From almost the days of the actual trip, rumors have flown about possible UFO sightings during the Apollo 11 mission and first manned landing on the Moon. Buzz Aldrin still insists that his comments about a light he saw were taken out of context and what he saw was simply a reflection of the sun off of panels jettisoned from the rocket that had carried them into orbit. The same was said to be true of comments made by Neil Armstrong that were misconstrued over the years to be about something other than space junk. However, a newly released letter written by someone back in the news claims that the first man on the moon had more than just a passing-by-while-in-the-sky interest in UFOs.
"This letter could be somewhat historic because it might actually confirm that Armstrong did have an interest in UFOs."
Sun Online says the letter (see it here) was discovered by Dr. Irena Scott, a former Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer and author of a new book about UFO encounters, “Sacred Corridors.” Dr. Scott is well-known in UFOolgy circles, having served on the MUFON Board of Directors and as a MUFON consultant in physiology and astronomy and a field investigator. The author of the letter is Professor J. Allen Hynek, who has posthumously received 15 more minutes of fame as the focal point of the History Channel’s new series on Project Blue Book. The recipient of the handwritten letter (remember those?) was Jennie Zeidman, a close friend of Hynek who also worked with him at Wright Patterson Air Force Base on Project Blue Book.
"Dear Jennie. A week from today we sail ... I got called up by the cruise director asking if the Hyneks would mind sharing a table with the Armstrongs! So – tell Barry I should be able to get the autograph for him! Did I tell you I’m going?”
Hynek was referring to an upcoming two-week cruise from New York to the west coast of Africa in 1973 on which 2,000 teachers, artists, authors, scientists and celebrities would observe a total solar eclipse and listen to lectures and discussions, including a panel with Hynek and Armstrong called "Life in the Universe." To Scott, this is proof that, while Armstrong never publicly discussed his UFO interests, he intentionally sought on the cruise to have such discussions with a recognized expert in the field.
Sun Online also reveals Scott found evidence that Neil Armstrong and J. Allen Hynek also contacted ufologist and author Leonard Stringfield, who was at one time the director of Civilian Research, Interplanetary Flying Objects (CRIFO).
"Stringfield said that a number of years ago when Armstrong was on the board of directors of a Cincinnati bank, Armstrong and Hynek approached him with a proposal to protect the names of the government-connected informants. Armstrong said Stringfield could put his list of names in a safety deposit box at Armstrong’s bank, to which it was assumed Armstrong would also have access. The intention was that in the event of Stringfield’s death, the names wouldn’t be lost, but Stringfield rejected the idea.”
Scott implies that Armstrong was trying to help Stringfield protect the identities of 50 UFO informants. She is sketchy on this – Stringfield died in 1994 and Scott admits in the Sun article that she has no proof it actually occurred but uses it as proof that that Armstrong and Hynek had ongoing contacts, implying Armstrong had lifelong interest in UFOs and in discussing – and perhaps even covering up – their existence with a leader in the field.
So, what does this letter show? Armstrong and Hynek were already going to be on the ship together and sharing at least one panel, but it could be a sign that Armstrong had more to discuss in private – although a cruise ship dining room isn’t exactly private or secure, especially when many onboard were interested in the same subject matter and wanted to be close to the famed astronaut. Being before the fact, the letter doesn’t tell us what was actually discussed and there seems to be no published followup. Nor is there any for the the alleged but unproven meeting with Stringfield. The strongest point there is that Armstrong and Hynek had contact long after the cruise.
For now, it’s an interesting footnote – just in need of a little more foot.