The Kirtland CE/RV Incident
Albuquerque, New Mexico
November 4, 1957

Dr. J. Allen Hynek:
We will never know whether UFO reports represent genuinely new empirical observations if we continue the type of logical fallacy illustrated by the Air Force analysis of a radar-visual UFO report from Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1957. Two witnesses in the control tower reported at 11:00 p.m. that an object, which looked (through binoculars) like a lighted, up-ended automobile, came within 200 feet of the ground when it disappeared behind a fence in a highly restricted area, easily visible from the control tower, then rose abruptly at very high angular rate and disappeared. It was observed visually for about six minutes, about half of that time through binoculars, and tracked in part by radar. The report of the Air Force officer who investigated this case, which is in the Bluebook file, states:

The two sources are Airways Operations Specialists with a total of 23 years experience. Both were on duty in the control tower at Kirtland Air Force Base when the sighting was made - both appeared to he mature and well poised individuals, apparently of well above average intelligence, and temperamentally well qualified for the demanding requirements of control tower operators. Although completely cooperative and willing to answer any question, both sources appeared to be slightly embarrassed that they could not identify or offer an explanation of the object which they are unshakably convinced they saw. In the opinion of the interviewer, both sources are completely competent and reliable.

Project Bluebook explained this sighting as that of an aircraft; and gave the following specific reasons:

1. The observers are considered competent and reliable sources and in the
    opinion of the interviewer actually saw an object they could not identify. 
2. The object was tracked on a radar scope by a competent operator. 
3. The object does not meet identification criteria for any other phenomenon.

So, the witnesses were solid, the radar operator competent, and the object unidentifiable as any other phenomenon; therefore the object had to be an aircraft. Clearly, if such reasoning is applied to all UFO reports we can hardly expect to find out whether any genuinely new empirical observations exist to be explained. Schroedinger, the father of quantum mechanics, wrote: "The first requirement of a scientist is that he be curious; he must be capable of being astonished, and eager to find out." Perhaps he should have added, "and be ready to examine data even when presented in a bewildering and confusing form." 

Source: Twenty-one Years of UFO Reports
J. Allen Hynek, Professor and Chairman, Department of Astronomy, Northwestern University; American Association for the Advancement of Science, 134th Meeting, General Symposium, Unidentified Flying Objects; December 27, 1969 

 The Kirtland UFO (1957) Directory