At this point—that is, July 29, 1952—the Blue Book files become confusing. The project cards, which give the location, time, date, conclusions, and a brief description of the sighting, are missing. File after file is thrown together so that it becomes difficult to tell which report goes with which file. The master index is some help in sorting through the mess, and that does, for the most part, provide conclusions to the various reports made during July 29 to the end of the month, but it does not solve all the problems.
One of the most comprehensive of the files, which includes numerous military and civilian witnesses, was listed in the master index as taking place at Ennis, Montana. Without the card to separate the file from other reports, and with a master report that was generated at Kelly Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, it would be easy to overlook this report. Given the length of time over which the objects were seen, and given the number of witnesses involved, it is too important to ignore.
The case began, apparently, in Seattle, Washington. Someone there called the Air Force base at Great Falls, Montana, alerting them that UFOs were on the way. One of the statements, written by a captain whose name was deleted, reported:
A little background of this incident will clarify the statements that I, Captain [name deleted] have to make. The question was asked by myself to the [names deleted]. "How did they know to go outside and look for these flying saucers?" The statement she (Mrs. [name deleted]) made was that they had heard a transmission over the squawk box that flying saucers had been reported and that they were headed toward Great Falls. I asked her where the transmission came from and she did not know as it came through the squawk box.
The captain said that he was outside one of the hangars, and looking to the east when he saw two objects, hovering. The captain noted, "The altitude which these objects were cannot be estimated due to the fact of not knowing size or conception of these objects I was unable to determine the altitude."
Although it is clear from his report that he was not happy about seeing the objects, he reported,
The appearance of the objects did actually have the size of a cup's saucer and appeared to have a flat aluminum base... These two objects were stationary when I first saw them, for approximately 3 or 4 minutes. Suddenly one came in at about a 45 degree angle, between the two stationary objects. It appeared to be of a dusty color without any shiny appearance to it. This object continued to travel past these objects and off into a southernly direction. By this time the object on the right... started with a backward motion which appeared to be with tremendous speed. The one on my left darted off to the south and all three were lost from sight at this time.A major assigned to the same unit watched circular objects at high altitude about 20 minutes later. He reported that they were disk-shaped and silver in color. He wrote,
They appeared to travel from west to east at approximately 2,000 miles per hour. There was no vapor trails visible. One larger disc shaped object hovered ... It hovered for about 20 seconds and immediately darted off at a high rate of acceleration and disappeared to the southeast.
About that same time, a first Lieutenant said that he arrived at work and saw fifteen or twenty people watching the sky. He was told that they had seen flying saucers but was quite skeptical about it. He reported:
After watching approximately five (5) minutes I was able to see what appeared to be a disc, white or metal in color approaching from the west. As it moved directly overhead it turned generally north at a 90 degree turn then slowing down and made approximately four (4) more 90 degree turns and then proceeded east.
After seeing this I knew what I was looking for and was able to pick up at least five (5) more of these objects ... However, after keeping them in my sight long enough [sic] to study their appearance they definitely seemed to be very high.... All of these appeared in the west and proceeded east what appeared to be an extreme high rate of speed.
Others were still inside and overhearing conversations. A master sergeant reported that he had been in the Transport Control Center and
heard a transmission over the PLAN 113, stating that "flying saucers" were sighted over Seattle, Washington, at approximately 1515 MST and were headed toward Great Falls. They were immediately cut off in the middle of a sentence, as though someone threw a switch. Just for fun I figured that if they were over Seattle at 1515 MST they should arrive at Great Falls around 1520 MST due to reported speed from various sources in the past of these flying objects. I walked out the front door of the Control Section at 1520 MST and looked into the south quadrant of the sky ... and sighted three (3) objects. One appeared to be larger than the others. The larger object was stationary with the two smaller objects circling around it counter-clockwise. When the first object reached the western side of the stationary object it immediately darted off to the southwest, behind a group of small clouds and it was lost from view. The other smaller object darted off due west and when I looked back at the larger object it had disappeared.
In all, there were seventeen separate statements taken and appended to the report by Lieutenant Colonel George S. Geanetos, the wing intelligence officer. His report seemed to be straightforward, providing copies of all the statements, and additional information about other sightings that had taken place some two years earlier. He drew no conclusions about the validity of what he had been told or about the reliability of the witnesses.
There is one disturbing aspect to this case. According to a partial report in the file,
At 1200 hours MST Thursday, 31 July 1952, the local radio station KMON broadcast an interview with Mr. [name deleted]... who claims he saw and took pictures of unidentified flying objects and that he had turned the undeveloped fims [sic] over to the Air Force. We contacted the manager of the radio station KMON, who informed us that Mr. [name deleted] turned the undeveloped film over to the Commanding Officer...
At that point the report ends. There is no indication elsewhere in the file about who the commanding officer was, where the film was, or if anyone ever heard anything else about it. With seventeen other witnesses, such photographs could be very important, but they seem to have disappeared. In fairness to the Air Force, it must be noted that there is no evidence that the man on the radio had taken pictures of anything. It could have been someone attempting to gain his fifteen minutes of fame.
Later in the file, however, is another report, labeled that it was "Submitted in accordance with AF LTR [Letter] No. 200-5, dated 20 April, 1952, Sub: Unidentified Flying Objects Reporting." At the bottom of that report it said:
Observer took 8mm motion pictures (Bell & Howell camera) with colored film, and still shots with Kodak Retina black-and-white. Films turned over to Major [name deleted] Air Division Defense, Great Falls AFB, who dispatched the films to WADF, Hamilton AFB, Calif. Later WADF advised to ship films immediately to ATIC.Being in the report written by Major Joseph M. Penny at Great Falls, this section seems to prove that both motion picture and still photographs were taken by someone during the sigh tings. There are no indications in the master index or in the file itself as to what happened to this valuable evidence once the Air Force took it, other than it was forwarded first to Hamilton in California and then ordered on to Wright-Patterson.
In the end, the sightings are labeled as unidentified. Seventeen witnesses were interviewed and possibly many more. There are indications that sightings were made over Seattle, Washington, and that reports were made to Great Falls because some of the witnesses went outside to look for the UFOs. There are indications of both motion picture and still photography, which could make the sighting unique in UFO history.
Unfortunately, nothing else is in the files. There are no indications of what happened to the photographic evidence; it just disappears. There are no indications of who had alerted the people at Great Falls about the approaching UFOs. The case, though fairly well documented, is left hanging. It is important to learn if the film, either motion picture or still, revealed anything, and how those objects looked compared to what the witnesses claim to have seen.
Think about this. On July 2, a Navy officer in Tremon-ton, Utah, filmed a number of objects soaring in the afternoon sky. They were too far away when he began to film for them to be any sort of valuable proof. Less than a month later, someone else took more footage of objects over Great Falls, but there seems to be no record that the Great Falls films ever reached Project Blue Book. Ruppelt made no mention of them in his book, and no one else has brought up anything about them. They aren't mentioned in any of the surveys of the Blue Book material. The films are just gone.
It is interesting that the films and cases that have survived in Project Blue Book fall just short of providing the evidence that is needed. Now we have another case that seems to provide the clues, but it has disappeared.
Although the Washington National sightings are quite important, they might not be the most important of the July 1952 sightings. Although radar sites were involved, and that provided a type of physical evidence, the important case might have been the Montana sighting that came just days after the last of the Washington Nationals. Unfortunately, the Montana sightings seemed to be confined to the Air Force base, and there was little in the way of local publicity. There certainly was nothing on a national level.
As July drew to a close, the number of UFO sightings did not diminish by much. People were still seeing the UFOs, still reporting them, but the important sightings had already happened. Other, interesting cases would be reported, including one of the first occupant sightings to gain any sort of national attention, but the good, solid cases, with physical evidence, radar, interceptors, and photographs, had occurred. Now it was just a question of picking up the debris.
Source: Invasion Washington, UFOs Over The Capitol, Capt. Kevin Randle, 171-177
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