By John F. Schuessler, Former International Director [2000 - 2006]
By June 1974, MUFON’s growth had been phenomenal, with state section representatives in 38 of the 50 states. Along with the growth in MUFON, it became obvious there was a need for growth in cooperation between MUFON and other organizations. In an article entitled “How MUFON Will Interact With UFO Study Center,” published in the June 1974 issue of SKYLOOK, Walt described a vision for cooperation with Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies. He said: “The Center for UFO Studies is basically a research center without the benefits of an organized field investigative network needed to secure the raw data. MUFON ideally fulfills this essential function and thus complements the Center.” Contact information for MUFON state directors and state section directors was provided to the Center’s administrative office. When the Center received notification of UFO activity, they could trigger an investigation by contacting the nearest MUFON state representative. When the investigation was finished, copies of the investigative reports went to both the MUFON and CUFOS headquarters.
In 1982, when members from several UFO organizations called for greater cooperation between organizations, the 1982 MUFON UFO Symposium in Toronto became the ideal vehicle to bring the leaders of the various UFO organizations together to discuss the issue. MUFON hosted a one-day meeting following the symposium where 50 people met in a brainstorming session to chart the direction for a proposed federation for North American UFO groups. The theme of the meeting was: “Cooperation, Sharing, and Establishing Ufology as a Science Through Professionalism in Investigation and Research.” The meeting resulted in the formation of a steering committee comprised of representatives attending the summit conference to meet, develop an organization structure, address the goals and objectives, and communicate this information to participating groups. John Schuessler was elected to head the steering committee.
One year later, at the 1983 MUFON UFO Symposium in Pasadena, California, the steering committee’s work resulted in the formation of the North American UFO Federation (NAUFOF). Dr. Richard Haines was selected as the first director of the new organization. Although the federation lasted less than two years, due to lack of financial support from other organizations, it was a very important test case for bringing people with an interest in UFOs together.
Following the end of NAUFOF, Dr. Haines saw an opportunity for cooperation between Russian and U.S. ufologists and formed the Joint USA-CIS Aerial Anomaly Federation, and MUFON pledged to support this new venture. A major meeting of the participants, including representatives from Russia and the Ukraine, was held in conjunction with the 1994 MUFON UFO Symposium in Austin, Texas.
In 1994, Robert Bigelow suggested working with a coalition of U.S. UFO organizations comprised of MUFON, the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR). By 1995, the groups involved had formed the UFO Research Coalition (URC), and they have continued working together on a number of very successful projects including the Ambient Monitoring Project aimed at measuring environmental changes during on-going abduction experiences. When an organization has several thousand members, it is difficult for the leader to communicate sufficiently enough with the members to satisfy their needs. If he/she responded to letters from all the members, then nothing else would get done but letter writing. To alleviate this problem a “Director’s Message” was added to each issue of the MUFON UFO Journal.
The MUFON UFO Journal is one of the best and most reliable UFO publications in the world. This is not by accident. MUFON has been blessed by having a series of excellent and dedicated Journal editors. Over the years, the International Director had the additional task of assuring that the Journal was published on schedule. Only a few times in the history of MUFON has that not been the case. In 2010, Clifford Clift, appointed an editorial committee to oversee the content of the journal and assure it is published on time. In addition to the monthly distribution of the Journals, in 2005, all back issues of the Journal were scanned and made available on word-searchable CD-ROMs available through the MUFON Store.
When it became obvious there was a need for training MUFON UFO investigators and assuring consistency in the way they conducted investigations and made reports, MUFON developed the MUFON Field Investigator’s Manual, with the first edition being published in December 1971. The manual is revised periodically to assure it is up-to-date.
John Schuessler replaces Walter Andrus as head of MUFON...
In 2000, Walt Andrus retired and the MUFON Board of Directors selected John Schuessler as the new MUFON International Director. John was one of the founding members of MUFON in 1969. He served as a state director, consultant and at the time he replaced Walt as International Director, he held the position of Deputy Director of Administration under Walt, so he was ready to take over and keep the organization running. The headquarters office was moved to Littleton, Colorado.
John had a strong background in aerospace engineering, space operations and program management. He led design engineering and space operation teams at McDonnell Douglas on the Mercury, Gemini, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Because of his breadth of experience in the space program he was selected as the McDonnell Douglas Director of Engineering and that was followed by his selection as Director of Operations, responsible for engineering, finance, security, human resources, and facilities for McDonnell Douglas Aerospace and later Boeing Aerospace located in Houston. In his last major role at Boeing he was the Program Manager for the design, development and construction of the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Facility (i.e. six million gallon underwater training facility) in Houston and received the NASA Public Service Medal for the quality, timeliness and cost management of the project.
In 2001, the MUFON Board of Directors was restructured to take on a business management role and guide the way MUFON operated. From that point on, board members have had a strong business background as well as significant experience in UFO investigations and research. By 2005 all past issues of the MUFON UFO Journal and the annual symposium proceedings had been scanned and were available in word-searchable CD-ROMs. This was an instant benefit to researchers.
In 2006 James Carrion volunteered to head up a project MUFON called the Pandora Project. It was aimed at continuing the scanning effort by scanning all MUFON UFO information and reports dating back to the beginning of the organization in 1969. He personally defined the project and assured that MUFON would have a useful UFO database at its conclusion. That work is still on-going.
One of the best improvements in MUFON's handling of UFO reports during this era was the development of the computerized Case Management System (CMS). This system was developed by a team headed by Jan Harzan and revolutionized the way UFO reports were handled. It is available for reporting UFO incidents by the public anywhere in the world via the MUFON website (www.mufon.com). As soon as a report hits the CMS, it is automatically dispatched to the Director of Investigations and to the appropriate State Director for action. A rapid-response team has been organized and is used for high value cases. Another value of the CMS is that it is the repository for all UFO cases coming to MUFON and the results of all investigations are plugged back into the CMS as the work progresses. People everywhere are interested in when and where UFO incidents are reported and they may follow this on the MUFON website where they can see a listing of the latest 20 UFO reports at any time. The CMS also automatically alerts the MUFON investigative team when multiple reports appear to indicate something big is going on and that information also goes to the rapid-response teams. The CMS is continually being improved and many more capabilities are being made that will automate more of the CMS functions.