Friday, April 16, 2010

Flying Saucer Review Volume 6: The Phenomenon.

1960 was generally a dud year for UFOs around the world and it was one of those years when, if it were not for activists like Keyhoe/NICAP, the subject might have drifted so far beneath the media's interest to have been seriously deflated. FSR reported 80 cases. 43 were "objects", and 11 were "lights". Adding four CE1s to that and you have 58 "safe" Keyhoe/NICAP like cases or 72 1/2%. There were seven picture cases. [none particularly astounding as reported, except for one--to be mentioned later]. There were four CE3s, including the Old Saybrook case reported on earlier in this blog. There were four CE2s: an alleged crash in Canada, an engine-stopper, the to-be-famous Ubatuba magnesium fall, and the mind-boggling Fort Itaipu, Brazil assault. There were three "traces" [without, however, UFOs seen]. There was a mysterious explosion, a Transient Lunar Phenomenon [crater Aristarchus], a lump of "star-jelly" found, and a "displacement" of an auto many miles away [where else but South America?] For me, two of these incidents are powerful and, in their ways, "debate-enders", as to whether we are having encounters with true aerial anomalies. These two are the well-known Red Bluff [CA] Giant Football, and the lesser known Grumman "unknown satellite" filming.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Red Bluff Football showed up on the evening of August13/14, 1960. Two California Highway Patrol officers saw what they thought was an airplane in trouble. The thing then abruptly stopped dead still on its descent. It shot back up 600 feet and hovered. It was glowing and looked like a 150 foot long football. It occasionally put on shows of non-inertial motions with very erratic changes of direction and speed. It seemed to be metallic under the glow and had big light beams at each end. It seemed to be playing cat-and-mouse with the police as when they approached, it moved away, but when they stopped it approached. At greater distances, many other policemen and citizens witnessed the thing. There was a confirmed-then-denied mention of radar tracking. The patrolmen had fairly constant static on their radios. Finally the beast moved high in the sky and joined another of its kind. Beams seemed to flash between them and they sailed to the horizon. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Debunkers within the USAF and without have been driven-to-stupidity trying to explain this one away. For a change, Allen Hynek in his debunking stage does not seem to have been involved with such travesties of reason, as he was intensely involved with satellite tracking and wasn't on task much at Blue Book. But that didn't stop BB from offering foolish astronomical "explanations". They decided that the patrolmen had seen two stars [red ones] under amazing atmospheric conditions [flying around at a few hundred feet looking like a 150 foot long football with beams at both ends]. Yep. That's it, alright. NICAP got Walt Webb to look at this brilliance, and on top of the mere fact of its absurdity, Walt found that the stars charged with the offense were not even above the horizon. Blue Book heard of Webb's analysis and quickly changed their explanation to Mars [ah, yes, Red] which was split apart for the two ends apparently, and the white-blue star Capella [for the middle?] The fact that Capella wasn't in that area of the sky did not deter them from their duty to explain. Later Donald Menzel showed his equally brain-dead approach to UFOs by returning to a variation of the first USAF story, with the same "inadequate" relationship to any of the facts of the case. Red Bluff stands un-dented by the debunkers, and a monument to their shame when one reads the crap that they were willing to print about it. By the way, a little-featured part of the case was the high-strangeness element of the big beams seeming to have "ends" on them, in violation of normal light behavior.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Below, I've appended Jim McDonald's views on the case from his talk to Congressman Roush's committee many years later. Of course the majority of the information above was not known to FSR at the time.

The second Debate-Ender occurred because many people were interested in the new satellites which had been launched, and lots of folks were watching the skies. Many reports came in from civilians who said that they saw unscheduled "companions" to the ECHO satellite and some even photographed them. Project Moonwatch HQ'd out of Harvard's Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory collected these civilian reports as well as many similar ones from their Moonwatch teams. In the midst of this swath of what can only be called UFO cases came a report with film evidence of such an object from a very professional organization indeed: the Grumman Aircraft tracking station at Bethpage Long Island [NY]. I wish that I could show you the film still, but I can't find it on the internet, and my copy is back home in files. It doesn't show much [just a dashed line-of-flight signal on the Grumman film] but it is nice to see the thing itself with ones own eyes. Grumman sent this film to the USAF from where it ultimately got to others [including Hynek, where I saw it in his files]. Grumman was very serious about trying to continue surveillance for the thing to attempt to plot an orbit. Of course it did not cooperate and we still don't know what it was. This film and the couple dozen other interesting civilian and Moonwatch cases of that time create a pile with an anchor which is essentially not explainable by conventional rationalizations. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There were other cases which could be productively mentioned. One was the December 22, 1959 incident at Oakdale [CA]. Here a 28-year old male was walking near midnight when a bowl-shaped object came out of the clouds in his direction. It was bright orange. It hovered 20 feet above the road and stood there for two minutes. This shook him up and he was relieved when it took back off. Continuing on his walk, the thing appeared again about an hour later though not so near. What makes this a good case is that he gave the story to reporters who put it in the paper. In response, two adult women [making three independent observers in different locations] wrote in [separately] to say that they had seen the same object at the appropriate time frame. This is a solid and forgotten incident of one of those big ["extended right across the road"] orange domes that if the man had been driving might have stopped his car.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I suppose that I should mention the Fort Itaipu encounter [illustrated on the left], although I really don't know what to make of it. This story came to FSR through APRO from Brazilian researcher Olavo Fontes. I have a small discomfort zone about Fontes. The three great Rio UFO researchers [Simoes, Perriera, Faria] knew Fontes well and liked him. I believe that they felt that he was an honest man. But they thought that he was a bit "enthusiastic" about his research. Just due to that, I take Fontes' cases with more discretion than some others. Ft.Itaipu is one such instance. ----------------------------------------------------------It dates to November 4, 1957. Two sentries are on duty late at night when the heavens manifest a brilliant orange "star" which grows in size as it speeds towards them. The object stops directly overhead, and is a great disk humming lowly. The hum increases and the sentries are hit with a terrific heat blast which seems to affect their clothes more than the direct skin [still the skin beneath the clothes warms terribly, ultimately producing severe burns.] The sentries are screaming in pain and the rest of the garrison wakes up. They remain totally confused as nothing works--no lights, no communications, no power at all. This goes on for about three minutes, and the first men outside see an orange object high in the sky moving away. All the alarm clocks have begun to ring at the same time [2:03am]. The sentries are located and given what aid they could, and soon sent to hospital, where they were held incommunicado. US military officers came to the Fort and participated in interviews. Fontes heard about the case from a military friend on the condition of anonymity [this is quite possible, as there were Brazilian officers high up who would talk to the Rio guys often]. Fontes said that he could not use his medical doctor status to get entry to the hospital, but did find out that the burns were severe and over about 10% of the bodies. Later he said that he got confirmation of the affair from three other personnel. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------This incident could have happened. If so, it would be a very rare incident of severe damage to a witness. Almost all cases of such seem to me to have been "accidents" rather than deliberate attacks [i.e. "side-effects" of the UFO energies]. So, I look at all these sorts of claims carefully, as if they break a strong pattern, then I have reason to be careful. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My last case is just for fun. Here we are in Jerry Clark and Eddie Bullard country as the tale is of a good olde fashioned airship, but in Wales of 1909. The witness here is Mr. C. Lethbridge of Cardiff, a dockworker, who in summertime carted about a Punch-&-Judy show through the mountain villages. He was walking his cart home over the Caerphilly Mountain at 11pm, "when turning the bend at the summit, I was surprised to see a long tube-shaped affair lying on the grass with two men busily engaged with something nearby. They attracted my attention because of their peculiar get-up. They appeared to have big, heavy fur coats, and fur caps fitted tightly over their heads. I was rather frightened, but continued to go on until I was within 20 yards of them. The noise of my little spring cart seemed to attract them, and when they saw me they jumped up and jabbered furiously in a strange lingo [Lethbridge thought it may have been Welsh, which he did not know]....The long thing on the ground rose up slowly--I was standing still quite amazed--and when it was hanging a few feet off the ground the men jumped into a kind of little carriage suspended from it and gradually the whole affair and the men rose into the air in a zig-zag fashion. When they had cleared the telegraph wires that pass over the mountain, two lights, like electric lamps, shone out, and the thing went higher into the air and sailed away across Cardiff." Supposedly people found torn newsprint at the site, papier mache, and a "red label" in French. Shortly a wave of airship reports broke out around Cardiff and elsewhere in Wales and across to Dublin. Well, old but great fun. I don't believe that Jerry thinks too highly of the airships any more and I'm pretty sure that Eddie does even less. But I'm holding out a little hope for a few. And THIS one occurred in Caerphilly in Glamorgan. Who cares? Well, the royalty of Fairyland might. Their legendary home site was the Valley of Glamorgan, just right about there. Hah! Take that all you doubters!


  1. Hey, Mike,

    Seeing my views characterized in the last paragraph of this (as always) interesting post, I feel I must rush to clarify.

    Having spent much of this past decade unearthing 19th and early 20th airship reports from the period press, I have finally managed understanding, or what I perhaps foolishly hope is such. This understanding, outlined in the address I gave to the SSE in 2008 and later the subject of an essay in Fortean Times, is predicated on my conviction that airship phenomena were extraordinarily anomalous but were not part of the UFO phenomenon as we understand it.

    Nor, of course, were they the secret creations of a small army of inventors who, in line with conspiracy theories everywhere, yet remain hidden and forever inaccessible. Even so, some of the stories of ostensibly American airship crews were almost certainly true, at least in the experiential sense. I concluded as much after an investigation focused on the Beaumont, Texas, landing-encounter report of April 19, 1897. The details await in a hefty chapter in my forthcoming book, to be unleashed on an uncomprehending world on June 1. Watch your mail, my friend.

  2. Welcome as always, Jerry. As it was, my wording in my post was something that I thought a long bit about, and decided to be a trickster myself in hopes that you would say something exactly as you did. You and I are very close on these things, as you know, but I thought that it would be far more appropriate if i stayed enigmatic on your thought and let you say it from a point of "authority", i.e. yourself. We really should get Eddie somewhere, sometime, to have a congenial free-for-all on this stuff. And regarding your upcoming book, I await it as much as I await the UFO history book that I'm participating in. I don't believe that we'll save the world from darkness, my friend, but we'll cast some light.

  3. RE: Red Bluff - I'm struck by the way the 'football' behaved almost like a wild animal, distancing itself whenever the coppers tried to get closer; coming closer when they stayed still - I wonder what'd've happened if they'd've laid down a trail of breadcrumbs or pork scratchings...

    I'm also struck, Prof, by the "big beams" seeming to have "ends" to them, by which I take it you mean unlike normal beams of light they were discontinuous, almost as if they were obeying the physics of some other realm, (or as our arms or legs, say, might appear if viewed by a creature only capable of perceiving us as skeins of energy waves rather than solid assemblages of molecular matter).

    Above all I'm struck by the recurring theme of red: the UFO's red beams, the rotating red patrol car light that at first scared off the 'football', and the red faces of the guys who fished all those red celestial objects out of thin air by way of explanation.

    I thought scientists were supposed to verify everything - the least they could've done was check they were actually in the sky that night.

    Prof, maybe you should've subtitled this particular part of your 'assay':


  4. Prof: "This film and the couple dozen other interesting civilian and Moonwatch cases of that time create a pile with an anchor which is essentially not explainable by conventional rationalizations."

    Very useful things, anchors.

  5. Prof, RE Itaipu: "This incident could have happened. If so, it would be a very rare incident of severe damage to a witness."

    Prof, I think your instincts to be wary of this case but not lightly chuck it aside may be justified.

    Periodically, throughout my life - in fact I'm experiencing a mild version of it now while I write, (although I've also been experiencing it for the last two weeks or so, in fact, plus an accompanying whole world of fun) - I've been prone to what I sometimes call 'Napalm'.

    It usually heralds or accompanies lots of other wild happenings and can take an internal form where my blood feels like its boiling in my veins or on fire; there's also the 'Alien' version of where it seems to solidify and sort of try to bash its way out through my chest like a solid steel 'Alien'-like 'animal'.

    The two worst phases I've had of it were in my late teens when my skin seemed to burn like it was coated with invisible napalm, leaving me looking like a boiled lobster, usually for as little as half an hour, sometimes for much, much longer periods. In fact that period it got so bad without my doctors being able to devise a medical explanation that I asked to see a psychiatrist who, when I started describing to him all the attendant symptoms such as visual distortions, (things nearby appearing miles away, wide things narrowing, short things stretching off into infinity, etc., etc., etc.), he became very aggressive and dismissive, sneering over and over in his broad Northern tones, "Never 'eard of i'! Never 'eard of i'!" which may in fact've been some experimental psychiatrical protocol of the period, but it sure as hell didn't do anything for me.

    The next worst phase was in early 2001, when I became so hot I literally felt like I was about to burst into flames, while all the time this sort of inner huge 'solid steel' animal-like force tried to battering ram its way out through my chest, alarming various family members present and forcing me to agree to emergency services being called in case THIS time it really WAS a heart attack.

    Ah, but then I remembered my physics, and realising a region of high energy will move towards a region of lower energy, I crawled to the fridge and covered myself all over with everything frozen in it.

    By the time the hospital people finally arrived one of them joked they didn't know whether to put me in the ambulance or have a barbecue!

    My own suspicion's this 'burning' business's akin to the Hindu notion of Kundalini - whatever that might actually be - but of which it's said when it 'arises' all manner of 'special effects' also occur.

    Might it not be possible then the reverse may also be true: a special effect - i.e., a brilliant orange "star" increasing its humming - may cause Kundalini to 'arise', hence the burning?

    Just a thought.

  6. Honestly, no, I don't think that these ideas relate to any of this. If you think that you are in real discomfort and have had a heart attack, I suggest that you quit self-diagnosing and find some equivalent to our Mayo Clinic and take their advice rather than crawling into refrigerators [I am not being "funny". I would like you to quit going on about all this personal stuff that has little to do with this blog] and then telling all the rest of us about your difficulties. I cannot relate to your claims and feel that probably no one else can either. Obviously you think that they are very pertinent, but you are not taking into account that for the rest of us, this is just personal claiming without any evidential support. Being a kind and open-minded person, I have let these things escalate, but would now request that you restrict any "just-a-thoughts" to things on topic that might [with brevity to the point] give the rest of us something that the rest of us might find believable and at least somewhat objective. "Just-a-thoughts" are somethings that anyone can casually type up with no effort as everyone has a stream of consciousness. We need more than that.



Blog Archive