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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, January 2019

Ohio as the Locus of UFO Activity

by: Dr. Raymond A. Keller, a.k.a. “Cosmic Ray”

Note: Dr. Keller is the author of the international awards-winning Venus Rising Trilogy (Headline Books, Terra Alta, WV, 2015-2017), available on amazon.com, while supplies last.

Ohio has long been considered a locus for UFO activity over the United States. Leonard Stringfield of Cincinnati (1920-1994), when he was not working as the advertising manager for Du Bois Chemicals, served as the director for his home town’s Unidentified Flying Object Society, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Stringfield first became interested in ufology in 1945. At that time, he was on active duty in the Army Air Corps, the predecessor of the now independent branch of the armed forces, the United States Air Force, when he spotted a formation of flying saucers from the window of a bomber.

As World War II had ended slightly before this sighting, he initially thought that the elusive UFOs might be some kind of Soviet experimental aircraft. With the intent of doing his part to stem the red peril, Springfield continued to serve as a spotter for the Air Defense Command. In that capacity, the Cincinnati pioneer ufologist discovered that many more service members and veterans had sighted these objects both during the war and after.

By 1960, however, Stringfield began to reassess his Soviet origin hypothesis. The technology exhibited by the UFOs evidenced a science far beyond anything of this world. In the Saturday, 4 June 1960 edition of the Cincinnati Post and Times Star, the UFO Society opined that, “I believe the UFOs are from outer space and that they are controlled by intelligent beings who are observing the Earth.” He added that, “I don’t believe there is any hostile intent; but I believe they have been using planets in our solar system for bases, even the Moon. Astronomers for years have observed shifting spots on the Moon.”

Stringfield also held the considered opinion that the United States Air Force’s secret files contained evidence, or “near evidence,” at the least, bolstering the so-called extraterrestrial hypothesis, i.e. that the flying saucers originated from somewhere in outer space. The ufologist did not think that the Air Force was going to make any disclosures about this anytime soon, however, insofar as government officials were probably afraid that this kind of information, if it were released to the general public, would cause mass panic. He also came to the conclusion that foreign governments, especially the communist regime in the Soviet Union, also have evidence that UFOs are arriving at our world from other planets but are keeping it secret, for the very same reason and in the interest of their own national security. It is interesting to note that Stringfield, in the midst of the Cold War at a time when the United States was rushing to close the missile gap and catch up in the space race with the Soviet Union, told the reporter from the Cincinnati newspaper that, “I believe it is time we took the space spotlight away from Russia by opening up secret files on unidentified flying objects. It could be the start of co-operation among all governments of the world.”

Perhaps it was wishful thinking on Stringfield’s part, but he concluded that, “If all governments would pool their information on UFOs and work in unison on this, it would help to ease world tensions.”

“It Happened in Ohio….”

Perhaps one of the more interesting UFO cases of all time also took place in Ohio. This involved an encounter with a flying saucer in Ravenna, Ohio, by on duty Portage County Sheriff’s deputies Dale Spaur, the senior officer, and W. L. “Barney” Neff, the special deputy, around 5:00 a.m. on 17 April 1966. Spaur was driving patrol car number 13, accompanied by Neff in the front seat. The deputies ended up chasing a UFO 86 miles through Ohio and on into Pennsylvania.

It all began under unusual circumstances. While on patrol, the deputies noticed a red and white 1959 Ford sedan parked alongside the road. Naturally, the officers stopped to check it out. The Ford had a strange emblem on its side. There was an inverted triangle with a bolt of lightning in its center, along with an overriding inscription, “Seven Steps to Hell.” And in the front and back seats of the automobile, the deputies could see dozens of walkie-talkies and other apparent electronic gear of an undetermined nature.1 All of a sudden, Spaur heard a humming sound, like a swarm of bees, emanating from behind him. He turned and saw a huge, saucer-shaped craft rising out of the woods. The officer, accustomed to gauging the size of vehicles on the road, estimated that the flying saucer was about 50 feet in diameter and perhaps 15 to 20 feet high. The object had a dome and antenna on top; and the underside gleamed with an intense, purplish-white light.

The officers became transfixed and immobile. The saucer rose to about 150 feet and moved directly above the Ford and the officers standing next to it. Both Spaur and Neff felt a warm, pleasing heat as the object hovered over them. However, the light from the underside of the UFO was so intense that tears were streaming down from the eyes of the deputies. At one point, Spaur felt as if he was regaining mobility, but hesitated to make a move toward the nearby parked patrol car. He thought that it would be wiser to play a wait and see game before taking any abrupt actions. Neff looked over to Spaur, seeking guidance. Spaur nodded his head in the direction of the patrol car. Then the two deputies made a mad dash for their cruiser. The officers jumped in their vehicle and Spaur radioed in, telling headquarters about the UFO. Other reports from local residents were made of the object and these, too, were flooding into the sheriff’s office. The dispatcher responded to Spaur’s report with the command to “Shoot it!” However, the experienced Spaur reasoned that getting out of his vehicle to fire at the object would be foolhardy and most likely would get him and his partnering deputy killed.

In the interim, the object was now hovering over the patrol car. Back at headquarters, the night sergeant grabbed the microphone from the dispatcher. “Try to find out more about the thing. And if it moves away from there, just chase it,” said the sergeant to Spaur. At that, the large saucer drifted slowly away. Spaur followed and then the object picked up some speed. Spaur put his foot on the cruiser’s accelerator to keep up with the UFO. He was now driving at a good clip of 100 miles per hour in pursuit of the strange craft. Whatever intelligence was behind the flying saucer seemed to let Deputy Spaur follow it in on its eastward path, even waiting for the cruiser to catch up at intersections. Once, the object even appeared to have doubled back when Spaur was forced to veer away from the easterly direction. The officers in patrol car number 13 actually crossed over into the neighboring state of Pennsylvania in their high speed pursuit. The deputies actually drove as far as the outskirts of Pittsburgh following the UFO. Only running out of gas prohibited them from continuing the chase. This UFO case was first investigated by the then Director of the Cleveland Ufology Project (CUP), Earl J. Neff (not related to the deputy). The CUP director appreciated the frankness of Sheriff’s Deputy Spaur in forthrightly answering all the questions that he put to him about the UFO encounter. Deputy Neff, however, refused to talk about the incident. Apparently, the unfavorable news coverage was creating some problems for him at work and in his home environment.

CUP Director Neff (1902-1993) remarked that other law enforcement officers on duty that morning also saw the UFO moving across the sky in an easterly direction, thus confirming Deputy Spaur’s report. Among the other observers were Patrolman H. Wayne Huston of East Palestine, Ohio; Police Chief Gerald Buchert of Mantua, Ohio; and Patrolman Frank Panzanella of Conway, Pennsylvania. Shortly after this historic encounter, both Earl Neff and Donald E. Keyhoe, the director of the then largest civilian saucer group, National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in Washington, D.C., regretted that so many law enforcement officers and other credible witnesses remain clammed up about their UFO encounters due to the aura of ridicule that had come to surround all aspects of the phenomenon.

Saucerian Press publisher Gray Barker of Clarksburg, West Virginia, made a special trip to attend the 10 November 1973 flying saucer presentation by Cleveland, Ohio, ufologist Earl J. Neff, held in the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Neff investigated hundreds of UFO reports from around the United States and Canada and came to strongly believe in the extraterrestrial hypothesis. He also funded two teenagers in Northeast Ohio, Alan T. Weston of Maple Heights and Raymond A. Keller of Bedford, to publish the famous Flying Saucer Report!

An Interview with Earl J. Neff

On the morning of 16 October 1971, Cleveland, Ohio’s “Dean of Ufology,” Earl J. Neff, arrived at the Toronto International Airport, where he was met by Gene Duplantier, the editor of Saucers, Space and Science, Canada’s preeminent UFO magazine published in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale, Ontario. Duplantier was to drive Neff to Barrie, Ontario, where he was scheduled to give a lecture on the UFO phenomenon later that evening. Barrie is about an hour’s drive due north of Willowdale, so Duplantier took Neff to his Willowdale home so he could rest up first, before proceeding on to Barrie. Neff slept to about 11:30 a.m.; and Duplantier fixed him some lunch. After getting some good food in their stomachs, and since they still had some time to kill before heading up north for the meeting, Duplantier asked Neff, one of North America’s outstanding UFO lecturers, if he wouldn’t mind being interviewed for a future article in Saucers, Space and Science. Neff consented. Here is the transcript:

Gene: Can you tell me what has become of Major Donald E. Keyhoe since his retirement from the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP)?

Earl: I talked to him just recently on the phone; and his book was scheduled for August. He said he’d like to bring it out in October; but now it probably won’t be out until January, because January is a good month for publishers. He is still working on it. The delay is probably due to the fact the publishers had other ideas than Keyhoe’s, and probably they were about his stand. He has conformed to their particular wishes. Gene: Major Keyhoe propounded the extraterrestrial hypothesis as the source of UFOs. Do you think the statement is still valid, considering the technological and scientific advances of today?

Earl: On 6 April, the Cleveland Ufology Project (CUP) had its big banquet at Esterhurst; and in time for that, Major Keyhoe wrote me exactly what he felt about UFOs. He said, “I believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial probes or observation devices controlled by a more advanced civilization carrying out a long survey of our world for some important reason which has not yet been determined.” Gene: Do you feel the same way?

Earl: Yes, definitely.

Gene: There is an upsurge of thought among scientists and investigators that UFOs are a paraphysical-psychic manifestation, rather than from other planets. How do you view this? Are the two compatible to your way of thinking?

Earl: No, they are not. In fact, I don’t discount that there are coronas and visual sightings that are definitely of a very materialistic nature and that there are others that are mystical and the type that Jung and Freud referred to. But I frankly feel that when you take a 22-calibre rifle, aim at one of these, as has been done on numerous occasions, and you hear it go ping when it hits, you’re not hitting an illusion or a mystical thing.

Gene: So probably they could have not just one origin, but two or more.

Earl: Yes, that is quite possible; and I think quite frequently people had a visual experience and others, with all sincerity, had something of a more psychical nature…. I’m not belittling that angle of it; but I do say, like Phillip Klass (a noted aviation authority and skeptic of the time- R.K.), that these are all of a corona, etc., etc. type.

Gene: Do you feel that the United Nations (UN), if given the go-ahead, could reasonably solve the UFO mystery?

Earl: Well, if the UN did the same with us that they have done with most of the others, I’m afraid it would be long than my lifetime.

Gene: According to researchers, UFOs seem to have been here since time immemorial. If this is so, do you personally think the mystery will be solved by the end of the century?

Earl: Well, I’m not a Jeane Dixon (a well-known psychic of the time- R.K.); but I know her well, and think greatly of her. She said to me on a program one night, that by the year 2000, we would take them for granted. We would look at the sky and look at them as we look at aeroplanes today. They would be so numerous we would no longer bother to get excited.

Gene: Accepting the proposition that the mystery is solved, what developments can you see in store for us as inhabitants of Earth? Would the results be beneficial or repugnant to us?

Earl: Frankly, I’m very worried. I don’t try to express this thought too generally because if I do, too many people go home and have to take an Exedrin tablet. Major Colman Von Keviczky, whose group appointed me their American representative, when questioned on something of this kind, feels that this is something we should be very much concerned about; and this is the reason we are trying to get Canada, and all of the nations interested and involved in the UN, to consider this very seriously, because we should not have a shoot-down order. We should look at them in a friendly way, which we are not doing at the present time.

The Merint Report, which took me from six to eight months to obtain, is the poster that is on all United States naval vessels and tells what to do in case there is a warship, other than ours, within our territory: an aeroplane, a rocket or a submarine other than ours…. or a UFO. We take this very seriously; and yet we have this ridiculous shoot-down order. Even Albert Einstein pleaded with Harry Truman when he was president, not to let our planes shoot at them when 52 monitor-type devices were over Washington, DC. One was hit. Admiral Herbert B. Knowles was with your own Canadian Wilbert Smith in Washington at the time. This piece of metal, this chunk, fell. This is something that has been of great interest to everyone who was involved in it. It was metal unknown to us.

Gene: Were you disappointed that the Apollo astronauts did not find life on the Moon or any evidence of alien visitations? Earl: I was contacted by a television personality immediately following Apollo 15 and was asked if I’d learned anything further on this particular flight; and I said “No.” He said, “Don’t you feel they’re highly indoctrinated, the same as the Air Force boys are?” and I said, “Yes, I feel that.” In yesterday’s news (15 October 1972), a big statement was made for the first time publicly, that in March of last year the Moon had a big geyser erupt. That proves that under the surface of the Moon there is water, something that never before has been known. I wouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Kaltenborn was censored off the air- at least that is what we think happened- because he was stopped in the middle of a sentence when he said that he had something very important to say, relative to the flight before the last.

Gene: A proposed future Apollo moon shot would be to the crater Gassendi. Do you think the so-called “city street layouts” in the crater were made by intelligent beings, or is it mere fantasy on the part of some UFO buffs?

Earl: I’m inclined to think it is fantasy. One night I had George Van Tassel on the air with me from his home at Giant Rock, California. I said, “George, you claim you have a photograph of the city on the Moon. Would you like to tell us about it?” He said, “Yes, I got that photograph.” When we asked him to send us a copy of the print, he said, “Now, I really wouldn’t know exactly where it is.” Well now, if I was asked if I had a piece of UFO metal, I wouldn’t say, “Yes, I have piece of UFO metal. It’s in my garage; and I’ve got so much metal out there, I wouldn’t know where it is.” I think I would prize this very highly. And so when we checked this thing out, I think it was more imagination than anything else. He did have something and he showed it on his Proceedings journal; but when we checked with Mt. Palomar, Palomar was very, very ignorant about it. Gene: The United States’ funding of space exploration has been slowed down considerably. Do you think this will have any effect on our meeting aliens or spacecraft?

Earl: Frank Edwards (prominent radio personality and UFO investigator) said that within the next five years (just before his death – 23 June 1967), we will have contact with an actual spacecraft and person, and that will be by one of our astronauts. Edwards died on the day before the twentieth anniversary of Kenneth Arnold’s sighting. I certainly feel that every time we go out there in space, they are highly concerned; and I made public for the first time anywhere in the country that when our experimental shot took place years ago at Cape Kennedy, the object leaving the pad was followed by four UFOs- two above it, one below it, and one behind it. They followed the capsule in that order for one complete orbit of the Earth; and as suddenly as they arrived, they disappeared. This apparently meant that their mission was accomplished. What it was, I don’t know. But they are concerned with what we are doing, unquestionably so. One of the slides I have, given to me by Leonard Stringfield, shows an actual UFO- a controversial one- just on the outside edge of the smoke-ball of an experimental hydrogen bomb.

Gene: You were the first to interview Woodrow Derenberger (a contactee from West Virginia) on the air. Can you tell us briefly any latest developments in his contacts with Indrid Cold or others of like nature?

Earl: Monday night, 18 October, on the Alan Douglas Show, he will tell all his latest stories. He says he is not crazy. He really had an experience. I had not bought the story hook, line and sinker. I feel that he has elaborated too much. He may have had an original experience; and I am not saying he didn’t, because I wasn’t there. I have interviewed him at length and have had him on two shows. Fifty percent of his story does check out.

Gene: People are still questioning the whereabouts of George Hunt Williamson (1926-1986; an archaeologist and witness to George Adamski’s original encounter with a Venusian in the California desert). Do you know what happened to him?

Earl: I really couldn’t say. Someone said that he was in Europe, another said in South America and still another said he was in the country (USA). But I do believe that he is very much alive. (Williamson was a veteran of the Army Air Corps in World War II. In the early 1960s, he legally changed his name to Michel d’Obrenovic and was ordained a priest in the Assyrian Church of the East, sometimes referred to as the Nestorian Church. He died at his home in Santa Barbara, California, on 25 January 1986 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, memorial identification 99822446. –Cosmic Ray)

Gene: In the book, Interrupted Journey, by John G. Fuller, when Betty Hill was under hypnosis, she mentioned a map relating to where her captors came from. Did you find something interesting about that?

Earl: John Fuller may have known the following, but if he did, he left it out of his book. I don’t believe he did, because I can’t imagine an author as fine as he, not putting this in. When Betty was regressed (put under hypnosis) by Dr. Benjamin Simon, she told how she had seen a map which was relative to the trade routes, the places where the people (the ETs) were going most frequently, and those routes that were seldom used, etc. Now what he didn’t say was- what seems of foremost importance to me- was that this map was not a map on a wall. It was not on a piece of paper. It was not on a two-dimensional ground. This was a three-dimensional map. Apparently, it’s like when we take a laser beam. Down in Akron, Ohio, just a number of months ago, there was a very beautiful exhibit there. I didn’t see it; but it was described to me. It was all about laser beams. You can really think you are seeing something in three dimensions and you can walk right through the blamed thing. This was apparently the type of map she saw.

Observations of the “Cosmic Ray”

While Neff was directing the investigations of the Cleveland Ufology Project (CUP), he was also the Ohio state representative for Donald E. Keyhoe’s National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), an organization which did not recognize the validity of any direct extraterrestrial contact claims. Neff, when apart from NICAP, was more open to the idea of direct contact. However, he was always cognizant that he needed to temper his enthusiasm and remarks about both George Van Tassel and Woodrow Derenberger when making statements for public record. At the CUP meetings and in the gatherings that followed in a local Parma diner, Neff was more open about the contact incidents and some of his investigations in this area, as well as sharing some of his own personal “metaphysical” experiences. Working with Earl J. Neff on saucer investigations was one of the greatest blessings in my life. Godspeed to you, Earl, wherever you are in this vast and intriguing Cosmos!

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