“MUFON at Fifty – A Fantastic Journey”
Fifty years ago MUFON began as the Midwest UFO Network Inc., intent upon serving the people of the central part of the United States by providing responsible non-governmental UFO investigations. Very quickly we realized that the need for our services was much broader than just in the central area of the country; therefore, we changed the name to the Mutual UFO Network, Inc. and became a worldwide organization. That change brought with it the need for a strong leader, a management team, a training program for field investigators, structured reporting documentation formats in order to assure all reports covered the same key points, a monthly newsletter, and a headquarters address so the public could find us. We quickly found that the job was much larger and more difficult than we ever expected. It seemed overwhelming at times. Little did we know that the organization would be so successful that it would last 50 or more years. In the early days, most of the communications were handled via the telephone and mail. When the computer age was born, we had to evolve the organization to keep up with the rapid advances in technologies in all fields. That monumental task continues to this very day.
John Schuessler began his aerospace career near the end of the Mercury Spacecraft program at McDonnell Douglas (now The Boeing Company) in St. Louis, Missouri. Within a few months, he moved into the Gemini program as an Environmental Control & Life Support System (ECLSS) Design Engineer. Later he became the Engineering Group Leader for the Skylab/Airlock ECLSS, thermal control system, extravehicular activity (EVA) systems, and high-pressure gas storage and delivery systems. In 1974, John moved to the McDonnell Douglas facility in Houston, Texas, as Project Manager for Space Shuttle Flight Operations, a part of the Space Shuttle Operations Support Contract at the Johnson Space Center. He held this position until 1983 when he became Director of Engineering for McDonnell Douglas in Houston. In 1988, he was promoted to Director of General Services, responsible for security (Top Secret Facility Clearance), facilities, business management, human resources, and safety. In 1995 he was assigned an additional responsibility as Program Manager for the Design and Construction of the new NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in the JSC Sonny Carter Training Facility, and in 1997, he received the NASA Public Service Medal for his leadership on that project by bringing the project in ahead of schedule and under budget. He retired in May 1998, after 36 years of service to the U.S. Human Space Flight program and moved to Colorado. Since then he has been an advocate for Space Commercialization.
Concurrent with his employment in the aerospace industry, John has been active in UFO research since 1965 when he joined the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization as an aerospace consultant. In 1969, he became a founding member for the Midwest UFO Network, later to be known as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and assumed the role of Deputy Director for Administration. In July 2000 he became the International Director for MUFON, retiring in November 2006. He is currently a member of the MUFON Board of Directors. He was a member of the MUFON, FUFOR, & CUFOS UFO Research Coalition. He was one of the eight participants presenting technical papers at the Sturrock Physical Evidence Workshop sponsored by Laurence S. Rockefeller at Terrytown, New York in 1997. He participated in two United Nations forums on UFOs, sponsored by the United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in New York City (1992, 1993). He was a member of the National Institute for Discovery Science – Science Advisory Board.