Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tom Towers: The Final Note

The motion picture, "U.F.O." apparently didn't significantly advance for Tom Towers the prominence already demonstrated in his long career as a journalist and champion for noise abatement at California airports, but the kind of fame that surrounded him didn't create a pompous celebrity, either. From everything I learned, Towers was liked and respected by his associates, and evidently not forgotten at the L.A. Dept. of Airports. When I sent a spur-of-the-moment e-mail to LAX about three years ago, inquiring of his whereabouts after so many years, I actually received a prompt response from a representative who informed me not only that Tom was deceased, but who also included an approximate year of death.

Frankly, I was both surprised and gratified that Tom would continue to correspond with me on occasion for over two years, months after the Official UFO and Argosy UFO articles on the film had been published.

His brief note (see) of April 28, 1978, to my knowledge, was the last I ever received from him. The "new UFO pix" to which he refers was NBC-TV's debut of producer/actor Jack Webb's series, "Project UFO," based (more or less) on Project Blue Book files. If you've never seen this short-lived (put out of its and our misery during its second season, as I recall) dramatic series, simply picture in your mind Jack Webb's TV show, "Dragnet" and then transpose Joe Friday and his partner Frank into a time warp, where they wear Air Force blues as members of Project Blue Book -- and instead of questioning victims and chasing criminals, they search fruitlessly for elusive UFOs based mostly upon the least appealing UFO cases on record.

Anyway, "Project UFO" was the subject of Towers' note. From the start, he realized the value in adding "hokum" to make the show "interesting" -- a direct comment in reference to the spice and drama he believed Clarence Greene should have injected into his movie.

I answered Tom's note on May 18, 1978, offered a few comments about Jack Webb's new series and jokingly suggested that he approach the producers about recreating his role as Al Chop for the show.

By coincidence, this was also a time when Central New York was experiencing an impressive wave of UFO sightings involving witnesses of reputable caliber, and I was investigating many of them for various UFO organizations (I covered this more thoroughly in my main UFO blog, see link in the margin). I enclosed a newspaper clipping for Tom regarding the situation, and also mentioned a profound lack of cooperation from local government and law enforcement officials in getting the facts. Even the National Enquirer had sent reporters to Syracuse because the UFO reports provided highly interesting aspects, including apparent electrical interference and close encounters.

Nevertheless, this final letter to Los Angeles remained unanswered for reasons unknown, as my correspondence with Tom Towers had at last reached the end of a long and fondly appreciated trail.