Looking out, from deep within


I don’t have much for comment. I wish I could be smart enough to be a prig like that.

Okay, okay. I wish I could be smart enough to justify being so priggish. Is that better? I mean, none of us like to countenance fools, but it’s an interesting bit of insight into the current director of the National Ufo Reporting Center. And it’s beside the point. Really, the idea that someone is rich enough to buy a missile silo and be priggish isn’t really something to be jealous of.

Meantime, it’s a nifty story, only slightly diminished for its self-aggrandizing protagonist.

Why does a man buy an old windowless missile complex deep underground, only to spend his days tracking unidentified objects flying through the sky?

Davenport doesn’t have an answer. Furthermore, he doesn’t need one. As a full-time UFO investigator and possessor of one of the world’s most comprehensive, though unofficial, UFO databases, his life already runs counter to convention.
Peter Davenport, director of NUFORC, at his missile silo in Washington state. (Ingrid Barrentine/AP)
The center, in continuous operation since 1970, is known worldwide among those interested in UFOs: scientists as well as people surfing the Web. The hotline is posted on various UFO websites, and calls — as many as 20,000 in a year — come from people who believe they’ve seen or experienced something beyond the ordinary, potentially involving extraterrestrials.

If the case seems compelling and is a short flight away, Davenport will investigate in person. He takes written reports, records testimony and consults experts in specialty areas.

Davenport, 60, is a passionate, cerebral man with a haughty disdain for the media.

I do not countenance fools,” he had said earlier that day, almost as a warning. “The work of studying UFOs is of immense consequence to every living thing on this planet. If I sense you are wasting my time, I will be blunt.”

His life revolves around a question, namely: “Are we alone in the universe or are we not?”

You know, I have a sneaking suspicion that Davenport, who encountered his first UFO in 1954, when he was all of six years old, is probably sick of people disparaging the phenomenon. Maybe that has something to do with it.

At any rate, the story is by Tomas Alex Tizon for the Los Angeles Times, and the photo by Ingrid Barrentine for the Associated Press.

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