The Utah Pictures
This is important documentation which graphically illustrates the assertion that analysts in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy had strong evidence supporting the reality and anomalistic nature of UFOs as early as 1952. In fact, it strongly suggests that at least some of these people they had the answer almost 50 years ago. James E. McDonald was a prominent UFO researcher of the 1960s who worked with NICAP and played a role in Congressional UFO hearings. He was a meteorologist, Senior Physicist, Institute for Atmospheric Physics, University of Arizona. Deceased (1971).
Francis L. Ridge
Dr. James E. McDonald:
May 4, 1970
Mr. Arthur C. Lundahl
Thanks again for taking time for that very interesting and informative sandwich session on UFOs down at the Monument last week. Some of those facets of past history of the UFO problem, on which you were able to fill me in, were most intriguing. I do hope we can find some further opportunities to talk shop on more of these matters.
I had a long telephone discussion with Delbert Clement Newhouse last night. He was the one in El Cajon; the other one, amusingly enough, is his son. His son recently retired from Naval Aviation duty and now flies with United Airlines. We covered a lot of relevant points, and I'll try to hit the highlights here, for your information. There are one or two points that emerge from the discussion on which you might be able to do a bit more checking with Bob Neasham.
Shortly after I identified myself and we got down to brass tacks, Newhouse asked his wife to get on an extension phone, so I had the double benefit of getting comments from both of them as we went over details of that July 2, 1952 incident. It was particularly good to have Mrs. Newhouse on the phone, since she was the one who first spotted the objects and watched them for an estimated minute or so while she was trying to persuade Newhouse to stop the car for a better look. (She pointed out with a laugh that Delbert believed in stopping every 400 miles and only every 400 miles on such cross-country trips.)
Both of them emphasized that it must have taken two or three minutes for Newhouse to hunt through their luggage and locate the camera and film, which were in separate suitcases. In that initial period, the objects were considerably closer to them than at the time he finally began shooting, Newhouse stressed. It was his estimate that the objects lay only about l0-degrees east of their zenith when they first got out of the car. He repeated his angular-size estimate that has been noted elsewhere, namely, about the comparative size of a B-17 at 10,000 ft. (This comes out to about one-half of a degree, roughly 10 times the maximum angular diameter of any of the images as measured by Baker or Hartmann.)
As you will recall, one of the key points that I wanted to check with Newhouse concerned the description given by Ruppelt (and repeated in Baker's analysis as reproduced in the 1968 Congressional hearings), namely, that they appeared to be silvery-gray, "gunmetal", and like two pie pans face-to-face. Both Newhouse and his wife fully confirmed that, Newhouse comparing the shape to a discus in his comments to me. Mrs. Newhouse pointed out that they occasionally tipped, so that their round projected area, as seen in the initial portions of the sighting when they were nearly overhead, was replaced occasionally by a side-view exhibiting their discoid shape. There was not the slightest equivocation or any element of uncertainty as either of them discussed that very important point.
I asked Newhouse if it was correct that he had given that description to Ruppelt after the latter had left the Air Force. He confirmed that, saying that the only time he personally talked with Ruppelt was at a filming session for that movie entitled "UFO" produced in about 1954 or 1955. He guessed that meeting must have been in 1954, and Al Chop was also present at that discussion. He brought out the important point that he also stressed the visually observed shape in those early portions of the sighting, when he was interviewed at his duty station in Oakland by an Air Force officer. He further remarked that he saw a copy of the officer's transcript of the interview, and that point appeared in the transcript. I told Newhouse that I may have an opportunity to dig into the Bluebook file on the Tremonton movies at a forthcoming visit to Maxwell AFB, and added that I will attempt to verify the presence of that important point in the Bluebook file.
I should add that Newhouse returned to the above point several times in the course of our 50-minute telephone conversation, since, as he remarked, the matter of the visual observation was extremely important in his estimate. He commented on the point that almost no one who has since discussed his sighting and movies takes note of that point. In particular, he volunteered some extremely negative comments about the analysis in the Condon Report, and, to my queries, replied that no one from the Colorado team ever personally contacted him. When I asked him, in that connection, if he rejected their "gull hypothesis," he replied in the affirmative and said that, if he had a chance, he'd tell Condon the same thing he told Ruppelt: "You'd better go take a better look at some sea gulls!"
Both Newhouse and his wife pointed out that the spot on U.S. 30 where they had stopped to look at the objects was in wide-open spaces broken only by a low knoll off to their east. The angular elevation of the objects was so high, he volunteered, that he never had any opportunity to get any landscape features or foreground objects in the frame. As I understood it, the objects were first seen a bit east of their zenith, but were moving northward. Newhouse stated that he had his back to the sun (a bit before noon) as he shot during the early portions of his filming. He was uncertain on the angular altitude of the group of objects at the time that he first began to shoot them, but, after some mental and verbal pondering, allowed that they might have been at about 45-degree altitude. (Note that, if the objects had moved purely horizontally from 10-degrees off zenith to a point at about 45-degree zenith angle, there would have been no such diminution as the roughly tenfold difference in angular size estimated by Newhouse from his visual sighting vs. direct measurements on the films by Baker and Hartmann. It is, of course, well known that most people make serious errors in both estimates of angular size and estimates of angular elevation. My own present guess would be that the maximum angular diameter as observed visually was probably well under the 30-minute value one obtains from his "B-17 at 10,000 ft" rough estimate.)
Both of them discussed the "milling around" motion of the objects and the occasional tipping to present an edgewise view. Newhouse told me that he tried to hold the camera steady, as much as he could, to let the objects move through the field. He was particularly emphatic on that point with respect to the subsequent episode when one of the objects departed from the group and moved eastward across the sky. It was his recollection that he had held the camera steady, let that object drift through the field, shifted azimuth, etc., through three of those cycles before it got out of range.
That latter episode took place after the group of objects had made a turn to the west after moving northward for some time. It was after they had advanced westward that the one object peeled off, he explained, and, by the time he finished shooting that lone object, the others were too far off in the distance to pick them up again, as he recalled. (I got the impression that the Newhouses have not reviewed that footage for some time because Newhouse was careful to insert provisos to the effect that he was telling me his recollections of the details of the film.)
A rather interesting point, which I have never seen brought out before, was mentioned, almost by happenstance. It turned out that the footage which Newhouse submitted to the Air Force was spliced from about 20 feet that he shot on the end of one 50-foot magazine, plus about 40 feet that he shot on the first part of the next magazine. In other words, he had to change magazines in the middle of that shooting. I failed to ask him if he might have made the change of aperture at the same time as the change of magazine; that's not too important a matter, however.
A still more important point that I was unaware of:
Newhouse said that the Air Force didn't send the originals back to him at any time. He wrote ATIC when a long time had elapsed, and what they did finally send back to him was a color print which he stressed was distinctly inferior to the original. Not only that, but he was positive that they had cut out the first 10 or 20 feet, which were shot when the objects were very much closer and appeared much sharper on the film. (Oh! it just hit me that this may account for the seeming discrepancy between the maximum image size on the Baker-analyzed film and Newhouse's rough recollection that he began the shooting when the objects were at a zenith angle of 45-degrees. The missing footage, which he seemed positive was from the earliest and best parts of his original, would have shown the objects at an angular diameter larger than the later portions that have been involved in subsequent analyses. You follow me, I presume.)
Newhouse remarked that it had never occurred to him that he should not have sent the Air Force originals. He made some brief comment to the effect that, if he had it to do over, he would send only a print, but he fully expected to get back his originals. I made some off-hand comment to the effect that others have had similar experience with negatives and films, and he seemed to be faintly aware of that. He made some remark about being somewhat bitter about the Air Force handling of the whole business.
(Incidentally, though it's of secondary importance, I might point out that I learned that the Newhouses were enroute to Portland on that trip, and were heading from Salt Lake City to Boise on the particular leg of the trip during which the sighting occurred. He had leave, which he was taking in Portland, before continuing down the coast to his next duty station at Oakland. It was from Oakland that he submitted his films to Project Bluebook. He confirmed to me that he had about 2,000 air-hours as an aviation photographer by 1952. I might add that it seems that he retired with the rank of lieutenant. I asked him, Art, if he recalled you from Anacostia days, but he remembered your name, and that's all.)
(On going over my telephone notes, I just noted another point on the lost film. It was at the time of the movie-making, in the mid-1950s, that he wrote to the Air Force to ask them to return the originals. A warrant officer at ATIC told him the originals had been lost in a fire. I see further that I jotted down a direct quote on his remarks about having sent off the originals: "Very naively, I sent them the original.")
I asked him about that matter of the color change of the objects, but it drew no response at all. That is, Newhouse has no recollection that the footage showed any coloration at all. By the time that I brought that up, he had already mentioned the missing footage from the earliest and best parts of his film, and I thought this was going to be the reconciliation between absence of any discussion of coloration in Baker's and Hartmann's analyses vs. your recollection of a non-ordered sequence of color changes, red-blue-green, etc. But that did not prove to be the case. Newhouse said. that, as far as he could recall, the films showed nothing but white or silvery-white images throughout the entire footage, including the missing initial portion. This is a point which it would be interesting if you could check with Neasham. Is it possible that you have crossed your wires on that, perhaps? Newhouse did volunteer the speculation that he never had a chance to examine the films under high magnification, which he said might conceivably have shown a bit of color that he missed.
I found it interesting to learn that no contacts of any sort have been made with Newhouse since that movie was made. This evidently included Baker, as well as Hartmann and the Condon Project team. I was particularly surprised that Bob Baker had not contacted him, when doing that analysis for Douglas in 1956.
Newhouse had some very negative comments to make about Condon, whose bias he seemed to sense quite clearly. He had read the Condon Report, and made disparaging comments about the analysis of his films, as well as the rest of the report.
I asked a few questions to try to get at the matter of whether he has followed the UFO problem in much detail, and decided that he has not. He did mention that, in the course of subsequent duty in the Navy, people who recognized his name, chiefly from the movie, would often bring up Navy sightings of their own. I thought I might be getting some leads, but he hadn't taken the trouble to jot down any names or particulars. He did say that some of them were fairly interesting sightings, even though most were not too impressive. He had been on a Navy carrier that was inbound to Rio de Janeiro at about the time of the Trinidade Isle photo case of January 1958. He remembered it only vaguely as Brazilian photos, but took pains to ask me if I had ever seen them and whether I knew anything about them. He said he thought that they were fairly impressive, and that the Brazilian papers had taken them seriously at that time. That was the only UFO case on which he volunteered any questions.
He mentioned, somewhere in the latter parts of our conversation, that his son and daughter had gotten fairly good views of the objects, too. The son was then 14, the daughter, 12. He said that, in the minds of all four of them, there was not the slightest suspicion that what they had seen were gulls. This, he emphasized, was because, when first seen, the shapes were very distinct and bore no relation at all to sea gulls. He made further remarks to the effect that he supposes that others who have gotten good looks at UFOs must have about the same feeling he does, namely, that if you really see them yourself, there's just no doubt about their reality at all. He did remark, in connection with those Navy sightings that he ran into subsequently, that he knew of none of them that had been officially reported. He said this was because of fear of ridicule, and made the interesting added point that he wouldn't have reported what they saw on July 2, 1952, if he hadn't had those photos to back them up. When I asked him why, he was quite straightforward about saying that nobody would have believed him and they just would have made fun of it if there hadn't been the photos. I then pointed out that his reaction was paralleled by that of many dozens of witnesses that I have interviewed here and in other countries.
Those represent the salient points of my interview, at least as far as I can spot them in reading over my hastily scribbled three pages of notes. I certainly want to thank you for running down those addresses for me. It was a real privilege to talk to Newhouse, and I intend to needle Bill Hartmann about his failure to personally contact Newhouse before reaching his final opinion about the gulls in those films.
I'll be looking for a note giving me Al Moore's present address or phone number, and will try to contact him when I get down to Maxwell.
I checked Keyhoe's 1953 book and found the date of that sighting by Navy Secretary Kimball and Admiral Radford (I believe I confused Radford with Burke when we were chatting last week.) It was given as the spring of 1952 by Keyhoe (Flying Saucers From Outer Space., p. 50). I presume that would mean that the ONR study on UFOs was begun sometime in middle or late 1952. Would you, by chance, have anything in your records that would enable you to pin down the beginning date, as well as the date of that symposium which, I gather, more or less wound up the ONR UFO study? That's an interesting bit of UFO history, and, if you can locate any dates on that, I'd be quite pleased to have them.
I urge that you subscribe to the British Flying Saucer Review, and enclose copies of ordering information for the magazine, as well as for three special publications that they still have for sale. They lean a little farther out than suits my taste, but, who knows, in the end they may be the ones whose acceptance band was properly tuned. I believe you could purchase a year's back-order for the Flying Saucer Review and urge you to do so, since the price is fairly low and the range of articles that they have had has been very broad. It would be difficult for me to give you any meaningful evaluation of how closely checked their case-material is, but I believe they could not be accused of running just anything indiscriminately. On the other hand, realize that I find some of their material of doubtful evidential character.
I wonder if it might be possible for you and me to spend an evening along with Dick Hall, who was for many years the Associate Director at NICAP. He's no longer with NICAP, and lives in Bethesda. I see him on almost every visit, and always look forward to my sessions with Dick because he is one of the most knowledgeable persons in the country with respect to the UFO problem and its history. The three of us, I'm sure, would have a lot of subjects of strong mutual interest to go over, if we can manage to line up an evening sometime. In fact, I have to attend a Pentagon session on hurricane seeding on May 15, and am led to ask whether it might be possible to get together either Friday evening the 15th, or perhaps sometime on Saturday the 16th. Does that seem feasible?
P.S. I just made my air reservations on the above-mentioned trip to DC. Will arrive Thursday evening 7:18 and leave Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM. Any chance of getting together with Dick Hall and me on either Thursday or Friday evenings, or sometime Saturday before that 4:00 PM departure? I'm guessing that Dick might have those times free too, but perhaps I should note his phone number in Betheada here: XXXXXXXXXX. If it should turn out that you could spare some time perhaps you could give Dick a ring and work out a mutually convenient time at your end, one that falls somewhere in the above.
I've requested space at the Park Central again, for Thus. and Friday PMs.
My hope that I could dogleg to Maxwell AFB on the way back seems slim now -- unless Col. Coleman sends out word on that archive clearance in the next day or so. Third such wave off since I started trying to get down there to work on the Bluebook files.
I'll give you a ring from the Park Central if I don't hear from you, since time's short. ---jem