast dedicated to Carr’s scheduled maiden flight, which includes both live and taped portions, still survives today. In it the prototype is described in the broadcast as still being in pieces during a taped visit to the warehouse where it was stored shortly before the scheduled flight. Although Long John Nebel seems to have lost interest in Carr after the canceled demonstration, OTC Enterprises continued to seek investors and maintain that its Utron technology was legitimate. Unfortunately, there were those among the law enforcement community that disagreed with this stance. Carr, his director of sales engineering Norman Evans Colton and Wayne Aho all eventually were charged with fraud. Aho was exonerated but the others were convicted. After his conviction, Carr faded from the UFO scene and seems to have passed away in the early 1980s in Pennsylvania, although some sources (such as the Project Camelot webpage on their interviews with Ralph Ring) state that he passed away in Nevada in 2005, at which time he would have benn approximately 101 years old.
In recent years a man named Ralph Ring has surfaced, claiming to have once been a technician in Otis Carr’s employ. He maintained that several models had actually flown and that a 45 foot prototype was also successfully flown. Ring stated that he had, in fact, been part of a three man crew that made a near instantaneous journey of ten miles in the larger craft. Unfortunately, government agents came and forced Carr’s laboratory to shut down, seizing both research notes and equipment. Despite that fact that no scheduled public launch was ever completed and the convictions given both Carr and Colton, some still believe that his Utron powered “circular foil craft” was an actual technological breakthrough.
For More Information:
Long John Nebel UFO Radio Show CD-Rom from TheUFOStore.com (contains multiple Long John Nebel broadcasts from the 1950s, including three with Carr and the coverage of his failed demonstration in Oklahoma City)
Project Camelot Ralph Ring interview (includes links to download video of Ring interview, Otis T. Carr appearances on Long John Nebel and even a manuscript attributed to Carr): http://projectcamelot.org/ralph_ring.html
Timothy Green Beckley and Tim Schwartz, Men of Mystery: Nikola Tesla and Otis T. Carr, 2012. Inner Light – Global Communications publisher