A History of APRO
By Dick Ruhl
Source: Official UFO Vol. 1, No. 5, Page 24, January 1976
Coral and Jim Lorenzen as they look today. (1976)
Case files and a portion of the library at A.P.R.O. headquarters at Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1955, the first room A.P.R.O. ever had (a remodeled garage). Membership numbered about 750 in those days.
THE HUMAN SIDE
On a sunny, warm day in the summer of 1934, three little girls, Coral Lightner, Barbara Stringer and Dorothy Wethern, were playing hopscotch on the sidewalk at the Ward School in Barron, Wisconsin. Coral finished her turn and was facing west when a movement in the sky caught her eye. She looked up and saw what appeared to be a parachute moving into the north. When she called the attention of her playmates to the object, one of them said it looked like aparachute to her and went back to the game. “But it doesn’t have any strings,” Coral said, and watched the thing until it went over the horizon in the northwest.
Coral Lightner was puzzled and she didn’t let it rest there. That evening she told her father what she had seen and he was so impressed by her tale and her puzzlement that he made inquiries the next day. Was there a pilot down in Barron County? The answer was no.
Three years later, Coral was at the family doctor’s office for a routine eye check (she suffered from astigmatism) when she told him about the thing she had seen. Something clicked in Harry Schlomovitz’s mind and he said he had some books which might help her in finding an answer to the riddle of what she had seen. The next day she began reading the books of Charles Fort and gained confidence that the thing she had observed three years before had been seen before by many people. At the tender age of 12, Coral Lightner became interested in a subject which, 10 years later, became controversial the world over.
Little did she know, in 1937, that the thing she had seen at the age of nine and the events she read about in Charles Fort’s books would lead her to found the first civilian UFO research organization in the world, and to commit her to nearly a quartercentury search for the answer to the puzzle.
On June 10, 1947, Coral, now Mrs. L. J. Lorenzen, was sitting on the back porch of the Lorenzen’s apartment in Douglas, Arizona, observing the southern sky and watching for meteors. Her childhood experience had gotten her interested in things in the sky and she had become an avid amateur astronomer. “I don’t know any more exactly what time it was but what I saw was incredible,” she says. She was looking south and saw a light suddenly appear on the side of a mountain and obviously in Mexico because Douglas and Agua Prieta, Mexico share a valley surrounded by mountains. “It became a tiny ball of light, then suddenly shot up into the sky, eventually disappearing at nearly zenith,” she said. She estimates the total viewing time was between 6 and 10 seconds.
Fourteen days later Kenneth Arnold spotted the famous nine discs over Mt. Rainier in the State of Washington and the words “flying saucers” were coined. What most interested people did not know at the time was that shortly after the Arnold sighting, nine silvery discs were seen by miners at different locations in the Bisbee, Arizona area. Mrs. Lorenzen carefully clipped and saved the newspaper articles and continued to do so in ensuing years.
In 1950 and 1951 the Lorenzens were living in Los Angeles, California and had the opportunity to visit George Adamski, who by then had gained considerable prominence and notoriety because of his claims of having photographed “flying saucers” which he referred to as spaceships. His followers called him Professor but he had no college degree nor had he ever taught in a college. The Lorenzens found him to be a charming man but put no stock in his claims. “For one thing, he referred to the moon repeatedly as a planet,” Mrs. Lorenzen recalls.
The fall of 1951 found the Lorenzen family in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, where Mr. Lorenzen had accepted a position of engineer at a radio station. Mrs. Lorenzen’s interest in the “flying saucers” continued unabated and after talking over the feasibility of such an undertaking with her husband, she decided to start a group that would, at least, keep track of and record those cases which came to hand. In January she wrote to the many people she had met over the years and informed them of her plan. Fifty-odd individuals responded, including several in Sturgeon Bay.
The first APRO “office” was an antique claw-foot table in the corner of the Lorenzen living room. The only other equipment was a portable typewriter and cardboard boxes in which to store the files. Because she had always abhorred the term “flying saucer” she scrupulously avoided it when deciding on a name and chose the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO).
May 21, 1952 was an important day in the history of APRO as well as UFO research for it was on that day that one of the most well-documented cases took place on the Door County, Wisconsin Peninsula. Hundreds of people viewed an unidentified flying object for quite a considerable period of time and the sighting was never explained.
At 7 p.m. that evening Mr. Lorenzen had an appointment with a young woman about whom she planned to do a feature article for one of the papers for which she was working. She arrived on time but the young lady was not home so Mrs. Lorenzen decided to walk a couple of blocks to a local drug store for a cup of coffee. She had just rounded the corner on Main Street when she noted that people were standing along the street pointing up to the sky. Looking in the direction in which they were pointing she saw an elliptical-shaped silvery object in the northeast. The editor of the Door County Advocate and one of the reporters were on the street also and told her that the object had been described to them in a call from a point farther northeast at Potawotami Park. Mrs. Lorenzen immediately went into the drug store and called the local police, asking them if there was a police car in the vicinity of Fish Creek. The police dispatcher said there was and she asked him to call them and ask them what they were viewing. Shortly she had their answer; at about 60 degrees elevation in the northeast they were looking at a nearly round object with a silvery color. She then went out to the street again, positioned herself with her back to a certain area on the brick building and lined the object up behind the mast of a television antenna across the street, carefully writing down the spot where she was observing and the spot where the mast obscured the object. “It didn’t quite obscure it, though, there was a bit of the object seen on each side of the mast,” she later noted.
Between conversations with the officers at Fish Creek and her own observations she repeatedly tried to call Mr. Lorenzen, who was at home. There was no answer and she later learned that he had been out in the orchard tending to pruning chores. “I was sick with disappointment,” Jim Lorenzen said. “I had never seen anything really outstanding in the sky that I couldn’t account for and I hated to have missed the opportunity.”
However, Mrs. Lorenzen had carefully measured angles during the sighting and when she turned the results over to Mr. Lorenzen he worked out the triangulation. When he was finished they learned that the object, which had been in sight for 40 minutes, had been at least 40 miles above the earth and was about 780 feet in diameter. These figures are approximations, of course, but nevertheless an indication that the object was no balloon or other mundane object. Fully one third of the area of the object turned a brilliant red shortly after it was sighted, giving it the appearance, through binoculars from Sturgeon Bay, as a silvery cigar-shaped object with a red glowing bottom. When viewed by the policeman 25 miles away at Fish Creek, it was nearly circular with a red “port” in the center which was too bright to observe with ordinary glasses.
Mrs. Lorenzen began to seriously doubt if she could continue her work with APRO when, in June, she had to undergo major surgery. With two children and a husband to care for, things were difficult for a while but in July, while still convalescing, she managed to write the first issue of the organization’s publication, the A.P.R.O. Bulletin. One of the local members owned a mimeograph machine which was the method by which the Bulletin was printed in the early years.
Mr. Lorenzen was active in the organization from the beginning although he could not give as much time to the effort as he would have liked, because of the nature of his employment. Mrs. Lorenzen was just beginning to market her work as a free-lance writer and was also a correspondent for an out-of-town newspaper, but managed to keep up with the mounting work involved with APRO. “Things were pretty hectic in the summer of 1952 when the ‘flap’ hit us in July,” Mrs. Lorenzen said. “The mail load was tremendous. It was the period of time when flying saucers were seen almost nightly over Washington, D.C.”
In 1954 the Lorenzens moved again; this time to Alamogordo, New Mexico where Mr. Lorenzen took a position with a civilian contractor at Holloman Air Force Base. Two months after they arrived, Mrs. Lorenzen obtained a clerical position with the Air Force at Holloman and a month later was transferred to the Range Operations Office. She took great interest in her work because she wanted to learn about missiles. Some theorists had put forward the speculation that experimental missiles were responsible for some flying saucer reports but the Lorenzens hadn’t been able to accept that. “After I’d been there just a few months and watched several missions I knew that missiles weren’t the answer,” she said. “The configuration, speed and maneuvers of the missiles didn’t match up with those described by UFO witnesses.”
The year of 1954 saw the first concentration of UFOs over South America. A young Venezuelan man named Joseph Rolas had heard about APRO, joined it and began forwarding information from his country. Shortly he was joined by Horacio Ganteaume Gonzalez, who investigated the cases published in Venezuelan newspapers. “We were fortunate in getting both of these men because they were fluent in English so it was not necessary to translate their reports,” comments Mr. Lorenzen, “and APRO began to take on an international flavor.” American magazine (now defunct) had published a one-page feature on APRO in 1953 and the word began to get out that a civilian organization was recording and investigating sightings.
At Alamogordo the Lorenzens recruited several local people involved in various technical fields and volunteers helped take care of some of the office load. In 1956 the Lorenzens bought a new home and by the time 1957 rolled around APRO was too big an operation for the spare room so the garage was closed in and converted into an office. In the spring of 1957 Dr. Olavo T. Fontes, a gastroenterologist at the National School of Medicine in Rio de Janeiro, joined APRO as representative for Brazil and the international membership began to grow by leaps and bounds. Brazil had been visited by the “saucers” in the early fifties and the APRO files began to bulge with the cases investigated and filed by Dr. Fontes. A professor at the National School, Fontes was also in private practice and his time was pretty much his own so he was able to range far in his efforts to record the sightings which had taken place in his country in years past. He told the Lorenzens that he, like other South Americans, had thought the “saucers” were a Yankee phenomenon until they showed up in Brazil.
When the fall, 1957 “flap” hit the world, APRO and the Lorenzens were ready for it. “Well, as ready as anyone was, I guess,” Mr. Lorenzen said. “Prior to the 1957 activity the going had been rough. Most of the time the $3.00 per year dues paid by the membership didn’t completely cover organizational costs. Many times I would have to furnish a roll of postage stamps just to keep the mail rolling.”
“We didn’t enjoy the acceptance that researchers do today,” Mrs. Lorenzen recalls. “But by the time I left Holloman in 1956 1 had convinced .a few of my colleagues that the phenomenon was real and deserved the scrutiny and attention of the scientific community.”
It was at that time, also, that the Lorenzens set about to attract scientists to the effort. Their attempts met with little success, however, until 1962 when Mrs. Lorenzen’s first book, The Great Flying Saucer Hoax was published. One day she read a clipping concerning a young biologist at Colorado State University who was experimenting with growing various plants under controlled atmospheric and soil conditions simulating those believed to be on Mars. She wrote him a letter and forwarded a copy of her book. Several days later she received a call from Dr. Frank B. Salisbury. He had received and read her book and wanted to get involved in the UFO field. He recommended APRO to a colleague, Dr. James A. Harder of the College of Civil Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, who also joined. From then on there was a slow and steady growth of APRO’s scientific consulting staff.
Things were relatively quiet in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There was a flow of cases into APRO Headquarters but nothing like the “flaps” of 1952 and 1957. Then in 1965 things livened up a bit and the late Frank Edwards’ best-selling book Flying Saucers-Serious Business focused attention on the subject. “The value of Mr. Edwards’ book was the attention it did get for the UFO subject. Otherwise, however, I was appalled when I read it,” says Mrs. Lorenzen. “I counted 13 gross errors in his recounting of the Zamorra case (Socorro, New Mexico, April 24, 1964) alone. Jim and I had personally investigated it and knew the facts. We were the first investigators on the scene and we even beat the Air Force by several hours.” Mrs. Lorenzen said that 1966 was a difficult year for her. Her father had died in March of that year and in June she and Mr. Lorenzen were on their way to Wisconsin to attend the 25th anniversary reunion of Mrs. Lorenzen’s high school graduating class and to see her mother, but Mrs. Lightner died just nine hours before the Lorenzens arrived.
“I hadn’t seen mother for 6-1/2 years,” Mrs. Lorenzen recalled sadly. “And when we got back to Tucson and I read Edwards’ book I decided to have a go at setting the record straight. A lot of cases in his book were foreign cases which had been exclusively investigated and published by APRO. I didn’t mind that – I was glad to see the information in print. But most of it was inaccurately recounted. So I called an author’s agent in New York and asked her what the chances were of getting a revised version of my 1962 book published. She asked for a copy, took it to the New American Library and they asked how soon they could have the revision. I updated that book in four weeks – the most ambitious writing project I ever undertook. “The publisher renamed it Flying Saucers-The Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Outer Space. ” Mrs. Lorenzen emphasized that she didn’t like the title but that publishers have certain privileges and renaming the book was one of them.
In 1960 Mr. Lorenzen accepted employment with the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona as a technical associate. Thus when activity in UFOs picked up again in 1965 the Lorenzens sorely missed the connections and contacts they’d had in Alamogordo. “It was almost like starting APRO all over again,” Mr. Lorenzen said. Reestablishing a rapport with the newspapers, radio and television wasn’t easy. Arizona is a very conservative state in many ways and in the early 1960s UFOs was one of those touchy subjects.
After publication of Mrs. Lorenzen’s first book, she decided to do another book based on what was to her the most fascinating aspect of the UFO phenomenon – the reports of landed UFOs and their occupants. Thus, 1967 saw the publication of Flying Saucer Occupants, a joint effort of both the Lorenzens. That fall the Lorenzens decided to take a much needed vacation and make contact with APRO representatives in South America. Their August trip put them in Caracas, Venezuela within 30 days of the flap there, which had commenced right after the July earthquake and lasted well in August.
In all, the Lorenzens visited five cities in South America: Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Caracas, Venezuela. Everywhere they went they were well received. They had the good fortune of meeting and visiting Captain Omar Pagani of the Argentine Navy who was, at the time, in charge of the Navy’s UFO investigation unit. He took the Lorenzens to the Navy Ministry where they were allowed to examine the files. They were much impressed with the thoroughness with which Pagani conducted his investigations and with the case files themselves.
At Rio de Janeiro the Lorenzens stayed with the Fontes family – a high point of their trip. The Fontes family had visited the Lorenzens three times in the 1960s and it was an adventure to see Rio and talk at length about their favorite subject. The next stop was Caracas, where Mr. Rolas and Mrs. Gonzalez brought them up to date on the most recent reports in Venezuela.
When they returned to the United States it was immediately evident that they had gathered sufficient material for another book and in 1968 UFOs Over the Americas, which concentrated on UFO cases in the Western Hemisphere, was published by the New American Library under the Signet imprint.
In 1966, due to public pressure and the mounting number of UFO reports, the United State Air Force contracted with the University of Colorado at Boulder to undertake a scientific study of the UFO phenomena. “We cooperated in every way we could, including copying 250 of our best reports to submit to the project,” Mr. Lorenzen said. “But we didn’t try to influence them in any way; we wanted to see a completely objective study.”
When the study was completed the Lorenzens were not surprised but they were very disappointed. “Especially where our part was concerned,” Mr. Lorenzen said. “In the official report published in soft cover by Bantam Books, the report said that there were no official UFOs studies being conducted in South America. It just simply wasn’t true. When Coral and I returned to Tucson from South America, we were asked to come to Boulder and brief the committee, which we did. We told them of our meeting with Captain Pagani, and showed them a Buenos Aires magazine which contained a story about Pagani and his project. Sometime during the two-hour briefing the magazine disappeared and we never saw it again.”
The following year two things happened which greatly affected APRO. In May Dr. Fontes died – a victim of cancer. The loss was great, both personally and professionally, as the Lorenzen and Fontes families had grown close and the doctor had been an invaluable part of the South American contingent of APRO as well as an advisor.
In December, 1968 APRO’s Peruvian representative, Richard Greenwell, moved to Tucson and became APRO’s first full-time employee and assistant to Mr. Lorenzen. During the years that the “Condon Committee” at the University of Colorado was in existence UFO researchers had gained a certain air of respectability and through the Lorenzen books the organization thrived and became known throughout the world. Mr. Lorenzen resigned his position at the observatory in the fall of 1967 in order to devote more time to APRO and to develop some inventions with plans to establish his own firm. “A 9 to 5 job is too confining in this business,” Lorenzen said. “I realized my ambition to be my own man, so to speak, in 1970 and I now can make my own work hours and I’m free at any time to go anywhere – whether it’s a conference or an investigation several states away.”
A big step was taken in 1969 when, for the first time in 18 years, APRO was not situated in the Lorenzen home. Since 1956 it had been necessary to set aside one room for the organization’s files and when the move was finally made it was into a one room office in a small building within three quarters of a mile of the Lorenzen home. “It wasn’t the most desirable office space. It was cold in winter and hot in the summer,” Mrs. Lorenzen said. “But it was all we could afford at the time. Then in February 1973 when the landlord raised the rent by a healthy $20 per month, we went office-hunting. We found the ideal location in a small building next to a real estate office and renting it for a little more than the price we had paid for the former totally inadequate location.”
At about the time the office was moved, Mr. Greenwall, because of financial pressures, decided to resign as assistant director; however, he remains a member of APRO and lends his expertise as a Spanish translator when the need arises.
The current location is ideal and the outlook for APRO is bright. When the 1973 flap occurred the APRO office crew was ready. The office is presided over Monday through Friday by Mrs. Sheila Kudrle, a capable young woman. Inquiries about membership and new memberships are processed by Mrs. Madeleine Cooper who, twice a week, while on errands downtown, picks up the paperwork and does her work at home on a volunteer basis. Mrs. Elizabeth Darr puts in several hours each Saturday at the office so that visitors can be accompanied on weekends. She and Mrs. Kudrle are the only paid employees. Mr. & Mrs. Lorenzen both work out of their homes which remains the mailing address for the organization. “We get a lot of mail containing checks, money orders and sometimes cash. With the rise in mail theft, we felt it judicious to have the mail come to our address,” Mrs. Lorenzen explained.
Since Mrs. Lorenzen suffered a back injury in 1964, Mr. Lorenzen has carried out the duties of director and Mrs. Lorenzen holds the office of secretary-treasurer, and both of them are members of the board of directors. APRO was incorporated in 1967 and in 1969 received its tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.
Mr. Lorenzen supervises the efforts of foreign representatives located in 47 countries around the world, as well as coordinating the work of the Scientific Consulting Panel comprised of scientists in four general categories: the Biological Sciences, Medical Science, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. Mrs. Lorenzen keeps the organization’s financial records, edits the monthly periodical and directs investigations. APRO’s field investigators network, instituted early in 1969, consists of 750 individuals who voluntarily chase down and investigate UFO reports. An extension of the office telephone is located in the Lorenzen home so that 24-hour reporting can be facilitated, by members as well as field investigators.
“It’s been a long, hard road, the last 23-1/2 years,” Lorenzen confides, “but we’re at a turning of the road. Whenever a concentration of reports takes place now, people know who to call. Whereas years ago we had to depend on newspaper clippings for material for the Bulletin, we’re now giving our members carefully documented reports gathered by competent field investigators.
“Our monthly periodical, the A.P.R.O. Bulletin, is not the only product of our efforts. Currently, our public relations director, Hal Starr, is distributing tape recordings of the latest UFO cases and pertinent comment to subscribing radio stations across the U.S. and Canada. Consultants and teachers among the members are responding to the overwhelming number of requests for information to be used in teaching the subject, and are engaged in putting together a guide for teachers interested in teaching UFOs. “It will not be an attempt to promulgate dogmatic ‘facts’ about flying saucers, but rather to use the subject with its many peripheral facets to promote critical thinking,” Mrs. Lorenzen confided recently.
It is obvious that the Lorenzens are dedicated and determined seekers after the truth, but what are they like personally? What are their interests other than UFOs? The answer is: many. Mr. Lorenzen is an ex-professional musician and is still a competent bassist and guitarist. One of his hobbies is the renovation of antique musical instruments and he is currently putting his spare time, which is little, into rejuvenating an antique grand piano scheduled to be added to the collection in the Lorenzen music room. Mrs. Lorenzen’s musical interest is confined to the cello which she says she seldom has time to play but enjoys whenever she can. “You have to have another outlet in this business in order to maintain a level head and some kind of perspective,” she said. “I’ve actually known of a couple of cases in which marriages have broken up because one or the other of a couple got so engrossed in the UFO subject that no time was given to the marriage. We couldn’t let that happen to us.”
Mr. Lorenzen expressed the same opinion. “We’ve been married 32 years and we intend to stay married. UFOs are a part of our lives but not everything. Coral sews, crochets, knits and all the other things women do besides being a fabulous cook. It used to be that in the early days UFOs were a spare time endeavor but now it’s fulltime work. But she manages to find time for the important things – us and our children.”
What do the Lorenzen children think of their parents’ preoccupation with UFOs and APRO? Twenty-nine year old daughter Lesli says: “I can hardly remember a time when there wasn’t an APRO. When I was a little girl one of the last things I remembered after bedtime stories and before dropping off to sleep was the sound of the typewriter. Mother was hard at work at her desk answering mail or writing copy for the Bulletin. I think APRO has kept them young and creative – a very necessary ingredient in anyone’s life. And they’ve been a success at it – if a new outfit starts up they use the same formula and organizational structure that APRO has because it is basically sound and it works.”
Son Larry, 25, has this to say: “Like my sister says, APRO has always been – after all, I was less than two years old when mother founded it in 1952. Through the years I became aware of what they were doing and I’m proud of them. It’s an interesting subject and I admire Dad and Mother for their courage in the face of ridicule in the days when UFO research was not a popular endeavor. They’re pioneers and much-imitated, but they’re way ahead of the rest of the field and will continue to be so.”
In closing, Mr. Lorenzen had this to say: “I don’t think the whole answer to the UFO puzzle will be simple and it is likely to take considerable additional time. But we’re ready to continue; after all, it’s not our nature to quit. We’ve given 24 years of our lives and who knows, we may have to give many more.”
A visit to the APRO office on a busy street in northeast Tucson is interesting and illuminating. On any weekday volunteers will be found busily posting cases, filing, and the myriad other tasks that constantly have to be done. It’s a friendly atmosphere yet businesslike. Every month, when it’s time to mail the 3500 plus Bulletins out to the membership, a crowd of from 12 to 20 volunteers shows up at the office after dinner and the task of folding, stapling and bundling the periodicals begins. In the back of the office a large urn of coffee and boxes of fresh doughnuts await the workers when they feel the need for a snack.
And the Lorenzens are both there, not supervising, but just taking part in the business at hand. If one visits this intelligent, warm and interesting couple one comes away with the impression that the UFO subject is alive and well and in capable hands.
APRO – THE PROFESSIONAL SIDE
The many years of experience with interviewing witnesses has been a great deal of help where current investigations are concerned. Although the Lorenzens, Mrs. Cooper and Mrs. Kudrle comprise only the administrative staff, the initial judgment concerning the actual steps to be taken in an investigation lies with them. If a case is fairly routine it may not be necessary to involve any of the many scientists on APRO’s consulting staff. However, if a close encounter with injuries is involved, for instance, five medical doctors are available for advice and consultation.
Should a report involve landing traces of any kind, such as burned vegetation, botanists are consulted and samples of the burned material, if available, are turned over to them for analysis. If the traces are impressions, soil samples are forwarded to headquarters where Charles Martin, a soils engineer, conducts tests to determine the weight-bearing characteristics of the soil.
“As a matter of fact,” Mrs. Lorenzen said, “we are well on the way to determining the approximate weight of the object which landed at Socorro, New Mexico, on April 24, 1964. Jim and I personally investigated that case, obtained the measurements, arrangement and depth of the impressions, and soil samples recently acquired are in Mr. Martin’s hands right now. I think the results of those tests will put to rest once and for all the rumors that the Socorro case was a hoax or the result of a natural phenomena.”
Another example of the efficiency with which APRO functions is the Pascagoula, Mississippi occupant case which took place between 9 and 10 p.m. on the 11th of October, 1973.
“Jim was out on a business appointment,” Mrs. Lorenzen recalls. “At about 10 a.m. on October 12 1 received a call from Louis Daugherty, a member of APRO’s board of directors, who had heard a radio report about the event and took down names. He felt it sounded legitimate so I immediately put in a call to the sheriffs office in Pascagoula. After talking to a deputy for about five minutes I was impressed with his reactions to Hickson and Parker’s claims and decided to consult with Dr. James A. Harder, APRO’s director of research. I wanted to get a physicist or engineer as well as a psychologist on the scene immediately, the latter to use hypnosis to obtain any information which may have been forgotten or repressed.
“None of our psychiatrists or psychologists were able to make the trip at that time, however, so I put in a call to Dr. Harder. I recalled that he was a certified hypnotist so he fit the bill exactly. A few minutes after I hung up he called back to give me his schedule. He was on a plane at 1:25 that afternoon and on Saturday, the 13th he called in with his initial report. The rest is history.”
It would be impossible, within the allotted wordage of this article, to outline all of the techniques utilized in UFO investigations by APRO. After all, the “Recommended Procedures for Field Investigators” is a 20 page printed guideline that outlines suggested methods for investigation of UFO reports.
“We have no hard and fast rules for picking our field investigators,” Mrs. Lorenzen said. “Obviously we like them to be mature and knowledgeable as well as intelligent and try to match the investigator with the case. For instance, we would prefer to send a bright 19-year old investigator to interview teenage witnesses because they are his peers. Also, an airline pilot does a better job of interviewing another pilot than any other professional would, and so forth.”
Mr. Lorenzen points out that “we encourage candidness in our investigations and advise our field investigators to set an example by avoiding any form of subterfuge. One organization actually advises its investigators to wear old clothes or work clothes when interviewing farm witnesses and not to show their identification to such witnesses. APRO takes the position that such cloak-and-dagger tactics only serve to perpetuate the MIB (Men in Black) type of myth that tends to impede open and objective research.”
“We assume that APRO members are intelligent or they wouldn’t be involved in the UFO field,” Mrs. Lorenzen said. “Therefore we give our field investigators a lot of latitude in their investigative techniques; we encourage them to use their own judgment.”
APRO was recently able to utilize the services of their consultant in metallurgy, Dr. Walter W. Walker, as well as a psychological consultant, Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle, in the investigation of the Carl Higdon case at Rawlins, Wyoming. Higdon claimed that last October he shot at some elk and saw the bullet exit the rifle, travel 50 feet, then as if striking an invisible barrier, it dropped to the ground. Shortly, Higdon said, he conversed with a strange-appearing man and went aboard an unusual air ship. Using hypnotic techniques, Dr. Sprinkle was able to get considerably more information from Higdon than he could consciously recall.
Dr. Walker’s examination of the bullet jacket revealed no foreign substance but only that the jacket was greatly mangled, the lead slug missing, which indicated that it had struck something extremely hard with great force.
An on-going study is being conducted by Dr. Sprinkle, dealing with those cases involving witnesses who claim telepathy with or mental impressions from UFOs. “There is an increase in this type of report and they deserve as much attention as any other type of report,” Mrs. Lorenzen declared. “After all, some researchers made the mistake of rejecting, out of hand, all landing and occupant cases back in the 1950s. The number of such cases reported in the last 15 years indicate that they are on the increase also.
A report is generated in one of many different ways. In the fall of 1973 APRO headquarters furnished the field investigators with stickers carrying APRO’s name and address which they in turn distributed to state, county and city law enforcement offices, radio and television stations, newspaper offices, airports and observatories throughout North America. These stickers carry the phone number of the local field investigator who is responsible for checking out reports received from local sources. The initial lead could also come from a member who is not an investigator, who may submit a clipping, or notes taken from a radio or TV news program or even a word-of-mouth report from friends or relatives.
When a tip comes directly to headquarters, Mrs. Lorenzen chooses a field investigator from over 750 in the file and notifies him or her either by air mail letter or telephone, depending on the urgency of the report. For instance, a close encounter with physical effects or a landing with traces would justify a telephone alert to the field investigator. Using his or her recommended procedures and the Comprehensive UFO Report Form, the investigator interviews the witness(es), gathers any physical evidence available and forwards the completed forms and other material to headquarters.
Reports are screened by the Lorenzens, then passed on to the specific scientific consultant whose expertise is required. All reports eventually come back to APRO Headquarters to be filed. Ultimately, the end results of the investigation are published in the organization’s monthly periodical, the A.P.R.O. Bulletin.
The organization’s efforts are financed by the $8.00 per year dues paid by the 3500 members. Currently in effect is “UFO Alert” – allowing the general membership to call collect on close encounter, landing or occupant cases. Members are asked to write down their facts and have them at hand in order to limit calls to three minutes. To further facilitate a rapid flow of information, an extension of the office telephone is located in Mrs. Lorenzen’s home so that 24-hour service is available.