Bethurum, Truman (1898-1969)
Truman Bethurum, one of the original flying saucer contactees of the 1950s, jumped into the spotlight with his 1954 book, Aboard a Flying Saucer. He claimed contact with inhabitants of the otherwise unknown planet Clarion. Clarion was a planet in our solar system, he explained, but had remained undiscovered because it was always hidden from Earth by the Moon.
Bethurum was born on August 21, 1898, in Gavalin, California. He had only a minimum of formal education and was a blue-collar laborer through most of his life. He was operating heavy equipment in the Nevada desert in 1952 when first contacted by extraterrestrials, he claimed. As he was dozing between shifts, several small creatures awakened him and escorted him to a flying saucer. Aura Rhanes, the captain of the spaceship, turned out to be a beautiful female of olive complexion and jet black hair. Bethurum, then in his 50s, estimated her to be in her 40s. This meeting was the first of many. Aura Rhanes came as a representative of those inhabited worlds that had already obtained interplanetary flight. They were concerned about Earth’s nuclear capabilities and its potential for destroying the planet.
Bethurum initially told his story at the flying saucer convention at Giant Rock in 1952. An abbreviated account then appeared in the fanzine Saucers, the following year. In the wake of his 1954 book, Bethurum developed a significant following within the contactee world, and in 1955 Aura Rhanes advised him to begin soliciting contributions from the public to establish what was called the Sanctuary of Thought. It was opened several years later near Prescott, Arizona, and Bethurum would remain an active lecturer and exponent of the contactee perspective for the rest of his life. He passed away on May 21, 1969, in Landers, California. The sanctuary did not survive his death.
Bethurum’s crude account of Clarion and its inhabitants generated a spectrum of responses, from the dismissals of most ufologists to the active support of fellow contactee George Adamski. Much of the critique originated from the scientific analysis of the impossibility of the existence of a planet such as Clarion that remained hidden from Earth due to its following an orbit similar to but beyond the Moon.