We must be cautious of the hubris of the present. When UFOs first appeared in numbers duringthe great flying saucer wave of 1947, few people made the jump to an extraterrestrial hypothesis.The subject of this book, Alfred Loedding, is significant because he did eventually lean toward thatassumption. Because he played such an instrumental role in the first official Air Force investigationinto the phenomena, it is important to analyze the progression of his theories.For the best part of the summer of 1947 most serious minds studying the flying disc mystery, likeAlfred Loedding, considered that a domestic secret project might account for the sightings. After eliminating that possibility, the "foreign origin" option was exhaustively explored. By 1948 foreignorigin became a catch word for visitors from outer space, but in 1947 it meant only one thing— Russians. In fact, worries that the Soviet Union may have gleaned a Nazi super weapon at the end of the Second World War remained in the minds of Air Force officials up through 1952. But by late1947 some aeronautical engineers, like Alfred Loedding, began to consider that "flying saucers" mayrepresent intelligently controlled machines from another world. Why? What was the mind set in1947 that could rationalize such a conclusion? What was his perspective? Where was the proof?It is very difficult with our 1998 view of popular culture to consider a time when there was noextensive set of preconceptions on extraterrestrial life. Without a Steven Spielberg to help us dream,or a Star Wars trilogy and a thousand other such productions dating back to 1949, we would nothave the present-day mind set that we do. Yet, that is not to say there was not already some basis for the consideration of alien visitation.The best way for us to understand one early perspective is to look at Halloween night 1938.During that famous evening the dramatic actor Orson Welles produced and narrated a radio drama based on H.G. Wells' book, The War of the Worlds. Like the famous account of a Martian invasion,the radio play was a frightening success. Unfortunately for many East Coast listeners, it seemed soreal that thousands flew into a panicked frenzy—actually believing aliens were landing in GroversMill, New Jersey. The nation was certainly in a vulnerable state of paranoia due to the brewingstorm clouds in Europe. The Second World War would begin just one year later on September 1stand Americans knew that they would soon be impacted by Hitler's madness.
2 Alfred Loedding and The Great Flying Saucer Wave of 1947
Many authors have used the panic caused by Orson Welles' radio drama as a foretellingexplanation for later UFO sightings. In other words, a belief has arisen that the radio drama planted aseed in the public's mind—a self-fulfilling prophecy for extraterrestrial visitation. The historian,however, will realize the concept of extraterrestrial life had already been firmly ingrained in the public's mind since 1894 when Percival Lowell founded the Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff,Arizona.Lowell believed he saw signs through his huge telescope of canals on the Martian landscape -- proving to him the existence of intelligent life there. Some scientists agreed while others wereskeptical, but until the first Mars probes of the 1960s and 1970s showed just how lifeless the planet'ssurface actually was, many people kept an open mind about the possibility. UFOs, never the less,continued to be seen after we realized the near planets were uninhabited. Why?UFOs are just that, unidentified objects in the atmosphere. Most of these turn out to be identified