Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 18:48:50 -0700
From: Brad Sparks
Subject: Corrections, Analysis and Comments on Laredo Encounter, December 4, 1952 
Distribution:  CE, SHG

This case is a Gorman-like aerial duel UFO case from Laredo, Texas, Dec 4, 1952, from the BB files (via Jan Aldrich and BB Archive).

This is a classic example of Ruppelt falsifying case details he was personally familiar with to force a UFO Unknown into a phony IFO category, one he knew for a fact was utterly false.  Ruppelt personally sent the TWX on Dec 10 that resulted in the Dec 15 Air Intelligence Information Report on Dec 15 with the full pilot report and the investigator data that revealed that the Weather Bureau balloon had been released at 2053 CST.  Ruppelt's handwriting is on one BB typed summary correcting a word.

Yet Ruppelt falsely wrote up the sighting for the BB Status Report 10 of Feb 27, 1953 (with the wrong sighting date and location) claiming it was "Probably a balloon," the (Weather Bureau) balloon he claims was scheduled for launch at "about 2100" (which could thus conveniently go half an hour either way, from 2030 to 2130).  When in fact he already knew the exact time of launch was 2053 and that the weather observers "did not observe aircraft in the vicinity of balloon," as indeed the UFO sighting event was almost over at this point and was located elsewhere in the sky (to the SW).

The BB Record Card says it was only "Possibly Balloon" not "Probably."  An earlier "ATIC Comment" in the file had a completely different explanation that was obviously later discarded in favor of the equally vacuous balloon explanation:  "ATIC believes that it was an a/c [aircraft] and that the maneuvers were exaggerated [by the pilot]."  Student pilots were landing T-33 jet trainers, but Ruppelt later admitted that the observing pilot "saw these aircraft and could not have confused them with the unidentified object."  Instead Ruppelt then postulates a bogus balloon in the face of all the contrary evidence which he just omits rather than being forthright and say he rejects them in order to force-fit the sighting into an IFO balloon.

The UFO sighting began at about 2048 hours or 5 minutes BEFORE the BALLOON WAS LAUNCHED, the "aggressive pass" and near-collision at 6,000 feet was at "EXACTLY 2053 CEN" (CST) and it disappeared at approximately 2056 CST.  Ruppelt completely omits the fact that pilot Arnold reported the light's maneuvers at speeds in excess of 500 mph included circling orbits that took it as far as 3 miles NORTH of Laredo AFB then WEST to the City of Laredo downtown business district, whereas Ruppelt points out the balloon with the prevailing winds was always to the South (the wind was from 15 degs azimuth 25 knots at 6,000 ft).

The balloon would have had to have been launched at about 2047 instead of the actual 2053 for it to have reached Arnold's 6,000 ft height at 2053 in time for the near collision, at the standard rise rate of met balloons of 1,000 ft/min.  The met balloon light would have been white I think, not the blue light Arnold reported.

Moreover I doubt that Arnold could even have seen the lighted balloon from above as the balloon itself would have obstructed the view of the light hanging below it.  Only if the balloon had risen close to Arnold's main 6,000 ft altitude of most of the sighting would he have been able to see the light.  The weather balloon would not have reached 6,000 ft until about 2059 after the sighting was already over and the UFO had climbed away at high speed.  Arnold should still have been able to see the balloon if it had been a balloon.

The BB files also have a clip of Keyhoe's account of it and he fares no better than Ruppelt.  It was all based on sanitized BB files that were released to Keyhoe by Al Chop with the pilot witness name deleted so he made up a pseudonym for the reader which is perfectly fine, Lt. "Earl Fogle" (real name USAF Lt. Robert O. Arnold).

However Keyhoe's recounting of the rest of the case bore little resemblance to facts in the BB file he was given.  The T-28 trainer became an F-51 Mustang "fighter" in his sensationalized account yet the BB documents each and every one of them clearly stated that it was a T-28.

Keyhoe claims the object had "almost crashed into his fighter" as "no accident," that the "strange device had raced head-on at his lighted F-51.  At the last instant, it had flipped to one side, streaking by at terrific speed."  In fact, according to the AF files, Arnold had provoked the response by first heading full power at the light to try to check it out -- the light suddenly within 2 seconds of Arnold beginning to head toward it rushed at Arnold at high speed.  Keyhoe made no mention of Arnold's action of going after the light at full speed but three times repeated the light's threatening maneuvers (the third mention was on the repeat pass).

Arnold said nothing about a "device" or a "machine" but said at the close pass he could see it was a blurry reddish-bluish "haze" of light no larger than his plane (41-foot wingspan) with a smaller possibly 1/2-foot flickering blue light that he used to keep track of it.  (Ruppelt screwed this detail up claiming the pilot said this blue light was "half the intensity" of a T-33 position light when in reality the pilot said "half the size.")

Keyhoe then claims that after climbing the "object turned, circling back as if for another pass.  Fogle [Arnold] hastily switched off his lights, nosed down in a steep spiral.  The unknown machine dived to 2,000 feet.  Apparently missing Fogle's plane in the dark it circled toward Laredo air base, then swiftly turned away."  Then climbed out of sight.

But in fact on this second "pass" attempt Arnold turned out his aircraft lights, dove from 6,000 to 1,500 feet, and the light "leveled off" and went away.  There was no "missing" of Arnold's plane "in the dark" as if it had "almost crashed" into him again.  No mention of the light descending to 2,000 feet or to Arnold's altitude.  The light had been at 15,000 feet and done some "circling descent" towards Arnold when it simply turned sharply and climbed out of sight.

Keyhoe made up a wholly fictitious "For two hours intelligence officers grilled him on every detail" when there is not a hint anywhere in the BB file of any "grilling" whether 2-hour or not, the pilot said he simply landed and reported it.

Keyhoe claims "Three years before, many Air Force officers would have scoffed at Fogle's [Arnold's] report."  Why?  The AF took Gorman seriously in Oct 1948 and sent an intelligence team out to interrogate him first-hand and even took Geiger counter readings on his plane.