Dr. Willy Smith died, in Miami,Florida, at approximately 9:30 pm EDT on Tuesday July 11, 2006, after a heart attack. He was 82.
(Written by Dr. Willy Smith in April 1992)
Dr. Willy Smith received his M.S.E (1955), and Ph.D.(1964) from the University of Michigan. After working one year at the Atomic Energy Commission Facility in Puerto Rico, he devoted the rest of his professional career to education, and taught physics at the University of Michigan and at Lycoming College in the United States, and at the University of Valencia in Spain. His interest in the subject of UFOs started in the fifties, and was strongly revived after a sabbatical leave in Europe in 1973, when he had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with the leading researchers in the field, both in Spain and France. He finally decided, in 1980, to abandon all his others activities and devoted himself full time to the study of the UFO phenomena. At the end of 1983 he iniciated, together with Dr. Hynek, the UNICAT Project, initially conceived as a data base of high-quality UFO cases. In time, the project expanded into a full-fledged research activity and presently has more than fifty collaborators and associates all over the world. Through his international contacts, and his work with the UNICAT data base, he has acquired an intimate knowledge of present-day Ufology in the United States and aboard. He has traveled extensively in Latin America during the last three years, lecturing in many countries, particularly Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador. As the UNICAT Project continues to grow, he expects to be able to make a similar tour through Western Europe. In November, 1990, he visited Australia and Tasmania. He has more than forty papers published in journals and magazines in the United States, England, France, Spain, Germany, Australia and Argentina. After the death of Dr. Hynek he has assumed full responsibility for the UNICAT Project, which is essentially an independent research organization.
After more than forty years of UFO reports no one can seriously doubt the existence of an anomalous phenomenon, although not much progress has been made toward its explanation. I believe the fundamental reason for this situation is the failure to use the scientific methodology which has been so satisfactory in others areas. To follow the scientific approach, a preliminary and very necessary step is collecting a representative sample of the phenomenon under study. This is conspicuously absent in the case of ufology, where the majority if not all, of the existing catalogs consist of indiscriminate collections of cases ranging in quality from excellent to scientifically worthless. On that basis, the next step in the scientific process, namely the examination of the sample to obtain conclusions, become a meaningless exercise. On the other hand, the investigation of most UFO incidents has been performed by well-intentioned amateurs who compensate with enthusiasm for the lack of training and methodology. In spite of those handicaps, field investigators frequently have learned from experience and produced excellent reports, many of which have found their way into the literature. Unfortunately, with the exception of those cases that attract media attention, the investigation reports –good or bad– are by generations of investigators, doomed to oblivion when submitted to the UFO organizations, where often they are filed without even being properly evaluated and for all practical purposes cease to exist. For it has been the policy of MUFON and CUFOS not to share the information in their files, for whatever reasons, call it lack of financial or personal resources, or simply no basic interest in solving the UFO problem. A sad consequence of this is the disappearance, if not the destruction, of the files of many outstanding investigators, such as McDonald, Ruppelt and Fontes, as well as the archives of defunct organizations like NICAP and APRO. I think it is extremely important to stop this erosion of our ufological resources. This is the policy of the UNICAT Project. I believe that the answer to the UFO enigma already exists hidden in the information collected by generations of investigators, masked under a mountain of irrelevant padding that the lack of selectivity and proper methodology has allowed to accumulate. If we would separate the wheat from the chaff and examine in depth what is left, I feel confident that results would be obtained. Indeed, not an easy path, but the only possible one. This, in fact, is the goal of the UNICAT Project, as conceived by Dr. Hynek in the last years of his life.
Book: In 1997 he published "ON PILOTS and UFOs" A collection of interesting cases from the Blue Book files and Spanish Air Force records.
He retired from ufology in 2004, and give out all his ufology files, photos, archives and books between his associates, collaborators, and family. He give the UNICAT Project to Jan Aldrich of 1947 Project. After that, he dedicate his full time to his collection of stamps, until his dead.