National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena

The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) was once one of the most prominent organizations of UFO researchers and enthusiasts in America. The group was formed in 1956 by a small group of Washington, D.C., businessmen, doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and scientists. Originally led by a U.S. Navy scientist, T. Townsend Brown, in 1957 the group named Major Donald E. Keyhoe as its director. Keyhoe in turn encouraged a rear admiral of the U.S. Navy, Delmer Fahrney, to become the group’s chairman and to express public support for NICAP’s efforts to document UFO sightings. The group also gathered together experts in various fields, such as astronomy, aerospace, engineering, aviation, chemistry, and physics, who could help in the investigation of UFOs. From 1959 to 1963, there were few sightings to investigate, but in 1964 the number increased dramatically, and from 1965 to 1968 there was a wave of sightings all over the United States. Because of this activity, in 1966 NICAP suddenly became both famous and popular with the public. As a result, the group was deluged with mail from people interested in NICAP’s activities and/or wanting to report a UFO sighting. At the same time, Congress became interested in UFOs, and in 1966 it created a U.S. government–sponsored investigation into UFO sightings that became known as the Condon Committee. NICAP participated in this investigation until its members determined that the people in charge of the project were not conducting their investigation in an objective manner. Instead, according to NICAP, the Condon Committee went into the investigation already knowing that it would declare there was no convincing evidence that UFOs were spacecraft. After the Condon Committee published this conclusion as part of its final report in January 1969, NICAP began working on a rebuttal. NICAP members could not agree, however, on how this rebuttal should be handled, and their dissension threatened to destroy the group. Moreover, donations to the group dropped dramatically as a result of the Condon Committee’s insistence that UFOs did not deserve further investigation. The group remained in crisis for several years, rallied briefly, then began a serious, irreversible decline in 1976. In 1979 the Center for UFO Studies purchased NICAP’s assets, which included more than twenty years’ worth of comprehensive case files on UFO sightings, and NICAP was dissolved.


  • Center for UFO Studies
  • the Condon Committee
  • Donald E.Keyhoe


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning

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