The Presidents and UFOs: A Secret History from FDR to Obama
The background story of my first work of non-fiction
While researching the UFO phenomena for my first novel, The
Great River Disclosure, I came across a 1970's made for television documentary called UFOS: Past, Present, and Future.
The documentary, narrated by Rod Serling, who hosted and produced the weekly TV show, The Twilight Zone, was extraordinary in
that it generally supported the hypothesis that UFOs were extraterrestrial, and the production of the show obviously
had the help of the military and federal government. In the early part of the show former former Air Force Public Information
Officer, William Coleman, is filmed walking the halls of the Pentagon discussing the 1950 Estimate of the Situation
report on flying saucers (later to be called UFOs) drafted by Air Force personnel at the direction of General Hoyt Vandenberg.
The report stated the flying saucers were most likely extraterrestrial craft. Later in the show Dr. J. Allen Hyneck, consultant
to the Air Force's Project Blue Book, discussed his participation in the Robertson Panel study on UFO's for the CIA and how
it was a general cover-up of the facts presented to the panel. Of special interest was the interview of Capt. Lawrence Coyne
and his National Guard helicopter flight crew that had a hair raising encounter with a UFO over Mansfield, Ohio in October
Watching the documentary I was struck by the fact that it could not
have been made without government and military assistance. You simply cannot gain access to the Pentagon and use military
spokesmen unless you have their help and blessing. The interview with Coyne was of interest because in the history of modern
UFO sightings pilots and crews have been prohibited from publicly discussing UFO encounters with threats of loss of flight
status and imprisonment. Something remarkable had happened to allow such a production to be made with the assistance of the
military and I started looking for the answer.
Very quickly I found that the documentary writer/producer
had gone public with the background story of the documentarys production in the 1990's It was while Nixon was basking in the
glory of his China trip that contact was made with Robert Emenegger in Los Angeles. The Committee to Reelect the President
(CRP) wanted a documentary made and needed someone on board who could handle the task. Emenegger had been a fraternity brother
of H.R. ‘Bob’ Haldeman, and Haldeman knew of his work as an advertising executive with The Grey Agency. He passed
Emenegger’s name to The Daily Agency who handled Nixon’s account as someone to bring on board to develop the documentary.
Emenegger received a call from the Daily Agency asking him to attend a meeting with members of the CRP in Los Angeles. It
was from that meeting that Emenegger took on the task of making a documentary of what he was told would be some new yet to
be selected scientific project still under development.
Emenegger brought in Allan Sandler who
owned Sandler Productions, a film production studio in Los Angles, to partner in the production of the documentary. At that
time there had been no mention of the UFO phenomenon as the subject of the documentary. In fact they were directed by their
military contacts to fly to military bases and research facilities around the country to view a number of research projects.
Projects included the training of dogs to perform reconnaissance missions and the training of dolphins to carry out demolition
missions. It was not until they attended a meeting at Norton Air Force Base that the subject of UFOs was broached. In looking
back Emenegger now feels these were merely diversions to soften the impact of what he was about to learn.
In 1972 Norton AFB housed the Air Force Audiovisual
Service in the former SAGE Direction Center that closed in 1966. SAGE centers were located at selected military bases around
the country to monitor all aircraft aloft to detect an enemy attack. The centers were reinforced windowless and temperature
controlled concrete structures designed to protect the delicate computer consoles they housed. After the SAGE Center was closed
the building provided the perfect environment to store and protect film, and it became home to the AFAVS.
It was in this building that an Air Force official met
with Emenegger and Sandler. The two men were directed to what they were told was a “clean room” meaning it was
free of any outside listening or viewing devices and totally soundproof, and it was used by the CIA for meetings and training
purposes. In this secure environment the subject of a documentary on UFOs finally surfaced. The official informed the two
men that while most sightings were misidentification of conventional objects the UFO phenomenon was real, the craft were extraterrestrial,
and the issue was highly classified. He went on to say that it had been decided to declassify some of the details and the
government wanted a documentary that told the history of UFOs ending with film of an actual landing at Holloman AFB in 1964.
600’ of 16mm film showing the landing and a meeting between the occupants and Air Force officers would be made available
to the production for the ending.
I could not understand how such a remarkable story had made so little impact. It
seemed clear that the powerful Nixon administration riding a wave of historic popularity prior to the outbreak of the Watergate
scandal, wanted to add extraterrestrial disclosure to his list of major accomplishments. The issue haunted me and while at
Roswell I discussed the matter with Stan Friedman and Don Schmitt. They concurred that it was an important story that had
slipped through the cracks and encouraged me to to persue development aimed at a book on the subject.
returning home I started a search and finally located Bob Emenegger, now retired and living with his wife in the mid-west.
Contact was made and we discussed my idea of a book covering background of making the documentary. I found Bob to
be a delightful, intelligent and humours gentleman who was delighted at the idea of a book. He started to furnish me with
a flow of background information that was both delightful and bizarre to the point of being almost unbelievable. However,
Bob is a solid individule with an impecable background who was a very successful businessman handleing advertising
for some of the largest and best known companies in the US. I knew his story was factual and true.
I wrote an outline of the book and sent it to several literary agencies to see what interest the book may generate. One agency
show interest and, I entered into discussions with the principle on how best to format the story. It was his feeling
that the book should use Emenegger's story as the base for a complete history of presidential involvement in the UFO issue.
My first reaction was a feeling that this would be an impossible task. Presidents don't like to talk or go on record with
any subject of substance, especially if the subject is controversial, and certainly UFOs would be at the top of that list.
However, the more I looked at the approach the more I liked it. Emenegger's story about the Nixon administration and the documentary
gave legitimacy to many of the unsubstantiated stories surrounding the presidents, and it served as a catalyst to bind
them into one flowing continuous story. I realized that the Truman administration while facing some of the most momentous
issues in presidential history also had to deal with some of the most important and well publicized UFO events in history.
This is fact although it is never discussed or touched on by historians writing of the Truman years. It's a sidelight that
shows the depth of the stigma the UFO issue has in academia and a subject that will be explored in the book.
I'm excited about this work as it is something that has never been done before. Work is well along on the book and updates
on its progress will be posted here as the work progresses.