Interview with Betsy McDonald - Wife of Dr. James McDonald Early Pioneer in UFO Research 4.23.05

At the X-Conference, Bethesda MD

Paola Leopizzi Harris, Journalist, Rome

"He did say that if UFOs were hostile, it would maybe unite people around
the world as human beings rather than fighting one another. UFOs should be
--Betsy McDonald

Paola Harris (P):   Did you know Dr. J. Allen Hynek?

Betsy MacDonald (B): No. I never met him.

P: Did your husband ever talk about him?

B: Oh yes. I remember when Mac first met him and the fact that Hynek was not as open as Mac thought he should be. He told him that he shouldn't be afraid.

P: Did he think it was fear?

B: I remember it was fear. Hynek had a daughter in college. He had children and he was worried that he had to put her through college and he thought his work would have some repercussions. Mac told him not to worry and that he should not be afraid.

P: Was your husband upset with the Condon report?

B: Oh yes, definitely

P: Did he demonstrate that at home?

B: Oh, yes. I sort of remember there was a memo by Lore that proved that Condon had basically agreed to debunk UFOs. You know when the Government was going to be giving a grant of I think a half a million dollars for the investigation of UFOs, I remember saying to Mac. "Well you are the most prominent person doing work on UFOs. It should go to you" but instead it went to Condon.   I told him "This is what happens to you. Every time you do the work then somebody else gets the money."

P: Well he was doing honest work, Betsy. Was he afraid? Did he ever come home saying "this is making me nervous?"

B: No! He thought it should all be open and above board. It was a scientific question. That was his point. That was his mission in a sense, I think as far as UFOs are concerned.   He wanted to make it a Scientific Question that should be taken up by science. As they matter of fact, he tried to get the National Science Foundation to take it up. He didn't succeed in that.

P: What was the reason they gave him that they wouldn't take it up?

B: I don't recall the details. Basically that was his ideal. He went around to meteorological societies engineering societies and other scientific bodies. He was trying to show is that this should be considered a scientific question.

P: It is a scientific question.

B: He thought that there should be observation posts created around the world

P: For sightings, right?

B: For sightings.

P: What his title? He was a physicist?

B: His title was that he was a senior scientist at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics. He came to the University of Arizona to found the Institute of Atmospheric Physics but he was not the administrative type. He was a researcher.

P: That is very interesting. He was a courageous man. Did he know he was going to be a hero when he was working at this? That he was working against the grain?

B: My Husband was Naive about this.   He was idealistic. People had been talking about the conspiracy. I often think of his philosophy as the philosophy of the enlightenment. The early days in Capitalism. Everyone was optimistic about the ideal. If you tell the truth they will accept it and work on it.

P: So he had the Idea if we tell the truth then they would work on it .So he was " basically into Truth"!

B: Right. That's the way he was!

P: So he never saw this as a matter of National security that these vehicles were so advanced that they could pose a threat to the United States? He never saw that?

B: No? He did say, when he spent a lot of time in UFO research and it was separate from his job, that if they were hostile, it would maybe unite people around the world as human beings rather than fighting one another.

P: Then we would have a common enemy? Did he think they were hostile?

B: No! He did not say that. What he said was " they should be studied"!

P: Did he leave materials behind? Did he want to write any books on UFOs?

B: No: he made speeches and wrote articles.

P: Who are some of the people he admired most in the field?

B: I don't know. He worked in NICAP a lot. He liked Dick Hall. He admired Bob Wood. He was with Macdonald Douglas, you know. There were not too many people in the field then.

P: What years are talking here?

B: He died in 1971 so it was the late '60s early '70s when he did his work. He did a lot of cases. He had gone to Project Bluebook when Project Bluebook closed. He stayed there a day or two and picked out about a hundred cases that he thought would be the best to study, with radar, multiple witnesses and so forth. So he has some cases when he died and there wasn't really anybody to do them. The only person that I gave the copies to be Australia, but I never heard from him again. He was a scientist because Mac was counting on science to do it.

P: I hesitate to touch the question of your husband's death because everybody has about a hundred questions around it. Do you have any particular feeling about that?

B: Well, it was a complicated thing. He had been suicidal before, before he studied UFOs, so that was in his makeup.

P: He was very intelligent. A lot of people with a certain intelligence are very sensitive.

B: I would say he was accomplished. Ann Druffel wrote about him extensively in the book Firestorm by Granite Publishing.

P: In his lifetime were the people he worked with, sincere like him?

B: Well, They are politicians. There was an interest I think. At times, more came out than comes out now from what I hear at this conference (The X-conference). More was published then.

P: But more came out but the public was misinformed. Today the Public is informed but the government is not coming out anymore. If they came out, they would just have to admit it; so let?s not play any more games because the Public is informed now. So if they had something to come out with, it would just be the admission. It would be nothing else. The admission that we have the evidence.

B: Probably, but my husband was an independent scientist who was not tied in with any of the business interests or Corporations or outside interests, which influence people today. It was an earlier time. He still had to get grants. He Got a Navy grant. He had been in the Navy. He lost that grant doing UFO work. He lost when he went to Australia and it was made public. The Grant was dropped when in the late sixties when the Australian Newspapers reported that he was discussing UFOs with Australians.

P: So he suffered financially because of this too? Did he ever have a sighting himself? Ever?

B: No! He would have told me.

P: Have you ever had a sighting? B: No!

P: So his interest purely comes from scientific curiosity?

B: A lot of people that he respected had and they would tell him that they had sightings. They came to him because he was very open and people would come to him and tell him that is when he became interested.

P: If you had to tell the world something about your husband James, you called him Mac, what would you tell them, that if he were standing here, he would want you to tell them?

B: Well. He was a scientist. He was an idealistic. A person of great honesty, of great integrity and great energy. He was like Don Quixote because, in a sense, he did not understand the nature of this government cover-up. He idealized it. He worked with people that were within the government. He considered it the responsibility of the scientists to look for the answers.

P: Thank you Betsy. You are very kind to talk to us!

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