In Celebration of World UFO Day

Each year on July 2, people remember the 1947 crash in Roswell, New Mexico and look to the sky for their own glimpse of something otherworldly. While some claim an ordinary weather balloon crashed that day, others believe it was an alien spacecraft and spend World UFO Day encouraging governments to share their files on UFO sightings.

According to a 2015 poll conducted by YouGov, over 50% of Americans believe that intelligent alien life exists. One such believer was James Deardorff, an OSU professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences. Though he passed away in 2014, Deardorff left behind a legacy of UFO research.

After earning a PhD in meteorology from the University of Washington, Deardorff spent most of his life studying the sky. From 1978 to 1986 he was a research professor at OSU; he received many honors during that time. He didn’t start publishing his theories about extraterrestrials until he retired – from the looks of it, that research consumed much of the rest of his life.

“It was in Oregon that I became interested in the UFO phenomenon in the late 1970s, soon deciding that the evidence points conclusively towards its being a reality. By 1985 I realized that my research interests had switched over irrevocably towards the UFO area and its implications for society,” Deardorff wrote.

Deardorff believed he saw five, potentially six, UFOs over his lifetime. His first sighting occurred in 1986 from the window of his office in Stag Hall on the OSU campus. He described the UFO as a dark, black “balloon” with tiny points of glitter along its upper half. It moved at a constant altitude and appeared unaffected by the atmosphere. He expected to read about the object in the paper or hear about it on the radio, but there was silence.

He wrote his first paper on UFOs, “Possible Extraterrestrial Strategy for Earth,” that same year. In a 1997 interview with OSU’s David Stauth, Deardorff explained the “leaky embargo” hypothesis contained in this paper, which “argues that the aliens in charge are more ethical than we and wish to let us know of their existence and presence, but not too suddenly lest it threaten the governmental, financial, cultural, and religious foundations on which we depend.” It was Deardorff’s belief that aliens are tactfully revealing themselves to the people whose belief systems can handle such a sighting and, over time, the numbers will increase.

Along with UFO studies, Deardorff turned his attention to the New Testament and the biblical connection to extraterrestrials. He mainly focused on the Talmud of Jmmanuel—roughly translated the Teachings of Jesus—a set of ancient scrolls supposedly found by controversial UFO photographer Billy Meier. Deardorff claimed that “a certain alien group, who told Jmmanuel [Jesus] they were from the constellation of the seven stars, the Pleiades, were genetically compatible with us and had been visiting Earth in past scores of thousands of years. Some 10,000 or so years ago they decided to oversee us in a manner that no longer involved themselves directly, and to give us some guidance in a similar indirect manner.” Just like the truth, Deardorff’s research toward the end of his life was definitely out there.

If nothing else, it sounds like Corvallis may have been a hot spot for UFOs at some point, at least for those who wanted to see them.

“Personally, I’m convinced that an extraterrestrial presence here on Earth is a fact, not a theory. It’s time for the government, the science community, the news media, and others in a position of power to stop ignoring these issues as if they were hogwash, and do some real studies,” Deardorff said.

No plans for July 2? Consider binge-watching some X-Files, reading some of Deardorff’s research, and keeping a close eye on the sky.

Interested in reading more of Deardorff’s theories? Check out

By Anika Lautenbach

Do you have a story for The Advocate? Email