of a hoax
Above: Coming attractions trailer for the movie "The Flying Saucer". Released in January, 1950, it was the first Hollywood film to deal with the subject.
BY THE TIME THE MONTH of March, 1950, came roaring in, it had already been an eventful winter season on the flying disc front.
Yuletide had brought with it the startling announcement -- in the form of a press release from True magazine -- that an upcoming January, 1950, article authored by Major Donald Keyhoe would reveal that flying saucers were not only real, but interplanetary scout craft come to survey planet Earth.
Forty-eight hours later -- and with only three days remaining until champagne corks popped to herald the beginning of the second half of the 20th century -- the Air Force reacted to this unwelcome Christmas gift with its own startling announcement that after two years' study it had officially concluded that the saucers had all been a matter of rumor or illusion, and cheers to a new year without them.
The first days of the new year would then bestow the party favor of a tale that the United States government had in its possession crashed discs and their dead crewmen by the dozens. Starting with a single newspaper article in the state of Kansas, the story quickly spread through the retelling until the tale could be heard from the City of Angels in the west to Old Dominion in the east, and most points in-between.
Meanwhile, having writ and moved on, the year 1950 proceeded apace week by week until the last week of February brought with it another press release from True -- this time announcing an article in its upcoming March issue, written by a naval officer who had headed a guided missile research unit at the government proving grounds at White Sands, New Mexico. The article -- penned by Commander Robert McLaughlin -- revealed his and unnamed others' first-hand experiences encountering the flying discs during their highly classified work.
And no sooner had Commander McLaughlin's riveting account begun making waves than two new sources popped up to ride the crest with their own tales of crashed discs and the bodies of their crews kept hidden away by the government.
The first was an anonymous guest lecturer at the University of Denver, introduced only as a "man of science" and of a "mature mind". Speaking before a basic science class he told not only of the government's possession of the discs (three in number) but also each disc's size (36, 72, and 99.9 feet), their means of propulsion (harnessing lines of magnetic force), and point of origin (Venus). Included in the lecture also was the number of dead crew aboard (34) and their height (36 inches). And then topping his own tale as told so far, the mystery lecturer added that a fourth disc and its crew had landed but upon being spotted and chased had simply disappeared.
Twenty-four hours later the second teller of the crashed-disc-with-little-dead-pilots tale came forward -- a dynamite salesman named Ray L. Dimmick, who upon returning home to Los Angeles from a business trip to Mexico City announced that three months earlier a disc had crashed on a mountain in Mexico, its tiny pilot now embalmed and kept for government study. According to which press service was quoting Dimmick, the disc was either 45 or 46 feet in diameter, and it's pilot either 23 or 25-inches tall -- the tiny body supporting an "oversized" head -- with both crashed disc and dead pilot kept "under heavy guard at a secret military establishment near the Mexican capital". And according to Dimmick...
Officials in Mexico City told him that similar objects had landed in various parts of the North American continent, but that the governments involved had clamped a veil of secrecy over their investigations.
Lending Dimmick's tale a sense of vérité were news reports both in the days before and the days following of flying disc sightings coming in from Mexican pilots, military officers, meteorologists and even an astronomer. Nonetheless, upon being further pressed Dimmick revised his story 24 hours later from having personally seen the remnants of the crashed disc to having merely been told about it and shown a piece of metal said to have come from it. Still, he insisted, it was all true.
But even if Dimmick was reversing course, the Mexican saucers were flying full speed ahead, as from the March 14, 1950 edition of the Dunkirk, New York, Evening Observer...
'Flying Bodies' Finally Seen By 'Experts'
Mexico City, -- (UP) -- Trained aircraft observers and meteorologists confirmed reports today of hundreds of persons, who said they saw four "flying saucers" yesterday over this city and one at Monterrey, 350 miles north.
Official observers shied away from describing them as "saucers," but admitted that they were "flying bodies."
Meteorologists at the Mexico City airport calculated the altitude of the bodies at between 35,000 and 40,000 feet by using their weather balloon tracking instruments.
An airline's weather man said he "thought" the one he saw was an asteroid. Santiago Smith, the Mexican Aviation company's chief observer, said the one he watched was in the shape of a "half-moon." Smith watched the body through a telescope. "It was there," said Smith. "It was no illusion."
J. De La Vega, a veteran employe of the airport commander's office, said he saw all four of the "saucers." He said they appeared to be the size of a silver peso from the ground. Other observers guessed they were about 100 feet in diameter.
At Monterrey a government Airport inspector said he watched a "flying body" which moved in a straight line from southwest to northeast.
He said his instruments indicated the body changed altitude by 1 1-2 degrees in three minutes. He said he believed it was "a heavenly visitor" of some sort.
And it certainly didn't hurt Dimmick's claim when less than a week later news broke of a fresh saucer crash in Mexico, as from the March 16, 1950, edition of the Laredo, Texas Times...
Mexico Newspaper Reports Crash Of Flying Saucer
MEXICO CITY, March 16 -- (UP) -- The newspaper El Nacional reported today that a "flying saucer" crashed in the Sierra de Morones mountains in Zacatecas state "making the ground boil."
El Nacional printed its information from lawyer Pedro Caloca Cortes, a native of Zacatecas state, under Guadalajara dateline.
Caloca was quoted as describing the apparatus as a saucer-like structure "of design unknown until now." He said the apparatus was made of "metal painted with varnish of an orange color."
Caloca said the apparatus apparently carried no crew. The crash scene is eight hours from Guadalajara by horse, he said.
In the past week, dozens of "flying saucers" have been reported over various parts of Mexico. At least four objects have been sighted by observers in Mexico City.
Los Angeles dynamite salesman, Ray Dimmick, recently reported he had "secret information of the crash of a flying saucer in the hills near Mexico City, with the discovery of the body of a 23-inch tall crewman inside the wreckage [sic, no end quote]. He later admitted, however, that he learned of the saucer "crash" in a barroom conversation while on a visit here.
But both the "mystery lecturer" of Denver and Los Angeles salesman Dimmick were soon to be relegated to being the wallflowers at the party, as the flying discs themselves seemingly extended an open invitation to the world to attend a saucer spring cotillion.
Above: Sequential front-page stories from the March, 19, 1950 edition of the Coshocton, Ohio, Tribune.
ARRIVING EARLY for the aerial spring fling -- in fact, the day following True's announcement of the Commander McLaughlin article -- came news of another naval commander's report. But where McLaughlin had reported from the hot, dry climes of White Sands, this one came from more than 7,000 miles south in the stinging cold of the Antarctic. From the February 24, 1950 edition of the Edwardsville, Illinois, Intelligencer...
Antarctic Explorers Claim Flying Saucer Photos
Santiago, Chile, (UP) -- A Chilean Naval officer said Thursday that a group of antarctic explorers under his command obtained photographs of flying saucers at the Chilean antarctic base of Arthur Prat.
Commander Augusto Vars Orrego, head of the base, said on several occasions during the bright antarctic night he and his men saw flying saucers one above the other turning at tremendous speeds.
"Don't think that this was an optical illusion," he said. "We have corroboration of what we saw from photographs taken of the phenomena."
And on the very day Ray Dimmick was first making the news, a far more credible witness came forward to confirm the sightings at White Sands. From the March 9, 1950 edition of the Waukesha, Wisconsin Daily Freeman...
'Flying Saucers' Are Still High on List of Rumors in U.S.
By PAUL E. ELLIS,
United Press Science Editor
NEW YORK -- (UP) -- The stories of "flying saucers" just will not stay down. They keep popping up, and more and more persons in official capacity are thinking more seriously about the reported flying missiles.
One of the most dramatic reports comes from Charles B. Moore, now of Minneapolis, Minn., and who has worked with weather observation balloons since 1943.
Moore, formerly with the meteorological department of New York university, was with four enlisted navy men on a weather observation trip in New Mexico last April. They were sending up weather balloons and making observations under a navy contract.
At Fantastic Altitude
The date was Sunday, April 24, and the observers were working near Caballo dam on the Rio Grande, near Arrey, N.M., according to Moore. He said they were following weather balloons by ordinary eyesight and by use of an instrument known as the theodolite, when an object definitely not a balloon was sighted.
Moore said the object, apparently elliptical in shape, was probably 100 feet long and he estimated it to be at 300,000 feet altitude.
"It seemed to be independent of the earth's gravitational pull so its velocity must have been more than seven miles a second," Moore said.
Believed to Be Space Ship
Moore said the object was first observed over the southern horizon and that it disappeared before reaching the northern horizon. It was observed for at least 55 seconds, according to Moore.
Official reports of the observation were made both to the navy and the air forces, Moore said, but that no official reply was made to him.
In a recent magazine article, Cmdr. Robert B. McLaughlin, who has done much work in the guided-missile program of the navy, said he was convinced that the object reported by Moore and the enlisted men was an authentic space ship, probably one from Mars. He did not mention Moore's name in the article.
Meanwhile, more than 6,000 miles east across the Atlantic another highly credible source was sharing his own personal experience. From the March 9, 1950, edition of the Tipton, Indiana Tribune...
Flying Saucers Seen Over Africa
Tunis, March 9 -- (INS) -- Flying saucers, having looked over the U.S. and Europe, are now beginning to flash their way through North African skies.
The celestial phenomena, which have been variously described as the aftermath of a-bomb explosions, space ships from Mars and the product of mass hypnotism, have been sighted both in Tunisian and Algerian skies.
Several witnesses reported today having seen a "very brilliant disk-shaped object with two short tails" skating along between Tunis and Bizerte.
Father Blanc, a Priest who has a local reputation as an astronomer and man of science, said that it was traveling much to [sic] slow to have been a shooting star.
"The disk was in sight for nearly a full minute while it described a trajectory between Tunis and Bizerte, a distance of some 35 miles," he said. "Whereas a shooting star is rarely visible for more than two seconds."
March 9th would also bring a sighting in Los Angeles, and another in South Carolina, as summarized in the March 11, 1950 edition of the Hayward, California Daily Review...
More Flying Saucers Are Said Seen
By UNITED PRESS
Scores of Orangeburg, S.C., residents added to the growing number of flying saucer reports Friday with the description of a disk which hovered over the city for 15 minutes, then disappeared leaving a vapor trail.
Six members of the staff of The Orangeburg Times and Democrat said they saw the disk Thursday after Mrs. Donald Law, wife of the city editor, told them about it. They said it was about the size and color of a new moon, "only brighter."
Publisher J.L. Sims said the disk appeared to turn slowly in the air, from vertical to parallel with the horizon and then vertical again, before disappearing in the western sky. Harry Player, a composing room employe said he and four other persons saw the disk while driving on a highway 15 miles out of Orangeburg.
Other South Carolinians also said they had spotted the disk. In Columbia, some 45 miles to the north, Mrs. John C. Brown looked up on the way home from the movies about 6:30 p.m. and noticed "something white in the sunset."
At Florence, S.C., farmer J.W. Wallace said he saw "a tremendous object" something like an airplane and followed by a long tail.
"It was the foolest-looking thing I ever seen," Wallace said. "I called some of the helpers to watch so no one would think I'm crazy."
Another flying saucer was reported Thursday by residents of Van Nuys, Calif., who told police they saw a bright disk flying about 400 feet [sic] in the air. All witnesses said they were sure it was not an aircraft of any known variety.
Composer Eddie Coffman and Actor Reed Hadley and his wife said they studied the disk through a telescope. Coffman said it appeared to be 50 feet in diameter and have a dark smudge on the top...
That same day came a short newswire report from Mount Vernon in Washington state of something resembling a "flying snowball" traveling at 2,000 feet at the speed of a plane. The next day not only brought a new report from California, but was the first of many to come wherein the "little men" description would be bandied -- though no witness had mentioned such. From the March 12, 1950, edition of the Oakland, California, Tribune...
Little Men from Mars Clutter Salinas Sky, Citizens Report
SALINAS, March 11 -- (UP) -- The little men from Mars were cluttering up the Northern California skies here tonight.
More than a score of persons reported seeing a flying saucer in the Salinas area. The various reports had the saucer diving on an automobile, looping the loop, and/or speeding across the horizon at a low altitude.
The sheriff's office reported a "lot of calls" shortly after 8 p.m. by people claiming to have seen the phenomena. Simultaneously, a number of calls were received by the Salinas newspaper.
The sheriff's office said the first call came from Mrs. Sam Raguindin of nearby Chualar, Calif., who said the saucer "sweeped down" over her automobile as she and her mother and two children were driving south of Salinas.
She said she at first thought the object was a falling star but changed her mind when it swooped down toward the car.
"It looked like two dinner plates placed together," she said. "It came down to about 2000 feet and as it came close it gave off a strong bluish-white light that hurt our eyes like a welder's torch."
She said it seemed to "loop the loop" and then sped away in a southerly direction at a great rate of speed.
Long Fiery Tail
"I'm still scared," Mrs. Raguindin said. "I hope I never see anything like that again."
The saucer was next reported by Hiram Don, a Chinese market owner, who said he saw it in the sky as he left his market to take some groceries to his automobile. He said it appeared bright in front and had a long fiery tail. It was traveling quite close to the ground, he said.
Another man said it looked like a falling star -- "but not quite the same."
Two days later, the first of the spring season's reports of pilot encounters came in. From the March 14, 1950, edition of the Edwardsville, Illinois Intelligencer...
Pilot Reports Strange Aircraft
DuQuoin, Ill., (UP) -- A DuQuoin pilot said Tuesday that fear of ridicule led him to keep silent about a mysterious disc-shaped object he saw while flying over Pinckneyville, Ill., last month.
Richard Lemmon, a mechanic at the DuQuoin airport, said he was returning here from Wood River with his wife in a light training plane Feb. 27 when he encountered the flying disc.
Lemmon reported that he was within one-half mile of the object and it appeared to be about 60 feet in diameter. He said it was perhaps 10 feet thick in the middle and thin on the edges.
"I'm certain it was an aircraft," Lemmon said.
In his log book after the incident Lemmon wrote: "encountered unidentified aircraft, altitude 5,000 feet, time 0700." He said he hesitated to describe the craft except to a few close friends for fear of ridicule.
His friends convinced him bring the matter to the attention of authorities, Lemmon asserted.
Lemmon said he was flying at 2,000 feet when he saw the object and pointed it out to his wife. He gained altitude and inspected it further.
He said he maneuvered his own ship to be sure the disc was not a reflection or an illusion, then buzzed people on the ground in an effort to attract attention.
Lemmon said the mysterious object picked up speed and took off at about 150 miles an hour.
Meanwhile, the saucers themselves seemingly became determined to spotlight all their best moves -- including hovering, right-angle turns, flying high, flying low, flying fast, flying slow, flying in formation, and circling for a look-see. They also seemed newly willing to be seen in detail -- all of which news reports would make clear over the coming days.
For instance, from the March 14, 1950, edition of the Farmington, New Mexico Daily Times...
Eunice Residents See Speedy Flying Saucer
Eunice, March 14 -- (AP) -- A flying saucer that made a right-angle turn without banking, then zipped away at "1,000 miles an hour" was reported sighted near here last night.
Ruth Hedgpath, returning to her home at the Skelly camp six miles south of Eunice at 10 p.m., hustled her husband outside the house to see the phenomenon.
C.E. Hedgpath, the husband, said the disc appear [sic] to be a solid red revolving circle giving off a dull red glow. He said the object passed over the Skelly plant at about 500 feet altitude, traveling slowly loafed along eastward for about two blocks to state highway 18, turned north sharply and whizzed off at a thousand miles an hour.
The Hedgpaths lost sight of it when it passed the Eunice gas flare.
Hedgpath said the circle was 30 to 50 feet in diameter. It was silent and left no vapor trail.
...and from the March 14, 1950, edition of the Olean, New York Times-Herald...
Two Colorado Men Circled By 'Saucer'
DURANGO, Colo. -- Two Southern Colorado businessmen said today that they were chased by a strange flying object while returning last week from a trip to New Mexico.
Lloyd Locke of Durango and Harold Tanner of Cortez, Colo., said they had tried to keep the story quite [sic] to avoid ribbing from skeptical friends.
They said they were returning from Bloomfield, N.M. one night last week when the object began following their car. Both refused to call it a "flying saucer."
Too Fast For A Bird
"But it was too fast for a bird, and too small for an airplane," Tanner said.
The pair said they were driving at about fifty miles an hour along the highway when Tanner, who was at the wheel, nudged his companion and said:
"Hey, look at that big bird."
"Bird, heck," Locke replied. "No bird can fly that fast."
Tanner decided to stop the car. When he slowed, the object began circling the machine at a "tremendous speed." The object described as dark, flat, and about five feet in diameter, traveled on a twenty five or thirty foot-radius around the automobile.
Four Seen At Denver
"We could only see it clearly when it passed the headlights," Locke said.
For about five minutes, while they were parked, they said, the "thing" ripped around the car.
"We didn't tell many people." they said, "because we knew nobody would believe us."
At Denver, a half dozen persons today reported that they saw flying discs.
A single disc "with a long while tail" was reported by four golf course employees, who said it whizzed over the course at sunset yesterday.
Just before noon, John D. Padilla and his stepfather said they saw four discs, flying in formation "just under the clouds "
...and from the March 15, 1950, edition of the Farmington, New Mexico Daily Times...
Now Flying Saucers Aren't Saucers; They're Globes With Row of Windows
By The Associated Press
This flying thing-a-ma-jig business is getting completely out of hand.
They're getting all puffed up about something and turning into spying globes -- at least over some parts of New Mexico.
They're not saucers at all but only look that way from the front and rear -- and have a long row of windows along the fuselage.
And they're getting down to 500 feet and making right angle turns.
Those were among the reports yesterday in the latest wave of I-saw-it-with-my-own-eyes accounts.
In Santa Fe, high school student Fred Richardson reported sighting a "huge shining globe" over the mountain peaks about 10 miles northeast of the capital. He said it hovered over the mountains, then put on a burst of speed "faster than any jet plane I have ever seen and disappeared to the northeast.
"I don't know what it was, and I haven't believed any of these flying saucers, but I sure saw something bigger than any weather balloon and a lot faster than any plane I know about," 18-year-old Richardson said.
At Hobbs, house painter Frank Bond, 39, said he thinks he's solved the mystery. He said the objects aren't saucers -- they just look like it from the front and rear.
Bond said he observed four of the strange craft over Hobbs Monday in formation. They were traveling at about 2,000 feet toward the northwest and he saw their fuselages with windows running the full length, he related. They made a noise like a jet and vanished in about 30 seconds.
Bond said the front of each bright silver object was shaped like a half moon, each had a square fuselage and they were about the size of a B-29 bomber.
...and from the March 16, 1950 edition of the Findlay, Ohio, Republican-Courier...
Swiss Asserts Flying Saucer Stopped In Air
LIMA, Peru, March 15 -- (AP) -- A Swiss engineer added a new twist today to the stories about flying saucers. He claimed to have seen one that remained suspended in the air for five minutes.
People in various parts of the world have maintained that they have seen saucers, but most of their accounts have taken on a cliche-like quality. According to them, the objects almost invariably are sighted flying at great speed.
The engineer, Julian Gardiol, told a reporter that whatever he saw had some way of stopping in the air.
HE GAVE this account:
He and members of his family were at the seaside resort of Miraflores Saturday night when the disc was sighted flying from the south. Giving off a red and yellow glow, the disc progressed to a place where Gardiol and others were walking. Then it stopped directly above them at about 4,500 feet altitude and remained visible for five minutes.
Then, the dish flew northward at what Gardiol described as "tremendous" speed.
The engineer, employed by Panagra Airline, said he was sure what he saw wasn't a meteor fragment. The object glowed brightest around the rim, as if it was propelled by jets, he said.
...and from the March 16, 1950 edition of the Clearfield, Pennsylvania, Progress...
Flying Saucer Reported Seen In County
W. Va. Doctor Claims Sighting Disc Last Night
Says He Saw Object In Air Between Nursery, Penfield
A West Virginia physician insisted today he saw a flying saucer while driving through Clearfield County between the Dague Nursery and Penfield about 6:15 last night.
Dr. Craig Hunter, 47, of Berkley Springs, technical director for a medical supply company, told the story to a St. Marys newspaperman after reaching that community last night.
The physician said he debated with himself before telling the story but decided to do so because he heard the Air Force investigates such reports.
"I don't drink and I am in full possession of my faculties," he said. "This is what happened about dusk last night as I was driving between Penfield and St. Marys on the Penfield mountain.
"As I switched on my auto lights, the ammeter showed the battery was discharging and I stopped my car and got out.
"Not long afterward I heard a hissing noise. I looked up and pretty soon I saw a big disc. It was going in a westerly direction at a low rate of speed. It was about 250 to 500 feet above the ground. I observed it for about two minutes before it disappeared.
"I would judge it was about 50 to 150 feet in diameter. I think it was going about 60 or 70 miles an hour.
"The outer edge of the thing, which was dirty aluminum grey in appearance, seemed to have fins which rotated. The center remained stationary. It seemed to emit a gaseous substance as it moved."
Dr. Hunter declared that an unidentified man driving a pick-up truck had stopped to ask if he could assist him with the car.
"I told him to look overhead when [sic] I saw the object or whatever it was.
"He took one look and said 'Oh, my God,' jumped into his truck and drove away.
A check of several persons who live near the nursery failed to locate anyone else who had seen or heard the object.
...and from the March 17, 1950, edition of the Amarillo, Texas, Daily News...
2 Texas Families See Flying Disc
FAUTJRRIAS, Tex., March 16 (UP) -- Two ranch families, living near Falfurrias, have seen a "flying saucer."
The disc was spotted Sunday evening. Members of the two families are only now reporting it, because they feared ridicule.
All eleven members of the R.P. Benevides and Macario Ramirez families said they saw the object at 7 P.M. Sunday. The two families live five miles apart.
They said the disc appeared to be about 12 feet in diameter and three feet thick, without wings, propellers or windows. They said it circled seven times at an estimated altitude of 1,000 feet and then sailed away to the southwest in the direction of Mexico.
And whether demonstrating moves or not, news of sightings continued to surge. From the March 17, 1950, edition of the Laredo, Texas, Times...
Movie Film May Reveal Flying Disc
MEXICO CITY, March 17. -- (UP) -- American movie cameramen will know today whether they filmed a "flying saucer" or their imagination.
Cameramen shooting movie scenes at Central Airport said they trained telephoto cameras on a "shiny, fast-moving" object that was visible briefly, then whizzed out of sight at high speed yesterday over Mexico City.
The pictures will be turned over to the U.S. and Mexican governments for study, the photographers said. The films were to be developed today.
Homer Davis, Columbia Pictures publicist, said he saw the object three times and "it definitely wasn't the planet Venus, or a star, as some scientists believe." Hundreds of other persons also said they saw the object before noon.
Davis said the cameramen took pictures on both color and black-and-white film with 16-milimeter [sic] telephoto lens cameras.
He described what he saw as a "shiny object that remained practically motionless over the airport for several minutes. Then it moved from the left to the right across the sky. I lost sight of it several times but located it again."
...while from the March 17, 1950, edition of the Dover, Ohio, Daily Reporter, came a delayed report of a saucer seen 150 miles southwest of and the day before Dr. Hunter's sighting in Pennsylvania...
Man Near Dennison Sees Flying Saucer
The flying saucers have invaded Tuscarawas-co!
Don Schwarm, residing two miles east of Dennison near Route 250, reported he saw a flying saucer Tuesday afternoon. He said it was similar to the ones [sic] reported by Dr. Craig Hunter in southern Pennsylvania earlier this week.
Schwarm described it as "a circular disk, 40 feet in diameter, flying at an altitude of 200 feet at 200 miles per hour.
"I could see it for about 30 seconds and then it disappeared behind a hill," he said.
The next day a sketch made by Dr. Hunter went out over the newswires. From the March 18, 1950, edition of the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette...
FLYING SAUCER diagram by Dr. Craig Hunter of Berkeley Springs who declares he saw the low-flying object while driving between Penfield and St. Marys early last Wednesday. Dr. Hunter described the "saucer" as "50 to 150 feet in diameter." The outer edge of the thing, which was dirty aluminum grey in appearance, seemed to have fins which rotated." It was flying, he said, at a low rate of speed about 250 to 500 feet in the air. "I don't drink," he added. (Gazette-Telephoto)
While on that same day, a new witness stepped forward to confirm Dr. Hunter's sighting. From the March 18, 1950, edition of the Clearfield, Pennsylvania Progress...
Kerr Addition Woman Says She Saw flying Saucer
More evidence that some sort of flying saucer flew over the vicinity of Clearfield early last Wednesday evening was submitted today by Mrs. Rudolph Litz of Kerr Addition, Clearfield R.D.
Mrs. Litz said she was outside about 6:45 p.m. that day when she heard a hissing noise. Looking up, she saw what looked like a big spinning washing machine lid sailing over the house.
She noted that what she saw corresponded with the object Dr. Craig Hunter of West Virginia as having passed over him between the Dague Nursery and Penfield at 6:15 o'clock that night.
Dr. Hunter said the "thing" he saw was traveling west. The object seen by Mrs. Litz was traveling east about a half an hour later.
Mrs. Litz said it was low enough that she could flash her flashlight on it.
Meanwhile from Altoona it was reported that a sketch of a "flying saucer" which Dr. Hunter says he saw last Wednesday seems to closely resemble an illustration in a national magazine. Hunter's space ship traveled slowly westward at a low altitude. His drawing shows the object was about 50 to a 150 feet in diameter and about 30 feet thick at the center.
Flying saucers -- or at any rate "strange flying objects" -- have been reported by two eyewitnesses over Erie. Herbert Riede and Mrs. Lynn Caufman say they saw silver disks flying in an easterly direction, giving off rainbow-colored streaks of light. Neither would call the "strange objects" flying saucers but both are certain they saw something they'd never seen before.
Nor was there to be a let-up of new reports coming in daily. From the March 18, 1950, edition of the Corsicana, Texas, Daily Sun...
"Discs" Seen Over Texas --
"Saucer" Vanishes After Speeding Under B-36, Navy Officer Reports
DALLAS. March 18. -- (UP) -- A navy chief petty officer says he saw what appeared to be a flying disc streak under a giant B-36 bomber -- then vanish.
Charley Lewis, 36, a veteran of 18 years in aviation, told Dallas News Reporter Ben Bradford yesterday he saw the object Thursday.
"I saw a very bright object racing at an incredible speed," he said. "It got under the bomber and seemed to hang there for a couple of seconds or so." He said it broke away at a 45-degree angle, shot straight up into the air, and disappeared in less than five seconds.
"I don't mind telling you," he said, "it shook me plenty. I've never seen anything like it."
He said it was a disc, about 20 to 25 feet in diameter and at a height of about 10,000 to 15,000 feet before it shot away.
"It was smooth, there were no wings or projections from it, and it couldn't have been a jet or rocket ship because there was no fire."
Lewis said he saw the disc about 11:28 a.m. over the Dallas naval air station. Six and one-half hours later, a bus driver reported he and five passengers saw what appeared to be a flying disc in the sky near Tioga, Grayson county. He said they watched it for about 20 minutes.
Capt. M.A. Nation, commander of the Dallas naval air station, said there were no jet planes in the area during any of the times the discs were reported seen. The Love Field weather bureau said it had no observation balloons in the air at the time.
(Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation reported three of its big planes were in the air Thursday, but no flying saucers were observed by the pilots.
(There was a Consolidated plane over the Dallas area at the time the reported object was seen to dash around the big bomber.
("If I were to join in the guessing, I would say the man saw a jet fighter," a company pilot said.)
Another report of a round, moving object sighted in the air came from Wichita Falls.
Pilot Lem Willis said he and a passenger saw a wingless object about 6:12 p.m. last night near Bridgeport Lake and watched it for ten minutes.
...and from the March 18, 1950, edition of the Lubbock, Texas, Morning Avalanche, came news that a virtual armada of saucers had been sighted by hundreds...
In Farmington Section
Hundreds In New Mexico Report Mass Flight Of Strange Objects
(By The Associated Press)
FARMINGTON, N.M., March 17 -- Several hundred Farmington residents today reported what they described as a mass daylight flight of strange objects in the sky.
The Farmington Times collected stories from more than 20 persons in the northwestern New Mexico city. It said its telephone lines were jammed with calls. Descriptions of what was seen above the city generally were the same and the newspaper said they came from reputable citizens.
Number of the objects varied from 20 to more than 100. They reportedly flew at about 15,000 feet and disappeared with a burst of speed to the northeast after loafing visibly over the city for about 20 minutes.
Hundreds of Farmington residents stood in the streets at noon gazing into the sky. In Albuquerque, the Public Information office at Kirtland Air Force base and the CAA were unable to offer any explanation. Monarch Airlines Pilots W.E. Hays and Richard Orr, whose plane left Farmington shortly after noon, said they had neither seen nor heard anything of the saucers.
The Air Force repeatedly has said its investigations do not bear out existence of such objects.
John Eaton, 29-year-old naval veteran and private pilot, said an object appearing to be red was in the center of the formation, surrounded by silvery discs. He described them as "perfect replicas of a dinner table plate -- even to the bottom ring." Six men saw the objects with him. Eaton said they appeared to him to be twice as big as a B-29.
The Farmington sightings would be the subject of many reports in the coming days, with explanations offered, and explanations rejected. But paying no nevermind to ground-based debates on their reality, the saucers continued their aerial tour. From the March 19, 1950, edition of the Harlingen, Texas, Valley Morning Star...
Saucers Spin High Over Brownsville
BROWNSVILLE -- Flying saucers were "revolving" around Brownsville, and were seen by at least one business man and several school children, it was reported Saturday.
Anado Toriz, Brownsville businessman and airplane pilot, said he saw three flying saucers Friday afternoon.
"I was standing in front of my fruit stand about 12:45 p.m. Friday," he said. "I looked up into the sky and saw three shiny, round objects flash by. The discs were flying at intervals. The first one was bright silver, and appeared to be about 12 inches in diameter and kept moving at tremendous, revolving speed.
"The second was not as shiny as the first. Both kept moving south. The third saucer came from the same direction as the first two, but it was faster and twice as shiny. It was heading southeast."
Toriz said he has been an airplane pilot four years. He estimated the saucers were about 14,000 feet up.
That same day brought news of a sighting in Turkey by "Muhammadan priests chanting the morning prayer call", as well as a new pilot report -- this time from both the air and the ground in the then-tourist hotspot of Cuba. From the March 20, 1950, edition of the Anniston, Alabama Star...
Cuban Pilot Tracks Flight Of One Disc
HAVANA, Cuba, Mar. 20 -- (UP) -- A Cuban airplane pilot said today he tracked a flying saucer over Eastern Cuba for 15 minutes Thursday morning.
The pilot, Capt. Miguel Murciano of the Cuban Aviation Co., said he first sighted the saucer while flying from Santiago to Antilla Airport.
Passengers Watched Disc
All crew members and passengers saw the shiny disc in the air, Murciano said, and a large group of persons watched the saucer from the ground at Antilla Airport where he landed.
Murciano said he used a theodolite at the airport to track the saucer. During the 15 minutes it was in sight it covered eight degrees on his instrument, Murciano said.
Another airport sighting would be reported in the March 20, 1950, edition of the Syracuse, New York Herald-Journal...
Vets See 'Shining Pie Plate' Zooming
'Flying Saucers' Over Norwich
NORWICH -- What might well have been one of the famous flying saucers was seen by two Norwich men yesterday morning while standing near the administration building of the Norwich airport.
The object was first spotted by Ray Saftenberg, a former anti-aircraft gunner in World War II and a member of the Norwich Fire Department, as he was waiting for his companion, City Alderman James C. Ferry, who was talking with a friend.
SAFTENBERG said he noticed the shining object, which must have been of enormous size, about 4,000 feet in the air, streaking across the sky at terrific speed. Calling the attention of the others to it, Saftenberg noted that the flying object could not be a plane because it was not shaped like a plane, nor did it leave a vapor trail.
"It resembled a shining pie-plate as it glinted in the sun," Saftenberg said."
FERRY, who was a member of the Air Force during the war, agreed with Saftenberg, and figured that at such a height a plane would have to travel at an unheard of speed to pass the range of view in such a short time. Also, the men noted, there was no sound, such as would be audible even at such a height on a clear, still day like yesterday.
"I am not saying that it was a flying saucer," Saftenberg told the Herald-Journal reporter this morning, "but I am certain it was not a plane. The object was first seen approaching from a great distance, and passed from our view or disappeared within a few seconds. Nothing man-made could have gone that fast."
It had been twelve days since news first broke of the "mystery lecturer" at Denver and the story of Ray Dimmick. Every day since there had been new reports of saucers performing incredible maneuvers. They had been seen from the ground and from the air. The witnesses had included pilots and Air Force veterans -- with most reports having at least one other witness and others being seen by "scores" and even "hundreds" at a time.
In reaction, the Air Force stepped forward to make a statement to the nation -- it remained sublimely unimpressed and disinterested by it all.
But if the Air Force felt comfortably at ease in its public posture of official ennui, events would soon have it snapping back to attention.
Above: From the March 23, 1950 edition of Pacific Stars and Stripes.
THOUGH REPORTS of sightings would continue to be featured in the daily newspapers, the biggest news over the coming days would be what important people and publications were saying about the saucers.
It started with a single report which garnered front-page coverage nationwide. From the March 21, 1950, edition of the Olean, New York, Times Herald...
Pilots Report Flying Saucer With Windows
MEMPHIS. Tenn. -- A flying saucer, with windows on the bottom and a blinking light on top, flew over Arkansas last night at a "tremendous rate of speed," two airline pilots reported here.
Captain Jack Adams of Chicago and Southern Air Lines radioed the Memphis airport control tower that he and Co-Pilot G.W. Anderson saw the object over Stuttgart, Ark., at 10:20 p.m. EST.
"It was flying almost due north and we crossed its path at about a forty-five degree angle," Adams said. "It was about 1,000 feet above us, and was traveling at a tremendous rate of speed.
"It had a peculiarly-colored and very intense light on the top, which blinked very rapidly. I could tell it was circular, because of lighted windows on the underside of it. They were arranged in a perfect circular pattern. I would estimate that it was travelling between 500 and 600 miles per hour."
"I've been a skeptic all my life, but what can you do when you see something like that?" Adams said. "We both saw it, and we were flabbergasted."
Airline officials here said they were aware that the Air Force has repeatedly denied the existence of flying saucers. But they added that Adams was not the type of person who would give alarming reports.
Within a day of the sighting, NBC announced that the two pilots involved would be interviewed by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt for her television program.
The signing of Eleanor Roosevelt to host a weekly television forum had been a coup for NBC -- Mrs. Roosevelt was undoubtedly not only the most respected woman in America, but in the world. During the recent world war Mrs. Roosevelt had redefined the role of a "first lady", becoming a tireless worker and advocate both behind the scenes and as a very public face of concern for the welfare of soldiers and civilians alike. She toured war zones in Europe and the Pacific, worked on immigrant and refugee issues, and co-chaired the Office of Civilian Defense. Learning of a high incidence of absenteeism in women war workers with children, she lobbied for government-sponsored day care. She also encouraged women on the home front to educate themselves and acquire employable skills. Nor were the burdens of women her only concern. At a time when there was still overt racial segregation within the military, Mrs. Roosevelt not only privately lobbied for the training of African-American pilots, but paid a very public visit to the home of the Tuskegee Air Corps Advanced Flying School in Alabama, going aloft for an hour as a passenger in a plane piloted by Alfred "Chief" Anderson, the head flight instructor. The next day a picture of a beaming Mrs. Roosevelt seated behind the black Air Corps pilot hit front pages nationwide. And as her immense popularity soared, a personal appearance by Mrs. Roosevelt anywhere guaranteed crowds by the thousands and zooming war bond sales.
Following the war and the death of her husband -- one of only a handful of truly great American presidents -- Mrs. Roosevelt became a prime mover behind the establishment of the United Nations. In April, 1946, Mrs. Roosevelt became the first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and was instrumental in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In February, 1950, Mrs. Roosevelt tackled television with a weekly program focused on the serious issues of the day. Her first show, for instance, addressed the subject "what to do with the hydrogen bomb". Her guests on that first show included the chair of U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, David E. Lilienthal, future Nobel laureate in physics, Hans A. Bethe, chair of the Senate Special Committee on Atomic Energy, Brien McMahon, and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer -- widely known as "the father of the atomic bomb".
Now, just ten weeks on, Mrs. Roosevelt was going to feature the two airline pilots -- Captain Jack Adams and First Officer G.W. Anderson -- who had just days before encountered a flying saucer. The show would air on March 26, 1950. The official NBC transcript...
MRS. ROOSEVELT: Last Tuesday, when I took up my paper, I saw that we had again sighted in the air strange objects flying very fast, or an object. But this time two people who had sighted it were really qualified people to know what they were looking at. One was Capt. Jack Adams, the other was first officer Anderson. And they were flying their usual route, I imagine, for the Chicago and Southern Airlines, and were over Stuttgart, Arkansas. Now I'm going to ask them, first Capt. Adams, what did you see?
ADAMS: Mrs. Roosevelt, I'm very elated that since the person that you are, that you have an interest in these objects. I'll have to admit that I have been very skeptical up until this point, or I should say until last Monday evening when we saw this. The first thing that attracted our attention with [sic] a bright blinking light that was approaching us from the south traveling north. We were at 2,000 feet flying on a general heading of west. When I saw this very brilliant light, I knew that it was a different kind of light, at least one that I had never seen. So I called Andy's attention to it, and it was in his view as well as mine, and we watched it for a period of approximately 20 or 30 seconds. As it drew nearer to us and crossed our path, I would estimate not over a thousand feet above us or 1500 feet in front of us, making a total of not over a half mile, the underside of the object, in my opinion what was the underside, there was a circular group of lights arranged in a manner that gave it an appearance of a definite circle. Of course, being at night, we could not see the very outline or the rim of the thing. It could be in a little different shape than a circle. I do feel it had body to it due to the fact that as it crossed our path in front of us and above us, the light that was on top was blocked from our view and then came back into view as it flew on past and beyond.
MRS. ROOSEVELT: That's a very good description of what you saw, Capt. Adams. I'd like to ask you, Mr. Anderson, whether you have anything which you could show us that would give an idea of what this was like?
ANDERSON: This displayed here approximates what we did see, with a few exceptions. We of course have to assume that the object was round. However, this light on top was the fast brilliant blinking light that we saw approaching us. And then on the bottom we have circular lights that were sort of bluish or fluorescent in nature. They were in circular pattern and approximately 100 feet in diameter.
MRS ROOSEVELT: You flew overseas and have seen many kinds of airplanes and you have done a great deal of flying, Capt. Adams, so that for two people qualified, as you are, to have seen this, you must be pretty sure now that you have actually seen something quite different and new.
ANDERSON: Neither Jack or I have ever seen anything that approached this. I mean it's nothing like jet or anything like that we've ever hear [sic] or seen other than the flying saucer itself.
MRS. ROOSEVELT: Well that of course is such as we have -- at least never remember hearing before, and I will say I've been a little skeptical before; I thought people were seeing things. But you honestly feel Capt. Adams, that this had body and was something flown. You don't know whether anyone was in it?
ADAMS: Well, of course, about anyone being in it, naturally I don't know that, but the way it was flying, I'm positive that it was a definite controlled flight. It maintained a constant altitude and constant course and traveled at a terrific rate of speed.
MRS. ROOSEVELT: That was certainly very interesting, and I thank you for coming here today. Thank you.
Mrs. Roosevelt's respectful treatment of the two men was a stark contrast to the casual dismissal of such incidents by Air Force pronouncements that any and all witnesses were either mistaken or lying. The next day news coverage of the interview was paired with reports of a new pilot sighting. From the March 27, 1950, edition of the Dunkirk, New York, Evening Observer...
Flying Saucer Reported Near Air Force H.Q.
Washington, -- (UP) -- A flying saucer has been reported almost in the backyard of the Air Force, the service that says the mysterious discs don't exist.
Bertram A. Totten, a veteran private pilot, said he sighted an aluminum-colored disc about 40 feet in diameter and 10 feet thick yesterday while he was flying over Fairfax county, Va. on the outskirts of Washington.
Totten, a one-time airplane inspector for the Air Force, said he was flying a two-place plane at 5,000 feet when he saw the saucer whirling along about 1,000 feet below him.
"I dived toward it," he said, "but before I could get very close it zoomed up into the overcast."
Totten said he was going about 150 miles an hour at the time. He estimated that the strange circular object was traveling "several hundred miles per hour faster."
No Propulsion Gear
As far as he could see, the disc had no propulsion gear or controls. But he said it left a stream of vapor trails like those from airplane engines.
At the time, Totten was flying just a few miles from the Pentagon where the Air Force has its headquarters.
The service, which has investigated many similar flying saucer stories, has denied officially that such things exist. Nevertheless. it has been questioning some of the airmen who recently reported sighting the discs.
Veterans Tell of Saucers
Two veteran pilots of the Chicago and Southern Airlines, Capt Jack Adams and First Officer C.W. Anderson, told how they spotted one of the discs on the NBC television show, "Today with Mrs. Roosevelt" yesterday. They displayed a scale model of a "strange blinking, speeding craft" on the program.
Mrs. Roosevelt said she always had been skeptical of the saucer stories and thought people who reported them were "seeing things" until she heard the pilots' story. She termed it "evidence such as we have not heard before. . .from people qualified as you are."
The model saucer was shaped like a Chinese coolie hat, with on [sic] large light at its pointed top. Underneath there was a circle of lights.
That same day, the next heavyweight to weigh in on the subject of saucers would be journalist and commentator Henry J. Taylor. From 1941 through 1945 Taylor had been the foreign correspondent for the Scripps-Howard Newspaper Syndicate, traveling and reporting from the war zones of Europe and the Pacific. At the end of the war Taylor took on a new assignment -- as "featured speaker" for the national radio program "Your Land and Mine", sponsored by General Motors. From the March 28, 1950, edition of the Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin...
Commentator Says Saucers Real Thing
DALLAS (AP) -- Radio commentator Henry J. Taylor said here Monday night that he thinks flying saucers are real and when the U.S. air force confirms the news, it will be wonderful.
Taylor made his regular broadcast from here Monday night at a dinner meeting of the Dallas General Motors club.
"They (the saucers) are not from another planet, not from Russia, but right here from the United States of America," Taylor said. He said he believed the saucers were "a military secret" and nothing to cause hysteria or to be frightened about.
The air force in Washington reiterated previous statements that it had nothing to do with any "flying saucers."
As to recent recurrent reports of such phenomena, an air force official said:
"We haven't run into anything with enough substance to warrant re-opening our investigation."
The air force conducted a two-year study of "flying saucer" reports but shut it down some time ago. It came to the conclusion that "flying saucers" are just jokes, mass hysteria or misunderstanding of natural phenomena.
Taylor told listeners that his investigation of the many reports of flying saucers had convinced him they were some type of guided object which disintegrates after a given period in the air.
Pilots Filed Reports
The commentator said eight air force pilots filed official written reports of seeing a flying saucer over Columbus, Ohio. He said the reports show the object picked up speed "in a lazy sort of way" when they sought to chase it, and moved out of range "exactly as if it had wished to, or was guided."
"The report is in the pentagon building files Monday night," Taylor added. The air force official in Washington said he knew of no such report being submitted to the pentagon.
He said the pilots described the saucer as about the diameter of a two-story house and made of metal.
And coincidence or not, that same day also brought an announcement from the University of Texas at Austin. From the March 28, 1950, edition of the San Mateo, California Times...
University at Texas Admits Making Saucers
'Target Drones' of Incredible Speed Turned Out by Defense Lab
AUSTIN, Texas, Mar. 28. -- (UP) -- Target drones of apparently fantastic speed are being created by University of Texas scientists for sky scrimmages with new guided missiles, it was revealed today.
The work, a terse, carefully worded university announcement said, is being done at the school's defense research laboratory.
It followed by only a few hours a broadcast by Radio Commentator Henry J. Taylor, who said that "flying saucers" are real, and the answer to the mystery of the saucers "will be very reassuring when the air force is prepared to give it."
No Longer Secret
The university announcement carefully omitted any mention of design of the target drones, and a spokesman said it was released with full knowledge that it probably would give rise to speculation linking drones with recurring stories about "saucers."
The announcement did not make clear whether any drone has been perfected and put into actual use. The air force repeatedly has denied the existence of "flying saucers." The university spokesman said the announcement contained only "declassified" information, no longer regarded as secret.
Cleared for Release
It was cleared for release by military authorities in Washington.
The information was revealed in a terse announcement that Dr. M.J. Thompson, associate director of the defense research laboratory, had been named a member of the research and development board panel on target drones. Thompson was reported to be at San Diego, Calif., for consultations with the Ryan Aeronautical company. Dr. Paul Boner, laboratory director, was at Norman, Okla., for talks with University of Oklahoma officials. From Norman, Boner was to go to Washington.
Thompson was quoted as saying the target drones would have a speed far exceeding that of conventional aircraft.
"Guided missile development is an extremely complex technical problem, and target drones, which are needed to test adequately our missiles' combat performances, are just as complicated," the statement said.
"The name drone doesn't mean that we are working with an inferior device as its identification with the lazy male bee suggests. In fact, our job is to perfect a drone which will out-perform the missile it is to test."
The statement pointed out that radio-controlled airplanes were the first drones, thus indicating the possibility that design of the new target drones were radically different in design from conventional aircraft.
"Scrimmages with the drones running enemy plays," Thompson said, "will help us find and correct flaws in our weapons."
Thompson had been engaged in aerodynamic research on guided missiles since 1945. He is technical supervisor of all university programs in that field for the navy bureau of ordinance and the air force.
The university spokesman said neither Thompson nor Boner would elaborate on today's statement. "And if you asked them about flying saucers," he said, "they'd tell you all they know is what they've read in the papers."
The next day a photo claimed to be that of a flying saucer appeared in the March 29, 1950, edition of the Miami, Florida, Daily News...
AN UNRETOUCHED PICTURE TAKEN OFF NEW JERSEY COAST
This photograph was submitted to us as a picture of a flying saucer. Mrs. Ethel Evans, who took the picture, said it was made at approximately 8 p.m., Jan. 9 of this year in the small New Jersey coastal town of Wildwood. Although it may appear to have been taken from above. Mrs. Evans says she was standing on the ground and the saucer was tilting toward her, in the direction in which it was flying. A miniature snap shot camera with an f:45 lens and a shutter speed of one-hundredth of a second was used. It is a fixed focus camera using panchromatic film. Mrs. Evans judged she took the picture at about a 45 degree angle as this thing came in from the sea.
RETOUCHED VIEW OF "SAUCER"
Artist Has Brought Out Image More Clearly
MINIATURE CAMERA WAS USED
This Small Equipment Caught The Picture
Photo Catches 'Flying Saucer'
By BILL BAGGS
'In the Bag' Columnist
Is the picture accompanying this article that of a flying saucer?
It was submitted to The Miami Daily News as such.
Because of the hundreds of people throughout the country who report having seen saucers, The News began an investigation of this picture in the hopes it would shed more light on a subject which has millions of us wondering.
I traveled more than 2,500 miles to talk with people who claimed to have seen the mysterious saucers. The net result of my investigation is: I don't know what to think, but a strong case certainly can be made out for the saucer.
A doctor in Pennsylvania looked at the picture and said: "This is it. This is what I saw."
Pilot G.W. Anderson, an airline flier with 6,000 flying hours to his credit, said:
"Purely as a guess, this (photograph) could very well be (the thing I saw). This, or something very similar to it."
Anderson and his captain, Jack Adams, saw a strange, fast-flying object this month. They were flying to Little Rock when this blaze of lights crossed in front of their airliner. It was dark and they couldn' make out the exact shape of the object...
The rest of the article dealt with Ethel Evans' recounting of how she came to take the picture (the doctor from Pennsylvania was later identified in the story as Dr. Hunter). The photos themselves -- as well as the story -- were all copyrighted 1950 by the Daily News, with "Reproduction Strictly Forbidden" on all, and apparently never went out on the newswires. But they were widely reported on nationwide in newswire stories about the picture and accompanying article.
The next day brought a second part to the story by columnist Bill Bragg, in the March 30, 1950, edition of the Miami, Florida, Daily News -- including a reprint of the Ethel Evans' picture included in the first part. In it, he revealed more details on the sighting by Captain Adams and First Officer Anderson -- as well as never-before-mentioned and surprising details of Dr. Hunter's encounter -- as told personally to him...
Captain Jack Adams, of Chicago and Southern Airlines, a veteran of 7,000 flying hours, said:
"On the bottom (of the saucer) was a circular pattern of light ... could have been something like old florescent [sic] lights."
Adams' co-pilot, G.W. Anderson, said: These lights had a soft color, something like a fluorescent lamp. A sort of velvety soft color." [sic, no beginning quote mark]
The two airmen were flying toward Little Rock at about 2,000 feet altitude when they saw the saucer. Here is Anderson's story:
"Jack saw it first. He called my attention to it. I looked up and out of his window ... There, approaching us we saw this brilliant, flashing white light.
"About this time, we flashed our landing lights as a signal, and this thing didn't reply at all. It passed in front of us, above us, and we got a good view of the light pattern on the bottom of the craft. On the bottom were numerous lights, eight to 12, arranged in a circular pattern."
Anderson continued: "After it passed off to our right, the bottom went out of view, but the brilliant light blinking on top came back in view, giving the object a certain depth, but we couldn't tell how much."
Adams figured the craft was traveling about 500 to 800 miles per hour. Anderson said he thought it was going at least 800.
From the circular light pattern, Adams and Anderson concluded, it must be round. They also compared the lights they saw to the photograph shown here. Anderson said: "Purely as a guess, it could very well be this, or perhaps very similar to it. The black speck on top could be it, and the rest a glow from the light itself."
Adams reported: "In comparing it (the photograph) I could see how the photograph could represent the same kind of thing we saw from the position which we saw it."
Adams added that he didn't see the outline of the object, and so wasn't sure about the shape of the disc. Then too, he noted, he could not tell the top from the bottom of the object in the accompanying photograph.
Mrs. Evans, who took this photograph in Wildwood, N.J., said the saucer tilted slightly in the direction in which it flew. Her son, Rod, confirmed this. And so did Dr. Craig Hunter of Berkley Springs, W. Va.
Dr. Hunter said he saw the object toward dusk on March 15 near Clearfield, Pa. This is a sparsely populated area, he said. His car developed trouble and he got out to see if he could fix it. It was then he heard "a hissing, whistling noise."
He said: "I looked up into the sky and coming from a south-eastward direction, and heading northwest, was this thing. It was about 250 to 300 feet in the air and traveling at about 60 to 70 miles per hour. The thing made a complete circle around me.
"I could see images of human character in the window-like openings in the saucer. Then I saw a bluish green object shot, apparently, at me. I would say it was some kind of rocket type of projectile [sic, no end quote mark].
Dr. Hunter said the projectile was propelled. "It came faster than a parachute and did not appear to float at all. It came at a steady, slow speed."
The projectile exploded within about 20 feet of him, Dr. Hunter said, and there evolved a great white light for 30 to 45 seconds, he recalled. He felt no ill effects from the bright light, Dr. Hunter reported.
Dr. Hunter said he got the impression the images inside the saucer were of human form and appeared to be wearing a type helmet similar to the one designed by Gen. Patton for tank crews in World War II.
The saucer itself is the same as represented in the picture, according to Dr. Hunter. He said there were windows in one section of the saucer, on the outer perimeter. Inside was a rotating rim, encircling the bottom, and there was a flat bottom inside this. The top part of the saucer, he said, looked smooth, like "half of a ball bearing."
He noticed the saucer tilted slightly in the direction it was flying and flew at a consistent speed except when it hovered over him. Then it wobbled slightly, he added.
The doctor estimated the size as 50 to 75 feet in diameter. Captain Adams and Pilot Anderson said they thought it about the size of a DC-3 transport. Mrs. Evans guessed it was around 100 feet in diameter...
Like the first part of Baggs' article, the second part was apparently not syndicated and in fact went unmentioned elsewhere. But the picture which had touched off the articles became the lead-in to an April 3, 1950, broadcast by Henry J. Taylor over the ABC radio network, transcribed by the network as follows...
I spoke from Dallas about a "saucer" found on the ground in Texas.
It was real all right and nobody was in it. And it did not come from Russia. It came from right here in your land and mine, I'm glad to say.
Actually, I found that the key to this nationwide mystery is two mysteries ... both fascinating ... but more about the answer to the second one later.
Now, when I reached San Antonio, after my Dallas broadcast the editor of the Miami Daily News telephoned me asking me to identify a photograph he had which he thought was a "flying saucer." In fact, he offered to fly an airplane from Miami to San Antonio for this purpose of identification, which was not necessary.
That "saucer" too was real all right -- very real -- and so was the photograph...
The lengthy broadcast was summarized the next day in newswire stories, as from the April 4, 1950, edition of the Billings, Montana, Gazette...
'Flying Saucers' Declared Harmless American Secret
New York, April 3. -- (UP) -- "Flying saucers" reported hurling through North American skies actually are two types of top-secret United States military inventions, Radio Commentator Henry J. Taylor said Monday night.
The real facts behind both are good news for the nation, Taylor said, in a nation-wide broadcast.
One type is the true flying saucer, he said, a disc that whizzes through space, halts suspended in the air, soars to 30,000 feet and more, drops to 1,000 feet, and then usually disintegrates in the air. The saucers are harmless, pilotless discs, ranging from 20 inches to 290 feet in diameter, he said, and they've been haunting the skies for three years.
The other zooming objects, which some persons have thought were saucers, really are "flying phantoms," the XF50 jet-propelled aircraft, with which the navy acknowledges it is experimenting at Patuxent, Md., Taylor said.
These planes, he described as circular and wingless and capable of flying at a fantastic rate of speed. Persons who have seen them claimed they looked like a flying cigar, giving off a shower of sparks, but Taylor said that anything round, moving at "such speed" looks elongated -- "even a cannon ball, if you could see it."
That same day the Miami, Florida Daily News banner-headlined the Taylor broadcast at the top of its April 4, 1950, edition -- even above the masthead -- with the headline " "News' Flying Saucer Photo Real, Taylor Says". But rather than include the Ethel Evans photo, it featured a depiction of the object seen by Captain Adams and First Officer Anderson...
Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company
MODEL DRAWN FROM DESCRIPTIONS OF A SAUCER REPORTED BY TWO AIRLINE PILOTS
In Recent NBC Telecast And Interview With Mrs. Roosevelt, Fliers Were Certain Object Was Not A Plane
Meanwhile, on the same day as Henry J. Taylor's broadcast, newswires piled on with an announcement that a major weekly magazine -- this time, U.S. News And World Report -- was also convinced the saucers were American secret aircraft. From the April 3, 1950, edition of the Biloxi, Mississippi, Daily Herald...
Think "Saucers" Are Real -- And A US Development
Washington, April 3 (AP) US News and World Report says there is competent evidence that flying saucers are real aircraft of revolutionary design, developed in the United States.
The weekly news magazine for April 7, out today, concludes that the Navy is doing the development.
(The Navy, asked about such reports Friday, said it built only one machine of the general saucer shape, a piston engine aircraft, it never flew. It said it never built a jet version.)
Reporting what it calls the "real story" behind the welter of reports about such flying machines, the magazine says "engineers competent to appraise reports of reliable observers" have reached these conclusions:
"Flying saucers, seen by hundreds of competent observers over most parts of the US, are accepted as real. Evidence is that they are aircraft of a revolutionary type, a combination of helicopter and fast jet plane.
"They conform to well known principles of aerodynamics.
"An early model of these saucers was built by US engineers in 1942, achieved more than 100 successful test flights. That project was taken over by the Navy in wartime. Much more advanced models are now being built.
"Just where present saucers are being built also is indicated by evidence now available."
The article says early models were built by engineers of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
It credits the first US model to Charles H. Zimmerman of the NACA, reporting that the machine was elliptical in shape with two piston engines driving it at a top speed between 400 and 500 miles an hour. More important, the article goes on, it had a landing speed of about 35 miles an hour and could rise almost vertically.
In what was described as an analysis of reports from observers, the magazine says the machines are exactly 105 feet in diameter and appear to be about 10 feet thick.
The article quotes a "top level government aeronautical engineer" as concluding that variable-direction jet engines supply power for both propulsion and maneuvering, the number of engines turned on, the angle to which they are turned, and the power applied to them determining direction and speed.
The magazine notes that an Air Force inquiry into saucer reports was called off last December and says this "indicates clearly that top Air Force officials know where the saucers originate and are not concerned about them [sic, no end quote mark].
The official report in that investigation said all the evidence from hundreds of reports points to "misinterpretation of various conventional objects, a mild form of mass hysteria, or hoaxes."
And like the January and March articles in True Magazine, the article itself was syndicated to newspapers in an edited but lengthy format. But by the next day fervent denials by both the Air Force and the Navy were being carried in news stories nationwide. And on that same day, another denial was issued by a higher personage. For instance, as told in the April 4, 1950, edition of the Baytown, Texas, Sun -- headlined on the front page in the same size font and weight as "Navy Thinks Mystery Subs Off California Coast Are Russian" and "Soviet 'Pearl Harbor' Seen" -- was this...
President Denies Any Knowledge That U.S. Is Building "Saucers"
KEY WEST, Fla., April 4. -- (UP) -- President Truman has no knowledge whatever of the existence of any type of "flying saucer" the White House said today.
This word came from Press Secretary Charles G. Ross after stories from Washington that the oft-reported saucers are radically new type aircraft being developed by the Navy.
Ross said as far as the president is concerned, this is not true and that Mr. Truman knows nothing about any saucer being developed by this or any other country.
Ross said that after the reports from Washington, he checked with Brigadier General Robert F. Landry, Air Force aide to the president. Landry told of a two-year investigation by the Air Force of myriad saucer reports and how the investigation ended with no supporting information at all.
"The president or no one in authority knows anything about flying saucers," Ross said. "We are not denying this because of any development of secret weapons, but purely because we know nothing to support these rumors."
It had been 26 days since news first broke with the stories of the "mystery lecturer" in Denver and Ray Dimmick, and 17 days since the Air Force had stepped forward to re-emphasize its lack of belief in any and all saucer reports.
But neither President Truman nor the Air Force were to have the last word, as two days later a new look at the story of the saucers was announced, as from the April 6, 1950, edition of the Wichita, Texas, Daily Times, in its "Around Town" column...
Research conducted by Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations has resulted in the production of "Case of the Flying Saucer" for radio broadcast Friday between 9:30 and 10 p.m. over CBS, including Station KWFT. Edward R. Murrow is narrator and the broadcast will include transcriptions by persons who have reported sighting flying saucers, scientists and government officials.
It seemed that the Air Force couldn't catch a break -- for akin to the regard that the nation held for Mrs. Roosevelt was its respect for broadcaster-journalist Edward R. Murrow. Murrow was the living embodiment of integrity, intelligence, and courage in reporting. It had been Murrow who in 1938 reported live and on the scene from Vienna during the Nazi takeover of Austria under the Anschluss. It had been Murrow who in the midst of "the blitz" continued broadcasting even as bombs rained down on London. It had been Murrow who had put his life on the line alongside American airmen in bombing flights over Germany. And it had been Murrow who gave voice to the millions slaughtered in his on-the-scene reporting from the just-liberated concentration camp of Buchenwald -- beginning his report with the statement that he was the "the least important person there" and near the close stating...
I pray you to believe what I have said about Buchenwald. I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it, I have no words.
Returning to the States following the war, Murrow had become head of CBS News, while still maintaining his role as a broadcaster. And on April 7, 1950, he turned his attention to the radio broadcast of The Case of the Flying Saucer...
This is Edward R. Murrow. We're going to talk about flying saucers. We're going to talk about them from the standpoint of reporters; not as comedians, not as sensationalists. For the past three years a large number of perfectly sane and reliable people have been involved in this flying saucer business. Even those of us who have never seen one have become involved. We read about them, talk about them, wonder about these reports of strange phenomena in the skies. So almost from the start, CBS has been following this story. We have been collecting material on flying saucer observations for many months; checking, cross-checking, trying to track down leads no matter how far afield they took us. This, tonight, is our report. We frankly admit that we don't know whether flying saucers actually exist. We've never seen one. We are going to bring you the facts at hand. What they add up to, well that's for you to decide. That's up to you.
As promised, the program was sober and well-balanced. It began with the man who started it all back in 1947, Kenneth Arnold, giving the story of his sighting. Murrow also solicited and received Arnold's opinion on the source of the saucers -- to which Arnold replied, "I'm inclined to believe it's of extraterrestrial origin". Murrow then briefly described the flurry of post-Arnold reports from 1947, following with a description of the initial Air Force investigation...
MURROW: Many of these reports, a great many of them, obviously could be discounted. Others, reports from perfectly competent, sober and reliable observers, found no easy answer. In the face of this, late in 1947, the chief of staff of the air forces, at that time General Carl "Tooey" Spaatz, sent a directive to the Air Materiel Command, located at Wright Field, Ohio.
VOICEOVER: The Air Materiel Command is directed to set up a project whose purpose is to collect, collate, evaluate, and distribute to interested government agencies and contractors, all pertinent information concerning sightings of phenomena in the atmosphere which can be construed to be of concern to the national security.
MURROW: And so was born "Project Saucer"...
Murrow then described the operations of the Air Force investigation and its conclusions -- and not always accurately in light of what is now known. But this was through no fault of his own -- Murrow was dependent in this on what he and the public had been told by the Air Force.
But as part of that, Murrow also revealed details from one of the cases investigated, and its Air Force "evaluation" -- as found in what was termed on the broadcast as "a detailed study, two volumes thick, entitled 'Report On Unidentified Aerial And Celestial Objects'..."
MURROW: ...And tonight, for the first time on the air, we will bring you actual portions of this report; evaluations, summaries and conclusions. Here, for instance, is a typical case.
VOICEOVER: Eight July 1947, zero-nine-thirty hours, local. Muroc Air Force Base. Four witnesses all observed two silver disc-like spherical objects against a clear, bright sky. All witnesses estimated the altitude at about 8,000 feet. The speed, between 300 and 400 miles per hour.
MURROW: Remember, these were trained observers -- Air Force men.
VOICEOVER: The objects reportedly traveled in a straight line. Taking the mean reported speed, 350 miles per hour, and the time in sight, one-half hour, the objects must then have traveled 175 miles while in sight. If the objects were of such proportions as to be seen at that distance, it is believed that more details could have been observed at the first sighting.
MURROW: And the Air Materiel Command opinion on the Muroc air base sightings was this.
VOICEOVER: This report is a result of misinterpretation of the nature of real stimuli; probably research balloons.
Again, the Air Force description of the incident provided to Murrow was highly inaccurate. Lieutenant Joseph McHenry and three others at Muroc had watched two silver spherical objects traveling about 300 miles per hour towards Rogers Dry Lake at 8,000 feet. Three more people joined the four just after the two objects were out of sight. "A few minutes later" a third object appeared, seen by five of the witnesses. The object slowed over the airfield and performed 'tight circle maneuvers'. Witnesses said "this object performed too tight a circle to be any type of known aircraft". All witnesses gave estimated times of their involvement, and it is clear from the individual witness statements taken that each sighting was a matter of minutes, not one-half hour. This became Incident No. 1 in Air Force files. There were three other incidents at Muroc that day, becoming Incident Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the Air Force investigation.
Nor was the "evaluation" in the broadcast the official evaluation as found in the Air Force report. The evaluations for all incidents had been written as a lengthy report submitted in April, 1949, by project astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, entitled "Report On Unidentified Aerial And Celestial Objects" -- the one named by Murrow as giving the evaluation used in the broadcast. But Hynek's evaluation -- based strictly on the witness statements -- was quite different...
No astronomical explanation for this incident is possible. It is tempting to explain the objects as ordinary aircraft observed under unusual light conditions, but the evidence of the "tight circle" maneuvers, if maintained, is strongly contradictory. This incident must be judged with reference to other particular incidents, which probably have a common explanation.
And in fact, Dr. Hynek -- who in his evaluations created categories under which incidents were grouped -- categorized it under "Evidence Offered Suggests No Explanation".
But Murrow was not to know that, nor that the inaccurate description and evaluation given to him by the Air Force had been inserted later into Air Force files on the incident -- apparently intended to "tidy up" unexplained incidents with the appearance of having definitive answers.
But even using the Air Force's mischaracterization, the incident -- especially when heard rather than read -- still came off with an aura of strangeness not dispelled by the even-then-cliched Air Force explanation of mis-identified balloons. Nor did what came next provide any comfort about the Air Force ability to evaluate incidents...
MURROW: Another report on January 7th, 1948. Tech sergeant Quinton A. Blackwell, chief operator of the control tower at Godman Field, an Air Force base at Fort Knox, Kentucky, spotted a strange object hovering over the south portion of the field. In a matter of minutes, a flight of four P-51 fighter planes approaching the field were contacted by radio and asked to chase the object. Leader of the flight was Captain Thomas F. Mantell, junior -- a veteran of the Normandy invasion with some 3,000 flying hours to his credit. At two-forty-five Mantell reported by radio.
VOICEOVER: Object directly ahead and above and moving about half my speed. Going up to take a look.
MURROW: At three-fifteen Mantell reported again.
VOICEOVER: Object still ahead and above, moving at about my speed or faster, 360 miles per hour. The thing looks metallic and is of tremendous size. I'm trying to close in for a better look.
MURROW: By now, Mantell and his flight were at about 15,000 feet. They had no oxygen equipment. At 18,000 feet the escorting planes turned back. But Mantell kept climbing. His next report came from 20,000 feet.
VOICEOVER: Going to 25,000. If no closer, will abandon search.
MURROW: That was the last report from Captain Thomas Mantell. At approximately 25,000 feet it is believed he blacked out for want of oxygen. His plane climbed another 5,000 feet and then went into a dive. When it crashed, parts of it were scattered around an area covering one-sixth of a mile. Project Saucer's conclusion.
VOICEOVER: It seems probable that the object observed was the planet Venus.
MURROW: Later, in a report dated April 27th, 1949, this conclusion was reversed. Further investigation showed the elevation and azimuth readings of Venus, and the object as reported at specified time intervals, just didn't jibe. The object Captain Mantell chased to his tragic death is now officially marked...
Next, came a statement from "General William F. McKee, Assistant Vice-Chief of Staff, United States Air Forces to summarize the conclusions reached by Project Saucer". McKee repeated the basics: all reports were the result of "misinterpretation of various conventional objects", "a mild form of hysteria", and "simple hoaxes". He then reiterated that the saucers weren't secret U.S. aircraft. Murrow then continued...
MURROW: On December 27th, 1949, Project Saucer went out of existence. The flying saucers, however, refused to follow the project into limbo. Just possibly one of the reasons behind the stubbornness of the saucers to accept the mantle of oblivion was an article that appeared in True magazine just about the time Project Saucer was abandoned. It had previously been shown pretty conclusively that the number of sighting reports over a period of months usually followed closely the amount of publicity given to flying saucer observations. A lot of stories, a lot of sightings. Few stories, few sightings. Psychologists call this mass suggestion. But to return to the True magazine article presented in December of 1949, some percentage of the new wave of flying saucer reports can certainly be chalked off to mass suggestion. But again, as in the first reports, there remain that same unexplained percentage of reliable, trained observers who claim to have seen some object, or objects, wheeling, whirling, zooming, slicing or hovering in the sky. Douglas Gorley [phonetic], of Laguna Beach, California, is an example. Here's his story:
GORLEY: After 14 months as an anti-aircraft observer with a searchlight battery, and also 18 months as a seacoast anti-aircraft observer with another searchlight battery, I was driving north March 21st on 101 highway at about three o'clock in the afternoon when my attention was distracted by the sunlight reflecting off some objects. I counted eight of them proceeding directly out to sea at 2,000 feet altitude. They gave the appearance of being made out of aluminum. And I could observe the perfect circle outline of these craft. They were going, I would say, approximately 150 miles an hour. They were definitely a powered craft of some sort.
This was followed by a woman from Selma, Alabama, describing a sighting by her husband and herself of lights in the sky, "beautiful, silvery, pink-tinged", that she attributed to God "trying to say something to us". Next came Murrow…
By mid-March of this year the flood of flying saucer sightings had hit a new peak. Into many of these reports there now crept a new and somewhat eerie tone -- the feeling that these flying saucers were something out of this world, possibly interplanetary aircraft, sent from some distant celestial sphere to investigate what manner of life managed to exist here on Earth. In line with this we went to Dr. Donald Menzel, professor of astrophysics at Harvard University, and associate director of the famous Harvard Observatory, to find out just how feasible any such idea might be.
Menzel called it "extremely unlikely", and laid it all down to reflections from airplanes, weather balloons, and "then again, just pieces of paper carried aloft. When it gets up to two or 300 feet you can't tell whether it's 100 feet or [inaudible] 10,000 feet away."
Next came Dr. Craig Hunter, telling of his experience...
MURROW: Prior to the middle of March, most observations, certainly all those which can be credited to reliable, sober sources, stated that the object seen was a good distance away. A distance that ranged from a few miles to 10 and 20. But on March 16th a physician, a man who holds a private pilot's license, reported that he had seen some strange, unidentifiable type of flying body at close range. Dr. Craig Hunter of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, had this experience...
HUNTER: I was going north on route 153 from Clearfield, Pennsylvania, towards Penfield, Pennsylvania. I'm about nine miles out of Clearfield, and I begin to hear a hissling-whistling [sic] sort of a sound. Something I had -- was completely strange to me. And then I looked up into the sky. And coming from a south-easterly direction to a north-westardly [sic] direction was this flying disc, for want of a better name. I -- flying saucer. It was, I would say, around 150 feet around in circumference. And there was three distinct parts of it. There was an inner circle, a metal circle which rotated around this inner circle, and an outside circle, which are about one-third of the area on each side, was covered with openings somewhat similar to an airliner opening. Now, this inner circle rotated anti-clockwise very slowly. And it went over me, practically right over my head, and I would say it was traveling at a speed approximately 60 to 70 miles per hour. I would say that the thing was approximately 250 to 300 feet above me -- not over 400 feet. It was of a dirty aluminum color and I [inaudible] a tendency to indicate the southern edge as tilting up, which would indicate to me that it was about 15 to 20 feet thick at the center. It would give you the idea that it was a rocket type of combustion, rather -- it didn't give you the indication of a make-and-break, like a motor or anything like that. It was a continuous hissling-whistling [sic] sound. Conditions were very, very fine for observing. And I mean that it was just as clear as a bell. And I could distinctly see each and every detail as to the outline of it.
Murrow then turned to Hall Hibbard of Lockheed to ask if such a craft could fly. Hibbard's opinion was that such a thing could be built, but that it didn't in fact exist "at this time". He added that he was privy to much in the way of secret research aircraft, and none of them matched the description.
Next Murrow moved to the stories of Henry J. Taylor and U.S. News World Report that saucers were secret American aircraft, as well as the subsequent Air Force, Navy, and presidential denials -- including that of XF5U1 "flying pancake" designer Charles H. Zimmerman...
ZIMMERMAN: This aircraft never flew. The official designation of the aircraft was the XF5U1, which was to be a high-performance Navy fighter. However, a low-powered, lightly loaded version of this craft called the V173 made a large number of successful flights. I conceived the original idea for this craft back in 1933.
MURROW: As a top plane designer, we asked Mr. Zimmerman to give us his opinion as to whether or not a plane could be built that could hover like a helicopter, and then take off at almost supersonic speed. He said...
ZIMMERMAN: It would be possible using modern turboprop engines to build a machine of this type, which would be capable of hovering, and of also flying at all forward speed of two, possibly 550 or 600 miles per hour.
Murrow then turned to the opinion of "David C. Prince, vice-president of the General Electric company, and chief of its general engineering consulting laboratory" -- noting that "Mr. Prince was having no part of flying saucers". Prince's remarks can be summarized by his statement that "some people's ability to kid themselves is extraordinary".
The half-hour program now near its end, next came snippets of opinion from "the man and the woman on the street", which covered the range of opinion. Finally, Murrow finished off with a lengthy summary of the situation...
MURROW: And now, just in case all this has added to the celestial confusion about your head, we've summarized the data we've been able to gather -- sorted out the points of agreement and disagreement among those who claim to have seen flying saucers. Here is what we found. Nearly all these observers are in agreement on the color of the objects. It's a metallic color, they say, something like aluminum or silver. Almost everybody agrees the objects are generally disc shaped, but with wide variations. Sometimes balloon-like or resembling a giant rubber ball. Still others describe them as elongated cigar-shaped things. Speed of the saucers has been estimated at from zero to 1200 miles an hour. And when we get into the question of maneuverability, the observers seem not to be able to find the precise or adequate words. They say that the saucers hover, accelerate and decelerate rapidly. They say that some of the objects flutter, oscillate, drift, whirl, or float. There seems to be no fixed pattern of flight in cases where more than one or two discs have been reported. But several persons have said that in group flights one of the discs seems to be of a distinct color. Indicating, possibly, that this off-colored disc was the monitor, or the control disc for the objects. A small percentage of the observers have said the discs bore lights. And in five cases, at points as far apart as Alabama and California, the viewers said the disc suddenly disappeared in flight. But when we get around to estimating altitude at which the objects were sighted we find that some observers say they saw them at 250 feet. Others guessed the discs were at 40,000 feet in the sky. While one observer estimated the number of discs seen at 100, nearly all thought the number was less than 10. And about half those who claimed to have seen the objects said they saw only single saucers. Well, these are the things men and women in various parts of the United States say they have seen in the sky. Men of science, and high government officials, cast a skeptical eye at these reported sightings of celestial phenomenon. So far in the course of this broadcast there have been no reliable reports of the sighting of any new flying saucer. Frankly, we don't know the answer. We wonder, do you believe in flying saucers?
ANNOUNCER: You've been listening to the Case of the Flying Saucer, a special report narrated by Edward R. Murrow...
Murrow would be the last of the major opinion makers to examine the subject -- at least, for the next couple of months. And conspicuously missing from Murrow's wide-ranging report -- as well as those of Mrs. Roosevelt, Henry J. Taylor, and U.S. News and World Report -- was any mention of the stories of the "mystery lecturer" at Denver and Ray Dimmick.
But that in no way meant that their stories had been completely forgotten.
Above: NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Association) newswire graphic published in papers nationwide. In the March 29, 1950 edition of the Blytheville, Arkansas, Courier News, the caption read: "ONE MAN'S 'FLYING SAUCER' -- The sketch above shows how a 'Flying Saucer' might actually look, according to Alex Tremulis of Chicago, industrial designer. Inset is Tremulis' interpretation of the two-foot-high disc pilots reported in one recent saucer story. Tremulis believes the strange craft, reported by hundreds of witnesses, may come from another planet. 'I could build a scale model of this that would fly,' he said."
EVEN THE DAY BEFORE the "mystery lecturer" at Denver -- and 48 hours before Ray Dimmick's tale of a crashed disc with a midget pilot in Mexico hit the newsstands -- the tale was mutating into different versions. From the March 7, 1950, edition of the El Paso, Texas, Herald Post...
An El Paso business man told The Herald-Post today he heard this story:
White Sands Proving Ground supposedly found the wreckage of a flying disc somewhere in New Mexico. Inside the wreckage was the body of a "little man" who presumably was an explorer from Mars or one of those planets outside our own solar system...
The business man said he got his information from a radio ham operator.
The radio ham said, mysteriously, that he got his information second hand but that the mysterious object was one of 30 cases investigated by Project Saucer, the agency that spends its time running down reports of flying discs, and not made public. It happened not in New Mexico but in Colorado, he added...
Because of its timing, this could only be a permutation of the tale told at the beginning of January by Kansas businessman Rudy Fick (published in the Wyandotte Echo and reprinted and repeated from there). Fick had visited Denver where he had been in the business office of an associate when Denver radio advertising salesman George Kohler had first told him of the crashed discs in New Mexico and their dead crew members, both now in the possession of the U.S. government.
And it had been the same George Koehler who had personally brought and introduced the "mystery lecturer" at Denver -- later identified by name as oilman Silas M. Newton. Their connection to the tale told by Ray Dimmick in Los Angeles can only be surmised -- but both Newton and Dimmick spent considerable time in Los Angeles, and both Newton and Dimmick were "well known" competitive amateur golfers, seemingly giving ample opportunity for the tale to cross-pollinate.
And from there to take on a life of its own, as from the March 13, 1950, edition of the Brownsville, Texas, Herald...
Mexico's Flying Saucer Has Local 'Experts' In A Zither [sic]
"Say Joe, have you heard the latest one -- A four-inch midget walked out of a flying saucer in Chihuahua, Mexico."
The reported 25-inch midget with a big head and a small body supposedly to have landed in a flying saucer in Mexico City recently had been reduced to four inches here today.
Brownsville and the Valley was just getting back to normal after the Dr. Sander trial in New Hampshire when "The Case of The Flying Saucer" popped out.
TODAY, citizens here had forgotten about the Dr. Sander trial and other problems to concentrate on the flying saucer. Employes at the courthouse were going about their business this morning, but at the coffee stand the reportedly flying saucer was the object of discussion.
"Why, do you know that a midget 22 inches in height was killed when his flying saucer crashed in Mexico City?" asked one person. "Yeah, I know," replied another person, "they have him in a bottle of alcohol."
At a local drug store, two women discussed the flying saucer over a cup of coffee. "Did you hear about the 15-inch midget that was piloting a saucer which crashed in Mexico?" asked one lady. "Yes, I did," replied the other lady, "his head was about the size of a basketball."
By this morning, the midget had shrunk down to four inches...
...and from the March 16, 1950, edition of the Kingston, Jamaica, Gleaner...
THE Gleaner's recent editorial on the Flying Saucers is not quite au fait with the most recent news, or should I say rumours, of these mysterious manifestations.
The latest story comes from a Jamaican employed at the airport, who had it from a Pan American pilot, to the effect that a saucer had actually come down in California and was found to be "manned" by a diminutive being of human type twenty-three inches in height, but unfortunately dead.
However, as no further confirmation of this strange story has been forthcoming it is likely that it is just another item to add to the growing volume of "Sauceriana."
About the only fact in these Saucer stories suggesting that there may be some truth in them is that they are only seen around two regions, California and Finland, both of which are adjacent to testing grounds for guided and atomic missiles.
The tale also became the subject of national radio programs -- albeit, as comedy. For instance, on March 28, 1950 the top-rated Fibber McGee and Molly program focused on Fibber's sighting of a disc crashing and his description of its crew of little men. And on April 2, 1950, Bergen and McCarthy -- also a top-rated radio program -- had ventriloquist's dummy Charlie McCarthy announcing he had a diminutive saucer pilot locked in his basement.
As to what the public was to think of all this, the always-astute Hal Boyle seemed to catch the tenor of public sentiment perfectly in his nationally-syndicated column, as found in the March 16, 1950, edition of the Biloxi, Mississippi Daily Herald...
A Man Don't Know What To Believe
BY HAL BOYLE
New York (AP) -- Slip the rumor to me, junior. Did you see a bird flying backward? You say a lion stopped you in the street and asked what subway to take to the Bronx Zoo?
How's that? You just trapped three men from Mars in the basement and winged 'em with your atom gun?
Do I believe you, son? Well, let me put it to you this way -- I don't disbelieve you. I no longer disbelieve anybody or anything.
The age of smug certainty is gone. Wonder has piled upon wonder so fast in our lifetime that few of us have any disbelief left. It takes a brave or foolhardy man indeed today to say "that's impossible." Tomorrow, he may be proved wrong and a doltish oaf.
Mankind seems to have lost its anchors and is drifting helter-skelter before capricious winds of change and uncertainty. Faith has lost its feathers, and authority is a broken reed. About all a man can be sure of is that if he steps aboard a certain bus he'll end up home. But how about that bus driver a few years back who started out on his regular route here and ended up in Florida?
Nope, you just can't know nothing for certain. There is no basket left you can put your dozen eggs into and count on getting all twelve back again.
Take that story by the dynamite salesman about the wreckage of a space ship being found in Mexico piloted by a gent only 23 inches tall. The Air Force says, "there is no evidence to support the existence of any interplanetary machines. [sic, no end quote mark]
But you will note that the Air Force doesn't rule out the possibility. It can't -- it may have to fight space ships some day. So may the Navy.
As a matter of fact, the rumor of an interplanetary space ship having crashed on the North American continent has been floating around Manhattan for months. According to the version I heard, it hit in the southwest and the bodies of 34 "things" about three-feet high were found. The "things" were supposed to have been living being [sic], but without skin, flesh, scales or feathers.
A reporter asked a well-known atomic scientist if he believed the rumor, and he replied:
I wouldn' [sic] say I disbelieved it. Anything is possible.
And so it is. If two pollywog-eyed creatures in green armor knocked on my door and said, "we just landed from the planet Venus," I wouldn't call them liars. I'd just hand them the keys to the apartment and say, "let me know when you get out of here."...
At first blush it might appear logical to assume that the rumors which "been floating around Manhattan for months" had emanated out of January's story about Rudy Fick. But it is just as likely that it sprang from an entirely different source -- Frank Scully, columnist for Variety magazine.
As the "bible of the entertainment industry", Variety published out of both Los Angeles and New York. And Scully had been writing about the crashed discs with dead crewmembers going back to October, 1949. In January, 1950, his column featured "20 questions for the Air Force", including...
What has happened to the remains of the 16 men found dead in one of the large saucers and the two in a smaller flying disk?
Nor were the story told by George Koehler to Rudy Fick and the one told by Scully disconnected -- both men were intimates of oilman Silas Newton, the "mystery lecturer" at Denver -- and indeed Koehler and Scully knew each other as well. This was confirmed both by Scully's later writings as well as in a 1952 True magazine piece by reporter J.P. Cahn reviewing the events of early 1950. Referring to strange metals and other-worldly equipment from the crashed discs that both Koehler and Scully -- as well as Silas Newton, for that matter -- claimed to have in their possession...
What I didn't know then was that two TRUE writers already investigating the matter were meeting oddly evasive resistance. In Denver, Donald Keyhoe was having no luck inducing a man named Koehler, who apparently had knowledge of the intriguing objects, to produce them for inspection. In California, Richard Tregaskis was permitted by Frank Scully, columnist for the theatrical newspaper Variety, to finger for a few moments a small disk of nameless metal that was part of the same saucer loot and to listen -- but no questions, please -- to a tale of a fallen saucer secretly seen and examined by anonymous scientists. The information that Koehler and Scully shared -- they checked on each other by telephone -- belonged to them, they made clear; they would divulge only so much and no more; their sources absolutely had to remain unidentified and protected...
The reasons for which came a little sharper into focus with an announcement from a major publisher, as found in the April 17, 1950 edition of Time magazine...
Henry Holt announced a "serious" book on flying saucers by Variety's Columnist Frank Scully.
But this was still mid-spring, and there was a hot summer season yet to come and pass before the bookshops would have that particular tome featured in their windows...
...and flying off their shelves.
1. The quote above noting that Ray Dimmick said "Officials in Mexico City told him that similar objects had landed in various parts of the North American continent" comes from a March 9, 1950, wire story by International News Service.
2. The various news articles of the time do not make clear how many individual reporters Ray Dimmick talked to or whether he in fact claimed to have seen the crashed disc himself or merely a piece of metal from it. Some contemporaneous news articles do report he made the claim to have personally seen the crashed disc before retracting that claim, but provide no quotes from Dimmick himself.
3. The film taken by Colombia Pictures cameramen in Mexico City mentioned in "Movie Film May Reveal Flying Disc" consisted of two stories: the first telling of the filming and the second saying the black and white negative had been ruined and the color film would have to be developed in the United States. Thereafter it appears to have disappeared from the news and a search of Project Blue Book declassified files failed to reveal any mention of it (the files, however, are often disjointed, so it is never possible to say with absolute certainty that something doesn't exist in the files).
4. Another version of Dr. Hunter's encounter appeared in the March 16, 1950 edition of the Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Mail...
First 'Close-Up' View Of Flying Saucer Described
ST. MARYS, Pa., March 10. -- (UP) -- The first "close-up" look at a flying saucer was reported today by Dr. Craig Hunter, 47, Berkley [sic] Springs, W. Va., technical director for a Washington Medical instrument supply firm.
Dr. Hunter graphically described the mysterious object which he said was flying slowly from east to west over route 153 between Penfield and Clearfield, Pa., at a very low altitude.
He said he was "at first skeptical when I saw the saucer at an altitude of about 250 to 500 feet."
"But I realized my eyes were not playing tricks on me as I watched it," Dr. Hunter added.
"The object appeared to be about 50 to 150 feet in diameter and was about 25 to 30 feet thick at the center," he said. "It was trailing a streamer about 200 feet long and 10 inches in width."
"Visibility was excellent and I noticed during the two to two and one-half minute period I observed the disc that it seemed to be constructed in three concentric circular portions.
"The outer edge which was about 10 feet wide, appeared to be stationary and had slits covering about one third of the area visible to me," Dr. Hunter said.
"Immediately in from the leading edge, there were two apertures," he said, about four and a half feet square, and these appeared lighter in density than the corona which surrounded the saucer, as it moved through the air at "about 60-70 miles an hour," Dr. Hunter said.
"The second circle seemed to be the only part of the thing moving," he declared, "and it was rotating with a great hissing whistle. The inner and largest part of the disc was also stationary.
"I do a little private flying," he said, "and I have never seen anything like the thing I saw last night. It definitely was not an airplane. The saucer was dirty metallic in color. It frightened me when I first saw it, but I wasn't so alarmed as a truck driver who stopped alongside me.
"When he saw the saucer," Dr. Hunter said, "All he said was 'My God' and he hopped in his truck and roared off."
Dr. Hunter continued, "I watched the disc for a little while, after the truck driver left, and noticed it move into the western sunset. It seemed to be losing altitude, but actually wasn't because of the perspective from which I observed it.
"I have questioned the reports I've read about flying saucers I've seen in the newspapers," he added, "but from now on I intend to be more tolerant of what is reported."
4. In the article "Kerr Addition Woman Says She Saw flying Saucer" an allegation was made that Dr. Hunter's sketch "seems to closely resemble an illustration in a national magazine". This referred to a drawing of a theoretical configuration of a disc in Commander McLaughlin's article in True magazine. Below are the two different images:
According to a March 20, 1950, United Press report "Dr. Hunter denied that he had ever seen the magazine article or knew Comdr. McLaughlin...".
5. The assertion by Henry J. Taylor told in "Commentator Says Saucers Real Thing" that "eight air force pilots filed official written reports of seeing a flying saucer over Columbus, Ohio" and that "the report is in the pentagon building files Monday night" is not supported by the listing of incidents in Project Blue Book declassified files. The list for April, 1950, has no reports from Ohio. The list for March, 1950, lists just one, on March 8, 1950, from Dayton, Ohio -- approximately 70 miles from Columbus. Nonetheless, it might be the incident to which Taylor was referring. Captain Edward Ruppelt, later chief of Project Blue Book, would write in his 1956 book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, a description of the incident as follows...
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 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 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. 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.
6. Although the "Case of the Flying Saucer" hosted by Edward R. Murrow was presented as if it consisted of interviews with Murrow, in fact the interviews were pre-recorded and inserted into the program -- with Murrow posing the questions to which the interviewees were responding. The program also got some basic facts wrong aside from the misinformation provided by the Air Force, for instance describing Kenneth Arnold as one of the original searchers for a downed Marine plane. In fact, Arnold only began searching a half-year later in response to the posting of a $5,000 reward from the families of those whose lives were lost on the downed plane.
7. Both the "Case of the Flying Saucer" and the Fibber McGee and Molly broadcasts can be heard complete at the Saturday Night Uforia Audioplex portal.
8. The story of Captain Mantell will be examined in depth in a future series.
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