Adelaide has slipped into its third month of autumn, bringing rain with it. Our climate is technically classed as "Mediterranean," meaning that we have long hot summers, and rain falls mainly in our winter time. So autumn rain is always most welcome.
I have been closely following the postings of my co-blogger, Keith Basterfield, on the work of Dr James E McDonald, through Ann Druffel's book "Firestorm." As regular readers of this blog will know, I am a keen student of the work of Jacques Vallee. Druffel cites Vallee's comments about McDonald in "Firestorm."
I thought it might be useful to bring out my copy of Vallee's "Forbidden Science: Journals 1957-1969," (published by North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, CA. ISBN 1-55643-125-2) to see what Vallee himself wrote about McDonald. As few people seem to have copies of Vallee's Journals, I'd like to share references from the book with readers.
"Chicago. Wednesday 8 June 1966.
A major event has happened in the last few days. A friend of Brian O'Brien has launched a bold new campaign that is taking everybody by surprise. His name is James McDonald, forty-five years old, professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Arizona. Having suddenly become interested in the subject, he read many books, including Anatomy and decided to do his own research. Through O'Brien he asked to be authorized to spend two days at Wright Field. He began by requesting to be shown all the cases of "globular lightning." He was amazed and horrified at what he saw; case after case that obviously had nothing at all to do with electrical discharges in the air. So he asked to see more and started reading the general files, getting increasingly upset as he kept on reading.
McDonald moved very fast once he realized, as he told us bluntly, "that the explanations were pure bullshit." So he bypassed the Major and went straight to the General who heads up the base, to tell him exactly what he thought of Blue Book. After forty-five minutes, which is much longer than Hynek ever spent with the General, they were talking about the humanoid occupants! Then he flew back to Arizona and started contacting all the amateur investigators, one by one, from APRO to NICAP. He made an appointment to see Hynek.
We have just had lunch with McDonald today, and it is clear that an entire era has come to a crashing end. This man has many contacts, many ideas, and he is afraid of nothing.
He reached the campus about 11:30 and Hynek took him on a tour of the observatory. At noon I went to pick them up, and I drove them back to Hynek's office, where we all sat down. McDonald signed the Guest book, and I presented him with a copy of Phenomenes Insolites.
After that the serious business began, with a forceful attack against Hynek.
"How could you remain silent so long?"
I jumped in before a fight could erupt.
"If Allen had taken a strong position last year the Air Force would have dropped him as a consultant and we wouldn't be here talking about the phenomenon."
McDonald brushed aside my comment.
"I'm not talking about last year. It's in 1953 that Allen should have spoken out! Public opinion was ready for a serious scientific study."
"In 1953 I was nothing, a negligible quantity for the Air Force," replied Hynek. "Ruppelt regarded me with considerable misgivings, as a first class bother. He didn't like to have a scientist looking over his shoulder."
"Yet he says some nice things about you in his book."
"That didn't stop him from playing very close to the chest whenever I was around. He didn't let me see his cards."
The debate remained on that level, with McDonald insisting that Hynek had a duty to say something while Hynek would only concede that he had been "a little timid."
Bill and I kept trying to explain to McDonald that any forceful statement by Hyenk would have thrown him out of the inner circle. It could even have precipitated a decision by some General to put the files into the garbage.
Eventually we set aside our differences and the four of us went to lunch. At the restaurant the discussion became more constructive. Hynek retraced in detail the real history of Project Blue Book, truly an incredible tale. Thus he explained how, following Ruppelt's departure, he had seen a succession of unqualified, uninterested officers at the head of Blue Book. He was almost never invited to give an opinion. Hardin neglected his duties completely, he said. He spent all his time following the stock market while waiting for retirement. Indeed, today he runs a brokerage office. McDonald was astonished, although he ought to have some experience of how the military runs. I can see how difficult it will be for the public to understand the situation, when the history of this incredible period finally gets written down." (Vallee, pp186-187.)