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Whatever occurred at 2:45 a.m. on the morning of July 24, 1948 in the skies over southwest Alabama not only shocked and stymied the witnesses. It jolted the U.S. government into a top-secret investigation—the results of which were ultimately destroyed.
The skies were mostly clear and the moon was bright in the pre-dawn hours as pilot Clarence S. Chiles and co-pilot John B. Whitted flew their Eastern Air Lines DC-3, a twin-engine propeller plane, at 5,000 feet, en route from Houston to Atlanta. The aircraft had 20 passengers on board, 19 of them asleep at that hour. It was a routine domestic flight, one of many in the skies that early morning.
Until suddenly, it wasn’t. What the two pilots and their wide-awake passenger saw in the skies about 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, Alabama, did more than startle them. It would reportedly become the catalyst for a highly classified Air Force document suggesting that some unidentified flying objects were spaceships from other worlds—a tipping point in UFO history.
READ MORE: Interactive Map: UFO Sightings Taken Seriously by the U.S. Government
Chiles described what he saw in an official statement about a week later: “It was clear there were no wings present, that it was powered by some jet or other type of power, shooting flame from the rear some 50 feet. There were two rows of windows, which indicated an upper and lower deck, [and] from inside these windows a very bright light was glowing. Underneath the ship there was a blue glow of light.” He estimated that he’d watched the ship for about 10 seconds before it disappeared into some light clouds and was lost from view.
Whitted offered a similar description in his official statement: “The object was cigar shaped and seemed to be about a hundred feet in length. The fuselage appeared to be about three times the circumference of a B-29 fuselage. It had two rows of windows, an upper and a lower. The windows were very large and seemed square. They were white with light which seemed to be caused by some type of combustion…. I asked Capt. Chiles what we had just seen and he said that he didn’t know.”
The passenger who was awake at the time, Clarence L. McKelvie of Columbus, Ohio, corroborated the pilots’ account that an unusually bright object had streaked past his window, but he wasn’t able to describe it beyond that.
READ MORE: Meet J. Allen Hynek, the Astronomer Who First Classified UFO 'Close Encounters.'
Both pilots also made drawings of the craft they believed they had seen and provided further details in newspaper and radio interviews, some just hours after the sighting. The Atlanta Constitution headlined its July 25 account, “Atlanta Pilots Report Wingless Sky Monster.” In that article, Chiles described what sounded like an uncomfortably close encounter, as the object appeared to be coming at them. “We veered to the left and it veered to its left, and passed us about 700 feet to our right and about 700 feet above us. Then, as if the pilot had seen us and wanted to avoid us, it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame out of its rear and zoomed up into the clouds.”
Chiles and Whitted weren’t the only ones baffled by what they’d seen.
Asked for comment, William M. Allen, the president of Boeing Aircraft told the United Press he was “pretty sure” it was “not one of our planes,” adding that he knew of nothing being built in the U.S. that matched the description. General George C. Kenney, the chief of the Strategic Air Command, which was responsible for most of America’s nuclear strike forces during the Cold War, told the Associated Press: “The Army hasn’t anything like that. I wish we did.”
READ MORE: When a U.S. Fighter Pilot Got into a Dogfight with a UFO
Whatever Chiles and Whitted witnessed, theirs was far from an isolated incident. There had been scores of reported UFO sightings in the years just previous. But Air Force investigators took this one more seriously than most. For one thing, both men were highly regarded pilots who had served as Air Force officers during World War II. (McKelvie was also a solid citizen and an Air Force veteran, as well.) For another, the pilots had gotten what seemed to be an unusually close look at the strange object they described.
For all of those reasons, the Chiles-Whitted encounter, as it came to be known, reportedly caused the Air Technical Intelligence Center to draft a top-secret document with the deceptively bland title “Estimate of the Situation.”Edward J. Ruppelt, an Air Force officer and the first head of its famous Project Blue Bookstudy of UFO phenomena, claimed to have seen a copy. “The 'situation' was the UFOs,” he wrote, “the 'estimate' was that they were interplanetary!”
According to Ruppelt, the report traveled up the Air Force chain of command all the way to General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, the chief of staff. “The general wouldn’t buy interplanetary vehicles,” Ruppelt wrote. “A group from ATIC went to the Pentagon to bolster their position but had no luck, the Chief of Staff couldn’t be convinced.”
Ruppelt continued, “The estimate died a quick death. Some months later it was completely declassified and relegated to the incinerator.”
READ MORE: Mysterious UFOs Seen by WWII Airmen Still Unexplained
One reason for Vandenberg’s skepticism, apparently, was that another faction within the Air Force had a competing theory: UFOs weren’t interplanetary at all, but the handiwork of America’s Cold War nemesis, the Soviet Union. In another top-secret report dated December 1948, the Air Force suggested a variety of reasons the Soviets might be behind such a scheme, including photographic reconnaissance, testing U.S. air defenses and undermining U.S. and European ally confidence in the atom bomb as the ultimate weapon. The Soviets wouldn’t have their own atom bomb until late August 1949.
Adding to the mystery: The sighting occurred outside Montgomery, downstate from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville where a collection of rocket scientists—many former Nazis quietly spirited to the U.S. to help win the Cold War space race—were working on top-secret rocketry experiments under the guidance of brilliant and visionary rocket designer Wernher van Braun. Could the sighting have somehow been related to their experiments?
READ MORE: The Unsolved Mystery of the Lubbock Lights UFO Sightings
The suppression of the “Estimate of the Situation” and the rejection of any extraterrestrial explanation was the start of “a long period of unfortunate, amateurish public relations” on the part of the Air Force, astronomer J. Allen Hynek claimed in his 1972 book, The UFO Experience. Hynek, who had worked at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory tracking space satellites and later became a professor at Northwestern University, was the official astronomical consultant to Project Blue Book as well as the man who developed the UFO-sighting classification system that originated the phrase “Close Encounters of Third Kind.”
“The insistence on official secrecy and frequent ‘classification’ of documents was hardly needed since the Pentagon had declared that the problem really didn’t exist,” Hynek wrote.
Ruppelt maintained that bureaucratic bungling rather than deliberate deception was the Air Force’s main problem. “But had the Air Force tried to throw up a screen of confusion, they couldn’t have done a better job,” he added.
In part because of this lack of transparency, the Chiles-Whitted incident remains one of the most controversial UFO sightings—and a favorite of conspiracy theorists even now.
So, what did Chiles and Whitted actually see? Some suggested a weather balloon, others a mirage. Hynek believed it was a fireball, or very bright meteor, an opinion that eventually became the official Air Force verdict. As to the lighted windows both pilots claim to have seen, some experts suggest that might have been a phenomenon called the “airship effect,” where observers who see a group of unrelated lights in the sky are fooled into thinking they’re part of the same object.
But Chiles and Whitted stuck to their story. James E. McDonald, a University of Arizona physicist and UFO expert, said he interviewed them in 1968, some 20 years after the event. The two were now jet pilots for Eastern Air Lines, and they continued to believe that what they had seen was some sort of airborne vehicle, McDonald reported.
What’s more, Whitted added a new and puzzling detail to the story. Although reports at the time said the object had disappeared into the clouds or simply out of their view, he supposedly told McDonald that wasn’t what really happened. Instead, the object had vanished instantaneously, right before their eyes.
No wonder the Chiles-Whitted case continues to baffle and intrigue, even 70 years later.
WATCH: Full episodes of Project Blue Book online now.
'Fleet of UFOs' Followed US Aircraft, Navy Pilot Says
Between 2014 and 2015, seasoned pilots in the U.S. Navy experienced a number of harrowing encounters with UFOs during training missions in the U.S. While pilots were mid-flight, their aircraft cameras and radar detected seemingly impossible objects flying at hypersonic speeds at altitudes up to 30,00 feet (9,144 meters) these mysterious UFOs did so with no visible means of propulsion, The New York Times reported on May 26.
However, none of the pilots suggest that these perplexing UFOs represent an extraterrestrial invasion, according to The Times, which previously wrote about Navy pilots encountering UFOs in 2004.
In total, six pilots who were stationed on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt between 2014 and 2015 told The Times about spotting UFOs during flights along the southeastern coast of the U.S., extending from Virginia to Florida. [7 Things Most Often Mistaken for UFOs]
Two of the pilots who spoke with the newspaper about the inexplicable sightings share their stories in the new History Channel documentary series "Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation," premiering May 31.
Video of two aerial encounters appears in the series, showing clips of UFOs: one tiny white speck and one large, dark blob. These UFOs later came to be known respectively as "Go Fast" and "Gimbal."
The objects had "no distinct wing, no distinct tail, no distinct exhaust plume," Lt. Danny Accoin, one of the Navy pilots who reported UFO sightings beginning in 2014, said in the documentary.
"It seemed like they were aware of our presence, because they would actively move around us," Lt. Accoin said.
According to the lieutenant, when a strange reading shows up on radar for the first time, it's possible to interpret it as a false alarm, "but then when you start to get multiple sensors reading the exact same thing, and then you get to see a display, that solidifies it for me."
Accoin told The Times that he encountered UFOs twice, during flights that were a few days apart. He also said that though tracking equipment, radar and infrared cameras on his aircraft detected UFOs both times, he was unable to capture them on his helmet camera.
Lt. Ryan Graves, an F-18 pilot, said in the documentary that a squadron of UFOs followed his Navy strike group up and down the eastern coast of the U.S. for months. And in March, 2015, after the Roosevelt was deployed to the Arabian Gulf, Graves said the UFOs reappeared.
"We did have issues with them when we went out to the Middle East," Lt. Graves said.
Pilots who spotted the UFOs speculated among themselves that the unnerving objects may have belonged to a highly classified drone program using unknown technology, and they did not consider them to be extraterrestrial in origin, The Times reported.
Lt. Graves and others are speaking out now because what they saw raised concerns for them about their comrades and national security, Christopher Mellon, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, told the History Channel.
UFO sighting: Airline pilot films mystery giant sphere that baffled US military officialsLink copied
UFO: Pilot recalls witnessing mysterious orb ‘inside another orb’
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An experienced commercial airline pilot has released footage of a mysterious mid-air encounter with a bright orb UFO. The strange encounter took place two days after an identical sighting was reported in the night sky almost 2,000 miles away. The bizarre sighting was recounted on the History Channel's show Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation.
The sighting, just off the coast of Chile in March 2019, has left US military aviation officials "baffled".
The pilot, who asked not to be identified, spoke with Luis 'Lue' Elizondo, a former Pentagon official who investigates UFO sightings.
The pilot told Lue: "I'm an airline captain. I fly for a big carrier. I fly an Airbus A320. I have eleven years of international flying experience.
"It happened March 1st 2019. It was a red eye flight. I was flying to Argentina in the middle of the night."
An experienced commercial airline pilot has released footage of a mid-air encounter with a UFO (Image: HISTORY)
Two days prior to this encounter, and 2,000 miles away, an identical object was seen and filmed in Peru (Image: HISTORY)
At around 2am, when the plane was 35,000 feet high, the pilot saw a bright white orb tracking the plane to the west.
He explained: "I saw this bright light and I was like okay what is this?
"I took out my phone and when I zoomed I got to see this circular shape. It appears to show an orb inside another orb.
"It started moving in a wave pattern, from left to right, right to left. It was definitely bigger than 747.
Germany: Bizarre 'silver UFO' spotted in the sky in daylight
The pilot included a shot of the radar in his phone footage, to show evidence of the bizarre orb craft (Image: HISTORY)
"As a pilot, you're kind of used to seeing like shining stars, the ISS, I have even had the chance to see meteors fly by, they are very small and have this green colour. But what this was, I don't know."
The pilot included a shot of the radar in his phone footage to show evidence of the bizarre orb craft and its location.
Two days prior to this encounter, and 2,000 miles away, an identical object was seen and filmed in Peru, above the airport in the capital Lima.
Lt. Col Chris Cook, a retired US marines officer and military aviation expert was left "baffled" by the recording (Image: HISTORY)
Lt. Col Chris Cook, a retired US marines officer and military aviation expert was left "baffled" by the recording.
He told Lue: "I have never seen anything like that where it is just one spherical light."
The retired US marine dismissed claim it could be a balloon, saying: "Why would the balloon be illuminated that brightly? It is baffling.
"It looks like nothing I have sever seen. It is clearly not a traditional aircraft."
Speculation continues: Was the craft of alien origin?
It turned out that the journal &mdash which consisted of quotes, lyrics and jokes &mdash could be dated to the time of the Roswell incident, but the handwriting didn't match Marcel's. Smith pondered why the former army officer retained the journal, and there was speculation over whether it may have contained a code. If it did, however, it could not be deciphered by even the best of minds, according to the documentary.
Smith also sought to discover what was written in a document held by Brigadier General Roger Ramey, Eighth Air Force commander, during the press conference. It was captured in a photograph taken by Star-Telegram reporter J. Bond Johnson, and ufologists have long wondered whether the words they struggle to make out refer to "victims of the wreck." As Smith found, however, even the best technology could not sufficiently clean the document enough to make the words readable, and they remain a source of debate.
There were other interesting explorations in the documentary series. A body-language expert examined video interviews of Marcel and said it appeared that he was telling the truth, at least as he saw it. Experts including aviation crash investigator David Soucie were also taken to examine the crash site. Interestingly, the wind currents in the area were found to be inconsistent with a lightweight balloon crashing in the way that was described.
As the documentary continued, more evidence emerged. Crucially, there was a taped interview conversation between Marcel and author Linda G. Corley in which the military man discussed the items he found in 1947. "I found all this stuff and I was told to keep my mouth shut," he told Corley. "I held on to this premium for 32 years without saying anything at all. See, I was an intelligence officer. I handled intelligence and security for the base. I still hold an allegiance to my country, the vow that I took to keep my mouth shut about everything that might encroach on military secrets."
Just as compelling was an account from the family of Patrick Saunders, the 509th adjutant who is likely to have known about the whole event. He had apparently told people that it wasn't a weather balloon, but something similar to a jet fighter, that files were destroyed or changed and that the world wasn't ready for the truth because it would cause social upheaval. Were the "beings" friendly, he was said to have pondered.
This kind of testimony &mdash particularly the first-hand testimony of Marcel that was chronicled in Corley's book, "For the Sake of My Country" &mdash ensures the incident remains open. The fact the U.S. government admitted there was a cover-up in 1994 only continues to add fuel to the fire.
Yet Drinkwater says failure to provide physical evidence means anecdotal accounts have spread misinformation, and he remains in doubt. "Colonel John B. Alexander offers an excellent insight into the myths and possible conspiracies connected to UFOs, the Roswell incident, the government involvement and so on," Drinkwater said. "I think it's more about a sense of reality and how it can be swayed emotionally. I'm dubious about the nature of a secret operation where many might not have known about the goings on at their level."
Roswell is a town that will be forever linked to one of the greatest mysteries of all time, and we may never truly reach a consensus on the truth that is out there.
Why all the UFO reports from the Navy, and not the Air Force?
USAF pilots are able to identify the UFO, we have better eyes? When we see something we figure out what it is?
Or. USAF pilots don't need to report UFOs, we don't need to escape months at sea, or are tired of difficult, nearly impossible landings on a postage stamp size runway pitching and moving after being referred to the Flight Doctor for issues related to reporting crazy stuff. It appears the Navy figured out they don't care if you report crazy stuff, you can't get out of sea duty!
Navy pilots are not Pilots, they are Naval Aviators. Aviators see more UFOs than Pilots. ?
Probably because most of the sightings are at sea, and probably because a good number of these are China and Russia perfecting/advancing technology on some very basic drones and or balloons that are spying on US naval assets.
Note - majority of the sightings are near San Clemente island on the west coast and for the east coast Naval Air Station Oceana.
So IMHO, we are seeing electronic warfare games.
The next military engagement we are going to see is more than likely going to be naval
We are not dropping in Army Rangers or Marine Recon onto any island in the pacific if things continue to escalate over the coming years with China. The battle for supremacy in the South China sea is going to be warships. if it happens.
Looks like their might have been a bit of flap mentality running through Navy pilots/personnel. It seems the leaks are from sightings during situations where (paraphrasing) "we were seeing them all the time, lots of them," which could predispose folks to interpreting an ambiguous sighting or contact as "another one of those UFOs everybody is seeing." So there MAY be a larger pool of sightings that are not just unidentified, but unidentified -with-all-the-trimmings, such as claims of impossible maneuvers and the like that do not show up in the videos.
As to why the Navy seems suddenly more prone to leaks of such items than the other service branches, unless they are all coming from some leaker with contacts with one of the UFO buffs who are running with them, I have no good hypothesis.
US intelligence officials have been ordered to compile a dossier on UFOs for Congress after a flurry of videos filmed by US Navy and Air Force personnel were leaked - and the report is due for release this month.
The dossier reportedly will say the Pentagon cannot explain some 120 sightings made by US Navy personnel over the past two decades - but it will conclude they are not known tech.
Senior officials briefed on the findings said that because the report is inconclusive, the government could not definitively rule out the alien spacecraft theories.
Why is the US Air force silent on the UAP front?
With the Navy being in the forefront of transparency and disclosure and the Army joining TTSA I am wondering if anybody has any info from the Air Force as they seem silent on the matter.
From my limited knowledge it seems the Air force created this mess in the 1st place with misinformation and coverup campaigns.
Because they are involved, either by investigating them or creating them. or both.
I suspect strongly that these craft are ours and perhaps only the most senior officers know this on our ACCs.
We do know that airforce personal either responded to or were already present with the taskforce during the Nimitz event in the Pacific. There are multiple accounts of 2 airforce officers taking all aegis radar data from at least 2 of the ships (the USS Princeton and Nimitz) and the data from the AWACS Plane- e2c Hawkeye. The drives and any data tapes Left on board were erased.
The tapes from the f-18 were not collected but put in on ship storage. The originals were recorded as “tapes “ were reused. Digital copies were collected by the navy and sent up the chain.
some Journalists have been trying to see what the Air Force has been up to with uap
I do think personal biases play a part in it. The Navy as culture are more open to certain ideas then the Air Force. The Airforce officer Core has a strong Evangelical Christian influence it also has a growing Christian fundamentalism movement as well.
What gets even weirder is the the videos of the encounters Released occurred in areas used for navy training and the task forces were using new integrated radar system with data sharing between the nodes. A system that can detect some stealth aircraft especially if flying perpendicular to the radars.
The Air Force the same day took the radar data and destroyed any copies but had no interest in any data from the f-18s: they had no interest in any optical data just the radar.
They also didn’t care about collecting any first person accounts.
but some navy personal were concerned about what the f-18 Camera footage showed and saved copies of the f-18 footage and sent it the mainland were it was passed up the chain of command To the Pentagon. If the navy itself was testing the radar system they would have wanted the radar data and the Air Force didn’t even leave any radar data directly in the Navy’s hands.
The airforce also uses these same training zones (among others) and hasn’t really reported or even had tapes leak like the Navy.
At the same time all the weird public patents - the same ones that describe what seems sci fi tech including a craft that move like to tic tac craft - are from the Navy. Their weird in that they could have been hidden under federal law (national security) if the navy requested it, the scientist the created the tech in the patents did not have his name classified nor was it hidden or redacted in paperwork released for national security, and the Navy responses to the patent office that the tech is real and that the Navy has working prototypes and examples of the tech described in that patents and that this wasn’t also classified or redacted in released records. If the navy was testing its own craft against the new radar, why did the airforce take the important radar data. If the navy was testing its new electric warfare systems on the taskforce, did the Air Force grab the data first and destroy it so the navy didn’t have direct access to it?
The new AUP taskforce set up by the DOD In August will be headed up by the Navy and most of the staff will be Navy personal. Even though this clearly falls into a Air Forces primary mission (securing US airspace) and the Air Force is directly operating the radar systems and most craft monitoring US Controlled airspace. The Airforce also has a direct hand in the space/orbit radar that track satellites and watch for icbm.
At the same time the Air Force has a long history of using ufos sightings to hide the existence of aircraft like spy aircraft and stealth aircraft. Witnesses were discredited and others left to believe they had seen an ufo.
The Nimitz taskforce 2004 would have been an excellent “adversary” representing some of the best air defense systems and radar in the world in real world conditions.
I do think inter service rivalry is involved a bit in the Navy and Army think the Air Force and the larger DOD is concealing technology that may have Direct applications they could use now.
I think a journalist with the NYT summed it up that a lot of the government is really confused by the UAP and some parts of the government might be hiding something from the larger DOD and other branches.
What is being concealed Could be more confusion that no knows what is happening, to black projects, to what could be more exotic
Pentagon’s UFO report detailing what US military knows about sightings to be released & could reveal existence of aliens
Congress passed legislation in December, mandating the Department of Defense and the National Intelligence Director to produce a report about “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” within six months.
The report will be unclassified and is expected to contain everything the US Government knows about UAPs, The Washington Post reports.
It's thought that the document could arrive as early as today - June 1.
It will examine if unidentified aerial phenomena constitute a threat to US airspace, Deadline reports.
The report is unlikely to conclude that highly advanced extraterrestrials are the cause but it may not rule them out.
It's expected that recommendations for further UFO research and funding will be included within the dossier.
Former president Donald Trump discussed the upcoming report with conservative commentator Dan Bongino last week.
He said: "I'm a believer in what you see, but there are a lot of people out there who are into that. I get that so much: 'is it true, sir?'
"I'm not such a believer, but some people are, so I don't want to hurt their dreams or their fears."
Republican Senator Marco Rubio warned that US officials should take UFOs entering the country's airspace seriously and "shouldn't laugh them off".
He told CBS 60 Minutes that investigating aircraft from foreign powers or another civilization should be given more time and resources.
Sen. Rubio said: “I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously.
“I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in. That there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed until we get some answers.”
Pentagon officials last year took the unprecedented step to release a trio of remarkable videos which showed "encounters" with UFOs.
Perhaps the most striking was a video known as the “Tic Tac” – which showed an unidentified object being pursued by fighter planes.
Lt. Commander Alex Dietrich was training with a strike group approximately 100 miles southwest of San Diego when she and another pilot spotted the mysterious object.
She told CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ fighter pilots had struggled with how much to reveal about the encounter as the descriptions sounded “crazy”.
Dietrich said: “Over beers, we've said, 'Hey man, if I saw this solo, I don't know that I would have come back and said anything.'
“Because it sounds so crazy when I say it.”
The pilot was flying a F/A-18F fighter jet when she spotted an anomalous object flying in her vicinity.
Dietrich said: "It was unidentified, and that's why it was so unsettling to us because we weren't expecting it. We couldn't classify it."
This was not the first time that the US military has spotted mysterious flying objects.
An orb-shaped object was caught buzzing the Navy ship USS Omaha in July 2019 off the coast of San Diego as personnel tracked it with a targeting camera.
Former Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves said that he recalled seeing unexplained flying objects flying in restricted airspace on a daily basis.
And, numerous San Diego-based US warships were reportedly visited by strange vessels from above.
The USS Kidd, a Navy destroyer, was using night vision cameras and spotted several mysterious flashing objects in the skies, according to footage the Pentagon revealed to The Sun.
At the time, Sen Harry Reid told Mystery Wire: "They are coming in swarms, like bees, like insects, so many of them."
Steve Bassett, the executive director of Paradigm Research Group and a lobbyist on this issue, told The Sun that he believes US intelligence is preparing to end what he called a "74-year truth embargo."
Most read in US News
STORY TO TELL
UFOS ARE REAL
FULL OF HOT AIR
The count apparently started back in 1947 when the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) in New Mexico distributed a press release claiming they had recovered the remains of a “flying disc” that had crashed in the desert.
The next day, the US Army backtracked and released a second statement claiming the recovered object was actually just a weather balloon.
If the information is provided, Bassett believes it will be the "most profound" moment in the history of mankind.
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Roswell UFO Crash: There Were 2 Crashes, Not 1, Says Ex-Air Force Official
The 1947 UFO controversy of Roswell, N.M. is like a bad penny: It keeps turning up.
The legend, rehashed by conspiracy theorists in countless documentaries, revolves around allegations that an unusual object fell from the sky -- an object so bizarre that the U.S. Air Force issued a press release that a flying saucer had crashed.
That story was quickly recanted, creating what would become one of the greatest urban legends in American history.
Until now, most debunkers doubted that there was even one crash. Now, in an exclusive interview, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Richard French told The Huffington Post that there were actually two crashes.
This revelation is especially remarkable considering that French was known in the past to debunk UFO stories.
"There were actually two crashes at Roswell, which most people don't know," French told HuffPost. "The first one was shot down by an experimental U.S. airplane that was flying out of White Sands, N.M., and it shot what was effectively an electronic pulse-type weapon that disabled and took away all the controls of the UFO, and that's why it crashed."
French -- an Air Force pilot who was in Alamagordo, N.M., in 1947, being tested in an altitude chamber, an annual requirement for rated officers -- was very specific in how the military allegedly brought down what he believes was a spacecraft from another world.
"When they hit it with that electromagnetic pulse -- bingo! -- there goes all their electronics and, consequently, the UFO was uncontrollable," said French, who flew hundreds of combat missions in Korea and Southeast Asia, and who held several positions working for Military Intelligence.
Another retired officer doubts French's story.
"No chance! Zero chance!" said Army Col. John Alexander, whose own top-secret clearance gave him access in the 1980s to official documents and UFO accounts. He created a top-level group of government officials and scientists who determined that, while UFOs are real, they couldn't find evidence of an official cover-up.
"In the 1980s, I was the guy developing all of the pulse-power weapons systems. We couldn't have done it then. In the 60s, they had a laser system, but your range was extremely limited, and we didn't have operational laser weapons in that time frame," said Alexander, who is working to get amnesty for military personnel who wish to talk about their UFO experiences.
Except for the initial newspaper headline declaring the military had captured a flying saucer outside of Roswell, the Air Force closed the books on Roswell, claiming that the true identity of the object was a high-altitude surveillance balloon, code-named "Mogul."
But after eyewitnesses -- including numerous military personnel -- began to tell stories of their participation in an alleged cover-up of the Roswell incident, some researchers insisted that it was, in fact, an alien ship that crashed at Roswell.
Watch this video of Ret. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard French
French says he was told about the UFO "shootdown" by another military officer -- a confidential source -- from White Sands Proving Grounds, an area of the New Mexico desert where the U.S. military tested many weapons systems.
His source told French there was a second UFO crash near Roswell a few days after the first one.
"It was within a few miles of where the original crash was," French said. "We think that the reason they were in there at that time was to try and recover parts and any survivors of the first crash. I'm [referring to] the people from outer space -- the guys whose UFO it was."
While French offered no further details on what he says was a second UFO crash, he teased something else.
"I had seen photographs of parts of the UFO that had inscriptions on it that looked like it was in an Arabic language -- it was like a part number on each one of them. They were photographs in a folder that I just thumbed through."
That's an interesting parallel to the recent story of ex-CIA agent Chase Brandon, who claimed he found a box at CIA headquarters in the 1990s -- a box labeled "Roswell."
Brandon told HuffPost he looked in the box and went through written materials and photographs confirming his suspicions that the object which crashed at Roswell, "was a craft that clearly did not come from this planet."
That story set off a fury of controversy between those who believed and didn't believe Brandon's story.
Watch this 1997 news report on the Air Force's 'Case Closed: Final Report on the Roswell Crash'
And now we have French, who served more than 27 years in the military, including as an investigator and debunker for the Air Force's famous study of UFOs, known as Project Blue Book, which began in 1947.
"I'm one of the authors of Project Blue Book, and started with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, stationed in Spokane, Wash. One of the duties I had in 1952 was to debunk UFO stories," French said.
"In other words, if someone had a UFO sighting, I and another agent would try to come up with some logical explanation for this strange aerial appearance. Most of the reports were from civilians than military. We gave our analysis and tried to debunk it by saying it was swamp fog or that the thing they saw was actually hanging on wires. It went up through channels all the way to the presidential level."
But why was French ordered to debunk UFO reports in the first place?
"They never give you an explanation, but I'll tell you what my analysis of it is: If they accepted the fact that there are creatures coming to Earth from other universes or from wherever, it basically would destroy religions, and the fact that our military's helpless against them would destroy the reputation of the military," French said. "You're talking about military, national defense and religious reasons."
As it often turns out with eye-opening UFO stories, it comes down to who you believe.
Antonio Huneeus is a 30-year veteran UFO investigative reporter who recently spent time with French and is trying to uncover more facts about the information the former Military Intelligence officer would have us believe.
"We did a search and found his name on an official Air Force page that confirmed he was a combat pilot, but that page had nothing to do with UFOs," Huneeus, editor of Open Minds Magazine, told HuffPost.
"My reservations are about some of the claims that he makes, and because of his age, his memory isn't as good as it used to be," Huneeus said. "It's clear to me that he's fairly well read on the subject of UFOs, or he might have heard stories or talked to people. So, I'm trying to separate exactly what he lived and saw directly from what he heard and read."
Sixty years after French began investigating UFOs for Project Blue Book, he still thinks there's a cover-up.
"It's going on today. There's no question about it. I've listened to their denials many times and, at that time, I was in direct opposition to their position. In my mind, there wasn't any question that UFOs were real."
Two Pilots Saw a UFO. Why Did the Air Force Destroy the Report? - HISTORY
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story
In the summer of 1952 a United States Air Force F-86 jet interceptor shot at a flying saucer.
This fact, like so many others that make up the full flying saucer story has never before been told.
I know the full story about flying saucers and I know that it has never before been told because I organized and was chief of the Air Force Project Blue Book, the special project set up to investigate and analyze unidentified flying object, or UFO reports. (UFO is the official term that I created to replace the words 'flying saucers.")
There is a fighter base in the United States which I used to visit frequently because, during 1951, 1952, and 1953, it got more than its share of good UFO reports.
The commanding officer of the fighter group, a full colonel and command pilot, believed that UFO's were real. The colonel believed in UFO's because he had a lot of faith in his pilots - and they had chased UFO's in their F-86's. He had seen UFO's on the scopes of his radar sets, and he knew radar.
The colonel's intelligence officer, a captain, didn't exactly believe that UFO's were real, but he did think that they warranted careful investigation. The logic the intelligence officer used in investigating UFO reports - and in getting answers to many of them - made me wish many times that he worked for me on Project Blue Book.
One day the intelligence officer called me at my base in Dayton, Ohio. He wanted to know if I was planning to make a trip his way soon. When I told him I expected to be in his area in about a week, he asked me to be sure to look him up. There was no special hurry, he added, but he had something very interesting to show me.
When we got wind of a good story, Project Blue Book liked to start working on it at once, so I asked the intelligence officer to tell me what
2. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
he had. But nothing doing. He didn't want to discuss it over the phone. He even vetoed the idea of putting it into a secret wire. Such extreme caution really stopped me, because anything can be coded and put in a wire.
When I left Dayton about a week later I decided to go straight to the fighter base, planning to arrive there in midmorning. But while I was changing airlines my reservations got fouled up, and I was faced with waiting until evening to get to the base. I called the intelligence officer and told him about the mix-up. He told me to hang on right there and he would fly over and pick me up in a T-33 jet.
As soon as we were in the air, on the return trip, I called the intelligence officer on the interphone and asked him what was going on. What did he have? Why all the mystery? He tried to tell me, but the interphone wasn't working too well and I couldn't understand what he was saying. Finally he told me to wait until we returned to his office and I could read the report myself.
Report! If he had a UFO report why hadn't he sent it in to Project Blue Book as he usually did?
We landed at the fighter base, checked in our parachutes, Mae West's, and helmets, and drove over to his office. There were several other people in the office, and they greeted me with the usual question, "What's new on the flying saucer front?" I talked with them for a while, but was getting impatient to find out what was on the intelligence officer's mind. I was just about to ask him about the mysterious report when he took me to one side and quietly asked me not to mention it until everybody had gone.
Once we were alone, the intelligence officer shut the door, went over to his safe, and dug out a big, thick report. It was the standard Air Force reporting form that is used for all intelligence reports, including UFO reports. The intelligence officer told me that this was the only existing copy. He said that he had been told to destroy all copies, but had saved one for me to read.
With great curiosity, I took the report and started to read. What had happened at this fighter base?
About ten o'clock in the morning, one day a few weeks before, a radar near the base had picked up an unidentified target. It was an odd target in that it came in very fast - about 700 miles per hour - and then slowed down to about 100 miles per hour. The radar showed that it was located northeast of the airfield, over a sparsely settled area.
Unfortunately the radar station didn't have any height finding equipment. The operators knew the direction of the target and its distance from the station but they didn't know its altitude. They reported the target, and two F-86's were scrambled.
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.3
The radar picked up the F-86's soon after they were airborne, and had begun to direct them into the target when the target started to fade on the radarscope. At the time several of the operators thought that this fade was caused by the target's losing altitude rapidly and getting below the radar's beam. Some of the other operators thought that it was a high flying target and that it was fading just because it was so high.
In the debate which followed, the proponents of the high flying theory won out, and the F-86's were told to go up to 40,000 feet. But before the aircraft could get to that altitude, the target had been completely lost on the radarscope.
The F-86's continued to search the area at 40,000 feet, but could see nothing. After a few minutes the aircraft ground controller called the F-86's and told one to come down to 20,000 feet, the other to 5,000 feet, and continue the search, The two jets made a quick letdown, with one pilot stopping at 20,000 feet and the other heading for the deck.
The second pilot, who was going down to 5,000 feet, was just beginning to pull out when he noticed a flash below and ahead of him. He flattened out his dive a little and headed toward the spot where he had seen the light. As he closed on the spot he suddenly noticed what he first thought was a weather balloon. A few seconds later be realized that it couldn't be a balloon because it was staying ahead of him. Quite an achievement for a balloon, since he had built up a lot of speed in his dive and now was flying almost straight and level at 3,000 feet and was traveling "at the Mach."
Again the pilot pushed the nose of the F-86 down and started after the object. He closed fairly fast, until he came to within an estimated 1,000 yards. Now he could get a good look at the object. Although it had looked like a balloon from above, a closer view showed that it was definitely round and flat saucer shaped. The pilot described it as being "like a doughnut without a hole."
As his rate of closure began to drop off, the pilot knew that the object was picking up speed. But he pulled in behind it and started to follow. Now he was right on the deck.
About this time the pilot began to get a little worried. What should he do? He tried to call his buddy, who was flying above him somewhere in the area at 20,000 feet. He called two or three times but could get no answer. Next he tried to call the ground controller but he was too low for his radio to carry that far. Once more he tried his buddy at 20,000 feet, but again no luck.
By now he had been following the object for about two minutes and during this time had closed the gap between them to approximately 500
4. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
yards. But this was only momentary. Suddenly the object began to pull away, slowly at first, then faster. The pilot, realizing that he couldn't catch it, wondered what to do next.
When the object traveled out about 1,000 yards, the pilot suddenly made up his mind - he did the only thing that he could do to stop the UFO. It was like a David about to do battle with a Goliath, but he had to take a chance. Quickly charging his guns, he started shooting. . . . A moment later the object pulled up into a climb and in a few seconds it was gone. The pilot climbed to 10,000 feet, called the other F-86, and now was able to contact his buddy. They joined up and went back to their base.
As soon as he had landed and parked, the F-86 pilot went into operations to tell his story to his squadron commander. The mere fact that he had fired his guns was enough to require a detailed report, as a matter of routine. But the circumstances under which the guns actually were fired created a major disturbance at the fighter base that day.
After the squadron commander had heard his pilot's story, he called the group commander, the colonel, and the intelligence officer. They heard the pilot's story.
For some obscure reason there was a "personality clash," the intelligence officer's term, between the pilot and the squadron commander. This was obvious, according to the report I was reading, because the squadron commander immediately began to tear the story apart and accuse the pilot of "cracking up," or of just "shooting his guns for the hell of it and using the wild story as a cover-up."
Other pilots in the squadron, friends of the accused pilot - including the intelligence officer and a flight surgeon - were called in to "testify." All of these men were aware of the fact that in certain instances a pilot can "flip" for no good reason, but none of them said that he had noticed any symptoms of mental crack-up in the unhappy pilot.
None, except the squadron commander. He kept pounding home has idea - that the pilot was "psycho" - and used a few examples of what the report called "minor incidents" to justify his stand.
Finally the pilot who had been flying with the "accused" man was called in. He said that he had been monitoring the tactical radio channel but that he hadn't heard any calls from his buddy's low flying F-86. The squadron commander triumphantly jumped on this point, but the accused pilot tended to refute it by admitting he was so jumpy that he might not have been on the right channel. But when he was asked if he had checked or changed channels after he had lost the object and before he had finally contacted the other F-86, he couldn't remember.
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.5
So ended the pilot's story and his interrogation.
The intelligence officer wrote up his report of a UFO sighting, but at the last minute, just before sending it, he was told to hold it back. He was a little unhappy about this turn of events, so he went in to see why the group commander had decided to delay sending the report to Project Blue Book.
They talked over the possible reactions to the report. If it went out it would cause a lot of excitement, maybe unnecessarily. Yet, if the pilot actually had seen what he claimed, it was vitally important to get the report in to ATIC immediately. The group commander said that he would make his decision after a talk with his executive officer. They decided not to send the report and ordered it destroyed.
When I finished reading, the intelligence officer's first comment was, "What do you think?"
Since the evaluation of the report seemed to hinge upon conflicts between personalities I didn't know, I could venture no opinion, except that the incident made up the most fascinating UFO report I'd ever seen. So I batted the intelligence officer's question back to him.
"I know the people involved," he replied, "and I don't think the pilot was nuts. I can't give you the report, because Colonel told me to destroy it. But I did think you should know about it." Later he burned the report.
The problems involved in this report are typical. There are certain definite facts that can be gleaned from it the pilot did see something and he did shoot at something, but no matter how thoroughly you investigate the incident that something can never be positively identified. It might have been a hallucination or it might have been some vehicle from outer space no one will ever know. It was a UFO.
The UFO story started soon after June 24, 1947, when newspapers all over the United States carried the first flying saucer report. The story told how nine very bright, disk shaped objects were seen by Kenneth Arnold, a Boise, Idaho, businessman, while he was flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, in the state of Washington. With journalistic license, reporters converted Arnold's description of the individual motion of each of the objects like "a saucer skipping across water"- into "flying saucer," a name for the objects themselves. In the eight years that have passed since Arnold's memorable sighting, the term has become so common that it is now in Webster's Dictionary and is known today in most languages in the world.
For a while after the Arnold sighting the term "flying saucer" was used to describe all disk shaped objects that were seen flashing through the
6. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
sky at fantastic speeds. Before long, reports were made of objects other than disks, and these were also called flying saucers. Today the words are popularly applied to anything seen in the sky that cannot be identified as a common, everyday object.
Thus a flying saucer can be a formation of lights, a single light, a sphere, or any other shape and it can be any color. Performance wise, flying saucers can hover, go fast or slow, go high or low, turn 90 degree corners, or disappear almost instantaneously.
Obviously the term "flying saucer" is misleading when applied to objects of every conceivable shape and performance. For this reason the military prefers the more general, if less colorful, name: unidentified flying objects. UFO (pronounced Yoo-foe) for short.
Officially the military uses the term "flying saucer" on only two occasions. First in an explanatory sense, as when briefing people who are unacquainted with the term "UFO": "UFO - you know- flying saucers." And second in a derogatory sense, for purposes of ridicule, as when it is observed, "He says he saw a flying saucer."
This second form of usage is the exclusive property of those persons who positively know that all UFO's are nonsense. Fortunately, for the sake of good manners if for no other reason, the ranks of this knowing category are constantly dwindling. One by one these people drop out, starting with the instant they see their first UFO.
Some weeks after the first UFO was seen on June 24, 1947, the Air Force established a project to investigate and analyze all UFO reports. The attitude toward this task varied from a state of near panic, early in the life of the project, to that of complete contempt for anyone who even mentioned the words "flying saucer."
This contemptuous attitude toward "flying saucer nuts" prevailed from mid 1949 to mid 1950. During that interval many of the people who were, or had been, associated with the project believed that the public was suffering from "war nerves."
Early in 1950 the project, for all practical purposes, was closed out at least it rated only minimum effort. Those in power now reasoned that if you didn't mention the words "flying saucers" the people would forget them and the saucers would go away. But this reasoning was false, for instead of vanishing, the UFO reports got better and better.
Airline pilots, military pilots, generals, scientists, and dozens of other people were reporting UFO's, and in greater detail than in reports of the past. Radars, which were being built for air defense, began to pick up some very unusual targets, thus lending technical corroboration to the unsubstantiated claims of human observers.
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.7
As a result of the continuing accumulation of more impressive UFO reports, official interest stirred. Early in 1951 verbal orders came down from Major General Charles P. Cabell, then Director of Intelligence for Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, to make a study reviewing the UFO situation for Air Force Headquarters.
I had been back in the Air Force about six months when this happened. During the second world war I had been a B-29 bombardier and radar operator. I went to India, China, and later to the Pacific, with the original B-29 wing. I flew two DCF's, and some Air Medals' worth of missions, got out of the Air Force after the war, and went back to college. To keep my reserve status while I was in school, I flew as a navigator in an Air Force Reserve Troop Carrier Wing.
Not long after I received my degree in aeronautical engineering, the Korean War started, and I went back on active duty. I was assigned to the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio. ATIC is responsible for keeping track of all foreign aircraft and guided missiles. ATIC also had the UFO project.
I had just finished organizing a new intelligence group when General Cabell's order to review past UFO reports came down. Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten, who received the order at ATIC, called me in and wanted to know if I'd take the job of making the review. I accepted.
When the review was finished, I went to the Pentagon and presented my findings to Major General Samford, who had replaced General Cabell as Director of Intelligence.
ATIC soon got the word to set up a completely new project for the investigation and analysis of UFO reports. Since I had made the review of past UFO reports I was the expert, and I got the new job. It was given the code name Project Blue Book, and I was in charge of it until late in 1953. During this time members of my staff and I traveled close to half a million miles. We investigated dozens of UFO reports, and read and analyzed several thousand more. These included every report ever received by the Air Force.
For the size of the task involved Project Blue Book was always under- staffed, even though I did have ten people on my regular staff plus many paid consultants representing every field of science. All of us on Project Blue Book had Top Secret security clearances so that security was no block in our investigations. Behind this organization was a reporting network made up of every Air Force base intelligence officer and every Air Force radar station in the world, and the Air Defense Command's Ground Observer Corps. This reporting net sent Project Blue Book reports on every conceivable type of UFO, by every conceivable type of person.
8.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
What did these people actually see when they reported that they had observed a UFO? Putting aside truly unidentifiable flying objects for the present, this question has several answers.
In many instances it has been positively proved that people have reported balloons, airplanes, stars, and many other common objects as UFO's. The people who make such reports don't recognize these common objects because something in their surroundings temporarily assumes an unfamiliar appearance.
Unusual lighting conditions are a common cause of such illusions. A balloon will glow like a "ball of fire" just at sunset. Or an airplane that is not visible to the naked eye suddenly starts to reflect the sun's rays and appears to be a "silver ball." Pilots in F-94 jet interceptors chase Venus in the daytime and fight with balloons at night, and people in Los Angeles see weird lights.
On October 8, 1954, many Los Angeles newspapers and newscasters carried an item about a group of flying saucers, bright lights, flying in a V formation. The lights had been seen from many locations over Southern California. Pilots saw them while bringing their airplanes into Los Angeles International Airport, Air Force pilots flying out of Long Beach saw them, two CBS reporters in Hollywood gave an eyewitness account, and countless people called police and civil defense officials. All of them excitedly reported lights they could not identify. The next day the Air Force identified the UFO's they were Air Force airplanes, KC-97 aerial tankers, refueling B-47 jet bombers in flight. The reason for the weird effect that startled so many Southern Californians was that when the refueling is taking place a floodlight on the bottom of the tanker airplane lights up the bomber that is being refueled. The airplanes were flying high, and slowly, so no sound was heard only the bright floodlights could be seen. Since most people, even other pilots, have never seen a night aerial refueling operation and could not identify the odd lights they saw, the lights became UFO's.
In other instances common everyday objects look like UFO's because of some odd quirk in the human mind. A star or planet that has been in the sky every day of the observer's life suddenly "takes off at high speed on a highly erratic flight path." Or a vapor trail from a high flying jet - seen a hundred times before by the observer - becomes a flying saucer.
Some psychologists explain such aberrations as being akin to the crowd behavior mechanism at work in the "bobby sox craze." Teen-agers don't know why they squeal and swoon when their current fetish sways and croons. Yet everybody else is squealing, so they squeal too. Maybe that great comedian, Jimmy Durante, has the answer: "Everybody wants to
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.9
get into the act." I am convinced that a certain percentage of UFO reports come from people who see flying saucers because others report seeing them.
But this "will to see" may have deeper roots, almost religious implications, for some people. Consciously or unconsciously, they want UFO's to be real and to come from outer space. These individuals, frightened perhaps by threats of atomic destruction, or lesser fears - who knows what - act as if nothing that men can do can save the earth. Instead, they seek salvation from outer space, on the forlorn premise that flying saucer men, by their very existence, are wiser and more advanced than we. Such people may reason that a race of men capable of interplanetary travel have lived well into, or through, an atomic age. They have survived and they can tell us their secret of survival. Maybe the threat of an atomic war unified their planet and allowed them to divert their war effort to one of social and technical advancement. To such people a searchlight on a cloud or a bright star is an interplanetary spaceship.
If all the UFO reports that the Air Force has received in the past eight years could be put in this "psychological quirk" category, Project Blue Book would never have been organized. It is another class of reports that causes the Air Force to remain interested in UFO's. This class of reports are called "Unknowns."
In determining the identity of a UFO, the project based its method of operation on a well known psychological premise. This premise is that to get a reaction from one of the senses there must be a stimulus. If you think you see a UFO you must have seen something. Pure hallucinations are extremely rare.
For anything flying in the air the stimulus could be anything that is normally seen in the air. Balloons, airplanes, and astronomical bodies are the commoner stimuli. Birds and insects are common also, but usually are seen at such close range that they are nearly always recognized. Infrequently observed things, such as sundogs, mirages, huge fireballs, and a host of other unusual flying objects, are also known stimuli.
On Project Blue Book our problem was to identify these stimuli. We had methods for checking the location, at any time, of every balloon launched anywhere in the United States. To a certain degree the same was true for airplanes. The UFO observer's estimate of where the object was located in the sky helped us to identify astronomical bodies. Huge files of UFO characteristics, along with up-to-the-minute weather data, and advice from specialists, permitted us to identify such things as sun dogs, paper caught in updrafts, huge meteors, etc.
This determination of the stimuli that triggered UFO sightings, while
10.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
not an insurmountable task, was a long, tedious process. The identification of known objects was routine, and caused no excitement. The excitement and serious interest occurred when we received UFO reports in which the observer was reliable and the stimuli could not be identified. These were the reports that challenged the project and caused me to spend hours briefing top U.S. officials. These were the reports that we called "Unknowns."
Of the several thousand UFO reports that the Air Force has received since 1947, some 15 to 20 per cent fall into this category called unknown. This means that the observer was not affected by any determinable psychological quirks and that after exhaustive investigation the object that was reported could not be identified. To be classed as an unknown, a UFO report also had to be "good", meaning that it had to come from a competent observer and had to contain a reasonable amount of data.
Reports are often seen in the newspapers that say: "Mrs. Henry Jones, of 5464 South Elm, said that 10:00 A.M. she was shaking her dust mop out of the bedroom window when she saw a flying saucer" or "Henry Armstrong was driving between Grundy Center and Rienbeck last night when he saw a light. Henry thinks it was a flying saucer." This is not a good UFO report.
This type of UFO report, if it was received by Project Blue Book, was stamped "Insufficient Data for Evaluation" and dropped into the dead file, where it became a mere statistic.
Next to the "Insufficient Data" file was a file marked "C.P." This meant crackpot. Into this file went all reports from people who had talked with flying saucer crews, who had inspected flying saucers that had landed in the United States, who had ridden in flying saucers, or who were members of flying saucer crews. By Project Blue Book standards, these were not "good" UFO reports either.
But here is a "good" UFO report with an "unknown" conclusion:
On July 24, 1952, two Air Force colonels, flying a B-25, took off from Hamilton Air Force Base, near San Francisco, for Colorado Springs, Colorado. The day was clear, not a cloud in the sky.
The colonels had crossed the Sierra Nevada between Sacramento and Reno and were flying east at 11,000 feet on "Green 3," the aerial highway to Salt Lake City. At 3:40 P.M. they were over the Carson Sink area of Nevada, when one of the colonels noticed three objects ahead of them and a little to their right. The objects looked like three F-86's flying a tight V formation. If they were F-86's they should have been lower, according to civil air regulations, but on a clear day some pilots don't watch their altitude too closely.
In a matter of seconds the three aircraft were close enough to the B-25
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.11
to be clearly seen. They were not F-86's. They were three bright silver, delta wing craft with no tails and no pilot's canopies. The only thing that broke the sharply defined, clean upper surface of the triangular wing was a definite ridge that ran from the nose to the tail.
In another second the three deltas made a slight left bank and shot by the B-25 at terrific speed. The colonels estimated that the speed was at least three times that of an F-86. They got a good look at the three deltas as the unusual craft passed within 400 to 800 yards of the B-25.
When they landed at Colorado Springs, the two colonels called the intelligence people at Air Defense Command Headquarters to make a UFO report. The suggestion was offered that they might have seen three F-86's. The colonels promptly replied that if the objects had been F-86's they would have easily been recognized as such. The colonels knew what F-86's looked like.
Air Defense Command relayed the report to Project Blue Book. An investigation was started at once.
Flight Service, which clears all military aircraft flights, was contacted and asked about the location of aircraft near the Carson Sink area at 3:40 P.M. They had no record of the presence of aircraft in that area.
Since the colonels had mentioned delta wing aircraft, and both the Air Force and the Navy had a few of this type, we double-checked. The Navy's deltas were all on the east coast, at least all of the silver ones were. A few deltas painted the traditional navy blue were on the west coast, but not near Carson Sink. The Air Force's one delta was temporarily grounded.
Since balloons once in a while can appear to have an odd shape, all balloon flights were checked for both standard weather balloons and the big 100 foot diameter research balloons. Nothing was found.
A quick check on the two colonels revealed that both of them were command pilots and that each had several thousand hours of flying time. They were stationed at the Pentagon. Their highly classified assignments were such that they would be in a position to recognize anything that the United States knows to be flying anywhere in the world.
Both men had friends who had "seen flying saucers" at some time, but both had openly voiced their skepticism. Now, from what the colonels said when they were interviewed after landing at Colorado Springs, they had changed their opinions.
Nobody knows what the two colonels saw over Carson Sink. However, it is always possible to speculate. Maybe they just thought they were close enough to the three objects to see them plainly. The objects might have been three F-86's: maybe Flight Service lost the records. It could be that the three F-86's had taken off to fly in the local area of their base
12.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
but had decided to do some illegal sight-seeing. Flight Service would have no record of a flight like this. Maybe both of the colonels had hallucinations.
There is a certain mathematical probability that any one of the above speculative answers is correct - correct for this one case. If you try this type of speculation on hundreds of sightings with "unknown" answers, the probability that the speculative answers are correct rapidly approaches zero.
Maybe the colonels actually did see what they thought they did, a type of craft completely foreign to them.
Another good UFO report provides an incident in which there is hardly room for any speculation of this type. The conclusion is more simply, "Unknown," period.
On January 20, 1952, at seven twenty in the evening, two master sergeants, both intelligence specialists, were walking down a street on the Fairchild Air Force Base, close to Spokane, Washington.
Suddenly both men noticed a large, bluish white, spherical shaped object approaching from the east. They stopped and watched the object carefully, because several of these UFO's had been reported by pilots from the air base over the past few months. The sergeants had written up the reports on these earlier sightings.
The object was traveling at a moderately fast speed on a horizontal path. As it passed to the north of their position and disappeared in the west, the sergeants noted that it had a long blue tail. At no time did they hear any sound. They noted certain landmarks that the object had crossed and estimated the time taken in passing these landmarks. The next day they went out and measured the angles between these landmarks in order to include them in their report.
When we got the report at ATIC, our first reaction was that the master sergeants had seen a large meteor. From the evidence I had written off, as meteors, all previous similar UFO reports from this air base.
The sergeants' report, however, contained one bit of information that completely changed the previous picture. At the time of the sighting there had been a solid 6,000-foot-thick overcast at 4,700 feet. And meteors don't go that low.
A few quick calculations gave a rather fantastic answer. If the object was just at the base of the clouds it would have been 10,000 feet from the two observers and traveling 1,400 miles per hour.
But regardless of the speed, the story was still fantastic. The object was no jet airplane because there was no sound. It was not a searchlight because there were none on the air base. It was not an automobile spotlight
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.13
because a spotlight will not produce the type of light the sergeants described. As a double check, however, both men were questioned on this point. They stated firmly that they had seen hundreds of searchlights and spotlights playing on clouds, and that this was not what they saw.
Beyond these limited possibilities the sergeants' UFO discourages fruitful speculation. The object remains unidentified.
The UFO reports made by the two colonels and the two master sergeants are typical of hundreds of other good UFO reports which carry the verdict, "Conclusion unknown."
Some of these UFO reports have been publicized, but many have not. Very little information pertaining to UFO's was withheld from the press - if the press knew of the occurrence of specific sightings. Our policy on releasing information was to answer only direct questions from the press. If the press didn't know about a given UFO incident, they naturally couldn't ask questions about it. Consequently such stories were never released. In other instances, when the particulars of a UFO sighting were released, they were only the bare facts about what was reported. Any additional information that might have been developed during later investigations and analyses was not released.
There is a great deal of interest in UFO's and the interest shows no signs of diminishing. Since the first flying saucer skipped across the sky in the summer of 1947, thousands of words on this subject have appeared in every newspaper and most magazines in the United States. During a six-month period in 1952 alone 148 of the nation's leading newspapers carried a total of over 16,000 items about flying saucers.
During July 1952 reports of flying saucers sighted over Washington, D.C., cheated the Democratic National Convention out of precious head- line space.
The subject of flying saucers, which has generated more unscientific behavior than any other topic of modern times, has been debated at the meetings of professional scientific societies, causing scientific tempers to flare where unemotional objectivity is supposed to reign supreme.
Yet these thousands of written words and millions of spoken words - all attesting to the general interest - have generated more heat than light. Out of this avalanche of print and talk, the full, factual, true story of UFO's has emerged only on rare occasions. The general public, for its interest in UFO's, has been paid off in misinformation.
Many civilian groups must have sensed this, for while I was chief of Project Blue Book I had dozens of requests to speak on the subject of UFO's. These civilian requests had to be turned down because of security regulations.
14.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
I did give many official briefings, however, behind closed doors, to certain groups associated with the government - all of them upon request.
The subject of UFO's was added to a regular series of intelligence briefings given to students at the Air Force's Command and Staff School, and to classes at the Air Force's Intelligence School.
I gave briefings to the technical staff at the Atomic Energy Commission's Los Alamos laboratory, where the first atomic bomb was built. The theater where this briefing took place wouldn't hold all of the people who tried to get in, so the briefing was recorded and replayed many times. The same thing happened at AEC's Sandia Base, near Albuquerque.
Many groups in the Pentagon and the Office of Naval Research requested UFO briefings. Civilian groups, made up of some of the nation's top scientists and industrialists, and formed to study special military problems, worked in a UFO briefing. Top Air Force commanders were given periodic briefings.
Every briefing I gave was followed by a discussion that lasted anywhere from one to four hours.
In addition to these, Project Blue Book published a classified monthly report on UFO activity. Requests to be put on distribution for this report were so numerous that the distribution had to be restricted to major Air Force Command Headquarters.
This interest was not caused by any revolutionary information that was revealed in the briefings or reports. It stemmed only from a desire to get the facts about an interesting subject.
Many aspects of the UFO problem were covered in these official briefings. I would give details of many of the better reports we received, our conclusions about them, and how those conclusions were reached. If we had identified a UFO, the audience was told how the identification was made. If we concluded that the answer to a UFO sighting was "Unknown," the audience learned why we were convinced it was unknown.
Among the better sightings that were described fully to interested government groups were: the complete story of the Lubbock Lights, including the possible sighting of the same V-shaped light formations at other locations on the same night the story of a group of scientists who detected mysterious nuclear radiation when UFO's were sighted and all of the facts behind such famous cases as the Mantell Incident, the Florida scoutmaster who was burned by a "flying saucer," and headline capturing sightings at Washington, D.C.
I showed them what few photographs we had, the majority of which everyone has seen, since they have been widely published in magazines and newspapers. Our collection of photographs was always a disappointment as far as positive proof was concerned because, in a sense, if you've
The Era of Confusion Begins.15
seen one you've seen them all. We had no clear pictures of a saucer, just an assortment of blurs, blotches, and streaks of light.
The briefings included a description of how Project Blue Book operated and a survey of the results of the many studies that were made of the mass of UFO data we had collected. Also covered were our interviews with a dozen North American astronomers, the story of the unexplained green fireballs of New Mexico, and an account of how a committee of six distinguished United States scientists spent many hours attempting to answer the question, "Are the UFO's from outer space?"
Unfortunately the general public was never able to hear these briefings. For a long time, contrary to present thinking in military circles, I have believed that the public also is entitled to know the details of what was covered in these briefings (less, of course, the few items pertaining to radar that were classified "Secret," and the names of certain people). But withholding these will not alter the facts in any way.
A lot has already been written on the subject of UFO's, but none of it presents the true, complete story. Previous forays into the UFO field have been based on inadequate information and have been warped to fit the personal biases of the individual writers. Well-meaning though these authors may be, the degree to which their books have misinformed the public is incalculable.
It is high time that we let the people know.
The following chapters present the true and complete UFO story, based on what I learned about UFO's while I was chief of Project Blue Book, the Air Force's project for the investigation and analysis of UFO reports. Here is the same information that I gave to Secretary of the Air Force, Thomas K. Finletter, to the Air Force commanders, to scientists and industrialists. This is what the Air Force knows about unidentified flying objects.
You may not agree with some of the official ideas or conclusions - neither did a lot of people I briefed - but this is the story.