true story of
PART EIGHT OF TEN PARTS
Above: Tacoma's Hotel Winthrop in the late 1940s.
EVEN AT THE TIME that they were occurring, the events at Tacoma, Washington in 1947 were -- to borrow from Winston Churchill's description of the Soviet Union -- a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
And peering back into the events through the mist of six and a half decades passed only deepens the challenge of ferreting out the truth.
The basic outline of the story is discernible... in July, 1947 Kenneth Arnold of Boise was paid by publisher Raymond Palmer of Chicago to investigate the story told by Harold Dahl of Tacoma that he had seen six huge flying saucers while on his boat near Maury Island in Puget Sound. One saucer, said Dahl, had rained metal down upon the boat, damaging it, and Dahl had retrieved samples as well as taken pictures of the saucers -- though Dahl said the pictures were marred by white spots, as if exposed to radiation.
Dahl's story was backed up by one Fred Lee Crisman, supposedly Dahl's "superior officer", who claimed to have traveled to Maury Island the next day and to have found the pile of metal that had rained down, during which time a solo giant flying saucer coincidentally made a return appearance.
Arnold, who had started the national flying saucer craze when he reported seeing nine flying discs near Mt. Rainier in late June, felt out of his depth in assessing the story -- and so Arnold called on United Airlines pilot Captain E.J. Smith to help. Smith and his crew had had their own sighting of nine discs in early July, and he and Arnold had formed a friendship based on their similar experiences -- and as a result of Arnold's request Smith came to Tacoma to help Arnold investigate the stories of Dahl and Crisman.
Arnold also decided to call in two military investigators -- Captain William L. Davidson and Lieutenant Frank M. Brown of A-2 military intelligence at Hamilton Field in California. Capt. Davidson and Lt. Brown had interviewed both Arnold and Smith about their flying disc sightings, leaving behind their phone number should either Arnold or Smith run into a flying saucer story that might be of interest. The story of Dahl and Crisman seemed to fit the bill, so Davidson and Brown piloted a B-25 to McChord Field in Washington, and met with Crisman, Arnold and Smith in Arnold's room at the Winthrop hotel in Tacoma -- but absent from the meeting was Harold Dahl, the original "witness", who refused to meet with the military investigators. Davidson and Brown then left Tacoma late that night to fly back to Hamilton in their B-25, carrying with them supposed fragments of the metal that Dahl claimed had rained down on his boat, given to them by Crisman.
But inside even that bare-bones outline there were many discrepancies in the story as told by the different participants -- the most glaring of which was in the arrival date of Smith. Arnold would later write that he, Arnold, had personally arrived on July 29, 1947, and that Smith came on July 30, followed by the arrival of Davidson and Brown on July 31. But according to an FBI report by agent Jack Wilcox, Smith only arrived in Tacoma on July 31, the same day as the arrival of Davidson and Brown. If true, this meant that many events that Arnold placed as happening on July 30 -- including phone calls from United Press reporter Ted Morello of Tacoma saying a mysterious informant had been describing private conversations Arnold held with Smith in Arnold's hotel room -- could not have happened in the way Arnold claimed.
Arnold had told his story of his time in Tacoma five years after the events, while Smith's statement to the FBI was given less than two weeks after the events at Tacoma, and included a sworn affidavit from Smith. Why there were such discrepancies can only ever be a matter of speculation. But both Arnold and Smith agreed that Smith stayed in Arnold's hotel room at the Winthrop on the night of July 31.
Unfortunately, the discrepancies in the story as told by Arnold five years later and Smith's story as found in a lengthy FBI report less than two weeks after the events would only deepen, and can best be related only by matching each man's version -- day by day -- for the events of the next three days, August 1 through August 3, 1947.
First off, Arnold's version of the events of August 1, 1947, as told by him in 1952...
We arose the next morning of August first about nine o'clock. We were cheerful and happy, chuckling about how lucky we were that we were not connected with Military Intelligence. If they were going to figure this thing out they would sure have to go some. Of course, it could be ignored, which might happen, but somehow Captain Smith and I didn't think it would be.
Before returning to our respective homes that day we were going to take a boat ride out to Maury Island with Fred Crisman. In parting the night before we had made an appointment with him for ten o'clock. He was going to pick up and take us down to his boat so we could look it over for the damage he had told us about and which had been repaired. Also we mentioned to Crisman that we would like to take a ride over to Maury Island and take a look at these fragments on the beach.
About this time, I again began to think of Ray Palmer in Evanston, Illinois, the man who had sent me the expense money for this trip. I had taken movies of almost everything concerning the investigation. The morning sun made the room bright and cheery and even though the light was not good for exterior movie film I took a picture of Captain Smith sitting in the window, handling the fragments. I placed my oldest daughter's picture near him to more or less identify the fact that I was there.
Captain Smith said he thought he'd take a bath. It was still only about 9:30 a.m. I recall he had just gotten into the tub when the telephone rang. It was Fred Crisman.
He said, "Did you hear over the radio this morning that a B-25 exploded and crashed some twenty minutes after take-off from McChord Field about 1:30 this morning? I think you and I know who was aboard that plane!"
An ice cold chill went down my spine. I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. I yelled at Smithy who was singing in the bath tub. I told him what had happened. I flopped into a chair, all of a sudden too weak to stand up. Captain Smith got out of the tub, white as a sheet. He was dripping wet as he raced across the room and grabbed the telephone.
He asked Crisman to repeat, then hurriedly asked him to hang up. Captain Smith immediately called McChord Field. He was even whiter when they verified the accident. I think they verified that two of the men aboard the B-25 parachuted to safety, or it was United Press that verified this, I'm not sure.
Things happened so fast and furious there for about an hour I don't think either Smithy or I knew which way was up. We called United Press and talked to Ted Morello. Smithy got dressed and we were just leaving the room when Fred Crisman came racing breathlessly down the hall. He appeared to be as excited as Captain Smith and I were upset. We all went back in the room.
Suddenly I didn't want to play investigator any longer. I decided to call Mr. Raymond Palmer in Chicago and get out of this mess. I placed my call and got my connection. This was the first time I ever talked to Ray Palmer. I offered to give back the $200 expense money. I told him that I felt inadequate to investigate this situation. Two lives and a government bomber had been lost and I felt it had a direct relationship. I said that I wouldn't give him the story, even.
Fred Crisman interrupted before I finished talking to Palmer. He said that he would verify the crash or something like that. I went on listening to Palmer. He told me to keep the money and that maybe it would be best to forget about investigating any further. He warned me not to carry any of the fragments aboard my plane and suggested that if we wanted to keep any to mail them to ourselves or to him. He advised me to prevent Smith from taking any fragments. He didn't tell me why but I felt the advice was good. Mr. Palmer told me not to become too upset and then I gave the phone to Crisman.
Crisman talked briefly to Palmer, assuring him that the B-25 actually had crashed. Later Raymond Palmer told me that he recognized Crisman's voice. He was positive that it was the same voice that had called him long distance on other occasions from various parts of the county. Brother, what a mess.
By this time I was thinking that Crisman was peculiar from another standpoint. The day before I had asked him how he and Dahl had become known to Raymond Palmer in Chicago. Crisman had said that he became acquainted with him through Venture Magazine which he purchased from the newsstands. In my estimation that placed Crisman in the position of trying to cover up something. I knew there was no such magazine published at that time by Raymond Palmer.
We told Crisman we were going over to United Press where Ted Morello had invited us to hear a recorded interview. It was taken in the hospital where one of the two men who parachuted out of the B-25 was recuperating from a broken leg he had suffered in his fall.
We assured Crisman that we still wanted to go down and see his boat and made an appointment with him for about an hour from then at the dock where his boat was. He told us his mechanic was having trouble getting the engine in the boat started. While Smithy and I were at the United Press office Crisman was going to return to his boat and try to help his mechanic put it in running order.
Captain Smith and I walked out of the hotel and over to the United Press building. It was just across the street from the hotel. There we met Ted Morello. I think we were both little surprised to find that Ted Morello was also physically handicapped, due apparently to some childhood disease, although he looked robust and healthy. He was a very dark man, standing about five feet seven inches tall.
He motioned us with his arm to follow him. We went into a back room that was a little like a small auditorium. Off to the side he turned on the recorder play-back. I cannot recall the exact words of this man who had parachuted from the B-25 but will briefly summarize what Captain Smith and I heard.
He stated that he was an Army man who was hitch-hiking a ride with the B-25 back to California. He had just returned from some military duty and was taking advantage of the custom that many Army planes offered to military personnel when they were flying empty in the particular direction a military man might be going. Such rides were free and fast. Since he had heard that this B25 was going to return shortly to California he had put his name into McChord Field for a ride.
He stated that he didn't know who the pilot and co-pilot were and the engineer, Sergeant Mathews, was also a stranger to him. Shortly before they took off the pilot and co-pilot loaded a heavy cardboard box aboard the B-25. He noticed it particularly because it seemed very heavy for one man to carry. This box was placed over to one side of the compartment that he and the engineer occupied.
The pilot warmed up the engines and everything seemed satisfactory prior to take-off. They took off in the B-25 and started climbing up to a safe altitude. In the neighborhood of fifteen to twenty minutes after the take-off it was noticed that the left engine was on fire. Sgt. Mathews, the engineer, followed some emergency procedure and seemed worried. Later I found out that what he had actually done was pull the valve on the emergency fire fighting system for that engine. It did not work.
Then Lt. Brown, or as this fellow put it, the tall co-pilot, squeezed through the doorway and commanded them to strap on their parachutes. There were parachutes for all of them there. Lt. Brown had his harness on but did not have his parachute snapped to his harness. He harshly commanded them both to jump. Lt. Brown quickly told him how to pull the rip cord when he was sure he was clear of the ship and actually forcibly shoved him out of the plane into the night.
His parachute opened okay. For some nine to eleven minutes, while floating down to earth, he watched the burning engine and the airplane as it proceeded high above him and to the south. He assumed that all aboard had parachuted. He landed, knew he had hurt his leg, and some people brought him to the hospital.
By that time I knew that both Davidson and Brown had crashed and died with the plane. We did not tell Ted Morello their names. In fact, I think the only thing we said was, "Wow! What an experience!" We were completely noncommittal, still keeping our mouths shut.
Ted Morello made no attempt to pry information out of us but tried as hard as he could to make us understand he was our friend. The whole business had gotten so far out of hand, he said, that he was now only interested in our personal safety. It was satisfactory with him if we did not talk about anything that had transpired. I recall Morello making the remark, "I'll tell you, boys, when my informants can't get information in this neck of the woods, brother, there's sure something wrong!"
We felt that Morello meant what he was saying. We thanked him kindly for letting us listen to the recorded interview, got Smithy's car out of the garage across the street from the hotel and drove down to the pier where we were met by Crisman. We all walked out on the pier and down the stairway to Crisman's boat. I took movies of the boat and of Captain Smith looking at the superstructure, then I went aboard the boat, too.
This was the boat that Crisman said the damage had happened to. It was kind of a grayish color, a very small type of partially enclosed inboard fishing boat. It in no wise looked like harbor patrol boats that I had seen in pictures. After inspecting the boat we could see where some repairs had apparently taken place, but nothing like the repairs to damage as described by either Fred Crisman or Dahl in the hotel room had led us to expect.
We questioned Crisman further about the photographs that Dahl had taken of the strange craft on Maury Island. Crisman said, "I don't know what could have happened to those pictures. I couldn't find them around my office. I looked everywhere. Apparently I've taken them up to my mountain cabin along with a number of other things I took up there a while back." He suggested that we drive up there and see. I acted polite enough in declining his invitation but thought to myself, "How big a sucker do you think I am?"
After inspecting the top surface and cabin of the boat, Captain Smith and I went down to the engine room. A rather foreign looking gentleman of slight build was tinkering with something on the motor. He made the remark to Fred Crisman that the engine wouldn't work. I know that I thought it was no wonder the engine wouldn't start. It was a pretty junky looking affair and apparently ill taken care of. While Captain Smith was standing in the doorway, the mechanic took Crisman by the arm, pulled him to one side, and whispered to him.
Crisman turned to us and said, "The mechanic's having a hard time getting the engine going. It'll take him about an hour to repair it." The engine did not look like a bolt or screw had been turned on it. Captain Smith and I both noticed that. I think I know about motors, and I know Captain Smith does. Not only did this seem fishy to us, but frankly I wouldn't travel a hundred yards to sea in a boat in that condition. I think Smithy thought the same thing because he motioned to me and said, "Let's go back up town."
We gave up the idea of going to Maury Island, at least in that kind of a contraption. Fred Crisman seemed a little apologetic, but didn't say anything further. As we left in Smith's car Crisman yelled at us that he would call us as soon as the boat was repaired. He still thought, I guess, that we wanted to go to Maury Island in his boat. That was the last time I ever saw Fred Crisman.
Captain Smith and I were both thoroughly disgusted with our continuance of the investigation. We had lunch up town and returned to the hotel, I guess in kind of a daze. We met Paul Lance in the hotel lobby briefly and continued to our room. I suggested that we take some of the fragments and send them to ourselves by mail or something of that kind but we took no action.
I also suggested that we buy some movie film and place it next to these fragments that were strewn all over the room to see if anything about them would cause white spots on unexposed film. Certainly if they were radioactive this would substantiate that Crisman had the photographs as Harold Dahl claimed.
Somehow we didn't do anything about that, either. I did take my movie camera which had some unexposed film in it and laid it on top of the dresser next to a bunch of the fragments. I might mention here that when my film was developed there were no white spots on it or black ones either. All of my pictures turned out very well. Captain Smith and I just sat around, wondering what in the dickens the score was.
Finally the telephone rang. It was Ted Morello. This mysterious informant had phoned again and now he was predicting things. He said this man just told him on the other line that Captain Smith would be called Tuesday, August fifth, to Wright-Patterson Field, Dayton, Ohio, to be interrogated by Military Intelligence. He told him that Kenneth Arnold's plane had been shot at while flying over Washington and Oregon on numerous occasions and that Captain Smith's airliner had also been shot at over Montana.
He went on to tell Morello that the B-25 bomber from Hamilton Field had been shot down by a 20mm. cannon. A recent crash at LaGuardia Field, New York was caused by sabotage, he claimed, the gust locks having been left on purposely to sabotage the plane. Also the passenger transport that crashed carrying singer Grace Moore to her death in Copenhagen, Denmark, had similarly been sabotaged. Ted Morello said that he would like to see us that evening if we would be kind enough to come over to the pressroom.
This is what I later found out about the above predictions. Captain Smith told me that he was not called to Wright-Patterson nor was he interrogated by Military Intelligence. If either of our planes were shot at in the air it was something of which we were unaware. The official military explanation of the B-25 bomber was that it was simply an accident caused by the loss of an exhaust collector ring on the left engine.
It was never completely explained by the military why Lieutenant Frank M. Brown and Captain William Davidson did not notify anyone by radio signifying their distress nor why they hadn't parachuted also. According to the hitch-hiker's remark a good ten minutes elapsed between the time he was shoved out of the B-25 until the fire reached serious proportions and the plane started to dive to earth near Kelso, Washington. The estimated altitude of his jump was 10,000 feet It takes a long time to descend from that height by parachute. Swaying from his 'chute, he said he watched the burning plane a long time before getting near the earth.
Regarding the prediction that Captain Smith's airliner had been shot at over Montana, that was wrong as he did not fly over Montana. Concerning the airline crash on take-off at LaGuardia Field, about a month after this it was determined by the Civil Aeronautics Administration and their investigators that the gust locks had been left on accidentally. I was unable to find any official explanation of the Copenhagen crash.
By the afternoon of the first of August, 1947, both Captain Smith and I were wanting to heed Ted Morello's advice and leave town. We expected, however, to be contacted by Military Intelligence regarding Brown and Davidson so decided to stay another day. We were sure there would be some kind of investigation.
In the course of our frightening experiences I had sent a number of wires to my wife, Doris, in Boise that frightened her as to my safety. I called long distance to my mother in Albany, Oregon, telling my brother who answered the phone that I didn't know if I would see them again but wanted them to know where I was. In fact, I was so suspicious of somebody recording my conversations that I asked my brother to take my mother out in the yard and tell her that I felt in extreme danger of some kind.
I've thought since that this was slightly senseless. I could only have caused them undue worry. Then, again, maybe it was the best thing I ever did. Mother often prayed for my safety. She never has had as much confidence in an airplane as in an automobile. I guess I wanted some kind of help but for the life of me I didn't know what kind of help I wanted nor did I have the best idea as to where to ask for it. I knew that Doris was doing all that she could to rescue me from the situation. I could tell when I phoned her that she felt I needed rescuing from something. Captain Smith was also doing some phoning and letter writing but I don't know what it was about.
I'll never forget when I went out the door of the room to go downstairs to buy a package of cigarettes. I had to walk down five flights. That same day all the hotel help had gone on strike and the Hotel Winthrop was being picketed. I sure thought that town had gone haywire. Everything seemed to be topsy turvy.
Upon purchasing my cigarettes at the newsstand, I saw and bought the final edition of the Tacoma Times newspaper. It had just been delivered. Large block type headlines in red ink stated: SABOTAGE HINTED IN CRASH OF ARMY BOMBER AT KELSO, and a sub-headline read: Plane May Hold Flying Disk Secret.
The story was written by Paul Lance, the reporter we had refused to talk to. The following is taken verbatim out of the August 2, 1947 final edition of the Tacoma Times.
"The mystery of the 'Flying Saucers' soared into prominence again Saturday when the Tacoma Times was informed that the crash Friday of an army plane at Kelso may have been caused by sabotage.
"The Times' informant, in a series of mysterious phone calls reported that the ship had been sabotaged 'or shot down' to prevent shipment of flying disk fragments to Hamilton Field, California, for analysis.
"The disk parts were said by the informant to be those from one of the mysterious platters which plunged to earth on Maury Island recently.
"Lending substance to the caller's story is the fact that TWELVE HOURS BEFORE THE ARMY RELEASED OFFICIAL IDENTIFICATION, he correctly identified the dead in the crash to be Captain William L. Davidson, pilot, and First Lieutenant Frank M. Brown.
Subheadline: CLASSIFIED MATERIAL
"At the same time, he informed the Times, Kenneth Arnold, Boise businessman who first sighted the flying saucers, and United Airlines Captain E.J. Smith, who also sighted them, were in secret conference in Room 502 at the Hotel Winthrop. A check confirmed the information but neither Smith nor Arnold would disclose the nature of the conference nor the reason for their being in Tacoma.
"According to the anonymous caller platter fragments were loaded aboard a B-25 at McChord Field Friday for shipment to the California field. Half an hour after the take-off the plane crashed near Kelso, Washington. Two enlisted men, Master Sergeant Elmer L. Taff and Technician Fourth grade, Woodrow D. Mathews parachuted to safety.
"At McChord field an intelligence officer confirmed the mystery caller's report that the ill-fated craft had been carrying 'classified material.'
Subheadline: HINT SABOTAGE
"Major George Sander explained: 'Classified material means there was a somewhat secret cargo aboard the plane. No one was allowed to take pictures of the wreckage until the material was removed and returned to McChord field.'
"He declined to say what constituted 'classified material.'
"The theory of sabotage was borne out by the statement of the two crash survivors that one of the engines burst into flames and that regular fire apparatus installed in the engine for such emergencies failed to function.
Subheadline: NAMES REVEALED
"Notified of the information passed along by the anonymous informant, Captain Smith said:
"'When the story breaks it will be given general release but it will NOT come from this room.'
"At the same time he was in the Hotel Winthrop in conference with Arnold.
"Saturday Smith said he and Arnold would deny anything that was printed about the secret sessions held in the hotel. However he was visibly disturbed and expressed consternation when notified late Saturday that the names of the dead pilot and co-pilot had been revealed before the army released them.
"According to the telephone callers, both the dead officers were members of military intelligence at Hamilton field."
Due to the fact that this newspaper was printed and on the stands Friday evening, August 1, but was distributed to their subscribers the next morning, Saturday the second, the references to happenings of Saturday actually were happenings of Friday, August 1. The statement that "Captain Smith was visibly disturbed" is referring to earlier that same day when Captain Smith and I returned to the hotel after inspecting Fred Crisman's boat. Paul Lance met us in the lobby, tried to talk to us, and Smith made the statement referred to. We were delayed about two minutes by Paul Lance.
I took this paper up to Captain Smith. I don't know how he felt but I was plain scared. This whole thing had long since ceased to be a laughing matter under any circumstances.
We attempted to reach Fred Crisman at the phone number he had given us when we did not receive the call from him that his boat had been repaired. There was no answer. We attempted to reach Harold Dahl. There was no answer.
We sent out a drag net of calls to all the theaters and places we thought Dahl might frequent. Finally we reached him. When he arrived at our hotel he told us that Crisman had left a message saying he was going to have to be gone for a few days.
Right after Dahl told us that, Morello called and told us that the mysterious telephone informant had just notified him that Fred L. Crisman had boarded an Army bomber that afternoon and was now being flown to Alaska. Morello asked us if we knew whether this was true. We were simply flabbergasted when we called McChord field and found out that an army bomber had taken off that afternoon for Alaska. There was no way that we could check who the passengers or personnel were aboard it.
You never saw such a confused bunch of guys in your life as we three were. Another thing seemed rather peculiar. With people disappearing and getting killed Harold Dahl had been calmly sitting in a movie theater all afternoon. He had been notified before he went to the movie by Crisman and by his radio as to what had happened in the last twelve or fourteen hours. All Smithy could do was stand and shake his head. I wanted to stick my head out of the window and scream!
We sat Dahl down in a chair and told him firmly that we didn't want him to disappear. Both of us were positive that Military Intelligence at either McChord or Hamilton Field would be interviewing us soon. We were the reason that the two intelligence officers had come to Tacoma and we were the last people to see them alive outside of military personnel. We figured they would want to talk to all three of us. Harold promised us that he would be handy. We told him to return to his show if he wished. We just wanted to be sure he knew what had taken place. He left and Captain Smith and I went out to supper before going over to see Ted Morello.
Ted Morello was as hospitable a person as you could ever meet. He showed us every courtesy. He invited us into a back room just off from a small glassed-in area where the newswire teletype machine was ticking off news events from different parts of the country. After closing the door he made it clear that he didn't intend to print anything about all this but wanted us to know what he had been up against and to give us some advice. Smithy and I sat and listened.
Ted Morello said, "When I first heard about you fellows being in town. I really didn't think much about it. Paul Lance was the one who smelled the story. Then this mysterious telephone informant kept calling and pestering the life out of us. We tried every conceivable way to trace his calls with no success. We really tried. We tried to find out information at McChord Field and drew a blank and we have informants out there who practically smell the runways for news."
He stopped a moment, then asked, "Did you know the B-25 that stopped there the other day was under military armed guard every minute it was at the field?"
Captain Smith and I said no and shook our heads. Ted Morello continued, "I don't know how to impress upon you two fellows that I am not after a news story now. You're involved in something that is beyond our power here to find out anything about. We've exhausted every avenue attempting to piece what had happened together so it makes some sense. I'm just giving you some sound advice. Get out of this town until whatever it is blows over. If you want to talk anything over with me I will give you my promise that it won't be printed. I'm concerned with your welfare. I think you are nice fellows and I don't want to see anything happen to you if I can prevent it."
He went off into the teletype room and tore off a recent release from the UP wire. Earlier that day Dick Rankin, a famous pilot, had sent word over the wires that Davidson and Brown had talked to him about his reports of flying saucers. He felt that Davidson and Brown were really hot on the trail of finding out what the saucers were and, for some reason, he appeared to think their lives were in danger. Apparently his wire release over UP was with the intention of notifying Brown and Davidson to get to some place of safety. No place in the release that I remember did it announce or let on that he knew Davidson and Brown had been killed.
Dick Rankin could be classified as an authority on aviation matters. He learned to fly in 1920 under the tutelage of his brother, Tex Rankin, who was known in his time as the world's foremost stunt pilot.
In many respects, Dick was every bit as good a pilot as his brother, Tex. He did everything from wing walking in 1924 to becoming an A-number-one stunt pilot and won every contest that he entered in 1929, 1930 and 1931. Dick could do almost everything in the book when it came to handling an airplane. He once performed an outside loop with an OX5 Waco. That was an outstanding feat in the early days of flying. Even most modern aircraft are restricted against such a maneuver, let alone the courage a pilot must have to attempt it.
In order to give the reader some background and possibly more meaning to the Dick Rankin news release that Ted Morello read to Captain Smith and me, I am going to quote from an article written by Evelyn Whitmaker and published in The Air Traveler in September 1948. Dick Rankin was not only an expert in the field of aviation but had unusual extra-sensory perception that many people would rank in the "believe it or not" category. Dick's life was once saved by a dream.
"He was always having dreams, which the next morning he would tell Tex, or 'Jack,' as he called Tex. The latter used to get quite provoked at Dick and his crazy dreams and sometimes would walk away, refusing to listen. The morning after Dick had this particular dream, in 1928, Dick arrived at the old Portland Flouring Mills and reported to Tex that he refused to fly his ship until the tail assembly and been examined, as he had had a dream that he and his student were killed due to broken wires in the tail assembly. Again Tex scoffed and proceeded to ignore Dick, after telling him to 'stop being silly' and to take care of his students. This time, however, Dick refused to be so easily pushed aside. He would not fly until the fabric was ripped from the tail and the controls carefully examined, since the dream was too vivid to ignore. Hot words flew between the two brothers but Dick won out -- simply because Tex figured he would cure Dick once and for all of his silly dreams. Dick slashed the linen with his pen-knife and discovered three control wires severed and the fourth ready to give way. Tex stated that had Dick and his student taken off in that condition, they would have been killed on the first round. Tex was amazed, but Dick wasn't. Tex told all of us at the airport that never again would he laugh at dick and his dreams."
To me it was also unusual to find that as the result of an automobile accident in 1940, Dick is today paralyzed from the hips down. In knowing this about Dick Rankin, I caught myself wondering by what queer quirk of fate did physically handicapped people become directly associated with my life and flying saucers. There was Paul Lance, Ted Morello, and now Dick Rankin, all through disease or accident affected from the waist down and all appeared to want desperately to offer a helping hand.
I am quite sure that Captain Smith was not familiar with Dick Rankin as he didn't offer to talk about him. I recall bringing up the subject several times that evening. I had flown with Tex Rankin, not too long before his crash and untimely death at Klamath Falls, Oregon. Somehow I placed a good deal of credence on Dick's opinion. I knew that Tex admired his brother and I don't think there's a pilot in the country who didn't admire Tex.
We thanked Ted Morello for his kindness and we did confirm a number of the things he asked us about. We both felt better as we left the building. We felt we had found a real friend in Ted Morello and for some reason even Paul Lance's approaches were no longer interpreted as just a reporter looking for a story.
We went back across the street to the hotel where I sent several wires and Smithy spent about an hour writing letters. I don't remember how many calls had been left in the form of notes in our hotel box. I do know that the important call we were expecting from Military Intelligence was not there. We picked up our key at the desk and proceeded to walk up five flights to our room.
That long evening of August first Captain Smith and I simply sat around the room and looked at each other, every minute expecting Military Intelligence to get in touch with us. I recall Dave Johnson of The Idaho Statesman phoning and wanting to know what we were doing. He was so insistent I turned the phone over to Captain Smith and finally Smithy admitted to Dave that we had been seeing Dahl and Crisman and had been in conference with Military Intelligence. He told him that Captain William Davidson and Lieutenant Frank M. Brown were the intelligence officers who had been there and that now they were dead. By no means could we nor did we attempt to tell him the complete story.
Captain Smith also told Maurice Roddy of The Chicago Tribune practically the same thing when he phoned. I never could figure out why Smithy said, "We only have six pieces of fragments." These fragments were still strewn all over the room. I figured that if he said we had a whole pile of them we'd probably be overrun by souvenir hunters. I think Captain Smith thought six was a good round figure. Neither of us had actually counted the number of fragments we had.
That night we went to bed feeling pretty clammy and cold inside. Somehow the leaky faucet song that we laughed at so hilariously the night before didn't seem funny any more.
That was the story of August 1, 1947, as told five years later by Kenneth Arnold.
But Captain Smith's statement to the FBI less than two weeks later would again differ greatly...
On Friday morning, August 1, 1947, ARNOLD received a call from CRISMAN informing him that a B-25 had crashed during the night and it was believed to be the same plane which BROWN and DAVIDSON were flying. Following this call CRISMAN and DAHL came to the Hotel room and from the room CRISMAN again called McChord Field in an attempt to get information about the crash. SMITH took the phone from CRISMAN and spoke to a Colonel GREGG, identifying himself and asking if the B-25 which crashed was the only one which had taken off from McChord Field the previous night. GREGG told him that it was. Following this call ARNOLD called RAYMOND PALMER in Chicago and informed him of the previous night's conversations and the fact that DAVIDSON and BROWN were believed to have been killed. PALMER told ARNOLD to discontinue his investigation of the incident and that he, PALMER, was no longer interested. SMITH [sic, should be CRISMAN] then took the phone from ARNOLD and asked PALMER if he could shed any light on the situation. SMITH was unable to say what PALMER's reply to CRISMAN was. Following these telephone discussions SMITH says that he called MAURICE RODDY whom he identified as a personal friend of his and an aviation editor of the Chicago Times. SMITH states that he had previously made an agreement with RODDY in Chicago that should he ever run across any flying disc stories which showed promise of news value, that he would contact RODDY and this call was a result of that agreement. Shortly afterward, Colonel GREGG called him from McChord Field stating that Hamilton Field had requested that ARNOLD, SMITH, CRISMAN and DAHL submit their addresses to Hamilton Field for convenience of any Army investigation of the incident which may be forthcoming. After this call the four men went to a restaurant for lunch. During the course of this meal SMITH excused himself from the table and attempted to call SAC BOBBITT of the Portland Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation with whom he claims acquaintance. BOBBITT, however, was unavailable and SMITH was unable to complete the call. After returning to the Hotel room, a Tacoma Times reporter called attempting to gain information, but they did not give him any. Later, a Mr. MORELLO of the United Press called and SMITH spoke to him on the telephone but refused to give out any information. SMITH further relates that while the four men were in the room at this time, an envelope was shoved under the door and that he retrieved it from the floor. SMITH states that the appearance of this envelope seemed to startle CRISMAN considerably and that in fact, CRISMAN turned white as a sheet until SMITH read the note unsigned which was a communication to the Hotel advising that a strike of Hotel employees was eminent [sic] and that guests should not expect room and telephone service much longer. Shortly after this incident DAHL and CRISMAN left the Hotel room after promising to take ARNOLD and SMITH to Maury Island the following morning (Saturday). ARNOLD and SMITH then went out to dinner and on their return, SMITH found a note in the box requesting him to call a certain telephone number. He did this from the Hotel room and was answered by LANTZ, Tacoma times reporter who requested SMITH to go out and call him from a pay station. SMITH complained and was informed by LANTZ that two anonymous telephone calls had been received by him that a discussion regarding flying discs had been taking place in room 502 at the Winthrop Hotel which involved Army Intelligence officers. From the information which LANTZ had received, SMITH was convinced that the anonymous caller must have been present at the discussion also, as LANTZ was seemingly in possession of pertinent remarks which had been made in the room. SMITH states that he did not give LANTZ any further information and that in conclusion of the call, he returned to the Hotel room and he and ARNOLD retired for the night.
The differences between Arnold's and Smith's versions of the events of August 1 are again many, and significant -- starting with the fact that in Arnold's story Dahl was nowhere in sight during the first part of the day.
In Arnold's version, Smith immediately picked up the phone and called McChord Field right after Crisman's call telling of the crash of the B-25, while Smith says he had Crisman call McChord Field after Crisman and Dahl came to the room, and then took the phone from Crisman to verify the details of the crash himself.
In Arnold's version, he and Smith left Crisman to visit United Press reporter Ted Morello and then listened to a recorded interview with one of the survivors, while Smith not only makes no mention of any such visit but states that he, Arnold, Crisman and Dahl went out to lunch together during that time and then all four returned to the hotel room. Smith also states that Morello called seeking information but was refused cooperation.
In Arnold's version, he and Smith go to the docks to meet Crisman and see the boat, which as will be seen Smith says took place the next day.
And the FBI report of Smith's account was reflected in Smith's sworn affidavit (names blacked out on the declassified copy of the affidavit included in brackets where known)...
Friday the 1st: At approximately 8 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Crismon called up our hotel room and acquainted us with the fact that the B-25 had crashed. Also that he had called McChord Field and from information he received also verified the fact that the two men in the ship were Capt. Davidson and Lieut. Brown, plus a flight engineer and a hitch-hiker. This left both Mr. Arnold and myself in a very bad state of concern. Approximately an hour later Mr. Crismon and Mr. Dahl made their appearance in the hotel room. I still wasn't sure that this was the same B-25 that the two Intelligence officers had left in last night. Mr. Crismon then again called McChord Field and talked to a [Colonel Gregg] and the fact was verified again that the two pilots were Davidson and Brown.
After an hour or so Mr. Crismon and Mr. Dahl left the hotel room with a plan in mind of the four of us meeting the next morning (Saturday) for breakfast and going out to Maury Island.
The discrepancies would continue to pile up...
In Arnold's version, Ted Morello calls later in the day about the informant saying the B-25 was shot down, but as will be seen Smith says that happened the next day and in a manner different than Arnold describes. Likewise, Arnold says on that same day, Friday, August 1, he saw the "sabotage" headline and story in the Tacoma Times, though he quotes from the Saturday, August 2nd final edition and as will be seen Smith says that indeed happened on August 2nd and in a manner different than Arnold describes. And in Arnold's version, he and Smith wait anxiously for a call from the military seeking information, while Smith says that call had already come early in the morning from Colonel Gregg at McChord Field asking they submit their addresses "for convenience of any Army investigation of the incident which may be forthcoming".
And then there is the matter of reporter Paul Lantz -- who Arnold calls Paul Lance. While Arnold portrays Smith as friendly to Morello but hostile towards Lantz, Smith's version not only paints a picture of being equally wary of both, but also gives an interesting account of Smith's conversation with reporter Paul Lantz later that day. From Smith's sworn affidavit...
That evening (Friday) there was a message for me to call this particular telephone number that was on the message. I called this number and was asked by the party to please call them from a paystation. This party was a Mr. Lantz, a reporter on the Tacoma Times. He told me, "I most certainly am doing myself out of a good story but I thought you ought to know that somebody has been calling this paper and giving us a blow-by-blow description of all that has taken place in your room since you arrived." To verify this, Mr. Lantz repeated back to me discussions that I felt had only been taking place in our room.
Mr. Lantz also made the statement that there was a leak either from the switchboard operator or our room had been tapped. I asked Mr. Lantz why he was tipping us off with this information. He made the statement that he didn't mind doing this if in return that any information that I may let out would be given to him. After this conversation with Mr. Lantz I went back to our room and told Mr. Arnold what took place on the telephone.
This -- at the end of the day, August 1, 1947 -- was the first mention by Smith of any calls from a reporter telling of an anonymous informant, though Arnold had claimed such calls from reporter Ted Morello had been coming in since July 30.
Also giving a different story than Arnold was Paul Lantz himself, who had given a statement to FBI agent David A. MacCulloch at Tacoma between August 5 and August 6 -- less than a week after the events. The information from Agent MacCulloch's report was then included in FBI agent Wilcox's August 19, 1947 report...
It was the Tacoma Times paper which first issued a story on August 2 and subsequent stories intimating that the B-25 which crashed at Kelso, Washington on the early morning of August 1, had been sabotaged or shot down because of the fact that it carried flying disc fragments. LANTZ stated that on Thursday, July 31, at approximately 11:30 A.M. he received an anonymous phone call in which the caller stated that KENNETH ARNOLD and Army Intelligence officers were meeting in room 502 of the Winthrop Hotel to check on the flying disc story from which fragments were obtained on Maury island. LANTZ stated he turned around to speak to his editor and when he picked up the phone again the line was dead.
Here either agent MacCulloch or agent Wilcox or reporter Lantz could be thought to be in error about the subject of the call, as Capt. Davidson and Lt. Brown -- the two military investigators -- did not fly into Tacoma until the afternoon of the 31st. And in fact that same report in another section states simply that there was a call about a meeting, not mentioning Davidson or Brown...
Five anonymous calls were received by a reporter, Tacoma Times, and the United Press Wireman, Tacoma, between 11:30 A.M., July 31, 1947 and 5:30 P.M., August 2, 1947. The first call was to a Tacoma Times reporter approximately 11:30 A.M., July 31, in which the caller stated that there was a meeting taking place at that time in room 502 of the Winthrop Hotel concerning the disc fragments found on Maury Island.
And so it could be that the reference to "Army intelligence officers" in the report telling of the first call to Lantz at 11:30 a.m. on July 31st was inadvertent, and that the "meeting" was actually between Arnold, Crisman and Dahl -- but there is one other possibility, as will be seen in Part Ten of this series.
Continuing on with agent Wilcox's report of the statement of reporter Paul Lantz...
He stated that the caller asked for BURT McMURTIE, a reporter on the Tacoma Times. He stated that BURT McMURTIE called ARNOLD at room 502 in the Winthrop Hotel and was advised by ARNOLD that he could furnish no information as he was there on a Government mission. LANTZ stated that on Friday, August 1, between 11:00 A.M. and noon, he received another phone call for BURT McMURTIE in which the anonymous caller stated that he might have some information for him. LANTZ asked the caller if he was not the same party that had called the previous date and he said yes. The caller then related that at the moment there was a big meeting in progress in ARNOLD's room, 502, in the Winthrop Hotel; that the B-25 which crashed that morning in Kelso was carrying flying disc fragments from California and that McChord Field officials had stated the plane was sabotaged or shot down. The caller then hung up after making some statement to the effect that he was a switchboard operator. LANTZ stated that he went to the Winthrop Hotel on Friday about noon and found that there was no male operator on duty. He stated he then went to room 502 and ARNOLD answered the door and that Captain EMIL J. SMITH, United Airlines pilot, was on the phone. LANTZ stated that he heard SMITH make a statement to the effect that the information must be very strictly confidential. He stated that there were one or two others in the room besides SMITH and ARNOLD, but that he could not identify them. He stated that ARNOLD told him he could make no statement and that he had attempted to check the story with various people on Maury Island with negative results. He stated that about 3:30 P.M., Friday, he wrote a story regarding the mysterious informant and called ARNOLD at his hotel room, stating that he had written this story and that ARNOLD had better check it. He stated that he talked to TED MORELLO, the United Press Wireman, Tacoma, who advised that the story sounded fantastic. LANTZ stated that about 5:30 P.M., Friday, August 1, an anonymous caller called TED MORELLO, the United Press Wireman, stating that Captain DAVIDSON and Lieutenant BROWN were the Intelligence officers that were killed in the crash of the B-25 and that civilians and the sheriff had been kept away from the wreckage with the Army guarding it. He stated the anonymous caller then said that the names had not been released yet by the Army and that this would verify his statements. PAUL LANTZ stated that the following morning, Saturday, August 2, the Army verified that the officers killed were Captain DAVIDSON and Lieutenant BROWN and two days later verified that they were Army Intelligence officers. LANTZ stated that the anonymous caller again later contacted TED MORELLO, calling him by that name, and at this time stated he did not call the Tacoma news Tribune or the Associated Press and denied calling PAUL LANTZ or BURN McMURTIE. In this call the anonymous caller stated that, "Don't think I'm doing this for you." He then asked if the story had been put on the wire and when MORELLO said yes, the caller stated, "We want this to get back to New Jersey." The caller further stated that the B-25 was shot down by a 20 m.m. cannon and that the marine plane which was recently found wrecked on the side of Mt. Rainier, having been missing for several months, had also been shot down. The caller stated to MORELLO that he should get in touch with a flyer named MORGAN with United airlines who, he stated, was with Captain SMITH when they were shot at over Montana. The caller then stated, "I'll see you Tuesday. I'm going to San Francisco. LANCE [sic] stated that he had checked with Captain SMITH of United Airlines who denied knowing any pilot by the name of MORGAN; denied ever having flown over Montana. LANTZ stated that MORELLO received another anonymous call in which the caller stated that SMITH would be sent to Wright Field on Tuesday and that Saturday one of the men who found fragments of the flying disc was to be flown to Alaska. LANTZ stated that in view of the fact that the information as to the Intelligence officers on the B-25 had been as furnished by the anonymous caller, had subsequently been verified by the Army, the story was released that the B-25 was carrying disc fragments returning to Hamilton Field, California and furnishing the inference that the plane had been sabotaged or shot down.
The calls from Paul Lantz to Arnold requesting comment were apparently the basis for Arnold's later claim of having seen the story on Friday, August 1st, as will become even more apparent a little later.
FBI agent Wilcox's report also included reporter Ted Morello's version of events...
TED MORELLO, a United Press Wireman, Tacoma, Washington furnished substantially the same information that was obtained from PAUL LANTZ, the Tacoma Times reporter, regarding the anonymous phone calls which he had received. He stated further that the first call he received was on Friday, August 1, at around 5:30 P.M. At this time the caller stated that the B-25 which crashed at Kelso, Washington was carrying disc fragments and the two officers killed were Captain DAVIDSON and Lieutenant BROWN, officers with Army A-2 Intelligence at Hamilton Field and that the fragments were top secret material. He stated the caller indicated that when the Army released the names of the dead officers it would verify that the information he was furnishing was correct. MORELLO stated that the second call he received at approximately 6:45 P.M. Friday, August 1 at which time the caller stated that the B-25 was definitely shot down and that if he contacted Army Intelligence A-2, the man in charge would not deny it. MORELLO stated he thought the man said to contact Colonel GUYS but it was found out it was Colonel GREGG who was in charge of Army Intelligence A-2. The caller further stated that the Sheriff's Office had been kept away from the crash and that no civilians had been allowed near the plane. MORELLO stated the third call he received at 5:30 P.M., August 2, and that this time the caller stated that one of the men who had been conferring with Captain SMITH and KENNETH ARNOLD was taken to Alaska that day. The caller further stated that the B-25 was shot down from the air with a 20 m.m. canon; that the Marine plane found recently on Mt. Rainier had also been shot down; that Captain SMITH would be taken to Wright Field Tuesday morning and that a United Airlines pilot by the name of MORGAN flew with Captain SMITH when they were shot at over Montana. The caller stated he was leaving for San Francisco and would be back Tuesday.
Once again, the details provided by the reporter involved vary significantly from that claimed by Arnold, with Arnold writing that Morello had called him on Friday, August 1 about Smith being called to Wright Field on that coming Tuesday and the like, while Morello says he didn't receive that claim from the anonymous informant until late in the day on Saturday, August 2 -- nor does Morello make any mention of calling Arnold with the information. Smith does say that Morello called that day, but that he refused to give Morello any information. Since this was the same day the mysterious informant had given Morello the actual names of Davidson and Brown, it seems likely this was the matter Morello was attempting to verify.
It is also pertinent to note that although Arnold claims Morello had been calling him about the mysterious informant since the evening of July 30th -- as told in detail in Part Seven of this series -- Morello stated that his first call from a mystery informant came two days later on the evening of August 1 -- with Lantz being the one having talked to the informant on July 31st, the content of which was merely that a "big meeting" was taking place.
But one of the most glaring uncorroborated details given by Arnold was of the supposed statements by the informant that the plane of singer Grace Moore had been sabotaged, as well as a "recent crash at LaGuardia Field" which had been caused by sabotage of the plane's gust locks, which appears in none of the accounts of the reporters Lantz and Morello, nor in agent Wilcox's report, nor in Captain Smith's sworn affidavit -- and in fact, not even in the statement given to the FBI by Kenneth Arnold himself less than two weeks after the events.
All of which makes Arnold's claim -- made five years later -- that the informant had told Morello that the gust locks of the plane at LaGuardia had been sabotaged all the more disquieting, in that Arnold would use that as a basis to write...
Concerning the airline crash on take-off at LaGuardia Field, about a month after this it was determined by the Civil Aeronautics Administration and their investigators that the gust locks had been left on accidentally.
And such discrepancies would increase in the events of the next day, Saturday, August 2, as told by Arnold and Smith. Continuing on with Kenneth Arnold's account...
All we did the next day, Saturday, August 2 was hang around the room, going out only to eat, anticipating a call every minute from either McChord or Hamilton Field. Smithy phoned McChord Field and talked to someone there in the Intelligence Division, telling them exactly where we were if they wanted to see us. I remember him hanging up the phone with a rather discouraged look on his face. We wanted someone to talk to us and there we sat like a couple of dead ducks.
We didn't know if the fragments were worth sending home to ourselves. We had given up trying to get to Maury Island and though we were positive that Harold Dahl's story was true in many respects it seemed our efforts had been wasted. Outside of the fragments on the floor we couldn't prove a thing. We were utterly confused and frustrated.
In the afternoon Harold Dahl stopped by for a brief visit, not having very much to say. He left after inviting us to breakfast the next morning at a small cafe along the main highway from Seattle to Portland on the eastern outskirts of Tacoma. I thought several times that day that I should go out to Barry's Airport and inspect my airplane. I phoned out there and everything seemed to be all right and my plane hadn't been disturbed.
We did absolutely nothing but wait the rest of the day. As far as we knew nothing further happened that shed any light on the mystery of the whole business. We decided we should stay there until the military did get in touch with us. Captain Smith mentioned before he went to sleep that night that he simply had to get back on his airline runs or he was going to be out of a job. I don't know how many flights he had cancelled.
At this point I would like to impress upon the reader that these events, people, and places are not fictional nor ghost stories nor figments of my imagination. Not only can every person involved verify this to be the truth but I have hotel receipts, newspapers, and photographs to substantiate this that I have written as being true.
And from Smith's statement to the FBI recounting of the events of August 2, 1947...
On Saturday morning, August 2, 1947, SMITH received a telephone call from MAURICE RODDY in Chicago, but was unable to give him any further information. SMITH advised him, however, that he would call him back at 2:30 that afternoon. DAHL then called from a coffee shop nearby and ARNOLD and SMITH joined DAHL, CRISMAN and an unknown man in the coffee Shop for breakfast. The unknown person was discussing some lumber business with DAHL and left after breakfast. On leaving the coffee shop SMITH asked DAHL about the negatives of the photographs which he claimed to have taken of the flying discs. DAHL said the negatives were in the glove compartment of his car, but a search of the instant glove compartment was fruitless. The four then proceeded in CRISMAN's car to the dock where they were to embark for Maury Island. The boat, however, could not be started and the trip was postponed until later in the day. While at the dock, however, SMITH asked to be shown the damage to the boat which had allegedly occurred when the fragments showered down on Maury Island. CRISMAN pointed out what may have been repairs to the windshield and lights on the boat, but SMITH was not personally satisfied that these repairs were made as a result of any such incident. CRISMAN and DAHL then drove ARNOLD and SMITH back to the Hotel at approximately 10:45 A.M. And CRISMAN told them he would call them later on and that they would go to Maury island. On returning to the Hotel, SMITH called LANTZ at the Tacoma Times as a result of which call he and ARNOLD met LANTZ at the Coffee Shop across the street from the Winthrop Hotel. SMITH stated that the purpose of this meeting was to try to find out something more about the anonymous phone calls which LANTZ had told him about. He and ARNOLD still refused to give out any further information regarding the Thursday evening conference to LANTZ and were informed by LANTZ that the Tacoma Times was afraid of being scooped on the story and was going to print something on that day. SMITH and ARNOLD then returned to the Hotel and shortly thereafter received a phone call from CRISMAN, but the call was cut off by the switchboard operator since it was not an emergency call. SMITH and ARNOLD then returned to the Hotel lobby where they found a telegram from DAHL asking them to call him at either Broadway or Proctor 7733, SMITH is not sure of the exchange. SMITH called this number, but DAHL was not there. SMITH states that he went then to the Western Union Telegraph Office and dispatched a collect telegram to MAURICE RODDY at the Chicago Times which contained a brief resume of the incidents which had occurred and which requested RODDY to wire SMITH a telephone number where RODDY could be reached after 6:00 P.M. SMITH states that he never received an answer to that wire. Following this, SMITH states that he and ARNOLD were sitting in the lobby of the Olympic [sic, should be Winthrop] Hotel when LANTZ entered and gave them each a copy of the latest edition of the Tacoma Times which contained a story hinting at sabotage in the crash of the Army B-25 which killed Captain DAVIDSON and Lieutenant BROWN. SMITH stated that he and ARNOLD continued to occupy seats in the Hotel lobby most of the afternoon inasmuch as they were unable to receive calls in the Hotel room due to the Hotel employees' strike. He relates that he received a call in the late afternoon from LANTZ advising him to call LANTZ that evening at 8:30 as LANTZ had further information regarding the anonymous calls. SMITH also received a telegram requesting that he call Boise 6000 which he did and found that it was JOHNSON of the Boise Statesman. He refused to give JOHNSON any further information at this time. However, shortly thereafter, JOHNSON called from Boise and advised SMITH that the Army had released a story through Brigadier General SHRAM [sic, should be SCHRAMM] revealing the confidential assignment which BROWN and DAVIDSON had been engaged on. In view of this release, JOHNSON requested SMITH to answer one question for him which was, "Were they carrying any alleged disc fragments on the plane?" and SMITH answered, "Yes, they were." Following this SMITH called LANTZ as per his earlier request and was informed that MORELLO of the United Press had received another anonymous phone call at which time "the voice" said that the Army B-25 carrying Captain DAVIDSON and Lieutenant BROWN had been shot down with 20 m.m. shells. The voice went on to state that SMITH would be called back to Wright Field on Tuesday. When MORELLO asked why he was giving this information the caller replied that it was not for the benefit of the newspapers, but that he was interested in seeing that the information got back to New Jersey. The voice also informed MORELLO at this time that one of the two persons who had been talking to ARNOLD and SMITH had now left for Alaska. As a result of this latter bit of information SMITH decided to find out if CRISMAN or DAHL had left town. He located DAHL at the Sunset Theatre and DAHL came to the Hotel and met SMITH and ARNOLD. They were unable to locate CRISMAN by phone and DAHL left saying that he would try to find out where CRISMAN was and that he would call them tomorrow (Sunday) and that they would go out to Maury island at that time. After DAHL left, SMITH and ARNOLD went to the Tacoma Times Office where a reporter met them and took them to MORELLO in the United Press Office. There they read the latest press releases and had a discussion with MORELLO regarding the anonymous phone calls. In the course of this discussion MORELLO mentioned the name of Major GEORGE SANDERS, Public Relations Officer at McChord field as being one of the officers interested in the investigation.
Following this discussion with MORELLO, at which time SMITH states they still refused to divulge any further information, SMITH and ARNOLD returned to the Hotel for the night.
And with Smith's account as given to the FBI, the discrepancies lessened slightly against the version Arnold told, with similarities in many key events though they differed from each other by at least a day. Still, though some discrepancies seem less significant, other still significant discrepancies call themselves out.
This was the first mention by Smith of any calls to Ted Morello by the anonymous informant, and Smith states that it was the informant who claimed "one of the men involved" had left for Alaska, while Arnold said it had come from Dahl the day before and that Morello had called immediately afterward naming Crisman -- with both of Smith's statements matching those of Morello.
This was also the first mention by Smith of any visit to Ted Morello, with Smith saying it was to ascertain information about the anonymous informant -- not the invitation Arnold claimed had occurred the day before to listen to the audiotape of the survivor. Smith also says they still refused to give Morello any information, mentioning nothing about any of the fears or warnings for their safety Arnold said had been expressed by Morello. And Smith's version of the "sabotage" story includes much more interaction with Paul Lantz, including Arnold, Lantz and Smith meeting at a coffee shop to discuss the anonymous informant -- all left out of Arnold's version, and with a careful reading of Arnold's version seeming much less likely than that told by Smith... and in fact, with that told by Paul Lantz himself.
A conflict of narratives which would endure and even greatly magnify itself in the differing accounts of the events of August 3, 1947 -- the day Kenneth Arnold and E.J. Smith would leave Tacoma behind.
1. The title of this series is taken from two statements made by Kenneth Arnold -- once to the press and once to the military -- stating that his story was "positively true".
2. Arnold's relating of a United Press wire story of Dick Rankin's premonition and warning to Davidson and Brown was searched for but not found. Dick Rankin was mentioned in some stories, but only as far as saying that he had been interviewed by Davidson and Brown. The closest to Arnold's claim would be in an article for the Portland, Oregon Sunday Journal headlined "Kelso Crash, Disk Linked". The relevant portion of that article...
Two army officers killed Friday in an airplane crash near Kelso, Wash. had visited Portland two days before to question Dick Rankin, noted northwest flier, about flying disks.
Rankin disclosed this Saturday after a United press dispatch from Tacoma reported that the plane which carried the men to their deaths had secret cargo aboard. An annonymous informant told United Press that the cargo was fragments of a crashed flying disk.
Rankin said the two officers came to his home, 834 N.E. Simpson street, Wednesday. They questioned him closely four hours about the two flights of mysterious objects he had seen June 14 above Bakersfield, Cal., Rankin said.
Rankin said the two men told him they also had questioned Pilot Kenneth Arnold, Boise, and United Airlines Capt. E.J. Smith, Seattle, who had seen other disk flights.
"They were getting pretty hot on something," said Rankin. "I wouldn't be surprised if something had happened to them."...
"Those two boys who were killed were sitting Wednesday night right where you are," Rankin told a Journal reporeter interviewing him at his home Saturday.
Rankin, brother of the late, famed pioneer Northwest flier, Tex Rankin, uttered the opinion that the disk-like objects are aircraft of a foreign power.
"I've been flying since 1919," he said, "and I've done a lot of mapping. I think whatever country owns them is mapping this country."
Rankin says he told the two now dead army officers of his theory. They neither agreed with nor disputed it, he said.
The Sunday Journal article was published on August 3, 1947, two days later than Arnold's claim of seeing an article indicating Rankin's "premonition".
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