saucer summer reading fest
After a relatively quiet two-and-one-half years since the first reports of the flying discs, the year 1950 would mark not only the 20th century's midpoint, but an unprecedented outburst of controversy in the media over the reported phenomenon of flying saucers. Leading the way would be True magazine and its ace editor-in-chief Ken Purdy -- a widely-respected, old-school, journalistic pro. Suspecting a "cover up" of a "terrific story", Purdy guided four groundbreaking articles on the subject over the course of 1950's first eight months.
The first article -- which made front-page headlines and changed the national dialogue for the next three decades -- came in the January 1950 edition of True magazine. In it, Major Donald Keyhoe concluded that not only did flying saucers exist, but that they were interplanetary visitors to Earth...
Above: Colorized facsimile of opening pages for Major Keyhoe's article.
THE FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL
This is the most interesting and the most important true story we have ever published. It is utterly true. We can document every occurrence reported here. It is our sober, considered conviction that the conclusion arrived at in this story is a fact, that ... THE FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL
By Donald E. Keyhoe
Donald E. Keyhoe, who sums up the flying-saucer evidence for TRUE after sharing in the investigation that made this story possible, writes with twenty-five years of experience in observing aeronautical developments. A Naval Academy graduate, Pensacola-trained in aviation, he flew in active service with the Marine Corps, managed the U.S. tour of the historic plane in which Bennett and Byrd made their North Pole flight, was aide to Charles Lindbergh after the famous Paris hop, and was chief of information for the Aeronautics Branch, Department of Commerce. He has lectured and written extensively; of the many notable articles he has done for TRUE none has been so significant and timely as this one.
AFTER eight months of intensive investigation, the following conclusions have been reached by TRUE Magazine:
1. For the past 175 years, the planet Earth has been under systematic close-range examination by living, intelligent observers from another planet.
2. The intensity of this observation, and the frequency of the visits to the Earth's atmosphere by which it is being conducted, have increased markedly during the past two years.
3. The vehicles used for this observation and for interplanetary transport by the explorers have been identified and categorized as follows: Type I, a small, nonpilot-carrying disk-shaped aircraft equipped with some form of television or impulse transmitter; Type II, a very large (up to 250 feet in diameter) metallic, disk-shaped aircraft operating on the helicopter principle; Type III, a dirigible-shaped, wingless aircraft which, in the Earth's atmosphere, operates in conformance with the Prandtl theory of lift.
4. The discernible pattern of observation and exploration shown by the so-called "flying disks" varies in no important particular from well-developed American plans for the exploration of space expected to come to fruition within the next fifty years. There is reason to believe, however, that some other race of thinking beings is a matter of two and a quarter centuries ahead of us.
The only other possible explanation is that the "saucers" are extremely high-speed, long-range devices developed here on Earth. Such an advance (which the Air Force has convincingly denied) would require an almost incredible leap in technical progress even for American scientists and designers.
Startling at first glance, TRUE's conclusions are logical and reasonable in the light of the full facts. They have long since been fully accepted by informed authorities.
After the first flurry of excitement attending the sightings of the so-called disks or saucers in July, 1947, various explanations were put forward: hoax, hallucination, hypnosis, weather balloons, the planets Neptune, Venus, or Mercury, and optical illusions. Some hoaxes and mistakes naturally occurred; such things usually follow highly publicized events. But none of these explanations will stand up in the important, most authentically reported cases. However, most people were satisfied, and the great flying-disk mystery was generally forgotten. An important magazine published two strangely inconclusive and contradictory articles, stated to have been prepared with the co-operation of the Air Force, purporting to dismiss the disks as of no basic significance.
In two fields, however, interest in the strange phenomena rose instead of declining.
The United States Army Air Force investigators operating "Project Saucer" -- the official investigating agency charged with solving the mystery -- kept on with their work. Today they are receiving and evaluating sighting reports at the rate of twelve a month.
Various scientists, thinking independently, began to search the records of the past. They discovered reports of strange, air-borne, disklike objects in the sky as far back as 1772. They began to ponder the tremendous implications of that discovery.
There was fortunately a good deal of current material with which to work. For a beginning, let's consider the Mantell case. About 1:15 p.m. on January 7, 1948, a round object, estimated to be at least 250 feet in diameter, was sighted over Madisonville, Kentucky. At 1:30, state police alerted Fort Knox, as the disk appeared to be heading in that direction. Fifteen minutes later, an observer in the Godman Air Base tower, ninety miles from Madisonville, saw the disk over the field. It appeared to be hovering and was clearly seen by most of the officers on the base. At times it gave off a reddish glow. The commanding officer on the base, Colonel Guy F. Hix, ordered radio contact made with a flight of three F-51s passing over Fort Knox, near Godman Field, en route to Louisville. The flight was led by Captain Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., an experienced pilot with a distinguished ETO combat record. Mantell called in shortly and reported contact with the thing.
At 2:45, Mantell radioed Godman that the object was at 12 o'clock high (directly ahead and above him). He said: "I'm closing in now to take a good look. It's directly ahead of me and moving at about half my speed. The thing looks metallic and it's tremendous in size." For twenty-five minutes, Mantell and the two F-51s with him tried vainly to close in. Mantell reported that the thing was climbing and making speed equal to his, which he said was 360 m.p.h. In broken clouds at 18,000 feet, the other two ships lost sight of Mantell and could not find him again. After five minutes, they broke off and landed at Godman. At 3:15, Mantell called in to say that he was not gaining on the object and that if he were no closer when he reached 20,000 feet, he would abandon the chase. This was reasonable because the F-51 was carrying no oxygen.
That was the last heard from Captain Mantell. His body was found near Fort Knox, and the wreckage of his plane was scattered for half a mile around him. Obviously, the ship had disintegrated in mid-air.
Later that day, a similar disk -- in all probability, the same one -- was sighted over Lockbourne Air Force Base at Columbus, Ohio. "It was traveling faster than 500 m.p.h.," the report said. "It glowed from white to amber, and it showed an amber exhaust trail five times its own length."
Inexplicably, the Columbus sighting was omitted from authorized magazine reports of the Mantell case.
Confusing, contradictory explanations followed the Fort Knox affair. Papers carried stories that the mysterious visitor had been a balloon half obscured by clouds. The magazine article prepared with Air Force aid said the object was Venus. Then the Air Force denied this answer.
The magazine had an out. An alternate guess was that Mantell and his pilots had chased a Navy cosmic-ray research balloon. This was widely repeated by readers unfamiliar with balloons. Few thought to check the speeds and distances involved.
Cosmic-ray balloons are not powered; they are set free, to drift with the wind. To fly the ninety miles from Madisonville to Fort Knox in thirty minutes, a balloon would have required a wind of 180 m.p.h. After traveling at this hurricane speed, the balloon would then have had to come to a dead stop, in order to hover over Godman Field for more than an hour. As the F-51s approached, it would have had to speed up again to 180 m.p.h., then to more than 360 to keep ahead of Mantell.
This writer, as a Navy-trained balloon pilot, as well as a Marine Corps airplane pilot, is reasonably familiar with free (drifting) balloons. But it doesn't take a balloon pilot to see that the recorded performance of the Fort Knox "saucer" is impossible for a balloon.
THE THREE fighter pilots chased the mysterious object for half an hour -- Mantell for thirty-five minutes. (I have several times chased balloons with a plane, overtaking them in seconds.) In a straight chase, Mantell would have been closing in at 360; any wind pushing the balloon would also have been a tail wind on his fighter plane, nullifying the balloon's forward drift.
The only way to have eluded him would have been through lightninglike maneuvers -- impossible for even the fastest dirigible, let alone an unpiloted free balloon. By the same token, the thing reported flying at 500 m.p.h. over Lockbourne Air Base could not have been a balloon. Even if there had been several balloons in this general area (and there were not, by official record) they could not have covered the courses reported. In some instances, they would have been flying against the wind, at terrific speed.
The published "balloon" explanation also requires incredibly poor vision on the part of all the observers -- the pilots, Air Force observers on the ground, state police, Army MPs, and civilians. Captain Mantell was a wartime pilot, trained to identify a distant enemy plane in a split second. The vision of all three pilots was excellent. In broad daylight, they could not fail to identify a balloon during their thirty-minute pursuit.
But even if that reason is ignored, the object could not possibly have been a balloon. The fast flight from Madisonville, the abrupt stop and hour-long hovering at Godman Field, then the quick bursts of speed the pilots recorded make it completely impossible.
Then what was the mysterious object? And what caused Mantell's F-51 to disintegrate in mid-air?
Both the Air Force report and the authorized magazine version speculate that Mantell carelessly let himself black out from lack of oxygen, after which his plane dived out of control and went to pieces.
Not only is this completely at variance with Mantell's habits and intelligence, but it is explained with a peculiar difference in the two stories.
The magazine version, using the later denied "Venus" theory, pictures Mantell as climbing on up, watching the gleaming star, unaware of his dangerous altitude. At 25,000 feet he is presumed to have blacked out. His pilotless plane is pictured as going on up to 30,000 feet, then diving at full power and tearing itself apart.
The Air Force report, retracting the Venus idea, says that Mantell "probably" blacked out at 20,000 feet and died of suffocation before the crash.
Since some public explanation had to be given, this might seem a good answer. But Mantell was known for cool-headed judgment. As a wartime pilot, he was familiar with the signs of approaching anoxia (oxygen starvation). That he knew his tolerance for altitude is proved by his firmly declared decision to abandon the chase at 20,000 feet, since he lacked oxygen equipment.
He had his altimeter to warn him. More important, he would recognize from experience the first vague blurring, narrowing of vision, and other preliminary symptoms of anoxia. It would not have come on him with no warning at all.
Despite this, the speculation of "blackout" was published and accepted as a plausible explanation by many Americans.
It is the opinion of several engineers and pilots whom TRUE has questioned that an F-51, a sturdy war-tested fighter, starting a dive from 20,000 feet would not have disintegrated so thoroughly.
"From thirty thousand, yes," said one engineer. "If the idea was to explain it away, I'd pick a high altitude to start from. But a pilotless plane doesn't necessarily dive. It might slip off and spin, or spiral down, and a few have even landed themselves.
"Also, if the plane started down from twenty thousand, the odds are the pilot would come to when he got into thicker air -- admitting he had blurred out temporarily, which is only an Air Force guess. I don't see why they're so positive Mantell died before he hit the ground -- unless they know something we don't."
One of the pilot group put it more bluntly.
"It looks like a cover-up to me. I think Mantell did just what he said he would -- closed in on the thing. I think he either collided with it, or more likely they knocked him out of the air. They'd think he was trying to bring them down, barging in like that."
So there is the Mantell case, to date. It seems to give a new, significant meaning to the following Air Force statements:
"No definite conclusive evidence is yet available to prove or disprove the existence of at least some of the remaining unidentified objects as real aircraft of unknown and unconventional configuration. ... The mere existence of some yet unidentified flying objects necessitates a constant vigilance on the part of Project Saucer personnel, and on the part of the civilian population. ... Report incidents as soon as possible to the nearest military installation or to Headquarters, Air Materiel Command, direct." This statement, released fifteen months after Mantell's death, also said: "The mysterious object which the flier chased to his death is still unidentified ..."
A TRUE investigator discussed this report (A Digest of Preliminary Studies by the Air Materiel Command on 'Flying Saucers,' dated April 27, 1949) with the chief design engineer of a major aircraft manufacturing company. In view of the statements to be quoted from this man, who must necessarily be anonymous, it should be said that he is a hard-headed practical engineer of long experience, responsible for the design of aircraft known by name to every literate American.
"Certainly the flying saucers are possible," he said. "Give me enough money and I'll build you one. It might have to be a model because the fuel would be a problem. If the saucers that have been seen came from other worlds, which isn't at all Buck Rogerish, they may be powered by atomic energy or by the energy that produces cosmic rays -- which is many times more powerful -- or by some other fuel or natural force that our research hasn't yet discovered. But the circular airfoil is quite feasible.
"It wouldn't have the stability of the conventional airplane, but it would have enormous maneuverability -- it could rise vertically, hover, descend vertically, and fly at extremely high speed, with the proper power. Don't take my word for it. Check with other engineers."
TRUE went then to the nation's most authoritative source of aerodynamic knowledge, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Two official N.A.C.A. reports, Technical Note 539 and Report 431, discuss tests on circular and elliptical Clark Y airfoils which proved they were feasible aerodynamically. At N.A.C.A. headquarters, one of their top engineers stated that a disk with variable-direction jet or rocket nozzles around the rim could rise and descend vertically, hover, fly straight ahead, and make sharp turns. Its direction and velocity would be governed by the number of nozzles operating, the power applied, and the angle at which they were tilted -- toward the ground, rearward, in a lateral direction, or in various combinations. A disk flying level, straight ahead, could be turned swiftly to right or left by shifting the angle of the nozzles or cutting off power from part of the group. This method of control would operate in the Earth's atmosphere and also, using rocket power, in free space, where conventional controls would be useless.
The aircraft designer quoted above shared the general views of the group which believes the disks are interplanetary. He pointed out sentences in the Air Force report:
" 'The possibility that some of the incidents ... may represent technical developments far in advance of knowledge available to American engineers and scientists has been widely considered ... observations based on experience with nuclear power-plant research in this country label as highly improbable the existence on Earth of engines small enough in size and weight to have powered any of the capricious saucers.'
"Look at those words, 'on Earth,' " he said. "They're not the normal way of discussing power possibilities. They must have been put there for some reason."
A motive for the speculative scope of the lengthy Air Force report was offered by another aeronautical authority.
"It says that 'In the next fifty years we will almost certainly start exploring space.' Then it goes on to mention a thesis accepted by astronomers that there could be at least one ideally habitable planet for each of twenty-two certain stars known to us outside the solar system. It names Wolf 359 as one of the near stars. And here's the tip-off line: 'The chance of space travelers existing on planets outside the solar system is very much greater than the chance for space-traveling Martians. The one can be viewed as almost a certainty (if you accept the thesis that intelligent life is not peculiar to the Earth.)' "
"That's a very strange admission. 'Almost a certainty.' I think that explains a lot. I think it explains the public statements about our own space-exploration plans: the talk about our plans to build an Earth satellite vehicle, a huge space-platform to circle the Earth about five hundred miles out. The public has been told about plans for a five-thousand-mile guided missile, cosmic-ray research, our hopes for atomic-powered aircraft, even a Moon rocket -- stuff that not long ago was pure fantasy.
"I think that the American public is being gradually conditioned to think in terms of space travel. I think we are being prepared for what Project Saucer probably already knows: that the Earth is under surveillance by interplanetary travelers.
"Remember the New Jersey panic over the Orson Welles 'Men From Mars' broadcast?" he said. "I think the government may believe that disclosure of the disks' probable origin would set off a nationwide hysteria. Personally, I doubt it would. I think Americans could take it."
TRUE learned that a rocket authority stationed at Wright Field has told Project Saucer personnel flatly that the saucers are interplanetary and that no other conclusion is possible. In the light of some of the sighting reports on the record, it is hard to disagree with him. Take the Chiles-Whitted case, for example.
At about 1:45 a.m., on July 24, 1948, a strange, flaming object came hurtling southward through the night skies over Robbins Air Force Base, Macon, Georgia. Observers at the base were astounded to see a huge, projectilelike craft race overhead, trailing a varicolored exhaust. It disappeared swiftly from sight.
About an hour later, an Eastern Airlines DC-3 was west of Montgomery, Alabama, en route to Atlanta. At the controls were Captain Clarence S. Chiles, a former Air Transport Command flyer, and Pilot John B. Whitted, who had flown B-29s during the war. It was a bright, moonlit night, with scattered clouds overhead.
SUDDENLY a brilliant, fast-moving object appeared ahead of them. At first, the two pilots took it to be an Air Force jet plane.
"We saw it at the same time," Chiles told Project Saucer men later. "Whatever it was, it flashed down toward us and we veered to the left, it veered sharply, too, and passed us about seven hundred feet to our right and above us."
"The thing was about a hundred feet long, cigar-shaped, and wingless," Whitted described it. "It was about twice the diameter of a B-29, with no protruding fins."
Captain Chiles said the cabin appeared like a pilot compartment, except for its eerie brilliance. Both he and Whitted agreed it was as bright as a magnesium flare. They saw no occupants, but at their speed of passing this was not surprising. It was later suggested that the strange glare could have come from a power plant of some unusual type.
"An intense dark blue glow came from the side of the ship," Chiles reported. "It ran the entire length of the fuselage -- like a blue fluorescent factory light. The exhaust was a red-orange flame, with a lighter color predominant around the outer edges."
(This description paralleled the reports of observers at Robbins Air Force Base.)
Both pilots said the flame extended thirty to fifty feet behind the ship. As it passed, Chiles noted a snout like a radar pole. Both men glimpsed two rows of windows.
"Just as it went by," said Chiles, "the pilot pulled up as if he had seen the DC-3 and wanted to avoid us. There was a tremendous burst of flame from the rear. It zoomed into the clouds, its jet or prop wash rocking our DC-3."
Chiles' later estimate of its speed was between 500 and 700 miles an hour.
As the object vanished, Chiles went back into the cabin to check with the passengers. Most had been asleep or were drowsing. But one man confirmed that they were in their right senses. This passenger, Clarence McKelvie of Columbus, Ohio, told them (and a Project Saucer team later) that he had seen a brilliant streak of light flash past his window. It had gone too swiftly for him to catch any details.
During the careful checkup by Project Saucer, Air Force engineers computed the probable speed and lift of the mystery craft. The ship was found to be within the bounds of aerodynamic laws Here is the Air Force statement:
"Application of the Prandtl theory of lift indicated that a fuselage of the dimensions reported by Chiles and Whitted could support a load comparable to the weight of an aircraft of this size, at flying speeds in the subsonic range." (Subsonic speed is equivalent to Chiles' estimate of 500-700 m.p.h.)
As interpreted by the N.A.C.A. for TRUE, this statement simply means that an aircraft without wings, of the size described by the Eastern pilots, could fly and maneuver as reported, if propelled by sufficiently great force.
The publicized story of this "space ship" set off another scare -- also the usual cracks about screwball pilots. But regardless of how much Project Saucer already knew, this evidently was a jolt. Chiles and Whitted were highly respected pilots. The passenger's confirmation added weight. But even if all three had been considered deluded, the Air Force could not get around the similar reports from Robbins Air Force Base.
The authorized magazine version omitted all mention of the Robbins air-base sighting. It made no attempt to explain what the Eastern pilots saw, but stated that both men were sure they had not suffered hallucinations. The net effect was one of skeptical disbelief.
The Air Force report clearly indicates acceptance of the ground and air observers' testimony that they did see some mysterious craft. It flatly admits that what these witnesses saw has not been identified.
Several other "ships" of the same type, reported by veteran pilots, also remain unidentified.
In August, 1947, two pilots for an Alabama flying service had a strange encounter with a huge, black, wingless craft, as reported to Project Saucer. It swept across their course, silhouetted against a brilliant evening sky. Shaped like a C-54, but larger, it had no wings, motors, or visible means of propulsion. The two pilots watched it cross their path, then swung in behind and attempted to follow. But at their speed of 170 m.p.h., they were soon outdistanced. Careful checking showed there were no other planes near by which could have been mistaken for the mystery ship.
Another wingless aircraft was later sighted at Jackson, Mississippi. Described as rocket-shaped, it speeded up from 200 to about 500 m.p.h. and swiftly disappeared. This ship was reported by a former Air Force pilot and his passenger.
Sightings of flying disks and rocket-shaped craft have not been confined to the United States. Both types have been reported all over the globe -- Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Turkey, Newfoundland, Paraguay, Rumania, the Philippines, the Hawaiian Islands, New Guinea and many other places.
To avoid ridicule, most pilots and observers now make reports privately; these have been averaging twelve a month, and Project Saucer, in its own words, is making a "serious, scientific evaluation" of the entire picture.
Several of those interviewed by TRUE believe that the project experts do not have the full answer, but are anxiously trying to fit the puzzle together. The project's suspicions, however, are clearly evident. Planes whose pilots report close encounters with "flying saucers" are checked with Geiger counters for radioactivity. Astronomers, rocket experts, guided-missile consultants, aero-medical men and other specialists work on a hush-hush basis. Teams of Air Intelligence officers and technicians fly to any scene of a reliably reported sighting.
One case that apparently baffled project men was the mystifying "dogfight" which occurred one night at Fargo, North Dakota.
It was about 9 o'clock in the evening, October 1, 1948. Lieutenant George F. Gorman, former wartime instructor and now a National Guard pilot, was returning to Fargo Airport after a routine F-51 patrol flight. He had been cleared by the tower to land when he saw below him what appeared to be a taillight of a fast-moving plane.
Gorman called the tower to recheck his clearance. He was told the only other plane near by was a Piper Cub. Gorman could see the Cub plainly outlined below him -- there was a night football game going on and the field was brightly lighted.
But the Cub was nowhere near the strange light.
The light, blinking on and off, raced above the football field at a speed Gorman estimated at 250 m.p.h. Then he discovered a queer phenomenon. Instead of seeing the silhouette of a plane, he saw no shape at all around the light. By contrast, he could see the Cub's outline clearly.
MEANTIME, the airport traffic controller, L.D. Jensen, had also spotted the mystery light. Concerned with the possibility of a collision -- he said later he had supposed it to be the taillight of a swift-flying plane -- he trained his binoculars on it. The light was also seen by another Civil Aeronautics Authority employe in the tower with Jensen. Both men saw it pass swiftly over the airport and watched the strange maneuvers that followed.
Up in the F-51, Gorman tried to close in on the light. It was still blinking on and off.
"As I approached," he told Project Saucer men later, "it suddenly became steady and pulled into a sharp left turn. It was clear, white and completely round -- about six to eight inches in diameter.
"I thought it was making a pass at the tower. I dived after it and brought my manifold pressure up to sixty inches, but I couldn't catch up with the thing."
Gorman reported his speed at full power as 350 to 400 m.p.h.
"When I attempted to turn with the light, I blacked out temporarily due to excessive speed. I am in fairly good physical condition, and I don't believe there are many if any pilots who could withstand the turn and speed effected by the light and remain conscious."
During these sharp maneuvers, the light climbed quickly, then made another left bank.
"I put my F-51 into a sharp turn and tried to cut it off in its turn," said Gorman. "By then we were at about seven thousand feet. Suddenly it made a sharp right turn and we headed straight at each other. Just when we were about to collide I guess I got scared.
"I went into a dive and the light passed over my canopy at about five hundred feet. Then it made a left circle about a thousand feet above and I gave chase again."
When collision seemed imminent a second time, the object shot straight up in the air. Gorman climbed after it at full throttle.
Just about this time, two other witnesses -- a private pilot and his passenger -- saw the fast-moving light. Both later agreed on its speed; the pilot supposed it to be a Canadian jet fighter from over the border. This was later proved unfounded. After landing at the airport, the pilot again watched the light and saw it change direction.
Despite the F-51's fast climb, the light outclimbed him. At 14,000 feet, Gorman's plane went into a power stall. The mysterious light then turned in a north-northwest direction and quickly disappeared. Throughout the "dogfight," Gorman noticed no deviation on his instruments, no sounds, odors, or exhaust trails.
An astronomical check ruled out stars, fireballs, and comets -- which the testimony of the witness precluded in the first place. As the Air Force stated, the only other conventional answer was hallucination -- or a light on a balloon. In view of all the testimony, hallucination also was ruled out. And even the investigators pointed out that a balloon could not achieve the high speed and swift maneuvers of the light.
So, once again, a serious, competent report remains unanswered. The mystery light is, officially, unidentified.
What was it?
Among those who believe the flying disks exist, there is one group which clings to the idea that they are a highly secret U.S. Air Force experiment. It has been suggested that this was a remote-control disk with a transparent rim, fitted with a television or radar "eye" to scan whatever area it passed over.
Gorman described an odd fuzziness around the edge of the light. This could have been a blur reflected from the transparent airfoil rim. The glowing light would serve to conceal any central mechanism -- Gorman said the light appeared to have "depth." This would explain why Jensen's binoculars also failed to reveal anything behind the light.
Assuming the existence of the flying disk, the rest would be fairly simple. We have already used remote-controlled planes with radar and television units to "observe" distant areas and flash back information.
This same group mentioned has a similar answer for the other authentic sightings. In this case, Project Saucer's job would actually be to explain away or cover up accidental sightings in long-range tests. However, the Air Force has repeatedly denied any such operations, and TRUE believes the evidence makes it impossible.
The other group among the flying-disk believers accepts the transparent light-disk answer -- but is convinced it was controlled from an interplanetary craft hovering at high altitude, not by an Air Force plane.
Either explanation is in line with Gorman's strong feeling that there was "thought" behind the light's maneuvers.
"I am also convinced," he said, "that it was governed by the laws of inertia. Its acceleration was rapid, but not immediate. And although it was able to turn fairly tight at considerable speed, it still followed a natural curve."
HERE are a few more of the unsolved, authentic disk sightings;
Muroc Air Base, supersecret test center. High-speed disks seen by test pilots, air-base personnel.
Fort Richardson, Alaska. Disk seen flying at tremendous speed by Army officers.
Philippine Islands. Lieutenant Robert Meyers, 67th, Fighter Wing, sighted high-speed mystery craft, able to make 90-degree instant turns.
Nine flying disks sighted by Captain E.J. Smith, his copilot, and stewardess, United Airlines.
Five disks, sighted by Fred M. Johnson, in Cascade Mountains. Watched through telescope; compass hand on his watch weaved [sic] wildly as disks banked overhead.
Approximately 300 reports have been made to Project Saucer. In an interview with Dr. J.A. Hynek, a project astronomer, a TRUE investigator learned that 17 per cent have been ascribed to stars, planets, meteorites, etc. Dr. Hynek believed that perhaps more could be thus explained. However, he refused even to hazard a guess as to what the remaining large number of sighted objects might be.
The Air Force says that some 30 per cent of the saucer sightings have been explained, and more probably will be. But most of the solved cases have been the obvious hoaxes, illusions and hysterical reports which follow any widely discussed news. A request for access to Project Saucer's 1947-48-49 sighting reports was denied, as expected. TRUE was informed that only certain approved officers and officials were allowed access to any project files.
During interviews with Pentagon officials, including Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington, a TRUE investigator confirmed reports of a confidential photograph file. The objects shown in the pictures were described as either too distant or blurred to be identified accurately. Some were said to be round, others were shadows on clouds.
If a flying disk were traveling at high speed, a blur could be expected. That all the pictures were not blank seems significant.
Later, another TRUE investigator put this question to several Air Force officials: "If all the flying saucers are bunk (as one top official declared) what is Project Saucer doing? Why wasn't this costly unit closed long ago?"
The replies varied. Some were not answers at all. But they all boiled down to this:
No one will take the responsibility for closing Project Saucer -- in case it turned out he was wrong.
"I think they're in a spot," one service pilot summed it up. "They've obviously got a hot potato and don't dare drop it. But one thing puzzles me. If the saucers are interplanetary, why haven't they landed -- or tried to make contact?"
TRUE put the question to a number of those who believe the disks come from space. Here is one suggestion from a former intelligence officer.
"The Air Force report says that if spacemen were visiting the Earth without establishing contact, it could be assumed they had just recently progressed to space travel. In other words, they'd be not far ahead of our space plans -- say forty to fifty years. Why don't you just reverse it -- list what we intend to do when we start exploring space? That'll give you the approximate picture of what visitors to the Earth would be doing."
Though our space explorations are only in the planning stage, the general program and some of the technical problems have already been indicated.
The Earth satellite vehicle will be the first attempt at a space base. It is expected to circle the Earth 500 miles out. Once in its orbit, with centrifugal force balancing the Earth's gravitational pull, no fuel will be required except to correct its course. The next probable step will be a similar space base farther out. The Moon rocket is expected to add to our information about space, so that finally we will emerge with a long-range space ship.
The Air Force estimate of fifty years may be too small. It may take that long to establish the Earth satellite and launch our first Moon rocket. Our V-2 rockets indicate some of the problems. On the take-off, their present swift acceleration would undoubtedly kill anyone inside. When re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, they get red-hot. Both the acceleration and deceleration must be controlled.
Escape from the Earth's gravity is possible with present rocket motors, according to Francis H. Clauser, an authority on space-travel plans. (See: Flight Beyond the Earth's Atmosphere, Society of Automotive Engineers Quarterly Transactions, Vol. 2, No. 4, October, 1948.) But the cost would be prohibitive, and practical operations must wait for higher-velocity rocket power, atomic or otherwise. Already, the V-2/Wac Corporal combination rocket has gone 250 miles out from the Earth -- the V-2 dropping off when its power is exhausted, the Wac Corporal then proceeding on its own fuel.
But to escape Earth's pull, a space vehicle must reach a speed of about 25,000 miles per hour. The necessary speed would be less for escaping from smaller planets (about 5,000 m.p.h. for the Moon). Once in free space, there would be no gravitational pull. Other possible sources of trouble, however, must be analyzed first -- among them, the effect of cosmic rays, solar radiation, and collisions with meteorites.
Shielding is expected to offset cosmic or solar ray problems. The danger from meteorites has already been discounted in one scientific study. (See: Probability That a Meteorite Will Hit or Penetrate a Body Situated in the Vicinity of the Earth, by G. Grimminger, Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 19, No. 10, pp. 947-956, October, 1948.) In this study, it is stated as improbable that a meteorite would penetrate the thick shell our space vehicles are expected to have. However, this applies only to the Earth's atmosphere. Further study, probably with non-piloted vehicles in free space, might be necessary to complete this investigation.
The Earth satellite vehicle will have to prove itself as a practical base, a sort of aerial aircraft carrier from which rocket ships can operate on the Earth shuttle. Before we are ready for interplanetary travel, we will have to harness some tremendous power not now available -- perhaps cosmic rays. There may have to be other space bases established as refueling stations or navigation check points. Incredible as this sounds, intelligent scientists and engineers expect to do it in a few decades.
Which planet will be explored first? The Air Force says that Wolf 359 is a near star which may be found to have a habitable planet outside our solar system. To illustrate the steps involved, let us assume that a planet of Wolf 359 will be the one we shall explore first.
It will be a formidable undertaking. Once in free space, where there is no resistance, fantastic speeds are expected. Eventually, some researchers believe, free-space travel may achieve an appreciable percentage of the theoretical limit -- the speed of light, which is about 186,000 miles per second. But Wolf 359 is eight light-years from the Earth. Assuming the attainment of as much as half the limiting speed, our space explorers will have to dedicate at least thirty-two years to the hazardous, lonely round trip. However, there has never been a lack of volunteers for grand undertakings in the history of man.
No one expects the attempt to be made until we have a space vehicle able to make the round trip and report back. One-way trips would tell the Earth nothing.
The most likely step will be to establish a space base which will circle the chosen planet in an orbit, like the proposed Earth satellite. Once in the orbit, it could circle indefinitely.
From this space base, unmanned remote-control "observer" units with television "eyes" would be sent down to survey the planet at close range. If it then seemed fairly safe, a manned unit could be released to make a more thorough checkup.
Such preliminary caution would be imperative. Our explorers would have no idea of what awaits them. The planet might be uninhabited. It might be peopled by a fiercely barbarous race. Or it might have a civilization far in advance of the Earth.
The explorers would first try to get a general idea of the whole planet. Then they would attempt to examine the most densely populated areas, types of armament, any aircraft likely to attack them. Combing the radio spectrum, they would pick up and record sounds and signals in order to decipher the language. As on the Earth, they might hear a hodgepodge of tongues. The next step would be to select the most technically advanced nation, listen in and try to learn its language -- or record it for deciphering afterward on Earth.
To find out whether the planet's atmosphere would support their lungs on later landings, our explorers would have to get samples fairly close to the planet's surface. This would tell them whether they would need oxygen-helmet suits, such as we plan for use on the Moon.
But before risking flight at such low altitudes, the explorers would first learn everything possible about the planet's aircraft -- their top ceiling, maximum speed, maneuverability, and if possible their weapons. Much of this would be done by sending down small "observer" disks -- or whatever type we develop. A manned space craft might make a survey at night, or in daytime with clouds near by to shield it. By hovering over the planet's aircraft bases, the explorers would get most of the picture -- and also decide whether the bases were suitable for their own use later.
IF THE appearance of our "observer" units and space craft caused too violent reactions on the planet, the explorers would probably withdraw to their orbiting space vehicle and either wait for a lull or else start the long trip back to Earth. Another interplanetary craft from Earth might take its place later to resume periodic surveys. In this way, a vast amount of information could be collected without once making contact with the strange race. If they seemed belligerent or uncivilized, we would probably end our survey and check on the next possibly inhabited planet. If we found they were highly civilized, we would undoubtedly attempt later contact. But, considering the long space trips involved, it might be decades before we would be ready to try it.
This, in general, is how some long-range planners believe our space explorations will develop. Now, if this program is reversed, it gives a reasonable picture of how visitors from space would go about investigating the Earth.
Such an investigation would tie in with the pattern of authentic saucer reports. Flying-disk believers list these points:
1. First, world-wide sightings. Then concentration on the United States, the most advanced nation.
2. The numerous small disks seen in the first part of the scare, which some think were "observers," remotely controlled.
3. The frequent sightings at Air Force bases.
4. Later sightings of larger disks, and space-ship types, after the first disks outspeeded and outmaneuvered our planes.
5. Low-altitude appearances, over Lockbourne Air Force Base in Ohio, in Mississippi, etc., which could provide atmosphere samples.
6. The increase of mystery-light sightings, and night encounters, and decrease of reliably witnessed day sightings (when the scare had become nation-wide, and day operations might seem less wise).
"If they are spacemen," one air-transport official suggested, "they'd probably have a hard time figuring out this country. Listening to our broadcasts would give them one hell of a picture -- what with A-bombs, jet bombers, germ warfare, strikes, espionage, the cold war, politics, the radio plays, soap operas and the rest. Seriously, though, it might take men from another planet many years to orient their thinking and grasp our way of life. And though most people don't know it, there have been saucer reports as far back as the eighteenth century."
Checking this angle, TRUE found that such reports have been recorded for more than 175 years. In the 19th century, British, French and other astronomical journals printed reports of round and torpedo-shaped objects and fast-moving lights seen in the skies. Official gazettes and scientific magazines carried similar reports. For example:
On March 22, 1880, several brilliantly luminous objects were reported seen at Kattenau, Germany. Sighted just before sunrise, they were described as rising from the horizon and moving from east to west. (British Nature Magazine, Vol. 22, p. 64.)
On December 28, 1883, a huge luminous disk was reported sighted in the Persian Gulf. It was described by the captain and third mate of the British India steamship "Patna" as whirling under the water. Apparently it had just fallen there, out of control (British Magazine of Knowledge, 1883).
In the U.S. Weather Bureau's Monthly Weather Review, 1907, page 310: on July 2, 1907, a mysterious explosion occurred in the heavens near Burlington, Vermont. Something round and luminous fell from the sky, said by some witnesses to come from a strange, torpedo-shaped object.
Monthly Weather Review, Vol. 4, page 599: on April 8, 1913, a strange shadow was sighted on the clouds at Fort Worth, Texas. It appeared to come from an unseen body above. As the cloud moved, the shadow remained in the same position. (This is similar to a recent report from Newfoundland, where a photograph of a reported saucer showed an odd cloud effect.)
In the last hundred years, there have been many such reports from all parts of the world. There was then no newspaper furore [sic], no radio to set off hysteria. Most witnesses never heard of the other cases. Numerous reports were made by serious, reputable citizens. Even discounting 95 per cent of them, there is a solid core hard to dismiss.
Advocates of the "long observation" theory believe that only a few round trips by space visitors have been made in the past, because of the travel time required. Yet such trips might not seem long to spacemen, they suggest, since it is conceivable that these beings might have much greater life spans than ours, in which case such exploring trips would seem no more to them than two years at the South Pole to Admiral Byrd.
THE SUDDEN spurt of sightings in 1947 might indicate that we have attracted attention with our V-2 rockets, A-bomb explosions, and other experiments, and that an orbiting satellite base has been established, or re-established after an absence.
In its eight months' investigation, TRUE has not ignored the skeptics nor the sincere disbelievers in even our own long-range missile and space-vehicle plans. This group believes that all the saucers were mistakes, illusions, hoaxes, hysteria and mass hallucination. In the Gorman case, the Eastern Airlines sighting, and other authentic cases, they insist all the witnesses were either deluded or lying. They dismiss the whole thing as bunk.
It is the opinion of TRUE that the flying saucers are real and that they come from no enemy on Earth. It is also TRUE's opinion that the Air Forces and Project Saucer are doing a serious, important job to safeguard American security. TRUE accepts the official denial of any secret device because the weight of the evidence, especially the world-wide sighting, does not support such a belief.
There has been no sign of belligerence in any of the saucer cases -- except perhaps in the tragic case of Mantell. If he was downed by spacemen, they could logically have feared they were in danger. Even the stoutest believers in the disks do not think any mass invasion from space is possible at this time.
It would seem wiser, if space visitors are suspected, to tell Americans the truth. Having survived the impact of the Atomic Age, we should be able to take the Interplanetary Age, when it comes, without hysteria. The idea of space travel is not nearly so fantastic as our present swift planes would have seemed to George Washington and other early Americans.
Even if the present saucers should prove of earthly origin, we should be prepared for the eventual relinquishing of the idea that we, men and women of the Earth, are the only intelligent species in the universe.
The Project Saucer frequency graph shows that sightings began in January, 1947, reached a peak in July, began again in January, 1948, hit another peak in July.
January, 1950, may repeat the cycle.
There is reason to think the Signal Corps' radar contact with the Moon proves their readiness to probe space and locate any approaching visitors. A surprise revelation might come in 1950. Again, we may not be contacted by spacemen for years -- perhaps not until after our own explorations begin.
Meantime, no matter what you suspect is behind the secret curtain of Project Saucer, you can believe the laconic Air Force warning:
"The saucers are not a joke."
-- Donald E. Keyhoe
Two months following Major Keyhoe's article -- in the March, 1950, edition of True magazine -- a naval scientist still on active duty revealed startling eyewitness accounts of aerial intrusion by "flying discs" at the extremely militarily-sensitive White Sands Proving Ground, and gave his own intriuging theory on the discs' engineering...
Above: Colorized facsimile of opening pages for Commander McLaughlin's article.
Navy Officer Tells...
HOW SCIENTISTS TRACKED A FLYING SAUCER
In its January issue TRUE said that the flying saucers are real and interplanetary. Its story was widely supported by the nation's press and radio. TRUE’s findings are here confirmed by Commander McLaughlin, a rocket expert at White Sands Proving Ground, who worked independently of this magazine's investigation. He reveals how a group of Navy men and scientists tracked a flying disk with a precision instrument, and tells of flights he and others witnessed.
Commander Robert B. McLaughlin, USN
Commander Robert Bright McLaughlin is an expert in naval ordnance and guided missiles. For the past three years he has been in charge of the Navy unit assisting in classified projects at the White Sands Proving Ground, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
He began his researches in the guided missile field in 1939, four years after his graduation from the Naval Academy. A post-graduate student of engineering at that time, he was assigned to a Navy board evaluating the effectiveness of antiaircraft gunnery. By 1941, he had outlined the technique for a "beam rider" guided missile which, by the ability to "change its mind" after being fired, heightened antiaircraft accuracy against swift, evasive, high-altitude aircraft targets.
During the war he was gunnery officer aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid and saw action in the major Pacific campaign from Kwajalein to the Philippines. He was with the Intrepid when it underwent an attack by thirty-three Japanese Kamikaze (suicide) planes in three and a half minutes.
In August, 1946, he was assigned to White Sands.
He is 37, a stocky, round faced man with curly brown hair, blue eyes, and a crisp, precise manner of speaking. He is married and has two youngsters, a girl of 2-1/2 years and a boy of 10 months.
At present he is skipper of the destroyer Bristol.
ON A BRIGHT, clear Sunday morning in April, 1949, a detachment of Navy men and a group of scientists released a balloon from a point 57 miles northwest of the White Sands Proving Ground base.
They were interested in getting weather data from the upper atmosphere, and as the balloon rose, they charted its flight as usual with a theodolite and a stop watch. There were five observers in all, four of them co-ordinating the instrument data. One followed the balloon through the theodolite's telescope. One called off the readings. One recorded them, and the fourth man held the watch.
Shortly after the balloon was aloft west of the observation point, the theodolite operator swung his instrument rapidly to the east.
A strange object, seen by everyone present, had crossed the path of the balloon. The instrument man, confused, had followed it. Swiftly, one of the scientists grabbed the theodolite and began tracking the missile.
AN ACCURATE plot of the object's course was recorded. Analyzing this data later, I can state definitely that:
1. The object, viewed in cross section, was elliptical in shape.
2. It was about 105 feet in diameter.
3. It was flying at an altitude of approximately 56 miles. (This was determined by a ballistics expert. An object at a lower altitude on this particular bright day could not have fitted the data taken. For security reasons, I cannot go deeper into this method of calculating altitude.)
4. Its speed was about 5 miles per second.
5. At the end of its trajectory, it swerved abruptly upward, altering its angle of elevation by 5 degrees -- corresponding to an increase in altitude of about 25 miles -- in a period of 10 seconds. Rough calculation indicates that a force of more that 20 G's (20 times the pull of gravity) would be required to produce this elevation in this time.
6. The object was visible for 60 seconds.
7. It disappeared at an elevation of 29 degrees.
Close questioning of the observers prior to the official report that went to "Project Saucer" at Wright-Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio, produced an almost unanimous judgment that the object was discus-shaped and that it was a flat white color. High powered binoculars showed no exhaust trail, no stream of light or other evidence of a propulsions system. And, no sound. What was it?
I am convinced that it was a Flying Saucer and, further, that these disks are space ships from another planet, operated by animate, intelligent beings.
I THINK it is safe to say that it wasn't any type of aircraft known on Earth today. Even if, as is likely, there are top secret models which you and I know nothing about, there is no human being in this world who could take a force of 20 G's and live to tell about it.
I doubt that it was meteor. These small bullets from space frequently light up our sky as they burn, from friction generated by hurtling through our atmosphere. But only occasionally are they visible in the daytime. And besides, meteors remain in view for only a few seconds -- 10 or 12 at the maximum. This object was watched for 60 seconds.
Its size rules out the possibility of its being a bird or other known creature. No cloud could have moved in such a trajectory.
It was not a balloon, I can state positively. A number of men who saw it were experienced balloonists. Furthermore, they were in a position to know that no balloon capable of approaching the object's altitude was in the area. Even at 120,000 feet, near the peak altitude for any present type, a balloon would have to have been moving at 1,700 miles per hour to conform to the trajectory data.
And to clinch it, the wind 20 miles up was, as it happens, moving from east to west -- opposite to the motion of the object.
Hallucination? Optical illusion? I think it is reasonable to say that illusions do not appear simultaneously and identically to five different trained weather observers.
I cannot think of any other possibilities. Reliable observers saw the object. A sensitive instrument tracked it. The atmosphere was bright and clear in an area where we considered it a dull day if you could not see 50 miles horizontally with the naked eye.
The only flaw was that I -- up to that time -- had not seen a Flying Saucer personally.
Nonetheless, the information excited me. I began to seek an explanation -- a respectable, convincing answer in terms of physics, mathematics, aerodynamics and astronomy as we know them today.
Before I had completed my theories, I saw a Saucer for myself.
One morning late in May, I was standing outside of my office at the White Sands base during the flight of an Army upper atmosphere missile. These, of course, rise much faster than a balloon and usually you lose sight of them shortly before they reach peak elevation. You are very fortunate if you can spot them again on the way down.
The missile had just been fired, and we had just lost sight of it when a lieutenant commander standing next to me yelled: "There it goes."
A Marine captain and I saw what he was pointing at. (A civilian engineer and a Marine major with us did not.) A white object was proceeding very slowly westward. As I watched, it rapidly gained speed.
The object had now passed overhead, and I thought it was going to fall near a ranch house two or three miles west of us. But it spurted like a scalded cat, shot over the Organ Mountains behind us and disappeared.
This was a very serious matter to us. We always took every precaution to prevent missiles from leaving the range. Immediately, I phoned the range safety officer.
"I've just seen your missile leave the range to the west of here," I said.
He groaned. As we debated what to do, we both heard the thudding impact of our missile well to the north of us and in the center of the range.
What, then, had I seen? I now faced the problem of every Flying Saucer witness. What was truth? What was imagination?
Two Saturday Evening Post articles last year by Sidney Shalett concluded that the disks were hallucinations, upper-atmosphere weather balloons, astronomical phenomena, or the result of vertigo or self hypnosis. In the January issue of this magazine, Donald E. Keyhoe, aviation expert for TRUE, asserted that the saucers are visitors from another planet.
I THOUGHT back as carefully as I could over what I had seen. I realized I was slightly better off than most witnesses. I had not expected to see a Saucer, but I had expected to see something. My eyes, fairly used to this kind of observation, had been looking for a fast moving missile.
These impressions I settled on as accurate:
1. The Saucer, at the time it was first sighted, had been going at an extremely slow speed, perhaps 1 mile per second.
2. Despite this relative slowness, I could not determine its shape, although I judged it was similar in size to Saucer No. 1 because it was visible at an altitude above 25 miles.
3. It accelerated to a speed far in excess of anything obtainable with present-day rocket motors.
4. The object passed within 5 degrees of the sun and was still visible to the naked eye. This would hardly have been true if the object had been a meteor.
5. Again, there was no evidence of a propulsion system.
The last appearance of Flying Disks which I feel is reliable enough to report occurred in early June. I did not see it personally, but the circumstances are impressive enough for me to include them here.
This day we were firing a Navy upper-atmosphere missile. Shortly after its take-off, two small circular objects, guessed to be approximately 20 inches in diameter, appeared from no place and joined the Navy missile on its upward flight. (Similar small disks have also been previously reported as well as the larger types mentioned earlier.)
At about the time the Navy missile was doing well over 2,000 feet per second, the object on the west side passed through the exhaust gases and joined its friend on the east. They then apparently decided the missile was not going fast enough for them. They accelerated, passed the Navy missile and sailed off upward and eastward.
Some eight minutes after the Navy missile had fallen back into the range, I received a radio report from a very powerful optical observation post located on a mountain top. The Navy missile, it said, had just passed over the mountain and was going out of the range to the west. This could have been one of the two objects that we had seen and which had changed direction, or it could have been a third one.
The odd thing is that before long I had reports from eleven men in five separate OP's, none of which could communicate with each other and which were located at different points of the compass. All had seen the two objects perform as I have described.
Putting together all the data observed in three appearances, one of which I had seen for myself, and all of which I believe beyond doubt, I decided that it was necessary to look outside the known world for an answer.
No one realizes better than I do that the explanations which follow may be incorrect. I think, however, that there is too much evidence from too many reliable sources for us to be content with inconclusive explanations, and we must press on to find an answer.
I THINK that the saucers are piloted space ships, first, because of their flight performance. The White Sands Saucers were most definitely capable of changing their direction while above our atmosphere. This extreme maneuverability -- plus their large size -- eliminates for me the likelihood of their being operated by remote control.
My own experience with rockets leads me to feel that a Saucer with such characteristics is far beyond the technical powers of anyone on earth. Our present system of rocket propulsion, using thermochemical energy, is entirely inadequate to duplicate the terrific 5-degree gain in altitude observed during the flight of Saucer No. 1.
If you accept this, you are led to assume that the Saucers can be propelled only by power derived from the atom.
What kind? And how? Well, I suggest a "radiation-pressure motor."
Radiation pressure is one of the oldest known physical phenomena. You have seen it work if you have ever noticed a little glass-enclosed gadget that jewelers often place in their shop windows. This is the "Crookes radiometer," a device more that 100 years old. Inside a small glass globe four metal vanes, black on one side and silver on the other, rotate on an axis, although there is apparently no motor driving them.
Light supplies the power. It radiates a "push" that varies from the surface of one vane to that of the one next to it. Now, where could the Saucer engineers get enough light to propel their missile through space?
I ENVISION a motor somewhat like a fluorescent lamp. An inner core is filled with fissionable material, probably a gas. An outer tube surrounding the core contains a fluorescent material.
The fissionable gas activates the fluorescent material, causing light. Light exerts pressure -- a propulsive push or thrust -- against a heavily shielded curved reflector. The push propels the missile.
The activity of the fluorescent material is controlled by increasing or decreasing the amount of fissionable gas in the inner core. And fluorescent material is pumped into the outer tube as it is used up. This is greatly oversimplified, and certain major problems remain.
There is, for instance, no known substance out of which the tubes could be constructed. Any material we can compound would disintegrate under the fissioning process. I would also hesitate to say what kind of shield would completely protect the Saucer crew from radiation effects.
The theory of a radiation pressure motor has been discussed with experts at a number of universities. Some scoffed. Some were encouraging. Since our present investigations of atomic power are in the primer stage, however, I think it's early to say the idea is impossible. Let's simply admit that if the Saucer people utilize anything like this principle, they have probably refined and perfected it.
While I have my neck out really far, I'd like to add that a Saucer would use three sets of motors.
The main set would be used to launch it and propel it on its space voyage. These motors would be placed in one segment of the edge of the disk. A second set, probably located in the flat under-surface of the disk, would be used to sustain it in flight while it hovered or prepared to land.
The third would be a small set to control roll and tilt. Since radiation from the main power plant might be great, I should imagine that the crew would be confined to a segment of the leading edge of the disk.
This would leave a large area of the midsection for fuel storage tanks, food supplies and other equipment.
One case, described by both Shalett and Keyhoe, involves a disk conforming to this pattern.
At 2:45 a.m., on July 24, 1948, an Eastern Airlines DC-3, en route to Atlanta, Georgia, from Montgomery, Alabama, sighted a "brilliant, fast-moving object" about a mile away. Captain Clarence S. Chiles, an ex-Air Transport Command flier, and Pilot John B. Whitted, formerly a B-29 pilot, both observed it clearly.
They agreed that it was about 100 feet long, shaped like a cigar. It was wingless. When the object passed them, at about eye level, they saw two rows of "windows" along the fuselage. These glowed with a blinding white light. A dark blue light ran the length of the shape, along its underside. There was a red orange flame exhaust which rocked the DC-3 as the missile veered off and zoomed out of sight.
It seems to me that rather than a cigar shaped fuselage, what the pilots may have seen was a disk, edge on. The two rows of ports would be the vents of the main power plant. The blue light came from the belly motors, thrusting downward to enable the disk to operate at the slow speed of 500 to 700 miles per hour which the pilots estimated. The flame I am less sure about. Possibly the fact that it was traveling within the Earth's atmosphere (the DC-3 was at 5,000 feet during the encounter) made exhaust particles visible. The jolt it imparted to the DC-3, however, is not surprising. I should say that the plane felt a light-energy blast, a product of radiation pressure motor operation.
The discus shape, as such, conforms to aerodynamic law and would provide a perfectly feasible flying machine.
I believe, though, that the design is employed as a temperature-compensating device. By varying the angle of tilt, the disk in its flight through space could control the amount of heat it received from the sun. Flat side toward the sun, it could absorb considerable heat, edge on very little.
DESIGN, construction and operation of the Saucers indicate to me that a very superior intelligence is at work. Not only at work, but present within the disks. I cannot believe that the ready maneuverability shown, for instance, by Saucer No. 2 in avoiding the uprising Army missile was remotely controlled.
What these people look like I have no idea. Since I insist that they are actually at the controls of their strange craft, however, I must suggest that they are considerably smaller than we are. We already know that while 6 G's are a tremendous strain on the human frame, creatures smaller than ourselves can bear up under incredible pressures. A bee can probably take 20 G's, an ant even more. Saucer crewmen would also have to be pretty small to ride Saucers No. 3, the 20-inch disks. It is staggering to imagine intelligent beings that small, but we must not disregard any possibilities.
Where the Saucers come from can only be answered by guesswork. My guess is Mars. Mars "cooled off" and perhaps became capable of supporting some form of life millions of years before the earth did. The Martians, if such there be, would have a big start in scientific development.
I believe that the frequency of the Saucers' appearance over the southwestern section of the United States may have been influenced by the relation of Mars to Earth on July 16, 1945.
On this date Mars was in a good position to see our surface. And at 5:30 a.m. on that morning, the first atomic bomb was exploded in New Mexico, in the northwest corner of the present White Sands range. It is conceivable that the flash was viewed from afar by sensitive optical instruments.
WHAT ARE the Saucers up to? So far, their behavior would indicate that they are interested only in observing us. The fact that the Saucers' operations so far have been peaceful also seems to knock out the suspicion that they have been launched by a foreign Earth power such as Russia. If a nation were fiddling with long-range missiles, why would it experiment over the United States, where a crash could deliver the object and all its secrets on our doorstep?
Will the Saucers land? The small ones might. If their occupants decide they could survive on Earth, the small Saucers might be dispatched from the larger missiles.
The larger disks, even assuming maximum motor efficiency, probably could not risk the loss of accumulated momentum that would occur in landing. It would be too difficult to generate again the momentum necessary to return home.
Why don't you see Saucers?
The atmosphere over about 75 percent of the Earth's surface is filled with moisture particles. These give us a "white sky" much of the time. Against such a background, it would be mere chance which allowed anyone to sight a Flying Saucer. At White Sands, we undoubtedly had near perfect atmospheric conditions and excellent visibility.
I know that this is a fantastic story. I cannot prove the theories I have outlined. I probably can't even prove the disks are real until I've ridden in one.
But in terms of the very limited knowledge we of the Earth possess, these ideas perhaps offer a clue to the solution of a great puzzle.
Whatever the answer, I can't feel that there is anything terrible, hostile or dangerous about the Flying Saucers or their occupants.
The challenge of space travel has fascinated the people of Earth for centuries.
If it is not fantastic for us to explore other planets, why should it be fantastic for Martians, say, to visit us?
So far, all I have suffered is a little hurt pride. They got here first.
-- Commander Robert B. McLaughlin
It had been a groundbreaking beginning of the year for True magazine. And though the above two articles by Major Keyhoe and Commander McLaughlin made headlines worldwide, a less-heralded article -- appearing in its June, 1950 issue -- represented another milestone, when True became the first national magazine to give in-depth coverage to a sightings wave in a foreign country -- as found in the following article on flying saucers in Mexico, which appeared as part of its "Report to the Editor" section in its issue for June, 1950...
Above, top: Cover for the June, 1950 issue of True in which the following appeared article appeared. Middle: On August 27, 1949, the crew and passengers of an Aerovias Reforma plane reported sighting a metallic saucer over Mexico. Bottom: Cast and crew members on the Mexico City set of The Brave Bulls, where witnesses saw and filmed a saucer.
Report to the Editor
Flying Saucers have been more clearly observed over Mexico than elsewhere. A TRUE report on the facts.
Mexico City, March 27, I950
At noon, August 27, 1949, the crew and passengers of an Aerovias Reforma commercial plane saw a Flying Saucer over the port of Yavaros in the Mexican state of Sonora, south of Arizona. Pilot Francisco Lopez Urrutia reported to the Secretary of Communications and to the National Defense Administration of Mexico that the disk-shaped object appeared to be about 16 feet in diameter. He said that it was made of gleaming metal and was followed by a tail of fire some 100 feet long. It was traveling from southeast to northwest.
I am the correspondent in Mexico for Quick Magazine and I included the story in my news letter that week, as it was the first instance I knew of Saucers being reported over Mexico.
At that time, Mexicans had a cynical attitude and attributed reports of Saucers in the U.S. to "Yanqui" hysterics. They just took the term Flying Saucer into their language as platillos voladores. But when the three-week wave of Saucers that I am reporting in this article hit the republic last month from the Rio Grande to the Guatemala line, Mexicans took a more sober view and dignified the Saucers with a newly coined Spanish word. They became Plativolos.
The next word of Mexican Saucers appeared in the Mexico City newspaper Excelsior of February 27, 1950. Frightened villagers of Paso Hondo near the Guatemala line had rushed into near-by Comitan, in the state of Chiapas, and told of a flight of spiral cones which had raced south over their town. The villagers said the formation kicked out red-yellow sparks, left trails of white smoke and sounded like boiling teakettles [sic].
Early this March, the Saucers stepped up their tempo over Mexico. Mexico City dailies quoted two air-line pilots who spotted a Saucer traveling at "incredible speed" near Ometepec, Guerrero. Then twenty military and civil-aeronautics personnel said they watched a pale-cream Saucer hover stationary over the airport of Chihuahua for three minutes. They reported that the Saucer raced off toward the northeast when fighter planes were sent aloft. The director of the airport was called to Mexico City to make a confidential report to the director of civil aeronautics. His report has not yet been released to the press.
On March 8, the Plativolos moved onto the front pages of Mexico's great dailies and stayed there. Excelsior headlined: ALL DURANGO SAW THE FLYING SAUCER. ENORMOUS COMMOTION IN THAT CITY OVER THE STRANGE SHIP. Durango is one of Mexico's largest cities and is the capital of Durango state. The report said that practically the entire population, including lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers. students, and businessmen, watched the Saucer from the streets and plazas of the city. Professor Maria Luisa Badilla of Durango College suspended classes so her students could watch the phenomenon. The newspaper listed dozens of names of those who watched the Saucer from 11 a.m. to 12 noon. Many agreed that the object remained at a great height "as if the occupants were observing all the characteristics of the town and the reaction of the inhabitants." Eyewitnesses reported that it appeared to be about "the size of a round pocket mirror." Those who used telescopes and binoculars declared that it seemed to be of some shiny aluminumlike metal.
The same day, Mexico City dailies told of a group of hunters who returned to Guadalajara, Jalisco, and reported a Saucer which they had seen at 10 p.m. on March 6. They had observed a disklike object which flashed through the sky over the Cerro del Cuatro at a "fantastic velocity."
Next day, March 9, the Saucer again visited Durango at noon. This time its movements and appearance were carefully checked by a scientist. E. Nuncio, professor of astronomy in the technical school of Durango, studied the Saucer through a telescope and other instruments. Afterwards he gave his data to the press. Nuncio said that the Saucer maintained 40,000 feet altitude. It was shaped somewhat like a child's top, and had fracture bands around it where its material was joined together. The tip or point of the top was red, and was tilted down and toward the east. Its altitude over the horizon was 53 degrees 20 minutes and its position was southeast. While Nuncio checked, the Saucer moved toward the east 3 degrees in each five minutes until it was out of sight. He pointed out that Venus and other heavenly bodies move to the west.
The same day, a disk-shaped object hovered over Mazatlan, Sinaloa, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mexican Naval Commander Manuel Maliachi reported that he watched it through a spyglass and thought it was made of aluminum. He said it hovered for hours, then disappeared toward the northeast.
On March 10, the Mexican press front-paged that the wandering Saucer visited Pachuca, Hidalgo. This is a large mining town 55 miles north of Mexico City. At 1 p.m., hundreds of Pachucans reported seeing a white ball, which rotated in its axis, move slowly across the sky and disappear in a bank of clouds. They said that it stopped still several times during its passage.
The same day, a Saucer reappeared over Mazatlan, and the citizens of Irapuato, Guanajuato, reported an automobile-hub-cap-shaped object over their city at 11:45 a.m.
Then, on March 11, the Mexico City Excelsior scooped the republic with the most authoritative story on the controversy thus far. Their eight-column front-page headline was: THE OBSERVATORY OF TONANTZINTLA PHOTOGRAPHED A STRANGE OBJECT. Below was a long, sober article signed by Luis Enrique Erro, director of Tonantzintla, the largest astrophysical observatory in the nation, which is located 80 miles east of the capital. Director Erro started his article with, "An exceptional object crossed space through the field of the Schmidt telescope of Tonantzintla on March 2. From that day until today, we have wondered what it could have been. We do not know." Erro's article told how staff astronomers Luis Munch and Professor Lauro Herrera were photographing the midnight sky when the mysterious thing crossed the field of vision and left its track as a wide, white, diagonal band on the photographic plate. Munch was using a red filter and the sky wanderer photographed strongly red. The director said, "It could not have been a passing airplane. It could not have been carelessness in the operation of the camera." He pointed out that one of the astronomers saw the brilliant object with his naked eye, and the other watched its trajectory through the finding telescope.
Erro's report was cautiously phrased and too long to give in detail here. He minimized the possibility that the thing could have been any of various known astronomic objects such as meteors, and then he mentioned Flying Saucers. The astronomer pointed out that with present-day knowledge of physics, there might be strange missiles, guided from afar, "which are unknown to us but might very well be the secret of modern armies."
On March 11, a further rash of Saucers was reported. The crew of a Compania Transportes cargo plane described an object which they saw while flying at 11,000 feet from Guerrero to Puebla. They said it was a reddish disk, 2 meters (about 6-1/2 feet) in diameter, which passed 2,000 feet above them. It was moving at 400 m.p.h. south toward Juchitan. A passenger, government attorney Francisco Castro Rayon, confirmed the report of the crew.
On that day, also, the astronomical observatory at Culiacan watched a disk-like object through the telescope, and in Tampico, Tamaulipas, amateur astronomer Gonzalo Ibanez reported watching a Saucer through his telescope at 9 p.m. in the direction of the Great Bear constellation. It moved toward the southeast at a great velocity.
During the afternoon, traffic in Monterrey, Mexico's third city, was disrupted for two hours while hundreds of citizens watched an object in the sky which was shaped "like a tennis racket without a handle." The reports said that the object remained stationary at times and darted about at others.
Next day, March 12, the Saucers moved in on Mexico's great capital city. The English-language Mexico City Herald headlined: Four Flying Saucers Circle Over Capital. The feature article began: "Mexico City yesterday got its first view of the Flying Saucers. It was a good long look. Four of the mysterious visitors hovered over the Central Airport while several hundred ... looked on. Most of them agreed as to the phenomenon's appearance as disks of white metal, resembling aluminum." The Herald included many eyewitness accounts including that of J. de la Vega, a veteran employe of the airport commander's office, who said that he saw "all four" of the Flying Saucers. De la Vega said that meteorologists, with weather-balloon tracking instruments, calculated the altitude of the disks at 35,000 to 40,000 feet. "They seemed about the size of a silver peso," De la Vega said.
I talked with Salvador Arreguin, aviation editor of Prensa Crafica, who photographed one of the strange objects through the meteorologists' theodolite at the airport. "It looked like a tiny, white, shiny globe when I looked at it through the theodolite," Arreguin said, "but when the film was developed, only the crescent part lighted by the sun appeared. In reality, it was round."
The Saucers over the airport were a four-day wonder to the Mexico City dailies. Hundreds of tourists and airport officials described the Saucers, which reappeared on March 13, 14, and 16.
It was on this last day, the 16th, that I obtained my most authoritative description. Carl Kupfer, Mexico City bureau chief for the International News Service, watched one of the objects with his naked eye and through a telescopic lens for several minutes. Carl is an experienced newspaperman and foreign correspondent. This trained observer had been frankly skeptical of the Saucers, until midday on the 16th. A unit from Columbia Pictures is filming The Brave Bulls on location here. Unitman Homer Davies had invited Kupfer to the airport with the promise that if a Saucer appeared, sound engineer Lodge Cunningham would shoot color pictures of it with a 16-mm. movie camera equipped with a 102-mm. telescopic lens.
I saw Carl Kupfer in the afternoon when he returned to his office to fi1e his eyewitness wire-service story. He was a skeptic no longer. Here is the story he told me:
"Homer and I arrived at the airport shortly after noon. Within a few minutes of our arrival, several members of the tower crew told us they saw a Saucer hovering over the city to the southwest of the airport. Then we found Lodge Cunningham. I looked through his telescopic lenses and saw an object in almost the center of the field. It appeared to have a diameter of about three millimeters and was of a white-silvery color. It was shaped rather like a pingpong ball with an elongated tail below. To obviate the possibility that it was a refracted image in the lens, the camera and lens were both turned on the tripod, and the object changed position in the field. Also, several people around us saw it with the naked eye."
I asked, Carl if the object was moving or stationary.
"Both," he exclaimed. "At first it was stationary in the field of vision, then it began to move across the scope from eight to two-o'clock position. Its movement was erratic, and it took just five minutes to move across the scope. It stopped and started. At times, it had a vertical movement. It was impossible to see any markings, and consequently I can not guess what it was."
I asked Kupfer if he could have seen a planet or a balloon.
"It is highly improbable that it could have been either," he replied. "The erratic movement would obviate the planet hypothesis. The strong wind which was blowing would have made a balloon move much faster than the object we observed."
Kupfer appeared somewhat shaken up by his experience.
Cunningham shot fifty feet of color film and gave it to Kupfer to send to the New York office of International News Photo for processing. (Word came back some time later that despite painstaking developing and enlarging, no image or the object that had been photographed could be discerned on the film.)
The next morning I talked with Homer Davies, and he corroborated Kupfer's story exactly.
"I am convinced," he said, "that the usual planet and balloon arguments cannot apply to what we saw yesterday over the airport. It was someth1ng strange. I can't explain it."
-- Lowell Harmer
(This dispatch is most interesting if considered in connection with a statement by Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico made at about the same time. Said Senator Anderson, as reported by Robert S. Allen: "I believe something big is underway. There is too much going on in those large research centers in my state to pooh-pooh the numerous eyewitness stories of Flying Saucers and other mysterious devices roaring over the countryside. Also, those official denials are nothing new. They are both proper and to be expected." -- The Editor.)
The following month, in its July, 1950, edition, True presented -- for the first time in any national magazine -- a pictorial spread featuring saucers captured by camera...
Above, top: Cover for True's July, 1950 issue. Bottom: Two-page pictorial spread.
THE CAMERA SEES FLYING SAUCERS
TRUE presents the first photo roundup of the mysterious sky craft
IN THE half year since TRUE revealed, in our January issue, that the Flying Saucers are real, we have been collecting answers to the question often asked, Why haven't the Saucers been photographed?
Of course, they have been. TRUE's investigation has recorded, to date, some fifteen incidents that have yielded pictures. That no greater number of photographs exist, after hundreds of sightings going back three years, is probably due to the circumstances that surround the appearances of these mysterious sky objects. A considerable proportion occur at night, many daytime appearances are of brief duration, often the object is far away, small, or in fast motion. Cameras, too, are seldom at hand at the right moment.
Where photographs have been made, the results in some instances have been contrary to expectations. Sky objects clearly seen and watched by many persons have failed to register on film or have shown up only as distant specks. In other cases, the photographic image has disclosed more than the photographer saw. A possible explanation lies in the fact that ordinary film emulsions respond less than the human eye to some effects, notably shades of color, but much more in other ways, such as reaction to extra-visual wave lengths (for example, X-rays) which the eye can't see.
TRUE presents on pages 44-45 a selection of the more interesting photographs made up to the present time. We can vouch for their authenticity to this extent: we have verified that each is a true photographic image appearing in the original negative. Whether the objects shown are Flying Saucers, we cannot state with certainty, since we are not able to testify, out of our own knowledge, concerning the circumstances in which the pictures were taken. We offer them, therefore, merely as represented to us in the accompanying captions.
Though Saucer seen low near Chicago by Robert Kirk looked almost glasslike, it produced dark image on film.
First photo of a flying disk (indicated by arrow) was this twilight-sky enlargement made by Frank Ryman at Seattle, July 4, 1947.
Two ghostly disks showed up white in color photo, reproduced here in black, which was made by Eugene Havord in Alaska.
Disk sighted at Catalina Island registered clearly above steamship in foreground in this night photo by Bob Jung.
At Tucson, William Rhodes snapped a Saucer's picture which, greatly enlarged, revealed an irregular shape and pale center.
Betty Malles saw a glitter in the sky when about to photograph a plane over Hawthorne, Calif., and recorded this weird object.
Latest photo, taken April 16, 1950, by Ira Maxey shows three strange objects in thunder cloud at For Worth.
Good sky-object photography is more difficult than ordinary picture-taking. Ideal equipment would comprise a fast-lens camera with infrared film and deep-red filter to darken the sky, operated under normal light conditions at f-4.5 at 1/100th second, range infinity. Next choice would be a fast telephoto lens, yellow filter, and panchromatic fine-grain film, f-11 setting at 1/ 200th or higher.
But our advice to would-be Saucer photographers, should opportunity come suddenly, is to grab any camera that's loaded, even if it's only Junior's box model, and snap away. Call witnesses to the scene, and take as many pictures as possible. If there is time, move around to get some portion of the ground or a structure into the picture, to give perspective and measurable angles. Put the film in the hands of a good professional photo finisher, with instructions for special care; unless you're an expert, don't try to develop it yourself.
And when the pictures are done, send the negatives and a set of prints to TRUE immediately for our scrutiny. We'd like to have a look at them, and perhaps publish them, as part of our continuing investigation of Flying Saucers. -- The Editors
Finally, in its August, 1950, edition, True achieved its fifth "first" of the year -- becoming the first national general interest magazine to carry the in-depth story of a commercial airline encounter, written by Maj. Donald Keyhoe...
Above, top: Box-top illustration for TWA Douglas DC-3 model kit. Bottom: Opening pages of Major Keyhoe's article.
FLIGHT 117 and the FLYING SAUCER
A TRUE Investigation adds to the record of responsible Saucer sightings with the facts on the red disk that paced an air-liner over Indiana on April 27, 1950
by Donald E. Keyhoe
FLIGHT 117 was ninety miles east of Chicago when Captain Robert F. Manning saw the mysterious light.
It was the night of April 27, 1950. The time was 8:25 p.m. Cruising at 2,000 feet, the Trans World Air Lines DC-3 droned westward over Goshen, Indiana. In the left-hand seat, handling the controls, was Captain Robert Adickes, stocky ex-Navy pilot with ten years' service in TWA. Manning, taller, blond, quiet-voiced, was also a four-stripe captain, but on this particular flight he was in the right-hand seat, serving as first officer, or copilot.
Four-stripe pilot witnesses: Adickes and Manning.
Manning glanced out from the shadowy cockpit. Twenty-five miles ahead, South Bend was a spreading glow in the darkness. Clouds massed at 4,000 feet made a black sky overhead. He looked back to the right to where Elkhart lay some six miles to the north.
It was a familiar routine, picking out Elkhart. He had once lived there and the sight brought pleasant memories.
Suddenly a strange red light moving swiftly near the horizon caught Captain Manning's eye. It was coming toward the air liner, climbing up on the right, from a point some miles behind.
Puzzled, he watched it close in. This was no wingtip light -- the strange red light was too bright. With growing astonishment, he saw that the light was increasing in size. Whatever it was, this was no conventional aircraft.
The DC-3 was cruising at 175 miles an hour, but the mysterious glowing object was overtaking it rapidly. It was now an orange-red color, like a round blob of hot metal sweeping through the night sky. Craning his neck, Manning looked down on a spherical shape, glowing brightly on top, the lower part in shadow.
For a second, he half doubted his senses. He had heard Flying Saucer reports from other air-line pilots, but this was almost fantastic. He swung around to Adickes.
"Look over here. What do you make of that?"
Captain Adickes turned. Startled, he raised up and gazed through the starboard window. The thing was still climbing, not quite at the air liner's level. Over the top, he could see scattered ground lights, and below it, car lights on a highway. He could only guess at its size, but it looked to be at least twenty feet in diameter, probably closer to fifty.
Manning turned to Adickes. "Look over here..."
The two pilots stared at each other, then Adickes reached for his mike and called TWA at Chicago.
"We've sighted a strange object off the starboard wing," he swiftly told the dispatcher. "Ask ATC if there's any traffic near us."
In a moment, the answer came back. Air Traffic Control had no record of anything near their ship.
Adickes and Manning looked out again at the Saucer. It appeared to be half a mile distant, now keeping pace with the plane. Adickes shook his head incredulously. It looked exactly like a huge round wheel rolling down a road, but how could a thing like that stay in the air?
"I'm going to try to sneak up on it," he told Manning. He banked the ship gently, but the glowing disk at once slid away, keeping its distance. He tried again, with the same result.
"Call the hostess," he said abruptly. "I want someone else to see this thing."
Back in the cabin, hostess Gloria Hinshaw caught the hastily flashing signal. She hurried up the aisle and entered the cockpit.
"Take a look out there," said Adickes. He pointed across the right wing.
The amazed hostess stared out at the glowing Saucer. It was once more flying parallel with the plane.
"What on earth is it?" Gloria Hinshaw exclaimed.
"We don't know," said Manning.
"Go back and tell the passengers," Adickes said quickly. "Get them all to look at it."
The hostess returned to the cabin. The first passenger, in a single seat on the right, was sound asleep. She turned to the two across the aisle -- Clifford H. Jenkins and Dean C. Bourland, both Boeing Aircraft men.
"There's a Flying Saucer out there. Look out the starboard side."
Jenkins laughed, then he saw the look on her face. He jumped up and peered out the opposite window, Bourland crouching beside him. From the lighted cabin, the shape of the Saucer was less distinct. To Jenkins, it looked like a blur of windows lit with a queer red light. It was unlike anything he'd ever seen -- and he knew every type of plane.
While Jenkins and Bourland were gazing at the Saucer, Captain Adickes came hurrying out of the cockpit. The sleeping passenger woke up as Adickes leaned down to look out through his window.
"What's the matter -- what's going on?" he demanded.
"Look out there," said Adickes. "See that thing?" He turned to the two Boeing men. "Did you see it? I want plenty of witnesses to this."
This was one air-line Saucer sighting that had plenty of passenger witnesses -- the captain made sure of that.
The starboard-side passengers were watching the Saucer, but on the port side aft, the hostess was having trouble. Some of the passengers, including one who had plainly had a drink or two before embarking, thought the whole thing was a gag.
"Sure, let's all see the Flying Saucer," chortled the tipsy gentleman. "Let's see the little men from Mars."
He stopped, his mouth hanging open, as he saw the strange red object glowing beyond the wing. Pop-eyed, he sagged back in his seat.
When Adickes returned to the cockpit, Manning was putting down his mike.
"I called the South Bend radio range," said Manning. "I told them to go out and see if they could spot the thing."
Adickes took the controls, made one more cautious attempt to sneak up on the Saucer. When the thing again slid away, he swung around quickly, to give direct chase.
Instantly, the glowing disk dived. In barely more than a second, it went down to 1,500 feet, racing off to the north past South Bend. Its speed, Adickes estimated, was close to 400 miles per hour. For a few minutes longer, the weird light remained visible -- a diminishing bright red spot against the ground. Then it faded and disappeared.
What they saw ... artist's rendering of consensus.
Adickes' radio flash to Chicago had been picked up by newspapermen. Reporters were waiting at the airport, and the story was soon on the wires. It drew unusual attention. This was not just another Flying Saucer story, to be laughed off. Besides the crew, there were passenger witnesses. Adickes, recalling the ridicule other pilots had met, had carefully seen to that.
Because of the unusual nature of this air-line Saucer sighting, TRUE asked me to carry out a full-scale investigation. Each of the three crew members was interviewed. All but five of the sixteen passengers were located. Detailed eyewitness accounts were obtained by long-distance telephone calls to Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Dayton and several other cities.
As we expected, there were some differences in witnesses' stories. All these variations have been noted. The result is this report, which we believe to be an accurate, impartial account of what actually happened on the night of April 27.
BEFORE meeting the two pilots of Flight 117, I talked with others in TWA who knew them.
"Quiet ... conservative ... serious ... careful." These were some of the terms that were applied to both men. Nobody in TWA questions that Adickes and Manning saw just what they said.
Manning, who saw the Saucer first, has been an Air Force pilot. He has flown six years with the air line; his flight experience totals about 6,000 hours.
By the time I met Manning, at Pittsburgh Airport, there had been several published "explanations" of the South Bend Flying Saucer. One theory was the red object was simply a reflection of blast furnaces against the clouds.
"Yes, I heard that," Captain Manning told me. "Also, someone said we'd been looking at a burning barn. Even a first-trip passenger would hardly be fooled that easily -- certainly not a pilot with any experience. Adickes and I have both seen ground fires and cloud reflections at night. There wasn't any similarity. We were ninety miles from the furnaces at Gary, and no reflection or burning barn could climb and maneuver like that"
"How large do you think it was?" I asked him.
"That's hard to say, because we could only guess at its distance," said Manning. "But it had to be fairly large. When I first saw it, the thing was near the horizon. So it had to be several miles away, perhaps ten or more. Even then, it was big enough to stand out."
Manning quietly spiked the idea that the Saucer had been a jet plane's tail pipe.
"I've seen jets at night. If you're directly behind one, you'll see a round spot for a few moments. But this thing was huge in comparison. It didn't resemble a jet in any way. Besides, I saw it coming up from behind us. A jet's exhaust would be invisible from that angle. You wouldn't see much from the side, either."
When he first saw the object, Manning said, it seemed a brighter color than when it flew alongside. He would venture no opinion, however, when I asked whether this could be interpreted as indicating that it was using less power when it slowed to pace the air liner.
"I can't swear to its exact shape," Manning told me. "As it came up from below, it was just a bright red spot at first. Once, I had the feeling of looking down on top of a sphere. But most of the time it was just a large orange-red blob, like a mass of glowing hot metal out there in the sky."
Although Manning had not seen it as a disk rolling on edge, he admitted that a spherical object could appear like a rolling wheel. He agreed with Captain Adickes' opinion that the thing had evaded attempts to get closer to it.
"Like flying in formation with another plane," was his description. "It seemed to slide away when we turned toward it."
Manning did not speculate as to what the object was, or how it was powered and controlled.
"All I can say is that it definitely was there. Most of the people in the plane saw it. And it was entirely different from any ordinary aircraft -- uncanny enough to startle anyone first seeing it."
Captain Adickes agreed on the bizarre appearance of the thing. When I saw him at Washington, he told me he previously had been only half convinced by other pilots' reports of Flying Saucers. "But I know now they definitely do exist. This was not an airplane and it wasn't imagination."
Adickes said he had seen jet planes at night. He fully confirmed Manning's rebuttal of this explanation.
"And it wasn't St. Elmo's fire or any reflection on clouds," he added. "A lot of my seventy-eight hundred hours' flight time was put in on night flying. I've seen just about everything you'd expect to encounter, but never anything like that disk."
CAPTAIN ADICKES said its proximity had no effect on radio reception. Nor did he notice any deviation on his instruments. The object's color, he said, was not a bright cherry-red, as some newspapers had stated. Instead, it was about the dull-red color of hot metal.
"Manning and I could only estimate its size," he said. "It might have been even larger than fifty feet in diameter, depending on its distance from us. This will give you an idea. When I tried to cut in toward it, that last time, it streaked down over South Bend at twice our speed -- somewhere between three-fifty and four hundred miles an hour. But even at that speed, it took several minutes to fade out. So it had to be fairly big."
As it speeded up to escape, Adickes said, it turned so that he caught a glimpse of the thing edge on. It seemed to be about 10 per cent as thick as its diameter.
Other air-line pilots had told him of unsuccessful efforts to close in on Flying Saucers, Captain Adickes told me.
"I thought maybe they imagined it, but now I know better. I tried to sneak up on it, and also to get above it. Each time, it veered away. And when I went after it, the thing was off in a flash."
From the darkened cockpit, hostess Gloria Hinshaw also saw the object veer away. Back in the lighted cabin, she saw it again briefly as it speeded off and dived over South Bend.
"How did it look to you?" I asked her.
"Like a big red wheel rolling along," she said. "I haven't any idea what it was, but it was certainly a strange-looking thing. If I hadn't actually seen it, I don't think I would believe it."
None of the passengers was alarmed by the Saucer, but Miss Hinshaw had been worried for a moment when she made the first announcement.
"Some of them got excited," she said, "but no one seemed to be nervous. And, course, some didn't even believe it -- they were on the other side, farther back. The rest of us took a lot of kidding from them before we landed. But there's one thing sure -- those who did see it won't laugh any more at Flying Saucer stories."
Passenger Samuel N. Miller, manager of the Goodman Jewelry Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, told me the same thing.
"I'd been laughing at the stories since 1947, but not any more. I saw the Saucer, all right -- even before the hostess told us."
Miller was on the left side, near the wing. Glancing up from a magazine, he noticed an odd red glow out on the starboard side.
"It was the color of a neon sign," he described it to me. "I thought at first it was an advertising blimp. Then it got closer and I saw it was disk-shaped. It wasn't flashing, like a neon sign -- it was solid color, just a big red disk."
Soon after this, the air liner swerved as Captain Adickes made the first attempt to close in.
"It wasn't abrupt -- just an easy turn," said Miller. "Right after that, the hostess's signal began to flash, and she ran up the aisle."
The rest of his story tallied with the crew's, except for the time estimate. He thought he had watched the Saucer almost fifteen minutes; the pilots' figure was eight minutes. When I asked him what he thought it was, he admitted he had no answer.
"I can't believe it's a secret device of ours," he said. "They'd be pretty stupid to fly it near air liners, where everybody could see it and talk about it."
The description given by Clifford H. Jenkins, an engineering supervisor at the Seattle plant of the Boeing Airplane Company, varied considerably from the others. Mr. Jenkins saw the object just over the leading edge of the right wing.
"I've never seen anything like it before," he told me with emphasis. "It was like a row of windows glowing deep red. It had no blinker or clearance lights like a conventional plane."
"Could you distinguish separate windows?" I asked him.
"No, it looked like windows blended by distance into a solid red band. The thing was perfectly steady, with no oscillation that I could see."
Just before Captain Adickes came back, Mr. Jenkins said, the plane veered rather sharply to the right, but the angle of the Saucer in relation to the DC-3 did not appear to change. (In effect, this substantiates the pilots' statements that the object moved simultaneously with the air liner.)
"I had the thing in view three to four minutes," said Jenkins. "Its top speed was obviously much higher than ours, for it left us behind in a hurry."
According to Jenkins, the Saucer disappeared on a parallel course.
"The aspect never changed -- neither did the angle. The thing just faded in size until it was out of sight in the darkness."
(Captain Adickes later pointed out that Manning and he had the Saucer in view from the nose of the plane, where it would be visible longer. This might explain Jenkins' failure to see the object's change in altitude.)
Since most of the witnesses agreed that the Saucer was round, I asked Jenkins again about its shape.
"It was like a red-hot bar, moving horizontally," he answered. "If it was a row of windows, then the thing must have been at some distance to blend them together like that."
(Captain Adickes has suggested that the air liner's lighted cabin made it difficult to get a clear view, unless the passenger was close to a starboard window. Jenkins and his seatmate, Bourland, were in the aisle, two feet or more from the window. It is possible that this could account for the difference in descriptions: Jenkins might have attempted subconsciously to fit a blurred reddish mass into the conventional pattern of airplane windows. Otherwise, it seems to be one of those puzzling discrepancies often found in group reports of accidents and other exciting incidents. Miller, for instance, was no closer than Jenkins, yet he saw the object clearly as a disk.)
"It definitely wasn't a hallucination," Jenkins summed up his opinion, "for at least a dozen people saw it. It wasn't any known type of aircraft. It couldn't have been a meteor -- it was too slow; besides, it was flying along horizontally.
"It may have been something the United States has developed which it doesn't choose to announce. Or it may be, as some people believe, that such things come from another planet."
Jenkins told me that Dean C. Bourland, from Boeing's Wichita plant. also had seen the mysterious object, but he was not sure whether Bourland's description agreed with his. I tried to reach Bourland at Wichita, but he was on vacation.
After a little difficulty, I located the passenger who had been asleep in the right front seat. He proved to be Edward J. Fitzgerald, vice-president and sales manager of Metal Parts & Equipment Company, Chicago.
"I missed part of the excitement," said Mr. Fitzgerald. I was sound asleep until the pilot woke me up. He was leaning over me, and two men were kneeling in the aisle, staring out the window. The pilot asked me to look out at the Saucer -- he said he wanted plenty of witnesses so people wouldn't think he was crazy.
"When I turned around, I saw this strange red glow on a level with the wing. tip. The effect, after being waked up so suddenly, was naturally startling. The thing looked round, though perhaps not a perfect circle. I estimated it to be about two hundred yards away, but that's only a guess.
"The pilot started to explain how they'd sighted the thing, then he saw it was pulling ahead. He went back to the cockpit and a second later the plane banked to the right. The 'saucer,' or whatever it was, speeded up and then dipped a little. Altogether, I saw it about thirty seconds before it disappeared."
"Did you see any windows, or any resemblance to a plane?" I asked him.
"No, it wasn't anything like a plane," Fitzgerald said positively. "It was a very strange object -- almost weird."
Five officials of the International Harvester Company who were passengers on Flight 117 refused to be interviewed; whether this was to uphold company dignity or through personal preference was not stated. Two of these officials were in the Chicago office -- a Mr. Gelzer and a Mr. Irwin. The others were located at the Springfield, Ohio, plant -- Mr. Drum, the works manager, Mr. Anderson, the superintendent, and a Mr. Smith, initials unknown.
In spite of their collective refusal. I learned that two or more of this group did see the Flying Saucer. Other witnesses told me of the Harvester men's comments. One man thought it was round, another oval. Both agreed on its mysterious appearance, its bright-red glow, and its speed.
Another Chicago passenger, Harold C. Weimer, of 5028 Windsor Avenue, reported he did not see the Saucer. He was sitting on the left side, in the rear; by the time he looked out. the object had disappeared. (It was Weimer who suggested the blast-furnace explanation.)
The Saucer was also seen by Martin Nerat, an employe of the Schwerman Trucking Company of Milwaukee. When the hostess made her announcement, Nerat stepped across the aisle and gazed out a starboard window. Like the other witnesses, he was startled by the mysterious object.
When I talked with him, Nerat said the bright-red glow had prevented him from seeing any distinct shape. He agreed with the pilots on the Saucer's maneuvers.
"Every time the plane turned toward it, the thing pulled away. At the last, it was going a lot faster than we were. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't an airplane."
There were five more passengers aboard Flight 117, but their addresses are unknown. The names are: Berder, Guttfred, Kehma, Moran, and Moseley. TRUE would appreciate receiving reports from these passengers, so that the record will be complete. Any new information they can contribute will be published in TRUE'S letter section at a later date.
The Flight 117 incident has had an important effect. This carefully noted sighting by TWA pilots and passengers impressed many Americans. Among those who made public statements after the incident was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, then president of Eastern Air Lines. In a United Press story from Savannah, Georgia, Captain Rickenbacker said, commenting on the Saucers:
"There must be something to them, for too many reliable persons have made reports on them."
However, Captain Rickenbacker apparently suspected that the Saucers might be American guided missiles. When I interviewed Captain Adickes, I mentioned Rickenbacker's comment, and I found that he had the same theory.
"I think that the thing was equipped with some sort of repulse radar," said Adickes, "so it would keep at a certain distance from air liners and other planes."
The guided-missile explanation is not new, of course. The armed services and the White House have emphatically denied that the Saucers are an American development, but some Americans discount this as a smoke screen to hide a secret weapon.
To recheck, I went to the foremost guided-missile authority in the United States, Captain Delmer S. Fahrney, U.S.N. Captain Fahrney began guided-missile experiments for the Navy in 1936. The television-eye missile was designed and perfected by Fahrney and his engineers. All of the later Army and Air Force developments stem from Captain Fahrney's early work, and the Navy guided-missile program is still far in the lead.
As commanding officer of the Naval Air Guided Missile Test Station at Point Mugu, California, Captain Fahrney exchanges top-secret information with both the other services.
"I can tell you flatly that the Flying Saucers are not guided missiles of the Navy, Army or Air Force," he said when I interviewed him in Washington. "No guided-missile officer would be stupid enough to test any such device along airways or over cities. It would be criminal negligence -- a mechanical failure could endanger lives. Even when launching a missile over the ocean, we clear the test range and keep it patrolled during operations."
Admiral Calvin Bolster, of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, gave me the same personal assurance in regard to U.S. piloted aircraft of advanced design.
"If the Flying Saucers exist," he said, "they're not anything we're producing."
Other high defense officials have pointed out that such top-secret devices, even if piloted, would hardly be tested at random all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and other countries where Saucers frequently have been seen.
THE CASE of Flight 117 is, in chronological order, the ninth air-line Saucer sighting of which TRUE has specific record; a tenth occurred one month later; there have also been, at various times, a number of other cases incompletely documented.
Sightings by experienced transport airmen are impressive testimony to the reality of Flying Saucers.
The Air Force, which undertook the investigation of Saucers, has nevertheless professed to deny their existence from the first reported incident.
On July 4, 1947, shortly after the start of the "Saucer scare," Captain Emil J. Smith of United Air Lines was still one of the skeptics. But that evening, over Emmett, Idaho, Captain Smith and his copilot, Ralph Stevens, saw nine fast-flying disks above their DC-3. The Air Force's Project Saucer brushed off the sighting as an illusion.
On July 24, 1948, the pilots of an Eastern Air Lines DC-3, Clarence Chiles and John Whitted, reported seeing a space ship near Montgomery, Alabama. A passenger confirmed that a strange, brilliant object had streaked past the air liner's window. An hour before, Air Force men at a Macon base had seen the same thing flash overhead, trailing colored flames. After screening 225 plane schedules and finding no craft in the vicinity that could be held to supply the answer, Project Saucer explained it away as a meteor.
SOME TIME after this, the crew of a Pan American Airways plane sighted a strange aerial object between Everett and Bedford, Massachusetts. The pilot and navigator described it as cylindrical in shape, about the length of a P-40 fuselage, and blunt at both ends.
"Weather balloons," said the Air Force.
Near the end of 1949, a Golden North air freighter was paced between Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, by a night-flying Saucer. When the pilots tried to close in, the strange craft zoomed at terrific speed. Later, the air-line head reported that Intelligence officers had quizzed the pilots for hours.
"From their questions," he said, "I could tell they had a good idea of what the Saucers are. One officer admitted they did, but he wouldn't say any more."
Early on the day of March 8, 1950, three TWA pilots at Vandalia airport, the municipal field for Dayton, Ohio, were among the many observers of a gleaming object that hovered in the sky at high altitude. They were W.H. Kerr, D.W. Miller, and M.H. Rabeneck. All noted the strange appearance of the object, which, though small to the eye, was presumably huge since it was visible at great height.
Meantime, other observers at Vandalia had phoned Wright Field, headquarters of Project Saucer. Scores of Air Force pilots and ground men watched the disk as four fighter planes raced up in pursuit. The mysterious object streaked vertically upward, hovered for a while miles above the earth, and then disappeared.
Later, Captain Kerr made a report to the Civil Aeronautics Authority. A C.A.A. official said that they already had a full report coming from Vandalia, with affidavits from twenty qualified witnesses.
Captain Rabeneck's observation, made through binoculars, has a special value. He happens to be an amateur astronomer of considerable experience.
"One thing is certain," he told Captain N.G. Carper, chairman of the TWA unit of the Air Line Pilots Association. "This was no star, planet, meteor. ... Not that I believe that any air-line pilot who saw the thing would need an astronomer to tell him that."
A news story from Wright Field next day said the object had been identified as the planet Venus -- although it had been seen in broad daylight, when Venus is practically invisible. When the C.A.A. report reached Washington, I asked to see a copy. I was told it had been rushed to Air Force Intelligence. When I asked the Air Force to let me see it, I was told the report had been sent to Wright Field. Since then, the C.A.A. has officially told me that all such cases reported to them are "in the province of the military" and therefore confidential. I got that answer when I inquired whether the South Bend radio-range operator had seen the Saucer reported by Flight 117. In spite of this, the Air Force still insists that Project Saucer has been disbanded, its investigation ended.
Three days after the Dayton sighting, a similar disk was observed by an American Air Lines group at Monterrey, Mexico. This was on March 12. Captain W.R. Hunt watched the disk through a theodolite at the airport. In addition, the Saucer was seen by forty passengers and the rest of the crew. On March 18, the Air Force again denied the existence of Flying Saucers.
On the night of March 21, the crew of a Chicago & Southern air liner saw a fast-flying disk near Stuttgart, Arkansas. The circular craft, blinking a strange blue-white light, pulled up in an arc at terrific speed. The two pilots said they glimpsed lighted ports on the lower side as the Saucer zoomed above them. The lights had a soft fluorescence, unlike anything they had ever seen.
On April 18, Captain Carl Gray was piloting a Braniff air liner when a C.A.A. tower operator at Childress, Texas, radioed an urgent message. A mysterious, silvery-white object had been sighted from the tower; the operator asked Gray to be on the lookout for it.
CAPTAIN GRAY and his crew spotted the thing a few minutes later -- a large, round, shining object oscillating at a high altitude. His first thought, that it might be a balloon, quickly gave way to puzzled astonishment.
"I've never seen anything like it," he radioed the tower. Later, two Air National Guard fighter pilots were guided up toward the Saucer by the C.A.A. tower man, who was watching it through binoculars. But the planes failed to reach the object. Its height was later estimated at fifteen miles above the earth. My request for the final C.A.A. report on this sighting was refused, as in the case of the Vandalia affair and, later, Flight 117.
On the night of May 29, 1950, the pilot, first officer, and flight engineer of an American Air Lines DC-6 that had left Washington watched an intensely glowing something approach their plane head on while they climbed southwest-ward a few miles beyond Mount Vernon. Captain Willis Sperry edged right to avoid it, whereupon it swerved left and stopped. When they swung back toward it, the thing resumed motion. As it swiftly circled behind the plane, it passed before the rising full moon in silhouette, and Captain Sperry observed that it was much elongated -- "torpedo-shaped," he called it -- and wingless. The lighted portion was at its forward end, and the slim body suggested dark metal. Then it darted out of sight to the east with great speed.
Besides the air-line sightings described above, there are incomplete reports of others -- a sighting by a Capital Air Lines pilot near Buffalo, New York; a strange encounter on the airway between Alaska and Japan; Flying Saucers reported by air-line pilots flying from Hawaii to the mainland, and other sightings on American domestic lines.
The Air Force either denies knowledge of C.A.A. reports or refuses permission to see them. Concerning its own data, it announces: "There is no investigation going on. Flying Saucers simply don't exist."
Any thinking person who examines the mass of evidence can reach but one conclusion: the Saucers are real. There remains the debatable question:
What were the objects which all these air-line pilots saw?
As I stated in the January issue of True, there are only two possible answers:
1. Saucers are interplanetary craft. Or,
2. They are extremely high-speed, long-range devices secretly developed here on Earth.
I believe that Admiral Bolster and Captain Fahrney have told the truth. Regardless of any secret weapon's value, I cannot believe that our armed services would risk American lives by testing it above populated areas. In addition, the incredible range and speed of the Saucers and the worldwide spread of sightings exclude the man-made weapon theory.
Perhaps the following quotation from a formerly secret Project Saucer report is the key to the mystery. Discussing the motives of possible visitors from space, this official Air Force statement says:
"Such a civilization might observe that on Earth we now have atomic bombs and are fast developing rockets. In view of the past history of mankind, they should be alarmed. We should therefore expect at this time above all to behold such visitations.
"Since the acts of mankind most easily observed from a distance are A-bomb explosions, we should expect some relation to obtain between the time of the A-bomb explosions, the time at which the space ships are seen, and the time required for such ships to arrive from and return to home base."
WAS THE release of this Project Saucer report a blundering slip-up? Or was it part of a slow, halting program to prepare us for a dramatic disclosure?
After a year's investigation, I believe that Air Force denials and contradictions have been due to fear of public reaction. I believe that Project Saucer was created to cover up the facts until the American people could be prepared. Apparently, there are some men in the Air Force who still think we are not ready.
For almost three years, the answer to the Flying Saucer mystery has been a cautiously hidden secret. If we are not ready now, we never shall be.
It is high time that the American people were trusted with the truth.
-- Donald E. Keyhoe
1. It was a widespread practice at this time to append "like" to a word without hyphenation, as in "disklike" rather than "disk-like" or "lightninglike" rather than "lightning-like". Similarly, the word "out" was appended without hyphenation, as in "outmaneuver" or "outspeeded".
2. Ken Purdy, editor of True, had first contacted Major Keyhoe by way of the following telegram...
NEW YORK, N.Y., MAY 9, 1949
HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATING FLYING SAUCER MYSTERY. FIRST TIP HINTED GIGANTIC HOAX TO COVER UP OFFICIAL SECRET. BELIEVE IT MAY HAVE BEEN PLANTED TO HIDE REAL ANSWER. LOOKS LIKE TERRIFIC STORY. CAN YOU TAKE OVER WASHINGTON END?
KEN W. PURDY, EDITOR, TRUE MAGAZINE
3. Captain Ed Ruppelt, former head of the Air Force Project Blue Book investigation into the mystery of the flying discs, would later write that Keyhoe's January, 1950, article...
...hit the reading public like an 8 inch howitzer. Hours after it appeared in subscribers' mailboxes and on the newsstands, radio and TV commentators and newspapers were giving it a big play. UFO's were back in business, to stay. True was in business too. It is rumored among magazine publishers that Don Keyhoe's article in True was one of the most widely read and widely discussed magazine articles in history.
4. Keyhoe's statement that an "important magazine published two strangely inconclusive and contradictory articles" refers to What You Can Believe About Flying Saucers, written by Sidney Shalett and published in the April 30 and May 7, 1949 editions of the Saturday Evening Post, which was included in Part Three of this series.
5. "Project Saucer" was the public name given the Air Force investigation by members of the press. The actual codenames used by the Air Force were, first, Project Sign, succeeded by Project Grudge, which then gave way in 1952 to Project Blue Book.
6. The hurried Air Force reaction to Keyhoe's January, 1950, article was to announce that "Project Saucer" had ended, and that all sightings could be attributed to "misinterpretation
of various conventional objects; a mild form of mass hysteria; or hoaxes". In fact, the project had not closed down.
7. The death of Captain Mantell will be covered in much greater detail in a future Saturday Night Uforia series.
8. In The Flying Saucers Are Real article, Major Keyhoe states that "In August, 1947, two pilots for an Alabama flying service had a strange encounter with a huge, black, wingless craft, as reported to Project Saucer". Keyhoe was generally very precise about such matters, but he is actually referencing a reported sighting in Bethel, Alaska on August 4, 1947, as found in the incident report in Blue Book files...
Mr. Peck related the following additional details in a conversation immediately after the reported flight. He and the co-pilot first sighted the "saucer" ahead of them at about the same altitude at which they were flying. It was in silhouette against a brilliant evening sky and they, being unable to determine at first in which direction it was moving, pulled up to about 1200 ft. to avoid possible collision. In this new position they could determine that the object was moving away from them and at a very rapid rate. It appeared to be as large or larger, in mass as a C-54, and black in color. It maintained the same altitude but soon disappeared from sight because of it s [sic] superior speed, which the pilots estimated roughly to be three times theirs.
I know Mr. Peck well and he is not the imaginative type.
Keyhoe's error in locating the incident as being in Alabama can be traced to the Air Force's lengthy press release of April 27, 1949, which states...
Early in August, 1947, two pilots for a Bethel, Alabama, flying service told investigators they spotted a huge black object "bigger than a C-54" silhouetted against the brilliant evening sky. In order to avoid collision they said they pulled up to 1,200 feet and watched the object cross their path at right angles.
The two pilots told of swinging in behind the object and following it at 170 MPH until it outdistanced them and disappeared from sight about four minutes later. They described it as "resembling a C-54 without motors, wings or visible means of propulsion ... smooth surfaced and streamlined." No balloons were reported in the area.
Referencing the same, Keyhoe also writes...
Another wingless aircraft was later sighted at Jackson, Mississippi. Described as rocket-shaped, it speeded up from 200 to about 500 m.p.h. and swiftly disappeared. This ship was reported by a former Air Force pilot and his passenger.
This references an incident on January 1, 1949, as described in a letter dated January 6, 1949, from witness Thomas A. Rush to the Air Force...
Commanding General AMC
Attention: MCIAX 0-3
This letter is in reply to a request from the Base Commander, Jackson Army Air Base, Jackson, Miss. on a strange object sighted by my wife on 1 January 1949.
Mr. and Mrs. T.A. Doolittle, my wife, and I were flying from Gulf port to North Jackson Airpark and were approaching the airport and our altitude was about 1,800 feet when I saw something go in front of us. I assumed that it was another plane since it was headed toward the Municipal Airport in Jackson and was on the eastern leg of the airways.
I watched the object to try to recognize the type of plane. After it passed, it made a turn of about 50 degrees and headed southwest. The time was 17:00 as we had just made a comment on the time and I had checked our ground speed. As the object made its turn, it was then that I noticed the object didn't have wings. At that time, my wife saw the object and became excited. She is a private pilot and is familiar with plane identification from the air.
The sun had not set and the weather was clear to the southwest as the object went away from us. When it crossed in front of us, I estimated the speed to be about 200 mph and about 500 feet in front of us. After the turn, it was as close as 1,200 feet from us. We tried to point out the object to the pilot, but he thought we were trying to show him something else.
As the object turned and went to the southwest, with a sudden burst of speed, it was out of sight. In all, I saw the object 10 or 12 seconds.
At first, I thought the object was a large tow target about 60 feet long and about 10 feet in diameter at one end and about 4 feet at the trailing end. The tail even fluttered like a target but there was nothing towing it and it moved at a greater speed than tow targets I've seen before.
When we landed about five minutes later, we called the CAA Control Tower to see if this thing had landed at the Municipal Airport and were informed that nothing had landed there recently. The Control Tower then notified the Air Corps.
Although I was not flying at the time, I have approximately 1,800 hours of military and civilian pilot time and know my aircraft identification pretty good -- except in this case.
Attached to this letter is a drawing of this object and a rough sketch of where the object was sighted. If I can be of further assistance to yon, I will be glad to help.
Very truly yours
/s/ Thomas A. Rush
In the original investigative file there is no statement that Rush was "a former Air Force pilot" (though Rush's letter indicates some period of "military" flying, and a later summary lists him as "AAF pilot"). In the initial investigative report Rush is listed as a "civilian", as "not an amateur pilot", and also as owner-operator of the Jackson Air Park. This same investigative report by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) notes that the reputations of all involved were excellent.
Like the Bethel, Alaska, error noted above, Keyhoe's information on this also apparently came from the Air Force's lengthy press release of April 27, 1949, which states...
The saucer sightings have spread over into 1949. On New Years Day of this year, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Rush of Jackson, Mississippi, were coming in for a landing at Dixie Airport, Jackson, in a Stinson civilian plane when they sighted an unidentified aerial object they first described as being cigar-shaped with short, stubby wings and resembling a rocket. The Rushes later changed their description to a "wingless aircraft." They said it was about 60 feet long and 10 feet in diameter, with one end tapered to a four foot trailing edge. It crossed 500 feet in front of them, they reported, turned to the southwest, accelerated from a speed of about 200 MPH to 500 MPH and flew out of sight. Rush is a former USAF pilot and both he and his wife hold private pilots licenses.
But neither Rush's letter of January 6, 1949, or the Air Force OSI investigative report, dated January 18, 1949, gives any indication that Rush ever claimed the object had "short, stubby wings". That language appears from a later time when files were summarized for appraisal by Dr. J. Allen Hynek as to their possible astronomical nature.
The original OSI investigative file included two drawings. The first was a drawing by Rush of the object he observed...
The second drawing is referred to as a "map showing line of flight of unidentified object" in the OSI report, but whether drawn by Rush or by the OSI agent is not stated (although on the map there is the notation "our plane")...
9. Coastguardsman Frank Ryan's photograph was taken on July 4, 1947, as reported in a July 5 United Press newswire story...
Coast Guardsman Frank Ryman, 27, had a picture today snapped from the front porch of his home which authorities hoped would clear up the mystery of the flying saucers.
Ryman said an enlargement of the shot made with a Speed Graphic camera at 5:30 p.m. (PST) yesterday at the north end of Lake Washington showed a "white saucer" that was neither an airplane, a cloud nor a silver balloon. He promised to release the picture today.
(In New York city, Acme News pictures said a seven by nine inch print of the photograph showed two tiny dots in the center of the picture. The cameraman's caption admitted that one of the dots was a flaw in the print. The other dot, supposedly the "object," was about one eighth of an inch across and a sixteenth of an inch in height.)...
Ryman, who is attached to the public relations office of the Seattle coast guard headquarters said 20 persons were present when he snapped the picture of the disc. He was amusing himself taking pictures of airplanes passing over his home at Lake City on Lake Washington when he got the opportunity, he said.
"I made the shot when it was directly overhead," he said. "I made a terrific blowup of the shot, and it's clearly visible. The picture was taken in the bright sunlight with scattered clouds in the sky. But it is not a picture of a cloud and it is not a shot of a silver balloon."...
10. William A. Rhodes snapped two photographs on July 7, 1947, including the one included in the True magazine pictorial. The photos originally appeared in the July 9, 1947, edition of the Phoenix, Arizona, Sun...
Speedy 'Saucer' Zips Through Local Sky
By ROBERT C. HANIKA
This flying object was twice snapped at dusk Monday as it circled north of Phoenix. William A. Rhodes, 4333 North 14th street, first shot the picture at the left as the slow-flying object was approaching him. As it banked to make a tight turn, he obtained the picture above, showing clearly the shape of the object. In seconds, Rhodes said, the "disc" shot away to the west at high speed. It had made three whirling turns north of the city, after approaching from the west. Aircraft identification experts yesterday would not hazard opinions on the object's nature.
THE FIRST clearly recorded photographs of what is believed to be a mysterious "flying disc" which has 33 states in America and even a few foreign countries on edge with its peculiar activities, was taken by an amateur Phoenix photographer.
Reproduced in the Arizona Republic today, the photographs were made by William A. Rhodes, 4333 North 14th street, who was on his way to his workshop in the rear of his home when he heard the distinctive "whoosh" of what he believed to be a P-80 or Shooting Star jet-propelled plane.
Rhodes snatched a camera from his workshop bench and by the time he reached a small mound at the rear of his home, the object had circled once and was banking in tight circles to the south at an altitude of approximately 1,000 feet, he said.
IN THE overcast sky, the object continued its speedy flight from north to south and directly east of his stance. Rhodes snapped the hurtling missile by sighting alongside his box camera.
Quickly rolling up his last piece of film, Rhodes awaited the return of the craft which continued in a clockwise movement over his home and as it disappeared into the west, the second shot was taken.
Rhodes described the object's disappearance as phenomenal since it apparently winged over and shot up into the ether.
"I don't think it was a P-80 since I have observed many of them over here. Also, the fact it made no other sound after the first pass over the house," Rhodes said, "makes me believe it was some other type of aircraft. In its three flights over the house there was not a sound, even when it zoomed into the southwest," he said.
Men long experienced in aircraft recognition studied the prints and the negatives from which they were made and declined to make guesses on what the flying object might be.
Rhodes' first shot was made as the object approached and showed it to be somewhat cigar-shaped, but with motion-lines on the film which indicated it was turning at high speed either edgewise or in a flat spin.
The second, as the object "banked" in a tight turn, showed an object much in the shape of a heel of a shoe, with a small hole in the center. The white mark also showed in the first picture.
Rhodes said there were twin trails of vapor trailing from the points or edges of the rear of the "heel."
11. The photograph by Betty Malles was taken March 11, 1950, and first appeared in the March 12, 1950, issue of the Los Angeles, California, Times. Malles, described by the Times as an "assistant in a Los Angeles medical office" described the circumstances which led to the photograph...
"I saw something queer and photographed it with my miniature camera," she told The Times, "but I don't pretend at all to know what it was. In case it was something important, I don't wish to release either the film or prints until some authorities have passed on them. However, here are the pictures and you can see for yourself.
"I was about to take a picture of a small plane flying over a Hawthorne air field when I suddenly saw something shining closer by and to my left. I quickly snapped the shutter and this is what I got."
12. The photograph by Ira Maxey was taken April 9, 1950, and first appeared in the Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram...
Vet Sees Flying Objects in Sky and Photographs Them
A former radar bombardier on a B-24 in the Pacific reported Monday that he saw flying objects in the air late Sunday afternoon in two groups, coming out of the west and traveling north-east, and photographed some of them.
Ira Maxey of 916 5th Ave., a veteran of 3,600 hours of flying in the U.S. Air Force, called to his wife at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday and asked here to bring his camera out to him.
Maxey set the camera at infinity and began snapping objects he said definitely were some sort of aircraft, a type which he had never seen before.
"They weren't moving fast and they appeared to be six or seven miles away," he said.
He described the objects as tailless craft and noiseless. Not like a saucer but more like a banana.
Pictures showed that the objects left a vapor trail.
"They were moving in and out of a thunderhead. After I saw the first group of three I called to my wife for the camera, and then took pictures of another group of three that appeared."
Maxey is employed at the Worth Food Market at Hemphill and Berry.
The caption underneath the photograph noted that the "half circular objects left vapor trails".
13. No further information is available on the photographs by Robert Kirk, Eugene Havord and Bob Jung reproduced in the July, 1950, issue of True magazine.
14. A month before Major Keyhoe's True magazine article on Flight 117, Flying magazine included a feature on pilot sightings. However, Flying was a special-interest magazine, and the article represented a summary rather than an investigation. That article will appear in an upcoming post in this series.
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