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in the news 1952


Albert K. Bender

Above: Albert K. Bender, who in 1952 founded the "International Flying Saucers Bureau" (story below). Bender would later gain lasting fame as originator of tales of "Men in Black". In the undated photo above, Bender poses with the sketch of one of the three men.

NINETEEN FIFTY-TWO might be remembered for many things, large and small. The election of Dwight Eisenhower as President of the United States. Fifty thousand American families afflicted by Polio. The British A-bomb. The first issue of Mad magazine. The theory of the Big Bang.

But for those of a certain bent, 1952 will also be remembered for the second great 'flying saucer flap' which climaxed with the reports of radar and visual sightings over the nation's capital in late July.

Part of the story of that event-filled year is now available in declassified government files. But for the public back then -- at a time when only one in three families in America had a television set -- the story was mostly found in the newspapers and magazines.

This then is a look back at those stories, as they first appeared in print...

DECEMBER 23, 1952:

Coshocton, Ohio Tribune - 23 Dec 52

FASTER THAN SOUND -- Artist's sketch, above, is the first published representation of the Convair F-102, which, upon completion, is expected to be the Air Force's first truly supersonic interceptor. According to Air Force Magazine, in which the drawing-first appeared, the delta-wing, single-seat, all-weather interceptor will be under almost entirely automatic control. The pilot's chief duty will be to act as a monitor for the electronic flight and fire-control equipment.

Berwickshire, Scotland News and General Advertiser - 23 Dec 52

Glowing streak

(To Editor, "Bewickshire News,")

Sir -- I am one of the numerous spectators who saw the mysterious luminance moving swiftly above the horizon on Saturday afternoon.

It was then about 4 p.m. and quite light. I wondered what other shoppers were staring at, to due west of Kilburn high Road; and a woman remarked that it was a distant plane on fire.

Then I saw a glowing streak travelling horizontally from North to South at a level which seemed usual for aeroplanes. At first it seemed like bright sunset showing through a long narrow break in cloud or haze, but this was above the slight haze, common at this time of year. It was also moving quickly, maintaining an even height, except for one sudden rise to a level which it maintained until obscured by buildings. Someone said it had previously dipped several times, like a plane seeking a suitable landing place.

I said an inward prayer for the crew if still aboard a flaming plane which it certainly resembled, only it seemed far too long and showed no sign of exploding or disintegrating as one would expect to happen during the time we watched it. I wondered if it was a large airliner with all lights on, giving the impression of one long streak which might cause an optical illusion due to the distance and slight haze. However a liner at close quarters would have seemed no longer, and as this was several miles away, it must have been very long. By comparison, an aeroplane would have seemed no bigger than a speck at the same distance, if visible at all. Moreover it was not dark, therefore the light from this object or phenomenon must have been extremely powerful to glow as it did. The description of its shape being like a tadpole is fair accurate, thicker at the front and sloping away to a thin tail.

It was seen in other parts of London, and there has been no report of a burning plane or anything else to account for it since. I did jokingly remark that it might be a version of a "flying saucer" or similar phenomenon but most seemed convinced that it must be a plane on fire. I'm thankful that it wasn't but still conjecturing what it could be, as no normal explanation seems to fit it, up to date. -- R.M. Evans, 131, Iverson Road, W. Hampstead, London, N.W.6. 22/11/52.

DECEMBER 24, 1952:

Winona, Minnesota Republican Herald - 24 Dec 52

Girl of the Year? Marilyn, of Course


NEW YORK -- And a-way we go! . . . with our 1952 "Broadway Bests" . . . our 8th Annual Earl American in which we have the gall to make like an expert and confer a few encomia.

Jackie Gleason was the Best New TV Comedian. The expression "And a-way we go!" with which we opened this essay, is his. It caught on from the rock-bound fingers of Paulette Goddard in New York to the sunny slopes of Marilyn Monroe in California.

GIRL OF THE YEAR: Marilyn Monroe, of course. Woman of the Year: Mamie Eisenhower. Book: Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." Comebacks: Batista's, and, in Show Business -- Blossom Seeley's. The sixtyish singer came out of retirement and was a smash hit singing "Somebody Loves Me" in an act with her husband, Benny Fields. Another comeback: "Little Mary Small."

FILM OF THE YEAR: "Cinerama." Greatest Single Comedy Act: The Puerto Rican at the Republican convention.

This was a great year -- the year of B-Bop gags, telethons, chlorophyll, a new TB drug, Winchell-vs.-Josephine Baker, the Mickey Jelke vice case, and Sam Chapman and Nancy Hawkins.

And this was the year we lost Gertrude Lawrence, Dixie Crosby, Albert D. Lasker, John Garfield, David K. Niles, and Mark Kelly and Perry Charles, a couple of beloved writers and press agents.

Also Gene Howe, Fulton Oursler, Fanny Ward and Ferenc Molnar.

SONGSATION OF THE YEAR: Johnnie Ray, who got famous, married and separated all in '52. Best New Cafe Act: Darvas and Julia, the dancers. Biggest Screwballs: Zsa-Zsa Gabor and Shelley Winters.

BEST PERSONAL APPEARANCES: Judy Garland and Betty Hutton (at the Palace). Firing of the Year: Truman's of Atty. Gen. McGrath. Most Exploited TV Debut: Tallulah Bankhead's.

Yea, and this was the year, of "U.S.A. Confidential," stereo cameras, Corinne Calvet, flying saucers, panel shows, Jaguars, and is-Rita-gonna-take-Aly-back-and-does-anybody-care-any-more?

MOST SEEN KISSER: Betty Furness'. TV Hits: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in "I Love Lucy," Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, and Hal Block.

BEST SPEECH: Adlai Stevenson's acceptance address. Best B'way Shows: "The Seven-Year Itch" and "Wish You Were Here." Most Sudden Rise: "The Continental."

MOST GUTS: Bette Davis, for having the courage to sing and dance on B'way in the face of so many difficulties. Best New B'way Personalities: Vanessa Brown, Sheilah Bond. Best Investigated: Thomas Luchese, also known as Three-Finger Brown.

TOP RECORD SELLER: GI Eddie Fisher. Top of the New Crop: Jimmy Boyd, the 11-year-old boy whose "Saw Mommy Kissin' Santa Claus" rivals "Cry" as the big record of '52. Other "biggest" records: "Here in My Heart" by Al Martino, "Why Don't You Believe Me?" by Joni James, "Wish You Were Here" by Eddie Fisher, "Somewhere Along the Way" by Nat Cole and "You Belong to Me" by Jo Stafford.

This was a great party year, too -- the foremost being the Sands Hotel's opening in Las Vegas, where guests were given money to gamble, the CBS Television City opening in Hollywood, and the Pen & Pencil restaurant's parties for Tallulah Bankhead and Ethel Merman, in New York.

ROMANCES OF THE YEAR: Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney, Franchot Tone and Betsy von Furstenburg, proving that older guys still have charm for young gals. Dog of the Year: Checkers. Most Discussed B'wayite: Barry Gray.

CRAZIEST WORD OF THE YEAR: "Crazy!" (B-Bop). Best New Figure: Gloria Van Deweel. Most Promising New TV Performer: Red Buttons. Most Promising New Politician: Fellow Named Eisenhower.

SILLIEST TRIP: Singer Bob Savage's, to Spain, to try to woo Rita Hayworth . . . Outstanding Opera Performance: Rise Stevens' -- where she popped out of her bodice doing "Carmen."

BEST B'WAY STAGE COMEDIAN: Phil Silvers in "Top Banana."

MOST PROMISING NEW FILM ACTRESS: Rita Gam of "The Thief," which was the best exploited film (thanks to publicist Bernie Kamber) . . . Fighter of the Year: Rocky Marciano. Fight We Won't Forget: Joey Maxim beating Sugar Ray in that terrible heat . . . the crack by Bob Brumby that Maxim "won by the skin of the heat" and the headlines in two papers; "Sugar Melted."

And with that we wish you a Happy Next Year!

Harlingen, Texas Daily Star - 24 Dec 52

[No Headline]

A night flying saucer in Australia proved to be a boy's kite with electric flash.

DECEMBER 25, 1952:

Long Beach, California Press Telegram - 25 Dec 52

Could Be, But No Evidence, AF Says of Space Visitors

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25. -- (UP) The air force says it has no evidence visitors from space have landed on the earth. But it said it would be unreasonable to deny such a thing could happen.

The air force released the statement yesterday in response to a question from the magazine "See" as to whether other-world visitors had landed from flying saucers.

The official statement said in part:

"As limited as man is in his knowledge and understanding of the universe and its many forces, it would be foolhardy indeed to deny the possibility that higher forms of life existed elsewhere.

"It would be similarly unreasonable to deny that intelligent beings from some other world were able to visit our planet, at least to travel within our atmosphere.

"However, the Air Force desires to reiterate emphatically that there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that this possibility has been translated into reality."

DECEMBER 26, 1952:

Houston, Texas Daily Court Review - 26 Dec 52

Flying Saucers Won't Disappear
(Waco News-Tribune)

Just about the time the sage experts were blaming the flying saucer business on a fault of radar screens, here came a new aerial mystery over the Panama Canal when unknown flying objects circled and cruised above the big ditch for an hour or so. So long, in fact, did they stay that search planes were sent aloft to hunt them, only to fail utterly in their mission.

Whether the Panama incident was a fruit of faulty radar we, of course, are in no position to know. The presumed objects seemed real enough to cause the search.

Until the Canal Zone report, we had begun to think the flying saucers -- if that's what they are -- had gone into winter quarters. We had not heard much about them. There was one theory that they had been grounded by the Republican victory in November but that doesn't hold much water.

Even the top scientists are unable to scoff away all the flying saucer reports. After every conceivable explanation has punctured 95 per cent of them, there remain undeniable mysteries reported by sober, experienced eyewitnesses.

We are looking forward eagerly to the day when the mystery is solved publicly and we can print the whole truth about flying saucers. Maybe the Air Force's lagging ground watcher program could be zipped up by offering the volunteer plane-watchers a chance to scan the skies and be the first to tell us what the baffling disks really are.

Indiana, Pennsylvania Evening Gazette - 26 Dec 52

Says Space Visitors Possible

NEW YORK -- It is definitely possible that intelligent beings from some other world have been able to visit our planet, or at least to travel within our atmosphere, Major General John A. Samford, Chief of Air Force Intelligence now investigating the Flying Saucer mystery, said today, in an exclusive interview in the current issue of See Magazine, just released.

"It would be foolhardy to deny the possibility that higher forms of life exist elsewhere," reported the general just as it would be "unreasonable" to deny that we may already have been visited by beings from outer space. Regarding the, unexplained phenomena, and the possibility of the presence of an alien intelligence, General Samford added, "We believe that all of this eventually will be understood by the human mind, and that it is our job to hasten the understanding."

In commenting upon the 20 percent of flying saucer reports which remain mysteriously unexplained, General Samford declared the saucers' behavior indicates they "either have unlimited power or no mass." Many "credible people have seen incredible things," he asserted, "some of which have later been satisfactorily explained, while others so far have defied explanation."

General Samford said that the Air Force is keeping nothing from the public regarding Project Flying Saucer. The only information not disclosed is names of those reporting saucer sightings and the method used by Air Force Intelligence to investigate and evaluate these reports.

A Harvard professor's theory that flying saucers are caused by reflected light has not yet been proved, General Samford reported. Even if it were true, he stated, "It would not account for all reports, by any means."

The general branded as false the rumor that jet pilots have had orders to shoot at saucers. "We have thousands of letters and telegrams begging us to rescind this 'shoot-on-sight order. But no "such order was ever given."

The theory of the late Secretary of Defense, James A. Forrestal, that flying saucers were related to this country's experiments with "man made moons" -- platforms that could be suspended in the atmosphere for defense and observation -- was categorically denied by General Samford. "Saucers are in no way related to these moons," he said.

DECEMBER 27, 1952:

Winnipeg, Canada Free Press - 27 Dec 52

The Causerie
By Wilfrid Eggleston

THERE are many accounts of travel in the Saskatchewan country in the days which preceded general settlement. Palliser's Journal, H.Y. Hind's account, both of the 1850's, Dr. Cheadle's Journal of 1862-63, Butler's in 1870-71, Grant and Fleming's in 1872, the adventures of Pere Lacombe and of John McDougall, Macoun's botanical expeditions, Dawson's geological survey of 1874, these are but the better known.

In the current number of Queen's Quarterly, reviewing Desmond Paccy's Creative Writing in Canada, H.P. Gundy expresses the view that much of the early drama and fiction by Canadian writers merits oblivion. "Who now has the patience to read Heavysege's Saul, Mair's Tecumseh, a dozen dreary novels by Sir Gilbert Parker, or a score of musty romances by the Misses Leprohon, Murray, Duncan and Wood?" he asks.

Early Fiction

Having sampled some of our early fiction myself, I am not disposed to quarrel very vigorously with the librarian of Queen's. But when it comes to tales of travel, actual logs and journals of exploration and early settlement, the quality is much better.

Some of the authors I mentioned in my first paragraph make intensely interesting reading today. So far from having merited oblivion, it seems to me that Butler, Cheadle and grant, to single three of the best, mellow and improve with age...

William Francis Butler, like Dr. Cheadle, was only on the threshold of the main part of his career, when he trekked across the Saskatchewan country. Butler was on a mission for Lieutenant Governor A.G. Archibald of Manitoba. In later years he served in the Ashanti expedition of 1873, in the Soudan campaign of 1884-5, and rose in the army to the rank of lieutenant-general...

Butler had a fine eye for the grandeur of the natural scenery of the north-west.

He even reported what must have been an 1870 version of the "flying saucer". Has the reference been noted, since the return of these strange visitations?

"About an hour before daybreak on the 16th of December a very remarkable light was visible for some time in the zenith, (Butler was at Rocky Mountain House). A central orb, or heart of red and crimson light, became suddenly visible a little to the north of the zenith; around this most luminous centre was a great ring or circle of bright light, and from this outer hand there flashed innumerable rays far into the surrounding darkness."

DECEMBER 28, 1952:

Charleston, West Virginia Daily Mail - 28 Dec 52

Braxton Monster, Saucers Highlight 1952 Happenings

United Press Staff Correspondent

A towering, glowing "monster" with B.O., whose description sounded like something out of the horror magazines, had Braxton county agog for a time late last summer after seven persons vowed they witnessed the chilling "thing" in the woods near Flatwoods.

The tales of the experience related by Mrs. Kathlyn [sic, should be Kathleen] May and six youngsters had people in other parts of the country talking as well. The witnesses insisted, as did numerous "flying saucer" spotters, that what they saw was the genuine article -- whatever that was.

These were two phases of the 1952 news in West Virginia that provided a change-of-pace, and sometimes a lighter touch, to a tension-filled year of politicking, industrial crises, tragedy, and other serious events.

Saucers Seen

Like sky-watchers in other parts of the country, West Virginians saw their quota of "saucer lights."

There was, in fact, a tie-in between the "monster" and the "saucers."

The seven people who told of witnessing the chilling sight of a 10-foot "thing," glowing with an eerie light and giving off a sickening odor, had entered the woods one night in September to look for a "saucer" that someone said crashed near Flatwoods.

The "monster" disappeared just as quickly as it was reported to have appeared, although some nervous folks around Wheeling said it invaded that area later. If so, "it" didn't stay long.

Police passed it all off as mass hysteria, contending Mrs. May and six boys expected to see something when they went searching for a fallen saucer and did. What they saw, no one who was not there could say. There were many guesses. That they saw "something" nobody doubted.

The saucers took all sorts of forms. The many and varied reports described them as round, cone-shaped, brightly-colored, dull grey, small, large, extremely fast, very slow.

Many Explanations

There were many explanations: weather balloons, advertising gimmicks, conventional aircraft, and even clouds. The "Monster's" saucer came closest to being out of the "ordinary." The object Mrs. May and the others thought was a saucer was believed to have been a piece of meteor hurtling through space...

Abilene, Texas Reporter News - 28 Dec 52

Fiery Sky Object Excites Abilenians

A bright, fiery "object" scooted across the sky over the southwest edge of Abilene late Saturday night, and only minutes later more than a dozen excited Abilenians telephoned the Reporter-News. Only one man called It a "flying saucer."

CAA men In the control tower at Municipal Airport had this explanation: "We've about come to the conclusion it was a meteor."

M.H. Osburn, airport traffic controller, said the brightness of the meteor attracted his attention even though the ceiling light was on in the tower.

After he got the light off, he and others in the tower got a good look at the meteor and contacted an Air Force pilot by radio.

The pilot was flying at 10.000 feet and said it continued to burn for "the longest duration I've ever seen."

Various reports estimated the meteor was visible for from 10 seconds to 90 seconds. It was seen at 11:10 p.m.

Osburn in the control tower said the meteor was traveling on a level course, from the southeast to the northwest. He said "pieces were flying off and it apparently burned itself out and disappeared."


Others throughout the Abilene area saw the fiery meteor, too, for calls came to the Reporter-News from Putnam on the cast, Colorado City on the west, and Stamford on the north.

Hall Green in Putnam said it "was purple and had a small tail." Billy Oliver in Colorado City said he saw the meteor for about 10 seconds, also moving from southwest to northwest. Mike West, 16, in Stamford called it "a bright light" and said it "went right over Stamford."

All who saw the object agreed it was moving very fast, estimates ranging from 500 miles per hour to an Air Force man's guess of 2,000 miles per hour. All agreed also that it wasn't a jet plane.

There was disagreement, however, on Its color. Hoy Jackson who owns the Alamo Motel on U. S. Highway 80 said it was "perfectly white." Another telephone caller said "it was the color of fire."

Wichita Falls, Texas Times - 28 Dec 52

Air Force Stays on Flying Saucer Trail

Times Washington Bureau

What should you do If you see a flying saucer In 1953?

Don't laugh. So many reputable witnesses have seen so many unidentified objects in the air during this past year that the Air Force will make a serious effort in 1953 to get more accurate information as to just what it is that people have been seeing.

That people have been seeing something is almost beyond argument by now. Scores of sightings have been reported since 1947. But what it is that people have been seeing still puzzles veteran Air Force intelligence officers.

The chances are that the saucers are some type of electronic phenomenon, such as ionized clouds, or perhaps something akin to the Northern Lights caused by the earth's magnetic field.

The Air Force is frankly skeptical that the "saucers" are tangible aerial objects or visitors from space. Tet there are those sightings which defy explanation, many of them from civilian air line pilots, or trained ground observers. In 1952 at least one photograph was made, taken by an enlisted man of the United States Coast Guard in bright noonday light, showing a fiery blob of light.

Radar Waves Bouncing

A near-panic was caused briefly in midsummer 1952 when the "saucers" turned up on radar at Washington, Cleveland, Chicago and other airports. Jet interceptor planes were sent up on several occasions to try to intercept the "visitors." One chased a light that sped away at better than 600 miles an hour.

However, the Civil Aeronautics Administration has now come up with a study of the radar "blips" that concludes they were produced by inversion of atmospheric layers which caused radar waves to bounce around and shimmer just as layers of hot air affect light waves.

This report is reassuring, but both the Air Force and C.A.A. admit it does not account for all reports and that in event of a national emergency, it would be well if the nature of the phenomenon were better understood so that jet interceptors go up on the trail of actual sky intruders and not to chase will 'o the wisps.

Consequently, if you see anything unusual in the air, the Pentagon wants you to tell the Air Intelligence Center a t Wright-Patterson Field, Ohio, about it. You won't be ridiculed and the Air Force won't disclose your name or those of other witnesses so you needn't fear unwanted publicity.


To help you make your report, the Air Force recently prepared a comprehensive questionnaire. Here are some of the questions they will want you to answer:

They want to know where you were standing, what your angle of vision was. how large the object appeared to be (size of a pea, baseball, bicycle wheel, etc.), whether it changed direction, gave off any odor or noise, how long you kept it in view, and whether it flew in a straight line, circled or hovered.

Above all the Air Force hopes you won't get panicky. Don't run around looking for a lot of witnesses to confirm the observation. If only one or two reputable persons see it, that's enough to persuade the Air Force that something was seen all right. They would prefer that you watch it closely and as long as you can, so they can get detailed information.

When the Air Force sends up planes to chase unidentified objects, it is to identify them, not shoot them down. The Air Force has had hundreds of letters and telegrams on this matter and has instructed pilots not to fire upon celestial objects unless they manifest hostile intentions. "Visitors from space" need not anticipate a rude reception, therefore.

In addition to hoping for more accurate reports from civilians, the Air Force has taken two steps to try to solve the riddle. The first is to distribute 200 cameras equipped with diffraction gratings to strategic sites. These separate light into a spectrum and permit analysis of the substance of the object giving off the lights. The second is the use of a continuously operating Schmidt telescope equipped with a camera. This telescope had [sic] a wide angle lens covering nearly the whole sky from horizon to horizon and makes it possible to get a complete photographic record of what happens in the sky at night.

They're Expensive

These cameras are expensive and it hardly needs to be pointed out that the Air Force would not have gone to such trouble and expense if top intelligence officers were convinced that all saucer reports can be shrugged off as figments of the imagination or hallucinations.

The Air Force in its own words is taking " a serious but not frantic interest" in the saucer reports.

The defense of the United States will be aided by accurate reports from civilians. Get in touch with the nearest civilian defense post or U.S. Air Force base if you see something that looks like a "saucer." Even if it doesn't turn out to be "men from Mars," the Air Force still wants to find out what kind of optical illusion it is.

Bridgeport, Connecticut Sunday Herald - 28 Dec 52

Flying Saucer Men to be Definitely Our Cup of Tea

There will be a landing by a flying saucer late in '53, according to Albert K. Bender, 784 Broad St., president of the "International Flying Saucers Bureau."

The flying saucer addict bases his assumption on the predictions of the prophet-monk Nostradamus who wrote, "A third word war will come to the world. A great ship from another world of high intellect shall land and intervene. These other worldians will help the Earth people."

There doesn't have to be a landing of saucers to convince Albert now. This enthusiast of inter-planetary disc hopping founded the International Flying Saucer Bureau last April with the specific purpose of aiding humanity by preventing war between the saucer travelers and earthmen.


He points to the fact that the organization, which listed 100 members in 16 states last August, now boasts 425 members throughout the world. Among those listed as members is the name Eddie Rickenbacher, "Capt. Eddie" who is carried on the rolls as an honorary member.

Members of the club submit all reports of flying saucer sightings in the air area. These reports are compiled and reprinted in the IFSB quarterly, "Space Review."

Bender, who is chief timekeeper at the Acme Shear Co., wrote physicist Albert Einstein asking his opinions on the flying saucers.


The Wizard of Princeton replied: "Having no experience and only superficial knowledge in the field I regret not to be able to comply with your request."

Referring to Nostradamus, Bender said that he believes the visitors will come in peace and his organization is prepared to meet them on these terms.

The Bridgeporter said, that the unknown pilot of these suspected space ships has probably the power of mental telepathy.

And being tuned into the minds of such men as Bender, he will be aware of the IFSB's peaceful intentions and be prepared to respond in kind.

DECEMBER 30, 1952:

Lumberton, North Carolina Robesonian - 30 Dec 52

Platform In Space

The Air Force has issued a statement that it has "absolutely no evidence of visitors from' space," despite the many reports of "flying saucers" and glowing objects in the sky. The statement did not deny the possibility of space travel, but said the evidence that had been gathered did not support a conclusion that this had taken place.

The numerous "flying saucer" rumors in the past five years may serve a purpose, however. They may condition the public for some of the fantastic developments yet to come. Already, people have become accustomed to jet plants, which were a novelty just after World War II. Supersonic flight, faster than the speed of sound, was something that men imagined several years ago and now have realized. Guided missiles are being developed rapidly. The hydrogen bomb seems likely to have been made and tested, although official secrecy still surrounds it. All these developments are accepted readily enough, possibly because they are taking place either on earth or within its atmosphere.

But there is talk of another development that seems even more fantastic. That is, the launching of a platform in space, outside the earth's atmosphere, to hang there in suspended motion while the earth revolves beneath it. The technical details now are said to have been worked out to the extent that the space platform is considered quite practicable, and the main obstacle is the tremendous cost. Since a space platform could have military value, cost is not likely to hold up its development. There is even some guesswork that the United States may attempt to launch such a platform in 1953.

"Flying saucers" evidently are light reflections or other atmospheric effects, rather than mechanical contraptions. But they have caught the public fancy and held it year after year.

DECEMBER 31, 1952:

Lima, Ohio News - 31 Dec 52

Robbery, Embezzlement Top Ada News of Year

...Ohio Northern was the first college in the nation to start a flying saucer survey and received nationwide publicity on its project headed by Dean Warren Hickman...

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The Arrival

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