A New Dimension in UFO Phenomena
As if to dramatize a relatively unprecedented feature of UFO sightings, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, former Air Force officer in charge of Project Blue Book, has recently characterized as "a whole new dimension to the UFO investigation" the reports of spectacular electromagnetic disturbances associated with the appearances of aerial phenomena in November . *
Looking backward over the past 14 years, one cannot help but be impressed by the apparent succession of different features of UFO appearances, which, each in its turn, strangely enough, seems to emphasize a new aspect of outer space contrivances. It is as though almost unsurmountable difficulties of communication by outer space intelligences with human intelligence seem to exist. One could speculate that one artifice after another is exploited by those from afar in order to penetrate the terrestrial iron curtain set up by short-sighted terrestrial intelligence.
1. In the years 1944-45 the curious gyrations of foo-fighters (were time and time again observed about the combat planes of both Nazi and Allied airmen in the war theaters.
2. In the spring and summer of 1947 the disc-shaped flying saucers began to haunt the skies, and in July, 1952, by their many appearances literally took over by storm the news headlines of the American Press.
3. The disc-shaped objects were shortly followed by the much larger cigar-shaped craft, which from all appearances seemed to be the carriers of the smaller vehicles. Both disc-shaped and cigar-shaped objects were being identified by experienced radar men as solid objects on the radar screen.
4. In his book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Captain Ruppelt devotes an entire chapter to accounts of several projects carried out by unnamed American scientists wherein great increases in background radiation were measured by Geiger counters in connection with observed sightings of UFOs. These measures of nuclear radiation covered a period extending from the fall of 1949 to the summer of 1951.
* Since this article was written in 1958, NICAP has published a booklet "Electro-Magnetic Effects Associated with Unidentified Flying Objects," a study of 90 cases of this type. See App.E.
5. In the fall of 1951 nine noiseless green fireballs streamed across the skies of New Mexico in paths that ignored the influence of gravity, and Dr. Lincoln LaPaz of the University of New Mexico is still wondering what they were.
6. Between the years of 1952 and 1955 there were numerous reported falls of the magic fibrous material known as Angel Hair. This material, in several cases seen to fall from UFOs, has not yet been identified by the chemist.
7. Now in November, 1957, are encountered such spectacular electromagnetic phenomena with the appearance of luminous egg-shaped objects as stopped automobile engines, dimmed automobile headlights, and caused failure of radio receiving sets.
Yet, in spite of this dramatic succession of unexplained aerial manifestations, the scientific world as a whole, like the traditional ostrich, keeps its orthodox-minded head buried in the sand.
Before going into detail about the November, 1957 happenings involving UFOs, it would be well to note the few scattered incidents previous to this date wherein electromagnetic influences were associated with them.
On June 24, 1947, in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, a Portland prospector spotted five or six discs in the sky for some fifty seconds. The compass hand on his watch weaved wildly from side topside while the aerial objects were in view.
On August 19, 1952, a Scoutmaster and three Boy Scouts encountered a UFO in Florida woods. Soil and grass samples were taken from the place over which the UFO had hovered. The roots of clumps of sod were charred, but the blades of grass above were not damaged. The only possible explanation is electromagnetic heating by induction.
On August 19, 1953, at West Haven, Connecticut, a fiery ball came out from the sky, crashed through a steel sign board making a hole about one foot in diameter, hovered over the road, and then passed upward over the trees. This occurrence was accompanied by a terrific explosion which dimmed house lights and jarred the whole area.
On May 31, 1957, a British airliner was flying over Kent on its way to Holland. An oval-shaped UFO was sighted. Thereupon the plane experienced complete radio failure and was unable to contact London. The radio circuit-breaker had broken circuit. The equipment was fully serviceable after the UFO had gone.
On September 1, 1957, a man and his wife from Sioux City, Iowa, were driving in a car about one mile from Le Mars, Iowa, when they observed a flash of light in the sky which stopped their motor and cut off the car lights.
Between November 2 and November 14, 1957, in several different localities in the United States, as well as one each in Canada and Alaska, the sighting of UFOs was attended by the stopping of car engines, the dimming of headlights, and the interference of car radios, only during the times UFOs were visually in evidence. Among these localities are the following 13 different places:
Nov. 2 & 3 Levelland, Texas Nov. 5 San Antonio, Tex.
Nov. 3 Springfield, Illinois Nov. 5 Houston, Texas
Nov. 3 Calgary, Alberta, Canada Nov. 6 Plattsburg, N. Y.
Nov. 4 Elmwood Park, Chicago Nov. 6 Danville, Ill.
Nov. 4 Alamogordo, New Mexico Nov. 7 Moutville, Ohio
Nov. 4 Kodiak, Alaska Nov. 10 Hammond, Ind.
Nov. 14 Jamara, Ill.
In most instances reports of these occurrences were made by officers of the law, such as sheriffs, policemen, and highway patrolmen. Officers of the law are not given to tall tales of fantastic happenings. Moreover, they are trained to observe, record, and report accurately on all happenings in the districts in their charge, where such happenings pertain to the public safety, or are related to the protection of the general public.
On the Saturday night of November 2, 1957, several persons at scattered localities in the vicinity of Levelland, Texas, encountered close up, above the highways, a large luminous egg-shaped object some two hundred or more feet in length. Among the observers and reporters listed were the following officers of the law:
Police Patrolman A. J. Fowler
Sheriff Weir Clem
Deputy Sheriff Pat McCulloch
Constable Lloyd Bollen
Highway Patrolman Lee Hargrove
Highway Patrolman Floyd Cavin
Three of the reports from separate areas read very much alike in the description of the object and its apparent effect on car engines and lights. At least a score of motorists had similar experiences.
Police Patrolman A. J. Fowler told of at least 15 persons getting a good look at an object estimated as 200 feet in length, shaped like an egg and lit up as though it were on fire. When it got close, car engines would stall and lights would go off.
Sheriff Weir Clem and Deputy Sheriff Pat McCulloch also saw the object. The Sheriff said it streaked noiselessly across the road 200 yards in front of him, but did not affect his car. "It lit up the whole pavement in front of us for about two seconds," said Clem. He called it oval-shaped and said it looked like a brilliant sunset.
Two men, Pedro Saucedo and Joe Salaz, driving a truck, reported their experience. Said Saucedo, a Korean War veteran, "When it got near, the lights of my truck went out and the motor died. I jumped out of the truck and hit the dirt because I was afraid. I called to Joe, but he didn't get out. The thing passed directly over my truck with a great sound and a rush of wind. It sounded like thunder and my truck rocked from the blast. I felt a lot of heat. Then I got up and watched it go out of sight toward Levelland."
Each of several observers was interviewed separately by Sheriff Clem, and fortunately these interviews were witnessed by NICAP member James Lee, who had rushed to the scene to investigate for the Committee. In Lee's telephoned report to NICAP he stressed the witnesses' sincerity. Both he and the Sheriff were convinced that the reports were true.
Within the next few days scores of sensational reports of sightings were received. Just to mention another which occurred close to the Air Force Missile Development Center, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, a little more than two hundred miles west of Levelland, Texas. This incident took place on Monday night, November 6.
James Stokes, a research engineer of the Center, reported a dramatic encounter with a UFO. A huge elliptically-shaped object, Stokes said, had appeared between the Center and White Sands. As it passed near Highway 24 it had cutout his radio and then stopped his engine and those of other cars. Stokes estimated the UFO's length at 500 feet. At its closest point, he said, he could feel a wave of heat. The object had no visible portholes or any exhaust trail.
Stokes related his experience to Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzen, of Alamogordo. * Mrs. Coral Lorenzen is Director of Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) and through her bulletin is internationally known in UFO research. Holloman Air Force Base officials had Stokes scheduled for a physical examination due to the fact that he had a rather pronounced sunburn after the incident. While he was sitting in the Lorenzen living room that Monday evening, he continually scratched or rubbed his neck and face, complaining of itching sensations. However, the discolorations and irritation were completely gone the next morning. On Tuesday evening Stokes was invited to the Lorenzens' where local members of APRO met to talk over current events. He looked quite normal then.
James Stokes, an electrical engineer engaged in high altitude research at the Government Development Center, surely deserves to be thought of as a reliable scientific witness.
An Air Force statement released on November 15 read: "The Levelland incident was caused by ball lightning or St. Elmo's fire. The cause of the stalled cars--wet electrical circuits."
J. C. Ballard, meteorologist-in-charge of the U. S. Weather Bureau in Atlanta, Georgia, said that ball lightning has never been reported more than a few feet or a few yards from observers. He also said that the balls are the size of a man's fist. A good many scientists even deny that ball lightning exists.
The Encyclopedia Britannica states that St. Elmo's fire is a brush-like discharge of atmospheric electricity, which is seen around masts of ships and church steeples. It has also been seen around tips of aircraft propellers and wings. It is invariably attached to some solid object. The Air Force statement does not identify any solid object.
Explaining the Levelland and Alamogordo cases, Dr. Donald Menzel, Harvard Observatory, said the objects were nothing but mirages. He said it was not surprising that a "nervous foot" could stall a car in such cases, but did not mention the radio fading and reported effect on car headlights.
Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, head of the Air Force Project Blue Book between 1951 and 1953, immediately threw cold water on Menzel's claim. He unequivocably denied that UFOs could be explained as optical tricks. "There has been a lot of talk about mirages," said Ruppelt, "this is one thing we proved saucers are not."
* APRO has since moved to Arizona; 4407 East Linden, Tucson.
On November 6, the Levelland Daily Sun News reported: "Air Force 'Mystery Man' leaves City; Actions, Identity Cloaked in Secrecy."
The anonymous visitor drove an Air Force vehicle, wore civilian clothes and said "he could not give his name or any identification.”
Around noon on the 6th he spent 30 minutes in Sheriff Clem's office. He returned about 2:30 p.m. for another half hour. About 3 p.m. he headed for Lubbock, some 30 miles away. He came back about 6:30 p. m., said to the Sheriff "Well, I'm done,” and drove off into the dark night. Adds the paper, "There was never any hint as to what he found out, or whether he was really a civilian or an Air Force officer.”
On three instances among the sightings of UFOs in November 1957, persons in close proximity to the objects felt heat. Engineer James Stokes in the Alamogordo incident and Pedro Saucedo in the Levelland sighting both had very distinct sensations of heat. At Merom, Indiana, on November 6, it was reported that a man was put in a hospital after his face had been scorched by a 40-foot object that hovered 1,000 feet above him.
In the case of the Scoutmaster incident in the Florida woods on the night of August 19, 1952, the subject reportedly was under a UFO only 30 feet above him. It is said that the heat seemed to him "unbearable." In this case the subject was examined by an Air Force official, a flight surgeon. Minor burns were on the arms and the backs of the hands of the Scoutmaster, according to Captain Ruppelt. There were indications that the inside of his nostrils might be burned. The degree of burn could be compared to light sunburn. The hair had also been singed, indicating a flash heat.
And so another chapter is added to the steadily accumulating evidence for the reality of the UFOs. The mystery of these strange phenomena of the skies grows more puzzling as the evidence gains in weight. A paradox indeed!
C. A. M. June 1958