in the news 1952
Above: Map of NATO military exercises from the October 6, 1952 edition of Life magazine. The accompanying story stated, "Along a 2,000- mile front from the Adriatic to the Arctic, the forces of 10 NATO nations, 450,000 men in all, last week wound up the first big test of Western Europe's ability to meet Russian aggression. In Operation Main Brace (map above) an eight-nation naval force with 10 aircraft carriers fought autumn gales to repel "invaders" in Norway. Then it swung south to cover a U.S. Marine landing in Denmark, only minutes by jet from Soviet Baltic bases. In Operation Hold Fast, British, Dutch and Belgian troops tested a "mobile hedgehog" defense against massed land attack. In Operation Equinox, French and U.S. troops made air drops in defense of the Rhine. In Operation Ancient Wall, Italian Alpine troops defended key passes to the Mediterranean. Some operations were not wholly successful. But they represented an approach to the ideal of holding strong points in Europe until the free world's full strength could mobilize." Related stories on Operation Mainbrace 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...
SEPTEMBER 19, 1952:
Salt Lake City, Utah Tribune - 19 Sep 52
Comes a personage whom you should all know. He is a tall, slender man with long hair and full beard, wears a robe and goes barefooted. He and his followers have been televised from coast to coast. He is a world traveler and an authority on Christian progress.
W.K.F.L. FOUNTAIN OF THE WORLD
DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY!
are now spread throughout the world gathering the elect from among all the nations into one place.
What the World Needs Is Spiritual Action!
NOW? NOW! NOW.
THE UNITED ORDER
It's Later Than You Think!
THE GREAT MASTERS OF ANCIENT TIMES
"THERE SHALL BE SIGNS IN THE SKY"
Cosmic vibrations, mental telepathy, dual personalities, reincarnations, hypnotism, spirit visitations, magic cures, robot minds, etc. What is the truth behind all this?
GREEN FIREBALLS, FLYING SAUCERS ... WHAT ARE THEY?
THERE SHALL COME TO MAN A STRANGE TEACHING
$1.00 - ADMISSION - $1.00
SUN., SEPT. 21 2:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M.
TUES., SEPT. 23 8:00 P.M.
WED., SEPT. 24 8:00 P.M.
Winnipeg, Canada Free Press - 19 Sep 52
'Flying Discs' Air Pockets, Experts Hold
MONTREAL -- A group of international radar weather scientists meeting here believe they have found the answer to those flying saucer-type blips that have been sighted on radar screens in Canada, the United States and Britain.
They think the blips, which they term "Angels," are air pockets
in the upper atmosphere. The scientists, who concluded a three-day session yesterday, were told by Professor J.R. Gerhardt of the University of Texas how he had used a flying refractometer to track down the "Angels."
A refractometer, it was explained is a type of compact radar, carried aloft on an airplane in search of "Angels" picked up by ground radar.
Oneonta, New York Star - 19 Sep 52
Mrs. Alfred Layman, 150 Chestnut St., last night reported that relatives and herself spotted two "green and red" flying saucers over Oneida and Chestnut Streets, which later disappeared, "straight up."
Cumberland, Maryland Times - 19 Sep 52
Report Refutes Explanation Of Flying Saucer
A Bowman's Addition resident today took issue with an explanation yesterday of alleged "flying saucers" seen in this area Wednesday night.
Gilbert Kerns claims that an object moving in circles was seen in the Bowman's Addition section at 9:30 p.m. going toward Bedford by a number of residents.
Kerns said the object could not have been a light from a Baltimore and Ohio train as reported yesterday by Aaron J. Ruppert, 312 Furnace Street. First report on the Wednesday "saucers" was that they were seen here about 8:50 p.m.
Portsmouth, Ohio Times - 19 Sep 52
Minego's Sport Gossip
By Pete Minego
If we hadn't known for years that Ed Bodmer of Careys Run is a gentleman of veracity we would have tossed his letter into our capacious wastebasket. But Ed always has stuck to the truth and is abstemious. He said he was sitting on his porch facing east and saw a flying saucer. He said it looked to be about 3 inches in circumference and was as bright as a shaft of lightning. He reported that in a couple of seconds it dipped behind the hills overlooking South Portsmouth. So flying saucers must step on it. Ed avers with all the solemnity that a Carey's Run resident can summon that it was one of them goldern flying saucers without its cup.
Traverse City, Michigan Record-Eagle - 19 Sep 52
Well, here they are -- flying saucers over Traverse City.
City Clerk Clarence Anderson is one of the soundest, sanest gentlemen we know. He can't be stampeded and he doesn't drink. He considers everything carefully and studiously before giving an opinion. We would rely one hundred per cent on any statement he might make.
And it was Clarence who saw them.
Last Saturday night Clarence was fishing near his cottage on Silver lake. Suddenly he saw a pinpoint of red light in the east and then, a few seconds later, a series of blue horizontal lights passing over Traverse City to the northeast. They were going too fast even for jet planes, and there was no noise of planes audible at the time.
There you have it -- flying saucers. No less.
As soon as Clarence very reluctantly recounted what he saw, we immediately went over to his side.
We believe fully and implicitly in flying saucers, and it's going to be a very unhappy day for us, indeed, when somebody proves beyond doubt that there is no such thing.
We want bigger and better flying saucers.
Night after night we stand out in the yard watching the heavens, hoping we can see something that can be interpreted as a flying saucer. We haven't seen anything yet that we could positively identify as one, but we've had some near misses.
Our worst scare came one night when we were looking at the stars and caught a flash of light from the corner of our eye very close to the ground. The thing was flying right into the yard beneath the trellis. It turned out to be a lightning bug, but for an instant we expected to be captured by a lot of funny looking men, shoved inside a flying saucer and spirited away to Mars.
Unfortunately, we weren't looking at the stars Saturday night, when Clarence saw his saucers.
There must be other people around the region who have seen these gimmicks racing across the sky and, if there are, we'd like to hear about it.
If anybody else but Clarence Anderson had reported them we wouldn't have believed it, as much as we would like to. But when Clarence says anything, it's the gospel, as far as we're concerned.
We are fully convinced that he saw something and that the something was a flying saucer.
Alton, Illinois Evening Telegraph - 19 Sep 52
More Persons in Area See Odd Light in Sky
The East Alton woman who reported the strange "light" in the eastern sky which she has observed between 10:30 and 11:30 nightly for the last month has found out that others have seen it and have been equally baffled.
Mrs. Elbert Newell, 144 Illinois Ave, East Alton, informed the Telegraph today that, since publication of her observation in Wednesday's Telegraph, she has received 23 telephone calls, all from people who informed her they have seen the mysterious "thing" in the sky, too.
Mrs. Newell says she isn't one to believe it's a flying saucer or anything like that but since it has appeared and is so much unlike any known phenomena (such as an unchartered [sic] star) that her curiosity and interest has been greatly aroused.
Of all the people who called, none could offer a guess as to the nature of the "light" but all agreed it was no star. They gave Mrs. Newell their names and addresses. She listed her callers according to location and came up with two in Roxana, four Wood River, six East Alton, one Cottage Hills, three Hartford, one Bethalto, one Lincoln Addition, one Upper Alton, three North Alton, one Godfrey.
The mysterious luminous sky object put in its appearance again Wednesday night about 10:45, Mrs. Newell said. She said it came up above the horizon and was "weaving back and forth" and was "like a balloon".
(One theory that it might be an advertising dirigible over St. Louis has been counted out).
A letter to the editor of the Telegraph, signed "Webb Buckley, Box 121, Alton" asserts the mysterious light is a reflection of army searchlights. These searchlights, the letter relates, can be seen hundreds of miles. The light is reflected from the "heaviside" [sic] layer high above the earth, the letter continues, and the stem of the beam may not be seen at all. The "spot" of the light may be seen reflected on frozen vapor while the stem is not visible, the writer asserts.
Great Bend, Kansas Daily Tribune - 19 Sep 52
Two more eyewitnesses of the flying saucer, meteor or whatever it may have been that was seen coursing through the skies Monday night have now reported. They are Mrs. C.J. Tomnitz, 1615 Adams, and her son, Allen, who were driving two miles north of Dartmouth Monday at about 8:30 p.m. when they saw the object in the sky. It was traveling east and they thought at first it was an airplane, but it was going too fast for that, Mrs. Tomnitz said. It finally disappeared in the east.
Panama City, Florida News Herald - 19 Sep 52
NAVY USES GUIDED MISSILES -- The Navy has confirmed use of guided missiles against the enemy in Korea. Tested in combat, the pilotless Navy Hellcats fly in enemy action armed with a television eye and a 2,000-pound bomb fastened to their underbelly. A "queen" Hellcat follows each. The mother plane picks up the drone shortly after it is airborne and directs it via a TV transmitter to its target. In the photo at left, a pilotless "drone" (foreground) is shown after it was picked up by mother plane following a practice run from the Carrier Shangri-La. Picture at right shows a "remote control" pilot test flying one of the planes at San Diego, Calif. The "kamikazes" have been flown from carrier bases against such objectives as a power plant and bridge tunnel entrance (NEA Telephoto).
Robot Planes $300 Reply
Navy Finds Cheap Weapon For Low-Level Bombing
by Ruth Cowan
WASHINGTON -- The Navy today sees in its "pilotless suicide planes" a possible $300 answer to low-level bombing, a special problem that has been costly in lives in Korea.
That $300 is the approximate cost given by a Navy representative for converting a $60,000 obsolete plane -- of which the Navy has thousands in mothballs -- into a needed weapon in the mountainous terrain of Korea.
This, several Navy representatives said in interview, is the reason for Navy enthusiasm over the latest news in air warfare -- Navy robot planes, equipped with television eyes and a 2,000 pound bomb, which dived onto North Korean targets.
But the Navy was cautious about making any claims. Rear Adm. John H. Sides, director of guided missiles, cautioned against talk about "the push-button age in warfare" being here.
And the Air Force said in reply to a query that expendable "war-weary" Bl7s and B24s, loaded with 18,500 pounds of high explosives, were used as pilotless guided missiles on five combat missions during World War II.
Navy representatives explained that the type of fighting in the mountains of Korea means that planes have to fly low to find and strike enemy targets in the valleys. That brings the planes within close range of enemy anti-aircraft fire -- and the Navy admits this has been effective.
Navy spokesmen now describe the converted Grumman Hellcat [sic, verb missing] Sept. 1 from the aircraft carrier Boxer, as so efficient that it can be directed into a railway tunnel. They said this was done with one of the pilotless craft.
The Hellcat used in the first combat test lambasted a target 150 miles from the carrier. But Navy representatives said its television-guided robots would have a range of about 900 miles -- and need not be within sight of a remote control "mother" plane.
At Pearl Harbor, the commander of the carrier task force which launched the first robot attack on North Korea hinted the explosion might have been seen in Soviet Russian territory.
Rear Adm. Apollo Soucek said targets for that and subsequent robot strikes were picked from a normally-assigned list. Soucek would not discuss specific targets but on Sept. 1, the day of the first attack, carrier-launched craft hit deep in Northeastern Korea at Musan on the Manchurian border and Aoji on the Soviet Siberian border.
Soucek said one robot target was a hydroelectric plant and another was a bridge. If either was at Aoji, the explosive crash was within sight and sound of guards on the Soviet Siberian border.
SEPTEMBER 20, 1952:
New Castle, Pennsylvania News - 20 Sep 52
New U.S. Air Base In Greenland
THULE AIR BASE, GREENLAND -- Trucks roll along road as work progresses on recently revealed U.S. air base project. Attwell huts (left-background) provide housing. Supplies visible include crates of insulated housing panels (in front of huts at left), oil drums (left-foreground, and gravel piles right).
New Castle, Pennsylvania News - 20 Sep 52
U.S. Base On Top Of The World
Site of Thule base in Greenland, Greenland, and Ellesmere Island, world's northernmost weather station only 442 miles from the North Pole. Area shown in black on map encompasses NATO nations.
Fitchburg, Massachusetts Sentinel - 20 Sep 52
Hal Boyle's Column
NEW YORK -- A bleak vista of terror is opened as warfare slowly turns from the guided muscle to the guided missile.
The further development of these deadly flying mechanical brains that have no heart cannot lessen the scourge of war. It can but increase it in any future widespread conflict.
The few missiles tested so far by the U.S. navy in the Korean laboratory are already old-fashioned and interim weapons. They were old pilotless battle planes -- drones -- fitted with a television eye and electronic brains. Escorting piloted plans [sic], hovering out of range of ground gunfire, directed the drones visually to their targets.
Their big advantage: They merely enabled the escorting fliers to bomb enemy positions more accurately without risking being hit by anti-aircraft fire themselves. This advantage would be nullified, of course, in a real all-out air battle as the escorting planes would be under attack from enemy fliers.
America has better weapons -- still secret -- than these drones, and the drone-bombings in Korea can be regarded only as an experimental expedient designed to test equipment and cut down our pilot losses.
Weapons at present are in a transitional stage, a compromise between those used in the last war and those foreseeable in the not-too-distant future. The drone of today probably bears as much resemblance to the drone of tomorrow as a World War I observation balloon does to a B-36 bomber.
The pattern of what lies ahead probably was given by the Germans in their siege of Britain in 1944 and 1945 with buzz bombs and V-2 rockets launched from the European mainland.
Put a television eye, an electric brain, and an atom bomb in a transcontinental rocket and you will have true push-button warfare -- and this nightmare goal does not seem impossible to a scientific generation that appears able to invent everything except peace.
A "kamikaze robot" such as this has all the soldierly qualities a general most admires -- the ability to report back its exact position at any moment, give him a view of the battlefield, obey any order with perfect discipline, and attack without hesitancy any target chosen.
With armies of these flying robots under their command, a general in a dugout near Memphis and a general in a bunker near Minsk could play rival keyboards of destruction on their enemy's cities. Push a button -- Moscow crumbles. Push another button -- where is Washington?
If this be a dream, it is the dream of grownup children today to be able to do just that. And step by quickening step there is a growing ability to make that dream come true.
Heroism and responsibility in war threaten to go the way of medieval chivalry. For no man can build a heart into a machine, and the battling rocket robots -- if they ever are unleashed -- will pick their victims with the same conscience shown by a tornado.
Hagerstown, Maryland Morning Herald - 20 Sep 52
Saucers May Be Flying Around Potomac River
People who live along the Potomac River in the western half of Washington County can be on the lookout for flying saucers if this sort of weather continues.
Already this week, a good proportion of Cumberland has been aroused by a flying saucer. The same sight is quite possible along the Potomac west of Clear Spring in this county. But the cause is known -- railroad trains.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad unwittingly touched off the flying saucer excitement in Cumberland the other day.
Some of its crack passenger trains are equipped with an extremely powerful light on one of the coaches, aimed at the sky. This Mars light, similar to airplane beacon lights, is used by train crews for signalling purposes.
Ordinarily, no one excepting the trainmen pay attention to the light. But occasionally low-hanging clouds like those that have prevailed this week can cause a saucer-shaped reflection to appear.
That's what happened in Cumberland. In fact, it took a brewery worker to explain away the flying saucers. Railroad officials hadn't realized they were causing the phenomenon.
The B & O's track's [sic] run along the Potomac River, on the West Virginia side, all the way from a point south of clear Spring to the Allegany County line.
Something similar to this phenomenon occurred here repeatedly in recent Septembers, when the Cetlin-Wilson shows were the midway attraction at the Hagerstown Fair. Their spotlights, circling around the sky, frequently hit low clouds or mist, but the resulting saucers caused no excitement here, with the cause plainly obvious.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Star and Sentinel - 20 Sep 52
Says "Saucer" Was Like Comet
The "Flying Saucer" reported from Baltimore, Hagerstown, Harrisburg, York and other nearby cities at 8 o'clock last Friday night, appeared to be a meteor when seen in the Seven Stars district, according to a report received Monday.
Thomas Oyler, Gettysburg R. 3, a past president of the state Cherry Growers Association, saw the object at 8:10 o'clock Friday night as he left his fruit stand at Seven Stars.
"The meteor," Oyler said, appeared low, but he added that with objects in the sky, without knowledge of their actual size no estimate can be made of height.
He added that, "The object seemed to be moving very slow in comparison with the speed of meteors, but again, without knowledge of height and size, no judgment can be made of speed."
During the "four or five seconds" in which the object appeared in sight, it seemed to be orange colored and glowing, and seemed to be sacting [sic] off small portions of itself which followed more slowly after the larger body. Since the object seemed to be headed toward the earth in the Cashtown-Fairfield area, Oyler drove through that section, but failed to discover any evidence of the meteor.
He was hoping to hear from other persons who may have seen the object, before making a report of it to the amateur astronomers association.
Austin, Minnesota Daily Herald - 20 Sep 52
CHARLES WILLARD, Austin High School science teacher, never put much stock in "flying saucers," although he has frequently discussed the phenomenon in his classes. But when the wife of an Austin pastor reported seeing some, Willard admitted "they must have been up there."
The science teacher admits he has frequently scanned the night skies because he is anxious to see what is flying around. So far, it seems, he has picked the wrong nights. If he does glimpse them, he says he will be happy to compare his saucer findings with those of others.
Lawrence, Massachusetts Eagle - 20 Sep 52
"Flying Saucer" Seen Over City
Two Young Men Make Startling Discovering [sic] -- Notify Air Force
A "Flying Saucer," the aerial phenomena which has authorities baffled in their attempt to determine its identity and makeup, was observed by two youths in the Concord street area shortly before 1:30 a.m. today.
The young men, Raymond Sharkey, 20 Birchwood road, Methuen, and Robert Sullivan, 61 Arlington street, hurriedly advised authorities at the Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee of their observation.
Sullivan said that the "saucer," which he described as elliptical in shape, made no noise in its flight which appeared to be sideways. "In fact," he said, "it looked like a little white cloud and was flying at a terrific rate of speed.
"It was flying very high and we were able to observe it for about ten seconds before it disappeared from our view over one of the tall buildings. It was heading north.
"We just can't believe it. I was skeptical once, and thought it was a reflection people saw but I've changed my mind now," Sullivan declared.
Tucson, Arizona Daily Citizen - 20 Sep 52
Montana Sees 'White Object' Streak Sky
HELENA, Mont. -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation, highway patrol and police officers investigated today a strange white object which streaked across Montana's sky for about 100 miles.
The strange object appeared late last night, and the law enforcement officials traced it from Bozeman to this city; it was also sighted over two other Montana cities, Boulder and Butte.
Highway patrol officer Jess Fryett reported seeing it about 10 p.m. over Bozeman and it was sighted an hour and a half later over Helena.
Officials of the Civil Aeronautics Administration said there was no plane in the sky that could have been mistaken for the white object.
CAA officials said an FBI man from Bozeman followed the object after it was first sighted. They did not say what it looked like, except that it was described us a white light.
Officers of the Helena police said it did not look like their conception of a "flying saucer."
Only recently orange lights were sighted in Montana skies and many people thought they were a recurrence of aerial phenomena that appeared in the southwest last year.
Helena, Montana Independent Record - 20 Sep 52
Naval Maneuvers Report 'Saucers'
TOPCLIFFE, England -- "Operation Mainbrace" headquarters here opened a new signal file today: "Flying saucer sightings and movements."
The air ministry said they are investigating a report a silver colored circular object was spotted yesterday by RAF planes from this airfield taking part in the big Atlantic pact naval exercises.
Crewmen of a bomber said they saw the object moving through the sky about 15,000 feet up at a speed faster than a shooting star.
During the brief glimpse -- between 15 and 20 seconds -- the object was reported to have switched its course and then seemed to descend.
Later an air ministry meteorological office spokesman suggested "the object could have been a meteorological balloon. They are released daily."
The silver-colored balloons are about six feet in height.
Winnipeg, Canada Free Press - 20 Sep 52
'Flying Saucer' Joins In Manoeuvres
TOPCLIFFE, England -- A "flying saucer" entered the eight-country Operation Mainbrace today.
The R.A.F. base here reported to exercise headquarters that an unidentifiable circular silver object had been sighted 15,000 feet above the airfield.
The object, which appeared five miles behind a jet fighter, maintained a slow forward speed before descending in a swinging pendulum motion. Then it began a rotary motion about its own axis and accelerated at an incredible speed in a westerly direction but later turned southeast.
It was seen by R.A.F. officers and men on the airfield. No one could identify it. The whole incident lasted between 15 and 20 seconds.
One R.A.F. officer said it might have been a smoke ring caused by one of the jet engines suddenly clearing after a temporary blockage. The ring might have been caught in an air current, and with the sun shining on it it could have looked like a "flying saucer," he said.
New Castle, Pennsylvania News - 20 Sep 52
British Airmen Report 'Saucer'
PITREAVIE, Scotland, Sept. 20. -- RAF officers in the NATO maneuvers operation Mainbrace headquarters today investigated a report that a flying saucer was sighted.
Ten officers and enlisted men in an RAF bomber plane reported yesterday that they saw a silver circular object following a British pursuit plane over Yorkshire.
They said the object, with a rotary motion about its own axis, suddenly accelerated at incredible speed and vanished before they could get closer.
Yorkshire, England Evening Press - 20 Sep 52
Topcliffe Airmen Sight A "Flying Saucer"
THE captain of a Coast Command Shackleton aircraft at R.A.F. Station, Topcliffe, to-day told an "Evening Press" reporter about the "flying saucer" which he saw while he was standing near a hangar on the station.
He is Flight Lieutenant John William Kilburn (31), of Thornhill, Cumberland, who has been in the R.A.F. for 16 years, 11 of them as aircrew. He said: "I noticed a white object and assumed that its height was between 10,000 and 20,000 feet. It was five miles astern of a Meteor jet aircraft. It was silver in colour, circular in shape and looked to be solid. The sun was glistening on it."
It appeared to be travelling at a much slower speed than the Meteor but on a similar course. It maintained its slow forward speed for several seconds before it started to descend, then began swinging with a pendulum action, something similar to a falling sycamore leaf.
"I thought it might be a parachute or an engine cowling at first sight.
"The Meteor turned towards Dishforth and this object followed suit. After a few seconds it stopped its pendulum motion and started to rotate about its own axis. It then made off at an incredible speed towards the west turning southeast before disappearing."
Matter Of Seconds
Flight Lieutenant Milburn added: "All this was in 15 or 20
[Remainder of article unavailable]
Harstad, Norway Harstad Tidende - 20 Sep 52
Unidentified Object Over Norwegian Town
On 18 September, at 1400 hours, three forestry workers who were working right outside Kirkenes noticed a flat, round object hovering motionless at about 500 meters altitude. The object appeared to have a diameter of 15-20 meters. After the workers had observed the object for a while, it suddenly flew away at great speed in a northwesterly direction.
It appears that only these three workers saw the object; they swear, however, that their report is true.
Charleston, West Virginia Gazette - 20 Sep 52
To: Flamex IV, Secretary
Martian Hiking and Space Patrol Club
Cadrex. Llandeth. Mars.
This is to inform you of my resignation from the Martian Hiking and Space Patrol Club. Though you will probably not believe them, here are my reasons:
As an intelligent Martian, I always have believed that ours is the only inhabited planet. Imagine my horror and surprise to discover otherwise.
Several days ago, I landed my ship on the third planet to do a little hiking and perhaps bring back some specimens of the flora.
I landed on a small hill and got out, making certain to release the protective gases so the noxious air of this world could not reach me.
As I left my craft, seven things loomed up before me. I was terror stricken. Each of them had two appendages in front of them and stood on two others. They had only one head apiece with two wide eyes, one nose and a mouth filled with sharp, pointy teeth. Instead of our chain mail, they were covered with some sort of cloth. They also had hair -- imagine!
One of them held an auxiliary eye in its hand with which it looked at me. They began uttering shrill animal cries and one of them leaped into the air. They definitely were not friendly. I leaped back into my craft and got away as quickly as possible.
You may consider this a crank letter, but I shall never go back there again. My doctor says my heart will not stand another such shock. Please accept my resignation and forward the remainder of my membership dues.
SEPTEMBER 21, 1952:
Salt Lake City, Utah Tribune - 21 Sep 52
To Answer Puzzle
Watchers to Shed Moonlight on Travels of Birds
NEW YORK, Sept. 20 -- A lot of moonlight will be shed this fall on the age old mysteries of bird migration.
The trick will be accomplished by amateur and professional bird watchers who answer an appeal from experts at the museum of zoology, Louisiana State University, to train telescopes at the full moon and report the birds seen crossing its face during the fall migration period now under way.
A telescope of 19 power or more must be used, and one that shows the whole face of the moon.
Moon watching for this purpose, done widely for the first time in the last few years, already had yielded amazing information. George H. Lowrey Jr., curator of the museum, expects the observations of more than 200 volunteers this fall to provide still further details. Sightings will be taken from Northern Canada to Southern Mexico and in 46 states of the Union.
Writing in Audubon magazine, Robert J. Newman, assistant curator at the museum, relates that Dr. Lowrey started the project in 1946.
It has been called "an entirely new branch of ornithology, the ultimate limits of which are not yet in sight," by George G. Williams, an English professor at Rice University in Houston, Tex., and also a recognized ornithologist.
Here are some of the things learned already:
Florida is not the popular migration path supposed.
Rarely do birds fly in flocks at night.
Instead of migrating all night, or migrating just after sunset and before sunrise, birds seem to rest in early evening and before dawn, and fly the most around midnight.
Birds sometimes fly southward in spring, and tend to ride prevailing winds to their destination.
Dr. Lowrey's first objective was to determine whether birds actually cross the Gulf of Mexico on migration as long supposed or whether they detour it as some recent theorists hold. He recalled that observations of birds flying across the face of the moon had been published half a century ago but had not been pursued because there seemed no good way of evaluating such information.
Taking his problem to Prof. W.A. Rense of the department of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State, he got a solution.
Mathematical formulas could be applied to tell the number crossing a mile of the earth's surface in an hour.
The observer jots down the apparent size of the bird, its speed, the clarity of the focus, and the direction and curvature of the bird's path. A pamphlet telling just how to do it is available from the museum.
Long Beach, California Independent Press-Telegram - 21 Sep 52
RELIGION -- "Faith for Today," on KECA (7) at 12:30 p.m. has the Flying Saucer question on program as it starts its third year on TV...
1. More articles on reports during Operation Mainbrace will appear in Part Forty-Three.
2. Translations from foreign-language articles are from the files of Project Blue Book.
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