The Quest For The Truth About UFOs:

A Personal Perspective On The Role Of NICAP

Richard H. Hall


Hall Biography

The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) was formed in 1956, flourished through about 1970, and declined gradually thereafter. There were three distinct eras of NICAP, the differences between which are important for historical understanding. What I call "the real NICAP" was headed by Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe starting in 1957, and I became his assistant in 1958. For approximately 12 years, NICAP was a large and very effective UFO organization. This is the NICAP that accomplished a lot against great odds, as I will explain. When the negative University of Colorado (Condon Committee) report was released in 1968, NICAP began a downhill slide and gradually faded away after the Air Force closed down Project Blue Book in 1969. Its assets finally were purchased by the Center for UFO Studies.


NICAP history comprises three distinct eras:

1. Organization & Incorporation: October-December 1956. (Townsend Brown, President pro tem)

2. The Real NICAP: 1957-1969 (Donald E. Keyhoe, Director; Richard Hall, Assistant Director; Gordon Lore, Assistant Director)

3. Post-Condon NICAP: 1970-1980 (John Acuff; Stuart Nixon; Alan Hall)

The formative period of NICAP was in 1956 when a small group of Washington, D.C., area businessmen and professionals headed by T. Townsend Brown, a Navy scientist, began organizing a national UFO group. NICAP was incorporated in Washington, D.C., on October 24, 1956. Among the organizers were two people with past CIA connections: Nicolas de Rochefort and Bernard J.0. Carvalho.. Most were doctors, lawyers, clergymen and scientists.

Although well intended, the organizers' plans were so grandiose and unrealistic that they were scrapped and Major Keyhoe was elected Director to implement more realistic plans early the following year. I will not devote a great deal of time to this "proto-NICAP" because its reign lasted only a few months. To the best of my knowledge, none of the organizers remained active in leadership positions. Some did become Associate Members.

By January 1957, Major Keyhoe had persuaded Rear Adm. Delmer Fahrney (Navy "father of guided missiles") to serve as Chairman, and other prominent people joined the Board (See Appendix 1, NICAP Board members.). Fahrney, at a press conference, got NICAP off to a flying start. "No agency in this country or Russia is able to duplicate at this time the speeds and accelerations which radar and observers indicate these flying objects are able to achieve," he said. His remarks were widely reported in the national press (See Appendix 2.).

The former CIA employees were totally gone at this point and had no further involvement of any kind with NICAP. Later, Major Keyhoe persuaded another former Naval Academy classmate, Rear Adm. R.H. Hillenkoetter (the first Director of the CIA) to serve on the Board, but his service was overt and totally supportive of NICAP's goals.

An important point to recall is that in 1957 the CIA had only existed for 10 years and was viewed simply as a joint armed services intelligence agency. That was the original concept. The acronym "CIA" did not have the negative connotations that it has today in some circles, and present attitudes cannot fairly be applied to the past. CIA employees were simply professionals in the intelligence field, and had their own private interests and activities, including curiosity about UFOs.

The demise of "the real NICAP" can be dated roughly from the time of the University of Colorado UFO study, sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. This project was known informally as the "Condon Committee" after its scientific director, Dr. E.U. Condon. When the Condon Report was released in 1968, NICAP membership support (and thus operating funds) began drying up.

Late in 1969 Assistant Director Gordon Lore was cashiered, then Major Keyhoe was "kicked upstairs" to the Board and no longer controlled daily operations. This was the beginning of the Nixon-Acuff era (Stuart Nixon, a former low-level staff member, and Jack Acuff, an entrepreneur) and finally, in late 1978, Alan Hall, a former CIA employee became president. During the Nixon-Acuff era the important remnants of "the real NICAP," its Affiliates and Subcommittees (investigative units), were discouraged from further participation and the organization gradually faded away, like the grin of the Cheshire cat.

I will elaborate a little on this period of decline and fall because it is an important—and curious—
one in the history of the organization. A number of former CIA operatives and ultraconservative political figures were involved. It is tempting for me to think that their gradual dismantling of NICAP--as opposed to abruptly pulling the plug and possibly attracting undue attention--was a deliberate master plan. However, I cannot prove this and can only speculate on it. For the most part, I wish to focus on "the real NICAP," and its important and impressive accomplishments, of which I am very proud. Let historians judge other matters.


Sometime in 1957, during my senior year at Tulane University, I first became aware of NICAP while working on a scholarship in the mathematics department. One of my duties was to open, sort, and deliver the mail. One day a letter came addressed to the resident astronomer (a one-man astronomy department), Frazer Thomson, who doubled as a mathematics professor. It was from an interesting sounding organization: the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena of Washington, D.C. Its director, Major Keyhoe, was actively trying to solicit scientific support for NICAP.

As an enlisted man in the Air Force early in the 1950s, I had read Major Keyhoe's articles and his first book, Flying Saucers Are Real, so his name was familiar to me. I was extremely curious about UFOs, and in 1957 had briefly published a small newsletter from New Orleans called Satellite, only slightly anticipating the launch of the first earth- orbiting satellite by the Soviet Union later that year. I immediately wrote a letter to Major Keyhoe offering my services, and that began a relationship that would last for several decades.

Because I switched my major field of study at the last minute from mathematics to philosophy, I had to take some additional courses in night school in order to graduate in June 1958. Then at age 28, I set off to the Nation's Capital on an adventure that would dominate my life until this day.

When I showed up at the NICAP offices to volunteer help, I found Mrs. Rose Hackett Campbell in charge. She had one assistant, Bess Clark. Lee Munsick, who had helped Major Keyhoe during the formative period of NICAP, was already gone. What I soon discovered was that Mrs. Campbell was a great believer in "contactee" stories, and she was trying to steer NICAP in the direction of being a credulous fan club, rather than a scientific investigative organization. Although she was personally very kind and supportive to me, we were miles apart in our views of the UFO subject.


In a private meeting with Major Keyhoe, I expressed my concerns about the "contactee" issue. He was already aware of the problem but lacked the resources to hire other staff members. Mrs. Campbell was a highly organized person and a skilled office manager, and she was all he had. When I received a job offer (from Air Force Times, ironically) Major Keyhoe made me a counter offer. He would hire me part-time at a modest salary, and as the situation improved he would make it full-time and increase the salary. I accepted. The prospect of receiving any salary at all for investigating UFOs was irresistible.

At some point in late-1958 or early 1959, it was discovered that Mrs. Campbell had given "honorary" NICAP membership cards to several "contactees." By this time I had developed a good working relationship with Major Keyhoe; he dismissed Mrs. Campbell and her assistant and hired me full-time. Originally I had no staff support at all and had to do everything myself, from typing, to filing, to sweeping the floor and polishing the impressive brass plaque that bore our name on the front of the building.

For five years we struggled along, barely scraping by financially, but building the groundwork for the future. The idea of having local Affiliates was already in place when I arrived, and we had local groups in New York City; Kansas City; and later in Hartford, Connecticut; Chicago; and Los Angeles. I saw the need for developing an in-vestigation network, and proceeded to establish the so-called Sub-committee network that served NICAP so well over the years.

We had fairly stringent standards for officially recognizing a Subcommittee and issuing investigator credentials. First, we required that the members have a variety of scientific and professional skills among them, and then that they follow certain mutually agreed-upon procedures. By the time of the University of Colorado UFO project there were approximately 15-20 Subcommittees, most of which participated in the Condon Committee early warning network, screening, investigating, and forwarding good cases to the Colorado scientists.
I also enlarged the Panel of Special Advisers, individuals willing to serve as consultants in various scientific and technical areas. In the course of thoroughly investigating substantial UFO cases, we constantly consulted them about matters of technical analysis. The Panel included experts in physics, chemistry, aviation, engineering, aerospace, geology, astronomy, photography, and public relations. By 1964 the Panel included 32 members.


During the period of 1959 through 1963, sightings fell to an all- time low level. There were occasional flurries of sightings (especially in 1959 and 1961) and some good cases, but they received little or no publicity. For the most part, the average person would have no reason to believe that anything serious was going on during these years. Newspapers and radio-TV news seldom reported sightings unless they were very spectacular or involved certain types of witnesses, such as important persons. NICAP membership numbered a few thousand, and we were barely able to keep going.

Our overall strategy was to approach Congress, the news media, and influential persons with the best evidence to indicate that UFOs were something real and important, not trivial reports by careless observers. To that end, we focused on gathering all the information we could on solid cases and thoroughly investigating them. As a result, we investigated more cases than the U.S. Air Force, which at the time was the Government agency, charged with investigating UFOs.

Sometimes a particular case was newsworthy and we made headlines nationally (See Appendix 2.). Given his background, Admiral Hillenkoetter's comments during this period carried a lot of weight with newsmen. NICAP'S early successes can be attributed primarily to Major Keyhoe's journalistic skills and his Navy connections. Quite a few impressive UFO cases were funneled into NICAP by senior Navy officers.

About 1962, Major Keyhoe conceived the idea of compiling a documentary report summarizing the strongest evidence we had ac-cumulated. This, he reasoned, would impress the news media, important segments of the public, and members of Congress. The small NICAP staff (still only 3-4 people including volunteers) labored for nearly two years to sift through the files, tie up loose ends of investigation, categorize and analyze the strongest cases, obtain illustrations, and put together The UFO Evidence.

As stated in the report abstract, "A synthesis is presented of data concerning UFOs reported during the past 20 years through governmental, press and private channels. The serious evidence is clarified and analyzed. The data are reported by categories of specially trained observers and studied by patterns of appearance, performance and periodic recurrence. During the process of selecting the most reliable and significant reports, emphasis was placed on the qualifications of the observer and on cases involving two or more observers. This resulted in 746 reports being selected, after consideration of over 5000 signed reports and many hundreds of reports from newspapers and other publications."

The UFO phenomenon intervened in timely fashion when, on April 24, 1964, Officer Lonnie Zamora encountered a landed UFO with two small figures next to it in Socorro, N.M. The sighting somehow struck a chord and was reported nationally, along with a sudden flurry of other sightings and several landing cases.

After some publication delay, we released The UFO Evidence in July and sent copies first to Congressional leaders and then to every member of Congress. Partly due to the continuing sightings, the report caused a sensation and was widely publicized and treated seriously by national and international news media (See Appendix 2.). The door was now open for serious reporting on UFO sightings, and "The Phenomenon" cooperated fully. The 1964 sightings proved to be the prelude to one of the longest, sustained UFO sighting waves of all time, continuing into 1968. Before it ended, Congress had acted, Project Blue Book was shaken up, and--under heavy political pressure--the Air Force had ordered a totally independent scientific study.

Throughout 1965 significant sightings occurred at a steady pace, including several reports of objects pacing aircraft and an encounter by two Texas deputy sheriffs with a low-level structured object that approached their police cruiser and illuminated the ground around them. The financial boost from sales of The UFO Evidence enabled NICAP to effectively publicize the new cases, make sure that important people were aware of what was going on, and demonstrate how the sightings fit into the overall pattern. Interest in UFOs was strong and growing, when all hell broke loose.

In March 1966 a major wave of sightings, beginning in Michigan, captured national attention. This wave was the straw that broke the camel's back. It would take almost book-length treatment to report what transpired in any detail. Instead, I have included newspaper clippings I had started keeping that graphically illustrate the revolutionary impact of the Michigan sightings (See Appendix 2.). The news media and the general public suddenly beat a path to NICAP's door, and we were utterly swamped by the fallout of the sighting wave.


Those wild weeks in March of 1966 were a heady experience, but they marked the end of NICAP as I had known it for eight long and difficult years. Up until this point we were the underdogs, scrapping for bare survival on a meager budget, offering disturbing but well-documented facts to an ill-informed press and public as an antidote to the Government cover-up as we saw it. But we were upstarts. Why should we be taken seriously? Who were we?

First, we had succeeded in organizing and focusing a grassroots reporting and "intelligence" network that, by the admission of the Air Force in the files now stored in the National Archives, had often outperformed the Project Blue Book investigators. We collected information on hundreds of solid cases. Due to Major Keyhoe's journalistic skills and knowledge of Government agencies, our investigations resulted in news headlines that embarrassed the Air Force and piqued the curiosity of others in Congress and the Executive Branch. Then we had produced The UFO Evidence, pulling together all the serious evidence in a documentary report and calling it to the attention of Congress and major news media.

Finally, with a little help from the UFOs, we were there in the news capital of the Western world as an established, reliable source of information when the 1966 sightings brought matters to a head. In that respect, we served as a focal point and facilitator of information flow for the suddenly awakened public and press. The public had nowhere else to turn since conventional news media had not been doing their job.

As a result of these converging factors, NICAP was deluged with mail--literally by the sack full. Our cheerful mailman, Mr. Poston, suddenly had his hands full carting anywhere from one to three mailbags full of mail to our second floor office at 1536 Connecticut Avenue, in northwest Washington, for days on end. Letters poured in from average citizens, witnesses with significant information to offer, corporations, scientists, and members of practically every profession, all hungry for information. The day's mail routinely consisted of hundreds of letters.

At this point we were forced to expand the NICAP staff rapidly, finally reaching a level of about 10-12 employees (full or part-time) in 1967. Although most worked for very low salaries and volunteered additional hours without pay, the payroll still placed a financial burden on us. All kinds of additional supplies were needed to respond to the attention we had attracted to ourselves. Postage and printing costs soared; form letters had to be designed; and we struggled to process the piles of mail. Gradually we worked out a priority system for answering letters, and offered various documents and reports for sale to increase our income. But many people were not satisfied, expecting to receive detailed, personal answers to their letters. This, of course, was impossible; but they didn't realize how swamped we were.

At the same time, our field teams (Subcommittees) and Affiliates were receiving constant requests for more and more information, and they turned to headquarters for help! Since these groups were the backbone of NICAP and largely responsible for its effectiveness, we tried to give priority to them and established a special newsletter and new procedures to try to keep them informed. The bottom line, however, was that there were only a few of us and hundreds of them. The paperwork burden at headquarters rivaled that of any Government bureaucracy. Ultimately, it was a losing battle.

On top of the public clamor for information and the needs of our personnel across the country, we were often besieged by Washington area news media representatives, which included many important daily newspapers. They were seeking timely information to report practically on a daily basis while the publicity "flap" continued. They would call or simply show up at the offices, and often pre-empted our time. We had to accommodate them; there was no choice. Furthermore, it was important to keep the information flowing and to maintain public interest in the subject.

At this juncture I made several field trips to help Subcommittees or Affiliates with their publicity efforts. On one trip to Chicago, while I was being interviewed on a radio talk show, rival newsmen and radio and TV reporters showed up in the lobby requesting interviews) Each time I tried to accommodate one of them, the others became upset at me. I must have set some kind of record for newspaper, radio, and television interviews in one day.

It was a hectic but exciting and rewarding time for those of us who had fought so long for serious attention to UFOs, but it was also extremely frustrating. We couldn't keep anybody happy. There was also the problem of gearing up the office to deal with the entire situation, and neither Major Keyhoe nor I had any business experience. We were later to be criticized by our successors for allegedly not adhering to sound business practices.

More important than any business decisions at this time was the fact that it was a critical turning point in UFO history, and we were determined to see that UFOs got a fair hearing. We were not in it for profit, nor for the abstract elegance of stylish management. Salaries were low, and paychecks sometimes had to be deferred for lack of funds. Instead, we functioned as a tactical operation center in an ongoing "battle" (as we often expressed it) to counteract Air Force debunking of the subject by gathering and disseminating the best available information about UFOs. In that respect, we were highly successful. Information is the coin of the realm in Washington, D.C., and thanks to our network we had unique and superior information--and we knew what to do with it.


The events of 1965 and early 1966 aroused public, news media, and Congressional interest to a degree that could not be denied. When Congressman Gerald Ford of Michigan, Republican House leader, called for a new study of UFOs, it was a foregone conclusion that Project Blue Book was on the way out. The Air Force office of Scientific Research, it was announced in October 1966, would contract with one or more universities to do an independent study of UFOs.

To us, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. It appeared that our dreams were coming true, and we immediately set ourselves on a course that would ensure that the scientists had all the best evidence available for making their determinations. We hired new staff, leased a Xerox machine, cooperated closely with Dr. James E. McDonald, University of Arizona atmospheric physicist who had begun a vigorous study of UFOs, and generally threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the campaign.

Was the Colorado UFO Project a conspiracy to debunk the subject? Another "front" operation to sweep the UFO problem under the rug? Many UFOlogists today write it off in that way, assuming that it must have been a put-up job from the start. However, there is a much simpler and all-too-human explanation for what happened.

The rank and file members of the Colorado project, with whom I interacted extensively, were open-minded academics who were curious about UFOs and very willing to examine the evidence objectively. Unfortunately, the project lacked leadership and open-mindedness at the top. Dr. E.U. Condon considered the whole thing a joke, something to have fun with, but he did little or no investigating of his own. Instead, responsibility for running the project was delegated to Robert J. Low, whose title was Project Coordinator. Low was not a scientist and demonstrated more interest in university politics than in promoting a thorough scientific study.

Major Keyhoe and I were among those invited to brief project members soon after its inception, on Nov. 28, 1966. En route to Boulder, Colorado, on a TWA flight (with VIP treatment), we drank a toast to our honorable "enemies," the U.S. Air Force. Don insisted that I sit in the window seat, jokingly deferring to me, because his aviation safety research had made him aware of (rare) instances in which airliner windows had ruptured and passengers had been sucked out due to cabin decompression.

In February and March of 1967, I served for two more weeks as a consultant to the project in Boulder, Colo., for the purpose of developing a Case Book of hard-core, unexplained UFO cases. The Case Book was to be circulated widely to scientists as a challenge. This was one of many worthwhile projects that somehow fell by the wayside, and it was not even mentioned in the final report. However, it was acknowledged by Co-Principal investigator David R. Saunders in his book about the inner workings of the Colorado UFO Project (Reference 1.).

During these early months of the project, the members were eager to learn. I also sat in on briefings by knowledgeable scientists and engineers about ball lightning, electromagnetic effects, and possible instrumentation to detect UFOs. Everything was going smoothly, and it appeared that a real scientific study was underway. The only early warning signals to the contrary were that few of the project members knew anything about UFO history, and Dr. Condon showed little interest in the proceedings, even falling asleep during one of the briefings I attended.

Dr. James E. McDonald, University of Arizona atmospheric physicist, who had begun looking into UFO reports intensively in the mid-1960's, became an active force at this time. McDonald acted as a gadfly to the project, and made a whirlwind speaking tour to brief scientific and military organizations on the serious nature of the evidence.

During my consultantship to the project in early 1967, a junior member took me aside and showed me the pre-project memo written by Bob Low. In characterizing the "political" situation faced by the University of Colorado by taking on such a controversial subject about which most scientists were skeptical, Low had used the term "the trick will be." The memo rather clearly suggested that the project could deal with the situation by giving the public the impression of being objective, but with a wink and a nod to the scientific community to reassure them they really didn't expect to discover anything important.

I remember thinking that Low apparently was a skeptic, but I felt sure that NICAP's massive evidence would bring the project members around. Low was only one person. We were young and idealistic, and felt that "Science" would triumph in a fair contest. Little did we realize at that time how remote from the actual workings of the project Condon would remain, and how completely Low's attitudes would dominate the outcome. Our initial impression of Condon was that he was an independent minded person and an accomplished scientist who could be counted on to do a careful and objective job. I personally hand-carried and delivered to Dr. Condon a thick investigation report on the April 17, 1966, Portage County, Ohio, case prepared by William Weitzel. Police in several different jurisdictions had chased a low-level structured object that was emitting a beam of light down to the road. They chased it into Pennsylvania at high speed, and watched as it accelerated upward and disappeared into the star field background (Reference 2.).

It was an impressive case that had caused a stir in Congress, and Weitzel's report was a model of thorough investigation and documentation. When the Condon Committee report was released two years later, I was astonished to find that there was no mention of the case at all I I never learned whether Condon had shared the report with the project staff. It had never occurred to me that he would simply ignore it.

At NICAP we began a massive project of copying files for the Colorado scientists, also working closely with McDonald and keeping him supplied with historical case files as well as the latest information. For over a year we cooperated fully with the project, providing help and advice of many kinds and submitting hundreds of strong cases for their study. NICAP Subcommittee teams willingly participated in the "early warning network" established for the project by Dr. David R. Saunders to alert project members to new and potentially significant cases.

Along the way, Dr. Condon periodically made skeptical or debunking statements in public, to the dismay of other project members and to the concern of NICAP (Reference 3.). Throughout 1967 we continued to voice solid support for the Condon Committee in our membership publication, The U.F.O. Investigator. But Condon's repeated indiscretions made it increasingly difficult for us to continue on this path.


In the October 1967 issue we reported and discussed Condon's negative statements and expressed concern about them, but voiced our continued support. In September, NICAP had put several important questions to Condon and Low to clarify the question of how many NICAP cases they were studying. Were they taking into account the hundreds of solid cases we had been sending to them? By December, relations became seriously strained. The situation continued to fester, and finally NICAP broke off relations with the Colorado Project in May 1968.

Dr. James E. McDonald, meanwhile, was openly critical of the Condon Committee and prepared a long critique of its methods for Bob Low in a letter dated January 31, 1968 (Reference 1, Appendix B.) In it, he questioned Low about the "trick" memo. When Dr. Condon discovered that McDonald knew about the Low "trick" memo, he blew his stack and accused staff members of disloyalty and McDonald of theft. He even went so far as to telephone the president of the University of Arizona to make accusations about McDonald. Shortly afterwards he dismissed David Saunders and Norm Levine from the project on the grounds of "incompetence" (Reference 4, and Reference 1, pp. 188-195.).

In ensuing months, leading up to NICAP's final break with the project, John Fuller interviewed various project members and (with the help of James McDonald and NICAP) wrote an expose' in LOOK magazine for May 14, 1968, including the full story of the "trick" memo. It was titled "Flying Saucer Fiasco," with the subtitle "The extraordinary story of the half-million-dollar 'trick' to make Americans believe the Condon committee was conducting an objective investigation" (Reference 5.).

By now it had become obvious to all of us that the Condon Committee report would be negative, and various initiatives were undertaken to help offset the anticipated "findings." On July 29, 1968, Congressman J. Edward Roush (D. Ind.) chaired a hearing by the House Committee on Science and Astronautics titled "Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects" (Reference 6.). Out of fairness to the Condon Committee, which had not yet released its report, the Congressional committee laid down ground rules prohibiting discussion of the project. Instead, most of the witnesses (including Dr. James E. McDonald and Dr. J. Allen Hynek) focused on presentations that stressed the serious nature of the evidence and skirted around the controversy.

After the Condon Committee report (Reference 7.) was published in January 1969, the NICAP staff began work on what we called Volume II of The UFO Evidence and a rebuttal of the report. But we had over-extended ourselves financially and membership support was beginning to slack off. By the end of the year, organizational disarray and internal dissension had caused infighting among staff members.

I had left NICAP in September 1967 to get married and seek a decent paying job. For about seven months I worked for a Washington, D.C., area trade association, but the "culture shock" was too great for me and I resigned from that job. I then returned to NICAP part-time, working for about a year (between July 1968 and July 1969) helping Assistant Director Gordon Lore with administrative problems and coordinating the publication efforts. In August I left NICAP permanently as it drifted toward organizational gridlock and bankruptcy.

Concerned about the impending demise of NICAP, Gordon Lore consulted with me and made a conscientious effort to alert key Board Members, seeking their help in salvaging the organization. Other staff members had their own ideas and, apparently, plotted their own schemes independently. After a complicated series of transactions, Gordon Lore was notified by telegram from an area Board Member on December 5, 1969, that his services were no longer required and he was locked out of his office, all with no advance notice or discussion.

Outraged by this development, I strongly protested it to all the Board Members, pointing out in the process that I was owed back salary that had not been paid in full because of financial problems. Later I learned that my protest had resulted in several resignations from the Board. However, long and contentious negotiations with Board Members J. B. Hartranft, Jr. and Col. J. Bryan, III (now Board Chairman), over back salary issues went nowhere and left me permanently bitter about the treatment I received.


NICAP was temporarily run by Stuart Nixon, heretofore a low-level staff member, now given the title Secretary-Treasurer. In May 1970, John L. Acuff was elected President. Prior to that he had been Executive Director of the Society of Photographic Scientists and Engineers, and Vice President for Plans and Programs of Data-Medics Corporation. Stuart Nixon was later appointed Executive Director. Acuff had found a niche in managing several small associations simultaneously, skimming his salary or managerial fee off the top.

I had almost no dealings at all with the new management, which prided itself on its alleged business acumen. In all fairness, Nixon and Acuff did a creditable job for a while, publishing good information in the U.F.O. Investigator and advocating serious attention to UFOs. But NICAP became exceedingly low-key and lacked its former clout, as the invaluable Affiliate and Subcommittee members gradually were alienated and resigned.

In 1971, with John Acuff as President and Colonel Bryan still on the Board, two new figures appeared on the scene as Board Members. One, Harry C. Cooper, had served in the CIA from its inception in 1947 until retirement in 1966, including service in the Operations Branch. He became Special Assistant to the Deputy Director for Intelligence. The other, Brig. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, III, USAF (Ret.) was a World War II fighter group commander, later serving in various planning and R&D roles for NATO, Air Force Systems Command, and the Defense Atomic Support Agency.

Acuff's "business-like" approach had been successful for several years (successful in ensuring his salary of $20,000 or better and allowing publication of a bare-bones newsletter while paring down the "research" budget to almost nothing.) But by 1976 a downhill financial slide has begun (Reference 8.).

After a hiatus of about seven years, during which I had little or no contact with NICAP, I suddenly found myself back in the NICAP picture--more than a little uncomfortably. In August 1978, Dr. John B. Carlson, an astronomy professor at the University of Maryland, and I learned about an attempt by NICAP Board Members Hartranft and Richardson to settle affairs with Acuff and revive the dying organization. Acuff now claimed that NICAP was seriously in debt and owed him a substantial amount of money for administrative services. He had been making overtures to various groups trying to find a buyer for the organization's assets. In an attempt to prevent having the invaluable NICAP files fall into the wrong hands, we formed an Ad Hoc Committee to Preserve NICAP. We proposed various resolutions, including an offer to take possession of the files in case of bankruptcy.

For about five months, off and on, we negotiated with Hartranft, Richardson, and Charles Lombard, an acknowledged former CIA employee and aide to Senator Barry Goldwater. Also involved in the negotiations was Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Scientific Director of the Center for UFO Studies. Richardson and Lombard at first seemed interested in reviving NICAP. In our view, however other organizations (especially MUFON and CUFOS) were now the leaders in the field, and we were not in favor of perpetuating the NICAP organization, only in preserving its files.

Later, we explored various possibilities for affiliating NICAP with MUFON or CUFOS, or forming a combined umbrella group to pool the resources. Throughout this period, Hartranft and Richardson were seriously considering--or so they said--appointing me President of NICAP. But the negotiations dragged on without anything being resolved. The main thing that struck all of us at this time was the complete ignorance of UFO history, UFO groups, and prominent UFOlogists displayed by these Board Members. We wondered if there were some hidden agenda behind their machinations.

In October 1978, Acuff was forced to resign as president, but was allowed to remain on the Board and retain custody of the files. Two new Board Members were voted in at the same time: Charles Lombard and John Fisher, head of the American Security Council and Communication Corporation of America, a conservative fund-raising organization. Lombard apparently opposed my candidacy for President, preferring to appoint some retired Government official.

In December 1978, Alan N. Hall, a retired CIA employee, became President. Hall (no relation) allegedly took the position as a post-retirement hobby, and he operated out of his home without access to the files, answering the phone and occasionally writing a letter. As of then NICAP was all but dead, a hollow shell of its former self (See Reference 9.).

A short time later the Center for UFO Studies purchased the NICAP assets, the most important of which was the comprehensive sighting case investigative files which we had created with over 20 years of blood, sweat, and tears. Originally CUFOS intended to keep NICAP in existence as a separate entity, but--in effect--NICAP was absorbed into CUFOS and ceased to exist as an organization. The NICAP sighting files have been preserved and remain an invaluable collection of significant data and historical information.


1. Saunders, David R., and R. Roger Harkins. UFOs? Yes! Where The Condon Committee Went Wrong. (New York: World Publishing Co., 1968).

2. Story, Ronald D. (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of UFOs. (New York: Doubleday, 1980, pp. 271-272.

3. NICAP, The U.F.O. Investigator. Vol. III, No. 11, Jan.-Feb. 1967; Vol. IV, No. 2, Oct. 1967.

4. Boffey, Philip M. "UFO Project: Trouble on the Ground" Science Vol. 161, 26 July 1968.

5. Fuller, John. "Flying Saucer Fiasco." LOOK, May 14, 1968.

6. House of Representatives, Committee on Science and Astronautics. Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects. Committee Print No. 7, July 29, 1968.

7. Gillmor, Daniel S. (Ed.) Final Report of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. (New York: Bantam Books, 1969).

8. Zechel, Todd. "NI-CIA-AP or NICAP?" MUFON UFO Journal, No. 133, Jan.-Feb. 1979.

9. Hall, Richard. "NICAP: The Bitter Truth." MUFON UFO Journal, No. 145, March 1980.


Rev. Albert Baller, clergyman

Brig. Gen. Thomas B. Catron, USA (Ret.)

Frank Edwards, newsman

Col. Robert B. Emerson, USAR, chemist

Rear Adm. Delmer S. Fahrney, USN (Ret.)

Gen. William E. Kepner, USAF (Ret.)

Rev. Leon C. LeVan, clergyman

Prof. Charles A. Maney, physics

Abraham Sonnabend, businessman & hotelier

Talbot T. Speer, businessman


(The following served on the Board for various lengths of time during this period. Those marked "x" served throughout the entire period.)

Dr. Marcus Bach (x), theologian, State University of Iowa

Rev. Albert Baller (x), clergyman

Col. Joseph Bryan III (*), USAF (Ret.)

Dr. Earl Douglass, religious writer/columnist

Frank Edwards (+), newsman

Col. Robert B. Emerson (x), USAR, chemist

Maj. Dewey Fournet, Jr. (**), USAFR

J.B. Hartranft, Jr., (x), Pres., Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn.

Vice Adm. R.H. Hillenkoetter, USN (Ret.), former CIA Director

Dr. Leslie K. Kaeburn (+), biophysicist

Rear Adm. H.B. Knowles, USN (Ret.), submariner

Rev. Leon LeVan, clergyman

Prof. Charles A. Maney (+), physics

Dr. Charles P. Olivier, astronomer

Dr. Bruce A. Rogers, mechanical engineering professor

J. Edward Roush, attorney (former Congressman)

(* = later discovered to be a former naval officer and CIA employee, psychological warfare specialist)

(**= former Pentagon Monitor of Air Force UFO project)

(+ = died in 1969)


John L. Acuff, Jr., Chairman (former Executive Director, Society of Photographic Scientists and Engineers)

Col. Joseph Bryan III, USAF (Ret.)

Harry C. Cooper (*), CIA employee, 1947-1966; former Special Assistant to the Deputy Director for Intelligence

Major. Dewey J. Fournet, aeronautical engineer, former Pentagon Monitor of AF UFO project

Joseph B. Hartranft, Jr., President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)

Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe, USMC (Ret.), former NICAP Director

Charles P. Miller (*), NICAP Vice President, journalist; State Dept., U.S. Information Service; VP, editorial affairs, AOPA

Brig. Gen. Robert C. Richardson (*), USAF (Ret.), businessman and security policy consultant, Washington, D.C.; fighter group commander in WWII; NATO planning and R&D; Defense Atomic Sup-port Agency

Dr. Bruce A. Rogers, mechanical engineering professor

Congressman J. Edward Roush, Chairman of July 1968 Congressional Symposium on UFOs
(*) Elected to Board at 1971 annual meeting

Source: MUFON 1994 MUFON Symposium Proceedings pages 185-201

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