Sample article from the January 2001 Star Beacon

Mercury 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper a true hero

Leap of Faith
An Astronaut's Journey into the Unknown

Copyright 2000 by Gordon Cooper and Bruce Henderson

Review by James Parsons

For some men a life of high adventure is standard operating procedure. Gordon Cooper, retired Air Force colonel and pilot-astronaut of Mercury 7 and Gemini 5 spacecraft, is one of these men.

All of the Mercury 7 astronauts risked their lives in spacecraft which, by today's standards, would be considered primitive and unsafe. Hence, in the early days of the space program, the astronauts pushed NASA for manual control - something NASA higher-ups resisted. Cooper spent considerable time in the simulator practicing re-entry, just in case there were an in-flight emergency. His extra hours proved well spent, because his first flight into space (in Mercury 7) was plagued with difficulties. One electrical system after another shut down until only the battery- operated communication channel was functional. It is exciting to read Cooper's account of how he coped with the crisis and manually piloted the craft safely back to Earth, landing almost on top of the rescue carrier, Kearsarge.

But this is a review for students of UFOs. What we want to hear from Cooper are his own experiences with UFOs, which he describes in detail and forthrightly.

To begin with, Cooper states in Chapter Four that he did not see UFOs in space. Further, he states that he does not believe Armstrong and Aldrin saw UFOs on the moon, even though statements to the contrary are found on the Internet. The only possible sighting by astronauts in space, Cooper states, is the "weird-looking object" sighted by McDivitt and White in Gemini 4 over Hawaii.

Other sightings Cooper tells us about in his book are these: In 1951, as an F86 pilot in West Germany, he saw flights of UFOs traveling from east to west over Germany. He and the other pilots were ordered up to investigate. The UFOs were "metallic silver and saucer-shaped." They passed high above the ceiling altitude of the F86 at tremendous speeds, sometimes stopping in mid-air, hovering, then taking off at speeds beyond Earth aircraft capabilities. Sometimes the pilots watched the flights through binoculars from the ground. So common were these occurrences, that in time the base no longer ordered the pilots up to investigate.

The next sighting Cooper describes occurred in 1957, when he was a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Cooper's film crew (two enlisted personnel) were on the edge of the base filming a precision landing system. A "strange looking saucer" flew over, hovered above ground, dropped what appeared to be a three-legged landing gear, and landed! The saucer was described as "metallic silver" in color and shaped like an inverted plate. It was captured on film by the two excited cameramen during its visit of several minutes.

Cooper phoned the Pentagon and asked what to do with the film. A general told him to have it developed and rush it to Washington, D.C. Since Cooper was not told he couldn't look at the film, he did so and verified the craft was "of unknown origin" and was as described by his camera team. (In those days test pilots knew of almost everything flying.) Cooper says the film was never seen or heard of again, and could not be exhumed by researchers under the Freedom of Information Act.

Also in Chapter Four, Cooper revealed several pilot sightings with which he was familiar and which included a brief Roswell story. Here's the Roswell story: A pilot and Air Force major who was a good friend of Cooper's was in Roswell at the time of the Roswell Crash. (One assumes that Cooper's friend was Major Marcel, who maintained until his death that the wreckage he examined was extraterrestrial, but Cooper doe not name the man.) Cooper's friend told him the crash was "not a weather balloon," but was an aircraft of some kind and bodies were recovered. End of story.

During his astronaut years, Cooper became a good friend of Werner von Braun, the German rocket scientist then working for the United States. Cooper and von Braun spent hours together telling stories and sharing views on space exploration and the probability of life elsewhere in the universe. Naturally von Braun had a UFO story for Cooper in exchange for the stories Cooper told. On July 10, 1949, von Braun was working at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, when von Braun and his team fired a V-2 and were tracking the rocket. The V-2 was traveling at 2,000 feet per second. Suddenly the scientists saw "two small circular UFOs pacing the missile," von Braun told Cooper. One UFO was seen to pass through the V-2 exhaust, rejoin the other UFO, and speed away, leaving the missile far behind. The scientists were duly impressed with a technology which was years in advance of anything they knew about.

There is much more in this astronaut's revealing tale of flying and exploring the unknown. Not only is Leap of Faith a great story by an American hero, it is the witness of a strong advocate for the truth of UFOs and for an end to government secrecy about the subject. We in the UFO community are fortunate to have Cooper's voice added to this international investigation.

James Parsons was an Air Force navigator in the 1950s. Today in Taos, N.M., he is an art dealer and member of two UFO study groups.

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