Dr. James E. McDonald and the UFO Problem

by Charles Lear

By coincidence, two UFOlogists who studied mass sightings by school children ended up dying an untimely death.  One was John E. Mack, an Ariel School sighting researcher who was hit by a truck in London in 2004 and the other was James E. McDonald who researched the Westall sighting in Australia and took his own life in 1971 in Tucson, Arizona.  Both were reputable scientists with careers in psychiatry and meteorology respectively and both suffered attacks on their credibility due to their pursuit of UFOlogy.  Due to different public attitudes towards UFO research during their times, Mack was able to withstand an investigation by the Dean of Harvard Medical School which threatened his position there and write best-selling books on the abduction phenomenon, whereas McDonald endured multiple threats to his career, funded his own research without book deals and was publicly humiliated at a congressional hearing.  Still reeling from this he received the blow of his wife’s request for a divorce, which seems to have led to his suicide.

McDonald, born May 7, 1920, was one of very few scientists of his time who were willing to go on the record and advocate for the extra-terrestrial hypothesis as an explanation for UFOs.  He had a PhD from Iowa State University, taught at the University of Chicago and then the University of Arizona where he helped establish a meteorological and atmospherics program.  His interest in UFOs started with his own sighting in 1954 while driving in Arizona with two other meteorologists.  What was seen was a less than dramatic distant point of light but the fact that three scientists who specialized in atmospheric observation were unable to identify it signaled to McDonald that there was a need for a focus on “the UFO problem” by the scientific community.  He began investigating on his own and joined the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon.  After interviewing between 150 to 200 witnesses from 1956 to 1966 in his home area of Tucson, Arizona he was, in his own words,”far from overwhelmed with the importance of the UFO problem.”  His attitude would change in 1966, sparked by a sense of betrayal felt by himself and many other investigators, witnesses, and members of the general public.  This was brought on by the growing realization that the U.S. Air Force investigation into UFOs had become nothing more than a public relations campaign designed to downplay and debunk as many incidents as possible. Read more

360. Diana Pasulka, American Cosmic

Subscribe to full shows for $2 or more per month. Alejandro Rojas with UFO Updates, then guest Dr Diana Pasulka discusses her book: American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, it is a fascinating interview where she discusses some unique experiences, feedback from her work and much more.

Show Notes

UFOs and the Scientists Who Love Them

by Charles Lear

Scientific study of the UFO phenomenon has had a sporadic history for the last 70 plus years for reasons ranging from lack of funding to the fear of the loss of standing within the scientific community.  There have been government funded studies and academics brave enough to research, but politics and rejection out-of–hand by peer reviewed journals have impeded the production of researchable literature that could lend credibility to a subject of study languishing in the realm of pseudoscience.  As a result, many researchers with academic credentials have moved to form their own study groups as a means to research and publish.  While there have been and are some admirable groups out there, what amounts to self-publishing bypasses the review process.  The review process is important in that it demonstrates that an argument has stood scrutiny by disinterested parties.  Work that has not undergone this is the poorer for it.  A solution would be to have reputable scientists, interested in the subject, establish a journal with peer review that publishes the work of outside contributors.  Are there scientists willing to risk their reputations in order to do this?  Apparently there are because a journal exists today that is staffed and supported by scientists with serious cred that was created specifically to give a voice to real research on subjects considered too out there for mainstream science, UFOs included. Read more

359. Nick Redfern, Flying Saucers from the Kremlin

Subscribe to full shows for $2 or more per month. Alejandro Rojas, UFO Updates, guest Nick Redfern discusses his latest book, “Flying Saucers from the Kremlin: UFOs, Russian Meddling, Soviet Spies & Cold War Secrets” He discusses the way Russia and the US both manipulated UFO stories for their own agendas. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945962186

UFOs and School Children

by Charles Lear

Remember that UFO sighting by all those school children some years back?  That was in Australia, right?  No, it was Florida… or was it Wales?  Perhaps it was in Africa?  The answer is that there were incidents of significance in all four locations. All were similar enough to cause confusion but the reactions by school and public officials involved were strikingly different.

The first occurrence was April 6, 1966 at Westall High School in Clayton South, a suburb of Melbourne, capital of Victoria, Australia.  Around 11:00 am a student ran in from the school sports field (the oval) shouting that there was a flying saucer outside.  The teacher whose class had been interrupted demanded his students remain seated until the recess bell, at which time, students and teachers flooded the oval and over 200 people were witness to a silvery disk.  At the time, 5 light airplanes were attempting to get near the craft and it displayed extraordinary flight characteristics in evading them, which were described by teacher, Andrew Greenwood, to a fellow teacher arriving late to the scene.  Another teacher, Barbara Robbins, was reported by student witness, Graham Simmonds, to have been taking photographs of the object.  The object then flew to a wooded area called, “The Grange” where it landed and the students followed it.  By the time most of them caught up with the object it had lifted off but one student, “Tanya”, possibly had arrived early enough to see it landed.  The object flew off and the spot where it had been was reportedly marked by a swirled patch of grass. Read more


Subscribe to our full two-hour shows for two dollars per month or more. Alejandro Rojas with UFO Updates, guest Paul Carr, is back after several years and discusses his own sightings, what is new with Aerial Phenomenon Investigations, including some very interesting reports, the UFO community and more.

Show Notes

F.O.I.A. is Giving All of Our Secrets Away

by Charles Lear

If it wasn’t for my interest in UFOs, I would know nothing about the Freedom of Information Act (F.O.I.A.) or even that it existed.  This is a little embarrassing to admit but I bet it’s true for a lot of our citizenry.  In fact, it wasn’t until I started researching for this blog that I was aware of how old the act is.  It seems like such a modern concept.

Way back in 1955 (the year that the Air Force released Project Blue Book Special report #14), Democratic Congressman, John Moss, began to seek support for the bill and it took more than ten years to get it passed.  The problem was with finding Republican co-sponsors but he eventually received the support of Representative, Donald Rumsfeld.  The bill faced strong opposition from federal agencies who would be directly affected and President Johnson (we’re a few years away from 1955) but it was passed, by both the Senate and the House, with a 307-0 vote in the House.  Johnson signed the bill without holding a public event and on July 4th 1966, he issued a signing statement.

Committees were created, namely, the Special Government Information Subcommittee and the Foreign Operations and Government Subcommittee, both chaired by Moss, and they took on the daunting task of assessing what documents, out of the tons of paper generated yearly, should be released.  Two UFO organizations to first contact F.O.G.I. were Flying Saucers International and the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena.  However, for the most part, UFO researchers of the day didn’t make much use of the act.

For a researcher or journalist, the act was not as effective as would have been hoped.  Johnson focused on national security exemptions and its open interpretation and effectively de-clawed and de-fanged the act.  It wasn’t until Watergate that Congress would be motivated to amend the act, adding time limits, sanctions for wrongful withholding and the waiving of fees for journalists and those working in the public interest.  It was up to President Ford to sign it but Rumsfeld, Chief of Staff, and Antonin Scalia, head of the Office of Legal Council, urged Ford to veto the bill.  However, the House and the Senate weren’t in the mood after dealing with Nixon and overrode Ford’s veto. Read more

343. Early Grey

THIS IS THE LAST WEEK OF FREE FULL SHOWS..  Subscribe to our full two-hour shows for two dollars per month or more. Guest, MUFON Chief Investigator, Earl Grey Anderson discusses several very interesting Southern Californian UFO encounters, his mother’s interesting career and her thoughts on extraterrestrials, experiencer’s and more.

338. Robert Powell, USS Nimitz Update

Subscribe to our full two-hour shows for two dollars per month or more. Alejandro Rojas with UFO Updates, Robert Powell is back to talk about being part of an extensive report that the Scientific Coalition for Ufology (SCU) wrote on the USS Nimitz Encounter, we take several calls and in hour two, he discusses triangle UFOs and more.

337. Vincent Aiello & Tyler Rogoway

BONUS FULL SHOW Alejandro Rojas with UFO Updates, commercial airline pilot, former Navy Fighter Pilot, Vincent Aiello (Fighter Pilot Podcast) in the first hour to talk his experience on the USS Nimitz during the 2004 encounter, his recent interview with friend, David Fravor, how most aviators view the UFO topic, and more. Hour two we have military aviation correspondent, Tyler Rogoway who has been the first to report on some recent UFO commercial airline encounters on The Drive/War Zone. Subscribe to our full two-hour shows for two dollars per month or more. 

Show Notes

330. Marc D’Antonio

Subscribe to our full two-hour shows for two dollars per month or more. Alejandro Rojas with UFO Updates, repeat guest Marc D’Antonio discusses the recent Mars InSight Lander, space junk, possible intelligent life elsewhere and more.

Show Notes

329. Dr Todd Curtis

FREE BONUS FULL TWO-HOUR SHOW: Subscribe to our full two-hour shows for two dollars per month or more. Guest, Dr Todd Curtis having a Ph.D., Aviation Risk Assessment, discusses his thoughts on several UFO cases, such as JAL 1628 UFO Incident, 2007 UK Channel Islands sighting, the 1995 American West Sighting and more. He also discusses how safe commercial aviation is in general in hour two. TheAirSafe.com