The Phenomena of Angel Hair
One approach to the study of the UFOs which holds some promise of significant attainable knowledge of the character of these objects is the analysis of the nature of the so-called angel hair. In numerous instances the fall of large quantities of this fibrous material has been noted in connection with the observation of disc-shaped and cigar-shaped UFOs. There appears to be sufficient evidence to prove to a reasonable-minded person the reality of these falls from the sky and the close association of these falls with the observation of UFOs. To give a complete account of all the interesting details associated with the many different reports would require a good-sized source book. Such a compilation would indeed be a valuable reference work and should be prepared by some agency in the interests of scientific knowledge.
From the standpoint of a preliminary study, however, it might be worth while to make an attempt to investigate those features of the character of angel hair which are most commonly noted. These are (1) the simultaneous sighting of UFOs in connection with the fall of angel hair from the sky and (2) the unstable character of the material as evidenced by its rapid disintegration soon after the fall.
The accompanying table, with dates of sightings, localities, and notes, comprises such a study in brief. The material of the table with the notes included a record of sightings involving angel hair for the period from October 1952 to October 1955. The table is not to be considered a complete record of such happenings, but probably does include those which are at least the best known of such events. The reference notes in every case represent quotations from newspaper reports, magazine articles, books, and personal letters describing the events. In three cases, those of Auckland, New Zealand; Melbourne, Australia; and Horseheads, New York, no UFOs were reported seen. However, in these three instances the fibrous materials
which fell from the sky appeared to have the peculiar property of angel hair most commonly noted, namely its tendency to rapid disintegration. Among the fourteen instances where angel hair was associated with UFOs there were six occasions where the rapidly-disintegrating character of angel hair was noted.
It should be pointed out as a significant fact that the author has personal letters from two school teachers and six school children as witnesses in the Jerome case, two letters from school teachers in connection with the Whitsett case, and one letter from a lady observer of the Uhrichsville incident. The author regards all of these testimonies as absolutely true statements and correctly descriptive of the phenomena which took place. No doubt additional testimonies in large numbers could be secured for most of these events, were one to take the time and make the effort to go about such an undertaking.
TABLE OF ANGEL HAIR INCIDENTS
NOTES ON THE TABLE
Angel Hair Associated with UFOs.
RAPID DISINTEGRATION OF ANGEL HAIR
a. "When rolled up into a ball, they rapidly became gelatinous, then sublimed in the air and disappeared."
b. "Became gelatinous, then sublimed and disappeared."
c. "Quickly disintegrated when handled."
d. "On handling, rapidly disintegrated until no trace was left."
e. "Held between the fingers, it dissolves into nothing."
f. "When I picked it up in my hands, it disappeared."
g. "It vanished when I tried to touch it with my hands."
h. "The part we held between our fingers very quickly seemed to just go to nothing."
i. After two days the "web was rapidly disintegrating and disappearing."
SPECIAL PROPERTIES NOTED
At Oloron, France: "These fibres resembled wool or nylon. When rolled into a ball, they rapidly became gelatinous, then sublimed in the air and disappeared. The fibres burned like cellophane when ignited. "
At Jerome School: "We handled this material; it was very fine and soft to touch. It did not stick to our hands, but when we held two ends and pulled, it stretched without tearing. Where it stretched it had a shiny appearance. The part we held between our fingers very quickly seemed to just go to nothing. However, we could roll it between our fingers into a very, very tiny ball. In a short time our hands had a green stain on them. I soon washed my hands in warm water and the stain rinsed quickly off. Mr. Warrick said he was leaving his on his hands to see what would happen--he later said his hands became clammy and finally the color disappeared of its own accord. "
In most of the incidents where there were falls of cobwebby substance from the sky, shiny disc- or cigar-shaped bodies were observed, and the substance appeared to be dropped from these bodies. In the case of the cobwebby substance that fell over a half-mile square area near Horseheads, New York, the material was first discovered in the early morning of February 21, 1955. Since this material strongly resembled that observed in connection with shiny aerial objects in the fact of its having fallen from the sky, being fibrous in character, and having the property of rapidly disintegrating, it might be assumed to have been produced under similar circumstances.
Granting this fairly reasonable assumption, it would seem that the results of a chemical analysis of the Horseheads fibre might throw some light on the nature of angel hair.
Since different attempts were made to analyze this material and the report of these attempts reached the press it seems worthwhile to include a record of them here. The results of analysis by several different professional people are strangely contradictory. It is a significant fact, however, that none of the scientists identified the material as the web of a ballooning spider.
The following analyses are noted:
Dr. Francis A. Richmond, professor emeritus at Elmira College, described the material as "short, weak fibres that looked and felt like cotton or wool."
Dr. Charles B. Rutenber, professor of chemistry at Elmira College, declared that, based on chemical analysis, the material was ''cotton, either waste or fibres, that had been in explosion and were heavily damaged." Tests with a Geiger counter showed it to be radioactive. These findings were supported by Dr. Richmond and Mrs. Hans Bernt, assistant professor of art. Later, Dr. Rutenber suddenly reversed his decision; he said the material was a protein product created by the escape of a hot milk product at the local milk plant.
Mr. Louis R. Hermann and Mr. Robert L. Mix, chemical technicians at the Westinghouse plant, said that the material consisted of cotton and wool fibres with, pieces of fine copper wire mixed in.
Mr. John B. Diffenderfer, manager of the chemistry section of the local Westinghouse plant, held to the milk theory. The Westinghouse test showed 30 percent carbon with various metals present.
Assumptions might also be made as to the origin of angel hair. Aime Michel, in his book The Truth About Flying Saucers, calls attention to the Plantier theory on this point in the following words: "...as Plantier thinks, the angel's hair results from the alteration of the chemical properties of atoms and molecules of the air affected by the ultra-heavy particles projected by the field [of the UFO]." Alongside this reference the following fact might be noted: It was definitely established by Dr. Willard F. Libby, of the University of Chicago, in 1947, that Carbon 14, known as radioactive carbon, is produced by cosmic rays in the atmosphere from atoms of nitrogen. The fibrous material, cotton, is nearly pure cellulose
and contains atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Conceivably angel hair could be forms of what chemists call a chain polymer of cellulose, containing radioactive Carbon 14 combined with the hydrogen and oxygen from moisture in the air, and three elements combining under the action of the ultra-heavy particles referred to by Plantier.
But this is probably too much speculation. At any rate it would be very desirable to have the benefit of detailed scientific tests of the real angel hair definitely observed to have been associated with UFOs. When this is once accomplished, a long step in the knowledge of UFOs will have been made. Angel hair will fall again no doubt in other areas. Let us hope that some success will be achieved before long in securing samples of this elusive material definitely associated with UFOs, and that chemical and physical tests can be made before it completely disintegrates.
The purpose of this discussion is primarily the presentation of evidence for the purpose of establishing the reality of UFO phenomena and the existence of the material known as angel hair. As has been pointed out, the findings are based not only upon newspaper and other printed accounts, but also upon the testimonies of witnesses in the form of letters of school teachers and children, statements the truth of which no reasonable-minded person would doubt. Some analyses have been attempted of the fibrous material--apparently without much success. It is to be hoped that scientists will be challenged by the facts here presented and that scientific groups will sponsor the further investigation of these phenomena.
It is also urged that the United States and other governments change their policies of withholding UFO facts from the general public, and that all news agencies, the radio and television broadcasting companies, newspapers, and current periodicals, and professional scientists also, desist from the very damaging current practice of ridicule of UFO reports and persons connected with the serious investigation of these phenomena.
The author recognizes with great appreciation the cooperation of two fellow members of the Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York in furnishing factual material for this study, Mr. Ted Bloecher, Director of Research, and Mr. Lex Mebane, Secretary/Treasurer. The author takes all responsibility for the speculative material of this article, and realizes full well that many will disagree with him.
C. A. M. December 1956