A Tale of Intrigue from 1947
Above: A thunderstorm over Phoenix, Arizona.
IT WAS JULY 7, 1947, the Monday following the July 4th weekend.
A thunderstorm had just passed through Phoenix.
William Rhodes was in his back yard when he thought he heard a jet.
Looking up, he saw an elliptical object flying out of the east at a fantastic speed.
Now closer, it spiraled downwards.
Rhodes ran for his camera.
He snapped one picture.
Suddenly, the strange craft zoomed upwards at an angle.
Rhodes snapped another picture
The thing disappeared into the clouds.
A man of many talents, Rhodes developed the photos himself -- the first pictures of a flying disc.
Or so he claimed...
Above: Sketch by Kenneth Arnold.
TWO WEEKS EARLIER, on June 25, 1947, a minor news report had appeared in the Pendleton, Oregon, East Oregonian...
Impossible! Maybe, But Seein' Is Believin', Says Flier
Kenneth Arnold, with the fire control at Boise and who was flying in southern Washington yesterday afternoon in search of a missing marine plane, stopped here en route to Boise today with an unusual story -- which he doesn't expect people to believe but which he declared was true. He said he sighted nine saucer-like aircraft flying in formation at 3 p.m. yesterday, extremely bright -- as if they were nickel plated -- and flying at an immense rate of speed. He estimated they were at an altitude between 9,500 and 10,000 feet and clocked them from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Adams, arriving at the amazing speed of about 1200 miles an hour. "It seemed impossible," he said, "but there it is -- I must believe my eyes."
He landed at Yakima somewhat later and inquired there, but learned nothing. Talking about it to a man from Ukiah in Pendleton this morning whose name he did not get, he was amazed to learn that the man had sighted the same aerial objects yesterday afternoon from the mountains in the Ukiah section! He said that in flight they appeared to weave in and out in formation.
Ridiculed at first, reports began to pour in daily of similar sightings, first in the Pacific Northwest, then over Idaho, California, the Mid-West, and Canada and finally -- according to the Associated Press -- being reported from over 30 states.
Then came the July 4th weekend, and sightings spiked nationwide -- including one of simultaneous sightings of multiple discs by sheriffs in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, and a similar report by dozens of picnickers in Idaho. But the report generating the most news coverage that weekend would be the first sighting ever by an airline crew in flight, as reported in the July 5th edition of the Portland, Oregon, Oregonian...
Air Liner Crew Confirms Flying Discs Over State
Many Seen During Day Over City
Reports of two to 20 fantastic "flying discs" over the Portland-Vancouver area Friday were confirmed by the crew of a westbound Boise-to-Portland United Airlines plane. Their report, detailed enough to shake the most incredulous, left them equally shaken. "No object I know of could disappear so quickly," Capt. E.J. Smith, veteran pilot of the plane, reported in an interview at Portland.
THREE SIGHT OBJECTS
He, First Officer Ralph Stevens and Stewardess Marty Morrow all saw the objects, which appeared to be 30 or more miles away, eight minutes after take-off from Boise at 9:04 PM, and had them -- nine in all -- under observation for an estimated 10 to 15 minutes.
Seen from approximately the same altitude, the UAL crew could give no clue to their shape, other than that they were "very thin, very flat on the bottom, and appeared to be rough or irregular on top. They are not aircraft. They are bigger than aircraft." ...
Two days later, William Rhodes had his claimed sighting and told his story to the Phoenix, Arizona, Arizona Republic newspaper, which on July 9, 1947, published Rhodes' story and pictures -- placing them prominently on the front page...
This flying object was twice snapped at dusk Monday as it circled north of Phoenix. William A. Rhodes, 4333 North 14th street, first shot the picture at the left as the slow-flying object was approaching him. As it banked to make a tight turn, he obtained the picture above, showing clearly the shape of the object. In seconds, Rhodes said, the "disc" shot away to the west at high speed. It had made three whirling turns north of the city, after approaching from the west. Aircraft identification experts yesterday would not hazard opinions on the object's nature.
Speedy 'Saucer' Zips Through Local Sky
By ROBERT C. HANIKA
THE FIRST clearly recorded photographs of what is believed to be a mysterious "flying disc" which has 33 states in America and even a few foreign countries on edge with its peculiar activities, was taken by an amateur Phoenix photographer.
Reproduced in the Arizona Republic today, the photographs were made by William A. Rhodes, 4333 North 14th street, who was on his way to his workshop in the rear of his home when he heard the distinctive "whoosh" of what he believed to be a P-80 or Shooting Star jet-propelled plane.
Rhodes snatched a camera from his workshop bench and by the time he reached a small mound at the rear of his home, the object had circled once and was banking in tight circles to the south at an altitude of approximately 1,000 feet, he said.
IN THE overcast sky, the object continued its speedy flight from north to south and directly east of his stance. Rhodes snapped the hurtling missile by sighting alongside his box camera.
Quickly rolling up his last piece of film, Rhodes awaited the return of the craft which continued in a clockwise movement over his home and as it disappeared into the west, the second shot was taken.
Rhodes described the object's disappearance as phenomenal since it apparently winged over and shot up into the ether.
"I don't think it was a P-80 since I have observed many of them over here. Also, the fact it made no other sound after the first pass over the house," Rhodes said, "makes me believe it was some other type of aircraft. In its three flights over the house there was not a sound, even when it zoomed into the southwest," he said.
Men long experienced in aircraft recognition studied the prints and the negatives from which they were made and declined to make guesses on what the flying object might be.
Rhodes' first shot was made as the object approached and showed it to be somewhat cigar-shaped, but with motion-lines on the film which indicated it was turning at high speed either edgewise or in a flat spin.
The second, as the object "banked" in a tight turn, showed an object much in the shape of a heel of a shoe, with a small hole in the center. The white mark also showed in the first picture.
Rhodes said there were twin trails of vapor trailing from the points or edges of the rear of the "heel."
In different circumstances the photographs might have drawn considerably more attention, but on the same day as the article appeared in Arizona, a different story was grabbing all the national headlines, as for instance from the Roswell, New Mexico, Daily Record:
RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region
No Details of Flying Disk Are Revealed
The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.
According to information released by the department, over authority of Maj. J. A. Marcel, intelligence officer, the disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had notified Sheriff Geo. Wilcox here, that he had found the instrument on his premises.
Major Marcel and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk, it was stated.
After the intelligence officer here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquarters.
The intelligence office stated that no details of the saucer's construction or its appearance had been revealed.
The story arc was moving on quickly, and William Rhodes was being left behind.
Left: Brigadier General George Schulgen
BEHIND THE SCENES at the Pentagon, a small, high-ranking group had already been seriously collecting intelligence on the emerging phenomenon of flying disc reports. The highest ranking of the men involved was Brigadier General George Schulgen, the number-two man in the Directorate of Intelligence.
The effort of Schulgen and his group had not been prompted by the daily headlines, but by worrisome reports coming in from military installations. General Schulgen ordered that base intelligence officers gather any local reports and forward them to Washington. And so on July 14, 1947, a report was filed from Williams Field in Chandler, Arizona:
WILLIAMS FIELD, CHANDLER,
14 July 1947
MEMORANDUM FOR THE OFFICER IN CHARGE:
On 8 July 1947, this Agent obtained pictures of unidentifiable objects, (Exhibits 1 and 2) from the managing editor of the Arizona Republic newspaper. The pictures were taken by Mr. William Rhoads [sic], 4333 N. l4th St., Phoenix, Arizona, at sunset, on 7 July 1947. The Subject objects flew at unconceivable speeds, making three circles in the vicinity of Mr. Rhoads home. The pictures were taken with a box camera, size 620. The photograph (Exhibit 1) was taken as the object passed in front of Mr. Rhoads, and Exhibit 2 as the object turned towards Mr. Rhoads. The height of the object was estimated at 1000 feet.
AGENT'S NOTES: See Exhibits 1 and 2, photographs of unidentifiable objects, enlarged approximately 20 times. No further reports have been received by this office of objects seen by military personnel.
Lynn. C. Aldrich, Special Agent, EIC - AAF, FDTRC
Special Agent Aldrich's report indicated he had seen the photos before the paper went to press. And although there is no mention of how the pictures came to Aldrich's attention, it is reasonable to suppose that the editor of the Arizona Republic had initiated the contact, not wanting to compromise national security by inadvertently publishing pictures of a secret military aircraft. If so, Aldrich apparently made no objection and the pictures were published the next day.
And thus, probably unknown to Rhodes himself, the name William Rhodes (albeit misspelled) first appeared in a government report to be kept on file.
Left: Colonel Howard McCoy
SOME TIME THAT JULY, General Schulgen's group at the Pentagon also reached out to the intelligence analysis division headquartered at Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, Ohio through the person of Col. Howard McCoy, whose rank at the base was Deputy Commanding General, Intelligence. While the specialty of the Pentagon group headed by General Schulgen was the collection of intelligence, the Technical Intelligence Division of the Air Material Command at Wright Field was the heavyweight for analysis of the data.
Col. McCoy's expertise was in engineering, and his intelligence specialty was analysis of foreign air power -- including a stint in post-war Germany collecting information on cutting-edge German aviation technology. For this new effort regarding flying discs, he would partner with his executive officer, Col. William Clingerman.
A small group of analysts began to coalesce around McCoy, becoming an informal projects group. Reports were forwarded from Washington, and the group would take over investigation. In August, they requested Rhodes be personally interviewed by the local CIC (Counter Intelligence Corps) office, and in September a report was filed:
RHODES, William Albert
MEMORANDUM FOR THE OFFICER IN CHARGE
Investigation of "Flying
2 September 1947
On 9 August 1947 in the presence of S/A Brower (FBI Office, Phoenix, Arizona) Mr. William Albert Rhodes was interviewed at his residence at 4333 North 14th Street, Phoenix, Arizona, in connection with investigation of the "Flying Discs". Mr. Rhodes stated that on the afternoon of 7 July 1947 immediately following a local thunderstorm, at about 1600 hrs., he was walking from his home toward his workshop (located approximately 100 ft. directly back of the house) when he heard a noise in the east which sounded to him very much like the approach of a jet airplane, possibly a P-80. He stopped and looked to the east but saw nothing for several seconds. A few seconds later, however an object appeared from the north-east. The object seemed elliptical in shape with a diameter of 20-30ft. At first sight, it appeared to be at about 5000ft., traveling about 400 to 600 MPH. Its color was grey, which made it blend into the clouds and difficult to see at a distance. As soon as it appeared in the north-east, the object spiraled downward reaching a level of about 2000ft. at the end of its second spiral, and then started upward into the west at an angle of 45 degrees, disappearing into the cumulus clouds which appeared to be at about 5000ft. at that time. The object was visible from the time of its appearance in the north-east to its disappearance into the west about 60 seconds. In spite of the fact that a noise was heard prior to the appearance of the object, while in view, it produced no audible sound. The tail of the object had two points on the outside area, visible as it made its two left-to-right circles, which had an approximate radius of 1/4 to 1/2 miles. The object had what looked like a cockpit canopy in the center extending toward the back and under the object. The cockpit did not protrude from the surface but was clearly visible with the naked eye. The object was not revolving on its own axis. It had no air foil (tapered from wing tip to wing tip). Mr. Rhodes stated that it is possible he did not hear the object while it was in sight because of the rustling of tree leaves set up by a wind velocity of 10-15MPH. He also stated that the first sight of the object caused him to think it might be the Navy's new Flapjack plane illustrated on the cover of the May 1947 issue of "Mechanix Illustrated". He later altered his opinion because the object appeared to have no landing gears and no propellers, and the Navy ship is illustrated as having both. Rhodes stated that immediately after the object had started into its first spiral he ran to get his camera, which he kept loaded and set at all times for the purpose of taking candid action shots of his family and which he kept right inside the door of the workshop. By the time he returned with it, the object had completed one circle and had started on its second. At the same time he called to his wife who was in the house, but by the time she arrived in the back yard the object had disappeared. Rhodes stated that he managed to take one photograph of the object while it was at its lowest point (about 2000ft.) (Exhibit I) and another just as it turned out if its second spiral and started upward. (Exhibit II). The second photograph includes the tops of some trees and a telephone pole. Mr. Rhodes stated that he developed the negatives himself. He still had the negative of the first photograph (Exhibit II), but he could not find the negative for the second photograph.
George Fugate, Jr., Special Agent, CIC-ADC-4AF
What Rhodes thought of this renewed attention, two months following his one-day story in the Arizona Republic, is unknown -- but for the first time since the publication of his pictures he was made officially aware that the government had taken notice.
Left: Alfred Loedding
FALL CAME, THEN WINTER, and William Rhodes went on with his life. Back at Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, Ohio, Colonel McCoy's informal projects group had become the Air Force's official investigation into the flying disc mystery, operating under the name Project Sign.
At any one time there were dozens of incidents being investigated. Some were newly arrived reports. Others were awaiting analysis from the myriad specialty groups at Wright Field.
And amongst those cases, the negatives of Rhodes' photos were undergoing technical analysis by experts at Air Materiel Command. On February 19, 1948, Lewis C. Gust -- Chief of the Technical Projects Office -- gave the verdict on Rhodes' photos...
Above: Full report by Lewis C. Gust, from which the following is taken...
1. Reference is made to the films taken by Mr. Rhodes (Incident #40) which were forwarded for examination. The following data were derived from a study of the specimen:
a. It is concluded that the image is of true photographic nature, and is not due to imperfections in the emulsion, or lack of development in the section in question. The image exhibits a "tail" indicating the proper type of distortion due to the type of shutter used, the speed of the object and the fixed speed of the shutter. This trailing off conforms to the general information given in the report.
His curiosity now piqued, Alfred Loedding -- the senior civilian scientist at Project Sign -- took special interest in the Rhodes case. Loedding had worked in the technical engineering section since 1938, becoming chief of the first Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Wright Field. He was considered Wright Field's resident expert on rocketry, and maintained close contact with rocket pioneer Robert Goddard. But he also brought a special expertise to the task as a leading authority on 'flying wing' aircraft design, of which Rhodes' photos carried a marked similarity.
Three months following the report of Lewis Gust, Loedding flew out west to personally interview witnesses of several incidents. Amongst them would be William Rhodes. The trip had taken place between May 5 and May 8, 1948, and a report was filed on May 11, 1948...
5. Lt Colonel James C. Beam and Mr. Alfred C. Loedding proceeded to Phoenix, Ariz. to interview Mr. William A. Rhodes and follow up on the report and photographs submitted by him some months ago. Although Mr. Rhodes is currently employed as a piano player in a night club, his primary interest is in a small but quite complete laboratory behind his home. According to his business card, this laboratory is called "Panoramic Research - Laboratory and Observatory", and Mr. Rhodes is referred to as the "Chief of Staff". Mr. Rhodes appeared to be completely sincere and apparently is quite interested in scientific experiments. Mr. Rhodes stated he was an aircraft recognition instructor during the last war, and that in his opinion, the object sighted definitely was not a wind-blown object. He reiterated that the object was not less than 2000 ft. away and that it was not much more than 2000 ft. away unless he had greatly underestimated its size. Mr. Rhodes pointed out where he had stood when he took the pictures of this flying object and indicated the exact paths of approach and departure of the object. He added that when the object turned directly away from him, he observed what appeared to be one large opening or vent across the entire trailing edge. Mr. Rhodes promised to send in another more detailed report, incorporating this observation.
6. Mr. Rhodes also mentioned having seen a series of photographs taken by another civilian in Phoenix, Ariz. on approximately the same day. He promised to investigate this phase and to forward a set of these photographs to this headquarters if they are available. Mr. Rhodes permitted the ordinary box type camera with which he took his pictures to be brought to Wight-Patterson Air Force Base for examination.
What William Rhodes thought of this renewed attention, ten months after the story was first published, is unknown. But he was undeniably cooperative, even giving over his camera for Loedding to take back to Wright Field. And as agreed, he followed up with a letter...
Above: The Rhodes letter, transcribed below...
Laboratory and Observatory
Wm A. Rhodes, Chief of Staff
4337 North 14th Street Phoenix, Arizona
Chief of Intelligence
Since I talked with Lt Col Beam and Mr. Loedding I have been trying to run down additional photographs of the unidentified object.
Mr. Lewis Larmore of this city has some in his possession and I believe you can obtain copies of them by writing him. Whether or not they are real I do not know. Some of them look faked while others do not. The general shape of the ship as it was going away from me looked like this: there seemed to be a bubble on top and on bottom
[Drawing at this point by William Rhodes too faded to discern].
While the trailing edge looked open and black like a vent. I judge by past experience that the ship was about 1500-2000 feet altitude when it started to climb and was out of sight in the base of the cumulus within 5 to 7 seconds. Allowing for a little time for acceleration this would put the object well past the speed of sound by the time it reached the cumulus (10-12000 ft). This also might account for the fact that after the ship turned its nose up the sound (which was like a P 80) faded out altogether. Judging by my past experience with aircraft recognition which I taught during the war, the ship couldn't have been under 20 or over 30 feet across.
There were no rudders visible to the unaided eye. I couldn't possibly make a trip to the base because of current debts. I couldn't stand the lose [sic] of being away from my work. After Sept 15, I could accept this invitation.
Hoping to be of further service.
/s/ W.A. Rhodes
And that, as far as William Rhodes knew, was the end of the matter.
After all, there was no earthly reason for him to suspect that he was about to become a pawn in a power struggle.
Above: The Rhodes photos, with enlargements.
IN SEPTEMBER 1948, Project Sign issued an "Estimate of the Situation" concluding at least some of the saucers were interplanetary in nature.
That conclusion was forcefully rebuffed and jettisoned by superiors at the Pentagon, upon which the Air Force investigation was reorganized as Project Grudge in early 1949...
With the new name and the new personnel came the new objective, get rid of the UFO's. It was never specified this way in writing but it didn't take much effort to see that this was the goal of Project Grudge. This unwritten objective was reflected in every memo, report, and directive.
-- Captain Ed Ruppelt,
Chief of the Air Force Project Blue Book
The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, 1956
But the situation was also personal. The members of Project Grudge and their allies had developed a personal antipathy to the members of Project Sign, carrying over to any witnesses whom Project Sign had trusted.
And one of the most important of those was William Rhodes.
Surprisingly, discrediting Rhodes was first broached by the consultant astronomer to Project Grudge, Dr. J. Allen Hynek of Ohio State University. Hynek had been brought in to review 223 incidents for possible astronomical explanations. But as he admitted later, he saw his role as a debunker, and was prone to wander far outside his area of expertise. And no more so than in his official 'analysis' of the Rhodes case...
No astronomical explanation seems possible for the unusual object cited in this incident.
This case is especially important because of the photographic evidence and because of the similarity of these photographs to the drawings by Kenneth Arnold (incident #17). The two incidents are separated by slightly more than two weeks, and, of course, they occurred in different localities. It is, however, perhaps more than coincidence that these two best-attested, entirely independent cases should agree so closely concerning the shape of the object and its maneuverability.
The present investigator would like to suggest that this incident, #40, being one of the most crucial in the history of these objects, be reopened for investigation. The actual camera used by Mr. Rhodes should be examined, and the original negatives preserved. Since, from the size of the image on the photograph, we can have an accurate estimate of the angle subtended by the object, this, in connection with what appears to be a fairly reliable estimate of the distance, can give us an estimate of the forces and accelerations involved in the trajectory described by Mr. Rhodes. (It is unfortunate that a competent investigator was not dispatched at once to "reenact the crime" with Mr. Rhodes and to obtain sketches of the trajectory, etc. before details faded from his memory.) It would be important to know at what altitude and azimuth Mr. Rhodes' camera was pointed at the time of his two exposures and the approximate time interval between exposures. Physical data like these are absolutely essential if we are to get anywhere in any basic physical explanation of these incidents.
There remains the strong possibility that the entire incident is spurious, and the invention of an excitable mind. This strengthens the need for reinvestigation; if spurious, this fact should be highlighted and even publicized, to quench enthusiasm for the irresponsible reporting of "saucers" and like objects.
In the declassified Project Grudge file on Rhodes, the last paragraph was underlined by an unknown hand. Hynek's suggestion became the impetus for Grudge's approach to Rhodes. He would first be discredited, and then publicized as a fraud... as a lesson to others.
It seemed an especially vindictive approach, considering it was an event occurring 21 months earlier, receiving one day's publicity in a local newspaper. But it was part of the evidence presented by Project Sign and that was enough to pursue a vendetta in the eyes of Hynek, and Grudge.
The first salvo came in a March 16, 1949 request from Grudge to Chief of the Technical Projects Office, Lewis Gust, who had performed the first analysis of the negatives 13 months earlier. The request noted that Gust's analysis had been "made before your office received the camera in question" and then got right to the point...
2. Clarification is desired on the following points:
a. Per 1a Comment 1. The conclusion as a result of relations between the "tail" of the image, distortion due to shutter, speed of object and shutter speed.
b. Per 1b Comment 1. The subject is stated as having low visual contrast whereas in the contact print the contrast is very great.
Within a week, Lewis Gust made his reply...
1. In reference to sub-paragraph a of paragraph 2, Comment No. 2, the following explanation is given:
a. There are various types of shutters utilized in cameras. The three (3) present types are the Between the Lens type, Focal Plane type and Rotary type. The distortion produced by these respective shutters are indicative of the type with which the camera is equipped. In the case of the Between the Lens type shutter, which starts opening from the center to the maximum aperture and closes in the reverse manner, the distortion would be only along the axis of travel of the object being photographed. In other words blur resulting from this type of shutter would produce no distortion along the axis normal to the direction of travel of the object. In the case of the Focal Plane shutter, for an object traveling in the same direction as the aperture of the curtain, the distortion can be either that of elongation or for shortening [sic] of the image due to the traveling of the aperture with the direction of the image or against the direction of the travel of the image. For an object traveling at an angle to the direction of travel of curtain aperture, the distortion becomes two-fold along the axis of direction of the object and also an axis normal to the travel of the object. Classic examples of this are the distortion of straight propeller blades when photographed with a focal plane shutter. The blades are apparently bent. Another example is in the case of a soft ball batter in which a shadow of the ball and ball on the ground are separated by approximately 4 inches and the image of the bat and ball are in contact. In the case of the Rotary type shutter another type of distortion is introduced due to the wiping action of the shutter aperture. This distortion makes it quite probable for the elongation of the tail as shown on one of the exhibits of the attached report. The camera which took this photograph being a box camera had a rotary wiping type shutter.
b. In clarification of comment in sub-paragraph b; paragraph 2, Comment No. 2, the following explanation is given: In the photographic process it is quite possible to increase the contrast of the finished product over the original visual contrast of the original object by increasing developing time of the negative and printing that negative on a hard or contrasty paper. As stated in the Report by Mr. [Blacked Out] the object being grey blended with the grey overcast cloud. It also appears that the underneath side of the aircraft or object in question not being lighted by the sun is, therefore, in shadow and would not reflect as much light to impress it's [sic] image on the film as would the clouds which are diffusing the light from the sun. The photographic contrast is obtained through the processing means outlined above.
LEWIS C. GUST
Chief, Science Survey Office
That tactic having proved unproductive to the purpose of Project Grudge, an investigation was ordered into Rhodes himself. A May 19, 1949,report by Thomas F. Doyle, Jr., of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation -- known as "OSI" and modeled on the FBI -- began as follows...
Investigation requested by the Chief, Technical Intelligence Division, Wright-Patterson AFB, in connection with a "flying disc" report. Information on the status of SUBJECT'S business and the standing of SUBJECT in the community is desired.
The report then got to the meat of the matter...
1. This investigation is predicated upon a Routing & Record Sheet, subject: "Investigation of Flying Discs," dated 2 May 1949p signed by W.H. CLINTERMAN, Colonel, USAF, Chief, Technical intelligence Division, Intelligence Department, Wright-Patterson AFB.
Colonel CLINGERMAN indicates that he is in receipt of a Memorandum written by GEORGE FUGATE, JR, Special Agent, CIC-ADC-4AF, in which Mr. WILLIAM A. RHODES, 4333 North 14th Street, Phoenix, Arizona, hereinafter referred to as SUBJECT, was interviewed as an observer of a "flying disc." SUBJECT contended that he took a picture of this disc, and two positive prints of these photos were turned over to the CIC agent. Photographic experts cannot agree as to whether the photographs mentioned in SA FUGATE'S report could have been taken under the conditions described. The experts do agree that the technique used in development and printing of the pictures is extremely crude.
Colonel CLINGERMAN requests inquiry to investigate the standing of the PANORMAIC RESEARCH LABORATORY and of SUBJECT in the community. It is further desired to know the type and amount of business conducted by the organization and with whom, and the social and professional status of SUBJECT.
Colonel CLINGERMAN states that later correspondence from the SUBJECT implies that he is connected with a PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABURATORY and Observatory in Phoenix, Arizona and refers to himself variously as Chief of Staff and President of that organization. He also uses the title "Doctor." According to his letterhead, one of the specialties of PANORAMIC is Photography.
AT DAYTON, OHIO
2. On 16 May 1949 at the Headquarters 5th District OSI (IG), the writer interviewed Special Agent GEORGE FUGATE, JR, previously mentioned in this report, formerly a member of the Counter Intelligence Corps, Air Defense Command, 4th Air Force.
Mr. FUGATE said that the interview resulting in the Memorandum previously mentioned was a bit hazy in his mind. FUGATE said that he had been instructed to interview SUBJECT in the company of Special Agent BROWER of the FBI Office, Phoenix, Arizona.
Mr. FUGATE states that the thing he remembers most is the fact he saw a large quantity of expensive looking radio equipment in SUBJECT'S home. This did not seem to be in keeping with SUBJECT'S station in life.
FUGATE further related that about four months ago, approximately February, a friend had shown him an article in the Question and Answer Section of a magazine. FUGATE advised that the magazine, is titled "Amazing Stories." The article was based on a letter by a Mr. WILLIAM A. RHODES of Phoenix, Arizona. The article stated that Mr. WILLIAM A. RHODES had been interviewed by two Federal agents. That he (RHODES) had turned over two pictures of "flying discs" to these agents, and that the pictures had never been returned. Mr. RHODES desired information as to how he could sue the Federal Government for these pictures. Mr. FUGATE feels that this individual is the SUBJECT of this investigation, and that SUBJECT is a publicity seeker.
The information was promising. Rhodes felt a sense of over-importance. He read Amazing Stories. And he had equipment seemingly inappropriate to his 'station in life'. The report was forwarded with promises of more to come -- under the standard notation of "Undeveloped Leads", the next steps were laid out...
AT PHOENIX, ARIZONA
1. Will check the below listed organizations to ascertain the standing of PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY and/or SUBJECT in the community.
a. Chamber of Commerce.
b. Better Business Bureau
c. Credit Bureau
d. Local Law Enforcement agencies.
f. Any other source deemed advisable.
2. Will obtain any available information on the type and amount of business conducted by PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY and with whom, and the social and professional status of SUBJECT.
Ultimately it would take until August, 1949 –- 25 months following the publication of Rhodes' one-day story in the Arizona Republic -- for the second report to come in. As with all OSI Investigative Reports, it began with a synopsis of findings...
Better business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and Arizona Corporation Commission checked with negative results. Credit Bureau record attached as Exhibit A. City directories and telephone directory checked, Mr. and Mrs. [Blacked Out] neighbors, stated SUBJECT is excellent neighbor, caused no trouble, is emotionally high strung, egotistical and a genius in fundamentals of radio and electronics. SUBJECT is musician by trade, has no steady job and devotes all of his time to research. SUBJECT wrote scientific article for nationally known magazine and received honorary Doctor of Science degree from Columbia University for this article. PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY was name devised by SUBJECT to impress people with his importance. SUBJECT conducts no business under this name; enjoys a good reputation in community and is a loyal American. Mrs [Blacked Out] another neighbor, disclosed SUBJECT is a good neighbor and has caused no trouble in community. SUBJECT is musician by trade, but devotes his time to research in electronics, astronomy, radio and photography. SUBJECT wrote thesis on astronomy and was offered an honorary scholarship by big University in east (name unknown). SUBJECT has no close friends or associates, and informant knew no information concerning the origin of PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY. Files of T-l reflected the report of interview and observations of Agent. Local agencies checked with negative results.
The report then proceeded into the details of the investigation...
AT PHOENIX, ARIZONA
1. On 7 June 1949, the records of the Better Business Bureau, Room 257, Adams Hotel; the Chamber of Commerce, 124 North Second Ave; and the Arizona Corporation Commission, Capitol Annex, reflected no record concerning SUBJECT or the PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY.
2. On 7 June 1949, the City Directories revealed the following information, during the years shown:
"NOTE: There no [sic] city directories published from 1942 to 1945."
3. On 7 June 1949, the June 1949 telephone directory was reviewed and reflected SUBJECT was listed as: [Blacked Out] Dr., [Blacked Out] St. The classified section of the phone directory failed to disclose SUBJECT's name under Physicians & Surgeons (MD), Dentists and Veterinarians.
4. On 21 June 1949, record of the Credit Bureau, 1017 N Central Ave, were checked and a copy of [Blacked Out] credit record was obtained and is inclosed as Exhibit A. There was no record of any credit transactions under the name of PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY.
5. On 15 July 1949, Mr and Mrs [Blacked Out] St. were interviewed and stated they have been neighbors of SUBJECT since 1943. SUBJECT is an excellent neighbor, has caused no trouble in the community and devotes considerable time to community projects. SUBJECT is emotionally high strung, egotistical and a genius when it comes to the fundamentals of radio and electronics. SUBJECT has no real occupation but is a musician by trade. [Blacked Out] devotes most of his time to research work in radio, electronics, astronomy, radar and photography. SUBJECT has built a small telescope to study astronomy, has made a television set and numerous other items. [Blacked Out] recently wrote a scientific article for a nationally known magazine (name unknown) which was read by someone (name unknown) at Columbia University. As a result of this article SUBJECT was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Columbia University. Informants disclosed that the name PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY was devised by [Blacked Out] to impress people and that he conducts no business under this name.
6. SUBJECT's father and mother are presently living with [Blacked Out]. SUBJECT's mother was born in Russia and came to the United States in 1900. She married a U.S. Citizen, shortly after the start of World War I. SUBJECT is an only child. SUBJECT is divorced from his first wife, [Blacked Out], and has the custody of their seven (7) year old son. SUBJECT'S wife teaches the 4th grade at [Blacked Out] school and this is the only source of income the [Blacked Out] family has, except when SUBJECT occasionally plays with a dance band. SUBJECT owns a 1947 Willy's Jeep station wagon as well as his home. [Blacked Out] and his family are presently on an extended vacation trip through the western states. SUBJECT is not a religious man and is a registered Democrat, although he did not vote in the last election. As far as Informants know, SUBJECT is honest, truthful, loyal, dependable and one who has no bad habits. [Blacked Out] has no close friends or acquaintances and Informants knew of no one else who knew SUBJECT except Mrs [Blacked Out] Street, a neighbor.
7. On 18 July 1949, Mrs [Blacked Out], [Blacked Out] Street, [Blacked Out] for the Arizona Brace Shop, [Blacked Out] was interviewed and related she had been a neighbor of [Blacked Out] since 1943, but does not know him too well, inasmuch as she works during the day. SUBJECT has caused no trouble in the community and is a good neighbor. SUBJECT is an inventor and devotes all of his time to research in electronics, astronomy, radio and photography. [Blacked Out] develops and prints all of his photographs, is an excellent radio repairman and built a small telescope to study astronomy. SUBJECT recently wrote a thesis on astronomy and was offered an honorary scholarship by some big University in the east (name unknown). SUBJECT is a musician by trade and has no steady job. He plays occasionally with a dance band in and around Phoenix. SUBJECT's wife, [Blacked Out] is a school teacher at [Blacked Out] school and her pay is the only source of income the [Blacked Out] have. SUBJECT has a seven (7) year old son by his first marriage and married his present wife in 1947. SUBJECT's mother was born in Russia and came to this country in 1901. [Blacked Out] is an only child, is emotionally high strung and egotistical. SUBJECT's parents are presently living with him and his mother is an invalid. Informant considers [Blacked Out] an asset to the neighborhood, as he is community minded and devotes much of his time to community projects. SUBJECT dislikes cats and dogs and has shot one dog and several cats which have come into his yard. SUBJECT owns his home and 1947 Willy's Jeep station wagon. SUBJECT has no religious belief and Mrs [Blacked Out] did not know his political affiliation. [Blacked Out] is honest, truthful, dependable and a loyal citizen. SUBJECT has no close friends or acquaintances and Informant knew of no other individuals who knew SUBJECT.
8. On 20 June 1949, the records of T-l, a Federal Investigative Agency were cheeked and the following information was obtained:
[Blacked Out], [Blacked Out] Street, Phoenix, Arizona owns and maintains the Panoramic Research Laboratory and Hobby Shop at this address, and he related the following as occurring on the afternoon of July 7, 1947:
A storm had occurred in Phoenix on the afternoon of July 7, 1947, and the clouds were at approximately 5,000 feet, the color of which was gray and they resembled dense cumulus. A fifteen mile per hour wind was blowing. At approximately 5 PM on that date, Mr. [Blacked Out] was walking from his home to his Hobby Shop and be heard a noise resembling a P-80 aircraft, apparently coming in a westerly direction. Upon searching the skies he observed to the northeast what appeared to be an odd shaped ship. He described this ship as being possibly 20 to 50 feet in diameter, trailing at an estimated speed of 100 miles per hour. It appeared to be making a spiral in a small radius of possibly one-half to three quarters of a mile. [Blacked Out] stated the sound which he first heard was no longer audible; that he hurriedly procured a 120 Brownie Box Camera from his shop, and as the aircraft completed the first circle he obtained a photograph. As the ship started on the second turn, it was in a northwesterly direction from his place and he again snapped a photograph, which more closely resembled the shape of the ship than photograph #1, this being designated as Exhibit II, as submitted to the Bureau with letter dated August 4, 1947, by the Office of Assistant Chief of Staff A-2 Intelligence, Hamilton Field, California. [Blacked Out] further described the direction of the ship by stating that instead of completing the left-hand downward spiral the ship banked to the right and disappeared into the clouds. He stated that just as it banked, he had snapped the second photograph, Exhibit II.
At the last point, which was at the time the ship made this turn, Mr. [Blacked Out] estimated it to be between 1,000 and 2,000 feet high. He further described the appearance of this ship as closely resembling a picture which appeared on the front cover of the May 1947, issue of the Mechanics Illustrated Magazine, the only difference noted by Mr. [Blacked Out] being that the ship appeared to be flying backward.
Mr. [Blacked Out] also related that he did not associate the appearance of this ship with the numerous reports of flying discs. He related, however, that after a three minute interview with newspaper reporters the story that appeared in the local papers was "blown up" to the extent that he, [Blacked Out], barely recognized the information furnished by him. Mr. [Blacked Out] explained that the aforementioned dimensions and distances were only estimated, pointing out that his previous experience probably assisted him in making fairly close estimates. He related that he had been doing experimental work for the past ten years. He also stated he was employed at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, Washington, D.C. during the early part of World War II and left there the beginning of 1942. Upon his return to Phoenix, he was employed at Falcon Field near Phoenix which was leased by the British Government for training purposes. He instructed in instrument training, aircraft identification and gunnery practice. He explained that his hobbies have to do with science, physics, radio, electronics and astronomy. He produced a model which he had made of a radio controlled airplane. He related that most of his work consists of building transformers but it is also necessary for him to depend upon his musical ability for his livelihood.
In explaining the results of photographing the shipm [sic] Mr. [Blacked Out] stated that he was surprised that the object appeared dark on a light background that he fully expected that the object would be light on a dark background. He described the light spot which appears in the center of the object (Exhibit II) as being a green house. [Blacked Out] insisted that the ship made no noise that was audible to his ear and he was unable to detect the presence of any propeller. He also related that after the newspaper release over Radio Station STAR, wherein statements were made that he, [Blacked Out] had stated Army officials were studying the photographs, and that it was a top secret, he attempted to determine the source of this release and the Radio station finally told him that it was a United Press release from Washington, D.C.
The following description of [Blacked Out] was obtained from observation and interrogation:
Date birth 12-29-16
Place birth Garden City, Kansas
Weight 155 pounds
Education Phoenix Union High School
Marital status Married - one son
It should be stated that at the time of interview with [Blacked Out], Mr. BROWER identified himself as an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and exhibited his credentials. However, pursuant to a request from Mr. FUGATE, he was introduced only as a representative of the United States government. His exact official connection was not made known to Mr. [Blacked Out]. Agent BROWER advised that he felt it was a peculiar procedure, but it was not his business. However, at the conclusion of the interview, Mr. FUGATE requested Mr. [Blacked Out] to furnish him with the negatives and [Blacked Out] stated he would be glad to do so, but they were not in his immediate possession, and he would deliver them to the FBI the following morning. Mr. [Blacked Out] requested that the negatives be returned to him. Agent BROWER states that to this request, Mr. FUGATE made no reply. Agent BROWER states that after leaving Mr. [Blacked Out] he asked FUGATE if the negatives would be returned to Mr. [Blacked Out] and FUGATE stated that he doubted very much that they would be returned. Mr. BROWER then advised Mr. FUGATE that before he, BROWER, would accept these negatives that [Blacked Out] be advised of Mr. FUGATE's identity and also advised that the negatives, if turned over to Mr. FUGATE, would not be returned to him.
In view of which, on the morning of August 30, 1947, when Mr. [Blacked Out] called at the Phoenix office to deliver the negatives, they were accepted only after he was advised that they were being given to Mr. FUGATE, a representative of the Army Air Force Intelligence, United States Army, and that there was little, if any, chance of his getting the negatives back. Mr. [Blacked Out] turned the negatives over to this office with the full understanding that they were being given to the Army and that he would not get them back.
9. On 20 June 1949, name files of the following agencies were checked with negative results:
Sheriff's Office, Maricopa County
State Bureau of Criminal Identification
They had checked all the angles. Credit. Criminal record. Marital status. Employment. Personal life. Politics. Religion. The report was forwarded with a letter saying the investigation was complete.
In the end, Project Grudge had uncovered some oddities to Rhodes life, but there was no smoking gun. His credibility would remain a mystery, to be solved only through the prism of subjective belief, and therefore never really solved at all.
But in the end, it didn't matter -- for by the time the final report on Rhodes had come in, Project Grudge had already submitted its own comprehensive report dismissing the phenomenon as the result of misidentification, mass suggestion, and hoax. In December, 1949, it trumpeted the analysis to the press, announcing the Air Force was getting out of the saucer-hunting business for good.
As for Project Grudge's intent to publicly savage the reputation of a citizen to further its anti-saucer cause -- well, it no longer mattered.
Above: Blue Book project card evaluating Rhodes's pictures as probable hoax.
THIRTY MONTHS had passed since Rhodes' one-day story had appeared in the newspaper. He had been repeatedly interviewed by members of the Air Force, the FBI, and others over a period of two-and-one-half years. His neighbors had been interrogated, his business interests examined, his debts and credits probed, and his personal life inspected.
All the while, Rhodes had been undeniably forthcoming and cooperative -- even turning over his camera and negatives for examination -- seemingly only wanting to be of aid to his government, and his country.
Now there would be no more investigations, no more questions, no more personal intrusion. The definitely unconventional but not-so-mysterious William Rhodes -- apparently unaware of just how precisely in the cross hairs of public scandal he had been placed -- was finally left to go his own way unbothered and untroubled, at last.
1. A careful reading of the original Arizona Republic article supports Rhodes' contention that...
...he did not associate the appearance of this ship with the numerous reports of flying discs. He related, however, that after a three minute interview with newspaper reporters the story that appeared in the local papers was "blown up" to the extent that he, [Blacked Out], barely recognized the information furnished by him.
The above quote, in fact, appears in the original FBI report on the August, 29, 1947 interview of Rhodes, which was included in the August, 1949, OSI report given in the post above.
Rhodes' claim makes sense in context, as well, since at that time the possibility of the flying discs -- if they were not hoaxes or misidentification -- being secret U.S. or Soviet aircraft was the leading possibility being discussed nationwide.
2. Although there were one or two other pictures claimed to be of flying discs before that of Rhodes, they were indistinct specs or tracks of light.
3. Rhodes' photographs from The Arizona Republic were found at The UFO Chronicles. The photos are cropped, however, and the following is the full front page of that day's issue as reproduced in Fate magazine...
4. On November 15, 1940, the 23-year old Rhodes had been the subject of the following article in the Arizona Republic...
MECHANISM EXPLAINED: William Rhodes held the undivided attention of members of the Exchange Club, lunching in Hotel Adams yesterday, as he explained his radio-control mechanism for operating a model airplane. His ingenuity has devised a control different from others in that one receiver on the plane will make it dip or rise and turn in either direction. Those previously built have required two receiving sets for these operations. Only one other model plane in the United States has been equipped on this principle, as far as known. Those in the picture are, left to right, Hal Wood, Dr. J.N. Harber, Frank M. Wilkinson, jr., Rhodes, holding a portion of the radio sending set, and E.J. Cassidy.—(Republic Staff Photo.)
Model Planes Are Discussed
Speaking with tons of assurance on the theory and practice of modern aeronautics, three representatives of the Copperclad Eagles Model Airplane Club yesterday astounded members of the Exchange Club with their information on the subject and the extent of their experiments along such lines.
The meeting was in preparation for the state-wide model plane contest which the Exchange Club is sponsoring November 24 at the model plane field in Paradise valley.
Tells Of Problems
Chief of interest was the talk given by William Rhodes, who owns one of the few radio-controlled model planes in the United States. In laymen's language he presented the problems faced in building and operating such a plane.
It is directed by a transmitter, such as is used in ordinary radios, operating on a mive-meter [sic] band, he said. In the past such planes have required two receivers in their hulls, one to turn the machine and the other to elevate or lower it. One of the biggest problems faced is the necessity of lightweight instruments in the little ship with its one-quarter horsepower motor. Rhodes hit on a device of a single propeller blade in the rear of the ship, which rotates loose in straight-away flying and which can be set at certain points to control all motions of the ship. This eliminates use of one of the receivers.
Rhodes is rebuilding his receiver apparatus and will fly it in demonstration at the state-wide meet if certain special parts arrive from the East in time. Otherwise it will be on display. ...
5. In 1952, Rhodes was the subject of three separate articles in the Arizona Republic. The first appeared on July 19, 1952...
SKY SCANNER -- William A. Rhodes works on his own 16-inch telescope in his back yard at 4333 N. 14th St. An amateur astronomer and professional electronics engineer, Rhodes and Harry E. Lang, Sunnyslope, say they have turned up a theory which might account for the rash of flying saucer reports recently. -- (Republic Photo)
On Schedule From Mars?
Hobby Astronomers Key Saucer Rash To Timing
By Weld Coxe
DO FLYING SAUCERS come from Mars?
This possibility was advanced Friday by two amateur Phoenix astronomers who refuse to draw conclusions but who say their calculations two months ago could account for the present rash of saucer sightings.
William A. Rhodes, 4333 N. 14th St. and Harry E. Lang, 1147 E. Olmstead Lane, Sunnyslope, say they worked out the theory entirely from known scientific facts early in May.
They insist their theory proves nothing. They only point out that there is but one time this year when it would be most practical for space ships from Mars to reach Earth. That period includes the past two weeks.
And an air force spokesman in Ohio who keeps record of such things reported Thursday that the rate of flying saucer reports in the past two weeks has been "almost double" last year's.
Rhodes and Lang point to three facts:
1. Mars and Earth come closest to each other only once in about every two years. Astronomers call this opposition.
2. The distance between Earth and Mars at times of opposition is known to scientists.
3. There is a minimum speed at which a space ship would have to be traveling between Mars and Earth.
Knowing these facts, Rhodes and Lang several months ago noted that Mars and Earth would be in opposition May 8 and the distance between them would be about 52 million miles. By considering the distance and the minimum speed a space ship from Mars would be traveling, they calculate that such a ship would arrive on Earth between the fourth week in June and the third week in July.
AT THE TIME they made their calculations, Rhodes said, they didn't put too much stock in it and salted their notes away for future reference.
But when newspapers printed the air force report of an unprecedented number of flying saucer sightings Rhodes said "I almost fell off my chair."
As to drawing conclusions, both men are hesitant to go too far into the field of science-fiction enthusiasts or launch another Orson Welles-type "Mars invasion" scare.
They do, however, have some explanations of certain flying saucer reports which might tend to discount their idea.
THE FACT THAT saucers are reported at other times of the year, they say, could be simply a case of mistaken identities, with meteorites, aircraft, and other explainable objects being responsible for the reports.
When questioned as to why the Martians, if such they be, have not attempted landings on Earth, Rhodes points out that Mars's atmosphere is so thin that residents of that planet could not live in the dense air of Earth's lower altitudes, and this would deter landings.
But all the fantastic repercussions of the theory are beyond any range of factual scientific knowledge, the pair insist, and add that so far as their calculations are concerned only a possibility is involved.
For the scientific-minded, Rhodes explains their calculation in this manner:
SCIENTISTS KNOW that the gravitational attraction of Earth or any other planet is dependent on the size of the planet. Therefore, when discussing space travel they use the term "escape velocity" to apply to the speed an object would have to be traveling to break away from the gravitational attraction of a planet and travel into space.
The escape velocity of Mars is about 3 miles per second.
A second speed enters into their space-travel calculations also. This is the speed at which the planet Mars is traveling in its orbit around the sun -- "orbital velocity."
The orbital velocity would act as a catapult on any object leaving the atmosphere of a planet and entering space.
THE ORBITAL velocity of Mars is 15 miles per second.
From these facts, Rhodes and Lang concluded that the minimum speed of a space ship leaving Mars would be about 18 miles per second -- the sum of the escape velocity and the orbital velocity.
By coincidence, they point out, this velocity is exactly equal to the orbital velocity of the Earth in its path around the sun.
This fact is important, Rhodes says, for it would make it practical for a space ship to catch up with the earth at a reasonable speed and not plow into our atmosphere so fast it would burn up, like a meteorite, from friction.
THIS 18 MILES per second speed is fast -- more than half a million miles an hour, Rhodes points out, but it is not fast enough to allow a Mars object to cover the 52 million miles between its planet and Earth overnight. A ship leaving Mars, he says, would have to travel a long tangent route to meet Earth.
It was the calculation of this tangent distance in rough millions of miles which led Rhodes and Lang to the prediction of the probable arrival time of such objects on Earth.
In an effort to add validity to the theory, an attempt was made to check previous opposition dates of Mars with the frequency of flying saucer reports in those years, but the air force at Wright-Patterson Field, Ohio, declined to disclose the saucer report data of past years Friday without clearance from Washington.
IN DISCLOSING this hypothesis, Rhodes called attention to his last meeting with flying saucers on July 9, 1947, when he photographed an object over his house which was variously identified with the first rash of saucer reports. The pictures were given national distribution in the press and his negatives were later borrowed by the FBI and never returned, Rhodes said.
But any comparison of the object he photographed five years ago and his current theory was beyond Rhodes Friday. He said he could not even guess that the object might have come from Mars.
Both Rhodes and Lang are members of the amateur Phoenix Observatory Association, and both are employed in the engineering sections at Air Research.
The second article appeared on August 2, 1952...
Republic Reporter Says He Saw 'Whatsits' In '47
Glowing Objects Closely Resembled 'Saucer' Photographed By Phoenician W.A. Rhodes
By Orren Beaty
Republic Staff Writer
RISKING the jeers of the multitude and jibes at my sanity, I step forward fearlessly to say:
"I've seen the flying whatsits."
It was the summer of 1947 at Las Cruces, N.M.. and in answer to the inevitable question: "Why didn't you mention it then?" I can say honestly that I did.
A story of the event was duly recorded on the front page of the Las Cruces Sun-News, not only describing what I had seen but listing the names of others who saw the same things at the same time and place. I was awakened at midnight by a telephone call from a man who previously had told of seeing the "Flying Disks," as we called them then.
He and his wife and daughter and a neighbor or two were seeing them again, and if I should be interested --
THEY POINTED out the objects to me, and for at least 20 minutes we watched one or several luminous objects soar back and forth over the town -- going out of sight to the west, then coming back and disappearing to the east.
We never saw more than one at a time -- no formation flying. But they reappeared so soon after slipping from sight that we thought there might be several.
Las Cruces, it might be noted, is less than 30 miles west of the White Sands Proving Ground, a rocket testing base from which have originated many reported sightings of flying saucers.
THESE OBJECTS were sighted on what might have been a hazy night, although clouds normally are as scarce in Southern New Mexico as in the Phoenix area. We stood near a street light which might have helped obscure the stars, but none were visible near the path of the object.
There was no sound of engines, no sign of movement, such as flapping of wings to indicate that it might have been a bird.
The front part was rounded like a saucer, the trailing edge had two or three prongs like a reversed parenthesis or a rounded figure 3.
LATER, AFTER moving to Phoenix, I was startled to see the tremendous likeness between what I had seen and the object photographed about the same time (July 7) by William A. Rhodes, 4333 North 14th St. and published in The Arizona Republic.
Rhodes's photographs and negatives were taken by federal agents and have not been returned.
We were unable, that night in Las Cruces, to estimate the height, size, or speed of the object we saw, but the night flier birds which some disbelievers said we had seen were witnessed at a lower level.
Bring on the cross examination.
The third article -- again by Orren Beatty -- appeared on August 19, 1952...
Observer On Job
Scribe Gets Starry-Eyed Over Whatsit In Color
By Orren Beaty
THE FLYING WHATSITS are real. At least the one that a number of Phoenicians saw Sunday night and early Monday is genuine.
A glowing object, brighter than most stars, and flashing red, blue, and green lights in addition to the twinkling white glare, was seen low in the northeast sky from most parts of Phoenix.
"There's something white hovering over Camelback Mountain," reported the first of many callers to The Arizona Republic office. We were just leaving the office for a cup of coffee, and it was just before midnight. So we took a look in that direction -- four of us -- and we all saw it.
There was no illusion of movement but it was flashing the multi-colored lights and looked brighter than any star we could see, except the planet Jupiter, which was a little higher and almost directly east.
We watched it for awhile without being able to detect any motion. From where we stood, it was about half way up on a palm tree at the southwest corner of St Mary's athletic field. Finally we left to get the coffee.
On the way we passed The Republic's press room, and the pressmen, having completed the bulldog run, were resting outside.
"See the saucer?" one of us asked.
"We see it nearly every night," one of them replied, which might have raised some doubts, but didn't.
Later, two of us went up on the roof of the Republic and Gazette building to get a better look. The downtown lights were too bright tor us to identify many stars, but the unidentified whatsit was still higher, still farther south, and still flashing in technicolor.
It was now 45 minutes after the first call, and William A. Rhodes, Phoenix amateur astronomer, was roused from bed to provide a little expert opinion. He looked for a couple of minutes, then came back to the phone to report:
"It's a first magnitude star -- either Capella or Canopus.
I'VE NEVER seen a star jump around quite so much. It must be because of atmospheric conditions -- a layer of very cold air on top of the layer of very warm humid air hanging over the Valley.
"This often makes low stars appear to be giving off flashing varicolored lights."
Later, as it climbed high enough for other stars in the constellation to be seen, it developed that the star really was Capella.
In the meantime, one of the callers phoned again: "Now there are eight of them. I used to laugh at flying saucers, but now I'm worried."
He was worried! I was beginning to feel relieved.
6. A January 20, 1957, feature in the Arizona Republic on solar power also prominently featured Rhodes...
A Phoenix scientist now devoting much of his time to solar energy applications is William A. Rhodes of the Institute for Advanced Research. The solar still Rhodes is adjusting is an improved type he recently designed. It supplies distilled water for laboratory purposes. Although small, the device produces about two gallons of distilled water
The article was on solar power generally, but as part of the same article the following was included...
The Valley of the Sun boasts another solar furnace installed recently atop the association's Central Plaza Building headquarters in Phoenix. The device was designed and constructed by William Rhodes of the Institute for Advanced Research. Though smaller than the Arizona State instrument, it contains several unusual features. Rhodes, a Phoenix scientist and inventor who has turned his ingenuity increasingly toward solar energy, is also the designer of an improved type of solar still. ...
7. On March 13, 1958, the Arizona Republic column "Coffee Break" by Don Dedera had this feature on Rhodes...
RUN OR DIE, preach the directors of civil defense.
But one Phoenix family has a third choice. On Judgement Day, they are going to crawl into a hole -- the sole back yard atomic bomb shelter in the Valley.
At first, William A. Rhodes did not set out to build a bomb shelter.
Gifted with a scientifically inquisitive mind, he wondered why there weren't more basements under Phoenix homes. Where he once lived in Colorado, every house had a basement.
"Irrigation," explained his friends. "Basements would probably fill up with water. Even if they didn't, they would be foul-smelling and damp."
Rhodes is a self-educated physicist who doesn't mind being called a "free-lance scientist." He sank a thermometer five feet into the earth and kept records, for three years. Temperatures never dropped below 65 nor rose above 78. Soil tests indicated ideal conditions for basement construction.
"SO, I DECIDED to build," said Rhodes. "First I had in mind just a place of peace and quiet -- a retreat from, television -- a truly dark photographic darkroom -- an escape from the noises of a busy world. But as my planning progressed, the thought occurred to me that for a little more money, I could have a shelter from almost any surface disaster."
Workmen using long-handled shovels of his design dug trenches, about seven feet deep, in the shape of a figure 8. An opening was left where the circles joined.
Concrete was poured into the trenches. Steel I-beams went in to support the ceiling, and a 12-inch slab of reinforced concrete was poured around and over them.
Rhodes hired a couple of men to excavate the chambers. When this was done, a concrete floor was laid.
The result is a $600 shelter of two circular rooms, connected by a door, and entered through a hatch. Nothing short of a direct hit will disturb the shelter or its occupants, Rhodes believes.
WITHIN five minutes he and his wife and son can tote a few luxury supplies to the shelter and batten down the hatch. Rhodes figures they can survive 30 days without leaving the hideaway.
Their air supply would be enriched from a big tank of oxygen. Plenty of distilled water is kept there. Since the Rhodeses normally use the shelter for food storage, a good supply of grub is always on hand. Rhodes keeps his ham radio station in the shelter.
Glum predictions of friends have not come true. Water does not seep into the shelter even when irrigation water covers it. It is a cool haven in summer, needing only occasional dehumidification. Rhodes, whose formal education ended in the eighth grade, helped found the Institute for Advanced Research. Some of his research finds and patents have won wide notice.
He is one scientist who believes atomic warfare inevitable.
"One needs only to look back into history to learn that no military regime ever has been able to resist the temptation to use new weapons placed in its hands."
Rhodes is ready.
8. On November , 1958, Don Dedera's "Coffee Break" column in the Arizona Republic dealt with a claim being made about Rhodes' photos...
RAY PALMER, of Amherst, Wis., seems to be the first human to propel himself into orbit.
In a recent issue of his Flying Saucers magazine he reprints most of a front page of The Arizona Republic.
Palmer's caption reads:
"A portion of the front page of The Arizona Republic for July 9, 1947, showing two views of a flying saucer photographed by William A. Rhodes, 4333 N. 14th St., Phoenix, Ariz.
"All the copies of this paper were seized by the army, in a house-to-house canvass, and all plates from the newspaper, plus the photo negatives and prints.
"The only known copy of the paper, plus duplicate negatives, prints from the original negatives, and statements of witnesses outside secret army files at the time were secured by Flying Saucers editor prior to the arrival of the army on the scene."
Come in Planet X. Come in Planet X. Let me speak to Ray Palmer.
AT DUSK July 7, 1947, William A. Rhodes was inside his home at 4333 N. 14th St. when he heard the whoosh of what he thought was a flying saucer.
Rhodes, a free-lance scientist, said he sprinted to his laboratory and got a box camera. He snapped two pictures. Rhodes said the flying saucer, which was shaped like a man's shoe heel, appeared to be at an altitude of 1,000 feet. It circled silently three times and sped away southwestward.
The two pictures were printed in The Republic two days later. Circulation of three editions then was about 64,000. There was no door-to-door army confiscation. Such a task would have demanded the services of many army divisions, including a helicopter assault squad to seize the bundle of Republics delivered by mule to the bottom of Havasu Canyon.
(The job would be twice as hard today. Republic circulation, since 1947, has nearly doubled.)
The true sequel is interesting enough.
A WEEK AFTER the pictures were published, Rhodes was visited by an FBI agent and an intelligence officer from Hamilton Field, Calif.
The officers questioned Rhodes closely. They asked if Rhodes would give up the pictures, for air corps evaluation. Rhodes voluntarily handed over the pictures.
A month later Rhodes asked for the return of the photographs. A letter from Washington informed him the pictures could not be returned.
About a half-year later, in early 1948, Rhodes was asked to come to Wright-Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio, for an interview. Rhodes replied that he could not make the trip. Soon two representative's of technical intelligence division, Air Materiel Command, came to Rhodes's home. Again Rhodes was questioned in detail.
Rhodes, who now lives at 4421 N. 14th St., said that was the last of his dealings with the case of the unidentified flying object.
He has no idea what it was, how it flew, or where it went.
You see it out your way, Ray Palmer?
9. Later inclusion of Rhodes in the Arizona Republic was focused mostly as "letters to the editor", with Rhodes railing against creeping socialism, local government assessments, and the failure to enforce leash laws. Other than that, there remains only the following "news", from the May 15, 1964, edition of the Arizona Republic...
Firm Offers Lab Service
William A. Rhodes And Associates, 4421 N. 13th Place, is offering a specialized service that provides research talent and laboratory facilities for business firms or individuals who wish to develop new products or improve present ones.
Rhodes said the new organization is staffed to do research and development work in the electronic, electrical, mechanical, chemical and optical fields.
Rhodes has lived in Phoenix since 1930 and has been associated with the development of new products for a number of firms.
10. Kevin Randle's blog A Different Perspective has several posts about Rhodes in later life. In the comments section of one such post is the following:
William Albert Rhodes was my uncle. He passed away in 2007 at 90 years of age. His last wife (of six) Nancy lives still in their house on 13th place in Phoenix, she celebrated her 87 birthday last January. A long time resident of Arizona he lived in Phoenix when it was a small village of 35,000 people. In those days you were judged by what you knew and what you did rather than what a piece of paper said you knew. It was literally the Wild West at the time. Bill was friends with many leading people of the time including two men who were to become governors of Arizona. Intellectually Bill was brilliant and had many interests not limited to what I've read here. He was very active in the early radio music scene in Arizona. He played piano throughout his life at a very high level. He held many patents including the water welder, of which I have one in my garage. He worked extensively in the solar field and his home still has a hybrid solar panel for heating water and a "helioscope", which uses reflected light via mirrors to illuminate the inside of a building, among other innovations. He organized a "solar showcase" in Arizona in 1955, which while covered by the local media was a relative flop due, I believe, to entrenched corporate interests such as Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project. He was a "90 day wonder" and never said otherwise. No one who knew him even a little bit would think he didn't deserve to be called Dr. He invented Rhodes Gas and although it's now called Browns Gas it was his development and invention. He had some success in business but made many bad decisions and had no lasting business interests. He was used and abused business wise throughout his life. I know little about the UFO pictures having been born in 1947. He always kidded me and told me I was half alien. His personal life aside (obviously having had six wives) he wasn't the most stable of family men, but in the end he was one of a kind, complex, intelligent, flawed as most of us are.
This is confirmed in an obituary published in the February 6, 2007, edition of the Phoenix, Arizona, Arizona Republic...
William Albert Rhodes, P.H.D., age 90, passed away January 22, 2007 at Brighton Gardens, Hospice of the Valley. Born in Garden City, Kansas on 12-29-1916 to George E. and Bertha G. Rhodes Dr. Rhodes first came to Phoenix in 1929 from Fort Collins, Colorado where he had been studying music at the conservatory. Dr. Rhodes was a developmental research physicist and prolific inventor who held over 40 patents. In addition to his music studies he had an ingenious interest in the Sciences and in his teens built one of the first remotely controlled model airplanes, which resulted in one of his first patents. In 1943 he designed and built a small electric car that had a range of over a hundred miles and a top speed of 93 miles an hour. A true natural genius he went on to design and build 3 large telescopes of which 2 were used in Arizona, 1 at Kitt Peak near Tucson and the other at Lowell observatory in Flagstaff. Discovered and mentored by the famous inventor Dr. Lee De Forest, who held over 300 patents including the original vacuum tube, they later collaborated on several inventions, including the light amplifier for television. Dr. Rhodes had many life-long interests including being an early Ham Radio Operator and solar scientist. Among his 40 patents are the oxy-hydrogen generator or water torch, a "water" welder, novoid engine and the mercury turbine power generator. He was the author of many scientific articles and several books on a wide range of subjects including force-field studies and magnetism. He built and donated a delicate Seismograph to ASU recently. Typing his name in Google will take you to explanations of many of his inventions. Dr. Rhodes is survived by his wife of 35 years, Nancy Ross-Rhodes, son George W. Rhodes, PHD of Albuquerque, NM, 3 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Dr. Rhodes loved animals and requested memorial contributions be made to the Arizona Humane Society.
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