ELECTRO-MAGNETIC EFFECTS ASSOCIATED
WITH UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS
Washington D. C., NICAP Subcommittee
During October and November, 1957, a new rash of unidentified flying objects (UFO) reports broke out in the United States and other countries. The frequency of the reports was so great that the stories were widely reported on the newswires, making headlines around the country. In the United States the reports seemed to be concentrated in the Southwest and Midwest. A feature of these sightings was that, in case after case, automobiles were reported to have stalled in the presence of the UFOs. Other "electromagnetic" effects (E-M), such as the failure of lights, also were reported.
The former Chief of the Air Force UFO Investigation, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, asked to comment on the 1957 reports, stated: "During my tenure with Project Blue Book we had reports of radiation and induction fields in connection with UFOs, however the information was sketchy and we were never able to pin it down." Ruppelt characterized the 1957 electromagnetic cases as "a whole new dimension to the UFO investigation."
On November 9, 1957, while these reports were still being made, the following was put on the Associated Press newswires:
Washington, Nov. 9 (AP)--A device capable of disrupting the operation of motor vehicles or other mechanical equipment is one of the things the Armed Forces would like to see developed. But Leonard Hardland, Chief Engineer of the National Inventors Council, said today in response to an inquiry that he does not know of any research in this country aimed at producing a device that could stall automobiles or cause radios to fade.
Such happenings have been reported in the last several days in the Southwest in connection with the reported sighting of a mysterious object in the skies.
Since 1947 similar E-M effects have occurred in the presence of UFOs in at least the following countries: France, England, Italy, Norway, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Canada, and Australia. Also in the new states of Hawaii and Alaska. The implication of these reports is that, whatever UFOs may be, they appear to affect electrical circuits under certain conditions. There is no absolute proof, but the repeated association of this effect with plainly visible unidentifiable aerial objects can leave little doubt that it is valid to say the UFOs caused the effects. Any other interpretation would imply a chain of coincidences of such magnitude that it would be more incredible than accepting the fact of car-stalling UFOs.
The purpose of this report is to explore this one aspect of the UFO mystery: Electromagnetic effects which occurred at the same time a UFO was seen. The study was undertaken by a Subcommittee of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), which obtained help from many sources during the course of its investigation. We are grateful to Mr. C. W. Fitch, Cleveland, Ohio, for a detailed report submitted to us, portions of which have been incorporated into this report. The study would not have been possible without the data uncovered by serious investigators and UFO organizations in the past several years, including: Aime Michel, France; J. Escobar Faria, Brazil; A. P. R. O., New Mexico; C. S. I., New York; and Max B. Miller, California.
The Subcommittee convened for the first time on July 30, 1959. Not having a uniform body of data, our first task was to assemble as many reports of E-M effects as possible. This required a search of the UFO literature, cross checking of sources, and verification of the factual accuracy of news reports whenever possible. The Subcommittee sought first-hand testimony in important cases. However, probably due to the controversial nature of the subject, it was not often possible to obtain the full cooperation of witnesses.
From the resulting chronology the more detailed reports are the well-verified ones which appeared to provide significant clues were selected for special study. All cases which fit our definition of an E-M report are listed in the main chronology. Other borderline reports which have some characteristics of E-M cases are listed in a secondary chronology.
This appendix contains a digest of the data examined by the Subcommittee, maps illustrating the scope of the phenomenon, and summary reports of significant features. Conclusions are, of necessity, sketchy; however, the Subcommittee felt that a pilot study of this sort would be valuable in calling attention to the E-M phenomenon, pointing out fruitful lines of investigation, and suggesting means of acquiring better data.
If this report helps to point out the need for a more complete and scientific investigation of UFOs in general, and provokes some thought on the subject, the Subcommittee will feel that its efforts have been worthwhile.
Tom Shelton (Research Analyst) Eli Bernzweig,(Attorney)
Jack Brotzman (Electronic Scientist) Richard Hall (Editor)
Washington, D. C., June 1960.
Experts Ordered to Start Probe of Lights in Southwest
El Paso Texas Times
Nov. 7, 1957
Sighting ‘Shakes’ Scientists
Some of the nation’s top scientists are “pretty shook up” about the mysterious flying objects sighted in New Mexico and West Texas skies this week, said Charles Capen Wednesday night.
Capen, connected with several scientific projects at White Sands Proving Ground, N. M., and the Physical Sciences Laboratory at New Mexico A&M, said, “This is something that hasn’t happened before.
“The scientists have heard the cry ‘wolf’ so much they don’t get excited easily, but some of the top scientists are pretty shook up “about this thing.”
Capen said the subject of the objects was “pretty hushed up” at White Sands Wednesday, although they had been the principal topic of conversation earlier in the week.
“They just weren’t talking about it today,” he said. “The topic of conversation has switched back to Sputnik II and the possible launching of a Russian lunar rocket.”
He said instruments had been set up by White Sands Proving Ground and the Las Cruces Astronomical Society in hopes of catching a glimpse of a rocket if one was launched during the lunar eclipse early Thursday.
If a rocket was launched, Capen said the cameras possibly would catch a silhouette of the rocket or a flash of color going toward the moon.
MANY SEE VENUS
Many El Pasoans thought they saw one of the mysterious flying objects Wednesday night. But it was identified as the planet Venus.
Venus, according to Capen, is closer to earth than usual during this time of year.
“The planet appears in the west, near the horizon,” he said, “and haze in the atmosphere could give it a reddish color. The planet will move closer to the earth until the first week in December, when it will be bright enough to cast a shadow.
“This sort of thing happens quite often, but people weren’t aware of it until they began watching the sky for the satellites and flying saucers.”
The first mysterious object sighted was near Levelland, Texas, early last Sunday, where autos were stalled in the vicinity of the object. More cars were stalled near Orogrande, N.M., Monday, when an object of similar description was sighted there.
Air Defense Command to Have Trained Men Take Over Inquiry, Report to Intelligence.
By the Associated Press
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 –
The Air Force said today it has assigned trained investigators to look into the flurry of reported sightings of strange flying objects.
The radar network of the Air Defense Command is keeping watch, the Air Force said, but it has reported no radar sightings.
An Air Force spokesman said the investigation has been entrusted to persons specifically qualified for such work.
These investigators work under the Air Defense Command, which has headquarters at Colorado Springs, Colo., and report to the Air Technical Intelligence Center.
The latest report on flying objects came from the Coast Guard cutter Sebago, which radioed that it spotted a brilliant object in the sky this morning about 200 miles south of the Mississippi River.
“Planet” Circled Ship
The unidentified object was first sighted at 5:10 A.M., the Coast Guard said. Radar contact with the object was retained intermittently from 5:10 AM to 5:37 AM, with the object visible to the naked eye for 16 minutes beginning at 5:21 AM.
The report from the Sebago, on duty in the Gulf of Mexico, said the object “resembled a brilliant planet” and was travelling at a high speed.
Half the Size of Auto
In North Louisiana, four persons told state police they sighted a bright object about half the size of an automobile rising from the ground near Monroe Monday night.
And in Lubbock, Tex., a missile engineer reported seeing a “brilliant colored egg-shaped object” which he said stalled cars in New Mexico Monday.
Witnesses say a mystery object skipped about the countryside near Lubbock and near scientific military bases in New Mexico over the weekend. The reported objects startled citizens, peace officers and servicemen, but apparently left no concrete trace.
“As Bright as the Sun”
James Stokes, 45, an engineer from the Air Force missile development center at Holloman Air Force Base, Alamogordo, N. M., told news director Terry Clark of KALG, Alamogordo, then ten autos were stopped Monday on an isolated desert highway, U. S. 54, between White Sands Proving Grounds and Alamogordo.
The “planet” moved in concentric circles around the ship, according to the report, and was headed northward toward the Louisiana Coast.
The Coast Guard in New Orleans said it is alerting ships to keep a watch for the object, whose whirling flight covered at least 175 miles during the 27 minutes it was tracked by the Sebago.
November “Flap” 1957
Weird ‘Thing’ to be probed by Air Force
More Phantoms Seen in Virginia, Chicago
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (AP)
--The Air Force today undertook an investigation of a huge, strangely lighted mystery object reported to have flashed over West Texas.
Reports of strange flying objects have been popping up for years, but this one had the support of a variety of witnesses, including a sheriff and one of his deputies.
It impressed the Air Force sufficiently to call for at least a preliminary investigation.
“We don’t investigate all of them, after all,” an Air Force spokesman said.
A most unusual thing about the object reported Saturday and Sunday was that witnesses said their car engines stopped and their lights went out when they drove near it.
It was variously described as a burning mass, a big light, and an egg-shaped object 200 feet long.
Meanwhile, there were reports on strange things happening in the skies over Chicago and over the Virginia-North Carolina border.
Three policemen and a fireman in Chicago’s suburban Elmwood Park said they saw a peculiar round glowing thing in the early morning sky today. They said their car lights appeared to dim as they kept the prowl car spotlight focused on the thing.
At Martinsville, Va., Mrs. Ruby Hairston said she and her family saw a strange red glare last night while driving to Bassett, Va., from Philpot Lake on the Carolina border.
“It faded from bright red to a pale amber pink, then brightened again,” she said.
Mrs. Robert Moudy of Covington, Ind., told newsmen her husband had seen “a thing” in the sky Oct. 14. She said her husband told only her about it and they did not mention it to anyone else because they feared ridicule.
Mrs. Moudy said her husband related the engine of his combine went dead when the object – flat, oval shaped, about 200 feet long with what appeared to be a large ball of fire in the center – zoomed over a farm near Foster, Ind. Her husband said the object made a screaming noise “like an auto tire squealing on a fast take-off,” she said.
Mystery Object Stalls Autos in West Texas
November 4, 1957
Levelland, Texas. (AP) – West Texans puzzled Sunday over accounts of a mystery object, big and ablaze with light, dozens told of seeing in the sky and several said they found in roadways.
Observers told newsmen of at least five instances in which the engines of cars approaching the phantom object Saturday night and early Sunday were unaccountably stalled, but restarted as the phenomenon rose into the air.
Sheriff Weir Clem, who said he observed the brilliant light but didn’t get a close view, reported one witness who fainted from fright.
Police Patrolman A. J. Fowler, on duty in Levelland as reports poured in from startled residents, said at least 15 persons told of getting a good look and dozens sighted what appeared to be flashes of light.
“They seemed to agree that thus something was 200 feet long, shaped like an egg and was lit up like it was on fire – but looked more like neon lights,” Fowler related.
“They said it was about 200 feet in the air, and when it got close car motors and lights would go off. Everybody who called was very excited.”
There also were reports of an unexplained light in the sky far across the state between Sherman and McKinney, and two men said pulsating green flashed streaked between clouds near Odessa, about 130 miles south of here in west Texas.
Cases included in this chronology represent reports in which a distinct UFO, either a plainly visible object or light source (not diffuse or intermittent flashes of light), was observed at the same time and place that a definite electromagnetic effect (E-M) such as a car stalling occurred.
In most cases the same witness or groups of witnesses both saw the UFO and experienced the E-M effect. In a few cases, however, those who experienced an E-M effect did not see any UFO, but separate witnesses nearby did. The latter were only included if it could be determined that the UFO was seen in the same locality and at approximately the same time. These cases will denoted by an asterisk (*).
These borderline cases have some characteristics in common with those of the main chronology. In each case a definite E-M effect was reported. In seven of the nine cases some aerial phenomenon did coincide with the E-M effect (i. e., flashes of light, glows, etc). In the other two cases distinct UFOs were seen, but it could not be determined that they coincided with the E-M effects reported nearby.
a. July 20, 1952: Cumberland, Maryland. Engineer reported unusual type, of TV interference. Occurred within a few hours of the famous Washington UFO sightings all over the D. C.-Virginia area, including radar trackings by CAA.
b. Jan. 21, 1957: Bristol, England, TV pictures disrupted and noise heard on audio; same time as firey light in sky with rays running through it.
c. Jan. 27, 1957: Glendora, California. Unexplained power failure. Two UFOs reported same night in general area.
d. May 7, 1957: New York City. TV disrupted, citizens complained about low-flying "aircraft. " Commercial test plane blamed, but Air Force reported several unidentified blips on radar.
e. Sept. 1, 1957: LeMars, Iowa. Car motor and headlights failed (as flash of light seen in sky).
f. Nov. 2 or 3, 1957: Las Cruces, New Mexico. Car motor and headlights failed twice (as UFO skeptic saw flashes of light in the sky). Blamed on "Static atmosphere. "
g. Nov. 28, 1957: Hakalau, Hawaii. Car motor failed, driver felt numb (as bright flash of light seen in sky about 20 feet above highway ahead of car).
h. Dec. 1. 1957: Ann Arbor, Michigan. Telephone lines affected by odd noise (as numerous red lights observed in Sky).
i. Dec. 7, 1959: Bangor, Maine. Airport runway lights went out. (Airliner circling over field reported unexplained blinding glow around plane.)
Statistics Based on the 81 Cases in the Main Chronology
A NOTE ON THE QUESTION OF CAUSE AND EFFECT
One of the better examples of electromagnetic (E-M) effects apparently caused by a UFO is the case of the sightings near Levelland, Texas, November 2-3, 1957. In a period of about three hours, the sheriff's office in Levelland received dozens of calls from excited people who had seen flashing lights in the sky. In addition, more than 15 calls were received from people who had actually seen a distinct UFO, and all 15 descriptions were remarkably similar. Four of the 15 also reported that the motors and lights of the car or truck they were riding in at the time had failed at the approach of the UFO. When the UFO retreated, the lights came back on and the engines could be started again. Patrolman A. J. Fowler said: "They seemed to agree that this something was 200 feet long, shaped like an egg and lit up like it was on fire--but looked more like neon lights." Coincidence and hallucination must be ruled out when more than 15 people at different locations but in the same general area give identical descriptions of something which they have just seen. The four who reported engine and light failure also described their experiences in the same way. There can be little doubt that a UFO was seen and did cause engines and lights to fail.
A direct cause and effect relationship is also apparent in the following cases: 15, 18, 25, 29, 64, 65, and 75.
This study comprises 27 cases of the failure of engines during UFO sightings in the United States, France, Italy, South America, and Hawaii.
It is interesting to note that not only automobiles and trucks were affected, but also the electrical systems of a motorcycle and a tractor. Also worthy of mention is the fact that a Diesel tractor driving alongside a conventional tractor with electrical ignition was not affected while the conventional tractor was stalled.
Studying these occurrences also refutes the skeptic's explanation that some people, seeing something which they fail to recognize right away, become nervous and are the very cause themselves of the stalled engine. In nine cases, the engine stalled and the drivers did not spot the UFO until the vehicle had come to a dead stop. Some puzzled drivers only sighted the strange appearance in the sky as they raised the hood to inspect the motor of their stalled vehicle.
From these 27 cases there seems to be a definite sequence to the disturbances of the electrical systems of vehicles: First the motor stops, then the headlights go out. In a few of these cases where the car was equipped
with a radio playing at the time of the UFO appearance, the radio was the first to show signs of disturbance either by emitting static or by fading.
In many of these instances the UFO appeared to be at a low altitude and quite near, though its performance was not uniform. Altitudes of the UFOs, unfortunately seldom reported with much accuracy, were estimated to be from zero (sitting on the ground) to approximately 200 feet. Distance of the stalled driver from the UFO also is very approximate since many reports do not give the vaguest estimate of distance. The estimates given in these cases ranged from 100 feet to 2 miles away, either straight ahead of the car or off to one side.
In all these instances as the UFO vanished in the distance either straight away or angling up, the lights came back on, engines started easily, and radios resumed playing. Oddly enough in a few instances the batteries were steaming, apparently having been short-circuited somehow.
FAILURE OF AUTOMOBILE HEADLIGHTS AND OTHER LIGHTS
This study is based on 26 instances of the failure of lights during the sighting of a UFO. Twenty-one of these were automobile lights. In 19 instances the engines failed at the same time, and in two instances only the lights were affected. The lights failed a few second's before any UFO was sighted in seven cases, a few seconds after a UFO was sighted in ten cases. The other light failures occurred simultaneously with UFO sightings.
The UFOs associated with the instances of light failure sometimes were seen to have a definite shape, and sometimes appeared only as a source of light. The usual shape reported was elliptical or circular.
In 17 cases colors were mentioned:
blue 2 red 5
green 3 orange-yellow 3
white 3 multi-colored 1
In eleven of the 26 cases of light failure, the associated UFO was reported to be either on or near the ground (estimated altitudes of 300 feet or less).
A particularly interesting case of house lights being affected happened in Bedford, Indiana, August 25, 1955. A woman (with a companion) driving home neared her house in which the living room lights had been left on. A UFO, white with a black streak through the center, was seen hovering near the house. As the UFO pulsated, the house lights dimmed and brightened in unison with the glow of the UFO. The frightened women drove back down town to wait on their husbands, and when they returned together the UFO was gone.
An intriguing aspect of the light-failure cases, which cropped up in at least two instances, was the failure of searchlights or spotlights after they were shown on the UFO.
Of 23 cases studied, 17 involved radio interference and 6 involved TV interference. In one instance both the radio of a police patrol car and the TV sets in the area were affected by static and blackouts.
The types of interference were of four basic kinds:
(1) Instrument went dead. (3) Static heard.
(2) Signals picked up. (4) Volume diminished and decreased.
In many of the TV cases the words "TV interference" are used and it is not stated specifically whether the video, audio, or both were affected. The radio cases are generally more specific as to the type of interference.
In all of these cases the UFO was generally described as being low--from a few feet above the ground to an estimated 50 feet altitude; also very
close to the affected vehicle or building, the range being estimated from "just a few feet" to 100 feet away. Unfortunately, many reports are vague or incomplete in respect to these figures, and when estimates are ventured they must be accepted as approximations since the size of the UFO is unknown.
As for performance of the UFO at the time of the disturbance, it varied from "jet speed" to "hovering." Some instances of swooping down and upward curves, as well as level flight, were reported. In two cases sounds were reported: One described as an explosion, the other as like "a car engine racing."
The shape of the associated UFOs is problematic because of the lack of information in these reports. Some descriptions mentioned were: egg-like, star like, globe, disc, saucer, oval; and others were only light sources.
One case (No. 55) is interesting because campers in Canada had an ordinary battery-powered portable radio which went dead, whereas their portable short wave radio received a rapidly modulated single-tone signal on one frequency only. This is similar to the PAA radio system case (No. 31) in Venezuela in which Morse-like signals were received on one interference-free frequency. In the latter case the signals were accompanied by slight "explosions.” After a stop of 40 seconds, different signals were received, interrupted by a sound like an aircraft travelling at great speed. In both instances the equipment was good and the people were well versed in radio. (The Canadian campers were ham radio operators.) Also, in Texas, station KEVT heard odd "roaring" static going up and down the scale during a UFO sighting (No. 4).
Several of the witnesses who experienced an E-M effect as a UFO was seen nearby also felt something akin to an electric shock frequently accompanied by heat. With a few exceptions noted below, this occurred mostly to motorists inside their vehicles at the same time that their headlights and motors were affected. In a few cases the motorists reported that they felt paralyzed. The paralysis, shock, and/or heat was often felt before the UFO, was seen and before the witnesses had reason to think that anything unusual was going on; thus these effects can not be attributed to fear or other psychological causes.
On November 5, 1957, in one of the few cases of this type not involving motorists, two sentries at Itaipu Fort on the east coast of Brazil felt a suffocating heat from a UFO which approached the fort causing the whole electrical system of the fort to fail. A psychological cause is also ruled out in this case, since the sentries actually suffered severe physical burns.
In one instance a motorist experienced both shock and heat after stepping out of his car to look at a UFO. A policeman in Williston, Florida, November 2, 1955, climbed out of his car to investigate a low-flying UFO and saw it pass about 150 feet over his head. At that moment he felt heat and an odd stinging sensation which he had never before experienced. He described it as similar to the numbness felt when a foot "goes to sleep," tingling all over.
Eight other cases all involved motorists driving along the highway. Six of these took place in France during the month of October 1954. Two others, very similar to the French cases, were in Peru, January 1958, and Hawaii, November 1957. The latter two were reported before the publication of Aime Michel's book listing the 1954 French cases.
In a typical case (No. 18) a man with his 3-year-old son was driving along at night when he suddenly felt an "electric shock" over his whole body, along with increasing heat. The child apparently felt it too because he began crying. The motor failed and the headlights went out. Only then did a UFO become
visible--a brightly lighted object ahead of the car which soon climbed rapidly away. As soon as the UFO left, everything returned to normal.
An exceptional case (g) involved a man driving home alone early in the evening. Suddenly his engine began missing, and then he saw a bright flash of light about 20 feet above the highway ahead of the car. The motor failed and the headlights went out. The car's momentum carried it forward to about the spot where the light had been, at which point the man felt "numb" and couldn't move for several minutes. Then, he said, the car started up again by itself while still in high gear (he had not touched the starter), the lights came back on and the car began to move slowly. Frightened, the man did not stop to investigate and hurried home.
There was no clear-cut pattern to the physical description of the UFOs seen when "shocks" were felt. Most of the cases occurred at night and the UFOs appeared as luminous globular objects whose exact shapes could not be determined. The colors most frequently mentioned were red and orange.
One definite pattern was found in the performance of the related UFOs when the "shocks" were felt. In nearly every case the UFOs (1) had just moved to a position low above the road ahead of the car, or (2) were actually on the road or next to it ahead of the car. In one such case (No. 15) one UFO from a formation of four was seen to zig-zag down toward the road ahead of the car. When about 100 yards away from the descending UFO, the motorist felt a "shock" and his motor and lights failed. No light could be seen from the UFO, which apparently had landed, and the man sat in the dark unable to move. Then the headlights came back on, and in their beam the amazed motorist saw the UFO skimming away low over the ground. From these cases it appear that "shocks" are felt only during exceptionally close approaches.
The data are too skimpy to allow any firm conclusions about the forces involved in cases of "electric shock, "except that the same forces which have apparently affected electrical circuits in automobiles and other vehicles and devices can, at closer range, cause physiological effects on the human body. It should be noted in passing that, in many cases not involving electromagnetic effects on vehicles and devices, witnesses standing in the open have suffered mild skin burns and symptoms of radiation sickness after being exposed to a UFO low above their heads.
No serious after-effects have been reported in any of the cases involving a "shock," but the two sentries in the Brazilian Itaipu Fort incident did suffer serious burns in a closely similar case.
In order to determine the general performance characteristics of the UFOs during the occurrence of E-M effects, the cases of engine failure, 37 in number, were taken as a sample. Many of the cases were reported only sketchily and produced little data of value, but some possibly significant features can be noted on the basis of this sample.
The colors reported were fairly evenly distributed across the spectrum, with a slight predominance on the red end of the spectrum. In cases where the UFO changed colors or showed more than one color, each color reported was listed separately. Usually, however, there was one predominant color.
Components of Motion
Hovering: The UFOs were reported to have hovered in at least 11 cases.
Landings: The UFOs were reported to have been on the ground in at least 11 cases.
Vertical Motion: The UFOs were reported to have moved vertically in at least 13 cases.
Of the various categories considered, these three showed a significant frequency. Other categories were: Circled or maneuvered, passed (without stopping or maneuvering), continuous straight-line flight, arced, turned. In 6 cases turns were mentioned; fourth in frequency of the components considered.
Distance and Altitude
Altitude estimated more often than distance. In about 3/4 of the cases in which an estimate of altitude was given, the UFOs were said to be below 250 feet. All estimates of distance placed the UFOs less than 500 feet away.
LIMITATIONS OF DATA
Throughout its study of the E-M phenomenon, the Subcommittee has been acutely aware of the limitations of the data under consideration. It found many reports to be sketchy and incomplete, and discovered gaps of time during which no E-M cases apparently were reported. The gaps, however, are believed to be directly related to the lack of investigation and inadequacy of news reporting at certain times. Ridicule by the press and various officials has lead to periods of sparse news coverage, though UFOs still were reported to NICAP and other organizations.
In its search of the literature on E-M reports, the Subcommittee was able to find only eight cases which occurred before the rash of E-M cases in France during 1954. Only four of these were reported at the time they occurred. One of these was the June 24, 1947, sighting in Portland, Oregon, by prospector Fred Johnson. Johnson reported that the dial of his compass was agitated as five or six disc-shaped objects flew overhead flashing in the sun. It is interesting that this early E-M case occurred on the same day as the famous UFO sighting by private pilot Kenneth Arnold, which resulted in the coining of the term "flying saucer."
Since 1954, recorded E-M cases have been numerous. The French engineer Aime Michel, in his book Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery has documented 12 instances of E-M effects experienced in Europe during the Fall of 1954. Eleven of these were in France during the month of October. (See Chronology)
Between Fall 1954 and the next comparable period in late 1957, 13 cases were found. It is probably significant that there was very little UFO publicity in this period, after the Air Force wrote off UFOs in an official report early in 1955.
Then in late 1957 a sudden rash of UFO reports from responsible witnesses was carried on the press wires. Personnel at White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter SEBAGO in the Gulf of Mexico, airline pilots in Louisiana and Nebraska, and many others reported UFOs. The press coverage which resulted from this interesting batch of sightings, the most thorough since 1952, led to the reporting of hundreds of UFOs within about two months. While the relatively straightforward reporting continued, many E-M cases were reported. Three E-M cases in October then 30 E-M cases in November 1957 alone! (See Chronology)
After a few more E-M reports in December 1957, UFO publicity once again died down. Since January 1958, only 12 E-M cases are known to the Subcommittee. However, the reports that continue to trickle in even during periods of poor news coverage are sufficient to suggest that the E-M phenomenon has been continual throughout the 13 years since the term "flying saucers" became a part of our vocabulary.
Because the data are not as complete as we should like, we are not able to state positively that E-M effects are a standard feature of UFO reports. However, the fact that the two periods in which most E-M cases are known
(1954 and 1957) correspond to two periods in which UFOs were well-reported strongly suggests that other E-M cases have gone unreported in other periods due to ridicule or a generally unfavorable press. It is important to note that if Aime Michel had not personally investigated the 1954 cases and published them in a book, they would be completely unknown in the United States today.
The evidence of E-M effects, sketchy though it may be, is sufficient to warrant a more thorough investigation of UFOs, and an attempt to learn more about the E-M phenomenon through deliberate instrumentation for that purpose.
If the following report in the "For the Record" column of National Review, February 13, 1960, is accurate, the need for investigation of the E-M phenomenon takes on new importance:
"Investigators sifting wrecks of recently crashed commercial airliners stumped by the eerie and unexplained total failure of all electronic equipment in the ill-fated craft."
AURORA AND GEOMAGNETIC STORMS
One explanation that has been advanced for E-M effects is that they must be related to solar activity and resulting "'disturbances of the earth's magnetic field.
The International Geophysical Year (IGY) world warning system, to enable an extensive study of the results of solar activity, was in operation during the last quarter of 1957 when 36 E-M cases occurred. The following information is taken from IGY Bulletin No. 10, April 1958, published by the National Academy of Sciences:
"During the first three months of IGY [July, August, September 1957] 14 periods of Alert and 4 SWI (Special World Intervals) were declared by AGIWARN, the IGY World Warning Agency... During the next three-month period [October, November, December, 1957], solar activity was in general lower; only six periods of Alert, totaling 23 days, and two SWI, totaling four days, were declared. One of the SWI was unsuccessful in that no major solar disturbance with associated terrestrial effects followed. During the other SWI a short but relatively severe geomagnetic disturbance took place...
Oct. 14 Alert #11 starts Nov. 26 SWI #7 starts
Oct. 20 Alert #11 finishes Moderate magnetic storm starts
Oct. 21 Alert #12 starts Nov. 27 Magnetic storm finishes
Oct. 22 SWI #6 starts Alert #14 finishes
Oct. 23 Alert #12 finishes SWI #7 finishes
SWI #6 finishes Dec. 15 Alert #15 starts
Nov. 12 Alert #13 starts Dec. 21 Alert #15 finishes
Nov. 15 Alert #13 finishes
Dec. 26 Alert#16 starts
Thus, it is seen that solar activity was at a minimum during one of the major outbreaks of UFO sightings and associated electromagnetic effects. Geomagnetic disturbances therefore appear to be an unsatisfactory explanation for many E-M cases, or UFO sightings in general.
The following information on aurora is taken from IGY Bulletin No. 12, June 1958:
"Auroras are the visible manifestation, in the earth's atmosphere, of a group of phenomena resulting from disturbances in the sun's interior and surface layers. They mark the paths within the atmosphere of the streams of solar particles ejected by eruptions on the sun.... The best times of the year for auroral observations are Spring and Fall. During March and September, in particular, auroras are at an annual maximum of frequency and intensity. ... In latitudes below 40°N., where auroras are rare, observations are made primarily on nights when geomagnetic disturbances are expected, i. e., during Alerts and SWI.... Four months of Weather Bureau observations indicate that auroral motions are greatest at about midnight, and are predominantly from west to east."
Since it has already been shown that there were no geomagnetic disturbances during most of the Fall 1957 E-M sightings, and many of these E-M sightings occurred in Texas and New Mexico (well below 40° N.), auroral effects fail to account for the E-M phenomenon satisfactorily, except possibly in a very few cases for radio noise and disruption of communication at other times. Certainly no such explanation is adequate at any time for cases of motor and headlight failures which have been directly associated with the presence of an unidentified object nearby in the atmosphere.
(a) Cumberland, Md. (AP) 7-23-52 (e) Miller, Max B., Saucers, Winter, ‘57-58.
(b) Trench, op cit., ppg. 115-116 (f) Houston Chronicle, 11-7-57.
(c) Glendora Press, 1-31-57. (g) Honolula Star-Bulletin, 11-29-57.
(d) Washington Star, May 8-9, 1957. (h) Ann Arbor News, 12-2-57.
(i) Portland Press-Herald, 12-8-59.