As much as Jim enjoyed the wild world of UFOs, his fondest memories were of his 1950s treasure hunting exploits in Peru. This article can in no way substitute for Jim’s unwritten memoir, but it helps point to places where more details can be found.
In SCTTT, Jim wrote, “I first met with (Ken Krippene) on October 5. We talked about possible future projects Krippene had in mind and how I might participate. I ended up signing a contract with him, under which he would take me on a Peruvian jungle expedition beginning in Feb. 1954.”
Krippene was also responsible for launching Jim more seriously in UFO research: he’d planned an exploitation book, which Jim was supposed to research, and Krippene would lend his more famous name to assure better sales. It fell through, but while working on it, Moseley met some very interesting people, and found himself deeply drawn into the topic.
For the next several years, Moseley divided his time between the US, Saucer News and Peru treasure hunts. Jim’s absences were a mystery to the flying saucer fans and Saucer News readers, and the subject of much speculation, and helped fuel fanciful rumors that he was a Jim was a saucer spy! Also, while in Peru, Jim found time for both some real saucer work and also some mischief, see The Case of the Smoking Saucer, and the hoaxed saucer landing site below.
Over the years, Jim did write a bit about his South American adventures, and discussed them on some radio programs.
In Ray Palmer’s Flying Saucers magazine, Gray Barker had a column, Chasing the Flying Saucers. In the May 1959 issue (page 19), Barker relates an epic trip to New Jersey to meet with the whole Saucer News gang and its mysterious publisher, Jim Moseley. Barker jazzed it up a bit, as he had already been good friends with Moseley for years. But it does give a bit of insight on how Jim’s travels were perceived by the saucer fiends at the time. See the article at Scribd: Flying Saucers magazine May 1959
Rare Jim Moseley Recorded Interviews
On the Long John Nebel Show WOR radio from 1958 or so, Jim took a break from saucer talk to share details of his other career:
There’s a fair amount about his travels and excavations at Peru, including some discussion of the Nazca Lines.
Jim Moseley also spoke about his treasure hunting adventures in Peru in this rare interview with Bob Zanotti’s Coffee Klatch:
The room rates ( good through June 4th ) are only $107.00 per night for this four star hotel.
That weekend was the same for the 1965 Congress here in Cleveland. Somewhere I have an invitation for the 1965 event that I will dig up and use with my Facebook page posting about the event.”
– – –
The original title of the organization was the Congress of Scientific Ufologists, but was change to the National UFO Conference, or NUFOC.
Rick also said, “This will be an informal affair where each attendee will have the opportunity to discuss whatever he or she finds interesting on any and all aspects of the UFO spectrum. In other words a chance to share information and ideas without a strict agenda regarding time and format. True cooperation for mutual benefit.
Anyone with an interest in historical UFO research is welcomed. It’s going to be an open and fun time for one and all to informally get together and talk shop and share information and insights.”
Jim Moseley’s early flying saucer days were interrupted by frequent visits to Peru for treasure hunting, or vice versa. During a trip there in May 1954, Jim met a man, Pedro Bardi Zeña, who had a dramatic story and a unique photograph of a flying saucer. Bardi told him of a UFO that left a distinctive trail of vapor or smoke as it streaked across the jungle sky.
Jim’s original report:
The story and photo was first published in the US in the April 1955 issue of Saucer News (then known as Nexus).
NICAP takes a look
NICAP (the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena), while reporting on a similar UFO report, checked with Jim on the Peru photo and the details behind it:
“Smoke Trailing Disc Reported Over New Zealand Similar to 1952 Peru Case”
NICAP believes members may be interested in the accompanying picture supposed to have been made of a smoke-trailing object over Peru in 1952. The photograph and extracts from the sighting report are reproduced with the kind permission of James Moseley, editor of SAUCER NEWS.
In a letter dated August 10, 1957, Mr. Moseley gave NICAP the following account of the incident:
“In Lima I met Señor Pedro Bardi, who is an agricultural engineer. On July 19, 1952, while on a farm in the Madre de Dios section of Peru, he and others saw a saucer. It was about 4:30 p.m. and they were talking to Lima by radio.
“Suddenly, according to Bardi, the radio went dead. They looked out the window and saw a round object going by at high speed. (The witnesses included Pedro Arellano, owner of the farm.) The object such had passed; it was at an estimated 100 meters altitude and was a little smaller than a DC-3, according to Bardi. It made a buzzing sound as it went by.”
The object’s speed, Moseley explains, was determined by a report that it was seen four minutes later near Porto Maldonado, 120 kilometers distant. This speed was computed at 1117 miles per hour.
The photograph was secured from a customs administrator named Domlngo Troncosco, who said he had taken it as the object flew near the port. Though the photo shows a cigar-shaped object instead of the round shape Bardi described, this could possibly have been due to an elongated effect caused by speed.
“It seems obvious to me,” Moseley told NICAP, “that the photo is genuine. Incidentally, I (strongly doubt) if this particular saucer was anything but earth-made.”
What Jim and NICAP did not know, was that Project Blue Book already had a file on this case. Jim accurately repeated information given to him, but some details he had were inaccurate. There was a newspaper story on it, and even some degree of official investigation.
The photo was not from 1952, but taken in July 1951. The report by Col. McHenry Hamilton Jr., states that the Peruvian Air Force mentions a total of three photographs, supposedly taken by different individuals, and that it was their opinion that it was hoaxed with “a fairly clever attempt at trick photography” for “commercial reasons.”
That’s very interesting for several reasons, but chiefly for the mention of additional photos, which have not been seen since.
Did Jim get conned? Bardi had heard of Jim’s interest in flying saucers, which is the reason he sought him out and brought the story and photograph to him. Jim was given no reason to doubt Bard, the picture, or the details of the story. He went on to present the material just as he’d received it, and few have ever given serious question to the authenticity of the photo itself.
The biggest exposure the photo received was in the Flying Saucers Look Magazine Special, 1967. The full page photo appeared with only a brief caption in tiny print, where it credits Saucer News for the picture. This magazine was a mainstream publication that reached millions of readers.
The picture has continued to receive exposure world-wide, frequently reprinted, often without attribution, and in a cropped form. It’s been seen in countless UFO books, publications, websites and documentaries.
The story picked up some twists over the years. The smoky trail behind the UFO had evolved into something more exotic. In an Open Minds article by Antonio Huneeus, Jim was disturbed to find references to “angel hair,” the silky ephemeral substance that was once associated with flying saucers. Jim wrote me, “The photo with commentary, is in the December – January 2012 Open Minds. In all these years, I have not heard of any other source of info on this photo except me. Yet their commentary contains additional material that I am quite sure is false!”
It was this “angel hair” article that prompted Jim to ask me if I could track down additional information on the photo. The report I prepared for him ultimately became the foundation for this article.
A Sour Note
Jim was insulted in 2012, when Michael Swords, in trying to sort out the photo’s history, questioned its authenticity due to Jim’s reputation as a prankster over the years:
This picture seems to have reached the American public via James Moseley. That fact is almost enough to make you quit bothering right there. Moseley, however, nice a guy he may or may not be, has spent a life fouling the waters of UFOlogy with hoaxes, misrepresentations, rumors, misplaced “humor” … it has been an almost wholly unhelpful “career” to the field.
Apparently, Swords’ prejudice against Jim prevented him from making any attempt to contact Jim to find out more about the photo. Jim considered responding to Swords’ sore-headed misrepresentations and rumors, but decided to quit bothering right there.
The Smoking Saucer Flies On
“My picture,” is what Jim called the Peru saucer photograph, and he was proud to have introduced it to flying saucer study. He always thought the photo was genuine, but that it was likely just pictured an aircraft of earthly origin.
I think Jim would have been happy to know that there’s still interest in the photo, and that more information on it is coming to light.
The original page is no longer online, so in honor of the Supreme Commander, we’ll preserve it here for posterity.
WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL JAMES W. MOSELEY 50TH ANNIVERSARY ROAST PAGE… AND YOUR CHANCE TO TELL JIM EXACTLY WHAT YOU THINK OF HIM!
“I do have a serious interest in UFOs,
and I did have a serious interest even back
when I was doing hoaxes, but my *approach*
is not serious. I like to enjoy myself.”
— James W. Moseley
The months November 2003 through July 2004 ring in James W. Moseley’s 50th year of saucering, of telling it shockingly close to how it is in the wonderfully weird world of ufology–50 madcap years as Serious Ufologist (his Adamski expose), UFOhoaxer (the Straith letter), Semi-Serious Ufologist (his 4-D Theory), and Reigning Court Jester of The Field. This makes Jim one of if not the longest surviving continuously active saucerer on (this) planet!
“November 2003 through July 2004?” you wonder. Yes, like most everything else in ufology, the exact beginning of Jim’s checkered ufological career is a few degrees out of phase with 3-D “reality,” a tad hard to pin down. It was in mid-November 1953 that Jim set out on a cross-country trek to interview as many saucer spotters, experts, and interesting-for-various-reasons others as possible for a UFO book he planned to write. He managed to bag more than 100 interviews, all of them still interesting, some still of ufological importantance. However, the book didn’t get published till 2002, forming the basis of the 1950s section of Jim’s and my Shockingly Close to the Truth!–Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist (Prometheus Books). In July 1954, Jim published the first issue of his saucerzine Nexus, which a year later became Saucer News, which in the 1970s devolved into today’s Saucer Smear. So when was the momentous 50-year mark actually reached? Was it when Jim jumped into his shiny new ’53 Hudson and hit the saucer road? Or was it when he dedicated himself to “the highest principles of ufological journalism”?
As for Steve, Matt, and me, we’re going to celebrate the entire 9 months here on the Moseley Roast Page, and we hope “billions and billions” of you will join us. Okay, okay. We’re a little late getting started, but please don’t hold that against us. Join in the fun anyway. What fun, you say?…
“It is far easier to make things up
than to stick strictly to the Truth.
So it is that *close* is about as near to
Truth any of us ever gets. By some odd alchemy
this usually brings out what really matters.”
— James W. Moseley
We know that more than a few of you out there have Moseley tales to tell, memories of Jim, fond and otherwise, funny, illuminating, all worth sharing, yarns sure to inspire a laugh or two, certain to recall glorious and inglorious past Moseleyean ufological happenings and adventures to the minds of others to be shared, too. Many of you no doubt have photos and other memorabilia that capture interesting times in Jim’s saucering past. And who knows what else lurks in wait to catch the Supreme Commander all unaware and recall the Goode Olde Daze and Just Yesterdaze, too, and Jim’s part in them.
Now’s the time and here’s the place to let it all hang out, tell it like it is or was. Post your thoughts, memories, good wishes, whatevers here–now, tomorrow, and the next day. Come back and read and view them now and then, and add more as this churns and stirs your memories–but not, we hope, your stomachs. When July rolls around, or perhaps a bit later in the year, at a time and place and in a manner yet to be determined but guaranteed to be Gloriously Semi-Perfect, all will be presented to Jim. We’ll keep everyone posted here as plans develop.
Yours in Research, Karl Pflock, C.E., M.P.OC., S.S. 5th Col.
The James W. Moseley (Dreaded) Internet Roast
Your accomplishment of chasing Flying Saucers/UFOs for over fifty years is a milestone that should be ever written in the stars, like an olde time byplane gushing out smoke advertisements in the sky over a beach.
I initially observed your activites at the National UFO Conference (NUFOC) located in a semi-rundown motel in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania in 1974, long after you began your chasing Saucers career in 1953. At this Con, you were mainly introducing speakers including Jan Barbara Hudson, author of “Those Sexy Saucer People” (Greenleaf, 1967, Saucerian ?), and hawking back issues of Saucer News. I got to know you somewhat better in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, after making several literary, etc. contributions to your newsletter, including the one that cause the Postal Authorities to pay you a visit and attending some of your non-subscriber parties at your apartment complex, “Moseley Manor” in Guttenberg, New Jersey.
Looking back, I recall many memorable events, such as having dinner with you, 1980 NUFOC speakers and others, prior to the Con in New York City. We had a breathtaking nightscape view from the top floor of the “Windows of the World” restaurant, located in one of the World Trade Center tower buildings. Speakers included Gray Barker, Betty Hill, Rick Hilberg, Bob Sheaffer and Stan Friedman.
Over the years, we in the chasing the Saucers field, experienced many personal ups and downs, but you have been a guiding light for me at times, like an older brother. I also saw this apply to others, judging by their letters in your newsletter.
A close friend of yours, Gray Barker at a NUFOC in the Cleveland area in Ohio, a couple of years before he passed over, while lecturing, in response to a question asked by a member of the audience: “What are Flying Saucers?” Gray said, “The answer is within you.” As we continue our quest to understand the paranormal phenomenon, the mystery becomes more like the study of God. Full understanding of the phenomenon is always elusive, and never achieved, it is like waiting for Godot, who never comes. Occasionally, glimpses of knowledge may pop into our minds, or appear to our sight, like a lightbulb going on that floats above the head of a charcter in a cartoon strip. In an intellectual humorous way, the cartoon characters that appear in your newsletter, including yourself have guided us in our quest for knowledge and is always something to cherish. Thanks for your help and just being there.
(posted: Mon Sep 20 20:44:30 2004)
Jim: It was 1961(I was 11 then) and I checked out Scully’s book, BEHIND THE FLYING SAUCERS, and took it to my science teacher(who was very pretty as I remember her) and asked her opinion on it. And quess what? She knew that it was a hoax book….the point here, Since then I take the UFO field with a bag of salt, not a grain, but a bag! It’s fun as it should be, and when one, even if its a itty bitty saucer, lands for the WHOLE world o see, THEN, and only then, will I get serious about the UFO field-Live long…Viva la Vida!!!-Roger, a member of the ufoology crowd.
(posted: Sat Sep 11 10:13:28 2004)
Oh give a cheer for old Jim Moseley
He’d pull a hoax if not watched closely
He’d laugh, tease, and jeer
In each issue of Saucer Smear
With jokes that were mostly grossly.
(posted: Tue Aug 31 14:00:54 2004)
John Keel may have called you a “boil on the ass” of UFOlogy, but I prefer to think of you as the twinkle in it’s eye. Keep on twinkling, and many thanks, Jim!
(posted: Sun Aug 1 03:06:51 2004)
T Allen Greenfield, D.D., Ph.D.
There’s something utterly ludicrous and utterly Moseley about an internet salute page to a man who refuses to own a computer, but its soooo Jim. I began reading Saucer News in 1961 or 62, first corresponded with Jim about then, met him at the FIRST National UFO Conference in Cleveland in June of 1964; we chatted in my room after the big public session til Jim was too smashed to talk, and have considered him a friend ever since. We visited Ray Palmer together in ’65, chased the Brown Mountain Lights together, ghosts on the Georgia Coast etc in the late ’60s, and at his GIANT SAUCER SHOW at the Commodore Hotel in NYC I chaired his delegate sessions, went on The Amazing Randi’s show with Tim Beckley, and – uhm – we’ll skip the ’70s, but I lived for awhile in Key West after Jim “retired” there and we hung out a lot. I’ve known him since my teens, and I consider him one of the funniest, most intelligent, most complex and worthwhile people I have had the pleasure to know. I once owned something like a complete set of Saucer News, back to NEXUS “Book One Tome One” (whatever that means, and I do hope to see him at least once more in this present incarnation. I really wish someone would post the picture here of Moseley and the late GA governor Lester Maddox, as Maddox pretended to read what he called “Sausage News” telling JW how much he loved sausage. Take that however you want. Smear on Jim!
(posted: Fri Jul 23 03:38:28 2004)
I noticed that in one of your archives that you refer to Z. Sitchin as a “scholar.” I believe he is a pretty be hoaxer. It is easy to fool people when one is dealing with ancient languages such as Sumerian and Akkadian. Michael S. Heiser has pulled the carpet out from under Sitchin in my humble opinion and I encourage you “non-subscribers” to look him up. Mike is a bonafide scholar and I believe he is simply after the truth, he a very balanced approach to UFO’s and aliens – I know you’d like him.
(posted: Mon May 24 18:13:24 2004)
I first learned of Saucer Smear and became a dedicated non-subscriber way back in the l980s. I was writing about UFOs, Bigfoots ( or is it Bigfeet? but I digress..) and such for the late, lamented OMNI magazine. I believe I actually got to interview the esteemed Mr. Moseley a couple of times over the phone and I developed a big crush on him. He lost no time in sending me literature hawking his paradise resort in Key West. Key West? He lived in Key West?? Well, I figured he must be gay.. sigh.. and my dreams of a mad fling with Jim were somewhat stifled. Eventually, I realized, after seeing many gratuitous pics of big breasted women in Smear, that, in fact, he is probably straight so I thought I’d take this opportunity to say — Jim, darling, I love you madly, you ol’ UFO nut, you! and if we ever DO meet in person, puhleaze autograph my copy of Shockingly Close To the Truth. It is FABO!!! like you and Saucer Smear…
(posted: Sun May 23 22:25:01 2004)
I had dinner with Jim a couple weeks ago while in Key West. I only know him from “Smear” and his book, and I must confess that he was completely different than I expected! I knew from “Shockingly Close” that he tells it like it is, but William Cooper had accused him of being a CIA asset so I had developed some crazy expectations.
I found him to be utterly delightful. I mean really darling. (I’m no good at roasting– I wish I had more wit.) I gotta admit that I love this guy.
(posted: Tue Mar 30 16:40:55 2004)
Well Jim, here you are at the fifty year mark in your personal quest to chase those elusive disks. Hey, the year 2004 marks my 42nd year of editing publishing UFO and fortean zines, so unless you up and croak very soon I don’t think that I can top your record anytime soon. Say, are you sure that you are feeling well?
Anyway, while most people who join in here on the dreaded Internet ( that my dear friend Al Gore and I invented, I’ll have you know ) will no doubt share some of your most embarrasing moments in the UFO field, I’ll wait a bit longer and instead try to put all seriousness aside for a moment – not!
Without being too stuffy and serious, quite frankly ( Edwardsly ) you are one of the last of the original UFO pioneers and dare I say one of my early mentors in ufology. Hey, I first subscribed to SAUCER NEWS in the early 1960s and had the pleasure to meet you at the first “Congress of Scientific Ufologists” here in Cleveland way back in 1964. And I dare say that without your help and backing in SAUCER NEWS the bloody thing probably wouldn’t have been held at all. That’s what I have always said of you, even though you sometimes come on as someone who is only trying to have some fun and stur up trouble in the field I sincerely believe that you really care about the field, and it’s just your way to not take it or yourself too damn seriously. Maybe one hundred years from now when some sociologist publishes a paper ( probably on this damn electronic monster ) on those silly and misguided people who chased the flying saucers, your name and comments will be featured. Some of the past and present “leading lights” who have taken themselves waaay too seriously will probably be nothing but almost forgotten footnotes in those days to come.
But enough of this seriousness! Let’s take a walk down Memory Lane and recall some of those outstanding memories from those days now so long passed.
Do you recall the time back in 1965 when you and some of the other delegates at the convention here in Cleveland had a wee bit too much medicine and tried to climb the fence at the closed pool at the Park Brook Motel sometime around three in the morning? And do you remember how you fell trying to climb said fence and almost broke several of your ribs?
Do you remember me burning my NICAP membership card at the 1966 convention while Gray Barker was capturing this important protest on film? Hey, I assure you and those others reading these ravings that I never inhaled the fumes!
Speaking of fumes, do you remember that time at a convention back in the 1970s when you ran out of cigarette papers and had to roll your, well, herbs in the local newspaper?
Say, enough of this stuff from those times when we were, as John Kennedy often said, full of piss and jisim. Those days were indeed special, those days of wonder, dreaming and awe.
Take care old friend. I hope that you have another fifty, you old goat!
(posted: Tue Mar 9 16:34:23 2004)
I’ve been chasing saucers almost as long as you have, and I remember as a teenager driving from Ohio in the mid-fifties with my pal to visit you in your Fort Lee apartment. We also stopped to see Leon Davidson, and then went south to Washington for an audience with the The Man — Major Keyhoe.
Those were the days when we thought government disclosure was imminent. Yes, America, saucers are real! And we were convinced that some other guy had the answers, the inside scoop. Thus our round-robin to the gurus, the keepers of the saucer secrets. That short list included you, of course.
After all these years, the saucers remain mysterious. The gurus, insiders, contactees, and leakers have “strutted their hour upon the stage, and are heard no more.” What a cast of characters! Hundreds of names, but it would only cause pain to recall them.
One man is left standing – that’s you, Dear Jim. And that is because you never were a phony. Quite the reverse. You had the common sense to figure out long ago that the mystery was profound, but that the actors who promoted themselves as keepers of the secret were shallow.
You laughed, nudged, winked, for over 50 years. But always, you listened hard for the real signal. You still do, which is why I take this moment to applaud your career in saucerdom.
(posted: Fri Feb 27 19:36:27 2004)
I first met Jim when he, John Keel, and I were speaking at a Fortfest in the D.C. area, in the 1970s. The most vivid memory I have of that time is sitting with these two gentlemen in the dark and shabby lobby of a motel, listening to the foremost scholars of ufology decide what they would do that evening. I recall politely excusing myself to finetune my presentation, as they skipped off, across the highway, to visit a nearby striptease joint. And thus I was introduced to the braintrust of ufology, and knew what the end would look like – some sort of cosmic mix of humor and nudity galore!
Best wishes, Jim, on your next 50 years of shining your flashlight in all those hidden corners.
(posted: Mon Feb 23 10:02:59 2004)
Ignacio Darnaude Rojas-Marcos
The generous Manuel Fernandes has donated to this too much old fan of Moseleyan unforgettable Saucer News journal the delightful gift of several spine issues (very pricking ones) of your S.S. bulletin, the non-nazi Saucer Smear.
(By the way Saucer Smear, in the smart language of Cervantes, means by chance, sorry, “saucer to urinate”, a shallow (for prostatics) chamber pot, anyhow an useful apparatus and a truly ufological device, due to “UFO” signifies, too, something related to the morning ambrosia devoured by one India’s ex-President and the most abundant golden nectar (more than wine, olive oil or toilet water): “U.F.O.” = “Urine For Oaks” (its best fertilizer).
I think we are going to file an Urigellerian legal suit against Manuel Fernandes, our common friend and excellent cook of ufo food, because I am suffering a serious S.S. post-reading pain on my abdominal muscles, a damned stiffness provoked by my incontinent abuse of laughter.
Although the actual culprit is, as usual in life, the tricomonic but ever glamorous hymen (Hys Magestic Editor Narrator) and its spiritual environs (Terranova’s aromatherapic Chanel Number 69), that is, the unsinkable UFO Prophet His Highness James W. Mose(s)ley lines hunter, our famous Klassical skeptic about the current epidemic of other affluent UFO Cash Retrievers.
Please keep humour alive into the blood and lymph of Saucer Smear. I suspect humour is the most powerful and intelligent weapon at the hands of ufologists, a must in the whole omniverse, and also our hardest shield against Dark Forces, bad ufonauts and even unbearable ufonaughts.
Perhaps before the imminent End of the World the little green Etherians, more than flesh and blood can bear, maybe appoint H.H. J.W. Moseley their Intergalactic Emperor in our impossible, blue planetoid. No doubt a long awaited and well-deserved royal crown.
I am sure the Lieutenant General will be present at this solemn ceremony, in spite of all, Moseley Sr. frantically applauding, shaking his heroic four stars along with filial attitudes.
(posted: Sun Feb 22 09:08:40 2004)
Richard “Dick” Hall
>Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Jim Moseley, for better
>or worse, has been and remains a Presence in ufology.
Yes, like a steaming turd on the living room carpet. This sort of silly crap explains why you and your idol, who constantly treat the whole subject as a joke, might just as well be on the Government payroll for UFO debunkers.
>We’ll keep everyone posted on the page as plans develop.
Try the Comedy Channel.
(posted: Sun Feb 22 09:07:38 2004)
Matthew James Didier
I have been a fan of Mr. Moseley’s and of “Smear” since buying his book… FIRST! How could one resist such a title as “Shockingly Close to the Truth – Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist”
Yes, there I was, a happy little “ghost investigator/researcher” with his Ufologist girlfriend (now fiance) wandering through our local bookstore and there it was… calling to ME! My girlfriend at the time saying “Oh, you’d appreciate Jim Moseley!” so, a few bucks later, I’m knee-deep into the tome.
Well, to make a long story short, I then read every back issue of “Smear” online and have tried to steer some of the “ghostly folk” I correspond with over to it… to learn the one important truth… “Don’t take yourself TOO seriously and have fun.”
Heck, myself and my significant other were thrilled that our local video shoppe had a copy of “Whispers from Space” in stock and were thrilled to be able to rent/watch this documentary. (R.I.P. Gray Barker)
NOW, on to something far more important…
Reading “Smear” as I have, for some really odd reason, some people have fixated a little too much as to Mr. Moseley’s sexual preferences… I’m shocked at all of you… Aside from sexual preferences having about as much to do with a mans work in Moseley’s fields as the dust bunnies beneath my bed have to do with the ISS, those of you who have fixated missed an important clue…
How often does a man have to print the words “Sex and Saucers” before all you fixators get it?
That’s right, I’m “outing” Jim Moseley!
He’s an ALIEN SEXUAL!
That’s right, there’s an obvious fixation with sex and saucers… In my eyes, there’s no question, he is a closet gray-hugger… a shadow reptilian-luster… someone who has a shine for the nordics.
Sorry, Mr. Moseley, your secret is now out… but at least some people will finally stop speculating and start concentrating on what’s most important… Jasmine!
Happy 50th, Sir! Your work and efforts are very-much appreciated… although sometimes, it’s difficult to tell…
(As a side note: It is impressive the sheer number of serious Ufologists that say that have issues with you and your work and yet, they all read “Smear”… Hmmmm…)
(posted: Fri Feb 20 08:24:52 2004)
I met Jim at Ann Druffel’s home in 1987 as he was preparing the glorious National UFO CON in Burbank Ca for that Summer. I was also at the Con helping out Bill Moore and Stanton Friedman as they broke the MJ-12 story to the world of Ufology. I am sure Jim remembers the night party we had for Stan and the suprize we had for him? And yes I have pictures which include you Jim so be nice!
(posted: Thu Feb 19 21:53:57 2004)
Do you remember the First (and as far as I know, your only) Annual Mothman Convention that you and Gray Barker organized in, as I recall, 1970? It was held in Point Pleasant, WV at a motel that had a round restaurant that looked like a landed flying saucer.
Not too many people showed up. Gray did, of course. And you brought along a rather cute girl friend, whose name I have long since forgotten.
My friend, Warren “Nic” Nicholson, and I suspected that you, Gray and your friend had smoked a bit too much funny weed. That was confirmed when we all tried to pile in our cars to go out the circular driveway of the motel so we could visit the infamous TNT factory.
Trying to get in a single line with our cars, you drove your car down the driveway and then turned around so you could follow Gray. Gray drove out the other way and then also turned around at the same time you did. You guys passed each other going in opposite directions several times until we more sober folks took charge and got everyone headed in the same direction.
We did make it out to the TNT plant after dark. I remember standing out there over looking the Ohio River when a small plane came down the river from the north. The reporter from the Athens, Ohio newspaper (Mary Hyre?) who worked with John Keel, you and others on the Mothman story, was there and got very excited. She thought the airplane was a UFO. None of the rest of us got too excited, but she sure did. She was a bit disappointed when she realized her mistake.
Before we met with you guys at the motel Nic and I tried to find the TNT plant. We were having no success until we saw three teenage boys walking along the road. We drove up to them in Nic’s MG and stopped. I leaned out and asked them where Mothman had been seen. Expecting to be laughed at, I was very surpirsed when one of the boys seriously replied by giving us accurate directions. Those boys certainly didn’t take the Mothman stories as a joke. To them it seemed just a matter of fact. That was impressive.
I also remember seeing the remains of the SIlver Bridge piled up in a field not too far off the road.
Thanks for putting on the First (and only) Gray barker and James Moseley Annusl Mothman Convention. It will always be a fond memory.
MUFON State Director for Ohio
(posted: Thu Feb 19 10:24:10 2004)
I first discovered Saucer Smear on the Internet about 5 years ago and have enjoyed it ever since. Being a novice UFO enthusiast I found the information contained therein rather entertaining and at times even informative. I’ve never met Jim and I’m sure I never will since I do not intend to patronize any of the conventions, conferences or lectures. I see enough freaks, weirdo’s and charlatans here at home, no sense paying for the privilege, especially since many are going to treat me as a mark. Also, since I live in Michigan and don’t travel too often the possibilities of visiting Florida are very remote. However, I did enjoy Jim’s book immensely (and yes, I purchased it) and found the information quite interesting.
Congratulations Jim, for all the hard work you’ve done over these past 50 or so years and continued success in this and any future endeavors. Yours is the first UFO site I visit every day and the one I enjoy the most. Well done!
Book Review by Barry Greenwood (reprinted with permission from the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE) Vol. 16, No. 3, 2002)
Published by the Society for Scientific Exploration, http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/
Shockingly Close to the Truth: Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist by James W. Moseley & Karl T. Pflock. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. 371 pp., Hardcover, $25.00. ISBN 1-57392-991-3.
This volume is a chronicle of the career of one James W. Moseley, a man who is most commonly known as a ‘‘ufologist.’’ The term was coined to describe an individual who spends a great deal of time following UFOs, or flying saucers. Moseley certainly fits this description, as he has spent as much time following the UFO scene (since 1953) as this reviewer has lived on planet Earth. He has also written a great deal about UFOs, having published periodicals like Nexus, Saucer News, and more recently Saucer Smear, a newsletter devoted to UFO personalities. With the assistance of another experienced ufologist, Karl Pflock, we now have a reasonable accounting of what Moseley has learned about UFOs.
Oddly enough, what he has learned is not so much about the UFOs themselves as it is about other Ufologists; the researchers, witnesses, proponents, critics and authors. Jim Moseley has come to know a lot of people in his pursuit to chronicle the adventures of Ufologists. He has discovered things that the public doesn’t often see about how Ufology functions internally. Sometimes it is not a pretty picture, and Moseley and Pflock pull no punches in expressing themselves in this respect.
The essence of what Moseley believes about UFOs can be summed up in his ‘‘4-D Theory’’, i.e. that the UFO entities operating flying saucers are too much like ourselves to be alien. So we might suppose from such an observation that to find an answer to the mystery, we must look at the people involved, the observers and researchers, rather than the UFOs. Sensible, because eyewitnesses are the main source of detail in UFO sightings. If the witnesses are flawed, the UFO report isn’t much good. A broader message here is that a witness’s psychology may be affecting the details of the report. Moseley’s 4-D theory does allow for the possibility that some UFOs might be alien, but given the present state of affairs, he observes ‘‘I do not believe The Answer will be found in our lifetime, or at least not mine’’.
With this approach, Moseley has been able to persist in his interest of following the exploits of UFO personalities year after year without falling victim to what might be called the ‘‘UFO blues’’. This happens when an individual takes an interest in UFOs from any of a variety of sources: reading a book, seeing an anomalous object in the sky, watching a TV documentary. In a subsequent burst of zeal, this person devotes much personal time attempting to prove the exotic nature of the observations. It is a very time-consuming process, as there are now untold thousands of pages of obscure information
to absorb. After ten or twenty years there may be a realization that the evidence assembled and digested doesn’t reach the level of conclusive proof of anything exotic. Personally dissatisfied, this person leaves the subject, moving on to other pursuits.
Moseley toured the country to meet with UFO researchers during the early 1950s. His insights on this are fascinating. There has always been a public image of UFO personalities, and then there is reality! The true value of Shockingly Close to the Truth lies in these penetrating recollections of people, many of whom are long departed from the world.
One small anecdote that Moseley relates is his interview with Al Chop, former Air Force press spokesman, and Captain Edward Ruppelt, former head of the Air Force’s UFO investigation, Project Blue Book. Both were out of the military when the interview was conducted. He asked them about two films. One was allegedly taken by Mikel Conrad, star of a 1950 ‘‘B’’ movie called ‘‘The Flying Saucer.” Conrad said he took a movie film of a genuine flying saucer landing and contact in 1947. He claimed that the Air Force took the footage and later returned less than a third of it. This segment was said to have been used in ‘‘The Flying Saucer’’. The other film was a sequence taken in Landrum, South Carolina, on November 16, 1952, by David Bunch, a tourist visiting friends in Landrum. The 8MM film was said to have shown between four and eleven UFOs. Upon making arrangements to have the Bunch film sent to the Air Force, a copy was promised to the witness. A copy was received later, but was said to have been too dark to discern images well.
Ruppelt told Moseley that the Air Force never confiscated film. The Bunch film was said to have been too dark for anything of value to be seen, contradicting the witness who said the original was fine but that the copy made for him by the Air Force was too dark. Ruppelt added that the Bunch film and copies were ‘‘thrown out’’ as being ‘‘valueless’’. Moseley concluded in hindsight ‘‘Not quite confiscation, but . . .’’, with the point being made that even if the Air Force felt that the film was of no worth, the act of throwing out original and copies of evidence looks bad. It would certainly contribute to the notion that the government covered up UFO information. The Air Force itself was perhaps one of the greatest contributors to this popular idea in its public statements.
To further stress Moseley’s point, the Bunch film does in fact exist in the Project Blue Book files and was included with the records sent to the National Archives (Ruppelt misstatement #1). The film is not too dark to see a slow panning shot of the sunset horizon and two pairs of elongated white light sources along with another single object (Ruppelt misstatement #2). The objects do not move and might be bits of cloud lit by the setting sun. Ruppelt may have been correct in saying that the film was ‘‘valueless’’, or ultimately explainable. However, his behavior in the Moseley interview suggested deception; for whatever reason, that doesn’t help the Air Force’s case for not having tampered with facts in their UFO investigations.
There are several ways to look at James Moseley’s career as a ufologist, from what we can see in Shockingly Close to the Truth. The UFO skeptics will find vindication in their views, even though some of them do not come off very well, in Moseley’s opinion. Episode after episode is recounted of questionable figures engaged in questionable activities in the quest for promoting flying saucer reality. Even Moseley himself falls into this category!
Once in an evening of drunken horseplay, he and friend Gray Barker concocted what has become known as the ‘‘Straith Letter’’. Using blank letterhead from the U.S. State Department, they created a false official, R. E. Straith, who more or less endorsed the activities of notorious flying saucer contactee George Adamski. The hoax letter made its way to Adamski, who wasted no time in using it to promote himself. The FBI and State Department took a dim view of this and lightly pursued Barker and Moseley as the perpetrators, only to drop the investigation.
The mildly UFO-interested, middle-of-the-road citizen will find the book a very entertaining collection of odd tales from UFO history, a virtual carnival romp through the subject’s weirder side.
The serious UFO researcher and believers in exotic answers to UFOs might find the book an irritant as it engages in exposing the darker side of flying saucer politics. As with any field of endeavor, the activists in UFO research would prefer not having any dirty laundry aired. Unfortunately, because of the problems endemic to pro–flying saucer/alien promotion, the small pile of dirty laundry has become a monumental landfill that threatens to push the relevancy of any UFO research aside altogether. It would be a mistake for ufologists to ignore Shockingly Close to the Truth, in that much like a game of chess, one learns more from the mistakes made than from the successes.
A small correction: In the photo section, Moseley describes a photo of a rocket-shaped alleged UFO seen by a Peruvian customs inspector in 1952. It should actually be 1951. This reviewer had found the photo in a Lima newspaper for August 15 of that year.
In the mid-1960s, there was a film taken of a “bell-shaped” flying saucer that was widely shown on television, at conferences and college lectures, written about in UFO magazines and books. By 1980, the film had all but vanished, and is largely forgotten today. When it is cited, the details are often wrong with the incorrect year or location given. What are the facts, how was this widely-known saucer film “silenced,” and by whom?
The Road to Lost Creek
Jim Moseley got started in the flying saucer field in 1953 with the intent to co-author a book with Ken Krippine. Jim invested much time and effort, traveling across the USA interviewing prominent UFO figures, as well as some of the biggest fakes, frauds and phonies, such as Frank Scully, Silas Newton, Mikel Conrad and George Adamski. The book never happened as planned, but the trip provided contacts, material and experience that served as the foundation for Moseley’s flying saucer magazine, Saucer News.
In March 1966, there was a new wave of UFO publicity, kicked off by the incident in Michigan where Dr. J. Allen Hynek offered his infamous “marsh gas” explanation. Jim Moseley suddenly was in demand. “Back in New York City, all the major national news organizations were rushing around trying to find an instant saucer expert to interview and quote. Mine was the only listing in the Manhattan phone book under “Saucers” (for Saucer News), so everyone came to me.”
Moseley received an urgent call from the American Program Bureau in the spring of 1966. They were “in desperate need of a UFO Expert for an upcoming meeting of the Engineering Society of Detroit. The bureau’s expert, none other than Maj. Donald Keyhoe, had demanded too large a fee, and they had to come up with someone to replace him.” Moseley rose to the occasion, pleased the crowd, and the bureau put him to work. “Over the next eight years, I lectured on more than one hundred college campuses and at a few other events.” Moseley’s entry-level UFO lecture was an easy sell, and the topic was a perfect draw for campus lectures.“If I do say so myself, it was a good summary presentation of saucer history and events , and given the high level of public interest at the time, all anyone really needed for success. Still, I wished for something a bit more exciting. In late summer 1966 my wish was granted: a new motion picture of a flying saucer.”1
A Flying Saucer is Captured on Film
Here’s how Moseley described the film and how it came into his hands, from Saucer News, Winter 1966/1967, Vol. 13, No. 4:
“For the first time in our nearly thirteen years of publication, we have been able to obtain an apparently genuine movie film of a flying saucer. The film, taken with taken with a Bolex camera in 16 mm. color, was made on the afternoon of July 23rd, in a rural area called Lost Creek, located near Clarksburg, West Virginia. The photographer has asked to remain anonymous. At the time of the sighting, he and an employee named John Sheets were driving through Lost Creek in a Chevrolet pick-up truck, on their way to photograph a little league baseball game, as a favor to a mutual friend.
As they were driving along a lonely stretch of road, a strange object began following the truck at very low altitude. The camera was not loaded, and by the time Sheets’ boss loaded it, the object was gone. They stopped the vehicle and waited or several minutes, apparently with some sort of premonition that the object would return. Eventually it did, and several feet of film were shot. During the filming, the object was again at very low altitude. Sheets says that it looked to be about ten feet in diameter, though to o us it appears to be smaller. Trees visible in the background can be used as reference points; and a photographic expert in Clarksburg has declared that the object is at least twelve feet in diameter in his opinion.
In the course of the filming, the photographer kept shifting his camera from the sky to the ground, apparently thinking that the object was going to land. According to Sheets, it did not land, but shot off again, at high speed, making a strange humming sound. Afterwards Sheets was ill for two days, either from the excitement or from some after-effect of the close sighting.
Mr. Sheets, a young man in his early twenties, had worked for saucer researcher Gray Barker part-time several years ago, and knowing Barker’s interest in UFOs, he brought the undeveloped film to him. Barker cooperated with SAUCER NEWS in developing the film and making an extra copy. The latter was sent to us several weeks ago by Barker. . . . “
On the Road
Moseley was quick to put the film to good use. “In addition to showing the film on New York–area television and at one of the Saucer News monthly lectures, I incorporated it and the story behind it into my American Program Bureau talk.” 1
“He showed a motion picture film taken by amateurs who were on their way to a Little League baseball game when a saucer suddenly materialized, hovered and darted over their car near Lost Creek, Va. Despite the shaky, out-of-focus photography, that thing showed up in good detail, and it surely looks like a Flying Saucer, all right. But saying that, what have you said? Mr. Mosley let the film speak for itself, and it wasn’t a talkie.”
Also in 1968, Jim was a guest on Joe Pyne’s nationally syndicated talk show where he was grilled by the caustic host. Jim showed a clip of the Lost Creek film and offered the amateurishness of the camerawork as evidence of its authenticity, “If it were a fake, it would not be done this poorly as far as the technical skill is concerned. That’s my opinion.” Pyne chuckles and mentions a previous guest with a better UFO film that turned out to be fake. Moseley stands his ground and defends his clip. “Let me say that there is some fakery, but not in film- very hard to do.”
Low resolution clip of Moseley presenting the film on TV.
Moseley had his sights on the big time, a major network show with a national television audience. ”I once attempted to get on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show with the Lost Creek film. I managed to make it as far as a viewing for the show’s writers, who watched in bemused silence, thanked me for my time, and sent me on my way.” 1
Within a year, Moseley’s friend Gray Barker had bought Saucer News, and started selling prints of the film, described as featuring an “Adamski-type” saucer, and indeed, the Lost Creek Saucer did seem to be a twin for the Venusian saucer filmed by George Adamski!
Ad from Saucer News Fall 1968:
1001: The Lost Creek Saucer: Saucer follows car as two men return from Little League game. They get some excellent photographs of Adamski-type saucer. Freeze-frame action and slow motion included.
“Neither Saucer News nor Modern Film Distributors vouch for the authenticity of any of the three films, but we are making these available to any interested party who wishes to subject them to the most stringent scrutiny and analysis.”
Moseley’s appearances at UFO conferences continued, as did his many college lectures where he maintained the use of the film until the mid 1970s. The Albany Student Press, Sept. 24, 1974, report on Moseley’s lecture on their campus:
“Moseley showed a film that two men in Lost Creek, West Virginia took en route to a little League game. These men caught sight of an object hovering about the trees. While they loaded their camera, the object disappeared from sight, but luckily returned when they were ready and waiting to film.
The most credible aspect of the film is the amateurishness of the photography. Moseley insisted. According to the UFO expert there is a great possibility that these objects were real UFOs because the makers did not try to cash in on the pictures.”
The Lost Creek saucer film was discussed in the newsstand magazine Official UFOin 1975. The next year, noted UFO author Gray Barker had an article in the December 1976 UFO Report magazine, “Invading West Virginia’s Saucer Lairs and Monster Hideouts,” confirming Moseley’s account and providing a few more technical details:
On July 3, 1966, John Sheets, a house painter, accompanied his employer who had taken movies of a Little League game in Weston. They left Route 19 near Lost Creek for a short cut to Clarksburg on their way home. Sheets, looking out the car window for deer that abounded in the wild rural area, was puzzled and startled when he spotted a dish-shaped flying object surmounted by a dome with portholes, following them. He shouted for the driver to stop as the object disappeared behind a hill. His employer, remembering he had unexposed footage left in his 16mm Bolex movie camera, reached for it on the back seat. As he did so the object returned and swooped down toward them, then retreated and repeated the maneuver. Despite his excitement and fright, the amateur photographer managed to shoot several feet of film, with many sharp frames, some of which when enlarged display a recognizable antenna, and ball-like “landing gear,” similar to many still photographs taken by other witnesses.
Here’s Gray Barker presenting a different edit of the film:
Gray Barker, showing the Lost Creek saucer film at a UFO convention
Barker’s article was quoted inRedcoats, Redskins and Red-eyed Monsters: West Virginia, Its History and People by E. Lee North in 1979, further spreading the story of the Lost Creek saucer.
The Lost Creek Saucer sighting was brainstormed by Barker and James Moseley in early 1966. The idea was to produce footage of a flying saucer. On July 26, 1966, they had John Sheets—one of Barker’s researchers—hold a ceramic “boogie” (bogus) saucer on a fishing pole in front of a car; while Moseley drove, and Barker filmed. Afterward, Moseley played the film during his UFO lectures, and Barker sold copies of the footage via his mail-order film business. Both men continued to claim that Sheets had innocently recorded the saucer landing.
The film had been long-retired by then, and the Earth didn’t exactly shake from the news. Rick Hilberg, on how the saucer’s origins first leaked out: “I recall that Gray brought some of his various films of UFO conventions that he attended and whatnot and showed them to some of the local insiders at one of our Northern Ohio UFO Group mini-conventions back in the late 1970s. While enjoying a jar or two watching the films, Jim and Gray both told about the Lost Creek film and how it was hoaxed, therefore it was common knowledge waaay before Coon’s film.”
Just as P. T. Barnum had done by creating his own Cardiff Giant to exhibit, Moseley and Barker created a counterfeit film of a George Adamski flying saucer, a fake of a fake. The choice was a good one, as it had already been imitated by others, including Cedric Allingham and Howard Menger, so it would blend right in as part of the pattern. There was nothing new or revolutionary about it, the film just illustrated a fairly typical close encounter of the first kind of a daylight disk. The fact that it was a model bouncing and swinging on a string didn’t seem to bother those who already believed, and some of them cited the peculiar movements as a “falling leaf motion” typical to saucers’ propulsion system and flight.
Timothy Green Beckley, former Saucer News reporter: “I know the film was used for ‘demonstration’ purposes. If I recall correctly Jim needed something to show during his college lectures. Being that Gray was not beyond doing something creative to help an old friend out… Jim and Gray both thought it was necessary to have a ‘prop’ for when they were invited to appear on television. No one likes just a talking head.”
There was another Gray Barker documentary in 2009, Shades of Gray by Bob Wilkinson that also briefly discusses the film, with Moseley describing how film was created with a toy-sized saucer suspended from a string. David Houchin shows the model and Rick Hilberg talks about how Barker and Moseley’s antics kept things interesting and provided new material. “It was only natural, I suppose that they would get bored now and then- ‘what can we do to stir things up a little bit?’ And besides, some of the things you could write about.”
In Shockingly Close to the Truth!Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist , Prometheus, 2002, Moseley (with the help of Karl Pflock) told the story in print for the first time, and in Saucer Smear Vol. 57, No. 5, May 15, 2011, revealed even more, including a “pre-production” still of Gray Barker and John Sheets with their model flying saucer. Discussing his gig as a speaker, he “needed a focal point for (my) lecture.” Moseley explained how he drove the car, Barker filmed from the passenger seat, and Sheets was on the roof dangling the saucer from a fishing pole.
“At the colleges, it was interesting to see the audience’s reaction to the film. Those who really wanted to Believe did so, and among others there was sometimes muffled laughter. But over all, the film was found to be acceptable, and was even picked up (without permission) by a widely-circulated TV documentary in the subject.
What Moseley didn’t say was how or why the Lost Creek Saucer film was retired, but it all seems to relate to his campus lectures coming to an end. In a 1994 interview with Greg Bishop for the Excluded Middle, Moseley explained his rise and fall as a lecturer.
“(Donald Keyhoe) was charging too much, so I started getting his gigs. I would have gone for free just to knock Keyhoe off the lecture circuit. (Stanton) Friedman hadn’t come along yet, and he didn’t push me off the circuit ’till years later. I did over a hundred colleges and got well paid for it for the time. Saucer News circulation shot up to about 10,000 for awhile, and I got on all kinds of shows, etc. I finally had to hire a staff to keep up, including Tim Beckley, who worked there for a couple of years. This was all because of the marsh gas! Then in the early ’70s, Friedman came along and did to me what I had done to Keyhoe. Actually, he was vicious about it. He would find out which colleges I was lecturing at and call them up and try to get them to knock me off and book him. He had the degree and the beard and I didn’t. The colleges kept calling me to inform me what he had been doing–sometimes more than once to the same places.”
So, in effect, Stanton Friedman crashed the Lost Creek Saucer.
Examining the Author’s Intent
Moseley came clean about the hoaxed film, but saying he needed a lecture prop just didn’t quite satisfy as an answer for why he’d done it. When asked in Whispers From Space about the antics he and Barker stirred up, Moseley explained:
“The reason we liked to occasionally do a hoax was for our own amusement, but if there was a serious purpose, more to keep the UFO field alive during slack periods hoping the public’s interest, or at least the UFO fans’ interest would not slack off and since I at least felt that there is a serious mystery behind all this, didn’t want to see the field die out, and I thought it was a good idea to keep it rolling.”
Moseley, explained how Barker came to regard the flying saucer topic as show business:
(Gray Barker) had wonderful sense of humor, and a sense of wonderment (which is a good word for him) about the UFO subject. He stopped being a “believer” very early on, but kept the sense of wonderment. What he got out of it was entertainment for himself, and the audience he wrote for. He thought of himself as an entertainer, not as a scientist or a person dealing in facts. There were “New Age” types long before there was a UFO field, and he knew this audience and what they wanted to hear, so he wrote books and published them as a book business. He also had a theater that he owned and operated, and he started out as a booking agent for films at theaters in the area. So, he was always in the entertainment field and thought of himself as an entertainer. He thought I was too serious, because I believed some of it, and still do, but he didn’t believe any of it. 2
While Moseley was on the lecture circuit, he too was an entertainer.
Some further insight into Jim Moseley’s thinking can found in his article in Saucer Smear Vol. 32, No. 1, January 10, 1985, just after Barker’s death, confessing his and Barker’s role in the “Straith Letter” sent to George Adamski. Writing in the editorial “we:”
Is your editor sorry for what he and Gray Barker did? Your editor never saw any great harm in it, but we can easily understand why Completely Serious Researchers were offended. Was Gray Barker sorry? Only sorry the Feds turned out to have no sense of humor!
So now with one less mystery than yesterday, let us all Press On now, to a reasonable and hopefully accurate solution to the flying saucer enigma.
The antics had long been over, but not the fun. Moseley was always the more Serious of the two and his sense of humor was keen as ever, but he focused it in Saucer Smear as ufology’s court jester. As he said in the first issue:
At times we will be serious, at times we will attempt to be facetious, and at times we will not be certain whether we are being serious or facetious, and you will have to make up your own minds.
References (not otherwise noted)
1 James W. Moseley & Karl Pflock, Shockingly Close to the Truth!, Prometheus, 2002, pp 199-201.
2 1994 interview with Greg Bishop for the Excluded Middle
A special thanks to Timothy Green Beckley and Rick Hilberg for their background details and comments.
Additional thanks to Isaac Koi and Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos!
Despite the timeframe, and stylistic similarity the Lost Creek saucer film was not inspired by the Patterson–Gimlin Bigfoot film. LCS preceded it by over a year, Bigfoot wasfilmedOctober 20, 1967.
Gray Barker produced another saucer film that Jim Moseley was not involved in, taken at Benedum Airport, West Virginia allegedly on May 30, 1967. The same model appears to have been used as in the Lost Creek film.
The Bendenum Airport saucer
The Lost Creek saga sounds similar to a later, famous disclosure: an anonymous source provides a roll of undeveloped film with UFO evidence to a researcher serving as a middle man, who then shares it where it be taken public. Shades of MJ-12! Bill Moore often used Gray Barker as a source, perhaps a role model as well!
In 1988, UFO Cover-Up? Live! (a live UFO syndicated TV special) included the film in their discussion of hoaxes, showing clips of the Lost Creek saucer and Benedum together calling them the “Barker Incident.”
(Reprinted with permission from the January 12, 2014 Paracast Newsletter)
Lots of people have stories about the antics in which two outrageous UFO personalities, Gray Barker and Jim Moseley, engaged. While pretending to be at loggerheads to each other on a variety of issues in flying saucer research, they were actually close friends who enjoyed playing pranks and the expense of others.
Perhaps the most notorious hoax was the Straith Letter, written on purloined U.S. government stationery, which was said to originate from a mythical Cultural Exchange Committee. Sent in 1957, one copy went to UFO contactee George Adamski, and claimed that the authorities actually believed his alleged experiences were genuine. Of course, Adamski took the hint and went with it, claiming it proved his claims were true. After all, why would the government send such a letter?
The Straith Letter was exposed as a fraud early on; the writing style was Barker’s through and through. And after Barker’s death in 1984, Moseley confessed to this and other pranks that the fun-loving pair played over the years.
But some have long wondered whether the antics of Barker and Moseley had a more nefarious purpose than just satisfying the guilty pleasures of two men on a drunken spree. From time to time, some even suggested that Moseley was actually a government agent of some sort.
Now anyone who knew Jim well, as I did, would find him the polar opposite of anyone who’d possibly become involved in government work, particularly as a spy or military agent. He just didn’t strike you as someone who’d kowtow to authority, any authority. But maybe looks deceived, for he was also the son of a noted U.S. military figure, one Major General George Van Horn Moseley, Jr., who became Vice Chief of Staff for the Army during President Hoover’s administration.
I always considered Jim to be the family black sheep, and certainly some of the letters he received from his dad, which he showed to me, indicated that to be the case. I recall one missive, for example, in which Jim’s dad was suggesting to his mother that he be sent to boarding school to get him straightened out.
That would hardly be the profile of a would-be government spook.
Dr. D and the Earth Theory
But some of that belief in a possible military connection was encouraged by Jim himself, when he adopted the so-called “Earth Theory,” about UFOs, that they were actually secret aircraft undergoing test flights. To be sure, this may be a possibility in some cases, particularly the early sightings. There are some who believe the Roswell, NM crash involved just such a craft, and the same might be true for the nine UFOs seen by Kenneth Arnold in 1947, which were credited with triggering worldwide interest in the subject.
As to Jim, he ultimately abandoned the theory, and adopted a view that went beyond the ET explanation, one he called “three-and-a-half D.” So during an appearance on the Long John Nebel radio show back in the 1960s, Jim claimed that a colleague of his, one Dr. Leon Davidson, a chemical engineer and scientist, mislead him about some of the evidence pointing to an Earth-based explanation. Curious? You bet.
Now Dr. Davidson, who died in 2007, is mentioned as a member of the team that developed the original atomic bomb during World War II. He is best known in the UFO field, however, as the result of getting approval to publish and distribute the Air Force’s Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14. This volume contained a wealth of significant information about early sightings, although the Air Force continued to insist that there was nothing unconventional about UFOs.
But Dr. Davidson was also one of Jim’s close friends, so one supposes he may have indeed been quite influential. I wouldn’t presume to hazard a guess, though it’s also possible Jim promoted the Earth Theory merely to be controversial and to foster the impression of some sort of government connection.
The Silence Group Locks Down Project Blue Book
Even as I reflect on Jim, and my dealings with him over the years, I couldn’t for the life of me believe he was ever a government agent. As I said, he was the last person you’d expect to assume that role. At the same time, however, he’d be the first person a spook agency might consider if they wanted someone who wouldn’t be suspected of any such connection. After all, he did know some people in high places. He was also one of the few UFO researchers to be granted direct access to some of the actual case documents available at Project Blue Book’s headquarters, and maintained long-term friendships with a couple of the people who headed that agency.
During the early 1950s, for example, Jim visited Project Blue Book and was allowed to transcribe some cases using an office typewriter. These documents included some of the very same cases that Major Donald E. Keyhoe received verbally, usually via telephone. But when Keyhoe found out what Jim was doing, he reportedly blew a fuse and complained bitterly. Jim told me years later that the Air Force decided then and there to cut back on media and researcher access to these records.
In other words, as Jim said to me with a chuckle in his voice on a number of occasions, Keyhoe was responsible for causing some of the UFO secrecy he continued to fight against.
I suppose I’m making a good argument here in favor of the possibility that Jim’s government connections extended beyond what you might expect considering his father’s military background. But I can’t think of anyone who knew Jim well who’d believe for a moment that he was a spy who got involved in the UFO field to stir things up.
The Agent from Clarksville, WV
As to Gray Barker, I didn’t know him quite as well, but he could become fairly wacky after consuming a six-pack of his favorite beer. I remember on one occasion when he asked me to help him run off copies of a satirical—and extremely funny—book on his office offset printing machine. Even if I had the slightest suspicion that Jim was involved with the government, I couldn’t conceive of any instance where Gray was similarly involved.
Of course, if I learned that either or both were agents all along, I’d find it quite humorous. “Imagine that!” I’d say out loud with a chuckle. But I still wouldn’t believe a word of it.
Copyright 1999-2014 Making The Impossible, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Moseley is best known as the editor of Saucer News and its successor Saucer Smear, the former a magazine, the latter a newsletter, specializing in controversy, gossip, and even— once in a while— serious investigation. Together the two periodicals comprise an invaluable record of an evolving social movement based on beliefs about UFOs and flying saucers.
Jerome Clark, The UFO Encyclopedia Vol. 2, 254-255
Jim Moseley got started in the UFO business with the intent to co-author a book with Ken Krippine. Jim had invested much time and effort and had travelled cross country meeting prominent UFO figures. The plan was for Jim to do all the work and put Krippine’s name on it, but things fell through. Jim’s interest in the flying saucer field deepened during his research and he met many new friends, but he also came to a realization.
“In short, I had discovered I wasn’t cut out to be a Serious Ufologist, unless of course one was to count the work I did exposing Adamski and, as time went on, certain other fakers and frauds.”
Shockingly Close to the Truth! page 119
George Adamski became a major flying saucer celebrity after the release of his 1953 book, Flying Saucers Have Landed, where he told the story of encountering and communicating with Orthon, the pilot of a landed extraterrestrial spaceship. Better still, he had an abundance of evidence: multiple witnesses, physical traces and photographs! He later took movies of the saucer and continued to have contact and adventures with the visitors from space and share their message of peace and love with the people of Earth.
Not everyone swallowed the stories. Upstart flying saucer magazine publisher James W. Moseley had interviewed Adamski in 1953, and while he found the “Professor” interesting and charismatic, had not been convinced. He published critical articles in Saucer News, and in Oct. 1957 published a “Special Adamski Expose Issue” that collected articles by Moseley, Irma Baker and Lonzo Dove. It included correspondence with some of Adamski’s supporting witnesses, who admitted that Adamski’s story and photographs were untrue.
Jerome Clark again on Moseley’s work on the Adamski case:
“But the first serious investigation by a critic of Adamski’s claims was conducted by James W. Moseley in the mid- 1950s and published as a special issue of his magazine Saucer News (Moseley, 1957). Moseley found that the “witnesses” to the first contact were close associates and that, moreover, at least one, Alfred Bailey, had retracted his testimony, saying he had seen neither spaceship nor spaceman and doubted any of the others had either. Jerrold Baker, a young man who had lived at Palomar Gardens between November 1952 and January 1953, told Moseley he had heard a tape recording of “what was to transpire in the desert, who was to go, etc., several days before the party left Palomar Gardens” for the celebrated contact.”
“Moseley’s debunking of Adamski’s claims remains the definitive one, but in subsequent years further negative evidence would come to light.”