Monday, December 12, 2011
When discussing the historic 1965 UFO case the "Incident At Exeter", a majority of the credit often goes to John.G Fuller for investigating the landmark case which he introduced to the world in his New York Times bestseller "Incident At Exeter: UFO's Over America Now." However, an often unsung hero of the Exeter case is Ufologist Raymond Fowler.
It was Fowler's impeccable investigation of the Exeter case that became the foundation of Fuller's book "Incident At Exeter". It also led Fowler into a battle with the Pentagon, found the case highlighted as one of the key Project Blue Book cases at the first-ever Congressional hearing on UFO's, and landed Fowler's report in the Congressional record.
The New York writer and New England UFO investigator became acquainted after Fowler was referred to Fuller by Richard Hall. Hall was a fellow NICAP member and author of "The UFO Evidence". Fuller contacted Fowler by phone and told him of his plan to re-investigate the case before he started to write about it. Fowler agreed to meet with Fuller and provide a copy of his initial report, and any follow up data.
The following weekend, the author arrived for dinner at Fowler's house. Fuller explained that he had been reading about the increase in UFO sightings and that curiosity prompted his desire to document a specific case, though he still remained skeptical. The two men discussed the case in great detail, and Fuller left for Exeter with Fowler's extensive notes and report.
Fuller talked with the Exeter witnesses, local newspapers, and Air Force officers from Pease AFB, and later phoned Fowler to tell him that he was thoroughly convinced that the people had really seen something.
Fuller's first article about the case appeared in the October 2, 1965 issue of the Saturday Review's Trade Winds column. Due to its success he was then asked to expand the article for a piece in Look magazine, which was edited and reprinted in Reader's Digest, and later expanded for his best selling book "Incident At Exeter".
Meanwhile, across the country UFO sightings were becoming an almost daily occurrence, and there was growing criticism among the public and the media of the Air Force's handling of the Project Blue Book UFO study. House Republican Leader Gerald Ford shared the public's discontent, and after a series of credible UFO sightings witnessed by police and tracked on radar in his Congressional district in the winter of 1966, Congressman Ford demanded a Congressional hearing and investigation into UFO's.
The House Armed Services committee convened for the first-ever formal hearing on UFO's on April 5, 1966. Among the witnesses were Dr. Carl Sagan, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and Dr. James E. McDonald. Statements were submitted by nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, and Dr. Donald Menzel of the Harvard College Observatory, as well as many other respected scientists and academics.
The committee heard testimony from Project Blue Book witnesses, and the Exeter case was one of the highlighted cases along with Fowler's report. It was also at this hearing that the Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown, announced the intent to conduct an outside review of Project Blue Book. This review became the University of Colorado's "Scientific Study of UFOs", which later became known as "The Condon Report", named after the project's director, physicist Edward Condon.
Along with Fowler's meticulous report on the Exeter case, also entered into Congressional record was an account of the exchange between Fowler, Officers Betrand and Hunt, and the Pentagon. Numerous letters were written by the officers to the Pentagon expressing their discontent with Blue Book's evaluation of the case.
In the months following the Exeter UFO incident the Pentagon offered a number of explanations as to what Norman Muscarello and the two police officers saw in the field that night, including a banner plane, "stars and planets in unusual formations", and a Strategic Air Command exercise. It was only due to Fowler's unrelenting investigation that these explanations were all proven to be false, maintaining the case as a true unknown.
Despite the various attempts by Project Blue Book and the Pentagon to prescribe explanations to Muscarello and the officers' sighting, ultimately the Air Force was forced to back down and admit that the Exeter case was in fact an unknown. In direct conflict with the evaluations that Blue Book had made on the case, scientific consultant to Blue Book, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, admitted when asked by Congressman William H. Bates "This one is still unidentified?" Hynek replied "Yes, Sir".
Raymond Fowler's contributions to the Exeter case should not go unrecognized. His investigation of the Exeter case was the foundation for both Fuller's book and the Congressional examination of the case. Very few UFO investigators have had their reports entered into Congressional record. This is a rare achievement and a testament to the credibility of the witnesses in the Exeter case, and the quality of the investigation done by Fowler.
For additional perspective on the Exeter sightings, I highly recommend Fowler's books "Casebook Of A UFO Investigator" and "UFO Testament", both contain a wealth of information on this captivating New Hampshire UFO case.
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The contents of this article cannot be reproduced without prior permission of the author.
Fowler, Raymond. Casebook of a UFO Investigator. Prentice-Hall Books, 1981.
Fowler, Raymond. UFO Testament: Anatomy of an Abductee. iUniverse, 2002.
Fuller, John G. Incident at Exeter: Unidentified Flying Objects Over America
Now. New York Putnam, 1966.
The 1966 House Armed Services Committee Hearing on Unidentified Flying Objects Briefing Document.
Berliner, Don. "Congressional Hearings on UFOs", UFO Briefing Document,UFO Evidence.
http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1981.htm (Dec 10,2011).
Hall, Richard. "Michigan Sheriffs Watch High-Performance Discs". http://www.nicap.org/660314rep.htm (Dec 10,2011).