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UFO research legend Stanton T. Friedman sadly passed away last month, leaving a gaping hole in the field. No matter where you stand on on his views, with some five decades of investigation into the topic – ranging from the possible science of UFO propulsion through to Roswell and the MJ-12 papers – Stan left a huge imprint on the history of ufology and his influence will be felt for years.

You can get a great sense of Stan the man, his passions, and his research, in the 48-minute-long documentary Stanton T. Friedman IS Real, available for free online (and embedded below). Produced by Stan’s nephew – and a fixture in ufology himself – Paul Kimball, the documentary gives a wonderful, balanced look at Stanton Friedman through the words of Stan himself, those who worked with him, and some who disagreed with him as well.

The documentary opens with a gospel organ soundtrack backing a Stanton Friedman lecture at a MUFON conference, seemingly equating Stan to a preacher in the pulpit. Five minutes later, that description becomes more explicit, as he is introduced to conference goers with the words “Stanton Friedman is my favourite UFO evangelist…Stan would make a great Jewish UFO Presbyterian preacher”.

The legendary UFO researcher then recounts his time growing up as a straight-A student, joining the debating club, and eventually earning a Masters in Physics – and then noting that his life was changed when he ordered one extra item from book club, Edward Ruppelt’s The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.

And then, he moved on to lecturing. “The more lecturing I did the more I realised that I really enjoyed being on the stage,” Stan reveals. “The bigger the crowd, the happier I was.”

But while he was exceptional at lecturing on the topic of UFOs, and profoundly happy at being able to earn a living doing it, he notes that it isn’t easy. “One thing about the life I’ve been leading for the last 30-something years…is that the travel can be rugged. Some people say ‘oh you travel all these exotics places, it must be great fun’. Frankly, it’s work…[and] it can be lonely.”

Stanton T. Friedman IS Real features both compliments from fellow researcher – such as Kevin Randle calling him a “tenacious researcher…[who] follows leads to the very end” – as well as criticisms. For instance, after praising him for his early work on the scientific aspects of ufology, Karl Pflock notes that Stan later moved into more ‘conspiracy’-related topics, such as MJ-12.

However, Friedman will probably most be remembered for his research, writing and lecturing on both MJ-12 and also, obviously, the Roswell incident. And as such, these topics dominate the second half of the documentary.

At the end, Stan appraises his life in ufology – which is made all the more poignant now that he has passed: “Do I think the world is a better place for my contribution to it?”, he asks. “Tough question…but I say yes.”