By Tony Brunt
A series of articles that go behind the respectable, standardized histories of the twentieth century to assess the post-war impact of the UFO phenomenon.
Part Three: ‘George Adamski and the Toughest Job in the World’
Some day when the cover-up has ended and all the bulldust has settled, November 1952 may be marked by historians for something more than the month in which 20 years of Democratic Party grip on the White House came to an end.
To be sure, Dwight Eisenhower’s victory of 4 November deserves its place in the sun: a hero of World War II climbing the final pinnacle of public service at age 62, the reluctant Republican candidate drafted into the race by popular demand.
But as Ike – as he was popularly known – celebrated his victory with friends in a New York ballroom that night, neither he nor the millions of other voters could have known that two weeks later, across the country in the desert of Southern California, another American of almost the same age, would realize a soaring ambition of an altogether different kind, an achievement more remarkable in its own way than that of the newly elected president.
On 20 November, under the distant gaze of six eye-witnesses, a few of whom were watching through binoculars in the clear desert air, George Adamski apparently met a man from another planet and communicated with him for about 45 minutes.
Adamski’s friends, all of whom later swore supportive affidavits about the remarkable events of that day, had accompanied their pied piper in a cat-and-mouse car journey on the roads around the dusty stop-over called Desert Center. It was cat-and-mouse with a difference: the quarry in this case was a large cigar-shaped UFO floating serenely in the blue sky, and the stalkers were Adamski and his friends shadowing the craft in their two cars, waiting to pounce should the visitors make a touchdown. The seven had been many hours on the road that day on a UFO-hunting expedition prompted by one of Adamski’s hunches. When they finally struck gold they were eating lunch on an isolated back road 11 miles from Desert Center. After the silvery ship had floated into view their excited leader had headed off into the hills on his own, hoping for a face-to-face contact. He positioned himself with his tripod-mounted telescope about half a mile from his friends and told them not to approach until he signaled.
After some minutes they saw Adamski leave his position and head for a ravine between two low hills. He approached another distant figure and seemingly began to talk to him. Through the binoculars that were passed from person to person his friends saw Adamski and the man gesticulating to each other as they conversed. Alice Wells studied the stranger closely and later drew a sketch of a man with long hair, dressed in a one-piece suit that had a broad band at the waist and was pulled tight at the wrists and ankles. One of the other observers, Lucy McGinnis, had seen a small craft come down near where the unknown visitor had appeared. “They stood talking to each other and we saw them turn and go back up to the ship,” she said later. The witnesses’ view of the scout ship, as Adamski dubbed it, was not a good one. It was seen as a bright and sparkling object rising and falling behind some boulders. They told Irish investigator, Desmond Leslie, in 1954, that when the ship had left the scene it shot up into the sky in a brilliant flash. Twenty seven years later McGinnis described it in more detail to another British researcher, Timothy Good: “…when it left, it was just like a bubble or kind of like a bright light that lifted up. Then George went out on to the highway and he motioned for us to come out.” When they reached their leader he was babbling almost incoherently. “If he was an actor,” said George Hunt Williamson, “then he was the best actor I’ve ever known. He was out of his mind with excitement.” Desmond Leslie interviewed the witnesses closely on what happened next. They described how they had back-tracked with the breathless Adamski to the scene of the contact, all the while peppering him with questions. “I seemed to be in another world,” Adamski later wrote. “My answer to the questions, were given in a daze.” If his answers lacked clarity, his footprints did not. They were imprinted clearly in the soft dirt. The group came upon smaller ones with distinctive markings that the ‘spaceman’ had left. Williamson and his wife Betty took plaster casts of the best examples. The small prints led back to the site of the touchdown then stopped abruptly.
Adamski’s detailed account of his meeting with this handsome, human looking visitor with the shoulder-length hair of a seventies hippie, is described in detail in the book, Flying Saucers Have Landed, which he co-authored in 1953 with Desmond Leslie. The key point to be made about this event and subsequent face-to-face encounters that he and other credible witnesses reported in the 1950s was that the alien interaction was taking place on these occasions with human looking visitors, not Grey-type aliens. Not only were the encounters with distinctly human types but these ‘space people’ generally communicated in a benevolent and helpful way. They were concerned with the trends on Earth, they said, often in plain English. Atomic bomb testing was their number one concern. The witnesses who came forward to report these more inspirational contacts were generally rubbished by the mainstream press. These brave people were flippantly debunked as wishful fantasists and grouped together under the derisory term ‘contactees’. The word said it all without the need for enlargement; it had about it the feel of other “ee” words – devotee, divorcee, debauchee. Their detractors were not only the news media but ‘mainstream’ UFO research groups who craved respectability and were terrified that reports of commonsense, repeat meetings with human-like aliens, who sometimes talked about the spiritual life, would bring the whole serious subject into disrepute. If only the NICAPs, APROs and MUFONs – the biggest research groups – had known that there was no chance that they could insinuate their way into the good books of the myopic scientific community, or get a fair hearing from the US government, no matter how much they behaved themselves. That same government, operating in a vastly resourced conspiracy, would stop at nothing to suppress and discredit any attempt to elevate the subject to the level of the respectable. No amount of hobnobbing in Washington or sneering at the ‘lunatic fringe’ was ever going to get ufology’s unctuous conservatives on to the right side of the railway tracks. The contactees were like coarse gatecrashers at a refined dinner party, blowhards who wedged their seats among the dignified social climbers and ruined the artful agenda. But the hosts weren’t going to buy the pitch anyway. No amount of decorous table talk or dexterity with the cutlery was ever going to give the Donald Keyhoes, the Richard Halls, Allen Hyneks and Walt Andruses the gravitas that they sought. Like thousands of other sincere researchers and advocates who devoted countless hours of hard and thankless work to the campaign for official recognition, these people were doomed in their noble quest even before they started. The apparatus that had been erected to lie and obfuscate the issue could not tolerate a single chink in the armour of deceit. No compromise, no partial admission was possible without the integrity of the whole edifice of deception being threatened.
In the early, romantic era of the flying saucers, the age of Elvis, McCarthy, I Love Lucy, and delta-winged Dodges, a fascinating duality of encounter emerged. The most secretive of the visitors – the greys – who were not much engaged in encounter activity (at that time), were crashing all round the place. They were furtive and shy but their flawed technology kept blowing their cover. Their fatal mishaps virtually monopolised official attention – the crash site clean-ups, the cover stories, the corpse collections, the alien autopsies, the reverse engineering of intact craft. By contrast, the talkative and likeable visitors described by the contactees never crashed their craft. Their machines were far more reliable. The first group was a disturbing enigma who left their calling card in a trail of debris and lifeless bodies. The second were an open book but left no trace, apart from the stories of those they had met.
The greys were far more credible as aliens. They looked liked aliens should look – they looked different. They were ‘picture book’ ET’s. They had wonky eyes and spindly limbs. Encounters with human visitors, no matter how strong the collateral witnesses or photographic evidence, were simply never going to cut it. If the right wing of ‘ufology’ was ever going to move on from ‘sightings in the sky’ and let flesh-and-blood aliens into the pantheon of dignified debate it was only ever going to be the greys, especially once abduction activities by these taciturn visitors stepped up after the 1960s.
And then there was the problem – which must be admitted – that the most prominent of the contactees seemed to overegg the recipe from time to time. The guileless millions who thought, in all their delightful ingenuousness, that one day the truth about UFOs simply must out, did not count on the quagmire that lay between the rock and the hard place: on one side a seamlessly organised, taxpayer-funded cover-up with all the manpower, surveillance tools and disinformation techniques that the State could muster; on the other side witnesses ‘of the third kind’ with yarns that sometimes fell apart after a good poke.
The Saintly Scamp
The Janus face of the UFO ‘problem’ expressed itself most vividly in the person of
George Adamski. He seemed to be half holy man, half huckster, a fascinating blend of the sublime and the slippery. Adamski was two of a kind. Where one George left off and the other started is hard to say. But there is a tightly coiled stature here that needs to be released to its full, awesome measure, and then we need to consider the banalities of human nature that diminished the man’s standing and legacy.
Posterity has allowed George Adamski to control his own biography. No discerning writer sought to pin him down before he died in 1965 and produce a vigorous and probing picture, especially of the explosive last 13 years when his fame was world-wide and his photo instantly recognisable. The scores of acquaintances, friends and family from his first 60 years – the pre-flying saucer days – have gone. The biographical sketch in his second book on UFOs, Inside the Space Ships, published in 1956, was penned by ghost writer Charlotte Blodget, a dab hand at journalistic cosmetics. No doubt under George’s guidance, this admirer from the Bahamas crafted a hagiographic four pages that portrayed his life as a patiently compiled spiritual odyssey, from small town poverty on the shores of Lake Erie to veneration as the savant of Laguna Beach; Huckleberry Finn with a Polish accent punting his way across the American Century in a leaky boat, gathering in a trove of transcendental insights.
None of those who spent years in his presence in the forties and fifties – which amounted to three or four admirers and his wife – wrote anything that resembled a reminiscence. He married Mary Shimbersky in 1917 but she died of cancer in 1954 without leaving anything for annalists. For some reason a veil of silence descended. Blodget failed to mention Mary’s death in her biographical sketch written in 1955. George’s own airbrushed account of his domestic arrangements in the 1953-55 period leave her out as well. It was a shrewd move that helped forestall gossip: indicating the marriage’s beginning but not its ending served the useful purpose of fudging Adamski’s unconventional domestic milieu after that time. Mary had been around for the hard work during her husband’s back-to-the-land projects in Valley Center-Palomar in the 1940s. She was apparently a devout Catholic, which, with George’s reincarnationist views, would have made for interesting table talk. His move from the esoteric to the extraterrestrial was a step too far for his wife. Once, she fell on her knees begging him to stay away from meetings with his space friends and discontinue his writings on the subject, he later told his Swiss co-worker Lou Zinsstag. But George could not stop anymore, he told Zinsstag, not even for his wife. His hour had, indeed, arrived; this is what it had all been leading to. Mary’s passing soon after, had about it the quality of deus ex machina, a providential release from marital attachments that freed Adamski for more than a decade of relentless service to his mission. We do know that during his world tour of 1959 George would flop out his wallet and show Mary’s photo fondly to friends. Those who saw the snapshot remember her as a pretty woman. One can imagine that life with George was not a bed of roses from the word go. The union was childless and George was a rolling stone. He served with the Army on the Mexican border for six months in 1918-19 (inflated to five years in the Blodget sketch) then drifted from job to job with Mary in tow. When finally they came to rest in California and George had established himself as a full-time New Age philosopher and teacher, Mary had to put up with two of his female acolytes living on the premises. Lucy McGinnis signed on as voluntary secretary to ‘Professor Adamski’, as he called himself, in the mid-1940s. She worked for him loyally until the early 1960s when, along with many of his other supporters, she deserted the work as his tales seemed to get out of hand. Lucy was only ever known to have given one interview with a writer reflecting deeply on those years with George.
Alice Wells also took up residence in the 1940s. She was reportedly part American Indian and one of the small inner circle who helped clear a plot of stony land in rural California on the isolated hill road to Mount Palomar. Here, George and his followers established a small commune, called Palomar Gardens, with subsistence agriculture and income from a road-side café to provide the necessities of life. Alice was touted as the owner of the café but diners often got the impression it belonged to George. She was prominently mentioned in Adamski’s books as “Mrs Alice K.Wells” but no visitors ever came across a Mister Wells. George was nothing if not a ladies’ man. Declassified FBI files indicate there were “four or five” women working in the café in 1950, which the bureau’s informant felt was not justified by the level of business.
Late in 1953 George cracked the whip again. The café was sold and the group resited further up the road and took to their picks and shovels once more. “We work hard but we are happy,” he wrote with Maoist simplicity. It sounded like the hippie ideal of spiritual renewal through fresh air and bracing outdoor activity among the furrows, the advance guard of the counter-culture. Indeed George’s romantic collectivist views had been the cause of the FBI’s early interest in his activities. He and his waitresses at the Palomar Gardens Café liked to regale diners not only with tales of flying saucers but with the virtues of the communist way of life. Adamski told the FBI snitch that “Russia will dominate the world and we will then have an era of peace for 1000 years.” He honed his powers of prophecy even further, predicting a flare-up in the Cold War: “Within the next twelve months San Diego will be bombed.”
Until 1955 there was no electricity at the new “ashram” (visitor Desmond Leslie’s word) that followed the move from the café. Lighting was by candle and kerosene lamp. Fresh water came from a stream. Alice Wells stuck with George through all of this, after fame had turned to notoriety, and inherited his share in their joint home in Vista, California. Leslie said that Wells had an “oriental calm”, which seems to imply she was a woman of few words; certainly she left precious few for historians.
A young radio technician from Boise, Idaho, called Carol A.Honey wandered in and out of George’s life and left a frustratingly incomplete picture. His writing style suggests a rather humourless man: he once complained to a magazine that people thought his published letters were penned by a woman. “How they arrived at this crazy idea I’ll never know,” he railed. Honey came calling at Palomar in 1957 on a tour of Californian contactees. He was so impressed with George that he settled in California and served for several years as Adamski’s right hand man, especially in the outreach programme which by now spanned the world, and in his bosses’ hectic lecture schedule. He too broke with Adamski in 1963 over an alleged ‘trip to Saturn’. After departing, Honey went on to work in a technical role for Hughes Aircraft Corporation for many years, and left relatively small pickings for researchers. His big chance came in 2002 when he emerged from obscurity to publish a book on UFOs. Followers of crypto-history held their breath: juicy gossip from an insider seemed in the offing. Sadly, the large format, soft cover tome was a disappointment. It dealt only obliquely with Honey’s former mentor.
The most acute observations we have about Adamski from a long-time friend are those of Leslie, a dashing free spirit who was worth a book himself. Leslie was the son of Irish baronet, Sir Shane Leslie, and spent much of his childhood at Castle Leslie, in County Monaghan. Born in 1921, he was drawn early to the paranormal by the open mind of his father, who wrote several books on the subject, and by a sighting of a green fireball in the sky while at boarding school in England. After university in Dublin, Leslie became a war-time fighter pilot and survived to celebrate VE Day drinking Pol Roget at 10 Downing St with his cousin Winston Churchill and his new wife, a Jewish cabaret singer from Berlin. Leslie had a roguish sense of humour and often joked that he destroyed many fighter planes during the war, most of which he was piloting.
The onset of the flying saucer age in 1947 tantalised the handsome aristocrat and he began researching ancient texts and the writings of anomalist Charles Fort, fossicking out startling references to antediluvian flying machines and early UFO sightings. The year 1952 found Leslie hawking a manuscript around London publishers that pulled together the results of his antiquarian endeavours. Hearing of Adamski’s desert encounter, he fired off a letter asking if he could see, and possibly buy, the Californian’s photos.
“He replied by sending me the whole remarkable set of pictures with permission to use them without fee,” recalled Leslie in 1965. “What an extradordinary man, I thought. He takes the most priceless pictures of all time and wants no money for them. Later he sent me his manuscript humbly suggesting I might be able to find a publisher for it.” By this time Leslie had scored a contract with Waveney Girvan, at Werner Laurie. “After much soul searching Waveney suggested a joint publication. We wrote to George who cabled the following day before receiving our letter, ‘Agree to joint publication.’ Here indeed was telepathy at work. And so the amazing relationship developed!” Adamski had spoken a lot on the subject of telepathy during his years at Laguna Beach and said he used a combination of gestures and telepathy to communicate with the ufonaut at Desert Center.
Desmond Leslie Visits
In June, 1954, Leslie kissed his wife and three children goodbye and headed off to California to meet the mystery man who had helped make his book a runaway best seller. He was 33 and Adamski was 63. Despite the age difference the two hit it off straight away. Leslie’s visit was “a great joy,” Adamski wrote a year later. “Endowed with a very interesting mind and a delightful sense of humour, he added much to our little group here, not only in that he shared our common interests but also entered into the nonsense which often overtook us when relaxation from serious subjects was indicated.” To accommodate their distinguished guest, Adamski and his group rejigged the cramped sleeping arrangements, easing one of the regulars into a pup tent.
Leslie came intending to visit for a month but stayed on for nearly three. The air at Palomar Terraces, as the property was now called, was crackling with excitement. If there was one place on the planet that a UFO buff would want to be in 1954 it was Palomar Terraces – electricity or no electricity. Adamski, who had spent years peering at the night sky through telescopes snapping impressive pictures of UFOs when he could get a rare shot at one, was now at the epicentre of staggering events. He was no longer the patient hunter; the elusive prey were now coming to him. Leslie arrived to find that Adamski was involved in an ongoing set of covert contacts with the ‘space people’, as he called them. Young men, dressed and living as ordinary Americans, would meet him in Los Angeles and drive him out to isolated spots. Here, a craft would be waiting and he would be taken up for flights and meetings; discussions ranged over current events, philosophy, religion and science. The people said they came from planets in the solar system, including Venus, Mars and Saturn. The conundrum of their true planet of origin would remain unresolved long after Adamski’s passing.
While Leslie whiled away the summer months on the side of Mount Palomar, Adamski was often ensconced in his makeshift office, which also doubled as a bedroom, cobbling a diary of these remarkable experiences into the raw material for Inside The Space Ships. The British visitor begged to come on one of the contacts. George would feel a rising intuitive or telepathic tension and know it was time to head off on the 100-mile trip to Los Angeles, where the rendezvous always took place at the same hotel. Leslie hung around for weeks hoping to get the green light. Finally George brought back depressing news from one of his clandestine meetings: the aliens had vetoed the request. “I complained about this rather bitterly at the time,” Leslie recalled. Many years later George told Zinsstag: “You know they once planned to take aboard a young friend of mine whom I very much wanted to be favoured. But they tested this man in secrecy and found out that he was still too young…to keep a secret in his heart.” Adamski further explained that there were many things to be seen in the saucers that needed to remain a secret. Leslie might have been given the thumbs-down but there were compensations – the flying saucers would come to him instead.
In a letter to his wife, Leslie described seeing “a beautiful golden ship in the sunset, but brighter than the sunset…It slowly faded out, the way they do.” Another night he got a glimpse of a small, remotely controlled observation disk, about 2-3 feet in diameter. George had watched these sensing devices being launched and retrieved while on one of his space excursions and would go on to describe them in detail in his book. Leslie was walking up the road returning to Palomar Terraces after a visit to Rincon Springs five miles away. “I noticed a very bright ball of light rising rapidly from Adamski’s roof, about a quarter of a mile away. It rose rapidly, rather like a silvery-gold Verey Light, and continued to rise until it disappeared from sight. It gave the impression of accelerating as it rose. But the following evening I was to see it at very close range. We were sitting on the patio in the twilight, George, Alice Wells, Lucy McGinnis, and I with my back turned facing the doorway. A curious cold feeling came over me as of being watched, as if someone or something was standing directly behind me. I swung round in time to see a small golden disk between us and the Live Oaks fifty feet away. Almost instantly it shot up in the air with an imperceptible swish leaving a faint trail behind it, then vanished. George grinned solemnly. ‘I was wondering when you were going to notice that!’ I was amazed. ‘One of those remote control things?’ I believe I asked. He nodded. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘thank God our conversation’s been reasonably clean for the last half hour,’ and we all laughed. For George enjoyed a good story and was quite unshockable. I felt rather smug, like a schoolboy who for once has been behaving himself when the Headmaster appears silently in the dormitory.” Michigan resident Laura Mundo reported a similar sighting in Dearborn at about the same time in the summer of 1954, several months after she had guided Adamski on a round of lectures and meetings in the Detroit area. “A small electronic disk came down across the street from my house one night when I was sitting on the porch.” But Palomar was still the place to be.
McGinnis was lying down in her room one afternoon when for some reason she decided to get up and go outside. “As I got out the door I looked up,” she told Timothy Good, “… and here was this great big saucer-like thing. I was amazed! As I looked up I could see through it. It was two stories: you could see the steps where they would go up and down.” Good recorded McGinnis’ recollections after tracking her down in retirement in California in 1979. He found her to be an “intelligent and highly-perceptive lady.” In her Palomar sighting McGinnis saw people inside the saucer. “I don’t remember how many people I saw but they were moving around. It seems to me they had kind of ski-suits, fastened around the ankle…Then suddenly it started just drifting away.”
Lucy McGinnis, Alice and George earned Desmond Leslie’s affection. “I came to love and respect them as I found, by the quality of their lives, their actions and reactions, their simplicity and their mental and spiritual values, they were what one would call ‘good’ people; if anything, rather better than the average,” he wrote.
“A strange summer. Three months on the side of Mount Palomar with the enigmatic fascinating, at times infuriating, Mr Adamski. Lovable, provocative, evasive at times; and at other times overshadowed by a profundity that was quite awesome. You had to get him alone and relaxed to discover this deep inner Adamski….one often had the impression there were two people in that fine leonine body, the little Adamski, the burbler which always shoved its way to the foreground when the crowds gathered, talking non-stop…Then there was the big Adamski, the man we came to know and love, who appeared only to his intimates, and once having appeared, left them in no doubt they had known a great soul. The Big Adamski spoke softly with a deep beautiful voice, incredibly old, wise and patient. Looking into those huge burning black eyes one realised that this Adamski had experienced far more than he was able or willing to relate.” In this Big Adamski, Leslie wrote another time, “I several times glimpsed the presence of a Master, and I was always sorry when the curtain came down again and the worldly mask obscured him.”
Worldly Mask & Otherworldly Visitations
The worldly mask included a moderate appetite for drinking and smoking. Adamski’s tastes in alcohol were catholic but he preferred Screwdrivers before his lectures because vodka could not be smelled on the breath. But, still, there was nothing excessive about his drinking; it lay within the bell curve. He had an endless store of ribald jokes and stories, which he didn’t mind telling in mixed company, perhaps as relief from the stifling expectations that others had of him. Society hostesses gave their famous guest extra latitude. “Oh George,” said one through a forced smile over the dinner plates in Auckland, “that one went a bit too far!” Adamski also used knock-about humour as a leveler in masculine company, the macho combination of exaggeration and self-deprecation. In 1958 he told two visitors to Palomar Terraces that the Royal Order of Tibet, the name he gave to his theosophical movement at Laguna Beach in the thirties, had been a racket to get around Prohibition (which had stretched from 1920 to 1933). “It was a front,” he bragged. “Listen, I was able to make the wine. You know, we’re supposed to have the religious ceremonies; we make the wine for them, and the authorities can’t interfere with our religion. Hell, I made enough wine for half of Southern California. In fact, boys, I was the biggest bootlegger around.”
The worldly mask also included a propensity to invent and fabricate under the fuel of a viral ego. Quiescent for the most part, this bacillus flared up from time to time and helped bring Adamski to the brink of self-immolation. When called to account on these falsities he often responded angrily like a man betrayed, digging himself deeper with further evasions and false accusations. Therein lies the supreme tragedy of George Adamski. His truthful tales were incredible enough as it was. They couldn’t bear the further burden of embroidery. They demanded an unbending integrity of the teller if they were to have even the faintest hope of a wide currency and regard. All that destiny demanded of the man was that he stuck to the truth. It was that easy. No one begrudged him a quick slug before a lecture, a smoke, a masculine expletive or an off-colour joke. No one cared if he had an eye for a pretty face, an interest in the occult, or fudged his CV to hide an embarrassing episode. That was all part of being human. But he did have to stick to the facts. That was the irreducible minimum: a no-risk investment in personal integrity. It carried no known costs, emotionally, spiritually, physically or financially. It was a no-brainer. But it was not to be.
Within months of the Desert Center contact Adamski was claiming in lectures that his speeches had been cleared by the FBI and Air Force intelligence. This canard was an act of poetic licence arising from a meeting he had had with representatives of both organisations on 12 January 1953. At that meeting, which had been held at his request, Adamski spoke about a number of UFO-related items, including his recent desert encounter. Files released by the FBI to researcher Nicholas Redfern show that Adamski had then magnified this cosy relationship with officialdom into an indication of endorsement in a speech to a California Lions Club on 12 March. Agents of the FBI and Air Force Office of Special Investigations visited him at the Palomar Gardens Café and “severely admonished” him for this false claim. They insisted he sign an official document in which he declared his speech material did not have official endorsement. One copy was left with Adamski and other copies were circulated to FBI director, J.Edgar Hoover, and three branch offices. In December, Adamski was at it again. He had doctored the letter the men had left behind and shown it to the Los Angeles-based Better Business Bureau to make it seem that the FBI and Air Force signatories had backed his claims. Special Agent Willis, of the San Diego FBI, was told to take a team back to Palomar to well and truly extract this thorn from their side. Willis was instructed by HQ to retrieve the offending document and “read the riot act in no uncertain terms pointing out that he has used this document in a fraudulent, improper manner, that this bureau has not endorsed, approved, or cleared his speeches or book, that he knows it, and the Bureau will simply not tolerate any further foolishness, misrepresentations and falsity on his part.” George had a cheek alright – fancy playing MJ-12 at their own shifty game – but his future hung in the balance. A court appearance for fraud or forgery could have ruined his promising career as a controversialist. But head-strong Hoover was not taking guidance from any other shadowy spooks operating on his patch: he decided not to prosecute.
We don’t have an FBI account of the roasting that Special Agent Willis and his companions gave George, but we do have the latter’s self-serving version written several years later as part of an article valiantly titled “My Fight with the Silence Group”. In this account, George creates an innocent-truthseeker-does-battle-with-men-in-black scenario. “…I was visited by three men, two of which I had met previously,” George wrote, “but the third was a stranger. It was he who took the role of authority and directly threatened me demanding certain papers I had, for one thing. Some of these I gave him and was promised their return, but this promise was never kept. Since I did not exactly understand to what he had reference, I did not give him some of my more important papers. There is no need denying that I was frightened. Before they left I was told to stop talking or they would come after me, lock me up and throw the key away.”
Wily behaviour notwithstanding, the space people stuck with their man. Wherever George went the flying saucers followed. Those who spent any time with Adamski had amazing experiences. When he circled the world in 1959 playing to packed houses and showing impressive movie footage that he had shot, his escorts were frequently treated to lavish aerial displays. The four weeks he spent in New Zealand were a case in point. One day traveling by car between two engagements, Adamski and his two kiwi companions were accompanied on part of their rural journey by five pinpoints of light high in the sky which left vapour trails. The five trails “seemed to keep pace with us,” Ken Pearson wrote later, “connecting the various clouds on the way.” The driver of the car, Henk Hinfelaar, said that Adamski accepted the aerial ‘escort’ as a natural thing; he looked at the trails and said casually, “Oh yeah, dat’ll be de boys.” A check later with air traffic control indicated no known air traffic in the vicinity at that time. Two nights later after an Adamski lecture in a small town, the wife of one of the men who had been in the car watched a disc manoeuvre above the lecture hall. This was small potatoes compared with a sighting a few days later that two other Adamski escorts had in the town of Taupo. After passing George on to a new set of hosts taking him further on his tour, Bill and Isobel Miller lay on their backs in a lake-side park watching “dozens” of saucers zipping around high in the sky. Bill Miller qualified his bold claim to a local newspaper – “We could have seen the same ones twice.” Being around Adamski was a passport to the paranormal, right until the time of his death. Ingrid Steckling, who together with her husband, Fred, spent considerable time with him in the last two years of his life, reflected on that amazing period: “I can’t even tell you how many scout craft or spacecraft we have seen…because I don’t think anybody would believe it.”
Yet, ironically, it was not so much the sightings in the sky or Adamski’s space trips that most tantalised his supporters: it was his assertion that he met the space people regularly and furtively in everyday society, and especially when he was on the lecture circuit. It was to place himself in the best possible position to exploit these private encounters that Adamski insisted on staying in hotels rather than private homes. This was a strict injunction that all his lecture organisers and hosts had to observe; when they broke this rule – as happened occasionally – he made his annoyance clear. The most amusing example of an accommodation foul-up occurred in Australia in February 1959. “At the airport, behind a barricade of people waiting to meet him, in the front row was a social woman, and as I remember, wearing a large flowery hat,” wrote Roy Russell later. “George was to emerge from a room, walk across the front of the barricade and into a private room where we would meet him. None of us had met Adamski. What should we expect?….We were released from our apprehensions when George Adamski finally came through the door formally dressed in a grey business suit, who took one look at the barricade, and on sighting the woman in the large flowery hat quickly made his way into the private room and said, ‘Get me away from that bloody woman!’ They were his first words to us on Australian soil. They sounded wonderful. We were dealing with a bloke that an Aussie could understand…This woman we later learned had visited Adamski in America and he’d not taken kindly to her persistent visits…We then had to tell him that that woman’s home was to be his accommodation while here. Sydney had broken the main rule…”
The “main rule” existed because Adamski had come to live for his meetings with the visitors. These extraordinary exchanges sent him into a state of near euphoria. His most deeply observant host, Lou Zinsstag, of Basle, implied in her reminiscences that Adamski had elevated his relationship with the space people to a level that relegated his earthly associations to second class status. One is left to ponder whether he over-romanticised his alien interlocutors. Was his ardent evangelism the price that he knew had to be paid to earn the prized meetings? Zinsstag spent a total of six weeks with Adamski during his European trips of 1959 and 1963, and has left us a treasure trove of acute and multi-layered observations about the enigmatic companion she guided through three countries. “I confess that sometimes I was hurt by his impersonal casuality with which he treated not only passing guests but also Dora Bauer and myself,” she observed after his death. “He never was much interested in people – not in those of this planet, at any rate. And although he wanted me to be around every hour of the day I felt that this was not out of friendship, he simply needed me.” On his first morning in Basle, in 1959, Adamski had been in a “splendid mood,” according to Zinsstag. “‘Do you notice how happy I am?’ he said, beaming. ‘Yes’ I said, ‘but why? Did you have such a good rest?’ ‘Yes indeed I had a good rest but in the morning I had the visit of two of the boys, they came to my room at nine o’clock.’ I was quite flabbergasted because I knew what he meant by this. It was his way to call his extraterrestrial friends ‘boys’ when he was pleased. It was hard even for me to believe him at that moment but he insisted that there were quite a few in Basle at the moment. On several mornings of the same week he told me the same story and so I decided to check on it. I asked the hotel manager as well as the portier whom I knew well, if Adamski did indeed have visitors in the morning. ‘Yes’ both men said, ‘there are several men coming around 9 o’clock, but never more than two at a time.’ I felt that they were wondering about it. Of course, I could not enlighten them.”
One afternoon she got a good look at one of the mystery men. Zinsstag had left Adamski in his hotel room for a two-hour nap and retreated to a sidewalk café downstairs. “All tables but one were empty. There, a young man was sitting with a Coca Cola bottle and a glass in front of him. He looked very distinguished, well dressed, with his dark-blond hair neatly cut and brushed down over his forehead… His skin had a strong sun-tan and his eyes were hidden behind large sunglasses…he looked very intellectual.” Zinsstag tried to guess his nationality. “I hesitated between American, Swede, Swiss, while I took a seat at a table at some distance.” As she started on her drink, Adamski appeared, smiling and light-hearted. “Not so fast, Lou, not so fast!” “I was much astonished to see him at this moment ….When, twenty minutes earlier, he had left me he had looked very tired. Now, he stood in front of me, fresh and wide awake, his eyes sparkling with pleasure. However it was easy to see that his smile was no longer directed at me but at the man sitting behind me….Adamski also ordered a Screwdriver and kept on smiling. After a while the stranger got up, leaving the open café and crossing the almost empty street, very slowly, while greeting George and me with a most friendly and prolonged smile. No word was spoken. When he had disappeared from view I turned to George, urging him to tell me if he was one of the ‘boys’ who used to come to his room in the morning. ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘now that he has left us I can tell you that much.’ He looked very pleased. Of course, I had guessed that a lively telepathic ‘conversation’ must have been going on behind my back, but what impressed me most, was the fact that the stranger seemed to have made George come down to where we sat. Adamski confirmed that he had already slept but was wakened up. ‘I did not know who it was or why he did it, but I followed the summons. It was just one of those hunches, you know.’ Most unfortunately, I did not.”
One of the New Zealand tour organisers got a shot at George’s undercover escorts. She was waiting for him at Auckland airport on his return from a flight to a southern city. “I noticed two good looking young men with fair hair disembark from the plane among the passengers and walk across the tarmac,” she said later. “They could have been brothers but I didn’t pay too much attention, apart from notice that they smiled at me as they approached the gate. George was the last person off the plane and when he got to me he said excitedly, ‘did you see de boys?’” The woman said she let out an unladylike exclamation as it dawned on her that she had missed out on a unique opportunity. By the time they got into the terminal the men had disappeared, to her great regret.
Adamski’s whole organising committee in Auckland might have spent an unwitting few hours with one of ‘the boys.’ George advised them that they had been ‘checked out’ by the space people before his arrival. Thinking back on the months preceding Adamski’s visit, committee members came to the conclusion that the stand-out candidate was a fair complexioned young man of indeterminate race who had joined one of their afternoon meetings. This young man had arrived out of the blue at the home of two of the members, shortly before their departure for the meeting. He claimed to have the same surname as theirs, was passing through Auckland from overseas, and believed they were related. The couple had been pleasantly surprised by his arrival and asked if he would like to accompany them to the meeting. He was enthusiastic and came along. The visitor was quietly watchful at the gathering, apart from making one or two enigmatic comments. After that day his impromptu hosts never heard from him again.
The concept of a clandestine ring of visitors from off the planet living quietly and watchfully in terrestrial society holds a sublime fascination: the ‘secret agent’ genre taken to its orbital extreme. The mind conjures with the problems – the ever-present danger of detection and exposure, the difficulty of obtaining fake papers, the mundane chore of getting your hands on cash. Epigrams abound – Goodbye socialist utopia; welcome to Struggle Street! Those Coca Colas don’t grow on trees. In fact, welcome to the real world, buddy! Lou Zinsstag gave Adamski pocket money, but never saw him spend it. She finally understood from a remark he made that he had given it to ‘the boys.’ Perhaps there was a humorous downside to the inspiring meetings: “…that just about wraps up our treatise on telepathy, George. Oh, by the way, you haven’t got a dollar you can spare?” Zinsstag didn’t begrudge the money that she and George had forked over: the young man in the café had been a charmer. “He looked so very nice,” she told a British audience in 1967, “that I was quite happy to think that it was he who had got my money.” Bob Geldof, your new mission should you wish to accept it….
Adamski told Roy Russell in Brisbane that the space people had once been involved in the British shipping industry in order to generate funds for their undercover operations. He seemed to imply that they had moved on to other money-earning ventures in America. Carol Honey may have come upon one of their more modest forays into capitalism when he accompanied Adamski on a lecture tour in the Pacific north-west in August, 1957. “We had just finished breakfast…and were driving up the road towards our next stop, Grants Pass, Oregon. I was driving in my car and chose the route myself,” Honey wrote in 1959. “We passed a small café and as we went by George had a ‘telepathic hunch’ to stop. I couldn’t understand this as we had just eaten a short time before. He insisted so I turned the car around and we went into the café. As we entered the door a very small blonde girl approached and George acted as if someone had hit him on the head with a hammer. In fact, he acted so strange about her that it caused me to get suspicious. After she showed me that she was reading my every thought, it finally dawned on me that she was probably a space person. She looked from a distance as if she was about 12 years old. Close up, however, she looked much older and I remarked to Adamski that I thought she was about 45 years old. I had been looking her over pretty close and when she let me know she was reading my thoughts I was very embarrassed. She didn’t identify herself to George in any way and after his coffee and my pie we left and continued on our journey. George was silent for quite a ways and appeared deep in thought. Finally I told him I thought this girl was one of the space people living and working among us. He agreed but said he wasn’t absolutely sure…” The two men continued on to Seattle, Washington, and stopped in a motel for the night. The next morning the phone rang in their room and a man told Adamski: “Good morning. I called to tell you that you and the young man were both wrong. The girl you met in the café was not 45 years old…” Honey recounted that the caller advised that he had called to relieve George’s mind about a couple of other things in relation to the woman, and he “let us know that they had given George the telepathic impression to stop at that particular café. We found out that the café was run by space people, as a way of supplying food and funds for those who came down among us on a mission and might need spending money to get around. Also other space people were in the café at the time we were there.”
The highly credible and well-documented “Ummo” contact case in Spain in the 1960s and 1970s showcased another example of human-like visitors who apparently set up shop in order to carry out in-depth cultural study from within. The visitors disclosed a mine of information in scores of communications to a restricted network of correspondents, mainly in Spain and France. They seemed to seal their authenticity in a pre-announced and much photographed flying saucer fly-by in the Madrid suburb of San Jose de Valderas on 1 June, 1967. This sensational incident was headlined the following day on the front page of the daily newspaper, “Informaciones”. By comparison with Adamski’s taciturn network, the Ummo infiltrators were surprisingly up front about how they had operated. There is some evidence that they financed their lifestyle by bringing in diamonds from off the planet and feeding them unobtrusively into the world gem trade. Their numbers appeared to peak in the late 1960s when they said they had nearly 90 observers in place. While the Ummo visitors’ primary focus was on Spain and a handful of Spanish-speaking countries in South America, they mentioned that they also had had people in France (their first point of infiltration in 1950), Denmark, West Berlin and Australia (Adelaide), among others. In the Middle East crises of 1967 and 1973 when Arab-Israeli conflicts threatened to escalate into a superpower confrontation, the Ummo visitors took fright from their probability calculations of nuclear war (38% in the 1967 crisis) and were temporarily evacuated, in pick-ups that occurred in Spain, Brazil and Bolivia. The Ummo visitors maintained that they had tentatively identified two other groups of human-looking extraterrestrials living secretly in Earth society. The motives of the other groups, they wrote, indicated “no negative character”.
Exit The Boys
George Adamski might have lived for his meetings with the boys but he deserved every minute of whatever it was they gave him. In his old age he had taken on a global mission, the likes of which no one had ever conceived let alone initiated. To be sure, it gave him the fame that he relished but it also brought ridicule and hard work. Not a letter went unanswered. Speaking invitations were generally accepted. He stayed on after lectures, talking to the stragglers until late in the night. “I sometimes wondered if he ever slept,” said a much younger host who was run off her feet. At an age when most people were taking it easy, Adamski had signed on for the toughest job in the world. Dwight Eisenhower had come to his empyrean with a cast of thousands at his beck and call. Adamski had a couple of committed volunteers at his elbow and he was about to lose those.
Some time in 1960 or early 1961, his space contacts came to an end. George never admitted it. His statements on that matter are contradictory. Reading between the lines the joyrides in space had probably petered out in the 1950s, and contact after that had been of the ‘street corner’ variety. We don’t know why communication was broken off; there has been much speculation among those with an interest in this recondite borderland: Adamski had spoken out of turn; he had breached a confidence; Phase One Contact had come to a natural end… Whatever it was it hit the 70-year-old dynamo hard. He was left with the mission but not the pay-off. By now he was living in the sea-side town of Carlsbad, north of San Diego, with an enlarged retinue. Alice Wells was, for the record, his “housekeeper”, Martha Ulrich, a retired school teacher, was a keen assistant, and Lucy McGinnis was still in the picture, taking his dictation, massaging his clumsy syntax into articulate, mistake-free letters on a manual typewriter, organising his tours, laying down the main rules. Carol Honey had taken up employment with Hughes but was still in close liaison from his home up the coast in Anaheim. He took care of George’s ghost writing, publications and newsletter production. With ‘the boys’ withdrawing from the scene, not only had Adamski lost the buzz he got from their company, he lost their steadying advice. “Many of the meetings I have had with our visitors,” he wrote in 1960, “have dealt mostly with my own problems and possible solutions.” Now he was on his own with a self-imposed, world-wide mission and a following of expectant readers and representatives hungry for the next revelation.
It was McGinnis who noticed the change first and then Honey followed. George began channeling ‘Orthon’, the name Adamski had given to the Desert Center spaceman. “I was present, along with several others as witnesses, when Mr Adamski went into a trance state and claimed Orthon was talking through his vocal chords,” wrote Honey later. “He taught against this very strongly for many years but then he started doing it himself. He said it was different in his case, all the others were fraudulent, but not him, he was genuine.” Adamski took to using an occultist’s cliché – a crystal ball – to conjure up the appropriate visions. Late in 1961, McGinnis quit after 14 years. This was a blow that George would never fully recover from and he knew the scale of the disaster. As late as May, 1963, he was begging friends to write to Lucy and plead with her to return. When she walked out, the quality of his letters declined and his thoughts on paper were often muddled and contradictory. There was no one to counsel moderation in the bitter ructions that were to come, no one to take the sting out of Adamski’s written broadsides against those who split with him. McGinnis wrote a gracious and non-committal farewell to the network of co-workers. “Please understand that this separation is due only to the urge within me to practice that which I have preached for so long a time. GA’s experiences through the years I was with him, those reported in ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed’ and ‘Inside the Space Ships’ and our innumerable letters I will support so long as I live. I was a witness to his first contact, remember, and I could never denounce that which I know to be true. Understandably, GA was very upset by my decision. It hasn’t been easy on any of us. Yet, the urge within me is so strong that I can no more disregard it than I can stop breathing and continue to live.”
At the start of 1962, Adamski announced to co-workers that he would soon make a trip to Saturn to attend an interplanetary conference. At the end of March he declared that the journey had been successfully carried out over a 5-day period. On some of the days he was alleged to have been away Honey knew for a fact that Adamski had been sitting on his recliner in Carlsbad rather than hurtling through outer space. How did he know? Simple – “…I was with Adamski part of the time…,” he wrote later. The puzzled ghost writer nevertheless interviewed George with a straight face and dutifully wrote up an account of the trip that won his bosses approval and signature. It was a syrupy concoction of ‘space brother’ schmaltz. The recipe had not so much been over-egged as over-sugared. Saturn was a planet of fountains and flower-strewn highways. The superlatives flowed endlessly in a 16-page gusher: “…the city and surrounding country was beautiful beyond description…their architecture is beyond anything of our imagination….it could be considered as heaven itself….the people live as one big family….one could feel the perfect harmony….the vast beauty which I witnessed….music seemed to be coming from the fountains, ceilings and walls, such as never is heard on earth…” The cloying romanticism of the account, which Adamski circulated to his followers under the title “Report on My Trip to the Twelve Counselors Meeting of Sun System”, wears thin by the second page and it requires a Phenergan to persist reading to the end. George had been on a far journey alright. The account’s patent lack of credibility demonstrates the extent to which Adamski had descended into a mental, intellectual and ethical fog during this period. Some observers have suggested that the Saturn trip was an out-of-the-body experience, or a hypnotically-induced fantasy perpetrated by disinformation agents who had masqueraded as space people. Lucy McGinnis’view was more prosaic. She told Timothy Good that Adamski’s oversized ego was the problem. He was simply lying to pump up his ego, which had taken a knock by the departure of the space contacts. When the Saturn report reached the international network, Adamski’s following began to crumble. The view from the inside was worse. Later in 1962 he wanted to get into fortune-telling. “He asked me to publish in my newsletter that he would give an analysis of photographs for $5, a recent photo and the person’s date of birth,” Honey wrote. “I refused to do this. He claimed he was shown how to do this on his ‘Trip To Saturn.’ I could not go along with his new idea and told him I couldn’t understand how the ‘brothers’ could propose such a thing. He replied he couldn’t understand it either but he trusted them and they wouldn’t let him down.” Other hare-brained schemes were cooked up. In September, 1963, Honey cut his ties with his once revered preceptor. Adamski embarked on a campaign of vitriolic recrimination, savaging Honey and other departing followers, including McGinnis, heaping the blame for the blow-out on everyone but himself. Cosmic brotherhood, his tedious mantra from the rostrum, went out the window on his home turf.
1963: Sense and Non-Sense
It is a biographer’s duty to gather together disparate strands from time and space and weave them into a coherence that is both just to the subject and convincing to the reader. The years 1961-62 can be slickly portrayed as a period of befuddlement and desperation, an atavistic reversion by Adamski to expedient lying and posturing. Whether that would be a fair judgment is uncertain. However, it is from the start of 1963 that Adamski’s life evades coherent interpretation. The suavest of analyses fails to come to grips with what was happening. Different friends saw him in different lights. There was a bipolarity to his behaviour and the persona he projected. To add to the confusion the space people returned. The evidence is strong that they reopened their contacts in 1963 and, on occasion, their morale-boosting aerial displays as well, which George copiously filmed with his ubiquitous 16mm camera. Some of his best movie footage was shot after this date. There is a savage irony here: his closest supporters are deserting their man, believing him to have lost his way; “the boys” who deserted him – the mystery men who are the litmus test of his legitimacy – are returning. Perhaps historians of the merely terrestrial kind are doomed to frustration trying to figure out these cross-currents. After all, we are dealing here with a man who was privy to the most profound and unfathomable hidden knowledge. In 1963 he confided wistfully to Zinsstag, “My heart is a graveyard of secrets.” The iceberg metaphor is unavoidable: nine tenths of the information we need is below the surface, hidden in the disciplined recesses of a man’s soul – as well as in the unreachable archives of a distant and nameless society. More accessible earthly chronicles are available that might one day shed extra light: a partly finished fourth book and a daunting cache of 60 reel-to-reel audiotapes of talks, lectures and interviews that Adamski gave. One day a biographer with qualities of patience and self-punishment will trawl through this archive, filtering it for fact and fiction. It won’t be an enviable task.
In 1963 the confused signals that Adamski gave out can be tracked in the recollections of his two good friends in Europe – Zinsstag and Leslie. He arrived in Basle on 23 May in the mid-point of a European speaking tour. When Zinsstag asked if he was still in touch with the Boys, George gave an opaque and defensive answer. “His voice…sounded unnatural…as if coming from a defiant child, provocative and stubborn.” That evening she noticed changes. “I felt that he was playing the part of a contented lecturer while underneath his countenance was a lingering precariousness. This did not manifest itself, as I would have expected, in reluctance and caution, but in an unexpected somewhat naïve boastfulness. Some friendly newcomers who joined us received flippant answers to their polite questions, and they soon left our table. George seemed to have lost his remarkable faculty to listen attentively and to answer carefully. I felt truly unhappy on this first evening.” Things improved and the old George returned over the next few days. Zinsstag and Belgian co-worker May Morlet took their VIP to Rome for an appointment with the ailing Pope, John XXIII. The pontiff was in the advanced stages of cancer but George was determined to deliver a small package that he carried. This had been given to him some days before by one of the Boys in Copenhagen and contained a message from the space people to Pope John. Adamski had been advised of the time to report – in front of St Peters at 11 a.m. on 31 May. This astonishing mission was vintage Adamski – preposterous drivel, with the madcap possibility that it was true. George had played many walk-on parts in the Theatre of the Absurd and this would be just another. Would it end in laughter or ovation? “Slowly we walked up the broad central stairway, looking around,” Zinsstag recalled later. “Within a few minutes George cried out: ‘There he is, I can see the man’….swiftly he descended the steps, turning to the left. I had looked to the right because I expected him to be admitted through the well-known gate where the Swiss guards were posted. Yet, without any hesitation, he walked to the left of the Dome where I now noticed a high wooden entrance gate…with a small built-in door. This door was partly opened and a man was standing beside it, gesturing discreetly to George. He wore a black suit but not a priest’s robe.” George slipped through the opening and it was closed. When the women returned in an hour’s time, as per George’s instruction, he was almost leaping up and down with joy, much as he had done 11 years before after another outrageously implausible meeting in the desert of Southern California. Over the next few days as Adamski gradually revealed details of his meeting with the bed-ridden pope, and produced evidence to support its authenticity, it became apparent that the fakir of flying saucers had pulled one of his biggest rabbits out of the hat.
Before he said goodbye to Zinsstag they had a last intimate talk. Adamski spoke with a depth and power that she has never been able to put into words – referring to it simply as “our last private conversation.” She came away with an unshakable belief in his legitimacy and stature, but not so much that it dulled her discrimination. Eleven months later she resigned from Adamski’s network in dissatisfaction over his claims and contradictions.
Adamski flew to London for his last days with Leslie. George had changed, but not in the way that Zinsstag had noticed. “There was a greater calmness, a heightened spirituality, and the traces of tiresome egotism that had annoyed me ten years earlier had entirely disappeared,” Leslie noted later. “He was as one who had experienced the ultimate mysteries, and no longer cared whether he was believed or disbelieved. He knew.” Perhaps Adamski “knew” when he was relaxing in the warmth of admiring friends. Seven months later when he was being called to account for dishonesty he lost sight of the ultimate mysteries. On 13 December he wrote a dishonorable letter to a Canadian correspondent shifting blame to others for a fake mail-based scheme that he had helped mastermind. Much of his mail in late 1963 and early 1964 involved attempts to extricate himself from tight spots that had their seeds in 1962; his letters swirled with craft and indignant self-justification.
The Government Cottons On
Some time during the Adamski years, MJ-12 (or whatever they were calling themselves at the time) came to realise that he was the real McCoy, someone who was having genuine repeat ‘contacts.’ The realisation may even have occurred as early as the 1952 Desert Center encounter. Throughout much of that event, military aircraft were in the skies above Adamski and his group, clearly alerted by tell-tale radar returns from the cigar-shaped ‘mothership’ and possibly the bell-shaped craft that touched down. It would have been easy for analysts to put two and two together, to tie in this military alert with the subsequent newspaper publicity surrounding Adamski’s claim of a face-to-face meeting. After his link-up with George in 1957, Carol Honey began to find that his mail was being intercepted. His most sensitive papers relating to UFOs and Adamski, which were kept locked away, were expertly stolen. The burglary left no trace and no indication of when it had occurred. All the documents “disappeared at some time unknown to me, since I did not check on them very often,” Honey wrote later. “No signs of a break-in were found to the residence or to the cabinet.” Government intelligence operatives would periodically turn up at his work and interview him about his and George’s latest activities. “I was always treated courteously and was never threatened in any way. They always acted as if they knew my claims were real and not imaginary.” The Steckling family, in Washington DC, who forged a close friendship with Adamski, were often visited by intelligence agents. The Rodeffers, in nearby Silver Spring, where Adamski stayed, had their phone tapped and their mail opened.
In 1960, Adamski reportedly invited both presidential candidates to visit him during their primary campaigning in California. Richard Nixon declined but Senator John F. Kennedy accepted, according to Glenn Steckling. Steckling, a professional aviator, now has control of Adamski’s personal papers, tapes and literary estate through the George Adamski Foundation that Alice Wells set up. Steckling also had access to the reminiscences of both Wells and Ulrich who his family helped care for in their old age. The meeting with Kennedy is said to have been held in secrecy in George’s Carlsbad home. If a link was forged with the future president, there may have been some substance to later claims of occasional meetings between the two. Whether useful information was ever passed across at these confidential tete-a-tetes will probably never be known. One would have to question if anything of value was transmitted at a meeting Adamski had in Washington in April, 1962, hard on the heels of the ‘Saturn Trip’. He returned from ‘outer space’ imbued with an urgent impulse to pass on a confidential message to the president. This had been entrusted to him by the space people. Danish Air Force major, Hans C. Petersen, Adamski’s co-worker in Denmark, was based in Washington at the time working in the Danish NATO exchange office. He received a call from Adamski with the hot news. “He called me right away after he came back,” said Petersen in 1995, “and told me that he had to go to Washington on his arrival because he had a message to the President, ‘but,’ he said, ‘I cannot tell you what this message is. But if you follow the political situation of the Earth you will, for yourself, be able to see what the message contains. In one year you will see the result.’” Petersen was one of Adamski’s most devoted followers and formed a rose-tinted view of the message that was passed on. He concluded afterwards that it was a warning about the forthcoming Cuban missile crisis, a warning which enabled Kennedy to resolve the nuclear-tipped stand-off with complete mastery and the avoidance of violence. Apart from the fact that the crisis occurred seven months after Adamski’s ‘warning’ rather than one year later, there is nothing in any of the voluminous writings on the missile crisis to suggest that Kennedy and his administration were caught by anything but surprise by the Russian establishment of missile launching sites in Cuba. The skillful way the crisis was resolved by Kennedy was not the result of slick application of inside information passed on from ETs, but by his acceptance of the best recommendation that came from a special advisory group he set up that wrestled for days and nights, in Kennedy’s absence, with an ever-changing array of possible military and diplomatic responses. There is no indication in the public record that either Kennedy or his administration benefited from any type of foreknowledge, apart from their long established practice of photo reconnaisance flights over the controversial Caribbean nation. Nor is there any indication from Adamski’s writings at the time that he was the bearer of a message about an impending crisis. “My recent trip to Washington was very successful,” he wrote to his co-workers afterwards. “I fulfilled the mission I was assigned with good results. It was in reference to the use of space for peaceful and educational purposes. I am well satisfied with the response, even though it was costly to me from the financial angle.”
Glenn Steckling says that apart from the Carlsbad talk, Adamski’s other secret meetings with Kennedy occurred at the White House and at Desert Hot Springs, in California, not far from Adamski’s home. (The President is known to have visited the Hot Springs-Palm Springs area four times in 1962-63, mainly for romantic dalliances.) Did the meetings with Kennedy really occur? As Desmond Leslie said in his Adamski obituary, “With George – anything could happen.” Certainly, late in his life Adamski was the bearer of official passes that indicated a close relationship with officialdom. William Sherwood, an optical physicist and senior engineer with the Eastman-Kodak Company, was a friend of his who examined the Government Ordnance Bureau card that Adamski carried and which gave access to military bases. Sherwood once had a similar pass himself and felt that Adamski’s was unquestionably genuine. Fred and Ingrid Steckling were shown a White House pass by Adamski that appeared to be genuine. He maintained to confidantes that when it came to passing on information he worked “both sides of the fence”, as he called it. In other words, he not only passed on messages from the space people, he passed on messages to the space people.
The Most Extravagant Demonstration
The evidence for the return of the space people into the very centre of Adamski’s life is most sensationally illustrated by the Silver Spring ‘fly-by’ of 26 February, 1965. This display, apparently conducted to give Adamski and his friend Madeleine Rodeffer the chance to get unparalleled movie evidence, was the most extravagant demonstration ever laid on for their man in a public place. Coming, as it did, two months before his death it can perhaps be seen as a touching valedictory and, in its own quirky way, some sort of exoneration, or at least redemption. Hey, I know I screwed up for a while, George might have said, but at least at the end I was back on track, I still had the magic touch. How else to explain the extraordinary events of that day?
Madeleine and Nelson Rodeffer were respected residents in a leafy, low-density suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington DC. Here, the houses are set amidst large tree-covered lawns on gentle, rolling contours. Nelson was a maintenance supervisor at the Army’s Walter Reed Hospital in the Capital. Madeleine, a woman of 42 at that time, had worked in the Army Finance Office during the war and later acted as a doctor’s receptionist. She had helped organise some speaking engagements for George on the East Coast a year before and, together with her husband, had formed a firm friendship with the veteran campaigner, so much so that when in their neighbourhood he preferred to stay with them rather than in a hotel. All those who met Mrs Rodeffer found her to be an impressive witness, a woman of humility and gentleness whose account of that remarkable day did not change at all in the years until her passing in June 2009.
Nelson had gone to work by the time Madeleine got up that morning. She had recently broken a leg and was limping around in a plaster cast. When she came downstairs Adamski had some news for her. Chalk up ‘Zany Moment One’: One of the Boys had come to the door at 8.30 a.m. on his way to meeting the new Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey. He advised George that he and Madeleine should get their cameras ready for a flying saucer visit. During the day they loaded film into Madeleine’s new movie camera that she had received from her husband as a Christmas present. Some time between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. the two looked out of the dining room window and saw a disc moving in the distance. And then Zany Moment Two: a grey Oldsmobile screeched to a halt at the bottom of the Rodeffer driveway, which meets the street 40 metres from their elegant home. Three men leaped out of the car and ran up the driveway waving their arms and shouting: “They’re here! Get your cameras! They’re here!” It was “the Boys”! Well, no, it didn’t happen exactly like that – but almost. It was a grey Oldsmobile; the three men did hoof it up the driveway. When George answered their knocking on the front door they were full of urgency: “They’re here. Get your cameras. They’re here,” Madeleine heard them say. The breathless arrival of the Brothers was the wackiest turn-up in contactee history, a moment that the humour-starved UFO phenomenon had been crying out for for 20 years. Madeleine Rodeffer panicked, claiming an inability to operate her new camera. Sadly, George took the low-quality, Bell & Howell 8mm point ’n shoot from her and began filming the saucer, leaving his own 16mm Kodak lying unused. The saucer came floating across the neighbourhood at a low level, brushing treetops. Rodeffer described it as a gorgeous dark blue colour with portholes where she got an occasional glimpse of faces peering out. The scout ship cruised over the house and bobbled around the property for minutes, as Adamski, Madeleine and the Boys stood on the front porch taking it all in. At one point the saucer rolled on its side and gave George a clear shot of the three-ball undercarriage. All this time the three visitors are monitoring the situation. “They had normal American accents. They could have been your uncle, or your cousin, or you,” she told me in May 2009. “I got the impression their role was a supportive one, to make sure we both held up under the excitement of the occasion. They watched George, especially, as he was older than me.” One satisfying aspect of their arrival needs to be noted: the three men were, in Rodeffer’s opinion, middle-aged. One had dark hair, one had brown hair and the third was tending towards grey. The presentable young men had gone: the Abercrombie & Fitch brigade had been let go. Finally, the space people were getting the ‘equal opportunity’ message. After a while the saucer floated away. The Boys heaved a sigh of relief. One of them commented, “Well, that’s all. I hope we never have to do this again because it’s too dangerous.” Then they headed back to their car. Zany Moment Three: Madeleine and George discover they have accidentally locked themselves out of the house. They head round the side to gain entrance from a patio when the saucer swoops back again, even closer than before. Then finally it glides away. Several days later the film was sent away for processing. When it was returned it was clear the movie had been ‘got at’. The film looked like a doctored copy of the original. Much of the footage was missing, including the section where the craft had rolled on its side. Other parts looked like a reshoot against a white screen with a man’s hat used in place of the saucer. It still had good parts but it was a mess. Adamski and Fred Steckling re-edited the disappointing footage into a shape where it could avoid instant ridicule.
The Final Days
Adamski made a poignant comment after the dramatic filming at the Rodeffers. “Don’t tell anyone that I helped you,” he advised his hostess, “because they will pick on you. Don’t even tell people that I was here.” He knew only too well the controversial figure that he had become. Just a few months shy of his 74th birthday, Adamski was calm and philosophical about the notoriety that attached to his name. Probably he realised that much of the opprobrium was justified. Adamski had admitted to Carol Honey that for a while there he had been “off the beam.” George was a tarnished hero but a hero nonetheless to thousands who had recognised his courage to speak out. “He believed that others, greater in the world’s esteem, had also been contacted and given the same mission,” Desmond Leslie wrote, “but that for various personal reasons had refused or failed. He saw himself as the ‘lame and the halt and the blind’ who were called to the king’s feast after the chosen guests had made excuses not to come. He felt he was a broken reed, but alas the only reed willing to try and play their tune.” Lucy McGinnis drew a similar conclusion. “I really think he was picked out because he had the courage to go out and speak,” she said in 1979. “There have been many others who have been picked out. But they’ve been afraid…” Adamski had not been afraid when destiny came calling that important day in 1952. He stepped forward from the rank and file and, with all his faults, took on his appalling burden. He had cracked under the strain, but in the end he seemed to be whole. Adamski was a new type of hero. He had redefined the borders of iconography; his role reached out beyond the earthly celebrity of achievement in war or politics, science or social endeavour to encompass the extraterrestrial. A new corridor in the pantheon had opened up. Adamski voyaged into uncharted waters where none had gone before, and where shoals of derision and excoriation lay waiting in plain view. And he served until he dropped.
After some days at the Rodeffers the gutsy pensioner headed off on another round of lectures and interviews: Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Worcester, Lowell, Rhode Island, New York, Boston. The weather was cold but people still turned out in good numbers to get a glimpse of the legendary figure. “I am willing to work as I do, that we may leave something good for the generations to follow, that they may not blunder as we have done,” he told people. His posture was still erect and he moved well, but his handwriting was starting to go. He wrote a letter, dated 24 March, 1965, to Bill Sherwood from a hotel in Buffalo, penned in a shaky hand: “Thanks for all you and yours have done for me. We had a full house – 800 on the 22nd, and tonight – we shall see.” Numbers still mattered to the old trouper; a professional to the end.
He returned to the Rodeffers in mid-April looking exhausted and badly in need of rest. No one with the exception of the Stecklings was to know that he was in town. On 17 April Adamski celebrated his 74th birthday with Fred and Ingrid and their son Glenn. During the quiet gathering he advised the parents that his time was drawing near and handed Fred his briefcase that contained the precious movies. Fred had to continue the mission, George said. Steckling was shocked and tried to hand it back, but the birthday guest insisted. His mission was over. Five days later on the 22nd, Adamski awoke complaining to Madeleine Rodeffer of a painful neck and shoulders as well as of difficulty in breathing. Over the next 24 hours he was in and out of the Washington Sanatorium receiving tests and treatment but refusing to stay. His heart was giving out, the doctors reported, but Adamski was deeply suspicious of what could be administered to him in a hospital. In the early evening of the 23rd, home-based treatment had clearly failed: his breath was coming in gasps. He was ordered to hospital in an ambulance. Madeleine traveled in the vehicle with her dying guest; Nelson was behind in a car. As the ambulance reached a corner near the Rodeffers a car parked at the kerb flicked its lights several times at the convoy. “I don’t know if it was a space person,” Mrs Rodeffer said later, “but it was like a sign. I had a strange feeling about that car…”
Let’s take it as a given that this was a ‘farewell’ or a sign of solidarity from the “Boys.” Why didn’t they turn the car around and follow George to the hospital; stand vigil in the waiting room or beside his bed? They knew he was dying. Their mental percipience was that good. Their technology was certainly that good: their sensors could read the mind of a gnat at a hundred miles. Why didn’t they throw the rulebook away like they’d done on the day of the filming? Their man was dying; he had given them his heart and soul; it was time to discard the operations manual. It was a time for duty, not a time for policy. The Boys wouldn’t have been arrested at the hospital. Nor were their identities in danger – there were no closed-circuit TVs in those days recording the image of visitors. Flicking the car lights was worse than pathetic – it was dysfunctional. Joe Earthling would have known what to do – and did. God had sent George an angel in his greatest hour of need and her name was Madeleine Rodeffer. She held his hand in the emergency room while medical staff fussed about administering oxygen. When she returned after a spell outside, George said, “Where’ve you been, Madeleine?” She said, “George, they don’t want me to stay here with you – they say I’m in the way.” George spoke to the others in the room, “She’s not in the way.” Adamski added, “I know that I’m going.” Madeleine Rodeffer held his hand firmly. She had no children; she had plenty of love to give. Adamski had no children; a recent friend would do just fine. “…I kept thinking that some miracle was going to occur – that he’s not going to die,” she told Timothy Good. “I was just holding on to the thought that he wasn’t going to leave yet.” George’s laboured breathing was the only sound in the room, then a last, long exhalation. A hesitation, then they said, “He’s gone.”
20 Nov. 1952 Desert Center UFO meeting: “Flying Saucers Have Landed,” Desmond Leslie & George Adamski, Werner Laurie, London, 1953; also extra witness comments and detail per same book 1970 edition, Neville Spearman, London, ‘Commentary on George Adamski’ pp. 239-278, by Leslie; “Inside the Space Ships,” Adamski, Arco & Neville Spearman, London, 1956, foreword by Leslie, pp. 21-24; “Alien Base: Earth’s Encounters with Extraterrestrials,” Timothy Good, Century, London, 1998, p.108.
The Saintly Scamp
Biographical sketch by Blodget: op cit. Inside the Space Ships, pp.228-232.
Adamski’s account of domestic arrangements 1953-55: ibid, ‘Days at Palomar Terraces,’ pp. 192-198.
Mary Adamski as devout Catholic etc per “UFO…George Adamski: Their Man on Earth,” Lou Zinsstag, publ. by UFO Photo Archives, Tucson AZ, 1990, p.18.
GA showing Mary’s photo in wallet etc, per former Adamski co-worker, personal discussion with writer 2009.
Declassified FBI files on Adamski per “The FBI Files: The FBI’s UFO Top Secrets Exposed,” Nicholas Redfern, Pocket Books, London, 1998, ‘The Adamski Connection,’ pp. 289-317.
“Ashram” description, op cit. “Flying Saucers Have Landed” 1970 edition, p.154.
C.A.Honey complains to magazine, Flying Saucer Review, London, July-Aug. 1960, vol.6, no. 4, ‘More News on Adamski, Honey, p.14.
Carol Honey’s book on UFOs and Adamski, “Flying Saucers 50 Years Later,” by C.A.Honey, Trafford, Victoria, Canada, 2002.
Desmond Leslie’s biographical details per several sources including his 2001 obituary on www.telegraph.co.uk.
Leslie and Girvan contact Adamski re photos etc: per George Adamski obituary by Leslie, “Flying Saucer Review,” vol. II, no. 4, July-Aug. 1965, pp. 18-19.
Desmond Leslie Visits
Details of visit derived from several sources including op. cit “Inside the Flying Saucers,” pp. 192-198; Leslie op cit. “Flying Saucers Have Landed,” 1970, ‘Commentary on George Adamski’; op. cit. www.telegraph co.uk.; op cit. “UFO, GA: Their Man on Earth”, Zinsstag, p. 68; op. cit “Alien Base,” Good, p. 151.
Worldly Mask & Otherwordly Visitations
GA habits and tastes per writer discussions with former co-workers.
GA Prohibition era comment, per op. cit. Good p.148, quoting Jerome Clark article.
FBI dealings with GA per op. cit. “The FBI Files,” Redfern.
GA article ‘My Fight with the Silence Group,’ quoted op.cit. Zinsstag, p.98.
Pearson/Hinfelaar UFO sightings with GA, personal correspondence or comments to writer.
Miller UFO sighting at Taupo, per “Flying Saucers Farewell,” George Adamski, Abelard Schuman, New York, 1961, pp. 129-130.
Ingrid Steckling comment, per video documentary, “The UFO Contacts”, written & directed by Michael Heseman, 2000 Film Productions, Dusseldorf, Germany, 1996.
GA Australian arrival per 3-page reminiscence, ‘Some Memories of George Adamski,’ by Roy Russell, Brisbane, Nov. 1998.
Zinsstag on GA impersonal behaviour, per ‘On George Adamski,’ lecture at BUFORA meeting, London, June, 1967.
GA in Basle and café incident, op cit. “GA: Their Man on Earth,” Zinsstag, pp.40-41.
Airport experience with ‘the boys’ and committee meeting comment, advice to writer by former co-worker, Dec. 2001.
British shipping industry ref. op. cit, Russell.
Carol Honey experiences on lecture tour, per ‘Flying Saucer Review,’ vol. 5, no. 2, Mar-Apr., 1959, Honey letter to editor, p. 32.
Ummo contact case per “UFO Contact from Planet Ummo,” Antonio Ribera, publ. UFO Photo Archives, Tucson AZ, 1985.
Exit The Boys
GA channelling Orthon & use of crystalball, op. cit. “Flying Saucers 50 Years Later,” Honey, p. 206, 314.
McGinnis farewell message, per op. cit. “GA: Their Man on Earth,” Zinsstag, p.67.
GA ‘trip to Saturn’ mainly per op. cit. Honey pp.211-227; also op cit. Zinsstag, p.75-101.
GA fortune-telling suggestion, op. cit. Honey, p. 202.
GA embarks on campaign of recrimination, per op.cit. Honey, Zinsstag and personal discussion with former co-workers.
1963: Sense and Non-Sense
GA audio tape archives and 4th book, held by George Adamski Foundation, advice to writer by Glenn Steckling, June, 2009.
GA visits with Zinsstag in Basle, 1963, per op.cit. Zinsstag, pp.67-74.
Last intimate talk with Zinsstag, per BUFORA talk, op. cit. p.5.
Last days with Desmond Leslie, per “Flying Saucers Have Landed,” 1970, ‘Commentary on George Adamski’, p. 259.
GA letter to Canadian correspondent, per op. cit. Honey, p.203.
GA mail in late 1963 & early 1964, per op.cit. Honey pp. 300-317, op. cit. Zinsstag pp.80-94, and personal discussion with former co-workers.
The Government Cottons On
Honey’s mail intercepted, files stolen etc, per op. cit. Honey, pp.88-90.
Steckling family visited by intelligence agents, advice to writer by Glenn Steckling, June 2009.
Rodeffer’s phone tapped and mail opened, per “George Adamski: The Untold Story,” Zinsstag and Timothy Good, Ceti Publications, Beckenham, England, 1983, p.185.
GA meetings with Kennedy, advice to writer by Glenn Steckling, June 2009.
Major Hans Petersen’s testimony on Adamski message, per op. cit. video documentary, “The UFO Contacts”.
GA message on trip to Washington, per op.cit. Zinsstag, p.76.
Sherwood testimony on Ordnance pass, per op. cit. video documentary, “The UFO Contacts”.
White House pass shown to Stecklings, advice to writer by Glenn Steckling, June 2009.
The Most Extravagant Demonstration
Material in this section comes per “George Adamski: The Untold Story,” Zinsstag & Good, pp. 160-170; personal interview (telephone) with Madeleine Rodeffer by writer, 23 May, 2009; Rodeffer comments on op. cit. video documentary, “The UFO Contacts”.
The Final Days
Material in this section comes per op. cit. Zinsstag & Good, pp. 179-185; personal interview (telephone) with Madeleine Rodeffer by writer, 23 May, 2009; also advice re GA birthday at Stecklings per Glenn Steckling to writer, June 2009; Adamski comment and letter to Sherwood, quoted by Sherwood in ‘UFO Understanding: An American Perspective, 17 July, 1983, quoted in op.cit. Zinsstag, p. 169.