John Lear

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John Olsen Lear (December 3, 1942 – March 29, 2022) was an American influential conspiracy theorist, record-breaking pilot, and a one-time candidate for Nevada State Senate.[1][2][3]

Unlike previous UFO conspiracy theorists, Lear promoted a story of alien collusion with secret governmental forces.[1] Lear's claims left a lasting influence on the UFO movement—one author observed "in the early years [UFO writers] did not, by and large, embrace strong political positions. [Lear and his partner] were the tip of a spear asserting that the number one thing we had to fear was not little green men, but the government that colluded with them, appropriating their technology against us."[1][2][4]

Early life[edit]

John Olsen Lear was born on December 3, 1942, to industrialist and future Learjet founder Bill Lear and his wife Moya Marie Olsen Lear.[5][6] He was named after his maternal grandfather, famous comedian John Olsen.[5] His second and third birthday parties were covered in the "Society" page of an Ohio paper.[7][8]

Lear graduated from the Institut Le Rosey boarding school in Switzerland and attended Wichita State University.[9][10] Lear claimed that in 1959 he had become the youngest American to ever climb Switzerland's Matterhorn.[11]

Career[edit]

In 1965, Lear was employed by the Paul Kelly Flying Service when its founder was killed while piloting a LearJet. Lear testified at the Civil Aeronautics Board investigation into the crash.[12]

Between May 23 and 26, 1966, Lear and a crewmate flew a record-breaking flight around the world in a LearJet that covered 22,000 miles in 50 hours and 39 minutes.[13]

In August 1966, Lear was featured in the Wichita Press after he piloted a LearJet carrying the rock band The Byrds and the trip inspired them to write a song about the plane.[14] The track, titled "2-4-2 Foxtrot (The Lear Jet Song)", samples Lear's voice as he speaks over the radio.[14][15]

In 1968, Air Force personnel from Hamilton Air Force Base launched a rescue effort to help Lear land after heavy San Francisco fog interfered with landing. Traffic was cleared from the Golden Gate Bridge in anticipation of a forced landing. After a helicopter pilot established visual contact, Lear was able to successfully land at the base.[16]

Lear flew cargo planes for the CIA during the Vietnam era.[17] He claimed to have flown "secret missions for the CIA" between 1967 and 1983.[18][better source needed]

UFO claims[edit]

External video
video icon George Knapp interview of John Lear, KLAS TV 1987

In 1987, Lear released a press statement claiming that the US government has close contacts with extraterrestrials and were secretly "promoting" films like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to influence the public to see extraterrestrials as "space brothers".[19] That year, he was interviewed by journalist George Knapp.[20]

In 1988, Lear authored "The UFO Coverup", a short document in which Lear spun a tale involving a secret government committee, Majestic 12, making a treaty with Gray aliens, only to later realize they've been deceived by the aliens.[21] The work includes:

In 1989, Lear served as "State Director" for MUFON, hosting the 1989 symposium "The UFO Cover-Up: A Government Conspiracy?"[2] Despite initial objections from MUFON founder Walt Andrus, Lear was able to submit a slate of speakers after he threatened to split the symposium.[2] At that same symposium, Roswell author Bill Moore tearfully confessed to having intentionally spread disinformation to UFO researcher Paul Bennewitz on behalf of purported counter-intelligence agent Richard Doty.[2] Lear's speakers were slated to provide allegedly-independent verification of the Bennewitz claims.[2] One of those speakers, Bill Cooper, would later break with Lear after accusing him of being an intelligence agent.[1] Lear promoted alleged UFO whistle-blower Bob Lazar and his tales of Area 51.[17]

Lear made multiple appearances on fringe TV shows, including Ancient Aliens, America's Book of Secrets,Brad Meltzer's Decoded, and The Unexplained Files.[22] From 2003 to 2015, Lear was a regular guest on Coast to Coast AM.[23]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1970, Lear married Marilee Higginbotham, owner of a California fashion modelling agency, at a ceremony in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles.[9]

Lear died on March 29, 2022.[24][17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Dickey, Colin (August 28, 2018). "A Pioneer of Paranoia". The New Republic. Archived from the original on March 31, 2022. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Jacobson, Mark (2018). Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America. Blue Rider Press. ISBN 978-0399169953.
  3. ^ Pilkington, Mark (July 29, 2010). Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 9781849012409. Archived from the original on March 31, 2022. Retrieved March 31, 2022 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Bishop, Greg (February 8, 2005). Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743470926. Archived from the original on March 31, 2022. Retrieved March 31, 2022 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b "5 May 1943, Page 10 - Arizona Republic at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  6. ^ "9 Dec 1942, 5 - The Dayton Herald at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  7. ^ "8 Dec 1944, Page 2 - The Piqua Daily Call at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  8. ^ "5 Feb 1943, Page 2 - The Piqua Daily Call at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  9. ^ a b "14 Sep 1970, 42 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  10. ^ "24 Jun 1971, Page 16 - Reno Gazette-Journal at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  11. ^ "Aerial Revelations". Coast to Coast AM. Archived from the original on 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  12. ^ "2 Mar 1966, 10 - The Wichita Beacon at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Lear Jet 23". Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  14. ^ a b "28 Aug 1966, 63 - The Wichita Eagle at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  15. ^ "2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)". Archived from the original on 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2022-03-31 – via www.youtube.com.
  16. ^ "23 Oct 1968, Page 24 - News Record at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  17. ^ a b c "UFO activist, Nevada aviator John Lear dies at 79". 31 March 2022. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  18. ^ Affadaviit Archived 2022-03-31 at the Wayback Machine by John Lear
  19. ^ Barkun, Michael (March 31, 2003). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520248120. Archived from the original on November 16, 2021. Retrieved March 31, 2022 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ "UFO researcher John Lear goes 'On the Record' on aliens — Part 1". 7 November 2019. Archived from the original on 1 April 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  21. ^ Bishop, Greg (8 February 2005). Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth. ISBN 9780743470926. Archived from the original on 3 April 2022. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  22. ^ "John Lear". IMDb. Archived from the original on 2022-04-03. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  23. ^ "John Lear". Coast to Coast AM. Archived from the original on 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  24. ^ Statement Archived 2022-03-31 at the Wayback Machine from journalist George Knapp

External links[edit]