Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) APRO was founded in January 1952 by a Wisconsin couple, Jim (Leslie James) and Coral E. Lorenzen who later moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico, and finally to Tucson, Arizona, where the organization was based until it was dissolved in 1988.
The organization was based on the premise that the UFO phenomenon is important enough to warrant an objective, scientific investigation. Toward this end APRO became a pacesetter in many ways.
APRO was the first organization of its kind in the world in that it always maintained representatives in most foreign countries who kept headquarters in Tucson informed concerning UFO activity around the globe. About 10 percent of its membership were outside the United States.
In 1956, APRO began to recruit scientific personnel to investigate and evaluate cases, rather than depend on newspaper clippings as source material. A Field Investigators Network, composed of selected APRO members was spread across North America and extending overseas. These members investigated UFO cases and forwarded the results to headquarters. The advice of APRO’s consultants in their various fields of specialization was relied upon to indicate appropriate areas and direction of research.
The general membership would furnish leads to be referred to Field Investigators for follow-up. Current UFO reports, results of various projects, editorial commentaries and other features were carried in the monthly APRO Bulletin. The first issue of the APRO Bulletin was published in June 1952 and ran through most of 1987.
In 1957, APRO began building its international staff as well as its scientific consulting staff. At one time, the organization had forty-two scientists on its consulting panels—listed under four general categories: biological, medical, physical, and social sciences—and foreign representatives in forty-seven different countries.
APRO proved to be a pacesetter in other areas as well. The concept of specially selected Field Investigators originated with APRO, and in 1971 it was the first private UFO research organization to sponsor a scientific symposium on UFOs.
In 1968, APRO initiated the Field Investigator Network system, which was later adopted by both MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network) and CUFOS (the Center for UFO Studies).
In 1970, APRO published the first Field Investigator’s manual. The first UFO Conference was held in Peoria, Illinois in 1970, sponsored by APRO and the local Peoria Research Group. MUFON surfaced the same year when its leader, Walt Andrus, decided that he wanted his own group.
APRO enjoyed considerable success during the late 1960s while UFOs were leading law enforcement officers and the general public in a merry chase that resulted in the appointment of the Condon Committee, under contract to the U.S. Air Force.
When the Condon Committee closed its doors and issued its final report in 1968, the Air Force followed suit and announced its disengagement with the UFO problem in December 1969.
The last large UFO research group came upon the scene in 1973, when Dr, J. Allen Hynek founded the Center for UFO Studies. Between 1963 and 1973, Dr. Hynek contacted the top men in the UFO field around the world and to establish the nucleus of CUFOS. Both MUFON and CUFOS are similar to APRO in their organizational structure and methodology.
Perhaps most significantly, APRO was a pacesetter in the overall modern trend in UFOlogy relating to close encounters of the third and fourth kinds (CE-3s and CE-4s): entities and abductions. From the time the first cases were publicized in the 1960s, APRO supported the idea of UFO “occupants” or “entities,” as the Lorenzens called them, while rejecting most “contactee” claims.