The Case of the Missing Report
 Blue Book Unidentified:  May 1, 1952, 9:10 A.M.,
 Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona.
 By Dr. J. Allen Hynek


This case is a classic.  The late Dr. James McDonald made a valiant attempt in get details from original witnesses after discovering that a major report, submitted to Blue Book by the “UFO Officer” (who was one of the witnesses!) at Davis-Monthan, was missing.  A small part of this was apparently recovered and now appears in the Blue Book microfilms. The story is as follows:

An Air Intelligence Officer (who had as one of his regular duties, the analysis of UFO cases reported to the local air base), a B-36 crew, and an airman on the steps of the base hospital (just coming from having his knee treated) all attested to this event.  Two shiny round objects overtook a B-36, slowed down to the speed of the B-36, stayed in formation with it for about 20 seconds, then executed a sharp no-radius 70-80-degree turn from the line of flight of the B-36, and resumed original speed and went to about one-fourth the distance to the horizon where one of the two objects made an immediate stop and hovered.  There was no sound other than that of the B-36.  There were no contrails from either the objects or the B-36.

Despite the detailed description (in the original report) of the maneuvers of the two shiny, silent objects, Blue Book dismissed this case as “Aircraft.”  The following letter from Dr. McDonald dated July 14, 1966, was sent to Major Quintanilla, Blue Book head:

Dear Major Quintanilla:
   Following our second unsuccessful effort to locate in the Blue Book files any record of the B-36 incident at Davis-Monthan AFB, I have asked Maj. Postalozzi to put down in a letter to me an account of such details as he can still remember with confidence (see Appendix).
   Maj. Postalozzi has told me, in previous conversations, that he was an Air Intelligence officer from about 1950 to 1960, and was stationed at Davis-Monthan during 1951-53.  Field investigation of UFO sightings was one of his routine duties, not only at Davis-Monthan  but also at other duty stations.  The B-36 case, which he believes occurred in 1952, was one in which he himself happened to be an observer.  Although he has now made a number of efforts to run down clues to the precise date, the latter still remains uncertain, as I indicated to you in my last visit at WPAFB on June 30.
   He recalls filing a rather thick report on this B-36 case, the thickest he ever filed on a UFO.  It included not only his own observations and those of the B-36 crew which he personally interrogated, but also that of an airman who was standing beside him during most of the time of his own observation.  The airman (whose name he has forgotten) was coming out of the base hospital just
as the major was about to enter (for treatment of an injured knee).  He pointed out to me today that approximately six or seven other Air Force personnel at scattered locations around the base also reported seeing the UFOs from the ground.  Because their descriptions matched closely those given by himself and the airman, he did not (at least as far as he now recalls) include them in his official report.
   I have queried Maj. Postalozzi closely about the length of time during which he had the UFOs under observation.  He estimates it at something like five minutes.  He actually saw the two UFOs overtake the westbound B-36, and be held them under observation as the aircraft passed overhead until the objects departed.  His recollection, as of today, was that his line of sight to the B-36 at the time the UFOs moved into position was at an angle of elevation of about 50 degrees (estimated uncertainty about 5-10 degrees); and the UFOs departed when the line of sight to the aircraft was about the same angle above the western horizon.  The aircraft was almost due east of the base when the objects joined it, and it lay due west when they departed.  Its heading was almost due west during the entire period of observation.  (In an earlier conversation, he estimated the total time of observation at perhaps 3 minutes.  The latter time would be a bit more compatible with an estimated flight altitude of 20,000 ft. and the estimated angle of line of sight.  But every one of these estimates is based on recollecting of an event 14 years old, so perhaps all that is now warranted is the conclusion that the UFOs paced the B-36 for “several minutes."  The latter time is compatible with the fact that all of the crew, save the pilot, were able to get back to the starboard blister to see the UFO before it left.)
   As he sketched the relative positions, he recalled an important detail.  The UFO near the aircraft was at a level distinctly lower than the mid-section of the fuselage (see sketch).  He recalled that the crew described looking somewhat down upon it, and the blister itself is below mid-section.  This may explain why there was no marked aerodynamic disturbance of the aircraft’s flight characteristics, one of the very puzzling features of this incident.
   The major’s enclosed account does not directly state it, but he has mentioned to me that the B-36 crew was a bit shaken by this experience. He pointed out to me that after the UFOs departed, the B-36 radioed Davis-Monthan control tower and demanded permission to land immediately.  It was just after they landed that Operations called him over to interrogate the crew. . . .

James L. McDonald
Senior Physicist

I recall that at the time Dr. McDonald was regarded by Blue Book personnel as an outstanding nuisance.  This was partly because he was interested in a scientific study of the “true” UFOs (those that completely defied simple natural explanation) and partly because he was so outspoken.  He spoke his mind forcefully, and didn’t hesitate to criticize Blue Book methods whenever possible.  On occasion I, too, was the target of his criticism--criticism which was entirely justified according to his very strict standards.  It is unfortunate that Dr. McDonald couldn’t understand or adjust to the political-military situation, and chose instead to act only according to strict scientific dictates.  A carefully planned diplomatic approach in these military circles might have proved successful, especially if Dr. McDonald had consented to work with me in a much less antagonistic manner, as I invited him to do on several occasions.  I fear, however, that he regarded me as a lost cause and that his temperament would hardly have permitted it.

It is due largely to the industry and perseverance of Dr. James McDonald that this excellent case was resurrected at all.

J. Allen Hynek

Major Pestalozzi's July 7 Letter to Dr. McDonald:

Dear Jim:
The information you requested several weeks ago concerning a UFO report submitted by me, as reporting officer to the USAF Project Blue Book follows:

The intervening years and a very mediocre memory do, of course, preclude my recalling the exact date, report data such as time, meteorological conditions (these obtained later from existing Blue Book records of this case are: Weather clear, visibility 50 miles, temp. 72 deg F., dew point 50 deg. F., wind calm. sea-level pressure 143 millibars, station pressure 27.310 inches), flight altitude (which must have been about 20,000 feet), names of observers, etc.  I will, however, relate the incident to you to the best of my recollection.

While standing on the front entrance steps of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Hospital, I observed the approach of two UFOs upon a B-36 flying on a general east-west heading directly over the base.  The UFOs appeared, from the ground, to be round in shape and metallic in color (the same color as the B-36).  The objects approached the aircraft from the northeast at a speed about three or four times that of the aircraft.

The two objects appeared to be about the same size when first observed.  One object appeared to gain altitude as it approached the aircraft because it seemed to grow smaller.  It stationed itself, at the
B-36 speed, just behind and to the port side of the B-36.  The second stationed itself between the pusher-type prop spinners and the leading edge of the starboard elevators.  The air crew, which landed the aircraft at DMAFB, and were interrogated by me, confirmed the ground-observed stationing of this object in this extremely close proximity to the aircraft.

I can no longer remember the length of time of the observation, but all of the air crew members, except one who flew the aircraft during the entire incident, were able to get to the starboard observation port to see the UFO.

The objects were reported to be symmetrically convex top and bottom, about 10 or 12 feet thick from top to bottom at the middle and quite sharp at the edge.  (The crew gave an appropriate figure in inches which I cannot remember.)  The object was reported by the crew, as I remember, to be about 20 or 25 feet in diameter.  (It fit rather snugly between spinners and elevator.)

Some of the air crew members reported seeing a pale band of red color about halfway between the top and the edge of the object.  All members did not see this color band, however.  Upon questioning, the pilot denied that the objects interfered with either the flying characteristics of the B-36 or the navigation or radio equipment.

Upon departure from the aircraft the UFO lost altitude, crossed under the aircraft, joined the other object, and the two departed at extremely high speed in a southerly direction.  (Aircraft altitude, air-speed, heading, UFO headings, approximate speeds and exact size estimates are in the original report, but I cannot remember them.)  (What a loss not to have the original detailed report!  One can only wonder how it disappeared!)  During the close proximity of the object the pilots did not try evasive action.

The aircraft and crew were from Carswell AFB, Texas, and were on a flight to March AFB, Cal.  It is possible that this report is filed in Blue Book archives under either of those base names.  (Unfortunately, it is not).
Dr. J. Allen Hynek