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Truman Bethurum and George van Tassel

December 29, 2016 • Landers, Calif.

Giant Rock in Landers, Calif.One of the early Southern California saucer contactees, along with George van Tassel and George Adamski, Truman Bethurum first met Aura Rhanes, flying-saucer captain from the planet Clarion, in the early 1950s. He related his experiences with the saucer people in newspaper reports and in the 1954 book Aboard a Flying Saucer. He describes Rhanes as “tops in shapeliness and beauty” and met her a dozen times, until one day he saw her drinking orange juice in a diner, and she completely ignored him. It seems like a heartless burn, but perhaps there was more going on with her than Bethurum was aware of. Do a web search for Aura Rhanes and Bethurum’s sketch of her will come up; he portrays her wearing an adorable beret. His experiences were something of a jumping-off point for The Desert Rats, and I’m grateful to Bethurum for bravely sharing his truth in the face of so much skepticism.

How much fun would it have been to attend the Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention with these guys in the 1950s? Photos reveal it to be cutting-edge pre-sixties pure counterculture. Bethurum even married his second wife at one of the conventions. The event was held yearly at Giant Rock near the Mojave Desert town of Landers, organized by Van Tassel. In February 2000, a massive chunk of Giant Rock split off, perhaps symbolic of the end of the 1950s contactee era; people’s experiences with extraterrestrials have evolved significantly since then.

Van Tassel also built the Integratron, near Giant Rock in Landers, in the 1960s, about which much was written in the 2000s during the building’s revival as a New Age center for sound baths, which are supposed to be extremely calming. I’ll definitely report on that once I get a chance to try it out.

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