Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2015 14:53:14 -0700
From: Michael Tarbell <>
To: Fran Ridge <>
Subject: Re: [Current Encounters] BB docs sought / 490123 Tillamook Ore


Thanks for your comments. Your point is well taken about the potential for a hostile investigator to corrupt the witness testimony. Unfortunately, in this and many other cases, the investigator's version is all we've got. If our default assumption is that the AFOSI agents were so predisposed against the existence of a genuine unknown that they would deliberately skew or alter testimony, then there isn't much point in examining the documentation at all, in the absence of some ironclad first-hand record like a videotaped interview.

I have attached two images that are relevant to the aircraft hypothesis (although they may get stripped off before reaching you... I will try CC'ing directly to your address). One shows a 1948 Luscombe 8A Sky Pal, the same type of aircraft which reportedly departed the Coastway School of Aeronautics (Tillamook Naval Air Station) at ~10:50 AM. The other image is a map of the area of interest, including Tillamook, Hebo, and McMinnville.

As you can see, the aircraft's skin is silvery-metallic, almost chrome-like, quite consistent with Leckington's description of stainless steel-like reflection in the sunlight. I must concede this doesn't seem like a wise choice of finish with regard to potentially blinding glare, but clearly it was not prohibited.

The cruise speed of this aircraft is 105 mph (although the flight plan says 100 mph), with a top speed of 115 mph. In principle it could have been going considerably slower than that (the stall speed is ~50 mph). The flight plan gives an estimated time en route of 2 hrs, which, if comprised of two straight line segments (first ~13 mi south to Hebo, then ~31 mi east to McMinnville), yields an average speed of only ~22 mph, so obviously the actual flight path was more complex than that, and/or the duration much less than the flight plan estimate. The investigator notes that at Hebo the aircraft "... turned to go through low passes enroute to McMinnville". I must admit this is somewhat ambiguous... does it mean that the aircraft made some number of low altitude passes in the vicinity of Hebo before heading to McMinnville, or that the route between Hebo and McMinnville consisted of negotiating a series of low (mountain) passes?

In any case, if the aircraft had made it as far as Hebo by the time of the sighting (which it easily could have with a 10:50 AM takeoff), it would have been less than 10 miles away from the witnesses in Pleasant Valley, at an azimuth of ~195 deg (slightly west of south). It could moreover have been as much as  ~1/4 of the way eastward along the McMinnville leg without noticeable change in range from the witnesses. At this range the aircraft would subtend at most ~0.04 deg (less than one-tenth of the full moon)... certainly discernible, and easily noticed if strongly reflective, but quite small nonetheless. However, at this range, the aircraft altitude (~37Kft) required for the claimed 35 deg elevation of the object is not plausible.

This is where the profoundly inconsistent estimates of angular size, absolute size, elevation angle, and range throw the case into disarray. Leckington (allegedly) claims that the object was roughly one-half to three-quarters of a mile away at an altitude of ~500 ft, which, regardless of whether he meant ground range or slant range, implies an elevation angle of at most ~11 deg, in distinct conflict with the claimed elevation angle of ~35 deg. Even more confusing is his claim that the object subtended the full span of his open hand at arm's length, something on the order of ~9-10 deg, which is absurdly inconsistent with his other estimates for size (12-15 ft in diameter, which would imply it was less than 100 ft away) and range (one-half to three-quarters of a mile, which would imply a diameter of over 400 ft). By no means do I presume that the typical observer is able to make accurate estimates of these parameters, but faced with these disparities there is no coherent way to incorporate them into the account at all.

If, as you speculate, witness Smith's sighting may have actually been coincident with the Leckington's, then things become even more incoherent. Their respective observation points were less than 1/3-mi apart, yet Smith places the object directly overhead, heading distinctly northeast, with full moon angular width, whereas the Leckingtons put it at ~35 deg elevation to the southeast, with little or no perceptible motion, and angular width some 20 times the full moon.

While reiterating my assumption that the AFOSI investigator did not substantially misrepresent the witness testimony, in the face of the above I would have to agree with him that the known presence of the distinctively shiny Luscombe aircraft in the proximity of the sighting envelope (on both 23 and 24 Jan) is a fairly compelling coincidence.

However, one question that continues to nag me is, who contacted the Tillamook radio station with the report of a "flying disc" in the Pleasant Valley area? The Coastway aeronautical school allegedly received a call from the radio station in the 11:00-11:15 AM timeframe referencing such a report. If the Leckingtons made the initial report to the station, it would have to have been fairly promptly after their sighting, leaving time for the station to subsequently call the school. Curiously, the AFOSI investigator makes note of the station's call to the school, but does not attribute or otherwise associate the initial report to the station with the Leckingtons. But surely he realized that, if the Leckingtons (or even Smith) did not make the report, then there must be other witness(es) involved! Bit of a loose end there...


On 9/13/2015 10:50 PM, Brad Sparks wrote:
Fran &  Mike,

As usual lately, no attachments to C-E List postings are coming through, they're apparently stripped off. 

Without Mike's enhanced Grudge/BB document it's a little difficult reading. 

From what I can see we have a problem that the AFOSI agent was investigating nearly 3 months after the event, AFOSI at some level was reluctant and had to be dragged into it via Wash DC and the agent was not a happy camper.  Maybe he didn't like driving across the State of Washington and down the coast of Oregon.  He seemed to be trying to snipe at the witnesses with bogus or questionable "gotchas" and I am not buying it.  This is an example of an investigation that may have created error in the witness recollections using the uncertainty in memory introduced by the needless and gratuitous 3-month delay and a hostile investigator.  

Maybe UFO witnesses need defense attorneys as well as private PhD scientist consultants to protect themselves from abusive debunker investigators.  Debunkers set witnesses up as strawmen to be knocked down, pretending that the witness has PhD knowledge and training so that when they fail, as they must because they are not in fact PhD's in most cases, every scientific deficiency is then held against the witness instead of the debunker.  "Anything you say can and will be held against in a court of debunking."  The AFOSI agent dragged out a bogus "gotcha" that father-in-law Smith supposedly contradicted himself (insinuated by saying "however") by saying the UFO was at a 45 degree "angle" (does that mean the disc shape was tilted at 45 degs or was it 45 degs above the horizon?) and "however, also states that it flew directly over his head."  In fact it is not a contradiction at all but I won't belabor it here.  

The agent also insinuates that the father-in-law was old and doddering (about 65-70) and was hoaxing his confirmatory sighting to help his daughter and son-in-law with alleged ridicule over their sighting -- but got the wrong date, Jan 24 instead of 23 (not actually commented on by the agent, just implied).  There is no evidence whatsoever of any "ridicule" hence no such motive for hoaxing, and the date error recalled 3 months after-the-fact may simply be due to the fact the Portland Oregonian article was published on Jan 24, so maybe the father-in-law had saved the paper and used that for reference and saw the "Jan. 24" date on the paper when the agent interviewed him on April 11.  Competent investigation would have explored that instead of trashing the witness (no comment was made about a date discrepancy, the two dates were reported without comment, so did the AFOSI agent know this alleged discrepancy would not hold up so he didn't want to call too much attention to it?).  

Interesting that the father-in-law wasn't so doddering as to simplistically copycat the sighting details printed in the paper -- he didn't.  In fact, he seemingly (ONLY seemingly) contradicted his daughter who said she could "not tell whether it was moving" whereas her dad later told the agent it was moving at about 30-35 mph (it is not an actual contradiction, except to debunkers, because she was in a moving car that would have made it difficult to detect motion in a slow-moving object in the sky, unlike her dad who was on solid ground at home in the back yard).  

The AFOSI agent also implies that the father-in-law might have seen the same plane on the next date, Jan. 24, when it was in flight in the morning.  So the agent wants to have it both ways -- it's a hoax of seeing what was not actually seen AND the same IFO airplane but actually seen (not lied about) the next day!  It can't be both.  Why isn't THAT held against the AFOSI agent as HIS self-contradiction?  

The flight from Tillamook Airport on Jan 23, 1949, had a flight plan to take off at 10:50 AM to fly to McMinnville and back.  AFOSI found out the pilot flew S to Hebo first then headed E to McMinnville.  This would mean that the civil aircraft would have been about 20 miles ESE of the witnesses at the time of the sighting about 11:05 AM and would have presented only about 20 feet to view from that angle and would have been less than 1 arcminute in angular size, thus unresolvable to the naked eye.  This is an enormous distance.  If you think it's easy try an experiment the next time you land or take off in an airliner in the daytime -- see if you can even see a 20-foot truck from 20 miles.  You won't even be able to see the road let alone the truck (I do this experiment every time I fly).  This is the Mantell Phenomenon again -- a known IFO in roughly the right direction at the right time but several times too distant to even be seen by the unaided eye and certainly not of such prominence as to catch anyone's attention.  The Tillamook airplane would have been a tiny barely visible speck in the sky even if twice as close.  The solar phase angle would have been bad for lighting up the airplane, with the sun behind the aircraft (off to one side not directly behind), in effect being shadowed by the wings and fuselage to the witnesses.  Aircraft are not built to have mirror-like surfaces to blind pilots' eyes.  Leckington said the object had the brilliance of sunlight reflecting off of stainless steel (like a mirror). 

The aircraft would not have had visibility problems if it had been at the distances estimated or computable from witness data, i.e., less than a mile (and over 1 Full Moon in angular size).  But then it would have the opposite problem of being too close and too large in angular size, and would have easily been seen to be civil aircraft.  It would have been to the SW instead of the SE reported by the witnesses.  Traveling at about 120 mph cruising speed or about 2 miles per minute, it would have taken about 15 minutes to disappear due to distance to the naked eye on its S-then-E dogleg path, not the 2-1/2 to 3 minutes reported.  Leckington would have had plenty of time to retrieve his binoculars and follow the aircraft (if that is what it was) all the way to McMinnville and it would have never disappeared in the binoculars in the cloudless clear blue sky. 


-----Original Message-----
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2015 14:43:25 -0700
From: Michael Tarbell <>
Subject: Re: BB docs sought / 490123tillamook


See attached BB docs you were
seeking for the Tillamook 1949 case. This 
is about the largest file size that
I would feel comfortable attaching 
without a prior heads-up, it's actually
pretty severely compressed.

This was derived from Fold3 downloads, with a
fair amount of 
brightness/contrast fiddling. The corresponding unredacted
documents at 
the Blue Book Archive site are far too low-res/washed-out to be
However, they do allow recovery of the names of the main characters,

First witness pair: C. K. Leckington, and his wife, Rose
Additional witness: Burt J. Smith

I think a review of these
documents will convince you that the case 
summary at your link below needs a
major re-write. The current summary 
gives the tantalizing impression that this
case involves independent 
witnesses viewing the same object from independent
locations, when in 
fact this case consists of two separate sightings, the
first by the 
Leckingtons on 23 Jan, and the second by Mr. Smith on 24 Jan. Mr.
it turns out, is Mrs. Leckington's father, at that time living in a

house immediately adjacent to the Leckingtons.

In my opinion, it's a
stretch to label this as a BBU, even for 
unofficial, in-house purposes.
Moreover, I think this is an instance 
where the BB explanation (a bright
silver aircraft heading south out of 
Tillamook) is probably correct,
notwithstanding the conflict with some 
of Leckington's testimony, which itself
is rather self-contradictory.


On 9/11/2015 1:25 PM, fran ridge

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