The Utah Pictures
It was a week later when Smith answered my letter. He told me he expected to be in Washington during the next two months, and he'd have time for at least one talk.
"As you know," he wrote, "my project is now classified. But I’ll be glad to tell you what I can, within security limits."
In the meantime, I decided, it might be a good idea to ask the Air Force what they now thought of the magnetic theory. There was a chance that they might have reversed their stand after all the mounting evidence.
Since it was almost Christmas, I put off submitting the questions until later. During the holidays I met an old friend in Washington, a former service man whose contacts I'd often envied. Since I can't use his right name, for reasons which will be obvious, I shall call him Henry Brennard.
"I hear you're back on the saucers," he said. "How's it feel to have the Air Force helping you for a change?"
"It was hard to believe at first. But they've really given me the dope—at least on sightings."
I told him about some of the Intelligence reports, and Brennard nodded.
"I knew it was getting hot. What have they decided to do about the Tremonton pictures?"
"Tremonton? I never heard of them."
"Oh-oh, I guess I talked out of turn. They must have a tighter lid on them than I thought." Brennard hesitated. "Well, since I've spilled it, if you promise not to use it without Air Force permission—"
"Don't worry; I wouldn't use any Air Force case unless it was cleared."
"OK. Well, these pictures were taken by a Navy warrant officer back in July. They're movies, and they show several saucers maneuvering near Tremonton, Utah—the Air Force calls them the Utah or 'U' pictures. The ATIC lab in Dayton and Navy Photo-Intelligence have been secretly analyzing them for months."
"How much do they show?" I asked quickly. This could be the break I'd been looking for.
'The discs weren't close enough for much detail," he answered. "The film shows a formation of round, bright objects going like a bat out of hell. They're also maneuvering in the formation, and at the end one of the saucers reverses its course and leaves the rest. But it's what the analysis shows that counts. It proves the things were round machines of some kind, making speeds and turns no plane on earth could duplicate.
"At first some of the Air Force skeptics wouldn't believe it. Even though they checked on this warrant officer and found he was OK, they still said it must be a fake. So the lab men tried to duplicate the pictures. They didn't have any luck, and the experts all agree—Navy and Air Force both—that the film's genuine."
"What does the analysis show?" I said. "I mean, beside proving they were actual flying discs."
"Well, first it tells the technical stuff, how they worked it out using the resolving power of the lens—formula stuff. Then it gives the speeds. If I got it right, the discs were
about seven miles away, making around 1,000 miles an hour.
"And maneuvering beside that?"
"That's right. Some of them were whipping around in tight circles. The experts figured no plane could possibly turn that fast—even if we had any in production that would make a thousand miles an hour. The film's raised ned at the Pentagon. I heard General Samford had it run for him three times."
"This explains a lot of things," I said. "It must be why they've changed their policy about giving out Intelligence reports."
Next morning I went in to the Pentagon and sprang it on Chop.
"Al," I said, "how much has ATIC learned from analyzing the saucer movies?"
It was the first time I'd seen him startled. But he covered up and gave me his dead-pan look.
"What movies? Oh, you mean those old Montana shots back in '50. They were only—"
"I mean the Tremonton, Utah, pictures," I said. "The ones ATIC and Navy Photo-Intelligence have been analyzing."
He tried the blank look a second longer, then gave up.
"Who told you?" he said.
Without giving him Brennard's name, I explained.
"I’ll have to tell Intelligence about this," said Al. "Come back tomorrow and well talk about it."
When I saw him the next day he told me Intelligence wasn't too happy about the leak.
"But since you already know," he said, "well confirm it. But please keep it under your hat."
"I won't use it unless you clear it for me. You ought to know that by now."
"Fair enough," Al said. Then he gave me a few more details on the Utah pictures. They had been taken by Warrant Officer Delbert C. Newhouse, during a trip he
and his wife were making. At 11:10 a.m., on July 2, Newhouse and his wife were driving along slowly, seven miles from Tremonton, when they saw a formation of bright objects—round, brilliant spots standing out against the blue sky.
Newhouse was familiar with aircraft—his station was the Aviation Supply Depot at Oakland, where he was assigned as a Navy photographer. But he knew these things weren't planes. They were round, unlike anything he had ever seen, and obviously moving at supersonic speed.
Getting out his Bell and Howell 16-mm. camera, Newhouse put on a telephoto lens and shot 40 feet of film. In the last few moments he trained the camera on one disc which had reversed its course, leaving the formation. By the time he turned back, the others had disappeared.
After developing the film, he sent it to Project Bluebook for evaluation. Then, for three months, the pictures were studied by experts of the Photo-Reconnaissance Laboratory at Dayton.
"Fraud was completely ruled out," said Chop. "They tried every trick method to duplicate the film, but it couldn't be done. They blew up separate frames, and made all kinds of tests—well, you got the dope, your tip was right."
"Al," I said, "this is it. You've finally got proof the saucers are interplanetary."
"The Air Force isn't admitting that. Remember, the film's still secret. We're waiting for the Navy report—it's due January 15. But we're pretty sure they’ll confirm the ATIC lab analysis—in fact, they've already done so informally. We just want it in writing."
"What happens then?"
"It isn't decided. Some Intelligence officers want to show the film to a small group of the press." "Phew!" I said. "That'll really blow the lid off."
"There's a lot of opposition," Al warned me. "But if
there is a press showing, well make it official, with a public statement."
"That there isn't any conventional answer—the things aren't planes, balloons, or any other known object."
"You can't stop there. The whole country will be on your neck."
Al shook his head.
"We can't say positively what the saucers are, because we don't have any proof."
"No proof? With this film, on top of all the sighting reports? What will it take before the Air Force will admit they're interplanetary?"
"I'd say we'd have to get one on the ground, see exactly what it was—and probably know why it was here."
"But you think people should see this film?"
"Yes, I think the public should know about it."
"What does General Samford think about showing it?"
"I can't speak for him," Al said guardedly. "My personal opinion is that he won't oppose it."
A little later I asked him if the Air Force had any other movies of flying saucers.
"The only other movie," said Al, "was the Montana one. You know, the picture that was taken by a ball-park manager in 1950. It shows what looks like two round bright objects. Colonel Harold Watson—he was Intelligence chief at Dayton then—said they were reflections from a water tower. But ATIC hasn't any official conclusion, though they did analyze the film. I do know they got out a copy and compared it with the Utah pictures."
"I noticed you said 'the only other movie.' Have you got any secret still pictures?"
"We have some stills, yes, but they're not secret. And they don't show anything important. Most of them show just a round or oval shape, too far off to be identified."
"Wait a minute," I said. "You have one picture, taken
in Newfoundland—ATIC case 26. A saucer burned a big hole in a cloud, and Project Sign was going to have a meteorologist calculate the amount of heat required to do this. What did they find out?"
"Nothing definite," Al answered. "And the picture didn't show the saucer—only the hole in the cloud."
"How about the new grid cameras? Last time I asked, you said they hadn't been distributed yet. That was over three months ago."
Al looked embarrassed, but before he could answer, the phone rang. When he finished talking, he turned around with a sheepish grin.
"I know it'll sound suspicious, but we've had more trouble with those cameras. The grids weren't cemented on right, and they keep coming off."
I didn't say anything. Al's face got a little red.
"Oh, all right—I’ll admit it sounds like a stall."
"It's OK, Al. I guess if the grid cameras had shown up something, it would be secret anyway."
"Maybe so. But I'm telling you the solemn truth. We haven't got a single grid picture."
Though he sounded sincere, I wasn't convinced. Even with my tip on the Utah film he'd denied its existence at first. But there was no use pressing him, so I switched to my questions on magnetically powered discs.
"Did ATIC ever analyze the discs' flutter? It was recommended in the last Project Sign report."
"Not that I know of," said Al. "If they did, they haven't told me."
"Do they have any new ideas on the magnetic-propulsion theory?"
He eyed me ironically.
"Don't tell me you're falling for Scully's story after all this time."
"No, but the rotating disc answer isn't impossible just because he tied it to the little men deal. I know his explanation was full of holes—or rather the way Silas Newton
told it to him. Just the same, I notice a few scientists have swung around—at least they admit it's possible to tap electricity in the atmosphere."
"All right, maybe it is the answer. But so far as I know it hasn't been proved."
"Then the Air Force hasn't built any test discs, like the Canadians?"
Al fiddled with his cigarette fighter before he answered. "Circular airfoils have been tested—you know that. There was the Navy XF5-U and-"
"I mean rotating discs using electromagnetic fields."
"It's possible. I couldn't say."
"What does ATIC say about that Camp Drum report, where they heard what sounded like rotating discs?"
"No conclusions," said Al.
"Can you get me the Intelligence report?"
"Not now, anyway. They're still analyzing the case."
It was the first time since July there had been any hint of a hold-up on reports.
"What about some 'mother ship' cases?" I said. It was a stab in the dark; I wasn't sure they had even one confirmed report, unless it was the Oneida sighting. And I didn't class that as a mother-ship case.
Al gave me a sidelong look.
"Another tip?" he said. "OK, I’ll see what I can do. It may take time—the Project's shorthanded and behind in its work."
It could be true, but I began to suspect a stall. Later on, I found out that my radar article had caused trouble; some officers had objected to my getting the ATIC reports.
While I was waiting for word on Air Force cases, I read over several unofficial reports of mother ships.
The first came from Culver City, California. On July 23, 1952, several aircraft-plant workers had sighted a bright, silvery ship flying northwest over the city. One technician, who watched it through binoculars, described it as elliptical-shaped and flying with a rocking motion.
Apparently at a high altitude, the strange craft stopped and hovered. In a few seconds the aircraft men saw two small discs launched from the starboard side. For several minutes the discs circled over the area, in a precise pattern. Then the "mother ship" took them aboard. Climbing straight up, at tremendous speed, the cigar-shaped machine quickly vanished.
The next three incidents took place in Europe. On September 29, 1952, a large cigar-shaped ship was sighted over Denmark. Flying beneath it were several discs, all of them rotating at high speed. Both the parent ship and the discs were reported from various parts of the country.
Two weeks later, on October 10, another mother ship, also accompanied by spinning discs, was seen over Germany, Norway, and Sweden. One published report carried eyewitness accounts from 30 Swedish cities; at least 7,000 people were said to have watched the mysterious formation. Later that same day a single disc was seen over Copenhagen airport, by Danish air force officers.
On October 14 hundreds of Frenchmen at Lens and Oleron reported another cigar-shaped ship with a convoy of discs. Many of the observers were leading citizens, including several college professors at Oleron. The story had one fantastic detail which has all the earmarks of hysteria. According to a few Oleron citizens, one disc discharged hundreds of odd, fiber like threads as it zigzagged over the city. Afterward, one man insisted he had been caught like a fly in a spider web, and several witnesses confirmed this eerie tale.
Except for this, the Oleron-Lens sightings were identical with the other mother ship reports. In addition, this case had radar confirmation. Operators at the Mont de Marsan airdrome, reporting to official investigators, said their scope had shown a large image unlike any known aircraft.
Compared with these European cases, the lone unofficial
American report reads like science fiction, and not too good fiction at that.
The narrator of this weird episode was one George Adamski, who had previously broken into print with alleged pictures of flying saucers. His story, which appeared in the Phoenix Gazette on November 24, 1952, was told tongue-in-cheek by staff writer Len Welch.
In the Gazette account a friend of Adamski describes him as a professor, formerly of Palomar Observatory. Actually, Adamski operates a refreshment stand on the road up to Palomar, and his astronomical experience seems to be confined to a small telescope mounted on the roof.
According to Welch, who advised his readers to take a firm grip on their chairs, Adamski and several friends sighted a large cigar-shaped ship over the Arizona desert. Later, the story goes, Adamski left his companions and took up a solitary watch some miles up the road. If anything unusual happened, he was to wave his hat or make some other signal.
During his vigil Adamski was amazed to see a round device, some 20 feet in diameter, descend near him. Climbing out of the saucer, a man from space quietly stepped to the ground. The visitor was about 23 years old, with a tanned, ruddy face, grayish-green eyes, and long sandy hair which hung down his back and blew in the wind. He was wearing a brown Eisenhower jacket, ski pants, and reddish-brown shoes, Adamski's friends later told Welch.
The man from space, it seems, spoke a little English, along with a gibberish that sounded like Chinese. Answering Adamski's questions mainly by nods, he said his saucer was interplanetary. It had come, he indicated, from the mother ship they had seen, which was now waiting for them, about 500 miles up.
When Adamski asked why they were visiting the earth, the spaceman waved his arms to describe A-bomb mushroom clouds. During this enlightening conversion, Adamski saw a young boy—or else a "very beautiful woman with
shoulder-length hair"—peeping from a porthole. Shortly after this, the spaceman called attention to odd marks on the ground, made by the soles of his shoes. Then he boarded the disc, which silently took off and soared away.
Examining the footprints, Adamski found some mysterious hieroglyphics and designs impressed in the earth. By good fortune one of his friends happened to have some plaster of Paris with him, and they carefully made casts of the spaceman's message.
For good measure, the Gazette had printed pictures of the casts, with the caption: "A Message from Space?" But to date, the meaning of the hieroglyphics remains unknown—unless, of course, Adamski knows the key to the riddle . . .
It was some time after New Year's when Chop phoned me about the reports I'd requested.
"We've cleared two cases for you. I think you'll find them interesting—they're along the lines you mentioned."
By then I'd heard about the objections to my getting official reports. But I didn't ask any questions. It was plain that the protests hadn't altered General Samford's decision.
The first case from ATIC went back to the critical days in July. The Intelligence report, I noticed, mentioned eight competent witnesses, one an ex-Navy pilot, now an aircraft engineer at a plant in California.
At 6:35 p.m., on July 27, the eight men had seen a large silvery ship, flying at terrific speed over Manhattan Beach. It was evidently fairly large—even at a high altitude; it appeared to be the size of a dime held at arm's length. The men heard no sound, and the ex-Navy pilot, watching through binoculars, could see no exhaust trails.
Directly over Manhattan Beach, the strange ship turned south. Then, to the group's amazement, it separated into seven round objects. Swiftly, three of the discs took up a V formation, the others following in pairs, flying abreast.
"It appeared as if a stack of coins had smoothly separated," the pilot told an Intelligence officer. "The entire
operation was very gracefully executed. The turns, too, were very smooth."
After circling for a few minutes, the formation took up a north-northeast heading and rapidly went out of sight. Later a careful Air Force check showed there were no known aircraft in the vicinity. From the wording of the report, I could tell the interrogating officer took the sighting seriously; he had emphasized that the pilot's background made him an unusually well-qualified observer.
In releasing the case, ATIC had given no hint of what it believed the answer. As usual in sightings with no conventional explanation, it ended the report with a noncommittal, "No conclusion."
Before going on to the second case, I tried to figure out the meaning of this peculiar sighting. It was certainly not a mother ship operation. And in spite of the accurate observations, it was possible the discs had not actually been attached to each other. They might have been flying in a vertical column, so close together that they appeared as one unit. But this explanation must have occurred to the pilot, the interrogating officer, and the Project analysts. And it looked as if ATIC had accepted the report at face value.
That raised technical questions I couldn't begin to answer. The discs might have been attached to each other magnetically until the break-up. Possibly they had all rotated as one. Or there might be some device that kept them slightly separated, so that each disc could rotate independently.
The reason for such a system was easier to guess. A remote-control operator, on a mother ship higher up, would find it far simpler to guide seven discs as one unit, than if they were flying separately. Until it was necessary to split them up, for different missions, this would be the most sensible way to control them.
While I was puzzling over the technical problems, I suddenly recalled the Oneida sighting. This Manhattan
Beach report put a new light on the Japan case. When the Air Force men at Oneida first sighted that saucer, it had appeared as a round, dark object visible behind a glowing light. Later it had split up into three units which kept accurate intervals as they raced away.
With the Oneida case to back it up, the "stack of coins" report took on more reality. Each of the incidents tended to confirm the other. I could see now why ATIC hadn't questioned the Manhattan Beach sighting. Also, they might have other parallel cases that conclusively proved this "stacking up" operation.
The second case which Chop had just cleared was even more dramatic. This strange sighting occurred over the Gulf of Mexico, as a B-29 bomber was returning to its base in Texas. It was just before dawn on December 6, 1952—less than 48 hours after Lieutenant Earl Fogle's near-collision at Laredo, Texas.
Approaching the end of a night practice flight to Florida, the B-29 was cruising in bright moonlight, at 18,000 feet. So far it had been a routine mission.
At 5:24 a.m. the big bomber, piloted by Captain John Harter, was 190 miles from Galveston and about 100 miles south of the Louisiana coast. A minute before, Harter had called the radar officer, Lieutenant Sid Coleman, and asked him to turn on the set, so he could check the coastline on the auxiliary scope in the cockpit.
At 5:25, back in the ship, Coleman was watching the main radarscope to see if the coast showed up. Suddenly the blip of some unknown object appeared at one edge of the screen. When the sweep made its next revolution, Coleman jumped.
In that brief moment the unknown craft had gone 13 miles.
A third blip leaped onto the scope as the oncoming object streaked toward the B-29. For an instant it seemed they would meet head-on. Then Coleman saw their paths
were diverging. He snatched up his stop-watch, yelled for the flight engineer.
"Bailey! Help me track this thing!"
Before the blips faded, Coleman and the staff sergeant swiftly computed the unknown's speed.
It was 5,240 miles an hour.
The two men gaped at each other, then Coleman grabbed his intercom mike and called the pilot.
"Captain—check your scope! We just clocked an unknown at over 5,000."
"That's impossible," snapped Harter. "Recalibrate the set."
As Coleman hurriedly went to work, Master Sergeant Bailey bent over the scope.
"There's another one—two of them," he exclaimed.
A second later Lieutenant Cassidy, the navigator, cut in on the intercom.
"I've got 'em on my scope, too," he said tautly.
By the time Coleman finished recalibrating, the blips of four UFOs were racing across his screen. Abruptly, Harter's crisp voice came through the intercom.
"I've got four unknowns at 12 o'clock [dead ahead]. What do you show?"
"They're on all three scopes," said Coleman. "I've recalibrated—it's no malfunction."
Up in the cockpit, Harter incredulously watched the swift-moving blips cross his glass. As one approached on the right, he called out a hasty alert.
"Unknown at 3 o'clock!"
Back in the B-29, Bailey sprang to the right waist blister and peered out into the night. Astonished, he saw a blue-lit object streak from front to rear. Moving so fast it was only a blue-white blur; the saucer vanished under the bomber's wing.
The strange machine had hardly disappeared when another group of blips came onto all three scopes. Like the other machines, the new group was making over 5,000
miles an hour. To make it worse, they were all coming from almost dead ahead. Though their course still diverged enough to miss the bomber by miles, the slightest change might put the crew in instant peril. At those terrific speeds they wouldn't have a prayer and every man aboard knew it.
Six minutes after the first sighting, there was a sudden lull. As the scopes cleared, Coleman drew a long breath. Apparently the nightmare was over.
A minute passed. The tense airmen were slowly beginning to relax when a third group of blips flashed onto the scopes. Coleman seized his stop-watch again, swiftly called off the times and distances. Bailey figured the speeds, grimly nodded.
"Same as before," he muttered.
The radar officer bent over the screen. Two of the UFO's were rocketing by on the right.
"Unknowns at four o'clock!" he bawled into the mike.
Staff Sergeant Ferris beat Bailey to the waist blister. Open-mouthed, he watched two machines streak by—mere blurs of blue-white light.
Up in the cockpit, Harter's eyes were glued to the auxiliary scope. Forty miles away, five of the saucers were racing behind the bomber, cutting across its course.
Suddenly the saucers swerved, headed straight for the B-29. Harter froze. At their terrific speed they would close the gap in three seconds.
But before he could move the controls, an incredible thing happened. Abruptly the onrushing UFO's slowed to the bomber's speed. For ten seconds they kept pace behind it, while the pilot held his breath.
Then, swiftly picking up speed, the unknown machines pulled off to one side. At the same moment Harter caught sight of a huge blip—a half-inch spot on the scope. Amazed, he saw the most fantastic thing of all.
Still moving at over 5,000 miles an hour, the smaller craft merged with the large machine. Instantly, the huge
blip began to accelerate. Moving so fast that Harter sat stunned, it flashed across his scope and was gone.
A few moments later Coleman's awed voice came through the intercom.
"Captain, did you see that?"
"Yes—I saw it," said Harter.
"We clocked it," said Coleman. "You won't believe this —it was making over 9,000 miles an hour!"
"I believe it, all right," Harter said grimly. "That's just what I figured."
For the rest of the way he kept the crew on alert, but no more saucers appeared.
The meaning of what they had seen was inescapable. The discs had been launched from a huge mother ship for some type of reconnaissance mission. Probably it had covered parts of the United States, but at the discs' tremendous speed they could have been operating anywhere over the globe.
For a rendezvous, whoever guided the discs had chosen this point over the Gulf of Mexico. After the B-29 was sighted, one group of discs had been diverted for a brief observation or tracking. Then, flying at 5,000 m.p.h., they had been taken aboard the mother ship. And in a matter of seconds the huge machine had almost doubled its speed.
It was almost unbelievable. But the radar set had been working perfectly, and the visual confirmation, as Bailey and Ferris saw the machines flash by, was final, absolute proof. Three separate times during the operation saucers had been seen exactly where the three radarscopes showed them.
Captain Harter had radioed ahead, and Intelligence officers were waiting when they landed. Over and over the airmen were interrogated, separately and together. But nothing could shake their story, and statements in the report showed their firm conviction.
Captain Harter: "One group of blips was noted, after the set was calibrated, to arc about and swing in behind
us at about 30 miles, and maintain speed and distance for approximately ten seconds . . . Contact was broken off at 0535, after a group of the blips merged into a one-half-inch arc and proceeded across the scope and off it at a computed speed of over 9,000 m.p.h."
Lieutenant Coleman: "I noticed one UFO approach our aircraft at a terrific rate of speed. I timed it as best I could with a stop-watch over a known distance and the flight engineer computed the speed at 5,240 m.p.h. I alerted the entire crew to look for the objects visually, and flashes of light were noted. The closest the objects came was approximately 20 miles. I saw about 20 objects in all . . . I recalibrated the set and there was no change.
"The objects were small and possibly round, with the exception of one very large return shaped as follows, one-half-inch curved arc. I also noticed a large return come up to within 40 miles of our tail from behind and then disappear. To the best of my knowledge, I believe that this object was real and moved at an extremely high speed and was not a set malfunction or optical illusion."
Master Sergeant Bailey: "The radar operator clocked the object [the first one seen] and I computed the air speed of the object to average 5,240 m.p.h. Twice during the period, the radar operator reported an object to be passing at 3 o'clock. Upon looking out the window, I saw a blue-white streak travel front to rear and disappear under the wing."
Staff Sergeant Ferris: "After the radar operator reported objects approaching at 4 o'clock, I immediately looked in that position and saw two flashes of a blue-white nature for approximately three seconds."
As was to be expected, neither Bailey nor Ferris could make out the shape of the saucers. At their great speeds they were naturally only a blur.
Of all the official reports I'd seen, this was the most astonishing. That it had been released to me seemed to mean only one thing. Clearly, Intelligence—or at least
Group A—wanted the public to see this conclusive proof that the saucers were interplanetary machines.
Step by step they had shown me convincing evidence adding up to this answer. It had been like a revolving stage, each scene revealing some new, dramatic phase.
First, the simultaneous radar and visual sightings, which proved the saucers, were not temperature inversions or optical illusions. Then the Oneida case, official proof of solid objects behind the mysterious lights. After this, case after case with pilots' statements that the saucers were controlled machines, with speeds and maneuvers beyond the power of any earth-made aircraft. Fourth, the Utah pictures, which they had fully confirmed when they could easily have denied their existence. And now this mother-ship report, tying it all together into the space-ship answer.
Thinking it over, I remembered a discussion at the Pentagon several months before. It had been set off by Robert S. Allen's column, "Inside Washington."
"The Air Force has a breathtaking report on 'flying saucers,' " Allen had claimed. "The study, prepared by noted scientists and Air Force experts, expresses the belief that some of the mysterious flying objects are genuine and that they originate from 'sources outside this planet.' That is, these devices are interplanetary aircraft of some kind. . .
"The sensational study is the work of the Air Technical Intelligence Center, Dayton, Ohio. A number of top scientists are devoting their full time to analyzing reports on flying objects . . . Air Force authorities are considering publishing certain portions of the report. Chiefly deterring them is fear the sensational nature of the findings may cause undue public alarm. These findings were described by a high Air Force official as 'fantastic but true.'"
By the time I saw Allen's column, I knew there was a group in the Air Force that wanted to make the facts public. It was possible that one of this group had given Allen a tip.
In answering queries from the public, the Air Force
PIO's denied Allen's story. Lieutenant Colonel Searles, I found, brushed it off as a mere rumor Allen had evidently picked up. Since his job was apparently to kill the saucer stories, I wasn't too much impressed. But Chop's denial had a genuine ring.
"It's on the level," he insisted. "There is absolutely no secret report saying the saucers are interplanetary."
Now, recalling the way he'd worded it, I realized it could have been only technically true. The report might have top secret. It might not have been in report form. There were several ways Chop could have slid around the facts by carefully wording his statement.
After seeing the B-29 report I was tempted to ask him again, but I decided against it. If they wanted me to know, they'd tell me. Trying to push them could upset everything.
It was now the middle of January, and the Navy's Photo-Interpretation analysis of the Utah pictures was expected any day. After that the Air Force would decide about the press showing.
Before I learned of the Utah film, I'd planned a long feature, or several articles, for True. But the editor, Ken Purdy, had told me to wait.
"From the way they're opening up," he said, "they may give you an official admission that the saucers are interplanetary."
A few days before I saw the B-29 report, I'd been given permission to tell Purdy and aviation editor John DuBarry about the Utah pictures, provided they wouldn't use the story without clearance. Both Purdy and DuBarry agreed that it was too late for an article. Before they could get it on the stands, the Utah picture details might be headlined from coast to coast. And that was almost certain to break the whole thing wide open.
Of course, if the public showing were turned down, I could still use all the material that Intelligence had released. But one thing bothered me. Even with all these
cases, I had no proof of where the saucers came from, what kind of beings controlled them, or why they were here, though I knew several possible answers. Perhaps Intelligence knew the truth, but all I could do was to weigh the various answers and decide which was most probable.
There was one step I hadn't tried lately that might yield some clues, a system I call the "reversing technique." Whoever controlled the saucers, they had solved all the tremendous problems of space travel. In comparison we were only on the threshold, but we'd come a long way in the last few years. Some of our space-travel planners had listed the complicated steps for exploration of our solar system and even beyond. And our motives for such exploration, of course, were known.
By reversing all this, I could at least get a picture of what the saucer beings had overcome, and probably how they had gone about exploring the earth.
It might even give some hint to the kind of creatures we'd face, when contact finally came.