Chapter 1


The Challenge


            "It is the majority opinion of the NICAP Board of Governors and Panel of Special Advisors that the unknown devices reported by reliable observers are intelligently controlled machines from outer space. Joining in this opinion are the following:


Board Members


Dr. Marcus Bach, Iowa State University

The Rev. Albert Bailer, Greenfield, Massachusetts

Mr. Frank Edwards, Mutual Broadcasting System

Col. Robert B. Emerson, USAR, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Rear Adm. H. B. Knowles, USN (Ret.), Eliot, Maine

Professor C. A. Maney, Defiance College, Ohio


Special Advisors


Norman Bean, WTVJ engineer, Miami, Florida

Albert M. Chop, former AF information official on UFOs, Pacific Palisades, California

A. L. Cochran, electronics engineer, Richardson, Texas

Samuel Freeman, former AF Major, Bedminister, New Jersey

Frank Halstead, astronomer, Duluth, Minnesota

Dr. Leslie K. Kaeburn, biophysicist, Los Angeles, California

Professor N. N. Kohanowski, geologist, Fargo, North Dakota

Capt. R. B. McLaughlin, USN, missile expert

Capt. W. B. Nash, Pan American Airways, Miami Beach, Florida


Aeronautical experts agreeing with this conclusion include:




William P. Lear, aircraft and electronics development

Hermann Oberth, famous rocket pioneer

Capt. James Howard, British Overseas Airway Corporation

Col. Jao Adil Oliviera, Brazilian Air Force

Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Royal Air Force

And hundreds of others with technical training.


            "Massive documented evidence confirms UFO reality, their tremendous speeds, intricate maneuvers, unique shapes (disc-and rocket types), and proves they are not earth-made."

            The above conclusion was communicated to the United States Congress in a confidential report by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) dated June 21, 1960, urging that all the facts on UFOs be made public to forestall certain secrecy dangers outlined in the report. (See Chapter 2 for additional details.)

            At the time of this writing dozens of Senators and Congressmen have responded, pledging their support of Congressional Hearings and help in ending UFO secrecy, * in spite of the fact that Air Force spokesmen promptly labeled the NICAP conclusion as "sensational" and "science fiction. "

            In four years of liaison with government officials, scientists, newsmen, and others, NICAP has gained a reputation for careful fact-finding. The Report to Congress came after nearly four years of data gathering, detailed investigation, scientific analyses, and thorough documentation of hundreds of UFO cases. Behind the report lies massive evidence, including tape recordings, photographic data, documents, case histories of sightings by reputable witnesses, and an extensive witness list, all of which has been promised to Congressional investigators.

            Not all of the Board Members and Advisors share the opinion that UFOs are interplanetary devices. However, it is the unanimous opinion of all NICAP officials and member experts that the circumstantial evidence for UFOs warrants an immediate scientific investigation, conducted openly and without secrecy by the entire scientific community.

            As opposed to the official Air Force policy of debunking UFOs and glossing over evidence, the general NICAP attitude was 


* See Congressional Record entry, Appendix A  



summed up in 1960 by Vice Admiral R. H. Hillenkoetter, USN (Ret.), former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and generally considered to be the leading NICAP Board Member. "It is imperative, “he said, "that we learn where the UFOs come from and what their purpose is.” Commenting on UFO reports made in World War II and soon after, when he headed the CIA, Admiral Hillenkoetter added: "I know that neither Russia nor this country had anything even approaching such high speeds and maneuvers."

            In recent years, in spite of a news blackout reinforced by official denials, serious UFO reports have continued to come in from credible witnesses. A recent series of sightings by police officers and others in northern California, in August 1960, was briefly reported on the newswires; then the subject was dropped quickly after the Air Force publicly stated that the witnesses were deluded.

            During a six-day period, August 13-18, UFOs were sighted from 18 California cities and towns by over 30 witnesses including at least 14 police officers. One of the most important cases in this series occurred on August 13. The UFO was first sighted at 11:50 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time). Officers Charles A. Carson and Stanley Scott had been looking for a speeding motorcycle in the vicinity of Red Bluff when they noticed an object low in the sky directly ahead of them.

            "We stopped and leaped from the patrol vehicle in order to get a position on what we were sure was going to be an airplane crash.” Officer Carson said later in his report. * "From our position outside the car, the first thing we noticed was an absolute silence. Still assuming it to be an aircraft with power off, we continued to watch until the object was probably within 100 to 200 feet off the ground, when it suddenly reversed completely, at high speed, and gained approximately 500 feet altitude. There the object stopped.

            "At this time it was clearly visible to both of us. It was surrounded by a glow making the round or oblong object visible. At each end, or each side of the object, there were definite red lights. At times about five white lights were visible between the red lights. As we watched the object moved again and performed aerial feats that were actually unbelievable.


* All quotes taken from Officer Carson's official statement.




            "At this time we radioed Tehama County Sheriff s Office requesting they contact local radar base. The radar base confirmed the UFO--completely unidentified!" (Italics added.)

            Then, as the two officers continued to watch, the UFO twice came directly toward them.

            "Each time it approached, “Carson continued, "The object turned, swept the area with a huge red light. Officer Scott turned the red light on the patrol vehicle towards the object, and it immediately went away from us. We observed the object use the red beam approximately six or seven times, sweeping the sky and ground areas."

            Then the UFO began moving slowly toward the east and Scott and Carson followed it. A second UFO approached from the south, moved near the first object, and both hovered for some time "occasionally emitting the red beam.”

            Finally both objects disappeared below the eastern horizon, and the two officers returned to the Sheriff's office to file a report. There they met Deputies Fry and Montgomery who had also seen the UFO clearly. Their descriptions jibed.

            Scott and Carson had observed the UFO for about two hours and 15 minutes. "Each time the object neared us, “Carson said, "we experienced radio interference*... We were calm after our initial shock, and decided to observe and record all we could of the object."

            These sober police officers were later interviewed by Air Force intelligence personnel. In spite of the careful observation and the radar tracking, the official conclusion of the United States Air Force was: "The individuals concerned witnessed a refraction of the planet Mars and the two bright stars Aldebaran and Betelgeux" caused by temperature inversions. ** Then in a discussion of UFOs on the Dave Garroway show December 5, 1960, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence J. Tacker, official UFO spokesman, stated emphatically: "Air Force radar at Red Bluff did not track the UFO.”

            If the need for an organization like NICAP is not obvious from the foregoing report, perhaps it will become more obvious upon reviewing the facts. When the report was received at NICAP, an investigation was launched immediately. A routine check of the star positions was made by Mr. Walter N. Webb, lecturer 


* See "A New Dimension in UFO Phenomena, " Chapter 6, Part II.


** Official letter in NICAP files. 



in astronomy, Charles Hayden Planetarium, Boston. Webb, a NICAP scientific advisor, reported back that all three objects--Mars and the two stars--were below the horizon at the time of the sighting. Furthermore one of the stars did not rise until an hour after the UFO sighting had ended!

            To double-check, we contacted Mr. Jack Brotzman, Naval Research Laboratory physicist. Brotzman, also an amateur astronomer, is another NICAP scientific advisor. Finally, the star positions were verified by an outside professional astronomer.

            At the time of the sighting the radar tracking was, as we have seen, confirmed to the Highway Patrolmen. It was also confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner (August 17) and the Corning Daily Observer (August 15). * Corning is about 20 miles south of Red Bluff, site of the UFO encounter. The Daily Observer, after checking with the Red Bluff radar station, reported in a front-page story that the UFO had been tracked on radar. The story also indicated that, perhaps under orders, the Air Force installation had begun to be less cooperative: "This morning the radar station was considerably more vague than it was Saturday midnight when it confirmed the officers' report on the object."

            Here we have the UFO problem in a nutshell: A serious report by experienced police officers, confirmed by radar; and strange counter-to-fact explanations by the Air Force. In addition to an apparent cover-up of the radar evidence, the Air Force tried to give the impression that a temperature inversion (layers of air of sharply contrasting temperature) could pick up faint light sources below the distant horizon and somehow make them appear to be objects maneuvering a few hundred feet above the ground in northern California.

            It is well known that temperature inversions can refract light sources from the ground locally, but certainly not from planets and stars one to three hours below the horizon. There is no way for the light from the stars to reach the local inversion layers, and this explanation is therefore preposterous. If such a thing were possible, we would often see false suns dancing around in the sky one to three hours before sunrise and after subset. The sun, obviously, is a much brighter object than Mars or the two named stars.

            Because sightings like this are very common, NICAP was


* See Appendix A. 



formed late in 1956 to help cut the red tape and provide a responsible civilian committee to prod the Air Force and other governmental agencies into releasing more information about UFOs. At first the committee offered an 8-point plan of cooperation with the Air Force, to help educate and prepare the public for the truth about UFOs, whatever it might be. But the plan was ignored and the upstart organization was on its own. NICAP has since fought against what it believes to be an unwise secrecy policy by the Air Force.

            Intense interest in the UFO subject has led many scientists and other professional people to volunteer their services to NICAP. With the help of a Panel of Special Advisors, * Subcommittees (investigative units), and member experts, NICAP has been able to obtain expert analyses of evidence in many instances. The framework for a true scientific investigation and complete news reporting now exists. All this has been made possible by Donald E. Keyhoe, retired Marine Corps Major, whose books are well-known to all who are intrigued by this mystery.

            Major Keyhoe took over as Director of NICAP early in 1957, promptly obtaining the services of several high-ranking military officers and other prominent figures for the Board of Governors. Since the Board includes such people as Admiral Hillenkoetter, USN (Ret.), and Colonel Robert B. Emerson, USAR, research chemist and head of Emerson Testing Laboratory, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, NICAP has never been seriously ridiculed by the press. Instead, NICAP press releases have gone over the newswires and have been printed widely.

            On January 15, 1957, Admiral Delmer S. Fahrney, famed Navy missile expert and then Chairman of the NICAP Board, held a press conference and made the following statement which received serious attention in the international press:

            "Reliable reports indicate that there are objects coming into our atmosphere at very high speeds.... No agency in this country or Russia is able to duplicate at this time the speeds and accelerations which radars and observers indicate these flying objects are able to achieve.

            "There are signs that an intelligence directs these objects, because of the way they fly. The way they change position in formations would indicate that their motion is directed. The Air Force is collecting factual data on which to base an opinion, but time is required to sift and correlate the material. 


*See Appendix F for complete list.



            "As long as such unidentified objects continue to navigate through the earth's atmosphere, there is an urgent need to know the facts. Many observers have ceased to report their findings to the Air Force because of the seeming frustration--that is, all information going in, and none coming out. It is in this area that NICAP may find its greatest mission."

            Backed solidly by the Board, Major Keyhoe then began the slow but sure building process which is still underway. In spite of a chronic lack of funds to operate efficiently, the membership today is over 5,000 including people from almost every conceivable profession and trade: Doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, scientists, clergymen, editors, artists, and many others. NICAP now has members in 50 states and in 30 foreign countries. *

            Although operating under serious handicaps--chiefly a low budget and lack of an adequate headquarters staff—NICAP does everything within its means to dig behind the headlines and come up with the whole story in important UFO cases. Almost a year before the 1960 Red Bluff police sighting, NICAP learned of an important sighting (September 24, 1959) involving Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) personnel in Redmond, Oregon. In this case, too, the fact that the Air Force had tracked the UFO on radar was first confirmed, then denied.

            The incident began just before dawn as city policeman Robert Dickerson cruised the streets of this small central Oregon community. ** Suddenly a streak of light like a "falling star" caught Dickerson's attention. Quickly he stopped the patrol car, thinking the object was going to crash nearby. Instead the UFO took on a larger ball-like appearance, stopped abruptly and hovered at an estimated height of 200 feet. The brilliant glow lit up juniper trees on the ground below.

            Unable to identify the object after watching it for several minutes, Dickerson then drove toward the UFO along Prineville Highway, turning in at Redmond Airport. At this point the UFO, turning to a bright orange color, moved rapidly to a new position northeast of the airport.

            Hurrying to the Air Traffic Communication Station, Dickerson notified FAA officials. Then he, Laverne Wert, and others in the tower watched the UFO through binoculars. The hovering disc (it now appeared round and flat) glowed brightly, tongues of "flame" periodically extending from the rim. 


* In addition to two investigative Subcommittees in Canada, a new unit has been formed in Santiago, Chile.


** Main details of the case are taken from a taped interview with Ptn. Dickerson and FAA Flight Service Specialist Laverne Wertz; and official FAA logs. See Appendix A.




            At 1310Z (Universal Time) --5:10 a. m. PST—Redmond reported the UFO to the Seattle Air Route Control Center. The information was relayed quickly to Hamilton AFB, California. FAA logs show that an Air Force radar station in the vicinity was tracking an unidentified object. On the strength of the visual and radar reports, F-102 jets were scrambled from Portland Air Base to intercept the unknown object.

            In the Redmond tower the observers saw a high-speed aircraft approaching. Just then long yellow and red flames spurted from the underside of the UFO and it rose quickly, vanishing into a scattered layer of clouds at about 14,000 feet. After eluding the jets, the unknown object reappeared about 20 miles south of Redmond. Then visual contact was lost, but the radar contact was maintained for a while longer. Later, the FAA dis­patched a Tri-pacer aircraft to monitor the area for radio­activity.

            In its official conclusion of this case, the Air Force denied the radar tracking (attributing it to confused radar operators "tracking" a fixed antenna), and said the UFO was "probably a balloon.” This implied that not only Ptn. Dickerson and the FAA tower personnel were badly deluded by an object familiar to anyone working at an airport, but also that the air defense radar-men could not tell a ground object from a moving aerial object.

            NICAP has made a practice of concentrating on apparently solid cases of this sort: Cases involving responsible witnesses such as police officers and aviation officials, jet interception attempts and radar trackings. Therefore, every effort has been made either to establish the mysterious object as a definite UFO, or to identify it conclusively. In the course of the investigation NICAP consulted astronomy advisors, checked U. S. Weather Bureau maps, examined the eyewitness reports, and analyzed film taken from an IGY "all-sky" camera that had been operating in the vicinity of Redmond during the sighting.

            At first the planet Venus was a suspect, since, as Dr. James C. Bartlett, Jr. (NICAP astronomy advisor) said: "Venus would have been spectacularly visible from Redmond, Oregon... the stellar magnitude was -4. 1. " But the radar track and a later check of the directions, (in addition to the reported maneuvers) ruled out Venus. If it had been visible through the scattered cloud layers, Dr. Bartlett said, Venus would have been seen almost due east. The UFO was sighted in the northeast, then south of Redmond.




            Weather maps showed that no sounding balloons were aloft at the time of the sighting. In addition, prevailing winds were southerly and a weather balloon would not have moved to the south.

            Examination of the IGY film by photographic advisor Max B. Miller was inconclusive due to the poor quality of the film. It was impossible to determine whether any of the markings on the film were anything other than defects. But the clear-cut visual observation and radar tracking could not be explained. NICAP's conclusion is that the object remains unidentified in conventional terms.

            In the fall of 1958 a whole series of similar reports was received:

                        October 3- - The entire crew of a Monon Railroad freight train in Central Indiana watched four glowing disc-like objects pass over the train from front to back, turn and follow close behind, maneuvering in formation the whole time. Details obtained by Board Member Frank Edwards in an interview on WTTV, Indianapolis.

                        October 7-- (from the log of the S. S. Nantucket, Massachusetts Steamship Authority vessel, Joseph Gwooz, Master.)  "Time 1455 (2:55 p.m. EDT) Entrance Nantucket Channel. While outbound from Nantucket for Martha's Vineyard, Woods Hole, and New Bedford, sighted unknown object hovering in the sky, estimated height 8,000 to 10,000 feet, at an angle of about 160 degrees. Object remained stationary for a minute or more, then shot up and away to the N. E. and disappeared out of sight at a rapid rate of speed. Color of object, grayish. Oval shape. "

                        October 26--Two Baltimore residents, Philip Small (chemistry graduate, University of Maryland) and Alvin Cohen, (store department manager) reported huge egg-shaped object seen hovering above bridge over Loch Raven reservoir. Interviewed by NICAP Subcommittee, reported car stalled in presence of UFO;  facial burns when object flashed brilliantly as it shot straight up and disappeared. Two independent reports of egg-shaped object in area same night.     

                        December 20— Patrolmen LeRoy Aboreen and Bernard Talada, Dunellen, New Jersey, police department, sighted elliptical UFO while patrolling at 12:55 a. m. In report to NICAP, officers said UFO approached at meteor-like speed from west, came to sudden complete stop. "The body of the object was



solid bright red and it gave off a pulsating red glow, "Aboreen said. "It hovered for a few seconds, made a left turn, hovered a few more seconds, then went straight up like a shot. We watched it until it completely faded beyond the stars. The object was in plain view from start to finish. "

            Of these fall 1958 cases, only one (the Baltimore case of October 26) was investigated by the Air Force--belatedly, after prodding by local newsmen. It is obvious that many serious reports of a similar nature are never investigated, apparently due to the negative attitude fostered by the Air Force. With orders to find conventional explanations for hundreds of puzzling UFO sightings, Air Force investigators are not going out of their way to look into more sightings. As a result, only cases reported officially through channels are investigated--and many good observers refuse to report their sightings to the Air Force because they are disgusted with the official policy.

            In spite of its failure to investigate many important cases, the Air Force issued a "fact sheet" January 22, 1959 (about a month after the New Jersey police sighting) entitled: "Air Force UFO Study Shows 'Unknowns' Decreasing.” The official report covered the period from July 1958 to December 1958, inclusive. In this period, 296 UFO's were reported to the Air Force. Two (. 67%) were considered "unknowns." One of the two "unknowns," occurred in October. *

            The report emphasized that the Air Force "has set a record low for the number of cases classified as 'unknown' and that the 296 cases were "a 14% decrease in sightings over the first half of the year." Captain Ruppelt, who headed the official UFO investigation from 1951 to 1953, described this process in his book: " (The Air Force policy of writing off all UFO reports, regardless), is an expedient method of getting the percentage of unknowns down to zero, but it is no more valid than turning the hands of a clock ahead to make time pass faster."**

            By ignoring unofficial but serious reports (such as the New Jersey police sighting) and by "writing off other cases regardless" (such as the more recent Red Bluff, California, police sighting), it is easy to "reduce the percentage of unidentified's to the minimum," as Air Force investigators are instructed to do. ***


*Lt. Col. L. ]. Tacker, Pentagon UFO spokesman, lists the Baltimore sighting as an "unknown" in his recent book Flying Saucers and the U. S. Air Force, (Van Nostrand, 1960)


**E. J. Ruppelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (Doubleday, 1956), p. 315.


*** "Paragraph 3-c of AF Reg. 200-2 says "Air Force activities must reduce the percentage of unidentifieds to the minimum... (However, due to subjective factors) it is improbable that all of the unidentifieds can be eliminated. "




            The significance of the periodic "fact sheets” debunking UFOs can be judged by the foregoing.

            The Air Force sometimes claims that "improved investigative techniques" account for the alleged high percentage of "identified' objects. ”The Fitzgerald Report, "a document prepared by the Akron UFO Research Committee (see address elsewhere) gives some insight into the investigative techniques. As the report shows, the Air Force ignored all the facts of a September 21, 1958, sighting near Cleveland, Ohio, failed to interrogate key witnesses, and seized upon false natural explanations to "identify" the UFO.

            It is NICAP's conviction that reports from reputable witnesses deserve serious attention, and that science has an obligation to examine them fairly and fully. The wild reports from obviously distraught or deluded persons, or fakers, who converse freely with "Spacemen" and bring back messianic messages, are irrelevant to the issue. As long as the Air Force continues to hand out misleading summaries implying that there is no UFO mystery, and as long as scientists fear association with what they take to be a crackpot movement, there will be a need for NICAP.

            NICAP is tackling three basic problems: (l) To make all significant, factual UFO reports available to scientists and the general public; (2) To offset the misleading Air Force pronouncements; (3) To expose hoaxes and weed out crackpot elements which have attached themselves to the UFO mystery. The articles in Sections II and III explore these problems and other related ones.

            The important cases cited, significant opinions, and other evidence, we believe, are a challenge to science and society.


R. H.