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The Apollo-11 UFO Incidents

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  • Jeroen Kumeling
    The Apollo-11 UFO Incidents by James Oberg Excerpt from UFOs and Outer Space Mysteries (Donning Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 1982, Chapter 3). Web version
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 1999
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      The Apollo-11 UFO Incidents
      by James Oberg
      Excerpt from UFOs and Outer Space Mysteries
      (Donning Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 1982, Chapter 3).
      Web version published with the author's permission.
      The epochal flight of Apollo XI to the moon occurred more than a decade
      ago -- long enough for it to have become enshrined in our history books and
      our mythologies. It marked man's first landing on another world in space. It
      symbolized the capabilities of 20th Century American technology and

      For the world of UFO researchers, enthusiasts and opponents, the flight of
      Apollo XI was also important. It became the center of a vast body of reports
      of alien encounters on this epic space voyage. Over the years, literally
      dozens of stories have been written about purported UFO sightings and
      photographs made during that particular mission in July 1969.

      Most prestigious of the stories is the note in Edge of Reality in which Dr.
      J. Allen Hynek, the 'dean of UFOlogy,' passes on the report that "This was
      the mission on which a UFO reportedly chased that spacecraft." A colleague
      remarked to Hynek that "during Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and
      Michael Collins said they observed a UFO." Hynek agreed, and elaborated:
      "Some of the NASA movie frames that I examined were most interesting --
      particularly those taken on the Apollo 11 flight, one of the few for which
      NASA has not come up with some sort of explanation."

      In Science Digest, the respected monthly popular science journal,
      astronomer-author James Mullaney (a former contributing editor to Astronomy
      magazine) wrote in July 1977 that "the crew of Apollo 11, during the first
      moon landing, reporting that their capsule was paced by what appeared to be
      a mass of intelligent energy.... NASA recently released a number of very
      striking Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab photos of true unidentifieds."

      The UFO press has widely reported such stories, both in books, movies, and

      UFOs Past, Present and Future (written by Robert Emenegger, researched by
      Alan Frank Sandler) reported on "perhaps the most spectacular of all
      sightings" which occurred on Apollo 11. On the way out to the moon, the
      astronauts watched an object which seemed to change shape when they switched
      magnifications of their telescope "It was really weird," Collins is quoted
      as saying.

      Fate magazine, in editor Curtis Fuller s column "I See By The Papers"
      (November 1970), examined the stories and concluded: "There seems to be
      pretty good evidence that Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong. and Michael Collins
      saw something that hasn't been made generally known--something variously
      reported, ranging from mysterious lights to formations of spaceships!"

      The authenticity of the Apollo 11 sightings has been vouched for by
      testimony attributed to CBS TV news anchorman Walter Cronkite. In an
      interview with the National Enquirer, conducted by reporter Robin Leach,
      Cronkite gives this account: "En route for the world's first moon landing,
      Armstrong and the crew transmitted some earthshaking information, and I was
      there to hear it for myself."

      Cronkite continued: "Armstrong claimed to have spotted a huge cylindrical
      object which was rotating or tumbling between the ship and the moon. It's
      officially recorded in the NASA record vaults that Armstrong indicated he
      went to take photographs but the object vanished as quickly as he'd first
      seen it. Neil Armstrong is not a man given to fanciful imagination and it
      wasn't just one of the crew that saw it -- they all did, and you have to
      respect those men."

      That was good enough for Ripley's Believe It or Not, too. In late 1978 they
      published a syndicated series of cartoon panels dealing with UFOs; one panel
      contained a sketch of astronauts and the caption, "Astronaut Neil Armstrong.
      . . saw UFOs while on space mission. But NASA -- according to newscaster
      Walter Cronkite -- is keeping the evidence a secret."

      But the secret leaked a little, according to the McGraw-Hill Publishing
      Company. In 1979 they issued a book by David C. Knight, entitled UFOs: A
      Pictorial History. A full-page space photo on page 171 bears this caption:
      "Perhaps the most spectacular of all UFO sightings from space occurred on
      July 19, 1969 on the Apollo-XI flight.... The crew spotted a strange object
      between their ship and the moon.... The object still remains unidentified."
      (Purists might have noted that the object shown on the page was between the
      ship and the earth, but who wants to be picky when dealing with such
      fantastic stories?).

      An idea of what these secrets might entail can be obtained from a summary of
      the circulated Apollo 11 stories published by Mike Harris in a New Zealand
      UFO newsletter in 1974:

      From the launching of Apollo 11 on July 16th, 1969 until the spacecraft
      passed the midpoint between the earth and the moon the following day, the
      three astrona uts observed a U.F.O. keeping pace with them. Two days later,
      on July l9th at approximately 1800 hours, U.F.O.s made another appearance
      and were recorded on film. The details of this extensive film were: the day
      before the lunar landing Aldrin transferred to the L. M. "Eagle" and began
      the final instrument checks. Whilst checking the close-up camera, the
      U.F.O.s came into the picture. Whilst under observation, the objects were
      seen to be emitting what looked like some kind of liquid. The two objects
      were in close formation and would come together and part and after some time
      separated and went off their own ways. The objects appeared to be
      intelligently controlled, the astronauts said. The third sighting during
      this epic flight occurred on July 21st, 00.26 hours. About an hour and a
      half previously, Neil Armstrong and Aldrin had set foot on the moon. While
      they were busy gathering rocks, Collins in the Command Module 'Columbia' was
      busy talking to Houston.

      Columbia: Calling Houston. This is Columbia.
      Houston: Go ahead, Columbia.
      Columbia: I couldn't find the L. M. But I saw some weird small white
      objects. Co-ordinates are 0.3, 7.6 on the south west edge of the crater. If
      they're there they should have seen them too.
      It seems likely that whoever was interested in our effort was certainly
      keeping an eye on things. The report goes on:

      These white objects seen by Collins made a fourth appearance as the "Eagle"
      was rising from the Lunar Surface to re-unite with the "Columbia," having
      left the moon at 13.55 on July 21st. Their shape in this case was clearly
      exposed on film. The fixed camera on the "Eagle" was photographing the
      moon's receding surface when, diagonally from the lower left to the upper
      right of the frames, a white, shining U.F.O. passed directly under the Lunar

      This is certainly a sensational scenario for mankind's first landing on
      another world, and it is in addition a version certainly not described by
      the standard history books. Corroborating accounts come from Michael
      Hervey's book UFOs The American Scene (St. Martin's Press, NY, 1976). In
      lunar orbit, Aldrin is adjusting his camera when suddenly:

      ...his attention was suddenly drawn to a bright object resembling a
      "snowman" traveling from west to east in sky. He immediately took some shots
      of the object which in fact proved to be two UFOs, one larger than the
      other, and almost touching. When the film was developed later it included a
      shot of the moon's surface to be followed by a close-up of the two UFOs
      moving at a high speed horizontally. They disappeared, only to return a few
      seconds later, descended a little, hovered for a while, and then separated
      whereupon they were surrounded by "what looked like a strong halation." They
      followed this maneuver by rising vertically and disappearing from sight. In
      due course only one UFO returned, and then again took its leave for the last
      time. Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin were naturally excited and perhaps a
      little apprehensive during those few moments.

      Yet for all the drama of this event, none of it seems to have been disclosed
      by the NASA public affairs officers in Houston. Clearly, some sort of
      coverup was involved. The first major break in this apparent coverup did not
      occur until 1974, when the Cosmic Brotherhood Association, a Japanese UFO
      group, published hitherto unavailable photos from Apollo 11 with this
      The pictures of UFOs taken by Apollo 11 spaceship over the moon's surface
      for the first time in the world and now published by CBA (Cosmic Brotherhood
      Association) for the first time, cannot but be considered the firm evidence
      that UFOs, so far questioned by many, are actually spaceship/spacecraft come
      from outer space as we have been asserting. They are the absolute evidence
      sought by the worlds UFologists for the past 27 years.... Following are
      overwhelming proof of UFOs, they came from outer space .... They are really
      scoop pictures, and not even one of them has been released by NASA as yet.

      This sensational news crossed the Pacific and was noted by UFO expert Bob
      Barry of the "Twentieth Century UFO Bureau," who wrote up a two part survey
      of astronaut UFO experiences for Modern People, a weekly tabloid newspaper.
      The UFO article was later combined with other similar material which was
      published in magazine form as UFO Report (issued in 1975, only one issue
      ever came out). "NASA Hiding UFOs From You!'' screamed the headline:

      "En route to the Moon on their first day in space, the crew of Columbia
      sighted a strange object hovering high above the earth, and managed to
      capture it on film. NASA's photo interpretation lab listed the object as
      unidentifiable. But this was only the beginning. Before this mission would
      come to an end, the crew of Columbia and later the Eagle would see a lot
      more UFO action -- over the moon itself!"

      Barry then describes the encounter of Aldrin with the two UFO zooming across
      his window in lunar orbit. Luckily, says Barry, Aldrin was used to seeing
      UFOs in space, so he could do the right thing quickly:

      "If Aldrin had not been somewhat conditioned to the appearance of these
      unusual craft, the shock of what he saw next might have caused him to miss
      one of the most amazing sequences of film taken of UFOs by any astronaut.
      For as the objects continued their descent in a formation similar to that of
      a "snowman" laid on its side, Aldrin observed a brilliant emission extending
      from between the two crafts. Speculation at the time was that this "trail"
      was possibly connected to the vehicles' motivational systems, possibly even
      an exhaust.... During this time, ten other egg-shaped objects were seen
      flying in the foreground of the camera view.

      Naturally, NASA did not release these photos to the general public, talking
      great pains to edit any such mysterious craft from the final stills which
      were released.... And even though almost every crew that has traveled to the
      moon has witnessed and photographed unidentified flying objects, NASA
      officials still insist that such phenomena do not exist."

      But even Barry's spectacular photographic evidence is not the most exciting
      report to come out of the flight of Apollo 11. For only shortly after the
      astronauts returned to earth in mid-1969, a bootleg "tape" and voice
      transcript of what was really said on the moon has been circulating
      clandestinely in UFO circles. The headline on the cover of National Bulletin
      magazine (distributed in Canada but printed in New York City) for September
      29,1969 cries out that "Phony Transmission Failure Hides Apollo 11
      Discovery. . . . Moon is a U.F.O. Base!" Author Sam Pepper gave this version
      of the "Top Secret Tape Transcript" from "a leak close to the top," as

      What was it, what the hell was it? That's all I want to know....
      These. . . (garbled) . . .babies were huge, sir, they were enormous....
      No, No, that's just field distortion....
      Oh, God, you wouldn't believe it....
      What...what...what the hell's going on? Whatsa matter with you guys . . . ?
      They're here, under the surface....
      What's there.. .malfunction. . .Mission Control calling Apollo 11....
      Roger, we're here, all three of us, but we've found some visitors....
      Yeah, they've been here for quite a while judging by the installations....
      Mission control, repeat last message....
      I'm telling you, there are other spacecraft out there. They're lined up in
      ranks on the far side of the crater edge....
      Repeat, repeat....
      Let's get that orbit scanned and head home....
      In 625 to the fifth, auto-relays set...My hands are shaking so bad....
      Film...yes, the damned cameras were clicking away from up here...
      Did you fellows get anything?
      Had no film left by the time. . . (garbled) . . . three shots of the
      saucers, or whatever they were. . .may have fogged the film.
      Mission Control, this is Mission Control...are you under way, repeat, are
      you under way? What's this uproar about UFOs? Over.
      They're set up down there...they're on the moon... watching us....
      The mirrors, the mirrors . . . you set them up, didn't you?
      Yes, the mirrors are all in place. But whatever built those spacecraft will
      probably come over and pull 'em all out by the roots tomorrow....
      When this account was discussed by Fate editor Curtis Fuller in 1970, he
      confessed to "extreme skepticism about the whole alleged transcription" But
      the account has been printed elsewhere, (science fiction author and UFO buff
      Otto Binder helped spread it widely), and it reminds observers of the radio
      signals picked up in Europe in the early 1960s from doomed Russian
      cosmonauts on secret space shots which ended in their undisclosed deaths.
      Radio amateurs have become very proficient in smoking out 'official secrets'
      in the past few decades.

      Nor do these eye-opening (and hair-raising?) stories end here. Another
      "inside account" appeared in the monthly bulletin of the well-known UFO
      group, APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization). As reported in the
      February 1976 issue, three disc-shaped shadows paced the astronauts as they
      circled the moon, while NASA censors cut off further live comments from the
      newsmen. An APRO informant known as "Mister X" was allegedly present in the
      "inner control room."

      The astronauts, recalled the otherwise unidentified "Mister X," suddenly
      said, "There they are again," referring to objects spotted on the first
      three orbits and the last orbit. It seems to be an independent corroboration
      of stories recounted earlier.

      Additionally, a new and hitherto unavailable Apollo 11 photograph was
      published in the monthly Science Digest in the issue immediately following
      that which contained Mullaney's article. Discussing Project Bluebook, author
      Don Berliner's article includes a photograph showing the earth receding from
      the moon-ship, and a UFO right smack dab in the middle. Says Science Digest
      (Aug. 1977), "Arrow points toward an unidentified object."

      As might be expected, NASA officially denies it all. No extraordinary UFOs
      or other unexplained phenomena have been admitted.

      When the "Pepper Transcript" first became public, UFO buffs wrote to their
      congressmen demanding that NASA officially confess to the coverup. NASA
      replied that "the incidents. . . did not take place. Conversations between
      the Apollo 11 crew and Mission Control were released live during the entire
      Apollo 11 mission. There were between 1000 and 1500 representatives of the
      news media and TV present at the Houston News Center listening and
      observing, and not one has suggested that NASA withheld any news or
      conversations of this nature." (Letter from Assistant Administrator for
      Legislative Affairs to several congressmen, January 1970).

      In 1976, Chief of the Astronaut Office Deke Slayton claimed that "I don't
      recall any of our astronauts ever reporting UFOs."

      NASA claims that all photos, all voice transcripts, all debriefings are in
      the public domain and are available to the news media. This data is too
      voluminous to publish openly, but is available to researchers with
      appropriate credentials in Houston, Flagstaff, and Washington. And as a
      matter of fact, no researcher (UFO or otherwise) has ever filed a complaint
      that data was withheld from him when he tried to get it. (Although Barry and
      Sandler have made vague allegations).

      The photographic documentation, including film magazine inventories,
      exposure logs, and control documents, have been examined by researchers All
      the film is accounted for. Evidently, NASA is quite correct in saying that
      everything is available....

      ...But to whom? Almost 1500 still photos and dozens of magazines of film
      were exposed on Apollo 11. Transcripts run to the thousands of pages. Who
      has taken the trouble to check out all this material?

      I have, for example. Other writers have. Also, Dr. J. Allen Hynek visited
      the Houston space center in July 1976 and was shown the material in
      question. NASA's original story, surprisingly, has been confirmed: All the
      material is available. He said as much in a Playboy interview in January
      1978, but his book still carries the phony list and there is no indication
      it has be removed from later editions. Hynek's opinion: these UFO stories
      are false.

      Fuller's skepticism about the "Pepper Transcript" appears have been
      justified. From internal evidence alone, it looks more and more like a crude
      hoax. This can be deduced from the vocabulary itself:

      "Mission Control"...this was never a phrase used astronauts, who instead
      referred always to "Houston."

      Technical-sounding gibberish such as "field distortion," "orbit scanned,"
      "625 to the fifth," "auto-relays," etc. were never found in real

      "Repeat, repeat" is never used on the radio; instead, astronauts and Mission
      Control use the phrase "Say Again."

      "Three of us"...actually, only two men were on the lunar surface.

      In addition, interviews with the handful of amateur radio listeners who are
      known to have tuned in the S-band (2270 megahertz) moon signals produced
      testimony that they heard the same conversations which were released by
      NASA. Since listening to the moon required the use of ten-foot diameter
      radio dishes, few people actually could do it, and they were known t each
      other, having done similar space eavesdropping for years

      (The consensus among such experienced American ''hams'' is that the old
      stories of "radio transmissions from secret dying Russian spacemen" were
      either dumb mistakes, outright hoaxes, or playful publicity stunts by
      Italian and German radio amateurs.)

      The unavoidable conclusion is that Pepper either fabricated the fake
      "transcript" himself or used very poor judgment in allowing himself to be
      victimized by somebody else's fake. As is often the case with UFO reports,
      it is very hard to prove definitely that something did not happen. But in
      this case, fortunately, the hoax was so rickety that it collapses under its
      own weight.

      More puzzling is Collins' report about the "weird white objects" which the
      Japanese sources said had been spotted near the Lunar Module. These could
      have been the same UFO reported in the Pepper transcript.

      But they weren't, because here is what Collins really said to Houston on
      that orbit: "I did see a suspiciously small white object whose coordinates
      are Easy 0.3, 7.6, right on the southwest end of a crater, but I think they
      would know it if they were in such a location. It looks like their LM would
      be pitched up quite a degree. It's on the southwest wall of a smallish
      crater." (Tape 71/16 page 396).

      So Collins is trying to spot the LM from a hundred miles overhead, but he
      cannot; instead he sees one white object (a rock?) on the edge of a crater.
      He doubts it is the LM because if it were, the LM would be highly tilted and
      the astronauts there would have noticed the tilt -- which they didn't.
      Collins did not spot a fleet of UFOs, as the very loose rewording of this
      account might lead someone to suspect. Compare the words to the UFO
      re-wording -- is it just sloppy, or is it a deliberate distortion?

      These are details. How about the key sighting, the "snowman," and Aldrin's
      movie film? What could possibly explain that?

      All that is needed to explain it is for anybody to view the film. The scenes
      in question come from "Magazine F" ('Foxtrot'), on the first twenty-five
      feet or so, and can (as can all other Apollo 11 flight film) be purchased
      from the National Audiovisual Company, 1411 South Fern Street, Arlington,
      Virginia 22202.

      The actual film shows a window full of dazzling, dancing, dizzying
      reflections and glares. Viewing the film in motion, there can be no question
      of the lights being solid objects outside the spaceship. There is no way I
      could imagine that a viewer could honestly believe that UFOs were being
      shown. The "emissions" are just more fuzzy reflections.

      Examination of a few stills from that filmstrip shows what happened to the
      original appearance of the "UFOs." The Japanese UFO group touched up the
      photos, enhancing the contrast of the lights, and cropping out the
      extraneous reflections. Further, the films were airbrushed to downplay any
      additional reflections which might remain, aside from the two globes of
      light. They became the supposed UFOs which, needless to say, the crew didn't
      see. (The film, by the way, was taken from orbit the day before the
      landing -- not from the surface.)

      These UFO photos, in other words, are a fraud, plain and simple. They are
      part of a space forgery hoax gone wild and run out of control. There never
      were any such "snowmen" UFOs as claimed.

      But UFO expert Michael Hervey had written that the astronauts had actually
      used the words "snowman" and "halation," and that they were naturally
      excited and perhaps a little apprehensive. UFO expert Matsumura in Japan
      gave numerous details of Aldrin's actual movements during the encounter. UFO
      expert Bob Barry wrote that Aldrin observed the UFOs directly, and that the
      astronauts speculated about the mystery emission.

      None of these things seems to have happened. The writers were dramatizing
      the event based on the forged photographs. Less sympathetic critics would
      suggest that the authors were fictionalizing the event, or even less
      charitably, were lying.

      "That's a bunch of baloney," Barry retorted when he heard these charges in
      1978. "They can deny all they want, we have the proof"

      But it will take more than Barry's bravado to stare down the actual proof of
      Apollo 11 "Magazine Foxtrot." The movies do not lie; they show the dancing
      lights, the reflections, the glare. They do not show any UFOs.

      Nor will Science Digest soon live down its double-barreled UFO flop. First,
      Mullaney's claim about the Apollo 11 crew reporting a mass of intelligent
      energy is clearly a further elaboration of the original Matsumura-CBA
      forgery, without any effort to check out the story with NASA. Second, the
      photograph published in Science Digest the following month was also
      retouched: Editor Dan Button admitted that certain extraneous pieces of
      space debris were airbrushed out to avoid detracting from the true UFO, but
      all previously published and released versions of that same photograph show
      absolutely empty space where Science Digest points to an "unidentified
      object." Either somebody got a bad print with an extra spot on the negative,
      or somebody at the Hearst Corporation monthly added the "UFO" into the photo
      for dramatic effect. Button accuses NASA of another coverup; informed
      observers can now judge whose dishonesty Button is trying to cover up.

      Actually, one Apollo 11 photo does show a true unidentified (but hardly
      unidentifiable) object. Soon after pulling the LM out of the rocket garage,
      near the earth, a flood of spinning particles rushed past the Apollo's
      windows. One of the astronauts was taking a series of tourist snapshots of
      the receding earth, and in one of the photos was a tiny odd-shaped blob.

      There is no indication that any of the astronauts saw it. Since it's out of
      focus on a camera with an extremely wide depth of field, photographic
      experts have concluded that it was probably only a few feet outside the
      window, and an inch or two across. As on other flights, pieces of insulation
      and ice surrounded the Apollo at this stage in the flight. "Unidentified" it
      certainly might be, but it could not by any semantic word game be called an
      authentic UFO--except, for example, in McGraw-Hill's UFOs a Pictorial

      The crew did indeed report to earth about another tiny object they watched
      through their monocular. To some of the astronauts, it looked cylindrical,
      just like their spent rocket stage which was known to be pacing them in a
      parallel orbit. Said Armstrong, "It was right at the limit of resolution of
      the eye; it was very difficult to tell just what shape it was." NASA's
      reasonable assumption was that it was indeed the rocket stage, since it was
      behaving just like a rocket stage should; other Apollo flights had reported
      much the same thing.

      The entire Cronkite interview in the National Enquirer was a fake, evidently
      assembled by a free lance writer. The newspaper refused to take the blame
      when Cronkite complained--but fired the writer.

      And what can one say about "Mister X" report? Again, from the internal
      evidence of the details "X" gives in an attempt to establish credibility
      with listeners, space experts have quickly figured out that he never could
      have been near the real Mission Control Center--his jargon is so mixed up.
      In other words. they concluded this is just another tall tale. Claims that
      these voice signals were cut off from the newsmen who were present are also
      in complete contradiction with personal accounts of newsmen who were in
      Houston: There was no significant tape delay, and there were no silences
      indicative of censorship.

      But the stories crossed the Atlantic into a French UFO book, and then came
      back home reinforced and newly authenticated in Maurice Chatelain's Our
      Ancestors Came From Outer Space (Doubleday, 1978). According to the author,
      who claimed to be an ex-NASA space scientist (actually, he had worked for a
      space contractor in Los Angeles for several years): "The astronauts. . . saw
      things during their missions that could not be discussed with anybody
      outside NASA. It is very difficult to obtain any specific information from
      NASA, which still exercises a very strict control over any disclosures of
      these events...It seems that all Apollo and Gemini flights were
      followed...by space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin...Every time it
      occurred, the astronauts informed Mission Control, who then ordered absolute

      Chatelain specifically mentions Apollo-11, which "made the first moon
      landing on the Sea of Tranquillity and, only moments before Armstrong
      stepped down the ladder to set foot on the moon, two UFOs hovered overhead.
      Edwin Aldrin took several pictures of them...."

      Even more sensational was the claim for the Apollo-13 flight: "There was
      some talk that the Apollo 13 mission carried a nuclear device aboard that
      could be set off to make measurements of the infrastructure of the moon and
      whose detonations would show on the charts of several recording seismographs
      placed in different locations. The unexplained explosion of an oxygen tank
      in the service module of Apollo 13 on its flight to the moon, according to
      rumors, was caused deliberately by a UFO that was following the capsule to
      prevent the (nuclear) detonation...."

      Of course, the cause of the explosion was found by NASA later, and there was
      no nuclear device--rumors of UFO attacks are absurd. But that's no reason
      for some UFO people not to pass on and embellish such stories, as we'll see.

      The Russian UFO enthusiasts were next in line on this cosmic relay race. The
      July 1978 issue of The UFO Journal, published by the Mutual UFO Network,
      highlighted a speech made in Russia on November 24, 1977, by Vladimir G.
      Azhazha. Speaking to a group of NOVOSTI news service employees, at the
      Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Azhazha related that: "The American
      astronauts who visited the moon saw a gigantic cylinder 1500 meters (about
      one mile) long there. Aldrin shot it on movie film. The vehicle accomplished
      its own interactions with Apollo; it coordinated its movement with it....

      The...reports of the American astronauts who visited the moon are
      exceptionally interesting. Their agreed-upon code for designating UFOs was
      the phrase 'Saint Nicholas,' but, they were so amazed with what they saw
      when they arrived on the moon from Apollo that they transmitted to Earth
      without the code: 'Directly across from us, on the other side of the crater,
      there are other spaceships observing us.' And Aldrin shot his film which
      shows the UFOs on the moon...."

      Azhazha discloses that his source of this data is the book by Chatelain,
      continuing that "The moon is evidently a transhipment base for UFOs and
      every Apollo which has flown to the moon has been under the 'observation'
      canopy of the UFOs. It was not by accident that the American astronauts were
      not successful in their attempt to explode a nuclear device for scientific
      purposes on the moon. Instead, the oxygen cylinder on Apollo exploded. They
      were also not able to blow up the upper stage of the booster and so it
      continues to fly around the moon...." Presumably with a UFO escort.

      The MUFON journal editor noted in the preface to this article that "...a
      Washington DC news source...has informed me that the statements attributed
      to astronaut Buzz Aldrin about the UFOs on the moon were confirmed by his
      bureau's space reporter, who covered the Apollo story at the time. Aldrin
      said them as a joke. It is possible that the story filtered through to the
      Soviet Union in garbled form, as is evident in some other cases . . . Other
      portions of this report still may be significant... "

      MUFON, in other words, considered it sufficient to ask a friend to ask a
      friend to dredge up ten-year-old memories--and he called it 'research.'
      Andrus continued: "The previously unpublished Russian document...speaks of
      sensational events and high-level government knowledge that have been
      withheld from the public. The alleged events need to be authenticated, for,
      if true, they are of profound importance. Astronaut movie films of UFOs on
      the moon?...There is a clear need to learn how much of all this
      'sensationalism' is actually true, and to expose as false all that is
      false." These brave words, from a man considered to be one of the more
      rational and reliable UFO experts, are not matched by Andrus's actions or,
      apparently, his intentions to publish any expose. The astronaut UFO stories
      are too "useful" to risk examining them very closely.

      So widespread is the Russian UFO enthusiasm that official government denials
      have become necessary. In the November 1978 issue of Culture and Life
      (published in Moscow) Soviet astronomer Vladimir Krat is asked to refute
      such stories as:

      Interviewer: They say that the American astronautswho had landed on the Moon
      ha d to make a small explosion in order to cause an artificial moonquake,
      but that they failed to do this. A mysterious blast on board the ship broke
      an oxygen cylinder. It might have been caused by a flying saucer observing
      the ship, so as to stop an experiment which could have destroyed bases set
      up by extra-terrestrial civilizations on the Moon. "What's this? What'sthe
      matter, damn it? I should like to know the truth, what is it? There are
      other spaceships here!" Armstrong is alleged to have shouted upon seeing
      several UFOs on the other side of a crater. But Aldrin saw at once what the
      matter was and started communicating with the Earth in a secret code. Later,
      all information about the incident was made secret by the Americans. There
      is talk about other cases of cosmonauts seeing UFOs. Special emphasis is
      laid on the fact that the first four or five hours of one of the crews' stay
      on the Moon remain a mystery--what the astronauts did during that time has
      not been made public.

      Krat: The astronauts' flights to the Moon were followed by all mankind,
      their work on the surface of the Moon is known down to the minute. I see no
      logic in the talk about any information being instantly made "classified."
      Why should the Americans have made a secret out of their meeting some
      creatures from other planets, had any such a rendezvous taken place at all?
      Would they have been afraid to cause panic on Earth? But there were no
      special grounds for panic."

      Clearly, Krat is unaware of the scope of the distortions in such stories and
      can only come up with bland disclaimers which would convince nobody.

      What Krat should have done was to examine the hearsay more closely. The
      "mysterious blast" was the explosion on Apollo 13, which has been attributed
      to hostile UFO action. The "artificial moonquakes" on later flights worked
      quite well, although Chatelain and Azhazha claim that nuclear explosives
      were to have been used! The "secret code" is Chatelain's idea: he claims
      that the astronauts used the phrase "Santa Claus" to refer to UFOs. As for
      the missing "four or five hours," I drew a blank; so I suspect the Russian
      just made it up.

      As expected, the phony Apollo 11 UFO stories continue to be recirculated and
      embellished. In June 1979 a Dell paperback entitled Secrets of Our Spaceship
      Moon by Detroit schoolteacher Don Wilson, appeared on the newsstands. Its
      front cover screams: "THE NASA COVERUP--Here are the facts they couldn't
      hide! What did the men on the moon really see?" The front inside page blurb
      proclaims, "here at last is the complete uncensored story clear and
      indisputable facts offered by astronomers and the astronauts themselves,
      despite NASAs' continued official denials...."

      The Apollo 11 sightings provide only a portion of the arguments in the book,
      but they are highlighted. Bob Barry's snowman UFO' is featured, with
      Wilson's claim that "Buzz Aldrin ground away with his camera, taking
      invaluable (but now secret) footage of the two mysterious objects." The
      claim that the film shows UFOs is, as we've seen, silly; the claim that the
      film is now secret' is an outrageous falsehood.

      Every other reputed Apollo 11 UFO encounter is faithfully and
      unquestioningly reproduced by Wilson, although he does point out in some
      cases that they are 'unauthenticated.' Equally unauthenticated is UFO buff
      James Harder's claim that he found voice tapes of UFO encounters on Apollo
      11, which NASA privately admitted to him had been suppressed "for fear of
      public panic."

      "The evidence we have cited in this book," Wilson concludes later, "proves
      that we have on our hands today another Watergate--a cosmic Watergate...We
      showed incontrovertable evidence that NASA is hiding the fact that UFOs were
      seen by astronauts... A study of the records and a glance at the photos will
      convince even the most diehard skeptic that this is exactly what happened
      when man went to the moon." Such bluster is not related to the actual
      evidence--in fact, the pattern we've seen shows that the less reliable the
      evidence, the more flowery the boasts and threats. Wilson blusters--but has
      only fake evidence. Dell paperbacks, according to editor James Frenkel, saw
      no reason to check up on these incredible accounts, but decided just to
      trust Wilson.

      The Aldrin-snowman-UFO received a new champion in 1980 when another UFO
      expert proclaimed that the object was not a space craft but instead a space
      creature, or "critter!"

      Writing in Frontiers of Science (formerly Second Look, the magazine which
      absorbed Hynek's International UFO Reporter and which for tax purposes is
      published under the aegis of the Center for UFO Studies), paranormal
      specialist John White (author of Pole Shift! and numerous other books),
      claims that the space pix are identical to others taken on Earth by Trevor
      James Constable, a disciple of orgone energy advocate Wilhelm Reich.
      Constable has pushed the theory that UFOs are bizarre living (and not
      necessarily intelligent) creatures which inhabit the upper atmosphere and --
      evidently -- outer space as well (in such books as The Cosmic Pulse of Life,
      Steinerbooks, 1976). Usually the "critters" (as Constable prefers to call
      them) are invisible and can only be captured on infra-red film.

      "Even the astronauts who took pictures of UFOs in space failed to recognize
      the living creatures for what they are," wrote White. The snowman photo is
      "highly disputed -- is the luminous sphere a space critter?" Acknowledging
      my published evaluation of the source of the images, White disagrees but
      admits he is "not yet in a position to disprove [(Oberg's)] contention." He
      also, displayed in the article a copy of the outbound blob: "((It)) appears
      to show a large critter looming above the Earth."

      White has no love lost for NASA. Earlier, in a guest editorial for Timothy
      Green Beckley's UFO Review tabloid newspaper, White has accused NASA of a
      nasty coverup: "Proof already exists, much of it long-known to NASA." White
      then refers to the Edge of Reality for a list of astronaut sightings (a list
      long repudiated by its authors, as we saw), and Modern People tabloid (the
      January 1978 issue), "for leaked NASA photographs of UFOs including
      plasmatic animals [(italics added)]." NASA spokesmen, according to White,
      are "either woefully ignorant of the facts . . . or else deliberately
      attempt to mislead the public. The public has more common sense in this
      matter than most NASA bureaucrats."

      Constable, meanwhile, was delighted to endorse White's interpretation of the
      Apollo 11 photographs. In a 1981 issue of the irregular Metascience
      Quarterly, he crowed: "How strange it seems that NASA has recorded images
      just like mine . . . and suppresses the photos . . . . Thanks to John's
      enterprise, we now have a 'NASA Critter Collection,' but they are worming
      out of it by having loudmouth Oberg identify these photos as frauds. Pure
      social pathology!" Aha, social pathology indeed!

      (Such ad hominem reaction from the crackpots is hardly unusual. In 1979,
      Gray Barker, a long-time fringe UFO personality and satirist, referred to me
      in a discussion praising Timothy Green Beckley's research: "When these
      exposes by Beckley and others began generating letters to Congress, NASA
      official Capt. James Oberg led a one-man crusade to squelch these rumors.
      Many people in civilian UFO research believe Capt. Oberg was specially
      assigned to this mission to discount these news leaks of astronaut
      sightings. "And one high MUFON (Mutual UFO Network, a private UFO research
      organization) official spread the story in the mid-1970s that I was Philip
      Klass's 'ghostwriter' in his anti-UFO books! That's right, when you don't
      like the testimony, smear the witness -- an old crooked lawyer's trick.)

      Fittingly enough, the ultimate word (too date!) in these Apollo 11
      absurdities lies with the old familiar National Enquirer, the weekly grocery
      store tabloid known for its Hollywood gossip, psychic predictions, miracle
      medical cures, and flying saucer stories. "Aliens on Moon When We Landed"
      was the screaming banner headline on the September 11, 1979 issue (the same
      story made the September 9 Sunday Mirror in London and was subsequently
      endorsed in the backdated July-August 1979 issue of the prestigious British
      journal, Flying Saucer Review).

      "The astronauts saw UFOs and even photographed them," wrote the authors
      (Eric Faucher, Ellen Goodstein, and Henry Gris), "but the stupifying close
      encounter has been kept completely under wraps by NASA until now. . . (they
      evidently hadn't read -- or hadn't believed -- the Cronkite interview in
      their own paper!). NASA's coverup was so massive that the news has taken ten
      years to reach the American public -- and had to be first disclosed by
      Soviet scientists, who found out about it two years ago."

      And that's the catch: the National Enquirer, in a man-bites-dog reversal of
      standard practice, had been itself a victim of somebody else's news hoax.
      The source was none other than Vladimir Azhazha, who somehow neglected to
      mention to Henry Gris, his contact, that the story was based entirely, not
      on official Soviet sources, but on Chatelain's strange 'ancient astronauts'
      book! "I am absolutely certain this episode took place," Azhazha told Gris
      (who is fluent in Russian) during a telephone interview. "According to our
      information . . . his (Armstrong's) message was never heard by the public --
      because NASA censored it."

      According to Gris (who was soon thereafter discharged from the staff of the
      National Enquirer). Azhazha "refused to identify the source of his
      information -- but he and other Russian space experts say the encounter has
      been common knowledge among Soviet scientific circles."

      To close the loop by swallowing its own tail/tale, the National Enquirer
      then quoted from . . . Maurice Chatelain, "a former top consultant to NASA,"
      who supposedly corroborated independently the Soviet version of the story!
      Also testifyi ng were leading UFOlogists Leonard Stringfield of MUFON ("If
      the government rele ased one little bit of what happened on the moon, it
      would be the story of the century" is how he's quoted, but he subsequently
      denied saying anything like that); John Schuessler ("I work with astronauts
      at NASA and have heard the story from them" is how he's quoted, but he has
      since angrily charged that Ellen Goodstein dropped the "never" which he
      spoke before "heard."); Timothy Green Beckley (who has privately admitted
      the incidents never occurred but that they are too good for publicity to
      criticize); Joseph Goodavage (a noted astrologer-author well known for
      distorting and dramatizing uncooperative facts, as we'll see in a later
      chapter); and "scientist Fred Bell" (who apparently is a figment of
      co-author Eric Faucher's imagination). So even if the National Enquirer was
      originally the victim of Azhazha's deception, it was the newspaper's staff
      who added their own peculiar brand of journalism, and it was the newspaper's
      readership who were ultimately victimized.

      Even Moscow admits that! A lengthy anti-UFO article ("The Legend of the
      Visitors," Pravda, March 2,1980, p. 6), by science correspondent Vladimir
      Gubarev) reported: "People have confidence in the testimony of cosmonauts
      and astronauts," Gubarev wrote. "So why not take them as allies, decided the
      UFO propagandists? Thus here in the ten years after the flights to the moon,
      the fantasists, who sometimes present themselves as scientific workers,
      claim in their public lectures that astronauts, visiting the moon, have many
      times observed UFOs, and that Neil Armstrong reported to Houston: Here are
      located large objects, sir! Enormous ones! Oh God! Here are located other
      space ships! They are standing along the side of the crater! They are
      located on the moon and they are observing us!"

      Gubarev continued his article: "It's a fruitless task to search for these
      words in the transcripts of radio transmissions from the crew of Apollo 11,
      they're not there. Yes, and not a single person listening to the
      radio-reporting from the moon -- and it went out over the air live -- paid
      any attention to similar information -- strange, isn't it true?

      "At a meeting with Neil Armstrong I asked him about 'flying saucers.' "We
      didn't see them," answered the astronaut; "and with what we, cosmonauts and
      astronauts, are doing in space, that's a real wonder."

      Gubarev also reported on an interview with Pete Conrad, concerning his
      alleged UFOs on Apollo 12 (there weren't any), and later also recounts an
      incident from early 1978 when the Russian crewmen of Salyut-6 were startled
      to see "UFOs" near their space station which turned out to be recently trash
      bags jettisoned. The article in Pravda closed with very negative conclusions
      about gullible people who easily fall for nonsense such as UFOs and
      religion! While it may be risky to believe anything anyone says in Pravda
      (which means 'Truth,' in Russian), the appearance of this article and others
      like it testifies to the official displeasure at the widespread Soviet
      popular enthusiasm for such tales.

      Wherever there is widespread popular interest in a topic, you will find the
      vultures swooping in to prey on eager gullibiles and their willingness to
      spend money on books which boast new, lurid revelations. So it shouldn't
      have been much of a surprise that Charles Berlitz (author of several highly
      profitable ''Bermuda Triangle" books) should have decided to "discover" the
      Apollo 11 UFO encounters in 1980. This was revealed in his latest book, The
      Roswell Incident (all the actual research seems to have been done by his
      co-author William Moore and by UFO advocate and former nuclear engineer
      Stanton Friedman), whose main theme is that the US government captured a
      crashed flying saucer in mid-1947, along with the dead bodies of the beings
      who had made up its crew, and has successfully stashed it all away since
      then while studying the materials.

      Berlitz has nothing new to offer besides further garbling of the same old
      fairy tales. He bases his information on Maurice Chatelain ("based on
      information picked up from 'inside sources' while working for NASA in the
      1960s") about "reports of these encounters made during flights in space
      (which) have generally been censored, altered, de-emphasized, or simply
      ignored by NASA." Here's the ol' Apollo 11 story a la Berlitz, 1980:

      "Prior to the first moon landing two UFOs and a long cylinder hovered
      overhead. When Apollo 11 landed inside a moon crater two unidentified
      spacecrafts (sic!) appeared on the crater rim and then took off again.
      Aldrin photographed them. Pictures have not yet been released by NASA to the

      Mr. Berlitz's next pages reprint much of the long-discredited Pepper
      transcript, as well as a series of other astronaut-UFO fables. Moore later
      denied any endorsement of the stories merely because he put them in the book
      (he wanted to "set the stage" and keep an open mind), but Friedman denounced
      the story in 1981 and justified his cooperation with Berlitz because he
      needed the money and publicity in order to advance his research.

      It might be interesting here to learn just what NASA public information
      officials think about this long series of retellings of the great moon
      flight UFO. To do just that, I arranged an interview early in 1980 with two
      highly respected space experts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Terry
      White and Charles Redmond. To convey the full flavor of the conversation,
      here is how it went:

      Question: How do you guys find out about such UFO stories? Do the authors
      and publishers try to check up on them?
      White: I usually first hear about them when some newsman telephones me,
      claiming he's seen another exposure of some "NASA coverup." The people who
      write such stories -- they rarely have the courtesy or courage to send us
      pre-publication copies.
      Redmond: The only time I recall ever being asked for an explanation is when
      my explanations could be played up big as some sort of coverup -- or
      dismissed out of hand.
      White: Responsible publishers such as Readers Digest, National Geographic,
      and the New Yorker make a habit of following up on the accuracy of their
      authors by asking us to check their factual material. But as far as the UFO
      books or the tabloid press -- no, they've never checked with us before
      publishing. . . .
      Redmond: . . . or after publishing, either!
      Question: For the record, do you have any secrets about UFOs or alien life?
      White: Not a bit. Those stories are garbage and I tell anybody who calls
      just that. Normally we don't want to dignify such trash with a serious
      Redmond: We don't have any UFO secrets. As a matter of fact, this is an area
      where our office has spent more time digging out photographs and transcripts
      for the news media, in response to so-called "UFO claims." But as far as the
      suggestion that we're withholding anything, it's flat out not true.
      White: We do know about cases where we have provided films and reports and
      technical studies and then seen that information twisted and give false
      impressions. That's where these stories about astronauts and UFOs come from:
      unverified or twisted information.
      Question: Was there ever any capability to censor space transmissions?
      Redmond: The Public Affairs Officer -- the "P-A-O" -- in Mission Control did
      have an inhibit switch for the air-to-ground voice signals, which were on a
      seven second delay to allow synchronization with the computer-processed
      television images. . . .
      White: . . . but that switch was never used, to the best of my recollection.
      And I was a "voice of Apollo" PAO for many, many flights.
      Redmond: Right, I suppose it was there to keep a space tragedy off the air
      "live" until we could notify any next of kin, but it would not in any case
      have affected transcripts, only the real-time release which was piped to the
      newsroom and out to the networks. We only had authority to use it for a
      minute or so at most, anyway. The transcripts would eventually come out,
      completely uncensored.
      White: Occasionally we would configure for private medical or family
      conversations. There was no special frequency or code, we'd just have the
      rest of the consoles get disconnected at the communications center.
      Redmond: The medical conversations were not recorded, and were not
      released -- although we would summarize them in press conferences. There's
      something in the Hippocratic Oath about a doctor having to maintain
      confidentiality with his patients.
      Question: How often did this happen?
      Redmond: During Apollo, quite infrequently. During Skylab, we'd have such a
      talk maybe every three days or so.
      Question: So there was no special code or secret channel?
      Redmond: No, we used our ordinary channels, but the crew would request the
      doctor only -- the "flight surgeon" -- and the rest of us would disconnect.
      White: Or else the crew could talk privately to their families in a back
      room down the hall from the control room.
      Question: Outside of these confidential talks with doctors, wives, and
      children, were there any other conversations not publicly available?
      Redmond: No, I don't think so, I don't see how they could have managed it.
      Question: Why do you suppose those UFO books and magazine articles are
      written with such nasty accusations against NASA?
      White: I think they're only written to exploit public hysteria, and to hell
      with the facts. That's my personal opinion, that they pander to panic, and
      appeal to public ignorance.
      Redmond: I feel frustrated by the naivite of the public, and by the outright
      profiteering of writers who play on the public's desire to be mystified. But
      they just use cheap tricks, these writers. They deliver counterfeit goods.
      Question: But what damage does it do?
      White: Not much. Only a small fringe really believes such trash, considering
      the credibility of the sources.
      Redmond: I disagree. I think it's quite harmful in reducing the credibility
      of the space program, and NASA's image.

      Allow me a moment for a commentary of my own: A reader of this report will
      come to a conclusion altogether different from that espoused by Wilson,
      Harder, Barr y, Gris, Berlitz, and others. A well-publicized collection of
      cranks, crackpots, con men and well meaning innocents have created a facade
      of 'UFO encounters' and a counterfeit claim of 'NASA coverup' concerning
      UFOs allegedly seen on the Apollo 11 moon expedition ten years ago. For
      some, the rewards are probably psychological, for others, publicity; for
      those portions of the news media which have eagerly offered them a forum,
      the juicy rewards have been financial in nature. Explanations and exposes
      (such as in the Fall and Winter 1977 Search magazine, the February, 1977
      Space World, the 1978 issues of the Skeptical Inquirer, and official NASA
      news releases) are ignored or misrepresented -- and here indeed is the real
      coverup conspiracy, if one can be said to exist. The reputation of the space
      program and of the astronauts has suffered, the public has been confused and
      misled, and the money rolls in. Where, I often wonder, are the courageous
      investigative journalists who will rip the lid off of this UFO scam?

      Where does that leave readers after seeing what looked like a watertight
      space UFO story fall apart into mistakes, forgeries, and lies? Experienced
      UFO specialists must wonder how many other "classic" UFO cases which look
      equally as good are equally as rotten below the surface.

      Two questions come to mind, but cannot be answered. First, wasn't Apollo 11
      exciting enough without the fictionalized UFOs? And second, if there are so
      many other truly authentic UFO cases on record, why do the UFO writers have
      to rely so heavily on such shaky evidence as this?

      The answers to these questions will help establish the true importance of
      what otherwise could only have been a squalid footnote to a historic chapter
      in space exploration. But whether future UFO researchers and enthusiasts
      will learn anything from it is a good question. For we can see that UFO
      stories seem to spring up and promulgate themselves, even when there is
      absolutely no foundation in fact on which they could have possibly been
      based. And if that is true in this case, we have to suspect that it has
      happened with some frequency in other cases where we can't determine the
      facts with such certainty. And much as they might like otherwise, the UFO
      experts and publicists -- Mullaney, Sandler, Emenegger, Fuller, Hervey,
      Button, Harris, Binder, Matsumura, Barry, Pepper, Lorenzen, Harder,
      Chatelain, Lepoer-Trench, Zigel, Boznich, Wilson, Gris, Goodavage, Beckley,
      Pratt, Creighton, Berlitz, Moore, Azhazha, and others have to somewhat be
      called to account for promulgating basically faulty standards. For no matter
      what they may admit in private, their public positions remain deceptive.

      That is the true moral of the Phantom UFOs of Apollo 11!


      Go to The UFO Skeptic's Page
      Jeroen Kumeling
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