Renowned UFO Scientist Stanton Friedman, Who Told Students 'Don't Be an Apologist Ufologist,' Dies

UFO, desert
Artist's illustration of a UFO above a desert. iStock

One of the world's most prominent UFO researchers, Stanton Friedman, died on Monday at the age of 84.

Friedman died at Pearson International Airport in Toronto while en route to his home in Fredericton, New Brunswick, according to his family.

The American-born nuclear physicist turned full-time UFO investigator—or ufologist—never actually spotted a flying saucer himself in more than six decades of research on the subject, MailOnline reported. But UFO believers and enthusiasts around the world held him in high regard, and he gave more than 700 lectures titled "Flying Saucers Are Real" at institutions in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and elsewhere over the course of his career.

Friedman was perhaps best known for his claim of being the first civilian investigator to look into the infamous "Roswell Incident" of 1947, helping to popularize the conspiracy theory that the U.S. military had reportedly recovered two flying discs that had crashed and a number of alien bodies from a ranch in New Mexico.

While this version of events was debunked on numerous occasions, many still clung to the belief that U.S. authorities had covered up the true story of what happened.

In one of his best-known lectures given to the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure in 2013, Friedman said he had come to four conclusions as a result of his research:

  1. "The evidence is overwhelming that Planet Earth is being visited by intelligently controlled extraterrestrial spacecraft. In other words, SOME UFOs are alien spacecraft. Most are not and I don't care about them."
  2. "There is no doubt that a small number of people in governments both in the United States and overseas have been actively covering up the truth about these visits. There really is a 'Cosmic Watergate.'"
  3. "There are no good arguments against these conclusions, only people who haven't studied the relevant evidence."
  4. "Flying saucer visitations and the Cosmic Watergate represent the biggest story of the millennium."

While his work was frequently criticized by scientists and UFO skeptics, he won debates at the Oxford University Debating Society and even came out on top in a $1,000 bet with journalist Philip Klass, a prominent UFO skeptic, over some leaked documents that Friedman said proved the existence of a purported secret group code named Operation Majestic 12. Klass argued that the Truman-era government documents were fake, but Friedman showed him other examples of files with the same typography in an attempt to prove their veracity.

Throughout his career, Friedman was aggressive about his beliefs and always claimed to have an answer to whatever question the "debunkers"—as he often referred to UFO skeptics—could throw at him. One of his most famous sayings was: "Don't be an apologist ufologist."

The editor of UFO Truth Magazine, Gary Heseltine, described Friedman as the "greatest ufologist of all time."

"He never wavered in his belief that SOME UFOs were ET in origin. I mourn the passing of a truly legendary man," Heseltine told MailOnline. "He was a man who championed all his life that ET visitations to planet Earth were real despite the fact that he had never had a personal sighting."