He was tall, handsome and well-dressed. A working class hero, Sir Eric Gairy was fondly remembered for his legendary political career (“Gairyism”) in Grenada, but outside his insular nation, he was better known for his obsession with UFOs. (Gairy who spent much of his tiny country’s resources investigating the reason why Grenada was a favorite landing point for flying saucers).
De facto ruler of Grenada since 1950, he led his nation to Independence from Britain in 1974; however his erratic administration provoked a group led by British-trained lawyer Maurice Bishop called the New Jewel Movement (NJM) to lead demonstrations against him. Gairy responded to the NJM by summoning his paramilitary unit, the “Mongoose Gang” to apply strong-armed methods often compared to Duvalier of Haiti’s “Ton-Ton Macoute”.
Gairy was convinced that mankind was threatened by extra-terrestrials arriving in flying saucers. He repeatedly called for a special group within the UN to investigate UFOs. The fact that the then-UN secretary general was a fellow UFO enthusiast Kurt Waldheim facilitated his proposal. In 1979, in Miami an ad hoc conference of UFO experts under the UN auspices was held. Attending were Gairy, Waldheim, and a trio of high profile ufologists who actively supported Gairy: Hungarian military scientist Col. von Keviczk; American astronomer Dr. Josef Allen Hynek and French computer scientist Jacques Vallee.
The above photo was taken at the Miami Conference. From left to right: American astronaut Gordon Cooper, Vallee, French space scientist Claude Poher, Hynek, Gairy seat to the right of Sec. Gen. Waldheim. It was at this meeting that a bloodless coup by the NJM put Maurice Bishop in power in Grenada and ousted Gairy. With the ouster of Gairy, the UFO talks stopped. After the coup Gairy remained in the United States, returning in 1984, a few months after the Bishop regime self-destructed. His party never won another election and he himself was defeated at the polls. He became Sir Gairy in 1976 and was affectionately known as “uncle” by the people of Grenada.