Case 41 - Edwards AFB
May 2, 1957
Dr. James E. McDonald:
Occasionally, one could argue, UFOs ought to come into areas where there were persons engaged in photographic work, who were trained to react a bit faster, and who would secure some photos. One such instance evidently occurred at Edwards AFB on the morning of 5/3/57 (NICAP note: actually 5/2/57). I have managed to locate and interview three persons who saw the resultant photos. The two who observed the UFO and obtained a number of photos of it were James D. Bittick and John R. Gettys, Jr, both of whom I have interviewed. They were at the time Askania cameramen on the test range, and spotted the domed-disc UFO just as they reached Askania #4 site at Edwards, a bit before 8:00 a.m. that day. They immediately got into communication with the range director, Frank E. Baker, whom I have also interviewed, and they asked if anyone else was manning an Askania that could be used to get triangulation shots. Since no other camera operators were on duty at other sites, Baker told them to fire manually, and they got a number of shots before the object moved off into the distance. Bittick estimated that the object lay about a mile away when they got the first shot, though when first seen he put it at no more than 500 yards off. He and Gettys both said it had a golden color, looked somewhat like an inverted plate with a dome on top, and had square holes or panels around the dome. Gettys thought that the holes were circular not square. It was moving away from them, seemed to glow with its own luminosity, and had a hazy, indistinct halo around its rim, both mentioned. The number of shots taken is uncertain; Gettys thought perhaps 30. The object was lost from sight by the time it moved out to about five miles or so, and they did not .see it again. They drove into the base and processed the film immediately. All three of the men I interviewed emphasized that the shots taken at the closer range were very sharp, except for the hazy rim. They said the dome and the markings or openings showed in the photos. The photos were shortly taken by Base military authorities and were never seen again by the men. In a session later that day, Bittick and Carson were informed that they had seen a weather balloon distorted by the desert atmospheric effects, an interpretation that neither of them accepted since, as they stated to me, they saw weather ballons being released frequently there and knew what balloons looked like. Accounts got into local newspapers, as well as on wire services (Ref. 44). An Edwards spokesman was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, "This desert air does crazy things," An INS wire-story said, "intelligence officers at Edwards ... would say almost nothing of the incident."
Discussion. -- I have not seen the photos alleged to have been taken in this incident, I have only interviewed the two who say they took them and a third person who states that he inspected the prints in company with the two Askania operators and darkroom personnel. I sent all of the relevant information on this case to the University of Colorado UFO project, but no checks were made as a result of that, unless done very recently. It would be rather interesting to see the prints.
Source: McDonald p. 85
44. Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1957; New York Journal-American, May 10, 1957.