To many UFO enthusiasts, Gordon Cooper is a legend. An original Mercury astronaut, he was one of those clear-eyed, ambitious, optimistic, straight-arrow Americans with "the right stuff," as Tom Wolfe put it -- men who made the U.S. space program synonymous with success and national pride. But unlike most of his fellow astronauts, Gordon Cooper has said for decades that he believes at least some UFOs are alien spacecraft.
Astronaut Gordon Cooper Says
Aliens Are Here!
By Michael Lindemann
To many UFO enthusiasts, Gordon Cooper is a legend. An original Mercury astronaut, he was one of those clear-eyed, ambitious, optimistic, straight-arrow Americans with "the right stuff" as Tom Wolfe put it -- men who made the U.S. space program synonymous with success and national pride. But unlike most of his fellow astronauts, Gordon Cooper has said for decades that he believes at least some UFOs are alien spacecraft.
With the assistance of a mutual friend, I met Gordon Cooper at his office in Van Nuys, California on February 8.
He isn't as big as I expected, neither in height nor build. (In retrospect, it occurs to me that large size would be no asset in the space program.) At 68, he is balding. He still has the signature grin, toothy and slightly cock-eyed. He has sharp blue eyes. He speaks quietly, clearly and concisely. We simply pulled up a few chairs around his desk and started talking.
I said I had enjoyed Dennis Quaid's film portrayal of Cooper in "The Right Stuff" and asked how he had liked it. "I liked it. He did a pretty good job" he said. "So did you think of yourself as a hotdog back then" I asked. "Yes, I guess so"
We talked about the space program. He had gone up in Mercury 9 in May, 1963 and completed 22 orbits, an American record at the time.
Then in August, 1965, he went up again in Gemini 5 with Charles "Pete" Conrad and stayed aloft eight days, going 122 orbits, a world record. They had purposely set out to get ahead of the Soviets in at least a symbolic way. It was a turning point in the space race. We were already headed for the moon. We got there. The Soviets never did.
Cooper was going to go to the moon, but Alan Shepherd went instead, and then the Apollo program was cancelled. Cooper was going to go to Mars, too. Few Americans even know that NASA was well along on plans for a manned Mars mission, with a landing projected for 1981. Cooper was in line for commander of the mission. It would have been a nuclear powered spacecraft, assembled in earth orbit after parts were sent aloft on a series of Saturn 1-Bs. The nuclear engines were ready, Cooper said. A lot of the spacecraft was ready. They were still working on the lander, he said... and then that program was cancelled, too. "By Senator Proxmire. The worst enemy America ever had" Cooper said.
I asked him about his famous UFO sighting. It was in 1951 over Germany. He and several other pilots were flying F-86 jets -- "We were super-sonic, barely" he said -- when they looked up and saw what appeared to be a large group of "double lenticular shaped" aircraft, classic flying saucers, flying in formation. He said these craft were much higher than his plane could go, though he couldn't tell how high. They were going faster too, though he couldn't tell how much faster. Over the next two or three days, he and other pilots saw "several hundred" of these craft. Cooper said they flew formation maneuvers very much like his own squadron would fly. He and the other witnesses were uniformly convinced they were seeing a technology that wasn't human.
Cooper and his fellow pilots reported the sightings to their superiors. In due course, the official explanation was relayed back down. "High flying seed pods"
Though the UFO subject frequently must endure strange episodes of official denial and obfuscation, this offering of "seed pods" in answer to Cooper's sighting struck me as one of the wackiest I've heard. "You knew this was crazy" I said to him. "How could you put up with it"
His answer was simple. "I was in the Air Force. I wanted to fly"
But Cooper had already made up his own mind that UFOs represented visitations from elsewhere, and in time he made his position clear. He wrote a letter to the United Nations in 1978. It said, in part, "I do believe UFOs exist and that the truly unexplained ones are from some other technically advanced civilization... I believe that these extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets, which are obviously a little more advanced than we are here on earth... I feel that we need to have a top-level, coordinated program to scientifically collect and analyze data from all over the earth concerning any type of encounter, and to determine how best to interface with these visitors in a friendly fashion"
Cooper was convinced by 1978 that these visitors, most of them at least, were friendly. He holds to that view today.
I asked him if he ever saw anything other-worldly while he was in space. "Nothing" he said. Did the other astronauts, any of them, see anything? "I don't think so" he said. How about on the moon? Anything at all? "Nothing on the moon" he said. I was surprised.
I said that most researchers in this field are sure that someone in government knows a lot more than they're saying. He agreed. "So how can we get the truth to come out" I asked. "I think that's pretty much up to THEM -- the aliens" he said. "They seem to show themselves when and where and to whom they want. I wish they would pick some people who really want to meet them, instead of a couple of fishermen in Pascagoula, Mississippi" -- referring to the famous 1973 abduction of Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker.
"Would you want to meet them, Gordon" I asked. "Heck yes" he said. "I'd give them a good welcome"
I told him I didn't think we had to wait for the aliens to begin discussing the truth about what is known. Didn't the government already have a lot of information? What about Roswell, for example?
"Well, I'm pretty sure something was picked up at Roswell"
What about bodies?
"Maybe, yes. But I think there were better ones than Roswell" he said. "We got some live ones"
Live ones? Live aliens? Of course one hears all the rumors and wild tales. Did Gordon know for sure that there were some live aliens?
"I knew a guy who brought one in" he said.
What? Brought one in? What did that mean, exactly?
It was back in the mid-1950s, at White Sands Proving Ground in the middle of the New Mexico desert. His friend -- Gordon called him Moser, and said that Moser had passed away just a few years ago -- was a rocket scientist. He was working by himself on a rocket engine test bed, getting ready for a test the next day. Suddenly, without warning, he heard a voice say his name. He didn't know where it came from. He looked around, saw no one. The voice said his name again. "Then the voice said, 'Don't worry, I'm above you in a craft a few miles up.'"
Gordon said the voice belonged to a person who wanted Moser to provide lots of basic information about earth and humans, so that this visitor could begin to adjust to living here. An arrangement was struck whereby Moser would bring the visitor library books, the visitor would read them at incredible speed, then Moser would go get some more. On more than one occasion, Moser went aboard the visitor's craft. The visitor looked human enough to pass on the street, but he was not used to earth gravity and had a hard time breathing our air. It took him five years to acclimate to earth conditions. Then he started living on the surface. Moser stayed in close touch with him.
I asked Gordon if he ever met the visitor. "No. I hinted around again and again, but Moser never introduced us"
Where is the visitor now? Gordon said he doesn't know. The visitor learned to blend into human society and became a businessman, Moser said.
Why was the visitor here? Gordon said Moser told him the visitor's people had been in space a long time. They were a very old race, and their planet had died when their sun died. They didn't want to invade or change our society. They just wanted to live on solid ground. Earth took some getting used to, but Moser's visitor friend had adjusted well. Presumably there were many others, but Gordon didn't claim to know about that.
There had been another opportunity for him to meet aliens, but it fell through, he said. It was in 1972 or 1973, just after he left the space program. He was in touch with a group of people who were making contacts at Giant Rock in the Mojave Desert of California. There was to be an arrangment whereby Gordon and a small group of others could attend one of these contact events and even record it on film. The day before the scheduled event, there was a preliminary meeting where something went wrong. Gordon said he wasn't there and doesn't know exactly what happened; but it resulted in cancelling the next day's event. He had assumed he would see one or more craft and alien occupants up close, in daylight. He says he never saw any such thing.
But he speaks as one who knows -- to his own satisfaction, at least -- that a variety of alien types are visiting the earth. He says he's convinced that most of them are benevolent, although some may be unfriendly or even dangerous. He didn't seem too concerned about the negative types.
I asked him if he thought there had been any technology transfer. He said it was quite possible that the story told by Bob Lazar about saucers at a secret base in Nevada was true; and that wreckage had probably been recovered at Roswell and elsewhere. I asked him if he thought the rumors about a landing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico were true, and he said he thought perhaps they were.
Having previously learned of Gordon's friendly relations with the "Black" world of super-secrecy -- one of his business partners was formerly a top official in the Lockheed Skunk Works, and Gordon has worked from time to time with various intelligence agencies, including the CIA -- I have to assume that he knows far more than he would ever divulge to me, particularly in this kind of get-acquainted conversation.
Nonetheless, I found him remarkably open and willing to make quite amazing assertions. I'm convinced he really believes that aliens are here. That being the case, I'm glad he also seems convinced that most of our alien visitors are friendly.