News Clippings & Transcripts

Date: Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 
Text version created by Rich Vitello

Page 2          UFO INVESTIGATOR/MARCH 1973


Can a series of sensitive magnetometers detect the presence of UFO's?  This question remains essentially unanswered despite exhaustive efforts by NICAP member John Oswald during a 20-month period near Exeter, N.H.

Oswald, intrigued by numerous sightings reported around Exeter during 1965-66, set out in late 1970 to establish and monitor a "UFO detector" network surrounding this famous New England town.

The timing for the experiment, Nov. 1970 through Sept. 1972, proved excellent, according to Oswald, who noted in a report to NICAP  "that significant UFO activity occurred within the test area during the period covered."

The test results, however, were not as encouraging.  Oswald reported, "Although it would appear that UFO's may have been detected on two occasions and that it is actually not possible to say that some other detector alarms were not caused by UFO's, it is clear that most of the hundreds of detector alarms recorded were caused by geomagnetic storm activity."

Difficulties Encountered

One of the difficulties encountered by Oswald during the course of his experiment was the extreme sensitivity of the detectors he had designed.  "When I started building the detector network in New Hampshire, I did not think that the instruments were sensitive enough to detect sunspot-related geomagnetic storms."

Despite this problem, the experiment yielded two instances in which UFO sightings by witnesses were simultaneously detected by Oswald's magnetometers.

According to Oswald, on Jan. 13, 1971, at 7:30 p.m. at least two witnesses near Exeter observed three or four lights making strange maneuvers near power lines.  Simultaneously, according to Oswald, one of his 13 detectors sounded its alarm.

On another occasion, Nov. 23, 1971, at 1:55 a.m., a large, fast-moving oval white light was observed by a single witness.  According to Oswald's report, two of his detectors sounded their alarms within seconds of the sightings.

The Detector

All 13 detectors used by Oswald during the 20 month period followed the same basic principle in design and construction (see Photo #1).

In each detector, a bar magnet was suspended on a fine cotton thread "such that the magnet would rotate in  horizontal plane and come to rest with its poles oriented toward the magnetic poles of the earth."

A delicate copper needle was attached to the magnet and extended from one pole.  The needle was made to protrude through a small loop of heavier copper wire several inches away.

The needle and loop were incorporated into an electrical circuit which was completed when magnetic deflection caused the needle to touch the loop.  The circuit was powered by a battery and incorporated a small alarm bell.

The device, as designed by Oswald, contained a lock-on device which caused the alarm bell to ring continuously once it started until the circuit was broken manually.

The supporting structure for the magnet and needle was made of a heavy copper or aluminum wire which in turn was mounted on a square of three quarter-inch plywood.  The entire device, excluding the battery and bell, was protected from the elements and air currents through the use of an inverted glass jar securely fastened to the plywood base (see Photo #2).

Visual Sightings

During the course of his experiment, Oswald investigated more than 70 UFO sightings reported in the Exeter area.  To assist him in later correlation of sightings and detector alarms, Oswald classified UFO reports into three basic categories; A-Unknown;  B-Likely Unknown  C-Possible Unknowns.  Of the 70-odd cases, Oswald classified only 12 in category A, or those having the strongest likelihood  of being "true UFOs."

The two sightings recorded simultaneously by a detector and witnesses were among the 12 cases investigated by Oswald and listed in category A.