Category 11 Case Directory
Rating: 5  


AVCAT is a special project being conducted by NICAP, with the help and cooperation of the original compiler of AIRCAT, Dr. Richard Haines, and other sources, to create a comprehensive listing of sightings from aircraft with detailed documentation from these sources, including Projects SIGN, GRUDGE & BLUE BOOK.

The Bethune Encounter
February 9, 1951
Off Newfoundland, Canada

9:55 pm local
Duration Sev mins
aircraft R5D Navy C54
Newfoundland, Canada
6-7+ observers
Possible radar contact

Posted 3 June 2009, updated: 22 March 2016
Fran Ridge:

Feb. 9, 1951; Off Newfoundland, Canada
(0055 Zulu is Feb. 10th) 9:55 pm local (Feb. 9).  A four engine Navy R5D transport was flying west over the Atlantic. On this trip the pilots and navigators were bringing two flight crews home from special duty in Europe. Including his own crew there were over twenty-five pilots, navigators and flight engineers aboard the transport.  Bright indefinite object first sighted near ocean surface at 060 relative, then became a ring which had a close encounter with the transport. Object now circular estimated at in excess of 400' diameter, then turned and disappeared over horizon on course 290 at tremendous speed. The  National Archives turned up a number of supporting documents on this case, including Air Intelligence Information Reports by five of the crew members. Although it isn't documented, reports indicate the object was tracked by ground radar. Publicly, the Air Force made several attempts to explain the sighting as the aurora borealis (northern lights) or the Moon, but behind the scenes the encounter was; being taken very seriously. The number and quality of UFO sightings in the region in 1950 prompted the government of Iceland to request military aid from the United States. Apparently what we know today as UFOs were interpreted as experimental Soviet bombers. After 50 years of waiting, no craft with this discription or performance has shown up in any Earthly inventory, Russion or American. This event, and others like it, prompted the development of the Air Defense Command. (James McDonald's letter to NICAP shows William D. Bridge was the weather navigator on that flight and mentioned another witness named Abrams. Another witness was Fred Kingdon who says Bethune was a co-pilot on his flight and that the AF investigation team at Argentia classified the incident as Top Secret. Finally, the final testimony of Graham Bethune was written by Robert Durant and is presented below in a doc file.) Major Donald Keyhoe had learned of this hidden report in 1959. Admiral Delmer S. Fahrney, former Navy guided missile chief (whom he had known for years) told him that Captain James Taylor, USN, Ret., had an important UFO sighting made by a naval pilot and his crew. That night Taylor gave him the report.

NARCAP report mentions Bethune's comment:
"I glanced up to note our magnetic heading, and saw that the compass was rocking back and forth. This is most unusual. I mentioned it to Lt Kingdon, and he said, 'You should have seen it when the object was close. The compass was spinning'. We looked at our radio direction finders, which are essentially low frequency radio receivers. A ground station is tuned in, and needles point to the relative bearing of the radio transmitter. The needles were jumping all over the place. We had another compass system which used magnetic compasses located near the wing tips. That was spinning. Finally, we had a vacuum-driven compass system. Alone among our direction finding instrument, this was steady, and we used it to calibrate the autopilot." (See case 11*)

Detailed reports and documents
The Moon during the Bethune Incident (Joel Carpenter)
NICAP A-Team T-3 Source Test & Case Analysis (Fran Ridge)
Map produced 14 May 2009 (Joel Carpenter)
UFOs and the Cold war: 1951 (Dan Wilson) (NARCAP *) (NARCAP *)

Re-Opening the Bethune Case - Investigation Activity Log (Fran Ridge)
NARA-PBB89-420, Naval Message
January - February 1951 Sightings in pdf (Blue Book document)
Tentative Feelings (Michael swords - 2009)
The Writings of Loren Gross on the Bethune Case (Mike Swords)
CASEBOOK - Feb. 8, 1951, N.Atlantic - NICAP UFOI - Sept 1970 & Oct. 1970 (pdf file)
The Bethune Case (Dan Wilson File)
The NICAP Files - Part 1 (Submitted by Jan Aldrich)
The NICAP Files - Part 2 (Submitted by Jan Alsrich)
The NICAP Files - Part 3 (Submitted by Jan Aldrich)
Blue Book Documents and Transcripts
Letter to Stuart Nixon from McDonald concerning William Bridge
May 23, 2009 email message from Robert Durant confirming he wrote the Final Text report below
The Final Text - Graham Bethune & Robert Durant (doc file)
The Original Story [Dates & Names Changed] (Maj. Donald Keyhoe)
Update on Case - The Question of Radar (Robert Durant)

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