Right after Kenneth Arnold's sighting of 9 Chevron-shaped objects flying at great speed near mount Rainier in June of 1947, the American media was flooded with similar reports coming from all around the country. The modern era of UFOs had begun, and during the next decade civilian associations like NICAP and APRO were founded in an attempt to understand the nature and origin of these objects, as well as to demand transparency from the government which was suspect from the beginning of hiding what it knew about them to the public.
During their arduous struggles in trying to gather evidence which could prove the existence of what they believed were extraterrestrial craft visiting our planet, these investigative associations were consistently forced to change their expectations about what flying saucers could and couldn't do. When only reports of high-altitude objects were deemed credible, there soon came sightings at close range; when sightings at close range were finally accepted, they were followed by reports of actual landings; when landing cases were reluctantly deemed credible, there soon came sightings of the saucer occupants leaving their craft and interacting with the witnesses. As seasoned abduction researcher Dr. Leo Sprinkle once said to Mike Clelland during an audio interview, the phenomenon is forever one step ahead of us, and is always delighted to shatter whatever comfortable preconception we might have of it.
One preconception that has always been hard to accept --even to this day-- is the idea that UFO occupants would establish a long-lasting relationship with a particular witness, choosing him or her as their appointed ambassador to the rest of Humanity. And yet that's exactly what a few individuals claimed during the 1950's and 60's, speaking before amazed audiences --and suspicious government agencies-- about their regular encounters with these beings; these were not tentacled monsters coming to our planet with ill-intents, they said, but our (very human-like) brothers from outer space, bringing a message of love and universal peace to mankind.
Both NICAP and APRO always considered people like George Adamski and George Van Tassel, with their stories of mingling with angelic Venusians and etheric spacecraft, to be nothing but crackpots at best --or hucksters and attention-seekers at worst; and now that the tools of modern Science has shown Venus to be an inhospitable hell-hole, and the photos taken by Adamsky or others have been proven to be hoaxes, our opinion of the Contactees has only worsened.
But now comes a new documentary by film-maker Patrick Connelly, intended to take a fresh, new look at that fascinating moment in XXth century history, when the wounds of WWII were still fresh and the new threat of nuclear annihilation loomed menacingly above the seemingly tranquil suburban landscapes of America. A time when people looked to the sky searching for answers, yearning for someone who could save us from ourselves.
They Rode the Flying Saucers is still in production, and will feature interviews with scholars like historian Aaron Gulyas who wrote a book about the Contactee era, as well as my friend Greg Bishop who has always been enamored with the tales of the Space Brothers --Greg interviewed Patrick last year on his show Radio Misterioso, so if you wish to listen to the podcast click here.
To learn more about the film, visit its official website. And just to get you Urantians ready for a vibration-raising weekend full of interplanetary kinship, here's the Carpenter's 1970 classic Calling Occupants from Interplanetary Craft: