December 22, 1958
By John Lester
A group of more than 50 top commercial airline pilots, all veterans of more than 15 years with major companies, yesterday blasted as "bordering on the absolute ridiculous" the Air Force policy of tight censorship, brush-off and denial in regard to unidentified flying objects - flying saucers.
One termed the Air Force policy "a lesson in lying, intrigue and the 'Big Brother' attitude carried to the ultimate extreme."
Each of the pilots has sighted at least one UFO, the majority several.
All have been interrogated by the Air Force and most expressed disgust and frustration at Air Force methods and conclusions.
"We are ordered to report all UFO sightings," one said, "but when we do we are usually treated like incompetents and told to keep quiet."
"This is no fun; especially after many hours of questioning - sometimes all night long. You're tired. You've just come in from a grueling flight, anxious to get home to the wife and kids. But you make your report anyhow and the Air Force tells you that the thing that paced your plane for 15 minutes was a mirage or a bolt of lightning. Nuts to that. Who needs it?"
Another said he was certain many pilots "forget" to report UFO sightings rather than undergo Air Force quizzing and ridicule. He said he is sure much valuable information is lost as a result.
Although the pilots expressed themselves freely, they asked that their names be withheld because in most instances employers had directed them, at Air Force insistance, to say nothing for publication.
The Star Ledger has their names, however, and it was agreed that they could be released if and when the "strict silence" ban is lifted.
One of the pilots was refused permission by his company to appear on a recent nationwide telecast.
Another was ordered to "cease and desist" after he's appeared on two recent network telecasts with his company's expressed approval.
In referring to the UFO tracking by Civil Aeronautics Authority radar men stationed around the country, as reported in this newspaper last Friday, one of the pilots explained "the Air Force can't afford to admit radar is correct without also admitting its own attitude has been incorrect from the beginning."
This pilot also pointed to a Joint Chiefs of Staff order giving top radio priority to UFO reports anywhere in the world and [unreadable] that any pilot who fails to maintain absolute secrecy afterwards is subject to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
"If the whole UFO business is to be taken as lightly as the official Air Force policy suggests, then why are the Joint Chiefs so serious and obviously so concerned about it and why are they going to [unreadable] that trouble?"
In respect to the Joint Chiefs order, none of the pilots were asked to reveal details of any of their sightings or questioned about them in any way.
Since the appearance of the above article Mr. Lester has informed this Committee that 400 more pilots have joined the list of the original 50.