The following information was obtained in a telephone interview with Robert Wood, former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and now professor of astronomy and director of the observatory at Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Florida (407-632-1111, ext. 417) on March 11, 1980. I had heard about Dr. Wood at a Houston UFO conference from an acquaintance of his who lives in New Mexico.
(SUMMARY: Wood was the operations officer and air controller aboard the USS Dyess, a radar picket destroyer that was on duty approximately 125 miles SE of Cape May, N.J. The U.S. was involved in the Korean War at the time and it was feared the Russians would bomb Washington. Thus, the destroyer was on the alert for bombers coming in from the northeast, east and southeast. It was plotting all aircraft going north and south along the coast and in as far as the Appalachian Mountains. About 11:30 one night in March 1951 -- he couldn't remember the exact date he tracked an object coming in from due east at a speed of 85 to 90 knots and an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. It got within about 30 miles of the destroyer and just stopped and hovered. Wood informed the bridge, which informed the captain, and he instructed them to head out toward the object. About half an hour later, when the ship was within 15 miles of the object, the object suddenly took off on a northerly course very rapidly. Its speed was estimated at about 5,000 kms an hour. The object got to within 35 to 40 miles south of Nantucket Island and suddenly went straight up into the atmosphere. Altitude-determining radar tracked the object up to 100 miles above the earth and still going straight up. A report was made to the Pentagon, but Wood said he never heard anything back.)
Wood: I had one experience in tracking an object on radar. We had a sighting at sea and went toward it to investigate it and got within 15 to 20 miles of the thing and it suddenly took off in a northerly direction at a very high rate of speed, around 5,000 kms per hour or about 3,000 mph, and this was in 1951. So we didn't have any aircraft that could go that fast, especially after it came and hovered. And then when it got up near Nan-tucket, it just took off and went right straight up.
Pratt: Any idea of the size of the object?
Wood: It gave us a blip about like you'd get on a large aircraft, something like a DC-8 or DC-9, something like that. This was at night. No visual at all, just radar...! was on the USS Dyess, DDR 880, a radar picket destroyer. I was the operations officer and the air controller at that time, so I knew radar and I know what radar will do,
Pratt; The air controller?
Wood: I was Hector Vector, the flight director, air control.
Pratt: Did you report this to the Pentagon?
Wood: We did report it. I heard nothing of it after that.
Pratt: Were you the only ship to pick up on it?
Wood: No, there were several people in the CIC at the time and of course the captain was advised. Otherwise we couldn't have moved the ship out and he came on the bridge...and we headed out toward this object. At the time we were sitting about 125 miles southeast of Cape May, N.J., steaming in a square because this was -- in, oh, in March. I don't remember the exact date, March 1951, and we were afraid Russia was going to bomb Washington at that time because we had gone into Korea and all that sort of thing. So we were the first picket destroyer out there and while we were there we were plotting all the aircraft going north and south along the coast and in as far as the Appalachians and any objects that were coming in from the northeast, east, southeast and every aircraft had to be within a certain set of parameters, distances, heights and what not on their point of arrival over us. And on this particular night this object came in from due east and got within about 30 miles from us and stopped dead. It had been moving rather slowly, oh, I'd say in the 85 to 90-knot range, and hovered. And I informed the bridge and they informed the captain and the captain headed the ship out in that direction. We had been loafing along, steaming in circles, so we didn't have all our boiler power on. We did about as much as we could at 22 knots out in that direction, and we got to within, I'd say, about 15 miles from it and it suddenly took off on a due northerly course and we could see as the radar turned we could see the blip just jumping as it moved, it was going so rapidly. We estimated it was going about 5,000 kms or about 3,000 mph. And it got within about 35 or 40 miles south of Nantucket and suddenly just took off, went right straight up. We did have altitude-determining radar aboard the ship and as we started to lose the contact on our normal air search radar -- I'd called the bridge and said: "We're losing contact. The object is fading" -- the radar operator back in the other end of the radar room said: "No! I've still got it on the altitude-determining radar -- it's about 100 miles high and going straight up!"
Pratt: Were you familiar with these things before this?
Wood: No, this was the first time I had ever come across anything like this.
Pratt: What did you think when this happened?
Wood: I wondered what the heck it was. I had no idea what it was.
Pratt: 100 miles up?
Wood: 100 miles altitude, right, going straight up.
Pratt: At what altitude was it hovering?
Wood: We had it coming in at about 85 knots and then it stopped and hovered until we got well out toward it and then it headed north.
Pratt: The altitude?
Wood: The altitude was low, somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 or 4,000 feet. We did not have the altitude-determining radar on the line at that moment. In fact, we had to send out and get one of the operators to come up. This was about 11:30 at night.
Pratt: How long was it on the scope?
Wood: The total time was something like 35 to 40 minutes, because we were half an hour under way out toward it before it took off and it had been several minutes from the time we picked it up until; it started to hover...! am a professor of astronomy and director of the observatory here at Brevard Community College .
Pratt: What are your feeling about UFOs?
Wood: Well, there must be something there. There's more smoke than there would be smoldering. There must be fire...