The Walesville Incident
by Francis Ridge




Maybe I'm wrong, but I have had hunches before. One was that the Fort Monmouth case wasn't what Ruppelt said it was. A little digging proved him wrong and left us with a blockbuster several inches thick with supporting documents.

According to Maj. Donald Keyhoe, on July 1 (actually July 2), 1954, an Air Force F-94,  a two-man jet,  was scrambled to chase a UFO near Walesville, New York. According to his sources, "when the pilot tried to close in, a sudden, unbearable heat filled the cockpit. Half-dazed, the pilot and radar officer bailed out. The jet crashed in the street, killing two children and their parents. These odd phenomena, high radiation, mysterious heat and electrical interference may be side effects of gravity control devices."  (Keyhoe, "I Know The Secret of the Flying Saucers")

In late Feb 2005 I started a file on the Walesville crash for the NICAP site. The preliminary lead from Keyhoe and description above may not be totally accurate but apparently this wasn't just a jet crash with a UFO later added. My research team and I had had unbelievable luck finding documents on many BB unknowns, so I tried searching the Blue Book Archive site for "Walesville". I was disappointed when I could not find a report of any kind, not even a Spot Intelligence Report with an explanation for the sighting. I tried a number of key words, but to no avail. However, I was somewhat surprised that the Blue Book files listed Walesville, NY on July 2, in the July 1954 Sightings listing. There is no evaluation given at all on this one, but it lists "Stringfield and others" in the "Observer" column. The evening prior, a balloon (or what was described as a balloon) was report by many people.  And it may have been just that, but for some reason somebody had the "jitters". Something happened the next day that caused enough of a stir to call for jet interceptors. Whatever it was, it was over restricted air space at Griffiss Air Force Base at Rome, NY.

When Jan Aldrich searched files on crashes he found that one of the jets (the one that crashed) had been diverted from a training mission to an active Air Defense mission.  Numerous newspaper clippings sent to me by John Schuessler on 7 Feb support a blaze in the cockpit. Press reports state that a Pentagon spokesman said that the "unidentified plane was about 75 miles northeast of Rome, on the edge of the Griffiss patrol zone, when the JETS intercepted it." This indicates that more than one interceptor was involved. Dan Wilson also provided information he found on the case. But searching year-old emails for mention of this controversial case I found one by Jan Aldrich.

Jan Aldrich:
The Walesville incident is among these in the AF HQ Operations Top Secret files.  I obtained the Walesville report. It is obvious, to me at least, but maybe I am an idiot UFO conspiracy theorist, that the report is obfuscated. The report says that the aircraft was on a training mission when it was diverted to an active Air Defense mission, however, there are no documents to indicate what the active mission was. Also, the narrative said that the crew ejected when the fire warning light came on, it said that no heat or smoke was felt or detected.  In other cases, pilots try to make sure that aircraft will clear populated areas before they eject.  This portion of the narrative seems strange....the pilot was not faulted and the report said he followed proper procedures then in effect, but that the warning light was defective.

Something is obviously wrong with this story. If the warning light was all that was on, and no blaze, the pilot would probably have ridden the aircraft to a safer crash point, with or without the radar observer/co-pilot. Newspaper accounts even say there was a blaze in the cockpit. But what did the Condon Committee find when THEY checked into this case?

Condon Report:
Walesville-Westmorland N. Y., 1-2 July 1954, 1105-1127 LST. Weather: apparently clear. On 1 July 1954 reports came into the AF Depot at Rome, N. Y. of an UFO having the appearance of a balloon. The officer in charge said he believed it to be a partially deflated balloon, and if it were still there the next day, he would have it investigated.

(I don't understand how any kind of balloon could stay in the area until the next day, or why the officer made such a ridiculous statement).

On 1105 LST 2 July 1954, F-94C aircraft 51-13559 took off on a routine training mission. GCI requested the aircraft to change mission to intercept an unknown aircraft at 10,000 ft. The pilot identified a C-47 aircraft by tail number, and was then requested to check a second unidentified aircraft that was at low altitude and apparently letting down to land at Griffith AFB. The AF account states:

As the pilot started a descent, he noted that the cockpit temperature increased abruptly. The increase in temperature caused the pilot to scan the instruments. The fire warning light was on and the pilot informed the radar observer of this fact. The fire warning light remained on after the throttle was placed in "idle" so the engine was shut down and both crew members ejected successfully.
The aircraft crashed at the "Walesville Intersection," and was destroyed. The aircraft struck a house and an automobile, fatally injuring four persons.

The above account is from the official USAF accident report ("Summary of Circumstances"). There is no Blue Book file because no UFO was involved.

Conclusion:

1.The first object was probably a balloon;
2.There was no UFO in the aircraft accident case.

At the U.S. Air Force, White plains Filter Center, a spokesman said that the center had received no reports of strange flying objects from any of its area Ground Observer Corps. Ground Observer Corps sky watchers are directed to report unidentified objects to the center.

The fact that the object was not reported does not nessarily preclude its presence, since nearly all Ground Observer Corps posts are undermanned, C.D. Director Cox said last night. Intensive recruitment campaigns have failed to bring enough shywatchers to main the corps at effective strength and to provide the 24-hour skywatch that is America's only safeguard from sneak enemy attack.

No UFO? When the F-94 was diverted to an active Air Defense mission, there was a UFO involved by definition. By the time the crash occurred and was explained one way or another, the UFO became two IFOs. Strange that there were two problems, not just one, to contend with over restricted air space. And strange that somebody made it clear that Civil Defense GOC posts did not have or report any UFOs that day. Who DID call for an intercept over Rome if it wasn't the GOC? The sighting listing should say. What DOES it say? It gives Leonard Stringfield, a veteran UFO investigator/researcher who was heavily involved with GOC in Cincinnati at the time. A man who was in on many such scrambles and his "Foxtrot Kilo Three Dash Zero Blue" land-line telephone password to the Air Force was used many times to report unknowns over Ohio. Apparently he was the source of the UFO report probably referred by spotters in the Rome area.  

No fire? Just a warning light? Newspaper accounts say that James H. Douglas, undersecretary of the air force, expressed "profound sympathy and sorrow" to the families of those killed in the crash. Douglas said that "preliminary reports indicate that a fire developed in the forward section of the aircraft in flight and that the heat in the cockpit became so intense that the pilot and radar observer were forced to leave the aircraft at an altitude of 7,000 or 8,000 feet."

To see how the press reacted to the crash, here is one newspaper account:

     The Utica, July 3, Associted Press headline read: "Blaze in Cockpit Forced Crew To Leave Jet Plane." The first paragraph heading read: "Pilot  and Observer Escape Injury in Tragedy Fatal to Three in Car and One in House."
     "A special air force team today spearheaded an investigation of the wreckage of a jet fighter plane that crashed in a hamlet crossroads near here yesterday and killed four persons on the ground.
     The fuel in the rocket-laden F94-C Starfire set fires that destroyed an automobile and two houses in tiny Walesville, about eleven-miles southwest of Utica. None of the rockets exploded.
     The plane's pilot, Lieut. William E. Atkins, 24, of Dutton, Va., and the radar observer, Lieut. Henry F. Coudon, 26, of Perryville, Md., bailed out before the crash and escaped injury.
     Killed were the three persons riding in the automobile, Stanley: Phillips, 38, his wife, Florence, 32. formerly of Lyons Falls, and their son, Gary, 11, all of nearby Hecla, and Mrs. Doris Monroe, 28, occupant of one of the houses.
     One-year-old Betty Lou Monroe was injured.
     The crash occurred about 12:30 p. m.
     The plane was one of two jets ordered up in a practice "scramble" flight from the 27th fighter interceptor squadron at Griffiss air force base, Rome.
     A spokesman at the base gave this account of events leading up to the crash:
     While the two planes were aloft they were ordered by radio to check on an unidentified plane that had entered the area guarded by the air defense operation.
     (A Pentagon spokesman said in Washington that the unidentified plane was about 75 miles northeast of Rome, on the edge of the Griffiss patrol zone, when the jets intercepted it.)
     The pilots were satisfied the unidentified plane was friendly and were ordered back to their base, when fire broke out in the cockpit of Atkin's plane. Both men stuck to the craft as long as they could, then Atkins ordered Coudon to bail out. He followed the other man over the side from about 7,000 feet.
     In a statement released last night at the air base, James H. Douglas, undersecretary of the air force, expressed "profound sympathy and sorrow" to the families of those killed in the crash.
     Douglas said that "preliminary reports indicate that a fire developed in the forward section of the aircraft in flight and that the heat in the cockpit became so intense that the pilot and radar observer were forced to leave the aircraft at an altitude of 7,000 or 8,000 feet."
     The undersecretary dispatched the investigating team, from Norton air force base at San Bernardino, Calif., to assist a Griffiss board of inquiry in a probe of the crash.
     An officer at the air base said earlier that the craft apparently had exploded in its flight to earth. But the base said later it was not certain whether the explosion occurred before or after it struck. The jet crashed into an elm tree behind the Walesville genera! store, its body continuing on through the roof of the one-story Monroe home, which quickly went up in flames. Mrs. Monroe was preparing lunch, while her children played outside. Her husband, Lloyd, was at work.
     Another section of the plane, probably a wing, ploughed into the Phillips' automobile. The vehicle burst into flames, spun off the road and crashed into the home of Mrs. Mary Peck, 79. Mrs. Feck fled to safety as the frame structure burned.
     The Phillipses presumably were on their way home from the Rome state school, where both husband and wife were employed as occupational instructors.
     One of the Monroe children, Jetty Lou, was struck apparently by debris from the shattered plane and was treated at Utica lospital for a severe laceration on one of her legs.
     Orson Buck, whose daughter operates the general store, said he saw the plane strike and Betty Lou fall.
The oldest Monroe child, Kenneth, said he was playing in the yard with the other children when "all of a sudden there was smoke and fire and I heard my mother scream."    I
     He said he led his brothers and sisters to the front of the store. Kenneth, Buddy 6, and Nora May, 3, were not injured.
     Alvin Sancher said the falling plane, "sounded like a rocket or a a siren".  Sancher said he ran to the window of his house and  heard the crash. "Then I saw the plane or part of it, as it hit the house across the street."
     Sancher said he saw an object that looked like an unexploded shell.
     An air base armament team later roped off the general area and searched for the plane's 48 high-powered, 2-1/2" inch rockets. Many of them were found in the crash area, the air force reported.
     Officers said it was routine to carry rockets even on training flights.
     The exact nature of the silvery balloon-like object seen floating high over Utica area last night, continued a mystery today.
     Generally it is believed the object was a weather balloon. It was not from Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, nor was a jet plane seen flying in the near vicinity of the object, according to Rome officials.
     Presence of the object, estimated by a Mohawk Airliner pilot as at 20,000 feet more than 1,000 calls to The Utica Newspaper's switchboard, jamming that service between 8 and 10. Residents in a radius of 25 miles of Rome reported sighting it.
     Col. Milton P. Summerfelt, commandant at Rome, said the object appeared to be a plastic balloon about 40 feet long and partially deflated, and appearing to be making a gradual descent.
     Both Rome and Syracuse (Hancock) air field authorities said they had not released any weather balloons.
     Lt. Melvin Handville, New Hartford State Police substation watched with binoculars. He reported a basket-like object slung below it.
     By those who called last night, the object was variously described as walnut-like and shiny, like a flying golf ball, like a toy top, and balloon-like. One man said, "I don't believe in flying saucers, but if there (are) any, this is one of them."
     Richard L. Carner, member of the Utica Astronomy Club, viewed the object with a 250-power telescope by which he said, wings of a fly could be counted a mile away. He tabbed the thing as a weather balloon.

Something still isn't right. Blue Book should have had a hayday with this UFO that quickly became an IFO. But there is no file on the incident. And the accident report is among those in the AF HQ Operations Top Secret files. Apparently the pilots didn't have time to bail out over better terrain. I certainly would not call this a successful bailout. And somewhere there are files, involving Leonard Stringfield, I bet, and the GOC, about what happened that day.