Form: 97 Evaluation
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006 10:43:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Brad Sparks
Subject: Evaluation: Feb 28, 1904 USS Supply case
Cat: 1

The issue of whether these glowing red objects were "meteors" or not hinges on whether the phrase "below the clouds" is the same thing as "in front of the clouds," which it isn't and that is proven by the direct statement of the interviewing officer (who came on the scene 1/2 minute after the sighting).  It was not an overcast cloud cover but broken clouds ("Blue sky could be seen in the intervals between the clouds") and coming from the N, whereas the meteors' path was off to the W.  But the clincher is the direct statement by Lt (later Adm) Frank Schofield in his para. 8:

          "The clouds in passing between the meteors and the ship
          completely obscured the former.  Blue sky could be seen in
          the intervals between the clouds."

That settles it.  The meteors were behind the clouds which "completely obscured" the meteors, which obviously were seen only in the blue sky breaks in the cloud cover.  All the "below the clouds" comments refer merely to being below the angular elevation of the main cloud cover NOT to the objects flying in front of the clouds, which would establish they were extremely low in height above the ocean (and thus would prove they were not meteors).

This is a semantic argument.  To me the casual and non-technical language about "below the clouds" would never have counted with me as evidence of passing in front of the clouds without a direct and explicit statement to that effect.  Yet the matter would not have been settled without the explicit statement that the meteors were "completely obscured" by the clouds, and even now it isn't really "settled" because some refuse to accept this fact.

The existence of the UFO phenomenon does not depend on semantic games with the wording of witness statements.  Many thousands of cases exist where there is no conceivable or reasonable alternative to the clear statements of the events as unexplained UFO events.  But not here.

The casual duration estimates were just that -- estimates made under the excitement of the unexpected events.  No one _timed_ the sighting.  The ship's logs do NOT say the object was first seen at 6:10 AM and last seen at 6:13.  The log only says 6:10, and as a round number it is suspicious of being possibly anywhere from say 6:05 to 6:15. The actual duration could easily have been 1 minute instead of 2-3 minutes.]

There are also a number of discrepancies in the case between Schofield's composite report and Garvey's log entry and even within each report.  Schofield says the meteors were seen near the horizon in the NNW and disappeared in the WNW at about 75 degs elevation.  But Garvey's log says they were seen in the WNW, saying nothing about the NNW.  Schofield says the meteors "soared" "directly away from the earth" when they disappeared but this was an optical illusion of the meteors burning out and becoming very small, which made them seem to be increasing in distance (since normal objects do not change size so when they grow small it's because of increased distance).  Schofield implies they disappeared due to this "soaring" away but belies that impression when he states that "when I arrived on the bridge the meteors had been obscured for about one-half minute."  The meteors disappeared by being "obscured" by clouds as they burned out and dropped almost vertically, towards the earth, hence their angular motion ceased (NOT because of soaring away from the earth).

A simple meteor model would have the meteors appear at the typical altitude of about 60 miles about 700 miles away, visible as near the horizon (near 0 degs elevation) to the USS Supply.  At a very slow meteor velocity of 10 mi/sec the meteor (broken into 3 parts) would approach the ship almost directly headon and thus increase in angular elevation even though physically dropping in height above the earth's surface from 60 miles to 50 miles to 40 miles.  As they slow down they fall almost vertically while burning out after about 70 seconds visibility, thus last seen at about 75 degs elevation, or almost overhead the ship (perhaps 10 miles away and 40 miles high).

This did not require an immense amount of investigation and analysis to see these were meteors.  Only the disputes have caused the extra effort.