Origin of the UFO Phenomenon
By Michael Hall
Focusing on possibly the greatest saga of all time, Origin of the UFO Phenomenon documents many fascinating events long forgotten by today's sound bite generation. It is one of very few books that approaches the subject from a historical perspective. Casting the story in the aura of the past with the mystery already inherent in the phenomenon, Mr. Hall has produced a true to life science fiction thriller. It's chilling, it's mystifying, and it's amazing because it is a very real part of our history.
The stories comprising the book are taken from the best sources available. The first chapters deal with the period from 1896 to 1946 which contain interesting legends and lore. Those years, however, do produce descriptions of not just the classic image of the "flying saucer," but a whole host of strange aerial phenomena that continues to be seen to this day. When the reader comes to 1947, a very shocking and more contemporary story unfolds. That year started the first large "wave" of UFO sightings. The term UFO, however, was yet to be coined, and in the early years saucers or discs were the catch words after a very famous sighting by Kenneth Arnold on June 24th. The phenomena rocked not only the United States but also the world. Beginning in force by July 4th of that year, shiny discs were being seen by hundreds. During that long Independence Day weekend the sightings dramatically increased in frequency from day to day. By July 6th, saucer reports made the front page of the New York Times and would do so for the next three straight days as the military started flying special "saucer patrols" in an attempt to intercept one of the mysterious discs. Every major city and most small towns around North America had sightings which were followed by similar accounts in other countries. Military men, scientists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, airline pilots, and just everyday citizens were seeing the strange objects, but what were they? Hall's book takes no position, it simply documents the facts.
The reports climbed to as many as a hundred a day from July 6th until July 11th. Then after the 11th, they suddenly declined. As 1947 progressed, only a few sightings were made, but fortunately in the United States the military had laid the groundwork for a very serious investigation of the incidents. By 1948 UFO activity picked up and accounted for some spectacular "classic" cases with a great many reports coming close together in 1949. From that year through 1951 many notable accounts also came to light but unfortunately were not properly investigated. For some unexplainable reason the Air Force had purged its best aeronautical engineers from the project by that point.
By 1952, the most famous UFO wave unfolded. Incidents became so numerous in the United States that in July the Democratic National Convention had to fight for headline space with the flying saucers-especially after they appeared over the White House. Virtually every American newspaper carried the accounts. Where reporters had previously come to take the subject somewhat lightly, by 1952 serious stories made page one features and portrayed notable public figures expressing concern. Fortunately for historians, Air Force Intelligence was then documenting dozens of reports per day via a revived investigation under the very able administration of Captain Edward J. Ruppelt. Ruppelt popularized the term UFO and served as Chief of Air Force investigations on the phenomenon until mid 1953.
Shortly thereafter the UFO saga in the United States becomes much harder to follow. This came about after the 1952 wave scared the United States government into doing something about the situation. They couldn't stop the sightings, but they did think they could discourage interest in the subject and prevent a possible hysteria - a real concern during that very hot period of the Cold War. Thus the book concludes its survey with the end of 1953.
Michael David Hall has previously authored a biography on Indiana Senator Henry S. Lane. In The Road To Washington, Rise of an Indiana Politician, Hall traces the drama that took Lane from the chairmanship of the first national Republican Convention in 1856 to his influence four years later in securing Abraham Lincoln with his party's nomination. Dozens of magazine articles on Indiana history followed that work. Several of those continued Mr. Hall's research on the former Indiana senator, taking him from a congressional legislator who worked with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, to the founder of the Indiana Republican Party, and then on to a powerful Civil War era senator.
Hall holds a B.A. from Illinois College and an M.A. from Western Illinois University in American History. In 1984 he began a museum career at the Illinois State Museum and since 1987 has served as Executive Director of the Montgomery County Historical Society and its Henry S. Lane Historic Home in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
Currently the author is working on a new book, A Time To Remember, The UFO Wave of 1952 and a co-authored article with researcher Wendy Connors for the International UFO Reporter dealing with legendary Project Sign figure, Alfred Loedding. Soon an expanded version of Origin of the UFO Phenomenon will be published, titled UFOs, A Century of Sightings: The Truth Revealed detailing the subject all the way up to present day.
As he pursues his research he finds diversion in aviation history as a part time guide at the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Hall also has interest in the era of the great steam trains, serving as a director at the Linden, Indiana, Monon-Nickel Plate Railroad Museum and Historical Society. Residing in Lafayette, Indiana, with his wife Teresa and their collection of five pampered stray cats, both Mr. and Mrs. Hall developed interests in that area's rich heritage in transportation history spawned by technological influences from nearby Purdue University. In fact, Mr. Hall has taken advantage of his proximity to Purdue to further his studies in history and plans in the near future to complete his Ph. D. in American History.
Interest in the subject of UFOs began quite by accident while working at Purdue on a paper analyzing the effects of American daylight bombing raids on Germany. Mr. Hall then happened across some obscure UFO accounts filed by allied pilots. Called foo-fighters in those days, the stories he found fascinated him. As he came to realize what a huge volume of primary material existed on UFOs in the nation's archives, Hall knew he had an amazing story to tell.
(The author can be reached by e-mail at
NICAP Home Page