Date: 9 Feb 2017
From: Keith Basterfield
Subject: Oct 14, 1957; N. Island, San Diego, CA Case

14 October 1957, North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, California
A few minutes before 1900hrs local (October 14) (0300z Oct 15); three individuals, Vyrl E Ewing (Ac/3), Douglas Cowen (MM1), and Margaret Davis (Ac/c), Air Control Section No 3, Naval Air Station, North Island, were on duty. Ewing noted a bright, round, white light, bearing 210 degrees True, from the tower; which remained stationary, at an estimated altitude of 300 feet, for about two minutes, then became ‘smaller and smaller.’ After, 1-2 minutes, the apparent same object reappeared slightly to the north and a bit lower than before, slightly brighter than the first occasion.  It remained stationary for about two minutes and then faded away.

For a third time, a light appeared about one minute later, again slightly to the north and lower. This third time it seemed to vary in intensity, wobbling slightly. A halo encircled the upper half of the object. Its color at this stage was white with a bluish tinge on one side. It remained in sight for one to two minutes. As he was at this stage vectoring in an aircraft towards the object, he is unable to say how it disappeared. At some stage, binoculars were used to view the object. Its estimated angular size was 1.2 degrees as calculated from Ewing’s statement. Sky visibility was good. 

The PBB report contains a statement by the aircraft pilot. At about 1900 hrs local time, a flight crew consisting of LtJG Glenn T Conrad, Jnr; William E Standley (radar operator) and William “P” Cooley (ECM operator), were warming up an S2F-1 Grumman S-2 tracker aircraft, on the runway, for a night flight. The tower cleared the flight and requested that the crew maintain 200 feet and proceed to check out a stationary object at Point Loma, bearing 210 degrees magnetic from the tower. (Note, the tower personnel said it was at 210 degrees True.) The co-pilot and pilot observed the light from the runway.

The aircraft took off, climbed to 200 feet while keeping the object in view. The pilot’s strategy was to proceed seawards of the light and silhouette it against the lights of San Diego. However, when it was abreast of the light, off the aircraft’s right wingtip, it underwent a rapid acceleration away from them, to the west. There was relative motion between it and the lights of San Diego. The light began to vary in color and intensity, between bright red and blue-white, at irregular intervals.
The pilot turned west, heading 230 magnetic with the light dead ahead. The aircraft radar required four to five minutes to warm up; then the radar operator reported a target dead ahead at 17 miles and above them. The sky was clear ahead and above. There was a discernible horizon and low clouds 30 miles west. Stars were visible, bright and clear, but small and dimmer than the object.

From Point Loma out, the object climbed steadily and the pilot followed in a gradual ascent at 140 knots IAS, closing irregularly. At 4,500 feet, the object leveled out, 12 miles ahead and then drifted right ten degrees in about five seconds. The pilot turned to 240 magnetic, levelled off, and increased speed to 160 knots. The range closed to ten miles and stabilized. After following for about three minutes at ten miles’ range, the pilot decreased speed to 120 knots but observed no range rate on radar.

He then accelerated to 180 knots IAS and observed no range rate. The object drifted 20 degrees to the left (220 magnetic) in no more than ten seconds and then closed range to eight miles in one rotation of the radar antenna (7.5 seconds.) The range stabilized to eight miles and the pilot gradually climbed the aircraft. At 8,000 feet, and about 40 miles from Point Loma, the object levelled out, disappeared visually and off radar. 15 seconds later, it reappeared visually but not on radar. The visual observation was continued until the aircraft was 50 miles from Point Loma. The object faded from view bearing 230 magnetic, 58 miles from Point Loma.
Comments by Keith Basterfield. (Brad Sparks made identical statements.)
1. The PBB explanation was ‘Arcturus in position of reported light (bearing 220 deg) at about 05 deg elevation and setting at 1920.’ Arcturus was in fact at 4 degrees’ elevation, azimuth 290 degrees. 70 degrees away from the object.
2. The planet Venus was at 4 degrees’ elevation, azimuth 238 degrees. Its brightness was magnitude -4.1. The planet Saturn was visible, at 10 degrees’ elevation, azimuth 237 degrees.