Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Al Chop's True Confessions: Part 2 of 2

Unlike my list of questions for "U.F.O." producer Clarence Greene, to which he responded with single-word or brief one-line answers, the numbered concerns I sent off to Al Chop received his full attention and detailed comments. So complete were his answers, in fact, that I shouldn't have to list all questions separately because he neatly wraps most questions into his responses. However, I will comment a little about some of the five pages shown here (Chop numbered the pages by hand, see left upper corner of each page).

You might believe that my apparent preoccupation with the movie transcended everything else, but I really haven't pulled out and tried to organize all of my notes, correspondence and visuals for over 30 years. Therefore, my memories were a bit rattled when I read Al Chop's sentence (no. 3) where he stated, "Captain Ed Ruppelt played his own part in the film UFO." In fact, Ruppelt's role was played by Lt. Robert Phillips, whom I assume was a member of the L.A. Sheriffs Dept. But I didn't know that in the mid-seventies, and was perfectly confident to write for publication that Ruppelt played Ruppelt. In the interim, I forgot that Chop was my "final word" at that time, and for the life of me I don't know why he made such a statement. Chop had worked with and knew Ruppelt very well during the days when Ruppelt headed up Project Blue Book, and the two men consulted in depth on the motion picture script. Even post-production, Al Chop surely realized when watching the film that Ruppelt was portrayed by another. This glaring error remains an anomaly to me, and maybe the best thing I can do is to chalk it up to Chop responding to my questions at a time when he was tired or stressed out with the immense responsibilities of his new government job. Al had a reputation for concern with the facts as a careful reporter, and many of the points he makes in the pages shown here were confirmed by others.

Regarding point no. 4, I asked about an unsigned piece Chop had written for Newsweek about the widespread use of helicopters in the Korean conflict during the early fifties.

Regarding point no. 5, I was glad that Al mentioned the General Mills balloon incident, but when I wrote my article for Official UFO an editor, apparently unfamiliar with a dictionary, changed the word "rent" to "dent," thus distorting the ripping effect caused by the UFO. At another place in that article, where I stated the movie did not "make bucks" at the box office, the editor changed the word "bucks" to "bricks" inexplicably, which I'm sure caused many readers to scratch their heads and wonder what planet the author was from, to have written something so nonsensical.

Regarding point no. 6, this is where I asked Chop to describe that chaotic night when UFOs reappeared over the nation's Capitol and he rushed off to the radar scope. Note that, unlike the scene portrayed in the movie, Mrs. Chop did not remain at home. She accompanied Al to Washington that night, but did exit the radar room when reporters were asked to leave prior to UFO intercept attempts (in "U.F.O." no members of the media are shown at the radar scope at any point).

Regarding point no. 14, pay special attention to Chop's assertion that he left the Air Force press desk because "it was apparent the lid was back on the (UFO) project." This official maneuver, with no small thanks to 1953's CIA-instigated Robertson Panel, dictated the future of UFO-related secrecy in the U.S.