Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Peeking at Ivan's Files: survey notes.

Hello, folks. Since I'm in Kalamazoo at the moment, and have had a little chance to work at "pushing boxes" from the SITU files, I thought that it would be worth a brief report. John Reed, Will Matthews and I have now at least peered into every box. Some of these things are rapidly "understandable", and some of them are going to take page-by-page turning to rationalize their contents, make files, and even save roughed up old paper from the recycle bin. The main thing about the "collection" is the massive library involved. By library I mean books and journals. This is probably a factor of ten larger than I would have expected. That's a good thing of course, but it means that the "files" are a bit less than expected, at least as far as I can tell at this moment. Saying that, however, needs some amendation, as Ivan's own three-ring notebook files seem to be here pretty much en masse. The "deficit", I think, may turn out to be from the Bob Warth era, which was almost the last guess that I would have made.

Regarding Ivan's files, which are certainly the core and gem of the collection: it is not easy to precisely count [ex. there are a few instances where it looks like we have a hole-punched pile of things which have "lost" their notebook], but my count is 302 "books".

The bulk of these have science supertitles ["Biology", "Geology", "Cultural Anthropology"] and contain whatever Ivan was interested in saving that he thought might apply to odd events/sightings. These number 63, 28, and 30 notebooks respectively. Within them are often materials which you or I would see as directly related to certain anomalous claims [ex. the stuff related to possible existence of dinosaurs currently is in a science notebook not a "monster" one.]
"Monsters" however DO show prominently. There are about twenty notebooks on miscellaneous "monsters", mostly water-dwellers. But the "ABSMs" dominate both the numbers and Ivan's interest, as books labelled so number 33. UFOs get 31 notebooks. Things associated with other sciences get 18. Miscellaneous anomalies [ex. Falls; Psi], get 31. There are 8 bibliographic notebooks, and 41 where Ivan collected certain journals, largely UFO newsletters. This numbers slightly over 300 notebooks or seventy-five-and-a-half-feet of linear shelf space. The anomalies research community can breathe a happy sigh of relief about that.

Now since you've been so nice to read all this "pragmatic" informational report, I'll toss in an example of a "neat thing" that one occasionally finds in the files. This is the picture of the "giant Congo snake" allegedly taken from the air by a bush pilot around 1960-2. Somehow a good "original" got into Charles Hapgood's and then Ivan's hands, and they were sending it to someone to try to make a competent estimate on how big the thing really was. The pilot had said "200 feet". Hapgood's letter to "Captain Burroughs" is included below for your interest. I'll get back on other SITUations as I can.


  1. Crikey! A '200 foot' snake would be a critter to dwarf its prehistoric ancestors by some 150 feet. Perhaps the pilot had flown right past the Congo and beyond the point where even the good folk of Proctor fear to tread?

    The image has surfaced on a few websites over the years with different provenances. It's usually attributed to 1959 and taken by Col. Remy Van Lierde from a helicopter. The Colonel has a wiki page that touches upon the account.

    I wonder if the creature met a natural death and nature took care of the remains? If any of the bones turn up, it would be amongst the largest snakes to have lived.

  2. How could a snake 200-feet long move? There is a biological 'limit' to size and locomotion for land animals. Even so, one of my all-time favorite big snake photos. Thanks for posting the interesting correspondence.



  3. Yep, pretty spectacular claim ... but no real proof. The size is somewhat dependent upon whether we can buy that some of that vegetation in the upper right side consists of trees. If just bushes, then .... Also, after I posted, I stumbled across the original picture that Ivan had --- it's very small so I'll not re-post. But on the reverse it had: "POUMINA ~60 miles NNW of Kamina (Belgian Congo) August 1959. "

  4. Having those original SITU files is exciting. I am having much the same glee going through the Project Blue Book files at www.footnote.com .
    I focus on the CIRVIS, MERINT, and radar reports and find some musings are boiling to the surface. This comes from my background in special communi-
    cations, and noting the segregation of report analysis into two entities, the Project Blue Book staff and various units of the Air Intelligence Service Squadrons.

    Terry W. Colvin

  5. A colleague of mine, Jan Aldrich, has been pointing to the importance of the CIRVIS/MERINT "system" of aerial anomaly reporting for some time. The key question is: did the major anomalistic stuff go through CIRVIS/MERINT to BlueBook or did very important incidents "take a left hand turn" and end up out of our current sight??

  6. Jan Aldrich used to post to the UFO UpDates list. The CIRVIS/MERINT as well as the radar and radar/visual reports are the more interesting. It seems that around 1955, the Project Blue Book (PBB) staff were allowed to continue evaluations and did publish a monthly listing of reports. The 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron detachments did the same to include evaluation of early reports generated by the CIA in Europe. I have seen only one 4602nd AISS monthly report in the PBB files. This is in my opinion the ''take a left hand turn'' where the more unusual and less explainable reports were analyzed and evaluated. My background in the late 1970s and early 1980s was in special communications, working at SHD NAPLES, SSO HUACHUCA, and SSO PANAMA. This is a compartmented intelligence handling system. The PBB began to use this arrangement in the mid-1950s. I saw PLADs (Plain Language Addresses) that reflected this system in the front channel message addressing.
    Recently on the Forteana list I forwarded several radar reports. If there is interest I can provide these to the blog. I am new to the blog format. My trawling in the PBB files is partly due to participation on a communi-
    cations center mailing list, CC-1, which runs several virtual teletype circuits. We discuss the older tape relay and store and forward message switching systems that predated the current NIPRNET/SIPRNET/??? packet switching systems. Again, your blog is phenomenal in the number of topics discussed. Best wishes from Florida. My wife and I will return to our home in Thailand on 10 July. Terry



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