Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2009 09:42:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: michael swords <>
Subject: Somebody Needs to Have Those Materials - Oct. 6, 1967: Condon Case 35, Vandenberg AFB Case
To: Francis Ridge <>

My reply here will probably be more a source of frustration than enlightenment. This is because when I read all the Condon project documents at the American Philosophical Library [20 years ago?] I came across several relevant things to this case but didn't copy any of them. All I have are brief notes, but they are enough to indicate that if one wants to produce a good case commentary, somebody needs to have those materials.

My notes show a folder "52-c" in archive box "O-14" for Vandenberg AFB 10-6-1967. My note says just "interesting radar anomalies".

Also, there is a file in box "O10a" [no title, I believe], which contains "late 1967 correspondence between Project and Mr. J.L.Payer of Vandenberg AFB, re: radar cases". In that same box is a thick file [3 inch] related to things Roy Craig was into, including which was "radar cross-sections of Ducks and Chickens, August 1965, by P.Blacksmith and R.B.Mack." Whether Colorado tried to use stuff like that on this case I don't know, but its not hard to imagine.

In a document [letter: R.T.H.Collis to Robert Low, 11-13-1967], Collis {of the Stanford Research Institute's Aerophysics Laboratory} says:

"I think that the Vandenberg incident could be a landmark case in the whole area of UFO studies. It combines so many factors. Firstly, the incident involved a whole complex of associated events, which were reported by the most respectable observers. It combined multiple radar and multiple optical sightings. It occurred very recently and a substantial amount of recorded data is available--i.e. the TPQ 18 radar records and the meteorological data. At least in part, the radar echo phenomena were repeatable and were observed by design on subsequent occasions. It was sufficiently strange to cause interceptor aircraft to be sent off to investigate it in the heat of the moment, and also to cause the local and visiting experts considerable perplexity, even in the cool light of day. We thus have a wonderful opportunity to study the physical nature of the incident but also to study the psychological implications of such incidents.....I consider it highly significant that a very strong thermal inversion was associated with visual sightings of a light of varying color from an area in which a ship was known to be. Accordingly, I believe that it would be profitable first to investigate the possibility of mirage effects."

Collis and SRI were one of several external consultants hired by the Project to produce "manual" like summary assessments of certain known physical phenomena so as to give the Project the ability [allegedly] to judge whether a given case was honestly explainable by things we already understand---if this had been done properly, this would have been a good idea, as it would have given Project analysts the ability to say that given objective understanding of the limits of known phenomena this case "X" could or could not have been "Z". I have the hunch that the APL files contain important info on this case, and perhaps someone already has the copies or can get them.

As a small side matter, the Colorado group was about to disintegrate [that happened in January 1968, but things were well on their way to unravelling by the end of November]. The possible relevance of that is that one of the main things to unravel was radar case analysis--this had been assigned to Norm Levine, who was about to be fired. The job stayed up in the air all through the next several months when Gordon Thayer was dragooned into doing it, becoming dependent on Roy Craig's case files and whatever he could hustle together during the few summer 1968 months he had. Thus, the Colorado radar case analyses were embarrassingly rushed even though I believe that Thayer did about as well as he could given the time press they put him through and the incomplete data that he was able to get hold of. Jim McDonald was correct to criticize some of the "conclusions" in the document, but was still too hard on Thayer. Thayer later showed that his heart was in the right place by making a strong statement that he thought that deserved a serious study.

Best I can do. Sorry that I wasn't more like Jan or Barry back in those years or we'd have a detailed description of Colorado's "stuff" right here in this e-mail.


From: Francis Ridge <>
Sent: Friday, March 13, 2009 7:01:17 AM
Subject: Oct. 6, 1967: Condon Case 35

While reading Page 399-400 of Ann Druffel's "Firestorm" I found that this case was not listed in our 1967 UFO Chronology. I'd like to set up a directory for the case and begin a re-investigation for the NICAP site.