saucer summer reading fest
In 1950 three books -- all labeled non-fiction -- became the first three published on the modern flying saucer mystery. Each would reflect the personalities as well as the intellectual predilections of their individual authors.
First up, published in late May-early June 1950, was "The Flying Saucers Are Real". The book itself was an expansion of Major Donald Keyhoe's groundbreaking January 1950 article of the same name in True magazine. In the following excerpt, Keyhoe describes his final steps before publication in the magazine, and his interaction with the Air Force in requesting to review investigative files in its possession.
Above: Cover for Major Keyhoe's book. Of the three such books published that year, his was the only one issued in paperback.
THAT MORNING, at True, we made the final decisions on how to handle the story. Using the evidence of the Mantell case, the Chiles-Whitted report, Gorman's mystery-light encounter, and other authentic cases, along with the records of early sightings, we would state our main conclusion: that the flying saucers were interplanetary.
In going over the mass of reports, Purdy and I both realized that a few sightings did not fit the space-observer pattern. Most of these reports came from the southwest states, where guided-missile experiments were going on.
Purdy agreed with Paul Redell that any long-range tests would be made over the sea or unpopulated areas, with every attempt at secrecy.
"They might make short-range tests down there in New Mexico and Arizona -- maybe over Texas," he said. "But they'd never risk killing people by shooting the things all over the country."
"They've already set up a three-thousand-mile range for the longer runs," I added. "It runs from Florida into the South Atlantic. And the Navy missiles at Point Mugu are launched out over the Pacific. Any guided missiles coming down over settled areas would certainly be an accident. Besides all that, no missile on earth can explain these major cases."
Purdy was emphatic about speculating on our guided-missile research.
"Suppose you analyzed these minor cases that look like missile tests. You might accidentally give away something important, like their range and speeds. Look what the Russians did with the A-bomb hints Washington let out."
It was finally decided that we would briefly mention the guided missiles, along with the fact that the armed services had flatly denied any link with the saucers.
"After all, interplanetary travel is the main story," said Purdy. "And the Mantell case alone proves we've been observed from space ships, even without the old records."
The question of the story's impact worried both of us. Public acceptance of intelligent life on other planets would affect almost every phase of our existence -- business, defense planning, philosophy, even religion. Of course, the immediate effect was more important. Personally, I thought that most Americans could take even an official announcement without too much trouble. But I could be wrong.
"The only yardstick -- and that's not much good -- is that 'little men' story," said Purdy. "A lot of people have got excited about it, but they seem more interested than scared."
The story of the "little men from Venus" had been circulating for some time. In the usual version, two flying saucers had come down near our southwest border. In the space craft were several oddly dressed men, three feet high. All of them were dead; the cause was usually given as inability to stand our atmosphere. The Air Force was said to have hushed up the story, so that the public could be educated gradually to the truth. Though it had all the earmarks of a well-thought-out hoax, many newspapers had repeated the story. It had even been broadcast as fact on several radio newscasts. But there had been no signs of public alarm.
"It looks as if people have come a long way since that Orson Welles scare," I said to Purdy.
"But there isn't any menace in this story," he objected. "The crews were reported dead, so everybody got the idea that spacemen couldn't live if they landed. What if a space ship should suddenly come down over a big city -- say New York -- low enough for millions of people to see it?"
"It might cause a stampede," I said,
Purdy snorted. "It would be a miracle if it didn't, unless people had been fully prepared. If we do a straight fact piece, just giving the evidence, it will start the ball rolling. People at least will be thinking about it."
Before I left for Washington, I told Purdy of my last visit to the Pentagon. I had informed Air Force press relations officials of True's intention to publish the space-travel answer. There had been no attempt to dissuade me. And I had been told once again that there was no security involved; that Project "Saucer" had found nothing threatening the safety of America.
At this time I had also asked if Project "Saucer" files were now available. The Wright Field unit, I was told, still was a classified project, both its files and its photographs secret. This had been the first week in October.
When I asked if there was any other information on published cases, the answer again was negative. The April 27th report, according to Press Branch officials, was still an accurate statement of Air Force opinions and policies. So far as they knew, no other explanations had been found for the unidentified saucers.
"I'm absolutely convinced now," I told Purdy, "that there's an official policy to let the thing leak out. It explains why Forrestal announced our Earth Satellite Vehicle program, years before we could even start to build it. It also would explain those Project 'Saucer' hints in the April report."
"I think we're being used as a trial balloon," Purdy said thoughtfully. "We've let them know what we're doing. If they'd wanted to stop us, the Air Force could easily have done it. All they'd have to do would be call us in, give us the dope off the record, and tell us it was a patriotic duty to keep still. Just the way they did about uranium and atomic experiments during the war."
He still did not have the name of the other magazine supposed to be working on the saucers. But it seemed a reliable tip (it later proved to be true), and from then on we worked under high pressure.
In writing the article, I used only the most authentic recent sightings; all of the cases were in the Air Force reports. When it came to the Mantell case, I stuck to published estimates of the strange object's size; a mysterious ship 250 to 300 feet in diameter was startling enough. At first, I chose Mars to illustrate our space explorations. But Mars had been associated with the Orson Welles stampede. Most discussions of the planet had a menacing note, perhaps because of its warlike name. In the end, I switched to a planet of Wolf 359. The thought of those eight light-years would have a comforting effect on any nervous readers. The chance of any mass visitation would seem remote, if not impossible. But it would still put across the space-travel story.
As finally revised, the article, written under my byline, stated the following points as the conclusions reached by True:
1. For the past 175 years, the earth has been under systematic close-range examination by living, intelligent observers from another planet.
2. The intensity of this observation, and the frequency of the visits to the earth's atmosphere, have increased markedly during the past two years.
3. The vehicles used for this observation and for interplanetary transport by the explorers have been classed as follows: Type I, a small, nonpilot-carrying disk-shaped craft equipped with some form of television or impulse transmitter; Type II, a very large, metallic, disk-shaped aircraft operating on the helicopter principle; Type III, a dirigible-shaped, wingless aircraft that, in the Earth's atmosphere, operates in conformance with the Prandtl theory of lift.
4. The discernible patterns of observation and exploration shown by the so-called flying disks varies in no important particular from well-developed American plans for the exploration of space, expected to come to fruition within the next fifty years. There is reason to believe, however, that some other race of thinking beings is a matter of two and a quarter centuries ahead of us.
Following these points, I added a brief comment on the possibility of guided missiles, adding that the Air Force had convincingly denied this as an explanation of any sightings. As Purdy had suggested, I carefully omitted ten minor cases that I thought might be linked with guided-missile research. If disclosing the facts about space travel helped to divert attention from any secret tests, so much the better.
"True accepts the official denial of any secret device," I stated, "because the weight of the evidence, especially the world-wide sightings, does not support such a belief."
Most readers, of course, would know that some guided-missile experiments were going on, and that True was fully aware of it. But our main purpose would be achieved.
The fact that the earth had been observed by beings from another planet would be fully presented. Some readers, of course, would reject even the fact that the saucers existed. Others would cling to the idea that they were of earthly origin. But the mass of evidence would make most readers think. At the very least, it would plant one strong suggestion: that we, men and women of the earth, are not the only intelligent species in the universe. When the article was finished, it was tried out on True's staff, then on a picked group that had not known about the investigation. One editor summed up the average opinion:
"It will cause a lot of discussion, but the way it's written, it shouldn't start any panic."
The January issue, in which the story ran, was due on the stands shortly after Christmas. With my family, I had gone to Ottumwa, Iowa, to spend the holidays with my mother and sister. While I was there, the story broke unexpectedly on radio networks.
Frank Edwards, Mutual network newscaster, led off the radio comment. He was followed by Walter Winchell, Lowell Thomas, Morgan Beatty, and most of the other radio commentators. The wire services quickly picked it up; some papers ran front-page stories.
The publicity was far more than I had expected. I phoned a reporter in Washington whose beat includes the Pentagon.
"The Air Force is running around in circles," he told me. "They knew your story was due, but nobody thought it would raise such a fuss. I think they're scared of hysteria. They're getting a barrage of wires and telephone calls."
That night, as I was packing to rush back east, he called with the latest news.
"They're going to deny the whole thing," he said. "But I heard one Press Branch guy say it might not be enough -- they're trying to figure some way to knock it down fast."
Next day, while changing trains at Chicago, I saw the Air Force statement. The press release was dated December 27, 1949. Without mentioning True, the Air Force flatly denied having any evidence that flying saucers exist. After examining 375 reports, the release said, Project "Saucer" had found that they were caused by:
1. Misinterpretation of various conventional objects.
2. A mild form of mass hysteria or "war nerves."
3. Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or to seek publicity.
Evaluation of the reports of unidentified flying objects, said the Air Force, demonstrates that they constitute no direct threat to the national security of the United States.
Then came the clincher: Project "Saucer," said the Air Force, had been discontinued, now that all the reports had been explained.
It was plain that the release had been hastily prepared. It completely contradicted the detailed Project "Saucer" report, issued eight months before, that had called for constant vigilance, after admitting that most important cases were unsolved. Anyone familiar with the situation would see the discrepancy at once.
From Washington I flew to New York, where I found True in a turmoil. Long-distance calls were pouring in. Letters on flying saucers had swamped the mail room. Reporters were hounding Purdy for more information.
A hurried analysis of the first hundred letters showed a trend that later mail confirmed. Less than 5 per cent of the readers ridiculed the article. Between 15 and 20 per cent said they were not convinced; a few of these admitted they could not refute the evidence. About half the readers accepted the possibility; most of these said they saw no reason why other planets should not be inhabited. The remainder, between 25 and 30 per cent, said they were completely convinced.
Even the disbelievers asked for more information. The intelligence level of the average letter was gratifyingly high. Comments came from scientists, engineers, airline and private pilots, college professors, officers of the armed services, and a wide variety of others -- including far more women than True's readership usually includes.
Several confidential tips had come in when I arrived. Most of them were from usually reputable sources. We were given evidence that Project "Saucer" was still in operation; since its true code name was not "Saucer," it could be continued without violating the Air Force press release. This same information was received from a dozen sources within the next two weeks. We were also told that there had been 722 cases, instead of 375.
Meantime, a number of astronomers had come out with statements, pro and con. One of these was Dr. Dean B. McLaughlin, of the University of Michigan.
"No one knows what the saucers are as yet," Dr. McLaughlin said. "They could be anything, and I'm willing to be convinced once the evidence is presented."
Dr. Bart J. Bok of Harvard was on the fence: "After all," he said, "all sort [sic] of things float around in space. But I'm not convinced the saucers are anything apart from the earth."
Another Harvard astronomer, Dr. Armin J. Deutsch, took an oblique poke at True and me. "I don't think anyone -- and that includes astronomers -- knows enough about them to reach any conclusions."
After this came the comment of Dr. Carl F. von Weizacker -- that billions of stars may have planets, and many could be inhabited.
Within a few days we had a huge stack of clippings, some supporting True, some deriding us. In the midst of all this, I read scientists' comments on Einstein's new unified-field theory, which had been printed about the time True appeared on the stands. A discussion by Lincoln Barnett, author of The Universe and Dr. Einstein, explained the basic premise -- that gravitation and electromagnetic force are inseparable. As I read it, I thought of what Redell had said. If gravitation were a manifestation of electromagnetic force, was it possible that an advanced race had found a way -- as unique as splitting the atom -- to offset gravity and utilize that force?
It was during these first tense days that we ran down the White Sands story. This also ended another puzzle -- the identity of the magazine that we had feared might scoop us.
The race had been closer than we knew. The editors of a national magazine had learned of Commander McLaughlin and the sightings at White Sands. Two of the staff had carefully investigated the details. Convinced that the report was accurate, they had planned to run the story in an early issue.
Since True had appeared first with the space-travel story, the editors agreed to release the McLaughlin report for use in our March issue. The basic facts were in close agreement with what Redell had told me.
The ellipsoid-shaped saucer had been tracked at a height of 56 miles, its speed 5 miles per second. This was 18,000 miles per hour, even faster than Redell had said. The strange craft, 105 feet in length, had climbed as swiftly as Marvin Miles had described it -- an increase in altitude of about 25 miles in 10 seconds.
Commander McLaughlin stated in his article that he was convinced the object was a space ship from another planet, operated by animate, intelligent beings. He also described two small circular objects, about twenty inches in diameter, that streaked up beside a Navy high-altitude missile. After maneuvering around it for a moment, both disks accelerated, passed the fast-moving Navy missile, and disappeared.
It is Commander McLaughlin's opinion that the saucers come from Mars. Pointing out that Mars was in a good position to see our surface on July 16, 1945, he believes that the flash of the first A-bomb, at Alamogordo Base, a point not far from White Sands, was caught by powerful telescopes.
During the first week of January, I appeared on "We, the People," with Lieutenant George Gorman. When I saw Gorman, before rehearsals, he seemed oddly constrained. I had a feeling that he had been warned about talking freely. During rehearsals, he changed his lines in the script. When the writers argued over a point, Gorman told them:
"I can say only what was in my published report -- nothing else."
The day before the broadcast, a program official told me they had been told to include the Air Force denial in the script. That afternoon I learned that the Air Force planned to monitor the broadcast.
Meantime, an A.P. story carried a new Air Force announcement. Formerly secret Project "Saucer" files would be opened to newsmen at the Pentagon, giving the answers to all the saucer reports.
Just after my return to Washington, I saw an I.N.S. story that was widely printed. It was an interview with Major Jerry Boggs, a Project "Saucer" Intelligence officer who served as liaison man between Wright Field and the Pentagon. Major Boggs had been asked for specific answers to the Mantell, Chiles-Whitted, and Gorman cases.
The answers he gave amazed me. I picked up the phone and called the Air Force Press Branch. After some delay, I was told that Major Boggs was being briefed for assignment to Germany. An interview would be almost impossible.
"He wasn't too busy to talk with I.N.S.," I said. "All I want is thirty minutes."
Later, Jack Shea, a civilian press official I had known for some time, arranged for the meeting. I was also to talk with General Sory Smith, Deputy Director for Air Information.
Major Jesse Stay, a Press Branch officer, took me to General Smith's office for the interview. Both Jesse and Jack Shea, pleasant, obliging chaps who had helped me in the past, tried earnestly to convince me the saucers didn't exist. Jesse was still trying when Major Boggs came in.
Boggs looked to be in his twenties, younger than I had expected. He was trim, well built, with a quietly alert face. Two rows of ribbons testified to his wartime service. When Jesse Stay introduced me, Boggs gave me a curiously searching look. It could have been merely his usual way of appraising people he met. But all through our talk, I had a strong feeling that he was on his guard.
I had written out some questions, but first I mentioned the I.N.S. story.
"Were you quoted correctly on the Mantell case?" I asked.
"Yes, I was." Major Boggs looked me squarely in the eye. "Captain Mantell was chasing the planet Venus."
It was so incredible that I shook my head. "Major, Venus was practically invisible that day. We've checked with astronomers. Is that the official Air Force answer?"
"Yes, it is," Boggs said. His eyes never left my face. I glanced across at General Sory Smith, then back at the intelligence major.
"That's a flat contradiction of Project 'Saucer's' report. Last April, after they had checked for fifteen months, they said positively it was not Venus. It was still unidentified."
Boggs said, in a slow, unruffled voice, "They rechecked after that report."
"Why did they recheck, after fifteen months?" I asked him. "They must have gone over those figures long before that, for errors."
If my question annoyed him, Boggs gave no sign.
There's no other possible answer," he said. "Mantell was chasing Venus."
FOR A MOMENT after Boggs's last answer, I had an impulse to end the interview. I had a feeling I was facing a sphinx -- a quiet, courteous sphinx in an Air Force uniform.
I was sure now why Major Jerry Boggs had been chosen for his job, the all-important connecting link with the project at Wright Field. No one would ever catch this man off guard, no matter what secret was given him to conceal. And it was more than the result of Air Force Intelligence training. His manner, his voice carried conviction. He would have convinced anyone who had not carefully analyzed the Godman Field tragedy.
I made one more attempt. "Do the Godman Field witnesses -- Colonel Hix and the rest -- believe the Venus answer?"
"I haven't asked them," said Boggs, "so I couldn't say."
"What about the Chiles-Whitted case?" I asked. "You were quoted as saying they saw a meteor -- a bolide that exploded in a shower of sparks."
"That's right," said Boggs.
"And Gorman was chasing a lighted balloon?"
Again the Intelligence major nodded. I pointed, out that all three of the cases mentioned had been listed as unidentified in the April report.
"They'd had those cases for months," I said. "What new facts did they learn?"
Boggs said calmly, "They just made a final analysis, and those were the answers."
We looked at each other a moment. Major Boggs patiently waited. I began to realize how a lawyer must feel with an imperturbable witness. And Boggs's unfailing courtesy began to make me embarrassed.
"Major," I said, "I hope you'll realize this is not a personal matter. As an Intelligence officer, if you're told to give certain answers -- "
He smiled for the first time. "That's all right -- but I'm not hiding a thing. There's just no such thing as a flying saucer, so far as we've found out."
"We've been told," I said, "that Project 'Saucer' isn't closed -- that you just changed its code name."
"That's not so," Boggs said emphatically. "The contracts are ended, and all personnel transferred to other duty."
"Then the announcement wasn't caused by True's article?"
Both General Smith and Major Jesse Stay shook their heads quickly. Boggs leaned forward, eyeing me earnestly.
"As a matter of fact, we'd finished the investigation months ago -- around the end of August, or early in September. We just hadn't got around to announcing it."
"Last October," I said, "I was told the investigation was still going on. They said there were no new answers to the cases just mentioned."
"The Press Branch hadn't been informed yet," Boggs explained simply.
"It seems very strange to me," I said. "In April, the Air Force called for vigilance by the civilian population. It said the project was young, much of its work still under way."
Jesse Stay interrupted before Boggs could reply.
"Don, the Press Branch will have to take the blame for that. The report wasn't carefully checked. There were several loose statements in it."
This was an incredible statement. I was sure Jesse knew it.
"But the case reports you quoted came from Wright Field. As of April twenty-seventh, 1949, all the major cases were officially unsolved. Then in August or early September, the whole thing's cleaned up, from what Major Boggs says. That's pretty hard to believe."
No one answered that one. Major Boggs was waiting politely for the next question. I picked up my list. The rest of the interview was in straight question-and-answer style:
Q. Do you know about the White Sands sightings in April 1948? The ones Commander R.B. McLaughlin has written up?
A. Yes, we checked the reports. We just don't believe them.
Q. One of the witnesses was Charles B. Moore, the director of the Navy cosmic-ray project at Minneapolis, He's considered a very reputable engineer. Did you know he confirms the first report -- the one about the saucer 56 miles up, at a speed of eighteen thousand miles per hour?
A. Yes, I knew about him. We think he was mistaken, like the others.
Q. Mr. Moore says it was absolutely sure it was not hallucination. He says it should be carefully investigated.
A. We did investigate. We just don't believe they saw anything.
Q. Could I see the complete file on that case? Also on Mantell, Gorman, and the Eastern Airlines cases?
A. That's out of my province.
Q. If Project "Saucer" is ended, then all the files should be opened.
A. Well, the summaries have been cleared, and you can see them.
Q. No, I mean the actual files. Is there any reason I shouldn't see them?
A. There'd be a lot of material to search through. Each case has a separate book, and some of them are pretty bulky.
Q. There were 722 cases in all, weren't there?
A. No, nowhere near that.
Q. Then 375 is the total figure -- I mean the number of cases Project "Saucer" listed?
A. There were a few more -- something over four hundred. I don't know the exact figure.
Q. I've been told that Project "Saucer" had the Air Force put out a special order for pilots to chase flying saucers. Is that right?
A. Yes, that's right.
Q. Did that include National Guard pilots?
A. Yes, it did. When the project first started checking on saucers we were naturally anxious to get hold of one of the things. We told the pilots to do practically anything in reason, even if they had to grab one by the tail.
Q. Were any of those planes armed?
A. Only if they happened to have guns for some other mission, like gunnery practice.
Q. We've heard of one case where fighters chased a saucer to a high altitude. One of them emptied his guns at it.
A. You must mean that New Jersey affair. The plane was armed for another reason.
Q. No, I meant a case reported out at Luke Field. Three fighters took off, if the story sent us is correct. Apparently it made quite a commotion. That was back in 1945.
A. It might have happened. I don't know.
Q. What was this New Jersey case?
A. I'd rather not discuss any more cases without having the books here.
Q. Has Project "Saucer" released its secret pictures?
A. What pictures? There weren't any that amounted to anything. Maybe half a dozen. They didn't show anything, just spots on film or weather balloons at a distance.
Q. In the Kenneth Arnold case, didn't some forest rangers verify his report?
A. Well, there were some people who claimed they saw the same disks. But we found out later they'd heard about it on the radio.
Q. Didn't they draw some sketches that matched Arnold's?
A. I never heard about it.
Q. I'd like to go back to the Mantell case a second. If Venus was so bright -- remember Mantell thought it was a huge metallic object -- why didn't the pilot who made the search later on --
A. Well, it was Venus, that's positive. But I can't remember all the details without the case books.
Q. One more question, Major. Have any reports been received at Wright Field since Project "Saucer" closed? There was a case after that date, an airliner crew --
At this point, Major Jesse Stay broke in.
"It's all up to the local commanders now. If they want to receive reports of anything unusual, all right. And if they want to investigate them, that's up to each commander. But no Project 'Saucer' teams will check on reports. That's all ended."
There at the last, it had been a little like a courtroom scene, and I was glad the interview was over. Major Boggs was unruffled as ever. I apologized for the barrage of questions, and thanked him for being so decent about it.
"It was interesting, getting your viewpoint," he said. He smiled, still the courteous sphinx, and went on out.
After Boggs had left, I talked with General Smith alone. I told him I was not convinced.
"I'd like to see the complete files on these cases I mentioned," I explained. "Also, I'd like to talk with the last commanding officer or senior Intelligence officer attached to Project 'Saucer.'"
"I'm not sure about the senior officer," General Smith answered. "He may have been detached already. But I don't see any reason why you can't see those files. I'll phone Wright Field and call you."
I was about to leave, but he motioned for me to sit down.
"I can understand how you feel about the Mantell report," General Smith said earnestly. "I knew Tommy Mantell very well. And Colonel Hix is a classmate of mine. I knew neither one was the kind to have hallucinations. That case got me, at first."
"You believe Venus is the true answer?" I asked him.
He seemed surprised. "It must be, if Wright Field says so."
When I went back to the Press Branch, I asked Jack Shea for the case-report summaries that Boggs had mentioned. He got them for me -- two collections of loose-leaf mimeographed sheets enclosed in black binders. So these were the "secret files"!
Across the hall, in the press room, I opened one book at random. The first thing I saw was this:
"A meteorologist should compute the approximate energy required to evaporate as much cloud as shown in the incident 26 photographs."
Major Boggs had said there were no important pictures.
I tucked the binders under my arm and went out to my car. Perhaps these books hinted at more than Boggs had realized. But that didn't seem likely. As liaison man, he should know all the answers. I was almost positive that he did.
But I was equally sure they weren't the answers he had given me.
THAT NIGHT I went through the Project "Saucer" summary of cases. It was a strange experience.
The first report I checked was the Mantell case. Nothing that Boggs had said had changed my firm opinion. I knew the answer was not Venus, and I was certain Boggs knew it, too.
The Godman Field incident was listed as Case 33. The report also touches on the Lockbourne Air Base sighting. As already described, the same mysterious object, or a similar one, was seen moving at five hundred miles an hour over Lockbourne Field. It was also sighted at other points in Ohio.
The very first sentence in Case 33 showed a determined attempt to explain away the object that Mantell chased:
"Detailed attention should be given to any possible astronomical body or phenomenon which might serve to identify the object or objects."
(Some of the final Project report on Mantell has been given in an earlier chapter. I am repeating a few paragraphs below, to help in weighing Major Boggs's answer.)
These are official statements of the Project astronomer:
"On January 7, 1948, Venus was less than half its full brilliance. However, under exceptionally good atmospheric conditions, and with the eye shielded from the direct rays of the sun, Venus might be seen as an exceedingly tiny bright point of light. It is possible to see it in daytime when one knows exactly where to look. Of course, the chances of looking at the right spot are very few.
"It has been unofficially reported that the object was a Navy cosmic ray balloon. If this can be established it is to be preferred as an explanation. However, if reports from other localities refer to the same object, any such device must have been a good many miles high -- 25 to 50 -- in order to have been seen clearly, almost simultaneously, from places 175 miles apart."
This absolutely ruled out the balloon possibility, as the investigator fully realized. That he must have considered the space-ship answer at this point is strongly indicated in the following sentence:
"If all reports were of a single object, in the knowledge of this investigator no man-made object could have been large enough and far enough away for the approximate simultaneous sightings."
The next paragraph of this Project "Saucer" report practically nullified Major Boggs's statement that Venus was the sole explanation:
"It is most unlikely, however, that so many separate persons should at that time have chanced on Venus in the daylight sky. It seems therefore much more probable that more than one object was involved. The sighting might have included two or more balloons (or aircraft) or they might have included Venus (in the fatal chase) and balloons. ... Such a hypothesis, however, does still necessitate the inclusion of at least two other objects than Venus, and it certainly is coincidental that so many people would have chosen this one day to be confused (to the extent of reporting the matter) by normal airborne objects. ..."
Farther on in the summaries, I found a report that has an extremely significant bearing on the Mantell case. This was Case 175, in which the same consultant attempts to explain a strange daylight sighting at Santa Fe, New Mexico.
One of the Santa Fe observers described the mysterious aerial object as round and extremely bright, "like a dime in the sky." Here is what the Project "Saucer" investigator had to say:
"The magnitude of Venus was -3.8 (approximately the same as on January 7, 1948). It could have been visible in the daylight sky. It would have appeared, however, more like a pinpoint of brilliant light than 'like a dime in the sky.' It seems unlikely that it would be noticed at all. ... Considering discrepancies in the two reports, I suggest the moon in a gibbous phase; in daytime this is unusual and most people are not used to it, so that they fail to identify it. While this hypothesis has little to correspond to either report, it is worth mentioning.
"It seems far more probable that some type of balloon was the object in this case."
Both the Godman Field and the Santa Fe cases were almost identical, so far as the visibility of Venus was concerned. In the Santa Fe case, which had very little publicity, Project "Saucer" dropped the Venus explanation as a practically impossible answer. But in Case 33, it had tried desperately to make Venus loom up as a huge gleaming object during Mantell's fatal chase.
There was only one explanation: Project "Saucer" must have known the truth from the start -- that Mantell had pursued a tremendous space ship. That fact alone, if it had exploded in the headlines at that time, might have caused dangerous panic. To make it worse, Captain Mantell had been killed. Even if he had actually died from blacking out while trying to follow the swiftly ascending space ship, few would have believed it. The story would spread like wildfire: Spacemen kill an American Air Force Pilot!
This explained the tight lid that had been clamped down at once on the Mantell case. It was more than a year before that policy had been changed; then the first official discussions of possible space visitors had begun to appear.
True's plans to announce the interplanetary answer would have fitted a program of preparing the people. But the Air Force had not expected such nation-wide reaction from True's article; that much I knew. Evidently, they had not suspected such a detailed analysis of the Godman Field case, in particular. I could see now why Boggs, Jesse Stay, and the others had tried so hard to convince me that we had made a mistake.
It was quite possible that we had revived that first Air Force fear of dangerous publicity. But Mantell had been dead for two years. News stories would not have the same impact now, even if they did report that spacemen had downed the pilot. And I doubted that there would be headlines. Unless the Air Force supplied some convincing details, the manner of his death would still be speculation.
Apparently I had been right; this case was the key to the riddle. It had been the first major sighting in 1948. Project "Saucer" had been started immediately afterward. In searching for a plausible answer, which could be published if needed, officials had probably set the pattern for handling all other reports, "Explaining away" would be a logical program, until the public could be prepared for an official announcement.
As I went through other case reports, I found increasing evidence to back up this belief.
Case 1, the Muroc Air Base sightings, had plainly baffled Project men seeking a plausible answer. Because of the Air Force witnesses, they could not ignore the reports. Highly trained Air Force test pilots and ground officers had seen two fast-moving silver-colored disks circling over the base.
Flying at speeds of from three to four hundred miles an hour, the disks whirled in amazingly tight maneuvers. Since they were only eight thousand feet above the field, these turns could be clearly seen.
"It is tempting to explain the object as ordinary aircraft observed under unusual light conditions," the case report reads. "But the evidence of tight circles, if maintained, is strongly contradictory."
Although Case 1 was technically in the "unexplained" group, Wright Field had made a final effort to explain away the reports. Said the Air Materiel Command:
"The sightings were the result of misinterpretation of real stimuli, probably research balloons."
In all the world's history, there is no record of a three-hundred-mile-an-hour wind. To cover the distance involved, the drifting balloons would have had to move at this speed, or faster. If a three-hundred-mile wind had been blowing at eight thousand feet, nothing on earth could have stood it, Muroc Air Base would have been blown off the map.
What did the Muroc test pilots really see that day?
While searching for the Chiles-Whitted report, I ran across the Fairfield Suisan mystery-light case, which I had learned about in Seattle. This was Case 215. The Project "Saucer" comment reads:
"If the observations were exactly as stated by the witnesses, the ball of light could not be a fireball. ... A fireball would not have come into view at 1,000 feet and risen to 20,000. If correct, there is no astronomical explanation. Under unusual conditions, a fireball might appear to rise somewhat as a result of perspective. The absence of trail and sound definitely does not favor the meteor hypothesis, but ... does not rule it out finally. It does not seem likely any meteor or auroral phenomenon could be as bright as this."
Then came one of the most revealing lines in all the case reports:
"In the almost hopeless absence of any other natural explanation, one must consider the possibility of the object's having been a meteor, even though the description does not fit very well."
One air-base officer, I recalled, had insisted that the object had been a lighted balloon. Checking the secret report from the Air Weather Service, I found this:
"Case 215. Very high winds, 60-70 miles per hour from southwest, all levels. Definitely prohibits any balloon from southerly motion."
This case is officially listed as answered.
In Case 19, where a cigar-shaped object was seen at Dayton, Ohio, the Project investigator made a valiant attempt to fit an answer:
"Possibly a close pair of fireballs, but it seems unlikely. If one were to stretch the description to its very limits and make allowances for untrained observers, he could say that the cigar-like shape might have been illusion caused by rapid motion, and that the bright sunlight might have made both the objects and the trails nearly invisible.
"This investigator does not prefer that interpolation [sic], and it should he resorted to only if all other possible explanations fail."
This case, too, is officially listed as answered.
Case 24, which occurred June 12, 1947, twelve days before the Arnold sighting, shows the same determined attempt to find an explanation, no matter how farfetched.
In this case, two fast-moving objects were seen at Weiser, Idaho. Twice they approached the earth, then swiftly circled upward. The Project investigator tried hard to prove that these might have been parts of a double fireball. But at the end, he said, "In spite of all this, this investigator would prefer a terrestrial explanation for the incident."
It was plain that this report had not been planned originally for release to the public. No Project investigator would have been so frank. With each new report, I was more and more convinced that these had been confidential discussions of various possible answers, circulated between Project "Saucer" officials. Why they had been released now was still a puzzle, though I began to see a glimmer of the answer.
The Chiles-Whitted sighting was listed as Case 144. As I started on the report, I wondered if Major Boggs's "bolide" answer would have any more foundation than these other "astronomical" cases.
The report began with these words:
"There is no astronomical explanation, if we accept the report at face value. But the sheer improbability of the facts as stated, particularly in the absence of any known aircraft in the vicinity, makes it necessary to see whether any other explanation, even though farfetched, can be considered."
After this candid admission of his intentions, the Project consultant earnestly attempts to fit the two pilots' space ship description to a slow-moving meteor.
"It will have to be left to the psychologists," he goes on, "to tell us whether the immediate trail of a bright meteor could produce the subjective impression of a ship with lighted windows. Considering only the Chiles-Whitted sighting, the hypothesis seems very improbable."
As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, observers at Robbins Air Force Base, Macon, Georgia, saw the same mysterious object streak overhead, trailing varicolored flames. This was about one hour before Chiles and Whitted saw the onrushing space ship.
To bolster up the meteor theory, the Project consultant suggests a one-hour error in time. The explanation: The airliner would be on daylight-saving time.
"If there is no time difference," he proceeds, "the object must have been an extraordinary meteor. ... in which case it would have covered the distance from Macon to Montgomery in a minute or two."
Having checked the time angle before, I knew this was incorrect. Both reports were given in eastern standard time. And in a later part of the Project report, the consultant admits this fact. But he has an alternate answer: "If the difference in time is real, the object was some form of known aircraft, regardless of its bizarre nature."
The "bizarre nature" is not specified. Nor does the Project "Saucer" report try to fit the Robbins Field description to any earth-made aircraft. The air-base observers were struck by the object's huge size, its projectile-like shape, and the weird flames trailing behind. Except for the double-deck windows, the air-base men's description tallied with the pilots'. With the ship at five thousand feet or higher, its windows would not have been visible from the ground. All the observers agreed on the object's very high speed.
Neither of the Project "Saucer" alternate answers will fit the facts.
1. The one-hour interval has been proved correct. Therefore, as the Project consultant admits, it could not be a meteor.
2. The Robbins Field witnesses have flatly denied it was a conventional plane. The Air Force screened 225 airplane schedules, and proved there was no such plane in the area. No ordinary aircraft would have caused the brilliant streak that startled the DC-3 passenger and both of the pilots.
Major Boggs's bolide answer had gone the way of his Venus explanation. I wondered if the Gorman light-balloon solution would fade out the same way.
But the Project report on Gorman (Case 172) merely hinted at the balloon answer. In the Appendix, there was a brief comment: "Note that standard 30 inch and 65 inch weather balloons have vertical speeds of 600 and 1100 feet per minute, respectively."
In all the reports I have mentioned, and on through both the case books, one thing was immediately obvious. All the testimony, all the actual evidence was missing. These were only the declared conclusions of Project "Saucer." Whether they matched the actual conclusions in Wright Field secret files there was no way of knowing.
But even in these sketch reports, I found some odd hints, clues to what Project officials might really be thinking.
After an analysis of two Indianapolis cases, one investigator reports:
"Barring hallucination, these two incidents and 17, 75 and 84 seem the most tangible from the standpoint of description, of all those reported, and the most difficult to explain away as sheer nonsense."
Case 17, I found, was that of Kenneth Arnold. But in spite of the above admission that this case cannot be explained away, it is officially listed as answered.
Case 75 struck a familiar note. This was the strange occurrence at Twin Falls, Idaho, on which True had had a tip months before. A disk moving through a canyon at tremendous speed had whipped the treetops as if by a violent hurricane. The report was brief, but one sentence stood out with a startling effect:
"Twin Falls, Idaho, August 13, 1847 [sic, should be 1947]," the report began. "There is clearly nothing astronomical in this incident. ... Two points stand out, the sky-blue color, and the fact that the trees 'spun around on top as if they were in a vacuum.'"
Then came the sentence that made me sit up in my chair.
"Apparently it must be classed with the other bona fide disk sightings."
The other bona fide sightings!
Was this a slip? Or had the Air Force deliberately left this report in the file? If they had, what was back of it -- what was back of releasing all of these telltale case summaries?
I skimmed through the rest as quickly as possible looking for other clues. Here are a few of the things that. caught my eye:
Case 10. United Airlines report ... despite conjectures, no logical explanation seems possible. ...
Case 122. Holloman Air Force Base, April 6, 1948. [This was the Commander McLaughlin White Sands report.] No logical explanation. ...
Case 124. North Atlantic, April 18, 1948 ... radar sighting ... no astronomical explanation. ...
Case 127. Yugoslav-Greek frontier, May 7, 1948 ... information too limited. ...
Case 168. Arnheim, The Hague, July 20, 1948 ... object seen four times ... had two decks and no wings ... very high speed comparable to a V-2. ...
Case 183. Japan, October 15, 1948. Radar experts should determine acceleration rates. ...
Case 188. Goose Bay, Labrador, October 29, 1948. Not astronomical ... picked up by radar ... radar experts should evaluate the sightings. ...
Case 189. Goose Bay, Labrador, October 31, 1948 ... not astronomical ... observed on radarscope. ...
Case 196. Radarscope observation ... object traveling directly into the wind. ...
Case 198. Radar blimp moving at high speed and continuously changing direction. ...
Case 222. Furstenfeldbruck, Germany, November 23, 1948 ... object plotted by radar DF at 27,000 feet ... short time later circling at 40,000 feet ... speed estimated 200-500 m.p.h. ...
Case 223 ... seventeen individuals saw and reported object ... green flare ... all commercial and government airfield questioned ... no success. ...
Case 224. Las Vegas, New Mexico, December 8, 1948 ... description exactly as in 223 ... flare reported traveling very high speed ... very accurate observation made by two F.B.I. agents. ...
Case 231 ... another glowing green flare just as described above. ...
Case 233 ... definitely no balloon ... made turns ... accelerated from 200 to 500 miles per hour ... .
Going back over this group of cases, I made an incredible discovery: All but three of these unsolved cases were officially listed as answered.
The three were the United Airlines case, the White Sands sightings, and the double-decked space-ship report from The Hague.
Going back to the first report, I checked all the summaries. Nine times out of ten, the explanations were pure conjecture. Sometimes no answer was even attempted.
Although 375 cases were mentioned, the summaries ended with Case 244. Several cases were omitted. I found clues to some of these in the secret Air Weather Service report, including the mysterious "green light" sightings at Las Vegas and Albuquerque.
Of the remaining 228 cases, Project "Saucer" lists all but 34 as explained. These unsolved cases are brought up again for a final attempt at explaining them away. In the appendix, the Air Materiel Command carefully states:
"It is not the intent to discredit the character of observers, but each case has undesirable elements and these can't be disregarded."
After this perfunctory gesture, the A.M.C. proceeds to discredit completely the testimony of highly trained Air Force test pilots and officers at Muroc. (The 300-400 m.p.h. research balloon explanation.)
The A.M.C. then brushes off the report of Captain Emil Smith and the crew of a United Airlines plane. On July 4, 1947, nine huge flying disks were counted by Captain Smith and his crew. The strange objects were in sight for about twelve minutes; the crew watched them for the entire period and described them in detail later.
Despite Project "Saucer's" admission that it had no answer, the A.M.C. contrived one. Ignoring the evidence of veteran airline pilots, it said:
"Since the sighting occurred at sunset, when illusory effect are most likely, the objects could have been ordinary aircraft, balloons, birds, or pure illusion."
In only three cases did the A.M.C. admit it had no answer. Even here, it was implied that the witnesses were either confused or incompetent.
In its press release of December 27, 1949, the Air Force had mentioned 375 cases. It implied that all of these were answered. The truth was just the reverse, as was proved by these case books. Almost two hundred cases still were shown to be unsolved -- although the real answers might be hidden in Wright Field files.
These two black books puzzled me. Why had the Air Force lifted its secrecy on these case summaries? Why had Major Boggs given me those answers, when these books would flatly refute them?
I thought I new [sic] the reason now but there was only one way to make sure. The actual Wright Field files should tell the answer.
When I phoned General Sory Smith, his voice sounded a little peculiar. "I called Wright Field," he said. "But they said you wouldn't find anything of value out there."
"You mean they refused to let me see their files?"
"No, I didn't say that. But they're short of personnel. They don't want to take people off other jobs to look up the records."
"I won't need any help," I said. "Major Boggs said each case had a separate book. If they'd just show me the shelves, I could do the job in two days."
There was a long silence.
"I'll ask them again," the General said finally. "Call me sometime next week."
I said I would, and hung up. The message from Wright Field hadn't surprised me. But Smith's changed manner did. He had sounded oddly disturbed. ...
The second book on the scene, published in September 1950, was "Behind the Flying Saucers". Written by Hollywood gossip columnist Frank Scully, it purported to tell the story of a scientist -- pseudonymously called "Dr. Gee" -- who had personally witnessed a crashed flying saucer and its dead "little men" from Venus. In the following excerpt, Scully describes Dr. Gee and his work on the crashed saucer...
Above: Cover illustration for the later paperback pulp version of Frank Scully's 1950 hardcover book, Behind The Flying Saucers.
Chapter 12 -- Inside Flying Saucers:
IT IS an accepted practice in jurisprudence to give the plaintiff enough rope in the hope that he will hang himself and thus spare the defendant the task of doing it by way of rebuttal. On occasion when such a procedure may have left some doubt in the minds of jurors it is up to counsel for the defense to spring a surprise witness, and this I propose to do.
In the summer of 1949, while consorting with men engaged in magnetic research on the Mojave Desert, I met a man of science whose contemporaries rated him the top magnetic research specialist of the United States. He had more degrees than a thermometer and had received them from such diverse institutions as Armour Institute, Creighton University, and the University of Berlin. He is the scientist I have called Dr. Gee.
He had been assigned to direct a division of top scientists during the war. Their task was to knock submarines out of the seven seas and directed-missiles out of the skies by other than the slow and disheartening methods then in use. They conducted 35,000 experiments on land, sea, and air on this defense project. They worked out of two laboratories and had a budget of one billion dollars at their secret command.
Their work has never been publicized, as was the two billion spent on creating the first atomic bomb, first, because defense is never as spectacular as offense and, second, because so much of their work was still uncompleted by the war's end that it has remained top secret to this day. Suffice it to say that it was of magnetic origin.
Long after other scientists were discharged and back in their industrial and scholarly laboratories, these men labored on. The director in fact didn't get even a conditional release until July, 1949.
I met him shortly afterward. He was the man who told us the whole story of the first flying saucer that had landed in the United States. Another had landed in the Sahara before this, but that one was more cracked than a psychiatrist in an auto wreck. But the one he had worked on had gently pancaked to earth like a slow motion of Sonja Henie imitating a dying swan.
Two tenescopes [sic, throughout] caught this unidentified ship as it came into our atmosphere. They watched its position and estimated where it would land. Within a few hours after it landed, Air Force officers reached the flying field at Durango, Colorado, and took off in their search for the object.
When they found it, it was in a very rocky, high plateau territory, east of Aztec, New Mexico. They immediately threw a guard around it. Then Dr. Gee and seven of his group of magnetic scientists were called in to examine this strange ship. When they arrived on the ground they decided that the best thing to do was not to touch it or try to get into it. They studied the ship from a distance for a matter of two days, bombing it with Geiger counters, cosmic rays, and other protective devices.
"Finally, we decided that it was probably safe," the doctor said, "as nothing had transpired inside the ship to indicate that there was life therein. Apparently there was no door to what unquestionably was the cabin. The outside surface showed no marking of any sort, except for a broken porthole, which appeared on first examination to be of glass. On closer examination we found it was a good deal different from any glass in this country. Finally, we took a large pole and rammed a hole through this defect in the ship.
"Having done this, we looked into the interior. There we were able to count sixteen bodies, that ranged in height from about 36 to 42 inches.
"We assumed that there must be a door of some kind, unless these people had been hermetically sealed in a pressurized cabin, so we prodded around with the pole which we had used to push through the opening made through the broken porthole, and on the opposite side from the broken porthole, we hit a knob; or a double knob, to be exact. When we pushed against that double knob, to our amazement and surprise, a door flew open. This enabled us to get into the ship.
"We took the little bodies out, and laid them on the ground. We examined them and their clothing. I remember one of our team saying, 'That looks like the style of 1890.' We examined the bodies very closely and very carefully. They were normal from every standpoint and had no appearance of being what we call on this planet 'midgets.' They were perfectly normal in their development. The only trouble was that their skin seemed to be charred a very dark chocolate color. About the only thing that we could decide at the time was that the charring had occurred somewhere in space and that their bodies had been burned as a result of air rushing through that broken porthole window, or something going wrong with the means by which the ship was propelled and the cabin pressured."
They then began an examination of the ship itself. First they decided to take complete measurements of the ship from the outside. The skin was aluminum colored.
"Reports that had appeared from time to time in the papers about these strange visitors," continued Dr. Gee, "had always been to the effect that 'they looked like flying saucers.' With this ship on the ground we could not help but be aware of the fact that it looked like a huge saucer, and you might almost say that there was a cup in it, because the cabin set [sic] in an insert in the bottom of the saucer. The overall dimensions of the ship were found to be a fraction short of 100 feet in diameter. To be exact it measured 9999⁄100 feet wide. From the outer tip of the wing, which was entirely circular, to the bottom of the saucer, measuring in an imaginary line vertically, was 27 inches. The cabin which was entirely round, was 18 feet across, and 72 inches in height. Exactly 45 inches of the cabin was exposed above the outer rim of the saucer. The portholes were located in this area."
On getting into the ship, the doctor said, their first objective was to decide, if they could, how the ship was propelled. He was the first to suggest that it probably flew on magnetic lines of force. Some of his staff suggested pushing some of the buttons on what appeared to be the instrument board to find out if his suspicions were true. But all agreed after some discussion that that would be about the worst possible thing they could do, because if the ship started, nobody would know which button to push to stop it again.
"So the result was," said Dr. Gee, "that none of us pushed any buttons on the instrument board."
There were two "bucket seats," as the doctor called them, in front of the instrument board and two of the little fellows were sitting there. They had fallen over, face down, on the instrument board.
Now, it appeared that this ship, if flying on magnetic lines of force, must have had an automatic type of control, so that when it came into danger or when its occupants were not in a position to operate the ship, it simply settled quietly to earth. Obviously it had already flown into our atmospheric area, either on intelligence or instruments.
"None of us could arrive at any conclusion as to when or how this window had broken," Dr. Gee remarked, "or at what possible point in space these occupants must have been killed. The simple fact was that there they were, dead from either burns or the bends, and we proceeded with the further examination of the interior of the ship.
"We found some pamphlets or booklets, which in all probability dealt with navigation problems. However, we were unable to decipher any of the writing, which we judged to be a pictorial type of script. All of these booklets were turned over to certain officials of the Air Force, who in turn reported that they were going to have them placed in the hands of men experienced in translating work of this kind."
I asked the doctor if he had heard if the handwriting experts had much success. He said as far as he knew no headway of any kind had been made in working out a translation of the written subject matter of the booklets. He said there were not any maps, and so far as they could determine the ship carried no instruments of destruction, nor the crew any firearms of any sort.
In studying the matter further, the doctor pointed out that this of course was entirely unnecessary, because if the ship had been operated magnetically, it unquestionably had the means by which it could demagnetize any object, from an asteroid to a F-80 that might cross its path. The demagnetization would destroy or disintegrate the obstacle. This of course would equally be applicable to human beings on this earth, or any form of matter which they came in contact with on this planet.
I said, "Doctor, what do you make of this whole thing? Where do you think these ships are coming from?"
He said, "Of course we don't know, but our best guess at this moment, astronomers to the contrary, is that they have flown here from the planet Venus."
I asked him why they had decided this.
"Well," he said, "in all the latest research regarding the possibility of life on other planets it was fairly well agreed among quite a school of thought in astronomical research, that there was more likelihood of human habitation on the planet Venus than on the planet Mars."
The size of the men, too, was a factor in his decision. He went so far as to say that if there were any human beings on the planet Mars they would probably be three or four times as large as human beings on this planet, and since the people on the grounded disk ship ranged in height from about 36 to 42 inches, that, in his judgment, ruled out Mars.
Day after day over a period of the next ninety days following this first talk about this first space ship, or as we came to talk of it, this "flying saucer," one of our number, made it his business on all sorts of occasions, most of them when alone with the doctor and in the midst of research in magnetic work, to ask him for more details. The questioner came up with questions at the most inopportune times, because, it must be understood, that he felt that he owed it to himself as well as to us, to run this thing down to where we could finally decide as to whether or not this was all true.
On one occasion he asked, "Doctor, how were these ships constructed?" He said, "The outer skin of the ship was what looked like aluminum, but on all the tests so far made, there was nothing that had been found by the scientists who had checked into it, to indicate that this was any form of aluminum that we know."
He said that on the big ship two or three men could lift one side of it, it was that light. On the other hand, as many as a dozen of them had crawled up on top of the wing and it was so strong they made no impression on it whatever.
He said that the Air Force, in wanting to move the ship, decided to dismantle it because it was too big to move otherwise.
This began a most interesting study. There were no rivets. There were no bolts, no screws. There was nothing on the outer skin that would indicate how the ship was put together.
After a long study it was found, however, that the ship was assembled in segments. The segments fitted in grooves and were pinned together around the base.
When the cabin was lifted out of the bottom of the saucer, they found a gear completely encircling the bottom of the ship and this gear fitted into a gear that was on the cabin.
The whole thing was very ingeniously put together, and there had to be a lot of care taken in breaking it down.
After it had been broken down, it was moved to a government testing laboratory and there it remained while parts were being tested for a considerable period of time.
When Dr. Gee next saw it, the instrument board, to his amazement and chagrin, had been broken up and all of the inner workings torn apart. This, he said, prevented any further study by them as to the magnetic operation of the ship itself.
He regretted this dismantling very much, because he said that had they been able to keep it intact long enough, there might have come a time when they might have worked out a plan, whereby they could make certain tests as to the different push buttons on the instrument board. These, he was certain, held the clews [sic, throughout] to the magnetic form of combustion developed on the ship itself.
One of us asked, "What has been done with the people that were on the ship?" Dr. Gee said that some of them had been dissected, and studied by the medical division of the Air Force and that from the meager reports he had received, they had found that these little fellows were in all respects perfectly normal human beings, except for their teeth. There wasn't a cavity or a filling in any mouth. Their teeth were perfect.
From the characteristics and physiology of their bodies they must have been about 35 to 40 years of age, judged by our standards of age.
As to clothes, he said they all wore the same type of uniform, a dark blue garment, with metal buttons. He said it was significant that there was not any insignia of any kind on the collars or on the sleeves or on the caps of these people. So, to all intents and purposes, all of them had the same rank.
He said it might of course be possible that they had different ranks among themselves but that by our standards of military ranking there was nothing to indicate who they were nor what they were.
Going into the matter of physical possessions on the bodies of these people, Dr. Gee said that so far as he saw himself, they were very limited, but that there were two or three pieces to which he had had access that might have been timepieces.
He said it was very interesting to study these timepieces, because they seemed to do their work, or functioning, without any attention. The timepieces were about the size of a silver dollar in diameter and a little bit thicker. They had four markings, one at the top, and one at what would be 3 o'clock, another at 6 o'clock, and a fourth at 9 o'clock.
It was discovered that the inside part of what he and his staff called a timepiece, actually moved, but that it took a full magnetic month for it to complete its circle.
"Now," said Dr. Gee, "you know of course that a magnetic day is 23 hours and 58 minutes. We found that the time it took for the timepiece to make this complete circumference, was over 29 days. Figured out in hours and minutes, that totaled exactly the number of magnetic days in a magnetic month."
He said that there was what appeared to be food on this ship and that these were little wafers. They fed them to guinea pigs, and they seemed to thrive on them. On one occasion one wafer was put into a gallon container of boiling water and it very quickly boiled over the sides of the container.
This was the only evidence of food on the ship. He added that there were two containers of water on this particular ship, and on checking the water they found it to be normal in all respects to our water, except it was about twice as heavy. The doctor pointed out that there was a water in Norway that was about the weight of this water.
One day Si Newton, who was closest to Dr. Gee and felt he was in a position to act as a sort of buffer state, since he was both a partner in geophysical research and independent of any Pentagonic ties, past or present, was surprised to hear the doctor say, "I want you to see these ships and judge for yourself whether we are on the right track and not guessing at their point of origin. I'm trying to get clearance right now."
Newton asked, "Did you say ships?"
"Oh yes," responded Dr. Gee, "we have had three and we saw a fourth. But that one got away," he added with a laugh. "The second one landed near one of the proving grounds in Arizona, as opposed to the first which landed near a proving ground in New Mexico. When we got to the second one we found almost the same conditions of the first, except that the door was open and the sixteen dead people in it were not burned nor browned. In fact medical opinion was that they had not been dead more than two or three hours. Our conclusion was that they had died in our atmosphere when the double knob of the door was opened and our air rushed into their cabin which was probably vacuumed or pressurized for their atmosphere but not ours."
Newton asked, "How do you determine the presence of these particular ships. [sic, no question mark] Do you stumble on them or know the moment they come in our atmosphere?"
Dr. Gee replied, "In the laboratories and also at Alamogordo and Los Alamos and at different parts of the country we have tenescope observers who spend 24 hours a day watching for evidence of objects or ships flying in the sky. Everything that comes within the range of these tenescopes is noted. If it is unfamiliar and lands, the Air Force is aware of it almost immediately, and if it presents scientific problems we or other groups are consulted."
He said that the second ship was smaller, 72 feet in diameter, but otherwise similar to the 9999⁄100 foot ship. He and his fellow scientists had decided that the mathematical system of the operators of these ships was in all probability the same as ours, "because mathematical law should follow for all the planets in this solar system." Their reason for thinking this was because they were struck with the fact that when the measurements of the ship in all its parts were broken down they found that it followed what he called "The System of 9's."
He went to considerable length to explain the mathematical system of 9's, and added, "We concluded from this clew that in all probability they used a system of mathematics similar to ours."
The third ship he and his staff examined landed right above Phoenix in Paradise Valley. "We happened to be in Phoenix, so we got out to it in a hurry."
One of the little men was half out of the escape door or "hatch," as the doctor called it. The little man was dead. The other little fellow (there being only a crew of two on this ship) was sitting in his seat at the control board. He also was dead. This ship was 36 feet in diameter and the size of the cabin and all the rest of dimensions balanced out on the same system of 9's, that had been found in the other ships.
Asked if they had any sleeping quarters or toilet facilities, the doctor explained that on the 72-foot ship there was a very ingenious device which when they discovered how to operate it, turned out to be the sleeping quarters. Pushed back into the wall was what turned out to be a collapsible or accordion type screen, and as it was pulled out, it moved around in a half circle, so that by the time it reached the wall of the circular cabin little hammocks had dropped down from this screen or accordion-like wall, and there were the sleeping quarters for these men.
He said there were toilet facilities inside the sleeping quarters. The smallest ship, however, had no such conveniences, from which the doctor deduced they were making round trips so fast they didn't feel the need of such facilities any longer.
Newton asked, "Where is the little ship?"
"We have that one in the laboratories at the present time," replied Dr. Gee. "As soon as I get your appointment through I will be authorized to let you inspect it."
In time Newton's appointment came through, but by then the ship had been dismantled and reported shipped to Dayton, and all comment thereafter proscribed, denied, or ignored.
All the doctor had to show for his labors was a tubeless radio, some gears, some small disks, and other items that could be carried in one's pocket. He was granted these baubles for research.
I saw and examined these. More than 150 tests had failed to break down the metal of the gears. The gears themselves were of a ratio unfamiliar to engineers on this earth; had no play, no lubrication.
As for the radio, it was not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes. It had been torn from a corner of the cabin, which was in all likelihood its aerial antenna. It had no tubes, no wires, and only one dial. Dr. Gee built a special antenna for it, about 4 inches high, and was able to catch a high C sort of note at 15 minutes past every hour. It wasn't radio as we know it, but it was a means of communication with somewhere.
Asked what possible reason there could be for keeping all this a secret, Dr. Gee couldn't imagine, "unless," he added, "fear of a panic or the upsetting of certain religious beliefs, or just plain brass exercising its authoritative powers to keep their powers from atrophying. The government wants to keep people away from that area of New Mexico, as this could very well start a stampede of curiosity seekers as well as a panic among certain types of people who are easily frightened. I've talked to religious leaders and they ridicule any idea that this would upset theological concepts. So I can't imagine what the Air Force had in mind. All I know is they ruined our chances of working on 'live' models and have left themselves groping and guessing ever since. I think we have some of the answers by now, but they are derived from our side not the visitors, who, my guess is, are 500 years ahead of us -- in their knowledge of propulsion at any rate."
Whether we can soon return the compliment and visit the Saucerians, with or without permission of the Pentagonians, even with nothing more than the charred body of Orson Welles, depends, Dr. Gee believed, on how fast we can step up our knowledge of magnetic propulsion and the whole subject of magnetic energy generally. That the visitors showed improvement in each ship they sent out, the doctor didn't doubt. He pointed out a three point landing gear which was on the smallest ship. It held steel balls in vacuum cups which permitted the balls to revolve. While the balls were moving in one direction, nothing could tilt or tip the ship, but when they were motionless a child could tilt it. To solve that secret alone, Dr. Gee contended, would be worth years of research. Maybe others in the vast interdepartmental structure of the Pentagon are doing it and keeping it a secret from those who worked on some other phase of it. The whole procedure tends to make a man hoard what he knows instead of sharing it, lest he be clinked for giving away the nation's security, or what some fallible and unidentified authority has decreed for the moment is the nation's security.
We asked the doctor what in his opinion were the chances of the Air Force's eventually admitting that the flying saucers have come from another planet. He replied that as nearly as he could judge from all the work that he and his associates had done, the Air Force was not interested in admitting the discovery of a new method of flight. Jet propulsion was their story and we were stuck with it. Then he launched on a technical explanation concerning the creation of motive power by the breaking of magnetic lines of force. He called to my attention that there are 1,257 magnetic lines of force to the square centimeter. These are counted on a tenescope as one would count strands of wire at the cut end of a cable.
He said that the crossing of two or more lines of force made it possible in effect to permit movement in a manner hitherto unknown in aerodynamics.
"Of course, you understand," he added, "the saucer-like construction is the most ideal type of vehicle to move in the air. The fact that the saucer whirls is only for the purpose of balance, because there is not any thrust insofar as the wing surface is concerned. There is not any thrust by reason of any propeller, either, because there are no propellers.
"What actually happens is that, even though the wing part is whirling, the saucer actually crawls forward from one crossed magnetic line of force to another.
"Now, when you consider there are 1,257 lines to the square centimeter and no two cross, we have the problem of combustion or propulsion, or power created when they are crossed under control. The successive crossing of these magnetic lines of force under control makes possible the speeding up of the whirling action of the plate or wing part of the saucer, because the saucer is attempting to get to the next succeeding line of force; or, perhaps we could say, seeking to get back in balance.
"In other words, the ship is trying to get away from itself, or trying to get away from the position it finds itself in, when combustion power is created by the crossing of magnetic lines of force.
"We think in terms of electric current, when it is produced in a wire, as traveling in the wire itself, or as some scientists put it, flowing through a wire. This has never been conclusively proved. But we do know that where the electric energy is created at its source, the dynamo, it is transmitted through the wire, and the wire of course becomes a magnetic field and at its various termini we have the use of it, as electric light or in other forms."
Asked if he didn't consider that the motive power of the saucer was what one might say, in reverse as to electric energy in a wire, Dr. Gee explained, "What we have here is energy existing and created without a wire and actually in the lines of force themselves. The saucer being so regulated magnetically is eternally trying to get away from its disturbed magnetic points, as a person prodded from behind by a needle might try to get away from the disturbance, and thereby movement is created.
"When the saucer moves out of our atmospheric area, or control, then, of course, we have no weight and we have no resistance. And all we have left is magnetic lines of force, which are in an undisturbed state, out to where they approach magnetic lines of force from another planet. Since these magnetic lines of force are identical, they act similar to the two north poles of any magnet. In other words, like poles (which is the first law of magnetism) repel. Therefore, the planet Venus, for example, and the planet Earth, is each held in position by reason of its magnetic repulsion. All are in universal balance and all move in their orbits in the same fashion.
"We do not understand how these magnetic fields are created from the sun; we only know that they exist, and when we learn something about how they are created, or how they evolved, then we can begin to learn something about how they act."
His reason for appraising the interplanetary visitors who have flown in here as being 500 years ahead of us, is based on the fact that they now appear to come and go at will. Somehow they can cross from their magnetic lines of force on to ours, despite the fact that the two planets involved are positive and would therefore repel any object's effort to move from one to the other. It is as easy to conceive of them traveling in their zone and we in ours as it is to conceive of traveling up and down on a scenic railway once given sufficient push. But hopping from one scenic railway to another going in the opposite direction represents a triumph of magic over experience. This the Saucerians appear to have achieved. They fly singly, and in groups and, as reported at Farmington, New Mexico, during the month of March, 1950, they even appear now and then in groups of hundreds. It is as if they were demonstrating that where one, two, and even three of their number had failed, they later corrected the faults that caused the failures and came over in strength, flying over the very area where their pioneers had died trying.
Those whose doubts exceeded those of the Pentagonians have harped on the size of those piloting the flying saucers. It has seemed to them like a rewrite of Gulliver's Travels. These scoffers should not be allowed to forget that Jonathan Swift's little friends measured six inches high, whereas these Saucerians measured three to three-and-a-half feet tall and are therefore at least as believable as Mickey Rooney.
Finally, in late 1950, British scholar Gerald Heard published the third-ever non-fiction book on the flying discs (following Keyhoe's "The Flying Saucers Are Real" and Scully's "Behind the Flying Saucers"). Published in the United Kingdom, and entitled "The Riddle of the Flying Saucers -- Is Another World Watching?", it was basically -- and for those curious about the English scene, disappointingly -- a rehash of events in the United States. But it did contain some unique theories on the motivation and biology of the aliens Heard was sure were aboard the saucers...
Above: Book jacket for Gerald Heard's 1950 hardcover book, Riddle of The Flying Saucers.
WE shall have to start at the wrong end, if the right end is to find the creature and then to study his behavior. We cannot expose whoever -- if anyone -- is inside the disk, the tube, or the globe. He certainly is safely encapsulated in his husk or shell, and perhaps has to be. Certainly when you are going at 18,000 miles per hour you have to be shut up pretty securely if you are made of anything that we call a body, a living body. So we shall try to find out their views by watching their muffled, if magically swift, behaviour. And to find out their views we shall be on safest ground -- where all seems terribly up in the air -- if we try and gather what it is that they seem to view.
THE CREWS AND THEIR VIEWS
"Show me your tastes and I will tell you your character," is an old and obvious motto. What are they interested in? For our interests do, as it were, cast a shadow of our minds. We have been watching them only a couple of years: but already it may be that their interests have shifted a bit. Or perhaps we have -- it would be the better way to put it -- made them shift, jolted them out of a rut, made them brisker.
When birds are on their own and haven't been disturbed by man, they are far more unwary and casual than after our presence than when once we have been about, to cause them to keep out of the way, or at least to observe their proper distance. When the disks were first seen some of the most interesting sighting seemed to suggest that they -- or their directors -- might be in a contemplative frame of mind. They brooded quite a bit, hung above and gazed down.
A good example of this was a report of an event during the last week of July, 1948. The first story, handled by the United Press and afterwards carefully vouched for, came from the peaceful and somewhat out-of-the-way town of Alice, Texas. Five reputable citizens saw it. That is enough but nothing big. What was big and strange was the time, the time the object under observation stayed on view. It seemed simply to have anchored itself aloft. For nearly two days it remained stationary.
Spherical, and giving off very little light, it appeared to the observers to be some 5,000 feet up in the air. Eventually planes were sent over to investigate. But then, perhaps not unnaturally, the patient 'watcher of the skies' gave up its vigil.
We may ask why did he wait so long? And we may add another question, more pointed. Would he now be left to ride quietly on the sky? The answer to that latter question is, of course, No. As to the first question of his lengthy brood, can we ask ourselves what it is that these visitors want to find out? Obviously they are seeking information -- there is no sign that they are planning invasion. They have let much of the advantage of their ·position slip away -- the element of surprise was permitted to evaporate two years ago. Let us then deduce what we can from their machines, and then, from that, try to construe their manoeuvres.
Are they at all like us? Yes, they are in some wonderfully reassuring ways. Maybe, after all, it is good that we cannot see them, for we can the better judge them (in the interval) by their acts. For their acts are those of -- one says it advisedly -- very circumspect, very intelligent gentlemen. There is everything to support such a reassuring verdict and nothing to tell against it. Of their intelligence, that it is day-bright, of the highest standard, of the most penetrating insight and understanding, it is hard to doubt. All that we long and strain to do in the very height of mechanical and dynamical research seems in their hands. But to this is added a considerateness that seems equal to their power. We have to start the last sentence with 'But', when we ought naturally to begin it with 'And'. For in the squalid world in which we squirm, (hiding our heads in the sand, filled with panic fear at our fellows' possible triumphs in "winning power over the environment"), we cannot ' think of power as anything but added perils, a fresh temptation to mutual slaughter. So we have to say "But" instead of "And". As though compassion, patience and the wish to understand were the opposites of, and in eternal conflict with the capacity to do what we want, and to control circumstances to fulfil our aims! Except for the sad accident in the Mantell affair (and then the great ship was in headlong flight from its midget pursuer) these visitors have always not only tried to give right of way and get off anyone else's tracks but have succeeded. They have behaved with a deportment which shows not merely savoir-faire but real considerateness. Let us then, when trying to track the paths of their enquiries, see a little way by asking ourselves what we should do if we possessed power that made us considerate and proud, wise and not paranoiac?
Well, if we came upon a people much behind ourselves we would behave -- as, thank Heaven (since anthropology has come in) we have done in some cases on our meeting another culture. We would conduct ourselves with patience and courtesy and wait for those into whose presence we had come to allow us to advance. Meanwhile we should be quietly observant, and see how much our eyes could teach us about the character of our involuntary hosts.
If then these visitors had -- and had to have -- their first views of us from a very considerable distance, what would be their first conclusion? We know that the first photograph that has been secured from a film sent up in a rocket that reached 100 miles high showed a great stretch of the Southwest of the United States. You could recognise the Gulf of California into which the Colorado River flows. But of course no hint appears on that, the first true and actual large scale map, no suggestion that this vast stretch of land has any occupants. With the best magnification and the clearest lens our proud cities would perhaps show an ambiguous stain on the landscape not as striking as a spot of a "mosaic virus" infection that mottles the surface of a leaf. We ourselves, "the measure of all things", "the crown of creation" as we have with modest self-awareness named our presence we should be far less prominent than lice.
As then any visitor from far up aloft came careening down, he would first see our stain-towns. And then, as straight lines, however fine, of amazing narrowness, have a wonderful way of showing up from great distances, he would see the arterial roads leading to these stains. Anyone aware of plant growth would suspect that here they were presented with some sort of low lichen, but one that spread a fine filament-system of roots over the surface of the ground to feed it. To understand this one form of rather ill-ordered and obviously rudimentary living organism he, the explorer, would watch with care these rootlets. Even if they did not grow quickly enough for that growth to be seen, you might detect some kind of circulation of fluid going to and fro in these veins. And the observer would have been rewarded. Minute objects did slowly percolate up and down these fine channels.
Coming close to study this, the first signs of life in an otherwise apparently dead world, the watcher would next perceive the nature of these crawling protoplasms or germs or circulatory free-moving cells. He would see, as curiosity drew him daringly closer to the surface of the planet, that they were low organisms, crouched close on the fine runway or duct. He would then perhaps be close enough to see that, though they moved very slowly, they could not keep going for long. They evidently became exhausted, yawned open along their sides, discharged the contents of their digestive system, closed again their mouths or vents and fell to sleep. When they had recovered from their temporary exhaustion, they would suck into them again -- or maybe devour -- some smaller creature. After this their strength would come back to them and they would bumble off down the circulation ducts -- so serving in their blind way the much vaster organism in which they lived and moved.
This discovery of the slowness, the weakness and the earth-boundedness of the things that moved in the ducts of the low and sprawling stain-organism, would make the observer fairly certain that these micro-organisms could not be either very strong nor very intelligent. Crouched on the earth, able to proceed -- and then only on all-fours -- only along these fine ducts, surely such creatures would have no interest save in what came straight in front of their down-bent noses. They would have luminous eyes with which they would see their way at night, but these eyes would be turned almost always on to the earth.
But then, having decided that this was the one species with which a visitor would have to deal, the newcomer would suddenly discover there was another species -- a kind of rudimentary flying or air-skidding insect. And, what is more, there seemed some evidence that this insect did take an interest in things above it. Was it possible that it had noticed us, the cautious, far-distance-keeping visitors? Hardly possible for such a rudimentary animal! But then those who come on new facts must, above all, keep open minds. Nothing must be ruled out, in an unknown situation, however improbable, however ludicrous it must appear to a creature of commonsense. Of course, then, the first wise step is to plot the paths -- and so deduce the powers and may be [sic] the purpose of the winged (or fluked) species. The crouched, crawling species had to have routes, ducts in which to creep.
Did the air-skidding creatures also have to follow lines, because, one might suggest, they had to be drawn along fine filaments from point to point? They were a rarer species than the crawling lice or circulation cells of the earth level ducts. But it was soon clear that they nearly always were moving from one stain-patch to another -- yes, they were on some kind of traffic schedule between these stains. Maybe they were a kind of fly that was thus cross-fertilising the lichen-stains? Perhaps they flew from one to another to collect its pollen. Certainly above the stain-organisms could generally be seen a kind of dust that might well be a discharge of fine reproductive spores on which the insects might live. In exchange they would blindly serve the purposes of the great main-plant-organisms by mixing the pollen of one distant plant with the pollen of another -- a blend which the plant-organisms on their own could never hope to achieve.
So the first thing to do when this important discovery was made was, above all, to study the routes of these air-skid insects. As we have seen this nearly led to some accidents -- though that may be going too far. In such perfect control of such perfect craft these riders of the upper sky may not have been taking the slightest risk.
If our grandparents or great-grandparents saw us 'weaving' along in our cars on the densely trafficked streets, the whole pelting stream often surging brightly along at thirty miles an hour, they would have gone home and had a quiet and final nervous breakdown.
To them a modern street could only be a picture of perpetual temptation of Providence, a nightmare of men continually, wantonly, risking instant destruction.
But there can be little doubt that these the visitors were learning. They must keep away from us: give us a wider berth than perhaps they had thought at first they would have to give. But that was merely negative self-advice.
Could they do anything positive? Obviously. Was it not clear that the insect species had some kind of energy, may be tapped-power, perhaps no more than a higher protein-diet, that gave them the force to get up, if only into the lower thicker air -- while all the rest of the living creatures either had to crawl along ducts, or lower still -- if larger -- just sprawl immobilised as did the big stain-organisms.
So the next step would be to find out what were these sources of power. How could the onlooker do that? Even human advance has in the last decade suggested a way, perhaps the way. In the last few years increasing use of the plane has been made for surveying for ores, mineral deposits, oil field possibilities. Instead of stumbling across the rough terrain, trying with heavy instruments to locate radiation coming from the ground, trying with such super-balances as the Etvos machine, attempting with gravimetric methods to gauge what masses of coal or other mineral may be under our feet, it has been found that instruments can be carried in planes that, riding in the air over such districts, give most useful readings to suggest what is hidden in the earth below. Let us suggest that the 'brooder' that hung for two days unmolested over Alice, Texas, was such an observer. Maybe he was making soundings in the earth 5,000 feet below him and maybe another 1,000 feet into the crust. Texas is one of the richest mineral sites in the world. Already it has given us much oil. There may be ores in that great district, ores the power possibilities of which we are yet too backward to know. The visitor may then have been making his soundings to answer the question: How are the earth-creatures -- at least the winged species, powered, what is their food or fuel? As we have seen, our apparent resentment at such quiet investigation led the visitors to be more circumspect. But can we think they would abandon all hope of learning of our sources of power? Not till they know those can they safely approach a creature of uncertain intelligence and even more uncertain temper.
And, final speculation -- for till we know more we must explore every possibility -- might not this not unnatural supposition as to rationally cautious behaviour account for the one disaster that has marked this Saga of the Skies? Might it not account for the Kentucky tragedy? Fort Knox, which seems to have been in the centre of this episode, is, as was remarked above, the place where the greatest accumulation of gold was ever deposited by man. It has been guarded as if national safety depended upon it.
The late President Franklin Roosevelt had the grand old-fashioned fancy about Element 79 (gold), whose chemical symbol is AU and whose atomic weight used to be given as 197.2, but of whose unique value in chemistry or physics there is no evidence.
Its worth, of course, is that it was, and still is, fairly rare and was once thought, but is no longer thought, to give a dead man a better chance of living in another world than the other poor fellow, who had none of it put in his dead mouth, could hope to have. Hence the oddest dump on the whole surface of this planet.
Can we doubt that any sky surveyor seeking to know of our powers and power resources, our ores, minerals and raw materials would not sooner or later strike the radiation, or gravitational displacement, of this huge dump? But its existence and its treasured care would awake further speculation, further puzzlement. Why do we keep that yellow junk? Do we circulate it? No. Do we eat it? No. Can it be used as a secret form of power generator? That must be it! So they would make their readings. It must be radio-active. Perhaps the creatures have found some method to get propulsive power out of it. After all one must never underrate strangers. Perhaps, after all, on one or two points, one of the species is really quite advanced. But still the gold refuses to give up its secret, still it remained stubbornly inexplicable -- of no use, none whatsoever, completely inexplicable to any intelligent creature that did not know the tragic, bewildered, fantastic story of man's illusions and mistakes, misapprehensions and murderous muddles.
How could any creature of understanding hope to grasp the story of our insane fancy about AU, Element 79? How could he think that to-day, when we have flying and power sources, we still tie ourselves to a superstition which we do not even any longer believe? But to support the theory that these visitors may very well be plumbing and testing our power resources, we have at least more than a couple of strands of suggestion and deduction. This possible knowledge has come through Radar -- our latest instrument for testing what we cannot see.
Radar, as everyone interested in it now knows, not only tells you of planes that have not yet arrived, of shoals of fish in the sea and where you may catch them, of raindrops falling in the height of the sky, of meteors as they fly invisibly by day and of their long tails and trains when even at night they have faded from view. But Radar also tells us of things that never tum up to our eyes -- naturally we would expect that. After all what we have just been talking of makes that not only likely, but certain. If with electric instruments you can tell, by the radiation which water gives off where it lies underground, where oil and coal and iron may be 1,000 and more feet below, then why not detect radiations that come from outside the earth? Of course thunderstorms, even when they are not booming and crashing, now give themselves away to Radar and indeed to many ordinary radio sets.
But there are some radiations, Radar findings, that awake speculation as to whether there could not be an intelligence, a probing intelligence, behind these rods and lines of force, these ultra-visible objects that send back the 'echo' that Radar picks up. In this case one of the most popular articles on the problem was issued by The Saturday Evening Post -- the very paper that tried to pooh-pooh out of existence the discs themselves. On 6th March 1948 -- while the saucers were very much -- (and still to be) -- on men's tongues and in their minds -- the Post published a startling story under the heading, startling enough in itself, "The Sky is Haunted". No question-mark to give you a chance to doubt it. Flat statement.
These 'objects' which Radar has been picking up, mainly over North California, the author of the article calls 'Gizmos'. On one occasion the Radar picked up, and gave full indication of the fact that a plane must be crossing the flying field on which it, the Radar, was being operated. It gave the marks that are the signs that a plane is being echo-sounded and that it is a plane and not a shower of rain or a storm. If there was no living intelligence directing this invisible point or beam, then the focus would move with the wind. But these 'Gizmos' don't.
So it may be that we are being probed -- which is precisely what we should expect of super-flyers -- probed by their detection rays. And it is when our Radar comes up against these foci and shafts of invisible force that it gives off the signal which it utters when it strikes a solid object. For we must remember that the hardest radiation that we know, the radiation that comes from the cosmic deep of the outer sky, is so hard that we cannot feel it. That radiation rushes through our bodies, disturbing -- Sir James Jeans told the present writer -- probably not more than a couple of hundred of the trillions of atoms that make up our mortal frames. It rushes through matter as light through a window and has to go hundreds of feet -- perhaps the hardest goes thousands -- before it is checked. So these rods and foci of force that the Radar picks up, directed force, may be from the discs.
Now, granted that they must want to find out our sources of power -- to understand our natures and capacity -- they would direct their detectors wherever they found a great dump of any element. At Fort Knox they could hope to find the most refined and the most accumulated dump of gold that is or has ever existed. This then must be our real source of power! Marvellous to say, in this respect we -- we may assume them to think -- are ahead of them -- at least from their generously cautious point of view, which concedes, when someone does something that seems to be absolutely stupid, that it cannot be as stupid as that, and so may be ultra-clever. But none of the instruments which the smaller discs carried could find out the radio-active, the power-aspect and potentiality of the great dump of gold. No doubt, night after night, they tried, and brought back to high-up headquarters again and again a blank. Two things were possible -- perhaps it was screened in some way; perhaps at night it was protected or immune from the probes?
At least one more assault ought to be made on the problem, and in day-time. At least one ought to bring all one's guns of detection and probes of diagnosis to bear on this, the hardest nut, the most mysterious problem that earth had as yet given them to crack. Perhaps the most powerful detectors are too massive to be mounted safely on the hundred-foot discs, or borne in the long black hundred-foot length tubes. Perhaps the super-mother-ship, perhaps what may be the artificial satellite that, perchance, rides out on our orbit, alone carries the plant that could range and probe the riddle of the gold.
Then of necessity, they would bring down their monster ship. It would come rushing over; and, after the great swoop, go back to its high station, where, maybe, it rides three or four hundred miles or more, sweeping round us like a swift, minute, cryptic moon. But, alas, the story ended with miscalculation one that probably could not have been foreseen, but one that may have led to even more caution on their part, as it did lead to more alarm on ours.
Here then we ought to ask another question: Are such notions as an artificial satellite quite absurd? The answer is "Certainly not". This step toward outer space and, say, a journey to the moon (off which, it must be remembered, quite a good echo has already been caught) has, as its first planned step, that we should mount a minute model satellite of our own. The plans are already being worked out. The Nazis were working on it as their super-siege-gun to fire down on their foes.
Now the Defence Centre at the great building in Washington D.C. called the Pentagon, has definitely announced the U.S. Earth Satellite Vehicle Programme. The man-constructed Satellite is to get out to its station by means of its rockets which will boost it aloft. It must go over 20,000 miles per hour to get free of the earth's pull. But it will not be sent nor allowed to go very far, so far as space is concerned. At 500 miles out, its automatic guiding gear will switch it round at right angles. The rockets will then cease to drive it and, spinning on its course, as does the moon on its circular path a quarter of a million miles farther out, our first contribution to the solar system, this earth-child, will rush round and round us. It will travel round our girth in a couple of hours. Then, when that is established, we are, so the plan goes, to plant another stepping-stone farther out on "the printless skies". This second base might act as a dock for other craft, which would launch out from this floating jetty and plunge into the real depths, wherein the bright and immense Earth will shrink to a watery gleam of light in the fabulous darkness, or a mote of blackness against the blinding welter of the unscreened Sun that drenches all our orbit with an unceasing blaze which evening or night never relieves.
Such are our notions, such what we feel to be our rational if high ambitions -- though beside them the building of Babel seems a modest proposition, and "the overweening pride" which Aeschylus diagnoses as the cause of the Persian King's disaster (because he tried to chain the Hellespont) -- such pride seems a very little thing.
But, if we consider that our own ground (and still mainly grounded) forces are thinking of scaling the sky and taking their stand outside even the atmosphere, we cannot be surprised, we should not be shocked, if we should find that we have been forestalled, and that someone else has already taken post on this desirable location with its unrivalled view of landscape and seascape.
So now we may know that we have some notion, if only the sketchiest, of the sky-cruisers' crews' viewing-stations, viewing powers and views. Of course they must have soon learnt that our automobiles did not really move themselves, were not really automatic. They were not carapaced insects. But we, the true motivators and living units, were these cars' still smaller slower and frailer inmates. So, too. with our planes.
But our powers? These still remained baffling. What could be our real forces? They would soon have detected our dependence on steam and oil. But must they not by now have suspected something much more disquieting? However disproportionate it must seem to our puny controls, our feeble bodies, must it not be suspected by a looker-on, must not his radar probes continually suggest that places such as Oak Ridge in the States or Harwell in Britain have an alarming reaction note, a forbidding radiation? Of the direction in which such suspicions would. and indeed must, point, we shall be having to look when, once again, with our further accumulation of deductive knowledge both of Craft and Crews, we re-open the question 'Whence?'
Before that we must ask another preliminary Craft-Crew question. Granted that the smaller discs come down from a giant disc riding now as our second (and very midget) moon right under our lee, could a whole swarm of visitors have such a base? What was viewed once and perhaps twice was a monstrous enough thing -- perhaps 1,000 feet across. Nevertheless, is that large enough to act as the floating jetty for crews to man say a thousand and more craft many a hundred feet across? To ask a human crew of a whole flotilla to lie-up and rest-out in one mother ship of such a size would be the cruellest congestion. But congestion bears an exact inverse relation to size. The first gets less as the second gets larger.
It is here then that we must raise again an important piece of Craft evidence as throwing light on Crew build. Here we had a startling, and at the time apparently anomalous, piece of expert witnessing, which now has a strange appositeness. We recall that at the White Sands observations Commander MacLaughlin [sic, should be McLaughlin] remarked, as a trained observer would and could, that there were two acute problems raised by the flight of the saucers as the observing teams checked it. The first was the tremendous speed -- 18,000 miles per hour, and on top of that, and even more serious, the tremendous acceleration. Nothing larger than an insect, say a bee, could stand that sheer push, and not literally be pushed out of life, pushed out of its body. And yet, and this is the second point, the Commander felt that, considering the way the discs were handled and turned, it seemed unavoidable to conclude that they were under direct control of inmates, that they were 'manned'.
So we must assume that the masters of these machines are minute. What they may mean by and large we can wait a moment to see, while we fit this answer, as far as we have it, to the question which demanded it: -- Could a disc, only 1,000 feet across, act as the rest home and holiday-ground for crews that 'man' whole fleets of discs? To an insect, of course, a residence 1,000 feet across would not merely be a city, it would be a whole county [sic, no comma] a whole province, a state in itself.
1. Major Keyhoe's original article in True magazine may be read in Part Four of this series, available through the Past Weeks portal of this site.
2. The NICAP website has this to say about Major Boggs...
"Jere" Boggs was a Major in the USAF working in the Pentagon in 1948-1950, when he played an important role in the USAF Intelligence response to the early post-War UFO phenomenon. Major Boggs worked on the "analysis" side of the intelligence community rather than the "collection" side, which initially had the job of handling UFO reports. When the focus of looking at UFOs shifted to Wright-Patterson AFB and Project SIGN, and once the Pentagon began getting feedback from SIGN that they felt that the UFO phenomenon was real and, ultimately, that it might be extraterrestrial, Boggs got assigned the job as the Pentagon focus point for what was going on, and what, if anything, should be the USAF response. Being on the "Defensive Air" side of Air Force intelligence analysis, and this being a possible enemy weapon and even a violation of US airspace, giving this job to someone in "Defensive Air" probably made sense. We should always remember, though, that all these Pentagon offices could work together on any problem; the location of their "desk" only fixes a "chain of command". When the SIGN project began hinting at a possible extraterrestrial "estimate" on UFOs, many in the Pentagon apparently thought that was unwise (to put it mildly), and Boggs was assigned (with consultancy from US Naval intelligence) to write an opposing estimate... When the SIGN extraterrestrial estimate formally reached Director of Intelligence General Charles Cabell's office, there was a document to challenge it. This occasioned an actual intelligence "shoot-out" of sorts between the two camps held in November 1948 at the National Bureau of Standards with Boggs defending his side against SIGN. SIGN lost that battle, and the idea that the USAF would proceed with the hypothesis that UFOs were extraterrestrial never was the leading theory again.
3. The Thomas Mantell case will be explored in depth in a future series.
4. The "Paul Redell" mentioned in Keyhoe's book is a pseudonym for "a well-known aeronautical engineer". Keyhoe used pseudonyms throughout his book -- always identifying them as such -- to protect the identities of witnesses or for public figures who couldn't be fully candid without an assurance of anonymity. For instance, from Chapter VI...
"Maybe this will interest you," Purdy said. He gave me a note from Sam Boal:
"Just talked with D-------," the note ran. (D------- is a prominent aeronautical engineer, the designer of a world-famous plane.) "He believes the disks may be interplanetary and that the Air Force knows it -- or at least suspects it. I'm enclosing sketches showing how he thinks the disks operate."
"He's not the first one who told us that," said Purdy. "We've heard the same thing from other engineers. Over a dozen airline pilots think they're coining from out in space. And there's a rocket expert at Wright Field who's warned Project 'Saucer' that the things are interplanetary. That's why I'm not writing it off."
In the instance above, Sam Boal is the real name of the aviation editor for True magazine, while the "prominent aeronautical engineer" remains unnamed (although it has been suggested that it is Kelly Johnson, chief designer at Lockheed).
Later, in Chapter X, Keyhoe introduces "Paul Redell"...
WHEN I reached home, I found a brief letter from Ken Purdy.
The Mantell and Eastern cases both look good. I don't see how they can brush them off. It looks more like the interplanetary answer to me, but we won't decide on treatment until we're sure. [I had suggested two or three angles, if this proved the real answer.]
Who would be the best authority to check our disk operation theory and give us more details on directional control? I'd like to have it checked by two more engineers.
Next day, I dug out my copy of Boal's interview with D------, the famous aircraft designer.
"Certainly the flying saucers are possible," the designer had told Boal. "Give me enough money and I'll build you one. It might have to be a model because the fuel would be a problem. If the saucers that have been seen came from other worlds, which isn't at all Buck Rogerish, they may be powered with atomic energy or by the energy that produces cosmic rays -- which is many times more powerful -- or by some other fuel or natural force that our research hasn't yet discovered. But the circular airfoil is quite feasible.
"It wouldn't have the stability of the conventional airplane, but it would have enormous maneuverability -- it could rise vertically, hover, descend vertically, and fly at extremely high speed, with the proper power. Don't take my word for it. Check with other engineers."
Before looking up a private engineer I had in mind, I went to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. The N.A.C.A. is America's most authoritative source of aerodynamic knowledge. I knew they had already tried out disk-shaped airfoils, and I asked about this first. I found that two official N.A.C.A. reports, Technical Note 539 and Report 431, discuss tests on circular and elliptical Clark Y airfoils. Both reports state that these designs were found practical.
Later, I talked with one of the top engineers in the N.A.C.A. Without showing him D------'s sketch, I asked how a disk might operate.
"It could be built with variable-direction jet or rocket nozzles," be said. "The nozzles would be placed around the rim, and by changing their direction the disk could be made to rise and descend vertically. It could hover, fly straight ahead, and make sharp turns.
"Its direction and velocity would be governed by the number of nozzles operating, the power applied, and the angle at which they were tilted. They could be pointed toward the ground, rearward, in a lateral direction, or in various combinations.
"A disk flying level, straight ahead, could be turned swiftly to right or left by shifting the angles of the nozzles or cutting off power from part of the group. This method of control would operate in the earth's atmosphere and also, using rocket power, in free space, where conventional controls would be useless."
The method he had described was not the one which D------ had outlined.
"What about a rotating disk?" I asked the N.A.C.A. man. "Suppose you had one with a stationary center, and a large circular section rotating around it? The rotating part would have a camber built into it, or it would have slotted vanes."
He gave me a curious look, "Where'd you get that idea about the camber?"
I told him it had come to me from True.
"It could be done," he said. "The slotted-vanes method has already been tried. There's an engineer in Glendale, California, who's built a model. His name's E.W. Kay."
He gave me a few details on how a cambered or slotted-vane rotating disk might operate, then interrupted himself to ask me what I thought the saucers were.
"They're either interplanetary or some secret development," I said. 'What do you think?"
"The N.A.C.A. has no proof they even exist," he answered.
When I left the building a few minutes later, I was still weighing that statement. If the Air Force or the Navy had a secret disk device, the N.A.C.A. would almost certainly know about it. The chances were that any disk-shaped missile or new type of circular aircraft would first have been tested in the N.A.C.A. wind tunnels at Langley Field. If the saucers were interplanetary, the N.A.C.A.--at least top officials--would probably have been in on any discussion of the disks' performance. Either way, the N.A.C.A.'s official attitude could be expected to match the Pentagon's.
After lunch, I took a taxi to the office of the private engineer. Like D------, he has asked that he not be quoted by name. The name I am using, Paul Redell, will serve that purpose. Redell is a well-known aeronautical engineer. He has worked with major aircraft companies and served as a special consultant to government agencies and the industries. He is also a competent pilot.
Although I had known him several years, he refused at first to talk about the saucers. Then I realized he thought I meant to quote him. I showed him some of the material I had roughed out, in which names were omitted or changed as requested.
"All right," Redell said finally. "What do you want to know?"
"Anything you can tell us. But first, your ideas on these sketches." I showed him D------'s drawings and then gave him the high points of the investigation. When I mentioned the mystery-light incident at Fairfield Suisan Air Force Base, Redell sat up quickly.
"The Gorman case again!"
"We heard about some other 'light' cases," I said. "One was at Las Vegas."
"I know about that one. That is, it you mean the green light--wait a minute!" Redell frowned into space for a few seconds, "You say that Fairfield Suisan sighting was on December third? Then the Las Vegas sighting was only a few days later. It was the first week of the month, I'm positive."
"Those light reports have got me stumped," I said. "A light just can't fly around by itself. And those two-foot disks--"
"You haven't worked on the Gorman case?" asked Redell.
I told him I hadn't thought it was coming up on my schedule.
"Leave these sketches here," he said. "Look into that Gorman sighting. Then check on our plans for space exploration. I'll give you some sources. When you get through, come on back and we'll talk it over."
5. Heard's 1953 update to The Riddle of the Flying Saucers did include some few details on sightings outside the United States.
6. 1950 also saw the publication in the United States of Bernard Newman's 1948 book, The Flying Saucer -- the first fiction book on the modern flying saucer phenomenon -- a tale of faked flying saucer crashes in England, New Mexico and Russia, as part of a plot by scientists to bring world peace. Very interesting background material on both the author and the book can be read in the Mysterious Universe post Faking a Flying Saucer Crash and the Phillip Coppens post Faking a Martian Invasion.
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