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flights of fancy



Ambridge Satellite

IN THE LATE NINETEEN-FORTIES, Ambridge, Pennsylvania -- sixteen miles northwest of Pittsburgh -- was literally a company town.

Though the area had first been 'settled' in the early 1800s, it had remained unincorporated until 1905, when the American Bridge Company -- a pioneer in the use of steel in construction -- bought the land and formed a township named after itself.

Just abreast of the Ohio River, the site was also along the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the steel and iron products manufactured there were easily shipped off to points around the world even as immigrants poured in by the thousands to work the blast furnaces. It was Ambridge steel used to span Oakland Bay and the Verrazano Narrows, and it was Ambridge steel that sent the Chrysler and Empire State buildings towering upwards.

And it was in Ambridge that Norman Spang and John Chalfant situated their iron pipe mill, which is where Pete Hildebrand worked the graveyard shift, and fancied he saw something odd flying in the sky.





Ambridge Satellite

Ambridge, Pennsylvania in the late 1940s.


PETE HILDEBRAND HAD WORKED at the rail yards at Spang-Chalfant since 1936. For twelve years he had done his job well, never receiving so much as a reprimand. At home, he had three children who might well be working at the same plant as their dad when they were old enough. This was, after all, at a time when a single job could last a lifetime, in an industry where jobs -- like timepieces and memories -- were handed down from generation to generation.

And family may well be what Pete Hildebrand had on his mind that early, early Friday morning, on the last weekend before Christmas, 1948. But whatever his thoughts as he stood atop a freight car in the cold open air, his concentration was broken when yardmaster Charles Werner shouted for his attention, and pointed towards the sky.

From the official Air Force investigative report...

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS

REPORT OF INVESTIGATION

TITLE
    "PROJECT SIGN"

DATE
    [Blank]

REPORT MADE BY
    TONEY ZEVRAIS

CHARACTER
    SPECIAL INQUIRY

REFERENCE
    Letter from DO #5, Wright-Patterson AFB,
    Dayton, Ohio, dated 3 Jan 49,
    File FD 24-24

SYNOPSIS

Investigation predicated from information received from Technical Intelligence Division, Hq, AMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio regarding the sighting of unidentified aerial phenomena near Ambridge, Pa., by CHARLES WERNER and PETER HILDEBRAND during the week of 20 December 1948. At 0130 hours 17 December 1948, WERNER and HILDEBRAND sighted several unidentified spherical objects approaching high above the horizon from the north, and before reaching a point directly overhead, made a sharp 90 turn towards the west and faded from view while still high above the horizon. Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Coraopolis, Pa. Weather Sequence set 0130 hours 17 December 1948, indicated visibility clear (1 1/2 miles) fog and smoke. Wind from west, 12 miles per hour. Military and civilian flight records disclosed no flights over Ambridge at 0130 hours 17 December 1948. References contacted concerning character of WERNER and HILDEBRAND disclosed no derogatory information, and both are considered good, sober citizens whose veracity has never been doubted.

DETAILS:

    1. This investigation was requested by Commanding General, Hq, AMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, Technical Intelligence Division, regarding the sighting of unidentified aerial phenomena by CHARLES WERNER and PETER HILDEBRAND during the week of 20 December 1948.

    AT FREEDOM, PA.

    2. This is a joint investigation of Special Agent HARRY H. PERRY, Jr. and the writer.

    3. On 10 February 1949, Mr. CHARLES WERNER, 1000 6th Avenue, Freedom, Pa., was interviewed in his home and stated in substance that on 17 December 1948 at approximately 0130 hours while working as a yardmaster in the railroad yard of the Spang-Chalfant Corporation, which is on the north side of Ambridge, Pa., he sighted what appeared to be a formation of spherical objects, approximately the dimension of a late full moon. These objects were first sighted at a 45 angle above the horizon to the north. The objects appeared to be moving at a high rate of speed towards the south. At this time the topmost object appeared to dive beneath the formation and accomplish a sharp 90 turn to the right. This maneuver was followed by the rest of the formation. The objects then disappeared very high above the horizon towards the west where they faded from the view of the observer. All movements appeared to be definite as in controlled flight. The objects seemed to be whitish or luminescent and no exhaust vapors or flames were evidenced. At the time of this sighting, the sky was clear, moonlit, and visibility according to the observer, was excellent. It was estimated the objects were visible for approximately thirty (30) seconds and appeared to be rotating around their axes. No lights other than the overall luminescence of the object were apparent and no antennas, wings, fins, projections, propellers, slots, ducts or openings were visible. At the time of the sighting WERNER was standing near a railway switching locomotive and therefore could not definitely state whether or not there was any noise emanating from the objects. WERNER stated he has no hobbies as his family and position take up most of his time. WERNER, upon request and to the best of his ability drew a rough sketch of the objects which is inclosed with this report as Exhibit "A" and at a later date mailed to this office a page from an unnamed magazine, depicting objects similar to the ones he sighted, which is attached hereto as Exhibit "B".

    NOTE: WERNER appeared to be an intelligent, conscientious, reliable, sober family man.

    AT NEW BRIGHTON, PA.

    4. On 24 February 1949, Mr. PETER HILDEBRAND, R.D. #2, Marion Hill, New Brighton, Pa., was interviewed in his home and stated in substance that on 17 December 1948 at approximately 0130 hours, while working as conductor in the railroad yards of the Spang-Chalfant Corporation, Ambridge, Pa., his attention was attracted by a shout from the night yardmaster, CHARLES WERNER, who was pointing up into the sky. HILDEBRAND, who at the time, was atop a freight car, immediately looked up towards the direction indicated by WERNER and sighted what appeared to be a group of eight (8) white objects, approximately 45 above the horizon moving up the river from Rochester, Pa. towards Ambridge. (The Ohio River between Rochester and Ambridge flows from south almost directly north, consequently objects would be moving towards the south). The objects which resembled wheels turning around hubs were traveling at what appeared to be a high rate of speed. The objects suddenly dove, changed positions, and executed a sharp 90 turn to the right fading from view towards the west while still high above the horizon. HILDEBRAND estimated the time objects remained in his view as approximately thirty (30) seconds. The objects were solid, white, rotating wheels and approximately the size of a high full moon. The weather during this period was clear. In view of the fact that HILDEBRAND was standing on a freight car close to the switching engine, he could not state if noise of any type were emanating from the objects. The objects appeared to be definitely under control and no antennae, wings, fins, projections, propellers, slots, ducts, or openings were visible and did not leave a vapor trail nor were there signs of exhaust. HILDEBRAND could not make a definite statement concerning the speed, size, or altitude of the objects. HILDEBRAND has no hobbies other than his automobile as he stated he is entirely occupied by his family and job.

    NOTE: HILDEBRAND is the father of three (3) children and appears to be well settled, honest, and a conscientious person.

    AT CORAOPOLIS, PA.

    5. On 24 February 1949 the weather sequence for Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Coraopolis, Pa., for 0130 hours 17 December 1948 was obtained as follows:
0130 17 December 1948 GRP sequence, clear 1 1/2 miles visibility (fog and smoke) pressure 190 millibars, 33F, dew point 31F, winds from west at 12 mi per hr, altimeter 30.07. Pressure rising 3/100 millibars. No precipitation in last 12 hours. Maximum temp. 47F. Winds aloft for this period could not be obtained from GRP.

    AT McKEESPORT, PA.

    6. On 2 March 1949 the winds aloft for Allegheny County Municipal Airport, McKeesport, Pa., was obtained from U.S. Weather Bureau, Municipal Airport, Allegheny County, for the following times and dates:

    2200 16 Dec 48  2000 MSL 260 7 mph
                    3000 MSL 270 9 mph
                    4000 MSL 270 8 mph
                    5000 MSL 270 7 mph
                    6000 MSL 270 8 mph

    0400 17 Dec 48  2000 MSL 270 29 mph
                    3000 MSL 260 30 mph
                    4000 MSL 280 29 mph
                    5000 MSL 270 36 mph
                    6000 MSL 270 45 mph
                    7000 MSL 270 53 mph
                    8000 MSL 260 71 mph
                    9000 MSL 270 72 mph

    7. On 2 March 1949 Mr. JOHN M. DAVIS, Chief, Aircraft Communications, Allegheny County Municipal Airport, McKeesport, Pa., was interviewed concerning radio contacts made with aircraft in flight in the Pittsburgh area on 17 December 1948. Radio Contacts are as follows:

0015 17 Dec 48  AF 8801 5 min NE Pitts
                  at 5000 VFR
                AF 8801 over GRP
                  at 3000 VFR
                0201 MAN 47172 over
                  Pitts 8000 VFR

    8. On 2 March 1949 Mr. HENRY A HUDSON, Tower Operator, Allegheny County Municipal Airport McKeesport, Pa., was interviewed and the following information regarding incoming and outgoing flights of aircraft was obtained.

Incoming

17 Dec 0025 TWA-3011 fr LaGuardia
       0031 Capital fr Washington 0028
       0159 Capital fr Newark
       0215 Capital fr Newark

Outgoing

17 Dec 0025 Capital 74 to Washington
       0028 Capital 22 to Washington
       0100 TWA 3011 to St. Louis
       0111 TWA 1031 to Columbus
       0116 TWA 1433 to Columbus

    AT CORAOPOLIS PA.

    9. On 2 March 1949 a check of the files of the Airway Communication Service, Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Coraopolis, Pa., for 17 December 1948 revealed the following information regarding incoming and outgoing flights of military aircraft:

Incoming

0029 B-25 fr Cleveland

Outgoing

0153 C-45 to Middletown -- Radio check-in call C-45 at 0220 enroute from Orchard Place to Bolling AFB. There were no local flights from GRP after 1800 16 December 1948.

    AT AMBRIDGE, PA.

    10. On 24 February 1949 Mr. E.L. CRANE, Industrial Relations Supervisor, Spang-Chalfant Corp., Ambridge, Pa., was interviewed in his office regarding CHARLES WERNER and PETER HILDEBRAND. CRANE stated in substance that although he never had occasion to have personal contact with either of the men, he could definitely state that from the viewpoint of employer-employee relationship their work, character, and integrity were beyond reproach. Each man has been employed in the freight yards for over twelve (12) years and on no occasion have given cause for suspension or reprimand. Both are considered good, solid American citizens and typical family men of the community. Physically and mentally, both men are in excellent condition due to the nature of their work, which necessitates coordination and good eyesight as their work in the switchyards is at night.

    11. On 24 February 1949 Mr. PAUL MARTIN, Yardmaster, Spang-Chalfant Corp., Ambridge, Pa., was interviewed in his office and stated he is personally acquainted with both men for over twelve (12) years, both as a friend and supervisor. WERNER is night yardmaster under MARTIN, and HILDEBRAND is a car conductor, responsible for the shifting and making up of freight cars in and out of the Corporation's yards. MARTIN stated that in his estimation both men are good, sober, citizens whose veracity he would never doubt, and on no occasion has he had cause to mistrust or reprimand either man.

    AGENCY

    12. On 24 February 1949 the following agencies were checked with negative results:

    Police Department, New Brighton, Pa.     Constable, Freedom, Pa.

Inclosures:

FOR CG, AMC, WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, DAYTON, OHIO

    1. The signed statements of PETER HILDEBRAND and CHARLES WERNER, dated at Beaver County, Pennsylvania, 3 March 1949.

    2. Exhibit "A" -- a rough sketch of the objects drawn by CHARLES WERNER.

    3. Exhibit "B" -- a page from an unnamed magazine depicting objects similar to the ones sighted by CHARLES WERNER

FOR DISTRICT OFFICE NO. 5, WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, DAYTON, OHIO

    Copy of statement of PETER HILDEBRAND and CHARLES WERNER, dated at Beaver County, Pennsylvania, 3 March 1949.

FOR HQ, OSI, WASHINGTON, D.C.

    Copy of statement of PETER HILDEBRAND and CHARLES WERNER, dated at Beaver County, Pennsylvania, 3 March 1949.

                C L O S E D

The investigator's report was accompanied by the sketch made by Charles Werner...

Hildebrand Sketch

Along with the picture from a magazine article that Charles Warner later sent to Agent Zevrais...

Ambridge Satellite

And individual witness statements...

COUNTY OF BEAVER     )

STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA)

    As requested by Mr. Harry H. Perry, Jr. who has identified himself as a Special Agent of the Office of Special Investigations, Inspector General, USAF, and in the presence of Mr. Toney Zevrais, who has also identified himself as a Special Agent of the Office of Special Investigations, Inspector General, USAF, I, Charles Werner, 1000 6th Avenue, Freedom, Pennsylvania, do make the following statement:

    On 17 December 1948, at approximately 1:30 A.M. while working as Yardmaster in the railroad yard of the Spang-Chalfont Corporation, Ambridge, Pennsylvania. I sighted what appeared to be a formation of spherical objects, approximately the dimensions of a late full moon. I first sighted these objects above the horizon to the north at a 45 angle. The objects appeared to be moving at a high rate of speed in a southerly direction. At this time the topmost object appeared to dive beneath the formation and accomplish a sharp 90 turn to the right, this maneuver being followed by the rest of the formation. The objects then disappeared very high above the horizon towards the west where they faded from my view. All movements of the objects appeared to be definite as in controlled flight. The objects seemed to be whitish or luminescent and no exhaust vapors or flames were evident. At the time of my sighting the sky was clear, moonlit, and visibility was excellent. These objects were visible for approximately 30 seconds and did not appear to be rotating around their axis. No lights other than the overall luminescence of the objects were apparent and no antennae, wings, fins, projections, propellers, slots, ducts or openings were visible at the time of the sighting. I was standing near a railroad switching locomotive and therefore could not definitely state whether or not the objects made any noise.

                [signed] CHARLES WERNER

COUNTY OF BEAVER     )
STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA)

    As requested by Mr. Harry H. Perry, Jr. who has identified himself as a Special Agent of the Office of Special Investigations, Inspector General, USAF, and in the presence of Mr. Toney Zevrais, who has also identified himself as a Special Agent of the Office of Special Investigations, Inspector General, USAF, I, Peter Hildebrand, RD #2, Marion Hill, New Brighton, Pennsylvania, do make the following statement:

    On 17 December 1948, at approximately 1:30 A.M. while working as conductor in the railroad yards of the Spang-Chalfont Corporation, Ambridge, Pennsylvania, my attention was attracted by a should from the night yardmaster, Charles Werner, who was pointing up into the sky. I immediately looked up towards the direction indicated by Mr. Werner and sighted what appeared to be a group of eight white objects approximately 45 above the horizon moving up the river from Rochester, Pennsylvania towards Ambridge. The objects resembled wheels turning around hubs and were traveling at what appeared to be a high rate of speed. The objects then suddenly dove, changed positions, and executed a sharp 90 turn to the right, fading from view towards the west while still high above the horizon. I would say the objects were in view for approximately 30 seconds. The objects were solid white rotating wheels and approximately the size of a high full moon. The weather was clear. I was standing on a freight-car near the switching engine and could not say whether the objects made any noise. The objects appeared to be definitely under control and no antennae, wings, fins, projections, propellers, slots, ducts or openings were visible. They did not leave any vapor trail, and there were no signs of an exhaust. I could not make definite statements to the speed, size or altitude of the objects.

                [signed] PETER HILDEBRAND

And there matters may have stayed, had not Pete Hildebrand -- three months later -- seen them twice more.





March '49 NewsclipLeft: March 1949 news article, from the files of Project Grudge.


PETE HILDEBRAND'S second and third sightings might never have been investigated, had someone not forwarded a news article to Project Grudge, the second official Air Force investigation into the flying disk mystery.

Who that someone was is not known, but Grudge rarely -- if ever -- made the effort on its own to investigate sightings without outside pressure to do so.

And so it is likely that it was referred to Grudge by higher-ups at the Pentagon, perhaps even General Charles Cabell -- the Air Force Director of Intelligence -- who often forwarded sightings which had come to his attention.

But whomever the source of the tip, a letter went out from Grudge directing the local Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) to look into and report on the matter.

And in typical Grudge fashion, the letter to OSI included a possible pre-'solution'...

It is particularly desired that Atmospheric Research Agencies be contacted for possible releases of synoptic balloon clusters...

OSI once again assigned Special Agent Zevrais to the investigation, and Zevrais reported with the same level of professionalism contained in the previous investigation...

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES AIR FORCE THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS

REPORT OF INVESTIGATION

TITLE
    PROJECT GRUDGE
    Incident, Ambridge, Pa.
    31 Mar 49

DATE
    May 27, 1949

REPORT MADE BY
    TONEY ZEVRAIS

CHARACTER
    SPECIAL INQUIRY

REFERENCE
    Report of S/A John. E. Morill
    W/P AFB, Dayton, Ohio,
    dtd 18 Apr 49, file 24-21A

SYNOPSIS

On 30 Mar 49, at approximately 2400 hrs, at Ambridge, Pa, PETER HILDEBRAND, conductor in the Railroad Switching Yards, Spang Chalfant Corp, Ambridge, Pa, claims to have observed the ragged "V" formation of approximately 20 round, ball-shaped objects moving from east to west across sky at terrific speed and at an altitude of approximately 15,000 ft. CHARLES F. BOLES, Brakeman, co-worker of HILDEBRAND, also witnessed the phenomena. At 0030 hrs, 31 Mar 49, HILDEBRAND claimed objects reappeared. CHARLES SRADOMSKI, another co-worker of HILDEBRAND, saw objects and claims they were in formation of 3 "V" forward elements. All stated objects traveled at terrific speed, had no external projections, no sound and left no vapor trail. BOLES and HILDEBRAND described objects as ball-shaped; SRADOMSKI described objects as resembling inverted saucers. Weather reports indicate that weather conditions were not favorable.

DETAILS:

    This is a joint investigation of S/A DONALD E. SHARPE and the writer.

    AT AMBRIDGE, PA.

    1. On 27 April 1949, Mr. PETER HILDEBRAND, RD #2, Marion Hill, New Brighton, Pa. was interviewed in the Yardmaster's Office, Spang Chalfant Corp. Ambridge, Pa. and stated in substance that on 30 March 1949 at approximately 2400 hours, while working as conductor in the railroad switching yards of the above corporation, he happened to look up at the sky towards the east and saw what appeared to be a ragged V formation of round, ball shaped objects moving across the sky at a terrific speed, which he declined to estimate. He was unable to state at what angle or altitude the objects were, except that they were either very high, or were smaller than he thought, and that they approached from the east, passed over-head, and turned abruptly south, then disappeared. HILDEBRAND stated that when he sighted the objects, he was standing on the Diesel Switching Locomotive platform with CHARLES F. BOLES, brakeman. The locomotive was facing north on the track, and he and BOLES were at the southwest corner of the engine. Upon sighting the objects, HILDEBRAND stated he immediately called BOLES' attention to them. HILDEBRAND said that the objects were not like those he and CHARLES WERNER had sighted on 17 December 1948, but were of a rounder shape, resembling a ball. (Attention is invited to Report of Investigation, this office, file #24-9, period covered 10, 24, February 2, 3 March, 1949). HILDEBRAND stated that there appeared to be a group of 20 objects, and that he had them in sight for approximately 60 seconds. He did not notice any projections, fins, propellers, noise, vapor trails, or any light from the objects except that they were a dull white color and did not appear to be lit from the inside. Again at 0030 hours, 31 March 1949, HILDEBRAND sighted the objects which reappeared from the east, in a formation similar to that previously sighted. HILDEBRAND shouted, and drew CHARLES SRADOMSKI'S attention to the objects. This time, HILDEBRAND stated, the objects were again in his view approximately one minute before disappearing towards the south after having followed the same route as previously. HILDEBRAND stated that he has no hobbies, and is entirely occupied with his position and his family. He indicated surprise that he has seen the unidentified objects twice within a short period of time, and that no one else besides SRADOMSKI, BOLES, and WERNER had seen them. In conclusion, HILDEBRAND stated he would stake his character and integrity and swear that he saw the objects, and he regrets that he cannot describe them better, or more accurately.

    2. Records of the Spang Chalfant Corp. were examined and disclosed that HILDEBRAND was given a physical examination on 6 April 1948. On the American Optical Sight-Screener test his vision was recorded as 20/30; depth perception for distance fair; and for closeness, missed completely; muscle balance good; color perception normal.

    AT BRIGHTON, PA.

    3. Records of the New Brighton, Pa. police department were checked relative to HILDEBRAND with negative results.

    AT AMBRIDGE, PA.

    4. On 27 April 1949, Mr. CHARLES F. BOLES, RD #1, Wexford, Pa. was interviewed in the Yardmaster's Office of Spang Chalfant Corp. Ambridge, Pa. and stated in substance that about midnight on 30 March 1949 he was with HILDEBRAND standing on the left rear of the platform of a Diesel switching engine on the north south spur track in the rail yards of the above corporation, when a shout from conductor HILDEBRAND attracted his attention. He turned around and saw HILDEBRAND pointing up into the sky towards the east, and noticed what appeared to be a group of approximately 20 objects about the size of an office clock in a ragged V formation. The objects appeared to be chalk white, had no glare, were perfectly round like a ball, and appeared to be at an altitude of 15,000 to 20,000 feet. When first sighted, they were about 45 above the horizon, approximately over his home town, which is Wexford, Pa. They were moving from east to west and turned to the south approximately overhead. They got smaller when they turned and abruptly disappeared out of sight. BOLES estimated the time they were in sight to be 45 seconds or less. He estimated the speed to be approximately 1500 miles per hour. The objects gave no sound, there were no unusual noises, they left no trail, such as vapor or smoke and he stated there was no luminosity. The objects had no projections such as fins, wins, rods, antennae, propellers or ducts. The objects, while they were in his sight, appeared to be weaving or fluttering and at times swerved from side to side and several crossed over each other. The objects at all times appeared to be flying above the clouds and had no effect on the clouds, cast no shadows nor did he lose sight of them in the clouds until the time they disappeared completely. BOLES stated that the weather at the time he sighted them consisted of a long narrow break in the over-cast which he estimated to be about 3 miles wide and 4 miles long. There were broken and scattered clouds and he could see the moon and the stars where the break was. The rest of the sky consisted of dark clouds which were solid in some parts. BOLES stated his occupation is a brakeman for the above corporation in the switch yards. His hobbies consist of building airplane models and raising hunting dogs. BOLES stated that in his estimation the objects could not be man-controlled as they were traveling at too terrific a speed, and maneuvered too abruptly. He was positive the objects were not reflections from search lights, reflections from the Jones & Laughlin Steel plant furnaces or any reflection upon the sky. He stated he was positive the objects were some kind of a machine moving through the sky, and that he would swear to it that he actually saw them and that they were not hallucinations on his part. He stated that if his attention had not immediately been called to them by HILDEBRAND he would not have seen them since they were moving across the sky at such a great speed. He did not see the objects when HILDEBRAND claims to have seen them the second time that night.

    5. A check of the records of the Spang-Chalfant Corp. revealed that BOLES was given a physical examination 6 April 1948. On the American Optical Sight Screener Test his vision was recorded as 20/20; binocular vision; depth perception perfect, muscle balance perfect, and color perception normal.

    AT WEXFORD, PA.

    6. The Police Department at Wexford, Pa. was checked relative to BOLES with negative results.

    AT LEETSDALE, PA.

    7. On 26 April 1949, Mr. CHARLES SRADOMSKI, 146 Broad St. Leetsdale, Pa. was interviewed at his home, and stated in substance that on 31 March 1949, at approximately 0020 hours while working as scale-man at track eleven, freight yards, Spang Chalfant Corp., which is approximately 2 miles north of Ambridge, Pa. his attention was attracted by a shout from PETER HILDEBRAND, conductor, who pointed up into the sky and said, "There they are again". SRADOMSKI was standing on the ground on the west side of a Diesel locomotive. He looked up to the east over the locomotive and about 45 from the horizon and saw a formation of what appeared to be about 40 round objects, each of which resembled 2 saucers placed together so that the top and bottom of the objects were convex. The objects were estimated to be at approximately 15,000 to 20,000 ft. altitude and at that altitude appeared to be about the size of a wall clock (approximately 18 inches in diameter). They were golden in color and some appeared spotted darkly. All appeared to be internally lighted and there were no external projections or propellers. There were no sounds, odors, vapor trails nor traces of exhaust. The formation consisted of three V formed elements. The first element was estimated to consist of 18 or 20 objects, the second element which followed immediately after the first consisted of approximately 11 or 12 objects and the third element which followed immediately after the second, definitely consisted of 8 objects. The formation was traveling from east to west at what appeared to be tremendous speed, estimated at 1500 mph. It passed directly over the Spang Chalfant Corp. and turned south over the Jones and Laughlin plant which is directly west of Spang Chalfant Corp. across the Ohio river. The blast furnaces at Jones and Laughlin were in operation and cast a reddish glow into the sky. Over that plant the third object from the lead on the left side of the last element seemed to drop out of the formation, bank to one side at approximately a 90 angle as if to observe below. This object then resumed its place in the formation and the formation abruptly disappeared to the south. SRADOMSKI estimated that the objects were in his sight for 10 seconds or less as they passed through a huge break in some clouds. The stars and moon were visible, and visibility was good through this break in the clouds. SRADOMSKI drew a sketch of the formation immediately after the sighting and left it in the trainmaster's office at Spang Chalfant Corp. The sketch is appended to this report and marked "Exhibit 'A'". The notations in red pencil on the sketch were written by PAUL MARTIN, yardmaster, prior to SRADOMSKI'S using the paper for the sketch and have no bearing on the sketch. It was learned from SRADOMSKI that he operates an Esso Service Station in the rear of his home during his off duty hours. SRADOMSKI stated that he had notified the Ambridge Citizen Newspaper Office of the incident on the morning of 31 March 1949 as he thought people would be interested in reading about it. SRADOMSKI stated that he held a private pilot's license in 1932, having approximately 75 hours in a Taylor Cub, but has not flown since that time. He has no hobbies as he is entirely occupied with his job as brakeman, and operating his service station. SRADOMSKI, in conclusion, avowed he would swear on the Bible he saw the objects regardless of what anyone thought.

    AT AMBRIDGE, PA.

    8. Records of the Spang-Chalfant Corp. Ambridge, Pa. disclosed that SRADOMSKI is 39 years of age, attended 9 years at Leetsdale Grammar School, and is the father of two children. He was rated as 3-A during the War by Draft Board #13, Leetsdale, Pa. and was hired on 1 May 1942 as a laborer. He quit of his own accord on 20 July 1942, and was re-employed as a brakeman on 26 March 1945. A check of the physical examinations charts disclosed that SRADOMSKI on 6 April 1948 was given a physical examination and that on the American Optical Sight-Screener test his vision was recorded as 20/20; binocular vision; depth perception perfect; muscle balance perfect; color perception normal.

    AT LEETSDALE, PA.

    9. Records of the Leetsdale, Pa. police Department were checked relative to SRADOMSKI with negative results.

    AT AMBRIDGE, PA.

    10. On 25 April 1949, Mr. E.L. CRANE, Industrial Relations Supervisor, Spang Chalfant Corp. Ambridge, Pa. was interviewed in his office regarding PETER HILDEBRAND, CHARLES BOLES and CHARLES SRADOMSKI. CRANE stated in substance that he had already rendered an opinion on HILDEBRAND regarding his veracity, character and integrity several weeks ago to the writer and that his opinion had not changed since. At that time CRANE stated that although he never had occasion to have personal contact with HILDEBRAND he could definitely state that from the viewpoint of employer-employee relationship, his work, character, and integrity were beyond reproach. HILDEBRAND has been employed in the freight yards for over 12 years and on no occasion has given cause for suspension or reprimand. He is considered a good, solid, American citizen, and a typical family man of the community. Physically and mentally, he is in excellent condition, due to the nature of his work, which necessitates coordination and good eyesight as his work is in the switchyards is at night. Concerning SRADOMSKI and BOLES, CRANE stated that although he never had occasion to have personal contact with either of them, he would definitely state that both were satisfactory employees whose character and integrity were above reproach. CRANE stated that SRADOMSKI is well liked by his fellow employees, that he was intelligent and that physically and mentally both SRADOMSKI and BOLES were in excellent condition and in his estimation not subject to hallucinations. He did not consider them the type to play practical jokes in view of the seriousness of the incidents.

    11. On 25 April 1949, Mr. PAUL MARTIN, Yardmaster, Spang Chalfant, Ambridge, Pa. was interviewed in his office and stated that he has been personally acquainted with HILDEBRAND and SRADOMSKI for years, both as their friend and supervisor. His opinion of HILDEBRAND has not change [sic] since rendered several weeks ago concerning a similar incident. At that time he stated he is personally acquainted with HILDEBRAND for over 12 years, both as a friend and a supervisor. HILDEBRAND is a car conductor, responsible for the shifting and making up of freight cars, in and out of the Corporation's yards. MARTIN stated that in his estimation, HILDEBRAND is a good, sober citizen whose veracity he would never doubt, and on no occasion has he had cause to mistrust or reprimand him. BOLES is a newcomer in the plant having been there approximately a year. He is well liked and is a good worker, seems intelligent, honest, and is not the type to be a practical joker. MARTIN stated that in his estimation the trio are good, sober citizens whose veracity he would never doubt and on no occasion has he had cause to mistrust, reprimand, or suspend any one of the them.

    AT MCKEESPORT, PA.

    12. On March 26, 1949 [sic, probably should be April 26], Mr. JOHN M. DAVIS, Chief Aircraft Communications, Allegheny County Municipal Airport, McKeesport, Pa. was interviewed concerning radio contacts made with aircraft in flight in the Pittsburgh area on the night of 30 March 1949. Radio contacts are as follows:

2306 hours, 30 March 1949, radio contact with AF 7838 reporting position as over Pittsburgh, at 7,000 feet, destination Badford, Pa.

2308 hours, same aircraft requested instrument flight plan via green 4 to Harrisburg.

2310 hours, same aircraft received traffic control clearance from Pittsburgh radio as follows: Airways traffic control clears 7838 to Harrisburg to maintain 7000 feet until further advised. Maintain altitude until Altoona, then contact Harrisburg for further clearance beyond Harrisburg. Verify route at Altoona.

2311 hours, same aircraft reported route as green 4, red 33, red 13.

2312 hours airways traffic control cleared same aircraft via green 4, red 33, red 13 to Bedford airport at 7,000 feet, altitude to be maintained to Altoona and Harrisburg. No other flights were recorded until 0800 hours, 31 March 1949.

    13. On 26 April 1949, the records of the Weather Bureau, Allegheny County Airport, McKeesport, Pa. were examined and revealed the following existing weather conditions at the times and dates indicated:
2330 hours 30 March 1949 - Measured observation; ceiling 6500 ft overcast; visibility, 3 mi w/smoke; temperature 59 F; Dew Point, 46; Surface winds, NE @ 12 knots; Altimeter, 29.81.

0030 hours 31 March 1949 - Measured observation; ceiling 6500 ft. broken, 12,000 overcast; visibility 3 mi. w/smoke; temperature 57 F; Dew Point, 45; Surface winds, ENE @ 5 knots; Altimeter 29.81.

    14. On 26 April 1949, a check of the files of the Airways Communication Service, Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Coraopolis, Pa. for the hours of 2330, 30 March 1949 to 0030 31 March 1949 disclosed no recorded information regarding incoming and outgoing flights of military aircraft.

    15. On 25 April 1949, the records of the Weather Section, Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Coraopolis, Pa. were examined and revealed the following existing weather conditions at the times and dates indicated:
2330 hours 30 March 1949 - Special Measured observation; ceiling 6500 ft. overcast; visibility, 3 mi w/smoke; temperature 59 F; Dew Point 46; Surface winds, NE @ 12 knots; Altimeter, 29.84.

0030 hours 31 March 1949 - Measured observation; ceiling 7000 ft. overcast; visibility, 6 mi w/smoke; temperature 57 F; Dew Point, 54; surface winds, ENE @ 5 knots; Altimeter, 29.83.

    AT PITTSBURGH, PA.

    16. Files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pittsburgh, Pa. were checked relative to CHARLES SRADOMSKI, CHARLES BOLES and PETER HILDEBRAND, with negative results.

Inclosure:

FOR DISTRICT OFFICE NO. 5. WRIGHT PATTERSON AFB, DAYTON, OHIO

Exhibit "A"

REFERRED UPON COMPLETION TO THE OFFICE OF ORIGIN

OSI Agent Zevrais' investigation had been thorough and professional, interviewing witnesses and employers, ascertaining hobbies and family life, checking schooling and criminal records, verifying the reputations and personal health -- including eyesight -- of all those involved.

All that was left to be done now was the Air Force evaluation... which rested in the hands of Project Grudge.






Ambridge Satellite

Above: The sketch made by Charles Sradomski, who 'avowed he would swear on the Bible he saw the objects regardless of what anyone thought'..


ACCORDING TO THE DICTIONARY, when an idea, narrative, or suggestion is extremely imaginative and appears to be unrealistic, untrue, or impractical, it is by definition a flight of fancy. A group of men reporting what they saw during a late-night railyard shift may have been having one or more precisely three -- of their own.

But then what can be said of the Grudge response? For in abandoning the idea of a cluster of synoptic atmospheric research balloons which were launched in any case primarily 1500 miles away in New Mexico they then found the solution to the speeding, ninety-degree turning objects in all cases involving Mr. Hildebrand to be a simple case of the misidentification... of birds.

An official Air Force "explanation" which -- to any objective eye -- represents a flight of fancy all its own.






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Notes:

1. In 1949, as part of the "Grudge Report", the first sighting by Hildebrand was placed by Dr. J. Allen Hynek -- astronomer-consultant to the Air Force -- as one of nearly 50 other incidents under the category "evidence offered suggest no explanation". Though he was specifically tasked with analyzing over 200 reports up through 1949, this classification was changed by unknown persons to "birds". The second Hildebrand sighting was not included in the incidents included in the "Grude Report", and no explanation for the "birds" classification exists in declassified Air Force files.









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