Curtis Peebles

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Curtis Peebles in 2004

Curtis Peebles (May 4, 1955 - June 25, 2017) was an aerospace historian for the Smithsonian Institution, a researcher and historian for the Dryden Flight Research Center, and the author of several books dealing with aviation and aerial phenomena.[1]

A native of San Diego, California, Peebles developed an enthusiastic interest in airplanes, rockets, and America's space program as a teenager.[2] In 1985, he graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in history.[3]

Peebles was probably best known as a leading skeptic of UFO sightings and incidents, and he was interviewed for several television documentaries dealing with UFOs. He appeared in the A&E Network's 1997 documentary "Where Are All the UFOs?", on the syndicated series UFO Diaries, and on the History Channel documentaries "Unsolved History: Area 51", "Roswell: The Final Declassification", and History's Mysteries. In his 1994 book Watch the Skies!, a skeptical history of the UFO phenomenon, Peebles wrote: "I am a skeptic. I believe flying saucer reports are misinterpretations of conventional objects, phenomena, and experiences. I do not believe the evidence indicates the Earth is under massive surveillance by disk-shaped alien spaceships." However, Peebles added that "these conclusions are those of the author; readers [of this book] are encouraged to make up their own minds." Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries wrote in its review of Watch the Skies! that "this chronicle of the flying saucer myth is well written and provides fair balance to a very controversial topic," while Library Journal wrote that "Peebles has compiled a splendid history of this modern myth...He gives a history of practically every major UFO case since 1947, along with a discussion of the investigation and the probable correct explanation."[4]

In addition to his UFO research, Peebles also wrote a dozen books and over 40 magazine articles dealing with a variety of aerial phenomena and aerospace history.[5] His articles were published in such periodicals as Spaceflight and Space Education Magazine.[6] Among his books were The Corona Project: America's First Spy Satellites, Dark Eagles: A History of Top Secret U.S. Aircraft Programs, From Runway to Orbit: Recollections of a NASA Engineer, and a series of oral histories from flight personnel at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. His final book, Probing the Sky: Selected NACA Research Airplanes and Their Contributions to Flight, was published in 2014.[7] Starting in 1977, Peebles was a freelance writer for Analytical Systems and Materials, an aeronautical engineering and research firm.[8] He was an aerospace historian for the Smithsonian Institution in the 1990s, and from 2000 to 2013 he was a researcher and aerospace historian for the Dryden Flight Research Center (today the Armstrong Flight Research Center). He was a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, and a member of the Flight Test Historical Foundation.[9]

In August 2013, Peebles was diagnosed with progressive, irreversible memory loss.[10] He died on June 25, 2017 at the age of 62.[11]

Books by Peebles[edit]

  • Watch the Skies! A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth, 1994. Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1-56098-343-4
  • Asteroids: a History, 2001, Smithsonian Institution Press, ISBN 1-56098-982-3 (or 2000, ISBN 1-56098-389-2).
  • Twilight Warriors: Covert Air Operations Against the USSR, 2005, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-59114-660-7
  • The Moby Dick Project: Reconnaissance Balloons over Russia, 1991, Smithsonian Books, ISBN 1-56098-025-7
  • Dark Eagles: A History of Top Secret U.S. Aircraft Programs, 1997. ISBN 0-89141-623-4
  • Shadow Flights ISBN 0-89141-700-1
  • Guardians: Strategic Reconnaissance Satellites ISBN 0-89141-284-0
  • Battle for Space ISBN 0-8253-0160-2
  • High Frontier: The U.S. Air Force and the Military Space Program, 1997. ISBN 0-16-048945-8
  • The Corona Project: America's First Spy Satellites, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-688-4.
  • Flying Without Wings: NASA Lifting Bodies and the Birth of the Space Shuttle (Smithsonian History of Aviation and Spaceflight) (with Milton O. Thompson), 1999 ISBN 0-947554-78-5


External links[edit]