Journal: In your 50 years of ufology you’ve investigated over 500 sightings. Are there any that stand out?
Hoffman: My “aha” moment came when I was part of a team looking into a landing case in Ohio. A circular object 70 feet in diameter landed in a wheat field and baked the soil to a depth of two feet, completely removing any trace of wheat even down to the roots. This was in the 70s and in Carollton, Ohio. There was puffed wheat around the perimeter of this bare earth area and some shoots on the outer edge appeared to be rotated slightly. Larry Moyers was our State Director at the time. I was also involved in a case in Lebanon, Ohio, where 30 residents watched a UFO perform in the night sky. Twenty-two police officers witnessed it and one photographed it. His photo hit the National Enquirer and as a result the police officer’s life became hell. He later regretted having seen this at all. Most recently, my Mississippi pilot case is now a Top 10 MUFON case for 2013. This case is well documented and included a radar track of an object in the same area and time as reported by the pilot who was paced by an object at 2,500 feet.
Hoffman: The one I still laugh at is the sighting report where I was escorted by the police (my name and number were in every police department in the Dayton area) to a scene in Dayton where residents were looking at the planet Venus and thinking it was a UFO. I spent much of the night visiting other locations around Dayton with the witnesses all pointing to this planet. I found out many of the citizens had police monitors and had heard the first report, and then ran outside to see it near them. I had a chance to see Venus from many angles that night.
Journal: You train a lot of investigators in several states. What are the most important elements to a successful investigation?
Hoffman: It differs today than it did when I got started. I would say today it involves more use of technology. The investigator can leverage great applications to determine what is up there and do most of this on their smartphone. Additionally, a successful investigation has to do more with a person’s analytical and critical thinking skills. You need to be able look more broadly into all the various aspects of a case than just what the witness states and gather as much corroborating evidence as possible. How much did you expand the investigation to include radar, police, other witnesses around the area, or checked in social forums to see if any comments are being made about it. It’s a bit of detective work and you need to treat it as such. Lastly, you need to be better at writing up your reports so good communication skills are essential! As the skies get increasingly filled with drones, sky lanterns and more, we have to do more analysis to separate the UFO unknowns from the IFOs.
Journal: What book are you reading now?
Hoffman: I have many books I am reading now. Richard Dolan’s recent work, UFOs for the 21st Century Mind, Encounter In Rendlesham Forrest, by Nick Pope, Burroughs, and Penniston, and the book by Marden and Stoner called the Alien Abduction Files.
Journal: What are your favorite movies of all time?
Hoffman: There are many favorite movies, but I would still have to say that I love watching repeatedly the original “The Day The Earth Stood Still” with Michael Rennie as Klaatu and Gort the dutiful policeman. Next I would have to say it is “ET” and “Close Encounters.”
Journal: MUFON is really making a splash with “Hangar 1: The UFO Files.” What has been the impact of that show?
Hoffman: “Hangar 1” is a great promotional opportunity for MUFON to help get its name out and to establish its “brand” in connection with the UFO world. It allows MUFON to finally get the public’s attention focused on the incredible reports that come forward and has generated growth for MUFON. Our “Official” MUFON Facebook page is now at around 6,000 and the growth is also being seen in the membership numbers as well as growth of FIs. I am also seeing interest from PhDs and other scientists joining MUFON which can help add to our research endeavors.
Journal: I know you were one of the first MUFON members/investigators in 1969. What got you interested in UFOs?
Hoffman: I started my interest at age 13. I was asked to do a book report and presentation on a topic from a list in my eighth grade science class. No one had picked UFOs and it was the only one left for me to choose. A few weeks later I delivered my presentation after doing very little study on the topic. My teacher pummeled me with questions and could see I was unprepared. I received a "D" on that report. It was later that evening, I saw Walter Cronkite mention the Socorro, New Mexico, case on the evening news. He mentioned that an object had burned bushes and the sand was fused. A policeman, Lonnie Zamora, had seen something. This piqued my interest. It next got fueled a few days later when I picked up my first serious book on the subject, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, by Capt. Edward Ruppelt (Ret), the former head of Project Blue Book. It was then that I truly became hooked because the project was located only miles away at Wright Patterson AFB. Since then, my interest has only grown! I heard about MUFON, which was called the Midwest UFO Network, and filled out the application. It was exciting to work with Walt Andrus and others. I attended the earlier Symposiums which were fabulous!
Journal: Do you think UFO government disclosure will happen in our lifetime? And if it does, how will that affect MUFON?
Hoffman: I continue to be puzzled by the belief that governments should disclose something that they have lied about and chosen to sweep under the rug or leverage for their benefit. I am a government contractor and have not seen the slightest interest in this subject by the government, yet I also know that much of what the government knows has now been shifted to the defense contractor world. If any disclosure is going to happen, it needs to come from the Lockheeds, Battelles and other companies who comprise the defense world. They have the technology and are likely the ones keeping the secret, giving the government people plausible deniability. Disclosure may happen, but it will have to come in the form of a major crash or landing (like the movie I told you I liked best). If it ever does happen, I am sure MUFON will look to leveraging itself in playing in some other capacity related to the subject. MUFON is a resilient organization and has endured while others have dropped out. I am proud to be a part of it!
An excerpt of this interview appeared in the November 2014 issue of the MUFON Journal.