Update: June 2012
In the process of EMCATing this case in June of 2012 we located some Project Blue Book documents we were unaware were in the BB files, at least available for us to see. We knew there had to be some, but we assumed that by 1963 serious Air Force interest had publicly waned and only newspaper clips and some negative and brief comments would be found. Air Force interest in UFOs was very negative on the surface, that is in those days. At first there were only a few documents but enough to mention, especially the ones we transcribed below. Then Dan Wilson hit pay dirt and found a hundred more, many pertaining to the flap that ensued in S. Illinois that month.
One that really stood out for me was the report that Blue Book filed on the Austin case and the Uphoff/Hill investigation. In a short period of the the mini-flap ensued, and the team from Blue Book had to go to southern Illinois, themselves. The situation was hot and the media was right on it. These weren't all just sightings of lights in the sky. Emotions were running high and this called for special action. Rather than the usual procedure of sending an officer from the nearest AF base (AFR Regulation 200-2) they sent the Project Blue Book team of Director, Lt. Col. Robert Friend, Sgt. Charles R. Sharp, and (hang on to your hats) the later infamous Capt. Hector Quintanilla!
The first few documents we found had a report filed by this team. I will now go over the comments made in this report.
5 – 7 August 1963
On 6 August 1963 information was received at Wright-Paterson AFB that an Unidentified Flying Object had been observed in Fairfield, Illinois. The information was essentially that carried over the news circuits.
“Ronnie Austin and his girl friend, Phyllis Root, had been to a drive-in-movie. Coming home they were chased by a flying saucer as big as an auto, which at times passed in front of them, along side, and at times trailing the car. After taking Miss Root home Ronnie then proceeded to his own home the Saucer continued it’s attack. By this time he was in the state of shock and was given sedatives on the advice of the family doctor. The parents of Ronnie called Harry Lee, the Deputy Sheriff of Fairfield, Illinois, and he proceeded to the farmhouse with Mr. George Sexton , village Marshall of Wayne County, to observe the object which was now ‘besieging’ the farmhouse. Upon arrival the object was identified as the ‘evening star’ (Jupiter). Two youths watched the object from the Austin farmhouse until it disappeared with the coming of dawn.”
Notice that this states "two youths watched the object...until it disappeared with the coming of dawn." This implies the original UFO was nothing less than an evening star (Jupiter) that caused all the excitement. Of course the UFO that created the stir was long gone. Later in the report BB would inject the now sedated Ronnie Austin into this duo making it look like even Ronnie (now a trio) was mesmerized by this "star". Note, Ms. Root was actually Ms. Bruce.
Scott AFB was contacted and requested to investigate the sighting under AFR200-2.
This is standard procedure. But their preliminary investigation was cut short or bypassed.
Information received from Scott AFB confirmed that the object besieging the farmhouse was indeed Jupiter. However, since the story was attracting national interest through the news media, and additional sightings were being reported in the area, an investigation from Wright-Patterson AFB conducted an additional field investigation.
Did they really need a second look or was this turning into a major fire that had to be put out? Usually a press release from Blue Book was all that was needed. This was truly an unusual situation, unprecedented.
The following information extracted from this report:
"Ronnie Austin and Phyllis Root were driving east on Illinois highway 15 at approximately 0500Z hours on 5 August 1963. At this time Mr. Austin noticed a bright object at approximately 40 degrees elevation to the right of his automobile. Observers were traveling in a valley of the road and approximately 30 yards from the Buford Transformer Sub-Station. Object was next observed at an elevation of 15 degrees while observers were near a Micro-Wave transmitting station. Object now appeared to move from the right to the left of the car. While observers were still traveling east on highway 15, object appeared in the east at an elevation of approximately 15 degrees. Observers changed direction and were traveling north, the object appearing in the east at an elevation of 30 degrees.
Notice the transformer substation and the microwave transmitting tower are mentioned.
When Mr Austin arrived at Miss Root's home he went inside and stayed for about 15 minutes. From Miss Root's house, the object appeared in the east at an elevation of 15 degrees. On his way home, Mr Austin 'floor boarded' the accelerator and drove as fast as his car would go. During this time, the car sputtered and the radio started to crackle and stopped playing. Almost immediately after it had begun to sputter, the car ran normally again and the radio ceased to crackle. The car was at this time being driven at its maximum speed on a gravel road. Upon reaching home, Mr Austin immediately informed his father of the phenomena he had seen. The object seemed to hover over some trees which were about two hundred yards away from the house. At this time the lights in the house were extinguished and the Deputy Sheriff of Fairfield, Illinois was notified. During the excitement, Ronnie Austin momentarily blacked out and was given a sedative to calm his nerves.
The Air Force is implying that the radio static (crackle) and car engine missing (E-M effects) described by the Austin boy were caused by his passing the power substation. They even add "almost immediately" to the description of the return to normalcy to make the speedy pass fit even better. Here is what we found and filed in our report: "At the point right over the car his radio (tuned to WLS) went crazy with static, which was described as a loud whining sound.. At that time he noticed a "cooling effect". The object made another pass at the car, this time west to east, and at this point where the object was again overhead, the engine of the car started missing." This shows a short period between the whining sound (not crackle) and the engine missing as the object made another pass at him, a period much longer than would be expected from a fast-moving automobile passing a power substation. Ronny had passed this substation before and at a much slower speed and never noticed these effects, nor could a substation cause the engine to miss in the first place. Nowhere does his testimony say that these effects occurred when he passed a substation, anyway. He mentioned that before all this, before he even dropped off his girlfriend (Phyllis Bruce) at her home, the object appeared to get within a few hundred feet and then it suddenly gained altitude and stopped for several seconds over an electronic relay tower.
1) The AF said Ronnie's girlfriend, Phyllys, never saw the object Ronny described. She not only saw it, but her sister Forrestine also observed it when Ronnie dropped Phyllis off at their home.
2) This kid's auto that sputtered wasn't a run-of-the-mill hot rod that was effected by stray EM fields from a power substation. The AF implies that if that didn't do it maybe the microwave tower? Later the performance of this car became even more of an issue since Ronny said he "really poured the coal" to the car and must have been doing 120 mph when he topped the hill on the gravel road.
Several people implied that this was an indication Ronnie was stretching things a bit in the excitement. Orville told us that the car could go that fast. He informed us that the 1956 Ford Victoria had a Challenger engine and was a former law enforcement vehicle. We all also concluded that the extreme high speed Ronnie hinted at might have been caused by the gravel road and false readings by the speedometer. We also found that this car had a magnetic speedometer, and the UFO itself could have been causing false readings. Ronny's car was " hot", maybe in more ways than one. We think the Air Force found residual radiation. (See other reports). For Scott AFB to conclude the case was explained and then somehow it became necessary for a team from Blue Book, itself, to have to go to S. Illinois to bolster this explanation, I find it odd that Blue Book checked the car a week later for radiation!!!
Then, he reported, the object flared bright orange and came straight toward him at high speed. It hovered over the car, within 100'. Just before it hovered it had swerved upward and Ronnie judged its size as that of an automobile. At the point right over the car his radio (tuned to Chicago's rock station, WLS) went crazy with static, which was described as a loud whining sound.. At that time he noticed a "cooling effect". The object made another pass at the car, this time west to east.
The "cooling effect" may be more evidence of E-M effects but it might also be a physiological effect of a sudden chill from the scare. Ronnie wasn't a "whimp". But this experience, without anything going on in the Country or the movies at the time, scared him pretty bad.
Deputy Sheriff Harry Lee of Wayne County, Marshall George Sexton of Wayne City and State Trooper Richard Gidcumb went to the Austin farm to witness the phenomena. The area approaching and surrounding the Austin home is densely vegitated, and on the night the phenomena was observed a slight haze hung over the area. The three law enforcement offices observed the object for a period of time and Marshall Sexton concluded that the object was the 'evening star'. The officers observed the object for about a half an hour and then left. Ronnie Austin and two of his friends (Gary Karacher and Tom Kissner) watched the object until daybreak. The object disappeared with the coming of daylight. When the object disappeared, it was at an elevation of 45 degrees and an azimuth of 215 degrees.
The youths that observed the star now becomes a trio, which now includes Ronnie Austin. I don't think Ronnie was up at that time, but the boys were watching a star as many witnesses were now looking at the UFO-less sky with lots of excitement still in the air. The AF report states the law enforcement officers witnessed the object, but our investigation showed that there were other conventional objects in the sky after the UFO had long gone. The planet Jupiter was viable but is not "the evening star", and these law enforcement officers can be forgiven for thinking that. However, the AF investigators apparently wanted to assume that this was correct so they could debunk this incident.
Orville Austin, Ronnie's father, I believe saw the original object and was impressed enough by it's appearance and the boy's apparent shock of encountering it. When Ronnie ran into the house and woke the family up, Orville could see Ronnie was upset and he grabbed a shotgun and stood on the porch. Every third or fourth word was "trailing off". Ronny told his dad to call the police and when they tried, the phone was dead! By now everyone was getting more concerned. After this object departed, the people who then showed up were fixated on Jupiter and it was observed until daylight. Ronnie had lost 18 pounds in the short time before we got involved and was afraid to go outside at night and even go to a root beer stand for weeks with his friends. I can't believe he was with Gary Karacher and Tom Kissner watching Jupiter that morning. I believe the AF added Ronnie to that story to make it look like he was still fooled by the Planet Jupiter, although its safe distance and his companions might have given him more courage. But here was boy almost going into shock and had to have sedation.
Returning to their home station, Marshall Sexton and State Trooper Gidcumb observed an object which appeared to be moving from west to east. The object appeared as a red light with exhaust flames and/or fiery streaks. The object disappeared after approximately four seconds.
No doubt this was meteor.
On the evening of 7 August 1963 at approximately 0250Z, Mr Chauncey Uphoff and Mr Mike Hill observed a bright diamond shaped object in the sky. The object appeared at times to be shaped like a diamond with a tail. The object first appeared in the south and traveled towards the east. Object traversed approximately 50 degrees of the sky in 15 minutes. The object then appeared as two objects and one object traveled from the south-east to the northwest while the other object made a 'U' turn and disappeared.
Our very first investigation that evening, conducted at the police station, was the Uphoff-Hill case (Fairfield), which occurred three days after the Austin case. Blue Book wants us to believe that this sighting just happened to occur a few days after an IFO was observed at Wayne City when there were no sightings taking place to set off a local or regional flap? Chauncey Uphoff and Mike Hill were alerted by their dogs barking furiously (E-M or Animal Reaction case) they then saw, in the general direction in which the dogs were barking a yellow-orange diamond-shaped object. It was moving slowly, disappeared as a probable jet aircraft
Subsequent to the field investigation additional confirmation of suspected a/c in the vicinity was needed. Indianapolis Center was contacted for low altitude flights and Kanas City for high altitude cross over from Indianapolis. The information was requested to determine the suspected a/c in Chauncy Uphoff sighting. TWA 287 was enroute from Evansville to St Louis at 0151Z. Eastern Airlines flight 565 over Evansville at 0213Z, over Centralia at 0227Z. These were the only jet a/c at upper alitiudes being carried at the time. A call was made to Little Rock Arkansas (Controller for Sandy Spot Refueling Area). Information received revealed that the 55BW was using the area on the nights of the 6,7,9,13,14,15 from 0200Z-0500Z. It was determined that the Uphoff sighting was a misinterpretation of the jets refueling.
Call made to Ft Campbell, Ky. PPC Lattimore (Operations) checked records to assure that restricted area was not in use. Call to Ft Campbell, Ky revealed that the base is no longer in use. The rules out possibility of munitions or
flares being the cause of the sighting of Mr Gidcumb and Geo Saxton and left the remaining possibility of their sighting as a meteor.
None of the other reported sightings were investigated.
The following points were considered to be the most pertinent in evaluation of the Ronnie Austin portion of the Fairfield sightings:
(a) The exact route that Ronnie and Phyllis took was retraced at a corresponding time. The moon was in the position of the UFO at the time of the initial sighting. Subsequent observations revealed that Jupiter was always in the reported position of the object.
(b) The turning if the road accounts for the alleged changes in position of the object.Subsequent investigation and the current re-investigation shows a and b are false, and couldn't explain the case even if the sighting azimuths were all the same. And they were not. Phyllys DID see the object and her sister also saw it. After the UFO event everybody was looking UP! Jupiter and the Moon were there for everyone to laugh at.
(c) At no time did Phyllis see the object as described by Ronnie.
(d) Marshall Sexton identified the object as the Evening Star. (e) Two youths continued to watch the object for the remainder of the night, the oject always being in the position of Jupiter and disappearing with dawn.
It is concluded that Mr Ronnie Austin first saw the moon through a slight haze while driving in the valley of the road by the Bluford Transformer Sub-Station. Mr Austin continued to see the moon at the top of the valley near the Micro-Wave station; however, at this time his attention was diverted to the left of his car and he focused his attention of Jupiter. He continued to see Jupiter for the rest of the evening. Marshall Sexton's conclusion that what Mr Austin saw was the "evening star" (Jupiter) was correct.
The sighting reported by Marshall Sexton and State Trooper Gidcumb was a meteor of the fireball class.
The sighting reported by Mr. Uphoff and Mr. Hill was an air-to-air refueling operation which took place over southern Illinois.
In August of 1990, when I submitted the reports to MUFON & CUFOS, I created a UFO Intelligence Summary of all the incidents in this local mini-flap and there were 33 reports in the region in August of 1963. Most of these after the Austin and Uphoff/Hill cases were probably IFOs spawned by the media hype that went from southern Illinois to Chicago to southern Indiana. But our investigations conclude that the Austin and Uphoff/Hill cases are unexplained. The Austin case involved E-M effects, probable residual nuclear radiation, and physiological effects, all on car and Ronny Austin. The telephone outage is even suspicious and qualifies as an E-M event in itself. The Uphoff/Hill case is an animal reaction case and the "fluid-like" appendage on the object is similar to cases of E-M effects under corona discharge. Both incidents are Close Encounters of the Second kind.
In 2004 some men in southern Illinois, sitting around drinking beer one night, decided to come clean and told us they hoaxed the entire incidents using balloons and ropes. The email thread that ensued was the conduit for a hoax in itself and we never bothered to post a report, but it is documented and copies of the emails are on file.