Early 1953 - Major Donald Keyhoe discussion with Albert
Chop, Air Force Press Desk
It was two
days before I heard from the Pentagon. Then one morning an Air
Force PIO phoned me.
"Al told me to
give you a message—he had to rush off to a meeting. He said to
ask you to come in around 2 o'clock. He's got something to show
When I saw Al, I
noticed he had a worried look. "What's happened?" I said.
"There's been a
spurt in sightings. Only a few have gotten into the papers, but
we've had 42 military reports alone, the first 17 days of
February. I've got a few here for you." He was silent for a
moment, tapping his fingers on the desk. "It's not good, Don. If
it keeps on, there may be a lot of public reports. We might have
the July trouble all over again."
"I can guess the
rest," I said. "They're backing down on the Utah film showing."
backing down," Al retorted. "Anyway, not the ones who think it
should be made public. But it wasn't the Utah business I wanted
to see you about." Reaching into a desk drawer, he
brought out a manila folder. As he opened it, I saw several
This script," he said carefully, "has
been approved for publication—on one condition. I’ll tell you what
it is after yon read it."
He handed me the pages and I looked at the title: Planet
Extraterrestrial life. I
stared at Al, then read the beginning. The key paragraphs repeated
a statement which several scientists had made: In some far-off
future, when the earth cools or our sun expands, Man's only chance
for survival will be escape to another planet. This situation, the
script went on, can be expected on any inhabited planet. Then one line seemed to leap from the
page: "Granted that
super-intelligents in another solar system are looking for a
suitable planet for a second home, why would earth be singled out
. . .?" I looked at Al in
"This is dynamite. You mean the Air Force wants this made public?"
"It's not an official statement," he said quickly.
"Then what is it?"
"It's one person's opinion—a man named W. C. Odell."
"Not Colonel Odell, in Intelligence?"
"Well—yes. But his Air Force connection can't be used on the
"You'll never keep it secret, if this gets into print. The boys in
the press room are sure to dig it up. When that hits the wires,
it'll raise holy hell."
"The Air Force would say it was simply one man's opinion."
Intelligence colonel! Why take the risk—now of all times?"
"Odell has the
right to express a personal opinion, if it doesn't violate
sake, Al! You know what this means. If this invasion idea gets
out after you show the Utah film—"
"It won't be
published then. No magazine could get it on the stands that
they'd sit on it that long? The minute the Utah story breaks,
they'd resell it to a wire service, with joint credit."
Al was silent.
"You want me to
show this to True—is that it?"
"Yes, or any
other magazine you write for. But make it clear that Odell's Air
Force rank can't be used."
"Look, AL I've
got to know what's back of this. Does the Air Force want it out
as one of the possible answers?"
Al shook his
head. "I told you it was just one man's idea. Security Review
passed it. That's all I know."
He put the
script in an envelope, along with the February cases he'd
Show it to your editors, and let me
know their reaction as soon as you can."
I went out, still astonished. Even if Al were telling the truth,
it was incredible that Colonel Odell’s suggestion should be made
public now. On the face of it, the Air Force was throwing caution
to the winds. But knowing the fight against even the film showing,
I couldn't believe it. There must be some other answer.
Stopping under a corridor fight, I read over the entire script. It
was quietly written, the invasion suggestions sandwiched between
discussions of space travel and astronomy. There was no hint of a
violent occupation of the earth. But nothing could reduce the
impact of Odell's suggestion. If he were right, unknown beings
from a dying planet were considering the earth as a possible
haven—a new home in which to perpetuate their race. Possibly, as
Odell said, the long survey would prove our world was not
suitable. Otherwise, Planet Earth might become—willingly or not—a
"host to extraterrestrial life."
I went into a phone booth to call True. Then I realized
that the editors would want to see the script and talk over all
the angles. Calling the airport, I made a reservation on a 5
o'clock flight, then I drove home to get an overnight bag. Before
I left, I phoned Riordan's hotel. Jim was out, but I left a
message for him to meet me, if he could, at the airport. Maybe
he'd have some idea of why the script had been cleared.
On the way to the airport, I thought over Odell's suggestion. The
mass migration idea wasn't new—it had been used in dozens of
stories and plays. But I'd never taken it seriously; moving any
large number of people from a distant planet seemed impossible. Of
course it could be done gradually, over a period of years. Even
then, the problems seemed enormous, though they might not be
barriers to a race which had long ago mastered space travel. How
would Man, in some far-distant age, go about migrating to another
planet? It would depend, first, on the fate they faced on earth.
There were two theories as to how the earth would die. According
to the first, it would slowly cool, then become frigidly cold like
Jupiter and Pluto. The opposite theory held that the earth will
get unbearably hot and finally burn. One scientist holding this
belief is Dr. George Gamow, author of One-Two-Three—Infinity!
and professor of theoretical physics at George Washington
University. In Gamow's opinion the sun is producing more energy
and constantly expanding: at the last, our globe will be
destroyed in a tremendous explosion. During the first stages of
cooling or heating, our descendants might escape surface
temperatures by building underground, air-conditioned cities,
surviving on chemically produced foods. (This was the Project Sign
suggestion regarding a possible race on Mars.) If the earth were
cooling and not threatened by an expanding sun, the human race
might exist indefinitely underground. But if there were a better
alternative, the chance of a normal, outdoor life on another
planet, some earthlings at least would undoubtedly try it. In that
far-distant time, Man will certainly have mastered interstellar
flight. Long before the earth becomes unbearably hot or cold; our
descendants would begin to look for a new home in the universe.
Since no solar-system planet has a climate like the earths, the
nearest star system would be explored first. Perhaps a twin of the
earth will be found; if not, the explorers would search farther.
During a long exploration more than one earth "twin" might be
found. If the nearest one were inhabited, our descendants might
choose a more distant planet, especially if the planet race were
strong enough to resist invasion.
Once Earth II was selected, bases would be set up and an
occupation force gradually brought in. On a planet similar to
this, evolution probably would have produced fish and fowl, also
animals which the colonists could domesticate. If not, small
numbers could be brought to start such life. Fields would be
cleared and earth-type crops planted. Even with giant space ships,
moving most of the earth's population would be impossible. At
first, probably, migration would be limited to technicians,
builders, defense forces, and their families. It might take
hundreds of years for Earth II to be fully occupied. Migration
might be voluntary, but probably it would be restricted to
younger age-groups—except for key scientists and various
experts. What would happen to the hundreds of millions necessarily
left on earth? It would be impossible to move all of them
underground. Perhaps some plan for gradual depopulation could be
used—birth control enforced by sterilization. In this case, long
before the earth freezes, or begins to roast under a blazing sun;
it will in truth become a dead planet, abandoned to its fate.
Fantastic as it sounded, this could well be the method of
migration to an uninhabited planet. But if the selected planet
were inhabited, a different plan would have to be used. The choice
of such a planet might be forced on the earthlings; it might be
the only one on which they could survive. Or it could be a
cynically deliberate choice—the homes, industries, farms, and
mineral supplies of the planet race might offer short cuts to
colonization. Either way, the fate of the planets' inhabitants
would depend on the character of future Man. By then, a wiser
human race may have outlawed war, or they may have degenerated
into scientific barbarians.
If our descendants were peaceful, they could suggest a friendly
coexistence to the planet race: the earth's scientific advances
might be held out as an inducement. But if future Man is a cruel
materialist, he would take one of two steps: First, he could
destroy the inhabitants and take over their civilization. Second,
he could conquer them, then use the captive race for forced labor.
Even if the earthlings desired a peaceful occupation, it might not
succeed. A race too weak to resist would be no problem, but an
advanced race might fight. If the planet were the only possible
choice for Earth II, our descendants would probably use force if
reason failed. Once in control, they might persuade the
inhabitants to cooperate in exchange for their freedom. It is possible that the earthlings would
discover a highly superior
race, forcing them to renew their search for a second home. If
none were found they might, in desperation, stage a sudden attack
with their most deadly weapons, hoping surprise would overcome the
inhabitants' defenses. Should this fail, then underground life on
earth would be Man's last hope .
To the world of '53, I knew the fate of future Man would be of
little interest. But Colonel Odell’s suggestion brought the exodus
idea grimly down to the present. His explanation might be mere
speculation, without a shred of evidence. But somewhere in the
universe there were bound to be planets far older than ours. If
such an aging planet were inhabited, its race—providing they
traveled in space—would certainly search for a twin to their dying
world. And that twin could
be the earth.