Man’s Interest Spans 40 Years : His UFO Curiosity Is Out of This World
In 1944, a 15-year-old Boy Scout named George Fawcett read a news story about “silver balls floating in the air” that the Nazis apparently planned to use to confuse and frighten the Allies during bombing raids.
The newspaper clipping led to a 40-year interest in unidentified flying objects--a mission that has cost Fawcett $27,000 of his own money and at least one job, sent him around the country to investigate some 1,000 reported UFO sightings and filled more than 20 file drawers in his Lincolnton home with UFO-related documents.
“I’m not the Billy Graham of UFOs, I’m more like the Curious George,” said Fawcett, 55, during an interview at his wife’s Lincolnton sandwich shop, which features a “UFO Room” full of framed pictures and clippings.
“It was just curiosity,” he said. “Too, there was the deep feeling I got that they were not being treated with the respect due them. I felt that anything that’s been going on for four decades in 140 nations deserves close scientific scrutiny.
“But it’s never been given yet,” he added. “There’s never been a real scientific investigation. Or, if there has, the government’s not telling us about it.”
Fawcett is the public relations director for the North Carolina chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, which has 75 field investigators in 45 cities across the state. He was the organization’s state director from 1969 to 1980.
But, this year, for the first time since 1952, he won’t be providing his annual report of North Carolina UFO activity for the previous year.
He has had to look for a job because the newspaper where he worked closed down. He has also been spending more time on worldwide research--particularly a study comparing human reactions to UFOs with the hard evidence of radar trackings and ground markings. This objective data is his reply to the argument that belief in UFOs has merely replaced belief in religion in the age of science.
Of the 1,000 reported sightings he has investigated over the years, Fawcett has explained all but about 22% as natural phenomena, man-made objects or hoaxes.
He says a thorough investigator checks with neighbors, police and the Federal Aviation Administration and uses star maps, metal detectors, weather information, witnesses’ medical and social background and detailed questionnaires before concluding that a UFO is involved.
Fawcett said his early efforts at researching UFOs was met with ridicule. But, he said, a wave of sightings in his hometown of Mount Airy in 1973 had vindicated him there.
He has seen one UFO personally, he says--an object “like an orange cut in half” hovering over Lynchburg College in Virginia in 1951.
Later, he was one of three candidates for a YMCA post in Florida. But when officials found out about his interest in UFOs, someone else got the job, he said.
UFOs gained credence in the 1960s and 1970s, and, from 1979 to 1983, Fawcett taught a three-credit, 12-week course on UFOs at the Lincolnton campus of Gaston College. His total of 125 students came from 24 North Carolina cities and from a variety of professions and trades.
When he began his research, Fawcett had four dreams: to lecture on UFOs; to teach an accredited course; to write a book, and to found a museum.
He has finished one book, “Quarter Century Studies of UFOs in Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee,” and is starting another. And he has begun to get nibbles on his proposal to build a UFO museum in Boone. All he needs is money and material to add to his considerable collection.
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