Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View

What is MUFON? New docu-series shines a light on the Mutual UFO Network

By Josh Weiss
UFO Presentation

Looking for a social group of fellow UFO enthusiasts with whom to swap theories and data? MUFON has you covered! "What is MUFON?" you're probably asking yourself at this very moment. Well, it's an acronym for the Mutual UFO Network, the largest civilian organization dedicated to uncovering the truth and practical applications of unidentified aircraft.

Showtime takes a look at the network in Episode 3 of its new docu-series, UFO, executive-produced by J.J. Abrams. In particular, it features testimony from MUFON's former international director, James Carrion.

"The belief that UFOs exist, that they are alien in origin, is just a belief," he states in the latest episode. "People take it on faith. There is no proof, other than stories, witness accounts, anecdotes ... My goal is I want to find out what the truth is in my lifetime. So, find out that truth no matter what."

According to its website, MUFON has three core goals:

  • Investigate UFO sightings and collect the data in the MUFON Database for use by researchers worldwide.
  • Promote research on UFOs to discover the true nature of the phenomenon, with an eye towards scientific breakthroughs, and improving life on our planet.
  • Educate the public on the UFO phenomenon and its potential impact on society.

Originally called the "Midwest UFO Network," MUFON was founded in the late 1960s by investigators culled from Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. Co-founder Dr. Allen Utke, then an associate professor of chemistry at Wisconsin State University, served as the very first international director, but resigned a year later in 1970. 

The doctor's fellow co-founder, Walter H. Andrus Jr., took on the lead position and helped build MUFON into a global movement. In a 1974 article for the Missouri-based UFO newsletter SKYLOOK, he outlined his plans for the network, including a collaboration with the Center for UFO Studies (founded by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a key figure of Project Blue Book). 

"The Center for UFO Studies is basically a research center without the benefits of an organized field investigative network needed to secure the raw data. MUFON ideally fulfills this essential function and thus complements the Center," Andrus wrote at the time. His wish came true in 1995 when MUFON joined forces with the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) to form the UFO Research Coalition (URC). Who brought them all together? None other than space-minded billionaire, Robert T. Bigelow, whom we previously spotlighted in the wake of the UFO docu-series' second episode.

After three decades, in 2000, Adrus stepped down and was replaced with John F. Schuessle. Carrion took over in November of 2006 and spearheaded the Pandora Project, an effort "aimed at continuing the scanning effort by scanning all MUFON UFO information and reports dating back to the beginning of the organization in 1969," per the MUFON website. Pandora also led to the creation of a digital Case Management System (or CMS) that allows anyone in the world to report a UFO incident as soon as it happens.

Towns People Watching Night Sky For UFOs

Carrion was followed by Clifford Clift, David MacDonald, Jan Harzan, and then MacDonald again. When the Department of Defense released an official nine-page assessment of "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" back in June, MacDonald confessed he was “distinctly underwhelmed” with the report.

“After a six-month period in which to compile a comprehensive overview of a long-term, ongoing problem for the military, I at least expected the report would have provided examples of the most important UAP encounters — when and where they had occurred, how the objects behaved — and connoted more urgency,” the director said in a statement. “This is not acceptable. The report noted one sighting was resolved as a balloon, while also stating that 11 times pilots reported these objects had almost collided with their aircraft. How much clearer could a report get? Does an airplane have to get knocked down before an adequate investigation begins?"

Showtime subscribers with access to the network's official app can stream all four episodes of UFO right now. If you'd prefer to pace yourself, the fourth and final episode airs next Sunday, Aug. 29, at 9 p.m. EST. The premiere is currently free to watch on, and