Form: 97, National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena
Date: Thurs, 07 Aug 2008 07:33:13 -0500
From: Brad Sparks
Subject: Case Update : RB-47 case, July 17, 1957, Mississippi - Louisiana-Texas-Oklahoma
Cat: : 3,9,11
Distribution: NICAP,CE,SHG


1.  The RB-47 case is the first known case of a UFO transmitting its own radar beam (several other cases are now known but the RB-47 was the first to become public).  Not only was the UFO tracked by an air defense radar on the ground near Dallas and by the RB-47 spy plane's airborne radar, but the UFO itself was sending out radar signals.  It is the only known radar-visual-ELINT case on record (a few radar-ELINT cases with no visual sightings, and a few visual-ELINT cases, with no radar tracks, are known too).

2.  The UFO's radar signals were picked up on special highly classified Electronic Intelligence (ELINT pronounced "EL-int") equipment aboard the RB-47.  The RB-47 normally flew missions on the periphery of the Soviet bloc, using its spy gear to locate enemy radars.  In this case, on July 17, 1957, the RB-47 flew out of Forbes AFB, Kansas, on a training mission out over the Gulf of Mexico.  On its return leg, the UFO was detected on the spy plane's ELINT gear.

FREQUENCY 2,995 to 3,000 MHz
PULSE WIDTH (Duration) 2.0 microseconds
POWER approx. 40 kW (estimated)
PRF (Pulse Repetition Frequency) 600 Hz
BEAM ELEVATION BORESIGHT ~5° elevation above horizontal (estimated)
BEAM WIDTH (Vertical) several degs or more but < 45° (estimated)

3.  It is ironic that the SETI project attempts to detect radio signals from civilizations around distant stars many light-years away from earth, and SETI scientists are very hostile and dismissive of the UFO phenomenon.  Yet here we have a UFO transmitting radio signals from only 10 miles away from an RB-47 spy plane.  One would think SETI would be interested in this very-close-to-home type of evidence.

4.  The RB-47 case has been public knowledge since 1968.  It was one of the late James McDonald's top cases he investigated, which he presented as key scientific evidence for the UFO to the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in 1969 and the AIAA (American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics) in 1971.

5.  Although the Air Force's UFO project, Project Blue Book, attempted to explain the RB-47 case, the parent organization of Blue Book admitted it was a puzzling case.  The ATIC (Air Technical Intelligence Center) at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, had its secret ELINT Branch analyze the RB-47 case.  Their analyst came back with the admission that "there is such a mass of evidence which tends to all tie in together to indicate the presence of a physical object or UFO" and that it is "difficult to conclude that nothing was present, in the face of the visual and other data presented."

6.  The Condon Report in 1969 admitted that it could not explain the RB-47 case, which its project at the University of Colorado had uncovered in the first place, as part of its $1/2 million contract study of UFO's for the US Air Force.

7.  The late UFO skeptic Philip Klass made a powerful and convincing case to explain the RB-47 incident, one of the most thoroughly impressive skeptical UFO investigations ever presented.  But Klass' analysis was based on a number of egregious and fatal errors.  His flight path for the RB-47 was based on an Air Force mistake that confused True and Magnetic compass directions.  As a result, in order to make his theory work, at some points on his map of the RB-47's movements Klass had to have the subsonic RB-47 jet travel supersonically, at twice the speed of sound (supersonic Mach 2)!

8.  When aerospace researcher Brad Sparks corrected the RB-47's flight path in 1998, by uncovering the mistake about the True vs. Magnetic compass headings, the entire case suddenly snapped into place and made sense, and at the same this correction caused the utter collapse and destruction of Klass' explanation scheme.

9.  Sparks further discovered that Klass had attempted to explain the visual UFO sightings by the RB-47 crew, of an intense red light, as due to a nonexistent American Airlines flight supposedly landing at Dallas airport at the time of the RB-47 UFO incident.  In fact, there was no such American Flight 966 at all, it was a National Airlines Flight 966 and it was 600 miles away near El Paso, and nowhere near Dallas-Ft Worth.  The airliner's exact location on that date is known because it was involved in an accident, with passenger injuries, and airline and government records record the date, time and exact location.  It could not possibly have been seen by the RB-47 crew from below the earth's horizon and from that 600-mile distance.

10.  The RB-47's ELINT system had Direction-Finding ALA-6 equipment which displayed the compass directions of the radar beams it received and analyzed.  On overseas flights, these Direction-Finding bearings or "cuts" as they were called, were used to plot the locations of enemy ground radars on a map.  The radars on the ground do not move, of course, they are stationary.

11.  What was startling to ELINT officer, Major Frank McClure, on this RB-47 training flight was that he picked up a MOVING radar signal which literally ran a ring around the 500 mph RB-47 while they were over Mississippi.  Later, while flying over East Texas, McClure's ELINT scope showed that the UFO seen visually by the pilot and copilot could also be tracked moving faster than the RB-47, still traveling at about 500 mph.  The RB-47 received signals not from some motionless radar on the ground, but from an AIRBORNE radar in rapid motion, and its location exactly matched the UFO's position.

12.  At some points on the flight over Texas, the RB-47 detected BOTH the moving UFO's radar beam AND the unmoving Air Force air defense ground radar near Dallas, SIMULTANEOUSLY.  The two radar beams came from different directions 30 degrees apart.  When Sparks corrected the compass errors made by Klass and the Air Force, it became clear that the RB-47 had ACCURATELY plotted both the UFO and the Dallas radar in the correct compass directions.  Thus the ground radar beam provided a scientific CALIBRATION of the accuracy of the RB-47 gear in real time, an unprecedented event in UFO history.  This puts the RB-47 case at or near the top of the list of the strongest scientific evidence for UFO reality on record.

13.  The UFO's radar beam revealed the UFO was flying faster than the RB-47 and moved "upscope" on the ELINT scope aboard the RB-47 until the UFO was directly in front of the RB-47, as seen visually and as shown on the ELINT scope.  Whereas, the Dallas radar was not moving so its directional bearings were properly displayed as showing the RB-47's own motion, moving "downscope" due to the RB-47's flight speed in flying past Dallas.

14.  The RB-47's pilot Major (later Col.) Lewis Chase went to maximum power to turn and pursue the UFO.  After several minutes, the UFO suddenly stopped in midair and the RB-47 overshot, and flew over the motionless UFO (not directly over but at about 45 degrees to one side).  But at that same moment, the UFO "blinked out" visually as if a light switch had been turned off, and it "blinked out" on the RB-47's ELINT gear, and it "blinked out" on the RB-47's airborne navigation radar which had been picking up the UFO too, for a short time during the chase.  Then after the RB-47 flew over, the UFO "blinked on" again visually, on ELINT and on airborne radar, all three "channels" of detection so to speak.

15.  The Air Force AIr Defense Command radar at Duncanville, near Dallas, also tracked the UFO and in the same position relative to the RB-47 that the crew could see, at about 10 miles away from the RB-47.  The RB-47 was in direct radio contact with the Dallas radar and compared position reports constantly.

16.  After landing at home base, the RB-47 crew was interrogated by intelligence officers at great length and their tapes and records of the incident were taken away for study.  No record of what happened to the tapes was reported to Project Blue Book and the crew never heard anything further about what might have been learned about their incident or who might be studying it.  Later investigations by McDonald and the Colorado Project turned up nothing further.  However, it has now been discovered that the SAC (Strategic AIr Command) ELINT Division at Omaha, Nebraska, obtained the RB-47 tapes and records.  The SAC analyst said the records package was handled very unusually when it was turned over to him, it came in as TOP SECRET when training flights like this one over the US normally were only SECRET.  Then after he sent in his analysis it disappeared when he followed up, which he assumed meant it went into compartmented secrecy and that he should ask no more questions.

Summary updated Aug. 2008 from:  Brad Sparks, "RB-47 Radar/Visual Case," in Jerome Clark (ed.), The UFO Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition (Omnigraphics, Detroit, Mich., 1998) vol. 2, pp. 761b-790b.