One of the first conclusions an impartial observer must make about the subject of UFOs is that rumors and circumstance play far too great a role in what ought to be a more exacting quest for knowledge. It is just such an observation which once led Dr. Carl Sagan to comment dryly that UFOs «are more a matter for religion and superstition than they are for science.»
While this dismissal is perhaps unscientific in its own right, the point is well taken. Attend any gathering of «UFO people» you want, and simply listen. Rumors abound. Perhaps worse, however, is that some of these rumors manage to circulate for years (even decades) without anyone making a reasonable effort to get to the bottom of them.
One of the most persistent of these is a story that President Eisenhower visited Edwards Air Force Base in early 1954, and either viewed the bodies of dead aliens and the wreckage of their craft, or met with live aliens on some sort of diplomatic mission to earth.
The story takes many forms, with the common thread being that Ike mysteriously disappeared one evening while on a vacation to Palm Springs, and that he was spirited to Edwards to view (or meet) aliens. It is said that he returned by dawn and shortly thereafter ordered absolute secrecy about anything having to do with UFOs.
For example, President Eisenhower did indeed make a trip to Palm Springs between February 17th and 24th, 1954, and on the evening of Saturday, February 20th, he did disappear! When members of the press learned that the president was not where he should be, rumors ran rampant that he had either died or was seriously ill.
The story even managed to get onto a press wire before being killed moments later. To quell the fuss, White House Press Secretary James Haggerty called an urgent late evening press conference to announce «solemnly» that the president had been enjoying fried chicken earlier that evening, had knocked a cap off a tooth, and had been taken to a local dentist for treatment.
When Ike turned up as scheduled the next morning for an early church service, the matter seemed ended. Although the Palm Springs trip was billed as a «vacation for the president», the trip appears to have come up rather suddenly.
In addition, it is a matter of record that Ike had returned from a quail shooting vacation in Georgia less than a week before leaving for Palm Springs.
While the incidence of a local dentist being called upon to treat a president of the United States is unusual enough that it should constitute a rather memorable event for those involved, the dentist’s widow, in a June, 1979 interview, was curiously unable to recall any specifics relating to her husband’s alleged involvement in the affair—not even the time of day it had occurred. Yet her memory appeared flawless when asked to relate details of her and her husband’s attendance (by presidential invitation) at a steak fry the following evening, where her husband was introduced as «the dentist who had treated the president».
This would appear to suggest a cover story, the details of which would have easily been repeated at the time, but quite naturally forgotten 25 years later. Research at the Eisenhower Library has uncovered two other facts inconsistent with the dentist story.By William L. Moore