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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

UFOs - Edward J Ruppelt- THE REPORT ON UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS (2)

CHAPTER THREE

The Classics

1948 was only one hour and twenty-five minutes old when a gentleman from Abilene, Texas, made the first UFO report of the year. What he saw, "a fan shaped glow" in the sky, was insignificant as far as UFO


30.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
reports go, but it ushered in a year that was to bring feverish activity to Project Sign.
With the Soviets practically eliminated as a UFO source, the idea of interplanetary spaceships was becoming more popular. During 1948 the people in ATIC were openly discussing the possibility of interplanetary visitors without others tapping their heads and looking smug. During 1948 the novelty of UFO's had worn off for the press and every John and Jane Doe who saw one didn't make the front pages as in 1947. Editors were becoming hardened, only a few of the best reports got any space. Only the "Classics" rated headlines. "The Classics" were three historic reports that were the highlights of 1948. They are called "The Classics," a name given them by the Project Blue Book staff, because: (1) they are classic examples of how the true facts of a UFO report can be twisted and warped by some writers to prove their point, (2) they are the most highly publicized reports of this early era of the UFO's, and (3) they "proved" to ATIC's intelligence specialists that UFO's were real.
The apparent lack of interest in UFO reports by the press was not a true indication of the situation. I later found out, from talking to writers, that all during 1948 the interest in UFO's was running high. The Air Force Press Desk in the Pentagon was continually being asked what progress was being made in the UFO investigation. The answer was, "Give us time. This job can't be done in a week." The press respected this and was giving them time. But every writer worth his salt has contacts, those "usually reliable sources" you read about, and these contacts were talking. All during 1948 contacts in the Pentagon were telling how UFO reports were rolling in at the rate of several per day and how ATIC UFO investigation teams were flying out of Dayton to investigate them. They were telling how another Air Force investigative organization had been called in to lighten ATIC's load and allow ATIC to concentrate on the analysis of the reports. The writers knew this was true because they had crossed paths with these men whom they had mistakenly identified as FBI agents. The FBI was never officially interested in UFO sightings. The writers' contacts in the airline industry told about the UFO talk from V.P.'s down to the ramp boys. Dozens of good, solid, reliable, experienced airline pilots were seeing UFO's. All of this led to one conclusion: whatever the Air Force had to say, when it was ready to talk, would be newsworthy. But the Air Force wasn't ready to talk.
Project Sign personnel were just getting settled down to work after the New Year's holiday when the "ghost rockets" came back to the Scandinavian countries of Europe. Air attaché's in Sweden, Denmark, and


The Classics.31
Norway fired wires to ATIC telling about the reports. Wires went back asking for more information.
The "ghost rockets," so tagged by the newspapers, had first been seen in the summer of 1946, a year before the first UFO sighting in the U.S. There were many different descriptions for the reported objects. They were usually seen in the hours of darkness and almost always traveling at extremely high speeds. They were shaped like a ball or projectile, were a bright green, white, red, or yellow and sometimes made sounds. Like their American cousins, they were always so far away that no details could be seen. For no good reason, other than speculation and circulation, the newspapers had soon begun to refer authoritatively to these "ghost rockets" as guided missiles, and implied that they were from Russia. Peenemunde, the great German missile development center and birthplace of the V-2 and V-2 guided missiles, came in for its share of suspicion since it was held by the Russians. By the end of the summer of 1946 the reports were widespread, coming from Denmark, Norway, Spain, Greece, French Morocco, Portugal, and Turkey. In 1947, after no definite conclusions as to identity of the "rockets" had been established, the reports died out. Now in early January 1948 they broke out again. But Project Sign personnel were too busy to worry about European UFO reports, they were busy at home. A National Guard pilot had just been killed chasing a UFO.
On January 7 all of the late papers in the U.S. carried headlines similar to those in the Louisville Courier: "F-51 and Capt. Mantell Destroyed Chasing Flying Saucer." This was Volume I of "The Classics," the Mantell Incident.
At one fifteen on that afternoon the control tower operators at Godman AFB, outside Louisville, Kentucky, received a telephone call from the Kentucky State Highway Patrol. The patrol wanted to know if Godman Tower knew anything about any unusual aircraft in the vicinity. Several people from Maysville, Kentucky, a small town 80 miles east of Louisville, had reported seeing a strange aircraft. Godman knew that they had nothing in the vicinity so they called Flight Service at Wright-Patterson AFB. In a few minutes Flight Service called back. Their air Traffic control board showed no flights in the area. About twenty minutes later the state police called again. This time people from the towns of Owensboro and Irvington, Kentucky, west of Louisville, were reporting a strange craft. The report from these two towns was a little more complete. The towns people had described the object to the state police as being "circular, about 250 to 300 feet in diameter," and moving westward at a "pretty good


32.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
clip." Godman Tower checked Flight Service again. Nothing. All this time the tower operators had been looking for the reported object. They theorized that since the UFO had had to pass north of Godman to get from Maysville to Owensboro it might come back.
At one forty-five they saw it, or something like it. Later, in his official report, the assistant tower operator said that he had seen the object for several minutes before he called his chiefs attention to it. He said that he had been reluctant to "make a flying saucer report." As soon as the two men in the tower had assured themselves that the UFO they saw was not an airplane or a weather balloon, they called Flight Operations. They wanted the operations officer to see the UFO. Before long word of the sighting had gotten around to key personnel on the base, and several officers, besides the base operations officer and the base intelligence officer, were in the tower. All of them looked at the UFO through the tower's 6 x 50 binoculars and decided they couldn't identify it. About this time Colonel Hix, the base commander, arrived. He looked and he was baffled. At two thirty, they reported, they were discussing what should be done when four F-51's came into view, approaching the base from the south.
The tower called the flight leader, Captain Mantell, and asked him to take a look at the object and try to identify it. One F-51 in the flight was running low on fuel, so he asked permission to go on to his base. Mantell took his two remaining wing men, made a turn, and started after the UFO. The people in Godman Tower were directing him as none of the pilots could see the object at this time. They gave Mantell an initial heading toward the south and the flight was last seen heading in the general direction of the UFO.
By the time the F-51's had climbed to 10,000 feet, the two wing men later reported, Mantell had pulled out ahead of them and they could just barely see him. At two forty-five Mantell called the tower and said, "I see something above and ahead of me and I'm still climbing." All the people in the tower heard Mantell say this and they heard one of the wing men call back and ask, "What the hell are we looking for?" The tower immediately called Mantell and asked him for a description of what he saw. Odd as it may seem, no one can remember exactly what he answered. Saucer historians have credited him with saying, "I've sighted the thing. It looks metallic and it's tremendous in size.... Now it's starting to climb." Then in a few seconds he is supposed to have called and said, "It's above me and I'm gaining on it. I'm going to 20,000 feet." Everyone in the tower agreed on this one last bit of the transmission, "I'm going to 20,000 feet," but didn't agree on the first part, about the UFO's being metallic and tremendous.


The Classics.33
The two wing men were now at 15,000 feet and trying frantically to call Mantell. He had climbed far above them by this time and was out of sight. Since none of them had any oxygen they were worried about Mantell. Their calls were not answered. Mantell never talked to anyone again. The two wing men leveled off at 15,000 feet, made another fruitless effort to call Mantell, and started to come back down. As they passed Godman Tower on their way to their base, one of them said something to the effect that all he had seen was a reflection on his canopy.
When they landed at their base, Standiford Field, just north of Godman, one pilot had his F-51 refueled and serviced with oxygen, and took off to search the area again. He didn't see anything.
At three fifty the tower lost sight of the UFO. A few minutes later they got word that Mantell had crashed and was dead.
Several hours later, at 7:20 P.M., airfield towers all over the Midwest sent in frantic reports of another UFO. In all about a dozen airfield towers reported the UFO as being low on the southwestern horizon and disappearing after about twenty minutes. The writers of saucer lore say this UFO was what Mantell was chasing when he died; the Air Force says this UFO was Venus.
The people on Project Sign worked fast on the Mantell Incident. Contemplating a flood of queries from the press as soon as they heard about the crash, they realized that they had to get a quick answer. Venus had been the target of a chase by an Air Force F-51 several weeks before and there were similarities between this sighting and the Mantell Incident. So almost before the rescue crews had reached the crash, the word "Venus" went out. This satisfied the editors, and so it stood for about a year; Mantell had unfortunately been killed trying to reach the planet Venus.
To the press, the nonchalant, offhand manner with which the sighting was written off by the Air Force public relations officer showed great confidence in the conclusion, Venus, but behind the barbed wire fence that encircled ATIC the nonchalant attitude didn't exist among the intelligence analysts. One man had already left for Louisville and the rest were doing some tall speculating. The story about the tower-to-air talk, "It looks metallic and it's tremendous in size," spread fast. Rumor had it that the tower had carried on a running conversation with the pilots and that there was more information than was so far known. Rumor also had it that this conversation had been recorded. Unfortunately neither of these rumors was true.
Over a period of several weeks the file on the Mantell Incident grew


34.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
in size until it was the most thoroughly investigated sighting of that time, at least the file was the thickest.
About a year later the Air Force released its official report on the incident. To use a trite term, it was a masterpiece in the art of "weasel wording." It said that the UFO might have been Venus or it could have been a balloon. Maybe two balloons. It probably was Venus except that this is doubtful because Venus was too dim to be seen in the afternoon. This jolted writers who had been following the UFO story. Only a few weeks before, The Saturday Evening Post had published a two-part story entitled "What You Can Believe About flying Saucers." The story had official sanction and had quoted the Venus theory as a positive solution. To clear up the situation, several writers were allowed to interview a major in the Pentagon, who was the Air Force's Pentagon "expert" on UFO's. The major was asked directly about the conclusion of the Mantell Incident, and he flatly stated that it was Venus. The writers pointed out the official Air Force analysis. The major's answer was, "They checked again and it was Venus." He didn't know who "they" were, where they had checked, or what they had checked, but it was Venus. The writers then asked, "If there was a later report they had made why wasn't it used as a conclusion?" "Was it available?" The answer to the last question was "No," and the lid snapped back down This interview gave the definite impression that the Air Force was unsuccessfully trying to cover up some very important information, using Venus as a front. Nothing excites a newspaper or magazine writer more than to think he has stumbled onto a big story and that someone is trying to cover it up. Many writers thought this after the interview with the major, and many still think it. You can't really blame them either.
In early 1952 I got a telephone call on ATIC's direct line to the Pentagon. It was a colonel in the Director of Intelligence's office. The Office of Public Information had been getting a number of queries about all of the confusion over the Mantell Incident. What was the answer?
I dug out the file. In 1949 all of the original material on the incident had been microfilmed, but something had been spilled on the film. Many sections were so badly faded they were illegible. As I had to do with many of the older sightings that were now history, I collected what I could from the file, filling in the blanks by talking to people who had been at ATIC during the early UFO era. Many of these people were still around, "Red" Honnacker, George Towles, Al Deyarmond, Nick Post, and many others. Most of them were civilians, the military had been transferred out by this time.
Some of the press clippings in the file mentioned the Pentagon major


The Classics.35
and his concrete proof of Venus. I couldn't find this concrete proof in the file so I asked around about the major. The major, I found, was an officer in the Pentagon who had at one time written a short intelligence summary about UFO's. He had never been stationed at ATIC, nor was he especially well versed on the UFO problem. When the word of the press conference regarding the Mantell Incident came down, a UFO expert was needed. The major, because of his short intelligence summary on UFO's, became the "expert." He had evidently conjured up "they" and "their later report" to support his Venus answer because the writers at the press conference had him in a corner. I looked farther.
Fortunately the man who had done the most extensive work on the incident, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, head of the Ohio State University Astronomy Department, could be contacted. I called Dr. Hynek and arranged to meet him the next day.
Dr. Hynek was one of the most impressive scientists I met while working on the UFO project, and I met a good many. He didn't do two things that some of them did: give you the answer before he knew the question; or immediately begin to expound on his accomplishments in the field of science. I arrived at Ohio State just before lunch, and Dr. Hynek invited me to eat with him at the faculty club. He wanted to refer to some notes he had on the Mantell Incident and they were in his office, so we discussed UFO's in general during lunch.
Back in his office he started to review the Mantell Incident. He had been responsible for the weasel worded report that the Air Force released in late 1949, and he apologized for it. Had he known that it was going to cause so much confusion, he said, he would have been more specific. He thought the incident was a dead issue. The reason that Venus had been such a strong suspect was that it was in almost the same spot in the sky as the UFO. Dr. Hynek referred to his notes and told me that at 3:00 P.M., Venus had been south southwest of Godman and 33 degrees above the southern horizon. At 3:00 P.M. the people in the tower estimated the UFO to be southwest of Godman and at an elevation of about 45 degrees. Allowing for human error in estimating directions and angles, this was close. I agreed. There was one big flaw in the theory, however. Venus wasn't bright enough to be seen. He had computed the brilliance of the planet, and on the day in question it was only six times as bright as the surrounding sky. Then he explained what this meant. Six times may sound like a lot, but it isn't. When you start looking for a pinpoint of light only six times as bright as the surrounding sky, it's almost impossible to find it, even on a clear day.
Dr. Hynek said that he didn't think that the UFO was Venus.


36.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
I later found out that although it was a relatively clear day there was considerable haze.
I asked him about some of the other possibilities. He repeated the balloon, canopy reflection, and sundog theories but he refused to comment on them since, as he said, he was an astrophysicist and would care to comment only on the astrophysical aspects of the sightings.
I drove back to Dayton convinced that the UFO wasn't Venus. Dr. Hynek had said Venus would have been a pinpoint of light. The people in the tower had been positive of their descriptions, their statements brought that out. They couldn't agree on a description, they called the UFO "a parachute, an ice cream cone tipped with red," "round and white," "huge and silver or metallic," "a small white object," "one fourth the size of the full moon," but all the descriptions plainly indicated a large object. None of the descriptions could even vaguely be called a pinpoint of light.
This aspect of a definite shape seemed to eliminate the sundog theory too. Sundogs, or perihelia, as they are technically known, are caused by ice particles reflecting a diffused light. This would not give a sharp outline. I also recalled two instances where Air Force pilots had chased sundogs. In both instances when the aircraft began to climb, the sundog disappeared. This was because the angle of reflection changed as the airplane climbed several thousand feet. These sundog-caused UFO's also had fuzzy edges.
I had always heard a lot of wild speculation about the condition of Mantell's crashed F-51, so I wired for a copy of the accident report. It arrived several days after my visit with Dr. Hynek. The report said that the F-51 had lost a wing due to excessive speed in a dive after Mantell had "blacked out" due to the lack of oxygen. Mantell's body had not burned, not disintegrated, and was not full of holes; the wreck was not radioactive, nor was it magnetized.
One very important and pertinent question remained. Why did Mantell, an experienced pilot, try to go to 20,000 feet when he didn't even have an oxygen mask? If he had run out of oxygen, it would have been different. Every pilot and crewman has it pounded into him, "Do not, under any circumstances, go above 15,000 feet without oxygen." In high altitude indoctrination during World War II, I made several trips up to 30,000 feet in a pressure chamber. To demonstrate anoxia we would leave our oxygen masks off until we became dizzy. A few of the more hardy souls could get to 15,000 feet, but nobody ever got over 17,000. Possibly Mantell thought he could climb up to 20,000 in a hurry and get back down before he got anoxia and blacked out, but this would be a foolish


The Classics.37
chance. This point was covered in the sighting report. A long-time friend of Mantell's went on record as saying that he'd flown with him several years and knew him personally. He couldn't conceive of Mantell's even thinking about disregarding his lack of oxygen. Mantell was one of the most cautious pilots he knew. "The only thing I can think," he commented, "was that he was after something that he believed to be more important than his life or his family."
My next step was to try to find out what Mantell's wing men had seen or thought but this was a blind alley. All of this evidence was in the ruined portion of the microfilm, even their names were missing. The only reference I could find to them was a vague passage indicating they hadn't seen anything.
I concentrated on the canopy reflection theory. It is widely believed that many flying saucers appear to pilots who are actually chasing a reflection on their canopy. I checked over all the reports we had on file. I couldn't find one that had been written off for this reason. I dug back into my own flying experience and talked to a dozen pilots. All of us had momentarily been startled by a reflection on the aircraft's canopy or wing, but in a second or two it had been obvious that it was a reflection. Mantell chased the object for at least fifteen to twenty minutes, and it is inconceivable that he wouldn't realize in that length of time that he was chasing a reflection.
About the only theory left to check was that the object might have been one of the big, 100-foot-diameter, "skyhook" balloons. I rechecked the descriptions of the UFO made by the people in the tower. The first man to sight the object called it a parachute; others said ice cream cone, round, etc. All of these descriptions fit a balloon. Buried deep in the file were two more references to balloons that I had previously missed. Not long after the object had disappeared from view at Godman AFB, a man from Madisonville, Kentucky, called Flight Service in Dayton. He had seen an object traveling southeast. He had looked at it through a telescope and it was a balloon. At four forty five an astronomer living north of Nashville, Tennessee, called in. He had also seen a UFO, looked at it through a telescope, and it was a balloon.
In the thousands of words of testimony and evidence taken on the Mantell Incident this was the only reference to balloons. I had purposely not paid too much attention to this possibility because I was sure that it had been thoroughly checked back in 1948. Now I wasn't sure.
I talked with one of the people who had been in on the Mantell investigation. The possibility of a balloon's causing the sighting had been mentioned but hadn't been followed up for two reasons. Number one


38.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
was that everybody at ATIC was convinced that the object Mantell was after was a spaceship and that this was the only course they had pursued. When the sighting grew older and no spaceship proof could be found, everybody jumped on the Venus band wagon, as this theory had "already been established." It was an easy way out. The second reason was that a quick check had been made on weather balloons and none were in the area. The big skyhook balloon project was highly classified at that time, and since they were all convinced that the object was of interplanetary origin (a minority wanted to give the Russians credit), they didn't want to bother to buck the red tape of security to get data on skyhook flights.
The group who supervise the contracts for all the skyhook research flights for the Air Force are located at Wright Field, so I called them. They had no records on flights in 1948 but they did think that the big balloons were being launched from Clinton County AFB in southern Ohio at that time. They offered to get the records of the winds on January 7 and see what flight path a balloon launched in southwestern Ohio would have taken. In a few days they had the data for me.
Unfortunately the times of the first sightings, from the towns outside Louisville, were not exact but it was possible to partially reconstruct the sequence of events. The winds were such that a skyhook balloon launched from Clinton County AFB could be seen from the town east of Godman AFB, the town from which the first UFO was reported to the Kentucky State Police. It is not unusual to be able to see a large balloon for 50 to 60 miles. The balloon could have traveled west for a while, climbing as it moved with the strong east winds that were blowing that day and picking up speed as the winds got stronger at altitude. In twenty minutes it could have been in a position where it could be seen from Owensboro and Irvington, Kentucky, the two towns west of Godman. The second reports to the state police had come from these two towns. Still climbing, the balloon would have reached a level where a strong wind was blowing in a southerly direction. The jet stream winds were not being plotted in 1948 but the weather chart shows strong indications of a southerly bend in the jet stream for this day. Jet stream or not, the balloon would have moved rapidly south, still climbing. At a point somewhere south or southwest of Godman it would have climbed through the southerly moving winds to a calm belt at about 60,000 feet. At this level it would slowly drift south or southeast. A skyhook balloon can be seen at 60,000.
When first seen by the people in Godinan Tower, the UFO was south of the air base. It was relatively close and looked "like a parachute," which a balloon does. During the two hours that it was in sight, the observers reported that it seemed to hover, yet each observer estimated the time


The Classics.39
he looked at the object through the binoculars and time wise the descriptions ran "huge," "small," "one fourth the size of a full moon," "one tenth the size of a full moon." Whatever the UFO was, it was slowly moving away. As the balloon continued to drift in a southerly direction it would have picked up stronger winds, and could have easily been seen by the astronomers in Madisonville, Kentucky, and north of Nashville an hour after it disappeared from view at Godman.
Somewhere in the archives of the Air Force or the Navy there are records that will show whether or not a balloon was launched from Clinton County AFB, Ohio, on January 7, 1948. I never could find these records. People who were working with the early skyhook projects "remember" operating out of Clinton County AFB in 1947 but refuse to be pinned down to a January 7 flight. Maybe, they said.
The Mantell Incident is the same old UFO jigsaw puzzle. By assuming the shape of one piece, a balloon launched from southwestern Ohio, the whole picture neatly falls together. It shows a huge balloon that Captain Thomas Mantell died trying to reach. He didn't know that he was chasing a balloon because he had never heard of a huge, 100-foot-diameter skyhook balloon, let alone seen one. Leave out the one piece of the jigsaw puzzle and the picture is a UFO, "metallic and tremendous in size."
It could have been a balloon. This is the answer I phoned back to the Pentagon.
During January and February of 1948 the reports of "ghost rockets" continued to come from air attaches in foreign countries near the Baltic Sea. People in North Jutland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Germany reported "balls of fire traveling slowly across the sky." The reports were very sketchy and incomplete, most of them accounts from newspapers. In a few days the UFO's were being seen all over Europe and South America. Foreign reports hit a peak in the latter part of February and U.S. newspapers began to pick up the stories.
The Swedish Defense Staff supposedly conducted a comprehensive study of the incidents and concluded that they were all explainable in terms of astronomical phenomena. Since this was UFO history, I made several attempts to get some detailed and official information on this report and the sightings, but I was never successful.
The ghost rockets left in March, as mysteriously as they had arrived.
All during the spring of 1948 good reports continued to come in. Some were just run-of-the-mill but a large percentage of them were good, coming from people whose reliability couldn't be questioned. For example, three scientists reported that for thirty seconds they had watched a round object streak across the sky in a highly erratic flight path near the Army's secret


40.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
White Sands Proving Ground. And on May 28 the crew of an Air Force C-47 had three UFO's barrel in from "twelve o'clock high" to buzz their transport,
On July 21 a curious report was received from the Netherlands, The day before several persons reported seeing a UFO through high broken clouds over The Hague. The object was rocket shaped, with two rows of windows along the side. It was a poor report, very sketchy and incomplete, and it probably would have been forgotten except that four nights later a similar UFO almost collided with an Eastern Airlines DC-3. This near collision is Volume II of "The Classics."
On the evening of July 24, 1948, an Eastern Airlines DC-3 took off from Houston, Texas. It was on a scheduled trip to Atlanta, with intermediate stops in between. The pilots were Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted. At about 2:45 A.M., when the flight was 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, the captain, Chiles, saw a light dead ahead and closing fast. His first reaction, he later reported to an ATIC investigation team, was that it was a jet, but in an instant he realized that even a jet couldn't close as fast as this light was closing. Chiles said he reached over, gave Whitted, the other pilot, a quick tap on the arm, and pointed. The UFO was now almost on top of them. Chiles racked the DC-3 into a tight left turn. Just as the UFO flashed by about 700 feet to the right, the DC-3 hit turbulent air. Whitted looked back just as the UFO pulled up in a steep climb.
Both the pilots had gotten a good look at the UFO and were able to give a good description to the Air Force intelligence people. It was a B-29 fuselage. The underside had a "deep blue glow." There were "two rows of windows from which bright lights glowed," and a "bright trail of orange red flame" shot out the back.
Only one passenger was looking out of the window at the time. The ATIC investigators talked to him. He said he saw a "strange, eerie streak of light, very intense," but that was all, no details. He said that it all happened before he could adjust his eyes to the darkness.
Minutes later a crew chief at Robins Air Force Base in Macon, Georgia, reported seeing an extremely bright light pass overhead, traveling at a high speed. A few days later another report from the night of July 24 came in. A pilot, flying near the Virginia North Carolina state line, reported that he had seen a "bright shooting star" in the direction of Montgomery, Alabama, at about the exact time the Eastern Airlines DC-3 was "buzzed."
According to the old timers at ATIC, this report shook them worse than the Mantell Incident. This was the first time two reliable sources had been really close enough to anything resembling a UFO to get a good


The Classics.41
look and live to tell about it. A quick check on a map showed that the UFO that nearly collided with the airliner would have passed almost over Macon, Georgia, after passing the DC-3. It had been turning toward Macon when last seen. The story of the crew chief at Robins AFB, 200 miles away, seemed to confirm the sighting, not to mention the report from near the Virginia North Carolina state line.
In intelligence, if you have something to say about some vital problem you write a report that is known as an "Estimate of the Situation." A few days after the DC-3 was buzzed, the people at ATIC decided that the time had arrived to make an Estimate of the Situation. The situation was the UFO's; the estimate was that they were interplanetary!
It was a rather thick document with a black cover and it was printed on legal sized paper. Stamped across the front were the words TOP SECRET.
It contained the Air Force's analysis of many of the incidents I have told you about plus many similar ones. All of them had come from scientists, pilots, and other equally credible observers, and each one was an unknown.
The document pointed out that the reports hadn't actually started with the Arnold Incident. Belated reports from a weather observer in Richmond, Virginia, who observed a "silver disk" through his theodolite telescope; an F47 pilot and three pilots in his formation who saw a "silver flying wing," and the English "ghost airplanes" that had been picked up on radar early in 1947 proved this point. Although reports on them were not received until after the Arnold sighting, these incidents all had taken place earlier.
When the estimate was completed, typed, and approved, it started up through channels to higher command echelons. It drew considerable comment but no one stopped it on its way up.
A matter of days after the Estimate of the Situation was signed, sealed, and sent on its way, the third big sighting of 1948, Volume III of "The Classics," took place. The date was October 1, and the place was Fargo, North Dakota; it was the famous Gorman Incident, in which a pilot fought a "duel of death" with a UFO.
The pilot was George F. Gorman, a twenty-five-year-old second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard.
It was eight thirty in the evening and Gorman was coming into Fargo from a cross-country flight. He flew around Fargo for a while and about nine o'clock decided to land. He called the control tower for landing instructions and was told that a Piper Cub was in the area. He saw the Cub below him. All of a sudden what appeared to be the taillight of


42.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
another airplane passed him on his right. He called the tower and complained but they assured him that no other aircraft except the Cub were in the area. Gorman could still see the light so he decided to find out what it was. He pushed the F-51 over into a turn and cut in toward the light. He could plainly see the Cub outlined against the city lights below, but he could see no outline of a body near the mysterious light. He gave the '51 more power and closed to within a 1,000 yards, close enough to estimate that the light was 6 to 8 inches in diameter, was sharply outlined, and was blinking on and off. Suddenly the light became steady as it apparently put on power; it pulled into a sharp left bank and made a pass at the tower. The light zoomed up with the F-51 in hot pursuit. At 7,000 feet it made a turn. Gorman followed and tried to cut inside the light's turn to get closer to it but he couldn't do it. The light made another turn, and this time the '51 closed on a collision course. The UFO appeared to try to ram the '51, and Gorman had to dive to get out of the way. The UFO passed over the '51's canopy with only a few feet to spare. Again both the F-51 and the object turned and closed on each other head on, and again the pilot had to dive out to prevent a collision. All of a sudden the light began to climb and disappeared.
"I had the distinct impression that its maneuvers were controlled by thought or reason," Gorman later told ATIC investigators.
Four other observers at Fargo partially corroborated his story, an oculist, Dr. A. D. Cannon, the Cub's pilot, and his passenger, Einar Neilson. They saw a light "moving fast," but did not witness all the maneuvers that Gorman reported. Two CAA employees on the ground saw a light move over the field once.
Project Sign investigators rushed to Fargo. They had wired ahead to ground the plane. They wanted to check it over before it flew again. When they arrived, only a matter of hours after the incident, they went over the airplane, from the prop spinner to the rudder trim tab, with a Geiger counter. A chart in the official report shows where every Geiger counter reading was taken. For comparison they took readings on a similar airplane that hadn't been flown for several days. Gorman's airplane was more radioactive. They rushed around, got sworn statements from the tower operators and oculist, and flew back to Dayton.
In the file on the Gorman Incident I found an old memo reporting the meeting that was held upon the ATIC team's return from Fargo. The memo concluded that some weird things were taking place.
The historians of the UFO agree. Donald Keyhoe, a retired Marine Corps major and a professional writer, author of The Flying Saucers Are Real and Flying Saucers from Outer Space, needles the Air Force about


The Classics.43
the Gorman Incident, pointing out how, after feebly hinting that the light could have been a lighted weather balloon, they dropped it like a hot UFO. Some person by the name of Wilkins, in an equally authoritative book, says that the Gorman Incident "stumped" the Air Force. Other assorted historians point out that normally the UFO's are peaceful, Gorman and Mantell just got too inquisitive, "they" just weren't ready to be observed closely. If the Air Force hadn't slapped down the security lid, these writers might not have reached this conclusion. There have been other and more lurid "duels of death."
On June 21, 1952, at 10:58 P.M., a Ground Observer Corps spotter reported that a slow moving craft was nearing the AEC's Oak Ridge Laboratory, an area so secret that it is prohibited to aircraft. The spotter called the light into his filter center and the filter center relayed the message to the ground control intercept radar. They had a target. But before they could do more than confirm the GOC spotter's report, the target faded from the radarscope.
An F-47 aircraft on combat air patrol in the area was vectored in visually, spotted a light, and closed on it. They "fought" from 10,000 to 27,000 feet, and several times the object made what seemed to be ramming attacks. The light was described as white, 6 to 8 inches in diameter, and blinking until it put on power. The pilot could see no silhouette around the light. The similarity to the Fargo case was striking.
On the night of December 10, 1952, near another atomic installation, the Hanford plant in Washington, the pilot and radar observer of a patrolling F-94 spotted a light while flying at 26,000 feet. The crew called their ground control station and were told that no planes were known to be in the area. They closed on the object and saw a large, round, white "thing" with a dim reddish light coming from two "windows." They lost visual contact, but got a radar lock-on. They reported that when they attempted to close on it again it would reverse direction and dive away. Several times the plane altered course itself because collision seemed imminent.
In each of these instances, as well as in the case narrated next, the sources of the stories were trained airmen with excellent reputations. They were sincerely baffled by what they had seen. They had no conceivable motive for falsifying or "dressing up" their reports.
The other dogfight occurred September 24, 1952, between a Navy pilot of a TBM and a light over Cuba.
The pilot had just finished making some practice passes for night fighters when he spotted an orange light to the east of his plane. He checked on aircraft in the area, learned that the object was unidentified,


44.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
and started after it. Here is his report, written immediately after he landed:
As it [the light] approached the city from the east it started a left turn. I started to intercept. During the first part of the chase the closest I got to the light was 8 to 10 miles. At this time it appeared to be as large as an SNJ and had a greenish tail that looked to be five to six times as long as the light's diameter. This tail was seen several times in the next 10 minutes in periods of from 5 to 30 seconds each. As I reached 10,000 feet it appeared to be at 15,000 feet and in a left turn. It took 40 degrees of bank to keep the nose of my plane on the light. At this time I estimated the light to be in a 10-to-l 5 mile orbit.
At 12,000 feet I stopped climbing, but the light was still climbing faster than I was. I then reversed my turn from left to right and the light also reversed. As I was not gaining distance, I held a steady course south trying to estimate a perpendicular between the light and myself. The light was moving north, so I turned north. As I turned, the light appeared to move west, then south over the base. I again tried to intercept but the light appeared to climb rapidly at a 60 degree angle. It climbed to 35,000 feet, then started a rapid descent.
Prior to this, while the light was still at approximately 15,000 feet, I deliberately placed it between the moon and myself three times to try to identify a solid body. I and my two crewmen all had a good view of the light as it passed the moon. We could see no solid body. We considered the fact that it might be an aerologist's balloon, but we did not see a silhouette. Also, we would have rapidly caught up with and passed a balloon.
During its descent, the light appeared to slow down at about 10,000 feet, at which time I made three runs on it. Two were on a 90 degree collision course, and the light traveled at tremendous speed across my bow. On the third run I was so close that the light blanked out the airfield below me. Suddenly it started a dive and I followed, losing it at 1,500 feet.
In this incident the UFO was a balloon.
The following night a lighted balloon was sent up and the pilot was ordered up to compare his experiences. He duplicated his dogfight - illusions and all. The Navy furnished us with a long analysis of the affair, explaining how the pilot had been fooled.
In the case involving the ground observer and the F-47 near the atomic installation, we plotted the winds and calculated that a lighted balloon was right at the spot where the pilot encountered the light.
In the other instance, the "white object with two windows," we found that a skyhook balloon had been plotted at the exact site of the "battle."
Gorman fought a lighted balloon too. An analysis of the sighting by the Air Weather Service sent to ATIC in a letter dated January 24, 1949, proved it. The radioactive F-51 was decontaminated by a memo from a Wright Field laboratory explaining that a recently flown airplane will be


The Classics. 45
more radioactive than one that has been on the ground for several days. An airplane at 20,000 to 30,000 feet picks up more cosmic rays than one shielded by the earth's ever present haze.
Why can't experienced pilots recognize a balloon when they see one? If they are flying at night, odd things can happen to their vision. There is the problem of vertigo as well as disorientation brought on by flying without points of reference. Night fighters have told dozens of stories of being fooled by lights.
One night during World War II we had just dumped a load of bombs on a target when a "night fighter" started to make a pass at us. Everyone in the cockpit saw the fighter's red-hot exhaust stack as he bore down on us. I cut loose with six caliber-.50 machine guns. Fortunately I missed the "night fighter" - if I'd have shot it I'd have fouled up the astronomers but good because the "night fighter" was Venus.
While the people on Project Sign were pondering over Lieutenant Gorman's dogfight with the UFO - at the time they weren't even considering the balloon angle - the Top Secret Estimate of the Situation was working its way up into the higher echelons of the Air Force. It got to the late General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, then Chief of Staff, before it was batted back down. The general wouldn't buy interplanetary vehicles. The report lacked proof. A group from ATIC went to the Pentagon to bolster their position but had no luck, the Chief of Staff just couldn't be convinced.
The estimate died a quick death. Some months later it was completely declassified and relegated to the incinerator. A few copies, one of which I saw, were kept as mementos of the golden days of the UFO's.
The top Air Force command's refusal to buy the interplanetary theory didn't have any immediate effect upon the morale of Project Sign because the reports were getting better.
A belated report that is more of a collectors' item than a good UFO sighting came into ATIC in the fall of 1948. It was from Moscow. Someone, I could never find out exactly who, reported a huge "smudge like" object in the sky.
Then radar came into the picture. For months the anti saucer factions had been pointing their fingers at the lack of radar reports, saying, "If they exist, why don't they show up on radarscopes?" When they showed up on radarscopes, the UFO won some converts.
On October 15 an F-61, a World War II "Black Widow" night fighter was on patrol over Japan when it picked up an unidentified target on its radar. The target was flying between 5,000 and 6,000 feet and traveling about 200 miles per hour. When the F-61 tried to intercept it would get to within 12,000 feet of the UFO only to have it accelerate to an estimated


46. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
1,200 miles per hour, leaving the F-61 far behind before slowing down again. The F-61 crew made six attempts to close on the UFO. On one pass, the crew said, they did get close enough to see its silhouette. It was 20 to 30 feet long and looked "like a rifle bullet."
Toward the end of November a wire came into Project Sign from Germany. It was the first report where a UFO was seen and simultaneously picked up on radar. This type of report, the first of many to come, is one of the better types of UFO reports. The wire said:
At 2200 hours, local time, 23 November 1948, Capt. saw an object in the air directly east of this base. It was at an unknown altitude. It looked like a reddish star and was moving in a southerly direction across Munich, turning slightly to the southwest then the southeast. The speed could have been between 200 to 600 mph, the actual speed could not be estimated, not knowing the height. Capt. called base operations and they called the radar station. Radar reported that they had seen nothing on their scope but would check again. Radar then called operations to report that they did have a target at 27,000 feet, some 30 miles south of Munich, traveling at 900 mph. Capt. reported that the object that he saw was now in that area. A few minutes later radar called again to say that the target had climbed to 50,000 feet, and was circling 40 miles south of Munich.
Capt. - is an experienced pilot now flying F-80's and is considered to be completely reliable. The sighting was verified by Capt. , also an F-80 pilot.
The possibility that this was a balloon was checked but the answer from Air Weather Service was "not a balloon." No aircraft were in the area. Nothing we know of, except possibly experimental aircraft, which are not in Germany, can climb 23,000 feet in a matter of minutes and travel 900 miles per hour.
By the end of 1948, Project Sign had received several hundred UFO reports. Of these, 167 had been saved as good reports. About three dozen were "Unknown." Even though the UFO reports were getting better and more numerous, the enthusiasm over the interplanetary idea was cooling off. The same people who had fought to go to Godman AFB to talk to Colonel Hix and his UFO observers in January now had to be prodded when a sighting needed investigating. More and more work was being pushed off onto the other investigative organization that was helping ATIC. The kickback on the Top Secret Estimate of the Situation was beginning to dampen a lot of enthusiasms. It was definitely a bear market for UFO's.
A bull market was on the way, however. Early 1949 was to bring "little lights" and green fireballs.
The "little lights" were UFO's, but the green fireballs were real.
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 CHAPTER FOUR

Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge
At exactly midnight on September 18, 1954, my telephone rang. It was Jim Phalen, a friend of mine from the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and he had a "good flying saucer report," hot off the wires. He read it to me. The lead line was: "Thousands of people saw a huge fireball light up dark New Mexico skies tonight."
The story went on to tell about how a "blinding green" fireball the size of a full moon had silently streaked southeast across Colorado and northern New Mexico at eight forty that night. Thousands of people had seen the fireball. It had passed right over a crowded football stadium at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and people in Denver said it "turned night into day." The crew of a TWA airliner flying into Albuquerque from Amarillo, Texas, saw it. Every police and newspaper switchboard in the two state area was jammed with calls.
One of the calls was from a man inquiring if anything unusual had happened recently. When he was informed about the mysterious fireball he heaved an audible sigh of relief, "Thanks," he said, "I was afraid I'd gotten some bad bourbon." And he hung up.
Dr. Lincoln La Paz, world-famous authority on meteorites and head of the University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics, apparently took the occurrence calmly. The wire story said he had told a reporter that he would plot its course, try to determine where it landed, and go out and try to find it. "But," he said, "I don't expect to find anything."
When Jim Phalen had read the rest of the report he asked, "What was it?"
"It sounds to me like the green fireballs are back," I answered.
"What the devil are green fireballs?"
What the devil are green fireballs? I'd like to know. So would a lot of other people.
The green fireballs streaked into UFO history late in November 1948, when people around Albuquerque, New Mexico, began to report seeing mysterious "green flares" at night. The first reports mentioned only a


48.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
"green streak in the sky," low on the horizon. From the description the Air Force Intelligence people at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque and the Project Sign people at ATIC wrote the objects off as flares. After all, thousands of GI's had probably been discharged with a duffel bag full of "liberated" Very pistols and flares.
But as days passed the reports got better. They seemed to indicate that the "flares" were getting larger and more people were reporting seeing them. It was doubtful if this "growth" was psychological because there had been no publicity - so the Air Force decided to reconsider the "flare" answer. They were in the process of doing this on the night of December 5, 1948, a memorable night in the green fireball chapter of UFO history.
At 9:27 P.M. on December 5, an Air Force C-47 transport was flying at 18,000 feet 10 miles east of Albuquerque. The pilot was a Captain Goede. Suddenly the crew, Captain Goede, his co-pilot, and his engineer were startled by a green ball of fire flashing across the sky ahead of them. It looked something like a huge meteor except that it was a bright green color and it didn't arch downward, as meteors usually do. The green- colored ball of fire had started low, from near the eastern slopes of the Sandia Mountains, arched upward a little, then seemed to level out. And it was too big for a meteor, at least it was larger than any meteor that anyone in the C-47 had ever seen before. After a hasty discussion the crew decided that they'd better tell somebody about it, especially since they had seen an identical object twenty-two minutes before near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Captain Goede picked up his microphone and called the control tower at Kirtland AFB and reported what he and his crew had seen. The tower relayed the message to the local intelligence people.
A few minutes later the captain of Pioneer Airlines Flight 63 called Kirtland Tower. At 9:35 P.M. he had also seen a green ball of fire just east of Las Vegas, New Mexico. He was on his way to Albuquerque and would make a full report when he landed.
When he taxied his DC-3 up to the passenger ramp at Kirtland a few minutes later, several intelligence officers were waiting for him. He reported that at 9:35 P.M. he was on a westerly heading, approaching Las Vegas from the east, when he and his co-pilot saw what they first thought was a "shooting star." It was ahead and a little above them. But, the captain said, it took them only a split second to realize that whatever they saw was too low and had too flat a trajectory to be a meteor. As they watched, the object seemed to approach their airplane head on, changing color from orange red to green. As it became bigger and bigger, the captain said, he thought sure it was going to collide with them so he


Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge.49
racked the DC-3 up in a tight turn. As the green ball of fire got abreast of them it began to fall toward the ground, getting dimmer and dimmer until it disappeared. Just before he swerved the DC-3, the fireball was as big, or bigger, than a full moon.
The intelligence officers asked a few more questions and went back to their office. More reports, which had been phoned in from all over northern New Mexico, were waiting for them. By morning a full-fledged investigation was under way.
No matter what these green fireballs were, the military was getting a little edgy. They might be common meteorites, psychologically enlarged flares, or true UFO's, but whatever they were they were playing around in one of the most sensitive security areas in the United States. Within 100 miles of Albuquerque were two installations that were the backbone of the atomic bomb program, Los Alamos and Sandia Base. Scattered throughout the countryside were other installations vital to the defense of the U.S.: radar stations, fighter interceptor bases, and the other mysterious areas that had been blocked off by high chain link fences.
Since the green fireballs bore some resemblance to meteors or meteorites, the Kirtland intelligence officers called in Dr. Lincoln La Paz.
Dr. La Paz said that he would be glad to help, so the officers explained the strange series of events to him. True, he said, the description of the fireballs did sound as if they might be meteorites - except for a few points. One way to be sure was to try to plot the flight path of the green fireballs the same way he had so successfully plotted the flight path of meteorites in the past. From this flight path he could determine where they would have hit the earth - if they were meteorites. They would search this area, and if they found parts of a meteorite they would have the answer to the green fireball riddle.
The fireball activity on the night of December 5 was made to order for plotting flight paths. The good reports of that night included carefully noted locations, the directions in which the green objects were seen, their heights above the horizon, and the times when they were observed. So early the next morning Dr. La Paz and a crew of intelligence officers were scouring northern New Mexico. They started out by talking to the people who had made reports but soon found out that dozens of other people had also seen the fireballs. By closely checking the time of the observations, they determined that eight separate fireballs had been seen. One was evidently more spectacular and was seen by the most people. Everyone in northern New Mexico had seen it going from west to east, so Dr. La Paz and his crew worked eastward across New Mexico to the west border of Texas, talking to dozens of people. After many sleepless hours


50.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
they finally plotted where it should have struck the earth. They searched the area but found nothing. They went back over the area time and time again-nothing. As Dr. La Paz later told me, this was the first time that he seriously doubted the green fireballs were meteorites.
Within a few more days the fireballs were appearing almost nightly. The intelligence officers from Kirtland decided that maybe they could get a good look at one of them, so on the night of December 8 two officers took off in an airplane just before dark and began to cruise around north of Albuquerque. They had a carefully worked out plan where each man would observe certain details if they saw one of the green fireballs. At 6:33 P.M. they saw one. This is their report:
At 6:33 P.M. while flying at an indicated altitude of 11,500 feet, a strange phenomenon was observed. Exact position of the aircraft at time of the observation was 20 miles east of the Las Vegas, N.M., radio range station. The aircraft was on a compass course of 90 degrees. Capt. was pilot and I was acting as copilot. I first observed the object and a split second later the pilot saw it. It was 2,000 feet higher than the plane, and was approaching the plane at a rapid rate of speed from 30 degrees to the left of our course. The object was similar in appearance to a burning green flare, the kind that is commonly used in the Air Force. However, the light was much more intense and the object appeared considerably larger than a normal flare. The trajectory of the object, when first sighted, was almost flat and parallel to the earth. The phenomenon lasted about 2 seconds. At the end of this time the object seemed to begin to burn out and the trajectory then dropped off rapidly. The phenomenon was of such intensity as to be visible from the very moment it ignited.
Back at Wright-Patterson AFB, ATIC was getting a blow-by-blow account of the fireball activity but they were taking no direct part in the investigation. Their main interest was to review all incoming UFO reports and see if the green fireball reports were actually unique to the Albuquerque area. They were. Although a good many UFO reports were coming in from other parts of the U.S., none fit the description of the green fireballs.
All during December 1948 and January 1949 the green fireballs continued to invade the New Mexico skies. Everyone, including the intelligence officers at Kirtland AFB, Air Defense Command people, Dr. La Paz, and some of the most distinguished scientists at Los Alamos had seen at least one.
In mid February 1949 a conference was called at Los Alamos to determine what should be done to further pursue the investigation. The Air Force, Project Sign, the intelligence people at Kirtland, and other interested parties had done everything they could think of and still no answer.


Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge.51
Such notable scientists as Dr. Joseph Kaplan, a world-renowned authority on the physics of the upper atmosphere, Dr. Edward Teller, of H-bomb fame, and of course Dr. La Paz, attended, along with a lot of military brass and scientists from Los Alamos.
This was one conference where there was no need to discuss whether or not this special type of UFO, the green fireball, existed. Almost everyone at the meeting had seen one. The purpose of the conference was to decide whether the fireballs were natural or man-made and how to find out more about them.
As happens in any conference, opinions were divided. Some people thought the green fireballs were natural fireballs. The proponents of the natural meteor, or meteorite, theory presented facts that they had dug out of astronomical journals. Greenish colored meteors, although not common, had been observed on many occasions. The flat trajectory, which seemed to be so important in proving that the green fireballs were extraterrestrial, was also nothing new. When viewed from certain angles, a meteor can appear to have a flat trajectory. The reason that so many had been seen during December of 1948 and January of 1949 was that the weather had been unusually clear all over the Southwest during this period.
Dr. La Paz led the group who believed that the green fireballs were not meteors or meteorites. His argument was derived from the facts that he had gained after many days of research and working with Air Force intelligence teams. He stuck to the points that (1) the trajectory was too flat, (2) the color was too green, and (3) he couldn't locate any fragments even though he had found the spots where they should have hit the earth if they were meteorites.
People who were at that meeting have told me that Dr. La Paz's theory was very interesting and that each point was carefully considered. But evidently it wasn't conclusive enough because when the conference broke up, after two days, it was decided that the green fireballs were a natural phenomenon of some kind. It was recommended that this phase of the UFO investigation be given to the Air Force's Cambridge Research Laboratory, since it is the function of this group to study natural phenomena, and that Cambridge set up a project to attempt to photograph the green fireballs and measure their speed, altitude, and size.
In the late summer of 1949, Cambridge established Project Twinkle to solve the mystery. The project called for establishing three cinetheodolite stations near White Sands, New Mexico. A cinetheodolite is similar to a 35 mm. movie camera except when you take a photograph of an object you also get a photograph of three dials that show the time the photo was taken, the azimuth angle, and the elevation angle of the camera.


52.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
If two or more cameras photograph the same object, it is possible to obtain a very accurate measurement of the photographed object's altitude, speed, and size.
Project Twinkle was a bust. Absolutely nothing was photographed. Of the three cameras that were planned for the project, only one was available. This one camera was continually being moved from place to place. If several reports came from a certain area, the camera crew would load up their equipment and move to that area, always arriving too late. Any duck hunter can tell you that this is the wrong tactic; if you want to shoot any ducks pick a good place and stay put, let the ducks come to you.
The people trying to operate Project Twinkle were having financial and morale trouble. To do a good job they needed more and better equipment and more people, but Air Force budget cuts precluded this. Moral support was free but they didn't get this either.
When the Korean War started, Project Twinkle silently died, along with official interest in green fireballs.
When I organized Project Blue Book in the summer of 1951 I'd never heard of a green fireball. We had a few files marked "Los Alamos Conference," "Fireballs," "Project Twinkle," etc., but I didn't pay any attention to them.
Then one day I was at a meeting in Los Angeles with several other officers from ATIC, and was introduced to Dr. Joseph Kaplan. When he found we were from ATIC, his first question was, "What ever happened to the green fireballs?" None of us had ever heard of them, so he quickly gave us the story. He and I ended up discussing green fireballs. He mentioned Dr. La Paz and his opinion that the green fireballs might be man-made, and although he respected La Paz's professional ability, he just wasn't convinced. But he did strongly urge me to get in touch with Dr. La Paz and hear his side of the story.
When I returned to ATIC I spent several days digging into our collection of green fireball reports. All of these reports covered a period from early December 1948 to 1949. As far as Blue Book's files were concerned, there hadn't been a green fireball report for a year and a half.
I read over the report on Project Twinkle and the few notes we had on the Los Alamos Conference, and decided that the next time I went to Albuquerque I'd contact Dr. La Paz. I did go to Albuquerque several times but my visits were always short and I was always in a hurry so I didn't get to see him.
It was six or eight months later before the subject of green fireballs came up again. I was eating lunch with a group of people at the AEC's Los Alamos Laboratory when one of the group mentioned the mysterious


Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge.53
kelly-green balls of fire. The strictly unofficial bull-session-type discussion that followed took up the entire lunch hour and several hours of the afternoon. It was an interesting discussion because these people, all scientists and technicians from the lab, had a few educated guesses as to what they might be. All of them had seen a green fireball, some of them had seen several.
One of the men, a private pilot, had encountered a fireball one night while he was flying his Navion north of Santa Fe and he had a vivid way of explaining what he'd seen. "Take a soft ball and paint it with some kind of fluorescent paint that will glow a bright green in the dark," I remember his saying, "then have someone take the ball out about 100 feet in front of you and about 10 feet above you. Have him throw the ball right at your face, as hard as he can throw it. That's what a green fireball looks like."
The speculation about what the green fireballs were ran through the usual spectrum of answers, a new type of natural phenomenon, a secret U.S. development, and psychologically enlarged meteors. When the possibility of the green fireballs' being associated with interplanetary vehicles came up, the whole group got serious. They had been doing a lot of thinking about this, they said, and they had a theory.
The green fireballs, they theorized, could be some type of unmanned test vehicle that was being projected into our atmosphere from a "spaceship" hovering several hundred miles above the earth. Two years ago I would have been amazed to hear a group of reputable scientists make such a startling statement. Now, however, I took it as a matter of course. I'd heard the same type of statement many times before from equally qualified groups.
Turn the tables, they said, suppose that we are going to try to go to a far planet. There would be three phases to the trip: out through the earth's atmosphere, through space, and the re-entry into the atmosphere of the planet we're planning to land on. The first two phases would admittedly present formidable problems, but the last phase, the re-entry phase, would be the most critical. Coming in from outer space, the craft would, for all practical purposes, be similar to a meteorite except that it would be powered and not free falling. You would have myriad problems associated with aerodynamic heating, high aerodynamic loadings, and very probably a host of other problems that no one can now conceive of. Certain of these problems could be partially solved by laboratory experimentation, but nothing can replace flight testing, and the results obtained by flight tests in our atmosphere would not be valid in another type of atmosphere. The most logical way to overcome this difficulty would be


54.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
to build our interplanetary vehicle, go to the planet that we were interested in landing on, and hover several hundred miles up. From this altitude we could send instrumented test vehicles down to the planet. If we didn't want the inhabitants of the planet, if it were inhabited, to know what we were doing we could put destruction devices in the test vehicle, or arrange the test so that the test vehicles would just plain burn up at a certain point due to aerodynamic heating.
They continued, each man injecting his ideas.
Maybe the green fireballs are test vehicles-somebody else's. The regular UFO reports might be explained by the fact that the manned vehicles were venturing down to within 100,000 or 200,000 feet of the earth, or to the altitude at which atmosphere re-entry begins to get critical.
I had to go down to the airstrip to get a CARGO Airlines plane back to Albuquerque so I didn't have time to ask a lot of questions that came into my mind. I did get to make one comment. From the conversations, I assumed that these people didn't think the green fireballs were any kind of a natural phenomenon. Not exactly, they said, but so far the evidence that said they were a natural phenomenon was vastly outweighed by the evidence that said they weren't.
During the kidney jolting trip down the valley from Los Alamos to Albuquerque in one of the CARGO Airlines' Bonanzas, I decided that I'd stay over an extra day and talk to Dr. La Paz.
He knew every detail there was to know about the green fireballs. He confirmed my findings, that the genuine green fireballs were no longer being seen. He said that he'd received hundreds of reports, especially after he'd written several articles about the mysterious fireballs, but that all of the reported objects were just greenish colored, common, everyday meteors.
Dr. La Paz said that some people, including Dr. Joseph Kaplan and Dr. Edward Teller, thought that the green fireballs were natural meteors. He didn't think so, however, for several reasons. First the color was so much different. To illustrate his point, Dr. La Paz opened his desk drawer and took out a well worn chart of the color spectrum. He checked off two shades of green; one a pale, almost yellowish green and the other a much more distinct vivid green. He pointed to the bright green and told me that this was the color of the green fireballs. He'd taken this chart with him when he went out to talk to people who had seen the green fireballs and everyone had picked this one color. The pale green, he explained, was the color reported in the cases of documented green meteors.
Then there were other points of dissimilarity between a meteor and the green fireballs. The trajectory of the fireballs was too flat. Dr. La Paz


Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge.55
explained that a meteor doesn't necessarily have to arch down across the sky, its trajectory can appear to be flat, but not as flat as that of the green fireballs. Then there was the size. Almost always such descriptive words as "terrifying," "as big as the moon," and "blinding" had been used to describe the fireballs. Meteors just aren't this big and bright.
No ---Dr. La Paz didn't think that they were meteors.
Dr. La Paz didn't believe that they were meteorites either.
A meteorite is accompanied by sound and shock waves that break windows and stampede cattle. Yet in every case of a green fireball sighting the observers reported that they did not hear any sound.
But the biggest mystery of all was the fact that no particles of a green fireball had ever been found. If they were meteorites, Dr. La Paz was positive that he would have found one. He'd missed very few times in the cases of known meteorites. He pulled a map out of his file to show me what he meant. It was a map that he had used to plot the spot where a meteorite had hit the earth. I believe it was in Kansas. The map had been prepared from information he had obtained from dozens of people who had seen the meteorite come flaming toward the earth. At each spot where an observer was standing he'd drawn in the observer's line of sight to the meteorite. From the dozens of observers he had obtained dozens of lines of sight. The lines all converged to give Dr. La Paz a plot of the meteorite's downward trajectory. Then he had been able to plot the spot where it had struck the earth. He and his crew went to the marked area, probed the ground with long steel poles, and found the meteorite.
Of all the successful expeditions in his file this was just one case that he showed me. He had records of many more similar expeditions.
Then he showed me some other maps. The plotted lines looked identical to the ones on the map I'd just seen. Dr. La Paz had used the same techniques on these plots and had marked an area where he wanted to search. He had searched the area many times but he had never found anything.
These were plots of the path of a green fireball.
When Dr. La Paz had finished, I had one last question, "What do you think they are?"
He weighed the question for a few seconds then he said that all he cared to say was that he didn't think that they were a natural phenomenon. He thought that maybe someday one would hit the earth and the mystery would be solved. He hoped that they were a natural phenomenon.
After my talk with Dr. La Paz I can well understand his apparent calmness on the night of September 18, 1954, when the newspaper reporter called him to find out if he planned to investigate this latest green fireball


56.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
report. He was speaking from experience, not indifference, when he said, "But I don't expect to find anything."
If the green fireballs are back, I hope that Dr. La Paz gets an answer this time.
The story of the UFO now goes back to late January 1949, the time when the Air Force was in the midst of the green fireball mystery. In another part of the country another odd series of events was taking place. The center of activity was a highly secret area that can't be named, and the recipient of the UFO's, which were formations of little lights, was the U.S. Army.
The series of incidents started when military patrols who were protecting the area began to report seeing formations of lights flying through the night sky. At first the lights were reported every three or four nights, but inside of two weeks the frequency had stepped up. Before long they were a nightly occurrence. Some patrols reported that they had seen three or four formations in one night. The sightings weren't restricted to the men on patrol. One night, just at dusk, during retreat, the entire garrison watched a formation pass directly over the post parade ground.
As usual with UFO reports, the descriptions of the lights varied but the majority of the observers reported a V formation of three lights. As the formation moved through the sky, the lights changed in color from a bluish white to orange and back to bluish white. This color cycle took about two seconds. The lights usually traveled from west to east and made no sound. They didn't streak across the sky like a meteor, but they were "going faster than a jet." The lights were "a little bigger than the biggest star." Once in a while the GI's would get binoculars on them but they couldn't see any more details. The lights just looked bigger.
From the time of the first sighting, reports of the little lights were being sent to the Air Force through Army Intelligence channels. The reports were getting to ATIC, but the green fireball activity was taking top billing and no comments went back to the Army about their little lights. According to an Army G-2 major to whom I talked in the Pentagon, this silence was taken to mean that no action, other than sending in reports, was necessary on the part of the Army.
But after about two weeks of nightly sightings and no apparent action by the Air Force, the commander of the installation decided to take the initiative and set a trap. His staff worked out a plan in record time. Special UFO patrols would be sent out into the security area and they would be furnished with sighting equipment. This could be the equipment that they normally used for fire control. Each patrol would be sent to a specific location and would set up a command post. Operating out of the command


Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge.57
post, at points where the sky could be observed, would be sighting teams. Each team had sighting equipment to measure the elevation and azimuth angle of the UFO. Four men were to be on each team, an instrument man, a timer, a recorder, and a radio operator. All the UFO patrols would be assigned special radio frequencies.
The operating procedure would be that when one sighting team spotted a UFO the radio operator would call out his team's location, the location of the UFO in the sky, and the direction it was going. All of the other teams from his patrol would thus know when to look for the UFO and begin to sight on it. While the radio man was reporting, the instrument man on the team would line up the UFO and begin to call out the angles of elevation and azimuth. The timer would call out the time; the recorder would write all of this down. The command post, upon hearing the report of the UFO, would call the next patrol and tell them. They too would try to pick it up.
Here was an excellent opportunity to get some concrete data on at least one type of UFO. It was something that should have been done from the start. Speeds, altitudes, and sizes that are estimated just by looking at a UFO are miserably inaccurate. But if you could accurately establish that some type of object was traveling 30,000 miles an hour, even 3,000 miles an hour - through our atmosphere, the UFO story would be the biggest story since the Creation.
The plan seemed foolproof and had the full support of every man who was to participate. For the first time in history every GI wanted to get on the patrols. The plan was quickly written up as a field order, approved, and mimeographed. Since the Air Force had the prime responsibility for the UFO investigation, it was decided that the plan should be quickly coordinated with the Air Force, so a copy was rushed to them. Time was critical because every group of nightly reports might be the last. Everything was ready to roll the minute the Air Force said "Go."
The Air Force didn't O.K. the plan. I don't know where the plan was killed, or who killed it, but it was killed. Its death caused two reactions.
Many people thought that the plan was killed so that too many people wouldn't find out the truth about UFO's. Others thought somebody was just plain stupid. Neither was true. The answer was simply that the official attitude toward UFO's had drastically changed in the past few months. They didn't exist, they couldn't exist. It was the belief at ATIC that the one last mystery, the green fireballs, had been solved a few days before at Los Alamos. The fireballs were meteors and Project Twinkle would prove it. Any further investigation by the Army would be a waste of time and effort.


58. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
This drastic change in official attitude is as difficult to explain as it was difficult for many people who knew what was going on inside Project Sign to believe. I use the words "official attitude" because at this time UFO's had become as controversial a subject as they are today. All through intelligence circles people had chosen sides and the two UFO factions that exist today were born.
On one side was the faction that still believed in flying saucers. These people, come hell or high water, were hanging on to their original ideas. Some thought that the UFO's were interplanetary spaceships. Others weren't quite as bold and just believed that a good deal more should be known about the UFO's before they were so completely written off. These people weren't a bunch of nuts or crackpots either. They ranged down through the ranks from generals and top grade civilians. On the outside their views were backed up by civilian scientists.
On the other side were those who didn't believe in flying saucers. At one time many of them had been believers. When the UFO reports were pouring in back in 1947 and 1948, they were just as sure that the UFO's were real as the people they were now scoffing at. But they had changed their minds. Some of them had changed their minds because they had seriously studied the UFO reports and just couldn't see any evidence that the UFO's were real. But many of them could see the "I don't believe" band wagon pulling out in front and just jumped on.
This change in the operating policy of the UFO project was so pronounced that I, like so many other people, wondered if there was a hidden reason for the change. Was it actually an attempt to go underground - to make the project more secretive? Was it an effort to cover up the fact that UFO's were proven to be interplanetary and that this should be withheld from the public at all cost to prevent a mass panic? The UFO files are full of references to the near mass panic of October 30, 1938, when Orson Welles presented his now famous "The War of the Worlds" broadcast.
This period of "mind changing" bothered me. Here were people deciding that there was nothing to this UFO business right at a time when the reports seemed to be getting better. From what I could see, if there was any mind changing to be done it should have been the other way, skeptics should have been changing to believers.
Maybe I was just playing the front man to a big cover-up. I didn't like it because if somebody up above me knew that UFO's were really space craft, I could make a big fool out of myself if the truth came out. I checked into this thoroughly. I spent a lot of time talking to people who had worked on Project Grudge.


The Dark Ages.59
The anti saucer faction was born because of an old psychological trait, people don't like to be losers. To be a loser makes one feel inferior and incompetent. On September 23, 1947, when the chief of ATIC sent a letter to the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces stating that UFO's were real, intelligence committed themselves. They had to prove it. They tried for a year and a half with no success. Officers on top began to get anxious and the press began to get anxious. They wanted an answer. Intelligence had tried one answer, the then Top Secret Estimate of the Situation that "proved" that UFO's were real, but it was kicked back. The people on the UFO project began to think maybe the brass didn't consider them too sharp so they tried a new hypothesis: UFO's don't exist. In no time they found that this was easier to prove and it got recognition. Before if an especially interesting UFO report came in and the Pentagon wanted an answer, all they'd get was an "It could be real but we can't prove it." Now such a request got a quick, snappy "It was a balloon," and feathers were stuck in caps from ATIC up to the Pentagon. Everybody felt fine.
In early 1949 the term "new look" was well known. The new look in women's fashions was the lower hemlines, in automobiles it was longer lines. In UFO circles the new look was cuss 'em.
The new look in UFO's was officially acknowledged on February 11, 1949, when an order was written that changed the name of the UFO project from Project Sign to Project Grudge. The order was supposedly written because the classified name, Project Sign, had been compromised. This was always my official answer to any questions about the name change. I'd go further and say that the names of the projects, first Sign, then Grudge, had no significance. This wasn't true, they did have significance, a lot of it.
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CHAPTER FIVE
The Dark Ages
The order of February 11, 1949, that changed the name of Project Sign to Project Grudge had not directed any change in the operating policy of the project. It had, in fact, pointed out that the project was to continue to investigate and evaluate reports of sightings of unidentified flying objects. In doing this, standard intelligence procedures would be used. This nor-

60.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
mally means the unbiased evaluation of intelligence data. But it doesn't take a great deal of study of the old UFO files to see that standard intelligence procedures were no longer being used by Project Grudge. Everything was being evaluated on the premise that UFO's couldn't exist. No matter what you see or hear, don't believe it.
New people took over Project Grudge. ATIC's top intelligence specialists who had been so eager to work on Project Sign were no longer working on Project Grudge. Some of them had drastically and hurriedly changed their minds about UFO's when they thought that the Pentagon was no longer sympathetic to the UFO cause. They were now directing their talents toward more socially acceptable projects. Other charter members of Project Sign had been "purged." These were the people who had refused to change their original opinions about UFO's.
With the new name and the new personnel came the new objective, get rid of the UFO's. It was never specified this way in writing but it didn't take much effort to see that this was the goal of Project Grudge. This unwritten objective was reflected in every memo, report, and directive.
To reach their objective Project Grudge launched into a campaign that opened a new age in the history of the UFO. If a comparative age in world history can be chosen, the Dark Ages would be most appropriate. Webster's Dictionary defines the Dark Ages as a period of "intellectual stagnation."
To one who is intimately familiar with UFO history it is clear that Project Grudge had a two phase program of UFO annihilation. The first phase consisted of explaining every UFO report. The second phase was to tell the public how the Air Force had solved all the sightings. This, Project Grudge reasoned, would put an end to UFO reports.
Phase one had been started by the people of Project Sign. They realized that a great many reports were caused by people seeing balloons or such astronomical bodies as planets, meteors, or stars. They also realized that before they could get to the heart of the UFO problems they had to sift out this type of report. To do this they had called on outside help. Air Weather Service had been asked to screen the reports and check those that sounded like balloons against their records of balloon flights. Dr. J. Allen Hynek, distinguished astrophysicist and head of Ohio State University's Astronomy Department, had been given a contract to sort out those reports that could be blamed on stars, planets, meteors, etc. By early March the Air Weather Service and Dr. Hynek had some positive identifications. According to the old records, with these solutions and those that Sign and Grudge had already found, about 50 per cent of the reported UFO's could now be positively identified as hoaxes, balloons,


The Dark Ages.61
planets, sundogs, etc. It was now time to start phase two, the publicity campaign.
For many months reporters and writers had been trying to reach behind the security wall and get the UFO story from the horse's mouth, but no luck. Some of them were still trying but they were having no success because they were making the mistake of letting it slip that they didn't believe that airline pilots, military pilots, scientists, and just all around solid citizens were having "hallucinations," perpetrating "hoaxes," or being deceived by the "misidentification of common objects." The people of Project Grudge weren't looking for this type of writer, they wanted a writer who would listen to them and write their story. As a public relations officer later told me, "We had a devil of a time. All of the writers who were after saucer stories had made their own investigations of sightings and we couldn't convince them they were wrong."
Before long, however, the right man came along. He was Sidney Shallet, a writer for The Saturday Evening Post. He seemed to have the prerequisites that were desired, so his visit to ATIC was cleared through the Pentagon. Harry Haberer, a crack Air Force public relations man, was assigned the job of seeing that Shallet got his story. I have heard many times, from both military personnel and civilians, that the Air Force told Shallet exactly what to say in his article - play down the UFO's - don't write anything that even hints that there might be something foreign in our skies. I don't believe that this is the case. I think that he just wrote the UFO story as it was told to him, told to him by Project Grudge.
Shallet's article, which appeared in two parts in the April 30 and May 7, 1949, issues of The Saturday Evening Post, is important in the history of the UFO and in understanding the UFO problem because it had considerable effect on public opinion. Many people had, with varying degrees of interest, been wondering about the UFO's for over a year and a half. Very few had any definite opinions one way or the other. The feeling seemed to be that the Air Force is working on the problem and when they get the answer we'll know. There had been a few brief, ambiguous press releases from the Air Force but these meant nothing. Consequently when Shallet's article appeared in the Post it was widely read. It contained facts, and the facts had come from Air Force Intelligence. This was the Air Force officially reporting on UFO's for the first time.
The article was typical of the many flying saucer stories that were to follow in the later years of UFO history, all written from material obtained from the Air Force. Shallet's article casually admitted that a few UFO sightings couldn't be explained, but the reader didn't have much chance to think about this fact because 99 per cent of the story was devoted


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to the anti saucer side of the problem. It was the typical negative approach. I know that the negative approach is typical of the way that material is handed out by the Air Force because I was continually being told to "tell them about the sighting reports we've solved - don't mention the unknowns." I was never ordered to tell this, but it was a strong suggestion and in the military when higher headquarters suggests, you do.
Shallet's article started out by psychologically conditioning the reader by using such phrases as "the great flying saucer scare," "rich, full blown screwiness," "fearsome freaks," and so forth. By the time the reader gets to the meat of the article he feels like a rich, full blown jerk for ever even thinking about UFO's.
He pointed out how the "furor" about UFO reports got so great that the Air Force was "forced" to investigate the reports reluctantly. He didn't mention that two months after the first UFO report ATIC had asked for Project Sign since they believed that UFO's did exist. Nor did it mention the once Top Secret Estimate of the Situation that also concluded that UFO's were real. In no way did the article reflect the excitement and anxiety of the age of Project Sign when secret conferences preceded and followed every trip to investigate a UFO report. This was the Air Force being "forced" into reluctantly investigating the UFO reports.
Laced through the story were the details of several UFO sightings; some new and some old, as far as the public was concerned. The original UFO report by Kenneth Arnold couldn't be explained. Arnold, however, had sold his story to Fate magazine and in the same issue of Fate were stories with such titles as "Behind the Etheric Veil" and "Invisible Beings Walk the Earth," suggesting that Arnold's story might fall into the same category. The sightings where the Air Force had the answer had detailed explanations. The ones that were unknowns were mentioned, but only in passing.
Many famous names were quoted. The late General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, then Chief of Staff of the Air Force, had seen a flying saucer but it was just a reflection on the windshield of his B-17. General Lauris Norstad's UFO was a reflection of a star on a cloud, and General Curtis E. Le May found out that one out of six UFO's was a balloon; Colonel McCoy, then chief of ATIC, had seen lots of UFO's. All were reflections from distant airplanes. In other words, nobody who is anybody in the Air Force believes in flying saucers.
Figures in the top echelons of the military had spoken.
A few hoaxes and crackpot reports rounded out Mr. Shallet's article.
The reaction to the article wasn't what the Air Force and ATIC expected. They had thought that the public would read the article and


The Dark Ages.63
toss it, and all thoughts of UFO's, into the trash can. But they didn't. Within a few days the frequency of UFO reports hit an all-time high. People, both military and civilian, evidently didn't much care what Generals Vandenberg, Norstad, Le May, or Colonel McCoy thought; they didn't believe what they were seeing were hallucinations, reflections, or balloons. What they were seeing were UFO's, whatever UFO's might be.
I heard many times from ex-Project Grudge people that Shallet had "crossed" them, he'd vaguely mentioned that there might be a case for the UFO. This made him pro saucer.
A few days after the last installment of the Post article the Air Force gave out a long and detailed press release completely debunking UFO's, but this had no effect. It only seemed to add to the confusion.
The one thing that Shallet's article accomplished was to plant a seed of doubt in many people's minds. Was the Air Force telling the truth about UFO's? The public and a large percentage of the military didn't know what was going on behind ATIC's barbed wire fence but they did know that a lot of reliable people had seen UFO's. Airline pilots are considered responsible people - airline pilots had seen UFO's. Experienced military pilots and ground officers are responsible people - they'd seen UFO's. Scientists, doctors, lawyers, merchants, and plain old Joe Doakes had seen UFO's, and their friends knew that they were responsible people. Somehow these facts and the tone of the Post article didn't quite jibe, and when things don't jibe, people get suspicious.
In those people who had a good idea of what was going on behind ATIC's barbed wire, the newspaper reporters and writers with the "usually reliable sources," the Post article planted a bigger seed of doubt. Why the sudden change in policy they wondered? If UFO's were so serious a few months ago, why the sudden debunking? Maybe Shallet's story was a put-up job for the Air Force. Maybe the security had been tightened. Their sources of information were reporting that many people in the military did not quite buy the Shallet article. The seed of doubt began to grow, and some of these writers began to start "independent investigations" to get the "true" story. Research takes time, so during the summer and fall of 1949 there wasn't much apparent UFO activity.
As the writers began to poke around for their own facts, Project Grudge lapsed more and more into a period of almost complete inactivity. Good UFO reports continued to come in at the rate of about ten per month but they weren't being verified or investigated. Most of them were being discarded. There are few, if any, UFO reports for the middle and latter part of 1949 in the ATIC files. Only the logbook, showing incoming reports, gives any idea of the activity of this period. The meager effort that was


64.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
being made was going into a report that evaluated old UFO reports, those received prior to the spring of 1949. Project Grudge thought that they were writing a final report on the UFO's.
From the small bits of correspondence and memos that were in the ATIC files, it was apparent that Project Grudge thought that the UFO was on its way out. Any writers inquiring about UFO activity were referred to the debunking press release given out just after the Post article had been published. There was no more to say. Project Grudge thought they were winning the UFO battle; the writers thought that they were covering up a terrific news story - the story that the Air Force knew what flying saucers were and weren't telling.
By late fall 1949 the material for several UFO stories had been collected by writers who had been traveling all over the United States talking to people who had seen UFO's. By early winter the material had been worked up into UFO stories. In December the presses began to roll. True magazine "scooped" the world with their story that UFO's were from outer space.
The True article, entitled, "The Flying Saucers Are Real," was written by Donald Keyhoe. The article opened with a hard punch. In the first paragraph Keyhoe concluded that after eight months of extensive research he had found evidence that the earth was being closely scrutinized by intelligent beings. Their vehicles were the so-called flying saucers. Then he proceeded to prove his point. His argument was built around the three classics: the Mantell, the Chiles-Whitted, and the Gorman incidents. He took each sighting, detailed the "facts," ripped the official Air Force conclusions to shreds, and presented his own analysis. He threw in a varied assortment of technical facts that gave the article a distinct, authoritative flavor. This, combined with the fact that True had the name for printing the truth, hit the reading public like an 8 inch howitzer. Hours after it appeared in subscribers' mailboxes and on the newsstands, radio and TV commentators and newspapers were giving it a big play. UFO's were back in business, to stay. True was in business too. It is rumored among magazine publishers that Don Keyhoe's article in True was one of the most widely read and widely discussed magazine articles in history.
The Air Force had inadvertently helped Keyhoe in fact, they made his story a success. He and several other writers had contacted the Air Force asking for information for their magazine articles. But, knowing that the articles were pro saucer, the writers were unceremoniously sloughed off. Keyhoe carried his fight right to the top, to General Sory Smith, Director of the Office of Public Information, but still no dice - the Air Force wasn't divulging any more than they had already told. Keyhoe


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construed this to mean tight security, the tightest type of security. Keyhoe had one more approach, however. He was an ex-Annapolis graduate, and among his classmates were such people as Admiral Delmar Fahmey, then a top figure in the Navy guided missile program and Admiral Calvin Bolster, the Director of the Office of Naval Research. He went to see them but they couldn't help him. He knew that this meant the real UFO story was big and that it could be only one thing - interplanetary spaceships or earthly weapons - and his contacts denied they were earthly weapons. He played this security angle in his True article and in a later book, and it gave the story the needed punch.
But the Air Force wasn't trying to cover up. It was just that they didn't want Keyhoe or any other saucer fans in their hair. They couldn't be bothered. They didn't believe in flying saucers and couldn't feature anybody else believing. Believing, to the people in ATIC in 1949, meant even raising the possibility that there might be something to the reports.
The Air Force had a plan to counter the Keyhoe article, or any other story that might appear. The plan originated at ATIC. It called for a general officer to hold a short press conference, flash his stars, and speak the magic words "hoaxes, hallucinations, and the misidentification of known objects," True, Keyhoe and the rest would go broke trying to peddle their magazines. The True article did come out, the general spoke, the public laughed, and Keyhoe and True got rich. Only the other magazines that had planned to run UFO stories, and that were scooped by True, lost out. Their stories were killed they would have been an anti-climax to Keyhoe's potboiler.
The Air Force's short press conference was followed by a press release. On December 27, 1949, it was announced that Project Grudge had been closed out and the final report on UFO's would be released to the press in a few days. When it was released it caused widespread interest because, supposedly, this was all that the Air Force knew about UFO's. Once again, instead of throwing large amounts of cold water on the UFO's, it only caused more confusion.
The report was officially titled "Unidentified Flying Objects Project Grudge," Technical Report No. 102-AC-49/15-lOO. But it was widely referred to as the Grudge Report.
The Grudge Report was a typical military report. There was the body of the report, which contained the short discussion, conclusions, and recommendations. Then there were several appendixes that were supposed to substantiate the conclusions and recommendations made in the report.
One of the appendixes was the final report of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Project Grudge's contract astronomer. Dr. Hynek and his staff had studied


66.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
237 of the best UFO reports. They had spent several months analyzing each report. By searching through astronomical journals and checking the location of various celestial bodies, they found that some UFO's could be explained. Of the 237 reports he and his staff examined, 32 per cent could be explained astronomically.
The Air Force Air Weather Service and the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory had sifted the reports for UFO's that might have been balloons. These two organizations had data on the flights of both the regular weather balloons and the huge, high flying skyhooks. They wrote off 12 per cent of the 237 UFO reports under study as balloons.
This left 56 per cent still unknown. By weeding out the hoaxes, the reports that were too nebulous to evaluate, and reports that could well be misidentified airplanes, Project Grudge disposed of another 33 per cent of the reports. This left 23 per cent that fell in the "unknown" category.
There were more appendixes. The Rand Corporation, one of the most unpublicized yet highly competent contractors to the Air Force, looked over the reports and made the statement, "We have found nothing which would seriously controvert simple rational explanations of the various phenomena in terms of balloons, conventional aircraft, planets, meteors, bits of paper, optical illusions, practical jokers, psycho pathological reporters, and the like." But Rand's comment didn't help a great deal because they didn't come up with any solutions to any of the 23 per cent unknown.
The Psychology Branch of the Air Force's Aeromedical Laboratory took a pass at the psychological angles. They said, "there are sufficient psychological explanations for the reports of unidentified objects to provide plausible explanations for reports not otherwise explainable." They pointed out that some people have "spots in front of their eyes" due to minute solid particles that float about in the fluids of the eye and cast shadows on the retina. Then they pointed out that some people are just plain nuts. Many people who read the Grudge Report took these two points to mean that all UFO observers either had spots in front of their eyes or were nuts. They broke the reports down statistically. The people who wrote the report found that over 70 per cent of the people making sightings reported a light colored object. (This I doubt, but that's what the report said.) They said a big point of these reports of light colored objects was that any high flying object will appear to be dark against the sky. For this reason the UFO's couldn't be real.
I suggest that the next time you are outdoors and see a bomber go over at high altitude you look at it closely. Unless it's painted a dark color it won't look dark.


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The U.S. Weather Bureau wrote an extremely comprehensive and interesting report on all types of lightning. It was included in the Grudge Report but contained a note: "None of the recorded incidents appear to have been lightning."
There was one last appendix. It was entitled, "Summary of the Evaluation of Remaining Reports." What the title meant was, We have 23 per cent of the reports that we can't explain but we have to explain them because we don't believe in flying saucers. This appendix contributed greatly to the usage of the analogy to the Dark Ages, the age of "intellectual stagnation."
This appendix was important - it was the meat of the whole report. Every UFO sighting had been carefully checked, and those with answers had been sifted out. Then the ones listed in "Summary of the Evaluation of Remaining Reports" should be the best UFO reports - the ones with no answers.
This was the appendix that the newsmen grabbed at when the Grudge Report was released. It contained the big story. But if you'll check back through old newspaper files you will hardly find a mention of the Grudge Report.
I was told that reporters just didn't believe it when I tried to find out why the Grudge Report hadn't been mentioned in the newspapers. I got the story from a newspaper correspondent in Washington whom I came to know pretty well and who kept me filled in on the latest UFO scuttlebutt being passed around the Washington press circles. He was one of those humans who had a brain like a filing cabinet; he could remember everything about everything. UFO's were a hobby of his. He remembered when the Grudge Report came out; in fact, he'd managed to get a copy of his own. He said the report had been quite impressive, but only in its ambiguousness, illogical reasoning, and very apparent effort to write off all UFO reports at any cost. He, personally, thought that it was a poor attempt to put out a "fake" report, full of misleading information, to cover up the real story. Others, he told me, just plainly and simply didn't know what to think - they were confused.
And they had every right to be confused.
As an example of the way that many of the better reports of the 1947-49 period were "evaluated" let's take the report of a pilot who tangled with a UFO near Washington, D.C., on the night of November 18, 1948.
At about 9:45 EST I noticed a light moving generally north to south over Andrews AFB. It appeared to be one continuous, glowing white light. I thought it was an aircraft with only one landing light so I moved


68.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
in closer to check, as I wanted to get into the landing pattern. I was well above landing traffic altitude at this time. As I neared the light I noticed that it was not another airplane. Just then it began to take violent evasive action so I tried to close on it. I made first contact at 2,700 feet over the field. I switched my navigation lights on and off but got no answer so I went in closer - but the light quickly flew up and over my airplane. I then tried to close again but the light turned. I tried to turn inside of its turn and, at the same time, get the light between the moon and me, but even with my flaps lowered I couldn't turn inside the light. I never did manage to get into a position where the light was silhouetted against the moon.
I chased the light up and down and around for about 10 minutes, then as a last resort I made a pass and turned on my landing lights. Just before the object made a final tight turn and headed for the coast I saw that it was a dark gray oval-shaped object, smaller than my T-6. I couldn't tell if the light was on the object or if the whole object had been glowing.
Two officers and a crew chief, a master sergeant, completely corroborated the pilot's report. They had been standing on the flight line and had witnessed the entire incident.
The Air Weather Service, who had been called in as experts on weather balloons, read this report. They said, "Definitely not a balloon." Dr. Hynek said, "No astronomical explanation." It wasn't another airplane and it wasn't a hallucination.
But Project Grudge had an answer, it was a weather balloon. There was no explanation as to why they had so glibly reversed the decision of the Air Weather Service.
There was an answer for every report.
From the 600 pages of appendixes, discussions of the appendixes, and careful studies of UFO reports, it was concluded that:
1. Evaluation of reports of unidentified flying objects constitute no direct threat to the national security of the United States.
2. Reports of unidentified flying objects are the result of:
a. A mild form of mass hysteria or "war nerves."
b. Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity.
c. Psycho pathological persons.
d. Misidentification of various conventional objects.

It was recommended that Project Grudge be "reduced in scope" and that only "those reports clearly indicating realistic technical applications" be sent to Grudge. There was a note below these recommendations. It said, "It is readily apparent that further study along present lines would only confirm the findings presented herein."
Somebody read the note and concurred because with the completion and approval of the Grudge Report, Project Grudge folded. People could


The Presses Roll-The Air Force Shrugs.69
rant and rave, see flying saucers, pink elephants, sea serpents, or Harvey, but it was no concern of ATIC's.
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CHAPTER SIX
The Presses Roll -The Air Force Shrugs
The Grudge Report was supposedly not for general distribution. A few copies were sent to the Air Force Press Desk in the Pentagon and reporters and writers could come in and read it. But a good many copies did get into circulation. The Air Force Press Room wasn't the best place to sit and study a 600 page report, and a quick glance at the report showed that it required some study - if no more than to find out what the authors were trying to prove - so several dozen copies got into circulation. I know that these "liberated" copies of the Grudge Report had been thoroughly studied because nearly every writer who came to ATIC during the time that I was in charge of Project Blue Book carried a copy. Since the press had some questions about the motives behind releasing the Grudge Report, it received very little publicity while the writers put out feelers. Consequently in early 1950 you didn't read much about flying saucers.
Evidently certain people in the Air Force thought this lull in publicity meant that the UFO's had finally died because Project Grudge was junked. All the project files, hundreds of pounds of reports, memos, photos, sketches, and other assorted bits of paper were unceremoniously yanked out of their filing cabinets, tied up with string, and chucked into an old storage case. I would guess that many reports ended up as "souvenirs" because a year later, when I exhumed these files, there were a lot of reports missing.
About this time the official Air Force UFO project had one last post death muscular spasm. The last bundle of reports had just landed on top of the pile in the storage case when ATIC received a letter from the Director of Intelligence of the Air Force. In official language it said, "What gives?" There had been no order to end Project Grudge. The answer went back that Project Grudge had not been disbanded; the project functions had been transferred and it was no longer a "special"


70.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
project. From now on UFO reports would be processed through normal intelligence channels along with other intelligence reports.
To show good faith ATIC requested permission to issue a new Air Force wide bulletin which was duly mimeographed and disseminated. In essence it said that Air Force Headquarters had directed ATIC to continue to collect and evaluate reports of unidentified flying objects. It went on to explain that most UFO reports were trash. It pointed out the findings of the Grudge Report in such strong language that by the time the recipient of the bulletin had finished reading it, he would be ashamed to send in a report. To cinch the deal the bulletins must have been disseminated only to troops in Outer Mongolia because I never found anyone in the field who had ever received a copy.
As the Air Force UFO investigating activity dropped to nil, the press activity skyrocketed to a new peak. A dozen people took off to dig up their own UFO stories and to draw their own conclusions.
After a quiet January, True again clobbered the reading public. This time it was a story in the March 1950 issue and it was entitled, "How Scientists Tracked Flying Saucers." It was written by none other than the man who was at that time in charge of a team of Navy scientists at the super hush-hush guided missile test and development area, White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico. He was Commander R. B. McLaughlin, an Annapolis graduate and a Regular Navy officer. His story had been cleared by the military and was in absolute, 180 degree, direct contradiction to every press release that had been made by the military in the past two years. Not only did the commander believe that he had proved that UFO's were real but that he knew what they were. "I am convinced," he wrote in the True article, "that it," referring to a UFO he had seen at White Sands, "was a flying saucer, and further, that these disks are spaceships from another planet, operated by animate, intelligent beings."
On several occasions during 1948 and 1949, McLaughlin or his crew at the White Sands Proving Ground had made good UFO sightings. The best one was made on April 24, 1949, when the commander's crew of engineers, scientists, and technicians were getting ready to launch one of the huge 100-foot-diameter skyhook balloons. It was 10:30 AM. on an absolutely clear Sunday morning. Prior to the launching, the crew had sent up a small weather balloon to check the winds at lower levels. One man was watching the balloon through a theodolite, an instrument similar to a surveyor's transit built around a 25 power telescope, one man was holding a stop watch, and a third had a clipboard to record the measured data. The crew had tracked the balloon to about 10,000 feet when one of them suddenly shouted and pointed off to the left. The whole crew


The Presses Roll The Air Force Shrugs.71
looked at the part of the sky where the man was excitedly pointing, and there was a UFO. "It didn't appear to be large," one of the scientists later said, "but it was plainly visible. It was easy to see that it was elliptical in shape and had a 'whitish silver color.'" After taking a split second to realize what they were looking at, one of the men swung the theodolite around to pick up the object, and the timer reset his stop watch. For sixty seconds they tracked the UFO as it moved toward the east. In about fifty-five seconds it had dropped from an angle of elevation of 45 degrees to 25 degrees, then it zoomed upward and in a few seconds it was out of sight. The crew heard no sound and the New Mexico desert was so calm that day that they could have heard "a whisper a mile away."
When they reduced the data they had collected, McLaughlin and crew found out that the UFO had been traveling 4 degrees per second. At one time during the observed portion of its flight, the UFO had passed in front of a range of mountains that were visible to the observers. Using this as a check point, they estimated the size of the UFO to be 40 feet wide and 100 feet long, and they computed that the UFO had been at an altitude of 296,000 feet, or 56 miles, when they had first seen it, and that it was traveling 7 miles per second.
This wasn't the only UFO sighting made by White Sands scientists. On April 5, 1948, another team watched a UFO for several minutes as it streaked across the afternoon sky in a series of violent maneuvers. The disk shaped object was about a fifth the size of a full moon.
On another occasion the crew of a C-47 that was tracking a skyhook balloon saw two similar UFO's come loping in from just above the horizon, circle the balloon, which was flying at just under 90,000 feet, and rapidly leave. When the balloon was recovered it was ripped.
I knew the two pilots of the C-47; both of them now believe in flying saucers. And they aren't alone; so do the people of the Aeronautical Division of General Mills who launch and track the big skyhook balloons. These scientists and engineers all have seen UFO's and they aren't their own balloons. I was almost tossed out of the General Mills offices into a cold January Minneapolis snowstorm for suggesting such a thing but that comes later in our history of the UFO.
I don't know what these people saw. There has been a lot of interest generated by these sightings because of the extremely high qualifications and caliber of the observers. There is some legitimate doubt as to the accuracy of the speed and altitude figures that McLaughlin's crew arrived at from the data they measured with their theodolite. This doesn't mean much, however. Even if they were off by a factor of 100 per cent, the speeds and altitudes would be fantastic, and besides they looked at


72.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
the UFO through a 25 power telescope and swore that it was a flat, oval- shaped object. Balloons, birds, and airplanes aren't flat and oval shaped.
Astrophysicist Dr. Donald Menzel, in a book entitled Flying Saucers, says they saw a refracted image of their own balloon caused by an atmospheric phenomenon. Maybe he is right, but the General Mills people don't believe it. And their disagreement is backed up by years of practical experience with the atmosphere, its tricks and its illusions.
When the March issue of True magazine carrying Commander McLaughlin's story about how the White Sands Scientists had tracked UFO's reached the public, it stirred up a hornets' nest. Donald Keyhoe's article in the January True had converted many people but there were still a few heathens. The fact that government scientists had seen UFO's, and were admitting it, took care of a large percentage of these heathens. More and more people were believing in flying saucers.
The Navy had no comment to make about the sightings, but they did comment on McLaughlin. It seems that several months before, at the suggestion of a group of scientists at White Sands, McLaughlin had carefully written up the details of the sightings and forwarded them to Washington. The report contained no personal opinions, just facts. The comments on McLaughlin's report had been wired back to White Sands from Washington and they were, "What are you drinking out there?" A very intelligent answer- and it came from an admiral in the Navy's guided missile program.
By the time his story was published, McLaughlin was no longer at White Sands; he was at sea on the destroyer Bristol. Maybe he answered the admiral's wire.
The Air Force had no comment to make on McLaughlin's story. People at ATIC just shrugged and smiled as they walked by the remains of Project Grudge, and continued to "process UFO reports through regular intelligence channels."
In early 1950 the UFO's moved down to Mexico. The newspapers were full of reports. Tourists were bringing back more saucer stories than hand tooled, genuine leather purses. Time reported that pickpockets were doing a fabulous business working the sky gazing crowds that gathered when a plativolo was seen. Mexico's Department of National Defense reported that there had been some good reports but that the stories of finding crashed saucers weren't true.
On March 8 one of the best UFO sightings of 1950 took place right over ATIC.
About midmorning on this date a TWA airliner was coming in to land at the Dayton Municipal Airport. As the pilot circled to get into the


The Presses Roll The Air Force Shrugs. 73
traffic pattern, he and his copilot saw a bright light hovering off to the southeast. The pilot called the tower operators at the airport to tell them about the light, but before he could say anything, the tower operators told him they were looking at it too. They had called the operations office of the Ohio Air National Guard, which was located at the airport, and while the tower operators were talking, an Air Guard pilot was running toward an F-51, dragging his parachute, helmet, and oxygen mask.
I knew the pilot, and he later told me, "I wanted to find out once and for all what these screwy flying saucer reports were all about."
While the F-51 was warming up, the tower operators called ATIC and told them about the UFO and where to look to see it. The people at ATIC rushed out and there it was - an extremely bright light, much brighter and larger than a star. Whatever it was, it was high because every once in a while it would be blanked out by the thick, high, scattered clouds that were in the area. While the group of people were standing in front of ATIC watching the light, somebody ran in and called the radar lab at Wright Field to see if they had any radar "on the air." The people in the lab said that they didn't have, but they could get operational in a hurry. They said they would search southeast of the field with their radar and suggested that ATIC send some people over. By the time the ATIC people arrived at the radar lab the radar was on the air and had a target in the same position as the light that everyone was looking at. The radar was also picking up the Air Guard F-51 and an F-51 that had been scrambled from Wright-Patterson. The pilots of the Air Guard '51 and the Wright-Patterson '51 could both see the UFO, and they were going after it. The master sergeant who was operating the radar called the F-51's on the radio, got them together and started to vector them toward the target. As the two airplanes climbed they kept up a continual conversation with the radar operator to make sure they were all after the same thing. For several minutes they could clearly see the UFO, but when they reached about 15,000 feet, the clouds moved in and they lost it. The pilots made a quick decision; since radar showed that they were getting closer to the target, they decided to spread out to keep from colliding with one another and to go up through the clouds. They went on instruments and in a few seconds they were in the cloud. It was much worse than they'd expected; the cloud was thick, and the airplanes were icing up fast. An F-51 is far from being a good instrument ship, but they stayed in their climb until radar called and said that they were close to the target; in fact, almost on it. The pilots had another hurried radio conference and decided that since the weather was so bad they'd better come down. If a UFO, or something, was in the clouds, they'd hit it before they could see it. So


74.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
they made a wise decision; they dropped the noses of their airplanes and dove back down into the clear. They circled awhile but the clouds didn't break. In a few minutes the master sergeant on the radar reported that the target was fading fast. The F-51's went in and landed.
When the target faded on the radar, some of the people went outside to visually look for the UFO, but it was obscured by clouds, and the clouds stayed for an hour. When it finally did clear for a few minutes, the UFO was gone.
A conference was held at ATIC that afternoon. It included Roy James, ATIC's electronics specialist and expert on radar UFO's. Roy had been over at the radar lab and had seen the UFO on the scope but neither the F-51 pilots nor the master sergeant who operated the radar were at the conference. The records show that at this meeting a unanimous decision was reached as to the identity of the UFO's. The bright light was Venus since Venus was in the southeast during midmorning on March 8, 1950, and the radar return was caused by the ice laden cloud that the F-51 pilots had encountered. Ice laden clouds can cause a radar return. The group of intelligence specialists at the meeting decided that this was further proved by the fact that as the F-51's approached the center of the cloud their radar return appeared to approach the UFO target on the radarscope. They were near the UFO and near ice, so the UFO must have been ice.
The case was closed.
I had read the report of this sighting but I hadn't paid too much attention to it because it had been "solved." But one day almost two years later I got a telephone call at my office at Project Blue Book. It was a master sergeant, the master sergeant who had been operating the radar at the lab. He'd just heard that the Air Force was again seriously investigating UFO's and he wanted to see what had been said about the Dayton Incident. He came over, read the report, and violently disagreed with what had been decided upon as the answer. He said that he'd been working with radar before World War II; he'd helped with the operational tests on the first microwave warning radars developed early in the war by a group headed by Dr. Luis Alvarez. He said that what he saw on that radarscope was no ice cloud; it was some type of aircraft. He'd seen every conceivable type of weather target on radar, he told me; thunderstorms, ice laden clouds, targets caused by temperature inversions, and the works. They all had similar characteristics - the target was "fuzzy" and varied in intensity. But in this case the target was a good, solid return and he was convinced that it was caused by a good, solid object.


The Presses Roll The Air Force Shrugs.75
And besides, he said, when the target began to fade on his scope he had raised the tilt of the antenna and the target came back, indicating that whatever it was, it was climbing. Ice laden clouds don't climb, he commented rather bitterly.
Nor did the pilot of one of the F-51's agree with the ATIC analysis. The pilot who had been leading the two ship flight of F-51's on that day told me that what he saw was no planet. While he and his wing man were climbing, and before the clouds obscured it, they both got a good look at the UFO, and it was getting bigger and more distinct all the time. As they climbed, the light began to take on a shape; it was definitely round. And if it had been Venus it should have been in the same part of the sky the next day, but the pilot said that he'd looked and it wasn't there. The ATIC report doesn't mention this point.
I remember asking him a second time what the UFO looked like; he said, "huge and metallic" - shades of the Mantell Incident.
The Dayton Incident didn't get much of a play from the press because officially it wasn't an unknown and there's nothing intriguing about an ice cloud and Venus. There were UFO reports in the newspapers, however.
One story that was widely printed was about a sighting at the naval air station at Dallas, Texas. Just before noon on March 16, Chief Petty Officer Charles Lewis saw a disk shaped UFO come streaking across the sky and buzz a high flying B-36. Lewis first saw the UFO coming in from the north, lower than the B-36; then he saw it pull up to the big bomber as it got closer. It hovered under the B-36 for an instant, then it went speeding off and disappeared. When the press inquired about the incident, Captain M. A. Nation, commander of the air station, vouched for his chief and added that the base tower operators had seen and reported a UFO to him about ten days before.
This story didn't run long because the next day a bigger one broke when the sky over the little town of Farmington, New Mexico, about 170 miles northwest of Albuquerque, was literally invaded by UFO's. Every major newspaper carried the story. The UFO's had apparently been congregating over the four comers area for two days because several people had reported seeing UFO's on March 15 and 16. But the seventeenth was the big day, every saucer this side of Polaris must have made a successful rendezvous over Farmington, because on that day most of the town's 3,600 citizens saw the mass fly-by. The first reports were made at 10:15 A.M.; then for an hour the air was full of flying saucers. Estimates of the number varied from a conservative 500 to "thousands." Most all the observers said the UFO's were saucer shaped, traveled at almost unbelievable speeds, and didn't seem to have any set


76. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
flight path. They would dart in and out and seemed to avoid collisions only by inches. There was no doubt that they weren't hallucinations because the mayor, the local newspaper staff, ex-pilots, the highway patrol, and every type of person who makes up a community of 3,600 saw them.
I've talked to several people who were in Farmington and saw this now famous UFO display of St. Patrick's Day, 1950. I've heard dozens of explanations - cotton blowing in the wind, bugs' wings reflecting sunlight, a hoax to put Farmington on the map, and real honest-to-goodness flying saucers. One explanation was never publicized, however, and if there is an explanation, it is the best. Under certain conditions of extreme cold, probably 50 to 60 degrees below zero, the plastic bag of a skyhook balloon will get very brittle, and will take on the characteristics of a huge light bulb. If a sudden gust of wind or some other disturbance hits the balloon, it will shatter into a thousand pieces. As these pieces of plastic float down and are carried along by the wind, they could look like thousands of flying saucers.
On St. Patrick's Day a skyhook balloon launched from Holloman AFB, adjacent to the White Sands Proving Ground, did burst near Farmington, and it was cold enough at 60,000 feet to make the balloon brittle. True, the people at Farmington never found any piece of  plastic, but the small pieces of plastic are literally as light as feathers and could have floated far beyond the city.
The next day, on March 18, the Air Force, prodded by the press, shrugged and said, "There's nothing to it," but they had no explanation.
True magazine came through for a third time when their April issue, which was published during the latter part of March 1950, carried a roundup of UFO photos. They offered seven photos as proof that UFO's existed. It didn't take a photo interpretation expert to tell that all seven could well be of doubtful lineage, nevertheless the collection of photos added fuel to the already smoldering fire. The U.S. public was hearing a lot about flying saucers and all of it was on the pro side. For somebody who didn't believe in the things, the public thought that the Air Force was being mighty quiet.
The subject took on added interest on the night of March 26, when a famous news commentator said the UFO's were from Russia.
The next night Henry J. Taylor, in a broadcast from Dallas, Texas, said that the UFO's were Uncle Sam's own. He couldn't tell all he knew, but a flying saucer had been found on the beach near Galveston, Texas. It had USAF markings.
Two nights later a Los Angeles television station cut into a regular program with a special news flash; later in the evening the announcer


The Presses Roll The Air Force Shrugs.77
said they would show the first photos of the real thing, our military's flying saucer. The photos turned out to be of the Navy XF-5-U, a World War II experimental aircraft that never flew.
The public was now thoroughly confused.
By now the words "flying saucer" were being batted around by every newspaper reporter, radio and TV newscaster, comedian, and man on the street. Some of the comments weren't complimentary, but as Theorem I of the publicity racket goes, "It doesn't make any difference what's said as long as the name's spelled right."
Early in April the publication that is highly revered by so many, U.S. News and World Report, threw in their lot. The UFO's belonged to the Navy. Up popped the old non flying XF-5-U again.
Events drifted back to normal when Edward R. Murrow made UFO's the subject of one of his TV documentaries. He took his viewers around the U.S., talked to Kenneth Arnold, of original UFO fame, by phone and got the story of Captain Mantell's death from a reporter "who was there." Sandwiched in between accounts of actual UFO sightings were the pro and con opinions of top Washington brass, scientists, and the man on the street.
Even the staid New York Times, which had until now stayed out of UFO controversy, broke down and ran an editorial entitled, "Those Flying Saucers - Are They or Aren't They?"
All of this activity did little to shock the military out of their dogma. They admitted that the UFO investigation really hadn't been discontinued. "Any substantial reports of any unusual aerial phenomena would be processed through normal intelligence channels," they told the press.
Ever since July 4, 1947, ten days after the first flying saucer report, airline pilots had been reporting that they had seen UFO's. But the reports weren't frequent - maybe one every few months. In the spring of 1950 this changed, however, and the airline pilots began to make more and more reports - good reports. The reports went to ATIC but they didn't receive much attention. In a few instances there was a semblance of an investigation but it was halfhearted. The reports reached the newspapers too, and here they received a great deal more attention. The reports were investigated, and the stories checked and rechecked. When airline crews began to turn in one UFO report after another, it was difficult to believe the old "hoax, hallucination, and misidentification of known objects" routine. In April, May, and June of 1950 there were over thirty five good reports from airline crews.
One of these was a report from a Chicago and Southern crew who


78.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
were flying a DC-3 from Memphis to Little Rock, Arkansas, on the night of March 31. It was an exceptionally clear night, no clouds or haze, a wonderful night to fly. At exactly nine twenty-nine by the cockpit clock the pilot, a Jack Adams, noticed a white light off to his left. The copilot, G. W. Anderson, was looking at the chart but out of the corner of his eye he saw the pilot lean forward and look out the window, so he looked out too. He saw the light just as the pilot said, "What's that?"
The copilot's answer was classic: "No, not one of those things."
Both pilots had only recently voiced their opinions regarding the flying saucers and they weren't complimentary.
As they watched the UFO, it passed across the nose of their DC-3 and they got a fairly good look at it. Neither the pilot nor the copilot was positive of the object's shape because it was "shadowy" but they assumed it was disk shaped because of the circular arrangement of eight or ten "portholes," each one glowing from a strong bluish white light that seemed to come from the inside of whatever it was that they saw. The UFO also had a blinking white light on top, a fact that led many people to speculate that this UFO was another airliner. But this idea was quashed when it was announced that there were no other airliners in the area. The crew of the DC-3, when questioned on this possibility, were definite in their answers. If it had been another airplane, they could have read the number, seen the passengers, and darn near reached out and slugged the pilot for getting so close to them.
About a month later, over northern Indiana, TWA treated all the passengers of one of their DC-3 flights to a view of a UFO that looked like a "big glob of molten metal."
The official answer for this incident is that the huge orange red UFO was nothing more than the light from the many northern Indiana blast furnaces reflecting a haze layer. Could be, but the pilots say no.
There were similar sightings in North Korea two years later - and FEAF Bomber Command had caused a shortage of blast furnaces in North Korea.
UFO sightings by airline pilots always interested me as much as any type of sighting. Pilots in general should be competent observers simply because they spend a large part of their lives looking around the sky. And pilots do look; one of the first things an aviation cadet is taught is to "Keep your head on a swivel"; in other words, keep looking around the sky. Of all the pilots, the airline pilots are the cream of this group of good observers. Possibly some second lieutenant just out of flying school could be confused by some unusual formation of ground lights, a meteor, or a star, but airline pilots have flown thousands of hours or they


The Presses Roll The Air Force Shrugs.79
wouldn't be sitting in the left seat of an airliner, and they should be familiar with a host of unusual sights.
One afternoon in February 1953 I had an opportunity to further my study of UFO sightings by airline pilots. I had been out at Air Defense Command Headquarters in Colorado Springs and was flying back East on a United Airlines DC-6. There weren't many passengers on the airplane that afternoon but, as usual, the captain came strolling back through the cabin to chat. When he got to me he sat down in the next seat. We talked a few minutes; then I asked him what he knew about flying saucers. He sort of laughed and said that a dozen people a week asked that question, but when I told him who I was and why I was interested, his attitude changed. He said that he'd never seen a UFO but he knew a lot of pilots on United who had. One man, he told me, had seen one several years ago. He'd reported it but he had been sloughed off like the rest. But he was so convinced that he'd seen something unusual that he'd gone out and bought a Leica camera with a 105 mm. telephoto lens, learned how to use it, and now he carried it religiously during his flights.
There was a lull in the conversation, then the captain said, "Do you really want to get an opinion about flying saucers?"
I said I did.
"O.K.," I remember his saying, "how much of a layover do you have in Chicago?"
I had about two hours.
"All right, as soon as we get to Chicago I'll meet you at Caffarello's, across the street from the terminal building. I'll see who else is in and I'll bring them along."
I thanked him and he went back up front.
I waited around the bar at Caffarello's for an hour. I'd just about decided that he wasn't going to make it and that I'd better get back to catch my flight to Dayton when he and three other pilots came in. We got a big booth in the coffee shop because he'd called three more off duty pilots who lived in Chicago and they were coming over too. I don't remember any of the men's names because I didn't make any attempt to. This was just an informal bull session and not an official interrogation, but I really got the scoop on what airline pilots think about UFO's.
First of all they didn't pull any punches about what they thought about the Air Force and its investigation of UFO reports. One of the men got right down to the point: "If I saw a flying saucer flying wing tip formation with me and could see little men waving - even if my


80.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
whole load of passengers saw it - I wouldn't report it to the Air Force." Another man cut in, "Remember the thing Jack Adams said he saw down by Memphis?" I said I did.
"He reported that to the Air Force and some red-hot character met him in Memphis on his next trip. He talked to Adams a few minutes and then told him that he'd seen a meteor. Adams felt like a fool. Hell, I know Jack Adams well and he's the most conservative guy I know. If he said he saw something with glowing portholes, he saw something with glowing portholes - and it wasn't a meteor."
Even though I didn't remember the pilots' names I'll never forget their comments. They didn't like the way the Air Force had handled UFO reports and I was the Air Force's "Mr. Flying Saucer." As quickly as one of the pilots would set me up and bat me down, the next one grabbed me off the floor and took his turn. But I couldn't complain too much; I'd asked for it. I think that this group of seven pilots pretty much represented the feelings of a lot of the airline pilots. They weren't wide-eyed space fans, but they and their fellow pilots had seen something and whatever they'd seen weren't hallucinations, mass hysteria, balloons, or meteors.
Three of the men at the Caffarello conference had seen UFO's or, to use their terminology, they had seen something they couldn't identify as a known object. Two of these men had seen odd lights closely following their airplanes at night. Both had checked and double-checked with CAA, but no other aircraft was in the area. Both admitted, however, that they hadn't seen enough to class what they'd seen as good UFO sighting. But the third man had a lulu.
If I recall correctly, this pilot was flying for TWA. One day in March 1952 he, his copilot, and a third person who was either a pilot dead-heading home or another crew member, I don't recall which, were flying a C-54 cargo airplane from Chicago to Kansas City. At about 2:30 P.M. the pilot was checking in with the CAA radio at Kirksville, Missouri, flying 500 feet on top of a solid overcast. While he was talking he glanced out at his No.2 engine, which had been losing oil. Directly in line with it, and a few degrees above, he saw a silvery, disk shaped object. It was too far out to get a really good look at it, yet it was close enough to be able definitely to make out the shape.
The UFO held its relative position with the C-54 for five or six minutes; then the pilot decided to do a little on-the-spot investigating himself. He started a gradual turn toward the UFO and for about thirty seconds he was getting closer, but then the UFO began to make a left turn. It had apparently slowed down because they were still closing on it.


The Presses Roll The Air Force Shrugs.81
About this time the copilot decided that the UFO was a balloon; it just looked as if the UFO was turning. The pilot agreed halfway - and since the company wasn't paying them to intercept balloons, they got back on their course to Kansas City. They flew on for a few more minutes with "the darn thing" still off to their left. If it was a balloon, they should be leaving it behind, the pilot recalled thinking to himself; if they made a 45 degree right turn, the "balloon" shouldn't stay off the left wing; it should drop way behind. So they made a 45 degree right turn, and although the "balloon" dropped back a little bit, it didn't drop back far enough to be a balloon. It seemed to put on speed to try to make a turn outside of the C-54's turn. The pilot continued on around until he'd made a tight 360 degree turn, and the UFO had followed, staying outside. They could not judge its speed, not knowing how far away it was, but to follow even a C-54 around in a 360 degree turn and to stay outside all of the time takes a mighty speedy object.
This shot the balloon theory right in the head. After the 360 degree turn the UFO seemed to be gradually losing altitude because it was getting below the level of the wings. The pilot decided to get a better look. He asked for full power on all four engines, climbed several thousand feet, and again turned into the UFO. He put the C-54 in a long glide, headed directly toward it. As they closed in, the UFO seemed to lose altitude a little faster and "sank" into the top of the overcast. Just as the C-54 flashed across the spot where the UFO had disappeared, the crew saw it rise up out of the overcast off their right wing and begin to climb so fast that in several seconds it was out of sight.
Both the pilot and copilot wanted to stay around and look for it but No.2 engine had started to act up soon after they had put on full power for the climb, and they decided that they'd better get into Kansas City.
I missed my Dayton flight but I heard a good UFO story.
What had the two pilots and their passenger seen? We kicked it around plenty that afternoon. It was no balloon. It wasn't another airplane because when the pilot called Kirksville Radio he'd asked if there were any airplanes in the area. It might possibly have been a reflection of some kind except that when it "sank" into the overcast the pilot said it looked like something sinking into an overcast - it just didn't disappear as a reflection would. Then there was the sudden reappearance off the right wing. These are the types of things you just can't explain.
What did the pilots think it was? Three were sold that the UFO's were interplanetary spacecraft, one man was convinced that they were some U.S. "secret weapon," and three of the men just shook their heads. So did I. We all agreed on one thing - this pilot had seen something and it was something highly unusual.


82.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
The meeting broke up about 9:00 P.M. I'd gotten the personal and very candid opinion of seven airline captains, and the opinions of half a hundred more airline pilots had been quoted. I'd learned that the UFO's are discussed often. I'd learned that many airline pilots take UFO sightings very seriously. I learned that some believe they are interplanetary, some think they're a U.S. weapon, and many just don't know. But very few are laughing off the good sightings.
By May 1950 the flying saucer business had hit a new all-time peak. The Air Force didn't take any side, they just shrugged. There was no attempt to investigate and explain the various sightings. Maybe this was because someone was afraid the answer would be "Unknown." Or maybe it was because a few key officers thought that the eagles or stars on their shoulders made them leaders of all men. If they didn't believe in flying saucers and said so, it would be like calming the stormy Sea of Galilee. "It's all a bunch of damned nonsense," an Air Force colonel who was controlling the UFO investigation said. "There's no such thing as a flying saucer." He went on to say that all people who saw flying saucers were jokers, crackpots, or publicity hounds. Then he gave the airline pilots who'd been reporting UFO's a reprieve. "They were just fatigued," he said. "What they thought were spaceships were windshield reflections."
This was the unbiased processing of UFO reports through normal intelligence channels.
But the U.S. public evidently had more faith in the "crackpot" scientists who were spending millions of the public's dollars at the White Sands Proving Grounds, in the "publicity mad" military pilots, and the "tired, old" airline pilots, because in a nationwide poll it was found that only 6 per cent of the country's 150,697,361 people agreed with the colonel and said, "There aren't such things."
Ninety-four per cent had different ideas. 
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