Note: This Spotlight 1952 entry focuses on events from In The News 1952 - Parts Seventeen and Eighteen.
Above: Coast Guardsman Shell R. Alpert with his famous photo.
FOR THE AMERICAN PUBLIC -- bombarded with hundreds of newspaper reports of unknown aerial interlopers flying overhead throughout the first seven months of 1952 -- it had all boiled down to a matter of opinion as to just what exactly was going on in American skies.
Some said it was all hysterical nonsense. Others believed that Washington must be testing secret aircraft, capable of fantastic speeds and incredible maneuvers. While a growing group suspected that Earth had become a matter of intense interest for visitors from another world.
But relying on the varying public conjectures would not suffice for the United States Air Force, for its penultimate responsibility was the defense and protection of the people against attack from above.
It had been for that reason that the Air Force had first set up in 1947 a special project at Air Material Command -- located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio -- to investigate, analyze and assess the reports. In 1952, that project was known as Blue Book, headed by Captain Ed Ruppelt, under the umbrella of the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC).
Under Ruppelt, Project Blue Book had approached the problem through focused investigation on the most intriguing reports -- those that could provide some proof or understanding, whether pro or con, as to the existence and meaning of the "saucers".
And in July 1952, two of the most intriguing incidents to come into Blue Book would include photographs of what had been claimed to have been seen -- an exceeding rarity, even after five full years of "flying saucer" reports.
This, then, is the story of those two investigations -- one of a report from a Coastguardsman in Massachusetts in mid-July, and one of a report from three self-proclaimed witnesses in New Jersey in late July.
And being the story of those investigations, each is presented primarily using transcriptions of the Air Force documents which detail the investigations -- some untitled -- along with newspaper stories of the incidents, all presented in chronological order...
JULY 16, 1952:
Above: Life Magazine reproduction of photo taken by Coast Guardsman Shell Alpert. Below: Enlargement of Life Magazine reproduction.
U.S. Coast Guard
Page 1 of _____ pages
Unidentified airborne objects; Observation of; report of
Intelligence 1CGC (opl)
ORIGIN OF CASE
Commander, First Coast Guard District (opl)
17 July 1952
This investigation was predicated on information received from the CO, Coast Guard Air Station, Salem, Massachusetts, concerning unidentified airborne objects sighted near the Air Station.
ALPERT, Shell R. (292-624,) SN, official photographer for the Air Station was interviewed at 0845, 17 July 1952, in the photo lab at the Air Station. Statement enclosed.
FLAHERTY, Thomas E. (273-206) HM1, was interviewed in the sick bay at the Air Station at 0930, 17 July 1952. Statement enclosed.
The above are the only known eye-witnesses to subject objects. No factual information could be learned concerning the size, shape, altitude, speed, sound or direction of motion, of the objects.
All personnel interviewed or questioned were informed that any information concerning the objects was "SECRET" and should not be discussed with any one without permission from the CO.
/s/ R G. Eastman
(a) Statement of ALPERT
(b) Statement of FLAHERTY
STATEMENT OF UNUSUAL OCCURANCES OBSERVED AND PHOTOGRAPHED APPROXIMATELY 0935, 16 July, 1952 from photo office window, U.S. COAST GUARD AIR STATION, Salem, Mass. by Station Photographer:
I was sitting in the Photo Office filing negatives with my back toward the window when I turned slightly in the direction of the window and noticed something bright outside. I observed the sky and saw what appeared to be several bright almost brilliant lights slightly on the starboard side of the power plant smoke stacks. I could not determine:
1- Size of lights
2- Number of lights
3- Altitude of lights
4- Sound, if any
5- Speed of lights, if any
6- Direction of lateral or vertical motion
7- Shape of lights
The color temperature of the lights was a high number of Kelvin degrees -- extremely brilliant and white. They seemed to be wavering but I am not certain of this. I observed these lights for possibly 5 or 6 seconds and then turned to a 4/5 Busch Pressman Camera (135 MM F4.7 Raptar lens with a Rapax shutter, loaded with 4/5 Super XX cut film). I had this camera on the desk in order to clean the lens and was not certain there was film in it. I adjusted the focusing scale roughly to infinity, pulled the slide and prepared to shoot the picture when I noticed the lights were considerably dimmed down. I assumed that what I had seen was merely some sort of reflection, but I rushed out of the lab into the Sick Bay and got Thomas Flaherty, HM1 to come back to the window with me. As I entered the office, I noticed that the lights were again burning brightly and without saying anything to Flaherty I dived for the camera and hit the shutter, after which I told him to look out and as he and I did there was a momentary flash and we could no longer see any lights. I developed the film which was exposed at about l/50th second, f 4.7; in Dektol 1:1 for about 3 3/4 minutes, the developing agent immediately at hand. After I had fixed and washed the negative, I took it to CDR. J.D. Hudgens, XO for his examination.
It was an extremely hot day and I think that perhaps some sort of refraction of ground reflections could possibly have accounted for the lights, but in my estimation this is an improbable explanation. The lens was quite dirty and so was the window screen. I cannot in all honesty say that I saw objects or aircraft, merely some manner of lights.
Submitted 17 July, 1952
/s/ Shell R. Alpert
17 July, 1952.
Statement of unusual occurance observed by Base Hospitalman at approximately 0930, 16 July, 1952, from photo lab window, CG Air Station, Salem, Mass.
While working on daily reports I was summoned by Base Photographer, one Shell Alpert, SN(PH) who called me to hurry and look at airborne lights.
Looking out the window to the North West there appeared to be what was thought to be a quick flash. I actually could not say that it was anything. It could have been reflections from passing cars or from the ocean.
/s/ Thomas E. Flaherty
Thomas E. Flaherty, HM1, USCG
[Date-stamped 21 JUL 1952]
SPOT INTELLIGENCE REPORT
(Unclassified) Reporting of Information on Unconventional Aircraft (Salem, Massachusetts)
Director of Special Investigations
Washington 25, D.C.
On 16 July 1952, at approximately 0935 hours, SHELL R. ALPERT, 292-624, SN, USCG Station Photographer, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, Salem, Mass., observed four (4) unidentified airborne objects west of the station. A photograph of the objects was taken. No activity or condition developed that accounts for sighting.
At 1145 hours, 16 July 1952, a telephone call was received from J.F. MC CUE, Commander, USCG, Commanding Officer, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, Salem, Mass., reporting that two of his men had observed unusual airborne objects at approximately 0935 hours, 16 July 1952, and that one of the men had taken a photograph of the objects. On 16 July 1952, Commander MC CUE was contacted by Special Agent RICHARD W. RANDALL, and the following information obtained:
a. SHELL R. ALPERT, 292-624, SN, USCG, Station Photographer, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, Salem, Mass., noticed a very brilliant light in the sky west of the station. ALPERT grabbed his camera and took a photograph of the brilliant light. ALPERT called a THOMAS E. FLAHERTY, 273-206 HM1, USCG, who was in the same building and also saw a bright light in the air. ALPERT furnished the following information.
b. Three (3) objects glowing bright and then light and disappeared like a light being dimmed with a rheostat. Objects appeared to waver slightly and glow as a light source. ALPERT could not determine the shape nor formation, aerodynamic features, or propulsion system. ALPERT did not see any trail, exhaust, or maneuvers. ALPERT did not hear any sound and could not tell if the objects were moving, After ALPERT developed the photograph, he noted that there was a difference in numbers than what he had observed.
c. Objects sighted by ALPERT at approximately 0935 hours, 16 July 1952 and were observed for approximately 25-30 seconds.
d. Observed by ALPERT through a fine mesh screen window. Photograph was taken through the same window with a 4 x 5 Busch Pressman, with an f 4.7 raptar lens, 135 mm, with settings of f 4.7 at l/50th of a second, on Kodak Super XX film.
f. ALPERT has been a member of the U.S. Coast guard for one and one-half years, and previously attended the Art Center School, Los Angeles, California. ALPERT was a member of the U.S. Navy for two years, seven months, and U.S. Coast Guard for five years, four months. Commander MC CUE advised that ALPERT is an excellent photographer, and that both ALPERT and FLAHERTY are very stable and reliable.
g. Weather conditions, as reported by U.S. Coast Guard Station Aerology Office for 0928 hours, 16 July 1952, are as follows: thin, broken clouds at 28,000 ft,, visibility six (6) miles, wind southwest eight (8) knots, altimeter setting 3.05, temperature 84 F.
h. No activity or condition is known that might account for the sighting.
i. Photograph taken of the objects is attached as an inclosurse.
j. No interceptor or identification action taken. Sighting of objects was not reported to Commander MC CUE until approximately fifteen to thirty minutes after they were observed.
THOMAS H. FLAHERTY confirmed time and place of sighting and stated he was of the opinion that the light in the sky was a reflection of a plane or light reflected off an automobile windshield. FLAHERTY could give no further account of the sighting.
Two (2) copies of this report will be forwarded to the Commanding General, Air Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, Attention: MCIS. No further action taken by this District.
ROBERT H. WAYLAND, Jr.
New York, New York World Telegram and Sun - 31 Jul 52
AF Studying Photograph of Disk Formation
By JIM G. LUCAS
Scripps-Howard Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, July 30. -- The Air Force is checking the authenticity of a photograph which purports to show five flying saucers in formation over Salem, Mass.
The picture was taken by Coast Guardsmen at Salem last Thursday about 10 a.m. It was flown to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington and then turned over to the Air Force. It is now at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, where flying saucer reports are investigated and evaluated. I saw it yesterday in the Pentagon.
Capt. E.J. Ruppelt, the Air Force's flying saucer expert, had it in his briefcase -- unmentioned -- through a press conference in which Maj. Gen. John A. Samford, Air Force intelligence chief, discounted recent saucer sightings over Washington. Capt. Ruppelt still had it in his briefcase when he took a plane for Dayton an hour later.
Won't Get Frantic.
Gen. Samford said he is "convinced in my own mind" that the saucers picked up by radar over Washington are the result of sudden changes in temperature. He said they are not secret weapons or machines produced in this country. He was equally sure they were not coming from another country. He discounted the idea they came from another planet.
Gen. Samford conceded that a number of "credible observers" have reported "some relatively incredible things." He said the Air Force will continue to give flying saucer reports "adequate but not frantic attention."
Believes What's Proved.
In the Salem picture, the flying saucers -- if that's what they are -- appear egg-shaped white objects with wavy edges suspended in air. If the photograph can be accepted at face value, it is the first daylight picture of flying saucers. Although several photographs of what purport to be flying saucers have been taken, all were snapped at night. The Air Force invariably has explained them away as meteors, rockets or bursting fireballs.
Although the sky is light in the photo, the white objects which may be flying are easily distinguishable. They somewhat resemble, but could not be confused with clouds. There are several buildings in the foreground.
Capt. Ruppelt, who was [sic] spent several years checking and plotting flying saucer reports, said he is skeptical. Attempts have been made to hoodwink him in the past and he believes nothing which cannot be proved.
He points out that a single photograph was submitted. There was no negative. That invariably happens, he said. The Air Force has yet to get hold of a negative of a flying saucer picture.
Wants to See Negative.
Capt. Ruppelt said he has asked the Coast Guard to obtain the negative and forward it to him.
Without questioning anyone's integrity, Capt. Ruppelt said his first impression was that the picture is a fake. He said the alleged saucers appear to have been painted in. Their somewhat irregular wavy edges indicate as much, he said.
I wouldn't know. Capt. Ruppelt is a trained observer, who makes it his business to look for such things. I could easily be fooled by a composite picture.
Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times - 1 Aug 52
This photo, released by the Coast Guard, was made by one of their photographers at the Salem, Mass. Air Station on July 16 through a window screen after he sighted four "unknown objects." Notice the bars of light that seem to extend in front of and behind the round "objects" which appear in V formation. (United Press-Capital Times Telephoto)
Coast Guard Photo Shows Four White Lights Over Salem Station
WASHINGTON -- The Coast Guard today released a photograph of four brilliant white lights snapped over its Salem, Mass., air station several weeks ago.
The picture, taken by a 21-year old Coast Guard photographer, was the latest episode in the nationwide outburst of "flying saucer" mysteries.
It clearly shows four ragged edged round objects in V-formation. Each appears to have two identical shafts of light extending across its center and protruding fore and aft like a ghostly wing.
A spokesman said the negative has been examined by Coast Guard photography experts who are satisfied "there is no retouching or fakery involved."
"We don't know what the objects are," a Coast Guard officer said, "but that boy's camera caught something."
A United Press reporter was allowed to see the negative which was flown later today to Dayton, O., where it will be examined by Air Forces investigators.
The negative shows no sign of retouching, even under an enlarger which presumably would show up any faking.
The photographer was Shell Alpert, a Coast Guard enlisted photographer. He said he made the picture at 9:35 a.m., July 16, through a screened open window of the air station's photo laboratory.
Alpert said he was preparing to clean a camera when he looked outside and noticed several brilliant lights in the sky. He called another coast guardsman, Hospitalman 1-c Thomas E. Flaherty, who also said he saw the lights.
Alpert said the lights dimmed somewhat, then brightened. He grabbed a camera, held the shutter wide open and snapped a picture.
Coast Guard officials who released the picture for publication, said Alpert was questioned for hours by naval intelligence officers but held to his story that he had not superimposed the lights or otherwise faked the picture.
Alpert told investigators that July 16 was a "very hot day" and that the lights may have been some sort of refraction of ground reflections.
That has been the official Air Force explanation for many so-called "saucer reports."
Only Thursday Air Force chief of staff Hoyt S. Vandenberg scoffed at the saucer reports and voiced hope "mass hysteria" over them would soon pass.
- - - - - - -
[Note: Another version of this national newswire story, as published in the Benton Harbor, Michigan News Palladium the same day stated...]
Flaherty told authorities, "I actually could not say it was anything. It could have been reflections from passing cars or from the ocean."
Alpert said he was unable to determine the size of the lights, their number, altitude, speed, direction or shape. He said he heard no sound. He added that because it was an extremely hot day "perhaps some sort of refraction or ground reflections could possibly have accounted for the lights, but in my estimation this is an improbable explanation."
Alpert said his 4x5 camera was set at infinity, 1/50 of a second at F4.7.
Experts in photography said the negative shown to newsmen here showed no evidence of touching up. The negative was clear and unscratched.
Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times - 1 Aug 52
Tells of Seeing Wavering Lights
BOSTON-- Shell R. Alpert, 21-year-old Coast Guard photographer, told a news conference today how he saw some "wavering lights" and snapped a photograph that showed what looked like four flying saucers.
"I couldn't tell you exactly what they are except that they were wavering lights. They stayed there in the sky for more than six or seven seconds," Alpert said.
Alpert, of Denver, Colo., said the incident took place July 16 while he was on duty filing photographs at 9:35 a.m. in the Salem Coast Guard station.
His story was corroborated in part by Thomas E. Flaherty, 24, who said he was hastily called into the Salem photographic laboratory and told to look out the window.
"I looked up and saw this quick flash. It was very bright, but didn't make me blink my eyes. I couldn't distinguish any object and I was very surprised that Shell got a picture." Flaherty said neither he nor Alpert thought the objects were solid things, like aircraft.
Alpert said he took the picture with a 4 by 5 camera set at about l/25th to l/50th of a second at F. 4.7. He said the camera was in the laboratory to be cleaned and that the screens on the window through which he took the picture were dirty.
Nevertheless, he said he was sure he saw lights in the sky. He said it was extremely hot that day and it was possible they might have been ground reflections.
(Uncl) Analysis of Photos
AUG 1 1952
COMMENT NO. 1
66361/Building 263D/P D-28
Inclosed are photographs taken by a U.S. Coast Guard photographer. We would like these photographs analyzed.
DONALD L. BOWER, Colonel, USAF
Chief, Technical Analysis Division
Air Technical Intelligence Center
1. Ltr dtd 7/21/52 w/photo (in dupl)
2. Wire, Hq USAF (in dupl)
Attn: Captain Ruppelt
DATE AUGUST 28 1952
COMMENT NO. 2
1. A study has been completed of the Coast Guard negative of unknown aerial objects. A full report to describe the steps in this study will be sent to you in a short time. Until it is completed, this brief summary will contain the findings of the Photo Reconnaissance Laboratory.
2. The central point in question is the apparent brightness of the 4 objects coupled with the total absence of any corresponding highlights or reflections of these objects from the automobiles in the picture. The brightness of these objects would appear to be of the same order of magnitude as the reflections of the sun in the chromium bumpers and trim of the automobiles. This is indicated by the inclosed prints in Series A, numbered on the reverse side in pencil, and representing: A-l is normal print exposure time, A-2 is double this exposure time, A-3 is four times, and A-4 is eight times.
3. Further examination of the Series A prints shows no trace of highlights on the automobiles caused by the objects. All bright spots that can be seen are directly related to the sun, which is to the rear and to the left of the camera position. There are, however, surfaces which should show highlights, eg, the auto directly under the largest object. It is obviously a fairly new car, with average polish to the paint. Yet nowhere on the roof is any suggestion of an overhead illumination directly above or beyond the car.
4. This point has been tested experimentally in the Series 3 and C prints. A standard studio photoflood lamp was placed above and some 50 ft beyond a row of parked automobiles beside the Photographic Reconnaissance Laboratory. A camera was set up on an elevated platform about 200 ft from the central auto, in the photograph, indicated by the photoflood lamp appearing directly above it. The Series B prints show the cars with the lamp turned off, while the Series C prints show the same scene with the lamp on. An unmistakable bright line highlight can be seen in the car appearing directly under the lamp, a highlight which is not there when the lamp is off. A similar bright line should be seen somewhere on the top of the car in the Series A prints, had distant bright objects been actually located as indicated.
5. Series D prints show how easy it is to construct a hoax by means of double exposure. The glowing objects, hovering over the Photographic Reconnaissance Laboratory are multiple exposures of a simple street lamp, stauchion [sic, probably should be "stanchion"] type. The film was multiply exposed at night, with a dark view field surrounding the lamp. The daytime exposure of the building was carefully oriented to -produce the aerial hovering effect. However, the fraud is indicated because no highlights may be seen in the auto roofs. (The possibility of building shading in Series D is not existent in Series A).
6. It is therefore concluded that the authenticity of the picture, taken by the Coast Guard photographer, is open to serious doubt.
DELWIN B. AVERY, Colonel, USAF
Chief, Photo Reconnaissance Lab
Weapons Components Division
[Handwritten Signature of J. Moser]
Series A (4 Prints)
Series B (4 Prints)
Series C (4 Prints)
Series D (2 Prints)
Lowell, Massachusetts Sun - 2 Aug 52
Says Photograph Will Not Solve The Riddle of Flying Saucers
That Is Opinion of Prof. Menzel, One of Nation's Top-Ranking Astro-Physicists
BOSTON, Aug. 2 -- A Coast Guardsman's photograph probably will not help solve the riddle of flying saucers, one of the nation's ranking astro-physicists said today.
Professor Ronald H. Menzel of Harvard university, who has devoted himself to the "flying saucer" problem for more than six years, expressed doubt about the value of the picture of "four wavering lights" taken at the Salem Coast Guard station by photographer Shell R. Alpert of Denver, Colo. Alpert was filing negatives when he saw a light in the sky and took the picture July 16.
"As I have maintained, reflections and retractions can account for all flying saucers," said Menzel, who has not seen the photograph. He insists it is valueless if not accompanied by scientific data.
The picture shows four egg shaped objects.
"There has been no mention of the temperature distribution, no bearing was taken, there is no estimate of altitude, and other important information is lacking," he said.
Alpert said it was "extremely hot" and the sun was brilliant with a six-mile visibility when he took the picture. He said he did not know what the objects could be.
"Almost Blue White"
The objects were reported to be "very white, almost blue white." Commenting on this color and the "bright red" hue of objects reportedly seen in the sky yesterday by jet interceptor pilots from Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, O., Menzel commented:
"I distrust estimates of color taken under special conditions. There are certain psychological circumstances which most people do not understand. I can set up a laboratory experiment in which you will swear that red is green and green is red. You don't have to be color blind, either."
On 16 July 1952 a photograph of four objects was taken by the USCG station photographer at Salem, Massachusetts. The photograph was submitted to ATIC for analysis and the analysis was completed on 1 Aug 52. Analysis was made from the original negative which was returned to the Coast Guard at their request. The results of this analysis indicated that the photo was a hoax. Extensive photographs were taken under similar conditions. Failure of the light source to cast reflections on the highly polished cars below indicated that the light was not outside and it was assumed by the analyst at the time that the photo was a double exposure and for this reason was a hoax. A subsequent examination of this photo was made in October 1963 and the following analysis is indicated as a more probable cause.
16 July 1952
The photo was taken through a window with a 4/5 Busch Pressman Camera (135 MM F4.7 Raptar lens with Rapax shutter, loaded with 4/5 Super XX cut film). The photographer observed several lights which seemed to be wavering. He observed the lights for 5 or 6 seconds and grabbed the camera, which had been on a nearby table. The focus was adjusted to infinity. The photographer pulled the slide in preparation for the picture when he noticed that the lights had dimmed. He assumed at the time that the object he saw was a reflection. He ran out of the room to get an additional witness, and upon returning noticed that the lights were again brilliant. When they went to the window the lights were gone. He again stated that perhaps some sort of refraction or ground reflection could possibly account for the lights.
The following points are deemed pertinent [sic] to analysis. The camera was focused on infinity and the picture taken through a window. As the witness approached the window the objects dimmed, as he returned to his point of initial observation and at the second observation as he reentered the room the lights were again brilliant. The objects as photographed, appear fuzzy and out of focus. The cars and buildings outside are sharply outlined. The window frame inside the building is out of focus. All four objects have the same outline and general configuration, in spite of the blurring.
Conclusion: It is believed that the photos represent light reflections from an interior source (probably the ceiling lights) on the window through which the photo was taken. With the camera set on infinity the window would be more out of focus than the lights. The lights would still be out of focus since the distance from the lights to the window and back to the camera lens would still be shorter than the distance required for a clear picture with the lens setting on infinity. The objects outside the building would be in focus. The apparent brightness of the reflection would decrease as the photographer approached the window. The initial photo analysis indicating the magnitude of the light and substantiation of fact that the light source was not external is correct. There is no indication of any attempt to perpertrate [sic] a hoax. The photo received is similar to many others taken through windows which have been confirmed as reflections of an interior light source. Had the camera been focused for a shorter distance the outlines of the interior light sources would have been sharper. It is believed that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the evaluation of this photo as reflections of internal light sources.
JULY 31, 1952:
Above: Photos purportedly taken in Passaic, New Jersey on July 31, 1952.
Paterson, New Jersey Morning Call - 1 Aug 52
Flying saucer? That's what is is [sic], according to John H. Riley, a professional photographer, of 571 Main St. He said he snapped these two pictures near 221 Brook Ave., Passaic, about 10:15 a.m. yesterday, as the disc "hovered 200 feet above the ground." Photo at left, Riley said, shows disc tilted "as though observing the ground." At right, he said the disc is shown shortly before it gathered speed and disappeared.
Is This Object, Seen In Passaic, A 'Saucer'?
John H. Riley, 28, of 571 Main St., is a photographer who believes a picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes.
So into The Call office he came last night, as the phones rang with reports of flying saucers in this area, to produce photographic evidence according to him, that there are such aerial objects.
He thumbed through a dozen or so pictures of a mysterious thing he said he and friend, George J. Stock, spotted yesterday morning near Stock's home at 221 Brooks Ave., Passaic.
According to Riley, the saucer was traveling southeast at a leisurely speed when it was sighted by Stock. As it drew nearer, Riley said, it came almost to a complete stop and hovered overhead, about 200 feet from the ground for several moments.
"It was so near," Riley said, "it could have been hit with a rifle."
He described the disc as being 30 feet in diameter and grayish in color with a large dome jutting from its center. Riley said the saucer made no sound, either when it was hovering or moving.
Before taking off again in a southwest direction, Riley said, "It tilted as though to observe the ground." The saucer picked up speed as it gradually disappeared, he said.
Riley said he snapped several pictures of the disc as it hovered almost motionless 200 feet above him. The developed photos showed some type of dome shaped disc at a low altitude above a row of trees.
We looked the prints over for a while, agreed that it wasn't a kite and decided that the pictures had at least one value.
Many of our readers haven't seen any crockery flying overhead, either because they don't stay up late or because television is more dependable to the expectant viewer.
The pictures may not exactly fit the descriptions of flying saucers you've heard about, but identifications of the objects do vary widely.
It's your guess as well as ours.
MAJOR HERMAN: Mr. Dixon, this is Major Herman from Wright Field.
MR. DIXON: Major who?
MAJOR HERMAN: Major Herman, H E R M A N.
MR. DIXON: Yes, Major.
MAJOR HERMAN: I'm calling regarding this photograph that you say that you have with respect to an aerial phenomena.
MR. DIXON: Yes, that's about your way of putting it. Briefly the story is this. The commercial photographer came with the story that he was visiting a friend when the two of them saw the saucers overhead. This guy grabbed a friends fixed focus camera grabbed half a dozen shots before the saucer moved away. He wanted to sell us the pictures. The pictures are phenomenally clear for anything of that sort. I put in a call to you on the strength of that. One picture is enlarged and shows a very definite saucer shaped, black on the bottom. No details visible. Its definite edge passed and curved on the upper side and the dome topped that in the center of the whole business. A couple of others show only the bottom, a black silhouette, with what is apparently something swirling around it as though it could be an exhaust film. On the negative that was enlarged it measured a half inch across. What it looks like, off-hand, is something very close to the camera because it is fairly sharp considering the type of the camera that was used. On the other hand, the man swears, and he has one witness who will back him up, that it is a legitimate photograph of some object hovering in the sky which they both observed a few minutes and then moved off into the horizon and we have threatened him with jail and all that and he still insists that it was correct. Since I put it in the call to you, I have had a chance to examine the measure and check around the area. Item 1, the papers in the area have no reports of anyone else in the area sighting such an object; Item 2, the negatives in two instances show what appears to be something like a fishing pole or something else similar to a pole sticking above the location of the saucer on the negative. It is quite possible that it could be a thread hanging from it and holding something in the air for the picture. If I had seen the negative before I called you I probably wouldn't have called. But, on the other hand, these men swear that what they have is boni [sic] fide.
MAJOR HERMAN: You feel by looking at the negative that there is something else you feel could be somewhat of a build-up.
MR. DIXON: I feel that it is possible that there is a string hanging from the end of it that looks like a fishing pole supporting something in the air, in front of the camera, instead of being 25 ft. diameter object in a long distance, it is a comparatively small object close to the camera.
MAJOR HERMAN: I see. How does this individual explain that pole?
MR. DIXON: He said he hadn't even noticed it was there.
MAJOR HERMAN: Do you know anything about the individual?
MR. DIXON: I have called the papers up that way and the police and he is not a known news photographer but his own story is that he runs this photo developing service so that he would have no claim to fame.
MAJOR HERMAN: You have no indication that he is a credible character in the community.
MR. DIXON: We have no record as to one way or the other.
MAJOR HERMAN: No reputation at all. How do you feel about the picture itself?
MR. DIXON: Well, I'm inclined to think it's a fake just because the pictures look too good to be true, but on the other hand, at the time I put the call in I hadn't seen the negatives and didn't know about that fishing pole or whatever it might be overhead and I did not feel it was up to me to decide one way or the other. He might have gotten the idea, I understand, from a picture in Life of a similar object, does that sound familiar to you?
MAJOR HERMAN: The picture was made about a year ago?
MR. DIXON: That's what I have been told.
MAJOR HERMAN: Was that one of Prof, Adamski's pictures?
MR. DIXON: I don't have any idea of that.
MAJOR HERMAN: There have been several pictures published which have questionable origin but I am not sure of the one you are referring to.
MR. DIXON: I don't know. I did not see it myself, somebody else told me about it.
MAJOR HERMAN: What time did the fellow take this picture? Did he say?
MR. DIXON: His story is that when he saw this thing overhead and he grabbed his friend's Kodak duo-flex, that's the one of that has a fixed focus cameras [sic].
MAJOR HERMAN: Right.
MR. DIXON: And takes 620 films. Of course it's got a cheap lens in it. He fired away at least a half dozen shots and most of them of the thing were fairly close overhead and one was a good way into the distance. He says that while it was hovering it tilted and rotated as though something was looking over the edge around all sides as it circled. The whole thing sounds almost too good to be true.
MAJOR HERMAN: When did he take the picture?
MR. DIXON: At 10:15 in the morning.
MAJOR HERMAN: That was in daylight.
MR. DIXON: Right.
MAJOR HERMAN: What did he say made it discernible from the daylight? Was it a dark object?
MR. DIXON: It was described as a grayish color.
MAJOR HERMAN: Grayish.
MR. DIXON: A medium gray. But on the other hand, the bottom of it photographed as black and one observer here commented that it might be a woman's sun hat. I don't know what the side photograph looked like.
MAJOR HERMAN: What was the weather about that time? Was it possible that it was too bright to photograph something in the sky or did it have an overcast sky?
MR. DIXON: I didn't ask him. He took it on verichrome film and the pictures here were foreground except print in which the foreground is very dark and apparently medium gray sky then another one here with [sic] the foreground is darker than that though, the sky is quite white. It looks like typical sunny sky on verichrome film to me.
MAJOR HERMAN: I see. Is he agreeable toward releasing the negative?
MR. DIXON: He is trying to sell them. We are skeptical about this pole sticking out so he went home to get this other witness and bring him down here to back up the-story.
MAJOR HERMAN: When is he due back?
MR. DIXON: A half hour, maybe.
MAJOR HERMAN: Tonight yet?
MR. DIXON: Tonight, yea.
MAJOR HERMAN: He took it at 10:15 this morning, when did he come to you with it?
MR. DIXON: He has been going around to other papers, apparently some of them are using it as a gag shot and some of them may have turned him down. He said he had sold them to a couple of papers and now he wants to sell it to us. We didn't bother doing anything with it until we called you up.
MAJOR HERMAN: Just a moment, I have a friend of mine here who would like to ask a few questions.
CAPT RUPPELT: This is Capt. Ruppelt speaking. I have been listening in on another extension. Just from the sound of this thing we've had quite a few pictures like that before and it doesn't sound to me like it is very authentic. Can you hear me?
MR. DIXON: I have made it out this far.
CAPT RUPPELT: The fact that nobody else saw this thing is always quite a factor and I would just say -------------------------------- would do it. We have some experience with that type of picture, and from the description that you gave I would say that it is doubtful.
MR. DIXON: You wouldn't consider it important enough for you to bother with any further?
CAPT RUPPELT: We don't believe so. Of course, not seeing the picture I couldn't say, but I rather doubt it very, very much.
MR. DIXON: Well, we figured that you would know better than we would.
CAPT RUPPELT: The story is really interesting in that type of person that
took it and the way he said he took it falls right into a pattern of other pictures that could be no good. The things you describe and the conditions under which it was taken all fit right into that pattern.
MR. DIXON: Well, that was my personal, then on the other hand, I decided to let the call go on through since I placed it
CAPT RUPPELT: Well, we certainly appreciate your calling but this is my opinion and I don't believe that we would, be interested. We sure do thank you for calling because that's the kind of things that we want to look into.
MR. DIXON: All right, sir. Thank you very much for your advice.
CAPT RUPPELT: Mr. Dixon, if it is possible that this man would release these negatives we would be very glad to take it and evaluate and send it back to you however, if it is found out that it is another one of the cases of many -------
(Uncl) Investigation of Unidentified Aerial Object Photos
1 Attached are several photographs taken by Mr. John H. Riley of 178 Bogert Road, River Edge, N.J. He claims that these are authentic photos of an unidentified aerial object and is apparently attempting to sell them to East Coast newspapers.
2. The newspaper which forwarded the photos, the Newark-Star Ledger, has been very cooperative, and it is requested that the fact that they sent the photos to ATIC not be mentioned.
3. ATIC does not believe these photos are authentic because:
a. They were apparently taken in a populated area at 10:15 a.m. and the object was supposedly visible for seven minutes. Yet, no one else reported seeing it.
b. The relative sizes of the objects in the foreground indicate that the object would be about the size of a lady's sun hat at 30 ft. to 40 ft. away. If the object were farther away, it would be extremely large and again it should have been observed by other people.
4. It is requested that the background of the observer and photographer be investigated in an attempt to determine their reliability; that the photographer is questioned as to the circumstances under which he took the pictures; that an attempt be made to locate other sources in the area; and that any other data be obtained that OSI believes to be pertinent in determining the authenticity of the photos.
DONALD L. BOWER, Colonel, USAF
Chief, Technical Analysis Division
Air Technical Intelligence Center
1. Ltr fm Herald-News dtd 8/2/52
2. Rpt fm Herald-News
3. Photos (7)
TO: A.T.I.C., WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, DAYTON, OHIO, ATT: ATIAA-5
DATA ON SAUCER PHOTOGRAPHED JULY 31, 1952 IN PASSAIC, N.J.
Photographer: John H. Riley, 28, 571 Main Street, Paterson, N.J., occupation: photographer
Known witness: George J. Stock, 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic, N.J.
Date: 31 Jul 52
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Place: 200 block, Brooks Avenue, Passaic, N.J.
Weather: Clear, in mid 80's
Color of saucer: greyish
Altitude: 200 feet at lowest point
Riley says he was visiting Stock, his friend, and talked to him in front of Stock's home. Stock first saw it. Riley says it travelled southeast at a "leisurely" speed. "As it drew nearer it came to a complete stop and hovered overhead for several moments about 200 feet from the ground."
"It was near enough to shoot at with a rifle." He described the disk as about 30 feet in diameter and greyish in color with a large dome jutting from its center. The saucer made no sound when hovering and moving. Before taking off again in a southwest direction, it tilted "as though to observe the ground. "An antenna or something like it darted out of the dome's top for a moment and then was withdrawn." He snapped several pictures with Stock's camera. Saucer was in sight about seven minutes. Disappeared very rapidly to the southeast.
No "fixed" negatives but Riley will not part with them. Could not have thrown object in air because one foto shows object very high.
Riley took his negatives and was away (probably trying to sell them in New York City) today so no data available on camera, its speed etc. Three other witnesses reported but unable to canvass neighborhood today for names etc.
178 Bogert Road,
River Edge, N.J.
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATION
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
14 OCT 1952
REPORT MADE BY
LEE S. THOMAS, S/A mlh
JOHN H. RILEY
178 Bogert Road
River Edge, New Jersey
REPORT MADE AT
DO #2, 67 Broad Street, New York 4, N.Y.
10 October 1952
OFFICE OF ORIGIN
DO #2, 67 Broad Street, New York 4, N.Y.
Ltr, DO #5, file 24-24, dated 15 August 1952
Investigation requested by Air Technical Intelligence Center for background information of alleged observer and photographer of unidentified aerial object, to determine reliability. Information developed by Newark Field Office, FBI, indicates that GEORGE J. STOCK, employee of Department of Parks and Recreation, Passaic, New Jersey, reported witness, actually took the photographs on 31 July 1952, instead of SUBJECT. Investigation continuing.
AT NEWARK, NEW JERSEY
1. Under date of 3 October 1952, the Newark Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, advised this district as follows:
"In reply to your communication, on August 27, 1952 with this office relative to one JOHN H. RILEY, 571 Main Street, Paterson, N.J., a commercial photographer, and of GEORGE J. STOCK, 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic N.J., who allegedly observed and photographed an unidentified aerial object on July 31, 1952, the following is submitted for your information.
JOHN H. RILEY is self-employed at the Belmont Photograph Service, 571 Main Street, Paterson, N.J., as a photograph finisher and printer. His business does not include the taking of photographs on a commercial basis, however, RILEY may have a working knowledge of photography other than the processing of exposed film.
A check was made relative to JOHN H. RILEY with the Paterson, N.J., Police Department Record Bureau and the Passaic and Bergen County Credit Bureau. Both checks proved negative concerning RILEY.
The Paterson Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau Records, disclosed no complaints having been filed against the Belmont Photograph Service or JOHN H. RILEY.
HARVEY BASKINGER, co-owner of Baskinger Hardware Store, 557 Main Street, Paterson, N.J., stated that he had known RILEY for approximately one year but was not familiar with RILEY'S background. BASKINGER did, however, indicate that he did not believe RILEY to be reliable in that he had some trouble with him in his hardware store and consequently watches him closely when he, RILEY comes into the hardware store. BASKINGER did not elaborate further on this point.
Dr. JOSEPH DI STEPHANO, 553 Main street, Paterson, N.J., RILEY'S landlord stated that to his knowledge RILEY had a photograph service route which he covered daily to solicit business from firms receiving film to be processed. DI STEPHANO stated that he knew very little about RILEY except for information coming to him though personal contact. DR. DI STEPHANO stated that RILEY had rented from him for approximately two years and although RILEY'S business does not appear to be too prosperous, he had never been in arrears in his rent. RILEY is single approximately 29 to 30 years old, 5' 5"-6" tall, 130 pounds, brown hair, and medium build.
Dr. DI STEPHANO further stated that only on one occasion has he had any complaint relative to RILEY and that was regarding a tenant's complaint that RILEY had been seen taking women and men into his photograph laboratory late at night and the tenant was curious as to what was going on at these late hours.
The Passaic and Bergen County Credit Bureau and the Passaic, N.J., Police Department records were negative as to information concerning GEORGE J. STOCK. STOCK is employed by the City of Passaic, N.J., Parks and Recreation Department.
Mr. THOMAS CAVANAUGH, Recreation Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, Passaic, N.J., stated that STOCK was employed by him as a grounds keeper and had been with the City of Passaic a number of years. CAVANAUGH stated that he had known STOCK personally for ten to fifteen years and he has never come upon information that would be derogatory to STOCK'S moral reputation or his integrity. CAVANAUGH stated that STOCK lives with his father at 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic, N.J., and they both enjoy a very simple life.
CAVANAUGH stated that STOCK'S main interest was mechanics and that he had a very modern and completely equipped machine shop in a shed on the rear of his property that took up most of his extra time. CAVANAUGH stated that STOCK also has peculiarities and does not get along with his fellow employees too well. He, STOCK, confides in CAVANAUGH and seems to lean on him for whatever help he might require. CAVANAUGH went on to say that he had discussed the 'flying saucer' incident with STOCK and that he had actually seen the original negatives of the photographs that were taken of the aerial object which are presently in the possession of STOCK.
Mr. CAVANAUGH stated that STOCK had related to him the full details of the incident and stated that he, STOCK, had taken the photographs rather than RILEY. STOCK related to CAVANAUGH that he had been advised by RILEY on the day of the occurrence and that he had given the exposed film to RILEY for developing and printing, whereas RILEY then took the film and made copies for himself which he sold to the local Paterson newspaper and possibly other publications.
CAVANAUGH stated that STOCK finally recovered his negatives and that he had examined the negatives closely and they did not appear to be "touched up". CAVANAUGH stated that in order to appreciate the situation, one would have to know STOCK for a number of years to realize that he has little or nothing to gain from any publicity received through these photographs and that in effect, he would not endeavor to publicize the incident. CAVANAUGH stated that STOCK'S father also witnessed the incident as did RILEY and that he, CAVANAUGH, thoroughly believed both STOCK and his father to be perfectly reliable especially with him, CAVANAUGH.
This information is being furnished your office for whatever action you so desire and no further investigation is being contemplated in this matter by this office. Interviews of RILEY and STOCK are being left to your discretion, inasmuch as further investigation in this matter is within your jurisdiction."
- P E N D I N G -
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
THE INSPECTOR GENERAL, USAF
5TH DISTRICT OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO
IN REPLY REFER TO: 50-24-21-108
16 OCTOBER 1952
SUBJECT: JOHN H. RILEY
178 Bogart Road
River Edge, New Jersey
TO: Commanding Officer
Air Technical Intelligence Center
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
1. Reference is made to Disposition Form, your office, dated 12, August 1952, Subject: "Investigation of Unidentified Aerial Object Photos".
2. Attached hereto for your information are two copies of the report of Investigation by Special Agent LEE S. THOMAS, 2d OSI District, dated 14 October 1952, file 24-300, subject as above.
3. Information developed by the Newark Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates that GEORGE J. STOCK, employee of Department of Parks and Recreation, Passaic, New Jersey, reported witness, actually took the photographs on 31 July 1952 instead of SUBJECT.
4. This investigation is continuing, and subsequent reports will be forwarded your headquarters.
5. Attention is invited to par 7, AFR 205-1, which prohibits disclosure of classified information to unauthorized personnel.
6. Attention is further invited to the fact that information contained herein has been derived from sources other than USAF. In accordance with par 8b; AFR 205-1, dissemination of such information must not be made outside of USAF channels.
Lt Colonel, USAF
1 Incl (in dup)
R/I, DG #2, dtd 14 Oct 52
Hq OSI w/o abv incl
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATION
REPORT OF INVESTIGATION
29 NOV 1952
REPORT MADE BY
GEORGE H. WERTZ, S/A msh
JOHN HARRINGTON RILEY aka:
JOHN JAMES RILEY; JAMES RILEY
44 Haines Drive, Bloomfield, N.J.
GEORGE J. STOCK and WILLIAM J. STOCK, 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic, N.J.
REPORT MADE AT
DO #2, 72 E. 10th St., New York, N.Y.
18 - 21 November 1952
OFFICE OF ORIGIN
DO #2, 72 E. 10th St., New York, N.Y.
Rpt S/A Thomas, DO #2, File 24-300, dtd 15 October 1952
GEORGE J. STOCK was verified as person who took photographs of flying object, Passaic, N.J., 31 July 1952 about 1000 hours. STOCK's father also witnessed incident. Object photographed with cheap reflex camera. Object approached STOCK's residence from due east direction hovered momentarily overhead, changed direction to north. Object appeared saucer shaped with dome-like structure on upper side, had no port-holes or other openings and antennas, was dull non-reflecting grey in color. Object estimated by STOCKS never to exceed speed of over fifteen (15) miles per hour. Object developed vapor-like ring around outer edge just prior to starting off in northerly direction Ring appeared to travel with object. GEORGE STOCK furnished five (5) negatives and seven (7) pictures of object for technical observation. Two negatives and pictures when investigation completed. Search of STOCK residence did not reveal equipment of object capable of producing or resembling object. Sketch of object as described by STOCK included with this report. Radar laboratories in area checked for possible radar pickup on object, with negative results. Neighbors consider STOCKS reliable, honest, and sane. Weather bureau covering area object sighted, report conditions excellent for observation of airborne object. RILEY's proper address determined. RILEY and both STOCKS have no known police records in immediate area of residences. RILEY's mother believes he needs treatment of psychoanalyst. RILEY admitted STOCK, and not he, took pictures of object as it appears in inclosures to this report. No photo-engraving or microscopic equipment found in RILEY's place of business. Former staff writer for newspaper admitted he gave his personal address as RILEY's when he filed his report with newspaper about object. Object does not resemble type of street light or play-ground light globes used by electric and playground departments in this area.
The title of this report is changed to correct the name and address of JOHN H. RILEY, 178 Bogert Road, New Jersey, aka JOHN JAMES RILEY and JAMES RILEY; and to add the names GEORGE J. STOCK and WILLIAM J. STOCK, both residing at 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic, New Jersey, as SUBJECTS of this report.
AT PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY
2. On 19 November 1952, GEORGE J. STOCK, 221 Brooks Avenue, was interviewed at his residence. STOCK stated that on 31 July 1952 at approximately 1000 hours while walking in his back yard, he visually observed without any optical aid, a dome-like symmetrical object standing motionless in the sky in a due easterly direction. He said that the object appeared to be about a quarter of a mile off from his position, and that at this time he did not note any vapor, smoke or other kind of exhaust fumes coming from the object. STOCK said that he ran into his residence and obtained his camera, a Kodak Duaflex II with Kodet Lens, fixed focus and fixed unknown speed, reflex type, loaded with Kodak Safety Film, Plus X, size 620, for which STOCK said he paid about $12.95. While running through the house STOCK shouted to his father "I think I see a flying saucer". STOCK stated that he and his father proceeded to the back yard and upon looking to the east saw that the disc-like object, thin at the edges, thickening toward the middle with a dome-like object in what appeared to be the exact middle of it, had approached nearer the house than when STOCK first saw it. From this point of observation on STOCK's father, WILLIAM J. STOCK, same address, verified to the writer all of GEORGE STOCK's statements. GEORGE STOCK advised that the object slowly approached the area of his home at a speed not exceeding five miles per hour and then hovered almost directly over his head for a few minutes. All this time STOCK advised, the object had traveled from due east to due west. After hovering overhead STOCK said the object traveled a short distance away in a due north direction, hovered again, turned up on its edge and at about a forty-give (45) degree angle turned a complete 360 degree turn, using the lower end of the angle as its axis "as though to give its dome a clear view of what was below". STOCK said that after completing its turn, the object slowly started off in a due north direction at not more than ten to fifteen miles per hour. He said the object had no visual means of propulsion up to this point. However, just prior to its change of direction to the north and just prior to its start of the its forward motion, the object developed what STOCK thought to be a vapor ring around its entire outer edge. He said that this ring became more dense as the object got further away and picked up speed. He could not judge how dense or how thick the vapor ring was. STOCK repeated that at no time did he think the object picked up a speed in excess of fifteen (15) miles per hour. He further described the object as a dull metallic grey color, flying at between 400 and 800 feet although with no visible portholes or other type openings and no antennas extending from its surface. STOCK said that the surfaces appeared clean without rivets or seams and that the dome and saucer part of the body appeared to be one piece. STOCK said that he thought the object was between sixty (60) and eighty (80) feet in diameter and eight (8) feet high from the saucer-like bottom to top of its dome. He stated that the vapor-like ring did not trail off in smoke fashion after the object started off to the north, however, the ring seemed to go along with the object without changing the vapor ring's shape. STOCK said that at no time did the object make the least bit of noise or sound of any kind, nor did the object whirl or revolve on its axis while hovering or traveling in a forward position. STOCK furnished the writer with seven (7) photographs and five (5) negatives, giving the explanation for each photograph and negative, which are included as Inclosures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 to this report. STOCK said the negatives are the originals developed by a Mr. JAMES RILEY at 571 Main Street, Paterson, New Jersey. STOCK said the he took the film to RILEY for developing on the same day this incident occurred and at about 1630 or 1700 hours he stood by in the dark room while RILEY developed said film. He said that RILEY did not do any touch up work on the negatives. STOCK requested that the original pictures and negatives which he gave to the writer be returned to him at the earliest possible date. STOCK said that the two (2) negatives for the pictures appearing as Inclosure 6 have been lost or mislaid by him. He said that RILEY kept a set of the pictures and that without STOCK's permission RILEY sold the pictures to newspapers in the area. STOCK said that only he and his father were present during the observation and filming of the object in question. STOCK said the weather was clear and bright at the time of this incident, temperature unknown to him, with unlimited visibility and hardly no wind. Upon being questioned about the machine shop the STOCKS are allegedly maintaining on their property, both men invited the writer to inspect all the outbuildings and their home on the property at 221 Brooks Avenue. Outbuildings consisted of a four-car garage, one stall of which was converted into a small machine shop. The shop consisted of a planer, three-foot flat bed metal lathe, eight-inch electric external grinding wheel and various tools used chiefly for sharpening electric power saws for the Passaic Parks and Playgrounds Commission where STOCK is employed. A search of the house consisting of cellar, two floors, and attic, did not reveal any radio or electronic equipment other than one standard make old model Philco radio. No other object resembling the object appearing in the Inclosures of this report were found. GEORGE STOCK furnished the following information about himself: Born 15 October 1909 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; residing at 221 Brooks Avenue for thirty-two (32) years; educated up to the twelfth grade high school in Passaic, New Jersey; weight 180 pounds, height 5' 10"; high forehead, thinning black-grey hair, eyes blue, and one large tooth protruding from under right upper lip. WILLIAM J. BROCK furnished the following information about himself: Born 25 August 1884 at Buffalo, New York; weight 178 pounds, bald, grey hair at temples, eyes blue; education in New York City School No. 5; moved to the Paterson, New Jersey area and Passaic, New Jersey area in 1900.
3. On 19 November 1952, a sketch of the flying object was made by the writer with the assistance of both STOCKS from their description and beliefs. Both men approved of the finished sketch as "nearly accurate" as it appears in this report as Inclosure 7.
4. On 19 November 1952, Mrs. ANNA KOCH, next door neighbor of the STOCKS, residing at 227 Brooks Avenue, stated that she has known GEORGE and WILLIAM STOCK for at least fifteen years. She advised that Mrs. STOCK, GEORGE's mother, died about April or May 1952. Mrs. KOCH stated that both gentlemen appear rational and sane at all times. She said that both men are well known for their mechanical abilities and that to the best of her knowledge they are honest, trustworthy, and loyal American citizens. She stated that both have discussed the flying object they claimed to have seen in late July 1952 and that both persons did not appear surprised. She stated that the STOCKS expressed their beliefs to her that, quoting the STOCKS, "the Government knows all about them so why should be [sic] get excited". She said she believes the STOCKS own their own home and that to the best of her knowledge they have no known debts and live comfortably within their means. Mrs. KOCH stated that because they have never been the type of persons who wish to draw attention to themselves she is inclined to believe the fact that both men did see some type of disc-shaped object as they reported.
5. On 19 November, 1952, Mr. MEY R. GOLDBERG, Tailor, 224 Brooks Avenue, stated he has known GEORGE and WILLIAM STOCK for about one year. During that time, both men have entered his shop about two times each month for the purpose of having clothes cleaned and repaired. Both men have always paid cash for services rendered. GOLDBERG said that he is quite sure both persons are sound of mind and would not make a fabrication of the truth.
6. On 19 November 1952, Mr. DAN GOODWIN, owner of a grocery store, 222 Brooks Avenue, stated that he has known GEORGE and WILLIAM STOCK as neighbors and customers for the past five or six years. He stated that both men have charge accounts of approximately $2.00 per day for each of them. GOODWIN said that both men always pay their bills in full when due and that he has had no trouble in making collections. GOODWIN said that he has discussed the flying object that GEORGE STOCK claims he saw with both men. He said that while he himself thinks it was an optical illusion he is inclined to believe that both of these gentlemen did see some type of object in the sky. GOODWIN said that neither he nor anyone he knows, who are familiar with that STOCKS consider them as "crackpots". He said that while GEORGE had some type of disease or sickness in the past that has slowed his reflexes slightly, he (GEORGE) is by no means mentally retarded. GOODWIN stated he considers both persons honest, trustworthy, and loyal American citizens.
AT NEWARK, NEW JERSEY
7. On 20 November 1952, the records of the United States Weather Station, Administration Building, Newark Airport, were searched with the assistance of WILLIAM LYNCH, Meteorological Technician. The records revealed that weather conditions on 31 July 1952, at 1000 hours, for the Newark Area covering Passaic, New Jersey, were as follows: Cirrus Cloud Formation, Temperature at 1020 hours, Daylight Saving Time, 85 degrees, hazy with thin grouping clouds, visibility from one and one-half (1 1/2) to three (3) miles, Wind thirteen (13) miles per hour. LYNCH stated that because of its suburban locality, Passaic may have been about five (5) degrees cooler than the above temperature. However, all other figures came in the same for Passaic. LYNCH stated that the geographic maps on file at this station revealed Passaic to have a geographical location of Longitude 74 degrees, eight (8) minutes; Latitude 40 degrees, fifty-one (51) minutes.
AT RIVER EDGE, NEW JERSEY
8. On 20 November 1952, a canvass of the neighborhood at 178 Bogert Avenue, revealed no JOHN H. or JOHN J. RILEY presently or ever having resided there as given in the pending report of Special Agent LEE S. THOMAS, DO #2, File 24-300, dated 15 October 1952. Six persons interviewed denied ever knowing RILEY.
9. On 20 November 1952, the records of the local Police Department and telephone directories were checked against the names of JOHN H., JOHN JAMES, and JAMES RILEY with negative results.
AT PATERSON, NEW JERSEY
10. On 21 November 1952, records of the Passaic County Bureau of Identification, Passaic County jail, covering all of Passaic County, New Jersey, were reviewed and no record of RILEY under any of the aforementioned names was found.
11. On 21 November 1952, records of the Passaic County Bureau of Investigation, Passaic County jail, covering all of Passaic County, New Jersey, were reviewed and no record of GEORGE STOCK or WILLIAM STOCK was found.
AT PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY
12. On 21 November 1952, GEORGE STOCK was reinterviewed and STOCK furnished the telephone number Edison 8-8302 as the number he believed to be in RILEY's residence. The New Jersey Bell Telephone Company advised that said number was assigned to JOSEPH J. RILEY, 44 Haines Drive, Bloomfield, New Jersey.
AT BLOOMFIELD, NEW JERSEY
13. On 22 November 1952, Mrs. JOSEPH J. RILEY, mother of RILEY, was interviewed in her residence at 44 Haines Drive and advised that her son, JOHN HARRINGTON RILEY was born 8 April 1924 at St. Mary's Hospital, Passaic Park, New Jersey. She said that SUBJECT's father is a milkroute salesman for the Sheffield Milk Company of New Jersey. Mrs. RILEY advised that her son is presently involved in some trouble with a married woman who is at least fifteen (15) years older than he is. As a result RILEY refuses to speak or see any stranger for fear he will be served with subpoena papers. Mrs. RILEY said that although her son is twenty-eight (28) years of age, he is acting like a boy of seventeen (17) or eighteen (18) years. She stated that she was aware of the fact that some New Jersey newspapers that he had photographed a "flying saucer". [sic, entire sentence] However, she said RILEY had told her that two men whose names she cannot remember, took them in Passaic, New Jersey, and that RILEY developed the film for the men on the same evening of the day they claimed they took the pictures. Mrs. RILEY stated that she believes her son to be slipping mentally. She said he takes hundreds of pictures of trolley cars whenever he can and also cuts out of newspapers and magazines any and all weather maps. These maps are filed away in his drawer here at this residence. Mrs. RILEY stated that this is RILEY's permanent home and has been for the past twelve years. However, she said RILEY maintains a furnished room in Paterson, New Jersey, address unknown to her. She did not know anything about RILEY allegedly living at 178 Bogert Road, River Edge, New Jersey, as per report Special Agent LEE S. THOMAS, DO #2, File 24-300, dated 15 October 1952. Mrs. RILEY said she has known her son to use the names JAMES RILEY and JOHN JAMES RILEY. She said her son gave up a college education for no known reason and that his photoprocessing business does not bring in enough money for him to pay her any board. Mrs. RILEY frankly admitted she believed RILEY's store in Paterson was a front for some type illegal operation. She said she did not believe her son clever enough or that he knew enough about photography to do any kind of touch-up work on the original negatives in reference to this investigation. Mrs. RILEY said that she believed SUBJECT sould [sic] place himself under the treatment of a psychoanalyst. She concluded by stating that she would make every effort to have her son available for interview at his place of business later in the day. RILEY's mother said he did not have any photographic or microscopic equipment in the house.
AT PATTERSON, NEW JERSEY
14. On 22 November 1952, RILEY was interviewed at his place of business, 571 Main Street. RILEY said that on 31 July 1952 at about 1630 hours GEORGE STOCK appeared at his store and requested he immediately develop a roll of Kodak Plus X film, size 620. He said he has known STOCK for about one year and that STOCK has repaired his picture dryer from time to time. RILEY said that when STOCK told him he thought he had pictures of a "flying saucer" on the film. [sic, entire sentence] RILEY immediately started to develop the film in STOCK's presence in the dark room. RILEY said he used Decktol Developer and Kodak Acid Fixer as a hypo in the process. He said that he then enlarged (blew up or brought out) the "flying saucer" part of the negative to 3 1/2 " x 5" size on his Apex Double Size Enlarger. RILEY stated that there were seven (7) negatives with pictures of the "flying saucer" on them. From the seven negatives he believes he made at least six (6) sets of pictures and then returned all the negatives and two (2) sets of pictures to STOCK. He said that he took the other sets to the various newspapers in the area and attempted to sell them as his pictures which he took of the object. He said that only the Herald-News, at Passaic, New Jersey, bought the pictures. He would not state how much money he obtained for the pictures. RILEY denied that he did any retouch work on the negatives in question and said that he had no equipment for such delicate work. He said that STOCK was present at all times during the entire processing and that STOCK should be able to verify the fact that the negatives were not tampered with in any way. On RILEY's invitation, a search of his store revealed RILEY had only the equipment aforementioned plus a rotary type canvas belt dryer. No evidence was found of equipment necessary in producing photo-engraving or microscopic work. RILEY would not reveal the location of his furnished room.
AT RIVER EDGE, NEW JERSEY
15. On 22 November 1952, Mr. CHARLES GREGG, former staff writer for the Herald-News, Passaic, New Jersey was located at his residence at 178 Bogert Road. This address appears as RILEY's address in the title of the report of S/A LEE S. THOMAS, DO #2, File 24-300, dated 15 October 1952. GREGG explained that in filling [sic] his story to the paper he had no address for RILEY so he substituted his own address. He said RILEY does not now nor never has lived at the above address.
Agent's Note: Federal Telephone and Radio Corporation, Clifton, New Jersey, and the Federal Telecommunications Laboratories, Nutley, New Jersey are located approximately two miles from the STOCK residence on Brooks Avenue, Passaic, New Jersey. Both of these corporations are conducting experiments and produce radar and micro-wave equipment. The Federal Telecommunications Laboratories have an experimental tower 365 feet high with many types of radar and micro-wave antennas on it from which they carry out their experiments. These companies are affiliated.
AT CLIFTON, NEW JERSEY
16. On 19 November 1952, Mr. [Illegible], Vice President, Federal Telephone and Radio Corporation, stated that no radar or micro-wave antennas had broken loose from their moorings at either Federal Telephone and Radio Corporation or Federal Telecommunications Laboratories at any time in the past.
AT NUTLEY, NEW JERSEY
17. On 24 November 1952, Admiral CARL P. HOLDEN, U.S. Navy retired, President of the Federal Telecommunications Laboratories was interviewed in his office. After a telephonic conversation with various technical members of his staff, it was determined that none of the experimental radar or micro-wave equipment at this plant was in operation at any time during the day of 31 July 1952.
AIR TECHNICAL INTELLIGENCE CENTER, WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB
1. Photograph and negative of flying object taken by GEORGE J. STOCK at 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic, New Jersey on 31 July 1952, at about 1000 hours. Object appears as STOCK first saw it and was moving from east to west at less than five miles per hour, much of the time hovering.
2. Second photograph and negative of flying object as it was still moving from east to west. Motion still is very slow, no noise made by object, no spinning motion observed.
3. Third photograph and fourth photograph, marked "A" and "B" taken of flying object as it stopped to hover over the area of 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic, New Jersey. Negatives for these two pictures have been lost by GEORGE STOCK. Picture "B" was taken just after object allegedly had stood up on its edge at 45 degree angle and turn a full 360 degrees on an axis.
4. Fifth photograph and negative taken of object revealing vapor-like rim around outer edge of object. Ring did not trail off but stayed with object when object started. Object did not spin. Object was moving very slightly in a northerly direction at time this photograph was taken.
5. Sixth photograph and negative taken of object as it picked up speed and headed in northerly direction. Object made no noise whatever and allegedly had reached a spend not exceeding fifteen (15) miles per hour at this point.
6. Seventh photograph and negative take of object as it appeared in the distance while heading in a northerly direct ion. Outline of vapor-like outer ring was noted by both STOCKS as object disappeared in the distance still without moving faster than (15) miles per hour.
7. Rough sketch of flying object observed visually without any optical aide by GEORGE and WILLIAM STOCK on 31 July 1952 about 1000 hours, at 221 Brooks Avenue, Passaic, New Jersey. Sketch made by writer in presence of the two observers and at their direction. All remarks are their observations and beliefs.
Above: Sketch made by Special Agent George H. Wertz of object claimed photographed by George J. Stock.
IN THE END all the investigative work resulted in no clearer answer than the various conjectures of the American public.
Shell Alpert's photo was thought at first to be a hoax, only to be reinterpreted 11 years later as reflections on window glass. And by the time Blue Book ended in 1969, Alpert's encounter was officially classed "unidentified" -- though the reasons for such are nowhere in the declassified files.
At that same time the photos of Riley and-or George Stock were officially classed as "hoax".
Today, seven decades on, Alpert and Stock both are included in catalogues of pictures, often with just the notation of name, date and place taken.
It is said that every picture tells a story...
...but it is prudent to remember that whether that story should be taken as true adventure or fable is best viewed through the lens of the photographer's tale.
1. If Alpert was indeed 21 when the picture was taken, and if he served in the Navy for two years followed by five years, seven months in the Coast Guard, he would have been 13 or 14-years old when he enlisted. That seems exceptionally young even though it was not an uncommon occurrence for teenagers to lie about their age when enlisting during World War II.
2. The assertion in "AF Studying Photograph of Disk Formation" that Alpert's represented the first daylight photo is untrue, and in fact such photos go back to July, 1947.
3. The professor identified in "Says Photograph Will Not Solve The Riddle of Flying Saucers" as Ronald Menzel should be Donald Menzel.
4. A "Shell R. Alpert" had a very successful career in direct mail advertising in the 1960s and 1970s, and died in 2003. It is not known if this is the same Alpert who took the picture.
5. In a handwritten notation, on a document in the Blue Book file on John Riley and George Stock, the "Mr. Dixon" in the telephone transcript is noted as:
Mr. Dixon - Night City Editor
Newark Star Ledger
Newark, New Jersey
6. There is a picture and short article on the "experimental" tower at the Federal Telephone and Radio Corporation mentioned in the report of OSI Agent George Wertz on the bottom of page 121 in the July, 1948 issue of Popular Science found here.
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