The year 1952 -- as far as the subject of flying saucers is concerned -- would prove itself remarkable on several levels. But noteworthy in and of itself was the fact that -- after four-plus years of witness reports of flying discs soaring through post-war American skies -- the existential reality of the saucers remained a matter of ongoing debate and controversy.
A full two years earlier, the Air Force had loudly and unequivocally proclaimed to the nation that after nearly three years of diligent investigation it had reached the definitive conclusion that such things as flying saucers did not exist -- period, finito, full-stop. Furthermore, the Air Force declared, any and all witness reports -- including those of its own military pilots -- were nothing more than misinterpretation, hoax or mental instability on the part of the witnesses. So unassailable was this conclusion, the Air Force announced, that it had shut down its official investigation -- known to the press as "Project Saucer" -- entirely and forevermore.
Yet four-and-one-half years after the first reports of disc-shaped aircraft flying unchallenged over the nation's towns and cities, and two years following the Air Force's definitive pronouncement of disbelief and disinterest, the saucers were not only still a hot topic, but attracting serious attention in the national press.
The primary reason for the topic's longevity, of course, was that serious and sometimes spectacular sightings reports continued to be made by credible witnesses. These reports had been examined seriously and in-depth by authors like Major Donald Keyhoe, or cynically by authors such as Sidney Shalett and Bob Considine. But "just-the-facts" summaries of such reports were rare in the years preceding 1952. Surprisingly, one could be found in -- of all places -- a book published in 1952 by Raymond Palmer's Amherst Press.
Ray Palmer -- former editor of Amazing Stories -- had long had an ambiguous relationship with truth. This carried through even with his 1952 book, excerpted below, called "The Coming of the Saucers" and co-authored with Kenneth Arnold. The first half of the book gave Arnold's version of events in 1947 at Maury Island in an exaggerated and often wildly fabricated fashion. But the second half, by Palmer himself -- who as co-founder and co-publisher of Fate magazine was in as good a position as anyone outside the military to collect such reports -- included the following collection of credibly presented and straight-forward sightings reports between 1947 and 1951...
Above: Feature in the September 17, 1952 edition of the Portsmouth, Ohio, Times on the publication of The Coming of the Saucers by Kenneth Arnold and Ray Palmer. Bottom: Image and caption from the pictures section of the book. Three years earlier, in its September 1949 issue, Ray Palmer's Fate magazine had published the picture with a "follow-up" by Mr. Janssen claiming that two weeks following taking the picture above he had been piloting a plane when a shaft of light from above had resulted in the plane's engine shutting off and the plane itself suspended in mid-air. Janssen said that soon after he saw a "strange, wraith-like craft that I sensed as being one of the much-discussed flying disks ... with steamer-like portholes" that also "appeared motionless". The engine, according to Janssen's account in Fate, started up again as soon as the disc took off. Although Palmer chose to leave this later account out of The Coming of the Saucers. The two accounts would eventually become part of saucer lore in some circles, with the picture and the plane suspended in flight merged into a singular event.
REPORTS of flying saucers from other countries have been more numerous than has been supposed, but most of them have one fault in common: they do not contain the necessary detail to give them factual and confirmable stature. Most are fragmentary, and come through the news services merely as an "item," mostly without verification, and many times without even names or dates. However, we have selected a few reports which bear some semblance to factual reporting, and we present them in defense of the fact that the sightings of flying disks is a world-wide phenomenon. The question has been asked: "Why do they not appear in other countries?" The answer is, they do .
* * *
1899: Austria. Mrs. Cecelia Gawert, a resident of Lower Austria at that time, during the harvest season, saw a disk-shaped object which was very high and shone with silver and gold. It was going very fast, and disappeared over the mountains. It made no noise. Mrs. Gawert now lives at 38 Post Ave., New York City.
July 8, 1947: Zabool, Iran. Strange starlike [sic] bodies were seen at this point, and also at Shosef and Sarbisheh near the Afghan frontier. After cavorting about the sky, the objects exploded loudly, leaving a cloud of smoke.
October 25, 1947: Hymers, Canada. More than 50 townspeople saw a strange object swoop into sight from the south, remain stationary for fifteen minutes, then flash back in the direction from which it had come. Frank Sutch described it as a long streak of fire. Heat waves were coming from it. It was dark at the nose end, as bright as the sun, and hurt the eyes to look at. It came from the southwest, as Frank Sutch saw it, then turned directly toward him. After a few seconds it curved upward, wheeled around, and started south again. Mrs. A.H. Verlotte saw it do a somersault then turn south toward the Minnesota border, 30 miles away. It looked like electric light waves coming from it, she said. Mrs. C.A. McGregor, school teacher, said it remained in her view for quite a few minutes and was observed by all the children. It was not a comet or fireball, she was sure.
November 5, 1947: Persian Gulf. Richard Carruthers, Jr. aboard the tanker Chipola, saw eight round objects flying in a group, pass within a half-mile of the ship, make a climbing turn in echelon formation and pass out of sight. Four aboard the ship saw the lights, but opinion was varied as to whether they were white or blue.
June 18, 1949: Two farmers at Kent, England, reported they saw tailless blobs of light spinning across the heavens.
February 1, 1950: St. John's, Newfoundland. Pat Walsh, telephone company electrician and navy veteran, reported seeing a tear-shaped object as bright as a fluorescent light race over St. John's and head out to sea. It was in sight for at least twelve seconds and it seemed to be following an arch-like flight at extremely high speed. Mrs. C. Vaughn also saw the object.
February 23, 1950: Santiago, Chile. Commander Augusto Vars Orrego, head of the Chilean Antarctic Base of Arthur Prat, saw, on several occasions during the Antarctic night, flying saucers, one above the other, turning at tremendous speeds. Photographs were taken.
March 2, 1950: Mexico City. Luis Enrique Erro, head of the Tonantzintla Observatory near Puebla, says an exceptional object flew through space and crossed the field of his Schmidt telescope. Luis Munch, fellow astronomer, who was operating the camera of the telescope, photographed the object. In the film, it showed as a broad white streak diagonally across a jet black field. Professor Lauro Herrera was assisting Munch. The photograph was taken just before dawn. The object appeared to be about the diameter of the moon and at least as bright.
March 10, 1950: Edmonton, Alberta. F. Arnold Richards, civic employee, saw objects with a whitish-bluish flame shooting out of the wide end of the object. Three objects appeared in all.
March 11, 1950: Juarez, Mexico. Roberto Antorena, Amilcar Lopez Sousa and Manuel Espejo, customs and border officials, saw a top-like disk traveling high in the sky and headed for the mountains on the edge of El Paso.
March 11, 1950: Juarez, Mexico. Luis Herrara, travel agency owner, saw a strange disk-shaped object over the city for fifteen minutes. At the same time, John E. Baird of El Paso saw a globular object near Deming, New Mexico.
March 13, 1950: Mexico City. Santiago Smith, chief weather observer for the Mexico City airport, trained a telescope on an object shaped like a half-moon, one of four flying bodies crossing the airport at 35,000 to 40,000 feet.
March 13, 1950: Monterey, Mexico. Francisco Martinez Soto, government airport inspector, saw an object moving in a straight line and changing its altitude by one and one-half degrees in three minutes.
March 16, 1950: Delhi, Ontario. Paul Rapai, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Hertel and Steve Fodor saw a mysterious object whirling against the horizon at 4 a.m. It looked like the moon but appeared duller. It rolled on its side at one point and seemed to have a saucer-like shape. It moved in jerks, as if controlled. It moved faster than a jet toward the horizon, then suddenly rose sharply and disappeared. It seemed to get bigger and duller when it moved, brighter and smaller when it stood still. It swished silently from north to south, hovering up and down alternately.
March 16, 1950: Miraflores, Peru. Julian Guardiol, Swiss engineer, was with members of his family when he saw a disk flying from the south. It was giving off a red and yellow glow, and progressed to where they were walking. It stopped directly above them at about 4,500 feet altitude and remained in that position for five minutes. Then it flew northward at tremendous speed. The object glowed brightest around the rim.
March 16, 1950: San Jose Puma, Mexico. Dr. W.C. Behen (of Lansing, Michigan) made both photographs and movies of a double truncated cone, silver in color and eight or nine thousand feet in the air. The object would disappear from time to time, but would reappear to hover in one area for several minutes. It appeared at 1 p.m. and was observed through powerful field glasses.
March 24, 1950: Jalapa, Mexico. The newspaper El Universal reported at least 300 flying disks flying above the city. They began to disappear about sundown.
June 7, 1950: London, England. An R.A.F. pilot radioed his base: "Strange object seen. Looks like a flying saucer." Radar operators at the base picked up a strong "blip" on their screens. The air ministry withheld all information.
Nov. 5, 1950: Four Pan American Airways employees saw a brilliantly lighted object fly east to west over the airport at Heathrow, England. It flew a straight line and did not describe a curve. Fred Wilkinson, former RAF flight engineer, now on the Pan Am operational staff, thought at first it was a jet, but its shape, brilliant light and the presence of a blue flame from its tail made him revise his opinion.
He estimated its speed at 1,000 miles per hour. Patrick Joseph Maloney, ex-RAF gunner, described it as a bright white light, metallic colored, elongated, but as it went out of sight it seemed to become spherical. Fred Perrior, ex-antiaircraft gunner and aircraft spotter saw it first as cigarette- shaped, becoming round as it disappeared. E. Newman, maintenance man, saw it as a bluish-green light, lasting for a few seconds. It traveled on a straight line but he was certain it was no aircraft or meteor.
Nov. 12, 1950: Edward Leslie Docker, wholesale fruit dealer in Hindpool-road, Barrow-in-Furness, England, saw a huge cigar-shaped object from the window of his office. The center was aluminum in color, the ends were darker. Estimated to be flying at about 4,000 feet, moving through broken clouds at 80 miles per hour. Approximately 100 feet long. Also seen by John Clarke, ex-RAF man, who said it was too big for an airplane and was tapered at both ends.
Nov. 12, 1950: P.D. Bell, civil engineer at Didsbury, Manchester, England, saw a strange circular aircraft fly overhead at high speed. It made no noise and a light shone from its underside.
December 2, 1950: Fairbanks, Alaska. C.G. Kelly, Reeves Airway pilot, approaching an airfield eight miles southwest of Anchorage, saw an object overhead traveling at 1,000 miles per hour, its brightness increasing in intensity until it was too blinding to look at. Then there was an explosion, and the object vanished in a northeasterly direction. The object was reported from Kodiak to Fairbanks, and was seen from Seward, Portage and Skwentna. Anti-aircraft batteries at Anchorage opened fire on the object as it whizzed overhead. January, 1951: Belgian Congo. Two disks were sighted hanging over the Uranium mining pits, and upon being observed, were pursued by planes. They made off in a peculiar zig-zag course. One of the planes, a Spitfire, came close enough to see a whirling rim on one of the saucers. In a few moments the disks easily outdistanced the Spitfires and disappeared.
February 19, 1951: Two pilots and nine passengers of the regular plane from Nairobi to Morribasi, Africa, saw a large cigar-shaped vessel, at first quite stationary over the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, then, as the plane came closer, rise rapidly at what was estimated to be 1,000 miles per hour and disappear at 44,000 feet. The vessel was judged to be about 200 feet long, brilliantly polished save for four duller bars which ran vertically down its body. It had a huge fin or paddle-rudder at the stern. There was no exhaust. All told, the craft was in view for 17 minutes. One of the passengers is reported to have taken a photo of the object, although this photo has been remarkable by its absence.
THE vast number of authentic American sightings precludes even a partially complete resume of them. We have given here merely a representative selection, including some of the personal reports we have had from individuals as well as those which have been publicized.
REPORTS FROM AMERICAN OBSERVERS
The reader is not to assume from the dates given that from their range of frequencies any particular astronomical deductions can be made; a complete listing of sightings would be necessary to make any such study. Yet, it is noted that there are several periods where it seemed there were "peaks" in the frequency of sightings. Some of these peaks are quite deceiving, indicating only the times when the press was "hot" on the subject. The actual fact of the matter is that most observation peaks depend strictly on the weather and the season of the year. Taken all in all, the volume of reports tends to level out, and it could be assumed that no actual significant peaks exist.
Many of these reports have been personally investigated, and in some instances, tape recordings have been made of the reports of informants. Only the vital information of each sighting is given, and all personal detail is removed.
July 7, 1947: David W. Chase, Phoenix, Oregon, radar technician, saw an object about five miles south of Medford, Oregon, at 5:20 in the evening. It passed to the east, going 6-700 miles per hour at approximately 10,000 feet. It was in view from 60 to 70 seconds before disappearing over the horizon. The total view of the course was about 150°. The saucer was flying on edge, at right angles to the plane of the earth. The large surface area visible was either reflecting or giving off a tremendous amount of light which was the color of an arc welder's light -- a bright blue-white -- and the motion of the saucer in flight made Chase think of a bright faceted stone such as a diamond under a brilliant light. The course of the saucer was over small hills and mountains 500 to 1,000 feet in height. The saucer seemed to be flying the contour of the terrain, bobbing up and down, but not in a steady rhythm.
July 9, 1947: Dave Johnson, aviation editor of the Idaho Statesman set off on an aerial search for the disks which lasted three days. On the third day, he saw a circular object bank about in front of a cloud bank for 45 seconds. It was round. It appeared black. As it maneuvered, he saw the sun flash from it once. Johnson was flying at 14,000 feet west of Boise, Idaho. He saw it. clearly and distinctly, lowering his plexiglass canopy so that there would be no reflection or distortion. It was rising sharply and jerkily toward the top of the towering bank of clouds. Then the object turned its edge toward him, appearing as a straight, black line. Then it shot straight up. It was moving very fast, and was very large. Upon landing, three Idaho National Guardsmen were waiting for him. They had seen a similar object in the same area, performing as he had seen it perform.
August 6, 1947: Mr. and Mrs. Jim Reid and children, Owen Fletcher, Dock [sic] Benningfield and Bob Patterson of Robert Lee, Texas, saw an object in the sky at about 10 p.m. in the shape of a luminous disk. It was larger and faster than a plane. It maneuvered in the sky for twenty minutes, then vanished in the direction of San Angelo. Fifteen minutes later it returned, this time in the shape of a long log. The sky was clear, with no clouds. The nearest searchlight, with a range of 35 miles, was 100 miles away. It floated back and forth in the air, and was much larger than any plane any of them had ever seen. It moved swiftly, but without noise. It continued its capers for more than a half hour. Finally, it took on the shape of a long cigar with a thin, smoky trail, then vanished in the distance.
August 8, 194 7: Mrs. Jay Engle, Upton, Wyoming, saw a flying disk at sundown. She saw a flash, darting across the sky, then another flash. It disappeared for a few seconds, then reappeared, farther away. It was traveling at a great rate of speed. It wasn't bright, appearing to be an orange colored glow. It seemed to be turning as it traveled, and at each turn, disappeared or seemed to, as it presented its thin aspect. Mrs. Engle's children, upon reaching home from town, reported the same object.
August 9, 1947: Aubrey V. Brooks, Box 67, Nipomo, California, was vacationing with his wife and cousin and [his cousin's] wife at Rock Creek, and was camped at an elevation of 8,500 feet. It was mid-morning and he had been practicing with a .22 rifle at the base of a peak to the west. Suddenly his cousin's wife looked up and asked "What are those?" and pointed. Over the peak came three nearly straight lines of whitish objects, one line behind the other. There was no count made of their number, but it was estimated that there were 15 to 20 in each line. As they came overhead, the formation broke up and the objects moved in and around and back and forth, appearing to stay in the same level, but not banking at all. At first they appeared to be round, but as they came overhead they assumed the shape of a valentine heart with the cleft absent. In the center of the objects was a darkish mark which appeared to be a circular mark. The objects were colored like frosted glass through which light is shining. There was no glint as of metal. As they drew directly overhead, Brooks fired at one of them with his rifle, which was futile, as they were several thousand feet above the peak. Several seconds later one object was observed returning in the direction from which all had come. One group swerved to the left, while the other two groups continued in their original direction. The group on the left disappeared instantly, as though they had presented their thin sides to the observers. The other two groups continued east, and gradually disappeared. They appeared to be as wide as an auto appears two city blocks distant.
Sept. 13, 1947: E.L. Lynn, 1040 Knox Ave., Bellingham, Wash., saw a large black object the size of the moon. It was very black, then it became a light yellow, then a light pink. Finally it began to shine like a very bright tin pan. It was about 20 miles distant and two miles high, he estimated. It was in view for five or six seconds and traveling five times as fast as the Alaska Plane which passed overhead frequently.
Feb. 21, 1948: Charles Francis Coe, editor of the Palm Beach Times and his son, saw a ray or blob of light sweeping in from the southeast over West Palm Beach, Fla., at 2 a.m. It curved over the Atlantic and headed northeast in a wide arc as though following the curve of the earth.
May 17, 1948: Fred Granger, aircraft communicator stationed at the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash., airport spotted what appeared to be four stars or lights with red and green flashes shooting from them at intervals. The four lights were northwest of the city, approximately 25 degrees above the horizon. They were in a sort of loose pyramid position. They were visible between 10 p.m. and midnight. At 11:30 p.m. Mr. and Mrs. Young, 9045 7th Ave., N.W. Seattle, saw three bright red flashes in the northwest. A few minutes later Mrs. Young saw what appeared to be a skyrocket.
July 26, 1948: Rev. L.S. Eberly and wife, of Valley City, N.D., noticed a bright light. The spheroid, just above the trees, was dark in the center and radiated light rays near the outer rings. It was observed for an hour. On the following morning a similar object appeared, and Rev. Eberly called Robert Downs,Times-Record employee, who also observed the object.
July 27, 1948: Mobile, Alabama. At 9:16 p.m. at least twelve persons saw an oval ball of fire followed by about 400 feet of bluish-white flame. It was apparently about half as big as the moon, and some observers saw it as a cigar-shaped object with a red flame flaring into white at the tail. It seemed to glow, also, from one end to the other. It was traveling between 800 and 900 miles per hour, as estimated by a Brookley Air Force Base pilot who requested that his name be withheld. Among those who saw this object were Perry Browning, Jr., Rosedale Rd., Brookley, Mrs. Jessie Taylor, 206 St. Joseph St. and two guests, C.R. Bryan, 59-C Moreland Dr., Prichard and three other persons with him at the time.
Summer, 1948: Billy Rose, Newspaper Columnist, was visiting Paul Osbourne, playwright, at Newtown, Conn. It was a clear, moonlit night. Present were Mr. Osbourne and his wife, Josh Logan and his wife, and author John Hersey and his wife. At 10 p.m. they noticed three searchlights poking into the air. A few minutes later three objects appeared, seeming to be at least 200 feet in diameter and flying at an altitude of 3,000 to 5,000 feet. Their edges gave off a ghostly glow very much like a blue neon light through a heavy fog. When the searchlights cut off, the disks vanished among the stars.
September 23, 1948: Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Kaus, Caroline Beach, N. Carolina, saw a huge ball of clear, white light while traveling from Mountain Home to Boise, Idaho. It was between two layers of cloud at approximately 2,000 feet elevation. It flared twice, strongly at first, then weaker, then held steady for a few seconds and went out. The light was round in shape, with jagged edges.
October 9, 1948: Leroy Griffin and Homer Gray, Osage, Wyoming, saw a huge shiny object, luminous and shaped like a disk. It remained in view for two minutes then divided into two parts and disappeared.
Feb. 28, 1949: Ben ·Cole Jr., Northbrook, Illinois, saw a flaming object hurtle out of the east at 6:11 a.m. and disintegrate in a fiery shower south of Chicago. At the same time, 40 miles away, Ed Maher, 1722 W. 56th St., saw a rocket half a block long speeding from east to south. The front was shaped exactly like a rocket. The tail seemed to fall to pieces as it dived into a large cloud. It did not make any noise.
March 25, 1949: Residents of Bend, Oregon, saw two flying disks cavorting in the skies, mirroring the rays of the sun as they dipped through the clouds. Traffic was soon blocked by observers. World War II aviator Vernon Leverett estimated their height at well over 10,000 feet, and their size about that of a large washtub. The objects finally headed west and disappeared.
April 14, 1949: Clifford Cline, Branch County, Mich., farmer, saw a disk-shaped object with an orange center and light outer edge.
April, 1949: White Sands Proving Ground. Scientists (reported Commander Robert B. McLaughlin, USN) were tracking a weather balloon 57 miles northwest of the grounds. A strange object, seen by every person, crossed above the balloon. It was tracked with a theodolite. The object was saucer-shaped. It was about 105 feet in diameter, and was estimated to be flying at 56 miles above the earth. It was traveling at approximately 5 miles per second. Suddenly it swerved, shooting upward at an angle of five degrees, climbing an additional 25 miles in something like ten seconds. The observation lasted for a full minute before the object disappeared from sight. Observers said it was shaped like a discus and was a flat white in color. It did not seem to have an exhaust trail, nor any lights. Naturally, there was no sound.
April 28, 1949: Leon Faber, Sandwich, Ill., saw a bright shining object moving east while flying his plane over the Gary-Michigan City, Ind., area at an elevation of 6,000 feet. The object seemed to be 10,000 feet away, about the apparent size of a basketball. It was on its flat side and just disappeared suddenly without getting any smaller.
May 7, 1949: Benjamin F. Smith, Oakland, California, saw two rows of square objects flying in the regular airliner levels traveling from south to north. They moved at tremendous speed and made no sound.
May, 1949: White Sands Proving Ground. Commander Robert B. McLaughlin, USN, was standing outside his office. A missile was being fired. Losing sight of it, a lieutenant commander pointed out another object, white in color, proceeding slowly westward. It picked up speed, passed overheard, and disappeared over the Organ Mountains. A ·moment later the missile that had been fired fell to the ground in the center of the area designated for it. When first sighted, the object had been going at approximately 1 mile per second. It was at a height of twenty-five miles, and when it accelerated, it did so at a rate far beyond the capabilities of any present-day rocket. Passing within 5 degrees of the sun, it remained visible. No method of propulsion was visible.
July 9, 1949: Alexandria, Va. C.S. Dupree saw a light reflected on the sidewalk, looked up and saw a saucer-shaped object traveling very fast. It was not bright, but quite visible. He watched it for three minutes before it disappeared behind a large pecan tree. At the same time Miss Bobbie Owens saw an object that looked like a flying saucer while swimming in the city pool. It was shiny, but not an airplane. It faded out to the southwest after several minutes.
July 10, 1949: George G. Wunsch and wife Caroline, 7017 Tulip street, Tacony, Pa., and Barry McGuigan and his wife, of 4101 Spruce Street, West Philadelphia, Pa., saw nine strange disks, with a dull illumination visible beneath the evening's cloud cover. They moved considerably faster than an airliner, but were clearly visible. These disks appeared off and on during a period from 9:30 to 11 p.m.
July 12, 1949: Mrs. Toni Ververka, Jacksonville, Fla., was awakened about 5 a.m. by a tremendous roar quite unlike several bombers nor did it resemble the whine of a jet. Out of the southeast, about 500 feet high, she saw a golden light. The machine carried no running lights. The entire object seemed suffused from beneath with a glow that surged with each increase of roar. It increased and diminished at a rate something like counting one-two-three ... pause; one-two-three ... pause. The object was curving toward the northwest. As it passed, she could see violet flashes spurting into a short comet's tail. Viewed from the rear, the object seemed to waver up and down similar to that of a phonograph disk on an uneven center. Fifteen minutes later another, or the same one, came back, only much higher. In another fifteen minutes a third came. These objects were also witnessed by Mr. Ververka, Mrs. Lamar Ingram and her husband and son, and Joe Noll, WMBR radio station employee.
July 14, 1949: Joe Snyder, 606 S. 5th St., Fort Pierce, Fla., was awakened at daybreak by a noise that sounded like a train or a jet plane. He ran outside where he saw a bright light high in the sky. It looked like a light shining against a huge mirror. As it gained elevation, red rays seemed to emanate from its center. It was visible for 20 to 30 minutes before it finally disappeared from sight.
July 14, 1949: Lawrence McDonald, observer at the Orlando, Fla., airport, twice saw a bright and high-flying object approaching from the northeast. It was a bright, unshielded white light that sounded like a motorboat struggling.
July 17, 1949: Mrs. Hazel Armstrong, 1507 Durham, Brownwood, Texas, said an object passed over her house at I a.m. without sound. It glittered like a big diamond, as big as a person's head. It came over at about a height of thirty feet, floating slowly. It touched a pecan tree and gave off sparks. It went out of sight to the south. Then everything lighted up that way, and there came a rumbling noise, like an explosion. A very bright light lit up the area to the south. The sparks that it gave off were of all colors. It was floating against the wind.
July 24, 1949: An aviator who refused to allow his name to be used, but who is vouched for by the Idaho Statesman newspaper at Boise, Idaho, saw seven V-shaped objects about the size of fighter planes flying within 1,500 or 2,000 feet of his plane. The objects, flying in a tight but unfamiliar formation, were flying at a tremendous rate of speed. They were in the shape of a V with a solid, circular body under the nose of the V. There was no evidence of any means of propulsion, no propellors [sic], no smoke trails. There were no markings of any kind. The color was of a shade he couldn't describe and hadn't seen before. There was not a moving thing on the objects. They were under observation for two minutes, about ten miles west of Mountain Home, at about 10,000 feet elevation. The objects were flying at 9,000 or 9,500 feet.
July 26, 1949: Dr. H. G. LauBach [sic], Mitchell, Nebraska, saw a saucer flying on a southwesterly course at 3:10 p.m. It resembled an upside-down saucer, whirled as it moved through the sky, occasionally tipping sideways, and flew at an altidude [sic]of between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. It was in sight for three minutes before vanishing over a range of hills. It sailed through three clouds and reappeared each time with unabated speed. It was guessed to be about 25 feet in diameter, and traveled approximately 25 ground miles in three minutes.
July 31, 1949: David Boye, Columbus, O., saw a silver object that looked like a space ship between 7:15 and 7:20 p.m. It had red strips on the side and port holes. David Walker, also of Columbus, saw two headlights in the sky but one of them blinked off, at the same time.
August 15, 1949: Edgar Thompson of Deer Lodge, Montana, saw an object a bright silver in color, shaped like a disk, heading toward Butte at a terrific speed. As it moved, it turned around like a ball, and as it turned the color changed to a darker gray. It did not make any noise and traveled in a straight line. Mrs. Thompson and a hired man also saw the object.
August 22, 1949: Mr. Peter Mohan, his sister Mrs. John Hughes, and a niece, Miss Mary .Jane Hughes, saw a silver disk-shaped object about five miles in the distance at Deer Lodge, Montana, at I p.m. They watched it for several minutes.
August 29, 1949: Marvin Miles, Los Angeles Times reporter, told of flying objects seen by the personnel of White Sands Proving Ground. Two senior officers (unnamed) and an enlisted man (also unnamed) saw them during a high-missile flight. One officer applied a ballistic formula to one observation through a photo theodolite which showed the object was 35 to 40 miles high, an egg-shaped craft of fantastic size traveling at from 3 to 4 miles per second. The observer was tracking a balloon when the object swept across the balloon's path and cavorted for some ten seconds, taking turns up to 22 times the force of gravity, before it disappeared. It had no visible means of propulsion. This occurred on August 26. On June 14, 1949, the enlisted man saw an object at 3:35 p.m. while tracking a V-2 test rocket with a 20-power elevation telescope, an instrument that can follow a missile to altitudes of 100 miles or more. It was metallic, but neither its size nor speed could be estimated.
August 30, 1949: Roger Hamilton and wife, Patricia, and Dick Hamilton, Seattle, Wash., were climbing Snoqualmie Pass near Snow Lake when they were buzzed by a round object, almost transparent, and sounding like a buzzsaw. It went so fast none of the three had any chance to take a picture.
November 7, 1949: Delmar Remick and Merwin Legg of Osborne, Kansas, heard geese honking, and upon looking up to see them, found a flying saucer in the air a mile up and moving northwest. It was moving rapidly, but took six or seven seconds to get out of sight. It moved with a little flip every half second.
November 25, 1949: A.A. Prurok, F.S. Ray, and F.W. Ray of Inez and Houston, Texas, saw a strange object in the sky at 2:30 p.m. halfway between Edna and Inez. At first sight it appeared to be a long cigar-shaped cloud, but suddenly it made a banking turn and flew parallel to the road. It appeared to be at an altitude of 10,000 feet and about two miles distant from the highway. There was no sound. Along the thin edge of the disk the air seemed to be in a state of turbulence such as would be caused by heat waves from an exhaust. This caused a kind of steam to encircle the lower edge of the disk. Something shiny could be seen on top as if the disk were tilted at a slight angle. It made several lazy maneuvers, banking and turning so that the leading edge formed an elliptical circle. When in level flight it looked like a cigar, or a saucer held level with your eyes and upside down. Proceeding toward Inez, the disk paralleled the road, then with another graceful banking turn, started for the horizon. A filling station attendant at Inez watched it and saw it plainly, while it made one more banking maneuver before it disappeared.
January 29, 1950: C. Frank Quintana, 43 Vrain Street, Denver, Colorado, saw a silvery-green ship poised about fifty feet over a hillside on the slope of South Table mountain, which he had been climbing. His attention had been attracted by a whirring noise. Quintana lay on the ground and watched during the next few minutes while the object landed slowly in a small ravine and then shot upward and out of sight at tremendous speed. It was shaped like a ball, flattened at top and bottom. It was between forty and seventy feet in diameter with what appeared to be a horizontal band about three feet wide revolving about the center. A luminous, greenish light flashed from the base of the object, and Quintana felt a rush of air, and detected a pungent odor which remained in the area after the ship ascended.
March 10, 1950: Publisher J.L. Sims and five employees of the Orangeburg, South Carolina, Times saw a disk about the size and color of the new moon, only brighter, hovering over the city for 15 minutes, after which it sped away, leaving a vapor trail. It appeared to turn slowly in the air, from vertical to parallel with the horizon, then vertical again, before it disappeared to the west.
March 11, 1950: Mrs. Sam Raguindin of Chualar, California, was driving with her mother and two children south of Salinas. A saucer swooped down over her automobile. At first she thought it a falling star until it swooped toward her car. It looked like two dinner plates placed together. It came down to about 2,000 feet and as it came close, gave off a strong bluish-white light that hurt the eyes like a welder's torch. It looped the loop; then sped away in a southerly direction at a great rate of speed. Later, Hiram Don, Chinese market owner, in Salinas, saw the object, and said it appeared bright in front and had a long, fiery tail. It was traveling quite close to the ground.
March 12, 1950: E.L. Ekberg, Gering, Nebraska, police officer, saw a brilliant light 20 to 25 feet in diameter, a half-mile west of Gering shortly after 7 a.m. It appeared to be about 100 feet in the air and traveling very fast. It was so bright he had to look away from it. The object glowed steadily, with a very white light. There was no appearance of burning, or smoke, nor any flame. At first it appeared to be flat and wide, later triangular, hour-glass shaped, and round. When first sighted, it lighted up the countryside. He called the light to the attention of twenty other persons. State Safety Patrolman Dale Justice reported that he and Trooper Victor Hansen saw the object and attempted to follow the light, traveling about seven miles before giving up the chase. The light appeared to be suspended, dangling like a pendulum, weaving back and forth, and was a very brilliant white.
March 16, 1950: Chief Petty Officer Charley Lewis, Dallas, Texas, saw a disk streak at a B-36 Bomber, follow under it for a second or two, then break away at a 45 degree angle. The disk was oblong and flat and hurtled through the air at incredible speed. It appeared to be twenty-five feet in diameter and first appeared at about 10,000 to 15,000 feet elevation. It was a very bright object as it raced toward the bomber, and got directly beneath it, as it hung momentarily. The saucer was in sight only fifteen seconds in all.
March 17, 1950: More than 150 persons in Farmington, N.M., saw a fleet of flying saucers stunting and maneuvering over town. The objects appeared at 10:30 a.m. Clayton J. Boddy, a former B-29 gunner, observed them to be "almost loafing" to traveling at speeds far greater than any jet plane he had ever observed. There were as many as 500 disks in sight at one time, and all were silvery except for one which was red which seemed to be the leader. They flew in all positions, both vertically and horizontally. They remained in sight for almost two hours.
March 17, 1950: Robert Gregory of Petosky and Pete Shantz of Ironton (Michigan) sighted a disk at 1:12 p.m. EST and observed it for twelve minutes. It was very high and resembled a saucer. It hovered overhead for seven minutes, then turned on its edge and dropped vertically for a long distance before flattening out and sailing away. It disappeared into the east. The sighting was at Ironton, which is 14 miles southeast of Petosky.
March 22, 1950: Dr. Craig Hunter, Washington, D.C., saw an object while driving on the highway near Clearfield, Pa. It was visible for nearly three minutes and was flying about 60 to 70 miles per hour at an altitude of between 250 and 500 feet. It was a dirty metallic color, shaped like a saucer with a stationary outer rim and inner portion with a rotating 10 inch ring between. It seemed to have small portholes or vents around the outer ring, seemed about 20 feet thick and 250 or more feet long.
March 26, 1950: Bertram A. Totten, clerk at the Congressional Library, Washington, D.C., sighted a flying saucer over Fairfax County. It was an aluminum-colored disk about forty feet in diameter and about ten feet thick. Totten was flying his plane at 5,000 feet when he spotted the disk whirling along 1,000 feet below him. He dived toward it, but before he could get close, it zoomed up into the overcast. It went up at a speed several hundred miles faster than his own speed, about 150 miles per hour. He saw no propulsion gear or controls on the saucer, but did note vapor trails like those from aircraft engines. The metallic disk glinted when the sun hit it through broken clouds.
March 27, 1950: C.W. Hughes, 1228 N. Boston Place, Tulsa, Oklahoma, reported as many as twenty-five flying saucers at 6:16 a.m. He was on his front porch to get the morning paper when he saw two of them. A bit later three more appeared, then groups of two and three and finally groups of four or five. They were flying at an elevation of about 1,000 feet. He ran in to get his wife, but she arrived too late to see the ·objects. Hughes saw them again as he returned to the porch. They were silver-colored, and appeared to be throwing a reflection from the sun, which had not yet risen above the horizon. They were blunt-nosed, rather flat, and rounded at the front with quite a long edge on the front side -- like a seagull would fly with its wings drooped down. They were shaped something like pie pans except for the drooping wings. They seemed to be not more than two feet in diameter, but impossible to determine exactly as he did not know the height. They remained in sight about three minutes. At the same time, Mrs. Helen Andrews, Lyons, Colorado, visiting at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Green, Garnett Road, Tulsa, sighted two disks just as the sun was rising. They seemed luminous, with a soft, fluorescent glow. All three persons saw the disks for nearly an hour. One kept its distance slightly above the other. Each disk was like a saucer, with the lower one traveling on its edge, like a plate rolled across a table. They would hang in the sky dead still for a moment, then dart at great speeds. The higher saucer was about five times the size of the lower disk. No estimation could be made of size or altitude.
March 31, 1950: Capt. Jack Adams and co-pilot G.W. Anderson, Jr. veterans of 7,000 and 6,000 flying hours for the Chicago and Southern Air Lines, en route in their DC-3 from Memphis to Little Rock, were within 40 miles of Little Rock at 2,000 feet when they saw a lighted, fast-moving object. The time was 9:29 p.m. It was about 1,000 feet above the DC-3 and about a half mile away. It zoomed at terrific speed (as much as 700 to 1,000 miles per hour) in an arc above and ahead of the transport, moving from south to north. It remained in full view about 30 seconds. It had no navigation lights, but other lights, as though from 8 to 10 windows or ports on the lower side, were visible. The lights were a phosphorescent quality, soft and fuzzy. The object was circular . There was no reflection, no exhaust and no vapor trail. There was a bright white light flashing intermittently from the top of the thing, the strongest blue-white light either man had ever seen. As it passed, its underside was exposed. The object then continued in a straight line and disappeared.
April 8, 1950: David Lightfoot, Amarillo, Texas, was fishing about ten miles northwest of Amarillo when he and his companion, Charles Lightfoot, a cousin, saw an object pass only a few feet over their heads. David pursued it and it landed just beyond a small hill. It was about the same circumference as an automobile tire, and about eighteen inches thick. It was rounded on the bottom, with a top resembling a flat plate. The top part was separate from the bottom part by about one inch of space, but were held together by some sort of screw in the middle. The area between the two parts was red, as though it were on fire. The top half was spinning as David approached, but a "spindle" jutting from the top was still, as though connected to the bottom part. It was blue-gray in color and had no opening other than the divided section. He touched it, and it felt slick "like a snake" and hot. Before he could get a firm hold, it began spinning faster, and made a whistling noise and took off. It released some sort of gas or spray in the process which turned his aims and face bright red and caused small welts. It took off without wobbling, and disappeared in less than ten seconds.
April 20, 1950: Jack Robertson, Lufkin, Texas, pharmacist, observed a round, flying object about eight feet in diameter while driving nine miles west of Lufkin at night. He got out of his car to see the object, which was hovering about twenty feet above his head, giving off a dull red glow. It took off with a "whooshing roar" and soon was out of sight. Five minutes later he felt a burning sensation on his face. His clothing was not burned. The bottom of the object was rounded, like a globe, it appeared to be made of aluminum, but darkness prevented seeing any further details. Sparks flew from a slot in the object's bottom as it took off. While he had been in his car, it had stayed about 200 feet ahead of him.
April 27, 1950: Capt. Robert Adickes and First Officer Robert Manning, Trans-World Airline pilots, saw a round glowing mass in the air as they flew over South Bend, Ind. The object was in sight for six or seven minutes as it overtook their plane at 2,000 feet and cruised along a parallel course. When the object flew alongside, it was definitely round with no irregular features at all, and about 10 to 20 per cent as thick as it was round. It was very smooth and streamlined and glowed evenly with a bright red color as if it were heated stainless steel. It was so bright it gave off a light. It left no vapor, no flame. It appeared to fly on edge like a wheel going down a highway. As Adickes banked north in an effort to get a closer look, it would veer away, keeping the same distance. When he turned directly toward it, it took off at a speed judged to be twice that of the airliner, or 400 miles per hour. It went down to 1,500 feet and streaked out of sight over South Bend. Passenger Jacob Goelzer said it looked like a spinning exhaust, all aflame. C.W. Anderson said it looked like a big red light bulb, fading off fast.
April 30, 1950: Louis and Wilfred Wedemyer, Mount Joy, Iowa, were moving hog houses on a bright and clear day when they saw a round, flat, saucer-shaped object spinning in the sky and appearing to be white hot. It did not seem to be moving as fast as an ordinary plane. Suddenly it exploded in the air, looking just like fireworks, the kind that spray out fire like a fountain into the air. There was no tail on it, like a meteor. It just seemed to disintegrate. For a few seconds there was no noise, then a low rumble that lasted for almost half a minute. There were no clouds in the sky. The same day the same object was seen in Burlington, Iowa and in Muscatine. The time was the same: 10:00 a.m.
May 24, 1950: Mrs. Clyde Seevers, one of sixteen Montrose, Colorado, ranchers who saw two sky objects for five minutes, said that the objects were as broad as a large airplane's wings and were absolutely round and smooth without any sign of windows, motors or tail assembly. They were very bright, like galvanized tin. They flew soundlessly and seemed to float along. They sailed down to about 600 feet, approaching close to her ranch, then turned east toward Montrose and soared up swiftly, disappearing. The other fifteen ranchers said that's what they saw too.
May 29, 1950: Capt. Willis T. Sperry, flying American Airline's DC-6 flight No. 49, New York to San Francisco, had departed from Washington at 9:15 EST bound for Nashville. Visibility was 50 miles, at least. At 7,500 feet (30 miles out of Washington) First Officer Bill Gates called his attention to a brilliant, diffused, bluish light of fluorescent type. It was 25 times the magnitude of the brightest star. Momentarily it seemed to stop, possibly five seconds, and changed its course to parallel the DC-6 on the left, still at the same altitude as it passed between the DC-6 and the moon. Both men, and Flight Engineer Robert Arnholt, saw it silhouetted against the moon in the shape of a torpedo or submarine, except that there were no protruding fins or external structure. It appeared to be perfectly streamlined, but its color could not be determined, it appearing black against the moon. Compared to jet aircraft speed, it was fantastically greater. It passed out of sight in the east in only one minute. When the object first appeared, Sperry started a turn to the right then, when it changed its course to one paralleling the DC-6, Sperry turned to the left so as to be able to follow its path. Even so, it went to the rear of the plane, circled around to the right far enough so that Gates saw it on his side before reversing its direction and going out of sight to the east.
June 22, 1950: Three Air Force men, Cpl. Garland L. Pryor of White Hall, Mont., Staff Sgt. Ellis Lorimer and Staff Sgt. Virgil Capurro of San Leandro, Calif., saw a flying "ice cream cone" streak across the sky at Hamilton Field three times. It was visible only as a cone-shaped blue-white flame. The log of Hamilton Field control tower lists it only as an unknown object traveling at a very high rate of speed, 1,000 to 1,500 miles per hour at an elevation of between 2,000 and 5,000 feet.
June 26, 1950: Capt. E.L. Remlin and First Officer David Stewart, and observer Capt. Sam B. Wiper observed a mysterious object while flying their UAL Mainliner at 14,000 feet between Las Vegas and the Silver Lake check point eight miles north of Baker, New Mexico. It had a bluish center with a bright orange tint and was flying horizontally at about 20,000 feet, much faster than the Mainliner. It was about 20 miles distant. It was also seen by Las Vegas CAA men and reported by an Air Force and a Navy plane in the general area.
June 29, I950: Hubert Hutt, postoffice [sic] worker at Fort Collins, Colorado, saw an object in the sky at 9:40 a.m. which appeared simultaneously with an airliner at about 3,000 feet elevation. It was at about 4,500 feet, travelling northwest. It looked like a silvery snowball and looked as though it were circled by a kind of ring. It was extremely maneuverable.
July 9, I950: John Sokol, 1018 Outer Drive, Coldbrook, Pa., saw a strange white column at about 5,000 feet elevation, at 2:30 p.m. It seemed to be hovering over the Schenectady general depot, U.S. Army. Sokol went to the police station and called the cylinder to the attention of patrolmen Edward Harrison and James Hill. They saw something that looked like a huge cigarette suspended from a cloudbank. The object definitely had substance, and was not smoke or a cloud formation. The police notified county airport officials who stated an investigation was being launched by fighter planes from the Air National Guard. Later, planes were observed circling the strange cylinder, emitting black smoke which etched a circle around the white object. At 4:20 p.m. the planes were still circling the object. When next the police looked, the object was gone, but the planes still circled. Air National Guard officials commented: "No comment."
July 13, 1950: Dr. C.L. Quixley, Ocala, Florida, reported 12 or 13 flying saucers over his Greenville Terrace home about 8:45 a.m. They were round and sort of opalescent like soap bubbles. They were traveling about ten in a line, with three off to one side in a checkmark formation. They came in from the northeast toward Jacksonville, and played around in a circle, then disappeared toward the southwest. They sounded a little like an ordinary plane in a dive, but more shrill.
July 29, 1950: Jim Graham, chief pilot for Capital Aviation Company of Springfield, Illinois, reported his plane struck by a mysterious object which looked like a blue streak and had a trail of reddish flame. The object hit his propeller and then suddenly there was the brightest light he had ever seen in his life. There was no sound and it did not rock his plane. There was no damage to his craft. The occurrence was at midnight in clear weather. Four other Springfield residents volunteered independently that they had seen a mysterious streak in the sky.
August 12, 1950: William Schocke, Yuma, Colorado, saw, along with dozens of other persons on Main Street, a dark, disk-shaped object with a dim glow around its rim. When it reached a point just above a drugstore, it abruptly ceased lateral flight and sliced straight upward, disappearing behind low-hanging clouds.
September 10, 1950: Lt. Wilbert S. Rogers and Capt. Edward Ballard, Mitchell Field, New York, Air Force jet pilots, chased a mysterious round flying object for thirty miles and couldn't catch it. They estimated its speed at 900 miles per hour. They sighted the object over Sandy Hook, New Jersey, while on a routine flight in a T-33 jet plane. It was white, or silver-colored and about the size of the fighter plane. When they sighted the object, they were traveling at 450 miles per hour at 20,000 feet.
November 21, 1950: Perry Torbergson and Jack Anderson, both on the editorial staff of the Columbia Basin News at Pasco, Washington, watched an object in the sky for eight minutes. It was a shiny, cigar-shaped object in the vicinity of the Hanford atomic plant near sundown. It was shaped like a cigar and glistened brightly. Pasco's downtown streets were packed with people watching the object. It disappeared on a southwesterly course. It stopped and hung in the air over the plant.
December 7, 1950: Observed by Guy Fox, E.G. Painter, John Smith, Lovon Horrocks, Joe McMullen, Doc Rasmussen and Joe Shell of Rangely, Oklahoma, a shining aluminum-colored object hovered for more than a minute over the Oil Basin, then moved rapidly to the east. It was a flat, disk-like object which seemed to rotate as it hovered and on top had a dome-like structure. At regular intervals a flash seemed to come from the object. Altitude was approximately 2,000 feet in a clear, blue sky.
January 20, 1951: Capt. Larry W. Vinther and co-pilot James F. Bachmeier, flying a Mid-Continent Airline plane, saw a strange object over Sioux City, Iowa. The object had straight wings, no exhaust glow and no jet pods or engines visible. Vinther was on the ground getting tower clearance for take-off when the tower asked him to check on a strange light in the sky. After take-off, Vinther spotted the light and climbed toward it. He saw a plane which had an unknown kind of navigation lights in addition to a strong white light underneath its fuselage. The object's lights all blinked on and off five or six times as the two craft drew close to each other, approaching from opposite directions. Vinther had just turned his head from watching the ship go past his wing when there it was again, flying right beside him about 200 feet to the left and going in the same direction. Said Vinther: "You just can't turn an airplane around that fast at that speed." The strange plane flew alongside for about four seconds, then dropped down and was lost from sight.
February 14, 1951: Capt. J.E. Cocker (All-Weather Flying Division) and Capt. E.W. Spradley (Aerial Photographic Laboratory), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, while tracking a large weather balloon, saw an object hovering at 50-60,000 feet. It was flat and looked like a dime. It was a milky color. Just before it disappeared there were three brilliant flashes, like photo flashes.
August 27, 1951: Dr. W.L. Ducker, head of the Texas Tech College petroleum engineering department, and Dr. A.G. Bert, professor of chemical engineering, and Dr. W.I. Robinson, professor of geology, all saw two strange formations like strings of beads in crescent shape, hurtling through the sky over Lubbock, Texas, at a speed which carried them from horizon to horizon in three seconds. They felt no shock waves, indicating the apparent formation was in the stratosphere, 50,000 feet above the earth or higher. They estimated the speed must have been 1,800 miles per hour if the objects were a mile high. If they were at 50,000 feet, the speed must have been 18,000 miles per hour. Shape could not be determined, but each gave off a glow as of reflected light.
September 11, 1951: Lt. Wilbert S. Rogers, Mitchell Air Force Base, New York, saw a round object speeding about 900 miles per hour over the New Jersey coastline.
With the above serving as a summary of sighting reports from 1947 through 1951, the first in-depth analysis of more-recent events would appear in February, 1952, with an article in the widely-read Parade Magazine, spotlighting the mysterious "green fireballs" -- a phenomenon which had first been reported in 1948, and which had continued into late 1951...
Above, top: Teaser for article. Below: Article published in the February 10, 1952, edition of Parade magazine, a nationally distributed Sunday newspaper supplement.
Do Green Fireballs Hint A Secret Space War?
WE FACE A MYSTERY of outer space even more arresting than the unsolved "flying saucers."
BY WALLACE A. SPRAGUE
It is the mystery of the giant green fireballs.
Nine of them flashed across the skies of the Southwestern U.S. late last year. Each vanished as though its light had been switched off. No trace of a single one has been found. People here are used to "mysteries." They live next door to the super-secret atomic energy plant at Los Alamos. At the edge of town is the armed forces Sandia Base, where the atom bomb is assembled. Across the state is the rocket laboratory of White Sands. They know what technical wonders our scientists can produce.
But when they see a green ball bright as the moon streaking silently across their skies, they know no ordinary event is taking place.
They know, too, that this is no flying saucer hoax, based on flimsy evidence from a few observers. Already, more than 165 separate written reports are on file concerning one giant fireball seen on November 2. Sober scientific observers are beginning to think that the answer to the fireball riddle may mark a milestone in our knowledge of outer space.
What is the green fireball seen only in our Southwest? A brand new meteor -- or something much more frightening, possibly long-range guided missiles or even space vehicles?
One place to start unraveling the mystery is on a dirt road snaking across the New Mexico desert one Sunday night last November.
Overhead, stars glistened in the clear, light air. Along the rutted road trundled a rebuilt jeep at 25 miles per hour. Riding inside were three University of New Mexico students, Ted Chamberlain (above), a tall, lithe senior in geology, his friend, Gus Armstrong, owner of the jeep, and a third lad, Tom Debooy.
It was nearly 9, and the youths were returning from an antelope hunt on the San Augustin plains near Magdalena. In the rear of the jeep lay their kill, a medium-sized buck. Suddenly, all three were blinded for a half-second.
The Jeep Ran Wild
FAR IN THE northwest sky burned a giant green fireball falling fast at an angle of about 35 degrees. Its tail was whitish, but the ball itself was the radiant color of a green neon tube -- or, as Chamberlain recalls, of copper burning in a laboratory burner.
"Look!" yelled Armstrong. As he did so he lost control of the jeep, which hit a rut, vaulted a five-foot bank, and dumped its occupants on the gravelly desert. Overhead, the fireball silently vanished. Minutes later the three dazed young men re-started the jeep, and rolled on toward Albuquerque.
Something similar had had almost happened two nights earlier.
Lester Miller and his wife, of Palo Alto, Calif., had been driving east on Highway 60 near Globe, Ariz.
Not long after dark they, too, saw a great blue-green burst overhead. "It was so intense that I nearly drove off the highway. I was temporarily blinded," said Mr. Miller.
This was no ordinary meteor display.
Watchers across a 1,000-mile span from Santa Fe N.M., to Vista, Calif., watched the green fireball flame in the heavens.
Conductor J.B. Hale of a Santa Fe freight train was sitting at his desk aboard a caboose at Flagstaff, Ariz. "One of the brakemen outside yelled for me to hurry up, for a terrible looking blue-green flash had just lit up the sky," he reported.
"I Saw a Fireball..."
RAILROAD conductors are not excitable people. Neither are airline pilots. Yet the same night Capts. Grady C. Kelly and Thomas R. Ballard of Slick Airways watched the same fireball off the left wing of their DC-3 plane as they approached Kirtland field here.
"We both commented at the time that it was by far the brightest meteor we had seen, in 10 years of flying," Ballard said later .
Elsewhere, a convalescent soldier, Bill Henderson, at Ft. Bayard, N.M., watched the ball of fire from his hospital window. An observant 12-year-old girl, Livinia Ann Rife, of Santa Fe, saw it and described its head as rounded, bluish-green, with an orangey-red tail.
Scientists at Los Alamos saw the display and reported on it. So did the Civil Aeronautics Administration's tower man at Truth Or Consequences, N.M. So did Walter Haas of Las Cruces, an experienced observer of meteors. So did Julian B. Blue Jacket, a Navajo.
Some westerners blamed the collapse of a water tower at Tucumcari, N.M., (which killed four), on such a fireball. Investigation showed the flash seen at the moment of collapse came from short-circuited electric lines.
But to all who have seen them, sight of the great green fireballs flashing through the heavens is an unforgettable experience.
They, like thousands of other American here, have wondered what they are.
No government source knows -- or if any does know, it isn't saying. That goes for the Atomic Energy installation at Los Alamos, and for the careful technicians at Sandia Base here. The Department of Defense is also mum, although various intelligence and scientific agencies of the government have shown interest in the fireball mystery.
But one authority will speak.
He is Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, a friendly, intense scientist of world reputation who is head of the Mathematics and Astronomy department at the University of New Mexico here, and also Director of the University's unique Institute of Meteoritics (meteor studies). He says this:
The green fireballs of 1951 could be a brand new kind of meteor.
Certainly they differ from ordinary fireballs -- big meteors bright enough to cast a shadow and which usually end in an explosion.
They're different because:
They are more brilliant -- some reported much bigger and brighter than the moon. Ordinary fireballs are rarely this impressive.
They are silent, where ordinary fireballs of comparable size fall with a roar.
They follow a straight line -- where big meteors, penetrating our atmosphere, always have curved trajectories, concave toward the earth.
Most unusual of all is their green color. The livid shades, as green as a traffic light or neon sign, are absolutely new.
"Conservative observers might pass off the green fireballs as merely Bielid meteors, which fall early in November," says Dr. LaPaz.
"Actually, they're like no Bielid ever seen before. Finding them with the Bielids is about like watching a 240-mm howitzer firing bright green starshells during a bombardment of red hot B-B shot."
Such facts lead to one conclusion: if the green fireballs are meteors, they are of an absolutely new type. Their coming may mean that the solar system (including our earth) has lately reached a new corner of the universe where totally unexpected events can occur.
And science may even have a hint of the "unexpected events."
For 15 years, Dr. LaPaz says, scientists have speculated on the possible existence of what they call "contraterrene" material.
Such material -- if any could ever be found and handled, which is impossible -- would look just like ordinary matter.
But it would be matter built backwards.
Where the nucleus of ordinary atoms has a positive charge, its nucleus would have a negative charge. And where ordinary electrons have a negative charge, contraterrene electrons would have a positive charge.
This means just one thing: the instant contraterrene matter struck ordinary matter, a terrific explosion would occur!
Could this be the explanation of the swift, traceless green fireballs? If it is, it would form one of the most dramatic scientific discoveries of our time.
But there is another possible explanation, Dr. LaPaz thinks:
The green fireballs could be thrown by man -- ominously enough in the form of guided missiles.
In the region of White Sands Proving Ground and the Sandia Weapons Base, such a hypothesis is tempting. But Dr. LaPaz does not endorse it. He does, however, offer two suggestive facts:
Fact 1: Any tests of long-range guided missiles by friendly or enemy countries would probably take place during a meteor shower, as suggested by Dr. Louis Ridenour in 1946. The missiles could appear to "hide" behind meteors, and so could not easily be detected by radar. Last fall's fireball display did occur during the annual visit of the Bielid meteor shower.
Fact 2: Green fireballs have been observed only once before -- in 1946, when they were reported seen over the Baltic Sea and Sweden. Military commentators then were quick to suggest that the Russians might well be testing advanced types of missiles captured from the Germans at their nearby rocket base of Peenemunde.
Suppose the green fireballs do give away some gigantic new secret of guided missiles or space travel? Who is responsible?
Again, because of the nearness of U.S. scientific centers, the temptation is great to say they're ours. But Dr. LaPaz says this: "If the Russians possessed missiles capable of intercontinental flight, it would be natural for them to make ranging tests over the Southwestern U.S., where we have important targets."
Why They Disappear
IF THE Russians have such rockets, it would also be perfectly natural for these devices to be made self-destroying, so that we could find only tiny fragments of them."
How can we solve the riddle?
"We must try to do as we have done with countless celestial objects before," says Dr. LaPaz. "We must find a piece of one and examine it in a scientific laboratory."
"We already know of several places to look. But to search effectively, we must have as many as 5,000 men, who can examine the 'strewn field' yard by yard, and foot by foot. And even then, if the fireballs are contraterrene matter, we shall have no success.
"But if we do find bits of metallic alloy which could burn with a green flame, we may well have a piece of a green fireball.
"And from this piece we can surely say whether it originated in space, or in some frighteningly advanced laboratory.
"For science, and for our own safety, we should make such a search soon."
Two months later, in April, 1952, Life Magazine -- with a national circulation in the several millions and a readership of millions more -- would re-ignite national controversy on the subject by featuring an unprecedented in-depth investigation and report on the reality of the saucers...
Above: Cover and beginning double-page spread of Life magazine article in its April 7, 1952, edition. The caption underneath the painting read: "This is a scrupulously accurate eyewitness painting of a mysterious green fireball rushing through the night sky over New Mexico. It was done by Mrs. Lincoln La Paz, wife of an authority on meteors. Both she and her husband observed the fireballs at first hand."
[NOTE: The original of this article as published can be read in its original professional layout and typesetting glory at the Life Magazine archive at Google Books here.]
HAVE WE VISITORS FROM SPACE?
The Air Force is now ready to concede that many saucer and fireball sightings still defy explanation; here LIFE offers some scientific evidence that there is a real case for interplanetary flying saucers.
by H.B. DARRACH JR. and ROBERT GINNA
FOR four years the U.S. public has wondered, worried or smirked over the strange and insistent tales of eerie objects streaking across American skies. Generally the tales have provoked only chills or titters -- only rarely, reflection or analysis.
Last week the U.S. Air Force made known to LIFE the following facts:
• As a result of continuing flying saucer reports the Air Force maintains constant intelligence investigation and study of unidentified aerial objects.
• A policy of positive action has been adopted to find out, as soon as possible, what is responsible for observations that have been made. As a part of this study, military aircraft are alerted to attempt interception, and radar and photographic equipment will be used in an attempt to obtain factual data. If opportunity offers, attempts will be made to recover such unidentified objects.
• Already all operational units of the Air Force have been alerted to report in detail any sightings of unidentified aerial objects. Other groups -- scientists, private and commercial pilots, weather observers -- all trained observers whose work in any way concerns the sky, and what happens in it, are urged to make immediate reports to Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio of any unidentified aerial objects they sight.
• Further, for the first time since Project "Saucer" was changed from a special-type project to a standard intelligence function, in December 1949, the Air Force invites all citizens to report their sightings to the nearest Air Force installation. All reports will be given expert consideration and those of special interest will be thoroughly investigated. The identity of those making such reports will be kept in confidence; no one will be ridiculed for making one.
• There is no reason as yet to believe that any of the aerial phenomena commonly described as flying saucers are caused by a foreign power or constitute a clear and present danger to the U.S. or its citizens.
These disclosures, sharply amending past Air Force policy, climaxed a review by LIFE with Air Force officials of all facts known in the case. This review has resulted from more than a year of sifting and weighing all reports of unexplained aerial phenomena -- from the so-called flying saucers to the mysterious green fireballs so often sighted in the Southwest (above). This inquiry has included scrutiny of hundreds of reported sightings, interviews with eyewitnesses across the country and careful reviews of the facts with some of the world's ablest physicists, astronomers and experts on guided missiles. For the first time the Air Force (while in no way identifying itself with any particular conclusions) has opened its files for study.
Out of this exhaustive inquiry these propositions seem firmly shaped by the evidence:
1. Disks, cylinders and similar objects of geometrical form, luminous quality and solid nature for several years have been, and may be now, actually present in the atmosphere of the earth.
2. Globes of green fire also, of a brightness more intense than the full moon's, have frequently passed through the skies.
3. These objects cannot be explained by present science as natural phenomena -- but solely as artificial devices, created and operated by a high intelligence.
4. Finally, no power plant known or projected on earth could account for the performance of these devices.
THE LUBBOCK LIGHTS, flying in formation, are considered by the Air Force the most unexplainable phenomena yet observed. These photographs were made at Lubbock, Texas on Aug. 30, 1951 by Carl Hart Jr. Scientists say lights were not natural objects, but they traveled too fast and too soundlessly for known machines.
Let us first review some widely known facts.
The shapes and inscrutable portents of the flying disks first broke upon the skies of the world in the early months of 1947, with several sightings reported to the Air Force. The story first reached the nation on June 24, 1947, when a private pilot named Kenneth Arnold was flying from Chehalis to Yakima, Wash. Some 25 miles away, Arnold saw nine "saucerlike things . . . flying like geese in a diagonal chainlike line," approaching Mount Rainier. They swerved in and out of the high peaks at a speed Arnold estimated to be 1,200 mph.
Arnold told the whole story to his hometown newspaper, and like summer lightning it flashed across the country. Within a month saucers had been reported by people in 40 states. For the public (as LIFE itself merrily reported in its issue of July 21, 1947) the saucers provided the biggest game of hey-diddle-diddle in history. Any man, woman, or child with talent enough to see spots before his eyes could get his name in the newspaper.
Nevertheless in serious moments most people were a little worried by all the "chromium hubcaps," "flying washtubs" and "whirling doughnuts" in the sky. Buried in the heap of hysterical reports were some sobering cases. One was the calamity that befell Air Force Captain Thomas F. Mantell on Jan. 7, 1948. That afternoon Mantell and two other F-51 fighter pilots sighted an object that looked like "an ice-cream cone topped with red" over Godman Air Force Base and Fort Knox, Ky. Mantell followed the strange object up to 20,000 feet and disappeared. Later in the day his body was found in a nearby field, the wreckage of his plane scattered for a half mile around. It now seems possible that Mantell was one of the very few sighters who actually were deceived by a Skyhook balloon, but the incident is still listed as unsolved in Air Force files.
There was no such easy explanation for the strange phenomenon observed at 2:45 a.m. on July 24, 1948 by two Eastern Air Lines pilots. Captain Clarence S. Chiles and Copilot John B. Whitted were flying in bright moonlight near Montgomery, Ala. when they suddenly saw "a bright glow" and a "long rocketlike ship" veer past them. They subsequently agreed that it was a "wingless aircraft, 100 feet long, cigar-shaped and about twice the diameter of a B-29, with no protruding surfaces, and two rows of windows . . . From the side of the craft came an intense, fairly dark blue glow . . . like a fluorescent factory light." They said the weird craft "pulled up with tremendous burst of flame from the rear and zoomed into the clouds at about 800 miles an hour," rocking their DC-3 with its "prop or jet wash."
Just as inexplicable was the experience of Lieut. George F. Gorman of the North Dakota Air National Guard. On Oct. 1, 1948 Gorman was coming in at dusk to land his F-51 at Fargo when he saw an intense, bright light pass 1,000 yards away. Curious, Gorman followed the light and saw that it seemed to be attached to nothing. For 27 hair-raising minutes Gorman pursued the light through a series of intricate maneuvers. He said it was about 6 inches in diameter and going faster than his F-51 (300-400 mph). It made no sound and left no exhaust trail. After Gorman landed, the light having suddenly flashed away in the upper air, he found support for his story – the chief of the control tower had followed the fantastic "combat" with binoculars.
The occurrences, jarring though they must have been to the participants, left the official calm of the Air Force unruffled. The project set up to investigate the saucers ("Project Sign," known to the press as "Project Saucer") seemed to have been fashioned more as a sedative to public controversy than as a serious inquiry into the facts. On Dec. 27, 1949, after two years of operation, Project Saucer wrote off all reports of unidentified aerial phenomena as hoaxes, hallucinations or misinterpretations of familiar objects -- that is, all but 34. These stubborn 34, seemingly unexplainable, were briskly dismissed as psychological aberrations.
While these assurances appeased most of the press and pacified the public, some elements in the Air Force just about this time began to worry a bit more seriously. Saucer reports continued to come in a rate of about one a day and were handled under the code name of "Project Grudge." Officers at policy level began to show concern. "The higher you go in the Air Force," conceded one Intelligence officer, "the more seriously they take the flying saucers."
There was good reason to be serious. As review of all records has now shown, these years have produced literally dozens of incidents defying simple explanation -- and provoking the most incredible questions.
Checked and rechecked, 10 cases out of the formidable list on record are here presented in essential detail. Of these, three were discovered in the course of LIFE's own investigation and are reported for the first time.
Incident 1. At 9:10 p.m. on Aug. 25, 1951, Dr. W.I. Robinson, professor of geology at the Texas technological College, stood in the back yard of his home in Lubbock, Texas and chatted with two colleagues. The other men were Dr. A.G. Oberg, a professor of chemical engineering, and Professor W.L. Ducker, head of the department of petroleum engineering. The night was clear and dark. Suddenly all three men saw a number of lights race noiselessly across the sky, from horizon to horizon, in a few seconds. They gave the impression of about 30 luminous beads, arranged in a crescent shape. A few moments later another similar formation flashed across the night. This time the scientists were able to judge that the lights moved through 30° of arc in a second. A check the next day with the Air Force showed that no planes had been over the area at the time. This was but the beginning: Professor Ducker observed 12 flights of the luminous objects between August and November of last year. Some of his colleagues observed as many as 10. Hundreds of nonscientific observers in a wide vicinity around Lubbock have seen as many as three flights of the mysterious crescents in one night. On the night of Aug. 30 an attempt to photograph the lights was made by 18-year old Carl Hart Jr. He used a Kodak 35-mm camera, at f. 3.5, 1/10 of a second. Working rapidly, Hart managed to get five exposures of the flights. The pictures exhibited by Hart as the result of this effort (pp. 80-81) show 18 to 20 luminous objects, more intense than the planet Venus, arranged in one or a pair of crescents. In several photographs, off to one side of the main flight, a larger luminosity is visible -- like a mother craft hovering near its aerial brood.
Professors at Texas Tech who saw Lubbock Lights (left to right), Dr. Oberg, Prof. Ducker, and Dr. Robinson, discuss them with Dr. E.L. George.
Evaluation. The observations have been too numerous and too similar to be doubted. In addition the Air Force, after the closest examination, has found nothing fraudulent about Hart's pictures. The lights are much too bright to be reflections, and therefore bodies containing sources of light. Since Professors Ducker, Oberg and Robinson could not measure the size and distance of the formations, they could form no precise estimate of their speed. However they calculated that if the lights were flying at an altitude of 5,000 feet they must then have been traveling about 1,800 mph. The professors, along with other scientists, agree that in order to explain the silence of the objects, it must be assumed that they were at least 50,000 feet in the air; in which case they were going not 1,800 but 18,000 mph.
Incident 2. On July 10, 1947 at 4:47 p.m., one of the U.S.'s top astronomers was driving from Clovis to Clines Corners, N. Mex. His wife and his teen-aged daughters were also in the car. (For professional reasons he has asked LIFE to withhold identity.) It was a bright sunny day, but the whole western half of the sky was a "confused cloud sea." All at once, as the car headed toward these clouds, "all four of us almost simultaneously became aware of a curious bright object almost motionless" among the clouds. Instantly, from long habit in dealing with celestial phenomena, he began to make calculations with what crude materials he had at hand. He held a pencil at arm's length, measured the size of the object against the windshield of the car, measured the distance between his eyes and the windshield, etc. His wife and two daughters did the same, each making independent calculations. The object, says the scientist, "showed a sharp and firm regular outline, namely one of a smooth elliptical character much harder and sharper than the edges of the cloudlets. . . . The hue of the luminous object was somewhat less white than the light of Jupiter in a dark sky, not aluminum or silver-colored. . . . The object clearly exhibited a sort of wobbling motion. . . . This wobbling motion served to set off the object as a rigid, if not solid body." After 30 seconds in plain view, the ellipsoid moved slowly behind a cloud (273° azimuth, elevation 1°) "and we thought we had lost it." But approximately five seconds later it reappeared (275° azimuth, elevation 2°). "This remarkably sudden ascent thoroughly convinced me that we were dealing with an absolutely novel airborne device." After reappearing, the object moved slowly from south to north across the clouds. "As seen projected against these dark clouds, the object gave the strongest impression of self-luminosity." About two and a half minutes after it first came into view, the thing disappeared finally behind a cloudbank.
Evaluation. The astronomer vouches for the approximate accuracy of his observations and computations. He determined that the object was not less than 20 nor more than 30 miles from his viewing point; that it was ellipsoidal and rigid; that it was 160 feet long and 65 feet thick, if seen at minimum distance, or 245 feet long and 100 feet thick if at maximum; and that its horizontal speed ranged between 120 and 180 mph and its vertical rise between 600 and 900 mph. He also observed that the object moved with a wobble, no sound, and left no exhaust or vapor trail. His wife and daughters supported his observations, and their computations were in accordance with his own, though slightly less conservative. The object's appearance and behavior answer no known optical or celestial phenomenon. No known or projected aircraft, rocket or guided missile can make such a rapid vertical ascent without leaving an exhaust or vapor trail.
Incident 3. On April 24, 1949 at 10:20 a.m., a group of five technicians under the general supervision of J. Gordon Vaeth, an aeronautical engineer employed by the Office of Naval Research, were preparing to launch a Skyhook balloon near Arrey, N. Mex. A small balloon was sent up first to check the weather. Charles B. Moore Jr., an aerologist of General Mills Inc. (pioneers in cosmic ray research), was tracing [sic] the weather balloon through a theodolite -- a 25-power telescopic instrument which gives degrees of azimuth and elevation (horizontal and vertical position) for any object it is sighted on. At 10:30 a.m. Moore leaned back from the theodolite to glance at the balloon with his naked eye. Suddenly he saw a whitish elliptical object, apparently much higher than the balloon, and moving in the opposite direction. At once he picked the object up in his theodolite at 45° of elevation and 210° of azimuth, and tracked it east at the phenomenal rate of 5° of azimuth-change per second as it dropped swiftly to an elevation of 25°. The object appeared to be an ellipsoid roughly two and a half times as long as it was wide. Suddenly it swung abruptly upward and rushed out of sight in a few seconds. Moore had tracked it for about 60 seconds altogether. The other members of his crew confirmed his report. No sound was heard, no vapor trail was seen. The object, according to rough estimations by Moore and his colleagues, was about 56 miles above the earth, 100 feet long and was traveling at seven miles per second.
Evaluation. No known optical or atmospheric phenomenon fits the facts. No natural object traveling at seven miles per second has never been seen to make a sudden upward turn. There is no known or projected source of silent, vaporless power for such a machine. No human being could have borne the tremendous "G" load brought to bear on the craft during its abrupt vertical veer.
Incident 4. One night in the summer of 1948 Clyde W. Tombaugh, the discoverer of the planet Pluto, was sitting in the back yard of his home at Las Cruces, N. Mex. With him were his wife and his mother-in-law. It was about 11 p.m. and they were all sitting quietly, admiring the clarity of the southwestern sky, like any proper astronomical family. All at once they all saw something rush silently overhead, south to north, too fast for a plane, too slow for a meteor. It seemed to be quite low. All three of the witnesses agreed that the object was definitely a solid "ship" of a kind they had never seen before. It was of an oval shape and "seemed to trail off at the rear into a shapeless luminescence." There was a blue-green glow about the whole thing. About half a dozen "windows" were clearly visible at the front of the ship and along the side. They glowed with the same blue-green color as the rest of the ship, only the glare was brighter, and had a touch of yellow in it.
Evaluation. The object bore a resemblance to the craft seen by Pilots Chiles and Whitted. It bore resemblance to no aircraft known to be in operation on earth.
Incident 5. In this case LIFE's informant is an Air Force officer who holds a top military post at a key atomic base. Since his assignment and whereabouts must be kept a secret he has asked LIFE to withhold his name. He has the highest security rating given. Before he took his present assignment, this officer was in command of the radar equipment that keeps watch over a certain atomic installation. One day in the fall of 1949, while watching a radarscope that covered an area of sky 300 miles wide and 100,000 feet deep, he was startled to detect five apparently metallic objects flying south at tremendous speed and great height. They crossed the 300-mile scope in less than four minutes. The objects flew the whole time in formation.
Evaluation. There is no dead-certain explanation of this phenomenon -- radar is as full of tricks as an old-maid's imagination. However, the officer involved is an experienced observer, well aware of the eccentricities of the instrument. He believes that in this instance he made a legitimate radar contact. If so, it can be said that the only natural objects known to travel at such a speed are meteors, but meteors do not fly in formation. If the officer picked up machines, they were performing in a manner that rocket experts agree is still beyond the capabilities of earth's most advanced weapons.
"CIVILIAN SUACER INVESTIGATIONS" was organized by Sighter Ed J. Sullivan (standing), who urged other sighters to write to P.O. Box 1971, Main Post Office, Los Angeles. CSI includes Dr. Walther Riedel (behind Sullivan), who was chief designer at great German rocket laboratory at Peenemunde.
Incident 6. On May 29, 1951 at 3:48 p.m., three technical writers for the aerophysics department of North American Aviation's plant at Downey, outside Los Angeles, were chatting on the factory grounds. They were Victor Black, Werner Eichler and Ed J. Sullivan. All at once they stared at the sky. Sullivan describes what they saw: "Approximately 30 glowing, meteorlike objects sprayed out of the east at a point about 45° above the horizon, executed a right-angle turn and swept across the sky in an undulating vertical formation . . . that resembled a tuning fork on edge. It took each of them about 25 seconds to cross 90° of the horizon before performing another right-angle turn westward toward downtown Los Angeles . . . We estimated their diameter at 30 feet and their speed to be 1,700 mph. Each appeared as an intense electric blue light, round and without length. They moved with the motion of flat stones skipping across a smooth pond."
Evaluation. No known natural or optical phenomenon, makes the peculiar light, in bright day, attributed to these objects by Sullivan and his colleagues; nor can any natural object, hurtling at such a speed, execute a right angle turn. As in the Moore theodolite sighting, the execution of such a turn would have crushed any human crew under the impact of "G" forces. Finally, of course, no known machine travels at 1,700 mph without making a sound or leaving an exhaust or vapor trail.
Incident 7. On Jan. 20, 1951, at 8:30 p.m., Captain Lawrence W. Vinther of Mid-Continent Airlines was ordered by the control tower at the Sioux City airport to investigate a "very bright light" above the field. He took off in his DC-3 with his copilot, James F. Bachmeier, and followed the light. All at once the light dived at the DC-3 almost head on; it passed silently and at great speed about 200 feet above its nose. Both pilots wrenched their heads back to see where it had gone, only to discover that the thing had somehow reversed direction in a split second and was now flying parallel to the airliner, about 200 feet away, heading in the same direction. It was a clear moonlight night and both men got a good look at the object. It was as big or bigger than a B-29, had a cigar-shaped fuselage and a glider type wing, set well forward, without sweepback and without engine nacelles or jet pods. There was not exhaust glow. The white light appeared to be recessed in the bottom of the plane. After a few seconds the object lost altitude, passed under the DC-3 and disappeared. A civilian employee of Air Intelligence was a passenger on the flight, saw the object and confirms the description by the pilots.
Evaluation. The conditions for observation were excellent. One fact alone – the astonishing reversal of direction performed by the object – suffices to classify it as a device far beyond the known capacities of aeronautical science. Although its shape is different, the soundlessness of the object and the absence of observable means of propulsion relate it to the saucer class of phenomena.
HOW DISKS LOOKED in relation to each other is shown by C.E. Redman of Albuquerque. THE SAME DISKS sighted by Redman were seen by W.S. Morris, ex-Air Force master sergeant.
Incident 8. At 6:45 a.m., just before sunup on Feb. 18, 1952, a photographer named C.E. Redman was driving through Albuquerque, N. Mex. on his way to photograph a wedding. Stopped for a traffic light, he noticed two bright things in the sky. "They were hovering above Tijeras Canyon. . . . The one to the north was on its edge. The other was lying horizontally. They were bright, bluish white. . . . It was probably the most astonishing thing I've ever seen. Those things were soundless. They were not jets or vapor trails. I've seen hundreds of jets and vapor trails." Redman was questioned later the same day by a LIFE reporter and a prominent scientist, working together. From his testimony, and from the lay of the land, it was estimated that the disks were 20 miles away and four miles in the air, and that they had a diameter of about 136 feet. Another witness saw the same objects Redman saw, and at the same time, but from the other side of town. W.S. Morris, a retired master sergeant of the Air Force who is now a newsdealer in Albuquerque, was out to drop off his morning papers when he saw two strange objects over Tijeras Canyon. "I watched them for 12 minutes. They were a blinding silver, long and thin, gleaming all over. They hovered, one kind of above the other to the right. They seemed brighter than the sun, which wasn't yet over the Sandia mountains. It just touched their bottoms and they glowed red. They didn't flutter or move. They just hung there. It must have been 20 miles away. Then they just suddenly dropped down behind the mountain, and the upper one tilted so that I could see its profile. It looked like a bell pepper -- with a bump on top, that is."
Evaluation. Kirtland AFB acknowledged that there were no aircraft in that area at that time. The observations reinforce each other and point to several striking facts. First, one disk proved itself three dimensional when it tilted to descend. Second, the suddenness of the disk's descent indicates that the bodies contained a source of power. Third, the power that can suspend a three-dimensional body, of the size Morris describes and in the position he indicates, without turning a blade or roaring a jet, is unknown.
Incident 9. On Jan. 29, 1952, just before midnight, a B-29 was on solo mission over Wonsan, Korea. It was flying at a speed somewhat less than 200 miles an hour, at an altitude somewhat above 20,000 feet. Simultaneously the tail gunner and the fire-control man in the waist saw a bright round orange object in the sky near the plane. Both said it was about three feet in diameter, flew with a revolving motion on a course parallel to theirs, and wore a halo of bluish flame. It also appeared to pulsate. The object followed the B-29 for about five minutes, then pulled ahead and shot away at a sharp angle. On the same night a similar globe was seen by the tail gunner and waist man of another B-29, 80 miles away over Sunchon, but flying at about the same height. The globe followed the plane for about a minute, then disappeared.
Evaluation. Theoreticians in the Air Force believe the fireballs were not natural phenomena but propelled objects. They bear some similarity to the balls of fire -- called "fireball fighters" or "foo fighters" -- which flew wing on Allied aircraft over Germany and Japan during 1944-45 and which have never been satisfactorily explained. In the Korean incidents, the fireballs seem -- on the evidence of their sharp acceleration, their blue light and their abrupt, angular swerve -- to resemble the saucers described earlier.
Incident 10. On the night of Nov. 2, 1951 a ball of kelly-green fire, larger than the moon and blazing several times more brightly, flashed eastward across the skies of Arizona. It raced, straight as a bullet, parallel to the ground, and then exploded in a frightful paroxysm of light -- without making a sound. At least 165 people saw the incredible thing; hundreds more witnessed the similar flight of countless other fireballs that since December 1948 have bathed the hills of the Southwest in their lunar glare. In the last year they have been seen as far afield as Pennsylvania, Maryland and Puerto Rico. The chief Air Intelligence officer for the Albuquerque district saw one. Colonel Joseph D. Caldara, USAF, attached to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saw one in Virginia. Hundreds of pilots, weather observers and atomic scientists have sighted them. Reports came so thick and fast during 1948 that in 1949 the Air Force established "Project Twinkle" to investigate them. Project Twinkle established a triple photo-theodolite post at Vaughn, N. Mex. to obtain scientific data on the fireballs. Day and night, week in, week out, for three months, a crew kept vigil. Ironically, while fireballs continued flashing everywhere else in the Southwest, they saw nothing until the project was transferred to the Holloman Air Force Base at Alamogordo, N. Mex. There, during another three-months siege, they saw a few but were unable to make satisfactory computations because of the fireballs' great-speed. Search parties have had no better luck. They have combed in vain the countryside beneath the point of disappearance; not a trace of telltale substance has been found on the ground.
Evaluation. The popular Southwest belief that a strange meteor shower was underway has been blasted by Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, mathematician, astronomer and director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico. He points out that normal fireballs do not appear green, they fall in the trajectory forced on them by gravity, are generally noisy as a freight train, and leave meteorites where they hit. The green New Mexican species does none of these things. Neither do the green fireballs appear to be electrostatic phenomena -- they move too regularly and too fast.
If the fireballs are the product of a U.S. weapons project, as some Southwesterners believe, it is a very secret one indeed: the Atomic Energy Commission and every other government agency connected with weapons development has denied to LIFE any responsibility for the fireballs. Could they be self-destroying Russian reconnaissance devices? Not likely. While the U.S. believes the Russians have an intercontinental guided missile, there is no intelligence that indicates they have developed silent power plants or objects capable of moving nearly as fast as meteors (12 miles a second). Yet -- for whatever it may be worth -- the only reports of green fireballs prior to 1948 came from the Baltic area.
If the fireballs do not respond to gravity, they could only be explained as lighter-than-air craft or electrical phenomena -- but they have characteristics which rule these out. Therefore they must be propelled. If propelled and not natural phenomena, they must be artificial. The extreme greenness of the fireballs has impressed most witnesses. When asked to indicate the approximate color on a spectrum chart, most of them have touched the band at 5,200 angstroms -- close to the green of burning copper. Copper is almost never found in meteorites; the friction of the air oxidizes it shortly after the meteor enters the upper atmosphere. However, a curious fact has been recorded by aerologists. Concentrations of copper particles are now present in the air of Arizona and New Mexico, particularly in "fireball areas." These were not encountered in air samples made before 1948.
What they are not -- and what they may be
WHAT are the flying saucers, the luminous fuselages, the foo fighters and the green fireballs? The answer -- if any answer at this time is possible -- lies in the field of logic rather than of evidence. What the things are may be adduced partially by reviewing what they are not.
They are not psychological phenomena. Although the Air Force cheerily wrote off its 34 unexplained incidents with this pat theory, the explanation does not hold up. There is no evidence, beyond textbook speculation, for such a supposition, and there is the direct evidence already cited against it. To doubt the observers in the foregoing cases is to doubt the ability of every human being to know a hawk from a handsaw.
They are not products of U.S. research. LIFE investigated this possibility to exhaustion. Not fully satisfied by the public denials of President Truman, Secretary Johnson and others, the investigators put the question directly to Gordon Dean, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He said: "There's nothing in our shop that could account for these things, and there's nothing going on that I know of that could explain them." Still unconvinced, LIFE checked the whereabouts and present business of every scientist who might have anything to do with the development of superaircraft. All were accounted for in other ways. Careful feelers through the business and labor world encountered no submerged projects of the immensity necessary to build a fleet of flying disks. And there is still the conclusive fact: U.S. science has at its command no source of power that could put a flying machine through such paces as the saucers perform.
They are not a Russian development. It is inconceivable that the Russians would risk the loss of such a precious military weapon by flying a saucer over enemy territory. No man-made machine is foolproof; sooner or later one would crash in the U.S. and the secret would be out. Nor is there any reason to believe that Russian science, even with German help, has moved beyond not only the practical but the theoretical horizons of U.S. research.
They are not distortions of the atmosphere resulting from atomic activity. To quote the answer David Lilienthal, former AEC commissioner, once made to that suggestion: "I can't prevent anyone from saying foolish things." Nor are they aberrations of the northern lights. Magnetic disturbances cannot account for them and neither can a notion (recently fathered by Dr. Urner Liddel, the Navy physicist) that they are "vertical mirages" -- reflections from a vertical (instead of a horizontal) layer of heated air.
They are not all Skyhook balloons. This was the original Liddel explanation, and in a few instances it may have been correct. But not many. They could scarcely be "fireflies in the cockpit," as one Air Force colonel suggested, since most of the observers were not in a cockpit when they saw their saucers. And it is hard to believe that saucers could be the reflections of automobile headlights on clouds, when they are seen in daylight under cloudless skies.
These being the dead-end alleys of negative evidence, is there hope of an explanation on the open avenues of scientific theory? The answer is yes.
The rank of science has taken the saucers far more seriously than the file of laymen and, after five years of close watch on all reports, a number of scientists were ready with some conclusions. One of these was Dr. Walther Riedel, once chief designer and research director at the German rocket center in Peenemunde, now engaged on secret work for the U.S. Dr. Riedel has never seen a saucer himself, but for several years he has kept records of saucer sightings all over the world. He told Life: "I am completely convinced that they have an out-of-world basis."
Dr. Riedel has four points to his argument: "First, the skin temperatures of structures operating under the observed conditions would make it impossible for any terrestrial structure to survive. The skin friction of the missile at those speeds at those altitudes would melt any metals or nonmetals available.
"Second, consider the high acceleration at which they fly and maneuver. . . . In some descriptions the beast spirals straight up. If you think of the fact that the centrifugal force in a few minutes of such a maneuver would press the crew against the outside, and do likewise to the blood, you see what I mean.
"Third . . . There are many occurrences where they have done things that only a pilot could perform but that no human pilot could stand.
"Fourth, in most of the reports there is a lack of visible jets. Most observers report units without visible flame . . . and no trail. If it would be any known type of jet, rocket, piston engine, or chain-reaction motor, there would be a very clear trail at high altitude. . . . It is from no power unit we know of . . . ."
Dr. Riedel's arguments are reinforced by those of Dr. Maurice A. Biot, one of the leading aerodynamicists in the U.S. and a prominent mathematical physicist. From an aerodynamical viewpoint, says Dr. Biot, the saucer shape makes very little sense if the machine is to travel in the atmosphere. A disk has a high drag and is a poor airfoil unless stabilized; when whirled at high speed through the air, it "wobbles" distressingly -- a movement observed in several of the saucers sighted. However, for space travel, where there is no atmosphere to oppose, the disk has significant advantages. The sphere, theoretically better, presents several difficult problems of construction and utilization. The disk, easier to build, has almost all the virtues of the sphere and some of its own. Reviewing the evidence presented here, Dr. Biot said: "The least improbable explanation is that these things are artificial and controlled. . . . My opinion for some time has been that they have an extraterrestrial origin."
Who? What? and When?
THERE, at least, is a plausible explanation of the disk shape. But the real depths of the saucer mystery bemuse penetration, as the night sky swallows up a flashlight beam. What of the other shapes? Why do the things make no sound? How to explain their eerie luminosity? What power urges them at such terrible speeds through the sky? Who, or what, is aboard? Where do they come from? Why are they here? What are the intentions of the beings who control them?
Before these awesome questions, science -- and mankind -- can yet only halt in wonder. Answers may come in a generation -- or tomorrow. Somewhere in the dark skies there may be those who know.
The Life magazine account generated interest worldwide. More articles on the flying saucers appeared in newspapers soon after, including across the Atlantic. Just two weeks later, for instance -- whether by coincidence or intent to capitalize on Life's efforts -- the London Sunday Dispatch newspaper would publish its own feature (syndicated to publications throughout the empire) on the views of rocket scientist Walther Riedel in its April 20, 1952, edition...
Above: Article in the London Sunday Dispatch.
The New Riddle Of The Universe
ALL types of people have, during the past five years, seen speeding across the skies the strange objects of varying kinds that are now broadly dubbed flying saucers.
Rocket Expert Says --
Flying Saucers Could Come From Mars
They have included housewives, policemen, newsboys, businessmen, typists, airmen, farmers -- men and women drawn from varying walks of life and of varying ages.
They have told of what their own eyes have seen. No more and no less. Most of them, ordinary people, have no specialised knowledge of aerial matters, no special interest, indeed, in aerial matters at all. To them something streaking across the sky is just that. They have seen it, marvelled about it, and naturally described in plain language what they have seen to their relatives and friends.
It is, however, a very striking fact that in addition to these ordinary men and women quite a lot of men with considerable technical background have put flying-saucer experiences on record.
SOME of them are flying men who have ranged the skies in war and peace, men who are well aware that the effects of light and cloud can play strange tricks.
These technical men, whose minds are naturally precise and analytical, have been and still are utterly puzzled by what they know they have seen.
They have probed and mulled over every conceivable theory that can be dug up to give a perfectly normal and natural explanation for these uncanny sky mysteries.
Today they are as baffled as ever having failed to find any real foursquare answer.
They, equally with the laymen, cannot help feeling that there is something extremely odd going on.
One expert who makes no bones at all about expressing his considered view that the flying saucers or whatever one cares to call them might well have Mars as their starting point is German rocket scientist Dr. Walther Riedel.
He has been studying this sort of thing for years. During the last war he was the man in charge of research and development at the centre at Peenemunde where V2 rockets that hit England were brought into being. He now works in Southern California for North American Aviation, Inc., makers of the Sabre Jet plane.
TRAVEL between the planets is peculiarly his subject. Years ago he expressed the view that it is certain to come. And for years he has gathered and kept careful records of flying-saucer sightings from all over the world.
He has brought all his expert knowledge to a close study of these happenings. Here, in a special Sunday Dispatch interview, are his conclusions:
"A careful study of all available reports of unexplainable aerial objects has made it possible to weed out approximately 70 per cent as being based on optical illusion, wrong interpretation of known objects, hysteria, suggestion, willfulness, and plain hoax.
"My interest is concentrated on the remaining 30 per cent of reports by reliable, well-trained observers.
"That amounts to some 400 observations, out of a total of more than 1,200 evaluated sightings.
"On the assumption that these 400 are proved, the existence of a family of so far unexplainable aerial objects of high speed, extreme ease of manoeuvrability, in all space conditions, very intelligent behaviour, and perfect reliability cannot be denied.
"HUMAN pilots of such vehicles would not withstand the acceleration imposed by certain manoeuvres that have been observed. Flight velocity of several thousand miles an hour in the denser lower part of the atmosphere would give the flying object a skin temperature to withstand, which hitherto unknown materials and still undeveloped refrigeration systems for both skin and cabin would be required.
"Remote control from such long distances that never a slave-master (machine that controls robots) has been sighted, would also necessitate technique of a yet unknown perfection.
"And flying in close formation while performing evasive manoevres would require at the control panel complete knowledge of the position of the vessel in relation to its neighbours in the formation, of ground obstructions, and of piloted aircraft.
"The origin of such aerial objects is of vital interest for all of us. By far the best solution would be that they carry American insignia and that some of their components are catalogue items from American vendors. Their appearance over United States territory would then be understandable.
"But their sometimes very curious behaviour versus American aeroplanes could only then be explained by lack of discipline among the crew of such a top-secret vessel. And the absolute lack of reports of launching, landing, or crash accidents would be difficult to explain. In fact neither is within the scope of probability.
"Furthermore, the erratic appearance of such secretly developed flying objects over various European countries and elsewhere could not be explained at all.
"If Russia possessed such a perfect carrier all the odds are that Stalin and his followers would have shown a still more belligerent attitude towards the West.
"It is more than wishful thinking completely to rule out the possibility -- and in saying this I speak with some knowledge gained from experience of Russian scientific and technical abilities -- but I do not myself believe that the so-called 'saucers' are of Soviet origin.
"Always assuming that such unexplained aerial objects are really in existence, the logical conclusion is that they are of extra-terrestrial origin.
"In view of the extremely long distances to neighbours of our sun in galaxy, it is more logical to assume that they originate from one of the planets of our solar system.
"MARS is, according to present knowledge, the most feasible source. It offers to its intelligent inhabitants clear skies for astronomical observation, a decent climate and favourable low gravitational force.
"With our moon as a space station such a solar system neighbour may have established astronautical flight centuries ago, appearing more frequently in our visible range only since developing a lunar-earth "ferry system."
There is a top-expert view that can by no means be brushed aside. It has the weight of a life-time study of space and the technical possibilities of conquering it.
To scoff at such a theory as Dr. Riedel advances is easy -- so long as one ignores both his highly specialised knowledge and the logic with which he underpins his conclusions.
And he does not stand alone in advancing the theory that the saucers are not of earthly origin. Felix W.A. Knoll, who is consulting engineer for Northrop Aircraft, also believes it, for the reasons that --
No human being could withstand the terrific acceleration which has been repeatedly reported, and the astounding manoeuvres the strange craft have performed.
Both Riedel and Knoll are members of a civilian body known as the Civilian Saucer Investigation, which has recently been set up by aeronautical experts to make a further probe of the mystery.
The skin temperature of the craft must in a very short time reach heights which would cause all materials at present known to man, including heat-resistant ceramics, to melt and gasify.
The propulsion systems of the craft leave no vapor trails at high altitudes, as is the case with all internal-combustion engines and all types of jet propulsion.
Air friction at low altitude and during the high speeds reported would burn up man-made aircraft or flying missiles.
Ten weeks following the Life magazine article -- again, whether by coincidence or intent -- its lesser-read rival, the bi-weekly Look Magazine, in its June, 17, 1952, issue, countered with the skeptic's view from Harvard's Dr. Donald H. Menzel...
Above: Cover and first page of Look magazine article. The caption under the main picture reads: "This might be a picture of flying saucers taken at night over Arizona or New Mexico. It was in fact taken in Dr. Menzel's laboratory at Harvard University.". The caption next to the Dr. Menzel's photo reads: "Donald H. Menzel is professor of astrophysics and associate director of solar research at Harvard University. His work on flying saucers was done in response to a request from LOOK. The Air Force has expressed a lively interest in it.".
THE TRUTH ABOUT FLYING SAUCERS
One of America's leading astronomers goes into his laboratory at Harvard and disposes of the flying-saucer myth. He adds simple instructions for making flying saucers in your own kitchen.
By Dr. DONALD H. MENZEL
I suppose that I should be especially well qualified to write about flying saucers since I happen to be one of the few persons who has actually seen one.
My solar studies take me frequently to Colorado and New Mexico, and I was at the Holloman Air Base, near Alamogordo, N.M., at the height of the flying-saucer scare. That very morning, I had glimpsed what seemed to be several saucers moving overhead -- until I focused my eyes more clearly and recognized the objects as weather balloons. That afternoon, I expressed my belief that most of the saucers could be thus explained. But others in the group -- including several well-known scientists -- indicated that there was probably more to the saucer story than that.
Early that evening, I had my second attack of saucers. I was in the back seat of an automobile, being driven toward Alamogordo and admiring the full moon as it rose over Sacramento Peak toward the east. A few degrees north of the moon, I noticed what seemed to be a bright star, and then a second star not far from the first. Casually, I assumed that they were Castor and Pollux in the constellation of Gemini. Then, very suddenly, I realized that Gemini was a winter object; the two stars had to be something else.
Like most astronomers, I am always hopeful of finding a nova (exploding star) which can be seen with the naked eye, so I rapidly opened the window of the car for a better look. I could bring neither of these objects into clear focus, although nearby Antares was sharp. Both hazy disks shone with a slightly bluish light. They were, in a sense, "flying" simply because they were elevated. Suddenly, alive to the fact that I was seeing something unusual, I asked the driver to stop. We climbed out of the car just in time to see the saucers literally fade away as mysteriously as they had appeared. I reported the occurrence in detail to the Air Force.
I later found that an English meteorologist, Edward J. Lowe, had recorded a similar phenomenon as long ago as 1838 -- similar except for the fact he saw four instead of two ghostly images flying near the moon.
Perhaps you expect me to say, at this point, that I can explain exactly what I saw that evening. I am sorry to disappoint you. I cannot. I have certain ideas on the subject, but they are only hypotheses -- reasonable but not yet fully confirmed.
I shall explain those ideas, but first let me say what I do NOT believe. I do NOT believe that what I saw, or anything anyone has reported seeing, were missiles or messengers or vehicles from the moon or Mars or space. I do NOT believe they were missiles or messengers or vehicles from Russia or any other foreign country.
Indeed, how simple science and life would be if every time we encountered some seemingly inexplicable fact, we could blame it on some outside force over which we have no control. Such a mode of thought is as old as man himself. Our prehistoric ancestors personalized all the forces of nature. Gods blew the winds, threw lightning bolts and stoked the fires that belch forth from volcanic craters.
Brilliant showers of meteors have made men fear that the end of the world was imminent. The ancients have interpreted a solar eclipse as a dragon devouring the sun and rejoiced when their beating drums and weapons frightened the dragon away.
How simple this type of science. No laboratory experiment to prove or test the hypotheses. No complicated mathematics to study the details of the process. For each new and unexplained fact, we invent a new god -- or assume the existence of a super intelligence.
How simple -- and how wrong!
Centuries of civilization have taught us the futility of inventing mysterious forces and superhuman beings. You could explain anything that way. Such explanations, however, are completely useless and nature falls into chaos, subject to the whim of a pagan deity instead of to the orderly processes of natural laws.
As a scientist, I am not bothered if I cannot give a complete, iron-clad explanation for every phenomenon I meet. Unraveling the puzzles of science is my business -- as well as my pleasure. I find the world still full of unsolved problems. I look for the explanations, but I do not arbitrarily invent forces that make explanation unnecessary.
Why, then, have so many civilized people chosen to adopt an uncivilized attitude toward flying saucers? I think there are three reasons:
First, flying saucers are unusual. All of us are used to regularity. We naturally attribute mystery to the unusual.
Second, we are all nervous. We live in a world that has suddenly become hostile. We have unleashed forces we cannot control; many persons fear we are heading toward a war that will end in the destruction of civilization.
Third, people enjoy being frightened a little. They go to Boris Karloff double features.
But such analysis should concern the psychologist rather than the natural scientist, so let me hasten back to our flying saucers.
First of all, we must recognize that "flying saucers," in the public mind, cover a wide variety of objects and phenomena. Some of them, we can almost immediately dispose of, although the mere fact of their misinterpretation has been one of the chief difficulties men have encountered in getting at the basic truth.
A man sitting in the park on a calm summer afternoon scarcely realizes how intense the winds aloft may be. Perhaps real gales exist, with speeds in excess of 60 miles an hour, different layers moving in opposite directions. Light, flat objects such as newspapers or kites can be caught in an occasional whirlwind and lifted to enormous heights, where they may fly for hundreds of miles before they again reach the ground. Weather balloons, which are often released in groups rather than singly, are not at all uncommon. Indeed, most such objects lose their true identity when viewed against the sky. And it is extremely hard to recognize them.
Occasional reflections from distant planes or even from the backs of high-flying birds account for some of the reports. The planet Venus has, on many occasions, produced its own series of sensations. Few people seem to realize that this planet, when at greatest brilliance, can be plainly seen in the daytime. If floating cirrus clouds overlie it, the planet may give the illusion of being in rapid motion. Most people find it difficult to focus their eyes on a distant object; hence, they see a bright blur in the sky and thus give rise to another flying-saucer story.
These are the Lubbock Lights, as photographed Aug. 30, 1951, over Lubbock, Texas, by 18-year-old Carl Hart Jr.
These "lights" were one of many sets of "saucers" made by Dr. Menzel in his laboratory. Note the "mother ship."
But by no means all of the objects can be so dismissed. After we have eliminated the false saucers and the erroneous reports that we trace to misidentification, there do remain a number that we cannot completely write off. Such as the ones I saw myself.
The first question we are called upon to answer is this: If these objects are natural objects, why did they suddenly appear for the first time in 1947? An honest question and a basic one; for if it cannot be answered, we are in difficulties. But the answer is simple: They were seen in the skies long before 1947. Scientific literature is full of them.
England Had Durham Lights
Take, for example, the Lubbock Lights, which appeared in the sky near Lubbock, Texas, last summer and were photographed. Similar phenomena have been long reported. England was mildly excited over the Durham Lights almost a century ago.
In 1897, our papers were filled with stories about a mysterious cigar-shaped airship seen at odd places over the country. The lights and men aboard were clearly visible. Finally, the great inventor Thomas A. Edison himself disposed of the rumor.
Here is a quotation from the magazine Nature for May 25, 1893: "During a recent wintry cruise in H.M.S. Caroline, a curious phenomenon was seen. ... Unusual lights were reported by the officer of the watch. They appeared sometimes as a mass, at others spread out in an irregular line. They bore north until I lost sight of them about midnight ... The globes of fire altered in their formation ... now in a massed group with an outlying light, then the isolated one would disappear and the others would take the form of a crescent of diamonds."
The account also mentioned a "looming mirage," of which I shall have more to say later. This report interests me for two reasons: First, it would almost serve as a description of the Lubbock Lights. Second, my own theory of the Lubbock Lights was developed, and tested in my laboratory, before I found this account in Nature -- and my theory directly associates looming mirages with the lights.
The next question is quite natural: Even granting that these phenomena have a long history, why are they so much more frequent today than in the past?
List the places where flying saucers have been seen, and you will notice that the great majority were reported in very hot areas, over deserts -- in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. For years, these states were sparsely settled.
But since the war began, they are the areas in which the most startling population growth has been tallied. Irrigation has brought farmers in. The dry heat has made tourist havens of Phoenix and Tucson. The air age has made these flat, clear-skied areas the natural locations for great bomber and fighter bases. Finally, atomic energy has chosen New Mexico as its headquarters.
In brief, there are more eyes to scan the heavens. Hence, more is seen. The answer is as simple as that. The clear skies are themselves a partial answer. Beyond two or three miles, especially toward the horizon, the milky haze cuts down visibility in Eastern areas. In the West, one is accustomed to seeing a mountain peak more than 150 miles away.
Finally, the most important question of all: If the saucers aren't superhuman or controlled by superhumans, what are they?
First, we must study the reports.
A careful analysis of all the available data indicates that -- after we have subtracted the balloons, papers, distant planes, Venus and the like -- a substantial amount of reliable but unexplained material still remains. This falls into several definite patterns: ovals, disks or other patterns, either shining silver by day or luminous by night. They may appear singly, in clusters or fly in precise geometrical formation. The best-defined patterns of this type have been called the Lubbock Lights, since their best-known appearance was in Lubbock, Texas. They have, however, appeared elsewhere. Next, we have the mysterious balls of green fire. Are they or are they not related to the luminous "Foo Fighters" that occasionally seem to accompany a plane or even engage it in a mysterious sort of shadowboxing? Finally, there are the "ghost" saucers that seem to hover suspiciously around a freshly launched balloon, and rush off at some unprecedented speed -- presumably to report their findings. At least four such ghosts have been reliably reported.
Many of the records refer to some tremendous distance or speed. And here I ask this question: How can an observer on the ground, from a single station and with his eyes alone, give a reliable estimate of all three figures: distance, size and speed? If you think that this is easy, try it sometime -- on the moon, for example.
The reported saucers move at varied angular speeds, either sideways or vertical. Their unknown actual speed depends on how far away they actually are. They may "veer" sharply at any given moment. At times, the images are extremely brilliant. Sometimes, they show a trace of structure, which some observers have associated with "windows" or "portholes" of a space craft.
They move without sound and hence seem to be controlled without any normal forces of power that we would ascribe to a craft on earth. The objects are generally round or oval and bear no resemblance to any known aircraft already built or being built on earth.
But are we justified in reversing these arguments and saying that, since no terrestrial craft could have such properties and since no human beings could withstand the tremendous buffeting that the flying saucers seem to get, the objects must perforce be space ships manned by beings of decidedly nonhuman characteristics? I ask again: Is this sweeping conclusion justified? Or shall we accept temporarily what seems to be a much more reasonable alternative: that the flying saucers are not material objects at all?
The one thing that can respond instantaneously to force is a light beam. You can stand at the foot of a high mountain and with a hand mirror flash a signal from base to peak and back again, a distance of more than 10 miles, in a tenth of a second or less. But, if we see something flashing over cliff and forest with a speed of 100 miles a second or accelerating with a force 1000 times greater than that of gravity, must we conclude that it is a manned craft?
An Optical Phenomenon?
Let us, then, accept as a working hypothesis the idea that saucers may be an optical phenomenon -- though nonetheless real.
To me as a scientist, this was the only course along which to proceed. And the hypothesis that these were optical phenomena, taking place primarily in desert regions, inevitably brought the next logical consideration to my mind.
In the science of atmospherics, there is a well-known condition known as "temperature inversion." It is simple enough. Normally, the air grows colder as one goes farther up from the surface of the earth. But sometimes the reverse is true, and a layer of warm air overlies layers of colder air.
During the war, I was a member and later chairman of the Wave Propagation Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which conducted a series of tests on the desert. We were studying radar images; but light behaves, in many ways, like radar. What we learned about the desert applies as much to light as to radar.
We learned that temperature inversions were, as we had expected, extremely common on the desert. During the day, the desert is extremely hot. At night (or even during the day under certain cloud conditions), the ground rapidly cools off. But the air cools more slowly. Thus, the air cools more quickly where it actually is in contact with the ground, but for some distance continues to get warmer with height. Then, well away from the ground, it begins to become cooler again.
Scientists have long known that regions of the atmosphere wherein the temperature changes rapidly with height can cause a mirage.
Mirage. That is the key to the whole problem of saucers. And, working on that assumption, I have been able to reproduce in the laboratory most of the essential features of the saucers. Much more study, both theoretical and experimental, is necessary before we shall understand this complicated problem in all its details. I am confident, however, that we can eventually produce and observe the phenomenon at about any time we wish to.
Mirage. A mirage is fundamentally an image caused by a lens of air. Since air lenses are almost never perfect, the world we see through them is distorted and unreal. Like seeing through spectacles that do not fit your eyes. Or looking in one of those highly curved mirrors in an amusement park.
And yet you see mirages every day, without really knowing it. As you drive along a highway on a hot day, the dark asphalt in the distance seems to be covered with water -- a film that evaporates as the car advances. This is the ordinary mirage we familiarly associate with the desert: the thirsty traveler, the vision of a receding lake, and only sand. The water, of course, is an image of the sky, projected against the distant landscape. The light rays that produce the illusion traverse a path that is concave upward.
But give us a cool layer of air at the ground, as in the desert at night, and light rays will curve in the reverse direction, following along the surface of the earth.
City Lights Become "Saucers"
Where the daytime mirage projects the image of the sky against the earth, the nighttime desert variety projects the image of the earth against the sky. And hence, if we have distant lights -- such as those of a city -- these lights will appear to float in the sky. Moreover, if the intervening air contains waves or is turbulent to any degree, the lights will appear to move, riding in on the crest of a wave, like ripples of moonlight on the ocean. If the source is a line of distant street lamps, the images appear to fly in formation -- the Lubbock Light phenomenon.
One further property of these temperature inversions serves to emphasize the effect and undoubtedly contributes to the daytime saucers. Daytime inversions are fairly common, but they usually lie higher than the ones that occur at night on the desert. You can often see them -- or at least recognize their existence.
The clear air of the desert and the lack of buildings or of hills, make it possible to see long distances, increase the number of observed events.
In the city, the angle of vision is small and the sky is full of smoke and dust. Thus, even if conditions were perfect for "saucers," fewer would be observed over cities.
In normal air, light from the ground simply spreads out into space. Outside its range, where the earth curves away, there is darkness and no strange phenomena.
With a temperature inversion, light bends in refracting layer of air. A ray of light will thus be seen in areas far distant from its source.
A column of smoke from a distant chimney will sometimes rise smoothly upward and then spread out horizontally to form a thin layer of smoke and haze. This ceiling occurs at the point of highest temperature. Smoke, dust and all kinds of general haze tend to collect in this layer. From below or above, you may not be aware of its existence. But as you pass through it, you see a fine black line extending from horizon to horizon.
On that famous day in June, 1947, when Kenneth Arnold of Boise, Idaho, spotted from his private plane nine distant saucers moving at "fantastic speeds" along the slopes of Mt. Rainier, he may well have been flying not too far from one of these layers of inversion haze. His was the observation that touched off the saucer scare.
Let us turn to the official Air Force release and quote Arnold himself: "I could see their outline quite plainly against the snow as they approached the mountain. They flew very close to the mountain tops, directly south to southeast down the hog's back of the range, flying like geese. I watched for about three minutes -- a chain of saucerlike things at least five miles long, swerving in and out of the high mountain peaks. They were flat like a pie pan and so shiny they reflected the sun like a mirror."
In Arnold's own story, there are several clues that should have pointed out the answer long ago. Anyone familiar with mountains knows that the ridges, where ascending currents of air from opposite sides meet and mix, are subject to the most violent drafts. From the Harvard and University of Colorado observatory at Climax, Colo., I have observed with a telescope the blowing snow on the ridges of 14,000-foot peaks, and have noted the billowing gusts rage along the "hog's back." It is indeed highly probable that the slopes of Mt. Rainier are equally turbulent. And, if their turbulence reaches upward into the haze, the warped layers would reflect sunlight and a progression of moves would make the crests seem to move with phenomenal speed.
And if you doubt whether mere bending or crinkling of a hazy layer could cause the bright reflection, note how a fold of a lace curtain -- or piece of cheesecloth -- similarly reflects the light. The reflection is brightest when the curvature is sharpest. Most daytime saucers are a variant of this phenomenon. The mirage effect is here of secondary importance.
The "ghost" balloons are perhaps the simplest of all mirage phenomena. The balloon itself is responsible. As it "punctures" some fairly high inversion, a large bubble of colder air settles down from above, forming in effect a sort of supermagnifying lens or telescope. This imperfect lens of air forms an image of the balloon. And, as the lens changes its size and shape, the distorted image darts wildly around, with phenomenal speed -- like a reflection of the sun from a hand mirror.
To demonstrate some of these effects -- chiefly those associated with the luminous night saucers -- I prepared a simple laboratory experiment, as follows: I filled a cylindrical jar half full of benzene and carefully floated a layer of acetone on top. Gentle stirring produced a narrow region where the chemical composition changed slowly upward. Benzene has optical qualities analogous to those of cold air and acetone to those of warm air. I thus reproduced in a small space what would ordinarily require miles of terrestrial atmosphere. The liquids produce remarkable effects.
A beam of light, focused diagonally upward from a small slide projector, would ordinarily strike the ceiling. But caught in the "inversion layer," the beam obediently curved downward. Tiny globules of glycerine emulsified in the benzene scattered the light and made the beam visible. The original circular pinhole used in the projector was distorted into an oval shape and clearly marked with some pattern suggesting a surface structure.
Any motion of the liquid -- produced as the result of a rocking -- made the saucer slip about. Turbulence, caused by a delicate stirring of the medium near the light beam, gave dozens of flying disks. The color effects, resulting in part from the glycerine globules, were startling and beautiful. Finally, when I replaced the single pinhole with a row that simulated distant street lights, the resulting images behaved and looked like the Lubbock Lights.
These considerations do not explain everything. The green fire balls are still something of a mystery, though many will prove to be meteors. Prof. Fred L. Whipple of Harvard has called my attention to the fact that the color probably arises from the presence of magnesium in the meteor itself. This metal, well known to be an abundant constituent of the rock meteors, emits green light when incandescent. The reported slowness of motion may be due to great distance, associated with the clarity of the desert skies.
This mirage-phenomena theory includes the flying saucers seen on radarscopes. The same sort of conditions which cause optical mirages cause radar mirages as well, as any radar expert will hasten to tell you. They cause television mirages too. Everyone knows cases where a television station, normally miles out of range, suddenly comes in powerful and steady.
Also, the stress laid on the optical peculiarities of air over deserts should not be misleading. The temperature inversions of which I speak are common over the desert (and over coastal waters) but they are not limited to such areas. They can appear anywhere, and do. A bad smog, for example, is usually a sign of a temperature inversion. But they are more frequent over deserts, which explains in part the fact that saucer reports are more frequent over deserts.
You, too, can have flying saucers in your home. Perhaps not as elaborate as the ones I have just described, but nevertheless adequate to demonstrate some of the effects. You may simulate the gradual bending that causes a mirage by using a sharp reflection at a water surface.
Fill the kitchen sink to the brim and set up a candle or row of candles close to the edge along one side. A box with a series of pinholes illuminated by a light or candle is even better. Now face the lights from the opposite side of the sink, keeping your eye close to the water surface and see the bright reflections. Now have someone gently stir the water and produce waves. The lights will float and travel -- and even show the disklike form characteristic of a reflection from the trough of a wave. One can even reproduce the saucers with light reflected from the surface of coffee in a cup.
As I have said earlier, these experiments are suggestive rather than definitive. More work is necessary to prove the phenomenon. The analysis indicates, however, a clear plan for future study and research. I believe that these experiments will eventually cause the saucer scare to vanish -- most appropriately, into thin air, the region that gave birth to it.
And as promised at the end of Menzel's article, the next issue of Look -- in its July 1, 1952, issue -- featured an article entitled "Hunt for the Flying Saucer", reporting on the very serious approach to the problem being taken by the Air Force...
Above, top: Cover for July 1, 1952 issue of Look magazine, which typically included pictures for each feature inside that particular issue. In the bottom middle of the cover is the illustration for the following article, with the caption: "Flying Saucers - The Hunt Goes On". Middle: First page of article. The caption under the main picture reads: "This map scared the Pentagon. It pinpoints unexplained "flying saucer" sightings across the nation with concentrations near vital defense installations". Bottom: Chart included with article.
Whatever it is,
Fearful of danger from the skies, the United States Air Force is launching a secret scientific search to discover once-and-for-all what is the mysterious, unbelievable thing Americans keep sighting overhead
the Air Force must
HUNT FOR THE FLYING SAUCER
By J. ROBERT MOSKIN
The U.S. Air Force, entrusted with the defense of the United States from the skies, is mounting a new hunt for the mysterious, seen-but-never-caught "flying saucers" which for five years have had Americans excited, baffled and even terrified.
During the past two weeks, Air Force officials have begun experiments to verify the radically new theory of Dr. Donald H. Menzel of Harvard University. This nationally-known astronomer suggested in the last issue of LOOK that flying saucers are actually optical illusions caused by "temperature inversion" which projects images of earthly lights on the sky. This has already proved one of the most exciting explanations of flying saucers offered to the Air Force.
Asked about the Air Force's revived concern over flying saucers, after almost ignoring them for two years, Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, chief of staff, in his first public statement on the subject, told LOOK:
"The Air Force is interested in anything that takes place in the air. This includes the aerial phenomena commonly known as 'flying saucers.' Many of these incidents have been satisfactorily explained. Others have not. With the present world unrest, we cannot afford to be complacent."
The Air Force has collected more than 800 sightings of flying saucers, and reports continue to flow in from our outposts like Alaska and Newfoundland and from our vital atomic installation sites. They are spurring the Air Force to seek answers to the saucer puzzle in a hurry.
This is a job for the detectives of the Air Force, the officers of the Air Technical Intelligence Command, working behind a shield of secret planning and classified documents at heavily-guarded Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton, Ohio. Now for the first time exactly what Air Force Intelligence is doing about flying saucers can be revealed.
As one highly placed intelligence officer put it, "Our job is to detect any weapon that might be used against the United States. In the future, a weapon that 'probably was a meteor' may prove to be a global rocket."
Visual sighting reports can never give Intelligence accurate data on speeds, altitudes, size and composition of the objects seen. To get these facts, a methodical and scientific plan of great breadth has now been blueprinted. It includes these steps:
1. Under ATIC direction, a physicist at the University of California at Los Angeles is developing and testing a special camera to photograph flying saucers. Key to the new apparatus is a defraction grid consisting of a piece of glass etched with infinitely fine lines. Placed over the camera lens, this grid breaks down the image into slivers from which scientists can determine its composition. If the saucers prove to be bodies which glow, the grid will record the material they are made of. If their light comes from a fuel supply or a reflection, the grid will identify the light.
Special camera will test Menzel's theory
Among the first to be tested will be Dr. Menzel's theory that saucers are, in reality, lights bounced upward from the earth's surface. As Dr. Menzel independently suggested, the first defraction-grid cameras will be located in the southwestern U.S., which has had a concentration of saucer sightings. Two hundred cameras will be built and distributed to atomic-plant guards, airbase tower operators and radar men. Pictures will be sped to scientists who will then be able to give the world its first incontrovertible word on flying saucers.
2. Cine-theodolites, the instruments with which the Air Force tracks guided missiles, are also being converted to the hunt for flying saucers. Tracking crews will be able to fix their exact location and movement patterns and then photograph them with cameras built into the theodolites. Equipment and personnel at established guided-missile stations have already been alerted.
Secret Pictures Shot
Theodolites attempted to track saucers on at least three occasions during the spring of 1950 at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. One crew, after completing a guided-missile problem, was closing up shop when it picked up an unexpected object. The crew tracked it but could not fix it because no other instrument was operating. Four weeks later, two tracking crews caught an unexpected image, but checking proved that each had been following a different object. At least eight unknown objects were in the air. Pictures were taken but have not been made public.
3. The Air Force hopes to put radar in the flying saucer hunt on a big scale. Radar sightings have been recorded at key places like Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Goose Bay, Labrador. ATIC can never be certain whether such reports actually stem from a sighted object, weather conditions or equipment malfunctions. By combining existing radar, telescopes and cameras, photographs can be taken of any solid objects spotted in the daytime and of glowing objects at night.
4. Modified Navy sonar sound-detection equipment will be used. The absence of any reported sound is one characteristic of most reports on flying saucers. All known aircraft can be heard even when they are too distant to be seen. This strange pattern led one intelligence officer to suggest, "Someone may have discovered a new type of propulsion."
Flying saucer, shot with special defraction-grid camera, will look like this. Saucer's light (right) breaks down into fine lines from which scientists can figure out where saucers come from.
Whatever results are obtained from the electronic and mechanical genius of cameras, theodolites, radar and sonar the Air Force will place before a special board of scientists. This panel will cut across scientific fields and will be established from among 200 scientists and engineers at a Midwestern research institution already doing secret work.
The brand-new search for original scientific data is the climax of five years of official Air Force knowledge of the saucers. Air Force officers were aware of the phenomena well before they sprang into public print. During World War II, mysterious objects were reported seen over German rocket plants. Flying saucers blossomed into a national and international scare in June, 1947, when Kenneth Arnold of Boise, Idaho, reported sighting nine disks while piloting his private plane over Mount Rainier, Washington. But even 15 days before this nation-rousing event, flying saucers (then called silver balls) were seen over certain rural areas of communist-occupied Hungary.
When flying saucers, after Arnold's report, threatened to cause a national panic, the Air Force grew alert. General Vandenberg, chief of air staff, Army Air Forces, became interested and Project Grudge (first known as Project Sign) was organized. This was a special %34,000 hush-hush project under which reports from all over the world were collected and analyzed for two years.
On January 7, 1948, the death of Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., caused a stir. Captain Mantell was killed chasing an unknown object in his P-51 near Godman Field, Ky. (A drawing of this incident by LOOK artist Leonard Jossel is on the cover of this issue.)
In August, 1949, the Air Force decided to close down Project Grudge. It compiled the data on 375 sightings in a report which asserted that flying saucers did not exist and attributed sightings to "misinterpretation of various conventional objects," mass hysteria, war nerves, hoaxes, hypnosis, illusions, vertigo, publicity stunts and psychopathological persons. [sic, no end quote]
The report gave these reasons to all of the 375 sightings but 34.
These 34, the report said, were "good reports that could not be explained." They still baffle Intelligence today. But the 1949 report put Project Grudge on the shelf.
Some of the scientists consulted did not agree with the Air Force decision. Their recommendation, stated in the report, was that the search be continued. Two scientists felt that no conclusions could be drawn from the evidence.
Then, last October, two intelligence men in the Unconventional Aircraft Group, Aircraft and Propulsion Section, Technical Analysis Division of the Air Technical Intelligence Command, discovered that they had nearly 800 reports gathered in their files -- more than twice the number on hand when the 1949 report was written. Interest and activity spurted forward and have now reached the highest levels of the Pentagon.
Project Grudge was revised (its name was changed to Project Blue Book on March 25 of this year) and in charge was placed 1st Lt. Edward J. Ruppelt of Ames, Iowa, a World War II B-29 bombardier with two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 33 combat missions and a degree in aeronautical engineering from Iowa State College.
Lt. Ruppelt, saucer hunt officer
Project personnel immediately set about studying their 800 sightings. They found that the reports have come from scientists, airline pilots, plain civilians, Air Force fliers, balloon observers and radar operators. Most have come from the United States but others from Russia, Africa, Japan. India, Australia and even Antarctica.
One intelligence colonel put ATIC's feelings bluntly, "These reports came from sincere people. They are not crazy; they are not crackpots. They are seeing something; we have to find out what."
Analysis of the 800 sightings aims at discovering clues about the saucers. The reports have been broken down on 16,000 cross-filed cards and have already been analyzed for frequency of sightings, types of informants and reported shapes. The Air Force now knows, for example, that 18.03 per cent of the reports came from general military personnel, 11.02 per cent from Air Force pilots while aloft. Surprisingly, untrained civilians have been responsible for only 57.08 per cent of the reports over five years.
The Air Force has also learned that 23.54 per cent of the reports noted disk or sphere shapes, 8.25 per cent cigar or rocket shapes, 2.55 per cent flying wings and 0.6 per cent groups of lights.
They also found that 38 per cent could be classified as astronomical bodies, 13 per cent as balloons, 10 per cent as too nebulous to be valuable, 22 per cent as birds and aircraft, etc., 2 per cent as hoaxes and 15 per cent as "unexplained." The unexplained 15 per cent puzzle the Air Force.
ATIC officials permitted me to go through hundreds of these reports. Most of them are rather simple to figure out or are too incomplete to be useful. But the reports called "good, unexplainable" completely stump Air Force Intelligence. Lieutenant Ruppelt says, "We just don't have the facts to know. We don't know enough to sluff them off and we can't reach conclusions. We have to find out."
Ideas Seem Crazy
Useful reports continue to arrive at the rate of 10 per month; all saucer reports received at ATIC total three times that number. The Air Force continues to urge anyone who wants to report an unknown object in the skies to reach the intelligence officer or operations officer at the nearest Air Force base. Such reports are teletyped immediately to Washington and Dayton. All informants' names are kept confidential.
One high intelligence officer explained, "We want all the information we can get all the time. We will consider the seemingly craziest ideas. Someone may spot something important."
To this General Vandenberg added, "The Air Force greatly appreciates the effort of many sincere and public-spirited individuals who have offered their assistance."
Lieutenant Ruppelt keeps 63 sightings on the top of his file. These are the most detailed and most mystifying. They come from pilots, ship observers, an Air Force colonel, civilian scientists, weather observers and intelligence officers. None of these 63 can be identified with any certainty. If the Air Force tosses them off with some easy guess, there is always the fearful chance that they will be missing a dangerous bet.
These sightings were pinpointed on a map. Soon afterwards, it was seen by a Pentagon representative who noted that a number of concentrations duplicated exactly the area of atomic energy installations. The Pentagon man excitedly reported back to his headquarters. A conference was called immediately in Washington.
Do Saucers Spy?
Intelligence had to tell the Pentagon that they had no evidence that the flying saucers are spying on or threatening our atomic program. But this fear still lies deeply in some responsible minds.
One intelligence officer, thinking aloud, said, "This may be Russian reconnaissance but why would they want to risk a weapon like this just to look at Atomic Energy Commission plants. If we could fly 5,000 feet over Russian atomic installations and observe the shapes, sizes and locations of their buildings, we could tell what's going on inside.
"The joker is that just about all of this information has been made public about our atomic work. The Russians don't have to fly over our A-bomb plants."
In their search for an answer, intelligence men have tried, without success, to correlate the unexplained sightings with publicity about flying saucers, increased war tension, tides, or atomic bomb detonations. None of them fits. They offer no pattern, no explanation that satisfies the experts. And long ago, the Air Force gave up the easy idea that all the excitement is just the result of mass hysteria.
Arrangements have now been made for ATIC headquarters to receive immediate word of every new sighting. If early reports, replying to a carefully designed questionnaire, suggest that a trained investigator might gain more facts from first-hand checking, an intelligence officer is sent to the scene. In recent weeks, trips have been made to Minneapolis, New Jersey, Columbus, Chicago, Detroit, Long Island and Texas.
Especially puzzling have been the horizontal-flying "green fireballs" which have been reported at Roswell. N.M.; Falls Church, Va.; Cedar Keys, Fla., and Albuquerque, N.M. Another branch of the Air Force, the Air Research and Development Command, with headquarters in Baltimore and laboratories in Boston, has been studying them in a secret project called Project Twinkle. Although work on this project has been completed, the ARDC refuses to make public its findings. All a spokesman for the ARDC will say is, "We have nothing that proves the existence of flying saucers." But something called "green fire-balls" does exist, many Intelligence officers insist.
Stuck with Mystery
Some Air Force officials feel the inconclusive Project Twinkle report will never be made public; they won't explain why. Some suggest it would expose a foul-up.
The Air Force refuses to jump at any conclusions on saucers. As the colonel in command of the ATIC put it recently, "Sometimes this project sounds like it belongs to the Air Defense Command, sometimes like the National Inventors Council. But we get stuck with the mysteries."
Air Force officers feel the final solution to the flying saucer mystery will be found under one or more of the following headings:
1. Flying saucers can turn out to be misinterpretations of known objects. These have already caused many reports. People sighted balloons. jet planes and such and excitedly called them saucers.
But such misinterpretations cannot explain many of these sightings. Even the most cautious Air Force authorities feel certain that many people are not describing the behavior of any conventional form of aircraft, not even an aircraft on the most experimental drawing boards. No aircraft known, they point out, travels at such high speeds, gives off no noise, and maneuvers with the high acceleration and sharp, even square, turns that have been reported.
Trick of Nature?
2. The mystery may prove to be caused by phenomena of nature or optics. Most promising is the theory proposed by Dr. Menzel that saucers are aerial mirages created by light reflections. Other natural possibilities are: electrical discharges in the upper atmosphere; unusual meteorites, or a new position of the earth in the universe, causing phenomena which mankind has never before experienced and therefore cannot identify.
Lieutenant Ruppelt says, "We expect Dr. Menzel's theory to solve some of these cases. We hope it will solve all of them.
"If the saucers turn out to be natural phenomena, we will drop out and hand the problem over to the scientists. But if they turn out to be 'hostile vehicles' we will keep after them."
3. Saucers could prove to be man-made. They may turn out to be a foreign development, most possibly Russian, although no one will rule out scientifically advanced nations like Sweden, Switzerland, England, France or Italy. Lt. Ruppelt adds, "If these are man-made, whoever is making them is way ahead of us technologically."
Or, although this is constantly and emphatically denied, they may be part of a secret U.S. development project. Intelligence officers admit that if a project were secret enough they would deny even its existence. But an informed intelligence officer said recently, "I'm quite sure there is no secret project. There is more chance that they are from Mars than from a project of ours. But we don't know. This could all be an elaborate cover-up for something no one wants explained, but I doubt it."
Could Be Spaceships
4. Flying saucers could be interplanetary spaceships or missiles. Air Force intelligence men say they are continually astounded by the number of trained scientists who believe they are interplanetary in origin. Lieutenant Ruppelt says he has talked with hundreds of scientists and heard many such theories.
He adds, "We can deal with these things if they are from Russia. If they are from Mars, I don't know what we will do. We have no proof that they could not come from outer space and must include this among our possibilities."
Air Force Intelligence says, whatever the flying saucer is -- mirage, misidentified aircraft, freak of nature, enemy weapon or spaceship -- the Air Force cannot move to counteract it until it has determined accurately what people are seeing. This is the hunt being mounted now.
Lieutenant Ruppelt sums up, "The only conclusion we have come to so far is that 'flying saucers' are not an immediate and direct threat to the U.S. They have been around for five years and haven't struck yet. But that doesn't mean they are not a potential threat."
Then -- less than three weeks following the Look magazine article -- came the spectacular reports of the last two weekends of July, 1952, when the flying discs -- in the form of bright lights -- were simultaneously seen and tracked on radar over Washington, D.C, reviving the classic pro-and-con themes in the debate over the discs' reality.
Over the coming summer, news articles would have Air Force General Roger Ramey sticking to the story that there was nothing to the reports, psychologist Dr. Jesse Sprowls calling it all a matter of "hallucination", astronomer I.M. Levitt proclaiming it all came down to "mirages", Dr. Lincoln LaPaz countering that "these disks are not mirages", the director of Dudley Observatory saying the saucers were "something the United States Government is doing in an experimental manner, or something the Russians are doing", and Dr. Harlow Shapley, director of the Harvard observatory, offering a buffet of hallucination, meteors, balloons, and planes flying through inversion layers to choose from. But to Shapley one reason topped all others. "Hallucination must be placed at the top, because at least half the people who report they have seen flying saucers, never saw anything," he decreed. Meanwhile, from Washington D.C., Air Force press officer Al Chop penned an article stating that "inasmuch as the air defense of the United States is an Air Force responsibility, it has and will continue to receive and evaluate any substantial reports of unusual aerial phenomena."
Nor did the tsunami of opinion ebb there. Major Donald Keyhoe would publicly stand once more for the interplanetary theory, while Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett suggested saucers could be attributed to searchlights. Astronomer I.M. Levitt chimed in once more, amplifying his theory of mirages by saying the saucers were reflections of streetlights upon inversion layers. University of Michigan psychologist Fred Wyatt explained that "everyone wants to see a flying saucer because someone else has said he saw one", while his university colleague John Taylor added that "tiredness may have a direct bearing on what people think they see". Combing the two opinions into one, Northwestern professor of journalism Dr. Curtis MacDougall echoed "people become convinced there are such things as flying saucers or flying disks, look for them in the sky, and consequently think they see them." Bringing in the religious view, Dr. Charles M. Leaming -- pastor of Faith Temple in St. Petersburg, Florida -- assured his flock that the saucers were "God's own warning to the sinful, rebellious, and hard-headed children of Adam."
And though all of the above opinions were published within the first week following the Washington, D.C., reports, such articles would continue apace in the coming months. Breaking through the noise with a reasoned approach to the subject, Pacific Stars and Stripes would give its own take in mid-August.
Above: Two-page spread in the August 13, 1952 edition of Pacific Stars and Stripes. First published during the United States' civil war, it has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and since 1945 in the Pacific. Although an independent media organization, it is authorized by the U.S. Department of Defense and appears on United States military bases across the world.
Tokyo, Japan Pacific Stars and Stripes - 13 Aug 52
Strange Objects In Our Skies
EDITOR'S NOTE: Pacific Stars & Stripes presents here a brief discussion of the series of reports of flying disks and other strange objects in the sky, reported at intervals by observers of varying degrees of repute since 1947. There have been many explanations of the flying saucers but no explanation has been completely satisfactory nor does this discussion pretend to offer the final word.
ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH of "something" over Riverside, Cal., in November of last year was made by Guy Marquand, Jr. Picture has been studied and pronounced authentic but the object shown has never been identified (ACME TELEPHOTO)
By Sgt John McPARTLAND
OUR ENGINEERS and scientists believe we could build a crude spaceship with our present technical abilities. Maybe not a very good spaceship but one that could at least attempt the little voyage to our moon, a quarter-million miles away. The first ones we built might not be successful. But before long the clever, conferring minds of men would build a ship to out to planets of our sun's system and return.
We are in about the same position in respect to spaceships today as were the inventors and tinkerers with the automobile two generations ago or the air-dreamers who were trying to build a flying machine 50 years back.
We think we know how to, but we don't yet know who will pay to build the first spaceship -- unless we are already in fact and in secret attempting to build a space rocket for military use -- and we aren't sure that our first ones would work. As with motor cars and airplanes at the same stage of development, most of our people aren't much interested and what little interest they have is mildly jeering amusement.
OUR SPACE STATION in the sky may be built within a few years. John Carlton of A.P. drew this sketch of a man-made satellite designed by rocket-expert Werner von Braun. While this is not a space-ship the saucer design is evident.
But the important thing is that we now believe spaceships are possible. And if they are possible some other life-form on some other planet may have built them already, may have been using them for thousands of years or may have perfected their first ones only recently.
It is as if we were primitive people living on a great island in the sea. We use canoes and little boats but we have never yet dared the great sea about us with its unknown shores. Recently we have begun to dream about building sea-going ships and now we think we know how to build them. but before we attempt out first one we see white sails on the horizon of the sea. Ships -- big, strange, from an unknown land -- sail into our small harbor. We are excited and a little frightened as we send our canoes paddling out to meet the huge, alien craft. Back in the hills of our island the villagers laugh at the news -- "There can't be any such ships or any land except our island," they say knowingly. But the strange ships are there.
By definition a spaceship is a directed vessel with a source of energy great enough to overcome the force of gravity and to propel it over the millions of miles between the planets or the light-years of distance between the stars. If it is to have living passengers, regardless of their shape or species, it must provide for their safety, comfort, and needs of life.
But there is no reason to expect a spaceship to have living passengers: if it is an "explorer" it can see with camera eyes, hear by microphone and feel by radar, taste and smell by sampling qualitative chemical analysis, recording and remembering all this on film, magnetized wire or in [Illegible] of selectron tubes. An explorer without life but able to outmatch any living thing in its ability to make a complete record of an alien planet.
It is possible that the strange objects in our skies may be spaceships from other planets. Any planet which is bathed in solar energy can sustain some form of life (life is only -- on our earth -- a colloidal organization of solar energy) and we have found no place on our planet too cold, too hot, too dry, or too wet to permit some kind of life to survive. There are even bacteria which live in concentrated sulphuric acid. The life forms of other planets need not be of the carbon-oxygen pattern of the Earth; a silicon-fluorine life form is possible which could endure amazing ranges of heat and cold but which would burst into [Illegible] in the oxygen of our atmosphere.
Our planet's gravity would make Martians unpleasantly heavy and might crush visitors from a moon of Jupiter, but would be about the same as their home planet to life-forms from Venus. Likewise Earth's share of the sun's heat would be searing to Martians, and probably chillingly scant to Venusians. The giant-protein molecules which are our virus disease forms, our bacteria, and our air-borne spores might be deadly destruction to intruders from space, but likewise those intruders might bring parasites that could ravage this Earth with new plagues.
There is no reason to expect the crew of alien spaceships to be even remotely human in shape or in their concepts any more than you would expect life-forms from the bottom of the sea to be human or to think in human terms.
But we believe that we could build spaceships, therefore --
OUR SPACESHIPS are still in the future but the Matador is a step on the ladder to the stars. Its electronic brain is in its alloy belly, and it rides a jet blast for hundreds of miles. Compare this to the first airplane of the Wright brothers less than 50 years ago and then imagine what man may build 50 years from now. Other intelligences may have climbed the ladder into space eons ago.
ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO the Nazis began to build jet and rocket weapons, designed to travel hundreds of miles, at a secret laboratory on Peenemunde island in the Baltic sea.
In the summer of 1944, the first of these long-range missiles -- the pulse-jet V-l, about 15 feet long -- began to fall on London. Later that year the 3000-m.p.h. V-2 rockets began to shoot across the Channel to smash into England. Both of these weapons were comparative failures, costing Hitler more in military production than they gained in military damage, but the so-called rocket experts like Von Braun who produced them are now in the United States and are still fumbling with chemical fuel rockets (because the minor-league German scientists never got far enough to work with atomic power). Some of their beer-and-sausage cousins are in Russia building guided missiles for Stalin. While we are building atomic powered aircraft and atomic powered submarines, these so-called experts are still telling us that atomic power is worthless since the Nazis didn't learn to use it.
WE MOVE toward space ships by gradual stages such as this first pilotless jet bomber, the Air Force's B-61 Matador. Now operational, the Matadors compose the 1st Pilotless Bomber Squadron at the USAF Missile Test Center, Cocoa, Fla. (ACME TELEPHOTO)
Guided missiles are being tested by the United States at Banana River in Florida; at White Sands, New Mexico; at Muroc in California, and out over the Pacific from Point Mugu, just north of Los Angeles. There is no doubt but that some of the "flying saucers" have been guided missiles seen in flight -- the great new Hughes Aircraft guided missiles plant is close to the scene of the "green fire-ball" flurry across the skies of Arizona and New Mexico last spring.
Something that may have been a guided missile crashed into a tank in New Mexico during the green fire-bail epidemic. All that can be said is that there are guided missiles, they can travel at great speed over long distances, and they can be guided in flight by remote control.
There are no known missile test ranges near the Pacific northwest where the first "saucers" were seen five years ago.
WHAT ARE THEY? and where have they come from? Jacque Fresco drew this conception of a transparent metal turret with a series of cambered blades on the disc's surface shown at the top of the page. Thousands of Americans have reported seeing objects similar to this since 1947.
WE WANT TO FEEL SECURE upon our little ball of earth whirling around its yellow star, one of a billion stars in our galaxy, and our galaxy is lost in the infinity of galaxies in space. We have enough problems getting money for beer and putting off the rent without needing to realize that everything we know about life and that everything we hope for in our future could be changed completely and irrevocably in one flashing second as the first alien spaceship landed on the earth.
The Aztecs were proud and mighty people, masters of their world when the ships of Cortez landed. Within ten years there was no Aztec world; two-thirds were dead and those who lived were slaves of the alien Spaniards from a land no Aztec wise man had dreamed existed.
So we say the strange objects in our skies are reflected lights. They are hallucinations. They are practical jokes. Meteors. Weather balloons. Anything but subjects, that cannot be explained by familiar understanding.
Much can be said for these explanations. Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, heading the Air Force's investigation of these reports of strange objects in the sky, says that six years of study has convinced him that there are no spaceships or unknown guided missiles involved; "We are reasonably convinced that they are not material, solid objects. Of 1500 serious reports investigated by the Air Force, only about 300 remain to be explained."
TIME magazine's collection of experts discovered a meteorologist who has advanced a theory that layers of warm air over cold air produce optical reflections of light which look like discs in the sky. LIFE magazine, TIME'S broad-beamed sister, has a collection of experts who indicated in the April 7, 1952, issue that these objects had been verified. It is seldom that LIFE and TIME disagree.
Maybe they are reflected lights or weather balloons. But we humans have won the tournament of the species upon our world and maybe we are ready for a bigger league.
(SUGGESTED REFERENCES: LIFE magazine, April 7, 1952; "The Book of the Damned," Charles Fort; "Conquest of Mexico," Prescott.)
The following month, in its September, 1952, issue, Popular Science would weigh in with its own explanation of saucers as optical illusions...
Popular Science - September, 52
Can you guess which of these kitchen saucers was furthest from Ken Swezey's camera and which nearest when he made this trick picture? Here's a tip: the photo was shot to demonstrate that unless you know the size of an unfamiliar object outlined against the sky, you can't judge its distance, and until you know its distance you can't possibly judge its speed. After making your guess, turn to the end of the story to see the answer.
Ken Swezey Shows You
How to See Flying Saucers
Kitchen-table tricks suggest that those strange sights in the sky may be just optical illusions -- and nothing more.
YOU don't have to stay up all night sky-gazing to catch a glimpse of some flying saucers. You can see them right in your own home, using just a milk bottle filled with water, a flashlight and a few other common gadgets.
Flying saucers that cannot be accounted for as pure hoaxes or as misinterpretations of known objects are not necessarily space-ships or missiles from another world. Dr. Donald H. Menzel, professor of astrophysics at Harvard, declares that they may be mere optical illusions -- akin to mirages and rainbows -- projected into the sky by tricks of light. You can duplicate these tricks on a small scale.
In some cases, the sky phenomena may originate as automobile headlights, searchlights or distant street lights. Striking a layer of warm air above, the rays from these sources are bent downward toward the earth. To an observer on the ground, this bending of the rays makes the light source seem to be overhead.
In other cases, a pilot flying above a warm layer of air sees the light from the sun, a planet or a brightly lighted cloud bent upward. Such a light seems below him. The ghost light might seem to move if its source -- or the observer or the layer of warm air -- moves.
Flying saucers are probably seen most frequently over desert areas because the atmospheric conditions necessary to produce these strange mirages are most common there. During the day, the air and the ground get very hot. At night, and also under certain cloud conditions during the day, the ground cools rapidly by radiating its heat toward the sky. As a result, the air for a few feet up cools off by contact with the cool earth, but the air higher up stays warm.
Because light rays travel faster in light warm air than they do in cold dense air, they are bent back into the cold air whenever they strike the layer of warm air at an angle.
You can't experiment with miles of atmosphere in your home, but you can show the principle by substituting water for the cold dense air and ordinary air for the warm light air, as shown by the illustrations on these pages. -- Kenneth M. Swezey.
You might see flying saucers from the ground as demonstrated here. A square milk bottle containing water is supported high enough so that you can see the underside of the water surface. The beam from a 1/4" hole in cardboard covering the flashlight, aimed at the center of the water surface at an angle from below, is bent downward to the eye of the observer. As a result, the light seems to be coming from above the surface of the water. In the same way, although less abruptly, a warm air surface above cold air could bend back a distant ground light so that from the ground it would look like a saucer in the sky.
Duplicate of the Lubbock Lights was photographed by Swezey with the milk-bottle setup shown at top of page. In this case, a pattern of pinholes was punched in the cardboard covering on the flashlight. Dr. Menzel claims that the flying saucers photographed in the Texas city were probably ghosts of distant street lights turned down by a warm air surface as explained above. Undulations in the surface made them move. Lights viewed through a milk bottle can be made to dance around by jarring the bottle. But how a mirage like this could make such lights travel across the sky has yet to be explained by the experts.
From a plane flying in cold air above a layer of warm air, you might see saucers below you this way. In this case, less water is put into the bottle and a layer of mineral oil is then carefully poured on it. Mineral oil bends light more than water does. When the flashlight beam is viewed as shown in the photo it seems lower than the reflecting surface.
Fluctuations in air density distort light waves. To see this, stand your masked flashlight on one side of a gas range and sight across the unlighted burners as the top photo shows. The lighted hole and background will be sharp and clear, as at [bottom photo, left]. When you light the gas, the waves of irregularly heated air bend the light waves, distorting them as at the right and causing the light to seem to blink on and off and move around. Rapid fluctuations in a warm air surface could also explain why "saucers" seem to dart about. Moreover, irregularities in the reflecting surface might produce extra images from a single source of light.
A lens theory may explain saucers seen darting around at great heights after launching of weather balloons. This theory pre-supposes a layer of warm air sandwiched between two cold layers. Rising balloon punches hole through warm layer, allowing cold air from above to flow into hole and forming a sort of imperfect lens. By holding a small magnifying glass at arm's length toward flashlight, you can see what then happens. Through the glass you see a small image of the light. In the balloon case, the air lens also forms image of balloon. Being smaller, it seems much farther away than the balloon. Changes in the lens shape could cause image to dart about.
A searchlight beam lights up clouds and dust layers because they reflect and scatter the light. The beam itself will be invisible if the air between earth and clouds is clear and dust free. You can see this effect by shining flashlight through bottom of a glass dish containing water to which a little milk has been added (left above). In some cases, what appears to be a flying saucer might be merely a searchlight or headlamp beam sweeping across a cloud layer at night or a reflection of such by a mirror or other polished object on layer [sic] by day. In both cases, the light could cross sky in a fraction of second. A mirror or other reflecting surface could send a beam through the whole journey by moving only half as much as the original light source. The above setup shows how this would work. The "horizon" is a semicircular strip of cardboard set on edge. By rotating the mirror through only 90° you can cause the reflected light to move from horizon to horizon -- or a full 180°.
How trick photo was made. To get the picture [at beginning of article], Swezey enlarged a negative of a saucer various amounts, and mounted these enlargements on the ends of wires. He then photographed the photos. The largest, which seems the closest, was actually the farthest away. Since there is no yardstick to judge speed and distance of flying saucers, speeds attributed to them can be no more than guesswork.
That same September, the Chicago Sun-Times would syndicate to newspapers nationwide an infographic on the subject...
[Click on graphic for full-size version -- opens in separate window.]
The pocket-sized "People Today" magazine was a spiritual forerunner of contemporary magazines like "Star", "Us", and the similarly-named "People". Although its primary focus was on celebrities and cheesecake photos of models and starlets, it also devoted some part of each issue to current events, which in the issue of September 10, 1952, included an article claiming the saucers were manmade -- a blockbuster article covered in many newspapers it came with the imprimatur of the well-respected Dr. Lincoln LaPaz...
Opening pages of article.
FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL
-- REMEMBER THE A-BOMB
They're Ultrasonic Guided Missiles . . . Made in the U.S. And U.S.S.R. too
Oval shape gives missile (above) a "saucer" appearance. Warhead (l.) carries electronic observation devices, controls, destructor charge. A-bomb can easily replace these.
This remarkable analysis, which sheds the first real light on the true nature of the so-called "flying saucers," is the joint work of three PEOPLE TODAY editors who interviewed America's top physicists and military and civilian experts on ultrasonic flight. Their conclusions came independently.
THE flying saucers are real. They are guided missiles -- both American and Soviet. The inescapable conclusion from world-wide reports is that the Red saucers are launched from Atomgrad #3, a heavily-guarded missile center in a barren waste near the Finnish border. Swedish authorities have detected their passage as they hurtled across Scandinavia in a direct line for this hemisphere. Other Red launching sites are in Siberia.
The Soviet missiles are crewless, between 50 and 75 ft. in length, about 14 ft. deep. Rockets provide their main power source but they also carry auxiliary motors, possibly jets. Ovoid in shape, they reach altitudes of 80-100,000 ft., attain speeds in excess of 2,500 mph.
Loaded with cameras and electronic observation devices, the missiles seem to have but one mission at present -- to reconnoiter U.S. atomic and military installations. They could as easily carry atomic warheads.
Saucers Launched From Atomgrad #3 Are Guided To Target. Areas By Red Subs Posted North Of Regular Shipping Lanes. Specially Designed Russian Submarines ... Can Carry and Launch Own Rockets.
The Soviet missiles are remote-controlled. Red submarines, posted strategically in a chain across the Atlantic (see map) are equipped with electronic monitor boards to guide the missiles through each sub's "control area." Thus, a missile originally launched on a course that would place it over Washington, D.C., may be diverted by a sub off Nova Scotia (where unidentified subs have been reported) to a course aimed at the Brookhaven Laboratories on Long Island, close to Manhattan.
The Red saucers need not return to base to deliver their reconnaissance data. Their findings, including aerial photos, automatically beamed to a sub or other secret station, are reproduced and delivered to intelligence headquarters in Moscow. To prevent its falling into non-Red hands, each missile carries a high-explosive destructor charge which can blow it to bits the instant a button on the sub is pressed.
The Soviet long-range snorkel submarine program for guided missile work was reported by Allied intelligence as far back as '48. These subs, developments of the German type XXVI, which had a 1,160 ton displacement, can cruise underwater at the phenomenal speed of 24 knots and remain submerged indefinitely.
For 36 months the U.S. has been working frantically to keep ahead of Russia in the guided missile field. Dr. Karl Compton, one of the nation's great scientists, has envisioned huge crewless missiles screaming through the ionosphere at 6,000 mph. Said Dr. Compton in 1949:
"...the picture of smashing a vital electronic development on the outskirts of Moscow from a launching pad somewhere in the United States is not pure fantasy."
Today, U.S. Rockets are being launched from the Joint-Services proving grounds on Cape Canaveral in Florida. These rockets carry electronic devices, can carry atomic warheads. Should one go out of control, a scientist at the base hits the "destructor button" on his control board and an explosive charge in the rocket blows it up.
Russian work on huge rockets began long before German. In 1903, Dr. K.E. Ziolkovsky completed 10-year study of rocket possibilities -- even space travel. Later, Soviet sponsored him in secret work; Stalin honored him in 1932. Grasping future importance of rockets, Reds set up 2 research centers in 1920, by 1936 were building rocket to ascend 70 miles. Today, Reds are planning artificial satellite.
Military authorities will admit that flights of as long as 500 miles have been made by these guided missiles over the Caribbean. Reports of saucers and other mysterious "objects" sighted in this area frequently refer to these missiles. Our officials aren't worried about these reports. They are jolted, however, by the 400-odd "unexplained" saucers and fireballs which have criss-crossed our skies, appearing in their biggest concentrations over vital atomic and defense centers.
"Of course flying saucers are real," declared a regular U.S. Air Force officer stationed in New Mexico. "They are not mass delusions. Don't be sucked in by denials in publicity used to cover up AF investigations. Flying saucers are regularly seen over Los Alamos . . ."
Many "saucer" facts can be pieced together by careful reading of press which often tries to spoof phenomena. Left: An admission that some "saucers" are actually U.S. guided missiles. Center: Dispatch locating site of Atomgrad #3. Right: British develop missile that can do own "thinking."
During WW II, U.S. pilots in Europe and in the Pacific reported glowing globes, mostly green, which followed their planes at fixed distances, made no hostile moves. They just "seemed to watch," pilots reported. Intelligence took the matter seriously.
In 1945, following detailed reports by B-29 crews flying missions over Honshu, the 21st Bomber command's intelligence officers decided that the fireballs were remote-controlled guided missiles.
Recently, fireballs have been seen over Korea, Alaska and the southwest U.S. The Pentagon is particularly disturbed because they resemble American developments which were considered exclusive and top secret.
Man-made meteors, attaining speeds of some 17,000 mph, are produced by Dr. John Rinehart (l.) and associates at the Navy Guided Missiles Center in the Mojave Desert. The artificial meteors are small pellets of various metals, propelled by a top secret "gun," probably a specially shaped explosive charge. High-speed cameras study them in flight. Purpose: To determine best shapes and materials for rockets, guided missiles.
Attempts to pass the fireballs off as meteors were spiked by Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, head of the Institute of Meteorics [sic, should be meteoritics] at the Univ. of New Mexico. "I have never seen a natural meteor with the characteristics of the yellow-green fireballs," he told PEOPLE TODAY. "Meteors blow up with a loud explosion. These disintegrate with complete absence of sound. sightings here and in Scandinavia lead me to believe that fireballs and the so-called saucers may be guided missiles -- some possibly ours, some possibly Russian. In any case, they are Earth-born.
"It is possible that the yellow-green fireball is not the missile itself but the remaining part of a missile in the final phase of self-destruction. It does not explode -- it simply evaporates in a flash of light."
Said Dr. LaPaz: "Compare the saucers with the atomic bomb. If someone had asked a Manhattan Project official for an explanation of the brilliant mushroom of light at Alamogordo, he would have received a blank stare and been told that no such thing had ever happened."
In late September, the well-connected national columnist Robert S. Allen penned a piece revealing jaw-dropping information -- likely leaked to him directly from a saucer-believing source at the Pentagon. The following is as printed in the September 26, 1952 edition of the Alton, Illinois, Evening Telegraph...
The Pentagon building, circa late 1940s-early 1950s.
Robert S. Allen Reports
Flying Saucers Real?
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 -- The Air Force has a breathtaking report on "flying saucers."
The study, prepared by noted scientists and Air Force experts, expresses the belief that some of the mysterious flying objects are genuine and that they originate from "sources outside of this planet."
That is, these devices are inter-planetary aircraft of some kind.
The Air Force document contains two other sensational findings. In some instances, flying objects that have been sighted were actually secret U.S. missiles undergoing tests. Russia is profoundly mystified and worried by "flying saucers" and strongly suspects they are a new U.S. weapon. The Kremlin now has four different investigations underway in an effort to discover the identity and source of the strange devices.
The Air Force study is based on more than 1,800 sightings in the past five years.
One important point stressed in the report is that the most authoritative and detailed sightings come from atomic plants and military bases and research centers.
These highly significant sightings number around 20 per cent of the total reported.
Following is a list of the location of the most important of these sightings:
New Mexico -- Los Alamos and White Sands atomic plant and testing grounds. Albuquerque and the Holloman, Kirtland and Walker airbases.
Tennessee -- Oak Ridge atomic plant, Knoxville and Dickson airbase.
Arizona -- Williams, Davis-Monthan and Luke airbases.
Alabama -- Maxwell airbase.
Illinois -- Scott and O'Hara [sic] airbases.
New Hampshire -- Grenier airbase.
New York -- Mitchell airfield.
Mississippi -- Airbases at Jackson, Keesler and Biloxi.
Michigan -- Selfridge airfield.
Massachusetts -- Westover airfield.
North Carolina -- Chapel Hill and Pope airfield.
South Carolina -- Spartanburg and airbase at Greenville.
Texas -- Kelley and Randolph airfields and other bases at Carswell and San Marcos.
Washington State -- Mount Rainier, Mount Jefferson and McChord airbase.
Oklahoma -- Tiker airbase, and Norman.
South Dakota -- Airbase at Rapid City.
Ohio -- Air Force research center at Dayton, and Lockbourne airbase.
The sensational study is the work of the Air Technical Intelligence Center, Wright Patterson Airbase, Dayton, O. A number of top scientists are devoting their full time there analyzing reports on flying objects. Their activities are so secret the Air Force will not permit the publication of their names.
In fact, no one connected with the project or the report would permit his name to be used.
However, Air force authorities are considering publishing certain portions of the report. Chiefly detering [sic] them is fear the sensational nature of the findings may cause undue public alarm.
These findings were described by a high Air Force official as "fantastic but true."
Commenting on the recent flurry of "fireball" reports, Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, noted head of New Mexico University's Institute of Meteoritics, said, "Sightings here and in Scandinavia lead me to believe that fireballs and so-called flying saucers may be guided missiles, possibly ours or possibly Russian. In any case, they are earth-born."
Meanwhile, in England, it was revealed that the Air Ministry was also treating the problem seriously, as divulged in the September 28, 1952, edition of the London, England, Sunday Dispatch...
Above: June, 1952, image of the Air Ministry building in London.
Now It is Disclosed --
FOR years the British public has been led to believe that the R.A.F. has regarded " flying saucers" as a joke. The "Sunday Dispatch" can reveal today that on the contrary, ever since the first "saucer" was reported in 1947 the R.A.F. has been operating a hush-hush investigation bureau in London.
RAF Has Probed 'Flying Saucers' For Five Years
By Sunday Dispatch Reporter
A staff of technical experts -- mostly commissioned officers under the direction of a wing commander - are analysing every report of a flying saucer over British territory.
Though the exact location of the flying saucer investigation bureau -- known at the Air Ministry as the D.D.I. (Technical) Branch -- is secret, I can reveal it occupies rooms in a building, formerly an hotel, not five minutes' walk from the Air Ministry in Whitehall.
The building is closely guarded. No one is allowed in without a pass.
To this office will come this week detailed reports of the mysterious "something in the sky" which burst into "Exercise Mainbrace " last week-end.
Intelligence officers at Topcliffe aerodrome, Yorkshire. interrogated the two R.A.F. officers and three aircrew who, as reported in the. Sunday Dispatch, said they saw a silvery-white object chasing a Meteor jet coming in to land.
Detailed statements by the men will be closely examined for clues to the mystery. Preliminary investigation has left experts baffled.
"Till the experts have made a thorough investigation," an Air Ministry official told me yesterday, "it is impossible to do more than guess.
"Our experts will examine this report in the same way as they have been examining every similar report of objects seen in the sky which are not aircraft and which are generally referred to as flying saucers.
"The Air Ministry examines closely every serious report of a flying saucer."
Coronet magazine had a unique niche in the periodical market -- focusing as much (or more) on its illustrations than it did on the articles themselves. One classic example of this approach could be found in its November, 1952, issue in an article on the flying saucers...
Above: Cover for the November, 1952, issue of Coronet in which the following illustrated article appeared.
Coronet Magazine - 1 Nov 52
Myth Or Menace?
By Lawrence Elliott
IT ALL BEGAN on a sparkling day in 1947. Businessman Kenneth Arnold, flying his plane past Mt. Rainier, saw a strange line of disc-like aircraft sweeping by with incredible speed and in perfect formation. They looked like flipped saucers in flight, he said later. Soon, the nation was deluged with reports of other unaccountable objects in the sky. Some called it mass hallucination. Others were sure the craft came from another world. There has, as yet, been no definitive explanation. So far, the answer lies hidden in the vast, trackless sky above.
It first appeared over Madisonville, Kentucky, in the early afternoon of January 7, 1948. State police called Fort Knox: "One of those flying saucers just flew over, headed in your direction." A few minutes later a lookout at nearby Godman Air Base spotted a red glow in the sky. It was then that Capt. Thomas Mantell got the order that sent him to his doom: "Investigate!" Roaring up to 18,000 feet, the pilot reported: "It looks metallic . . . of tremendous size." Then: "I'm going up to 20,000 feet . . ." That was his last message. Later in the day his shattered plane was found near Fort Knox. The Air Force guessed that Mantell had chased the planet Venus into the sky until he blacked out. But what of the other officers at Godman who had seen the "thing"? And wouldn't an experienced flier have recognized the oncoming effects of oxygen blackout, and descended? What was it, then, that killed Mantell? Fifteen months after his death came the official report: "The mysterious object . . . is still unidentified."
On January 22, 1948, the Air Force assigned technicians to probe into some 270 saucer-sightings. On October 1, 1948, Lt. George F. Gorman pursued a light through the skies until it finally eluded him at 14,000 feet. On December 26, 1949, a balloon expert averred that the flying discs bore observers from the planet Venus. on December 27, the Air Force terminated Project Saucer, attributing the sightings to "a mild form of mass hysteria." The very next day, residents of Hamlet, North Carolina, spotted another odd-shaped craft in the sky. By now, the whole nation was asking: Are the saucers real? Where in the world -- or out of it -- do they come from? One group insisted that atomic explosions had disturbed a lost race of men who lived in Polar caves. These underground men, flying magnetically controlled craft, were trying to discover what had set the earth a-tremble. And even as people gasped at theories that dwarfed even the most lurid science fiction, new saucer reports poured in -- and new theories poured out.
Soon, the inevitable question arose -- could it be that the saucers came from Russia? Leo Bentz, a pioneer auto-builder, came forth with an answer: Almost 20 years before, he had witnessed a secret demonstration of crude, saucer-like craft. Their designer? An inventor named George De Bay, who had made detailed blueprints for space ships that would skip through the air like a flat stone. Where was De Bay now? No one knew, but Bentz made an ominous guess: "It is my belief that George De Bay went to Russia before the war and is still there." Instantly, a storm of controversy arose: "The Russians are using saucers to ferret out our deepest military secrets," said some. "If the Russians did have such a craft," replied others with heat, "they certainly would not be foolish enough to fly it over the U.S. and risk it falling into our hands if it crashed." In the end, the consensus was that the Russians were hardly equipped to have made such radical aeronautical progress, and men of science turned to other theories.
Between Earth and the planet Venus, some now said, seven mysterious "planes" travel through space. One of them, according to the Borderland Science Research Associates, is Etheria. Until now its very existence has eluded ordinary scientific investigation. Only when atomic blasts on Earth attracted their attention, did the Etherians evidence interest in us. In space ships whose outer skin was wrought of a metal tougher than steel, they flew along magnetic lines of force into the atmosphere of Earth. We saw their craft at night as flashing fire balls of red and green. We saw them by day as discs that flew at incredible speeds and executed fantastic maneuvers. Troubled and confused, we dubbed them Flying Saucers and went to weird lengths to explain their existence. We failed utterly to recognize the truth. Such is the elaborately worked-out theory of the Borderlanders. Does it hold up? Until there is a definitive report on the saucers, the Etherians can appeal to our credibility as well as anyone -- or anything.
Midway through 1950, new coals were heaped on what had developed into a nationwide debate. In a book called Behind the Flying Saucers, author Frank Scully took a stand, not on the shifting sands of theory but on what he claimed to be the hard ground of fact. Quoting an anonymous scientist, Scully described the eye-witnessing of a grounded saucer -- as well as its crew of 16 -- deep in the New Mexican desert. Its occupants were men no taller than 42 inches, who wore dark blue uniforms. They were all dead. The craft was 99.9 inches in diameter and had a cabin 72 inches high. All other measurements were divisible by nine. It bore radios no larger than a cigarette package, no weapons, and was covered with a tough, heat-resistant metal. Later, the same scientist saw three other such craft. Where did they come from? The unnamed observer was certain that the answer was Venus. Was there any reason to believe that Scully had daydreamed his fantastic story? To date, no one has disproved any part of it.
The sightings continued unabated. On the evening of April 27, 1950, Capt. Robert F. Manning, veteran TWA pilot, spotted a fiery red ball in the sky. Puzzled, he nudged his copilot, Robert Adickes: "What do you make of that?" Adickes looked, reached for his microphone and called Chicago: "Ask ATC if there's any traffic near us?" Back came a negative answer. Quickly Adickes alerted the passengers, while Manning tried to sneak up on the mysterious red craft. It was no use. No matter which way he turned, the fast-flying disc eluded him and, in the end, simply vanished into the night. When they landed, the fliers made a full report: never before had a saucer-viewer been solidly backed by 21 witnesses. Now the nationwide sightings reached a peak. Fireballs, discs and projectile-like flames were reported over areas as widely separated as New Mexico, Alaska and Korea. And more than one amateur photographer had an enduring pictorial record of what many persisted in referring to as mass hysteria.
Reporters crowded into the summer White House at Key West. A magazine had just revealed that the flying saucers were really a revolutionary aircraft, and word had gotten around that President Truman would make a statement. Was the mystery solved at last? Into the room strode a press secretary: "Gentlemen, the President has asked me to tell you that he knows nothing of any flying saucers being developed by this or any other country. We know nothing to support these rumors." Immediately a new flood of theories was unleashed: if the saucers weren't ours, that proved they came from another planet; they were really weather balloons; according to a respected astrophysicist, they were "optical ghosts," caused by a displacement of warm air. Whatever they are, sightings are constantly being reported -- even on radar screens. Hidden somewhere in the skies from which the saucers come and into which they vanish, lies the answer. Some day soon, the truth may break in the greatest news story of all time.
In the same way that Kenneth Arnold is remembered as "the man who started it all", True magazine and Major Donald Keyhoe can be said to be the magazine and the man that started it all again. It had been True magazine that in January, 1950 -- by way of Keyhoe's article titled "The Flying Saucers Are Real" -- had shocked the public with the revelation that there was a serious and sober case to be made, based on an in-depth examination of the detailed accounts of highly-credible witnesses, for the reality of the flying discs. In December, 1952, True and Keyhoe teamed up once more to examine the early-summer sightings over Washington, D.C., bringing a fitting close to the events of 1952.
Above: Cover for the 1967 Issue 1, Volume 1 of The True Report on Flying Saucers which reprinted, in slightly edited form, the Keyhoe article from True's December, 1952 issue.
[Note: The following transcript is a "merged" version from several websites and could not be completely textually verified against the original by Saturday Night Uforia. However it was compared also against a 1967 True Magazine reprint in the possession of Saturday Night Uforia, which had been edited down from the original. As such, possible errors indicated by a [sic] notation may be in the original or may have been introduced in the transcription process by those who had access to the original.]
What Radar Tells About Flying Saucers
U.S. Air Force and civilian radar experts know enough about temperature inversion to be sure that it doesn't explain the strange objects they've seen on their scopes in Washington, and in other places. And the official Air Force gun-camera photos reproduced here for the first time back them up.
by Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe (Retired)
In a new investigation of the flying saucers, TRUE Magazine has secured Air Force confirmation of these important facts:
1. Since 1947, hundreds of unidentified aerial objects have been tracked by radar operators of the Air Force, Navy and Civil Aeronautics Administration.
2. More than 300 times, Air Force interceptor planes have chased mysterious lights and unidentified objects revealed by radar scopes.
3. Strange round objects have shown on interceptors' gun-camera pictures and on photographs from the ground at a missile testing range.
4. The "temperature inversion" or "mirage" answer to radar sightings widely publicized by Dr. Donald H. Menzel of Harvard has failed to satisfy Force investigators because he has not attempted to explain any specific "saucer" cases in official files.
Hovering object that was scanned by radar and seen by ground watchers was caught on film by a climbing jet pilot. These unretouched 35 mm. gun-camera movie frames, released to TRUE by the Air Force, were taken at 30,000 feet, near Wright Field, at 11 a.m. on August 20, 1952.
In December 1949, when an Air Force statement said saucer reports were hoaxes, hallucinations, or mistaken observations of normal objects, the case lists of "Project Saucer" included several puzzling radar reports. At that time, however, most Air Force officials believed they were errors of interpretation due to weather phenomena. Even during the past year, with radar reports rapidly increasing, some Air Force officers still believed these disturbing cases were caused by temperature inversion.
Accumulated evidence, revealed in this article, now proves that very few of the reports can thus be explained. As a result, many baffling "saucer" cases investigated by the Air Technical Intelligence Command are still listed as unanswered.
The most recent of these mystifying incidents was reported from Congaree Air Base near Columbia, South Carolina as this was being written. On August 20, 1952, radar operators at a nearby interceptor post were watching their scope when a strange "blip" appeared at an indicated range of 60 miles southeast.
Evidently the object shown was very fast-moving, for within less than a minute each successive sweep of the beam renewed the blip in a different position, producing a row of widely spaced spots on the phosphor-coated glass in a track that ran off the scope. Dumbfounded, the men hurriedly computed the speed.
It was more than 4,000 miles per hour.
The operators realized that to flash an alarm was useless. Moving at 70 miles a minute, the mysterious object would be 200 miles away before a jet interceptor could take off.
When I checked on this case, the Air Force made no attempt to gloss over the facts. The operators were experts, trained to recognize the blips of solid objects. The radar was working correctly. Something streaked through the skies that morning, but the Air Technical Intelligence Command frankly admits it has no explanation.
There are other unexplained Air Force cases almost as incredible, such as the tracking of an unidentified object at 1,700 m.p.h. near Kirksville, Missouri, and vain pursuits by jets at Dayton and St. Paul. (These and other important cases released to TRUE by the Air Force will be discussed in detail later.)
Not until last July, when unidentified lighted objects were seen at Washington Airport, did the general public learn that radar was tracking the saucers. Later, conflicting news stories gave many the impression that the Air Force had "debunked" all saucer reports and had no further interest. Major General Roger S. Ramey, Director of Operations, made the Air Force position clear in the following statement for TRUE:
"The Air Force, in compliance with its mission of air defense of the United States, must assume responsibility for investigation of any object or phenomena in the air over the United States. Fighter units have been instructed to investigate any object observed or established as existing by radar tracks, and to intercept any air-borne identified as hostile or showing hostile interest. This should not be interpreted to mean that air defense pilots have been instructed to fire haphazardly on anything that flies."
The Air Force attitude was amplified for me by another spokesman in this candid statement:
"We don't know what these things are and there's no use in pretending we do. We can't discount entirely that they may come from another planet, though we have no evidence to support it. We have found no threat to this country -- there is not the slightest evidence that they come from a foreign nation -- but until we know the answers we shall carry on a serious investigation."
Unfortunately, public confidence in radar has been badly shaken. Many Americans still believe that the Washington radar men, veteran air traffic controllers, were tricked by atmospheric conditions. The same cause was said to have created mirage lights in the sky, deceiving airline and jet pilots, control-tower men, and other trained and experienced observers.
If this were so, serious problems in air traffic control would certainly have to be solved. But the true story behind the Washington sightings has never been told until now. To get that story, I spent considerable time at the Airway Traffic Control Center at Washington Airport. I talked with the controllers who saw the strange blips and also with outside radar experts, Weather Bureau officials and radio astronomers. The final answer is startling in its implications.
Saucer spots played among markers used by controllers to direct airliners on Washington traffic-center radar scope.
Air Force radarmen learn to identify all normal phenomena.
From a controller's original sketch, some saucer movements July 20 on Washington radarscope are diagrammed above. At (A), seven blips appeared suddenly. Two moved (B) near White House, one near Capitol. At (C), one fled a north-westbound airliner (indicated by row of blips). Later (D) ten flocked at Andrews Field. (E) illustrates a saucer's right-angle turn compared with curving turn of ordinary aircraft.
The action began at 12:40 a.m. on the night of July 20. At midnight, eight air traffic controllers, headed by Harry G. Barnes, took over the watch at the Washington Center. The night was clear, traffic was light and the men settled down for a routine watch.
To understand the queer events that followed, you must first have a clear picture of the Center's operations. The Center is located entirely apart from the airport tower, which directs take-offs and landings and close-in traffic. The radar room of the Center is a long dimly lit chamber, darkened so scopes can be easily read. Its radar equipment, by which controllers have guided thousands of airliners through fog and storms, is an M.E.W. (Microwave Early Warning) type similar to the sets used by the air-defense forces.
On a nearby hill, a huge parabolic antenna, rotating six times per minute, transmits a narrow radio beam which swings around the horizon. When the beam strikes a plane, an "echo" or "return" is reflected back. Amplified, this appears as a small spot or "blip" on the face of a cathode-ray scope. The Center's main scope, 24 inches in diameter, has a pale lavender glow. Traveling around the glass, like a glowing clock hand, is a purplish streak called the "sweep" which shows the direction of the moving radio beam.
As the echo comes back from a cruising airliner, a small round violet blip appears on the scope. At that spot, the phosphor coating of the glass maintains a diminishing glow. Every ten seconds, a new blip appears, showing the plane's changed position. The glass retains seven blips before the first one fades out. From the position of the blips and the space between them, the plane's course and speed can be seen at a glance, also its location, distance and compass bearing.
Besides the main scope, which is adjusted to show traffic within a 34-mile radius -- a 68-mile circle -- the Center operates two smaller console scopes which show the transmitter's full range of 105 miles, or a circle 210 miles in diameter.
Radar scopes show other things than planes in the sky -- irregular blobs are reflected from thunderstorms, thin spotty blips from flocks of birds, spreading blotches caused by rain or snow clouds.
Very-high-frequency radar sets can pick up even cobwebs or clouds of nearby insects. But these do not appear on the M.E.W. scope, nor would their echoes resemble the clear, sharp blip of a plane. There are two known things which can cause somewhat similar echoes -- balloons especially equipped with large panels of metal for radar tracking, and "chaff" or "window," which are strips of aluminum foil dropped by military planes to jam radar sets. The presence of either is indicated by their drift at the speed of the wind. Strips of chaff, usually dumped by the hundreds, cause heavy returns which trained radar men can easily recognize. In addition, chaff falls to the ground, so that its blips soon disappear.
On the night of July 20, none of these things were involved, as an Air Force check has proved. The scope was clear of any strange objects until 12:40. At that moment, seven round blips, like those of planes, suddenly appeared in the southwest quadrant. Since no group of planes -- military or civilian -- was due to arrive, the Control Center men were immediately concerned. Harry Barnes, the senior controller, tracked the unknown visitors at 100-130 m.p.h. -- a speed oddly low compared with their swift appearance.
Barnes quickly checked the consoles; both scopes showed the strange blips. He called in radar technicians; they found no flaw in the set or antenna. Worried, though the low speeds didn't indicate Soviet bombers, he called the Washington Airport tower. To handle local traffic, the tower has a separate set, an A.S.R. (Airport Surveillance Radar) with a 30-mile range.
Tower operators Howard Cocklin and Joe Zacko both reported the strange blips on their scope, and in the same position. So did Air Force radarmen at Andrews Air Force Base, which uses an A.S.R. set. Not only that, visual observers at both points could see mysterious lights moving in the sky.
Flashing word to Air Defense, Barnes turned back to the scope. The unknown visitors had separated, were now over Washington, two near the White House, one close to the Capitol.
A few minutes later, the controllers bending over the scope got a new jolt. One blip track showed an abrupt 90-degree turn, something no plane could do. As the sweep came around, another of the strange objects suddenly reversed -- its new blip "blossoming" on top of the one it bad previously made. The unknown craft, or whatever it was, had stopped dead from over 100 m.p.h., then completely reversed direction -- all in about five seconds.
"Then we noticed another strange thing," Barnes told me later. "Some blips suddenly disappeared, between sweeps. I couldn't explain, until Jim Ritchey called 'Casey' Pierman to check on one group of the things."
Captain Pierman, flying a Capital airliner, had just taken off from Washington. In a few moments he radioed back that he saw a bright light where the scope showed one of the objects. At the very instant he called the Center, the object raced off at terrific speed.
"It was almost as if whatever controlled it had heard us, or had seen Pierman head toward it," said Barnes. "He said it vanished from sight in three to five seconds. But here's the important point: at that very moment, the blip disappeared from the scope.
"That means it must have raced out of our beam between ten second sweeps. It could have done this in one of two ways: First, it could make a steep climb at terrific speed, so that in ten seconds it would be above the vertical area swept by our M.E.W. set. (The beam's average altitude, at its highest point, is from 35,000 to 40,000 feet, far out, but it is much less near the airport. At 30 miles, it is about 8,500 feet, sloping to 1,200 at three miles.) Second, it could race horizontally off our 34 mile scope within ten seconds."
Considering the objects' relative position, just before they vanished, this last would require a speed of from 5,000 to 7,000 m.p.h. At the time, this seemed unbelievable to Barnes and the other controllers. But Captain Pierman later confirmed the objects' tremendous speed.
"They'd go up and down at terrific speed, or streak off and disappear. Between Washington and Martinsburg, we saw six of these fast-moving lights. (Control Center radar showed them at the same position.) I don't know what they were, but they weren't shooting stars."
Another confirmation of the visitors' incredible speed came later that night, from the Washington tower. Operator Joe Zacko had been watching the A.S.R. scope when one of the mystery objects abruptly appeared just west of Andrews Field. Unlike the slower M.E.W., the A.S.R., with its 28-r.p.m. antenna, can track extremely high speeds. As Zacko watched, fascinated, the blips made a bright streak or trail, heading north- northeast toward Riverdale. Then the trail ended as swiftly as it had come.
Howard Cocklin, hastily called over by Zacko, also saw the bright trail. Together they figured the object's speed from its trace.
It had been making two miles per second -- 7,200 m.p.h.
"It was as if it had descended rapidly, almost vertically," Cocklin told me later. "That would bring it suddenly into the A.S.R. beam area. It seemed to level off for those few seconds, and then abruptly ascend out of the beam again."
Barnes and his men saw another significant maneuver that night. When they vectored a pilot toward one of the lighted objects, the strange blip disappeared. Then in a few seconds it reappeared behind the plane. Barnes commented, "If it was the same one -- and I think it was -- that was another of those high speed vanishing acts between sweeps."
(The same maneuver was reported from Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, on July 29. On this occasion a mysterious disk sighted by numerous ground observers was seen to whip around at terrific speed behind jet planes sent up to intercept it.)
At 3 a.m., two Air Force jets, brought in from another mission, roared down over Washington. Just before they arrived, all the strange blips left the scope. Coincidence or not, as soon as the jets headed back for their base, the visitors reappeared and again swarmed over Washington. One, simultaneously plotted by the Center, Andrews Field, and the Washington tower, followed an airliner to within four miles of the airport, as the pilot watched its light. At one time, ten of the "saucers" were over Andrews Field, then at daybreak they were gone.
The shaken controllers, for the most part, agreed they had tracked solid objects capable of fantastic maneuvers.
"I'm positive they were guided by some intelligence," Barnes has since told me. "If no planes were in the air, the things would fly over the most likely points of interest -- Andrews Field, the aircraft plant at Riverdale, the Monument, or the Capitol. One or two circled our radio beacons. But as soon as an airliner took off several would dart across and start to follow, as if to look it over."
On July 26, in the early evening, an eerie red lighted object flashed over Key West, Florida. A destroyer-escort quickly put to sea, and the Navy announced it would try to find the answer. Then official silence fell.
That same evening at 9:08 p.m., the Washington Center, still jittery, had another call from its unknown visitors. Again, the control tower and Andrews Field radar confirmed the blips. As before, the mystery objects hovered, made sharp turns, reversed, and vanished from scopes. Pilots, too, and ground observers watched the lights race off.
Of four pilots who saw the fast moving lights, one was flying a jet interceptor. This pilot, Lieutenant William L. Patterson, on seeing four lights, went after one at full throttle.
"I was at my top speed," he said on landing, "but I couldn't close in." His plane's maximum speed was better than 600 m.p.h.
When the story of these weird events broke, combined with full details of the July 20 sightings, the Air Force was flooded with demands for an explanation. Reluctantly, since Air Technical Intelligence at Dayton had not even begun its evaluation, Air Force officials in Washington released a public statement: since some radar reports were due to temperature inversion, this might explain the Washington sightings, including the odd lights.
Until then, few people except scientists, radar men and Weather Bureau experts had ever heard of inversions. In itself, a temperature inversion is a simple effect.
Ordinarily, air gets colder as the altitude increases, but under certain conditions there may be layers of warm air with cooler air underneath. Such inversions are common on the desert. At night, or when clouds suddenly shadow the hot ground, the surface quickly cools off. Air in contact with the ground also cools fairly quickly, but above this there is still a warm layer, its height and thickness varying with conditions. On top of this warm layer, the air becomes cool again, increasingly with altitude.
Since light moves slower in a denser medium, its rays are refracted, or bent, as they pass from the warm to cold air. It is this which causes "lake" mirages on deserts, or a watery sheen that appears ahead as you drive on a heated road. In both these cases, the hot cold [sic] layer refracts light waves from above the horizon, and these "bent" waves are simply reflecting the sky.
A spoon in a glass of water also illustrates the principle of refraction. Seen from a certain angle, the spoon appears to be bent sharply -- a result of the different densities of air and water.
Like light, radar waves move slower in denser medium, and are bent by refraction. Under certain conditions, this can be caused when the waves strike layers of air with different temperatures.
According to Dr. Donald H. Menzel, of Harvard University, this effect explains many flying saucers, both the lights and radar blips. It is Menzel's belief that observers have merely seen reflections, either of ground lights -- or of stars, the moon, or the sun. In the same way, he says, radar "saucers" are simply ground objects picked up by deflected radar beams and shown on scopes as strange blips.
The apparent high speed and violent maneuvers, he explains, can be caused by reflections of moving objects, such as cars and trains, or by turbulence in the inversion. In the latter case, the light or radar waves, striking agitated air, reflect unevenly, creating false effects of motion even from fixed objects.
At first glance, this would seem to explain not only the Washington reports, but all the simultaneous radar-and-light sightings. When word of this answer reached Washington Airport, the controllers and radar engineers were astounded.
"Every man in here knows temperature inversion effects," said Barnes. "When an inversion is big enough, it picks up all sorts of 'ground clutter' -- water tanks, buildings, bridges, shore lines and so on. But anybody can recognize it -- you'll see huge purplish blobs, but nothing like those blips we tracked. And in the six years I've watched these scopes, absolutely nothing -- high speed jets, storms, inversions, or anything else -- has ever caused echoes that maneuvered like that, and we have had identical weather conditions many times."
Every controller and technician backed him up.
"Besides that," Chief Engineer J.L. McGivern told me, "there was no ground clutter either time, except the big blotch we always have at the center of the scope, where the bottom of the beam picks up the airport buildings."
At the Weather Bureau, I found the same answer. Vaughn D. Rockne, senior radar specialist, who is familiar with inversion effects, had never seen or heard of such blips as were tracked on the two nights in question.
Dr. John Hagin, the leading radio astronomer at the Naval Research Laboratory, went even further.
"Even with an extreme inversion," Dr. Hagin told me, "conditions would have to be very, very unusual to cause such effects. In my opinion, the pinpointing of blips by three radar stations, and simultaneous sighting of lights at the same points, would make it impossible."
"How much of an inversion -- what temperature change would be needed?" I asked him.
"Ten degrees Fahrenheit at the very least. Probably much higher."
As a final step, I asked the Air Force to select a radar expert to present the official opinion. The officer chosen was Major Lewis S. Norman, Jr., of the Aircraft Control and Warning Branch, who had made a special study of temperature inversion.
"Turbulence in an inversion layer absolutely is necessary to get the effect of high speed and fantastic maneuvers," Major Norman told me. "It can result from up or down drafts, or such 'burbles' may be caused by heated air from smoke stacks."
"At a minimum, how much temperature inversion would it take?" I asked.
"On the centigrade scale, between 5 and 10 degrees. If you used the Fahrenheit scale, it would take an inversion between 9 and 18."
Now I was sure of the truth. But to be doubly certain, I rechecked Weather Bureau charts.
On the first night, the inversion had been 1 degree Fahrenheit. The second night it had been about equally negligible -- barely 2 degrees.
Here was positive proof. Temperature inversion could not possibly explain the Washington "saucer" cases.
Suddenly, as I recalled the words of the Naval Research experts, the hundreds of Air Force radar reports took on dramatic meaning. The rare conditions required to produce moving lights and blips certainly could not have existed in more than a few of these cases. There must be a large number still officially unexplained.
Going back to the Air Force, I asked two point-blank questions. Had Dr. Menzel ever been asked by the Air Force to determine if his theory would explain specific "saucer" cases? If so, what were the results?
Here are the Air Force answers:
1. Dr. Menzel had been invited to apply his theory to cases on record.
2. He had not attempted to explain any specific occurrences.
Following this, I asked the Air Force for typical reports and conclusions, from 1948 up to date.
One of the first cases, involving three separate incidents, took place in Labrador, at Goose Bay Air Force Base. About 3 a.m. on October 29, 1948, an unidentified object in slow level flight was tracked by tower radar men. Two days later, the same thing happened again. But the following night, on November 1, radar men got a jolt. Some strange object making 600 m.p.h. was tracked for four minutes before it raced off on a southwest course.
At the time, weather conditions were considered as a possible answer. But in the light of the new temperature inversion revelations, this obviously must be ruled out.
On November 6, the same year, Air Force operators in Japan tracked two strangely maneuvering objects for sixty-five minutes. On the scope they appeared like two planes dog fighting, but no fighters were in the area. This case is still unsolved.
On the night of November 23, 1948, an F-80 pilot flying near Furstenfeldbruck, Germany, sighted a circling red light. About the same moment, the object was picked up by an Air Force ground radar station. It was tracked as flying in circles at 27,000 feet, the same altitude at which the pilot encountered it. Because of his own maneuvers, he could only guess at its speed -- somewhere between 200 and 500 m.p.h.
As the F-80 drew nearer, the object swiftly climbed up out of the pilot's sight. But before it went off the scope, operators tracked it to 40,000 feet. This case also is unexplained.
On February 22, 1950, Naval officers at Key West reported that two glowing objects had been tracked by radarmen as they streaked above the air station. They were also seen by pilots and ground men, flying at a height too great for attempted pursuit.
Over a year later, on July 14, 1951, two strange objects were sighted above White Sands as Air Force and other observers watched a guided missile test. An optical tracker, using a 20-power monocular telescope, spotted one of the large objects near a B-29. Its presence was confirmed by two radar operators who tracked it at jet-plane speed. Pictures taken on 35 mm. film are said to show an oval-shaped object, too indistinct because of the altitude to reveal details. At first, a balloon was suggested as an answer, but the "jet speed" approach shown on radar proves this was impossible. No definite conclusion has been made by Air Technical Intelligence analysts.
In the light of these earlier reports, the 1952 sightings now seem doubly important.
On June 19, 1952, a new incident occurred at Goose Bay Air Force Base -- the fourth to date. Just after midnight, a weird red light appeared, holding a southwest course. At the same time, tower radar men caught it on their scope. After hovering briefly at 4,000 feet, the light suddenly turned white. At about this instant, the blip on the scope "brightened." This effect, familiar to operators, is seen when a plane banks, the larger surface exposed to the radar beam causing a sharper return.
Apparently, the unknown device had tilted for a swift maneuver. A second later, the blip returned to normal size, then vanished from the scope. The light disappeared at approximately the same moment. (This odd change in color, before a maneuver or increase in speed, has been described in numerous other cases.)
An even more puzzling incident was the Kirksville, Missouri, affair of July 13. It was 9 p.m.. when Air Force radar men picked up an unknown object, its blip indicating a solid device or machine the size of a B-36. Before it raced off into the night, its speed was tracked at 1,500 knots -- over 1,700 m.p.h. Searching for a solution, one officer theorized that a thunderstorm might have caused the blip, but Washington Center controllers say this is impossible. To date, the A.T.I.C. has found no explanation.
Week after week, jet fighters are "scrambled" at points around the country for "saucer" chases. One of these alerts happened near Osceola, Wisconsin, three nights after the second Washington episode. As in many of these pursuits, the first reported speeds of the blips contrasted strangely with the objects' later maneuvers. Most of the blips were dawdling at 60 m.p.h. until the jets took off. Shortly afterward, one blip's speed jumped to over 600.
Reaching 25,000 feet, one pilot spied some rapidly moving lights, a little east of St. Paul. At the same time, they were sighted by a trained Civil Defense sky-watch observer, just before they disappeared.
A meteor shower was first considered a possible explanation. It is true that meteors can be tracked by radar; this method is now used by several observatories. But an astronomer at the Naval Observatory, Washington, quickly ruled out this answer because of the first slow speeds. In addition, no meteor shower was reported on that night.
Two F-86 pilots had a little better luck in a chase on August 1. At the time, the press was refused permission to interview the pilots -- a rule of the Air Defense Command. Since then, however, the A.T.I.C. has made details available for use in this article.
At about 10:45 on the morning of August 1, ground radar at Wright Patterson AFB picked up an unidentified object between the base and Bellefontaine, Ohio. It was also reported by ground witnesses as a mysterious glowing sphere. The two jet pilots, Major James B. Smith and Lieutenant Donald J. Hemer, were immediately dispatched to intercept it if possible.
As they reached 30,000 feet, both pilots saw a brightly glowing object hovering above them. To make certain it was not a ground reflection, they carefully maneuvered to view it from various angles. The "saucer's" appearance did not change. Positive it was a solid object, both pilots switched on their camera-guns, nosed upward and made separate runs for pictures. Within a few seconds of the planes' maneuver, the "saucer" began to move off, disappearing at a high rate of speed.
When the pictures were developed, a round shape appeared on both films. But its speed or distance prevented distinctive details from showing in the prints.
No final conclusion has been made by the A.T.I.C. in this case. That this might have been a balloon, as suggested, does not stand up, for two reasons. First, and most important, no balloon can hover, then suddenly race off, outdistancing fast jets. Second, ordinary weather balloons will not show on radar scopes: as stated before, it is necessary to attach a metal radar "target" to reflect the beam. But if ground radarmen had been tracking such a balloon, there would have been no mystery. All weather balloon records are available to the A.T.I.C. and no radar target balloon was within miles of the spot.
The only balloon in the general area was a standard radiosonde type, which holds a tiny radio transmitting set, and it was released thirty minutes before the pilots' encounter. Weather Bureau experts have informed me it is not possible to get a radar blip from this type of balloon. Even if it were possible, there would still be no explanation for the hovering and sudden burst of speed witnessed by two experienced pilots.
The violent maneuvers and high speeds frequently reported rule out all balloons -- including the Navy's "skyhooks" which were once publicized as the correct explanation.
Every other conventional explanation has been proved false. One, given shortly after the Washington sightings, was put forth by a chemist named Noel Scott, who is employed by the Army. Scott announced he had produced tiny "saucers" of ionized gas in a vacuum jar experiment at Fort Belvoir. At the time, Scott told Air Force investigators he had no idea whether the conditions of his experiment were likely to exist in the atmosphere. To get the answer, I queried Dr. George Ray Wait, internationally known physicist of Carnegie Institute. Here's what Dr. Wait told me:
"I know of no conditions in the earth's atmosphere, high or low, that would duplicate those needed to make the laboratory models at Fort Belvoir."
In regard to unidentified objects observed visually and tracked by radar, Dr. Wait posed a key question: Are they navigated?
"If the reports of reversals, sharp turns, rapid climbs and descents are fully confirmed," he said, "no natural phenomena, to my knowledge, would explain such reports."
The swift acceleration of saucers, confirmed by radar and visual reports, far exceeds the acceleration of man-made rockets and guided missiles. In addition, no earthly craft can reverse from high speed or make the violent turns proved by radar tracks.
Some flying-saucer skeptics claim that no solid object, not even a revolutionary space ship, could maneuver as reported, since it would be subject to the Earth's laws of gravity, momentum and inertia.
But there is one practical answer. By applying the propulsion force in the opposite direction, abruptly reversing its thrust, an object might be halted in a few seconds. On an M.E.W. radar scope, or as seen visually, it would appear to have stopped almost instantly. After this full-power stop, a 90 degree turn could then be achieved by again changing the thrust.
A G-sled used by the Air Force gives a hint of the possibilities. This device, driven by rockets down a long track, attains high speed in a few seconds. Near the end of the track, it is abruptly halted by a powerful braking system. For an instant, the force acting on an occupant is many times the effect of gravity. Tests have proved that human pilots, for a fraction of a second, can take over 45 G's and live.
Perhaps human-like beings could withstand the G forces of saucer maneuvers if applied for only a moment. It may be, however, that the objects are remotely controlled from higher up to avoid repeated exposure to such stresses. In any event, the maneuvers themselves are explainable by reversing or shifting the thrust of some radically new type of propulsion.
The increasing evidence from the radar-and-light reports cannot be denied. It is my opinion, as previously stated in TRUE, that the saucers are devices from outer space, exploring the Earth just as our government expects some day to explore other planets.
Though most authorities believe that life, as we know it, is not possible on Mars or Venus, they do not exclude the possibility that different forms of life may have developed there. From these neighboring planets, the time required to reach the Earth would be relatively short, with the velocities now considered attainable.
If the saucers are not from planets of our solar system. then the problem of the vast distances from other stars' planets may seem insurmountable. But Einstein's theory of special relativity offers a solution now accepted by space-travel planners in this country and abroad. Because of the relative nature of time and space, the elapsed time for a round trip to a distant point will be less for the travelers than the elapsed time recorded on Earth when that journey is ended. However, the occupants of the space craft will be unaware of any difference during their trip; to them the daily passage of time, as shown by their clocks, will seem normal.
This difference, or "time-dilatation factor" as it is called, will increase as a space ship's speed approximates the velocity of light.
Fantastic though it seems, time dilatation has been proved mathematically. In a recent Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Dr. L.R. Shepherd gives figures for a specific interstellar voyage. He assumes that a traveler, X, makes a round trip to the star Procyn [sic throughout, should be Procyon], 10.4 light years away, while an observer, Y, remains on Earth to record the elapsed time here. He also assumes that, because of the long trip at maximum speed, periods of acceleration and retardation are negligible.
"Suppose X goes to Procyn and back," says Dr. Shepherd, "with a velocity of .99c (c equals the velocity of light). While Y records X's return twenty-one years later, X is aware only of a passage of three years. . . . The only shortcoming would be . . . that friends whom he left in the bloom of their youth would be found in their dotage."
This latter effect, however unfortunate, does not alter the basic fact: time dilatation can greatly shorten interstellar journeys. Nor would trips of several years daunt human space explorers any more than long sea voyages daunted Columbus, Magellan and others who left home for extended periods to explore the globe.
To reach velocities close to that of light would, this scientist points out, require a source of energy more powerful than any known today -- the wholesale conversion of mass into energy.
The problem is staggering -- but so were the problems of splitting the atom. Races on other planets, with civilizations perhaps thousands of years ahead of ours, could have found the answer and conquered space long ago.
Some Air Force officers still insist the saucers do not exist. But regardless of such personal beliefs, the saucer investigation will go on. The growing body of data, it is hoped, may permit some conclusions to be drawn. So far, statistics aren't particularly helpful. A preliminary A.T.I.C. analysis of fifty radar reports taken at random from the files show incidents from land and sea, and speeds between zero and 4,500 m.p.h.; 80% from surface land [sic] or ship-based radar installations, 20% from air-borne sets, and 35% were confirmed visually. Daytime produced 35% of the incidents, night 65%. In 60% of the cases, a single object was reported; in 40%, multiple objects. They flew straight paths more often than they maneuvered.
The latest plans of the A.T.I.C. attest to its serious attitude. One hundred special two-lens cameras which can take simultaneous straight and spectroscopic photos through which the saucers' light may be analyzed, have been sent to strategic points -- air bases, A-bomb plants, and other spots where the mysterious visitors have frequently been seen. The reports of airline pilots and other trained observers are to be studied more carefully than ever before. Even apparent hoaxes will be investigated.
The Air Force is admittedly touchy on one point -- the question of interceptors trying to down the "saucers." General Ramey, reiterating his previous statement, emphasized:
"No orders have been issued to the Air Defense Command or by the Air Defense Command to its fighter units to fire on unidentified aerial phenomena."
Unless an object attacks our planes, or is obviously a threat to this country, the decision is left up to pilots.
In talking with Major Norman, the Air Force radar expert, I learned he had been an interceptor pilot and had once chased a strange light.
"On an interception like that," I said, "exactly what steps would you take?"
"First, you prepare for combat," he said. "That means your guns are ready in case you're fired on. Then I'd ease in close, if I could, for a try with my camera-guns. But I'd be very cautious, I'll tell you that."
"Suppose you got close," I said, "and saw some strange device. Would you signal for it to land -- maybe fire a burst off to one side?"
He looked at me grimly. "Unless it attacked me, I wouldn't cut loose my guns -- it might be suicide."
"Even if they weren't hostile," another officer told me, "barging in too close might scare them into attacking."
There is no doubt that many interceptor pilots remember Captain Mantell, who met his death while chasing a saucer near Godman Field, Kentucky.
Though he was said to have blacked out from lack of oxygen, there is still a lingering doubt among fliers.
Trying to communicate with the saucers would seem the next logical step. So far, the Air Force informed me, it has made no such attempt. When I suggested the idea to Controller Harry Barnes, he looked surprised.
"I was so intent on tracking them, I never thought of trying the radio. After all, what would you say?"
"How about this? 'You, out there three miles north of the airport; if you read me, make a right turn.' "
"If it did turn, my hair would probably stand on end." Barnes thought for a moment. "Maybe I'll try it, at that, if it ever happens again."
From all the hundreds of saucer reports, one fact stands out -- there is no cause for fear. For years, these unknown visitors have been operating peacefully in our atmosphere. (I do not believe Mantell's plane was destroyed as a hostile act.) There has been plenty of time, if hostility were intended, for the intelligence back of the saucers to strike at our planes and our cities.
It is evident that exploration, and eventually contact, are the purposes behind the saucers' repeated visits. When that contact comes, it should be no cause for panic. Meeting intelligent beings who know the secrets of space should be of profound benefit to everyone on Earth.
It could be the greatest adventure of all time.
-- Donald E. Keyhoe
And in yet another fitting cap to an eventful year, word came that Major General John A. Samford -- Director of Intelligence for the United States Air Force -- had given an amazingly candid interview, revealing the Air Force was as unsure of the situation as the general public. From the December 26, 1952, edition of the Indiana, Pennsylvania, Evening Gazette...
Above: July 29, 1952 photo op for a Pentagon press conference -- the largest since World War II -- which followed the sightings over Washington, D.C. in early summer. From left are, Captain R.L. James, Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey (seated, left), Capt. Edward Ruppelt (standing, center), Maj. Gen. John A. Samford (seated, right), Col. Donald L. Bower, and B.L. Griffing. At that same conference Samford had carefully given the impression to the press that the incidents were the result of "temperature inversions" -- which became the official answer blared in headlines across the nation the next day.
Says Space Visitors Possible
NEW YORK -- It is definitely possible that intelligent beings from some other world have been able to visit our planet, or at least to travel within our atmosphere, Major General John A. Samford, Chief of Air Force Intelligence now investigating the Flying Saucer mystery, said today, in an exclusive interview in the current issue of See Magazine, just released.
"It would be foolhardy to deny the possibility that higher forms of life exist elsewhere," reported the general just as it would be "unreasonable" to deny that we may already have been visited by beings from outer space. Regarding the, unexplained phenomena, and the possibility of the presence of an alien intelligence, General Samford added, "We believe that all of this eventually will be understood by the human mind, and that it is our job to hasten the understanding."
In commenting upon the 20 percent of flying saucer reports which remain mysteriously unexplained, General Samford declared the saucers' behavior indicates they "either have unlimited power or no mass." Many "credible people have seen incredible things," he asserted, "some of which have later been satisfactorily explained, while others so far have defied explanation."
General Samford said that the Air Force is keeping nothing from the public regarding Project Flying Saucer. The only information not disclosed is names of those reporting saucer sightings and the method used by Air Force Intelligence to investigate and evaluate these reports.
A Harvard professor's theory that flying saucers are caused by reflected light has not yet been proved, General Samford reported. Even if it were true, he stated, "It would not account for all reports, by any means."
The general branded as false the rumor that jet pilots have had orders to shoot at saucers. "We have thousands of letters and telegrams begging us to rescind this 'shoot-on-sight order. But no "such order was ever given."
The theory of the late Secretary of Defense, James A. Forrestal, that flying saucers were related to this country's experiments with "man made moons" -- platforms that could be suspended in the atmosphere for defense and observation -- was categorically denied by General Samford. "Saucers are in no way related to these moons," he said.
1. The multitude of opinions expressed following the late July sightings over Washington, D.C., can be found in the series In The News 1952 available through the Past Weeks portal of this site. The following is a representative sampling.
Dixon, Illinois Evening Telegraph - 28 Jul 52
Air Force General, Prof Discount Flying Saucers
WASHINGTON -- An Air Force general and a psychology professor both discounted flying saucer reports, but the nation's capital still buzzed with them over the weekend.
Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, who heads the Air Force's investigation of the current rash of reports, said six years of study has convinced him "reasonably well" there is no such thing.
Dr. Jessie Sprowls, professor of abnormal psychology at the University of Maryland, apologized for his grammar but said flying saucers "just ain't there."
But within hours after Gen. Ramey made his talk -- on the CBS television show "Man of the Week" -- telephones started ringing at newspapers and TV stations in Washington.
See More Objects
The callers said they had seen a light shoot through the sky across the capital about 7 p.m. CST Sunday. The Washington National Airport's radar team reported it had picked up no unidentified objects around that time.
While Gen. Ramey was pretty definite about the saucer reports which he said the Air Force has been tracking since the first one in 1947, he edged around another topic.
There was a report of vapor trails over Alaska last April 17 which an interviewer said "caused quite an alert." Ramey gave no direct answer, even when asked: "What was found?"
Of the saucers, Ramey said: "We are reasonably well convinced they are not material, solid objects." About 20 per cent of the reports in Air Force hands -- he said there were 1,500 such reports -- "remain to be explained."
Professor Sprowls said in a radio interview from Silver Springs Md. that saucer reports are due "primarily to hallucination."
Racine, Wisconsin Journal Times 29 Jul 52
Saucers Are 'Mirages' Scientist Still Says
PHILADELPHIA -- One of the first scientists to publicly back up Air Force claims that "flying saucers" do not exist said he sees no reason to change his views because of the "mysterious objects" currently reported seen over the nation's capital.
Dr. I.M. Levitt, director of Fels Planetarium here, reiterated that the objects are simply "mirages."
He concurred with Dr. D.H. Menzel of Harvard, who said in a recent magazine article that the same conditions which cause optical mirages cause radar and television mirages as well.
Levitt said he is positive that as soon as weather conditions over Washington change, the "mysterious objects" will disappear -- "except for those who want to continue seeing them."
Referring to radar "blips," which some persons believed prove that the objects do exist, Levitt pointed out that the "blips" for most part were reported "distended," which could have resulted from ionized air or gaseous clouds.
Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard 29 Jul 52
Meteor Expert Says Saucers Not 'Mirages'
ALBUQUERQUE -- A meteor expert said Monday night that "flying saucers" definitely are not mirages and should not be confused with distant planets.
Dr. Lincoln La Paz, director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico, observed that the yellow disks seen over Washington, D.C., closely resembled like phenomena in the Southwest.
"These disks are not mirages," he said, "as was suggested a few weeks ago in a national, magazine. Radar proves that.
"Furthermore, any suggestion that these come from the depths of space is fantastic. Their origin is earth: The question is where on earth."
La Paz recalled that some authorities had decided a disk sighted over Iowa was the planet Jupiter, and told a reporter: "Jupiter, or Mars or Venus for that matter, because of the earth's rotation on its axis, appears to move less than a hundredth of the moon's apparent width a second. Therefore it appears stationary to the naked eye.
"On the contrary, the luminous yellow discs seen in the Southwest and near Washington, D.C., move twice to 30 times the apparent width of the moon a second. Hence there should be no difficulty in distinguishing between planets and discs."
Dunkirk, New York Evening Observer 29 Jul 52
RPI Scientist Says 'Saucers' Are Man-made
ALBANY -- "Flying saucers" are man-made, either by the United States or Russia, a scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, believes.
Another RPI scientist is convinced "there is something there," perhaps a "natural phenomenon," which always existed.
The director of Dudley Observatory here, however, says he is satisfied "flying saucers" are nothing more than light reflections.
These views were expressed last night simultaneously with fresh upstate reports of mysterious objects in the sky -- this time over Buffalo.
His Private Guess
Walter M. Nunn director of the RPI radio laboratory, said it was his "private guess" the "saucers" were "something the United States Government is doing in an experimental manner, or something the Russians are doing."
Nunn ruled out the possibility of thunderstorms and lightning as having caused strange radar impulses in Washington last weekend.
Dr. Warren C. Stoker, in charge of the new electronic computer at RPI, said he considered the matter more seriously now that the objects had been spotted by radar.
He suggested the "saucers" might be a "natural phenomenon" of which the world never has been aware.
May Long Have Been There
"We have been craning our necks more in recent years than ever before and maybe we are seeing something that has been there always," he said.
However, Benjamin Boss, director of Dudley Observatory here, believed the "saucers" were the result of light reflections or meteorological sounding balloons...
Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette 30 Jul 52
Flying Saucers Are Nonsense, Shapley Says
ALBANY, N. Y. -- "Flying saucers are a lot of complete nonsense."
That is the opinion expressed Tuesday by Dr. Harlow Shapley, director of the Harvard observatory, Cambridge, Mass., and considered one of the world's leading astronomers.
"The objects people are seeing in the sky -- if they are seeing anything at all -- are not aircraft from another planet, nor are they Russian planes," he said with emphasis.
Five Possible Sources
Dr. Shapley said in a telephone interview, the so-called flying saucers can be traced to five sources:
- Fire balls, or meteorites.
- High altitude weather balloons
- Planes flying above a layer of warmth several thousand feet up in the sky.
Hallucination must be placed at the top," Dr. Shapley said, "because at least half the people who report they have seen flying saucers, never saw anything."
- High flying planes that cannot be seen passing through a layer of abnormal, uneven density.
Meteorites and Balloons
He explained that at this time of the year, because of the earth's position, an abundance of fire balls, or meteorites, are to be seen in the sky.
"Every day several thousands of high altitude weather balloons are sent up from the more than 100 weather stations all over the country," he said. "Many of them are seen by people who jump to the conclusion they have seen a flying saucer."
Discussing the fourth point, Dr. Shapley pointed out that often a warm layer several thousand feet up contains dust particles which increases the power of light diversion.
"A pilot may well be attracted by a somewhat distorted, displaced image of the moon, sun or even a high, brightly lighted cloud," he said.
Finally, Dr. Shapley said that a plane flying at a high altitude through a layer of abnormal density "can set off some queer sights" like bright images sweeping across the dark sky.
As for the announcement by the Civil Aeronautics Administration traffic control center, at Washington, D.C., that its radarscope had picked up objects seen in that area, Dr. Shapley said:
"All of the sources I have given, with the exception of hallucinations, will register on a radarscope. Even a cloud with water vapor will record itself on the radar screen."
Dr. Shapley also noted that the earth satellite vehicle program from which 20,000 miles in space man could control radar-directed missiles, has been "enormously developed" in the last three years.
"But this would have not the slightest connection with what we have come to know as flying saucers."
He added: "The best way to see flying saucers is when you are in your cups."
Washington, D.C. Post 30 Jul 52
Flying Saucer Hobby Leads to a Theory
Some hobbyists collect stamps; others, match book covers, even teabag tags.
Leon Davidson, of 804 S. Irving st., Arlington, Va., is more up to date. He collects reports on flying saucers.
He began his side interest in mid-1949, in personal dissatisfaction with the Air Force's findings after investigation of flying saucer reports.
Today he has analyzed those reports, and almost everything since published on flying saucers. He has some conclusions, and some fixed ideas.
First, he said, official denials to the contrary, the saucers are most likely Navy-developed missiles, either piloted or ground-controlled, or both, and jet-propelled.
Davidson thinks the Navy is laughing up its gold-braided sleeves at the Air Force. And he thinks at least one Air Force official knows it. Else why, he asked, would an (unidentified) Air Force official suddenly change the designation of its flying saucer investigation from "Project Sign" to "Project Grudge."
The name change, he said, occurred at a doubly significant time -- during unification of the military forces, and when the Air Force was winding up its 1947-48 saucer investigations.
Here's why Davidson thinks flying saucers aren't foreign to this earth: None has been observed in any area for a period of more than four hours, an incredibly short time for visitors who would have traveled so long from so far.
Here's why he discards the idea they may be Russian-made: The United States military would be far more concerned than to wait two hours after sightings to send jet interceptors after them, as was reported from nearby Andrews Field recently.
Davidson said his geographical plotting on flying saucer reports supports his conviction the objects are a Navy product. Reports of the first sightings, in 1947, almost all came from Northwest United States, mostly over sparsely populated areas, but not far from Navy installations, he said.
In 1948, they were reported over the Southeast United States. They have spread out since over a more general geographically scattered area, but all within control range of the far-flung Navy, he said.
Finally, said Davidson, a chemical engineer, the saucers have traveled courses of established air lanes, where radio beams would be helpful in their flight control -- by Navy scientists.
There's one thing about Davidson's hobby -- it could be ended suddenly by an official announcement.
Marysville, Ohio Journal-Tribune 30 Jul 52
'Flying Saucers,' Whatever They May Be, Not Result Of U.S. Experiments; Air Force Anxious to Find Cause
(The Pentagon has exhausted its supply of previous news releases concerning its investigation of "flying saucers." However, an official air force spokesman has issued a summary outlining the findings made in the exhaustive probe of "saucer" reports since 1947. In the following signed article, Al Chop, air force information representative, reports that whatever the unidentified disks may be, they are not the result of secret defense department experiments. He also explains how the use of a special camera may help solve the 1952 "flying saucer" mystery.)
By AL CHOP
(AF Information Representative)
WASHINGTON, July 30 -- The demand for copies of past press releases on "flying saucers" issued by the Department of Defense has completely exhausted our supply. However, the information contained in these releases is summarized below and constitutes the official opinion of the Air Force on the subject of "flying saucers."
In the fall of 1947 the United States Air Force took official notice of reports of so-called "flying discs" because the reports from the public indicated that the problem might be related to the Air Force responsibility for the air defense of the United States.
On Dec. 30, 1947 the Air Force directed its Air Materiel Command, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, to set up a project to collect and evaluate all available facts concerning reported flying saucer incidents. To perform this job the Air Materiel Command obtained the services of well-known scientists, such as astronomers, psychologists, electronic specialists, and meteorologists.
On Dec. 27, 1949, after 375 reported sightings had been investigated, the Air Force, with the concurrence of the Army and the Navy, announced the findings of the "flying saucer" project.
The evidence at that time indicated that the majority of the reports of unidentified flying objects could be accounted for as misinterpretations of various conventional objects, a mild form of hysteria, meteorological phenomena, or hoaxes.
There remained, however, a number of reported sightings that could not be thus explained, and the Air Force has continued its investigations.
As far as luminous phenomena are concerned, the recent development of special photographic equipment may make it possible to gather data hitherto unobtainable through ordinary photographic methods. This equipment consists of a grating camera which separates light into its component parts (spectrums) and registers them on different portions of film.
The principle involved is that used by astronomers in determining the composition of the stars. In this manner Air Force scientists may be able to determine the composition of the light phenomena and consequently identify its sources.
It has been suggested that what people actually have been seeing is the result of some of our own secret experiments, guided missiles, or new types of planes, or flying weapons. This is emphatically not the case. None of the three military departments nor any other agency in the government is conducting experiments classified or otherwise, with disc-shaped flying objects which could be basis for the reported phenomena.
The Air Force would like to assure the public that, inasmuch as the air defense of the United States is an Air Force responsibility, it has and will continue to receive and evaluate any substantial reports of unusual aerial phenomena.
Sandusky, Ohio Register Star News 30 Jul 52
On The Saucer Trail
BY MAJ. DONALD E. KEYHOE
U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.
WASHINGTON, July 30 -- The Air Force order to try to shoot down the flying saucers is taken by some to mean fear of a Soviet secret weapon. No authority I know believes this is the answer.
If Russia had such a weapon, they surely would have delivered an ultimatum in the five years since the first report of flying saucers because such a weapon would mean complete control over any nation.
The real reason for the order to shoot down the saucers is to capture one of these objects as fast as possible before national hysteria results. I think officials are badly worried about the effects. If they could capture one of these and get the answer and reveal it to the public, regardless of what the answer is, it would end the mystery.
My opinion is that if they capture one, they will find it is a device from outer space. We worked out a rough cycle with the aid of a Canadian official, whom I am not at liberty to name, that indicated this sudden increase in sightings.
These sightings disprove the theory of Dr. Donald H. Menzel of Harvard University that these are optical illusions caused by reflections in the sky of lights on earth.
Radar reports now prove they are solid, fast-moving objects intelligently
controlled. They are able to maneuver so violently that no human pilot born on this earth could stand the changes. These violent changes would practically paralyze a human.
I believe and most of the people I've talked to believe these are largely remote-controlled devices. They are controlled from either another space ship high out in our atmosphere or beyond it or from great distances out in space.
They could be observer units, sent from some planet to observe the people of the earth, taking pictures and sending messages on us back to their home base.
Unless there has been a gigantic conspiracy by the armed services to cover up some super-secret development, the saucers which have flown over Washington are real.
I do not believe the services have developed a secret and super aircraft because it is unlikely such a secret could be kept. The saucers apparently are friendly and eventually they may contact us.
Eureka, California Humboldt Standard 30 Jul 52
Inverted Waves Held Cause Of Sky Objects
WASHINGTON -- The air force cited summer heat waves and optical and radar illusions as a possible explanation of the latest flurry of "flying saucers"
Intelligence officers ridiculed the notion that the mysterious objects in the sky hail from other planets or Russia -- or are a menace to the United States.
They were confident that new scientific investigations and powerful telescopes and special cameras would explain away the objects as "physical phenomena," such as mirages.
As for three flocks of objects sighted by radar over Washington in the past 10 days, Maj. Gen. John A Samford, air force chief of intelligence, told a news conference late yesterday that "my mind is satisfied" they resulted from temperature inversion.
This was explained in detail later by two electronics experts from the air technical intelligence center, Wright-Patterson Air Base, Dayton, O.
Air temperature, they pointed out, decreases with altitude. Whenever a warm air mass passes over a relatively cooler mass the temperature temporarily increases and an "inversion layer" of waves is formed.
This inversion will cause radar beams to bend earthward. The impulses then bounce off ground "targets." What then appears as "blips" or tiny white lights on radarscopes are not objects in the sky but objects on the ground.
With a large inversion, street or automobile lights may be reflected, as if in formation, on clouds. And if there is wind velocity or turbulence, these lights will appear to be in a "dog fight."
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Herald 30 Jul 52
Lovett Explains 'Saucer'
WASHINGTON -- Even Secretary of Defense Lovett has had an explanation for it.
Pentagon sources said Lovett, returning to Washington from New York Sunday was a fellow passenger aboard an airliner with persons who insisted they had seen a white disc whirling along beside the plane.
Lovett, however, reportedly said he had been watching a searchlight playing into the clear, moonlit sky and at one point its cone of light caught and held a shaft of cumulus cloud, creating the impression of a circular body keeping pace with the plane.
"That's how many a flying saucer gets born," one officer said.
The Christian Science Monitor 30 Jul 52
'Flying Saucers' Whirl Between Rumor and Fact
By Herbert B. Nichols
Special Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
How easy it is for one to take a story with a small element of mystery and by letting imagination and the typewriter keys ramble where they will -- come up with a fascinating yarn that packs a mountain of interesting reading -- but has only half-truths or no truth at all.
Take flying saucers, for example.
"Why don't you tell the truth?" I asked a companion at a Pentagon news conference. "You've sifted the 'evidence' the same as I. You have talked to the pilots and the radar operators. You're intelligent and you know as well as I the Department of Defense is hiding nothing essential from us."
Yet Los Angeles had five days of flying-saucer alarms, Washington is deep in its second week of similar apprehension; saucer accounts have been sharing front-page display with the Democratic convention.
"Get wise," he said. "The public loves a mystery. Why spoil it?"
There you have reason No. 1 for the continuance of the flying-saucer mystery.
The fact is, there is nothing new at all about the saucer reports except perhaps, that with the United States radar warning net going into round-the-clock action all over the country backed by an army of amateur watchers as well, the saucer warnings have jumped up to almost 100 a day. Because the Air Force has responsibility for patrolling American skies, it cannot afford to ignore them.
One of the cardinal rules of military intelligence is to consider all possibilities that have any bearing on a commander's decision of where to meet a threat. And one day the Russians can be expected to produce an intercontinental missile. Each report is given a most careful and complete analysis.
I've read more than 300 samples. Preliminary evaluation of the current items does not indicate that they different in any way from those received in the past few years.
"How about the radar angle?" someone may ask. "Radar operators reported good 'blips' that were exactly as good as those that appear when planes are in the vicinity."
No one will deny this, even though the radarscopes of the pursuit planes that took off after the sighted objects over Washington could not pick up anything at all.
The fact is, many a "battle" was fought during World War II, when for six to eight hours radar operators were picking up "blips" that suddenly appeared, perhaps moved at fast or slow speed a bit, then as mysteriously faded out. An alert was given on the Atlantic coast a few weeks ago that "40 bombers have been sighted approaching at fast speed."
The answer is well known now to top physicists and experienced radar operators. Sometimes blips are caused by pranksters or by official use of "window," those long coils of aluminum foil tossed out of planes during the war to confuse enemy radar as to true air movements. But most of the time these pseudo-blips are caused by the appearance of ionized clouds in the atmosphere, especially when the sunspot cycle is approaching a high.
The latest word from Air Technical Intelligence is: "Only a small percent of reports received from reliable sources remain unexplained. The remainder of these sightings could be accounted for as misinterpretations of various conventional objects, a mild form of hysteria, meteorological phenomena, or hoaxes. Of the unexplained sightings it can be stated that they appear in a haphazard fashion and show no pattern which would indicate that the objects are being controlled by a reasoning body."
Recently Thomas K. Finletter, secretary of the Air Force, and other top Air Force officials asked for a special briefing on Air Force saucer investigations over the past five years. The secretary sums up the briefing as follows: "No concrete evidence has yet reached us either to prove or disapprove [sic] the existence of the so-called flying saucers."
Reached just a few moments ago, as this story goes to press, a harried Pentagon spokesman repeated again what I am sure is a fact, "we have no really new evidence, nothing more concrete to go on than we have had right along. Every report, nevertheless, will be given a most careful and complete analysis.
"What more can we do or say to convince people that we are not trying to hide something, that we feel there is honestly no reason to believe there is any inexplicable mystery at all about 'flying saucer' reports?"
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Times - 30 Jul 52
Reflection Of Street Lights May Be Disks
PHILADELPHIA -- Two Philadelphia scientists agree that the warm weather may be responsible for the latest list of flying saucer sightings.
Dr. I.M. Levitt, director of the Fels Planetarium, and Dr. Roy K. Marshall, director of education of the Philadelphia Inquirer Radio and Television station, find no evidence that the saucers have ushered in a "Buck Rogers" age.
Levitt pointed out yesterday that, in warm weather, mirror-like atmospheric conditions might reflect street lights from miles away causing the now familiar illusion of flying discs.
The "blips" reported on Civil Aeronautics Administration radar screens could be produced, Dr. Levitt said, by ionized clouds, or other natural phenomena.
Meteors, according to Dr. Marshall, as they build up a mass of ionized air, glowing at a temperature of 3500 degrees or more, would register on radar screens.
Marshall also pointed out that professional and amateur astronomers, although they spot dozens of meteors nightly, have never reported seeing a flying saucer.
Over the desert regions in Idaho, where the first saucers were sighted, Dr. Levitt said, different strata of air -- of varying temperature -- tend to form. These strata, Marshall added, could reflect street lights from miles away like a mirror, forming the "mirage" familiar to many persons who have traveled across the western deserts.
A disturbance in the air would make the reflected lights appear to maneuver at high speeds.
Dr. Levitt suggested that the prolonged eastern heat wave had produced effects similar to those seen in the desert regions.
Toledo, Ohio Blade - 2 Aug 52
Psychologist Says Jitters Keyed To Flying Saucers
U Of M Panel Also Blames Reports On Optical Illusion, Atmospherics
DETROIT, Aug. 2 -- Reports of flying saucers may reflect a jittery world.
That was an opinion given by a University of Michigan psychologist in a panel discussion of saucers here last night.
Fred Wyatt, director of the university's psychology clinic, said:
"Everyone wants to see a flying saucer because someone else has said he saw one."
John Taylor of the university's vision research laboratory said the saucer may be an optical illusion caused by an eye defect.
"Tiredness," he said, "may have a direct bearing on what people think they see. During World War II in England air spotters turned in many more false reports of aircraft after long periods of watching."
Stanley Wyatt of the university's astronomy department gave the astronomer's viewpoint. Said Mr. Wyatt: "The majority of well-founded reports about saucers are optical ghosts caused by atmospheric conditions that react on light and radio waves."
Harry H. Goode, director of the university's aeronautical research center at Willow Run said the saucers are a natural phenomenon. He explained: "For radar to pick up the so-called saucer, there must be a real object present. But this doesn't mean it something more than a meteor."
Anderson, Indiana Herald Bulletin - 3 Aug 52
People Want To See 'Saucers', Professor Says
People see "flying saucers" simply because they want to see them, a Northwestern University professor claims.
Basing his observations on a continuing study of public opinion conducted at the university over the past several years, Dr. Curtis MacDougall, professor of journalism, said that people become convinced there are such things as flying saucers or flying disks, look for them in the sky, and consequently think they see them.
But he sees a ray of hope in our current attitude toward the phenomenon. "Today we at least accept a scientific explanation of the saucers, even though that explanation may be space ships from Mars. It wasn't too many years ago when we would have labeled the thing as supernatural, rather than 'super scientific'."
Even five years ago, MacDougall notes, the scientists couldn't get a word in edgewise because of the apparent hysteria. Today we at least listen to their premise that unusual light refractions may be caused by varying temperatures of air layers.
We've had scares like this for years, MacDougall said, ranging from Edgar Allan Poe's trans-Atlantic balloon hoax to Orson Welles' famed Martian invasion broadcast.
"Maybe visitors from other planets would be a good thing," MacDougall conjectures. "It might serve to unify us for 'peace on earth'."
Lubbock, Texas Morning Avalanche - 4 Aug 52
Recalls World War II 'Battle of Pips'
Admiral Supports Air Force Theory Of 'Flying Saucers'
By Darrell Garwood
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 -- Vice Adm. Robert C. Giffen, who fought the "Battle of the Pips" in World War II, thinks the Air Force's theory of atmosphere reflections offers a likely explanation for "flying saucers."
"I know they can look like anything, including ships on the water," Giffen said Saturday of the radar phantoms his fleet encountered off Attu Island in the Aleutians on July 26, 1943.
Meanwhile, the latest appearance of the elusive "saucers" -- or something that looked like them -- was reported from Southern California where observers said they saw a fantastic display of lights Friday night and early today.
The California reports came from two deputy sheriffs, two experienced Civil Aeronautics observers, a game warden and a number of responsible citizens.
In the "Battle of the Pips" Giffen's fleet fired 518 fourteen-inch shells and 487 eight-inch shells before it was established that the enemy showing on the radar screens was not there in reality.
That was a case, the admiral recalled, in which the mistake was compounded by several radar sets, since the battleships Mississippi and Idaho and the cruisers Wichita and Portland all reported getting the same positions for the supposed "enemy."
In addition, visual lookouts report [sic] seeing lights, flares and star shells sent up by the phantom enemy, and radar operators gave salvo corrections for what they thought were near misses scored among the non-existent Japanese ships.
Still Seek Answer
Eventually, however, the absence of any return fire and other evidence established that the radar had gone haywire. Navy electronics experts have been trying ever since to determine what went wrong.
The navy's belief is that, since radar beams can be deflected by either a magnetic or an electrical field, atmosphere conditions in this case had established a "radar ceiling."
Instead of escaping from the earth as they usually do, the radar beams apparently were being deflected repeatedly back to earth -- like long-wave radio -- and were striking objects far out of their usual range.
When that happens, according to the experts the radar "echo" will bounce back along the same zig-zag path, to be recorded as a "pip" on the screen. Or the late-returning echo may intercept an out-going beam to cause a "pip" that seems much closer.
The Air Force's theory is that light rays may also be deflected by a temporary "ceiling" and that many of the "saucers" may be merely the reflections of ground lights or objects.
Adm. Giffen, who now lives on a farm near Annapolis, Md., said he did not know anything about light rays, but that he will be skeptical concerning "saucers" at least until one is found.
Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal - 4 Aug 52
AF 'Saucers Man' Feels Pretty Sure They Just Aren't
Ramey Edges Around Question on Contrails Reported Over Alaska
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 -- Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, the Air Force "saucer man," said today six years of flying saucer reports had "reasonably well" convinced him there is no such thing.
But he edged cautiously around a suggestion that something more orthodox crossed the nation's Alaskan borders -- nearest Soviet Russia -- last April.
Ramey is director of U.S. Air Force operations. He is handling the investigation into the current rash of reports on unexplained things in the sky. He said the Air Force had kept track of such reports from the first one in 1947. Ramey was interviewed on a TV Program "Man of the Week."
Earlier, a University of Maryland psychology professor, Dr. Jessie Sprowls, said saucer reports are products of imagination.
Strange Light Reported
Imagination or not, three hours after General Ramey had made his talk, Washington newspapers and television stations received calls from a number of persons who reported seeing a light shoot through the sky over the city.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration radar operators at the Washington National Airport said they had picked up no unknown objects around the time of the visual sightseeing, about 8 p.m. Mr. and Mrs. George Pickeral of Wheaton, Md., a Washington suburb, said they saw a white ball sail over the roof of their house as they were working in the yard. Mrs. Pickeral said it was like a streak of light and soundless.
Mrs. Giles Dawson of Washington, who also reported seeing the object, said it was orange and traveling south very fast.
No Solid Evidence
Not one of some 1500 saucer reports since 1947, General Ramey said, had offered solid evidence that anything material was involved. And all the reports taken together, he added, did not establish any pattern that could be construed as menacing.
An interviewer said there was a report that last April 17 contrails -- feathery, vapor trails left by high-flying aircraft -- appeared over Alaska and "caused quite an alert."
Ramey shied from any direct answer, even when the statement was repeated and the question added, "What was found?" But he said:
"There have been instances of unexplained contrails that we carry as unexplained, possibly caused by a reconnaissance plane, or at least by an unidentified craft."
He did not say whether he was referring to Alaska, and he did not elaborate. He added that saucer reports did not involve evidence such as contrails, indicating something material, and that that was part of the case against them.
Comments on Russia
About what he called "unidentified objects" Ramey said:
"I don't believe they enter into the defense of the country particularly."
"Soviet Russia has no power to produce an object that can't be tracked as material or that uses such fantastic power as we hear about in these reports."
"Some people see things that aren't there. Some people describe things they haven't seen. It is noticeable the reports come in waves. There are some reports of incredible things from credible people."
"There has never been any instance of anything that could be tracked, that is, traced by radar or otherwise, entering, passing over and leaving the country. The radar sightings have been sporadic. There has been no suggestive pattern established."
"The suggestion the reports arise from some long-range guided missile developed by Russia might be conceivable except that such a missile could be tracked."
Sure They Aren't Material
"We know of nothing that could behave as we hear these things do."
"Even if they were moving at speeds beyond radar's ability to track, they could be photographed if they were material."
"We are reasonably well convinced they are not material, solid objects."
"About 20 per cent of the reports in Air Force hands remain to be explained."
"The Air Force is attempting now to make fast explanations." This was in answer to a query whether the Air Force was trying to dispel "hysteria."
"I can say definitely they (saucers) are not our own."
"I still believe they are some phenomena that is not easily explained." This was in reply to a query whether, if the flying saucer reports do not originate from anything made in Russia or the U.S., they could be from some other world.
Aiken, South Carolina Standard And Review - 4 Aug 52
Air Force Feels Duty-Bound to Investigate Saucers
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 -- Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, Air Force director of operations, said today the Air Force "feels a responsibility" to investigate flying saucer reports even though they "don't enter into the defense problems of this country."
Ramey discussed the recent renewal of saucer sightings on the Columbia Broadcasting System's "Man of the Week" television program. He gave a detailed explanation of why the Air Force is "reasonably well convinced" that saucers are "non-solid objects."
However, he said the Air Force will continue its research and handle all such reports as best it is able. He emphasized it is "not investigating with frantic fear."
Ramey said Air Force officials "know of nothing in modern aviation" that would fit the descriptions given of saucers or behave as they are reported. Asked if they might be guided missiles, he said they have shown no pattern or track "that establishes guidance."
He pointed out that they have been reported to appear and disappear almost instantly, something any known aircraft could not do.
He discounted the possibility that strange objects are being sent here from another country or planet and said they "very definitely" are not a product of the U.S. Air Force.
Ramey went into the theory that atmospheric conditions cause radar rays to bend and pick up objects on the ground which would appear as unidentified "blimps" [sic] of light on radar screens.
He predicted that by using special cameras, the Air Force will be able to determine the source of any lights appearing in the sky and thus dispel much of the mystery.
Syracuse, New York Post-Standard - 4 Aug 52
Saucers 'Just Ain't There,' Says Psychology Expert
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3-- The flying saucers "just ain't there," says Dr. Jessie Sprowls, professor of abnormal psychology at the University of Maryland.
With a word of apology for his emphasis-aimed lapse in grammar, the professor Sunday attributed the nation-wide deluge of reports of strange things in the upper atmosphere "primarily to hallucination."
Advises Forget Them
Then he reverted to homely language again.
Anybody looking for a real flying saucer has about as much chance as "a blind man in the dark room looking for a black cat."
He had a solution to offer -- "Just sort of forget about it."
The professor was interviewed over WGAY radio station in suburban Silver Springs, Md., where he had expressed much the same views when flying whatzits first came in for general public interest some four years agent.
In the earlier interview, Dr. Sprowls related, he mentioned a possible connection between flying saucer tales and psychoanalysis. He said a young man who had just broadcast an account of seeing such things told him, "You'll have to eat your words." But Sprowls commented nothing has happened since in cause of any such change of his diet.
The psychologist said there are several factors that would contribute to a person's honest belief that he had seen an out-of-this-world flying contraption. They rather tie in together.
First off, he said, the human animal is gregarious -- "that's the reason we chatter so much."
And "the mind of man is suggestible." Thus, Dr. Sprowls said, if people hear there may be such things as flying saucers the tendency is to accept the idea. If somebody important talks about it, that multiplies the tendency to believe, he said. On that basis he saw strong effects from the Air Force's acknowledgment that it is checking flying saucer stories.
"We live in a world of conflict," Dr. Sprowls went on and have acquired the mental habit of reaching for ideas that would solve the resulting problems. He suggested that imaginary flying saucers are a representation of some such process.
He said, too, that the human mind has a process of "segregation" that will not permit different sorts of ideas to mix. In that situation, he said, a man can "tend to believe he saw a flying saucer when he knows he didn't see one."
There have been widespread hallucinations of various sorts after nearly every great war or disaster, Dr. Sprowls said, explaining that they represent an effort to find a solution for troubles.
This was his clincher:
"I am sorry to say this, but I actually believe not more than one in a thousand of the general population of America or any other country is capable of independent thought."
Clearfield, Pennsylvania Progress - 4 Aug 52
Air Force Says 'Saucers Not Solid Material'
WASHINGTON -- An Air Force general and a psychology professor both discounted flying saucer reports but the nation's capital still buzzed with them over the week end.
The Rev. Edward B. Lewis of Washington's Union Methodist Church drew a moral from it all.
"It is a good thing," he said Sunday from his pulpit, "to have something happening like flying saucers that demands that people look up and study some of the wonders of nature."
"If we can get excited about the eternal truths of the grace of God, then we can learn how to live eternally and still be interested in such things as flying saucers."
St. Petersburg, Florida Times - 4 Aug 52
Flying Saucers God's Warning, Pastor Avers
Flying saucers, said Dr. Charles M. Leaming last night, are God's own warning to the sinful, rebellious, and hard-headed children of Adam.
Opening yesterday's evening service at Faith Temple Dr. Leaming said he would speak on "the mystery of the so-called flying saucers." The first half of the talk was a series of quotations from the Bible, The St. Petersburg Times, and Life Magazine.
Dr. Leaming spoke of the second coming of the Lord and read chapters in St. Mark, St. Luke and Revelations which mentioned strange phenomenon in the heavens would precede the second coming.
He brought out that the first report of a flying saucer was the prophet Ezekiel's sighting of a "flying wheel coming from the North." Dr. Leaming further stated that the month of the year was July (which in 1952 has seen a rash of saucer sightings). According to Ezekiel the saucers of "flying wheels" hovered slightly below a group of heavenly creatures much in the manner of satellites.
Dr. Leaming reasons that we, being unable to see the heavenly creatures, are seeing the wheel-like satellites which attend them. To substantiate his reasoning, he brought out the fact that the two colors described by Ezekiel, Amber and myrrh (green) have both been used in describing the modern sightings.
Dr. Leaming said this was God's last warning and all who would not repent could prepare themselves for the worst.
Spokesman-Review - 4 Aug 52
Flying Saucers Taken Seriously
Some Scientists Considering Out-of-Word Basis
RICHLAND, Wash., Aug. 3 -- Quoting from several sources and reviewing much of what has been learned from research, Capt. Maynard M. Missal Jr. in a broadcast tonight indicated that these records show a distinct possibility of flying saucers, and that they might have an out-of-world basis.
Captain Missall spoke on the science forum program which has General Electric's Hanford works scientists as panel members.
Working from the angle of what flying saucers are not, the Camp Hanford inspector general discussed such possibilities as light refraction, psychological phenomena, and atmospheric distortion from atomic activity as responsible for the sights seen by observers.
Not in All Cases
He indicated that in some cases these may have been the answers, but certainly not in all. The other two possibilities he discussed were that saucers were being built by the United States or Russia.
Captain Missall indicated that he didn't agree with either of these theories. he said that several magazines have made exhaustive studies to determine the "whereabouts and present business" of every scientist who might have anything to do with the development of a superaircraft.
"Added to this," Captain Missall continued, "is the one conclusive fact, that the United States has at its command no source of power that could put a flying machine through such paces as the saucers perform."
Russian Origin Discounted
He dismissed the idea that they were a Russian development by saying he thought it inconceivable that the Russians would risk the loss of such a precious military weapon by flying a saucer over enemy territory, thus taking a chance of one crashing, which would let out the secret.
Captain Missall said scientists were taking saucers far more seriously than the file of laymen, and several of them now have formed definite conclusions.
One of these mentioned by the speaker was Dr. Walther Riedel, now engaged in secret work for this country, who believes the saucers are real and is "completely convinced that they have an out-of-world basis."
Pilot Could Not Live
Captain Missal said Riedel's four reasons for this conclusion are the lack of any metal or non-metal now known that could withstand such speeds, the terrific centrifugal force that is created, maneuvers performed which no pilot could perform and live, and the lack of a visible trail which any known jet, rocket, piston engine or chain-reaction motor operating at high altitudes would leave.
As to his personal opinion, Captain Missall said if one ever lands and asks him for directions to Hanford, "I'll make like a flying saucer!"
Monessen, Pennsylvania Daily Independent - 4 Aug 52
Europeans Are Talking But Not Worrying About Flying Saucers
Europeans became talkative about flying saucers again today, but spoke of the mysterious "objects" with less concern than skygazers in the United States and Canada.
France reported the greatest number of discs seen over the weekend, more than 20, to lead the European standings. There were several reports from Italy and Iran, also.
European newspapers generally took the "sightings" lightly. Some used the tongue-in-cheek technique in reporting the presence of discs spinning across the skies at incredible speeds. Other journals covered the incidents with an editorial shrug of the shoulders.
But on this side of the Atlantic, authorities listened seriously to every report...
[Ramey comments reported earlier omitted.]
The Royal Canadian Air Force, using the strategy of its U.S. counterpart, assigned an intelligence officer to keep score on all reports of "saucers" or other objects.
The Canadian Transport Department, which controls civil aviation, also put one of its men to work compiling statistics on saucer sightings.
Canadian officials said no Air Force planes had been alerted to take off after saucers, but the government said fighter units would be expected to investigate any unidentifiable objects.
"Everything in the air that we can't immediately identify is a naturally suspect [sic]," an RCAF official said.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Press - 5 Aug 52
Saucers Real, Prof Here Says
"Flying saucers" are secret man-made weapons, a Duquesne University professor said today.
But most other scientists here disagreed. They insisted the saucers are neither weapons nor man-made.
"Maybe God is just trying to confuse us," said Dr. E.C. Creutz, director of the Carnegie Tech Nuclear Research Center.
"I certainly don't believe they're man-made objects of any kind," added Dr. David Halliday, head of the University of Pittsburgh physics department.
Dr. Thomas Donahue, assistant professor of physics at Pitt and an expert in optics, said he doesn't think the saucers are optical illusions but they could be optical delusions.
Dr. Donahue said too many credible witnesses have reported sighting saucers to explain away the whole business as a mirage or a hallucination.
No Way to Tell
"They are actually seeing something," he declared. "But there's no way whatever for a person to tell whether he is looking at a collection of articles or an optical image unless he goes up and actually touches the thing -- and that nobody has been able to do."
Dr. Harry H. Sezmant, associate professor of chemistry as Duquesne, is the scientist who feels the saucers are "man-made objects."
"And," he adds, "I hope they are made by our Government."
He believes they are "secret weapons, remote controlled and capable of terrific speeds."
"Some," he added, "are hallucinations but undoubtedly some are real. Like the Manhattan Project, which produced the atom bomb, the facts are covered up pretty well."
Dr. Donahue said the saucers probably are caused by mirror-like reflections from an advancing cold front.
As a cold surface moves onto a warm weather region, he explained, a highly-curved surface forms in the atmosphere which "can act as a fairly-well polished mirror."
He said the lights people see in the skies thus could be reflections from the ground, mirrored by this curved surface in the clouds.
Reflections Do Tricks
He said this mirror in the sky is capable of reflecting for 100 to 200 miles even such a small object as an aluminum pot in the backyard.
And the distances involved, he said, multiply the object's speed so that if somebody moves the dish at about 10 miles an hour on the ground the reflection 100 miles away would zip at 1000 miles an hour.
The astounding speeds, sudden somersaults and disappearances of "saucers" could readily be explained by this theory, he explained.
He pointed out that most of the saucers have been reported in the Southwest United States, where meteorological conditions are most suited to such phenomena.
Dr. Halliday said he also thinks natural phenomena are involved.
"I certainly don't believe they're man-made objects of any kind and I don't believe they're anything from beyond the earth."
Dr. Creutz, before departing for a Wisconsin vacation, said he was inclined to dismiss all reports of saucers as pure fiction until radar screens began picking them up.
But he still feels the saucers are natural atmospheric phenomena which we can't understand because we still don't know enough about them.
Dr. J.G. Fox, associate professor of physics at Carnegie Tech, agreed. He said the saucers are probably "little-understood things that go on in the atmosphere."
"In research," he related, "one always runs into things he doesn't understand. That happens every day in the laboratory. Now it's happening in the sky.
"When we finally determine what such an occurrence is, we nearly always find it was an error or it was too complex to understand at the outset."
But suppose the saucers are man-made. Could they be of Russian origin?
"Hardly likely," says Dr. Fox. "If another country did develop such a secret weapon it would be foolish for that country to send it over here, where one might be intercepted."
For the same reason, Dr. Fox is inclined to frown on the remote possibility the saucers contain visitors from outer space.
If that should be true, he related, why would these space visitors be concentrating on the Western Hemisphere and especially on the U.S.? Why aren't more of them reported from other countries all over the Planet Earth?
'Difficult to Explain'
"Most of the reports of observed saucers have apparently been well explained by people seeing conventional objects," summed up Dr. Arthur Draper, director of Buhl Planetarium.
"There are still a few puzzling reports, however, and I think it is difficult to explain them on the basis of available information."
Corpus Christi, Texas Times - 5 Aug 52
Top Scientists Believe Disks Due To Natural Phenomena
By ARTHUR J. SNYDER, Chicago Daily News
CHICAGO -- Men disciplined in the ways of science won't buy the proposition that flying freaks could be defying nature's rigid laws.
Anything within our celestial city limits must obey its laws of gravitation, of motion, and of conservation of energy, they point out.
The mid-century mystery of the flying saucer does not fit into scientists' present knowledge of time, space, mass energy and other long-established truths.
No Scrap of Evidence
They've found no scrap of bona fide evidence, not even a loose bolt, that would indicate that the disk phenomena will fit into anything other than a sensible theory when and if it is scientifically explored.
"What impresses scientists, almost holds them spellbound as they unfold one bit of knowledge after another about the universe, is its supreme orderliness," one said.
There is nothing chaotic, nothing haphazard, nothing capricious in the cosmos.
As an example of nature's precision, scientists were able to discover the planet Neptune by means of mathematical computation long before its existence was confirmed by observation through the telescope.
Venture a Guess
With no research facts to go on, scientists can only venture an educated guess as to the dancing disk puzzle.
They immediately write off an interplanetary possibility.
Dr. Marcel Schein, professor of physics at the University of Chicago, says:
"We must realize what an accident our life on earth is. A few particles of ozone in the atmosphere are shielding us from too much ultra violet rays and keep us from perishing.
"It's too much to expect that a complicated civilizations could develop on other planets."
Dr. Schein, whose cosmic ray balloons have admittedly added to the public confusion says of the saucers:
"We must remember there are many complicated atmospheric and optical disturbances occurring now," he said.
"Solar activity is heightened in the summer. Meteorites are prominent right now."
"Natural phenomena" was also the explanation of others.
Dr. Warren C. Johnson, University of Chicago chemist: "They may be caused by changes in the density of the atmosphere, weather conditions or reflections of light."
Dr. W.S. Haxford, Northwestern University: "They may be temperature inversion layers in the atmosphere from which light may be reflected."
Dr. Martin Kilpatrick, chemist, Illinois Institute of Technology: "Most of these observations will quite probably be explained away in terms of weather situations and atmospheric disturbances caused by temperature fluctuations."
Dr. Le Roy Stutsman, head of chemical engineering, Northwestern university: "It is my feeling they are either light refractions or solar material that is plopping around."
Dr. Roger Adams, head of chemistry, University of Illinois: "It is inconceivable, judging from erratic motions, that these objects are man made. I'm certain they are natural."
Dr. Harold C. Urey, Nobel prize winning physical chemist, University of Chicago: "I'm puzzled. My personal guess would be some sort of natural phenomena."
Dr. Howard C. Hardy, physicist, at Armour Research Foundation; "There is certainly some phenomenon here, but I am certain it is not incapable of being understood."
The Rev. J. Donald Roll, chairman of physics, Loyola University: "They could well turn out to be gaseous phenomena."
Dr. Raymond P. Mariella, chairman of chemistry, Loyola: "If reports of their movements are correct, the human body could not stand the rapid change in speed and direction."
Dr. Frank P. Cassaretto, Loyola chemist and Air Force meteorologist in World War II": "Thunderstorms move with high velocity and could vary in direction. Electrical disturbances could ionize and be picked up by radar."
Burlington, Iowa Hawk-Eye Gazette - 5 Aug 52
Flights Between Planets Would Take 2 To 3 Years
WASHINGTON -- If those alleged "flying saucers" were ships from outer space, they'd have to be manned by chaps with tolerant wives.
Roundtrip travel to the earth from Mars and Venus -- the only two planets in our solar system given even an outside chance of supporting life -- would involve nearly three years for the Martians, just over two years for the Venusians.
And they'd have to spend that much time away from the wife and kids even though they had spaceships capable of travelling at a 25,000-mile-an-hour clip!
Just suppose, for a minute, that Mars and Venus were populated by some kind of intelligent beings capable of launching a spaceship -- saucer-shaped or what-have-you -- and that they wanted to do some fancy spying on the earth.
Here's what they'd be up against:
While Venus is "only" 25 million miles from the earth at its closest approach to our planet -- just a breeze, you might say, for a spaceship travelling 25,000 miles an hour -- there would be much more to the problem than that.
Venus makes such a "close" approach only once in every 470 days. Meanwhile, in its orbit around the sun it gets as far away as 160 million miles.
Moreover, while Venus and the earth travel in the same direction around the sun, Venus hurtles along at a 22-mile-a-second clip, while the earth moves at 18-1/2 miles a second.
This means that any take-off from Venus -- and the return takeoff from the earth -- must be made several weeks in advance of the time the two planets would be closest to each other.
That is, the Venusian spaceman wouldn't aim right for the earth. He'd direct his spaceship at a point in space where it would eventually "rendezvous" with the earth.
Estimates have been made that for minimum fuel consumption, a roundtrip between Venus and the earth would require 146 days for the actual trip, a 470-day wait at the destination point until the two planets were "close" again, and then another 146 days for the flight home, or a total of 762 days.
As for the Mars-to-earth-and-return junket, the figures go like this:
Closest approach of the two planets: 35 million miles.
Two hundred and fifty-eight cruising days on the outgoing voyage, a wait of 485 days at destination point, and another 258 days going "home." Total, 871 days.
That would mean that interplanetary visitors would have to find some place to hide during the stopover.
Of course, a spaceship with a limitless supply of fuel wouldn't have to undergo the so-called "waiting period." It could take off even when the objective planet was at its maximum distance 160 million miles between earth and Venus, and 248 million between earth and Mars. But, of course, that would mean a longer time in flight.
Coming back again to the alleged "flying saucers" -- and the big "IF" on whether they are something manned by interplanetary space-navigators -- here's another thought:
They've certainly licked the interplanetary fuel consumption problem if they can afford to do all the nocturnal cruising around the earth that has been credited to them.
Albuquerque, New Mexico Tribune - 5 Aug 52
Many Radar Sightings Could Be 'Saucers'
By WADSWORTH LIKELY
Science Service Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, Aug. 5. -- Radar can "see" any of the following things -- and all of them can be mistaken even by experienced operators for flying saucers:
Meteors. Thunderstorms. Clouds of raindrops. Clouds of insects. Birds. Aurora borealis. Pockets of moisture from discontinuities in the atmosphere. Reflections of ground objects by temperature inversions. Balloons.
The Defense Department has a top scientific group, investigating radar reflections, trying to determine just what all these things look like on a radar scope and discovering what other physical phenomena besides all these things radar picks up. This is the panel on radar reflections of the Defense Department's research and development board. It is headed by Martin Katzin, scientist with the Naval Research Laboratory.
The full potentialities of radar as a scientific instrument which can see and measure what man, with his eyes, cannot see and measure are not yet known. This group is one which is trying to find out what those potentialities are. Its findings should also help to dispel the mysterious aura around many of the unexpected blips which appear on radar screens throughout the world.
Corpus Christi, Texas Times - 8 Aug 52
Trick of Nature
Flying Saucers May Be Similar to Mirage
By Arthur J. Snider
Chicago Daily News
CHICAGO -- The flying saucer, in the opinion of a growing body of scientists, is frequently a trick nature does with mirrors.
The mirrors in this case are sandwiched layers of warm and cool air that bend light rays in such a way as to project earthly images onto the sky.
"The images are real and vivid," a physicist explained. "They are illusions, but they are not hallucinations. People who see them are not imagining things. All are traceable to an object somewhere."
Basis for Old Legends
These illusions, or mirages, have been hoodwinking mankind for ages. Legends of sea serpents are legion. Soldiers and fliers have fired at what looked like real objects in the air.
Skilled surveyors have mapped mirage mountains. Expert mountain climbers have set out to climb them.
The American Museum of Natural History once dispatched a major expedition to explore an Arctic area Robert Perry had charted. On arriving at the designated site, there was nothing. Perry had seen a mirage.
The illusion of water on a desert is due to bending of light rays in a way that a portion of the sky appears below the horizon, giving an impression of a blue lake.
Motorists have seen the same thing on a highway.
It has only been in the last 150 years that the phenomenon of mirages has been understood.
Physicists explain it this way:
Light rays are bent as they travel through media of unequal density.
A familiar example is a stick thrust in water. That part of the stick in the water seems bent because water is denser than air.
Mirages paint images in the sky in the same way.
Layers of air can be of unequal density. Warm air is less dense than cool air.
When the warmer air is closest to the surface of the earth, the light rays are thrown upward. The greater the difference in density, the greater the bending.
In the case of automobile headlamps, for example, the lights would be moving even though the auto itself is some distance away and not visible to the sky watcher.
With a more complex stratification of the air masses, there may be several images in a vertical or horizontal series.
Turbulence Makes Weirdness
In a turbulent atmosphere, the objects can take on more weird distortions than the freak mirrors in an amusement park fun house.
What accounts for the ready tendency on the part of the public to label these phenomena flying saucers?
A leading Chicago psychiatrist believes it can be attributed to the temper of the times.
"To begin with," he explains, "this is the age of science.
"In a day when people have seen the discovery of atomic energy and the development of planes flying faster than sound, they are prepared to be credulous about anything that once seemed fantastic.
"With many serious men talking about space ships and travel to the moon, this inclination to believe is strengthened.
"Furthermore, these are times of international tension when people are fearful that attack may come from the air.
"And finally, it is a well-known principle that people react differently as a group than as individuals.
"When persons react as a group there is a contagious lowering of critical judgment and a tendency to react emotionally," he explained.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Press - 9 Aug 52
Catholic View On Saucers Given
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 -- A prominent Catholic theologian says Catholic doctrine is reconcilable "with even the most astounding possibilities regarding life on other planets" -- including the dispatch to earth of flying saucers.
The Very Rev. Francis J. Connell, C.S.S.R., dean of the Catholic University School of Sacred Theology, said a theological question is raised by the theory that "flying saucers" may come from other planets.
A "more prosaic explanation" probably will be forthcoming on the nature of saucers, he said in an article in the Catholic Standard, weekly newspaper of the archdiocese of Washington.
But Fr. Connell said "It is well for Catholics to know that the principles of their faith are entirely reconcilable with even the most astounding possibilities regarding life on other planets."
San Antonio, Texas Express - 10 Aug 52
Nation's Scientific Brains Say 'Saucers' Are Natural Phenomena
By RICHARD AMPER
United Press Staff Correspondent
NEW YORK -- Some of the best scientific brains in the nation agreed today that "flying saucers" are natural phenomena and definitely not space ships from mars or any other planet.
The scientists were asked, "Do these stories of saucers in the air have a down to earth explanation?"
Sixty per cent answered, "yes." Thirty per cent said "I don't know and stop bothering me."
Other answers varied, including one fellow who said he had a sneaking suspicion saucers were a new secret weapon the Air Force invented and was keeping mighty hush-hush.
The anxiety over saucers has reached new heights. It's become so bad here one mother, convinced the saucers contained citizens of another planet come to look us over, started reading her son's amazing science stories to learn defense against ray guns.
One of the best scientific brains in the business, Dr. Harold C. Urey, of Chicago, who helped whip up the atomic bomb, said, in Chicago:
"I'm puzzled. But my personal guess would be that the saucers are some sort of natural phenomena."
Dr. Donald H. Menzel, astrophysicist at Harvard, said jet fighter pilots trying to overtake these saucers might as well go chase rainbows.
"There's as much chance of catching a saucer as there is of picking up a 'rainbow,"' he said. "Much of the evidence suggests these sightings are of the same character as rainbows."
Said Dr. L.W, Phillips, head of the physics department of the University of Buffalo:
"It's nonsense. I consider all the reports piling in to be imagination or weather balloons. . . If I do see one (a flying saucer) I will go to my eye doctor for a change of glasses."
Dr. James B. Conant, president of Harvard, said he's in the wrong department to comment; he's a chemist.
In Minneapolis, Jean Piccard, retired aeronautical engineering professor and internationally known balloonist, said:
"If they were Russian craft, it would be unlikely that they would be sent here for observations. Spies do that. And I cant believe they are from another planet because it is unconceivable that any possible civilization elsewhere in space would coincidentally begin space travel in the very same century in which we are ready to do so."
Dr. J William Buchta, physics professor at the University of Minnesota: "I'm willing to bet they are natural, phenomena which are not always recognized. They are probably produced by a process not suspected at present and may be 'new' inasmuch as they haven't been noticed until recently. But I don't accept any space-man theories."
The head of the university's department of aeronautical engineering, Prof. John D. Akerman, said, "I want to keep an open mind until enough facts are available to draw a conclusion."
Dr. Ira S. Bowen, director of the Mt. Wilson and Palomar observatories, at Los Angeles said:
"We have never observed any flying saucers, and we have no information about them."
"I do not know those flying saucers are in existence, so I cannot say what they are," said Dr. Walter Riedel, of the guided missile division of North American Aircraft Corp.
Albert Einstein already has stated he doesn't know what they are and isn't interested, either.
Physicist Noel W. Scott reported in Washington, D.C., that he produced miniature saucers with static electricity in a vacuum jar to his laboratory.
The man who's in charge of investigating this sort of thing for the air force, Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey has said he's reasonably sure the saucers are "not solid objects."
Since the saucer stories started, the navy has kept mum about them, leading to speculation that perhaps IT was behind the chinaware in the wide blue yonder.
Asked to take a position on saucers, one way or another, now, the navy said it's a problem for the air force, which is responsible for the nation's air defense, adding:
"The navy does not expect to say anything officially on the matter unless a saucer-borne battleship appears in our skies."
Fitchburg, Massachusetts Sentinel - 11 Aug 52
Now They Are "Objects"
(New York Times)
The romanticists who are willing to believe that Mars and Venus are inhabited by people so intelligent and advanced that they have been visiting us for centuries and giving us a periodic "once over" must be highly pleased with the reported failure of jet fighter planes to intercept what, a few months ago, were called "flying saucers" but are now called "objects."
It is not the first time that military planes had to give up in their attempts at interception. Past failures were easily accounted for by the impossibility of rising to the altitude to which meteorological and cosmic-ray balloons ascend. One pursuer lost his life because he climbed too high.
That radar should have detected the "object" in the latest attempt at interception is what may be expected of reflected radio waves that will spot birds on the wing, ribbons of tinsel and cellophane and rain. Radar testifies to the solidity of the "objects" seen over Washington.
To Prof. C.C. Wylie, a well-known astronomer, an "object" seen in southwestern Iowa was "most likely the planet Jupiter." The air force has similarly accounted for some apparitions on which it reported in 1949. That "objects" should occasionally fly in formation is to be expected of sounding balloons, which are often sent up in clusters that spread out. The lights attached to the balloons and followed at night are interpreted by the credulous as the brightly lit ports of a craft that came from another world.
Though the air force has done its best to dispose of the nonsense that comes from imaginative observers of "objects," it might do better. Why did pilots of jet planes that pursued "objects" over Washington fail to catch up with their quarry? Was it because they couldn't go no higher? Such questions are bound to be asked. Unless they are answered in simple language belief in visitors from outer space will be strengthened in those who cannot distinguish between speculation and scientific reasoning.
Life Magazine - 11 Aug 52
The Air Force Makes A Pass At The Saucer Stories
The Air Force suddenly announced last week that flying saucers were probably just atmospheric mirages. The announcement followed close on the heels of radar tracking of "unidentified objects" over Washington, D.C., of partial confirmation of the radar reports by visual sightings, and of sending jet fighters to intercept the objects (LIFE, Aug. 4).
Chief of Intelligence Major General John Samford said the radar "blips" might be due to an atmospheric condition known as "inversion" -- a layer of cool air between layers of warm air which can, under certain circumstances, reflect radar rays. Although usually only solid objects appear on scopes, radar mirages were familiar during the war to navy ships, which occasionally fired at nonexistent "objects." The visual sightings confirming the radar reports might, the Air Force said, be reflections from light sources on the ground. At any rate people could stop worrying about flying saucers.
The Air Force explanation might calm many troubled people, but it didn't end the discussion. The U.S. Weather Bureau in Washington said that there had indeed been inversion layers on the nights of the radar sightings but that these were not at all unusual. Furthermore radar experts could not explain how the inversion theory would account for the appearance of simultaneous, identically located "blips" on three separate screens. And there was an incongruous note in the statement of General Samford himself: there is still no explanation for 20% of the saucer reports which have come from creditable observers in the past five years.
Before the week was over, two more reports were added to the Air Force list. An official Coast Guard picture was released showing four saucerlike objects in the sky over Salem, Mass. And over Dayton, Ohio two jet pilots, sent up by the Air Force to investigate saucer reports, maneuvered around a bright object and said that since they viewed it from several angles it could not be a light reflection.
Abilene, Texas Reporter News - 11 Aug 52
Robert S. Allen Reports
General Omar Bradley does not believe in flying discs and makes no bones about it.
The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was very emphatic about that during a private talk with a group of House members led by Representative Albert Thomas (D-Tex). They conferred with him on a request for additional funds desired by the Pentagon, particularly for atomic weapons. Representative John Phillips (R-Calif) was frankly skeptical of the claim the money was "urgently needed."
"After you have been a member of the Appropriations Committee for many years, as I have," Phillips told Bradley, "you become suspicious of emergency pleas. Whenever a big Navy appropriation bill comes before us, I always know that Russian submarines will soon be reported off either the Atlantic or Pacific Coast. It rarely fails. Now it's flying saucers or discs."
"I emphatically deny responsibility for any submarine reports," replied Bradley stiffly.
"What about flying discs?"
"And the same goes for flying discs," retorted Bradley. "I have never claimed seeing them or that I believe in them. Neither has anyone in the Pentagon, that I know of."
Note: The Air Force, and the Navy know a great deal more about the mysterious flying objects than has been officially indicated.
Redlands, California Daily Facts 13 Aug 52
Southland Rocket Experts Give 'Saucer' Explanation
LOS ANGELES -- Two Southern California rocket engineers came up today with a scientific explanation of flying saucers that puts them back on the dinner table where they belong.
Rollin W. Gillespie and Winthrop K. Coxe, who met two years ago while working on secret rocket projects at the Aerojet plant in Azusa, decided they "couldn't buy" the man from Mars flying saucer theory and set out on a campaign of their own.
"Stories like the one about a saucer landing in the desert and sprouting legs, while six little men 18 inches tall climbed out," said Gillespie, made the pair start searching for the truth.
According to their theory, said Coxe, flying saucers are electromagnetic vortex rings. He explained there are two types -- the saucer and the global or egg-shaped variety.
In the first type the disc is a magnetic field with the ions or charged particles in a central position inside, he said. The globe type has the ions on the outside giving the object a rounder appearance. These objects are activated and give off luminous glow. They could appear orange, yellow, blue or white, according to their activation, they said.
Have No Weight
The saucers have no weight and therefore can travel in any direction at any speed, depending on what they bump into in the way of counterfields in the atmosphere. Once they are generated, said Coxe, they are self-sustaining and only lose energy by their luminosity and aerodynamic drag. They would have the ability to give radar echoes.
Coxe said he agreed with the recent theory of Dr. Donald H. Menzel of Harvard university that the discs are caused by inversion layers and reflection of light, but "that only figures in about 10 percent of the cases."
"The only things our theory doesn't explain," said Coxe, "are the cigar-shaped bodies that have rows of lights along their sides."
Tucson, Arizona Daily Citizen - 18 Aug 52
Most 'Objects' -- Meteorites
GEM VILLAGE, Colo. -- Most objects reported as flying saucer's are nothing more than meteorites in the opinion of Dr. H.H. Nininger, director of the American Meteorite museum west of Winslow, Ariz.
Speaking out here yesterday for the first time for publication, Dr. Nininger qualified the statement by adding that some of the things still have not been explained.
He said that a book he wrote recently on meteorites did not include any mention of flying saucers, but if he were to write another book he would include chapter on them.
He told of tracking down a report of an object seen by hundred of persons in the southwest. The object was described as an out-of-space aircraft.
"After some months of interviewing various individuals scattered over an area of several thousand miles," he said, "I eventually found a sheepherder who had heard meteorite stones rain down around him."
Oakland, California Tribune - 20 Aug 52
No Men From Mars on Saucers, Astronomer Says
BERKELEY, Aug. 20 -- Next time you see a flying saucer, just relax, because it can't be piloted by a man from Mars.
And it can't be from any other planet outside the earth's atmosphere.
At least that's the opinion expressed last night by Dr. Otto Struve, internationally famed astronomer, before the Western Amateur Astronomers convention at the University of California.
"There is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that the phenomena described as 'flying saucers' are of extra-terrestrial origin," the chairman of the U.C. astronomy department told his audience of 300 backyard stargazers.
The idea that saucers are directed from another world was discounted.
Dr. Struve pointed out that within the solar system the earth is the only planet capable of sustaining "intelligent forms of life."
"Most popular writers indiscriminately speak of the 'the man from Mars'," he said, "but Mars does not appear to be a planet capable of supporting advanced forms of life."
"And the other planets and satellites in the solar system are even less promising with regard to the problem of flying saucers," he added.
"If planets like the earth, capable of supporting intelligent life, do exist in other star systems, the chances are that they would be at least 50,000 light years away -- and one light year is equal to nearly 6000 billion miles."
"The beings on such a planet, if they exist and if they had adequate instruments for detecting the light of the earth's sun, would receive such light emitted by the sun 50,000 years ago."
So if they had any knowledge of human beings on the earth, Dr. Struve theorized, they would now be aware only of the type of human beings that populated the earth at the lime of the Neanderthal man.
"And chances are that they would be completely disinterested in what the Neanderthal man was doing or thinking," he concluded.
Dr. Struve's address was at the final session of the two-day meeting, which featured discussion, scientific papers and displays of homemade and professional telescopes and other astronomical instruments.
Syracuse, New York Herald Journal - 22 Aug 52
Soviets, Too, Are Worried by Saucers
By James Wakefield Burke
BERLIN (NANA) -- The Russians, too, according to reliable information here, are becoming concerned about flying saucers.
A German scientist's daughter who lived in the Russian zone and was conscripted for work in a Moscow laboratory escaped to the Western Zone recently. This girl of 24 told the high commissioner's office that the Russians had come to the conclusion that flying saucers are not figments of the imagination, but something real.
The Russians, she said, are resolved to find out what they are. Her father had worked under the Nazis at Peenemuende, the big Baltic Sea rocket experimental base, during World War II.
IN THE beginning, she said, the Russians dismissed the heavenly objects as propaganda released by the Western world as a scare in the hope of convincing timid persons of the great scientific might of the West. This did not bother them, for they thought the entire program laughable.
Later, however, they began to take a more serious view of the matter when reliable stories of flying saucers were reported over Turkey and southern Russia. They then decided that the flying saucers might be new American weapons to be used against Russia in the event of war.
The fact that numerous flying saucers have been seen over Turkey leads the Russians to become extremely suspicious. They think that maybe the U.S. is experimenting with the missiles preparatory to an attack on the U.S.S.R.
ACCORDING TO the scientist's daughter, the Russians do not believe that the mysterious objects are space ships from another planet.
When in Turkey some months ago, this correspondent saw what was reported to be two flying saucers. The objects appeared over Ankara high in the sky and sped at an amazing rate of speed southward and disappeared in a matter of seconds. I dismissed them as a celestial phenomenon at the time and did not bother to report what I saw, but others saw the objects and their reports were given wide publicity.
According to the German scientist's escaped daughter, the Russians have seen this type of heavenly body or flying object repeatedly, and are genuinely concerned about them. They [Illegible] that they are some dastardly weapon in preparation to be used by the West against the defenseless population. Another propaganda campaign along the lines of the "germ warfare" charges may be in the making.
Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin 23 Aug 52
Bright Stars Easily Taken For 'Saucers'
By J. HUGH PRUETT
Astronomer, Extension Division,
Oregon Higher Education System
As it has been four years since I have aired my views in print regarding that flying chinaware, sausages, "buzzard wings" (a recent Eugene report), and other strange objects which recently have been cavorting so merrily in the "ether blue", I feel strongly the urge to speak again.
Personally I have never seen one of those mysterious things, despite the fact that I do a great deal of sky gazing. But I am not ready to say that others have not. I have many times been called from sweet slumber (I now keep my telephone beside my bed to prevent too much exertion) to inspect a so-called "heavenly saucer," only to find it was Venus or Jupiter glowing peacefully in the blue dome above.
Venus, visible as a tiny, white speck in the daytime sky, has also caused much disturbance. In the summer of 1948 a large area of Central Washington was highly disturbed for a few days when it was discovered that a "flying saucer" went over the same path in the eastern sky every afternoon then disappeared over the Cascade Range. Finally everyone settled for Venus.
The worst celestial offender is the bright star Capella when it is low in the northeastern haze. This star then seems to dance and to flash in rapid succession the most gorgeous reds and yellows, greens and blues. Late in July, I was called on two successive nights regarding this most exciting object -- and at almost the identical time, 1:15 a.m. By September -- when I get the most calls -- Capella will be in this location in the early evening.
Most Accounted For
My own views for several years have been that 95 per cent or more of the flying saucers are explainable as stars, meteors, weather bureau balloons, distant airplanes, thistle down, or other common objects. But I feel that too many level-beaded, well-informed persons, especially pilots, have seen things that are really very unusual, to dismiss it all as a "figment of the imagination." I have thought until recently that our government has been carrying on unannounced experiments, but official pronouncements now seem to indicate the Air Force is actually investigating the unexplained phenomena.
One scientist explains many of the saucers as due to mirages or reflections of earth lights from layers of warm air at high altitudes.
Others say flocks of ducks are responsible.
Doubtless each answers some cases, but as a friend said to me recently, "Were there no ducks or layers of hot air over Washington City until five years ago?"
Because of my 20 years of experience on meteor tracing, I have received a recent appointment (which cannot be explained at present) to help investigate some of the saucer reports in the Pacific states. Please write me at Eugene, Oregon, on any unexplained phenomena -- but please omit stars and meteors.
Lubbock, Texas Morning Avalanche - 27 Aug 52
'Saucers' Claimed Real
NEW YORK, Aug. 26 -- The weekly magazine, "People Today" said tonight that its editors are convinced, after investigations, that "flying saucers" not only are real but actually, are guided missiles launched by Soviet Russia and the United States.
In an article by the editors, the magazine sated:
"The inescapable conclusion from world-wide reports is that
Red saucers are launched from Atomgrad No. 3, a heavily guarded missile center in a barren waste near the Finnish border.
Launching Platforms Revealed
"Swedish authorities have detected their passage as they hurtled
across Scandinavia in a direct line for this hemisphere."
"Other Red launching platforms are in Siberia," the article stated.
The magazine said that three of their editors worked independently interviewing top physicists and ultrasonic flight experts before they came to the same conclusion -- that saucers are American and Russian guided missiles.
The magazine described the Soviet missiles as "crewless" and said they are between 50 and 75 ft. long, 14 ft. thick in an ovoid shape. It said that rockets provide the main source of power "but they also carry auxiliary motors, possibly jets."
Loaded With Cameras
The missiles are loaded with "cameras and electronic observation devices," and at present seem only interested in reconnoitering U.S. atomic and military installations, the magazine said.
But, the article added, an atomic war-head could be substituted for electronic equipment.
The Russian missiles, according to the article, are guided by remote control by means of a chain of Soviet specially equipped snorkel submarines placed strategically across the Atlantic. The magazine said that with this method of control the Soviets could direct a missile from one target to another during flight.
Can Be Blown Up
In explaining why none of the missiles have been found, the magazine said the saucers could reach an altitude of between "80-100,000 feet and attain speeds of 2,500 M.P.H." as well as having "a high-explosive destructor charge that can blow it to bits when a button on the sub is pressed."
The article stated that there is no doubt that we have a similar type missile and that it is a highly guided military secret.
It gives this as the reason that in some areas officials are not at all worried about saucer reports. But, it added:
"They are jolted however by the 400-odd 'unexplained' saucers and fireballs that have criss-crossed our skies appearing in the biggest concentrations over vital atomic and defense centers."
New Castle, Pennsylvania News - 27 Aug 52
Flying Saucers Only Imaginary Professor Says
ST. LOUIS. Aug. 27 -- Astronomer Roy K. Marshall believes those so-called flying saucers people have been seeing lately are strictly the figment of their imagination.
The noted television science professor spoke at a get-acquainted dinner of some 1,200 Ford parts dealers in St. Louis last night.
He noted that it's "flying saucers" now while back in the 12th and 13th centuries, it was "flying dragons."
Both, Marshall indicated, are strictly imaginary.
The former director of the Fels Planetarium in Philadelphia said he believed that sometimes those "flying saucers" spotted by airplane pilots are actually only the half moon.
Hamilton, Ohio Daily News Journal - 27 Aug 52
Former Journal-News Staffer Gets Low Down On Flying Saucers From Expert On Rockets
By BILL BUNGE
(Former Member of The Journal-News Editorial Staff).
MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. -- "I don't doubt the veracity of the statements made by hundreds of people who saw or thought they saw flying saucers. And based on my past experience in the rocket and aircraft power plant fields, such a device could be designed whose operation would be feasible."
That is what Lovell Lawrence Jr., says about flying saucers. Lawrence is a past president of the American Rocket Society, and now a member of the society advisory board.
In 1945 he left private industry to investigate rocket and missile development in Germany for the Navy, and in 1949 attended the London missile conference. Lawrence also holds the Robert H. Goddard medal of the rocket society.
"However," Lawrence continued, "I don't know that our advancement in nuclear science is far enough along to produce such a thing as flying saucers. But if they do exist I doubt if they come from outer space."
He also said they would not necessarily have to be a self-contained unit.
Lawrence probably is the only expert to come up with a theory on how these saucers could be propelled.
"Assuming that there are such things, there could be several ways in which they could be propelled," Lawrence said, but here are perhaps the best possible three:
"1 -- Nuclear energy, not relying on or getting power from the atmosphere."
"2 -- Some form or jet propulsion, self-contained power as in a rocket."
"3 -- The fantastic idea of an electronic beam -- light beam."
Of the three, Lawrence said the third is most doubtful "because if this were true the objects wouldn't come so close to the earth as to be seen by people, even though a light beam could produce reactive force."
Lawrence pointed out that, the saucers have appeared over a number of our military proving grounds, especially rocket and missile test bases and airfields.
"It seems to me," he said, "that if someone were sending these objects out to gather data or to attract, attention they or it would send them over places where people gather, like a New York railroad station or airfield."
Can't Explain Some
Lawrence reasoned that "there actually could be something to this saucer thing, since 20 per cent of the objects can't be explained. If this percentage amounted to around only two we could discount them and forget that anybody saw anything."
There also could be a device not using air for lift or motion, he said. Up to now flight has been based on aircraft using air as a means of lift.
However, lately we have realized, Lawrence said, that the power plant is the thing that does the work. "The flying vehicle of tomorrow probably will rely on motive force entirely," he said.
Lawrence added: "If some intelligence has a device like a flying saucer, let's hope that he or it is a friend."
Whether you need some serious styling for your walls at home or work or are on the lookout to give someone a special gift they'll treasure forever, you support the work of Saturday Night Uforia whenever you shop for great posters from AllPosters.com from any link at this site -- any, each, and every time you start your shopping from here. You still get the same great deal as your friends and family, but a little will be sent back our way as a thank you from AllPosters.com. And you'll have the extra satisfaction of directly supporting the work of Saturday Night Uforia while treating yourself or friends to something special... like any of these great sci-fi movie posters (you can even have them mounted, laminated, or framed). Just click on the pic for a larger version...