CARTER: Well, in a way. I became more aware of what our intelligence services were doing. There was only one instance that I’ll talk about now. We had a plane go down in the Central African Republic—a twin-engine plane, small plane. And we couldn’t find it. And so we oriented satellites that were going around the earth every ninety minutes to fly over that spot where we thought it might be and take photographs. We couldn’t find it. So the director of the CIA came and told me that he had contacted a woman in California that claimed to have supernatural capabilities. And she went in a trance, and she wrote down latitudes and longitudes, and we sent our satellite over that latitude and longitude, and there was the plane.
HYLTON: That must have been surreal for you. You’re the president of the United States, and you’re getting intelligence information from a woman in a trance in California.
CARTER: That’s exactly right.
HYLTON: How did your scientific mind process that?
CARTER: With skepticism. Whether it was just a gross coincidence or…I don’t know. But that’s one thing that I couldn’t explain. As far as covering up possible flights from distant satellites or distant heavenly bodies, I don’t believe in that, and there’s no evidence that it was ever covered up. Or extraterrestrial people coming to earth, I don’t think that’s ever happened.
HYLTON: In a way, just the fact that you promised the American people you would look into it is reflective of how much of an outsider you were to Washington.
CARTER: That’s true.
The Gospel According to Jimmy
Twenty-five years after leaving the White House, Jimmy Carter breaks it down on faith, UFOs, greedy Republicans, and that pain in the ass known as Ted Kennedy Interview by Wil S. Hylton; photograph by Richard Burbridge.