Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe
The most significant figure in UFO history was born in 1897, joined the Marines in 1919, and retired due to injury in 1923. He was a good writer, and worked as an aide to Charles Lindbergh in 1927. He wrote a book of his traveling with Lindbergh, another on the possibility of coming war, and many popular magazine articles, before re-joining the Marines during WWII. He retired as a Major. Don Keyhoe got into the UFO writing business due to a hunch that the editor of TRUE Magazine had about rumors he was hearing in 1949. He asked Keyhoe if he would look into them. Keyhoe read Sydney Shallett's pieces in the Saturday Evening Post in early 1949, but also the parallel USAF-prepared "Project Saucer" document. Project Saucer was more suggestive of extraterrestrial origins for the mystery than was Saturday Evening Post, despite Air Force public quotes to the contrary. Keyhoe was mystified, and hooked. Within a year he had published his blockbuster paperback, The Flying Saucers Are Real, and this field was never the same. By 1952, he was writing his even more staggering, Flying Saucers From Outer Space, sanctioned on the back cover by a Pentagon letter [from Al Chop.] These two books, plus Captain Edward Ruppelt's in 1956, were the anchors of the UFO community for well over a decade. During 1956, several disparate persons in Washington DC were interacting and festering over what they perceived as Air Force malfeasance in handling the UFO mystery. They thought that there should be a DC-based organization to correct that. Naturally they reached out to Keyhoe, living in nearby Virginia. Thus, after some bumps in the road, NICAP was formed.