Sunday, March 12, 2006

Veteran Ufologist 'George Fawcett' Retiring

George Fawcett  Border
Farewell to flying saucers

UFO expert Fawcett is retiring, but he hasn't lost his enthusiasm

By JOE DEPRIEST
The Charlotte Observer
3-10-06

     LINCOLNTON - That NASCAR Hall of Fame announced in Charlotte this week sounds great, says UFO expert George Fawcett.

He's got an idea, too.

Why not a UFO museum in the Queen City?

After all, North Carolina ranks fifth in the U.S. for flying saucer sightings. Sightings are up worldwide. So is interest.

As we sat in his Lincolnton ranch house this week, Fawcett, 76, reminded me he'd pitched the idea of a state UFO museum to anybody who'd listen way back in the 1970s. Back when people called him a nut for believing in stuff like that.

"Now skeptics are in the minority," Fawcett said.

The soft-spoken dean of North Carolina "UFOnauts" has had a rough year following two knee surgeries and lengthy therapy. At times, he didn't think he'd make it.

I've known Fawcett, a Mount Airy native and retired YMCA director, for more than 20 years. Last month, I spotted a notice about his upcoming "farewell address" at the 58th meeting of the Mutual UFO Network of North Carolina at Pfeiffer University.

Fawcett is founder of the N.C. Chapter of MUFON, a group that tracks and researches reports of UFOs.

According to the notice, Fawcett was retiring from active membership because of his health.

It was time to check on my old friend. I hadn't seen him since 1998 when he'd just donated most of his Sauceriana Collection to the International UFO Museum in Roswell, N.M.

That's it, I figured. Fawcett had been collecting UFO materials since the subject hooked him in 1944. Maybe he'd finally let it go. Maybe he'd take up golf or stamp collecting.

I should have known better.

Funny thing about those empty UFO files, Fawcett said as he showed me into the living room. They'd filled up again. People from all over the world keep sending him books and videos, research papers and photos. He gets journals from England and Australia and subscribes to a national UFO clipping service.

Fawcett is pretty much the same as ever. He still likes to talk about his wife, two children and grandchildren. He's big on Duke basketball and pancakes. He remains active in St. Luke's Episcopal Church, singing in the choir and serving on the vestry. And his passion for UFOs is still hotter than a down-to-the-finish race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

When I stopped by, he was boxing up another load of UFO materials for the Roswell museum, where he's an honorary board member. He ships at least two boxes a year.

"George is a major benefactor to our library," museum director Julie Shuster told me. "We rely on the generosity of people like him."

I've never seen a UFO. Not that I know of. Those strange lights I spotted in the night sky once were probably shooting stars or aircraft of some kind.

Fawcett has seen only one UFO. That was in 1951, on the campus of Lynchburg (Va.) College, where he was a student. It was 30 feet in diameter and orange.

His interest in UFOs went back even earlier, to 1944, when he spotted an Associated Press article about "mysterious balls of fire" American pilots saw over Germany in World War II.

Fawcett has taught a UFO class at Gaston College, founded and advised five UFO study groups from New England to Florida, served as a movie consultant and written two books, one of which he recently revised and enlarged.

You can hear him speak in April at the Lincolnton Rotary Club. I hope he tells the story of how he met a Man-in-Black in 1974. Sometimes called MIBs, these mysterious figures try to intimidate witnesses to UFOs or other strange doings the government is trying to cover up, according to UFO circles.

Fawcett may hit the highlights of the conclusions he's reached after years of study.

Fawcett believes UFOs are real, controlled by a clear intelligence, and that extraterrestrials could be responsible. The government knows all this, but keeps the information hidden from the public while considering UFOs a threat to national security.

That's it in a nutshell. His research continues.

Wading deeper and deeper into UFOs isn't my thing, but Fawcett keeps probing. I admire the depth of his curiosity. And he's got a neat philosophy: "Keep an open mind and not an empty head."

So rest easy. Don't worry about the night sky. The UFO man is still on the job.

More . . .

See Also: Local UFO Investigator’s Interviews Published

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