- Jimmy Carter's Close Encounter
- When a President Says He's Seen a UFO,
You Really Have to Wonder If the Truth Is Out There
- President Carter filed two formal reports
when he was governor of Georgia describing his observation of an unidentified
flying object to organizations that collect and promote UFO sightings as
unexplained phenomena. (ABCNEWS.com)
- Thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter risked
being labeled a "crackpot" when he said he saw a UFO. Now, other
prominent Americans join him.
- It was just another fun night at the
Lion's Club for Jimmy Carter - when suddenly from the sky a UFO "as
bright as the moon" flashed before his eyes.
- A red and green glowing orb radiated
as it hurtled across the southwestern Georgia skies that January 1969 evening.
Ten minutes later, it vanished.
- That was Jimmy Carter's story - and he's
sticking to it. Carter, then Georgia's governor, became the first major
politician to risk achieving "crackpot" status by claiming he
had had a close encounter.
- "I don't laugh at people any more
when they say they've seen UFOs," Carter said at a Southern Governors
Conference a few years later. "I've seen one myself."
- Meet the Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley
- Though an insignificant news tidbit back
then, Carter's sighting may have encouraged other people to step forward.
You could hardly say he started a trend, but he set a precedent. And recently,
several prominent people, including two astronauts and a renowned CEO,
have said they, too, are believers.
- Two weeks ago, Silicon Valley legend
Joe Firmage quit his job as the CEO of USWeb/CKS, a $2 billion company
that employs nearly 2,000 people. The reason: He's had contact with extraterrestrials
and wants to expose the government conspiracy to conceal a 1947 space crash
in Roswell, N.M.
- I'm not praying for a spacecraft to come
pick me up," says Firmage, who calls himself the "Fox Mulder
of Silicon Valley."
- "I'm just saying there is good,
rational, left-brain evidence of things out there."
- Firmage said his priorities shifted 15
months ago, after an encounter at his Los Gatos, Calif., home with a "remarkable
being" clothed in brilliant white light.
- "I don't call them aliens,"
he says. "I call them teachers."
- He says it's necessary to quit his high-paying
job because of the "public relations complications" it might
cause his company. He plans to write a book and is posting his findings
on his Web site.
- Astronauts Say Truth Is Out There
- The CIA closed the Colorado Project,
the last comprehensive government UFO probe, in the late 1960s, after a
government panel concluded "further extensive study of UFOs probably
cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced."
- But astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Gordon
Cooper say that new investigations are warranted in UFOs: 50 Years of Denial?,
a documentary set to air March 3 on The Learning Channel.
- "The evidence points to the fact
that Roswell was a real incident and that indeed an alien craft did crash
and that material was recovered from that crash site," says Mitchell,
who became the sixth man on the moon in the Apollo 14 mission.
- Mitchell doesn't say he's seen a UFO.
But he says he's met with high-ranking military officers who admitted involvement
with alien technology and hardware.
- Cooper told a U.N. committee recently,
"Every day in the U.S.A., our radar instruments capture objects of
form and composition unknown to us." In the documentary, Cooper speculates
that public skepticism toward UFOs will shift dramatically.
- Pictures of flying saucers strike a dramatic
image. But documentary filmmaker James Fox says it will take the testimony
of credible witnesses like these to change public opinion and force the
- "As a rule, I steer clear of pictures
and video footage of UFOs," he says. "If it's too good, people
think it's a fake, and if it's not good people think it's a fake."
- Mom, Dad, I've Seen a UFO
- Coming out of the closet - at least in
the UFO sense - is no easy task.
- "Most people who claim to see UFOs
lead sad lives. They get laughed at by colleagues and family. They become
outcasts," says Nick Pope, who was the British Ministry of Defense's
investigator in charge of UFO sightings from 1991 to 1994.
- "I've seen a lot of marriages end
in divorce because one partner is embarrassed that the other tells everyone
he's seen a UFO."
- Pope has interviewed thousands of people
who claim to have had paranormal experiences. "I can't say I have
proof these people really saw what they claim to have seen. But I believe
a lot of them were telling the truth. Many of them are credible. And some
of them have bizarre scars on their body that no doctor can explain."
- Pope notes a phenomenon that many of
the people he's interviewed have developed spontaneous skills in music,
painting, and poetry. "It can be a life-transforming event. Whatever
happened to these people," he says, "it somehow comes out."
- It's had to say how Carter was affected
by his close encounter. In recent years, Carter has become a prolific writer
and peace activist. But the former president has never really spoken of
the impact of those mysterious red and green lights all those years ago.
- Yet while he was on the campaign trail,
he tried to use it to his advantage. "A light appeared and disappeared
in the sky," he told a Washington Post reporter in 1975. "It
goes brighter and brighter - I have no idea what it was - I think it was
a light beckoning me to run in the California primary."