J. Allen Hynek

Anything that Allen Hynek wrote about UFOs is of interest to a student of ufology. His voluminous writing includes several books and many, many articles in all types of publications. Like all active researchers, he also wrote much in private letters, reports, and notes that have been seen by only a few colleagues and friends.

One of the last investigations that Dr. Hynek conducted was of the so-called "Westchester boomerang," a silent, large, hovering boomerang-shaped object that was seen by literally thousands of witnesses just north of New York city in the early 1980s. He wrote his last book, Night Siege, about these sightings, with Philip J. Imbrogno and Bob Pratt.

Dr. Hynek wrote the preface to the book in his usual scientific and restrained fashion. But by then, in his mid-70s, he was disgusted with the complacency and inaction on the part of the government and scientists when confronted with such compelling evidence. Before he wrote his published preface, he wrote a draft which is brutally honest and straightforward about the dereliction of various agencies, the people who run them, and the scientists who claim to have open minds. But we never knew this preface existed.

Then, we received an e-mail from Dr. Virgilio Sanchez-Ocejo from Miami, an old acquaintance of Hynek’s and a friend of Dr. Willy Smith, a collaborator of both men from that era. Smith had found, on an old computer disk, the first draft of the preface that Hynek had written in a visit to Smith’s home. Amazingly, although the disk is fourteen years old, it could be read on Smith’s PC.

Dr. Sanchez-Ocejo sent us the preface, which you can read after a short description from Willy Smith on how he found this document. The draft is one of the last things that Dr. Hynek wrote before he became ill with the disease that claimed his life. The Allen Hynek who wrote this draft is the Allen Hynek I knew so well: frustrated by 35 years of UFO investigation with no progress in sight and indifference on the part of authorities. I hope you find it as powerful and interesting as I did.

Mark Rodeghier, Ph.D.
Scientific Director, CUFOS,
July 1999

The Prefix Found

Toward the end of his life, Dr. J. Allen Hynek was a frequent visitor to my home, the last of such visits taking place from August 20 to August 31. 1985, when he finally left to have his first surgery on September 5, 1985. After that his health declined rapidly and unfortunately he died on April 27, 1986.

During his visits, Dr. Hynek did quite a bit of work using my computer which was quite similar to his own at home. At that time, his interest was centered on the Hudson Valley sightings. Time marched on, and after Dr. Hynek passed away, the work was completed by Bob Pratt and published in book form in 1987, under the tittle NIGHT SIEGE.

One day, revising my diskettes, I found a file labeled "Imbrogno" which I did not recognize, When I opened it, it was a paper intended to be the Preface of the book, that undoubtedly by error Allen had saved on one of my diskettes (on August 30, 1985, just the day before he left my home). It is a remarkable piece, and once you read it will be easy to understand why it was not used as initially intended. I think the time has come to release it through INTERNET so every one will see what Dr. Hynek's thoughts about these remarkable sightings really were. I strongly suggest that you compare "THE ROOTS OF COMPLACENCY" (as Hynek himself titled it) with the version that appeared in NIGHT SIEGE.

Dr. Willy Smith
June 1999


by Dr. J. Allen Hynek

Something truly astonishing happened.... Not far from New York City, along the Hudson Valley, as hundreds of astonished people looked up, many driving along the Taconic Parkway, they saw something no one had ever seen before.

Some called it a "Space-ship from outer space" (for want of anything better) but it was generally described by numbers of competent, professional persons as startlingly brilliant lights, in the form of a "V", or Boomerang, silent, slowly-moving, and very large close-by object.

It has often popularly been called the "Westchester (County) Boomerang". The world has never known about this, even though the event happened not once but several times, and over the course of several years. To all intents and purposes, this was a non-event. The media across the world has remained dumb. Local papers, radios and TV's, it is true, did momentarily carry spots along with the daily news, but there the news just vanished.

How is it possible that in the United States, where even trivial events are often flashed across the world, only one TV and radio network carried an account of this utterly astounding event? Far, far lesser stories are spewen forth across the world!

Could it possibly be that the whole thing just never happened? No: many times there was good, but extremely local, media coverage; many hundreds have personally attested to us, and to many others, that the "Westchester Boomerang" was most undeniably, very truly real to them. Furthermore, many witnesses at a given time, were geographically separate, and unknown to each other. Cars along the Taconic Parkway, a well traveled highway, stopped, and passengers looked in amazement, many frightened and bewildered at the spectacle.

Police department "blotters" proved that many calls came to several local police stations, and we have tape recordings of a number of the police involved. The Boomerang was undeniably real; it was not a chimera! Yes, something truly and astonishing transpired, but was no one "minding the store", was everyone asleep at the switch? What about law enforcement agencies (whose duty is certainly to alert and assist when something amazing is afoot); what about civilian and military personnel? When hundreds of largely professional, affluent people, in suburban areas, are astonished, awestruck, and many frightened by what they could only regard as a very bizarre event, would this not at least warrant and bring forth some comment from the nation's media?

And what about law officers, government officials and... what of the FAA which supposedly monitors the airwaves over which the "Boomerang" repeatedly flew, and thus constituted a serious hazards, especially over the Taconic Parkway.

And what of scientists, to whom these events should have been of breathtaking scientific concern? But nothing...except, oh yes, a writer so inept at his task that not once did he checked, even briefly, the voluminous tapes and other material amassed by the present authors: a remarkable example of investigative reporting. His conclusion: the Boomerang was caused by nothing more than a flight of small planes flying in formation, a totally untenable conclusion in view of the facts.

How, it would appear that we really have TWO astounding stories, rather than just one... different but related... and equally incomprehensible: the story of the low-flying luminous Boomerang (in itself which could rank high in the annals of science fiction... if it were science fiction! ) and the second, a totally unaccountable dereliction of duty (and there seem to be no other word for it), a complete superb and indifference to accountability.

It was a malady which appeared to plunge all who encountered it, EXCEPT the witnesses, into a deadly stupor. Such a malady, or perhaps a virulent virus of apathy and indifference to duty, could immobilize cities and a whole country. Of course, we don't know what the Boomerang was really about for:

Of the two stories, that of the Boomerang if by far the more directly told. Bizarre and fantastic though it may be (and is) it merely need competent retelling. The facts are on record. From the hundreds of cassette tapes in the thousands of statements made by witnesses, the Boomerang is a matter of record. But the second story, well, that is another matter.

This story is not at all directly told. Here there are no cassette tapes, no clear cut descriptions, and no policeman, no scientist, no military man, no media person, no FAA has recorded why they were derelict. We can only infer, as one might infer from the pages of history.

We can only deduce and play detective. And we must try, for this second story, more truly a puzzle, could be of utmost importance to finding out how we, as humans, act under stress, trauma. and fear..... for the Boomerang had all of these!

The puzzle has far more parts than the tale of the Boomerang.. It is, indeed, a part of a continuing story of mankind's pioneering search for adventure and meeting, but repeatedly dashed and frustrated by those who cannot look to the heights of the pioneer: by the "it will never fly" or "it can't be done" mentalities. These who always must say that "since it can't be done, there is no need to even thinking about it or even talking about it. Therein lies the spawning ground of indifference, of apathy, and to dereliction of duty.

All those who didn't follow through on the Boomerang event were not willfully derelict: they were merely the thousands of "it will never fly" and "it can't be done" and so there is no need to think about it.

The corollary is: "Since it can't be done, whatever said had been done, were simply deluded... they must have been mistaken, and so no need to look into it further". It is the failure to seek for the light of the tunnel because there could 't be a light. Intellectual adventure is sterile when there is continual inability to seek answer to challenges, to seek ways out of the tunnel of indifference. In the story of the Boomerang, the FAA, the media, scientists, politicians, the military.... all may momentarily touch upon the mystery, but suddenly it appeared that apathy saps further energy to incentive, and in its stead is a great desire nothing... it becomes a hotbed of inertia...a great desire to do nothing, fobbing it all off in the guise of a handy solution, like "planes in formation".

It is not as from a seeming direct desire to be in duty, but it is more as though the call for duty has vanished, or as though some bad fairy had administered a sleeping potion, an apathy draught. How else might one hold that otherwise responsible law enforcement, FAA, military, the media etc. would renege on their duties?

There is a more realistic answer than calling upon some bad fairy (though it would certainly fit the facts) and that is that it all lies in our human (mental) nature. A psychologist would express it more professionally, but it simply amounts to the fact that the human mind has definite limits for acceptance and accountability. In the history of science this syndrome has been seen many times and in many ages. For instance, how often has it occurred that totally revolutionary ideas, so novel at first as to be utterly neglected or discarded... a form of apathy and total indifference.

As a homely analogy, one might say that such a totally novel idea "overheats the mental human circuits" and the fuse blows (or the circuit-breaker cuts out) as a protective device for the mind. The time is not yet right for the age and the new idea might just as well not been there in the first place. Mankind was not yet able to handle it. Thus when mankind is presented with a totally bizarre, shocking, traumatic event (the Boomerang?) a mental circuit cuts out. Instead of a challenge for action, there is a dead battery. This is, of course, well known inindividual cases of amnesia in, for example, "shell shock": could it be that a collective amnesia or apathy can come into play? If so, might it be possible that collectively people can react traumatically, as to the Westchester Boornerang, to a collective amnesia, whether they are policemen, media people, the FAA etc.?

Whatever be the case, the effect is real. Many instances in history....and the Boomerang is its most recent and spectacular example... when the breaking point of the collective mind occurs, it must openly disregard patent evidence of the senses: it can no longer encompass them within their normal borders.

The Holocaust perpetrated by Hitler in WW II is another sample: people simply refused to accept, and were indifferent to the evidence, because their minds couldn't bring themselves to accept that such a Holocaust could possibly be, despite ample evidence. It was also a "mental circuit breaker" a general apathy and a will to indifference.

The Boomerang and the Holocaust are but striking samples of what happens when the collective mind willfully disregards evidence when "it can't take it". The entire modern UFO syndrome is another: here we have utterly ample evidence of the global nature of the UFO phenomenon. Thousands of instances and over many countries the evidence for the UFO phenomenon is clear, but those in position of policy and authority (FAA, educators, scientists etc) are deaf or purposely obtuse. Apathy goes hand in hand with the ability to accept even the most inane answers, anything whatever, just to stave off the necessity to think.

So we cannot at the moment expect to do little about the wealth of material collected on the Westchester Boomerang (or for the much more abundant wealth of UFO material). The circuits are closed; apathy holds sway. But history has shown that in time the information and questions dam breaks, sometimes cataclysmically, and later, why, low and behold, the pundits by a complete irrational turn of fact, will say, "oh, we knew this all the time!".

Editor's note:
As detailed in NIGHT SIEGE, the first incident was reported on December 31, 1982, and the sightings continued until the date of publication of the book, with a concentration of incidents during the summer of 1984.