Date: Wed, 08 Jul 2009 11:50:55 +0100
From: Martin Shough <parcellular@btinternet.com>
Subject: Re: Archie 29 Incident / Visuals Possibly Venus
To: etjean@sbcglobal.net, jani@dig

Well, I suppose what is missing is any sort of critical evaluation. One illuminating thing that is missing from both of the summaries compiled by Weinstein and Schuessler is the visual report by the copilot of Archie 29, QUOTE:

"I WAS AT THE CONTROLS AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL SIGHTING OF THE OBJECT WHEN IT WAS CALLED TO THE ATTENTION OF THE CREW IN THE FORWARD PART OF THE ACFT THAT THIS PARTICULAR OBJECT WAS MAKING ERRATIC MOTION IN THE SKY. AT THIS TIME, UPON SIGHTING THE OBJECT MYSELF, I DID NOTICE THAT THE OBJECT WAS MAKING A VERY IRREGULAR ZIG ZAG PATTERN AT A POSITION OF APPROX 10 O'CLOCK LOW ON THE HORIZON. OUR ALTITUTE AT THAT TIME WAS 16,000 FEET, OUR HEADING 125 DEGREES. THE OBJECT APPEARED TO HAVE THE SAME ALTITUTE OF OUR ACFT. THE EASTERN SKY WAS BEGINNING TO LIGHT UP, THE TIME BEING APPROX 0700Z, AND THE OBJECT WAS VISABLE THROUGH WHAT APPEARED TO BE AN INVERSION LAYER. MY FIRST IMPRESSION WAS THAT IT WAS VERY LIKELY THE MORNING STAR OR VENUS AND THAT ITS ERRATIC MOTION MIGHT BE ATTRIBUTED TO REFRACTION AND OUR OWN RELATIVELY FORWARD MOTION. HOWEVER AT THE TIME THAT 'ENRAGE' WAS NOTIFIED AND CONFIRMED THAT THEY HAD PICKED UP 4 OR 5 TARGETS IN THIS SAME AREA, I BEGAN TO WONDER WHETHER IT WAS THE MORNING STAR OR SOMETHING ELSE. BETWEEN THE TIME OF THE INITIAL SIGHTING AND THE TIME THAT WE STARTED OUR LET-DOWN, WHICH WAS APPROXIMATELY ½ HOUR, IT IS MY ESTIMATE THAT THE OBJECT CHANGED ITS POSITION WITH RESPECT TO THE HORIZON BY APPROXIMATELY 15DEGREES OF ELEVATION AND 5 DEGREES AZIMUTH. AFTER THIS BEFOREMENTIONED ANGLE OF ELEVATION INCREASED, THE OBJECT MOVED OUT OF THE SUSPECTED INVERSION LAYER AT WHICH TIME THE EXTENT OF ITS ERRATIC MOTION SEEMED TO DIMINISH AND ONCE AGAIN I THOUGHT IT WAS POSSIBLY THE MORNING STAR."

This light was at 10 o'clock bearing, i.e, 72 deg left of the nose, low on the horizon and looked like a very bright star or Venus apart from its rapid apparent motions. The a/c commander said:

AS THE SUN ROSE HIGHER, THE LIGHT BEGAN TO GET DIMMER AND DIMMER UNTIL WE COMPLETELY LOST SIGHT. IF WE HAD NOT SEEN THE MOVEMENT OF THE OBJECT, WE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT WAS ONLY A BRIGHT STAR, BUT THE DEFINITE HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL MOVEMENTS OF THE OBJECT KILLED THAT BELIEF.

The other a/c commander said:

AT 10 O'CLOCK TO MY POSITION, I NOTICED A BRIGHT LIGHT. AFTER CONSULTATION WITH 3 CREW MEMBERS, WE DECIDED THE LIGHT WAS MOVING VERY RAPIDLY. I DECIDED TO CALL 'ENRAGE' CONTROL TO VERIFY THE LIGHT. I TOLD 'ENRAGE' CONTROL THAT IT WAS APPROXIMATELY 10 O'CLOCK FROM MY POSITION AT FROM 15,000 TO 20,000 FEET, AN ESTIMATED 50 MILES. I ALSO TOLD THEM IT WAS MOVING VERY RAPIDLY LIKE THOSE FLYING SAUCERS.

These visual observers needed to "consult" among themselves in order to "decide" that the light was really moving rapidly, suggesting that these rapid motions were departures from an average position within a small angular area, not large angular displacements across the sky.

SHORTLY THEREAFTER, 'ARCHIE 29' CALLED 'ENRAGE' CONTROL AND VERIFIED MY ACCOUNT OF THE OBJECT. AFTER POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION OF 'ARCHIE 29' THE DISCUSSION OF THE OBJECT WAS REFERRED TO AS TO ITS POSITION FROM 'ARCHIE 29'. I VERIFIED ALL OF 'ARCHIE 29'S' INFORMATION AND CONTINUED WATCHING THE OBJECT UNTIL APPROXIMATELY 20 MILES FROM HARMON FIELD.

So, what bright star-like light could have been seen at 0705Z 5 July 1955 at a bearing of 10 o'clock from an a/c heading of 125 deg near 49°10' N, 59°50' W, appearing to jiggle about?

This puts the light at about 53 deg azimuth in the NE. At 0705Z Venus was just rising at about 55 deg azimuth, virtually spot-on. An observer at sea level below the a/c position would have seen Venus about 1.5 deg above the horizon at 0705; at the a/c altitude it would appear somewhat higher, consistent with the fact that the Archie 29 co-pilot who gave the most detailed description said that it appeared to be co-altitudinal with the a/c.

The same observer estimated that during approximately half an hour the object gained 15 deg of altitude and drifted 5 deg in azimuth (direction not stated).  For a static observer Venus would have gained about 4.3 deg of altitude and drifted about 5.5 deg in azimuth. Since the a/c course had a component of motion to the E (35 deg off due E) during half an hour, tending to accelerate the rate of rising of celestial objects, and allowing for a universal trendency to overestimate horizon elevation angles, these figures ought to be considered a very good fit to Venus.

Moreover this observer initially thought that he was looking at Venus through "what appeared to be an inversion layer", suspecting that the apparent motions were due to refraction and a/c motion, and he stated that this impression was confirmed by the end of the sighting. Other observers also indicated a similarity to a bright star. All said that it rose and got gradually dimmer until washed out by the rising sun, e.g:

"AFTER WE FINISHED OUR REFUELING RUN AT APPROXIMATELY 0700Z, WE RETURNED ON OUR HOMEWARD COURSE AND WE HEARD LT SCHNECK REPORT THE BRIGHT LIGHT THAT WAS MOVING VERY FAST AND ERRATICALLY. RIGHT AFTER THAT THE AIRCRAFT COMMANDER SAW THE OBJECT AND POINTED IT OUT TO ME. I COULD SEE IT. IT LOOKED LIKE A VERY BRIGHT LIGHT, LIKE A STAR. ...AFTER THE SKY WAS GETTING LIGHTER, THE OBJECT BECAME DIMMER AND MORE DIFFICULT TO SEE. ABOUT 0800Z, IT DISAPPEARED COMPLETELY."

This is typical of Venus.

From a visual point of view the major problem with this theory is that the light was stated to definitely move left and right with respect to the a/c coordinate system. For example, the Archie 91 copilot (I think) said:

WE TURNED TOWARDS THE LIGHT AND THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME I NOTICED MOVEMENT. IT APPEARED STATIONARY FOR QUITE A WHILE AND THEN IT MOVED IN EITHER NORTHERLY OR SOUTHERLY DIRECTIONS AT DIFFERENT TIMES. EACH TIME IT MOVED, WE TURNED THE AIRCRAFT TO KEEP IT AT 12 O'CLOCK POSITION.

This sort of thing seems impossible to explain by any type of atmospheric refraction. Lateral mirages in the free atmosphere just don't happen. On the other hand, it may be noteworthy that the onset of lateral motions appeared to coincide with a manoeuvre of the aircraft. "We turned towards the light and that was the first time I noticed movement". The Archie 29 co-pilot also speculated that aircraft movements might have cointributed to an illusion. This might be possible if the aircraft had to adjust its crab angle to settle on a heading that was some angle away from the eye of the wind. The reference frame for observers in near-darkness over the sea would be the coordinate frame of the aircraft, and crabbing adjustments could rotate this reference frame by a few degrees, causing Venus to drift with respect to windscreen posts etc. I didn't see winds aloft info in the file yet, but this might be checkable. It's a possible theory at any rate.

It's not clear that the ground radar echoes are easily explained, and the reported correlation between visual and radar movements is challenging. Nevertheless, the fact is that Venus was there to be seen and observers reported something that sounds in most respects very like Venus. The sky was clear. Nobody reported Venus separately, as a point of reference for example. Logic forces us to consider the likelihood that the visual UFO was Venus, leaving us with the need to explain coincidental radar indications.