in the news 1952
Above: Gun camera film frames of object over Bellefontaine, Ohio. Story below.
NINETEEN FIFTY-TWO might be remembered for many things, large and small. The election of Dwight Eisenhower as President of the United States. Fifty thousand American families afflicted by Polio. The British A-bomb. The first issue of Mad magazine. The theory of the Big Bang.
But for those of a certain bent, 1952 will also be remembered for the second great 'flying saucer flap' which climaxed with the reports of radar and visual sightings over the nation's capital in late July.
Part of the story of that event-filled year is now available in declassified government files. But for the public back then -- at a time when only one in three families in America had a television set -- the story was mostly found in the newspapers and magazines.
This then is a look back at those stories, as they first appeared in print...
AUGUST 1, 1952:
Freeport, Texas Daily Facts Review - 1 Aug 52
Truman's Official Mail in Missouri May Be Bed Slippers or Razor Blades
By Frederick C. Othman
WASHINGTON -- President Truman in Missouri, it says here, has received his first sack of official mail from the capital. I think I know what was in it: the bedroom slippers he forgot, a fresh package of double-edged razor blades, a postcard from Margaret showing some snow on an Alp, and a new apple and pecan upside-down cake recipe for his wife.
There could have been nothing else much in the Presidential mail bag, because you know how it is when the boss is away. And, anyhow, all his helpers were craning their necks, scanning the skies for flying teacups. It was hot and it also was cloudy and they did not see a thing.
Nobody glimpsed this aerial crockery, except the radar operators, who described the items on their screens as looking like lively, purple polliwogs. Let us hope that this in truth was what they were.
What pained the defense boys, with their multimillion-dollar layout of electronics, big guns, jet fighters and other items much too secret to mention, was that the high-flying tadpoles skittered over Mr. Truman's house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
They reconnoitered the capitol, cruised above the pentagon, and sailed impudently over a wide assortment of installations marked verboten for aviators. Anybody else flying such a route at once would have had his head shot off. The purple ones got away with it, because they disappeared every time a normal flying machine came close.
It was at this juncture that Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett and Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer put out a document entitled, "Plan for the security control of air traffic during a military emergency." They were quick to point out that the short title for this pronouncement was: Scat.
I suppose Mr. Truman received a copy of that. Even I got one. The way I figure it, by plotting their routes by triangulation, those saucers clustered directly above my house in McLean, Va., while I slept, and I don't like it. Messrs. Lovett and Sawyer kindly will take steps.
Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times - 1 Aug 52
From Where I Sit
By Herb Jacobs
IF YOU THINK those flying saucers are just weather balloons -- here are some statistics to back you up. Government and private institutions launch between 4,000 and 10,000 balloons of all shapes and sizes in this country each day. Some of them jump up to 100,000 feet, making measurements of weather conditions and cosmic rays . . . Others go up only 10,000 to 30,000 feet, most for weather forecasting purposes. The balloons go up from about 1,000 launching sites in all parts of the country. The high fliers are 45 to 110 feet in diameter, and as much as 130 feet long. Height at which they fly can be controlled for as much as three days. Four big balloons, tied together to lift research instruments, caused a flying saucer scare recently in Ohio.
Titusville, Pennsylvania Herald - 1 Aug 52
Saucers "Hysteria," Gabreski Says -- Col. Francis Gabreski of Oil City, the nation's leading air ace, told a press service representative yesterday that flying saucers were "mass hysteria."
"No flyer of my acquaintance has ever seen one," he said. "It seems odd to me that they are reported only in the United States. I am confident that if they were real, our scientific department of the Air Force would know the answers."
Tipton, Indiana Tribune - 1 Aug 52
Inside Indiana Today
French Lick, Ind., Aug. 1 -- America's flying saucer mystery has become a political issue in the 1952 campaign, with charges that the Truman administration either has been unprepared to learn the origin of the saucers or that it has deceived the public.
The charges were made last night by Senator William E. Jenner in an address before the Indiana Trailer Coach association at French Lick.
Jenner said: "The American people don't know anything positive about the so-called flying saucers except that -- once again -- the Truman administration appears to have been caught flat-footed."
Titusville, Pennsylvania Herald - 1 Aug 52
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WE'RE AFRAID the Air Force's explanation that flying saucers recorded on the radar screen over Washington were simply cold air layers will be taken by many as several layers of hot air. Rowe Lumber Yard, 650 W. Central Ave., phone 3-6311.
Hagerstown, Maryland Morning Herald - 1 Aug 52
Pilots Urged To 'Shoot' Saucers
In view of the "mystery lights" variously reported as "flying saucers" or "flying cigars," etc., during the last few years, All-American Airways has requested all its flight personnel to carry their cameras on flights over AAA's routes through seven Middle Atlantic states so as to gather more accurate data on the alleged phenomenon for military and governmental agencies.
Since the mystery objects were first "caught" on radar recently at Washington National Airport, All-America, whose home base is at that airport, is in a position to be helpful should the objects repeat their "flights" over the Nation's Capital. The camera order, however, applies to AAA's entire system.
A recent survey of All-American's flight personnel revealed that a large number of them are camera hobbyists, including a group specializing in color photography. Also, the pilots are well equipped to judge distances and flight speed of the objects. Though AAA has been flying millions of miles in this vicinity, no AAA pilot has yet sighted one of the famous "saucers."
The recent rash of "saucer" reports coupled with the usual discrepancies by alleged and amateur witnesses as to size, shape, color and speed has led All-American to the conclusion that if, in fact, such phenomena are to be observed, then aerial photographs will be more conclusive an object.
Lima, Ohio News - 1 Aug 52
Flying Saucers Become Nuisance to Air Force
WASHINGTON -- The Air Force didn't exactly say so but it left the impression those flying saucers are becoming quite a nuisance.
So much time is being spent answering saucer queries that it's interfering with regular intelligence work, Maj. Gen. John A Samford, Air Force Intelligence director, said Thursday.
Most of the inquiries are from press and radio. Many are from worried or curious citizens. The Pentagon press office has an officer working full time answering saucer questions.
Perhaps just to show how busy it is, the Air Force released a long list of statistics revealing it had received 432 written reports on "sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena" so far this year. All these went to the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Dayton, Ohio. They don't include the hundreds of oral reports of sightings.
THE Air Force statistics appeared to explode the theory that the recent flurry of saucers was caused by the heat. The peak of sightings over the years seemed to hit at no particular season or month.
At least the figures showed the saucer business is booming in 1952:
The largest number of sightings of any month since the saucers were first reported in 1947 came in July of this year -- a total of 114, just three above June.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard made public today what it described as a photograph supposedly showing five mystery objects -- round and white with fuzzy edges -- in flight over Salem, Mass. Air Force information said the photo was taken last week by a Coast Guardsman.
Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times - 1 Aug 52
This photo, released by the Coast Guard, was made by one of their photographers at the Salem, Mass. Air Station on July 16 through a window screen after he sighted four "unknown objects." Notice the bars of light that seem to extend in front of and behind the round "objects" which appear in V formation. (United Press-Capital Times Telephoto)
Coast Guard Photo Shows Four White Lights Over Salem Station
WASHINGTON -- The Coast Guard today released a photograph of four brilliant white lights snapped over its Salem, Mass., air station several weeks ago.
The picture, taken by a 21-year old Coast Guard photographer, was the latest episode in the nationwide outburst of "flying saucer" mysteries.
It clearly shows four ragged edged round objects in V-formation. Each appears to have two identical shafts of light extending across its center and protruding fore and aft like a ghostly wing.
A spokesman said the negative has been examined by Coast Guard photography experts who are satisfied "there is no retouching or fakery involved."
"We don't know what the objects are," a Coast Guard officer said, "but that boy's camera caught something."
A United Press reporter was allowed to see the negative which was flown later today to Dayton, O., where it will be examined by Air Forces investigators.
The negative shows no sign of retouching, even under an enlarger which presumably would show up any faking.
The photographer was Shell Alpert, a Coast Guard enlisted photographer. He said he made the picture at 9:35 a.m., July 16, through a screened open window of the air station's photo laboratory.
Alpert said he was preparing to clean a camera when he looked outside and noticed several brilliant lights in the sky. He called another coast guardsman, Hospitalman 1-c Thomas E. Flaherty, who also said he saw the lights.
Alpert said the lights dimmed somewhat, then brightened. He grabbed a camera, held the shutter wide open and snapped a picture.
Coast Guard officials who released the picture for publication, said Alpert was questioned for hours by naval intelligence officers but held to his story that he had not superimposed the lights or otherwise faked the picture.
Alpert told investigators that July 16 was a "very hot day" and that the lights may have been some sort of refraction of ground reflections.
That has been the official Air Force explanation for many so-called "saucer reports."
Only Thursday Air Force chief of staff Hoyt S. Vandenberg scoffed at the saucer reports and voiced hope "mass hysteria" over them would soon pass.
- - - - - - -
[Note: Another version of this national newswire story, as published in the Benton Harbor, Michigan News Palladium the same day stated...]
Flaherty told authorities, "I actually could not say it was anything. It could have been reflections from passing cars or from the ocean."
Alpert said he was unable to determine the size of the lights, their number, altitude, speed, direction or shape. He said he heard no sound. He added that because it was an extremely hot day "perhaps some sort of refraction or ground reflections could possibly have accounted for the lights, but in my estimation this is an improbable explanation."
Alpert said his 4x5 camera was set at infinity, 1/50 of a second at F4.7.
Experts in photography said the negative shown to newsmen here showed no evidence of touching up. The negative was clear and unscratched.
Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times - 1 Aug 52
Tells of Seeing Wavering Lights
BOSTON-- Shell R. Alpert, 21-year-old Coast Guard photographer, told a news conference today how he saw some "wavering lights" and snapped a photograph that showed what looked like four flying saucers.
"I couldn't tell you exactly what they are except that they were wavering lights. They stayed there in the sky for more than six or seven seconds," Alpert said.
Alpert, of Denver, Colo., said the incident took place July 16 while he was on duty filing photographs at 9:35 a.m. in the Salem Coast Guard station.
His story was corroborated in part by Thomas E. Flaherty, 24, who said he was hastily called into the Salem photographic laboratory and told to look out the window.
"I looked up and saw this quick flash. It was very bright, but didn't make me blink my eyes. I couldn't distinguish any object and I was very surprised that Shell got a picture." Flaherty said neither he nor Alpert thought the objects were solid things, like aircraft.
Alpert said he took the picture with a 4 by 5 camera set at about l/25th to l/50th of a second at F. 4.7. He said the camera was in the laboratory to be cleaned and that the screens on the window through which he took the picture were dirty.
Nevertheless, he said he was sure he saw lights in the sky. He said it was extremely hot that day and it was possible they might have been ground reflections.
Dunkirk, New York Evening Observer - 1 Aug 52
Ex-war Flier Now Believer
BUFFALO -- Richard R. Bevan of Kenmore, a World War Air Force veteran, doubted the existence of "flying saucers" until yesterday. Then, he said, he saw one.
"My skepticism no longer exists," he said.
Bevan said he was driving near Buffalo when he spotted the "saucer" and watched it for about five minutes until it suddenly disappeared.
Four Buffalo residents said they watched "a big, round, bright yellow glow" about the size of "a street light" in the sky last night as they sat on the steps of their home.
A roving crew from a local radio station, however, failed to spot any strange objects. It was the crew's second successive, night of watching.
Paterson, New Jersey Morning Call - 1 Aug 52
Flying saucer? That's what is is [sic], according to John H. Riley, a professional photographer, of 571 Main St. He said he snapped these two pictures near 221 Brook Ave., Passaic, about 10:15 a.m. yesterday, as the disc "hovered 200 feet above the ground." Photo at left, Riley said, shows disc tilted "as though observing the ground." At right, he said the disc is shown shortly before it gathered speed and disappeared.
Is This Object, Seen In Passaic, A 'Saucer'?
John H. Riley, 28, of 571 Main St., is a photographer who believes a picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes.
So into The Call office he came last night, as the phones rang with reports of flying saucers in this area, to produce photographic evidence according to him, that there are such aerial objects.
He thumbed through a dozen or so pictures of a mysterious thing he said he and friend, George J. Stock, spotted yesterday morning near Stock's home at 221 Brooks Ave., Passaic.
According to Riley, the saucer was traveling southeast at a leisurely speed when it was sighted by Stock. As it drew nearer, Riley said, it came almost to a complete stop and hovered overhead, about 200 feet from the ground for several moments.
"It was so near," Riley said, "it could have been hit with a rifle."
He described the disc as being 30 feet in diameter and grayish in color with a large dome jutting from its center. Riley said the saucer made no sound, either when it was hovering or moving.
Before taking off again in a southwest direction, Riley said, "It tilted as though to observe the ground." The saucer picked up speed as it gradually disappeared, he said.
Riley said he snapped several pictures of the disc as it hovered almost motionless 200 feet above him. The developed photos showed some type of dome shaped disc at a low altitude above a row of trees.
We looked the prints over for a while, agreed that it wasn't a kite and decided that the pictures had at least one value.
Many of our readers haven't seen any crockery flying overhead, either because they don't stay up late or because television is more dependable to the expectant viewer.
The pictures may not exactly fit the descriptions of flying saucers you've heard about, but identifications of the objects do vary widely.
It's your guess as well as ours.
Miami, Florida Herald - 1 Aug 52
Blown up to 10 times its size from a 16-millimeter film negative, this is an unretouched photograph of an object seen by a Marine cameraman who was hunting for "flying saucers" at Miami Beach Tuesday night. The Air Force soon will scrutinize the picture.
You Pay Your Money . . .
Photographed Object Is Called Plane's Light
The latest theory about the "orange, yellowish object" seen and photographed over Miami Tuesday night is that what was spotted was the front light of an airplane coming in for a landing at International Airport.
John L. King, an aerial gunner during World War II, said today he is certain that what he saw in the vicinity of where the object was photographed by a marine was the light from a plane.
Films to Washington
A Miamian who works in the control tower at the field reported that a plane was due to land in Miami about 10 minutes after the object was seen in Surfside. It was coming from the east, he added.
Pfc. Ralph Mayher, who was looking for "flying saucers" when he went to the home of Herman Stern, 8200 Byron Ave., shot about 40 feet of film on the object. He only caught it in eight frames, however.
It was reported, meanwhile, that the pictures plus statements by Lt. Cmdr. Joe Gardner, Lt. Joe Mills and Lt. I.M. Blum, navy pilots who also said they saw the object, will be turned over to the Air Force in Washington.
"On a Hunch"
"On a hunch" Mayher went to the Surfside home of Sters, who two nights earlier had reported seeing an object in the sky traveling at great speed. Mayher photographed the object on 16-millimeter film. He said it was travelling "more than 2,000 miles an hour."
Marine officials in Miami refused to comment on the photos. Mayher said the object was "crystal clear" and had "definite shape."
Charleroi, Pennsylvania Mail - 1 Aug 52
Brownsville latest To See The Saucers
BROWNSVILLE, Pa. -- Flying saucers came to Brownsville Tuesday morning.
The mysterious objects were seen in the sky at 4 a.m. by members of the Brownsville police department. The report, signed by Samuel Nicola, Alfred C. Camino, Jr., and Jack Britt, all members of the department, follows:
"At approximately 4 a.m. Patrolman Samuel J. Nicola, returning from nightly patrol, sighted five glowing, saucer-like objects in the sky. He immediately called Patrolman Alfred C. Camino, Jr., and Patrolman Jack Britt, to verify what he had seen. The three men observed five objects, in a tight V-formation, glowing with a yellowish white hue, at an undetermined height, traveling from a northerly to a southerly direction. The objects made a slow, wide sweep over the area of the inter-county bridge, seeming to hover momentarily, then disappeared to the south at a rapid speed."
Monessen, Pennsylvania Daily Independent - 1 Aug 52
Flying Saucer Craze Reaches District Skies
The flying saucer craze may have worn off in other parts of the country, but it's just working up a full head of steam in Monessen.
At 11:10 a.m. today, three of the things were seen by Eleanor Fontanelli, 19, of 376 Schoonmaker avenue.
She was the second local person to report seeing the things that the Air Force has labeled optical illusions and temperature inversions. The other was Mrs. George Cook, of 1528 Meadow avenue, who was with several members of her family when the discs were spotted.
Miss Fontanelli was hanging clothes in the backyard of her home when she glanced skyward and saw three silvery, slow-moving flying saucers.
Frightened, she ran to the house to notify her mother. When the two women returned, the saucers had disappeared.
"They looked as big as airplanes," Miss Fontanelli said, "and I sure was scared. I ran in the house as soon as I saw them"
Unsourced Newspaper Clipping From Project Blue Book files - 1 Aug 52
2 Jet Pilots See Object
DAYTON, Ohio. Aug. 1 -- Jet interceptor pilots reported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base officials today they saw an object in the sky which they didn't think was a light reflection.
It was the first time pilots checking on flying saucer reports here had made such a positive statement.
The two interceptors were sent up about 1:45 a.m. after the base had received five or six reports of "flying saucers."
They told officers they went up about 17,000 feet and for about 10 seconds watched a bright object which hovered above them. It then disappeared at "a high rate of speed."
"We deliberately maneuvered around to make sure it wasn't a light reflection. At first it appeared red and white and then white only," they said.
The pilots, attached to the 97th Fighter Wing, were Maj. James B. Smith, and 1st Lt. Donald J. Hemer, recently transferred from O'Hare Air Force Base, Park Ridge, Ill.
The Air Technical Intelligence Center, in charge of "flying-saucer" investigations, immediately ordered the two pilots to stop commenting further on their experiences and ordered a ban on pictures of the two.
In the report to Capt. E.J. Ruppelt, in charge of "flying-saucer" studies, the two pilots said they were unable to estimate the object's location because "it was dark and there was nothing to compare it with."
Although the official report said the pilots observed the object for about ten seconds, that probably referred to the brief time they got a good look at it.
One of the pilots reported: "I don't think the light was a reflection. I deliberately maneuvered around it at several angles to make sure it wasn't a light reflection. If it had been, there would have been a change."
Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times - 1 Aug 52
State Unit Will Report On 'Saucers'
MILWAUKEE -- An Army Signal Corps unit called "Operation Vortex" has been set up in Milwaukee to receive information about unidentified objects sighted in the sky over Wisconsin.
Capt. James E. Holmes of Hillsboro, Tex., was named officer-in-charge of the organization which will sift reports of "flying saucers" in this area. Other personnel will be electronics engineers and technicians from the Signal Corps. Lt. Robert Perthel of Milwaukee is project co-ordination officer.
Residents of Wisconsin who sight unusual objects in the air were asked to report their observations to the unit, Perthel said. The address is: Operation Vortex, 215 E. Buffalo St., Milwaukee.
Madison, Wisconsin State Journal - 1 Aug 52
Flying Saucer Business Here Is Looking Up
The "flying saucers" reported in Thursday's State Journal were confirmed by two other persons Thursday, and five other Madison residents reported seeing unusual objects in the sky.
Three Madison women and two policemen, by early today, had reported an assortment of "flying saucers" ranging from white lines to green, white, and silver spheres and ovals.
City Patrolman James Behn, a World War II Navy Air force veteran, said he saw two "saucers," or the same one within a matter of minutes about 10:30 Thursday night.
He said he was at the corner of E. Main and S. Ingersoll sts. when he saw the silver object fly from the southwest to the southeast in an arc curving up and away from him. In both instances they were "gone in a flash," he said.
Dane County Jailer Robert O'Neil, a Marine air corps veteran said he saw an object "like nothing I've ever seen before" Monday night while standing in his back yard at 122 Harding st. He said it was white and looked like artists' drawings of the "saucers."
Mr. and Mrs. Russell Metcalf 111 N. Third st., reported seeing the same "strange round objects" flying southwest about 9 a.m. Wednesday that were reported Thursday.
Mrs. Doral Zamastil, 1706 Northfield pl., had earlier reported seeing them Wednesday morning.
Three others reported seeing "flying saucers" Thursday night. Mrs Mazy Meeteer, 517 E. Main st. said she was sitting on her front porch with Mrs. Helen Smith when they saw a long white streak in the sky north east of the city about 8 p.m. "It was just like someone took a piece of chalk and drew a line," Mrs. Meeter said.
Mrs. William Wollin, 5738 Cedar pl., said she was driving toward Madison on University ave. when she saw a "greenish looking eggshaped object coming straight down at tremendous speed."
She said she thought it was coming to crash, but when she stopped the car beside the road, it had noiselessly disappeared.
Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times - 1 Aug 52
'Cotton Balls' Are Seen Over Medford
MEDFORD, Wis. -- Seven objects that looked like "big balls of cotton" were spotted flying swiftly over Medford Thursday.
Earl Hoffman, Medford businessman, said the objects moved silently in a northeasterly direction "faster than any airplane I ever saw."
Hoffman said the "things" looked more like "big balls of cotton than anything else." Some were circular and some shaped like crescents he said. They disappeared over the horizon, Hoffman said.
Similar objects, were reported over Green Bay, Madison and Watertown Wednesday.
Logansport, Indiana Pharos Tribune - 1 Aug 52
RACINE, Wis. -- Disc jockeys Ed Ruetz and Rick Edwards decided today that platters and flying saucers don't mix.
Ruetz and Edwards, proprietors of an early morning radio show called "Melodie Nuthouse," decided Tuesday to kid the reports about flying saucers.
They gave an account of finding one at the Washington Park golf course. They said it was controlled by a man two feet tall, who could say only "Hiyah, Hiyah, Hiyah," when they tried to interview him.
Minutes after the show went off the air, switchboards at the radio station and at police and sheriff's headquarters were jammed with calls from worried citizens, many wanting to know if the man from outer space had been caught yet.
Chicago, Illinois Daily Herald - 1 Aug 52
Report Flying Saucers Over Arlington Heights
The office of Paddock Publications, Arlington Heights, received its first report of flying saucers over Arlington Heights, from Henry Weidner, who lives on Arlington Heights rd., just north of Dundee rd.
Weidner said he was in his yard about 10:50 a.m. Sunday when he noticed 12 or 15 flat looking objects flying overhead, leaving a trail of white flame about 50 feet wide. He said he could see no wings and that they looked entirely different from jets that have flown over the area in the past.
He estimated the objects were approximately 1,000 feet up and were traveling between 150 to 200 miles per hour.
"At first I could hear a low rumbling noise," said Weidner, "but later I couldn't hear a thing."
The objects circled the area for approximately 25 minutes and then headed due south. Weidner's mother also saw them.
Mount Prospect, Illinois Herald - 1 Aug 52
Have You Seen –
A flying saucer -- or its equivalent by any name? Mrs. Sibley McCaslin reports that Sunday morning at 10:35, shortly after 15 B36 bombers had passed overhead she saw in the sky a bright light, something like a metallic sphere, going at a fantastic speed, traveling from the northwest to the southwest until it went up and disappeared. She was not surprised to read in the next morning's newspaper that the lights had been seen by observers in 19 states, that jets had been sent out to pursue them, and that radar reported an unidentifiable object in the skies. What it was Mrs. McCaslin does not know, but she is positive it was no mirage.
Mt. Vernon, Illinois Register-News - 1 Aug 52
"Flying Saucer" Is Seen By Residents of Belle Rive
Folks in the Belle Rive neighborhood are talking about a "flying saucer," which was plainly visible late yesterday afternoon for at least ten minutes.
F.C. Wilbanks and his wife, Cora, who reside a half mile west of Belle Rive watched the shiny object through field glasses for several minutes.
Mr. Wilbanks said his wife saw the "flying saucer" first. He got his field glasses and he and his wife took turns training them on the object high in the sky.
"It was shaped like a long cylinder," said Mr. Wilbanks. "It was bright and shiny when it was standing still, then suddenly it would start whirling and change to a brownish and reddish color. Then it would stand still again and would change back to a bright and shiny object."
The "flying saucer" was flying high and apparently far away.
"Suddenly the object started moving with great speed to the southeast," said Mr. Wilbanks, "and in a matter of seconds it was out of sight."
The object appeared bigger than a gallon bucket, even from a great distance, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbanks reported.
It was the second "flying saucer" Mr. Wilbanks has seen. Two years ago he saw one, but it was traveling fast and was out of sight in a short time.
Harrisburg, Illinois Daily Register - 1 Aug 52
Bright Object Seen in Sky Here
A bright object in the sky seen by a number of people Wednesday night has been causing comment in the area.
Elton Rust first reported it to a Register reporter. He said he and his wife saw it from the Harrisburg drive-in theatre. The shape of an egg, it was blue inside with a red nose and sides and it swished across the sky. he said he believed it was some sort of a comet.
Mrs. Mary Lindsay said she saw an object from the swimming pool. To her it appeared to have a crescent shape and have a greenish color.
From Carrier Mills comes the report that on the same night Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cole and Mr. and Mrs. William Chavis saw an object which had a bluish white light. It zoomed across the sky from the east to the southwest, they declared.
Mrs. Lavern Fellers, Carbondale, also reported seeing a flying saucer that looked like a "big light bulb." She said the "saucer" changed from a white to a red dish color and sprouted a short tail before it disappeared.
In the St. Louis area, residents reported seeing a bluish green object in the northwestern sky about the same time it was seen in these parts.
The regional director of the American Meteor society at St. Louis said what was seen was very likely a meteor as this is the period for an annual meteor shower.
Massillon, Ohio Evening Independent - 1 Aug 52
Saw Greenish Light In Sky
ST. LOUIS -- An object with a greenish light was sighted in the sky south of St. Louis Wednesday night by at least three persons who described it as a "flying saucer."
They reported viewing the phenomenon about 30 minutes after a similar "saucer" was reported directly over Hot Springs, Ark.
Blytheville, Arkansas Courier News - 1 Aug 52
'Object' Seen Here Reported At Other Points
There was something up there, all right.
Numerous Blytheville residents who reported seeing "a light in the sky" night before last were backed up by reports from throughout this part of the country.
Many of the reports from other communities, in fact, went farther than the local descriptions. While all Blytheville people who observed the object referred to the "the light," many reports openly called the object "the flying saucer."
Practically all reports gave the time of the observance as between 8:15 and 8:45 p.m., and most listed the hour as approximately 8:30, the time the object was sighted here.
Reports specifically coinciding with the Blytheville "light" came from St. Louis, Paragould, Clarksdale, Miss., Hot Springs, Walnut Ridge, Little Rock, pilots in flight and several lesser communities.
There were indications that the object was visible throughout the Mississippi Valley. Press services and newspapers yesterday and today recounted at length "observations" made on the object by viewers throughout the area. No authoritative sources, as yet, have attempted to attribute the appearance of the "light" to a shooting star, or other natural phenomena.
Apparently, many Blytheville residents in addition to those reporting having seen the object viewed the luminar display, but had dismissed the incident as "nothing special."
Burlington, Iowa Hawk-Eye Gazette - 1 Aug 52
We've Seen Our First Flying Saucer
We've long held flying saucers largely in the same category with messages through spirit mediums or the works of magicians who saw luscious blondes in 2.
In a word, we haven't taken much stock in them but we've always kept our fingers crossed. After all, it must be admitted there are things every now and then that can't be explained except as supernatural.
Well, we've seen our first flying saucer . . . or something which we're going to catalog as such among our experiences. It came just a few nights after the dither that was kicked up over the mysterious objects in the heavens above the ordnance plant last Saturday night.
Our experience was the past Wednesday evening, about half past 8, when we were on our way home from a little jaunt to Mediapolis. We were cruising along at a modest rate, thoroughly enjoying the delightfully cool evening after so many days of excruciating heat.
It was out on US-61 and we had just about reached the point where you drop off into the wide valley formed by Flint creek . . . or should we refer to it as Flint river? Anyhow, there appeared in the southwestern sky something that resembled a tremendous teardrop moving very rapidly with the bulbous end of it ahead.
The thing was glowing with a pale blue light and vapor of a lighter color was thrown off all around it. Two of us saw it at the same time, and neither had had anything stronger to drink than a glass of iced tea. It lasted only a few seconds and appeared to plunge into the earth, off in the general direction of the ordnance plant area. It could have been that our vision was obscured by the rapidly encroaching horizon as we drove down into the valley and that the celestial stranger merely charged off into infinity.
Well, that's all there is to it. We don't know whether it was a flying saucer or not. But we do know we saw something very unusual and strange. Until somebody comes up with a better explanation, we'll line up with the "I've-seen-a-flying-saucer" club.
Billings, Montana Gazette - 1 Aug 52
'Flying Saucer' Resembles Spider
A "flying saucer" which flashed over Laurel looked like "a spider or a wagon wheel without a rim" to H.M. Phelps of Laurel.
Phelps, a fireman in the Laurel railroad yards, was working in the yards when he noticed what appeared to be a cloud. Observing there were no clouds in the sky Phelps said he took a closer look.
The "saucer," Phelps said, was traveling at terrific speed in a northwesterly direction. He estimated its altitude at one mile, and its color as white.
Kalispell, Montana Daily Inter Lake - 1 Aug 52
Airplane Spotting Report Requested
Residents of Kalispell and vicinity should report every multi-engine or jet airplane seen flying here, Sig Ludwig, who is in charge of the Civil Defense "Operation SkyWatch," said this morning. He said all flying objects which could be termed saucers should also be reported.
Ludwig stressed that there is no cause for alarm. He said that the Air Force is trying to determine if civilian personnel can be trained and depended upon for the purpose of civil defense.
The Air Force directs local civil defense units all over the country. In the past they have found civilians helpful in sky-watching, and Ludwig asks that all residents of this vicinity cooperate with the program.
Women and Children, Too
He solicits the aid of women as well as men in reporting, along with all youngsters.
Ludwig said that there are trained observers stationed throughout the Flathead who are instructed to report from their immediate vicinity. They also solicit the aid of the public.
Ludwig said that some of the young people are reluctant to report what could be called flying saucers, for fear of being ridiculed. All reports given will be kept in strict confidence as per the orders of the Air Force, Ludwig said.
Air observers manuals and forms furnished by the Air Force can be obtained at Ludwig's office at 319 Main St. Those wishing to telephone their reports should call the Ludwig residence, dial 6609; William E. Colby, dial 9672; or Col. Ralph Sleator, dial 4519.
Ludwig's special appeal followed the visit here this week of Air Force Lt. Paul J. Sjoblom of the filter center at Helena. Lt. Sjoblom brought with him the manuals and reporting forms, and advised Ludwig that civil defense movies will soon be available for showing in Kalispell.
Ogden, Utah Standard Examiner - 1 Aug 52
'Sausage' Saucer Was 'Ceilometer'
Boise -- The weather bureau today came up with an explanation for the "sausage-shaped" light which hovered over Gowen field late Tuesday night and was added to the latest flying saucer reports. It was the reflection of a "ceilometer" from a cloud. The device is used to determine cloud heights.
Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal - 1 Aug 52
Californians See An Odd Skyful
LOS ANGELES, July 31 -- Four California witnesses said today that they saw "flying ironing boards," cigar shaped objects, "fire discs" and "flying saucers" in the sky late last night.
The weird conglomeration appeared to be spotted mainly in Compton.
Harry T. Laughran, son of Compton's mayor, said that he and his wife observed "a bright ball in the skies" at about 10:40 p.m. "All of a sudden," he said, "it seemed to assume another angle and split into 9 or 10 pieces. Then the lights went out."
Judy Andry reported she saw something at about the same time but it looked like a flying ironing board.
Francis E. Bauer described what he saw as fire discs.
R.A. Lang said that cigar-shaped objects "darted in and out of the clouds above Los Angeles."
Redlands, California Daily Facts - 1 Aug 52
Saucers Seen Over Hollywood Bowl
HOLLYWOOD -- A "flying saucer," apparently unable to rouse an audience in the usual way, tried to steal the show from concert musicians staging a symphony at the Hollywood Bowl last night.
Several persons seated in the Bowl at last night's performance said they saw a "strange white object whiz directly overhead, moving from north to south.
Nancy Spaulding, 21, of Highland Park, her escort, and others sitting near them, all agreed that the light was not from a plane or searchlight. Miss Spaulding said they heard no sound from it and it was visible for approximately one minute.
Another "flying saucer" witness, Douglas Aircraft engineer Raymond D. Angier, wrote out a detailed description of a sighting he made at dusk Wednesday over Burbank.
Angier described how he and his sister-in-law, Mary Angier, first saw "an extremely bright, blue-white light flash on at about 10,000 feet altitude."
He said the arc-like light was "much brighter than 100 airplane landing lights."
Tangier, Morocco Espana - 1 Aug 52
Andujar Residents Report Saucer
The Cifra news agency reports that on the night of 30 July 1952, many residents of Andujar, Spain, saw what was presumed to be a so-called flying saucer. The object was red, round, and approximately the size of a desert dish. It flew noiselessly, at great speed, and left behind a long trail of very bright greenish light.
Oran, Algeria Echo d 'Oran - 1 Aug 52
Observe Unusual Flying Object For Over A Minute
At 1130 hours on 31 July 1952, an Oran resident and his wife, while driving on the road between Saint Denis Du Sig and Le Tlelat, saw something flying in the sky about 1,000 meters up. They stopped the car and watched its course for about 1-1/2 minutes. It was spindle shaped and tapered at both ends. It differed from ordinary aircraft in that it showed no exhaust smoke, made no noise, and bad a great speed.
Racine, Madison, Wisconsin Journal Times - 1 Aug 52
Whence Came the "Saucers"
Like many other businesses, the newspaper business is seasonal. It has its ups and downs, and this is one of the downs. The period of midsummer, from after the Fourth of July until shortly before Labor Day, is known in the trade as the "Dog Days." Nothing happens, and anything that does happen is good for front-page notice somewhat out of proportion to its importance.
This is the season when young men get famous for sitting on flag poles, when individuals who predict next winter's weather by counting stripes of caterpillars get national attention, and when some Scotsman spots a monster in Loch Ness. In brief, this is the screwy season.
We digress from this discussion of the Dog Days to describe another phenomena in the newspaper business: Nothing ever happens one at a time. For example, no man ever gets trapped in a cave for 65 days without another story of a man being trapped in a cave hitting the news columns within a week or two. No little child ever falls down a well in California without another youngster falling down a well, perhaps a thousand miles away, within a few days. News stories come in pairs, sometimes in triplets.
The explanation for this is simple. As a matter of fact, men get trapped and kids fall into holes here and there with some regularity, and with only moderate notice from the nation's press and radio. But, let one such story get national attention for lack of anything more worthy of public excitement, and a market is created for similar stories. The next story of the same type sends the reporters panting and the presses rolling.
Keep these facts in mind -- the national conventions are over, Dog Days have set in on the nation's front pages, the public is panting for a sensation to keep its mind off the heat, and one good story in Maine deserves a carbon copy in California -- and we believe you have the explanation for the scientific puzzle of the year. We don't say there isn't any such thing as a "flying saucer" of some kind. But it's not the Martians or the Russians, dear friends, nor is it the little green men with three eyes. It's the facts of life in the newspaper business that are responsible for the current bumper crop of those saucers.
Madison, Wisconsin State Journal - 1 Aug 52
The Saucer Debate
Editor: The State Journal -- The eagerness of the Air Force to explain away the "Flying Saucer" problem should give us cause for concern. Currently saucer sightings are being blamed on the weather. As a meteorologist with 15 years' experience in watching the sky, I take issue with some of the conclusions and explanations offered by the Air Force.
In all the years I have observed the sky, I have never seen anything remotely resembling the type of phenomena described in saucer reports, but that doesn't deny their existence. Here is why I can't swallow Air Force explanations:
They say: Saucers are optical illusions or reflections that occur during periods of hot and humid weather and when there is a temperature inversion aloft. In other words, a sort of mirage.
Saucer sightings have come from all over the world including polar regions where hot and humid air of tropical origin is unknown. Temperature inversions in the upper air are common and most of the time can be found at some altitude over any given location. They are more pronounced in middle latitudes. These illusions then should be more abundant and should be "old school" to any weather observer, if inversions are to blame.
They say: Some saucer sightings are actually weather balloons that are sent aloft to gather information.
Any weather observer can certify that after a few short minutes it takes a telescopic instrument to follow a weather balloon. Up until the instrument is required they are readily distinguished as a balloon of some sort. Their movements are slow horizontally. They cannot move horizontally across the sky with the phenomenal speeds reported.
They say: Some of the "blips," or unidentified objects, seen on radarmen's scopes are actually reflections from clouds.
This is sometimes true but any radarman can tell you it takes a huge cloud of the thunderhead type to register a blip on his scope. How then have these objects been tracked in almost cloudless skies in Alaska and elsewhere?
Lastly, I would like to know why, if these so-called saucer sightings are a natural phenomena that occur in the atmosphere, during the thousands of years of recorded history, why haven't their appearances been taken for granted? Surely even Aristotle would have dwelt on them if they have been occurring since the beginning of time. They should then be as common and acceptable as lightning.
Just what the saucers are is anybody's guess, but please don't let them hang it on the weatherman. -- Newt the Saucer Sleuth, Madison.
Charleston, West Virginia Daily Mail - 1 Aug 52
It's Not That They Are Incredible
OUR COMPLAINT against "flying saucers" is not that they are incredible. On the contrary we are perfectly willing to believe that they exist and readily accept any theory as to their origin -- the planet Mars, the Soviet imperialists or the Fair Deal, which has just possibly stumbled upon a new and vastly improved crisis as a further justification for its continuation in power. In connection with the latter, it is certainly significant that the objects, if they are objects, did not make their reappearance until after the Democratic convention.
No, the trouble is not that "flying saucers" are incredible, but rather that the people who see them see so many astonishingly different kinds. Some glow and hiss. Some race and dawdle. Some are a gentian blue and others a cherry red. Some have the little people with big eyes, running about smartly and leering at the earthbound. Others seem to be of purest molybdenum with appurtenances of cat's fur, bearing no signs of occupancy and promising no satisfactory method of communication.
We can believe in any one of these details or, perhaps, any several in consistent combination, but the sum of them is impossible. Believing as we do in "flying saucers," we also believe that most of the people who see them do not know what they are talking about.
East Liverpool, Ohio Review - 1 Aug 52
Problem For Philosophers
Since it is now the official credo that people who see flying saucers are not necessarily practical jokers, visionaries, or victims of mass suggestion, it may be admitted further that the flying saucer situation calls for philosophy as well as science.
The most momentous thing which could materialize out of this phenomenon would be proof of life at some other place in the universe. Life capable of developing some means of interplanetary communication.
If this proof were forthcoming, science would be wholly inadequate to the problem which would arise. The problem was revealed bluntly in a recent official statement that jet pilots were under order to shoot down any craft which refused to obey a command to land. Provided the jet pilots could transmit such a command and provided the command could be understood, why should it be assumed that failure to obey it should be a shooting offense?
Would the presence of life somewhere else in the universe be an automatic reason for trying to destroy it?
Must universal war be accepted as the inevitable enlargement of international war if it turns out that the earth is neither the beginning nor the end of the populated universe?
1. The "Plan for the security control of air traffic during a military emergency" mentioned in the Frederick C. Othman column was actually approved on July 15, 1952, preceding the Washington, D.C. sightings by five days.
2. The article "Flying Saucers Become Nuisance to Air Force" states that there were 114 sighting reports to the Air Force in July. In fact, there were in excess of 400 reports for July, 1952, according to the Blue Book listing of case files for that period as well as statements by Capt. Ruppelt, then head of the Air Force investigation.
3. Pfc. Herman Mayher's film, as related in "Photographed Object Is Called Plane's Light" in this post as well as in stories in Parts 15 and 16 of this series, was forwarded to the Director of Intelligence, Washington, D.C. on August 1, 1952. In 1956, Mayher -- then located in and working for a television station in Cleveland, Ohio -- attempted to learn the results of the Air Force analysis of the film. The Air Force denied it had ever received the film. Selected Blue Book documents may be read here.
4. The article "2 Jet Pilots See Object" gives an incorrect time for the sighting. It should be 10:45 a.m. rather than 1:45 a.m. In his 1956 book "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects", Capt. Ed Ruppelt -- head of Project Blue Book in 1952 -- would write that a solution had been found as follows...
At exactly ten forty-five on the morning of August 1, 1952, an ADC radar near Bellefontaine, Ohio, picked up a high-speed unidentified target moving southwest, just north of Dayton. Two F-86's from the 97th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Wright-Patterson were scrambled and in a few minutes they were climbing out toward where the radar showed the UFO to be. The radar didn't have any height-finding equipment so all that the ground controller at the radar site could do was to get the two F-86's over or under the target, and then they would have to find it visually.
When the two airplanes reached 30,000 feet, the ground controller called them and told them that they were almost on the target, which was still continuing its southwesterly course at about 525 miles an hour. In a few seconds the ground controller called back and told the lead pilot that the targets of his airplane and the UFO had blended on the radar-scope and that the pilot would have to make a visual search; this was as close in as radar could get him. Then the radar broke down and went off the air.
But at almost that exact second the lead pilot looked up and there in the clear blue sky several thousand feet above him was a silver- colored sphere. The lead pilot pointed it out to his wing man and both of them started to climb. They went to their maximum altitude but they couldn't reach the UFO. After ten minutes of unsuccessful attempts to identify the huge silver sphere or disk—because at times it looked like a disk—one of the pilots hauled the nose of his F-86 up in a stall and exposed several feet of gun camera film. Just as he did this the warning light on his radar gun sight blinked on, indicating that something solid was in front of him—he wasn't photographing a sundog, hallucination, or refracted light.
The two pilots broke off the intercept and started back to Wright- Patterson when they suddenly realized that they were still northwest of the base, in almost the same location they had been when they started the intercept ten minutes before. The UFO had evidently slowed down from the speed that the radar had measured, 525 miles an hour, until it was hovering almost completely motionless.
As soon as the pilots were on the ground, the magazine of film from the gun camera was rushed to the photo lab and developed. The photos showed only a round, indistinct blob—no details—but they were proof that some type of unidentified flying object had been in the air north of Dayton.
Lieutenant Andy Flues was assigned to this one. He checked the locations of balloons and found out that a 20-foot-diameter radiosonde weather balloon from Wright-Patterson had been very near the area when the unsuccessful intercept took place, but the balloon wasn't traveling 525 miles an hour and it couldn't be picked up by the ground radar, so he investigated further. The UFO couldn't have been another airplane because airplanes don't hover in one spot and it was no atmospheric phenomenon. Andy wrote it off as an unknown but it still bothered him; that balloon in the area was mighty suspicious. He talked to the two pilots a half dozen times and spent a day at the radar site at Bellefontaine before he reversed his "Unknown" decision and came up with the answer.
The unidentified target that the radar had tracked across Ohio was a low-flying jet. The jet was unidentified because there was a mix-up and the radar station didn't get its flight plan. Andy checked and found that a jet out of Cleveland had landed at Memphis at about eleven-forty. At ten forty-five this jet would have been north of Dayton on a southwesterly heading. When the ground controller blended the targets of the two F-86's into the unidentified target, they were at 30,000 feet and were looking for the target at their altitude or higher so they missed the low-flying jet—but they did see the balloon. Since the radar went out just as the pilots saw the balloon, the ground controller couldn't see that the unidentified target he'd been watching was continuing on to the southwest. The pilots didn't bother to look around any more once they'd spotted the balloon because they thought they had the target in sight.
The only part of the sighting that still wasn't explained was the radar pickup on the F-86's gun sight. Lieutenant Flues checked around, did a little experimenting, and found out that the small transmitter box on a radiosonde balloon will give an indication on the radar used in F-86 gun sights.
To get a final bit of proof, Lieutenant Flues took the gun camera photos to the photo lab. The two F-86's had been at about 40,000 feet when the photos were taken and the 20-foot balloon was at about 70,000 feet. Andy's question to the photo lab was, "How big should a 20-foot balloon appear on a frame of 16-mm. movie film when the balloon is 30,000 feet away?"
The people in the photo lab made a few calculations and measurements and came up with the answer, "A 20-foot balloon photographed from 30,000 feet away would be the same size as the UFO in the gun camera photos."
Ruppelt's explanation would be parroted -- and embellished -- seven years later in Dr. Donald Menzel's book, "The World of Flying Saucers". Menzel's embellishment would include "facts" found nowhere in the official report.
However, no supporting documentation for the alleged solution exists in Blue Book files. And in fact Ruppelt's official status report for December 31, 1952 -- a full five months after the incident -- contradicts that conclusion, stating...
The object was not a balloon, since the speed was too fast. A rawinsonde was released at 1500Z and moved off to the east. The object moved against the wind. The blip size was that of a normal aircraft. The object was not a known aircraft because the altitude was too high. The object was not astronomical as dual radar returns eliminate this. Electronic or visual mirage of meteorological phenomenon is out of the question as the radar set was on high beam, and both would not occur simultaneously in the same place. The sighting occurred "above the weather".
That report (and Menzel's embellished account) may be read here.
5. The stories of John Riley and George Stock, as related in "Is This Object, Seen In Passaic, A 'Saucer'?" as well as that of Shell Alpert, as related in "Coast Guard Photo Shows Four White Lights Over Salem Station" will be covered in "Spotlight 1952: The Photographers' Tale", to be posted in two weeks.
6. "Operation Vortex" was a voluntary effort organized and staffed by army reservists who obtained approval from the local commander to use Signal Corp equipment. Further developments will appear in future posts in this series.
7. The California sightings reported in "Saucers Seen Over Hollywood Bowl" produced no investigation other than a document which may be read here.
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