Tremonton, Utah UFO Film
When Newhouse arrived at his new station, he had the film processed, and approximately five weeks later submitted it to the Air Force with the comment that he had no explanation for the objects he had photo graphed.
During the following weeks Newhouse and family were interviewed several times by Air Force officers. Each report was forwarded to PROJECT BLUE BOOK headquarters, and a new list of questions would be sent to the officers in the field to clarify specific points.
Analysis of the film continued for months. Analysts tried everything they could think of to identify the objects but failed. The contents of the report, considered together with the apparent reliability of the witness, made a case that the Air Force could not explain. A spokesman for the group at the Wright Field photo lab said: "We don't know what they are but they aren't airplanes or balloons, and we don't think they are birds" (see Ruppelt, Edward J., The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects; 1956).
When the Air Force finished work on the film, it was sent over to the Navy's photo lab at Anacostia. Navy film experts made a frame-by-frame analysis that took over one thousand man-hours. They studied the motions of the objects, their relation to each other in the formation, the lighting of the objects, and every other piece of data they could find on the film. In the end, like their Air Force counterparts, they were left with no explanation.
Navy experts were not as reserved in their appraisal of the film. Their report said that the objects were internally lighted spheres and were not reflecting sunlight. They also suggested a velocity for the objects of 3,780 miles per hour if they were five miles away. If they were ten miles away, they would have been traveling 7,560 miles per hour. But, if they were only 2½ miles away the speed would have been 1,890 mph, and at three quarters of a mile they would have been flying at 472 mph.
That was where the case stood for several weeks. The Air Force said that they were sure the objects weren't planes or balloons and pretty sure they weren't birds. The Navy, less conservative, did everything but say that the objects were interplanetary spacecraft.
In January 1953, the CIA organized a "panel" to review the UFO question. The chairman of the panel was Professor H.P. ROBERTSON. All the data about the film was presented to the panel by the officers at Project Blue Book. One of the men on the panel noticed what he thought was an error in the measurements made by the Navy experts using a densitometer and that their calculations were therefore wrong. Another panel member wanted to know if Newhouse had held the camera steady as he filmed the single object, pointing out that motion of the camera would throw the speed calculations way off. A third panel member said that he had seen soaring sea gulls in California and thought that the objects on the film looked very similar. Therefore, the Robertson panel concluded that the objects seen in the Tremonton film were indeed birds.
In 1955, Dr. R. M. L. Baker made another study of the film, saying that he didn't think the objects were planes or balloons for reasons outlined by the Air Force, and he didn't think they were bits of airborne debris or radar chaff because they didn't twinkle. Ballooning spiders wasn't the answer because the objects had been seen from a moving car and there was no evidence of silk trails. He also felt that the bird hypothesis was rather unsatisfactory.
He also attacked the other criticisms of the Robertson panel by saying that panning action by the photographer, although unconscious, would be with the object; and if the speed estimates are wrong, they are too low. That compounded the difficulty with the bird idea. It meant that the objects may have been traveling faster than the Navy's estimated 3,780 mph.
Others looked at the film and immediately wrote it off. Astronomer Donald H. MENZEL, a leading UFO debunker, claimed the film quality was so poor that any amateur photographer would be ashamed to show it, a criticism that is not valid. Actually, the film is very good. It is the range of the objects that makes them hard to identify; the images are sharp and clear.
In the mid-1960s, the University of COLORADO UFO Project, directed by Dr. Edward CONDON, again examined the film, and spent a great deal of time checking the history of the case together with who had said what about it, and conducted an analysis of the angular size, distance and velocity of the objects. University of Arizona astronomer William K. HARTMANN, the principal photoanalyst on this case, offered the following conclusions:
Although I cannot offer an expert ornithological opinion, it appears to me that the Tremonton objects constitute a flock of white birds. The data are not conclusive, but I have found nothing in the detailed Blue Book file incompatible with this opinion. The objects are thus provisionally identified as birds, pending any demonstration by other investigators that they could not be birds. There is no conclusive or probative evidence that the case involves extraordinary aircraft. On 23 August 1968 after completion of the above report, I had occasion to drive through Utah and made a point of watching for birds. The countryside near Tremonton is grassy farmland with trees, streams, and meadows. It was within 30 mi. of Tremonton that I noticed the greatest concentration of bird activity. A number of large gulls were seen, some with white bodies and dusky-tipped wings (rendering the wings indistinct in flight) and some pure white. About 10 mi. south of Tremonton and again about 20 mi. north of Panguitch (in southern Utah) I saw flocks of white or light birds at once distinctly reminiscent of the key witness's films. The birds milled about, the whole group drifting at about 20 or 30 mph (I noticed no surface wind) and subtending 100 to 200. The individual birds (in the second case) were not quite resolvable, yet appeared to have some structure. Sometimes pairs would move together and sometimes individuals or pairs would turn and fade out as others became prominent. As suggested by the key witness they appeared to require a telephoto lens for photography. They were not prominent, but distinctly cunous once noted-a group of white objects milling about in the sky. (The only proof that my second group of objects, which I observed from a considerable distance, were indeed birds, was that I saw them take off.) These observations give strong evidence that the Tremonton films do show birds, as hypothesized above, and I now regard the objects as so identified. - William K. Hartmann
Kevin D. Randle
Source: Ronald Story's "The Encyclopedia of UFOs", 364
(This web page was created by Francis Ridge for the NICAP site)