The Man Who Chased UFO's

Dr. J. Alan Hynek

Josef Allen Hynek (May 1, 1910 – April 27, 1986) was an American astronomer, perhaps best remembered for his UFO research and his work with the US.Air Force. Hynek was born in Chicago in 1931, Hynek received a B.S. from the University of Chicago and in 1935, he completed his PhD in astrophysics at Yerkes Observatory. He worked at Ohio State University Until world war two where he assisted as a civilian scientist. After the war he returned to Ohio State University where he would become a full professor. From 1949 until 1969 he worked as a scientific adviser to UFO studies for the US. Air Force. After this time, he continued to do his own research into UFO encounters and developed the Close Encounter classification system. Hynek would follow up on reports of UFO Crashes, alien abductions and any UFO activity with his own scientific analysis and the study of trace evidence wherever possible.


Hynek wrote “One day I had a visit from several men from the technical center at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, which was only 60 miles away in Dayton,” Hynek later wrote. “With some obvious embarrassment, the men eventually brought up the subject of ‘flying saucers’ and asked me if I would care to serve as consultant to the Air Force on the matter… The job didn't seem as though it would take too much time, so I agreed.” at the time Hynek had no idea how this would shape his life “I had scarcely heard of UFOs in 1948 and, like every other scientist I knew, assumed that they were nonsense,” he recalled. By the 1960’s he was known as one of the world’s top experts in UFO’s. While many of the Air Forces programs were happy to leave findings as ‘Unidentified’ and as a focus be dismissive and outright attempt to debunk as much UFO activity as they could this chaffed Hynek, and he refused to keep that frame of mind. He stayed with the programs as long as he could and did so primarily for access to the resources and reports the US. Air Force could provide.


While Hynek believed in his work he was also a scientist and dedicated to the truth, a trait that sometimes upset the fans who followed his reports on alien activity. An example of this was in 1966 when Hynek went to Michigan to investigate such reports. He suggested that it might have in fact been an optical illusion involving swamp gas he was mocked and the term ‘Swamp Gas’ became a punchline for the press. It was later payed homage to in the popular film men in black.  This was not the only time Hynek and Hollywood crossed paths when he published his first book in 1972, The UFO Experience that detailed his close encounters classifications for UFO sightings and alien activity, Hynekwas approached by Stephen Spielberg. Spielberg of course went on to produce the popular film close encounters of the third kind. Hynek was paid for this and even managed to cameo in the movie.


Even after he retired from teaching, he continued on his quest for the truth and never stopped his UFO research. In 1973 he was sent by NBC News to get to the bottom of a possible alien abduction of two fishermen in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The two men gave testimony that robotic beings emerged from a glowing UFO. Hynek met them and was convinced by their testimony that the two men had a very real experience, but unable to say for certain what that experience was.

He was ridiculed for his findings and opinions on the matter, off the back of that he announced he would open the first ever national organization dedicated to the scientific study of UFOs.


He founded the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in 1973 in Evanston, Illinois, so he could carry on evaluating and studying reports on UFO and alien activity. The organization continues to operate and collect reports and sightings to this day. Hynek would develop a nation-wide UFO reporting system for the CUFOS, from this the Coyne event would be reported in 1973. This was an incredible encounter where a military helicopter nearly crashed after a close encounter with an unidentified cigar shaped object.


While thousandsof sightings have been reported to CUFOS because of Hynek’s system, below are a couple of the more well-knownand classic cases they have investigated from before and after its creation.


One such UFO case reported by pilot Kenneth Arnold on a sunny afternoon was a sighting of nine “peculiar looking aircraft” that he saw over the Cascade Mountains of Washington on June 24 1947 and the press immediately called “flying saucers” although the reports and witness accounts have spent decades being scrutinized it is still suggested that it remains a fascinating historical mystery, with no one conclusion being drawn from it.


On the 18 Apr 1961 at Eagle River, Wisconsin an official report was taken down as follows “Object shaped like 2 soup bowls together, as a round saucer configuration, Approx.30 ft in diameter and 12 ft. thick at center tapering to 1 ft at rim. Brighter than chrome. exhaust pipes 6" - 8" in diameter spaced 1 ft apart around rim. Landed and encounter with space people ensued. Object caused severe air turbulence when departing, Sounded like snow tires on pavement at high speed only louder. Jet like sound. Landed outside observers window.” ATIC FORM 329. The official statement was that the witness had suffered from a hallucination. While Hynek himself investigated this case,he wrote “it is not our practice to investigate a case in which there is only one observer this case should not be given too such weight and certainly one cannot expect any sort of a definite solution.”


In 1975 Hynek wrote a second book, The Edge of Reality co-written with Dr. Jacques Vallee. In November 1978, Hynek presented a statement on UFOs before the United Nations General Assembly, His aim was to have a centralized, United nations authority on UFO’s.