The Montana Film - The Early Analyses

Cropped blow-up of one of the first frames


Cropped blow-up of one of the first frames


The earliest analyses of the Montana Film (then Top Secret) were conducted by the United States Air Force and the U. S. Navy. After the films were declassified they were used in a UFO documentary in 1956 by Green Rouse. Here is what the documentation showed.

Francis Ridge
NICAP Site Coordinator


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1.  The objects appear to be a light source rather than reflected light.

2.  All the objects appear to be the same size and circular in shape.

3.  The general color of the objects seems to be bluish-white.

4.  If the distance is estimated to be 5 miles and the movement perpendicular
     to the line of sight, the velocity noted is 653.5 mph; likewise, at 2-1/2 miles
     distant the average speed is 326.75 mph.

5.  Generally the movement in flight appears to follow an elliptical or circular
     pattern, within the group.

While the objects remain unidentified the following possibilities have been ruled out:

          1. Balloons

          2.  Aircraft

          3.  Birds

Objects within  five miles would have easily been identified. Objects in excess of five miles  would be traveling faster than aircraft can achieve, except in straight-line speed runs.

Source: Air Force report to Green-Rouse Productions, figures used in motion picture documentary, 1956, "U.F.O."


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(Dr. Robert L. Baker, Jr.,  was a consultant to the Douglas Aircraft Company, former head of Lockheed's Astrodynamics Research Center, project officer on a number of classified Air Force projects, and (at the time) a senior scientist with the Computer Sciences Corporation).

Dr. Robert L. Baker:
My initial contact with anomalistic observational phenomena - AOP - came in 1954 when I was a consultant to Douglas Aircraft Co. in Santa Monica, Calif., serving as special assistant to Dr. W. B. Kiemperer, director of Douglas' research staff. The data consisted of two short film clips: one taken in Montana - termed by us as the Montana film-and one taken in Utah - called by us the Utah film. These films were provided to us by the Air Technical Intelligence Center - ATIC, now the Foreign Technology Division - FTD - at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; 35-millimeter prints were furnished by Green-Rouse Productions of Samuel Goldwyn Studios.

Both films had been taken by apparently reliable and unbiased men using amateur movie cameras and, in each case, there was a credible, substantiating witness present. The films exhibited the motion of rather fuzzy white dots, but the Montana film was remarkable in that foreground was visible on most of the frames.

Preliminary analysis excluded most natural phenomena. More detailed study indicated that the only remaining natural phenomenon candidate for the Utah film was birds in flight, and for the Montana film it was airplane fuselage reflections of the sun. After about 18 months of rather detailed, albeit not continuous, study using various film-measuring equipment at Douglas and at UCLA, as well as analysis of a photogrammetric experiment, it appeared that neither of these hypothesized natural phenomena explanations had merit, and a report was published by me (Baker [1956] )and forwarded to Brig. Gen. Harold E. Watson, commander, ATIC. Since the description of the circumstances of the filming and the analyses of the data provided on the films is rather lengthy, and have since been published in the open literature, it does not seem unreasonable to repeat the analyses here.

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To this date my analyses of anomalistic motion picture data have been rather ungratifying. Although I am convinced that many of the films indeed demonstrated the presence of anomalistic phenomena, they all have the characteristic of rather ill-defined blobs of light, and one can actually gain little insight into the real character of the phenomena. For example, linear distance, speed, and acceleration cannot be determined precisely, nor can size and mass. As I will discuss in a moment, this situation is not particularly surprising, since, without a special-purpose sensor system expressly designed to obtain information pertinent to anomalistic observational phenomena, or a general-purpose sensor system operated so as not to disregard such data, the chance for obtaining high-quality hard data is quite small.

Source: Hearings before the Committee on Science & Astronautics, July 29, 1968, page 127