Born June 20, 1897, Ottumwa, Iowa
Died November 29, 1988, New Market, Virginia
Donald Edward Keyhoe was born on June 20, 1897, in Ottumwa, Iowa, and attended the U.S. Naval Academy. Keyhoe graduated in 1920 and was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps. He learned to fly airplanes and balloons but was injured in a plane crash in Guam in 1922. During his convalescence, he took up writing as a hobby. It's for his writing that he is known today.
Keyhoe's injury forced him to leave the military in 1923, whereupon he went to work for the National Geodetic Survey and the U.S. Department of Commerce. He kept his hand in aviation, though, by managing a national tour by Charles Lindbergh. He later served stateside in the U.S. military and afterwards test flew airplanes. Keyhoe's first book was Flying With Lindbergh (1928). He also wrote for pulp magazines, including Weird Tales, Dr. Yen Sin, and Flying Aces, for which he created two fictional aviators with super powers, Captain Philip Strange and flying ace Richard Knight. Keyhoe's other magazine clients included The American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The Nation, Reader's Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, and True. Keyhoe returned to active duty during World War II and retired as a major.
During the war, pilots all over the world reported seeing so-called "foo fighters," small, illuminated orbs or objects that seemed to follow their aircraft. After the war, a plague of "ghost rockets" alarmed and puzzled people in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. Then, on June 24, 1947, Kenneth Arnold, a private pilot in the Pacific Northwest, sighted a group of disk-like objects that seemed to skip through the air like saucers on a pond. It didn't take long for a new term to enter the language: "flying saucers." It also didn't take long for flying saucers to become something like a religion in the minds of some. After all, here were angels for a technological age, sent to earth to save us from ourselves.
In 1949, the editor of True magazine contacted Donald Keyhoe, requesting an investigation into the flying saucers phenomenon. The resulting article, "Flying Saucers Are Real," appeared in True in January 1950 and in expanded form in The Flying Saucers Are Real (1950). The article was much talked about and the book sold over half a million copies in paperback. Its thesis: flying saucers are extraterrestrial craft--and the U.S. government knows it. Keyhoe wrote several more books on the subject: Flying Saucers from Outer Space (1953), The Flying Saucer Conspiracy (1955), Flying Saucers: Top Secret (1960), and Aliens from Space: The Real Story of Unidentified Flying Objects (1973). He also cofounded the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in 1956 and joined the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) in 1981. Incidentally, Donald Keyhoe was interviewed by Mike Wallace, who just passed away, on ABC-TV in 1958.
Donald Keyhoe died on November 29, 1988, in New Market, Virginia. He is remembered as an even-keeled authority on flying saucers.
Donald E. Keyhoe's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Grim Passenger" (Apr. 1925)
"The Mystery Under the Sea" (Jan. 1926)
"Through the Vortex" (July 1926)
"The Master of Doom" (May 1927)
Some of Donald Keyhoe's work has fallen into the public domain and has been reprinted in new editions or reproduced for the Internet. You can see Mike Wallace's interview with Donald Keyhoe on YouTube. And of course you could do things the old fashioned way and read Keyhoe's books in their original editions.
|Here's a hardbound cover for Keyhoe's second book on flying saucers, Flying Saucers from Outer Space (1953). Note the byline: "Major Donald E. Keyhoe, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.)."|
|Here's British edition of the same book with a more colorful and provocative cover illustration from an unknown artist.|
|And a later American edition with a clever cover design ripped from the headlines.|
|A Spanish-language edition with a similar title: Platos Voladores de Otros Mundos, which I believe translates as Flying Saucers from Other Worlds.|
|The story of flying saucers took a more sinister turn as the 1950s went on, hence The Flying Saucer Conspiracy from 1955.|
|Keyhoe's air stories have been collected in new editions, including this one, The Complete Adventures of Richard Knight.|
|Flying saucers come in all shapes and sizes. So do posters advertising flying saucer movies.|
|See what I mean?|
|Flying saucer sightings were a worldwide phenomenon of the 1950s. No wonder Earth vs. the Flying Saucers would show in France. . .|
|Italy . . .|
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley