This week's Fact Friday comes to you from the Charlotte Observer.
Photo from 1998: George Fawcett looks through his extensive files in the garage of his Lincolnton home. Shipping his UFO collection off to the museum in New Mexico will leave Fawcett with a cleaner garage, attic and living room. DAVID T. FOSTER III. The Charlotte Observer.
As a kid in Mount Airy, George Fawcett played basketball with Andy Griffith and got hooked on UFOs.
A 1944 newspaper article describing "mysterious balls of fire" spotted by American pilots over Germany during World War II sparked his imagination.
Fawcett went on to work as a YMCA director, textile employee, weekly newspaper manager and sandwich shop operator.
A longtime resident of Lincolnton, he also became known as the UFO man.
During decades as a UFO investigator, researcher, writer, teacher and lecturer, Fawcett carved out a reputation as an expert in the field.
His travels on the UFO circuit took him around the United States, Panama and England. He founded and advised five UFO study groups from New England to Florida, served as a movie consultant and wrote two books.
Fawcett founded the North Carolina chapter of Mutual UFO Network Inc., a nonprofit organization that tracks and researches reports of UFOs. The group has posted a tribute to Fawcett on its website.
UFO materials filled Fawcett's Lincolnton home – photos, slides, scrapbooks, videos, alien sculptures and more than 1,000 books.
For 12 years, he tried to raise $5 million for a saucer-shaped museum in North Carolina that would house his extensive collection. In 1998, with only $100 in the pot, he blamed himself for the fundraising failure.
"I always had a six-day-a-week job and didn't have time to work on it properly," Fawcett told the Observer. "It's sad. It was a good idea."
That same year, he donated the materials to the Roswell museum. Fawcett's name lives on at a center that attracts 175,000 people a year from all over the world.
In 1981, the Observer directed readers to contact Fawcett if they spotted an unidentified flying objects.
Article in The Charlotte Observer from March 9, 1981 The Charlotte Observer.