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Classic Mysteries—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, December 2015

The Frances Swan story:
Why did one early 1950s Contactee come under close scrutiny by Naval Intelligence, the CIA, and Canada’s Project Magnet?

by: Brent Raynes

Back in 1979, in the now defunct Second Look magazine (Vol. 1, No. 12), a senior editor named Randall Fitzgerald looked into the controversial UFO contactee case of Frances Swan of Eliot, Maine, a case that came under the close scrutiny of Naval Intelligence and the CIA, as well as Wilbert B. Smith of Canada’s Project Magnet, described as an unofficial government program to look into the UFO phenomenon. As early as 1952, Smith showed his friend retired Rear Admiral Herbert B. Knowles, also of Eliot, Maine, a metallic fragment, twice the size of an adult human thumb, that had allegedly been “shot from a small flying saucer near Washington” during the UFO scare there in July of that same year.

Admiral Knowles would become the person who would take Mrs. Swan’s descriptions of alien contact, that began the following year after Smith had showed him the supposed saucer fragment, very seriously. A neighbor, Mrs. Swan would visit the Knowles home in May 1953, as she revealed how an alien named Affa had advised her to contact the U.S. Navy, and since Admiral Knowles had retired from that branch of the service she felt that he might be of help. Initially skeptical, but interested in the subject of UFOs [he later served on the Board of Governors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena] , the Admiral and his wife Helen would get with Mrs. Swan again as she engaged in communication attempts with the supposed alien being named Affa through automatic writing. On May 27th, Admiral Knowles would write to Rear Admiral C. F. Espe, Chief of Naval Intelligence, in Washington, D.C., and encourage the Navy to look into the matter.

Friday afternoon, December 13, 1974, myself and my friend and ufological colleague Jim Carey of Windsor, Maine, visited for several hours with Mrs. Frances Swan and her husband Guy, at their home on Goodwin Road in Eliot, Maine. I wanted to get as much of an overview of her experiences and beliefs as I could. I discovered that she not only possessed a very strong professed belief in Space Brother type visitors, a belief system that was most common within the contactee community of that time back in the 1950s, but she was also deeply influenced by concepts of reincarnation, the existence of spiritual “masters” of the far east, the world of elemental spirits such as fairies, and a God and a Jesus that were far more metaphysical, or what we’d call today New Age, than perceived and embraced by mainstream Christianity.

Mrs. Swan’s UFO story began, she explained to us, on October 30th, 1953, the night before Halloween. She was helping at a local Grange Hall when she noticed an unfamiliar gentleman enter the building. She approached him, figuring she’d greet him into the neighborhood. They spoke for a brief time and then he left. She kept looking for him the rest of the evening, expecting him to return. For some reason, he crowded her thoughts and she had been very impressed with him.

While the tall handsome stranger did not return, on the way home that night she observed a peculiar red flashing light just over the treetops, that she felt was following her home. She explained that she was later to learn why the mysterious stranger had made such a strong impression on her. It was a being named Affa, an entity that lived on Uranus.

In April 1954, a series of odd occurrences began that were spaced about two weeks apart. In the first one, she was sitting in the living room of her home reading one of a set of five books entitled Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, written by a Baird T. Spalding, said to be a civil engineer who had gone to the Far East back in 1894 and met these “Masters” who allegedly were 400 to 500 years of age. Her copies were apparently first copyrighted 1924, with another series republished in 1937.

At any rate, as she was reading one of these esoteric volumes, she claimed that a bright form of white-silvery light appeared briefly in the room and then vanished. She noted that this was the way that her spiritual visitors many times came to her, though this one was more brilliant and bigger. She found out that it was a higher master being than the ones she dealt with on earth, adding that it even had authority over Affa. Then next, as Mrs. Swan was walking over to a desk to put the book up, an electric spark arched before her from her solar plexus to a metal lock built into the desk.

Samples of automatic writing done by Frances Swan for us of her being Affa

Mrs. Swan also explained that through reading these spiritual books and applying their teachings to her life that she had received visits from a robed man with a donkey who would materialize in her home and talk with her. She said that the donkey would always appear first and then the man would materialize next. She stated that he was one of the “Masters” and that he was a live and flesh human being who was able to project himself to her. She added how one time when he visited her that she had been having a terrible problem with rust in their water and he told her how to get rid of it by sprinkling ivory snow soap powder on the water, and it worked.

About two weeks later, Mrs. Swan and her husband allegedly heard a loud and mysterious whistling noise coming from outside their home. Their dog, which was in the kitchen at the time, barked at the sound. Then about two weeks later, Mrs. Swan was sewing when she noticed out a window to the north a cloud from which emerged came the face of a man. Although it looked nothing like paintings that have been done to portray Him, she explained that she knew it was the face of Jesus, and said that it had two tears coming out of His left eye. She felt that this meant that she had been accepted by God, and also that He was sorry for the hard times ahead and for the way things were. She felt that this was physically real and not a vision, and that if anyone else had been in the area and looked up into the sky, at the right location, then they would have seen it as well. Mrs. Swan added that upon seeing this mysterious face in the sky, that she felt that her strength had been drained from her and she began crying.

Affa informed Mrs. Swan, she said, that if she should see a flying saucer, not to go toward it. She said that often one apparently feels a “pull” to approach them, explaining to me that this is the magnetic power from UFOs, and that there are ‘bad guys.’ Mrs. Swan told me that light and also talking to yourself can disrupt this ET power over you.

Mrs. Swan recalled a time that her sister, who lives in Hudson, had arrived home one night to see a UFO around a pen she kept white geese in. The sister also described apparent entities as stick figures that were moving around. She flashed her headlights at them and blew her car horn. Slowly the UFO got thinner and thinner and the remaining substance of it eventually dropped to the ground. Later examination of the site produced no traces of anything unusual. Mrs. Swan explained to us that without realizing it her sister had upset the magnetic force of the UFO. She also pointed out that her contact Affa told her that such entities as her sister had described were elementals, etheric forms. Affa explained too that such beings can produce convincing thought forms.

Mrs. Swan told me of an experience that she and a neighbor, also named Francis, along with Mrs. Swan’s daughter, had one day either in 1957 or 1958. They were returning to Eliot from Sanford College when, near South Berwick, a “silvery, old school bell shaped thing” came out of the sky, headed straight towards them. She said it was “as big as a car,” and just before what seemed like disaster was to strike them, the UFO simply disappeared. Later, Mrs. Swan explained, Affa revealed that this had been a warning. He explained that looking for UFOs was dangerous, and as it turned out, for several nights prior to this scare, Mrs. Swan and the same neighbor had been out skywatching, looking for UFOs.

One night, Mrs. Swan’s husband, Guy, had headed out for work about 11:30 p.m. Shortly after he had left, she saw a “little cigar” shaped object, about one foot in length, that glowed a bright white, until it struck a tree at the end of their driveway. At that point, it dimmed and one end became red, the other dark, and sparks fell to the ground below. Then it continued on its course and flew down along Route 236, where Mr. Swan saw it on his way to work. Mr. Swan remarked that he later found a limb that had been burned off, presumably by the small unidentified object.

As for fairies, Mrs. Swan later wrote me of an experience she had. “I saw them in a spruce tree in front of the house one morning after a snowstorm,” she stated. “Dawni [her daughter] was very ill and was laying on the studio bed in front of the window. I think they came to see her. When she was small she had various invisible playmates.

“Imagine an angel with gossamer wings and wearing velvet dresses. There were about 6 or 7 of them as I remember. Dresses were deep red, rich blue, vivid green, and a deep purple and one pink. Several of them wore the red colored dresses. About 12 inches tall.”

In addition to Affa, I learned that Mrs. Swan claimed contact with a being named Poonar, said to live on Hatoon, a moon of Pluto. Then there was Moriaden, who commanded a mother ship about 3000 feet long and which carried six smaller work ships inside of it. Back around about this time, West Coast contactee George Hunt Williamson (also known as Michael d’Obrenovic and Brother Phillip) had also claimed contact with an Agfa Affa from Uranus (presumably not the same Affa as Mrs. Swan’s), as well as a Ponnar of Hatoon (again allegedly not the same alien). Williamson had also allegedly engaged in Ouija board and short-wave radio communications with the so-called Space Brothers. (Link)

By 1954, two different contingents of intelligence officers had visited Mrs. Swan. Though Admiral Knowles was always informed that no conclusive evidence that warranted further government interest had been produced, more visits followed, and always with questions about religion instead of anything technical, which reportedly irritated Mrs. Swan. During our own second visit on January 16, 1975, Mrs. Swan showed us a drawing for a supposed communications device that she had been given, but that no one had ever constructed. In looking at it and talking with her about it, I wrote down the following: “It is a rather box like construction with a low wattage red light bulb in the back, a glass pane on the front as a screen, (and) two antenna wires.” I felt that it would have worked more with her consciousness, say as does a crystal ball or other scrying devices, than as a technical electronics instrument of extraterrestrial technology.

Mrs. Swan explained to us (myself and Jim Carey) that Affa did not call his communications automatic writing, as we had, but as magnetic and mechanical processes. I had a hard time following her explanation, as I did when she explained to me how she knew that etheric beings were groups of evil forces and were different from elemental intelligences, and how things psychic were not things spiritual, even though much of what she had described to us sounded like a potential combination of both.

Mrs. Swan also shared with us how a Naval Intelligence officer, who had a “gift” for this kind of writing (whatever you want to call it), except that it was a false Affa that took control of his writing. The man had requested that she help him communicate directly with Affa himself. Years later, this man wrote Mrs. Swan again, pleading for help with this strange and disturbing force that he felt had been haunting him ever since.

We now know that the man’s name was Julius Larsen, a liaison officer between Naval Intelligence and the CIA’s Photographic Interpretation Center in Washington, D.C. The visit occurred in June 1959. In Robert Emenegger’s book UFOs: Past, Present, and Future (1974), he describes having interviewed Lt. Col. Robert Friend, of the U.S. Air Force, and a former head of Project Blue Book, about this case. He was reportedly told by Friend that on July 6, 1959, in Washington, D.C., that Larsen (not identified at the time) was asked to demonstrate the technique he had learned from Mrs. Swan. He reportedly went into a trance type state, performed automatic writing, and instructed the people with him at one point to “go to the window,” responding to a message supposedly from Affa to see a UFO.

Here’s where the controversy really begins. We read that Friend described to Emeneggar how three men looked outside and saw a UFO, and that they learned later that radar, for some unknown reason, had failed to provide a return for that particular direction at the time of the incident. Many authors have repeated this version of events, but when longtime reporter Jay Gourley, who lived in Washington and wrote for Scripps-Howard newspapers, followed up on the story (Second Look, Vol. 1, No. 7, May 1979) he located and interviewed Arthur Lundahl, since retired, who was a former civilian intelligence officer at the time and was one of those present during this alleged incident. He confirmed that Larsen did report communicating with Affa, and that they were instructed to go to the window to observe Affa’s craft, but that they saw nothing out there. He assured Gourley that when Friend showed up shortly afterwards, that they told him that no UFO had been observed. He also described how one Robert Nisham (also spelled Neosham elsewhere), a Navy photo analyst assigned to the CIA, was there too, and that they’ve discussed it among themselves many times and both agreed that no UFO was observed. “I swear I am telling the truth,” Lundahl added.

Gourley wrote that he would try and track down Nisham/Neosham, who was also retired. I don’t know at this time whether he was able to successfully carry out that objective.

Why was Friend presumably so mistaken about what happened? Were those who had seen a UFO ordered to tell a different story? Or did aliens pull off one of those classic mental tricks of alleged memory erasure, so popular in the alien abduction/contactee literature? Whatever happened, it’s certainly interesting how Naval Intelligence and the CIA devoted so much time, effort, and energy to a single contactee case in Maine.

Wilbert Smith was, to the proverbial end it seems, a devoted believer and supporter of Mrs. Swan’s and her ET story. In March 1961, the year before his passing, he gave a talk for the Vancouver Flying Saucer Club, wherein he stated that he had in fact actually built “hardware that works” based upon alleged ET information. It appears that he believed that he had deciphered how a magnetic generator could be used for propulsion from diagrams provided by Swan’s Affa. In addition, Affa had allegedly explained how the binding forces in nature were, at some locations, dangerously inadequate, and that planes flying over such places might fall apart. He tried to interest the government in creating a “binding meter” that would detect these sites but because it was channeled through a UFO contactee the matter was not pursued further.

Author’s Comment: As a footnote to this feature, I will add that prior to visiting Mrs. Swan, that I had visited Admiral Herbert Knowles and his wife Helen back on May 6, 1972, and found them quite interested in UFOs and ghosts, as their home, they claimed, was also haunted. I was to learn years later, how Admiral Knowles had become very curious about the early contactee accounts, reading books by George Adamski, Orfeo Angelucci, Dino Kraspedon, and Brian and Helen Reeve; books that were later given to well-known alien abductee Betty Hill after Admiral Knowles’s passing, courtesy of his wife Helen.

Betty Hill, who lived only a few miles from the Eliot contactee, was informed by her that they could not meet as Betty and Barney, Mrs. Swan claimed, had encountered evil entities of a negative vibration while hers were instead kind and loving.

Sunday, May 19, 2024