How The Late Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Recalled His Personal “UFO Encounter”
By Clark C. McClelland
Former NASA Space Shuttle Science Officer
<Edited by Robert D. Morningstar>
Prior to the fateful launch of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, I had the honor and pleasure of sharing conversations with several members of that crew.
During one of many pre-mission preps for the Challenger mission, I came upon Lt. Col. Ellison Onizuka in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at launch complex 39. I had an assignment to assess some problems at the Launch Control Center (LCC) and needed to access the main drawing files.
Lt. Col. Onizuka asked me if my surname had any connection with McClellan Air Force Base in California? I said “Not as far as I am aware.” Then I asked him why? Ellison said he had a surprising experience along with other USAF aerospace flight engineers and pilots while on military training duty at McClellan AFB, about eight or nine years prior to his astronaut training.
Ellison told me that he and this group were at this base for specialized training when they were directed to report to a viewing room. As they were seated, the room darkened and a movie began without the usual official introduction by a USAF officer.
They were all startled when a view of a facility similar to a medical examination room appeared on the screen and small bodies were observed lying on slabs. He heard several excited comments by the other officers seated near him. The small, strange looking creatures were humanoid in shape, and appeared similar to those described by alleged witnesses at the well-known Roswell site in the Southwest USA in 1947.
They all had large heads, large eyes, slight torsos, arms, and legs. They did not appear to be of earthly origin.
Ellison then said, “Clark, my God, these highly trained officers and I were shocked by what we saw. We were not made privy to what we would see until it happened. We were all caught off guard. Perhaps it was a test of our psyche to determine our overall reaction. Well, we were all caught by surprise.”
Needless to say, I was also caught off guard hearing this revelation from a highly intelligent USAF officer and NASA astronaut, one who flew his initial space mission 51-C in the space shuttle Discovery, a highly classified U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) mission under top secret conditions.
It made me wonder what else Ellison knew, or perhaps had seen, during his first shuttle mission and USAF career. I said “That’s amazing, Ellison! Were all of you given any opportunity to question what you saw?”
He said, “No! We were then asked to exit the room and continued our scheduled technical activities as if nothing special had occurred. In my opinion, I have considered the possibility that the group was evaluated for individual reactions to what they saw. Perhaps it was a planned USAF psychological test for military reasons. Who knows, NASA may have evaluated it in my selection as an astronaut in 1978. You know, what would my reaction be if I actually saw an alien being”?
We arrived at our separate building destinations and briefly discussed his approaching second space mission in Challenger 51-L. Ellison said he was anticipating a successful flight with Judy Resnik, Christa McAuliffe, and crew. I asked if we could discuss this topic again; and he agreed. Unknown to us both, this would be the last time we would speak. Ellison Onitzuka, Judy Resnick, Christa McAuliffe and the other crew members would be making their final mission on January 28, 1986.
I was at the Kennedy Space Center and watched in disbelief as they and space shuttle Challenger fell into the Atlantic Ocean. Upon leaving KSC for the night after being on duty for about 15 hours, I was driving home to my Port St. John Apartment when the disaster finally caught up with my emotions. I pulled to the side of the main NASA causeway crossing the Indian River and sobbed my eyes out for about ten minutes.
God, how horrible it was! And still is to this day, in my memory. God bless you Judy Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Gregory Jarvis Ronald McNair (and Israeli astronaut, Elan Ramon).
Thank you God for the honor of knowing all of them.
Clark C. McClelland
Former ScO, Space Shuttle Fleet,
Kennedy Space Center, Florida (1958-1992)
UFO Digest Remembers The Space Shuttle “Challenger”
and although the Space Shuttle era has ended, in our memories of them …
“The Dream is Alive”…
Space Shuttle “Challenger ” Awaiting Launch
January 28th, 1986