Unidentified Flying Objects and the contactees

Visitors from the solar system

Beginning around 1950, a number of people claimed to have met occupants of UFOs. These early contacts were mostly with humanoid types, generally tall and blond (what are referred to as ‘Nordic’ types in later literautre) and dressed in smart casual contemporary clothes such as ski pants. They appeared as blemish-free, perfect specimens of humanity, almost like picture-book angels. They tended to be friendly but had a stern warning: humanity must change its ways or face disaster.

George Adamski (1891-1965)

Of the early contactees, the most well-known (if not notorious) was George Adamski who was born in Poland and whose parents emigrated to the USA in 1893. He was later to claim that his family was contacted by aliens around the turn of the twentieth century and that the philosophy on which he lectured in California from the 1920s reflected what they had taught his family. However, it is clear that his teachings at this early period were derived from Theosophy, an occult philosophy that blends Western occultism, Indian mysticism and nineteenth-century popular science, revealing a seven-based cosmology in which there are seven planes of existence, seven Root Races of humanity, seven bodies possessed by each human being and seven cycles of evolution. The world, it turns out, is ruled by a secret Brotherhood of Mahatmas who beam occult energies from their hidden base in Tibet. This seems to be the inspiration for the name of the small community he founded at Laguna Beach (California, USA) in 1934, the Monastery of the Royal Order of Tibet, which had around twenty members. His teaching was based around ‘Universal Laws’ and ‘Universal Progressive Christianity’; it seems to be as a result of his religious lecturing that he came to be known as ‘professor’, as he never had any academic training.

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The classic Adamski ‘scout ship’

In 1949, he published a science-fiction novel, Pioneers of space: a trip to the moon, Mars and Venus, allegedly ghost written by his friend Lucy McGinnis. In it, the pilots of UFOs are revealed to be humanoids who take the protagonist of the novel on a trip into space. Around the same time, he began to show photographs of what he alleged were close-ups of UFOs taken with his telescope; they were taken up avidly by a public hungry for stories about ‘flying saucers’ and one of the types – the circular craft with a projecting top part in which there are circular ‘portholes’ – has perhaps become the classic image of a UFO. Critics point out its resemblance to a lamp used in a chicken brooder, but no exact parallels seem ever to have been found. Others were soon photographing the same type of ‘craft’.

He became famous with his announcement in 1953 that he had met the occupant of a landed UFO on 20 November of the previous year near Desert Center in the Colorado Desert (California, USA). He had travelled to the spot, expecting to see a UFO, with six companions (Alfred Bailey, Betty Bailey, Lucy McGinnis, Alice Wells, George Hunt Williamson and Betty Hunt Williamson; according to some versions, his wife, Mary, was also present). His friends later testified that the story was true, although only Alice Wells claimed to have seen the landed craft, although all were UFO believers and were too far from the site to have been able to see any details that might have backed up Adamski’s version of events. At any rate, according to the account published in the book Adamski co-wrote with the Anglo-Irish writer/composer/actor/film-maker/RAF pilot/Theosophist/night-club owner Desmond Leslie (1921-2001), Flying saucers have landed, he had a close encounter with a blond Venusian named Orthon, who communicated largely by telepathy, aided by hand signals. Orthon stressed that humans needed to start following the laws of the ‘Creator of All’ as experiments with nuclear weapons were leaking radiation into space and posing a threat to the safety of other inhabitants of the solar system. Humanity had developed its technoloigcal capabilities without the necessary spiritual growth. After an hour or so of conversation, Orthon returned to his craft and flew back up to the ‘mothership’ hovering overhead.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Orthon’s philosophy as reported by Adamski and Leslie bore a very close relationship to Theosophy. To Adamski’s followers, this was evidence for the universal nature of Theosophy but to critics it was evidence that Adamski might have projected his own beliefs onto the experience (whatever it had involved). As evidence for the reality of the encounter, Adamski returned to Desert Center with George Hunt Williamson a few days later and was able to take plaster-casts of Orthon’s footprints, which contained mysterious symbols. He now began to claim that the well-known photographs were taken on 13 December 1952, despite having circulated since the late 1940s. According to his revised version of events, a Venusian ‘scout ship’ had flown over his back garden and dropped an “indecipherable message”; he was able to take four photographs in quick succession through his telescope. Unfortunately, there is a fifth photograph in the series, which only emerged in 1990, and it can be shown that the time necessary to take these photographs precludes the rapid fly-by of the encounter.

More claims followed, in Inside the space ships, published in 1955. This time, his visitors were called Firkon and Ramu and they took Adamski to Jupiter and Saturn, revealing to him that all the planets of the Solar System are inhabited. In this book, Adamski gives precisely identical descriptions of space as those contained in his 1949 novel Pioneers of space. He claimed to have seen strange glowing particles (which he called ‘fireflies’), supposedly a type of glowing dust that fills space. In later books, he alleged that the particles seen by human astronauts were the same phenomenon, but unfortunately, these particles are material shed by spacecraft, not space dust. His description of the far side of the Moon, where he saw snow-capped mountain ranges, forests and lakes, as well as hangers for space-craft and even animals, did not tally with the photographs taken by the Russian satellite Luna 3 in 1959, which he denounced as fakes. Details of the scout and mother ships are also identical to those in his novel. He was later to claim that the novel was written to test the public reaction to ideas of life on other planets.

Over the final ten years of his life, Adamski’s claims came in for more and more criticism. A devastating critique by James Mosely was published in 1957 and severly damaged his reputation. As knowledge of the planets increased with the development of space exploration after 1957, it became increasingly clear that his descriptions did not match what was being revealed. Although he had attracted a considerable following and was reportedly quite well-off by the time of his death (largely as a result of his lecture tours throughout North America and Europe), he was increasingly denounced as a crackpot and fraud, both outside and within the Ufological community.

Last updated 19 March 2006