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 you."

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."

 "Nobody's 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 typed pages.

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 Earth—Host to
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 amazement.

"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 by-line."

"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."

"But an Intelligence colonel! Why take the risk—now of all times?"

"Odell has the right to express a personal opinion, if it doesn't violate security."

"For Heaven's 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 soon."

"You think 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 cleared.

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.