George Van Tassel is one of the most interesting figures in ufology. In the 1950s, the aeronautical mechanic claimed extraterrestrial beings showed him how to build a device that could bestow longevity. Extending the human life span was important, said the aliens because by the time people had lived long enough to begin to understand divine principles and how the cosmos works – they die.
Van Tassel wrote up the “cosmic wisdom” he received from an ET named Solgonda in his first book, “I Rode a Flying Saucer,” published in 1952 and reprinted in 1955.
The future contactee was born in 1910 in Jefferson, Ohio to a middle-class family. After dropping out of high school after 10th grade, he worked at Cleveland Municipal Airport and earned a pilot’s license while still a teen. When he was 20 in 1930, Van Tassel moved to California and worked as a car mechanic at a Santa Monica garage owned by one of his uncles, Glen Paine.
In the course of his duties, the young Van Tassel met and befriended an eccentric loner local, Frank Critzer, who had crossed the Big Pond from Germany to scratch out a living as a prospector in the Golden State. He was working a mine around Giant Rock, the largest boulder in the desert near Landers (and perhaps the world) towering 7 stories high. Native Americans regarded the granite stone and surrounding lands as holy ground.
Critzer was suspected of being a German spy during World War II. When local police came to Giant Rock to question him in July 1942, he set off an explosion with his own dynamite that killed him. Learning of this, Van Tassel applied to the Bureau of Land Management (BML) to lease the small abandoned airport near Giant Rock. He ultimately signed a Federal Government contract to develop and maintain the airstrip.
Between 1930 and 1947, Van Tassel worked as an aircraft mechanic and flight inspector for high-tech companies that included Douglas Aircraft, Hughes Aircraft, and Lockheed. His job at Hughes Aircraft was Top Flight Inspector.
Van Tassel was a mystic as well as an electrical engineer. He followed the work of Nikola Tesla who had died before giving the world his promised free earth energy. Van Tassel believed the crystalline structure within Giant Rock had great power to channel unseen forces and bits of intelligence due to its piezo-electric characteristics.
In 1947, Van Tassel abandoned the budding aerospace industry in Southern California – he called it a “rat race” – and moved his wife and three daughters to his desert property. The family lived simply in rooms Critzer had excavated beneath the shade of Giant Rock.
In time, Van Tassel constructed a new home, a cafe operated by his wife Dorris, a gas station, a store, a small airstrip, and a dude ranch beside the Rock.
Van Tassel invited his aviating friends to fly in and stay overnight at his “Come On Inn.” People who remembered the cafe said they went not to hear the UFO experiencer talk but to wrap their lips around his wife’s scrumptious apple pie.
Each year, beginning in 1954, crowds of flying saucer experiencers and enthusiasts gathered in the California desert to listen to speakers and share their accounts. Some witnesses claimed up to 11,000 attendees showed up at Giant Rock for these UFO Space Conventions.
Van Tassel began to conduct weekly meditation readings at Giant Rock for groups of 25-45 people. In 1952, Van Tassel told them he was having close encounters with spacemen and receiving messages from them. Initially, the aliens warned of impending doom and gloom and encouraged universal brotherhood and peace.
In August 1953, Van Tassel said aliens from Venus invited him aboard their spaceship. The friendly ETs gave him the architectural plans to construct a human regenerator: a 16-sided building that could reverse the aging process.
Measuring 50 feet in diameter and 38 feet high, construction lasted from 1954 to 1978. Built with wood and concrete, held together by glue and gravity-electrically neutral materials, the dome has no metal fasteners. Only the generating core was made of copper wire.
In theory, while operational, youth-seekers would walk through the building while wearing white outfits. The electrical charges, distributed over a wide range of frequencies, would revitalize every cell in their bodies.
The Integratron was designed “to recharge energy into living cell structures, to bring about longer life with youthful energy.” Since the body is an electrical device, aging occurs when the cells run out of power. By collecting up to 50,000 volts of static electricity from the air, the Integratron would serve as a multi-frequency, electrostatic charger for human cells.
Van Tassel died on February 9, 1978, of an “apparent heart attack” before the Integratron was completed and tested. His family suspected his second wife, a chiropractor, worked for a group bent on keeping rejuvenation a secret.
After his death, someone removed the Integratron’s core and other critical components. Van Tassel purposefully left no written plans for the device. to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
With 400 broadcast shows and thousands of UFO conventioneers behind him, Van Tassel’s numerous supporters believed in his invention that was 90 percent complete when he died. If it had worked, would they have spurned their traditional beliefs?
Could one man, helped by extraterrestrial beings, engineer cellular regeneration and longevity? If so, would this threaten government control?
As with many UFO cases, this one remains unsolved and Van Tassel’s Venusian vision of eternal youth remains clouded.