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of a hoax

This Spotlight 1952 entry focuses on events from In The News 1952.


Above: Top, headline from the April 27, 1949 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; middle, headline from the December 26, 1949 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; bottom, headline from the December 27, 1949 edition of the Wilmington Star-News.

AFTER A RELATIVELY CALM 1949, the second half of the 20th century seemed to come out swinging with a free-for-all of news, public debate and conflicting opinions about the mystery of flying discs reported to be zipping through American skies.

This new brawl over the saucers had already seen the first punches thrown just days before New Year's Day, 1950, when True magazine jarred the public with a hard-hitting article by Major Donald Keyhoe literally proclaiming "The Flying Saucers Are Real" -- and not only real, but interplanetary craft come to scout the planet.

Feeling sucker punched, the next day the Air Force went for a haymaker with the announcement that -- although it had recently declared that saucers were "no joke" -- the flying discs were now nothing but a myth, and effective immediately the Air Force was closing shop on "Project Saucer", the "public" name for the Air Force's Project Grudge.

And with the ring entered and the fight card set, the bout was on for the full twelve rounds of 1950.


Above: Syndicated two-part serialization of the Major Keyhoe article from the January 10 and January 11, 1950 editions of the Farmington, New Mexico, Daily Times.

JANUARY'S FOCUS was clearly on two different stories in print. The first was True magazine's January, 1950 article by Major Donald Keyhoe, called "The Flying Saucers Are Real".

Merely the announcement of its publication and its startling conclusions had grabbed front-page coverage in major cities and small hamlets alike. It had also been trumpeted over the airwaves by the major broadcasters of the time, including Lowell Thomas, Frank Edwards, and Walter Winchell. Then hot on the heels of its publication in True it appeared in lengthy syndicated form in newspapers across North America. And whether read in True or in the newspaper syndication it proved to be a riveting primer on the history and the mystery of the phenomenon from its very beginnings -- just one example being Major Keyhoe's description of what came to be known as the "Gorman dog fight"...

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 it 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 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.

Such vivid and detailed descriptions in the article represented a seminal moment in the reporting of the phenomenon. Here for the first time was a blow by blow, minute by minute, insider's view of an extraordinary encounter -- something entirely new to the reading public.

But equally new was Keyhoe's studied consideration of the possibilities, as in his analysis of just what Lt. Gorman had encountered...

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...

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."

And as in his treatment of Lt. Gorman's experience above, Major Keyhoe's entire article was factual, balanced and non-sensational in its description of odd aerial encounters, only adding to its cumulative effect -- and making the just-announced Air Force claim that all such reports were the result of misidentification, hysteria and hoax seem more feeble by the minute.

But Keyhoe's would not be the only story being published, and -- riding the coattails of the widespread coverage of the True article -- undocumented and less reputable tales would also emerge.

The first would be a story appearing hot on the heels of the True magazine piece. In that January 6, 1950 story from Kansas, local businessman Rudy Fick related his experience while passing through Denver, when a man who claimed to be the close friend of a government scientist revealed that several discs had landed or crashed in New Mexico. Those aboard the discs -- all "little men" no taller than 36 inches -- had perished. Both discs and men were being stored and examined in secret government laboratories. Research so far had revealed that the discs contained exotic metals unknown to Earth, and that the discs traveled using "magnetic lines of force".

That one article went on to be reprinted in other newspapers, and even generated new articles based on the original. In one way or another, it could be read or heard from Los Angeles, California to Richmond, Virginia. A very abbreviated version also made it into the January 9, 1950 edition of Time magazine.

It had not been the first time such claims had been made in print. Frank Scully, columnist for the entertainment trade paper Variety had "broken" the story of the captured disc in October, 1949...

It was 100 feet across, with a cabin in the center that measures 18 feet in diameter and 72 inches high... sixteen men, intact but charred black, were found in the cabin. The space ship contains two metals never found so far on this earth.

And again, in November, 1949, Scully column's stated that the ships traveled via "magnetic lines of force" and that scientists who had been studying them were outraged when the discs "were dismantled by the Air Force over the protests of magnetic research scientists" and sent to government research centers elsewhere.

And it was the same Frank Scully who in his column of January 11, 1950 -- just as the Rudy Fisk story began to spread -- asked "twenty questions for the Air Force". Among them...

Weren't all the saucers found on the western hemisphere magnetic rather than jet jobs?

Wasn't the small one, which was 36 feet in diameter, equipped with landing gear which had steel-looking balls instead of wheels and which when moving could not be tipped over by ten men but when not moving could be tilted by one man?

Did the Air Force wrecking crews break up one of these ships instead of letting it in [sic, probably should be leaving it in] the hands of magnetic engineers until they could study in detail how such a ship, if not put together on this earth, could have transferred from the magnetic lines of force from another planet? In other words, how could they leave on their beam and land on ours?

Did you ever find the secret of how these flying saucers were hermetically sealed so as to show no outside crack when the door was closed?

Since the scientists who researched these saucers have never been able to find any evidence of two of the saucer's metals on this earth, how much nearer to the solution has Air Force Intelligence come since taking over the project and now presumably shelving it?

What has happened to the remains of the 16 men found dead in one of the large saucers and the two in a smaller flying disk?

And this time -- unlike his previous columns -- Scully's questions received some coverage from newspapers, including the nationally distributed Christian Science Monitor.

While in reply from the Air Force came only stony silence.


Above: Syndicated version of True magazine article by Commander Robert McLaughlin from the February 22, 1950 edition of the Farmington, New Mexico, Daily Times.

BUT THOUGH THE intense burst of fresh publicity generated much talk and debate in the first weeks of January, 1950, it didn't result in a wave a fresh reports -- countering an oft-expressed Air Force opinion that such publicity inevitably begat a significant jump in reported sightings. For the first six weeks of the year such reports published in newspapers were infrequent and tentative -- a report from Hagerstown, Maryland on January 9, another from Spencer, Indiana on January 17, one more from Cathlamet, Washington on January 30, a smoke-trailing object over Tucson on February 2 (seen by hundreds and chased by a B-29), a tear-shaped object "as bright as a fluorescent light" in Newfoundland, Canada on February 4, a "balloon or blimp"-shaped fast-moving object traveling in a continuous southwest path over North Carolina and reported passing over three towns over the course of 230 miles on February 9, and finally, a fast-moving silver disc that "looked like a huge mirror" and which was "as bright as a silver dollar even though no sun was reflected upon it" on February 16 in Mexia, Texas.

In fact -- aside from continuing coverage of the Keyhoe article and the further spread of the crashed disc with "little men" pilots story -- there was only one other story of note, as from the January 29, 1950 edition of the Ogden, Utah, Standard Examiner...

Eminent Scientist Believes He Has Flying Disc Answer

PITTSBURGH. Pa,. Jan. 29 (UP) -- Dr. Gerald Wendt, one of the country's top-ranking scientists, said today he believes he cracked the mystery of the "flying saucer."

The former science editor of "Time" believes they are fragments of rockets exploded in the stratosphere by the air force. This was done in an experiment to establish a global radar screen.

"The air force wants to put rockets in outer space to use as reflectors for ground radar," Dr. Wendt said. "Those reflections, returning wider radar detection zones of earth, would increase the range of present radar."

Before it puts the scheme into effect, the air force has blown up rockets in the stratosphere, he said. It wants to study the fragments, to see if they react favorably.

Dr. Wendt said the rocket fragments are blown away at high speeds, they can keep in flight indefinitely. Since there's no air resistance in outer space to act as a breaking force, the fragments might even become satellites, constantly circling the earth.

Dr. Wendt believes these fragments are our "flying saucers."

If they prove the theory is sound, permanent rockets will be shot up to act as radar reflectors.

Dr. Wendt, formerly dean of physics and chemistry at Penn State college, was science director of the New York World's fair. He's currently on a science lecture tour of American cities.

But Dr. Wendt's unique theory would itself be exploded into theoretically orbiting rocket fragments just three weeks later when True again hit the newsstands -- this time with the revelation that the flying discs had been tracked by the rocket scientists themselves. Captain Ed Ruppelt, head of the Air Force investigation known as Project Blue Book, would later write...

After a quiet January, True again clobbered the reading public. This time it was a story in the March 1950 issue... It was written by none other than the man who was at that time in charge of a team of Navy scientists at the super hush-hush guided missile test and development area, White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico. He was Commander R.B. McLaughlin, an Annapolis graduate and a Regular Navy officer. His story had been cleared by the military and was in absolute, 180-degree, direct contradiction to every press release that had been made by the military in the past two years. Not only did the commander believe that he had proved that UFO's were real but that he knew what they were. "I am convinced," he wrote in the True article, "that it," referring to a UFO he had seen at White Sands, "was a flying saucer, and further, that these disks are spaceships from another planet, operated by animate, intelligent beings."

Like the article by Major Keyhoe published exactly two months before, this new True magazine piece -- entitled "How Scientists Tracked A Flying Saucer" -- radiated authenticity. McLaughlin first shared the experiences of men he worked with at White Sands...

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. A rough calculation indicates that a force of more than 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.

And like the January article by Major Keyhoe which proceeded it, True was once again giving the reading public an insider's view. But far more stunning was the fact that for the first time it was revealed that such an object had been measured by scientists using the state-of-the-art scientific instruments whose precise purpose was to make such measurements -- the Air Force had often rubbished witness descriptions of the size or speed of aerial objects because such objects couldn't be accurately judged by just "seeing". And for a kicker, the revelation that an "official report" on the incident had been sent to "Project Saucer" gave lie to the statements made in August, 1949, by both the commandant of White Sands and the Air Force in Washington -- when news of sightings at White Sands had first leaked into national news stories -- that no such report had ever been made.

McLaughlin then went on -- as Keyhoe had done before -- to consider the possibilities...

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 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 some 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.

McLaughlin also wrote of his own personal experience at White Sands...

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 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 precautions 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?

And finally, Commander McLaughlin publicly revealed the most dramatic of the incidents at White Sands...

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 large 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.

And whether by happenstance or design, the crashed-discs-with-dead-little-pilots story -- but with a twist -- once again hit the national newswires on the heels of a major article in True. From the March 9, 1950 edition of the Mount Pleasant, Iowa News...

Flying Saucer Landed In Mexico, Says Californian

Los Angeles, (INS) -- A prominent Los Angeles business man today told an amazing story of a flying saucer which he claimed landed near Mexico City, recently, killing its pilot, a "midget 25 inches tall with a big head and a small body."

The business executive, Ray L. Dimmick, sales manager for the Apache Powder Company, said that the mysterious object of about 46 feet in diameter currently is under heavy guard at a secret military establishment near the Mexican capital.

Dimmick, who returned from Mexico City last week, said that officials of the Mexican government believe that the flying saucer definitely is a visitor from Mars or some other planet where life possibly exists.

Both military and government officials of Washington and Mexico have visited the strange object, Dimmick said. The business man related:

"For military security reasons, the entire matter has been kept very hush-hush." Dimmick said that he visited the military installation where the saucer still is kept under guard. He said:

"It was powered by two motors. The bottom of it was wrecked when it landed. It was about 46 feet in diameter. It was built of some strange new material, resembling aluminum."

Dimmick said he was unable to learn what had happened to the body of the pilot reported killed when the object crashed.

Officials in Mexico City told him that similar objects had landed in various parts of the North American continent, but that the governments involved had clamped a veil of secrecy over their investigations.

In the meantime, speculation grew that the speed flight of Paul Mantz to Mexico City yesterday was for the purpose of inspecting the wreckage of the flying saucer. Mantz made the flight in 3 hours and 41 minutes.

Dimmick's story was also covered by the Associated Press on its national newswire. From the March 10, 1950, edition of the Sitka, Alaska, Daily Sentinel...

Body of 23-Inch Man Said Found In Crashed 'Saucer'

Los Angeles (AP) -- A businessman has told newsmen a strange story. He says he saw an ultra-streamlined flying saucer last week, wrecked on a mountainside in Mexico.

The businessman, Ray L. Dimmick of Los Angeles, says he was told that a man 23 inches tall died in the crash and that his body has been embalmed for scientific study. There is no confirmation of Dimmick's account from any source in Mexico. The air force in Washington says it hasn't heard of it.

Dimmick says he personally saw hard-metal remains of the saucer and was told that high Mexican officials believe it came from another planet. And says Dimmick, "I'm big enough to take the consequences of what I've said and stand my ground."

Dimmick says the crash occurred about three months ago. He says he was taken to the scene by business associates.

Describing the wreckage of the saucer, Dimmick remarked:

"It was about 45 feet in diameter, built of a strange metal resembling aluminum." he [sic, uncapitalized] added:

"The saucer was powered by two motors."

Dimmick declined further discussion. But he did say that top U.S. military officials have viewed the wreckage. And he continued:

"I think the government ought to make its position clear. If it doesn't want to disclose these things for security reasons, why not say so. If it feels it is unwise to make the information public for fear of panic there should be some way found to handle the situation diplomatically."

Dimmick's story had not occurred in a vacuum -- scattered reports of sightings had been coming in from Mexico over the previous ten days, starting in late February, as from the February 27, 1950 edition of the El Paso, Texas, Herald-Post...

Giant Disc Seen in Mexico

Special to the Herald-Post

CHIHUAHUA CITY, Chih. Feb. 27 --A "flying disc" was sighted by a group of fliers over this city.

Pilot Leo Lopez, one of the group, said the strange object was seen at an altitude of 15,00 [sic] feet traveling east and then north. He said the saucer-like object was climbing rapidly and appeared to be of great size.

And again from Chihuahua telling of a sighting on March 2, as from the March 5, 1950, edition of the Wichita, Texas, Daily Times...

Mexico Army Officers Report on Flying Discs

CHIHUAHUA CITY, Mexico, March 4. (AP) -- Army officers here say they saw a "flying disc" in the sky Thursday but when military pursuit planes went after it, the "disc" vanished "with incredible rapidity."

The object, say the officers, seemed to be directed "by beings, alive and intelligent" and made them suggest it might be piloted by "an inhabitant of Mars."

And on the same day as the new Chihuahua report came news of another witness. From the March 5, 1950, edition of the Laredo, Texas, Times...

Flying Saucer Seen In Mexico

MEXICO CITY, March 4 -- (UP) -- A report that a "flying saucer" was spotted three days ago over the Chihuahua city airport is being investigated, the Civil Aeronautics Department disclosed today.

The department said Roberto Ostos Z [sic], local inspector at Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, described the "flying saucer" as "a mass which seemed to be of metal which appeared at about 15,000 feet and remained stationary for five minutes. Then with lightning speed it headed south."

Then on March 7, 1950, a United Press dispatch told of a Mexican farmer's sighting, as from the El Paso, Texas, Herald-Post...

A Chihuahua City aviator reported seeing a flying disc two weeks ago, and Sunday a rancher in Villa Ahumeda claimed he saw a brilliantly colored flying saucer shooting through the sky in the general direction of El Paso.

And finally -- on the day before Dimmick met with reporters -- a United Press recap included the newest sighting reports. From the March 8, 1950 edition of the Laredo, Texas Times...

Flying Saucers Sighted Over Mexican Cities

MEXICO CITY, March 8 (UP) -- Reports reached the capital today that two more "flying saucers" had been sighted over Mexican territory.

It was the third time within a week that the strange objects were reported.

Reports from Durango, capital of Durango state, said a "flying saucer" hovered over the city yesterday for more than two hours. Witnesses said the disc appeared in the daylight as a silvery mass, probably of metal.

In Guadalajara, capital of Jalisco state, two professional men said a large flying disc streaked across the sky shortly before midnight yesterday in a southeasterly direction. They said the object was at a very high altitude.

Another "flying saucer" was reported to have remained almost stationary over the airport at Chihuahua City, capital of Chihuahua state, for five minutes last week.

The Mexican Civil Aeronautics department said it was checking the reports but had not reached a conclusion as to what the origin of the "objects" might be.

But the above recap didn't appear in most newspapers until March 9, 1950 -- the day Dimmick first told his tale to reporters -- and only added verisimilitude to Dimmick's tale. And seemingly Dimmick was so "in the know" that he even kept ahead of the curve, as from the March 10, 1950 edition of the Lewiston, Idaho Tribune...

"Why," he said, "I received a telephone call from Mexico this morning that another saucer was seen over Mazatlan."

And that same day brought confirmation, as from the March 10, 1950 edition of the Harper, Texas, Herald...

A Mexican naval commander said that the West Coast city of Mazatlan was visited Wednesday by a flying saucer which he watched through a telescope.

Only the day before, a saucer was reported sighted over the Mexican City of Durango. The Mexican officer, Commander M. Maliachi Arias, said he believes the saucer he sighted over Mazatlan, flying at a "dizzy speed", its polished sides "brilliantly reflecting the sun's rays" was the same one.

And as if a gift from the gods, the next day brought even more coverage from Mexico. From the March 11, 1950 edition of the Lubbock, Texas Morning Avalanche...

'Flying Discs' Are Reported Traveling Over El Paso Area

By the Associated Press

EL PASO, March 10 -- Something was up at Juarez, Mex., today -- and a lot of people thought it was a flying saucer (or saucers).

Mexican border officers reported they saw a top-like disc, traveling high in the sky and heading for mountains on the edge El Paso.

A street car load of people piled out in Juarez about the same time, gawked upward and later described much the same thing.

A Juarez businessman said he saw a flying saucer about two hours later.

Other discs were reported seen yesterday and today over Deming, N.M.

Dr. E.J. Knapp, mathematics department head at Texas Western college here, said the discs could have been the planet Venus -- but he didn't think they were.

"Venus is visible in the east in the very early morning hours, as well as in the evening" he said. "I doubt, however, that it could be seen as late as the persons reported having seen the objects."

Officers of Mexican government agencies at the Rio Grande bridge linking Juarez with El Paso said they sighted the top-like object at 9:20 a.m. (MST), (10:20 a.m. CST).

The officers Included Roberto Antorona, health department; Amilcar Lopez Sousa, chief of the agriculture office, and Manuel Espojo, customs inspector. They said the disc was traveling toward the Franklin mountains bordering El Paso on the southwest.

Luis Herrera, Juarez travel agency owner, reported he saw a flying disc over the city about 11:30 a.m. from a hotel roof garden.

He said it was a shining object, travelling high in the sky and very swiftly. It was moving from the southwest. Herrera said he watched the disc for 10 or 15 minutes before it vanished into a bank of clouds and it was "an actual object, and not reflection.

Last week, flying discs had been reported at Chihuahua City and Villa Ahuma, Mex., south of Juarez...

More startling still, an astronomer in Mexico revealed a picture had been taken of a unknown flying object. From the March 11, 1950, edition of the Edwardsville, Illinois, Intelligencer...

Photograph Made Of Flying Saucer

Mexico City, (UP) -- The director of a Mexican observatory Saturday produced a photograph of a "flying saucer" but it looked more like an amateur's snapshot of a klieg light.

The photograph was a black square with a diagonal band of light across it. The caption in the newspaper Excelsior said it was "possibly the only picture of a flying saucer which existed outside the larger countries."

Luis Enrique Error [sic, should be Erro], director of the Tonantzintla astronomical observatory where the photograph was made, said: "The strange object crossed the sky March 2. Since that day we have wondered what it could have been. We don't know."

Meanwhile, dozens of reports of flying saucers poured into the capital from all over Mexico. The "saucer craze" began shortly after a Mexico City newspaper printed a series of articles which appeared in True magazine.

But if the United Press dispatch felt free to attribute it all to True magazine, the Associated Press focused on the immediate facts. From the March 11, 1950, edition of the Greeley, Colorado, Daily Tribune...

Astronomers in Mexico See Queer Objects

Mexico City, March 11. -- (AP) -- The newspaper Excelsior yesterday quoted Astronomer Luis Enrique Erro as saying one of his colleagues recently photographed a strange and brilliant object in the skies, possibly a big meteorite.

Erro is head of the Tonantzintla observatory, near Pueblo, Mexico's leading observatory. This institution has been cooperating with the Harvard observatory in systematic studies of the Milky Way.

The photograph was taken just before dawn March 2, the astronomer said.

"An exceptional object flew thru space and crossed the field of our Schmidt telescope," he said. "Since that day we have been wondering what it was. We don't know."

At Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Tex., Mexican border officer's reported they saw a top-like disc traveling high in the sky and heading for mountains on the edge of El Paso.

Erro gave Excelsior the photo taken by the observatory. It showed a broad white streak diagonally across a jet black field. He said it was taken by Astronomer Luis Munch, who was photographing with the telescope when the object was sighted and who caught it by chance.

Munch was being assisted by Prof. Lauro Herrera.

Erro said his guess is that the streak was caused by a meteorite, but added: "I make it with many reservations."

Asked if it could have been a flying saucer, Erro pointed out that various countries are experimenting with automatic defense against a sudden attack from the skies.

"I have no doubt that strange things are being shot into the air and somehow made to fly," he said.

But just the day before -- the day following the crashed-disc-in-Mexico story's first release -- Ray Dimmick began to backtrack. From the March 10, 1950 edition of the Reno, Nevada, Gazette...

Saucer Tale Fades As Details Emerge

LOS ANGELES, March 10 (AP) -- Are you in a whirl over flying saucers? Pull up a cup and hear this: They seem to be coming equipped with midget pilots now.

First, there's the case of Mr. Dimmick's gimmick.

Ray L. Dimmick, a dynamite salesman, returned from a trip to Mexico and gave rise to a story about a space ship 46 feet in diameter, 90 inches thick at the center, built of a metal harder than aluminum, powered by two motors -- and manned by a cretin-type little gent only 23 inches tall.

Dimmick originally told reporters he personally saw this wreckage on a mountainside near Mexico City, but later backtracked and said he was told the story by two business associates. All he actually saw according to his revised version, was a strip of metal, about six feet long eight inches wide and three-quarters of an inch thick.

Dimmick said he was told that the tiny pilot was killed in the crash about three months ago his body embalmed for scientific study and the main portion of the saucer put under military supervision in Mexico City [sic, entire sentence].

The air force here heard Dimmick's story, declared it "absolutely unsubstantiated" and said there has been no word from the Mexican government about such a strange interloper.

From Denver however Dimmick received moral support from a mystery lecturer at the University of Denver.

The unidentified prof's platter pitch midget pilots recently flew three flying discs to earth from Venus [sic, entire sentence].

Prof Francis F. Broman said the lecturer, who claimed to be a scientist was brought before a basic science class to test students' evaluation The man who brought the 'scientist' to school was advertising salesman George T. Koehler who said he believed the story "to be a fact". Prof Broman said his students were more skeptical. Their opinion, "Of litle [sic] value".

Koehler declined to name the lecturer, saying he felt the air force -- which has taken an exceedingly dim view of saucers -- might ridicule his friend.

The Los Angeles man, Dimmick, also declined to name his sources.

The U.S. materiel command reiterated its stand.

"We have carefully investigated all of the evidence presented to us regarding reports on flying saucers, and there is no evidence to support the existence of any interplanetary machines."

Mexican astronomer Joaquin Gallo said that this is the season when Venus is brightest and guessed saucer-seers might be seeing the planet instead. Mexico's leading nuclear scientist, Dr. Manuel Sandoval Vallarta, said he thinks the "saucers" are balloons released by U.S. weather stations along the border.

No Mexican authority could be found last night who knew anything about the crash related by Dimmick.

The reference to the "mystery lecturer at the University of Denver" in the story concerned an event two days earlier, when a radio station advertising salesman named George Koehler brought the unnamed speaker before Professor Broman's basic science class and introduced him only as "a man of science" and of a "mature mind". The speaker lectured the class for close to an hour, purporting to reveal that the United States Government was hiding the fact that three saucers had crashed and were in its possession. A fourth had landed but been able to escape capture. The government was also in possession of thirty-four dead crew members of the saucers -- all males, three-foot tall or shorter.

The captured saucers were of three different sizes -- the smallest being thirty-six feet, the middle being exactly twice that size at seventy-two feet, and the largest measuring precisely an enigmatic ninety-nine and nine-tenth's feet in diameter. Each had a revolving ring of metal at its perimeter. Examination of the saucers revealed they operated by an unknown process entailing the use of "magnetic lines of force". The metal for the saucers contained two minerals unknown to Earth.

That such a lecture had taken place 831 miles northeast and just 24 hours before Ray Dimmick announced his own different-yet-similar description of a crashed saucer in Mexico tended to provide each story with an air of independent corroboration. This, coupled with the newly published Commander McLaughlin piece in True -- and its implication of the worth of Air Force denials -- seemed to carry at least the possibility of important new information being revealed to the public.

It would take a few more days for the name of the "mysterious lecturer" to be revealed by the Denver Post, and it came as somewhat of a surprise -- for the lecturer was Denver-based oilman Silas Newton, who would not be expected to have familiarity with such matters.

But in fact it was not the first time Newton had spoken publicly about having personal knowledge of crashed saucers and their "little men" crews. Three and one-half months earlier Newton had boasted of being in personal possession of a strange radio which had been taken from one of the saucers. The conversation had taken place on the golf course of the exclusive Westlake County Club in Los Angeles, and had been reported by movie actor Bruce Cabot to the FBI.

The FBI notified the Air Force 18th District Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in Los Angeles which began an investigation. A part of the OSI report also revealed...

It might be mentioned here that during the preliminary efforts of District Office No. 18 to locate and interview CY NEWTON that a local KFI radio news commentator, SAM HAYES, on a morning program, announced in effect that a party at a Hollywood country club had stated that he had information on flying discs and that the discussion took place over a round of drinks at the "nineteenth hole" of the local golf course and that the "story got better with each drink."

And while the subject of the saucers seems out of place with Newton's position as an oilman, his presence on the golf course was not -- Newton had been a competitive amateur golfer of note going back decades, as in this story from the June 27, 1926, edition of the Youngstown, Ohio, Vindicator...

Four Yanks In At Sunningdale
Joe Stein and Silas Newton Only Americans Who Fail to Get in British Open

Sunningdale, June 17 (A.P.) -- Led by Bobby Jones, the amateur champion, four of the six Americans in the Southern section of qualification play earned the right to enter the British open golf championship tournament. The two who fell by the wayside were Joe Stein, young professional, and Silas Newton of the Lido Club, New York.

There would be other occasional mentions of Newton connected with golf over the coming decades -- for instance, a story mentioning that Newton failed once again to qualify for the British Open in 1928 (although he did reportedly manage a 160-yard hole-in-one on the 16th hole). Or this, on qualifying rounds for the U.S. Open, from the August 12, 1941, edition of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, News.

The only prominent golfer in the field who failed to make the grade was the veteran Silas Newton.

Or this, from the August 1, 1946, edition of the Prescott, Arizona, Evening Courier...

Chet Goldberg Loses To Denver Golfer

DENVER, Aug. 1. (AP) -- Arizona's only contestant, Chet Goldberg, Jr., of Phoenix was eliminated from the Trans-Mississippi golf tournament yesterday afternoon in the first round of match play.

He was defeated, 4 and 3, by Silas Newton of Denver...

Nor was Newton out of place in Los Angeles. Although based in Denver he was known to also spend time in the then-glamorous Southern California locale as far back as 1941 -- and apparently for years earlier -- as revealed in a March 20, 1941, FBI investigative report...

[Blacked Out] Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel, 1714 Ivar Avenue, Los Angeles, obtained the guest registration card of NEWTON which reflected that he registered at the hotel on December 23, 1940, giving his address as the Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado, that he was assigned to apartment 914 at a rate of $8.00 per day and that he remained at the hotel until February 18, 1941...

[Blacked Out] stated that NEWTON was well known as a guest of the hotel as he had been making the Hollywood Knickerbocker his headquarters when in Los Angeles for the past five or six years... [Blacked Out] further stated that NEWTON, while in Los Angeles, plays golf continuously...

And on November 28, 1941, an FBI investigative report revealed that Newton had returned to the Los Angeles for a lengthy stay...

On October 21, 1941 [Blacked Out] of the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel, 1714 Ivar Avenue, Hollywood, California, was recontacted, and, in addition to the information which he had previously furnished to the Los Angeles Office and which is contained in the report of Special Agent [Blacked Out] dated March 20, 1941, in instant case, further advised that SILAS M. NEWTON is presently residing at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel and has been a guest at the hotel since March 1941; that for years NEWTON has made it a practice to reside at the Knickerbocker when in Los Angeles...

And 9 years following the 1941 FBI reports Newton still maintained his Los Angeles presence, according to a March 24, 1950, 18th District OSI report...

5. Through the cooperation of MAURICE E. McLOUGHLIN, 329 - 31st Street, Hermosa Beach, California, it was determined that CY NEWTON resides, when in the Los Angeles Area, at the HOLLYWOOD-KNICKERBOCKER HOTEL, 1714 Ivar Avenue, Hollywood, California. Several attempts were made to communicate with CY NEWTON there but he was always out and he never responded to a note left at the hotel desk.

6. On one of these occasions, Douglas Harris, assistant manager, HOLLYWOOD KNICKERBOCKER HOTEL, showed agent a letter postmarked Laramie, Wyoming, 17 February 1950, in which NEWTON stated that he was "still marooned in Wyoming" and that he would "see you soon." The letter was written on the stationery of NEWTON OIL COMPANY, Equitable Building, Denver, Colorado...

All of which may help explain why the seemingly independent stories of Silas M. Newton and Ray L. Dimmick may not be so independent after all. From the March 10, 1950, edition of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gazette, carrying an Independent News Service (INS) newswire story...

Tale of Disk And Strange Pilot Denied

LOS ANGELES (INS) -- A vivid account of the wreck of a flying saucer in Mexico withered away Friday to a mere second-hand tale.

Under official questioning, Ray L Dimmick, Los Angeles business executive, amended his story and said he had not seen the space ship himself, as he first reported, but had been told about it by a business associate during a trip to Mexico City last week.

Dimmick, widely-known amateur golfer and sales manager of the Apache Powder Company, was interrogated by Air Force Sgt. Richard L. Coleman on orders from Washington.

Reporting on their conversation, Coleman said:

"He said he didn't claim to have seen the thing himself. He said he was told about it by an 'unimpeachable' friend."...

And so Silas M. Newton and Ray L. Dimmick -- both "widely known" amateur golfers and both sometimes based in Los Angeles -- seemingly had more in common than might appear at first blush. And this might even have extended to sharing their stories with others on the links, as from the March 13, 1950 edition of the Charleroi, Pennsylvania Mail...

Salesman Sticks To Story About 'The Little Man'

LOS ANGELES, March 13 -- (UP) -- Ray L. Dimmick, an explosives salesman, stuck to his story about "the little man", insisting it was not in the category of salesmen's Pullman smoking room stories.

Dimmick first told the story in a local locker room some days ago and Friday its circulation had reached monumental proportions...

But there's no particular reason for even reporters to have suspected the possible connection. After all, the name of the "mystery lecturer" who had spoken the day before at a university 830 miles northeast of Los Angeles was at the time unknown. And by the time it was finally revealed to be Newton, the lecture itself had again reverted to being a purely local story in Denver -- while the world had moved on to matters other than Ray L. Dimmick.

Nor would the world hear much more about Silas Newton over the coming months -- nor for that matter would it hear much of George Koehler, who had introduced Newton at the Denver lecture and who back in January had been Rudy Fick's source for the crashed discs and "little men" story.

For no matter how fantastic their stories, they were yesterday's news -- and all hell was about to break loose on the flying saucer scene.

go to comments on this entry


1. The contents of the Frank Scully columns of October and November, 1949, as well as his "questions for the air force" column in January, 1950, are taken from Scully's book "Behind The Flying Saucers".

2. Paul Mantz, mentioned in "Flying Saucer Landed In Mexico, Says Californian", was a noted movie stunt pilot and competitive air racer.

3. Any direct connection between Silas Newton and Ray Dimmick can only ever be speculation. It is possible, for instance, that Dimmick heard Newton's tale as told by others and not by Newton himself. It is also possible -- though exceedingly unlikely -- that Dimmick had never heard any version of Newton's story, and that the startling similarities in the two men's tales were a matter of mere coincidence. On the other hand, dynamite was sometimes used in oil exploration, and provides another possible nexus between dynamite-salesman Dimmick and oilman Newton.

4. The full Air Force investigative reports from which snippets are included above are available for review here. The FBI report of March 20, 1941 is available here and the November 28, 1941 FBI report is available here.


The Arrival

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