in the news 1952
Above: Illustration for November 1952 feature article in Italy's La Tribuna Illustrata on alleged photos of a landed flying disc taken by Gianpietro Monguzzi in July, 1952 somewhere in the Italian alps. 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...
OCTOBER 21, 1952:
Greenville, Pennsylvania Record Argus - 21 Oct 52
Voice of Broadway
By Dorothy Kilgallen
... Uncle Sam is having a laugh. One of Russia's spy networks over here is working hard to discover the mystery of our flying saucers -- and we're letting 'em go right ahead. Under constant surveillance, of course...
Newswire Report - 21 Oct 52
[Note: The following is a translation of a newswire report found in the files of Project Blue Book. It is most likely a translation of a report from Agence France Presse, but there is no notation of its source in the file.]
Mysterious aircraft made an appearance Tuesday (Oct. 21, 1952) in the sky of the Vosges. At about 7 p.m. local time a witness observed, above the village of Gremifontaine (Vosges), a luminous object shaped like a truncated cylinder, which was moving from west to east at a very high speed, leaving a trail of iridescent spangles.
At the same time, the residents of Frash-le-Chateau (Haute-Seone) saw a sort of luminous cigar crossing the sky from west to east at the speed of a meteor.
OCTOBER 22, 1952:
Traverse, Michigan Record Eagle - 22 Oct 52
Try and Stop Me
By Bennett Cerf
"Fibber" McGee's houseboy interrupted him at dinner to swear he had just seen a huge flying saucer sailing through the sky. "Flying saucer!" scoffed McGee. "That hoax was exposed long ago. Surely you can't still believe in a flying saucer at this late date!" The houseboy answered him earnestly, "Mr. McGee, if I didn't believe it, I wouldn't have seen it!"
OCTOBER 23, 1952:
Mason City, Iowa Gazette - 23 Oct 52
Balloons, sent up as high as 100,000 feet to study cosmic rays, often are reported as flying saucers.
Newswire Report Agence France Presse - 23 Oct 52
Innsbruck, (Tyrol), October 23 -- Three "flying saucers" are said to have been seen in the lower Inn Valley (Tyrol) by a peasant who observed three brilliant bodies moving slowly at a low altitude, remaining in sight about a dozen seconds.
This is the first time in three years that such objects have been reported in the sky of Austria.
OCTOBER 24, 1952:
Thomasville, Georgia Press - 24 Oct 52
Space Toys As Popular as Hopalong
Children today are selecting as their favorite toys, rocket ships, space helmets, flying saucers, and other playthings with an interplanetary tone. According to Melvin Freund, president of the Toy Guidance Council, space toys are selling as fast as they can be produced.
The trend toward space toys began this summer with the widely publicized flying saucer stories. Since that time the craze has move as [sic] fast that it threatens to upset the toy industry's carefully made plans for the Christmas season.
There are many space toys on the market, including guns, telephones, belts, hats, goggles, sunglasses, helmets, holsters, compasses, socmis [sic] smoke guns, atomic rocket launchers, inter-planetary ships, balloons, coloring books, space suits, electric trains, and various articles of clothing, such as socks, ties, boots and others.
If the trend continues with the same momentum into 1953, space equipment will be as hot as Hopalong Cassidy was two years ago.
Beckley, West Virginia Raleigh Register - 24 Oct 52
The newest and most sensational toy on the market. It banks, dives, and does all kinds of things in the air. Flys as high as 3,000 feet. The saucer has no engine, and uses no fuel. The wind makes the scientifically designed wings revolve and lifts the saucer into the air. The thread on the reel determines its course and altitude.
Besides Mars Flying Saucers, we have many unusual gifts and souvenirs. If you collect salt and pepper shakers, you must come in and look around. A complete line of plastic toys, hand-hooked rugs, beautiful bed spreads ... all this and more on sale at ...
Located on the 19-21
By-Pass Near The Blue Star
PLENTY of PARKING SPACE
Canandaigua, New York Daily Messenger - 24 Oct 52
Not Saucers, Canandaigua Saw
Canandaigua was invaded by a fleet of "flying saucers" Thursday night or so city police were led to believe.
About 10 p.m. the police office was receiving many calls by persons living at the east limits of the city. They said they saw flying saucers.
What they did see, it was later discovered, were beams from a large search light which was advertising a new gasoline station in Seneca Falls.
Rocky Mount, North Carolina Evening Telegram - 24 Oct 52
I'm Thinking - by An Old Reporter
...Flying saucers, or the like, have long been seen, if we are to believe a news brief carried over the signature of the Rocky Mount reporter for The Tarborough Southerner on November 20, 1879 which follows: "A singular phenomenon presented itself here on last Saturday night. A light of unusual brilliancy was seen in the Heavens. It was remarked by old citizens that they never saw anything like it before and could not account for it". Probably a flying saucer of early vintage...
OCTOBER 25, 1952:
Albuquerque, New Mexico Tribune - 25 Oct 52
'Sausages' Fly Over Farmington
FARMINGTON, Oct. 24 -- Flying "objects" are back in Farmington after being gone for more than two years.
This town was focal point of a "huge armada" of saucers that reportedly soared over in March, 1950. The latest objects, however, are not saucers but sausages. The first report was received today from three boys who said they saw a shiny cigar-shaped thing hovering in the sky over the town.
The boys were Larry, Jack and Alvin Vandongen. They said the thing was in sight for about five minutes and that it headed south. A similar blimp shaped silvery object was reported by Mrs. Marvin Ellsbury and her adult son, Robert.
In 1950 one of several observers declared the objects watched by townspeople were really tiny bits of cotton floating in the air, but other observers did not agree with him.
Canberra, Australia Times - 25 Oct 52
One Little Man In A Flying Saucer
MILAN, Friday. A claim to have photographed a flying saucer and its pilot was made here by Gian Pietro Monguzzi, 29-year-old draughtsman.
He said that the saucer landed in a glacier of the Bernina group in the Italian Alps two months ago when he was climbing there with his wife.
He claimed that the flying saucer touched down for a few minutes and a figure of human shape wearing a sort of diving suit got out, walked round the saucer as if inspecting it. He then re-entered the saucer and it took off without sound at breathtaking speed and disappeared in the direction of Switzerland.
Cairns, Australia Post - 25 Oct 52
Flying Saucer Photographed In Italian Alps
Claim By Italian Draughtsman
LONDON, Oct. 24 (A.A.P.) -- Reuter's Milan representative says that an Italian draughts man, Gian Pietro Monguzzi (29) claimed to-day he had photographed a flying saucer and its pilot. He said the saucer landed in the glacier Bernina group of the Italian Alps, two months ago when he was climbing there with his wife.
"The flying saucer touched down for a few minutes and a human shape wearing a sort of diving suit got out and walked round the saucer as if inspecting it," he said.
Monguzzi declared the figure then re-entered the saucer and it took off without a sound at breathtaking speed in the direction of Switzerland. He sold the photograph to a [Illegible]
Hayward, California Daily Review - 25 Oct 52
Tomorrow's Sermon Topics
In the pulpit at the 7:15 p.m. evening service of the Foursquare Gospel Church, Hayward, tomorrow will be the Rev. Betty Broadwell who will talk on flying saucers in her sermon "One Minute to Zero."
Long Beach, California Press-Telegram - 25 Oct 52
One Big News Item Writer Would Duck
by SAUL PETT
NEW YORK -- If the first space ship from Mars were to land in my back yard, I'd beg the little men to go away.
This is one big news story I want to avoid. It's not that I'm afraid of people from another world. I'm more afraid of the people in this one.
You see, a few months ago, when lots of folks were seeing "flying saucers" in the sky, I happened to see something. Until now, I've been unable to tell the whole story. I needed time to regain my perspective, to develop some protective scar tissue.
Anyway, while minding my own business at home one night, I saw this orange ball in the sky. It was about the size of a quarter, made no sound and was clearly visible as it moved from horizon to horizon.
Like a good little newsboy, I immediately called my city desk. The next day I ran into a barrage of office humor. Didn't I think complete bed rest was indicated, someone asked. Relax and those spots before your eyes will go away, a lay doctor advised. Could it have been the olive in the Martini, someone else asked.
IN SUBWAYS YET!
A poker-faced photographer cornered me near the water cooler and said he had seen one, too. Seen what, I asked. A flying saucer, he said. Au revoir and good-bye, I said. No kidding, he said "You of all people shouldn't be skeptical, too." All right, I said, where did you see your, flying saucer, Mr. Jones? Cautiously turning left and right, like a pitchman watching for a cop, he whispered, in a subway, pal, in a subway at 86th St.
That night the Air Force announced that Washington radar had picked up certain peculiar objects at the same time I had seen my orange ball over New Jersey. For awhile, I felt like a vindicated hero. Now they quoted me in the news stories.
But the next day I discovered something I never really had appreciated before. When your name appears over a news story, few people notice it. When it appears in the story, as part of the news, you are suddenly swept up in a public momentum completely beyond you. Nothing you can say or do will slow it down.
The delicatessen man, ordinarily quite solicitous, cracked to my wife -- "Your husband is quite a publicity hound, isn't he?"
In another town, friends phoned my mother and asked if I were sick. For a while, it seemed my brother might have to close up his law office or change his name to avoid identification with an hallucinating relative.
At school, kids cross-examined my children about what their father saw. I had visions of the teachers giving my scarred-for-life heirs puzzled, side-long looks.
A local paper wrote an editorial saying I should have had better sense than to report what I did. The editorial suggested either I had been suffering from too much heat or too much alcohol.
Just when the furor seemed to be dying down, I came home one night to find my wife waiting breathlessly.
"They want you on television," she said.
"Nuts," I said, "I've looked silly enough."
"They mentioned money."
So I appeared on television and regretted that, too. I was nervous throughout and later, when I got paid, I wasn't allowed to enjoy the dough. My wife and kids had a long hot seminar on what to do with the money.
A lady in Kiel, Germany, who had read the news stories, wrote me that she and her six children could use cash, too.
And even now there are still people who come up and whisper: "Look, I'm your friend. You can tell me. Did you really see anything that night?"
OCTOBER 26, 1952:
San Antonio, Texas Light - 26 Oct 52
FLYING SAUCERS!! NOT ONE – BUT 20 – COUNT 'EM
Machine that does it is in physics department at St. Mary's university.
Flying Saucer Easy Chore in St. Mary's Lab
Flying saucers, the small, captive variety, are neither new nor strange to students in the new St. Mary's science building.
In fact, they're a minor miracle compared with some of the other things that can be done there.
It's possible, for instance, with the aid of a projectometric balance in the chemistry department to weigh a pencil mark.
A mark one and one-fourth inch long made by a No. 2 pencil tips the scales at one ten-thousandth of a gram, and that's a fact.
Getting back to the saucers, Dr. William J. Hamm, of the physics department insists all atomic physics students have produced the same test-tube kind that received such wide publicity recently.
They form during experiments with electrical discharges in gases.
FLYING SAUCER MILL
Presiding at the machine that makes them was Dr. Joseph Rudolph, head of the physics department. Explaining it in an elementary way, a motor drives a vacuum fore-pump that pulls the air out of a tube. It's connected to a mercury vapor diffusion pump that creates a high vacuum in the tube.
A high-voltage power supply furnishes the electricity to the tube and discharge of the electricity through the tube produces the saucer shapes.
The same thing can happen in the rarefied air at a great altitude
and up there they could shift, change shapes or move at great speed.
Hamm considers this a logical explanation of many of the flying saucers and Rudolph pointed out ionized gas would be detected by radar.
Other items in this beautifully equipped building include communication equipment which can receive or send radio messages all over the world.
Students communicate with other schools in Honolulu, England, Italy and with amateurs in other countries.
Hamm is especially proud of the equipment for the measurement of radioactivity. One item is a Geiger-Mueller counter, an instrument necessary to medical work with isotopes in the treatment of thyroid disturbances.
As yet, this work at local hospitals is in an infant stage and none, other than service hospitals, have the counter.
It can be used to detect where radioactive iodine used in thyroid treatments has gone in the body. For example a blood sample can be placed under the counter tube and the counter will indicate whether the iodine has gone into the blood stream.
Lining the hall and several rooms of the second floor are thousands of stuffed birds and animals, including a freak lamb with three sets of hind legs.
In one room are rows of moths, eggs, bugs, shells and butterflies, by far the most complete collection in San Antonio.
The geology department points with pride to its Spencer polarizing microscope, used for studying optical properties of minerals and identifying them.
Also geology treasures are mastodon remains and dinosaur tracks.
Another chemistry department item is a spectranal, used for detecting the elements present in a sample. This is the same principle used in crime laboratories for identifying paints, blood or other mysterious substances.
An important part of the building is the work shop where some of the science department equipment is made.
The saucer-maker, for example is shop-made, as is the panel board that sends direct current energy to all rooms of the physics department.
Also impressive are the storerooms, for electronic equipment, with rows of equipment, much of it army surplus.
This is the first semester the building is being used, and it's a dream-come-true for the faculty who started planning it before the war.
Completely functional, it has gas, water and light outlets handy to laboratory tables and rooms and storerooms are coordinated.
It should largely increase the local output of physicists, chemists and other scientists, a group that is still far smaller than the demand.
Salt Lake City, Utah Tribune - 26 Oct 52
Come Friday Intermountain youngsters will sally forth to trick or be treated. After the usual door rapping, plus a soaping job or two, the tykes will trickle homeward to enjoy the untroubled slumber that blesses innocents.
T'was different five or 10 centuries ago. No self-respecting Irishman, Scot or Welshman would venture forth by the dark of the moon on Oct. 31st -- or whatever his calendar date was labeled.
Our Irish predecessors had other chores for the day of course. Since they called Halloween "Oidiche Shamhna," we can safely suppose they spent the day -- and much of the night -- arguing over the proper Gaelic pronunciation.
Even rough, tough Roman legionnaires, the boys who spent their business hours making the world safe for J. Caesar suspended chariot traffic on the Appian Way and took to their tents. They toasted a few apples and nuts -- doubtless after shaking down the corner grocer for free samples -- and murmured incantations to a second-class god named Pomona.
No Worries About Pomona
Now that Pomona is in California (complete with a second-rate football team, pecan groves and grapefruit farms) we have no worries on that score. However, many of us can remember when Halloween meant blazing bonfires -- a carry-over from Roman as well as Welsh and Scottish efforts to keep witches at a distance.
For, make no mistake about it, folks in the Highlands and other sectors of the old world saw flying saucers long before the Russians invented radar-scopes. True, the air-borne objects they glimpsed came from the underworld, rather than from interplanetary-space, and the pilots of the era wore black hats and used broom-handles for throttles.
The bigger and brighter your fire -- if you were a druid -- the safer you were an Halloween in those simple times. Obviously, no crone equipped with a tar-colored alley cat was going to venture close to the embers. Ghosts likewise have well-known phobias about singeing their shrouds. They are unafraid of television screens, however. They turn up nightly on our set...
Ada, Oklahoma Evening News - 26 Oct 52
If beings on another sphere have launched any of the flying saucers that some scientists and Air Force experts believe are genuine, we hope they don't find out how dumb we are, hopes the Arkansas Gazette ....
OCTOBER 27, 1952:
Albert Lea, Minnesota Evening Tribune - 27 Oct 52
Report Russia Testing Out New Type of Fighter
LONDON -- The Daily Express said today Russia is experimenting with a rocket-jet fighter plane that takes off and lands vertically to intercept global jet bombers.
Group Capt Hugh Dundas, the paper's air correspondent, said the plane needs no airfield and could operate from a forest clearing. Dundas said the fighter, called a CZ2B, is 54 feet long, has a wing span of 42 feet, is 217 feet high, and weighs 3,874 pounds empty and 6,387 pounds loaded. First information on it came from a microfilm from a Polish technical institute where it was designed, he said.
Dundas said it was "suggested" that a parachute released from the nose of the plane and tail rocket engines may be used to cushion the plane as it settles straight down to the ground.
The Germans experimented with a similar idea during the war, but the only such plane they tinned out disintegrated in the air, Dundas said.
Sydney, Australia Morning Herald - 27 Oct 52
Three S.A. Reports of 'Saucers'
ADELAIDE, Sunday. -- "Flying saucers" were reported last night in three places in South Australia.
The Government astronomer, Mr. Dodwell, said that the object was probably a large meteor.
Three persons travelling in a car near Freeling saw an object about the size of a dinner plate travelling from south to north at terrific speed about 11 p.m.
The object changed colour from red to green and appeared to be spinning. It was visible for several seconds.
BALL OF LIGHT
A Gilberton woman, Mrs. E.C. Rix, of Edwin Terrace, reported that she saw a ball of light above the St. Peters or Norwood district about 11.15 p.m. It was electric blue in colour and seemed to be travelling very slowly and at a low altitude.
A Camden man reported that a pale blue round object flew directly over him from south to north.
OCTOBER 28, 1952:
Biloxi, Mississippi Daily Herald - 28 Oct 52
Special Events Are Outlined By Recreation Head
James D. Hadaway, superintendent of recreation for the city of Biloxi, today outlined a special events program to be carried on in the city each month during the forthcoming year.
Under Hadaway's supervision there will be 12 special events during the year, one for each month and both young and old are requested to take part in making the program a success.
Mr. Hadaway stated that for November when the first of the special events is scheduled to take place, a balloon flying contest will be held.
He said that the contest will be held for both white and colored children and that the winners will be awarded prizes. Also, that the program will be called the flying saucer day...
Salt Lake City, Utah Tribune - 28 Oct 52
School News And Views
Douglas' Posters Depict Solar System
Brushh, Brushh! If you happen to hear this sound as you pass the door of the Douglas School, do not be alarmed as it is only Mrs. Judith MacArthur's class painting some posters for the top floor hall. These posters are about the things in the Solar System. Some of the planets, as you know, are very far off and so we know very little about them. This being the case, the pictures are imaginary. They are also artistic. If you were to look at them you would find spaceships, flying saucers and many other 25th century things. These pictures are very distinct, colorful and interesting.
Winnipeg, Canada Free Press - 28 Oct 52
-- And I've Got A Sister In The Camel Corps
MONTREAL -- A man telephoned a Montreal newspaper today to report seeing five flying saucers at 7.45 a.m.
They were flat, shiny and travelling like jet planes but without sound.
They were up about 10,000 feet.
"Have you ever flown?" asked the reporter on the other end of the telephone.
"No, but I can judge height," came the reply. "I had a brother-in-law in the air force."
St. Joseph, Michigan Herald Press - 28 Oct 52
Tonight on WHFB-FM
6:00 - Songs of Our Times
6:15 - Excursions in Science
6:30 - U.S. Navy Band
6:45 - News and Markets
7:00 - Eddy Howard Show
7:30 - Music in the Morgan Manner
7:45 - Adventures in Research
8:00 - News
8:05 - Sweet and Lovely
8:30 - Music You Want
9:00 - News
9:05 - Flying Saucers
10:00 - WHFB-FM Sign Off
Dunkirk, New York Evening Observer - 28 Oct 52
Voice of Broadway
by Dorothy Kilgallen
HIGH MILITARY BRASS are more worried about those mysterious "sky quakes" over Long Island than they are about any of the flying saucer reports . . .
OCTOBER 29, 1952:
Wellington, New Zealand Evening Post - 29 Oct 52
Cloud of Witnesses
Flying Saucers With Strings
PARIS, Oct. 28 (Rec. 1.30pm) -- About twenty residents of Gaillac, in the south of France, reported today the presence of a formation of white circular objects surrounding something like a giant flying saucer.
As the objects passed overhead they let fall a string of bright white threads which looked like glass would and melted away as soon as they were touched.
A police officer said two of his men reported picking up the thread-like substance, but it melted.
The observers said the objects, slightly swollen at the centre, spun across the sky in formations of two, and were over the area for nearly half an hour.
On October 17 a dozen residents of Imoron, in the Lower Pyrenees, reported that they saw "flying saucers" surrounding a long cigar-like object flying in the clear sky at about 6000 feet.
Wellington, New Zealand Evening Post - 29 Oct 52
This One Made A Noise
DUNEDIN, Today (PA) -- A "flying saucer" was seen over the suburbs of Dunedin yesterday morning, flying at a height of approximately 5000 to 6000 feet, according to a man who stated this morning that he and his wife watched it for 20 minutes.
The observer was Mr. J.P. Burke, an experienced pilot with eight years' flying to his credit, and a former club captain of the Otago Aero Club. He said he was awakened at 2.45am by a ringing metallic noise, very similar to that made by a jet engine with the throttle back. The next minute, as he was wakening his wife, he saw the "flying saucer" through his bedroom window. For fully two or three minutes it flew a straight and level course under 6000 feet, then it began a gradual climb, disappearing out of sight when it reached the cloud base, which he estimated to be at 10,000 feet.
The "flying saucer," he said, looked exactly like an inverted cymbol used by a dance-band drummer. It had a raised portion on the upper centre portion, and directly underneath was an oblong part. The whole machine, making a ringing noise, was covered with a greenish blue phosphorescent light, and was about the size of a Douglas Dakota aircraft.
1. Foreign translations of articles are from the declassified files of Project Blue Book.
2. The Monguzzi photos reported in "One Little Man In A Flying Saucer" and "Flying Saucer Photographed In Italian Alps"...
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