Loren Gross is retired from the General Motors Corporation and
lives in Fremont, California. He was one of the founding members
of the Sign Historical Group, which focuses on the history of UFOs.
Within the UFO community he is known for his series of
publications on UFO history, year by year, titled The Fifth
Horseman of the Apocalypse, UFOs: A History.
[Some more of Loren’s selected interesting UFO reports
are contained in his UFO Notes which can be read here.]
Hall: You were an Air Force radar operator during the Korean War
period, is that correct?
Gross: Yes, that’s correct. I was a radar operator for
the Air Defense Command (ADC) from 1956 to 1960. I was stationed at radar
sites in Michigan, Korea, and Arizona
Hall: And I recall that you were a member of NICAP and in touch
with us in the 1950s.
Gross: I didn’t have very much contact with
NICAP during my service years or right after when I attended
college. By the way, after examining thousands of UFO reports I
don’t feel radar cases are the best kind. There is too much
anomalous propagation, small aircraft entering and leaving the
radar beam, and electronic malfunctions. Some good witnesses
seeing a UFO close up in daylight beats any radar return.
Hall: Well, some of the radar-visual cases are pretty strong. Did
you personally track UFOs on the radar screen?
Gross: No. I did have two UFO-related incidents though.
My first assignment when I got out of radar school was at the ADC site at
Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, near Detroit. I was a very
green 18-year-old A/3C [Airman Third Class]. When I mentioned the
subject of UFOs my crew chief related an incident that occurred
sometime before I arrived.
I think it is the one Major Keyhoe used in one of his books. It
involved a jet chase of a pair of UFOs by a two-plane flight of
interceptors, apparently scrambled out of Selfridge. The radar
showed the UFOs disappearing and then reappearing behind the
interceptors. This seemed impossible unless there were four UFOs,
or there was some scope malfunction. A third possibility was
that the UFOs “jumped” over the jets between radar sweeps.
Hall: Was there any visual sighting?
Gross: I’m not sure how much visual contact there was – an
important point. The RO [radar officer] usually has his head under
the hood. Most pilots seem to have problems locating lights in the
sky at night. They are pretty busy; that’s why they have ROs. Even
though I could not get much information because I was a lowly
airman, I did think the data might be useful to compare with other
reports of a similar nature.
Hall: What was the second incident?
Gross: Once when I was in Korea (1957) I was walking to radar
ops and passed by two civilian Bendix radar technicians talking to a
sergeant. The Bendix people were checking out the site’s HRI
(height radar). They had a portable scope hooked up so they could
monitor the returns [radar target displays] as they adjusted
various controls. The three men were expressing puzzlement over a
number of targets at 100,000 feet. The range put the mystery
targets over the DMZ (demilitarized zone] at about the middle of
the Korean Peninsula. I stopped and looked briefly at the scope.
Hall: By this time you had a year or so of experience
Gross: At that point I had about a year and a half of experience
Hall: About how many targets were there? Two or three?
Several? Were they “solid” appearing?
Gross: There were at least three radar targets on the screen
and they looked to be good solid returns. They were either moving
slowly or were motionless. Balloons? I sent NICAP a note about the
incident and enclosed the day’s winds aloft figures displayed in
radar ops. If I had been an officer, I could have phoned adjacent
sites and requested a radar check on the mystery targets, but I
wasn’t so it was never done.
Hall: What career did you pursue when you got out of the Air Force?
Gross: I studied to be a teacher, went through the whole six years
and got my B.A. degree. But I didn’t like the profession, so I took
a temporary job with General Motors and ended up staying with the
Hall: We met in Chicago during the founding meeting of the Sign
Historical Group. Are you still active in SHG?
Gross: I helped SHG reach some of the goals set at the first
Chicago meeting. I obtained UFO files from Dr Willy Smith, Robert
Gribble, and Murray Bott of New Zealand. However, I failed to get
any of Frank Edwards’ files. I check the SHG web site often, but I
spend most of my time writing my histories.
Hall: These days you are noted among serious UFO researchers for
those histories. Your excellent “Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse”
Gross: What makes the history series something of value is its raw
data. The series is for the use of serious researchers I have to
say that most of the credit goes to the many people who gathered
the data, like Jan Aldrich and Barry Greenwood. They are the real
heroes. I just passed it along.
Hall: You have been very generous in providing them to people like
me. Why don’t you publish them on a broader scale? I think they
would be ideal for library collections where they would be
accessible to a far larger number of users.
Gross: There are copyright problems if one wanted to go commercial.
Besides, I don’t need the money or the ego trip. I am comfortably
retired. Also, complete sets of them are available for public use
at the Roswell UFO Museum, the Mutual UFO Network, and the Center
for UFO Studies.
Hall: And at the Donald E. Keyhoe Archives.
Hall: Now, the inevitable question for someone who has pursued the
subject for nearly half a century. What is your opinion about the
nature of the hardcore UFO reports?
Gross: My history series is biased toward the existence of very
high tech machines of unknown origin. It’s true that some reports
seem like magic and their purpose puzzling, but to a great extent
one should expect that if we are dealing with an advanced
civilization. On the other hand, I’m well aware of the ideas of
men like Vallée and Keel. I can’t say that I’m ready
to endorse any extreme UFO origin theory at this point.
Hall: What do you think needs to be done in order to attract
serious, scientific attention to the subject.
Gross: Well, UFOlogists have tried hard for half a century.
Personally, I believe it will be something the UFOs do that will
finally alert the world.
Hall: I think so too. All we can do in the meantime is study the
reports carefully and try to figure out what is going on.
Journal of UFO History
“Special Omnibus Edition”
Richard H. Hall, Editor. pp.10-12
Published by the Fund for UFO Research
P.O. Box 7501
Alexandria, Virginia 22307