The Adickes TWA Case
April 27, 1950
Major Donald E. Keyhoe:
At 8:25 P.M., a Trans World Airlines DC-3 was droning westward over Goshen, Indiana. In the left-hand seat, handling the controls, was Captain Robert Adickes, a stocky ex-Navy pilot with ten years' service in TWA. Over on his right was Robert F. Manning, also a four-stripe captain, who was acting as first officer on this flight to Chicago.
The DC-3, Flight 117, was cruising at 2,000 feet when a strange red light below and behind the airliner suddenly caught Manning's eye. Moving swiftly, it climbed up on the right, overtaking the plane.
Puzzled, Manning watched it close in. This was no wingtip light - the red light was too bright. The DC-3 was cruising at 175 m.p.h., but the mysterious object overtook it rapidly, the light steadily growing in size. It was now an orange-red color, like a round blob of hot metal sweeping through the night sky. Craning his neck, Manning looked down on a spherical shape which glowed brightly on top, its lower half in shadow.
"Look over here," he said to Adickes. "What do you make of this?"
Adickes stared down through the starboard window, then told Manning to crank it open to make sure it was not some freak reflection. The saucer was still visible, now almost at the airliner's level. Over the top, the pilots could see scattered ground lights, cars moving on a highway. Adickes hastily called Air Traffic Control, but ATC had no record of any craft near their ship.
By this time the saucer was parallel with the DC-3. As they watched, it slowed down, keeping pace with the plane. To Adickes it looked like a huge red wheel rolling down a road. He banked toward it, but the disc instantly slid away, keeping the same distance. Again he tried, with the same result.
Calling the hostess, Gloria Hinshaw, Adickes told her to alert the passengers. To make sure he had plenty of witnesses, he went back into the cabin, watching the passengers' reaction. When he returned to the cockpit, he tried once more to bank in for a closer look. When the disc again slid away, he cut in sharply, at full throttle, for a direct chase.
Instantly the glowing disc dived, racing off to the north past South Bend. Adickes estimated its speed at nearly 400 miles an hour. Since it had been pacing the airliner at 175 m.p.h., this meant it had doubled its speed in about three seconds. For a few minutes more the weird light remained visible - a diminishing bright red spot. Then it faded into the darkness.
Before meeting the two pilots, I checked on them with TWA.
"Quiet . . . conservative . . . serious . . . careful," were the reports on both men. Nobody in TWA questioned that Adickes and Manning saw exactly what they described.
Captain Manning, the first one I saw, was an ex-Air Force pilot. He had flown six years for TWA, and his flight time was over 6,000 hours.
When he first saw the saucer, Manning said, it seemed a brighter color than when it flew alongside. Apparently the reduction in power as it slowed to pace the DC-3 decreased the heating effect. He also agreed that the device had evaded attempts to get near it.
"It was like flying formation with another plane. The thing seemed to slide away when we turned toward it."
"How large do you think it was?" I asked.
"That's hard to say, because we could only guess at its distance," said Manning. "But it had to be fairly large. When I first saw it, the thing was near the horizon, perhaps ten miles away. Even then it was big enough to stand out."
He quietly spiked the idea that the saucer had been a jet plane's tail pipe.
"I've seen jets at night. If you're directly behind one, you see a round red spot. But this was huge in comparison. Beside, I saw it coming up from behind us - a jet's exhaust would be invisible from that angle. You wouldn't see much from the side, either."
Manning wouldn't speculate as to what the machine was.
"All I can say is that it definitely was there. And it was uncanny enough to startle anyone first seeing it."
Captain Adickes agreed with Manning on all the main points.
"Before then, I wasn't convinced by the saucer reports. Now I know they do exist. One thing, it wasn't cherry-red, as some papers said. It was about the color of hot metal."
Beside trying to close in on the saucer, Adickes also had attempted to get above it.
"Each time it veered away, as if it were controlled by repulse radar. And when I went straight after it, the thing was off in a flash. Manning and I estimated its diameter at 50 feet or more. When I tried to cut in toward it, it streaked away at twice our speed, but even then it took several minutes to fade out. So it had to be fairly big - maybe a lot larger than 50 feet."
As it speeded up to escape, Adickes said, he caught an edge-on glimpse of the saucer. It seemed to be about one tenth as big as its diameter. Though he couldn't be sure of its distance, while it was pacing the airliner, Adickes believed it was at least half a mile away. It had not been close enough to affect his instruments or radio.
Hostess Gloria Hinshaw had seen the disc from both the cabin and the darkened cockpit.
"It looked like a big red wheel rolling along," she told me. "It was certainly a strange-looking thing. If I hadn't seen it, I don't think I'd have believed the pilots."
Later, by long-distance calls, I interviewed 11 passengers. The first was S. N. Miller, manager of a jewelry company in St. Paul. He had watched the saucer, he said, for several minutes.
"The thing was the color of a neon sign - just a big red disc. I used to laugh at saucer stories -but not any more.
Among other passengers who confirmed the sighting were C. H. Jenkins and D. C. Bourland, engineers with the Boeing Aircraft Company, and E. J. Fitzgerald, vice-president of a metal equipment corporation in Chicago. Later several officials of the International Harvester Company also admitted they had seen the glowing disc as it paced their plane.
Though there were some variations in the passengers reports, most of them were minor differences - estimates of size, distance, and speed. Their combined testimony left no doubt that some kind of controlled machine, a type unknown to the pilots and the Boeing experts, had been flown near the airliner for a careful observation.
Source: Flying Saucers From Outer Space, pages 145-148, Donald E. Keyhoe