Secret Spying and a Contactee
In the early to mid 1950s, numerous people, all across the planet, claimed contact with human-looking ETs from far-away worlds. The aliens in question were usually seen attired in one-piece-outfits, while sporting heads of long blond hair. Not only that: the cosmic visitors assured those of us who they deemed worthy of contact that they were deeply concerned by our warlike ways. They wished us to disarm our nuclear arsenals, live in peace and harmony with one another, and elevate ourselves to whole new spiritual levels. The aliens in question became known as the Space Brothers; while those whose lives were forever changed by their encounters with such alleged extra-terrestrial entities were an elite body of people known as the Contactees.
It was against this background of high-strangeness that many of the Contactees found themselves watched closely and secretly by none other than J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI. Indeed, I wrote about many of the now-declassified FBI files on the Contactees in my 2006 book On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. But, just recently – and thanks, specifically, to good mate and fellow Fortean, Greg Bishop – I obtained a copy of the Bureau’s file on a certain friend of the Space Brothers who still provokes controversy years after his death, and whose FBI dossier I had previously not seen: George Hunt Williamson.
Williamson – also known, at various times, as Michael (or, according to the FBI, Michel) d’Obrenovic, Ric Williamson, and Brother Philip – was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1926, became entranced by the occult in his teens, and evolved into a significant player on the flying saucer scene of the 1950s. Indeed, in 1954 he famously combined his fascination with the occult and flying saucers by trying to contact extraterrestrial-intelligences with a home-made Ouija board.
It was also in 1954 that the FBI sat up and took notice when Williamson planned to speak at an event in Ohio with yet another Contactee, Truman Bethurum. Beyond any shadow of doubt, the number of people who can claim aliens wrecked their marriages is infinitely small. But, such claims have been made – the most memorable being that of construction-worker Bethurum. His idea of a close encounter was very different to those of other UFO witnesses: his alleged liaisons in the summer of 1952, atop Mormon Mesa, Nevada with Space Captain Aura Rhanes, a supposed citizen of the planet Clarion, ultimately led his outraged wife to file for divorce!
As for why the FBI took so much interest in the Bethurum/Williamson gig, the answer is very simple. The government was already keeping tabs on Bethurum, for one particularly interesting reason: he had made certain statements linking his experiences with Aura Rhanes to matters of a communist nature. In Bethurum’s own words:
“Two or three fellows who had sons in Korea and who read a lot in the newspapers about the Communist underground in this country, were convinced in their own minds that I was, if making contact with anyone at all, making it with enemy agents. They even went so far as to tell me belligerently that they intended to get guns and follow me nights, and if they caught up me having intercourse with any people from planes, airships of any kind, they’d blast me and those people too.”
And, as an amusing aside, it also led the FBI to refer to Aura Rhanes in its files as a “ravishing woman commandant”! Even the Bureau, it seems, was infected by Aura’s hotness!
Next on the cards for the FBI was a development that occurred in March 1955. Hoover’s agents noted in secret memoranda that, along with one Henry Maday, Williamson had then-recently established The Flying Saucer Council of America, which – the FBI also noted – was championing and promoting a new documentary-style film on flying saucers titled We’ve Seen the Saucers.
More alarming to officialdom: Williamson had apparently got his hands on priceless film-footage of UFO activity that appeared in the film. Reportedly, the footage showed “the astounding sighting at White Sands, New Mexico when two saucers trailed an experimental rocket to an altitude of one-hundred ten miles above the earth, and then speed off at the incredible speed of 7,200 mph.”
Of this matter, the FBI carefully recorded that the film at issue “was procured in California by Ric Williamson,” one of the man’s several pseudonyms.
Also in 1955, the FBI noted in its file on Williamson: “…according to an article in the Detroit Times on March 10, 1949, Ray L. Dimmick, a Los Angeles businessman, had seen a wreckage of a flying saucer which he said crashed near Mexico City. Dimmick reportedly inspected the wrecked saucer at a secret military installation at Mexico City and was escorted there by Mexican business associates. Dimmick described the saucer as being forty-six feet in diameter. He reported that Mexican officials and some scientists believed it was from Mars or another planet. He was reportedly told by Mexican officials that the Saucer was piloted by a strange type of man twenty-three inches tall. He said the pilot was killed in the crash. Dimmick stated that military and government officials from the United States inspected the Saucer.”
The FBI then immediately thereafter turned its attentions to Williamson and matters of a crashed UFO nature: “Ric Williamson and Henry Maday while in Saginaw, Michigan, prior to conducting a Flying Saucer Council program, met a prominent photographer of Saginaw, who stated that his son had revealed to him the following: The photographer’s son was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Base about the time of the incident described in the March 10, 1949 Detroit Times above and while at Wright-Patterson Air Base, a huge semi-truck came to the Air Base with heavily canopied material jutting out, of immense size.”
Echoing the claims that Wright-Patterson AFB is home to the legendary Hangar 18 – a supposed secret storage-area on-base where crashed UFO materials are held – the FBI noted of the “canopied material” that: “…no one seemed to know anything about it except that it was driven to a far hangar where no windows or accessible doors could be discerned.”
As far as the declassified files are concerned, the next entry in the FBI’s dossier on George Hunt Williamson dates from 1962. Its subject matter: the possibility that Williamson had been involved in the smuggling into the United States of priceless Mexican artifacts of an historic and archaeological significance.
For a while the FBI deeply pondered on whether or not they should get further involved in the pursuit of a potential crime that had occurred outside of its jurisdiction and in another country – Mexico – but finally dropped the matter; rather fortunately, it must be said, for Williamson. There is one particularly curious aspect of this particular affair: a number of the relevant documents are heavily censored according to category B1 of the Freedom of Information Act. Intriguingly, B1 covers nothing less than matters that may have a potential effect on US national security.
Williamson might have overstepped the line to a degree with his Indiana Jones-style escapades in Mexico in 1962, but they hardly seem like matters that would have had a bearing on issues relative to the national security of the United States. Unless, of course, there are additional files on Williamson that the FBI has still yet to declassify, and which remain behind closed doors for reasons tantalizing and unknown.
And there, so far as we can tell at least, ends the FBI’s surveillance of George Hunt Williamson. Enigmatic, controversial and shrouded in mystery until the very end, he died in 1986, a figure by then largely forgotten by, or completely unknown to, the UFO research community of the day. But, maybe, not forgotten by the FBI.
And if you want to find out more about what the FBI thought of the man himself, you can do so in a new edition of Williamson’s book, Road in the Sky, which has just been republished by Timothy Green Beckley and which includes a 22-page article from me on this strange saga of Space Brother-based spying in the early years of the Cold War…