Contactees are persons who claim to have experienced contact with extraterrestrials
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

. Contactees have typically reported that they were given messages or profound wisdom by extraterrestrial beings. These claimed encounters are often described as ongoing, but some contactees claim to have had as few as a single encounter.

As a cultural phenomenon, contactees perhaps had their greatest notoriety from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, but individuals continue to make similar claims in the present. Some have shared their messages with small groups of followers, and many have issued newsletters or spoken at UFO convention
UFO convention
A UFO convention is a convention about UFOs that usually take place annually at hotels or convention centers and mainly feature contactees giving presentations about their experiences...


The contactee movement has seen serious attention from academics and mainstream scholars. Among the earliest was the classic 1956 study, When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails
When Prophecy Fails is a 1956 classic book in social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter about a UFO religion that believes the end of the world is at hand.- Cognitive dissonance :...

by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter, which analyzed the phenomenon. There have been at least two university-level anthologies of scientific papers regarding the contactee movements (see sources below). "The contactee movement is a rich treat for anthropologists
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, sticky with sincere and sincerely deluded
A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological...

 individuals. Were the contactees in touch with anything other than their own internal fantasies?"

Contactee accounts are generally different from those who allege alien abduction, in that while contactees usually describe beneficial experiences involving human-like aliens, abductees rarely describe their experiences positively.


Astronomer J. Allen Hynek
J. Allen Hynek
Dr. Josef Allen Hynek was a United States astronomer, professor, and ufologist. He is perhaps best remembered for his UFO research. Hynek acted as scientific adviser to UFO studies undertaken by the U.S. Air Force under three consecutive names: Project Sign , Project Grudge , and Project Blue Book...

 described Contactees as asserting "the visitation to the earth of generally benign beings whose ostensible purpose is to communicate (generally to a relatively few selected and favored persons —) messages of 'cosmic importance'. These chosen recipients generally have repeated contact experiences, involving additional messages.."

Contactees became a cultural phenomena in the 1940s and continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s, often giving lecture and writing books about their experience. the phenomona still exists today. Skeptics hold that such 'contactees' are deluded or dishonest in their claims. Susan Clancy
Susan Clancy
Susan A. Clancy is a psychology researcher at Harvard University in the field of memory.-Abducted:In October 2005 her book Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens was published. Clancy came to the subject of alien abductions while studying recovered memories, a phenomenon...

 wrote that such claims are “false memories” concocted out of a “blend of fantasy-proneness, memory distortion, culturally available scripts, sleep hallucinations, and scientific illiteracy.”

Contactees usually portrayed "Space Brothers" as more or less identical in appearance and mannerisms to humans. The Brothers are also almost invariably reported as disturbed by the violence, crime and wars that infest the earth, and by the possession of various earth nations of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.
Curtis Peebles
Curtis Peebles
Curtis Peebles is an aerospace historian for the Smithsonian Institution and the author of several books dealing with aviation and aerial phenomena....

 summarizes the common features of many contactee claims:
  • Certain humans have had personal and/or mental contact with friendly, completely human-appearing space aliens.
  • The contactees have also flown aboard flying saucers, and traveled into space
    Outer space
    Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

     and to other planets.
  • The Space Brothers want to help mankind solve its problems, to stop nuclear testing
    Nuclear testing
    Nuclear weapons tests are experiments carried out to determine the effectiveness, yield and explosive capability of nuclear weapons. Throughout the twentieth century, most nations that have developed nuclear weapons have tested them...

     and prevent the otherwise inevitable destruction of the human race.
  • This will be accomplished very simply by the brotherhood spreading a message of love and brotherhood across the world.
  • Other sinister beings, the Men in Black
    Men in Black
    Men in Black , in American popular culture and in UFO conspiracy theories, are men dressed in black suits who claim to be government agents who harass or threaten UFO witnesses to keep them quiet about what they have seen. It is sometimes implied that they may be aliens themselves...

    , use threats and force to continue the cover-up of UFOs and suppress the message of hope.

Early contactees

Though the word contactee was not in common use until the 1950s, the authors of the anthologies noted in "sources" below use the term to describe persons whose claims occurred centuries before the UFO era, attempting to depict them as a part of the same tradition.

Though not linked to flying saucers or odd aerial lights, it is perhaps worth noting that there is a long history of claims of contact with non-earthly intelligences. The founding revelations of many of the world's religions involve contact between the founder and a supernatural source of wisdom, such as a god in human form or an angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

. In this context, it might be expected that most of the 1950s contactees would form their own religions, with the contactee as sole spiritual leader, and that is just what happened, almost invariably.

As early as the 18th century, people like Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

 were claiming to be in psychic contact with inhabitants of other planets. 1758 saw the publication of Concerning Earths in the Solar System, in which Swedenborg detailed his alleged journeys to the inhabited planets. J. Gordon Melton
J. Gordon Melton
John Gordon Melton is an American religious scholar who was the founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion and is currently a research specialist in religion and New Religious Movements with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara...

 notes that Swedenborg's planetary tour stops at Saturn, the furthest planet known during Swedenborg's era — he did not visit Uranus, Neptune or Pluto.

Later, Helena Blavatsky would make claims similar to Swedenborg's.

In 1891, Thomas Blott's book The Man From Mars was published. The author claimed to have met a Martian in Kentucky. Unusually for an early contactee, Blott reported that the Martian communicated not via telepathy
Telepathy , is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference...

, but in English.

Another early contactee book, of sorts, was From India To The Planet Mars (1900) by Theodore Flournoy
Théodore Flournoy
Théodore Flournoy was a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva and author of books on spiritism and psychic phenomena...

. Flournoy detailed the claims of Helene Smith, who, whilst in a trance, dictated information gleaned from her psychic visits to the planet Mars — including a Martian alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

 and language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 she could write and speak. Flournoy determined that Smith's claims were spurious, based on fantasy and imagination. Her "Martian" language was simply a garbled version of French
Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables, often as part of religious practice. The significance of glossolalia has varied with time and place, with some considering it a part of a sacred language...



Two of the earliest contactees in the modern sense were William Magoon and Guy Ballard
Guy Ballard
Guy Warren Ballard was an American mining engineer who became, with his wife, Edna Anne Wheeler Ballard, the founder of the "I AM" Activity....

 (the latter a follower of Madame Blavatsky
Madame Blavatsky
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky , was a theosophist, writer and traveler. Between 1848 and 1875 Blavatsky had gone around the world three times. In 1875, Blavatsky together with Colonel H. S. Olcott established the Theosophical Society...


Magoon's book William Magoon: Psychic and Healer was published in 1930. He claimed that, in the early 20th century, he had been unexpectedly and instantaneously transported to Mars. The planet was essentially earth-like, with cities and wilderness. The inhabitants had radio and automobiles. Though they were invisible
Invisibility is the state of an object that cannot be seen. An object in this state is said to be invisible . The term is usually used as a fantasy/science fiction term, where objects are literally made unseeable by magical or technological means; however, its effects can also be seen in the real...

, Magoon sensed their presences.

Though Magoon was obscure, Ballard would have more impact via the I Am movement he established. In 1935, Ballard claimed that, several years earlier, he and over 100 others witnessed the appearance of 12 Venusians in a cavern beneath Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta is located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California and at is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California...

. The Venusians played music for the audience, said Ballard, then showed the crowd a large mirror
A mirror is an object that reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original quality prior to its contact with the mirror. Some mirrors also filter out some wavelengths, while preserving other wavelengths in the reflection...

-like device that displayed images of life on Venus. The Venusians then allegedly reported that the earth would suffer through an era of tension and warfare, followed by worldwide peace and goodwill.

George Adamski
George Adamski
George Adamski was a Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien "Space Brothers", and to have taken flights with them...

, who later became probably the most prominent contactee of the UFO era, was one contactee with an earlier interest in the occult. Adamski founded the Royal Order of Tibet in the 1930s. Writes Michael Barkun, "His [later] messages from the Venusians sounded suspiciously like his own earlier occult teachings."

Christopher Partridge
Christopher Partridge
Christopher Hugh Partridge is an author, editor, professor at Lancaster University, and founding Co-director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Popular Culture. According to Gordon Lynch, Partridge is a leading scholar of topics in popular culture...

 notes, importantly, that the pre-1947 contactees "do not involve UFOs." Rather, he suggests that an existing tradition of extraterrestrial contact via seance
A séance is an attempt to communicate with spirits. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "seat," "session" or "sitting," from the Old French "seoir," "to sit." In French, the word's meaning is quite general: one may, for example, speak of "une séance de cinéma"...

s and psychic means promptly incorporated the flying-saucer mythos when it arrived.

Contactees in the UFO era

The 1947 report of Kenneth Arnold
Kenneth Arnold
Kenneth A. Arnold was an American aviator and businessman. He is best-known for making what is generally considered the first widely reported unidentified flying object sighting in the United States, after claiming to have seen nine unusual objects flying in a chain near Mount Rainier, Washington...

 sparked widespread interest in flying saucers, and before long, people were claiming to have been in contact with flying saucer inhabitants.

There was a nearly-continuous series of contactees, beginning with George Adamski
George Adamski
George Adamski was a Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien "Space Brothers", and to have taken flights with them...

 in 1952. Radio host John Nebel interviewed many contactees on his program during this era. The stereotypical contactee account in these days involved not just conversations with friendly, human-appearing spacemen but visits inside their flying saucers, and rides to large "Mother Ships" in Earth orbit, and even jaunts to the moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.

By the late 1950s, many contactees were no longer claiming to have been physically visited by aliens; rather, they were more often in psychic
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

 contact with the spacemen, who passed their messages on to people in trances
Altered state of consciousness
An altered state of consciousness , also named altered state of mind, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state. The expression was used as early as 1966 by Arnold M. Ludwig and brought into common usage from 1969 by Charles Tart: it describes induced...

. However, alien contact via Ouija board
Ouija Board
Ouija Board is a Thoroughbred mare racehorse owned by Edward Stanley, 19th Earl of Derby and trained by Ed Dunlop. In a career spanning four seasons, she won 10 of her 22 races, 7 of them Group 1s, including the Epsom Oaks in 2004 and the Hong Kong Vase in 2005...

, spirit mediums and channelling was fairly common even in the early 1950s. Eventually, there was a complicated crossover with the later "psychic channeling" movement, which found a degree of renewed popularity beginning in the late 1960s.

In support of their claims, early 1950s contactees often produced photographs of the alleged flying saucers or their occupants. A number of photos of a "Venusian scout ship" by George Adamski
George Adamski
George Adamski was a Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien "Space Brothers", and to have taken flights with them...

 and identified by him as a typical extraterrestrial flying saucer were noted to bear a suspicious resemblance to a type of once commonly available chicken egg incubator, complete with three light bulbs which Adamski said were "landing gear."

For over two decades, contactee George Van Tassel
George Van Tassel
George Van Tassel was an American contactee, ufologist, and paranormal research leader who commenced building the Integratron in 1958 in Landers, California.- History :...

 hosted the annual "Giant Rock Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention" in the Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

. Another 1950s contactee, Buck Nelson
Buck Nelson
Buck Nelson was an American farmer who claimed to have had an encounter with an unidentified flying object and its humanoid crew in 1954 while living in Missouri.- Claim :...

, held a similar convention in the Ozarks of Missouri up until 1965.

Though contactees faded from mainstream consciousness, people continued making claims of extraterrestrial contact.

Swiss one-armed farmer Billy Meier
Billy Meier
"Billy" Eduard Albert Meier is a citizen of Switzerland who claims to be a UFO contactee and prophet. He is also the source of many controversial UFO photographs, which he states are evidence of his encounters...

 has managed to include every one of the classic 1950s contactees within his own religious framework, and has made room for tens of thousands more, as this reported exchange between Meier and one of his extraterrestrial contacts indicates:
"Meier: ... If you allow, I want to ask you about some matters respecting contacts. How many contactees exist in the world today...?"
"Ptaah: The exact number of real contactees on Earth is presently 17,422 (1975). They are scattered over all your states and lands. Of that number only a few percent come to public attention. Many of them are working according to our advice at different labors and tasks.... In different cases such persons are also having contacts with us without being informed that we do not belong to Earth.... Of all these 17,422 contactees (the number increases continuously) only a few hundred are known publicly...."

Another contemporary example is the Raelian Movement
Raëlism is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël.The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim...

, which earned international attention with their claims of successful human cloning. Their leader, Raël, claims to have been contacted by aliens (the Elohim) since the 1970s.

Response to contactee claims

Even in ufology
Ufology is a neologism coined to describe the collective efforts of those who study reports and associated evidence of unidentified flying objects . UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years by governments, independent groups, and scientists...

 — itself subject to at best very limited and sporadic mainstream scientific or academic interest — contactees were generally seen as the lunatic fringe, and "serious" ufologists subsequently avoided the subject, for fear it would harm their attempts at "serious" study of the UFO phenomenon. Jacques Vallée
Jacques Vallée
Jacques Fabrice Vallée is a venture capitalist, computer scientist, author, ufologist and former astronomer currently residing in San Francisco, California....

 notes that "No serious investigator has ever been very worried by the claims of 'contactees.'"

Some time after the phenomenon had waned, Temple University
Temple University
Temple University is a comprehensive public research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Originally founded in 1884 by Dr. Russell Conwell, Temple University is among the nation's largest providers of professional education and prepares the largest body of professional...

 historian David Michael Jacobs
David Michael Jacobs
David Michael Jacobs is an American historian and recently retired Associate Professor of History at Temple University, specializing in twentieth century American history and culture. He is well known in the field of Ufology for his research into alleged alien abductions and UFOs.-Career:Jacobs...

 noted a few interesting facts: the accounts of the prominent contactees grew ever more elaborate, and as new claimants gained notoriety, they typically backdated their first encounter, claiming it occurred earlier than anyone else's. Jacobs speculates that this was an attempt to gain a degree of "authenticity" to trump other contactees.

List of Contactees

Those who claim to be contactees include:
  • George Adamski
    George Adamski
    George Adamski was a Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien "Space Brothers", and to have taken flights with them...

  • Zigmund Adamski
    Zigmund Adamski
    Zigmund Jan Adamski was a coal miner at Lofthouse Colliery, who mysteriously disappeared from his Tingley home in June 1980. His body was found on top of a large stack of anthracite in Todmorden....

  • Wayne Sulo Aho
    Wayne Sulo Aho
    Wayne Sulo Aho was an American contactee who claimed contact with extraterrestrial beings. He was one of the more obscure members of the 1950s wave of contactees who followed George Adamski.-Early life:...

  • Cedric Allingham
    Cedric Allingham
    Cedric Allingham was a British contactee of the 1950s, whose claims to have encountered the pilot of a Martian spacecraft were published in 1954 as Flying Saucer from Mars....

  • Orfeo Angelucci
    Orfeo Angelucci
    Orfeo Matthew Angelucci was one of the most unusual of the mid-1950s contactees who claimed to be in contact with extraterrestrials....

  • Truman Bethurum
    Truman Bethurum
    Truman Bethurum was the second of the classic 1950s contactees, individuals who claimed to have spoken with humanoid aliens and entered or ridden on their flying saucers...

  • Albert Coe
  • Alex Collier
    Alex Collier (UFOlogist)
    Alex Collier is an alias of US citizen Ralph Amigron . As "Collier", he claimed to be a contactee. He alleged that he has been in contact with inhabitants of the Andromeda constellation and purported to have messages to relay from these supposed visitors...

  • James Cooke
  • Carlos Diaz
  • Daniel Fry
    Daniel Fry
    Daniel William Fry was an American contactee who claimed he had multiple contacts with an alien and took a ride in a remotely piloted alien spacecraft on July 4, 1949....

  • James Gilliland
  • Calvin C. Girvin
  • Brigitte Grant
  • Gabriel Green
    Gabriel Green
    Gabriel Green was a write-in United States presidential candidate in 1960 and 1972...

  • Steven M. Greer
    Steven M. Greer
    Steven M. Greer is an American physician and ufologist who founded the Orion Project and The Disclosure Project.-Biography:Greer claims that he is a contactee who has coined the term "close encounter of the fifth kind" to describe human-initiated contact with extraterrestrials.-The Disclosure...

  • David Hamel
  • Dana Howard
    Dana Howard (contactee)
    Dana Howard was one of the mid-1950s contactees who claimed she went to Venus, married a Venusian, and raised a family there.-Biography:She said she was attending a seance conducted by medium Bertie Lilly Candler on April 29, 1955, when Candler managed to summon up and materialize an , blonde woman...

  • Betty and Barney Hill
  • George King
    George King (Aetherius Society)
    George King was Founder-President of The Aetherius Society, a UFO religion. He was also an inventor, author, lecturer and spiritual teacher.-Early years:...

  • Phillip Krapf

  • Dino Kraspedon
    Dino Kraspedon
    Dino Kraspedon was the pen name of Brazilian Aladino Felix, who claimed to be contacted by an alien. Later in life he publicly recanted his claims of alien contact.-Biography:...

     (aka Aladino Felix)
  • Gloria Lee
    Gloria Lee
    Gloria Lee was an airline flight attendant and a follower of Oahspe who became part of the 1950s contactee movement in 1953....

  • Nancy Lieder
  • Oscar Magocsi
  • Dan Martin
  • Riley Martin
    Riley Martin
    Riley L. Martin is a self-described alien contactee, author, and radio host. Martin is the author of the book The Coming of Tan, which describes his life and his alleged abduction by aliens. He hosts The Riley Martin Show on the Sirius Satellite Radio channel Howard 101...

  • Billy Meier
    Billy Meier
    "Billy" Eduard Albert Meier is a citizen of Switzerland who claims to be a UFO contactee and prophet. He is also the source of many controversial UFO photographs, which he states are evidence of his encounters...

  • Howard Menger
    Howard Menger
    Howard Menger was an American contactee who claimed to have met extraterrestrials throughout the course of his life, meetings which were the subject of books he wrote, such as From Outer Space To You and The High Bridge Incident...

  • Bonnie Meyer
  • Buck Nelson
    Buck Nelson
    Buck Nelson was an American farmer who claimed to have had an encounter with an unidentified flying object and its humanoid crew in 1954 while living in Missouri.- Claim :...

  • Elizabeth Klarer
    Elizabeth Klarer
    Elizabeth Klarer was a South African who claimed to have been contacted by extraterrestials between 1954 and 1963. She was one of the first women to claim a sexual relationship with an extraterrestrial.-Biography:...

  • Ted Owens
  • Reinhold O. Schmidt
    Reinhold O. Schmidt
    Reinhold Schmidt was one of the late-comers of the 1950s UFO "contactee" era that began with George Adamski in 1953. Schmidt was born and grew up in Nebraska, where he worked for most of his adult life as a grain buyer and dealer...

  • Sun Ra
    Sun Ra
    Sun Ra was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama...

  • Whitley Strieber
    Whitley Strieber
    Louis Whitley Strieber is an American writer best known for his horror novels The Wolfen and The Hunger and for Communion, a non-fiction account of his perceived experiences with non-human entities. Strieber also co-authored The Coming Global Superstorm with Art Bell, which inspired the film about...

  • Frances Swan
  • George Van Tassel
    George Van Tassel
    George Van Tassel was an American contactee, ufologist, and paranormal research leader who commenced building the Integratron in 1958 in Landers, California.- History :...

  • Samuel Eaton Thompson
    Samuel Eaton Thompson
    Samuel Eaton Thompson was an American contactee who claimed to have been in contact with extraterrestrials. Though his claims earned little publicity during his life, Thompson might have been the first North American contactee....

  • Claude Vorilhon
  • George Hunt Williamson
    George Hunt Williamson
    George Hunt Williamson , aka Michael d'Obrenovic and Brother Philip,was one of the "four guys named George" among the mid-1950s contactees...

  • Dwight York
    Dwight York
    Dwight York , also known as Malachi Z. York, Issa Al Haadi Al Mahdi, et alii, is an American black supremacist and leader of the Georgia-based "Nuwaubian" movement, currently imprisoned on a 135 year sentence for child molestation.York's "ministry" began in the late 1960s, from 1967 preaching to...

External links

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