Still In Default
Bruce S. Maccabee, Ph.D.
Copyright 1986 by Bruce S. Maccabee
Updated version copyright 1998 by Bruce S. Maccabee
This was originally Published in the Proceedings of the 1986 MUFON INTERNATIONAL
SYMPOSIUM, pg 131
[UPDATES TO 1998 IN SQUARE PARENTHESES]
For nearly 40 [more than 50] years, the science establishment has ignored
the UFO problem, relegating it to the domain of "true believers and mental
incompetents" (a.k.a. "kooks and nuts" [according to the former editor
of Applied Optics magazine]). Scientists have participated in a "self-cover-up"
by refusing to look at the credible and well reported data. Furthermore,
some of those few scientists who have studied UFO data have published
explanations which are unconvincing or just plain wrong and have "gotten
away with it" because most of the rest of the scientific community has
not cared enough to analyze these explanations. The general rejection
of the scientific validity of UFO sightings has made it difficult to publish
analyses of good sightings [in refereed journals of establishment science].
Examples are presented of the scientific-self-cover-up involving erroneous
explanations, refusal to look at the data, and rejection of papers for
publication. How long will this situation last? Forty [fifty] years is
long [too long].
"No scientific investigation of the UFO problem has been carried out
during the entire twenty-two year period between the first extensive
wave of sightings of unidentified flying objects in the summer of 1947
and the convening of this symposium."
The above statement was made by the late Dr. James E. McDonald at the
UFO symposium held by the American Association of Science (AAAS) in 1969.
(Reference 1). Even now 17  years later it is still true. WHY?
[Note: McDonald was Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University
of Arizona. He was one of the first scientists to proposed cloud seeing
to cause rain. He was the first to suggest that the exhaust from a fleet
of supersonic transport aircraft could destroy the ozone layer in a manner
not unlike the more recent "hole" creation caused by chlorofluorocarbons.
He became intensely interested in the flying saucer phenomenon in 1967
and traveled around the country trying to enlist the help of other scientists.
Despondent over his marital life and probably over the effect of his saucer
investigations on his professional life, he committed suicide in 1971.)
The first wave of sightings in the USA occurred in June and July,1947.
As a result of a large number of sightings, many by Army Air Force personnel
[the Air Force was a branch of the Army until September,1947] the Army
Air Force began an investigation of the sightings. In early 1948 the investigation
was formalized as Project Sign 1948-1949). In the following years, as
the sightings continued, the Air Force changed the name of the UFO project
to Grudge (1949-1952) and then Blue Book [1953 - 1969].
The Air Force tried to convince the general public that it was coping
with the UFO problem presenting the following statements as facts:
1. No sighting ever investigated threatened the security of the United
2. No sighting provided convincing evidence of technological developments
"beyond the range of present day scientific knowledge."
3. And (of course) no sighting provided evidence that extraterrestrial
vehicles had been sighted.
To support these claims Air Force spokesmen pointed to the large number
of explained, as compared to unexplained, sightings, They then claimed
that with more information about the individual sightings even the unexplained
sightings would have been explained. Thus to a person who had no access
to the "raw data" (witness interviews, other pertinent information and
analyses of the sightings) it would appear that, at least in principle,
all sightings could be explained. Specifically, the Air Force stated that
all UFO sightings resulted from honest misperceptions or misinterpretations
of conventional phenomena, from psychological aberrations or from hoaxes.
(The Air Force acknowledged that the percentage of known hoaxes was only
The scientific community generally agreed with the Air Force statements
that there was nothing of great importance underlying UFO sightings for
two basic reasons:
1. Qualified scientists who were (or who claimed that they were) acquainted
with the UFO data did not publicly dispute the Air Force. [Note: this
applied in particular to Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Northwestern University astronomer
who was the Air Force's expert on astronomy and consulted on all UFO sightings.
Hynek did not publicly dispute the Air Force until after 1966, and then
only mildly. By that time the "tradition" had been firmly established
that UFO sightings were not caused by unknown phenomena and so were not
of interest to the scientific community. After Project Blue Book closed
in 1969 Hynek became more vocal. He published his first book on the UFO
subject in 1972, in which he criticized the Air Force. He founded the
Center for UFO Studies in 1973.]
2. The conclusion that UFO sightings arose from misperceptions, delusions,
etc., was acceptable to scientists because there was no theoretical justification
for believing that UFO sightings could be caused by anything truly bizarre,
such as unknown natural (unintelligent) phenomena or extraterrestrial
visitors [for example, "there is no universally accepted evidence of such
visitation; other planets are too far away, etc.].
Although most of the scientific community was convinced by the Air Force's
statements, a small number of scientists and a considerably larger number
of civilians did not agree with the Air Force. They founded numerous civilian
organizations such as the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization,(APRO,
1952), Civilian Saucer Intelligence (CSI, 1953), the National Investigations
Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP, 1956), [the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON,
1969) and the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR, 1979)], [These were/are organizations
in the USA; numerous organizations were founded in other countries as
well] with the intent to study the UFO problem themselves. They collected
UFO reports and investigated sightings. NICAP was also interested in forcing
the Air Force to admit that there really was a problem [i.e., an unexplained
phenomenon] and then to release the sighting data to interested civilians.
NICAP and the other groups gained press attention whenever there was a
large concentration or flap of sightings. However, they were not able
to pressure the Air Force into changing its ways. Nor were they able to
convince the scientific community that UFO sightings were worthy of investigation,
In the early 1960's, NICAP tried to persuade Congress to take some action.
In 1964 NICAP mailed a copy of *The UFO Evidence* to each member of Congress.
[See Reference 2. Note: The *Evidence* included selected sightings up
through 1964; a second volume including selected sightings since 1964
will be released in 1998; both volumes are edited by Richard Hall] Although
individual Representatives and Senators complimented NICAP on its effort,
Congress as a whole did not react. However, NICAP had set the stage for
future action and, when a flap of sightings began in the summer of 1965
and continued through the following winter, Congress did act.
In April 1966, the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee called
upon the Air Force to conduct an independent evaluation of its UFO project.
The ultimate outcome of this Congressional pressure was the independent
study carried out over a 2-year period (1966 -1968) at the University
In the final report of this project, its director, Dr. Edward U. Condon,
claimed that no useful scientific information had been gained during the
21 years that the Air Force had studied UFO reports and that, in his opinion,
it was unlikely that further study would advance science, (Reference 3).
Condon recommended that the Air Force terminate Project Blue Book, and,
on December 17, 1969, the Air Force did just that.
Sic Transit Gloria Blue Book
During that same month (in fact, only 10 days after the end of Project
Blue Book) the AAAS held a symposium on UFOs. The symposium was organized
by Dr. Philip Morrison, Dr. Waiter Orr Roberts, Dr. Carl Sagan, and Dr,
Thornton Page. In his opening address Dr. Robertson indicated that the
symposium had been organized (in spite of stiff resistance from older
scientists in the AAAS) because "the public understanding of science is
Dr. Roberts hoped that the symposium could help to delineate "the borders
between scientific and nonscientific discussion" related to UFOs. He further
hoped that "the discussion would be well-balanced and provide that self-correcting
process required for the advancement of science." (Reference 1) Considering
that the Air Force had ended Project Blue Book just a few days earlier,
he and many of the others present probably felt that the symposium was
essentially a "post mortem" on the subject of UFOs.
One scientist who spoke evidently did not consider the symposium to be
a post-mortem, but rather a chance to point out where scientists had gone
wrong in ignoring the subject. He argued that because scientists had not-treated
UFO reports scientifically, no final conclusion could yet be presented.
That scientist was Dr. James McDonald and he entitled his paper "Science
in Default." I believe that if he were here today, he would state with
clear conviction that science is still in default [the title of this paper
is "Still In Default"]. The reason I believe he would do this is that
many of the problems with UFO investigations and sighting analyses that
McDonald identified 20 years ago [now over 30 years ago!] have continued
to exist to the present day.
Furthermore , I believe that McDonald would
be dumbfounded by the fact that the large amount of UFO-related information
that has become available in the years since the AAAS symposium has caused
no more than a ripple in the scientific community. Here is a very short
list of government information available to the public which was not available
1. The files of Project Blue Book (a person willing to travel to Wright
Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, would have been allowed to see unclassified
sighting reports) [in 1975 they were declassified and released to the
National Archives and can be seen there on microfilm. A person can also
buy the microfilm for personal use.].
2. The UFO files of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI);
these were not available to anyone without proper clearance before they
were released along with the Blue Book file in 1975. Both files are now
on microfilm at the National Archives.
3. The UFO files of the FBI, released in 1977 as a result of a Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by this author. [In early 1998
the 1600 pages of FOIA documents were placed on the FBI Web site.]
4. CIA files, mostly released in 1978 under FOIA requests [in response
to a lawsuit filed by a now-long-defunct UFO organization called Ground
Saucer Watch (GSW). In 1997 the CIA published a history of its UFO related
activities. This history does not provide the valuable UFO information
contained within the documents, but does show that in 1952 the CIA carried
out its own investigation of Project Blue Book activities. The history
also shows that some CIA people believed that the high altitude spy planes
- U-2 - caused many UFO sightings. However, this was not true. ]..
5. State Department files, via FOIA request, with occasional releases
6. Army files via FOIA requests, in 1984.
7. Navy files via FOIA requests, with occasional releases over the last
10  years.
8. Coast Guard files, via FOIA requests, with occasional releases over
the last 10  years.
9 The Canadian National Research Council files, via requests by Canadian
citizens; released in 1984.
10. The joint Air Force-Navy intelligence document which appears to be
the"Ghost of the Estimate," released in 1985, (Reference 4)
11. The classified case file on Senator Richard Russell's 1955 sighting
in Russia , released in 1985. (Russell was, the Chairman of the Senate
Armed Services Committee for many years.)
[12. The files of the Air Force Office of Intelligence and the Science
Advisory Board, released between 1985 and 1997].
[13. Testimony from witnesses who have revealed what they know about government
projects over the last 30 years.]
There have been various estimates of the number of pages of Government
documents released in recent years that were not contained within the
Project Blue Book/AFOSI file. The number released since 1969 probably
exceeds 4,000 [5,000].
New information not available in 1969 also includes numerous interesting
sightings from throughout the world in the last 17 years, examples
of which are listed below.. [I have carefully studied the available information
and personally investigated sightings marked (**).]. Numerous other sightings
also have been reported, including the reports of circular landing traces
in fields of corn and barley in England over the last several  years.
There is also important new information on old cases such as the Roswell
material retrieval case. [Seven books about the Roswell incident and two
government documents have been published in the last 30 years, beginning
with THE ROSWELL INCIDENT by Charles Berlitz and Wm. Moore, published
NEW SIGHTINGS SINCE THE 1969 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT
OF SCIENCE SYMPOSIUM
(References available from MUFON and other sources)
1. Delphos, Kansas, 1971 landing trace case
2. Fall, 1973 sighting wave, especially Coyne/helicopter sighting and
3. **October-November, 1975 Strategic Air Command (SAC base sightings.
4. November, 1975 Walton abduction case (same time frame as SAC base sightings).
5. **September, 1976 Iranian jet case [American jets temporarily disabled]
6. October, 1978 Australian pilot (Valentich) aircraft disappearance.
7. November, 1978 Kuwait oil field landing (reported by State Department).
8. **December, 1978 New Zealand pilots/multiple witness, radar-visual-film
9. Warren, Minnesota, August 1979 police car (Officer Johnson) collision
with a rapidly moving bright light
10. **August 1980 Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, UFO landing case in restricted
11. December 1980 Cash-Landrum injury case near Houston, Texas.
12. USAF-RAF Rendlesham Forest landing case in England (nearly coincident
in time with the Cash-Landrum case.) [See *LEFT AT EAST GATE* by Warren
and Robins, published in 1997]
[13. 1981 Trans-En-Provence, France, investigated by GEPAN -the official
French UFO investigation group - which included unexplainable effects
14. **December, 1981 "Christmas Tree Lights" photographic case in Connecticut.
[15. 1983-84, sightings in Westchester County, New York]
[16. **December, 1986 Japan Air Lines (JAL1628) pilot sighting over Alaska]
[17. **November, 1987 - July, 1988 sighting wave in Gulf Breeze, Florida
[18. Belgian sighting wave 1989-1990 which included Belgian Air Force
[19. Russian sightings 1989-1990 which included a military sighting with
a hundred witnesses two weeks before the Belgian Jet case mentioned in
[20. **November, 1990 - July, 1992 continuous sightings in Gulf Breeze,
[21. **September 16, 1991 sighting by this author and 30 others of a ring
of lights that appeared in the sky over Gulf Breeze (see *UFOS ARE REAL,
HERE'S THE PROOF* by Ed Walters and Bruce Maccabee, Avon, 1997)]
[22. **Numerous sightings by Ed Walters and others in the Gulf Breeze
area and the vicinity of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, 1993 - 1997]
[23. **Phoenix, Arizona, Feb, 1995 and March 1997,photos,videos],
[ This list does not include representative sightings from other countries
such as Italy, Britain, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Chile, etc.
which have been reported over the last 30 years. One might hazard a guess
that ten thousand or more sightings have been recorded since 1968. Thousands
more have not been recorded. Also missing from this list are representatives
of the hundreds of abduction cases reported and investigated over the
last 30 years.]
There have also been important non-sighting events such as the creation
of an official investigation group, GEPAN, by the French government in
1977 and the conclusion by that group that there were several cases it
couldn't explain [in the 1980's the Chinese government and Russian governments
established UFO investigating groups; in 1997 Chile did the same]. Other
non-sightings events include the lawsuits against the CIA  and NSA
and the recent "discovery" that there are numerous Abduction/Examination/Release
cases. [Several hundred abduction cases have been thoroughly investigated
and hundreds more have been discovered since 1986.] Some of the reported
abductions appear to be single events in the lives of witnesses and some
appear to be repeats of earlier abductions of the same witnesses. Finally,
there are the results of psychological studies of some of these people
(which failed to turn up any psychological cause for the reports). (See
references 5 and 6)
The release of the Project Blue Book case files and of other Government
information is especially important because now civilian scientists can
use the "raw data" to analyze the explanations published by the Air Force
and by skeptical scientists in years past. This reanalysis can help us
to determine whether or not the Air Force was correct in claiming that
all sightings can be explained, With the "raw data," scientists can make
up their own minds rather than having to rely upon the opinions of "experts."
Unfortunately, although the sighting information is now available, it
has been largely ignored. There has been no reevaluation of the situation
by the scientific community, nor is there any indication that a reevaluation
is likely to occur. There is not even an indication that a reevaluation
would be welcomed. Evidently there is a general feeling that the UFO problem"
was put to sleep long ago. [This is still the situation in 1998!]
Thus, in my opinion, science is still in default because scientists have
failed to come to grips with the new information and have not even treated
the old information scientifically. An example of the failure to treat
the old information scientifically is the tacit acceptance of explanations
of early sightings such as were put forth by the late Dr. Donald Menzel,
who "explained" sightings in terms of physically improbable or impossible
atmospheric phenomena. More recent sightings have been "explained" by
the modern-day vocal skeptics who don't have the scientific background
of Dr. Menzel. Yet, they receive the tacit support of qualified scientists,
apparently because the scientists have not taken the time to look carefully
SCIENCE IN DEFAULT
In order to illustrate what I mean by "science in default" I would like
to discuss several classic sightings and the explanations which were given.
Although in principle these sightings could have been discussed in science
journals many years ago (as many as 30  years ago!), in practice they
were not because most of the raw sighting data were not generally available
and because the journals generally refused to publish what little data
there were available. Unfortunately, journals are still reluctant to publish
UFO material. To illustrate this reluctance I will discuss the results
of my own attempts in recent years [during the 1980's] to publish analyses
of UFO sightings in science journals,
I have been very interested, even fascinated, at the extent to which some
scientists have gone to explain UFO sightings. My study of these explanations
has made me *skeptical of the skeptics.* Perhaps you will understand my
skepticism after you read the following examples. "Science is not always
what scientists do." (Reference 7)
The first widely reported sighting is also the one which has "collected"
a large number of explanations. I refer, of course, to Kenneth Arnold's
sighting of June 24, 1947. There were earlier sightings, including several
by meteorologists in Richmond, Va (Minczewski and Baron, April 1947).
However, these have been ignored in favor of the more "popular" Arnold
KENNETH ARNOLD SIGHTING: Arnold reported that in the
middle of the afternoon (3 p.m.) he was flying a small plane near Mineral,
Washington, in search of a crashed military transport plane just before
his sighting. (Reference 8) He had given up the search a few minutes before
3 p.m,, had climbed to about 9,200 ft, and had started to head almost
due east toward Yakima when his· attention was attracted by a flash of
light on his plane. He immediately started looking around, thinking that
some "hot shot" Air Force pilots in a fast military aircraft had just
flown dangerously close to his airplane. He did see a large airplane at
some distance to the right and behind him, but then he noticed that flashes
were coming repeatedly from some objects flying southward toward Mt. Rainier,
which was just north of due east of his position.
He watched the flashing objects closely and, as they flew past Mt, Rainier,
he determined from their silhouettes against the snow that they had a
generally crescent shape. The flashing was caused by sunlight reflections
as the objects tilted back and forth, There were nine of these objects
which passed Mt. Rainier at an altitude he estimated at 9,500 ft. (Mt.
Rainier is about 14,400 ft. high, so they were considerably below its
peak.) After they passed Mt, Rainier they continued southward "down the
hogback" chain of mountains that runs from Rainier to Mt. Adams.
According to Arnold he could tell where the flight path was because some
of the mountain peaks were closer and some were farther than the objects
(they traveled "in and out of the mountain peaks"). At the time of the
sighting Arnold was a couple of miles east of Mineral so the mountain
peaks, and therefore the objects, were about 20 miles east of him. He
said that he could see them flashing even after they passed Mt. Adams
and he estimated that he had the objects in sight for a total of 3 minutes.
From his subsequent statements about the sighting, it appears that Arnold
first thought that he was looking at some fast-moving new military jet
aircraft even though he could see no wings, engines, tails, or exhaust
trail. As they passed Mt. Rainier he decided to time their flight. Using
the second hand on his dashboard clock he determined that it took about
102 seconds for the chain of objects to fly from Mt. Rainier past Mt.
Adams, a distance of about 47 miles. He later estimated the speed at about
1,600 mph and then, to be conservative, reduced it to 1,200 mph. This
is about twice the speed of jets of the day.
Arnold was impressed and told some people at the airport when he landed
at Yakima, Washington.. He subsequently took off to fly to Pendleton,
Oregon, and there he met interested people and reporters who had heard
of his sighting from the people at the Yakima airport. In describing the
way the objects flew Arnold said they tipped back and forth like saucers
skipped across the water. With typical journalistic license, then, the
newspapers described the objects he saw as "flying saucers."
Explanations were immediate. Although the possibility that Arnold's story
was a hoax was not overlooked, most of the explanations assumed that he
had seen something but that he hadn't realized what it was (i.e., the
prototype "misidentification" case). The explanations were basically of
two types: "quirks of eyesight" such as the inability of the eye to resolve
objects at great distances (Howard Blakeslee, Science writer for the Associated
Press, July 6, 1947), and various effects caused by atmospheric phenomena
(e.g., mirages, clouds, "ice" meteors). Rather than discuss all of the
explanations I will concentrate only on those proposed by Dr. J. Alien
Hynek and Dr. Donald Menzel. The reason for concentrating on these is
that they played a role in the Air Force's decision as to what Arnold
really saw, and because they have been published in books and therefore
are still mentioned as possible explanations for the Arnold sighting.
Initially the (Army) Air Force considered the sighting to be unexplainable.
Then in 1948, as part of his work for Project Sign, Hynek analyzed the
sighting. Hynek noted that Arnold had given an estimated size of roughly
50 ft. and had claimed that they were about 20 miles away. Yet he had
been able to see their overall shape and had even been able to see the
objects, as thin dark lines, when they turned edge-on to his line of sight.
Arnold had estimated that the objects were·about 20 times longer than
they were wide. Hynek argued that if they were about 50 ft. long, 20 miles
away and visible edge-on, then there was an internal inconsistency in
Arnold's report because the eye cannot see that well.
Specifically, referred to the "classic" limit of visual acuity of the
eye (about 3 minutes of arc) would mean that the objects either were much
longer than Arnold's estimate (Hynek estimated 2,000 ft. for Arnold to
see the amount of detail he reported) or else they were much closer than
Arnold had estimated. Hynek calculated that if the objects had actually
been about 400 ft. long, the maximal size of an aircraft at that time,
they would have been only about 6 miles away. Furthermore, had the objects
been only 6 miles away their speed would have been only about 400 mph,
comparable to normal aircraft speeds.
Hynek therefore concluded that "in view of the above (calculations) it
appears probable" that the objects were "some sort of known aircraft."
The Air Force analysts read Hynek's analysis and concluded that "...the
entire report is replete with inconsistencies" and "...cannot bear even
superficial examination, therefore must be disregarded" (from the Project
Grudge report). A year or so later the Air Force analysts decided that
Arnold saw a mirage.
Hynek's conclusion was logical if Arnold really didn't know how far the
objects were from him. However, Arnold claimed that he did know, and he
even explained how he knew (the objects flew in and out of the mountain
peaks), but Hynek, for some reason, did not take this into account. Had
Hynek used the distance measurement rather than Arnold's size estimate
he would have discovered that the objects· were actually very large. [Note:
a very complete analysis of Arnold's sighting has been published in the
Proceedings of the International Conference of the Mutual UFO Network,
1997. In that much longer paper I point out that Arnold compared the apparent
size of the UFO to the spacing between engines on DC-4 aircraft - 117
ft wingspan, 94 ft long, 23 ft fuselage height - which he could see far
to his left, about 15 miles away. The point is that since Arnold could
see the engines on the aircraft at 15 miles - or even if it were only
at 10 miles - then he had better than average visual acuity,since the
engines were about 60 ft apart. Because the UFOs were farther away than
the airplane the estimated size of the UFOs would be 80 - 120 feet.]
About 4 years later Donald Menzel mounted his first "attack" on the same
sighting. Menzel's first UFO book indicates that he had read the Air Force
file on the case and that he did not accept Hynek's explanation. (Reference
9) Instead, Menzel acknowledged that the distance was about 20 to 25 miles
away and accepted the consequence that the objects were large. However,Menzel's
description of the sighting left out a very important detail: the measured
time it took for the objects to travel from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Adams,
In his book Menzel mentioned Arnold's claim that the objects were 20 to
25 miles away and that he watched them for about 3 minutes, Then he wrote
as follows: "He clocked the speed at about 1,200 miles an hour, although
this figure seems inconsistent with the length of time that he estimated
them to be in view. From his previous statement they could scarcely have
traveled more than 25 miles during the three minutes that he watched.
This gives about 500 miles an hour, which is still a figure large enough
to be startling."
The reader of Menzel's book would not know that Arnold had timed the flight
over a known path and therefore had a good reason to estimate a high speed,
(Note: The actual speed was about 1,700 mph -- 102 seconds to fly 47 miles
--, but Arnold, to avoid overestimating the speed in his public statements,
had arbitrarily reduced the calculated figure to 1,200 mph.)
After presenting his version of the sighting and Hynek's analysis of it,
Menzel stated: "Although what Arnold saw has remained a mystery until
this day, I simply cannot understand why the simplest and most obvious
explanation of all has been overlooked." He then went on to suggest that
Arnold saw "billowing blasts of snow ballooning up from the tops of ridges."
According to Menzel, "These rapidly shifting, tilting clouds of snow would
reflect the sun like a mirror. And the rocking surfaces would make the
chain sweep along something like a wave, with only·a momentary reflection
from each crest."
This is an "ingenious" explanation which might convince someone who is
impressed by Menzel's scientific credentials and knows little or nothing
about atmospheric optics. It is wrong because snow clouds do not reflect
the sun specularly "like a mirror," but rather they provide a diffuse
reflection. Such a cloud could be bright, but typically not more than
10 times brighter than the surrounding sky, whereas a mirror reflection
of the sun from a large metallic surface (for example) could be hundreds
or thousands of times brighter than the surrounding sky.
Furthermore, even the brightest snow clouds would not appear particularly
bright from a distance of 20 miles or so, especially to an observer looking
east in the broad daylight with the sun slightly west of overhead. Moreover,
even if there were rather brightly reflecting blasts of snow, there are
no 1,700 miles an hour (or even 500 miles an hour) winds to propel the
snow clouds from one mountain peak to another at the high speed measured
by Arnold. And finally, since Arnold flew within several miles of Mt.
Rainier within minutes of his sighting, one would think that he would
have realized that the objects were merely windblown clouds of snow.
Perhaps Menzel was not completely satisfied with this explanation because
he listed "another possibility." He suggested that light was reflected
from a dust or haze layer which, according to Menzel, can "reflect the
sun in almost mirror fashion." According to Menzel, in the vicinity of
the mountain peaks the presumed layer would be distorted by winds and
perhaps some condensation would occur creating cloud crystals.
Unfortunately for this theory, an atmospheric layer does not form where
the air is moving violently; a layer can occur in quiet conditions, Thus,
if there had been such a layer, and if it had caused any reflections at
all (highly unlikely occurrence under the conditions of the sighting which
required the sunlight to be reflected through an angle of more than 90
deg.), the reflections would have been substantially steady. Again, there
are no winds with a high enough speed to transport reflecting portions
of a layer (which couldn't exist in the wind anyway!) at a speed of 1,700
mph. Finally, it again seems unlikely that Arnold would have failed to
eventually realize that he was merely watching a meteorological phenomenon.
Ten years after his first book on UFOs, Menzel wrote a second one (with
Lyle Boyd). (Reference 10) Again he tackled the Arnold sighting. This
time he proposed three explanations: the "objects'' were mountain top
mirages," (here he echoed the official Air Force explanation) or they
were "orographic clouds," or they were "wave clouds in rapid motion."
In proposing the mirage hypothesis he (and the Air Force before him) overlooked
two important factors: (a) a mountain top mirage obeys the physical requirement
of a superior mirage [which appears above the object being "miraged",
hence the term "superior"] which is this: the observer has to be at an
altitude such that the angular elevation between himself and the mountain
top is much less than a degree and (b) a mountain top mirage stays over
the mountain top. Fact (a) rules out the mirage explanation by itself
because, according to Arnold, he was at an altitude of about 9,200 ft.
at the time that the objects flew past Mt. Rainier so the angular elevation
from his position to the top of Mt. Rainier (14,400 ft., 20 miles away)
was more than 2 1/2 degrees, far too great for a mirage. [In other words,
Arnold was to low in altitude to see a mirage of the top of Mt. Rainier.]
Arnold claimed that the objects flew past Mt. Rainier at an altitude about
5,000 ft. below the peak. This altitude difference rejects the standard
superior mirage that appears above the peak (and is also inconsistent
with an inferior mirage that might appear at an angle much less than one
degree below the peak; an inferior mirage in this case would actually
be a mirage of the sky appearing·slightly below the mountain peak).
Factor (b) conflicts with the mirage explanation for Arnold's sighting
because Arnold reported that the objects were visible between the mountain
peaks, not just over the mountain peaks, Moreover,the objects had a considerable
lateral motion, unlike mountain-top mirages which stay over the tops of
. Menzel also suggested that perhaps Arnold saw orographic clouds, which
can assume saucer shapes and often form in the lees of mountain tops (downwind
from the top) when a wind is blowing. These clouds would, of course, be
large but, as Menzel notes in his book they "appear to stand more or less
motionless." The lack of motion of such clouds, among other-things, rules
Menzel's third suggestion, wave clouds in motion, is comparable to the
"billowing blasts" of snow suggestion in his first book except this time
he is proposing clouds of water vapor rather than snow. The same arguments
against his hypothesis would apply. Again, one wonders how Arnold could
have failed to realize that the objects were merely clouds as he flew
closer to the mountain tops on his way east.
Menzel tackled Arnold's sighting for the third and last time in his last
UFO book, published after his death. (Reference 11) This time he suggested
that Arnold saw the reflection off water drops on the windshield of his
airplane. (This suggestion was based on Menzel's own experience of seeing
water drops on the outside of an aircraft window and at first thinking
that they were large shiny objects at a great distance.) This explanation
completely overlooks numerous details of the sighting including the following:
according to Arnold's report to the Air Force, which Menzel had read many
years earlier, he turned his plane sideways, opened his window, and then
took off his glasses to be sure that he was not seeing some unusual reflection
from a glass surface. (Anyone want to propose water drops on his eyeballs?)
It appears to me that each of the seven explanations just given (one by
Hynek and six by Menzel) is completely erroneous. The fact that two experienced
scientists would propose such explanations in a straightforward way (i.e.,
neither Hynek nor Menzel give the slightest hint that they thought their
explanations were jokes) and the fact that their explanations were not
publicly disputed by other scientists says a lot about the "UFO situation."
The "situation" is such that the UFO phenomenon is considered to be a
trivial scientific problem (there is "nothing to be gained" by studying
UFO reports, according to Condon) and therefore any explanation [no matter
how ridiculous] is acceptable to the science community.
Had Menzel published his explanations in a science journal, there might
have been a chance to criticize it in full view of the science community.
However, since his explanations were published in books there was no such
A review of Menzel's explanations of the Arnold sighting shows that Menzel
was comfortable with leaving out information that might conflict with
his explanations. This, of course, is bad scientific technique. Even worse,
however, would be deliberate distortion of the sighting data to make it
fit an explanation. In general it would be difficult to prove that a deliberate
distortion occurred. But, in the case of the sighting by Charles B. Moore
and four Navy trainees it seems to me that Menzel did deliberately distort
the sighting information to assure that the reader would have no reason
to question his explanation.
CHARLES B. MOORE SIGHTING:According to Mr, Moore's official
report as found in the Blue Book file, at about 10:30 a.m., April 24,
1949, Moore and the Navy personnel were tracking a balloon that they had
launched about 10 minutes earlier near Arrey, New Mexico. At the beginning
of the sighting one of the Navy men was using the theodolite to track
the balloon which was at an angular elevation of about 45 degrees and
an azimuth of about 210 degrees. Moore, watching with the naked eye, observed
a rapidly moving object which was initially in the same general direction
as the balloon (in fact, he initially mistook it for the balloon).
He quickly took over the theodolite from the Navy trainee and then tracked
the object with the theodolite. Its flight path took the object very close
to the direction of the sun (127 deg. azimuth and 60 deg. elevation) and
then to the north (so that the sighting line rotated clockwise about the
observers looking upward from the ground). The final azimuth and elevation
as it disappeared in the north-northeast were, respectively, about 20
deg. and 29 deg.
In the last seconds before it faded from view in the distance its angular
elevation increased from a minimum value of about 25 deg. to its final
elevation of about 29 deg. [it was climbing as it departed!] The sighting
lasted about 60 seconds. According to Moore, through the theodolite the
object looked like a whitish ellipsoid with a "2-1/2 to 1 slenderness
ratio." Its angular size was about 0.020 deg. which corresponds to 34
ft. at an altitude of 100,000 ft. or 17 ft. at an altitude of 50,000 ft.,
By plotting the directions given above on polar graph paper one finds
that the azimuth changed by about 190 deg. When the initial and final
elevation angles are considered along with the azimuth angles, one finds
that the (central, or minimum) angle between the initial and final sighting
directions was about 120 deg.
All of this information (and more) was available to Menzel in the report
which Moore filed with the Navy Special Devices`Center which sponsored
the Skyhook balloon experiments. (Copies of the report turned up in the
Air Force file and also in the CIA file on UFO reports.) Menzel's version
of this sighting is presented verbatim in Appendix 1 of this paper. As
can be seen by reading Appendix 1, a reader of Menzel's version without
access to the original report, might conclude that the object had initially
appeared to be a bit higher than the balloon, had dropped straight downward
or nearly straight downward over a small angle for close to a minute,
and then had moved slightly off to one side and suddenly upward by a small
angle. The reader would not know the exact angles involved, nor would
he know the value of the largest angle between the sighting line to the
balloon and the sighting line to the object (about 120 deg.).
Furthermore, Menzel included with his description (although on another
page) a diagram which was supposed to represent the sighting. It shows
the observer looking upward at the balloon and the "object" at a small
angle below the balloon. This diagram is obviously intended to support
Menzel's claim that what the observers saw was a mirage of the balloon
caused by a sort of bubble in the atmosphere created by the balloon as
it traveled upward through a temperature inversion layer. (Such an occurrence
as depicted by Menzel and described semi-quantitatively in the Appendix
of his book, is highly unlikely or impossible.)
Menzel was well aware that a mirage cannot appear at a large angle away
from the object which is the "source" of the mirage. In fact, in the appendix
of his book he presented his theory and calculated that the angle between
the balloon and its mirage would be no greater than 1/4 of a degree. Thus
Menzel's own calculation ruled out his explanation if Moore's angle measurements
were anywhere near correct. Since there is no reason to doubt Moore's
angle measurements (Menzel's theory would require that the measurements
be in error by about a hundred degrees!), it must be Menzel's explanation
which is in error.
It is important to note that an intelligent person, even one with no knowledge
of atmospheric physics, could have discovered the error in Menzel's explanation
if Menzel had included the factual data from the sighting in his book.
Of course, it is possible that Menzel himself didn't understand the conflict
between the data and his calculation, but this possibility seems remote
considering his background in science. It seems more likely to me that
Menzel intentionally left out the numerical data (the sighting angles)
and deliberately distorted the description of the sighting (making it
appear to the reader as if the object only dropped downward a small amount
and then rose upward a small amount) so that the reader would have no
reason to doubt his explanation.
His explanation probably would be accepted by a person who already had
a skeptical attitude. Such a person would find his skeptical opinion strengthened
by Menzel's explanation of what was one of the most credible of the early
sightings. By the standards often applied to "UFO believers" by the science
community, that person would be considered "gullible." If, after reading
the above discussion that person still felt that Menzel's presentation
was a fair, unbiased, non-fraudulent, scientific treatment of a sighting
made by credible, serious observers, then perhaps that person would like
to buy some of the land I own on the moon...cheap,
[Note added in 1998: In December, 1986, Dr. Moore responded to a question
I had asked him about Menzel's explanation. He wrote: "Although I had
met Donald Menzel during the late 1950's in connection with John Strong's
studies of Venus, he never discussed our earlier report of a peculiar
flying object over Arrey, New Mexico in 1949. What I saw was not a mirage;
it was a craft with highly unusual performance. It was not a balloon;
at that time we were the innovators and manufacturers of the new balloons
and I certainly would have known about any new developments as I was newly
in charge of General Mills' Balloon operations. It was not the X-1 which
was in its hangar at Muroc that Sunday. It was nothing from White Sands
nor from Alamogordo AFB for we were in radio contact with Range Control
and were informed that our operation was the only one active on Sunday.
For these reasons, I'm cynical about Menzel and his approach to science."
Many people in UFO research know that Dr. Moore has been involved in the
attempts to explain the Roswell incident (July, 1947) as the result of
the "crash" and retrieval of special high altitude balloon array that
was built and flown as part of a special project called "Mogul." Few people
know of Moore's own sighting, however.]
PROJECT TWINKLE: Menzel and Hynek were not the only scientists
who allowed skepticism to overrule their rationality. I invite Dr. Louis
Elterman to step forward. The name "Elterman" is hardly known in UFO history.
However, he played a significant role in the development of that history
because he wrote the final report of Project Twinkle.
Project Twinkle was established by the Geophysics Research Division (GRD)
of the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) in February 1950,
after more than a year of sightings of the so-called "green fireballs"
which appeared mostly in the southwestern states (few were seen elsewhere).
It was the first directed effort to collect scientific data on unusual
objects or "phenomena" that were seen over military reservations in the
southwestern United States in the late 1940's. [For a much more complete
description of the "green fireball mystery" see *THE UFO-FBI CONNECTION/
the REAL X-files* , available from this author; send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org]
The data to be collected under Project Twinkle included the descriptions
of phenomena as derived from multiple witness sightings and from photographically
recorded sightings. It was hoped that multiple witness, optically instrumented
sightings would occur so that object altitudes and sizes could be calculated.
The project utilized the military personnel and employees of a contract
company (Land-Air) that operated cinetheodolite (Askania) cameras at the
White Sands Missile test range. The project ran through two contractual
periods (April 1 to October 1, 1950 and October 1, 1950 to March, 1951).
During the post-contractual period (April - November, 1951) several conferences
were held but no conclusions were reached although a number of explanations
In November, 1951 Dr. Elterman wrote the final report of Project Twinkle.
(Reference 12) In the abstract of the report he claimed that "the gist
of the sightings is essentially negative" and that most of the unusual
phenomena observed could be attributed to man-made objects or natural
phenomena. He recommended that the Project be ended. The body of his report
was consistent with these conclusions. However, evidence found in the
files of Project Blue Book shows that Elterman did not report (covered
up?) the truly significant findings of Project Twinkle. Of particular
interest is his summary of the first contractual period which says the
"Some photographic activity occurred on 27 April and 24 May, but simultaneous
sightings by both cameras were not made so that no information was gained.
On 30 Aug. 1950, during a Bell aircraft missile launching, aerial phenomena
were observed over Holloman Air Force Base by several individuals; however,
neither Land-Air nor Project personnel were notified and, therefore, no
results were acquired."
Elterman went on to say, "Generally the results of the (first) six-month
contractual period may be described as negative." During the second contractual
period there were hardly any sightings by individuals and there were no
photographic sightings. "The results during this period were negative,"
A reader of this report who is skeptical about the reality of UFOs might
well conclude that Project Twinkle had failed to obtain any information
about the sighted phenomena (objects). However, that is false. Despite
what Elterman said in the report, Project Twinkle was successful: it proved
the existence of TRue UFOs - TRUFOs. That is, the project proved that
unexplained phenomena or objects had been seen in the vicinity of certain
military areas in the southwest, notably around the White Sands area.
As concrete examples of this proof, consider the sightings of April and
May 1950. According to Elterman (see above) "simultaneous sightings by
both cameras were not made so that no information was gained." [Note:
for a proper triangulation - in this case height measurement - of a moving
object it is necessary that measurements of angular elevation and azimuth
must be made from at least one location and at the same time either (or
both) elevation and azimuth from another location. Non-simultaneous measurements
will yield erroneous values of height of the object. In some cases it
might be possible to apply a correction factor to one or both measurements
to improve the accuracy of the calculation.] However, the mere fact that
sightings of unidentified objects were made using both (Askania) cameras,
even though the sightings were not simultaneous, means that the unidentified
objects existed!! A two page report dated July 1, 1950, and found in the
Blue Book/AFOSI microfilm files goes even further and supplies some of
the data which Twinkle was set up to obtain: height and size. The report
reads as follows:
31 May 50
Subject: Aerial Phenomena
To: Commanding Officer
AF Cambridge Research Laboratory
Attn: Base Directorate, Geophysical Research
230 Albany St
1. Per request of Dr. A.O. Mirarchi, during recent visit to this base,
the following information is submitted,
2. Sightings were made on 27 April and 24 May 1950 of aerial phenomena
during morning daylight hours at this station. The sightings were made
by Land-Air, Inc. personnel while engaged in tracking regular projects
with Askania Phototheodolites. It has been reported that objects are sighted
in some number; as many as eight have been visible at one time. The individuals
making these sightings are professional observers therefore I would rate
their reliability superior. In both cases photos were taken with Askanias.
3. The Holloman AF Base Date Reduction Unit analyzed the 27 April pictures
and made a report, a copy for which I am enclosing with the film for your
information. It was believed that triangulation could be affected from
the pictures taken on 24 May because pictures were taken from two stations.
The films were rapidly processed and examined by Data Reduction,· However,
it was determined that sightings were made on two different objects and
triangulation could not be affected. A report from the Data Reduction
and the films from the sighting are enclosed.
4. There is nothing further to report at this time.
(Listed as enclosures are: Data Red Report#1, Data Red Report #2, Film
P-10 of 24 May 50, Film P-8 of 24 May 50, Film P-10 of 27 April 50 and
a Map of the Holloman AFB range which presumably showed the locations
of cameras P-8 and P-10.)
The Data Reduction Unit Report on the April sighting reads as follows:
OBJECTS OBSERVED FOLLOWING MX776A TEST OF 27 APRIL 1950
1. According to conversation between Col. Baynes and Capt. Bryant, the
following information is submitted directly to Lt. Albert.
2. Film from station P10 was read resulting in azimuth (sic) and elevation
angle being recorded on four objects. In addition, size of image on film
3. From this information, together with a single azimuth angle from station
M7, the following conclusions were drawn:
a. The objects were at an altitude of approximately 150,000 feet.
b. The objects were over the Holloman range between the base and Tularosa
c. The objects were approximately 30 feet in diameter,
d. The objects were traveling at an indeterminable, yet high speed.
(signed) Wilber L. Mitchell
Data Reduction Unit"
This report clearly shows that Elterman was wrong in stating that "no
information was gained." Here we have an explicit altitude (150,000 ft.)
and an explicit size (30 ft.). Of course the measured angles might have
been slightly in error, so these calculated values might not be completely
accurate. Probable accuracy would be plus or minus 10 or 20 percent. But
even if they were off by 100% in altitude and size (a factor of two: for
example, perhaps the object was only 75,000 ft. high and 15 ft. in diameter)
there would be no natural phenomenon or manmade device which could explain
the sighting. It is interesting to note that the 30 ft. size calculated
by Mr. Mitchell is the same as the calculated size of the object seen
by C.B. Moore almost exactly a year earlier, if Moore's object had been
at an altitude of 100,000 ft.
A reasonable question to ask is, why didn't Elterman mention the successful
triangulation on April 27? According to Elterman's Twinkle report on simultaneous
sightings "were not made" on both April 27 and May 24. However, the letter
to Dr. Mirachi from the mathematical reduction unit clearly shows that
the lack of simultaneity only applied to the May 24 sighting, when the
cameras were pointing at different objects. Could it be that Elterman
never saw the report by the Mathematical Reduction Unit? This seems hard
to believe since he was the director of the project and had complete access
to the records. [Note: Mirarchi was the first director of Project Twinkle.
He retired in late 1950 and was not involved in writing the final report.
Elterman replaced Mirarchi as project director.] Clearly Elterman was
aware of the sightings in April and May 1950, and also of the other multiple
witness sightings and multiple films of objects.
One very disturbing aspect of the Project was pointed out in Elterman's
report: there was "no provision" [no money] for in-depth analysis of the
photographic data they had. Furthermore, according to Mr. Warren Kott,
who was in charge of the Land-Air operations at Holloman AFB (as stated
by Elterman in his report), "A formal report covering the year's vigilance
has not been issued since the contract contained no such provision." Kott
pointed out that "...a time correlation study should be made covering
the film and verbal recordings at both Askania stations. This would assure
that these records did not contain significant material. However,such
a study is quite laborious, and would require about thirty man-days to
complete. Again, no provisions are contained in the contract for this
study." (Emphasis added.)
Pity the poor Air Force Cambridge Research Lab. The data were available,
but there was no money to analyze it. Guilty of dereliction of scientific
duty or of simple stupidity? You be the judge!
Mr. Kott went on to say that Land-Air personnel might be able to analyze
the data later on in their spare time, but there are no records available
to show whether or not that was done. According to Elterman's report,
at the end of the project all the film and tape recordings were sent to
the GRD. In 1952 Capt. E.J. Ruppelt, the first director of Project Blue
Book, learned of the White Sands/Holloman movies and tried to locate the
data. He was not able to do so. (Reference 13) [An FOIA request in the
late 1970's caused a further search for the film, based on a handwritten
note on the letter to Mirarchi. The handwritten note says "film on repository
with AFRCL." The film was not located. Thus it appears that the "proof"
that was available almost 50 years ago has been lost forever.]
Elterman's report clearly was not complete, since the bulk of the hard
data had not yet been analyzed. One wonders, therefore, why he repeatedly
stated that "no information" was gained. Was he a "sloppy" scientist?
Did he have his mind made up already and did he think that he didn't need
further analysis? Was he afraid of what might be found in the data? Was
he trying to prevent the rest of the scientific community from discovering
that the data proved the reality of TRUFOS? Unfortunately, we don't know
the answers to these questions .
All right, AFCRL, up against the wall!!
OK! Now that I've got your attention....
where are those films?
The previous discussion shows two things: (a) the data to prove the existence
of UFOs existed years ago, and (b) the few scientists who had access to
the data were willing to make unscientific public statements in order
to either explain the data away or cover it up. Because these scientists
did not alert the rest of the science community to the potential validity
of the UFO data, the rest of the community decided to agree with the Air
Force's public position that there was nothing to UFO sightings. Thus,
the rest of the scientists pulled the wool over their own eyes and thereby
created a "self-cover-up." Although the basic data (sightings) were available
in open literature sources, they refused to look......................."There
are none so blind...."
BALLOON TRACKER SIGHTINGS: The sightings already discussed
are only a small fraction of the early sightings that were overlooked
by the science establishment. There were many others. Consider, for example,
the sightings by the General Mills employees who launched the Skyhook
balloons. These men were all professional observers, as was C.B. Moore
[and Dr. Moore told me in his December, 1986 letter that he knew many
of the balloon scientists mentioned below]. In February 1951, Dr. Urner
Liddel of the Naval Research Laboratory was quoted as saying that the
only credible sightings of unidentified objects were actually sightings
of Skyhook balloons. (Reference 13) [Note: a week or so later Dr. Mirarchi
publicly disputed Liddel's claim.] Apparently he did not know about (or
he covered up!) the sightings by the employees of the General Mills Aeronautical
Research Division who were tracking a balloon near Artesia, New Mexico,
during the month preceding Liddel's public statement. They had launched
a Skyhook balloon several hours earlier and it was at an altitude of about
112,000 ft, at the time of the sighting. It was also about 100 ft. in
diameter and was easy to see from the ground in the clear atmosphere at
11:00 a.m. Suddenly, what appeared to them and other observers to be two
objects "larger than the balloon and of a dull grey color" approached
the balloon from the northeast, made "an abrupt turn" going partway around
the balloon (as it appeared from the ground) and disappeared "at a very
fast rate of speed" in the northeast.
Another major series of sightings by balloon personnel took place on October
10 and 11 of 1951. The witnesses were pilots and engineers who were employed
by the Aeronautical Research Division of General Mills. The reports of
the sightings were written by Mr. J.J. Kalisewski, supervisor of balloon
manufacture and a former Air Force pilot. Kalisewski's reports read as
follows (I have included notes in parentheses):
(Observation 10 miles east of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin at 10:10 a.m.,
10 Oct. 1951.)
We had just spotted our trajectory flight and were approaching from the
north at an altitude of 4,000 ft. We started to climb toward the balloon
on a course of 230 degrees (i.e., they were facing southwest; the sun
was in the east, far to their left). At 6000 ft I noticed a strange object
crossing the skies from east to west, a much higher and behind the balloon.
I estimated our balloon was at approximately 20,000 ft, at the time. Using
our balloon for comparison this object appeared to be about 1/4 the size
of the balloon, were climbing and about 6 miles northeast of the balloon.
(The angular elevation of their line of sight to the balloon was about
24 deg.) The object had a peculiar glow to it, crossing behind and above
our balloon from the east to west very rapidly, first coming in at a slight
dive, leveling off for a minute and slowing down. Then into a sharp left
turn and climb at an angle of 50 to 60 degr into the southeast with a
terrific acceleration and disappeared. Jack Donaghue and I observed this
object for approximately two minutes and it crossed through an arc of
approximately 40-50 deg. We saw no vapor trail and from past experience
I know that this object was not a balloon, jet, conventional aircraft
or celestial star."
(Observations during the morning of Oct. 11, 1951.)
Time: 0630. Dick Reilly and I were flying at 10,000 ft. observing the
grab bag balloon when I saw a brightly glowing object to the southeast
of the University of Minnesota Airport. At that time we were a few miles
north of Minneapolis and heading east. I pointed it out to Dick and we
both made the following observation: The object was moving from east to
west at a high rate and very high. We tried keeping the ship on a constant
course and using (a) reinforcing member of the windshield as a point (of
reference). The object moved past this member at about 50 deg. per second.
This object was peculiar in that it had what can be described as a halo
around it with a dark undersurface, It crossed rapidly and then slowed
down and started to climb in lazy circles slowly. The pattern it made
was like a falling oak leaf inverted (i.e., rocking from side to side
while "falling" upward). It made these gyrations for a couple of minutes
and then with a very rapid acceleration disappeared to the east (i.e.
when last seen this object was traveling from west to east).· This object
Dick and I watched for approximately five minutes. I called our tracking
station at the University of Minnesota airport and the observers there
on the theodolite managed to get glimpses of a number of them, but couldn't
keep their theodolite going fast enough to keep them in the field of their
instruments. Both Doug Smith and Dick Dorian caught glimpses of these
objects in their theodolite after I notified then of their presence by
radio. I don't know how to describe its size because at the time I didn't
have the balloon in sight for comparison and the weather was CAVU (clear
and visibility unlimited). Shortly after this we saw another one, about
two hours later, but this one didn't hang around. It approached from the
west and disappeared to the east, neither one leaving any trace of vapor
The ground witnesses were interviewed on Oct. 12 by Air Force intelligence
(Major Kaske) who wrote as follows:
The second of the observations reported above (i.e. Oct. 11) was confirmed
by Mr. Dorian who was one of the crew at the University of Minnesota Airport
tracking the balloon ascension. The object crossed Mr. Dorian's field
of vision on a path roughly from 4 o'clock to 10 o'clock and when (he)
tried to track it in the theodolite he got only a brief blur -- believes
it was because the theodolite wasn't focused. The object was visible in
the theodolite for under two seconds and appeared smoky grey -- no halo
or glow was noted -- cigar shaped, left no vapor trail and gave no reflection
such as sun reflecting off metal. Mr. Smith -- not present at the time
of interrogation so this is hearsay reported by Mr. Dorian -- agreed with
Mr. Dorian in all respects on the above information. Both (men) claim
that during their period of visual observation they saw two more like
objects which finally formed in a straight pattern after the first and
all departed at the same time. The men in the plane saw only the one object
described above. All of these men were positive on the following points:
1) Object though vaguely defined and blurred by distance retained definite
2) No vapor trails, exhaust flashes of jet propulsion flames were seen
3) The object acted exactly as if under definitely controlled flight -----
Dr. James McDonald has reported [in 1968] that Kalisewski confirmed the
details of these sightings to him and was "...emphatic in asserting that
it was not a balloon, jet or conventional aircraft," Kalisewski felt that
the objects "...matched no known aeronautical device." The Air Force (Project
Grudge) concluded that the sighting on Oct. 10 was of an "aircraft" but
has left the sightings of Oct. 11 "unidentified." Apparently Kalisewski
was not aware of this until McDonald told him. Kalisewski was "...unable
to understand how any distinction could be drawn between the two sightings."
NON-PUBLICATION OF SCIENTIFIC PAPERS
There are numerous other sightings by well-qualified observers which have
been swept under the rug by the Air Force and skeptical scientists and
which have been ignored by the general science community over the last
39 years. In the early 1960's NICAP tried to publicize such sightings
in THE UFO EVIDENCE and in the late 196O's Dr. McDonald tried to bring
a number of sightings before the science community. (References 1, 2,
& 14) Unfortunately, the efforts were largely ignored and the science
community cut itself off from the data by refusing to publish UFO articles
or by publishing, with great reluctance, articles that did not debunk
the subject. I have made several attempts at publishing papers which were
rejected. (I was also successful in two instances related to the New Zealand
My first attempt was in December 1974, a year after the 1973 flap. I wrote
a paper entitled "Why Would a Scientist Decide to Investigate UFOs." The
paper contained an in-depth analysis of a sighting in western Virginia
that took place in the spring of·1970. The paper also provided a general
discussion of the UFO problem and even discussed the reluctance of journals
to accept papers on the subject. I had the paper reviewed by several scientists
and I had rewritten it several times. I sent the paper to Science magazine
along with a list of competent referees. Two weeks later I got a short
letter from the editor, Philip Abelson, who wrote: "Unfortunately, we
now have a substantial backlog of accepted articles and we are obligated
to give them first priority for publication. Hence we cannot handle your
article at this time." The implication of his response was that I needed
a rapid publication (i.e., within a few months) and he couldn't accommodate
my wish. Actually, I had indicated no such wish in my letter accompanying
the article and I was fully prepared to wait a year if necessary to get
publication in such a prestigious journal. Furthermore, I knew, as did
he, that many articles are published long after they are submitted. Therefore,
I interpreted his response as a disguise for what he really wanted to
say: "get lost" or "go somewhere else." I should point out that Science
had already published two articles on the subject (in 1967, W. Markowitz,
Volume 157, pg. 1274, and in 1970, D. Warren, Volume 170, pg. 599). Each
of these was a "debunking article." Markowitz argued that UFOs couldn't
be spacecraft because they violated the rules of physics as understood
by Markowitz and Warren argued that UFO reports were largely the product
of a social condition known as "status inconsistency". Therefore I thought
it barely possible that Science might publish a "non-debunking" article
in deference to "fairness." Evidently I was wrong.
I never tried to resubmit my article to Science nor did I submit it to
another journal. (A shortened version was published by the NICAP in The
UFO Investigator in November and December, 1975.) I did not try to submit
another article to a journal until 1979. This time I succeeded, but my
success was a result of chance: I was "in the right place at the right
time," you might say.
The general skeptical attitude· of scientists -- or at least of journal
editors -- toward UFOs has resulted in the appearance of several "debunking"
articles in major journals over the last 35  years. One of these articles
appeared in a major technical journal, Applied Optics, in November 1978.
(Reference 15) The article purported to explain glowing UFOs sighted in
the Uintah Basin,Utah, in the middle 1960s as swarms of insects in flight
through electrostatic fields which caused corona discharge from the antennae,
legs, and other appendages of the insects. I have called this "the buggy
UFO hypothesis" (abbrev.: "BUFOH"). The originator of the BUFOH, Dr. Philip
Callahan, an entymologist at the University of Florida, was interviewed
on several news shows. Even the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite
gave the Applied Optics paper some coverage.
Within 2 weeks of the appearance of the article I had written a letter
to the editor in which I pointed out errors in the paper, errors both
in interpreting the cited cases as being sightings of insect swarms and
errors in scaling the physics from laboratory-sized experiments with single
insects to swarms in free flight. The editor turned down my letter. However,
he did say that he felt a valid response to the article probably should
be published to be fair to the subject, but he was going to wait for all
the responses before deciding and then pick the best one, Thus, although
I was "put on hold" I nevertheless had a "moral commitment" from the editor
that something rebutting the BUFOH article would be published.
As fate would have it, while I was arguing with the editor of Applied
Optics over a response to the BUFOH article, events halfway around the
earth were taking place which would change the situation considerably.
I refer to the [then] famous New Zealand sightings, and, in particular
to those of December 31, 1978, which were multiple witness sightings that
featured (a) 16 mm color movie film, (b) ground and airborne radar detections,
(c) a news crew recording the events as they occurred, and (d) the air
crew and the radar operator being recorded by the ground radar station
at Wellington, New Zealand.
I investigated these sightings first by phone and then "on-site" in New
Zealand and Australia. After the investigation I discussed the sightings
with a number of scientists and then compiled a large report. Because
interest in the sightings had been worldwide, I wrote a short paper based
on one portion of the sightings and sent it to Nature (published in England).
In early May 1979, I received a letter which said that the paper was rejected
for lack of space and because, according to the editor, it "...has to
be part of a much larger survey that is presumably being conducted" (i.e.,
"get lost"). Unfortunately, he gave me no hint as to where the presumed
survey was being conducted,
In the meantime, I received a letter from the editor of Applied Optics.
As of March 19 he had received no other comments on the BUFOH, so he wrote
"...inasmuch as your manuscript is the only rebuttal I have received...
I suppose a version of your manuscript could be that rebuttal." When I
received his letter I considered rewriting my rebuttal letter, but at
the same time I was "full time" on the New Zealand case, so I delayed.
Then, when my paper was rejected by Nature I got an idea. I decided that
I could try to take a chance with the editor of Applied Optics.
In early May I submitted a revised version of my New Zealand paper with
a letter in which I pointed out that, although the paper did not respond
directly to the BUFOH article it nevertheless "...contains some physical
data about an unusual light source and, since the data are primarily of
an optical nature, the article is suited to your journal."
To my great delight the editor bought this argument and, in August, my
paper was published. (Reference 16) To close the "buggy" chapter of the
story, however, I should point out that eventually the editor did receive
another response to the BUFOH. That response was also published in August.
I have always believed that the appearance of my paper was a "lucky accident"
that resulted from the combination of (a) the appearance of Callahan's
article and my attempt to rebut it and (b) the publicity surrounding the
New Zealand sightings. I do not believe that it was a result of a liberal
attitude toward UFO articles on the part of the editor, who referred to
"UFO believers" as "99 and 44/100ths percent kooks."
When I had finished writing my short Applied Optics paper, several months
before it was published, I had sent a copy to William Ireland, a scientist
in New Zealand. He disagreed with my point of view and so he and another
scientist wrote a short article in which they criticized my claim that
the object was unidentified. They claimed that the object discussed in
my paper was merely a squid boat. I received a copy of their paper for
publication in Applied Optics during August and reviewed it at the request
of the editor. Then the editor offered me a chance to rebut Ireland.
I submitted my rebuttal in September so that it could be published in
December along with the article by Ireland and Andrews, It was too long
for the editor's "taste" so he asked me to shorten it and return it quickly.
However, by that time I had arranged for some photos of squid boats to
be taken in New Zealand, so at the end of October I wrote a letter- to
him saying that I wanted to wait until after the tests and then submit
a revised paper. I expected my paper would be ready in a month or so and
would be published in the early spring of 1980. But I was wrong.
In December 1979, Applied Optics published the paper of Ireland and Andrews.
(Reference 18) Early in January 1980, the editor and I both received a
letter that is the "personification" of resistance on the part of scientists
to an unbiased treatment of the UFO subject. The letter was from a prominent
optical scientist. He began his letter by thanking Ireland and Andrews
for "their trenchant discussion -one might more accurately say destruction
-- of Maccabee's earlier report." He went on to say that "...as an individual
concerned over the widespread public acceptance of pseudoscience, I would
not like to see Applied Optics inundated with a flood of communications
of this caliber," He went on to indirectly criticize the editor by saying
that the "only useful conclusion" from the two short papers is that "the
initial letter (paper) shouldn't have been published." [Note that this
scientist did not complain about the earlier publication of the "buggy
UFO hypothesis" even though he would have realized, had he thought about
it, that the optical theory presented in that paper was "buggy" to say
Needless to say, this criticism gave the editor second thoughts about
publishing my response. I immediately wrote to the critic and also to
the editor to express my position on the matter. I also enlisted the aid
of another well-known scientist who took my side in the argument that
I should at least be allowed a rebuttal.
Eventually the critic relented and wrote to the editor that, in spite
of his "...personal conviction that this is a scientifically foolish piece
of work," my rebuttal should be published "...with the confidence that
making it available in print will simply let others reach the same judgement."
In August 1980, my rebutting paper was published along with a statement
by the editor that this would close the discussion.(Reference 19)
Having "learned its lesson," Applied Optics has carried no further UFO-related
articles. However, the papers that were published are of some historical
significance because, for the first time in history (to the best of my
knowledge), a refereed science journal published a series of technical
discussions of a single UFO sighting. Unfortunately, another journal was
not as "liberal."
In May 1980, the Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics (JATP),
published in Britain, included a paper (submitted in the summer of 1979)
by a Canadian atmospheric scientist, Dr, William Lehn, entitled "On the
Sighting of Distant Unidentified Objects." (Reference 20) Lehn discussed
the Dec. 30, 1978, New Zealand case as reported shortly after the sightings
in several Canadian and U.S. newspapers, and claimed that "..notably absent
from all the reported theories was any consideration of atmospheric refraction
phenomena. " Lehn was wrong. Atmospheric refraction effects had been discussed
in New Zealand newspapers shortly after the sightings.
In July of that year I submitted a short (6 pages, double spaced) paper
to the journal that criticized Lehn for using only a few newspaper accounts
and also pointed out a number of reasons for rejecting the atmospheric
refraction (i.e., "mirage") hypothesis. The journal editor sent my paper
to a referee who responded as follows:
I have read the enclosed short note by B.S. Maccabee entitled 'On the
New Zealand Sightings of December 1978,' The article has been written
in response to a paper published in JATP in May 1980 by W.H. Lehn. This
article unlike that of Lehn, contains no real science and as such cannot
be accepted for the Journal. Sightings of unidentified objects are unfortunately
often vague and imprecise and sometimes contradictory. I do not consider
that this article contributes in any way towards a true scientific explanation
of the phenomena described. It may-be suitable for a newspaper but not
for a scientific journal."
In case you haven't already guessed, I wasn't particularly happy with
this response. I rewrote the paper and resubmitted it in October, noting
that the referee had not rejected my paper on technical grounds but rather
on philosophical grounds because it did not contain "real science." I
wrote in my letter:
"I wonder what the referee considers to be 'real science,' Is it real
science to allow an incorrect explanation to stand unchallenged in a
respected, refereed journal such as JATP? I dare say that if a published
paper contains errors in logic or mathematics, experts in the particular
field addressed by the paper do not hesitate to write articles pointing
out the errors, and journals do not hesitate to publish the articles.,.."
I then pointed out that Lehn's paper seemed to be largely speculation
based on a small amount of information, whereas my paper was based on
much, much more information and contained the results of a calculation
of brightness based on hard (photographic) data. It therefore seemed unfair
for the referee to "...bestow upon Lehn's paper the accolade 'real science"'
and to reject mine as unscientific.
I did not hear from the editor again until December 1980. He then said
that he had submitted all of the correspondence and my papers, as well
as the opinion of the first referee to a second referee. According to
the editor, the second referee basically agreed with the first. The second
referee pointed out that it was unlikely that there would be "an agreement
on an explanation of the N.Z. 'sightings' and until the experimental facts
are sorted out more clearly, arguments and counter-arguments should be
dealt with by correspondence between the contestants themselves and not
in the open literature..,. I support without hesitation the rejection
of this paper."
In spite of this opinion of the second referee, the editor indicated that
he would like to send my material to Dr. Lehn before making a final decision.
I wrote back to say that I approved of his decision to consult Dr. Lehn
before a final rejection and that I intended to send Dr. Lehn even more
material on the sightings. By the end of January 1981 I had a letter from
Dr. Lehn thanking me for the material I had sent.
I heard no more until May, a year after Lehn's paper was published. The
editor sent me a copy of Dr. Lehn's reply, which was generally negative.
The matter would have ended there except for an unexpected (by myself)
turn of events: William Ireland of New Zealand, who had written the critical
Applied Optics article, had also submitted a letter that criticized Lehn's
paper. Therefore, the editor had two authors' to satisfy as well as Lehn
and the referees. He decided upon a "middle ground." Neither my paper
nor Ireland's would be published in full. Instead, short summaries of
each would be published along with an editor's comment that would, effectively,
end the discussion in the journal.
I had no choice but to agree with this. At the end of May, 1982, I sent
a short summary. After that I had some correspondence with Lehn in early
1982. But, to the best of my knowledge neither my summary nor Ireland's
was ever published. (I checked every issue for two years after 1981 and
finally gave up.)
More recently (1985)I have submitted to Applied Ootics a paper that presents
an optical analysis of a photo which shows a bright "something" nestled
in a hole in the clouds. The color slide was taken from an altitude of
about 36,000 ft. by a former Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, R. J. Childerhose,
in 1955. (It only became available for analysis in 1984, however.) Since
this photograph is endorsed by none other than skeptic Philip Klass as
being a true unconventional phenomenon (he suggests that it is a huge
plasma-like "ball lightning"), I thought naively that I would have no
problem getting the article published. However, it has been rejected twice.
It was rejected initially because the reviewer thought it could be a subsun.
I explained that the location of the sun was not correct for it to be
a subsun. The second reviewer thought that it was actually a reflection
of light from a lake. Neither of these explanations takes into account
the pilot's claim that the phenomenon remained motionless in the clouds
as he flew by it. I have resubmitted my paper with some new information
and analysis, but I am not holding my breath. [Update to 1998: The paper
was rejected a third time when the second referee refused to understand
that the pilot flew in a straight line past the object, i.e., the sighting
angle from the plane to the object rotated to the right, like driving
past a telephone pole, whereas a reflection of the sun in a lake stays
in a constant direction relative to the flight path of the aircraft. Also,
a solar reflection in a lake as viewed from 36,000 feet, with the sun
low on the horizon, is very reddish, whereas the unidentified bright object
was very white. The paper was not published.]
Sic Transit Gloria Science.
I have tried to demonstrate how science has failed humanity in two ways
related to UFO phenomena: First, scientists have been so skeptical of
UFO phenomena that they have been willing to propose (and others to accept)
explanations which are unconvincing at best and incorrect at worst. Second,
scientists have been so skeptical that they haven't allowed publication
of the UFO data for rational, open analysis by the general community.
That is, since the "early days" scientists have participated in a self-cover-up.
Because UFO articles which argue that something truly unusual is involved
are almost always rejected by refereed journals, most of the "non-debunking"
articles that scientists see are in the news media (and in UFO organization
journals which, however, do not reach many scientists). Such treatments
are generally rather shallow and unconvincing. Furthermore, whenever there
is a sighting which attracts a lot of interest the news media give equal
weight to sighting descriptions and to explanations by "experts," even
if the explanations are ridiculous or wrong. The mere fact that explanations
are proposed leads the science community to believe that explanations
are at least possible.
A prime example or rampant explanation is the New Zealand case of December
31, 1978. Immediate explanations which were widely publicized were Venus
(no: sightings were half an hour before Venus rose), Jupiter (no: film
evidence proves it wasn't Jupiter), "unburned meteorites" suggested by
Sir Bernard Lovell (no: the duration was many minutes, not seconds), refraction
of distant lights (no: sightings angles were too far from the horizon
or else not in line with any known light sources on the horizon), lights
along the coast (no: wrong directions, not bright enough, wrong colors),
light reflected from birds (no: bird reflection would be far too dim),
and light from a squid boat (no: there was no known boat located near
the flight path of the plane and images on the film are not the same as
images of a squid boat).
Because so many explanations were offered, some scientists I talked to
had concluded that the sightings had been explained. It was only after
I spent some time describing what happened that they began to question
the accuracy of their initial impressions, From the point of view of most
scientists the controversy in the news media over any particular sighting
is unconvincing. Therefore, the subject as a whole has been perceived
as being of little scientific importance.
Given the "UFO situation" vis a vis science, it is not surprising that
I have had difficulty in getting papers published. I expect that my experience
is not unique, but others just haven't written about their attempts to
publish papers in refereed journals. Yet, as long as the self-cover-up
is in force, the science community will remain generally unaware of the
"raw deal" scientists have given the UFO subject (and UFO witnesses in
particular, since they have borne the brunt of the attack by scientists
who claim UFO sighters are "99 and 44/100 percent kooks").
Things may not be as bleak as they seem. Many of the new generation of
scientists are taking a more active interest. It seems that it will be
only a matter of time before someone stands up and says "Look, the emperor
has no clothes," at which point the ostriches will pull their heads out
of the sand and say, "Oh yeah, we knew that all along," After that science
will no longer be in default, However, it will have a lot of catching
up to do, about 40  years worth). Will that happen soon? Tune in next
year in Washington, D.C., and find out. "Forty Years is Long Enough."
[Note: the last sentence, written in 1986, refers to the (then) future
MUFON Symposium which was held in July, 1987 in Washington, DC. Oddly
enough, as I write this in 1998, I can again make the same statement ..
"tune in next year", because the 1999 MUFON conference will again be in
Washington, DC. But this time the slogan will be "Fifty Years is Too Long".]
NOTES & REFERENCES
1. Sagan, Carl, and Page, Thornton, Eds. UFOS: A SCIENTIFIC DEBATE, Ithaca,
N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1971.
2. Hall, Richard, Ed., THE UFO EVIDENCE, National Investigations·Committee
on Aerial Phenomena, l964.
3. Gillmor, Daniel S., Ed. SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS,
E.U. Condon, Project Director; Contract Study #AF44620-67-C-0035; published
by Bantam Books, NY, 1969.
4. Air Intelligence Report Number #100-203-79, "Analysis of Flying Object
Incidents in the U.S.," Directorate of~Intelligence (of the Air Force)
and Office of Naval Intelligence, 10 Dec, 1948. (Classified Top Secret
until March 1985, this appears to be a modified version of the "Estimate
of the Situation" that was described in ref. 13 by Capt. E.J. Ruppelt,
first director of Project Blue Book.)
5. Hopkins, Budd, MISSING TIME, Richard Marek Pub., NY, 1981; and "The
Evidence Supporting UFO Abduction Reports, " in the MUFON 1985 UFO Symposium
6. Maccabee, Bruce S., Ed, "Final Report on the Psychological Testing
of UFO Abductees," with Ted Bloecher, Budd Hopkins, Ronald Westrum and
Ann Slater. (Available from the Fund for UFO Research, Box 277, Mt. Rainier,
7. Hynek, J. Allen, THE UFO EXPERIENCE, Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1972.
8. Arnold, Kenneth. The information is contained within a report for the
Air Force written in early July 1947; the letter to the Air Force is in
the files of Project Blue Book.
9. Menzel, Donald, FLYING SAUCERS, Harvard University Press, 1953.
10. Menzel, Donald, and Boyd, Lyle, THE WORLD OF FLYING SAUCERS, Doubleday,
11. Menzel, Donald, and Taves, Emest, THE UFO ENIGMA: THE DEFINITIVE SOLUTION,
Doubleday, NY, 1977
12. Elterman, Louis. "Final Report of Project Twinkle," Air Force Research
Laboratory, Geophysics Research Division, Nov. 1951.Cambridge, Mass. (This
report can be found in the files of Project Blue Book. )
13. Ruppelt, Edward, THE REPORT ON UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS, Doubleday,
14. McDonald, James E., his presentation at the SYMPOSIUM ON UNIDENTIFIED
FLYING OBJECTS. Hearings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics,
House of Representatives, 90th Congress, Second Session, July 29, 1968.
15. Callahan, Philip S., and Mankin, R.W, "Insects as Unidentified Flying
Objects." Applied Optics 17, 3355 (1978).
16. Maccabee, Bruce S. "Photometric Properties of an Unidentified Bright
Object Seen Off the Coast of New Zealand." Applied Optics 18, 2527 (1979)
17. U, Kya T.P. "Insects as Unidentified Flying Objects: Comment." Applied
Optics 18, 2723 (1979).(See also "Authors Reply to Comments" in the same
18, Ireland, William, and Andrews, M. "Photometric Properties of an Unidentified
Bright Object Seen Off the Coast of New Zealand: Comments." Applied Optics
18, 3889 (1979).
19. Maccabee, Bruce S. "Photometric Properties of an Unidentified Bright
Object Seen Off the Coast of New Zealand: Author's Reply to Comments."
Applied Optics 19, 1745 (1980).
20. Lehn, William H, "On the Sighting of Distant Unidentified Objects."
J. Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics 42, 471 (1980).
(Below is the explanation of the C.B. Moore theodolite sighting as presented
by Dr. Menzel in FLYING SAUCERS (Harvard University Press, 1953, pg. 31.
In this Appendix he refers to an article in LIFE Magazine, April 7, 1952.
Anyone looking at the front cover of LIFE would have seen an alluring
mix of Marilyn Monroe, with her dress slipping off her shoulders, and
flying saucers. THERE IS A CASE FOR INTERPLANETARY SAUCERS, are the words
at the upper right of the magazine cover. Inside was a long article about
flying saucers based on sightings collected and analyzed by the Air Force.
Ten unexplained sightings were described. The third sighting was that
of C. B. Moore. Here is the description of the sighting as reported by
"...Moore (was) tracking the balloon through the theodolite - a 25 power
telescopic instrument which gives degrees of azimuth and elevation (horizontal
and vertical position) for any object it is sighted on. At 10:30 AM Moore
leaned back from the theodolite to glance at the balloon with his naked
eye. Suddenly he saw a whitish elliptical object, apparently much higher
than the balloon, and moving in the opposite direction. At once he picked
the object up in his theodolite at 45 degrees of elevation and 210 deg.
of azimuth and tracked it east at the phenomenal rate of 5 deg. of azimuth
change per second as it dropped swiftly to an elevation of 25 deg. The
object appeared to be an ellipsoid roughly two and a half times as long
as it was wide. Suddenly it swung abruptly upward and rushed out of sight
in a few seconds. Moore had tracked it for 60 seconds altogether..."
Note that the magazine report has included some salient features of the
report but missing are Moore's specific statements regarding the passage
of the balloon "through" the direction to the sun and and his statement
about the final azimuth. Hence the typical reader, with no access to Moore's
report, would not know of the large final angle between the initial and
final azimuth angles. However the astute reader could deduce that there
was a large change in azimuth from the statements that the direction changed
at a rate of 5 degrees per second and that the object was visible for
about 60 seconds. The astute reader would also deduce that the change
in angular elevation was at least 20 degrees (45 deg. to 25 deg.) However,
the failure of LIFE to completely report the available information gave
Menzel "wiggle room" to generate a theory to explain the sighting. As
you read the following keep in mind the fact that Menzel, unlike most
other people, had access to the official file on this sighting. The following
is Menzel's version of the sighting.)
One other daytime object, also reported by LIFE, relates to observations
of a mysterious occurrence on 24 April 1949. It is one of the best-authenticated
of all saucer sightings. The phenomenon apparently had been observed under
similar circumstances on several different occasions. On the day in question,
a group of technicians, during the preliminaries of launching a "skyhook"
balloon, sent up a small weather balloon in order to check the wind drift
and other meteorological factors. Charles B. Moore, Jr., was tracking
the weather balloon with a theodolite, an instrument that the surveyor
uses to measure angles around the horizon and elevations above the surface
of the earth. As Moore leaned back to check the balloon with his eye,
he suddenly noticed a white, oval object, distinct from the balloon and
very much higher. Returning to his theodolite, he obtained a magnified
view of this mysterious object. It looked like a long white sausage, and
was rapidly changing its position. It dropped at an enormous speed for
nearly a minute and then, without any warning, veered its course and sped
upward, disappearing in a matter of seconds. Moore and his colleagues
estimated that the object was 11 miles high, 100 feet long and traveling
at 7 miles a second.
This and similar sightings in no way implied the presence of some mysterious
saucer from interplanetary space, hovering curiously" around our experiments
and rushing off to report its findings to some interplanetary committee
on astronautics. Rather, it was a mirage not unlike that observed to hover
near the secret plane, though formed in somewhat different manner.
This incident, kept in the classified files for more than two years, presents
no serious difficulty to the person who understands the optics of the
earth's atmosphere. The air can, under special conditions, produce formations
similar to lenses. And, just as a burning glass can project the sun into
a point of light, so can these lenses of air, imperfect though they are,
form an image. What Moore saw was an out-of-focus and badly astigmatic
image of the balloon above. If you happen to wear fairly strong lenses
in your glasses, whether you are nearsighted or farsighted, take them
off and hold them at arm's length and try to view a distant, luminous
object like a candle, electric light, or street lamp. You will see, far
beyond the real object and at a considerable angle to it, an apparent
image of the candle itself. As you move the lens, the image will appear
to maneuver. As mentioned earlier, we here have to defer the discussion
of how lenses of air play an important role in the formation of many varieties
of flying saucers. We must remember that these lenses are crooked and
bent, and often "dirty" as well. The dirt consists of layers of dust or
fog between us and the object at which we are looking. No wonder that
sometimes we get a distorted view, and imagine that the saucers we see
The atmospheric waves that produce the shadow bands and cause stars to
twinkle are most intense at the boundary between layers of cold and warm
air. The differences of refractive index between such layers can produce
distorted images of objects seen through the wavy surface. These distortions
can, theoretically at least, be sensibly increased when a layer of cold
air lies above a warm one. A weather balloon breaking through the top
of the inversion will carry with it a bubble of hot air. The overlying
cold layer will sag into the hotter level and momentarily act like a big
lens, focusing whatever happens to be above it. Thus it may produce a
distorted image of the balloon.
This phenomenon, I believe, can explain the peculiar balloon effect reported
and previously mentioned in Chapter 3 as the mysterious sausage-shaped
saucer snooping around our balloon experiments. I understand that similar
ghosts have also accompanied some of the ascending V-2 rockets. The phenomenon
is entirely a natural one and not too complicated optically. Calculations
show that the known difference in temperature between the two layers can
produce the imaging effect.
(Dr. Menzel included an appendix to his paper where he presented the mathematical
theory of his "atmospheric bubble" explanation. He demonstrated that there
might be as much as 1/2 degree between the direction to the actual balloon
and the direction to the mirage.)
COMMENT BY THIS AUTHOR: Note in the above Menzel's references
to classified files. He had access to those files, so he knew the complete
story of the sighting. The atmospheric theory you have just read verges
on complete fraud when applied to the C. B. Moore sighting. The largest
angle between the real balloon and the mirage that one might expect from
a mirage of the type suggested by Menzel, a mirage resulting from a depression
or "dent" in an atmospheric layer, would a be small fraction of a degree,
as Menzel demonstrated in his calculation.. This is the size angle which
causes star twinkling and slight displacements in position which are so
small they can only be detected in a telescope. However, as pointed out
in the text, the measured angle between the balloon and the UFO quickly
grew to many degrees... far beyond anything allowed by Menzel's theory.
The inexperienced reader would probably would not have realized the immense
disparity between Menzel's calculated maximum angle between the balloon
and the mirage and the actual maximum angle.
Copyright 1998 by Bruce Maccabee,PhD.