Report on the Utah Pictures
(Classified as of February 3, 1953)
1. These moving pictures of unidentified objects, taken in July, 1952, have caused unusual interest in Air Force and Navy. They were a big factor in the recent change of Air Force policy.
2. They were taken by Chief Petty Officer Delbert C. Newhouse, Serial 177273, Aviation Supply Depot, Navy Supply Center, Oakland, Calif. Newhouse and his wife were driving through Utah when they saw seven bright objects maneuvering overhead. It was a clear day; no clouds; time, about noon. Newhouse, a photographer for the Navy, was so struck by the sight that he got out his 16mm camera and shot about 40 feet of film. After developing them, he sent them to ATIC at Dayton, with a full report.
3. ATIC made a full analysis lasting almost three months. The films were checked for fraud; they were blown up, analyzed by private experts, frame by frame. Every attempt to duplicate them failed. Copies were shown to high officers at the Pentagon; Major General Samford, Chief of Intelligence, was so impressed that he had them run three times. Major Fournet and Captain Ruppelt had Newhouse investigated; Navy gave him a strong recommendation. The net result was that nobody could explain the objects, by any conventional answers. Ruppelt and one analyst suggested that they might be balloons, or gulls; though there was no evidence to support it, they felt it should be considered as a possibility. But the objects' maneuvers practically ruled out the the balloon answer; also, blown up pix showed the things were not round, but more elliptical in shape. It was suggested that they might be "pillow" balloons, the type released by Crusade For Freedom, but there was no evidence to show such balloons had been anywhere near the area, and most analysts said they were not balloons. The same for gulls.
4. Major Fournet and other intelligence officers at the Pentagon were so impressed that they asked Navy to analyze the films. (also partly because of the Navy tie-in.) Navy Photo-intelligence spent over 1000 hours, a period of four months, giving them every possible test and trying to figure relative speeds, angles of turns, etc. On January 15 they gave AF an oral report agreeing with ATIC, that the things couldn't be explained as conventional objects. A written report is now about completed, will be combined with ATIC's and an official statement issued by AF.
5. Whether to release these pictures has caused a long argument in the Air Force. They had impressed Samford so much that he swung around and backed Major Fournet, who had been fighting for a brand-new policy of telling the public everything. Some Air Force officers, especially PIO (public information officers) objected because it would start a deluge of queries from press and public, ATIC also realized that it would cause a new flurry of reports, hysteria, with false sightings obscuring or mixing up with the real ones. But Fournet, whose secret report says he believes them to be interplanetary, has argued that the AF must stop withholding information or find itself in a spot when something big happens. So Samford agreed to showing the films to the press, and letting CPO Newhouse sell them if he wishes.
6. One of Fournet's last acts before going on inactive duty was to write the release, stating that the AF could not identify the objects. One or two officers are trying to add on the possibility of "pillow" balloons or gulls, with an admission that the long analysis had produced no proof of it. Their argument is that otherwise the AF is broadly hinting at the extraterrestrial answer and will be swamped with demands for "hidden facts".
7. At present the AF plans to run the films, possibly with one of gulls---which looks a lot different. The press showing will be thrown open for questions. The PIO's are groaning; They expect LIFE, LOOK, and other magazines, papers, radio, and television people to crowd in on them. It all depends on how strong the statement is.
8. I have Al Chop's promise that he'll make it as strong as possible. In my phone talk with Ed Ruppelt, I told him any change now, an attempt to say they are probably balloons or gulls, would be taken as a reversal in policy, switching back to the days of "explaining away". He promised it would not say this, might not even include this. Al will do his best to get Samford's okay of Fournet's original release.
9. They may also run the Montana pictures, taken about two years ago showing two strange objects moving at high speed. Ruppelt says that two jets were in the area, but the man who took the pictures insists he saw the jets separately. If true---and ATIC recently ran another analysis to compare with the Utah pix---these pictures may be important.
10. If AF is asked at the press conference, whether they have any other movies of this kind, they have to say yes, but they will not give out any details of the McLean pix unless you and he want it done. (See report on the McLean pictures.)
11. Important point: the McLean pictures and our knowing about the Utah films, may have been the deciding factor in letting the public know. Fournet pointed out that I had submitted questions about other such films, what they showed, who owned them, etc. (This was at Chop's suggestion). Fournet said if they now kept the Utah pix secret, it would backfire on the Air Force."