In 1966, a sharp-dressed, handsome young fellow going by the name of Mel Noel made a splash on the east coast saucer circuit when he checked into a luxury hotel with a pair of stunning ladies on either arm and began wining and dining influential magazine editors and news reporters, recruiting them for a prospective flying saucer flight to the stars.
According to the dashing Mr. Noel, the saucer was scheduled to land on the set of the Jackie Gleason television show in Florida, and those interested would have to apply for a space passport. 1 It was around the time of this supposed flying saucer trip that Noel launched the “Ufology Research Institute” that—according to Don Dornan, a reporter for Time Magazine—was a scam to lure investors to pony up for a phony flying saucer trip.
Among other whoppers, Noel claimed the acquaintance of a mysterious “Mr. Genovese” who had been part of a team of scientists that had worked with Guglielmo Marconi developing a “death ray” during World War II. While still in the development stage, Marconi and his group allegedly demonstrated this death ray to Benito Mussolini, and of course Mussolini was smitten with it and wanted it for his very own. When the Italian dictator demanded they fork over the ray gun or else, Marconi refused and soon ended up dead. Afterwards, the rest of the scientists fled Italy with their death ray blueprints and resurfaced five years later at a secret UFO base in Argentina where they were supposedly working with some blond ETs who had agreed to provide a flying saucer ride from Los Angeles to Mexico in ten seconds flat.
It didn’t take Don Dornan long to figure out that Noel was running a saucer scam, and when he threatened to expose him in a Time Magazine article, Noel told investors that Dornan was a dastardly CIA agent who had sabotaged the forthcoming saucer flight, causing its cancellation. 2
Afterwards, Noel faded from the ufological landscape only to re-emerge in a chapter of Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret (1988) where he rolled out many of the same claims that had previously appeared in The Mel Noel Story: The Inside Story of the U.S. Air Force Secrecy on UFOs (1967). As the “story” goes, Noel allegedly served in an Air Force unit during the 1950s involved in top secret UFO photo recon flights, all of which Don Dornan had long ago debunked but nonetheless ufology has a short memory about such things, and so Noel again resuscitated the story for a while in the early ‘90s with an appearance on a Fox Network UFO special. Not long after this appearance, UFO Magazine ran an exposé on Noel, after which he made himself suddenly scarce again.
For more saucy saucer tales just like this, check out “A” is for Adamski: The Golden Age of the UFO Contactees available where ever internet books are sold.
1 Keel, John. 1988. Disneyland of the Gods. AMOK Press.
2 “The Mel Noel Story” Don Ecker, UFO Magazine. Vol.7, No. 3, 1992.