in the news 1952
Above: Blue Book file project card and May, 1949 letter from Dr. Donald Menzel telling of his unusual experience sighting an unidentifiable aerial light in New Mexico. The project card was prepared much later, and modifies Menzel's expressed uncertainty about what he saw. Dr. Menzel himself would modify the story in later retellings. Related story below.
NINETEEN FIFTY-TWO might be remembered for many things, large and small. The election of Dwight Eisenhower as President of the United States. Fifty thousand American families afflicted by Polio. The British A-bomb. The first issue of Mad magazine. The theory of the Big Bang.
But for those of a certain bent, 1952 will also be remembered for the second great 'flying saucer flap' which climaxed with the reports of radar and visual sightings over the nation's capital in late July.
Part of the story of that event-filled year is now available in declassified government files. But for the public back then -- at a time when only one in three families in America had a television set -- the story was mostly found in the newspapers and magazines.
This then is a look back at those stories, as they first appeared in print...
AUGUST 22, 1952:
Albuquerque, New Mexico Tribune - 22 Aug 52
Saucers Created by Atmospheric Sandwich
By David Dietz
Scripps-Howard Science Editor
A layer of warm air sandwiched between two layers of cool air sets the stage for the production of flying saucers.
This is according to the theory advanced by Dr. Donald Menzel of Harvard and accepted by the U.S. Air Force.
Light rays striking the layer of warm air are bent. The scientist says they are "refracted."
For example, the beam from a search light is bent so that the rays return to earth. The effect on the observer, who is unaware of this bending, is the impression of a fuzzy spot of light out in space.
Is a Mirage
In a similar fashion, an airplane pilot flying above the layer of warm air can get the refracted image of the sun or moon. He thinks he sees a flying saucer somewhere below his plane.
The technical name for such an optical illusion is a mirage. The existence of many types of mirages has been known for years.
The commonest is the illusion of a pool of water on the road ahead of your auto. This is the refraction of sunlight from a thin layer of war air above the sun-heated pavement.
Irregularities in the layer of warm air plus the motion of your auto combine to give the impression of waves on the "water."
In the same fashion, irregularities in the layer of warm air in the atmosphere when added to the motion of an airplane, can cause the flying saucers to move with incredible speed and zig-zag in unpredictable fashion.
Normally, there is a uniform temperature gradient in the lower atmosphere, the temperature being the warmest on the ground and getting cooler with altitude.
But under some conditions, a layer of warm air can be caught between two layers of cooler air. Meteorologists call it a "temperature inversion."
Dr. Menzel believes it is also possible for a moving vehicle to create a minor temperature inversion sufficient for flying saucers.
He calls attention to the experience of pilots in World War II who reported being chased by balls of fire, which were nick-named "foo-fighters." He thinks that these were images of the moon refracted by eddies of air created by the plane's motion.
He tells how once when driving by auto across the New Mexico desert, he saw two fuzzy lights near the moon. The lights kept a fixed distance ahead of his car. But when the car stopped, they disappeared.
Finally, Dr. Menzel has demonstrated in the laboratory by shining a searchlight beam through layers of liquids of different densities that refractions occur which create miniature flying saucers.
AUGUST 23, 1952:
Oelwein, Iowa Daily Register - 23 Aug 52
MODEL PAT BURRAGE shows off a handful of carved rings valued at $50,000 at National Retail Jewelers association convention in New York. The large ring is called "Flying Saucer" design. A three-carat diamond is hidden under rose petals that actually open and close. (International)
Oshkosh, Wisconsin Daily Northwestern - 23 Aug 52
Futuristic Science-Fiction Toys Supplant Cowboy Equipment
If a recent preview of new toys is any indication, your child will be playing with space toys, walking dolls and hobby craft play-things that are out of this world.
More than 500 American-made play-things representing the best efforts of over 300 different manufacturers were on display. Each toy had been evaluated by the Toy Guidance educational staff, headed by Prof. Emma D. Sheehy of Columbia University's Teachers College, for its safety, durability and ability to contribute to a child's growth and development.
Supplanting such fads as military toys, which enjoyed popularly from 1940 to 1946, and the demand for western equipment and character name play-things which resulted from TV's growth since 1946, the current TV, movie and news reports of rocket travel, has "blasted" space toys into the forefront.
This year Junior will enjoy science-fiction toys which include rocket guns shooting rubber darts, a flying saucer gun, a space suit complete with a radio antenna hat and magic glasses with one-way lenses, interplanetary space phones, jet planes firing six streams of water simultaneously out of jet guns, a space water pistol, a space port with rocket launcher and a space rocket ship which can be constructed from parts, model-craft boxes holding plastic molds from which children can make space models colored to suit themselves are also on display.
Walking dolls, a trial innovation last year, have definitely arrived. The preview included a wide variety of models, each of which actually walks without mechanical winding. In addition, each doll's hair can be washed, combed and waved. Many of the dolls have "magic flesh" and movable eyes that cannot be pushed out.
Juvenile furniture and doll accessories feature a double decker bunk bed for dolls, a doll carrying case and a new military doll house for boys called "GI Joe Barracks."...
Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin 23 Aug 52
Bright Stars Easily Taken For 'Saucers'
By J HUGH PRUETT
Astronomer, Extension Division,
Oregon Higher Education System
As it has been four years since I have aired my views in print regarding that flying chinaware, sausages, "buzzard wings" (a recent Eugene report), and other strange objects which recently have been cavorting so merrily in the "ether blue", I feel strongly the urge to speak again.
Personally I have never seen one of those mysterious things, despite the fact that I do a great deal of sky gazing. But I am not ready to say that others have not. I have many times been called from sweet slumber (I now keep my telephone beside my bed to prevent too much exertion) to inspect a so-called "heavenly saucer," only to find it was Venus or Jupiter glowing peacefully in the blue dome above.
Venus, visible as a tiny, white speck in the daytime sky, has also caused much disturbance. In the summer of 1948 a large area of Central Washington was highly disturbed for a few days when it was discovered that a "flying saucer" went over the same path in the eastern sky every afternoon then disappeared over the Cascade Range. Finally everyone settled for Venus.
The worst celestial offender is the bright star Capella when it is low in the northeastern haze. This star then seems to dance and to flash in rapid succession the most gorgeous reds and yellows, greens and blues. Late in July, I was called on two successive nights regarding this most exciting object -- and at almost the identical time, 1:15 a.m. By September -- when I get the most calls -- Capella will be in this location in the early evening.
Most Accounted For
My own views for several years have been that 95 per cent or more of the flying saucers are explainable as stars, meteors, weather bureau balloons, distant airplanes, thistle down, or other common objects. But I feel that too many level-beaded, well-informed persons, especially pilots, have seen things that are really very unusual, to dismiss it all as a "figment of the imagination." I have thought until recently that our government has been carrying on unannounced experiments, but official pronouncements now seem to indicate the Air Force is actually investigating the unexplained phenomena.
One scientist explains many of the saucers as due to mirages or reflections of earth lights from layers of warm air at high altitudes.
Others say flocks of ducks are responsible.
Doubtless each answers some cases, but as a friend said to me recently, "Were there no ducks or layers of hot air over Washington City until five years ago?"
Because of my 20 years of experience on meteor tracing, I have received a recent appointment (which cannot be explained at present) to help investigate some of the saucer reports in the Pacific states. Please write me at Eugene, Oregon, on any unexplained phenomena -- but please omit stars and meteors.
Altoona, Pennsylvania Mirror 23 Aug 52
"Flying Saucer" Is Sighted at Hollidaysburg
It was only a matter of time, but a "flying saucer" finally has arrived in Blair county and it was spotted from no less a location than the Blair county courthouse annex civilian defense observation post.
Alfred Rhett, Hollidaysburg ground observer post supervisor who was standing a "substitute watch" alone last evening, sighted an unidentified silver object which he says was located almost over Blue Knob at about 8:20 o'clock.
Mr. Rhett contacted the Bedford county air force station regarding the object but the airmen were unable to "track" it with the use of radar equipment.
He estimated the object to be moving at 35,000 feet and he clocked its movement for 13 minutes. The object was flying north and against the wind thus leading him to believe it was not a balloon. At 8:33 o'clock it veered westward and disappeared.
The regular post observers were attending a meeting at the courthouse where plans were being made for an appreciation dinner for observers at the Hollidaysburg Y.W.-Y.M.C.A. on Aug 28.
When contacted this morning Mr. Rhett said that he had written an official report to the Pittsburgh filter center of the observers corps which was as follows: "Sighted unknown object, silver in color, about 8:20 p.m. Friday evening, approximately 100 feet long, 12 miles from observation post. Approximate location when sighted was over Bedford county radar station moving north until it went out of sight behind Cresson mountain. Last seen at 8:33 p.m. Distances approximated by landmarks. Ground winds at location of observation post were about 10 knots per hour and due west to east."
Palm Beach, Florida Post - 23 Aug 52
High-Rank Officers Quiz 'Saucer' Victim
By C.W. Cabaniss
"We don't have it here -- I was shown proof of it." This was the grim statement of D.S. "Sonny" DesVergers, 333 Conniston Rd., referring to the "flying saucer" he had seen here late Tuesday night.
These were his words after a "two-hour grilling behind closed doors" at Palm Beach International Airport before "a board of high-ranking military officers from Washington."
DesVergers wouldn't clarify the statement that "we don't have it here," except to say that "it's not ours."
He said a "higher-ranking" officer is slated to interview him today.
"They told me I'm the only one in the world who has come within reaching distance of a 'saucer'," DesVergers exclaimed.
He said, "The Army has examined and re-examined me -- both mentally and physically -- since Wednesday, and last night (Thursday) they game me a clean bill of health in both cases."
The 30-year old scoutmaster, a former Marine and student in 1940 at the University of Florida, during an hour-and-a-half long interview last night at his home after the board got through with him, gave a more complete account of the "saucer" incident.
He was calm and seemed sincere as he unraveled his story in much greater detail than before, but had "no answer" to many pertinent questions. "I'd like to get it all off my chest and get it over with," DesVergers said, "but I've told them I'd wait until they clear me from my security pledge."
"It's not foolish to say that it will determine the future of all of us someday," Sonny said, and added, "the Army's theory and mine coincide."
"I know what it is and it's of vital importance, but it's better for me not to go any farther for the public good because it may cause another 'Orson Wells' panic.
"Things have been seen since the 18th Century," DesVergers said records shown him last night revealed.
"It was a sickening, nauseating stench worse than rotten eggs -- more like burning flesh," DesVergers said in describing the flare that was aimed at him and seemed to "float slowly at his face late Tuesday night when he "unknowingly walked under the saucer" off Military Trail near Lantana Rd.
"Then I blacked out. It didn't hurt but was the same temperature as the close air right under the mushroom-shaped object which made only a hissing sound like a tire going down."
He continued, "It was large enough for six or eight men to stand up in it. It was about 10 feet high as I kept my light on it and backed out from under it and saw it from a right angle. It was shaped like a 'half-rubber' [sic, should be half-rubber ball] tapering down to about a three-foot thickness on the sides. There was a phosphorous effect around the sides.
"I believe I was under and near it for about three minutes, or what seemed like ten years, as I tried to scream and run but at first I couldn't move an inch.
"I saw it in every detail as I finally was able to move and back slowly away from it as it hissed and hovered unsupported about 10 feet from the ground. It was about 30 feet in diameter," said DesVergers who related he went into the woods first thinking an airliner had crashed.
"There seemed to be windows in it like an airliner when I first saw it, and then it made a sharp angle descent toward the ground. My first thought was to give assistance, but I didn't hear anything crash.
"I couldn't find anything as I pushed through the brush but the air got warmer as I went and I became aware that all was not right.
"Then I heard the hissing sound and as I moved it got louder. I flashed my lamp up and I was right under it.
"I don't scare very easily but I did then.
"I believe they (he wouldn't clarify who "they" were) were as afraid of me as I was of them and the flash sent at me seems now as if it was to keep me from finding out something about it, or from keeping it on the ground.
"The ball of fire came directly for my head. I don't know if it would have followed me if I could have moved, but I couldn't. The fire came in a very misty manner. It was not solid, and was of the same temperature as that which I had felt under the thing.
"When I awakened out of the 'fog', I had no sense of feeling and even tonight (last night) I have a tingling like when your foot loses circulation and goes to sleep. I walked around but couldn't feel the ground. It was like walking on air.
"But the deputy sheriff, who arrived there later, couldn't find my footprints in the rain-fresh dirt between where I dropped my lamp when I fell unconscious and where I had come to. The distance was a matter of quite a number of yards. I don't know just how many.
"I was yelling at the top of my lungs as I wandered toward the lights of my car when I regained some strength, but no sound was coming out. When I met the deputy, I clutched the machete I froze to."
"The machete," DesVergers said, "has been given to the officers to be fully examined for radio-activity. I swung at the object and may have touched it. They said they wanted to have it checked.
His wife said last night, "Sonny was as white as a ghost when he came home." The couple, married 17-months ago, has a 7-months old son, J.D. "Skipper" DesVergers.
Sonny said he attended Riverside Military Academy in his senior year between 1938-39, and then went to the University of Florida where he majored in forestry and chemistry.
When World War II broke out he joined the Marine Corps in 1941, serving mostly in the Pacific theater until 1944. He said he was in the infantry and later was attached to the Naval Intelligence Section.
His is a native of Lake City, having resided here the past five years. Scoutmaster for the past five months, Desvergers said he first became a Scout when he was 11 years old.
Troop 33 which he leads, is sponsored by the Optimist Club, of which he is a member.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi American - 23 Aug 52
Mystery Light Eludes Jet Pilots
CHICAGO -- Two Air Force jet fighters, directed by ground observers, chased a yellowish light in the sky last night but reported that it blinked out when they started closing in on it.
Air Force officers in the Chicago filter center said the blink-out of the light over nearby Elgin, Ill., was reported simultaneously at 11:48 p.m. last night by the pilots and by D C. Scott, Elgin, supervisor of the center's ground observations in the Elgin area.
Elgin is some 40 miles northwest of Chicago.
Ground observers said that when the planes gave up the chase the light reappeared and ascended rapidly in the night sky.
A few minutes later, another observation post 20 miles north and west of Elgin reported spotting a brightly glowing object. Observers said it hovered for a short time and then disappeared.
The jet fighters were sent out from O'Hare Field, northwest of Chicago.
The filter center coordinates reports of ground observers.
El Paso, Texas Herald Post - 23 Aug 52
Flying Saucer Swoops Over
A "flying saucer" that "came from the west and disappeared in the east" passed over El Paso at 9:20 a.m. today, according to Frank Gonzales of 174 Swain drive, and William Doemper of 3020 Hamilton street.
Mr. Gonzales said it was "round, had a white hue, and traveled at a great speed, then slowed down." He watched it for 15 minutes.
"It looked like a hen's egg," said Mr. Doemper. "It was way up in the sky, but I could tell that it was traveling at a terrific speed.
Lubbock, Texas Morning Avalanche 23 Aug 52
Three 'Mystery' Jets Fail To Answer Summons Over City
Possibly tired of all the flying saucer publicity going on lately, three unidentified jet planes decided to create a little of their own last night.
The planes were seen flying in formation several times east to west and then north to south over the city about 8:30 p.m., but it was anybody's guess where they came from. Contact with them was attempted by Reese Air Force Base, the Communications Station at the Municipal Air Port, and Lubbock Radio, but the little men weren't talking.
Gastonia, North Carolina Gazette - 23 Aug 52
Those who toy with the theory that flying saucers come from other worlds overlook a simple problem in distances which astronomers have been stressing for many generations.
The rocket space ship, not yet built, to be flown by human astronauts would have a calculated speed of more than six miles a second. Theoretically, one of them could reach the moon in a matter of hours. But to get to Alpha Centauri, a star supposed to be 4.3 light years away, would require 130,000 years. At that rate a human being could not reach Mars in a lifetime, let alone to one of the more distant solar systems.
So scientists are working on the problem of speeding up their dream rockets. If propulsion were by atomic power, a speed of 8,210 miles a second might be developed, which would take a man to Alpha Centauri in 250 years, if the craft didn't become too weatherworn. That is still more years than a man has.
Perhaps man can take it more slowly. He might come up with a ship speedy enough to get him to Mars in a month, which wouldn't be so bad since the Pilgrims look months to cross the Atlantic. After colonizing Mars, he could take another jump. In the course of centuries human frontiers might be extended far out into space.
This is something to think about along the line of the supposition that the sun is cooling off and a replacement may be needed in a few millenniums. Thus would space be provided for excess population.
AUGUST 24, 1952:
(Unknown City) Herald Tribune 24 Aug 52
[Note: The following, found in Project Blue Book files, gave the name of the paper and publication date but did not include the city of publication.]
Flying Bowl? Air Force Probes Ex-Marine's Encounter With One
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 23 -- A deputy sheriff and two Boy Scouts added details to a scoutmaster's story of his encounter with a strange object in a rural wooded area Tuesday night, and in Washington an Air Force spokesman said an officer had been sent to check on the incident, but no conclusion had been reached.
The deputy sheriff and Boy Scouts told of scorched grass, strange lights and showers of sparks in the area where D.S. Desvergers said he was "blasted by a ball of fire" from the object when he investigated flashes of light near a country road.
Mr. Desvergers, thirty, hardware salesman, Scoutmaster and former Marine, said he was questioned at the West Palm Beach International Airport by officers from Washington whom he refused to identify.
The Scoutmaster has described the object he encountered as shaped "like half a rubber ball", about three feet thick at the edges and high enough at the center for men to stand erect inside.
He was quoted as telling a Palm Beach reporter today that he knows what the object was, but added "it's better for me not to go any further for the public good because it might cause...panic."
Mr. Desvergers reported that he was taking three Scouts home Tuesday night when he stopped to investigate the lights in nearby woods. He said when he flashed his light on the object, he was blasted by the ball of fire and overcome.
Deputy Sheriff Mott N. Partin, summoned by the Scouts, said
the hair was singed off Mr. Desvergers's arms and three tiny holes were burned in his cap. He also said he found evidence of
scorched grass where the Scoutmaster said he encountered the object.
One of the Scouts, Charles Stevens, said the group saw a "big glowing white light come down out of the sky" and "there were about six reddish lights around it when it neared the ground."
David Rowan, another Scout, said that soon after Mr. Desvergers entered the woods, something "went off and showered sparks all over the area like a roman candle."
In Washington, the Air Force spokesman said an officer had flown to the scene from Air Technical Intelligence Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. The center has the responsibility of analyzing the reports of unusual aerial objects.
The Air Force spokesman said "we cannot tell yet just what it was there." He added: "We spoke to the man, but we had nothing up to now upon which to base a conclusion. We are going to continue to check up and get all the facts together."
Panama City, Florida News-Herald 24 Aug 52
Scoutmaster Tells of Attack By 'Occupied Flying Saucer'
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A scoutmaster who says he was attacked by a "flying saucer" is keeping silent about some of the details "because it might cause another Orson Welles panic."
D.S. Desvergers, 30, a hardware salesman and former Marine, who encountered the object in the woods Tuesday night, claims it housed beings "who were as afraid of me as I was of them."
That, he says, was why they projected a "ball of fire directly for my head."
The scoutmaster described further details of his remarkable experience to a reporter from the Palm Beach Post after he was questioned for several hours last night at the West Palm Beach international airport "by high ranking officers from Washington" whom he refused to identify.
He indicated he and the officers were substantially in agreement on what the object was.
"I know what it is, and it's of vital importance," he said. "But it's better for me not to go any further for the public good, because it might cause another Orson Welles panic."
He was referring to an "invasion from Mars" drama, presented by the actor in a broadcast several years ago, which caused widespread alarm among listeners in many American cities.
"It's not ours," he added. "It's not foolish to say it will determine
the future of all of us some day."
Desvergers was taking three Boy Scouts to their homes along a country road Tuesday night when they saw "bright red flashes" over a nearby woods.
He left the boys in the car with instructions to go for help if he failed to return promptly, then he started into the woods. He said be heard a hissing sound. "As I moved, it got louder. I flashed my light up and I was right under it."
The Scoutmaster described "it" as a flying saucer about 30 feet in diameter hovering about 10 feet above the earth It was hemispheric in shape "like half of a rubber ball" and "large enough for six or eight men to stand up in. It had windows like an airliner."
Desvergers said the "saucer" appeared about three feet thick at the edges but was high enough at the center for men to stand erect.
He said the object then projected a "ball of fire" at him and he was overcome, assailed not only by heat and light but also by an overpowering stench.
Deputy sheriffs, summoned by the boys, met Desvergers as he staggered from the woods. They said the hair was singed off his
arms and three tiny holes burned in his cap.
Deputy Sheriff Mott N. Partin said he went into the woods and the grass "seemed to be scorched or blistered" in the small clearing where Desvergers encountered the object.
In Washington, an Air Force spokesman said an officer was sent to check on the incident, but "we cannot tell yet just what it was there." He added:
"We spoke to the man, but, we had nothing up to now upon which to base a conclusion. We are going to continue to check up and to get all the facts together."
Charleston, West Virginia Daily Mail 24 Aug 52
'Flying Saucer' Singes Man; Not Of This World, He Infers
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 23 -- The air force said today it has received a report from the only man in the world to claim he has had his hair singed by a "flying saucer." The story told by Scoutmaster J.D. (Sonny) Desvergers is receiving "further study from a scientific viewpoint at Wright Field, Dayton, O.," said an air force intelligence officer who did not wish his name disclosed.
Desvergers, an ex-marine who served three years in the Pacific said he was riding in an automobile last Tuesday night with three Scouts on the edge of the Florida Everglades when he saw "flashing lights." He walked through the brush with a machete and flashlight, leaving the Scouts in the car and telling them to call police if he was not back in 10 minutes.
What he saw, he said, was an object "large enough for six or eight men to stand in. It was about 10 feet high in the center, about 30 feet in diameter and shaped like a half rubber ball, tapering down to a three-foot thickness on the side. There was a phosphorous effect around the side."
"I believe I was under and near it for about three minutes," the 30-year-old hardware clerk said. "It was only 10 feet from the ground. It made a hissing sound like a tire going down."
Desvergers said "they" (apparently meaning those in the object) shot a flame at him that seemed to "float slowly at my face." He said the hair on his arm was singed off and three holes about one-eighth of an inch in diameter were burned in his Scout cap.
The Scoutmaster said he then blacked out and when he awoke had "no sense of feeling and even now I have a tingling like when your foot loses circulation and goes to sleep."
By the time he came to, Deputy Sheriff Matt Partin, summoned by the three youngsters, had arrived. Partin said Desvergers "looked, like a wild man" when he came out of the brush.
Partin related that the grass "seemed to be scorched or blistered" in the small clearing where the Scoutmaster claimed he met the object.
No trace of the object has been found. Investigators theorized that it either exploded or disappeared rapidly.
Desvergers, in describing details of the object to a reporter from The Palm Beach Post, said he was "blasted by a ball of fire" from the object when he went into the woods to investigate flashes of light. His account was not corroborated.
He indicated that he and "high-ranking officers from Washington," whom he refused to identify, were substantially in agreement on what the object was.
"I know what it is, and it's of vital importance," he told a Palm Beach reporter. "But it's better for me not to go any further
for the public good, because it might cause another Orson Welles panic."
He was referring to an "invasion from Mars" drama, presented by the actor in a broadcast several years ago, which caused widespread alarm among listeners in many American cities.
"IT'S NOT OURS," Desvergers added. "It's not foolish to say it will determine the future of all of us some day."
He said the object was about 30 feet in diameter and was hovering about 10 feet about the earth. When it projected a "ball of fire" at him, Desvergers said he was overcome, not only by heat and light, but also by an overpowering stench.
THE AREA where the object was seen is approximately 12 miles southwest of the West Palm Beach business district on South Military Trail about one-quarter mile south of Lantana road. This is about five miles southwest of Lake Worth.
The West Palm Beach weather bureau said that at 11 p.m. (EST) Tuesday night when the encounter occurred the sky was almost clear, except for a few scattered clouds. There had been rain during the day and lightning was seen about 9 p.m.
Chicago, Illinois Herald American 24 Aug 52
Saucer Outflies Jet Over Elgin
A jet pilot from O'Hare Field made four passes at a "flying saucer" over Elgin Thursday night, but lost it when it blinked out. Ground observers who directed the pursuit, in which another jet pilot took part, described the "saucer" as "five times as bright as a star" until it vanished in the dark. The pursuit lasted from 11:18 to 11:48 p.m.
Capt. Everett A. Turner, operations officer of the Chicago Filter Center, said the blink-out was reported at the same time by both pilots and D.C. Scott, the center's supervisor at Elgin. Saying the "thing" was not a stranger, Scott added: "We have seen this thing five or six times the last two months, but never in the same place. Everybody thought we were seeing things until Lt. Col. Donald Armstrong came out and saw it."
Scott said the Thursday appearance was "typical" with the light first showing in the sky northeast of Elgin at 10:10 p.m. He added: "It appeared first at about 2,000 feet, flying straight. At times it rose with a great burst of speed, then it would appear to hover." Scott said the mysterious object was a "yellowish white light five times brighter than a star and about the size of an orange.
Several times, he said, it appeared to rise 5,000 feet within three minutes. Scott added: "It's like nothing I've ever seen before. It looks like a light but casts no beam. We could not pick out a silhouette on it, even with powerful binoculars."
"Turner had alerted the O'Hare jets and they came at once. So far as I know, only one gave chase. At my direction, relayed by Turner, the pilot made four passes. The first was at 10,000 feet. This seemed much too high, so I asked him to repeat at 5,000 feet. This still seemed too high, so he came over again at 3,000. He repeated again at 2,000, this time turning off his running lights. Just as he got over the mark, the thing blinked out.
The object never showed on the filter center's radar, Turner said, but added: "Radar doesn't always show all that is there. You can know, for instance, that a certain plane is in a certain spot and still the scope won't show it. Furthermore, radar never shows anything at the 2,000 foot level. It begins to pick up at about 5,000 feet."
AUGUST 25, 1952:
Tokyo, Japan Pacific Stars and Stripes - 25 Aug 52
Military Assures Florida Saucer Case Explainable
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A scoutmaster who said he had his hair singed by a flying saucer rested Sunday after several days of questioning by military authorities who said they were confident the incident was "explainable."
J.D. [sic, should be D.S.] Desvergers and his wife left their home here for a brief rest at an undisclosed place after the 30-year old hardware clerk said the whole experience "has been an awful headache."
In Washington an Air Force spokesman said, "We feel sure it will be explainable. We have received an unofficial report but do not have enough information at this time to draw a conclusion."
Desvergers said he saw flashing lights of what he believed at first to be a crashing airliner. He dashed through the brush with a machete and flashlight leaving the scouts in a car to call for help "if I'm not back in ten minutes."
HE SAID HE FOUND a mushroom shaped object 30 feet in diameter, large enough for six or eight men to stand in. He said, "I heard hinges open and they shot at me. I believe I was under and near it for about three minutes for [sic, should be or] what seemed like ten years. It was only ten feet from the ground and made a hissing sound like a tire going down."
He said a flare was shot at him from the saucer and it seemed to "float slowly at my face." He soon blacked out. A deputy sheriff arrived at the scene as Desvergers dashed out of the brush. He said the scoutmaster "looked like a wild man."
Desvergers said the Army has examined and reexamined him both mentally and physically and "they gave me a top bill of health."
DESVERGERS turned up Sunday with a publicity agent to "protect him from inquisitive reporters and Air Force questions."
Desvergers emerged from an overnight hideaway long enough to announce he had made a "gentlemen's agreement" with publicity agent Art Weil [sic, should be Keil] and that details of his experience will be reserved for "certain magazines."
Marysville, Ohio Journal-Tribune 25 Aug 52
Saucer Attack Story for Sale
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. -- A Scoutmaster, who claims he saw a "mushroom shaped" kind of flying saucer has a press agent today and has admitted he is trying to sell the story to a magazine.
J.D. [sic, should be D.S.] (Sonny) Desvergers of West Palm Beach, claims a flying saucer attacked him on the edge of the Everglades last week. He said he spotted something unusual when he was returning from a camping trip with three scouts.
The 30-year-old hardware clerk told the boys to call the sheriff if he did not return in 10 minutes. Then, machete in hand, he entered the brush after the strange lights.
Desvergers stumbled from the thicket as the sheriff arrived. He told of being hit by a "ball of fire" and indicated holes about the size of a cigarette in his hat. He claimed hair has been singed
off his arm.
The scoutmaster described his attacker to Air Force authorities as a mushroom shaped object large enough to hold six or eight men.
Desvergers refused to comment any further, saying his publicity
agent would represent him. The agent was admittedly waiting for a chance to sell the story to some magazine.
In Washington, officials said the whole matter was probably "explainable."
Fort Pierce, Florida News-Tribune 25 Aug 52
May Tell Of Saucer Attack In More Detail
WEST PALM BEACH -- Scoutmaster D.S. Desvergers says his tale of a "flying saucer" that knocked him out with a "ball of fire" may be told later in full detail.
The 30-year-old salesman declined last week to tell his whole story "because it might cause another Orson Welles panic." He said he knew the secret of the saucer and "it's not ours."
Sunday, Desvergers explained that he had a "gentleman's agreement" with an Air Force spokesman who interviewed him that required him to hold back part of the story.
But he added that "my interpretation was that I was to withhold it for a certain period of time." He wouldn't say how long it would be before he could feel free to go into detail.
Art Keil, a West Palm Beach publicity man, indicated the story would be sold to a magazine. Keil said he had no definite contract to act for Desvergers but was working with the scoutmaster because "his interests ought to be protected."
"He hasn't told me yet what the story is," Keil said. "He hasn't definitely decided in his own mind what should be released in view of what the Air Force told him.
"They have no legal hold on him, but they talked to him like a Dutch uncle."
Desvergers said the "flying saucer" was about 30 feet in diameter shaped like "half of a rubber ball with windows like an airliner," and was large enough "for six or eight men to stand up in."
He said he went into a wood on a country road last Tuesday night to investigate the "bright red flashes" over the trees and saw the saucer hovering directly over him 10 feet above the ground.
A "ball of fire" from the saucer shot at him, he said, and he was overcome by heat, light, and an overpowering stench.
Mitchell, South Dakota Daily Republic - 25 Aug 52
Scoutmaster Is Sticking To His Saucer Stories
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Scoutmaster D.S. Desvergers, who claims his hair was singed by a "flying saucer," said today he was keeping his head down from now on.
"I'm not even looking up in the sky anymore," the 30-year-old ex-Marine said, after being "hounded" by newsmen and photographers for several days.
Desvergers refused to talk further with newsmen, explaining he had an "obligation" to the Air Force and to a publicity agent, Art Keil. Keil said the full story probably would "end up in a magazine."
When asked which one, Keil replied: "The line forms to the left."
An Air Force officer said all information obtained on the incident was referred to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, for study.
Desvergers said he walked into the Everglades while on an outing with three boy scouts last Tuesday night to investigate "strange lights." He said a "flying saucer large enough for six or eight men to stand in hovered over him and released a flare at him." [sic, quote marks]
He said the flare, or "ball of fire," burned the hair off his arm and burned three small holes in his Scout cap before he became unconscious.
Deputy Sheriff Mott Partin, called by the three Scouts when Desvergers failed to return said Desvergers looked "like a wild man" when they found him.
Albuquerque, New Mexico Tribune - 25 Aug 52
Says Saucers Are Not Weapons
By David Dietz
Scripps-Howard Science Editor
There are two reasons for dismissing the notion that the flying saucers are secret weapons, either our or Russia's. One is the array of official denials. The other is the present state of science.
The latest denial came a few weeks ago from Maj. Gen. James A. Samford, chief of intelligence of the U.S. Air Force. He stated quite categorically that the flying saucers were no secret weapon of this nation and further that they were no menace to the United States.
The gossip around Washington is that until Samford made his sweeping statement, many Air Force officers suspected that the flying saucers were a Navy development.
See No Trick
It would be a neat trick to let the Navy work on flying saucers while the Air Force quite honestly protested its ignorance of them.
However, it is worth remembering that President Truman announced in 1950 that he knew of no project of the Armed Forces that would explain flying saucers.
Even the most cynical citizen ought to admit that the President of the United States would not be drawn into that kind of a trick.
The second reason for abandoning the secret weapon theory is, as I have said, the present state of science. As Gen. Samford stated, there is no known machine for producing the kind of effects described as flying saucers.
Exponents of the secret weapon theory like to call attention to the wartime development of the atomic bomb and the radar. The situation is not in the least comparable.
The possibility of both these developments was well known prior to Pearl Harbor and had been commented upon many times by the nation's science writers including myself.
Any one of us could have got ourselves picked up by the FBI by the simple device of reprinting some article after Pearl Harbor that we had printed a year or two earlier.
Wrote About Uranium
I wrote the first article to appear in any newspaper setting forth the fact that a sample of uranium 235 had finally been isolated. It was a dispatch which I sent on the night of April 22, 1940 from Washington and it began, "Scientists of the world are in an international race today for solution of a riddle which would yield an explosive one hundred million times as powerful as TNT or any known explosive."
In similar fashion, much had been written before Pearl Harbor about the radar. In those days it was called the "radio locator."
Flying saucers, as weapons, are in a class with death rays and other such notions which chill the reader's blood but make no sense to the scientist.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette 25 Aug 52
by HAL BOYLE
ALL RIGHT! All right! I've held out as long as I can. Once again I yield to the overwhelming weight of erudition behind the theory that flying saucers are just a lot of hogwash.
But I won't say I like it. I merely agree to keep reasonably quiet until the next rash of apparitions brings forth a new batch of "natural causes" to explain them.
I think I now have read and pondered thoughtfully all the latest authoritative explanations that appeared in the public prints in the wake of last month's saucer flurry. I admit I can't poke any holes in them.
Who am I to match wits with eminent physicists, meteorologists, astronomers and electronics engineers? When I took physics in college it was all I could do to keep my Bunsen burner lit.
From sheer lack of ammunition for back talk I must bow to the experts' insistence that 80 percent of the strange objects sighted have been jet planes, weather balloons, meteors, birds, or mirages caused by freak "temperature inversions."
And I daresay they could conjure up prosaic explanations of the other 20 percent that would be plausible enough to shut me up. No normally sensitive person wants to get himself tagged as a nut a mystic or an impractical dreamer. Look what that did to Henry Wallace.
Just the same, I still don't see eye to eye with General Ramey, director of air force operations, who is "reasonably well" convinced that there is no such thing as a flying saucer.
He can refuse to believe in such things if he likes; it's a free country. If he wants to know something, I don't believe in radar. I think it is just your father with false whiskers on. But I'll bet General Ramey swallows that other story, hook, line and sinker.
Explanations don't impress me just by sounding scientific. I remember when the officials sewed me up behind this same eightball by explaining that what people thought they were seeing in the sky were hallucinations.
That was when the observers were just fellows named Joe, coming home from stag parties at 3 o'clock in the morning.
It wasn't until trained airline pilots and army flying-missile observers started having the "hallucinations" that the officials began talking birds, meteors and weather balloons.
Hallucinations, birds and balloons are old stuff but people who saw them didn't begin calling the newspaper offices about them until five years ago.
And apparently not until last month did such commonplace phenomena make any blips on the radar screens. It was those
blips that brought on the temperature-inversion and ionized-bubble business, along with a performing physicist to produce miniature hallucinations and weather balloons in his bell jar.
There is something fishy about this sudden willingness of government officials to fall in with expert authorities. Authoritative economists have been telling them for years that price fixing won't work, but would the officials pay any attention to THEM? Not even if Roger Babson whomped up a miniature black market in a bell jar.
I don't know what they're up to now, but I still say it's more than meets the eye.
1. In "Bright Stars Easily Taken For 'Saucers'" astronomer J. Hugh Pruett notes that "it has been four years since I have aired my views in print". He is referring to the following July 20, 1947 piece, as it appeared in the Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin as found in In The News 1947 - Part Five...
Pruett Notes Discs Furor
By J. Hugh Pruett
Astronomer Extension Division,
Oregon Higher Education System
At this writing the country is still wildly agog over those mysterious discs which instantly materialize in the azure heights -- seemingly from nowhere -- roll and skip along the "under heaven," then as suddenly again fade into the great unknown. Perhaps by the time this comes to publication a complete explanation will be at hand, for, as one college sophomore expressed himself, "it would be terrible if we have to worry along for the next 100 years without knowing."
Suggestions are prevalent that the flying saucers may be scouting ships from another planet. Such visitations from space have long been the theme for stories of the Jules Verne type. From weird boats which descend from the skies there emerge overgrown, goggle-eyed, misshapened creatures like Hallowe'en goblins. Who can forget that Sunday evening in October 1938 when Orson Welles' realistic radio version of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" threw thousands into panic all over the country?
Since the highest planes find the discs still higher, perhaps scientific experimenters have launched something huge high above the earth where the air resistance is very small. To become a satellite very near the earth and constantly encircle it without any further addition of energy, a horizontal speed of 4.9 miles per second would be required if there were no atmosphere. But there is plenty of atmospheric resistance near the earth. At a height of 300 miles where the air is practically nonexistent the required satellite speed would be 4.7 miles per second. But the least resistance there would make the body gradually spiral toward the earth.
Maybe the saucers are chunks from some exploded celestial body which have been captured recently by the earth. At 300 miles such a piece only 2.7 miles in diameter would look as large as a full moon. It could easily be seen even if very much smaller. Whether of celestial or terrestrial origin, it would encircle the earth in 95 minutes. This would give an angular movement across the sky each minute of about four degrees, or eight times the width of the moon.
The only certain material visitors from space are meteorites. About 1500 authenticated falls of these stony and metallic bodes are on record. A few years ago Dr. C.P. Lipman of the University of California announced he had found living microscopic riders in these little space ships. But other scientists, not doubting that he had found bacteria, were quite certain the little passengers had climbed aboard after the ships had arrived in port.
This writer does not believe the reported discs are interplanetary space ships, satellites or supernatural portents. Perhaps 55 per cent are distant clouds, or airplanes, wind-borne seeds, weather bureau balloons, meteors and bright stars near the horizon. Someone doubtless could explain the remaining 10 per cent -- if he would.
2. In "Bright Stars Easily Taken For 'Saucers'" astronomer J. Hugh Pruett states "Because of my 20 years of experience on meteor tracing, I have received a recent appointment (which cannot be explained at present) to help investigate some of the saucer reports in the Pacific states." Most likely this refers to an encounter Dr. Pruett had with Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the astronomer consultant to Blue Book, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Victoria, B.C., in June, 1952, as related in an August 1952 report by Dr. Hynek...
...Hugh Pruett, who does not mind having his name used, is Northwest Regional Director of the American Meteor Society. Although getting on in years, he has had a great deal of experience with meteor observation. He evinced considerable interest and cooperation in the problem, and I took the liberty of asking him to cooperate with this endeavor in tracking down meteor sightings which might be associated with reports on flying saucers. He is well acquainted with all the officers and members of the American Meteor Society, and he could provide considerable help in assembling a panel of consulting astronomers. Pruett. plotted the flight of the great Seattle meteor from hundreds of reports. He is an avid "tracker-downer" of such things, and he can be of considerable assistance in these matters. He himself has not made any unexplained sightings. I checked my knowledge of meteors with him and corroborated the points that there are many meteors that are green, that some drop vertically, that some wobble, some have noise associated with them, and some have been seen as long as 25 seconds. There is one record in the literature of a meteor that lasted 50 seconds, but this seems hardly possible. Pruett, although he observed no objects, did hear a very loud noise above the clouds early one morning which he does not believe was aircraft. He asked the local radio station to help; his phone was kept busy for four hours. There is no question that the noise existed, but no one saw anything.
3. Although in the article "'Flying Saucer' Is Sighted at Hollidaysburg" the ground observer states "that he had written an official report to the Pittsburgh filter center of the observers corps which was as follows", the incident is not listed in Blue Book files.
4. Although the articles "Mystery Light Eludes Jet Pilots" and "Saucer Outflies Jet Over Elgin" report two sighting reports from separate locations by ground observer corps personnel, and include a pursuit by "two Air Force jet fighters", the incident is not listed in Blue Book files.
5. The story of Scoutmaster D.S."Sonny" DesVergers will be explored in depth on March 23, 2013 in the upcoming post Spotlight 1952: The Scoutmaster's Tale.
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