Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 SSE Meeting, part two.

So, back again, for what it's worth.

As said yesterday, as sort of a delay ploy, I'm going to "present" my own SSE presentation until I receive the DVDs from a couple of the talks that you'd probably rather hear about.

My talk was titled as above. The title was suggested by Patrick Huyghe, who among many other talents was the publisher of the UFOs and Government book. Because the SSE has "scientific" in its title, Patrick thought that a look at the intelligence community's handling of their UFO problem would be interesting taken from that angle.

The talk was tougher to compose than one would think. Anything allegedly focussing on "science" can have the Devil's own time trying to define what "science" is --- this as you know has been the subject of whole shelves full of books ... AND it's usually pretty boring. I decided to put neither the audience nor myself through that torture and rather just tell them what the intel communities actually did. They then could decide for themselves whether the military acted "scientifically" or not --- plus it would be a heck of a lot more interesting.

To give the audience something practical to chew on, I "created" the Man-in-the-Street's attitude to doing Science. You can read it above; it's in good "street-talk" language, but, weirdly, isn't that bad at getting across what anyone would do in trying to solve a problem with good objectivity --- that is, acting like a "scientist". The Man-in-the-Street approach in fact follows much of what the USAF actually did, though they did it with more urgency and intensity at the beginning.

The USAF Pentagon's Intelligence function is somewhat like a split-brain. There is the Collection function, and there is the Analysis function. This is in theory ideal for "science" as collection precedes analysis in a fairly robotic manner, NOT involving jumping to conclusions, by definition. Also, almost as a social silliness, these two groups of guys don't talk much with one another, so the analysis guys don't mess up the collecting very much.

Another difference is that the Collections group actually talks to real people like UFO witnesses, while the analytical boys mostly only talk to themselves in splendid isolation from the real world of actual human experience. This helped, I believe, create the striking gap between how the early Collections people and the early Analysis people felt about the flying disks.

When the disk wave hit the US in the summer of 1947, this was viewed as a potentially VERY serious issue. Anyone scoffing at that assessment is, well, there's no way to politely say it, a naive fool. This is because an apparent unidentified object of ANY kind flying over the country is exactly one thing to the intelligence community: a Violation of American Airspace --- that is, a potential National Security issue.

And the 1947 Wave was handled precisely like that. The top man, the Chief of USAF collections [Colonel Robert Taylor] was rightfully alarmed and placed his top assistant [Lt. Colonel George Garrett] on the job AS HIS SOLE RESPONSIBILITY. The FBI's permanent liaison to the Air Force [S L Reynolds] joined Garrett to attack this. As cases came in, Garrett selected the best 14 [later 16] and did what a scientist would do: looked for a preliminary pattern.

He found one.

The above is one of four USAF documents that we have from between August of 1947 and the end of the year describing this same pattern of the flying disks. George Garrett wrote this one and Taylor signed it. This was being sent to USAF Research and Development office. It was part of a whole flurry of inquiries sent out by Taylor and Assistant Director of Intelligence General George Shulgen to all military and military-industrial research programs trying to solve the problem of the disks by linking them to a current top secret US research project.

All of these inquiries, within and without the Air Force came back empty: we have nothing that looks or flies like that. Note that the Air Force was still behaving pretty scientifically here: They had a problem of interest; they tried to get a pattern; they didn't jump to a solution. In fact, three hypotheses naturally arose: Something's wrong and these things aren't real; they're ours; and they're a product of the Soviets getting some Nazi aerotech genius and an unexpected breakthrough. As a last ditch attempt, the Pentagon sent these same characteristics to their top technical boys at Wright-Patterson AFBs Intelligence and Engineering Divisions. Chief of Intelligence Colonel Howard "Mack" McCoy convened a heavyweight board composed of many of the Engineering lab directors plus several of his own intel guys to study the thing. Their best answer: you guys are right --- there's something flying around. But it's not ours.

The Pentagon was now getting seriously worried. FBI agents were now, by the way, transiting the country looking into certain types of reports to see if there could be Soviet mischief behind them. The USAF did the next proper "scientific" thing: they established a more focussed and more empowered way to collect information and analyze it. And they did it at the location where they have the most technological expertise. They establish Project SIGN at Wright-Pat. The new USAF Director of Intelligence, General Charles Cabell [lower right above], took a special interest, and the top Air Force expert on "low-aspect", i.e, thin-disk, aerial design, Alfred Loedding [above lower left with his patented disk plane] was assigned as technical major project consultant.

The potential for SIGN was huge. SIGN had three top engineers directly involved [Loedding, Albert Deyarmond, a personal close friend of Mack McCoy, and Lawrence Truettner, a missile expert]. Never after was the USAF UFO project so potent with expertise. SIGN also had complete freedom to call on any of the other facilities at Wright-Pat, including things like their own photo analysis lab and the many
engineering geniuses and labs on the air research side. One might also remember that more ex-German "paperclip" technologists were at Wright-Pat post-WWII than anywhere else, and McCoy knew where ALL of them were anywhere in the country. Finally, if SIGN wanted to tap consultants, resources like the Air Force's RAND Institute were available as well.

So they got to work.

SIGN was aided in this by the JANAPs. These were Joint Army Navy Air Force Publications. Coming with the power of the Chiefs of Staff, they demanded certain information transfers and other cooperations between the services. One JANAP ruled the transfer of information to the Air Force ASAP on any unusual or security issue involving happenings in the air, among a few other categories. Flying Disks fell into this purview and so the USAF became the destination for many reports from bases worldwide. These reports were [usually] sent promptly along to SIGN.

As reports came in, the SIGN engineers began sensing a problem and an unthinkable solution. The credentials of the witnesses [mainly military personnel early on] appeared to eliminate the "there's no such thing" type of hypothesis --- although many of the reports were mistakes by the witnesses a large number were not. And the things also began looking markedly beyond our own aerotech capability. Because the SIGN engineers couldn't believe that the Soviets had somehow gotten this lucky with breakthroughs, they were stymied. No one on Earth seemed to be capable of this. This astounding idea was becoming entrenched in their thinking as early as the spring of 1948.

Another thing already in their thinking was a principle of theoretical flight taught to all aerotech engineers of that era: the Prandtl Theory of Lift. This was the mathematical idea of Ludwig Prandtl, a German technical genius prior to the WWII era. It stated that an apparently non-flightworthy design [say a disk or a fat cigar] might fly afterall. The main thing that it needed was a very forceful powerplant/engine.

Then, in mid-summer 1948, came the Chiles-Whitted encounter. The witnesses were judged impeccable, Clarence Chiles particularly being cited as one of the sharpest pilots around. The details that they gave to SIGN seemed to indicate a certain size and maneuverability which placed it in the "impossible" category. BUT could an engine like a nuclear powerplant be strong enough?

SIGN calculated that something like that could allow it. We had established a Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft [NEPA] project at Oak Ridge, but although it looked promising, we were years away from powering actual planes. The Soviets were getting good at making bombs, but far behind us [to our knowledge] at controlling that power. SIGN's conclusion, their "Estimate of the Situation", was that the disks and cigar-shaped fuselages were physically real, but the products of extraterrestrial technology. {{The part of this which applies known information [The Prandtl Theory of Lift] to an unknown situation to make a conclusion is called "scientific deduction" and is another step in the classic method, just to give our boys a little more credit.}}

 Some people have doubted that such an Estimate was ever written. But it was and both Captain Edward Ruppelt and Major Dewey Fournet saw a copy of it at the Pentagon in 1952. I've just posted the later USAF admission of this above.

In order to make their mindboggling estimate seem more rational, SIGN asked USAF Scientific Advisory Board member, George Valley of Princeton, and RAND's ace engineer, James Lipp, for essay reviews on the questions of whether science felt that it was likely that intelligent life existed elsewhere than on Earth, and whether it was a feasible idea that constructing an interplanetary spacecraft was possible. Neither Valley nor Lipp wrote that they believed that UFOs were manned by ETI, but both reviews spoke optimistically about the questions they were asked.

With this added empowerment, SIGN went to the Pentagon with its ideas.

At the Pentagon, Director of Intelligence Cabell was completely flummoxed. Some of his top underlings, such as Colonel Edward Porter and Brig General Mickey Moore, thought that the idea was laughable. Chief of Staff Vandenberg, however, was not at all amused. Cabell, Porter et al ordered Major Jere Boggs of the Defensive Air branch of the Analysis division to construct a counter-Estimate to SIGN's.

SIGN was ordered to DC to defend itself. My guess is that "everyone" was there in a secret room at the National Bureau of Standards where the shootout occurred. We know only the two names of the combatant-presenters: Boggs and Project director of SIGN, Captain Robert Sneider. It is almost inconceivable that people like McCoy, Loedding, Deyarmond, Truettner, Porter, Moore, Cabell, Naval Intelligence, Taylor, Garrett, the FBI, and perhaps even Vandenberg himself were not in attendance.

The bloodletting was severe. SIGN was blasted by the Pentagon higher-ups. SIGN was even required to send reports to George Valley and ONI as well as Boggs from then on --- it was a woodshedding probably unimaginable in their worst dreams. The Pentagon was saying the equivalent of: you boys need adult supervision.

The SIGN group did not last long after that. Within a few months it was entirely broken up and dissipated from Colonel McCoy right down to Robert Sneider. Al Loedding said that his reputation in DC had never been lower. This "moment" forever destroyed the only real "energy" and intensity that the Air Force ever allowed its UFO project to have.

One is tempted to say that it served them right, but the abolishment of SIGN left General Cabell with a big problem. The Pentagon may not have been able to swallow extraterrestrials but that didn't stop the UFOs from continuing to appear. In the letter above, General Cabell, writing immediately after the bloodbath meeting, acknowledges that we still have a problem and a duty to try to collect information and solve this invasion of airspace concern. Cabell wasn't as close-minded as Porter or Moore, but he was simply flummoxed by the whole issue [this is, in my mind, a completely understandable and appropriate position to have at the time].

So, he is suggesting that we stay vigilant an on the ball. The victorious counter-Estimate written by Major Boggs, afterall, said that the devices were real and could well be Soviet technology.

Too bad no one else was behaving that way either at the Pentagon or at the "new" situation at Wright-Pat.

Cabell felt, and so did several others, that there was still a reasonable concern that the UFOs were the products of a combination of Nazi aerotech genius [see the Horten Brothers design top left] and Soviet ambitions. Others were beginning to think that some lesser aerotech development by the Soviets might be employed towards psychological warfare ends, scaring the hell out of the American public, making them and other countries doubt US superiority, and creating false reports by our own bases, resulting in reporting hesitation in the future of a real strike. Cabell was concerned but couldn't figure out how to hit the right tone.

There probably wasn't one. Just at that time, a physicist from Illinois, Louis Ridenour, writing for RAND in a Top Secret capacity, essentially "proved" that the pursuit of a lifting technology for an orbiting satellite was the same thing as developing an ICBM, and, with supergenius John von Neumann mathematically demonstrating that even the Hydrogen Bomb would be miniaturize-able so as to fit into one of those missiles, that this meant that essentially indefensible nuclear-tipped ICBMs were on the horizon. This "insight" terrorized basically everybody in the military. SuperHawks like Curtis LeMay and Bernard Schriever disagreed about what to do about this, but both believed that producing a nuclear arsenal which could devastate the entirety of the Soviet Union was the way to go. The corollary to this was simple: ANY DOLLAR OR PERSONNEL SPENT ON ANYTHING BUT THIS WAS TANTAMOUNT TO SUICIDE AND TREASON.

That was not stated as "official policy", but with the Hawks raging, it was the atmosphere in which everything else was judged. The thought that somehow looking into UFO mysteries would get serious empowerment was viewed at best as a bad joke.

Thus entered in the period of widespread mockery of UFOs to the public, and raw hostility in many areas within the service. {This is the end of the first half of my presentation, and I'll get to the rest of it in another couple of days}.

.... hope you're not too bored.

Blessings for the next days on the path.


  1. My dear professor, because the great distance from OZ to Michigan & the cost of trying to attend, I very much appreciate your posts here to illuminate the contents of the SSE "Unsettled Science" series on UFOs for one who was not able to attend. Many thanks for going to the trouble of doing so. Best wishes, Bill

  2. This is such an interesting topic. The Cabell letter, point number 2 really hits home. I especially like how you put the mood of the country during that time in the paper so you can imagine how it was then.



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