March 22/23, Oxnard, California:35 The wife of an Air Force officer along with her 17-year-old
daughter saw a series of unusual lights. First they saw a large, soundless, and pulsing light, with
something like a pole on top, making fast and erratic motions. Later, they saw a green object
accompanied by two smaller red lights—whether these sightings were related is difficult to tease out of
the text. She called a military friend and then Oxnard AFB. The officer inquired about radar and was
told that radar was detecting something there. The woman said that the two red objects had moved
lower and seemed to be approaching. The sheriff’s office was contacted and they sent a patrol car. The
patrol officer confirmed the woman’s report to Oxnard, with the exception that by that time there were
five red objects flying well below the green one. Somehow, between the time of this report to the Air
Base and the later Air Force investigation by the 4602nd, these red objects were changed, on the report,
to stars and the Moon above. This happened despite the witness stating that the red lights were below
the hills on the horizon. To deal with that, the Air Force added the theory that a temperature inversion
had caused light to bend the images of the stars, or, alternatively, the witness saw lights on a barn. The
woman herself was judged hysterical due to her pregnancy. The Air Force’s explanation was completed
without anyone bothering to interview the teen-age daughter or taking anything associated with the
airbase into account (for example, the radar returns).

The press knew all about the case due to the fact that others in the area were reporting things at the
same time. Three Ventura County deputies and two Port Hueneme police spotted single red objects,
and other sightings are recorded. None of this made it into the Blue Book record. Still, Blue Book was
worried. This case was in the news; they knew that Keyhoe would be on the hunt, and they needed to
head him off. Their message to ADC about Oxnard said: “in reference to sighting by Mrs. [deleted],
Oxnard, CA, In view of possible publicity, numerous witnesses, and police and sheriff brought in on
case, request preliminary investigation, request brief summary of findings by tt [teletype] message.”36
Under special instructions, the message read: “Answer?” The answer given was both “stars” and “lights
on barn.”

When the requested summary came back with almost no detail, ATIC was incensed. Another
message went to ADC. It said:

No details concerning this case received as yet; only comment in your UFO summary with statement was
astronomical. This incident recognized by this center as potentially dangerous in that it could give Air
Force unfavorable publicity, if exploited by fanatic or die-hard ‘flying saucer’ proponents. This now
definite possibility, with receipt of letter from National Investigations Committee of UFOs (NICAP)
demanding full details and answers to certain aspects of Oxnard incident not supported by information
in file.

Officially, this incident does not warrant action required, but [name deleted, but obviously “Keyhoe’s”]
ability to slant material and create unwarranted trouble for Air Force, his stock and trade for almost ten

This was an unusually emotional Blue Book communication. What were they talking about? The case
report was shoddily done. Even the sexist solution of blaming everything on a pregnant woman falls
apart immediately given that no other witness’ testimony was taken into account. The explanation that
all this could be “stars” was later admitted by the astronomical consultant (Allen Hynek) to be
impossible. And NICAP had found an Air Traffic Controller who was willing to sign a document
stating that his tower had picked the objects up on radar. Keyhoe asked an Air Traffic authority if the
controller could get in trouble, even though no JANAP 146/CIRVIS report had been turned in, and,
therefore, talking about the case violated no law. “Would he still be in hot water?” asked Keyhoe.
“Scalding. Tell him to shut up.”38

The friction over this case lasted all year. In October, when NICAP published its newsletter, The
UFO Investigator, Blue Book was reading it. George Gregory wrote the Pentagon in a fury:

Reference is made to a recent briefing given to the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense [who,
with his family had a UFO case themselves earlier in the year] in which the serious nature of NICAP as a
cleverly organized instrument of rabble rousing and agitation, was presented in some detail.39

Gregory then blasted NICAP’s version of Oxnard as “deliberately false,” paradoxically citing that
the Air Base radar men are on record saying there was no radar return, even if a CAA radar man says
that his tower did detect a UFO. Then Gregory says that even if the CAA story is true, then it is a
violation of government information policy (i.e. CIRVIS) and the operator should be reported to proper
authorities. Let the reader judge: where is the logic and where is the hysteria in this case?


35 Blue Book microfilm Roll 27; and many news sources as listed and quoted in Gross, March-May 1957.
36 Robert E. O'Connor to Commander 4602nd AISS, message form, 27 March 1957, FOIA (USAF).
37 (Blue Book microfilm). Apparently a quick follow-up message form to the above (reference 36), read by Allen Hynek
and quoted in his book, The Hynek UFO Report.
38 Donald Keyhoe, Flying Saucers: Top Secret.
39 George Gregory to Major Byrnes, memorandum, subject: "False Charges by NICAP regarding Air Force Findings in
Oxnard and Other Cases," 1 October 1957, FOIA (USAF).