Keyhoe, Donald Edwards (1897-1988)

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Keyhoe, Donald Edwards (1897-1988)

Prominent figure in early UFO controversies. Keyhoe was born on June 20, 1897, in Ottumwa, Iowa. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (1919) and was commissioned a lieutenant in the marines. After an accident in 1922, he resigned from the marines. He held several jobs through the decade and emerged in 1928 as a successful freelance writer. Keyhoe returned to the marines during World War II and served with a naval aviation training division. He rose to the rank of major by the end of the war. He began writing about unidentified flying objects in 1949 when he was commissioned to write an article for True, a popular men's magazine. His article, "Flying Saucers are Real" (True, January 1950), caused a sensation with its claim that the U.S. Air Force was covering up evidence that proved flying saucers were real. He continued that theme in the three books that soon followed: The Flying Saucers Are Real (1950), Flying Saucers From Outer Space (1953), and The Flying Saucer Conspiracy (1955).

It was some years later that a memorandum discovered through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Keyhoe was right about the air force's covering up its real investigation of UFOs with a public relations activity called Project Blue Book.

In 1956 Keyhoe founded National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). Prominent military men and politicians on the board of governors included Senator Barry Goldwater. During his period of leadership in NICAP, Keyhoe wrote one more book, Flying Saucers: Top Secret (1960). He could not solve NICAP's persistent financial situation over the years, and after a stormy meeting in 1969 Keyhoe retired as director, although he remained on the board.

After he left NICAP Keyhoe wrote one last book, Aliens From Space (1973), in which he continued his cover-up theme but shifted primary responsibility to the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). He served on the Mutual UFO Network board through the 1980s but was never really active in ufology again.

Keyhoe died November 29, 1988.


Clark, Jerome. The Emergence of a Phenomenon: UFOs from the Beginning through 1959. Vol. 2 of The UFO Encyclopedia. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1992.

Hall, Richard. "Major Donald E. Keyhoe: An Appreciation." MUFON UFO Journal (February 1989): 12-13.

Keyhoe, Donald E. Aliens From Space: The Real Story of Unidentified Flying Objects. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973.

. The Flying Saucer Conspiracy. New York: Henry Holt,1955.

. The Flying Saucers Are Real. New York: Fawcett Publications, 1950.

. Flying Saucers From Outer Space. New York: Henry Holt, 1953.

. Flying Saucers: Top Secret. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1960.