FLYING SAUCERS: 1950
Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe
What were they like? And what were they doing here?
From the long record of sightings, it was possible to get an answer to the second question. Observation of the earth followed a general pattern. According to the reports, Europe, the most populated area, had been more closely observed than the rest of the globe until about 1870. By this time, the United States, beginning to rival Europe in industrial progress, had evidently become of interest to the space-ship crews.
From then on, Europe and the Western Hemisphere,
chiefly North America, shared the observers' attention. The few sightings
reported at other points around the world indicate an occasional check-up
on the earth in general. Apparently World War I had not greatly concerned
the space observers. One reason might be that our aerial operations were still
at a relatively low altitude.
It was a strange thing to think of some far-off race keeping track of the earth's progress. If Redell was right, it might even have started in prehistoric time; a brief survey, perhaps once a century or even further spaced, then gradually more frequent observation as cities appeared on the earth.
Somewhere on a distant planet there would be records of that long survey. I wondered how our development would appear to that far-advanced race. They would have seen the slow sailing ships, the first steamships, the lines of steel tracks that carried our first trains.
Watching for our first aircraft, they would see the drifting balloons that seemed an aerial miracle when the Montgolfiers first succeeded. More than a century later, they would have noted the slow, clumsy airplanes of the early 1900's. From our gradual progress to the big planes and bombers of today, they could probably chart our next steps toward the stratosphere--and then space.
During the last two centuries, they would have watched a dozen wars, each one fiercer than the last, spreading over the globe. Adding up all the things they had seen, they could draw an accurate picture of man, the earth creature, and the increasingly fierce struggle between the earth races.
The long survey held no sign of menace. If there had been a guiding purpose of attack and destruction, it could have been carried out years ago. It was almost certain that any planet race able to traverse space would have the means for attack.
More than once, during this investigation, I had been asked: "If the saucers are interplanetary, why haven't they landed here? Why haven't their crews tried to make contact with us?"
There was always the possibility that the planet race or races could not survive on earth, or that their communications did not include the methods that we used. But I found that hard to believe. Such a superior race would certainly be able to master our radio operations, or anything else that we had developed, in a fairly short time. And it should be equally simple to devise some means of survival on earth, just as we were already planning special suits and helmets for existence on the moon. During a talk with a former Intelligence officer, I got a key to the probable explanation.
"Why don't you just reverse it--list what we intend to do when we start exploring space? That'll give you the approximate picture of what visitors to the earth would be doing."
Naturally, all the details of space plans have not been worked out, but the general plan is clear. After the first successful earth satellites, we will either attempt a space base farther out or else launch a moon rocket. Probably many round trips to the moon will be made before going farther in space. Which planet will be explored first, after the moon?
According to Air Force reports, it is almost a certainty that planets outside the solar system are inhabited. But because of the vast distances involved, expeditions to our neighboring planets may be tried before the more formidable journeys. More than one prominent astronomer believes that life, entirely different from our own, may exist on some solar planets. Besides Mars, Jupiter, and Venus, there are five more that, like the earth, revolve around the sun.
One of the prominent authorities is Dr. H. Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal. In his book Life on Other Worlds, Dr. Jones points out that everything about us is the result of changing processes, begun millenniums ago and still going on. We cannot define life solely in our own terms; it can exist in unfamiliar forms.
"It is conceivable," Dr. Jones states in his book, "that we could have beings, the cells of whose bodies contained silicon instead of the carbon which is an essential constituent of our cells and of all other living cells on the earth. And that because of this essential difference between the constitution of those cells and the cells of which animal and plant life on the earth are built up, they might be able to exist at temperatures so high that no terrestrial types of life could survive."
According to Dr. Jones, then, life could be possible on worlds hotter and drier than ours; it could also exist on a very much colder one, such as Mars.
Even if a survey of the sun's planets proved fruitless, it would decide the question of their being populated. Also, it would provide valuable experience for the much longer journeys into space.
No one expects such a survey until we have a space vehicle able to make the round trip. One-way trips would tell us nothing, even if volunteers offered to make such suicidal journeys.
The most probable step will be to launch a space vehicle equipped with supplies for a long time, perhaps a year or two, within the solar system. Since Mars has been frequently mentioned as a source of the flying saucers, let's assume it would be the first solar-system planet to be explored from the earth.
As the space ship neared Mars, it could be turned to circle the planet in an orbit, just like our planned earth satellite vehicle. Once in this orbit, it could circle indefinitely without using fuel except to correct its course.
From this space base, unmanned remote-control "observer" units with television "eyes" or other transmitters would be sent down to survey the planet at close range. If it then seemed fairly safe, a manned unit could be released to make a more thorough check-up.
Such preliminary caution would be imperative. Our explorers would have no idea of what awaited them. The planet might be uninhabited. It might be peopled by a fiercely barbarous race unaware of civilization as we know it. Or it might have a civilization far in advance of ours.
The explorers would first try to get a general idea of the whole planet. Then they would attempt to examine the most densely populated areas, types of armature, any aircraft likely to attack them. Combing the radio spectrum, they would pick up and record sounds and signals in order to decipher the language.
As on earth, they might hear a hodgepodge of tongues. The next step would be to select the most technically advanced nation, listen in, and try to learn its language, or record it for deciphering afterward on earth.
Our astronomers already have analyzed Mars's atmosphere, but the explorers would have to confirm their reports, to find out whether the atmosphere at the surface would support their lungs if they landed. The easiest way would be to send down manned or unmanned units with special apparatus to scoop in atmosphere samples. Later analysis would tell whether earthlings would need oxygen-helmet suits such as we plan to use on the moon.
But before risking flight at such low altitudes, the explorers would first learn everything possible about the planet's aircraft, if any. They would try to determine their top ceiling, maximum speed, maneuverability, and if possible their weapons. Much of this could be done by sending down remote-control "observer" disks, or whatever type we decide to use. A manned unit might make a survey at night, or in daytime with clouds nearby to shield it. By hovering over the planet's aircraft bases, the explorers could get most of the picture, and also decide whether the bases were suitable for their own use later.
It might even be necessary to lure some Martian aircraft into pursuit of our units, to find out their performance. But our explorers would above all avoid any sign of hostility; they would hastily. withdraw to show they had no warlike intentions.
If the appearance of our observer units and manned craft caused too violent reactions on the planet, the explorers would withdraw to their orbiting space vehicle and either wait for a lull or else start the long trip back home. Another interplanetary craft from the earth might take its place later to resume periodic surveys.
In this way, a vast amount of information could be collected without once making contact with the strange race. If they seemed belligerent or uncivilized, we would probably end our survey and check on the next possibly inhabited planet. If we found they were highly civilized, we would undoubtedly attempt later contact. But it might take a long time, decades of observation and analysis, before we were ready for that final step.
We might find a civilization not quite so advanced as ours. It might not yet have developed radio and television. We would then have no way of getting a detailed picture, learning the languages, or communicating with. the Martians. Analysis of their atmosphere might show a great hazard to earthlings, one making it impossible to land or requiring years of research to overcome. There might be other obstacles beyond our present understanding.
This same procedure would apply to the rest of the solar-system planets and to more distant systems. Since Wolf 359 is the nearest star outside our system that is likely to have inhabited planets, one of these planets would probably be listed as the first to explore in far-distant space. It would be a tremendous undertaking, unless the speed of light can be exceeded in space. Since Wolf 359 is eight light-years from the earth, even if a space ship traveled at the theoretical maximum--just under 186,000 miles a second--it would take over sixteen years for the round trip. Detailed observation of the planet would add to this period.
If we assume half that speed--which would still be an incredible attainment with our present knowledge--our space explorers would have to dedicate at least thirty-two years to the hazardous, lonely round trip. However, there has never been a lack of volunteers for grand undertakings in the history of man.
It is quite possible that in our survey of the solar-system planets we would find some inhabited, but not advanced enough to be of interest to us. Periodically, we might make return visits to note their progress. Meantime, our astronomers would watch these planets, probably developing new, higher powered telescopes for the purpose, to detect any signs of unusual activity. Any tremendous explosion on a planet would immediately concern us.
Such an explosion, on Mars, was reported by astronomers on January 16, 1950. The cause and general effects are still being debated. Sadao Saeki, the Japanese astronomer who first reported it at Osaka, believes it was of volcanic nature.
The explosion created a cloud over an area about seven hundred miles in diameter and forty miles high. It was dull gray with a yellowish tinge and a different color from the atmospheric phenomena customarily seen near Mars. Saeki believes the blast might have destroyed any form of life existing on the planet, but even though the telescopic camera recorded a violent explosion, other authorities do not believe the planet was wrecked. The canals first discovered on Mars by Giovanni Schiaparelli, about 1877, are still apparent on photographs.
Mars is now being carefully watched by astronomers. If there are more of the strange explosions, the planet will be scanned constantly for some clue to their nature.
If a mysterious explosion on Mars, or any other planet, were found of atomic origin, it would cause serious concern on earth. Suppose for a moment that it happened many years from now, when we will have succeeded in space explorations. At this time, let us assume our explorers have found that Mars is experimenting with high-altitude rockets; some of them have been seen, rising at tremendous speed, in the upper atmosphere of Mars.
Then comes this violent explosion. A scientific analysis of the cloud by astrophysicists here on earth proves it was of atomic origin.
The first reaction would undoubtedly be an immediate resurvey of Mars. As quickly as possible, we would establish an orbiting space base--out of range of Martian rockets--and try to find how far they had advanced with atomic bombs.
Samples of the Martian atmosphere would be collected and analyzed for telltale radiation. Observer units would be flown over the planet, with instruments to locate atom-bomb plants and possibly uranium deposits. The rocket-launching bases would also come under close observation. We would try to learn how close the scientists were to escaping the pull of gravity. Since Mars's gravity is much less than the earth's, the Martians would not have so far to progress before succeeding in space travel.
The detailed survey by our space-base observers would probably show that there was no immediate danger to the earth. It might take one hundred years--perhaps five hundred--before the Martians could be a problem. Eventually, the time would come when Mars would send out space-ship explorers. They would undoubtedly discover that the earth was populated with a technically advanced civilization. Any warlike ideas they had in mind could be quickly ended by a show of our superior space craft and our own atomic weapons--probably far superior to any on Mars. It might even be possible that by then we would have finally outlawed war; if so, a promise to share the peaceful benefits of our technical knowledge might be enough to bring Martian leaders into line.
Regardless of our final decision, we would certainly keep a lose watch on Mars--or any other planet that seemed a possible threat.
Now, if our space-exploration program is just reversed, it will give a reasonable picture of how visitors from space might go about investigating the earth. Such an investigation would tie in with the general pattern of authentic flying-saucer reports:
1. World-wide sightings at long intervals up to the middle of the nineteenth century.
2. Concentration on Europe, as the most advanced section of the globe, until late in the nineteenth century.
3. Frequent surveys of America in the latter part of the nineteenth century, as we began to develop industrially, with cities springing up across the land.
4. Periodic surveys of both America and Europe during the gradual development of aircraft, from the early 1900's up to World War II.
5. An increase of observation during World War II, after German V-2's were launched up into the stratosphere.
6. A steadily increasing survey after our atomic-bomb explosions in New Mexico, Japan, Bikini, and Eniwetok.
7. A second spurt of observations following atom-bomb explosions in Soviet Russia.
8. Continuing observations of the earth at regular intervals, with most attention concentrated on the United States, the present leader in atomic weapons. (Saucers have been reported seen over the Soviet Union, but the number is unknown. There is some evidence that Russia has an investigative unit similar to Project "Saucer.")
There are other points of similarity to the program of American space exploration that I have outlined. Most of the extremely large saucers have been at high altitudes, some of them many miles above the earth. At that height, a space ship would be in no danger from our planes and antiaircraft guns and rockets. The smaller disks and the mystery lights have been seen at low altitudes. Occasionally a larger saucer has been seen to approach the earth briefly, as at Lockbourne Air Force Base, at Bethel, Alabama, at Macon and Montgomery, and other places. It has been suggested that this was for the purpose of securing atmospheric samples. It could also be to afford personal observation by the crews.
The numerous small disks seen in the first part of the scare, in 1947, fit the pattern for preliminary and close observation by remote-controlled observer units. As the scare increased, the daytime sightings decreased for a while, and mystery lights began to be seen more often. This apparent desire to avoid unfavorable attention could have been caused by our pilots' repeated attempts to chase the strange flying objects.
Authentic reports have described sightings; over the following Air Force bases: Chanute, Newark, Andrews, Hickam, Robbins, Godman, Clark, Fairfield Suisan, Davis-Monthan, Harmon, Wright-Patterson, Holloman, Clinton County Air Force Base, and air bases in Alaska, Germany, and the Azores. Saucers have also been sighted over naval air stations at Dallas, Alameda, and Key West, and from the station at Seattle. They have been reported maneuvering over the White Sands Proving Ground, over areas containing atomic developments, above the Muroc Air Base testing area, and over the super-secret research base near Albuquerque.
Several times saucers have paced both military and civil aircraft; their actions strongly indicate deliberate encounters to learn our planes' speed and performance.
It seems obvious that both the planes and the bases were being observed, and in some cases photographed by remote-control units or manned space ships.
Although I thought it improbable that the location of our uranium deposits would be of interest to space men, a Washington official told me it would be relatively simple to detect the ore areas with airborne instruments.
"The Geological Survey has already developed special Geiger counters for planes," he told me. "They had a little trouble from cosmic-ray noise. They finally had to cover the Geigers with lead shields. Whenever an important amount of radiation is present in the ground, the plane crew gets a signal, and they spot the place on their map. It's a quick way of locating valuable deposits."
When I told him what I had in mind, he suggested an angle I had not considered.
"Mind you," he said, "I'm not completely sold on the interplanetary answer. But assuming it's correct that we're being observed, I can think of a stronger reason than fear of some distant attack. Some atomic scientists say that a super-atomic bomb, or several set off at once, could knock the earth out of its orbit. It sounds fantastic, but so is the A-bomb. It's just possible that some solar-planet race discovered the dangers long ago. They would have good reason to worry if they found we were on that same track. There may be some other atomic weapon we don't suspect, even worse than the A-bomb, one that could destroy the earth and seriously affect other planets."
At the time, I thought this was just idle speculation. But since then, several atomic scientists have confirmed this official's suggestion. One of these was Dr. Paul Elliott, a nuclear physicist who worked on the A-bomb during the war.
According to Dr. Elliott, if several hydrogen bombs were exploded simultaneously at a high altitude, it could speed up the earth's rotation or change its orbit. He based his statement on the rate of energy the earth receives from the sun, a rate equal to some four pounds of hydrogen exploded every second. Still other atomic scientists have said that H-bomb explosions might even knock a large chunk out of the earth, with unpredictable results.
A dramatic picture of what might happen if the earth were forced far out of its orbit is indicated in the much-discussed book Worlds in Collision, by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, recently published by Macmillan. After many years of research, Dr. Velikovsky presents strong evidence that the planet Venus, when still a comet resulting from eruption from a larger planet, moved erratically about the sky and violently disturbed both the earth and Mars.
When the comet approached the earth, our planet was forced out of its orbit, according to Worlds in Collision. For a time, the world was on the brink of destruction. Quoting many authentic ancient records, including the Quiché manuscript of the Mayas, the Ipuwer papyrus of the Egyptians, and the Visiddhi-Magga of the Buddhists, Dr. Velikovsky describes the cataclysm that took place. "The face of the earth changed," he writes in his book. The details, reinforced by the Zend-Avesta of the Persians, tell of tremendous hurricanes, of a major upheaval in the earth's surface, of oceans rushing over many parts of the land, while rivers were driven from their beds. Some of the events in this period are mentioned in the Bible.
Professor Horace M. Kallen, former dean of the New School of Social Research, strongly endorses Dr. Velikovsky's statements: "It is my belief that Velikovsky has supported his theses with substantial evidence and made an effective and persuasive argument."
Many other authorities endorse this work, which is documented with impressive references. But even if this particular account is not accepted, all astronomers agree that the effect of a comet passing near the earth would be appalling. Worlds in Collision states that Mars, like the earth, was pulled out of its orbit by the comet's erratic passage. It may be that this near disaster to the earth and Mars is known on other solar planets, or remembered on Mars itself, if the planet is inhabited.
The possibility of super-bomb explosions on the earth understandably disturb any dwellers on other solar-system planets.
This may be what was back of the Project "Saucer" statement on the probable motives of any visitors from space. I mentioned this Air Force statement in an earlier chapter, but it may be of interest to repeat it at this time. The comment appeared in a confidential analysis of Intelligence reports, in the formerly secret Project "Saucer" document, "Report on Unidentified Aerial and Celestial Objects." It reads as follows:
"Such a civilization might observe that on earth we now have atomic bombs and are fast developing rockets. In view of the past history of mankind, they should be alarmed. We should therefore expect at this time above all to behold such visitations.
"Since the acts of mankind most easily observed
from a distance are A-bomb explosions, we should expect some relation to obtain
between the time of the A-bomb explosions, the time at which the space ships
are seen, and the time required for such ships to arrive from and return to