The Strange Affair of APEN. Jenny Randles

mufob 3MUFOB, new series 3, Summer 1976.


There constantly seem to be rumours of links between UFO groups and individuals, and a number of shadowly extreme right-wing organisations. Here Jenny Randles looks at a group which troubled British ufologists in the 1970s with their disruptive antics and use of Nazi imagery



The UFO phenomenon is filled with complexities. Nobody really knows what is, and what is not, relevant to the overall mystery. What is clear is that we cannot afford to reject anything which might have a possible bearing on the eventual solution – this is true no matter how strange, or innocuous, this something might appear. In the field of contactee experiences it is now reasonably clear that all stories cannot be accepted at face value, but to reject them all out of hand would be equally foolish. It would appear that there is an element of deception about, be it perpetrated by alien intelligences or not. This has to be taken into account nowadays in all dealings with the UFO phenomenon.

Readers of Flying Saucer Review will be well aquainted with the long drawn out saga of the ‘Mysterious UMMO Affair’ (1). Regardless of what one might feel of these reports concerning alien intelligences depositing documentary evidence on peoples’ doorsteps by the totally terrestrial instrument of the postal services, it is important to note that this is not the only affair of its kind going on. In this country we have something similar, which whilst not going to the technological lengths which the UMMO personnel appear to, makes up for this with other strange attributes. This agency, whatever it may be, refers to itself as the Aerial Phenomenon Enquiry Network – or APEN.

As I write these lines contact with this ‘organisation’ has been going on for over two years, since the spring of 1974. Although great amounts of correspondence has been sent to various ‘contactees’, never once has an address been given. Rather APEN hide behind innuendo and falsified names, covered by a bravado of brash statements concerning their aims and abilities.

APEN claims to be a UFO organisation on a world wide basis. They say that their membership is by invitation only. However, none of the dozen or so names, and voices on tape, which have been handed about, are familiar in any UFO context whatsoever. The organisation makes quite clear that it functions according to the ideals of the German Nazi party. They use complex methods of coding, have ‘Supreme Commanders’, issue directives to agents; and in often comical cross-corrspondences battle with one another about the execution of various ‘orders’ without further question. They also emblazon their documents with official seals, and introduce tape recorded speeches with trumpet calls and German war broadcasts. They have also gone to the point of circulating to various people an article (on the theme of CIA cover-up operations) which they say comes from their magazine Pfeilspitze – German for ‘Spearhead’.

Contact began very slowly with a trickle of letters, which at first claimed that they would reveal themselves in due course, and that they were in favour of local UFO groups co-operating. Interestingly, this was at the time when NUFON (Northern UFO Network) was a matter of days old, and was working towards this ideal. So far as is known, over the intervening years only groups within the NUFON system have been contacted, plus one or two individuals.

This is obviously an important fact to bear in mind. Certainly APEN have been selective in whom they approach. Not all groups have been contacted, though a large percentage have, and it would seem that their current aim is to widen the scope of their approaches. Generally contact takes place by means of letter. This is normally a short statement claiming that this, that, or the other, will be forwarded in due course, and enclosing photo-copies of newspaper articles (usually quite well-known ones) “for your group files”. Normally the information is quite meaningless and banal.

On occasion there have been attempts at more close contact. One document was distributed which claimed to be a preliminary note on a contact and landing case in Wales. This contained the usual gibberish, and also requests for personnel and equipment to be despatched immediately. Nothing like your ordinary tape-recorders and cameras, however! APEN go in more for Land Rovers, infrared and ultraviolet sensors and stroboscopes. The arrogant tone of the directive is obviously designed to make the recipient believe that APEN really do possess this kind of equipment. They also note that their private phone link was used by the witness to this case. It seems that the aliens gave it to him, and told him to contact APEN, and APEN alone!

Cassette tapes have been sent to several people through the years. They are fairly predictable in content. Usually they consist of recordings of radio and TV broadcasts, often involving NUFON group members, which are interspersed with frantic appeals for inter-group unity and statements about UFO hostility. These are recorded by apparently multi-lingual speakers,  of both sexes, who sometimes seem to be reading out prepared messages, and sometimes seem to be well on the way to inebriation.

All of this so far might make APEN appear to be a complete bunch of idiots or lunatics. It is certainly true that those who have experienced any form of contact from them (which now totals about eight to nine groups and at least as many individuals) have in the main found the APEN literature hilarious – light relief from investigation work. It was decided early on as a definite policy that NUFON would stop alluding to the APEN affair in its publication and those receiving the material would take no notice of its content. There were several pertinent reasons for this. The material was fast getting monotonous and we had more important things to write about. There was a feeling that we should not encourage the proliferation of this material by showing that it was having any effect on its recipients. Not least we felt that we should try to force APEN’s hand into the open. If they were a genuine organisation they obviously would do so; if not, we had better things to do than play along with their game. However, despite this policy, APEN did not falter, and indeed became more daring in their exploits. It is because of these later activities that I feel it time the story should be brought out into the open. Whatever the true source of the affair, the lengths to which it is prepared to go should be known by serious ufologists.

apenPersonal contact has developed. Individuals have been contacted and asked to act as ‘go-betweens’. Nobody has yet accepted the offer when faced with the realities of APEN’s past record. Beyond this point, telephone calls of a threatening nature (the usual MIB, “we will put a stop to you” type) have been made. A group with offices and equipment have had these ransacked , shortly afterwards receiving a letter from APEN apologising for ‘the actions of their local agent’. Such groups have also had their reputations endangered by false sighting reports being passed on to the police. APEN have also sent an article to several individuals, and asked each to forward it to certain respected UFO publications in their own names, without reference to APEN. The effects of this ploy, had it worked would not have been hard to imagine.

Fortunately the effects of these actions are minimised because NUFON is well aware of what is going on. Those who are contacted report any new developments, and consequently a monitor can be kept on the situation. Obviously it is important both to do this, and to ensure that no-one is caught alone with APEN, and also not to get at all upset by their actions – which may be the very thing they are aiming for.

Exactly who or what APEN is is hard to determine. There are a number of possibilities, some more plausible than others. No direct efforts have been made by NUFON to track them down, partly because it would seem a pointless exercise (no addresses or genuine names are given, and correspondence is posted from almost everywhere in the UK). It also seems that we might be doing just what APEN want if we channel valuable time searching haystacks for them, when we could be getting on with our other work. However, as was said at the outset, we do not know whether or not APEN are our work, and therefore it would be wrong to say that no steps have been taken. It would also be wrong to imply that no clues have been found – although for obvious reasons it is not possible to elaborate on these here. However, NUFON’s policy remains the same. We protest that if APEN are genuine, then they will come out into the open, consequently we do not need to go chasing after them. Also, if they feel that they can worry and upset people by their attitude, I can assure them that most ufologists view them as ludicrous and pointless. This cannot be entirely the case, especially with the more malicious acts, but in these small number of cases APEN’s performance on other matters lends absolutely no credence to the view that they are able or willing to carry out any truly serious actions.

If APEN are not what they claim to be, we are faced with three alternatives. Either they are an organisation which, for some reason, is out to cause disruption within ufology (and especially NUFON) – in which case our responses are hopefully proving the ineffectiveness of this. Alternatively the whole thing is a practical joke by someone with a lot of money and very little sense – again the best response to this is to laugh at the whole affair. Or finally it is a controlled experiment by someone who wants to see the reactions of UFO organisations. To my mind this last is the most plausible, and if it is so, by now the investigators ought to have their questionnaires fully completed.

Most people involved in ufology are serious, and do not accept everything at face value, although they agree to look into the possibility of most things. There are those who do react differently to a stimulus such as this, but the value of contact via NUFON in controlling reactions is, I think, proven.

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