THE UFO EVIDENCE,  published by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, Copyright 1964



NICAP contends that the Air Force has practiced an intolerable degree of secrecy and withholding of information in its public policies on the UFO subject, and refuses to allow an independent evaluation of its data. There are two general schools of thought on the reasons for this secrecy:

(1) That the Air Force has obtained significant proof of UFO reality, and is withholding its evidence until the public can be psychologically prepared under a program guided by some higher agency;

(2) That the withholding of information is not because of any special knowledge on the subject, but results more or less unconsciously from red tape, lack of continuity to the UFO project, differences of opinion within the Air Force, etc.

In either case, the secretive public information policies are symptomatic of the general governmental secrecy which has mushroomed since World War II, and must be viewed in that context. Since official secrecy has become so commonplace, almost an accepted way of life, the topic is extremely complex. For the sake of simplicity, this section is presented mostly in outline form:

      A. Background of Government Secrecy

      B. Air Force Regulations & Policies

1. History of the UFO Project
      C. Air Force Statements About Its UFO Investigation/NICAP Rebuttals

      D. Sample UFO Cases Involving Aspects of Secrecy.


It is a generally conceded fact in Washington that government secrecy, since World War II, has grown by leaps and bounds. Even high-ranking officers in the Pentagon, in testimony to Congress, state that there is considerable over-classification of information. Sometimes it appears to be a case of the tail wagging the dog.

There is no simple solution to this problem, though it should be a matter of concern to anyone who believes in democracy. It is worth examining the structure of this secrecy, to pinpoint some aspects of it which have been uncovered by Congressional investigators, scholars and newsmen.

The Cold War burden plainly has put a severe strain on the traditional American belief in freedom of information. Censors can (and sometimes do) make a case that almost any information released in this technological age is of value to a potential enemy. Often information is withheld in the name of the "public interest." But who defines the "public interest?"

Rep. John E. Moss (D.-Calif.), Chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee on Government Information, has long been a champion of the public's "right to know." Hearings by his subcommittee over the past several years have brought out many specific instances of unwarranted secrecy, especially by the Executive Branch. The subcommittee was chartered on June 9, 1955. A year later, the parent committee unanimously adopted House Report No. 2947, which included a study of Defense Department secrecy. The report stated:

"The study of the Defense Department so far shows that the informational policies and practices of the Department are the most restrictive- -and at the same time the most confused- -of any major branch of the Federal Government." [2]

Two recent books indicate that there has been no appreciable change in Defense Department information practices. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for Cowles Publications, in his 1963 book Washington Cover-Up, states what he believes is the crux of the problem: ". . . the arbitrary secrecy of 'executive privilege' . . There would be 'managed news' as long as executive departments and independent regulatory agencies were able to invoke an arbitrary secrecy to prevent the press and Congress from reviewing the record- - and as long as news papers indolently accepted the management." [2]

Power In Washington, by Douglass Cater, also probes Washington "sub-governments" and their influence on government policies. According to reviewer James MacGregor Burns, Cater considers the "military-industrial complex" (so phrased by President Eisenhower) a sub-government. Part of it is "news managers in the Pentagon who try to influence public opinion." [3]

In summary, these aspects of the secrecy brought out by the Moss subcommittee particularly concern us:

* The Defense Department, in practice, claims executive privilege to withhold information from Congress and the public; existing directives leave the decision in specific cases to an arbitrary judgment by the Defense Department.

* Because of over-classification, the public often is not kept properly informed.

* By existing regulations, Defense Department personnel are forced to justify release of information and are not required to justify withholding of it. (A natural desire on the part of individuals to avoid trouble on controversial issues by not releasing information about them results in excessive secrecy).

A more pervasive tendency has developed among the military services to issue reassuring statements, rather than facts; generalized statements putting the best face on the matter (as far as the agency is concerned), rather than useful detail. In short, the concept of "public information" has been perverted to public relations, which tries to put across a favorable idea or image rather than to inform.


1. Regulations Governing the UFO Investigation

Air Force Regulation 200-2, "Intelligence; Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), . . . establishes the responsibility and procedure for reporting information and evidence on [UFOs] and for releasing pertinent information to the general public."

Paragraph 3c, rather than furnishing objective guidelines, biases the investigation by clearly implying that all UFOs are explainable as misidentified conventional objects. (Thus the investigation assumes its own conclusion). Contrary to the oft-repeated public relations announcements about the investigation being "completely objective and scientific," the regulation states what the conclusion of the investigation must be:

"c. Reduction of Percentage of UFO 'Unknowns.' Air Force activities must reduce the percentage of unknowns to the minimum. Analysis thus far has provided explanation for all but a few of the sightings reported. These unexplained sightings are carried statistically as unknowns. If more immediate, detailed objective data on the unknowns had been available, probably these too could have been explained. . . [Due to subjective factors] it is improbable that all of the unknowns can be eliminated."

Paragraph 9 explicitly states that, in the area of occurrence, only explained cases may be released to the public:


"In response to local inquiries resulting from any UFO reported in the vicinity of an Air Force base, information regarding a sighting may be released to the press or the general public by the commander of the Air Force base concerned only if it has been positively identified as a familiar or known object." Follow-up queries about unexplained cases are to be referred to the Office of Information Services in the Pentagon (which seldom releases detailed information on a specific case unless it has been widely publicized).

Paragraph 11 restricts Air Force personnel from publicly discussing UFOs: "Air Force personnel, other than those of the Office of Information Services, will not contact private individuals on UFO cases nor will they discuss their operations and functions with unauthorized persons unless so directed, and then only on a 'need-to-know' basis."

JANAP 146 is a Joint Chiefs of Staff directive: "Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings [CIRVIS] From Airborne and Waterborne Sources." In addition to military aircraft and surface vessels, the directive also applies to civil aircraft under certain conditions.

Chapter II, Section I, paragraph 201 includes, under information to be reported, (1) (c) "Unidentified flying objects."

Section III, "Security: 210. Military and Civilian. a. All persons aware of the contents or existence of a CIRVIS report are governed by the Communications Act of 1934 and amendments thereto, and Espionage Laws. . . The unauthorized transmission or revelation of the contents of CIRVIS reports in any manner is prohibited."

The effect of this directive, relative to UFOs, is to silence even commercial airline pilots cooperating with the intelligence network, once they have made a UFO report through official channels. It is, of course, also binding on all military personnel.

2. Regulations Concerning Release of Information

There are only three classifications of military or national defense information authorized directly by law: Top Secret, Secret and Confidential. The types of information, and procedures of classification, are carefully spelled out. Legitimate security needs clearly necessitate withholding certain types of information from the general public. Theoretically, the public interest is protected by the limitations on the types of information which can be classified.

In practice, military (and other) agencies have adopted other quasi-legal means of withholding additional information from the public for reasons of their own. "Executive privilege" and the so-called "administrative classification" is the gray area of secrecy, where no clear standards delimit the withholding of information. The particular agency itself becomes both judge and jury in deciding what the public ought to know.

Any business (the U.S Government is the world's largest business organization) may have justifiable reasons for withholding certain types of information beyond those which are clearly concerned with national defense. Personal information which if released might unfairly damage an individual's reputation, for example, might be considered private information. Files of correspondence or personnel records, in most cases, could be considered private information (unless needed for the defense of an individual on trial or for other overriding considerations).

However, there is a great potential for abuse of a system which, in effect, allows arbitrary withholding of government information from the public. To the maximum possible extent, government business should be public business. Clearly, the system is continually abused and "administrative classifications" are used to conceal facts which might embarrass an agency, or which might throw a spotlight on government activities that a significant segment of the public would oppose. The system continues to encroach on the public's right to know what its government is up to.

Worst of all, such pseudo-classifications as "For Official Use Only" are rapidly being given status by default, largely unchallenged by Members of Congress or the press. Many Air Force regulations, for example, (using a free interpretation of Federal Law) authorize Air Force personnel to judge what information they may withhold "in the public interest." About this practice Clark Mollenhoff said, "The broad right of arbitrarily withholding information is not something that any officials should he permitted to arrogate to themselves." [4]

Air Force Regulation 11-30 , "Administrative Practices; Custody, Use and Preservation of DOD [Department of Defense] Official Information Which Requires Protection in the Public Interest."

The euphemistic phrase "in the public interest" is repeated in paragraph 1, which explains the "Reason for Issuing Regulation." Among other things, the regulation is intended to "assure the proper. . . use of official information which in the public interest should not be given general circulation." In spite of outlining some apparently worthy uses of this administrative classification, the regulation nevertheless does give blanket authority to withhold information whenever someone in the Air Force considers it to be "in the public interest." It is difficult to imagine how the public benefits by this arrangement.

Air Force Regulation 11-7, "Administrative Practices; Air Force Relations With Congress." This regulation goes one step further than AFR 11-30, and claims the authority to withhold "For Official Use Only" information from Congress in some cases.

After stating that most 'For Official Use Only" information not given to the public is given to Congress, the regulation continues:

"However, the considerations set forth [in AFR 11-30] which preclude making information available to the public may raise a question, in rare instances, as to whether the particular information requested may be furnished to Congress, even in confidence

." This, it must be emphasized, refers to information whose release in no way endangers national security--or else it would be legally classified "Top Secret," ''Secret," or "Confidential." This indicates the extent to which the Air Force has taken upon itself the right to decide what the public- -and even Congress-- should know.
Chronological History of the Air Force UFO Project

[One of the most informative sources regarding the conduct of the UFO investigation is the book Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, (Doubleday, 1956), by Capt. Edward J Ruppelt, who headed the investigation from September 1951 to September 1953. Page references to this book are indicated after some of the following entries].

Early Investigation

July 1947: The Air Force began investigating UFO reports seriously after sightings by airline pilots, other qualified observers.

September 23, 1947: The Chief of Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) sent a letter to the Air Force Commanding General stating the conclusion of ATIC that UFOs were real, and urging the establishment of a permanent project to analyze future reports. (p. 31)

January 22, 1948: Project "Sign" (popular name "Saucer") established at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to investigate UFO reports.

September 1948: Top Secret "Estimate of the Situation", concluding UFOs were interplanetary, sent from ATIC to Air Force Chief of Staff, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. (Report was kicked back for additional proof; later declassified and burned). (ppg. 62-63, 67)

February 11, 1949: Project name changed to "Grudge." Because of internal disagreement about the significance of UFOs, reports were then "evaluated on the premise that UFOs couldn't exist." (ppg. 85-88)

April 27, 1949: Project Saucer report released: About 30% of the sightings investigated to date were said to be explained as conventional objects. An equal number, the report said, probably would be explainable after further probing.

December 27 1949: Project Grudge report released: Explained away all reports to date as delusions, hysteria, hoaxes and crackpot reports. Announcement that project had disbanded.

Phase Two

1950-51: This period has been called the "Dark Ages" of UFO investigation. Following the Project Grudge report, the project was not disbanded. However, those who believed in a more positive


investigation could not win support for their views--until late in 1951 when the situation was reviewed partly due to public protests.


After reorganization of the UFO project during 1951, it became an organization in its own right, at ATIC, Wright- Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Summer 1951: Lt. Jerry Cummings

Sept. 1951-Sept 1953: Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt
   (Ruppelt's assistants at various times during this period were Lt. Bob Olsson, Lt. Henry Metscher, Lt. Andy Flues, and Lt. Kerry Rothstien. From May to July 1953, Lt. Olsson was acting chief while Ruppelt was away on temporary duty. The position devolved on A/1C Max Futch briefly in July 1953, when Lt. Olsson was discharged).

1954-1956 (approx): Capt. Charles A. Hardin

1957-1959 (approx.): Capt. George Gregory

1959-early 1964: Lt. Col. Robert Friend

Early 1964 to date: Capt. Hector Quintanilla


April 1952-March 1953: Al Chop

1953-1957: Various officers including Capt. Robert White (circa 1955), Maj. Robert F. Spence (circa 1957).

1958-March 1961: Lt. Col. Lawrence J Tacker

April l96l-January 1962: Maj. William T. Coleman

Feb. 1962-Summer 1963: Maj. Carl R. Hart

Summer 1963 to date: Maj. Maston M. Jacks


September 15, 1951: Lt. Jerry Cummings, and a Lt. Col. from ATIC, were called to Washington to brief a General (and a disgruntled group of industrialists and scientists) about the conduct of the investigation. Received orders to set up a new project. (ppg. 128-130)

September 1951: Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt became chief of the newly revitalized project.

October 27, 1951: New project officially established. (p.154).

March 1952: Project Grudge had become a full-fledged organization, the "Aerial Phenomena Group." Soon thereafter, the code name was changed to "Blue Book." (p.176)

April 1952: Al Chop appointed public information officer for UFOs.

Air Force Letter 200-5 gave Project Blue Book authority to cut red tape, contact any Air Force unit in the U.S. without going through channels; provided for wire transmission of reports to ATIC, followed with details via Air Mail.

Life article "Have We Visitors From Space?", inspired by several top officers in the Pentagon. (ppg. 177-178)

May 8, 1952: Capt. Ruppelt and a Lt. Col. from ATIC briefed Air Force Secretary Thomas K. Finletter for one hour. (p.185)

Mid-June 1952: Capt. Ruppelt briefed General Samford, Director of Intelligence, others; given directive to take further steps to obtain positive identification of UFOs. (ppg. 196-199)

Mid-July 1952: Every Air Force installation in U.S. swamped with UFO reports. (p.205)

August 1952: Study of UFO maneuvers initiated, to determine whether objects displayed intelligent control; (ppg. 250-251)

November 1952: Panel of four scientists convened at ATIC to make preliminary review of accumulated reports. Recommended convening panel of top scientists. (p.264)

January 12, 1953: The Air Force (reportedly with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Agency) convened a panel of top scientists to weigh the accumulated evidence. The panel was to decide whether the evidence indicated UFOs were interplanetary, whether it was all explainable, or whether the project should continue and seek better data. (p.275). A study of UFO maneuvers concluding the objects were interplanetary was presented to the panel by Maj. Dewey Fournet. (p.285)

January 17, 1953: The conclusions of the scientific panel were not made public at the time. Since then, two conflicting versions have been released:

Conclusions Reported by Ruppelt, 1956

The panel recommended that the UFO project be expanded, the investigative force quadrupled in size and staffed by trained scientists; that tracking instruments be established all over the country, and that the public be told "every detail of every phase" of the investigation. The scientists believed this program would "dispel any of the mystery" created by military security procedures, and also keep the investigation on a scientific basis. The recommendations were not adopted. (ppg. 293-298)

Summary Released by Air Force, 1958

The panel concluded that UFOs constituted no "direct physical threat to national security," there was no evidence of "foreign artifacts capable of hostile acts," and no "need for the revision of current scientific concepts." The panel recommended "immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired." The panel suggested "an integrated program designed to reassure the public of the total lack of evidence of inimical forces behind the phenomena."

Phase Three

The 1958 summary issued by the Air Force Office of Public information--five years after the fact--first released the names of the scientists on the panel: H. P. Robertson, Luis W. Alvarez, Lloyd V. Berkner, S. A. Goadsmit, and Thornton Page.

Exactly what transpired at the conclusion of this meeting is not clear, though it is strongly suggested that the whole story has not been told. If the decision of the panel had been clearly negative, as the 1958 summary implies, there would have been no reason to be so secretive about it. On the contrary, there would have been every reason to make an immediate public announcement.

What is known about the affair is the public manifestation of the UFO project following the meeting. After a period at apparent serious interest in gathering better data (which supports Ruppelt's version of the panel conclusions), the Air Force began debunking UFOs. Since then the Air Force does not admit to having the slightest shred of evidence that anything at all out of the ordinary is taking place. Concurrently, a noticeable public relations policy has been adhered to by the Air Force through the Public Information Office: A policy of public reassurance. Members of Congress or citizens who request current information on the subject are told repeatedly that UFOs do not present any danger, or threat to the national security.

About the same time as the panel meeting, or shortly thereafter, the Air Force (reportedly through its own RAND Corporation) had an independent study conducted. This resulted in the Project Blue Book "Special Report No.14." What relationship this had to the scientific panel meeting is not known. However, the introduction to the Blue Book report states (p. viii): "The special study which resulted in this report started in 1953. . the information cut-off date was established as at the end of 1952."

August 26, 1953: AF Regulation 200-2 issued by Secretary of Air Force; procedures for reporting UFOs, restrictions on public discussion.

December 1, 1953: The Air Force announced in Washington it had set up cameras around the country equipped with diffraction gratings to analyze the nature of light from UFOs.

January 6, 1954: Reporters seeking information on UFOs were banned from Wright-Patterson AFB. [Cleveland Press]

February 23, 1954: Scripps-Howard papers said the Air Force had worked out a plan with commercial airline companies to report sightings quickly.

May 15, 1954: General Nathan F. Twining, Air Force Chief of Staff, stated the best brains in the country were working on the UFO problem; Air Force could not explain 10 per cent of the sightings. [Quoted by United Press; Amarillo, Texas].

May 5, 1955: Project Blue Book "Special Report No.14" declassified.

October 25, 1955: Summary of Blue Book report released to press; linked with statement that Air Force would soon have its own saucer-shaped aircraft, the AVRO disc. (The AVRO disc project subsequently was scrapped without producing a flying model). Reported no evidence that UFOs "constituted a threat to the security of the United States. .

1956-1957: UFOs all but faded out of the news. Queries to the Air Force were answered by a "fact sheet" referring back to the 1955 report. A 1957 "fact sheet" stated the unexplained cases had been reduced "from approximately 10% in 1954 to 3%, as of now."

November 1957: When the "flap" of UFO reports began about November 1 [See Section XII; November 1957 Chronology, "fact sheets" were issued on the letterhead of the Department of Defense, Office of Public Affairs. These emphasized the percentages of explained cases, and again the lack of evidence of "a threat to the security of the country."

1958-1959: "Fact sheets" were issued approximately semi annually reiterating the above position.


December 24. 1959: Air Force Inspector General brief to Operations and Training Commands: "UFOs Serious Business." Stated that UFO investigators on base level "should be equipped with binoculars, camera, geiger counter, magnifying glass and have a source for containers in which to store samples."

August 15, 1960: "Air Force Information Policy Letter; For Commanders," Vol. XIV, No.12, issued by Office of Secretary of Air Force. Under title "AF Keeping Watchful Eye on Aerospace," stated, "There is a relationship between the Air Force's interest in space surveillance and its continuous surveillance of the atmosphere near Earth for unidentified flying objects--'UFOs.'"

1960-1961: Through its spokesman in the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Lawrence J. Tacker, the Air Force began answering critics of its UFO program publicly. Late in 1960, Col. Tacker's book Flying Saucers and the U.S. Air Force (Van Nostrand) was published, with a foreword by General Thomas D. White, Air Force Chief of Staff. Col. Tacker went on a public tour to publicize the book, appearing on radio and television, and giving lectures. Examples- -

December 5, debate with NICAP Director on Dave Garroway's network television program.

December 18 interview on Westinghouse network radio program, "Washington Viewpoint."

March 17, 1961, lecture at Aero Club of Buffalo, N.Y.

March 1961, article in Argosy magazine.
Col. Tacker used the strongest language to date in denouncing critics of the UFO investigation. Their claims were "absolutely erroneous;" "a hoax;" "sensational theories; "the work of amateur hobby groups." NICAP's evidence was "drivel," its claims "ridiculous" and it was making "senseless accusations."

In  April 1961 after being associated with the UFO project for over three years, Col. Tacker was shipped to Europe on "routine reassignment."

June 1961: The outspoken new policy, if that is what it was, apparently backfired. Angered by Col. Tacker's attitude, NICAP members and other citizens deluged Congress with requests for an investigation of the Air Force project. Congressional hearings were contemplated [See Section XIII] but never came about. Instead, Air Force Congressional Liaison personnel briefed key Congressional committees in private.

February 6, 1962: The Air Force issued the last "fact sheet" (No.179-62) of the old style, then dropped that format.

1963-1964: In the past two years, packets of information-- including some details of specific cases--have been substituted for the generalized "fact sheets." The unexplained cases for each year are briefly described. (In the new "fact sheets", the "unknown" category has been rendered meaningless by the inclusion of vague and incomplete eases. Formerly the term "unknown" was applied to the most detailed and inexplicable cases from the .best observers. Now the distinction between "unknowns", and cases which lack detail or apparently have natural explanations, has been blurred.)


1947-1949: Serious investigation, conclusions UFOs real and interplanetary..

1950-1951: These conclusions challenged on basis of lack of proof; "explain-away" approach adopted by investigators.

1952-1953: After review of situation, new serious investigation started; evidence uncovered led many high-ranking officers to conclude UFOs were interplanetary.

1954 to date: Evidence again challenged as "proof," this time by panel of scientists. Conflicting versions of whether expanded investigation was recommended (and adopted) to obtain more data. Public relations program adopted to assure public UFOs posed no danger, or threat to national security.


C. Air Force Statements/NICAP Rebuttals

Over the past ten years, the Air Force has had considerable correspondence with citizens unsatisfied by the official conclusions and attitudes about UFOs. The letters have reflected Air Force thinking and the philosophy of their investigation at various stages. The letters often have been more specific than the "fact sheets," but fewer people are aware of their contents.

The left-hand column below contains Air Force statements about its UFO investigation, general and specific. The right-hand column contains NICAP rebuttals, comments, or other data refuting the Air Force statements.

(Note the recurrence in these letters, and the detailed cases following, of certain types of answers given by the Air Force. These include counter-to fact, "shotgun," and "zigzag" answers. "Shotgun" refers to a fusillade of explanations given for one UFO sighting, e.g., that it was either a balloon, an aircraft, or the planet Venus. "Zigzag" answers are those in which the press is given a quick explanation for public consumption; this explanation is later quietly changed one or more times. These techniques result in a sort of patchwork explanation for a given case. If Venus cannot explain one aspect of a sighting, then perhaps a balloon or aircraft can.)


"The allegation that the Air Force is withholding vital UFO information has no merit whatsoever. The press release approach is considered censorship by some UFO organizations, because they do not receive individual attention from the Air Force, they contend that we are withholding vital information. The Air Force was compelled to adopt the press release approach because in the past when factual information was furnished to certain writers of UFO books, upon their individual request, our action was interpreted as granting approval and clearance for the books in which the information was used." (Maj. Gen. W. P. Fisher, USAF, Director of Legislative Liaison, to Senator Harry Flood Byrd, 1-20-59).

"As stated in the material recently forwarded to you, limited resources preclude the distribution of case summaries to individuals and private organizations. Summaries of findings are published only when deemed necessary. (Maj. Maston M. Jacks, USAF, Public Information Division, Office of Information, to Charles R. Culbertson, 8-1-63).

NICAP: These letters admit that specific information is not given out; only generalized summaries. Conflicting reasons given for this: "limited resources" or alleged "misuse" of the material. The use of public information is no concern of the Air Force. It is standard procedure in the Defense Department to stamp disclaimers on factual material stating DOD is not responsible for ''factual accuracy or opinion" in the use of the material.


"No reports of unidentified flying objects have been withheld. . . As Director of this Committee {NICAP], Major Donald E. Keyhoe, Marine Corps, Retired, has already received all the information in the hands of the United States Air Force. . . " (Maj. Gen. Joe W. Kelly, USAF, Director of Legislative Liaison, to Rep. Peter Frelinghuysen, 9-12-57). 

Asked to provide data on specific cases which had not been furnished to NICAP, General Kelly replied: "I assure you the Air Force never intended to turn over 'official use only' files to your organization." (11-15-57) NICAP: This has been standard practice; public announcements that UFO information is not classified, but refusal to provide specific in formation when requested.


"The Department of the Air Force does not 'edit' or 'splice' film submitted by private citizens. When the Department receives such a film, it does make the necessary studies, analyses, and duplication of the film. When this work has been completed, it has been the consistent practice of the Department to return the film to the person who submitted it.,, (Major Lawrence J. Tacker, USAF, Executive Officer, Public Information Division, Office of Information Services, to Eli Bernzweig, 10-10-58).

Photographs which the owners allege were either edited, spliced, or not returned to them by the Air Force [See Section VIII; Photographs]: Aug. 15, 1950, Great Falls, Montana. Nick Mariana: Reported best frames of color movie film missing when returned by Air Force. July 2, 1952, nr Tremonton, Utah. D. C.
Newhouse: Reported frames of movie film showing a single UFO moving away over the horizon, missing when film returned by Air Force. July 29, 1952, Miami, Fla. Ralph Mayher:



On December 1, 1957 at about 3 p.m. Ralph Benn of Los Angeles, using a 3x telephoto lens, took about six and a half feet of Kodachrome film showing four of six objects - resembling those in the Tremonton, Utah film - which made repeated passes over the area.

Benn described the objects as dull white and oval shaped and said they moved slowly west at constant speed. Other passes - one described as "very fast"  - were observed by Bonn's children.


Reported submitting 16 mm movie film to Air Force for analysis; film never returned. Dec. 1, 1957, Los Angeles, Calif. Ralph Benn: Reported several splices in his 8 mm film and two or three frames missing when returned by Air Force.


"There is no truth to allegations that the Air Force withholds or otherwise censors information vital to public understanding or evaluation of the nature of unidentified flying objects (UFO). (Lt. Col. William J. Lookadoo, USAF, Public Information Division, Office of Information, to Miss Miriam Brook man, 7-19-62)

Film Data reportedly analyzed by USAF, but never released to public [See Section VIII]: Apr. 27, 1950; White Sands, N.M., Cine-theodolite film of UFO, also observed visually. May 29, 1950; White Sands, Cine-theodolite films (2) of one or more UFOs, also observed visually. July 14, 1951; White Sands, Movie film (35 mm) of UFO, also seen visually, tracked on radar. Sept. 20, 1952; North Sea, three color photographs taken on board an aircraft carrier. Aug.12, 1953, Rapid City, S.D., gun camera film of UFO also seen visually, tracked on radar. Aug. 31, 1953; Port Moresby, New Guinea, movie film of UFO taken by aviation official. May 24, 1954; nr Dayton, Ohio, photograph of circular UFO taken by Air Force photo reconnaissance plane.


"We are interested in the truth concerning reported sightings and are fully aware of our obligation to keep the public informed on such matters." (Hon. Richard F. Horner, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Research and Development, to Richard Tuttle, 7-3-58).

"It is my belief that one of the objectives of your organization [Air Research Group] is the public dissemination of data on unidentified flying objects... this is contrary to Air Force policy and regulations." (Capt. Gregory H. Oldenburgh, USAF, Information Services Officer, Langley AFB, Va., to Larry W. Bryant, 1-23-58).


THE 1947 & 1948 DOCUMENTS
"There has never been an Air Force conclusion that flying saucers were real and were interplanetary space ships. The Alleged 1948 document in your letter is non-existent." (Maj. Gen. W. P. Fisher, USAF, Director of Legislative Liaison, to Larry W. Bryant, 10-27-58).

"With regard to Mr. Maccubbin's reference to the 1948 top secret report which he states officially concluded that UFOs were 'real,' no such report exists. . There never has been an official Air Force report with the conclusion Mr. Maccubin indicates." (Colonel Carl M. Nelson, USAF, Congressional Inquiry Division, Office of Legislative Liaison, to Rep. Porter Hardy, Jr., 3-31-60).

"It is believed that the documents you refer to are the first estimates of the UFO situation prior to the establishment of the project. These early documents did indicate that UFOs were probably real, in the sense that they were objects and/or phenomena, but did not in any way indicate that they were interplanetary space vehicles." (Major William T. Coleman Jr., USAF, to George W.. Earley, 9-7-61)

"There is no record of an alleged Top Secret document by (sic) the late Mr. Ruppelt, as suggested. It is true that ar early estimate, probably 1948, of the UFO situation was prepared by the Intelligence Division of the then Air Materiel Command. It is not known exactly what this estimate consisted of in the way of conclusions or leads thereto. It cannot be positively stated that such a document existed." (Col. Carl M. Nelson, USAF, Chief Congressional Inquiry Division to Senator B. Everett Jordan 9-20-61).

Existence of 1948 Top Secret document reported by Capt. Ruppelt; described as a thick document on legal-size paper with a black cover. [Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, p. 62]

Existence of 1948 document confirmed by Dewey J. Fournet, former Major, USAF, Pentagon Monitor of the UFO investigation [See photostat]. Existence of 1947 letter by ATIC stating UFOs were real, reported by Ruppelt [p.85].

Dewey J. Fournet (see photostat for complete statement): "...I would like to confirm the existence of two USAF documents which were recently denied by an official USAF representative.  These are: 1. An intelligence summary on UFOs prepared in 1948 by the organization which later became the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright Patterson AFB. 2. An intelligence analysis on specific aspects   of UFO data which I prepared in 1952 while acting as UFO program monitor for Headquarters USAF, Washington, D.C.



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"Some cases arise which, on the basis of information received, are of a weird and peculiar nature. The objects display erratic movements and phenomenal speeds. Since maneuvers and speeds of this kind cannot be traced directly to aircraft, balloons, or known astronomical sources, it is believed that they are reflections from objects rather than being objects themselves. . . Reflections may be projected to clouds and haze both from the ground and air. Many things which are common to the sky have highly reflective qualities, such as balloons, aircraft, and clouds." ("Fact sheet," November 1957).

NICAP: Air Force logic appears to be that, if something is observed which out-performs conventional aircraft and balloons, it must not be a real solid object. The "objective" Air Force investigation denies the possibility that UFOs could maneuver as reported, in effect concluding that all witnesses have been deluded. The hypo thesis that UFOs represent a superior technology- -and may be space ships--is not even considered. The "investigation" therefore consists of searching for the conventional phenomenon- -or phenomena- - most nearly resembling the reported UFO. If none is found, complex speculative "light reflection" theories are invoked.


"...the Air Force does not proceed with an investigation unless the sighting is reported directly to the Air Force." (Col. George M. Lockhart, USAF, Congressional Inquiry Division, Office of Legislative Liaison, to Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr., 2-21-63)

NICAP: A scientific investigation of any phenomenon would set out to gather objective and quantitative data about that phenomenon. It would not ignore potentially valuable data merely because it was not reported through official channels.


"Four frames from the films taken by Mr. Diaz in Venezuela [Dec. 1962--See Section VIII] were forwarded to the Air Force for evaluation. However, the negatives of these frames were not submitted and therefore, without them, it has been impossible to make any investigation." (Maj. Maston M. Jacks, USAF, Public Information Division, Office of Information, to Richard Hack, 12- 31-63).

NICAP: There is no such thing as negatives of movie film. Upon learning of this statement, NICAP had its adviser in Caracas, Dr. Askold Ladonko, contact Mr. Diaz again. The film was loaned to the Air Force attache with permission to make copies or stills if desired, and was returned intact with no frames missing. Apparently the attache did not have a copy of the film made; just four stills.

"The images on the photographs which were made by the U.S. Coast Guard on 16 July 1952 at Salem, Mass., were evaluated as being due to a double exposure." (Maj. Carl H. Hart, USAF, Public Information Division, Office of Information, to George D. Fawcett, 2-12-63).

"The unidentified flying objects in the photographs taken at Salem, Mass., on July 16, 1952 have been evaluated as light reflections on the window through which the photos were taken." (Maj. Maston M. Jacks, USAF, Public Information Division, Office of Information, to John P. Speights, 8-5-63).


"The Long Beach sighting of November 5, 1957 [See Section XII; Nov. 1957 Chronology] has been evaluated as possible reflections on sheet-ice, from either the sun or from lightning. Also there was a balloon in the area, and there were 10 aircraft in the vicinity. . .(Maj. Maston M. Jacks, USAF, Public Information Division, Office of Information, to Herbert S. Taylor, 11-18-63).

NICAP: A good example of "shotgun" explanation for a sighting which is difficult to explain in conventional terms; in this case, six shiny circular objects making sharp turns and maneuvers. It is obvious guess work, hardly a "scientific" evaluation. This is one of many similar cases during the November 1957 "flap" which the Air Force lists as "explained."


Re: April 8, 1956 sighting by Capt. Raymond Ryan, American Airlines pilot; "The Air Force concluded that the object viewed during this sighting was the planet Venus." (Air Force "fact sheet", 1963).

NICAP: In a taped description of his sighting, Capt. Ryan states that the UFO zoomed through a 90 degree arc from off his wingtip to dead ahead. Control tower operators reported seeing a silhouette of a UFO. [See transcript, Section V]


"The objects which appeared in the film taken at Great Falls, Montana on 15 August 1950 were identified as F-94 aircraft." (Maj. Carl R. Hart, USAF, Public Information Division Office of Information, to George D. Fawcett, 2-12-63).

The F-94 aircraft were observed by the photographer behind him coming in for a landing. Photogrammetric analysis [See Section VIII] states there are "several factors which make such a hypothesis quite strained." Persistence of reflection from alleged aircraft "would require a very rare coincidence of airplane maneuver."


"The Air Technical Intelligence Center reports concerning the Washington Airport Control Center sighting of July 1952 state there were radar blips observed and that they were caused by a temperature inversion." (Maj. Gen. W. P. Fisher, USAF, Director of Legislative Liaison, to Senator Kenneth B. Keating, 0-19-59).

NICAP: Gen. Fisher failed to mention that visual observations often coincided with the unexplained radar blips; that the degree of inversion was insufficient to account for the sightings; and that Project Blue Book classified the sightings as "unknown," contrary to public announcements at the time. [Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Ruppelt, p.226; also see Section XII]


"...the Air Force feels that public hearings would merely give dignity to the subject out of all proportion to which it is entitled. The sensation seekers and the publishers of science fiction would profit most from such hearings, and in the long run we would not accomplish our objective of taking the aura of mystery out of UFOs," (Maj. Gen. W. P. Fisher, USAF, Director of Legislative Liaison, to Senator A.S. "Mike" Monroney, 6-4-59).

NICAP: Nothing would remove the "aura of mystery" about UFOs more rapidly than Congressional hearings. Presumably, the Air Force believes hearings would prove its case. If so, the alleged "myth" of UFOs would be punctured. Sensationalists and opportunists thrive only because of public confusion about UFOs. Hearings could help to establish the facts and clarify the entire picture. Continued refusal to give out detailed information encourages an "aura of mystery."


"The Air Force has a tremendous task in defending this country against weapon systems which we know exist. To divert more men and money from this mission into a greatly enlarged program for investigation of and defense against UFOs would jeopardize the security of this country against a known threat and would, in our opinion, be grossly imprudent." (Cot. Carl M. Nelson, USAF, Congressional Inquiry Division, Office of Legislative Liaison, to Senator Philip A. Hart, 4-8-60).


"The UFO investigative role is intimately associated with the air defense role of the United States. As such, the first thing to be determined is the threat potential of an unidentified flying object. When this determination has been made (none of the over 7,000 sightings have proven inimical or hostile) an understandably lower priority is placed on the further evaluation of the sighting. I'm sure you will agree that the security of the nation is and must be our primary concern." (G. Wise, for Maj. William T. Coleman, Jr., USAF, UFO Project Officer, Public Information Division, to Fred Kempf, 8-17-61).

NICAP: These letters pinpoint the real issue between the Air Force and its scientific critics. No one denies that the Air Force mission is to defend the country against attack, and that this is an important mission. The thinking is clear: UFOs are evaluated in the light of being a potential threat to the country. If preliminary investigation satisfies the Air Force the country is not under attack, "an understandably lower priority is placed on the further evaluation of the sighting." But what about scientific investigation of the reported objects thereafter? The Air Force should not be expected to carry through a job for which it is not fitted: scientific investigation of a phenomenon. Yet, as the agency officially charged with investigation of UFOs, the Air Force is under pressure to do just that. Intelligence techniques are not sufficient for scientific investigation. The full resources of the scientific community, including tracking instrumentation specifically for that purpose, would be required. Once satisfied that a given UFO poses no threat, the Air Force investigators apparently search for the most plausible conventional explanation. When none can be found, the "shotgun" approach is used. Clearly, this is not a scientific investigation.

D. Sample UFO Cases Involving

Aspects of Secrecy

Red Bluff, California

The sighting of a UFO Aug. 13, 1960, by California Highway Patrolmen [Section VII] described a highly maneuverable, elliptical object. Toward the end of the observation, a second similar object was observed.

In a letter to a NICAP member, the Air Force stated: "The findings [are] that the individuals concerned witnessed a refraction of the planet Mars and the two bright stars Aldebaran and Betelgeux. . . [temperature inversions] contributed to the phenomena as the planet Mars was quite low in the skies and the inversion caused it to be projected upwards." (9-16-60).

In a letter to NICAP, the Air Force stated: "It is an impossible task to determine what the exact light source was for each specific incident, but the planet Mars and the star Capella were the most probable answers for these sightings." (10-6-60). The change of identification occurred about the time NICAP re ported, in a special bulletin for October, 1960, that the first three named astronomical objects all were below the horizon at the time of the sighting. As it happens, the star Capella is the only one named which was above the horizon at the time of the sighting.

NICAP recently telephoned the office of a California Senator and confirmed that the state is on Daylight Saving Time (P.D.T.) from April 26 to October 25. The sighting began at 11:50 p.m. (P.D.T.), Aug. 13. At that time, the planet Mars was about one hour (i.e., about 15 degrees) below the eastern horizon. It is completely absurd to suppose that it could in any way account for the sighting. Aldebaran did not rise until about 1 a.m., Betelgeux about 3 a.m.

As for Capella, which was barely above the horizon when the sighting began, no star, by the wildest stretch of imagination, could give the appearance of a large ellipse a few hundred feet off the ground, nor could it maneuver as described by the police officers. [See Section VII] Also, the objects disappeared below the eastern horizon at the end of the sighting, whereas Capella would have risen about 35 degrees in that period. The Air 'Force explanation of this case is one of the most strained and counter- to-fact on record. 


In 1963, the Air Force circulated an information sheet labeled "Ode D 'Classic' -- Seagulls" (See photostat) suggesting that there was a "strong possibility" that the UFOs filmed by Delbert C. Newhouse on July 2, 1952, were seagulls, By the end of the statement, after baldly assuming that actual seagulls "undoubtedly" showed up in some of the frames, the conclusion was stated more positively: There is "little reasonable doubt" that the UFOs actually were seagulls. The author refers to the "unanimity of opinion" of those who analyzed the film.

As a matter of fact, there is virtually no support for this identification. Mr. Newhouse, a Navy chief photographer (aviation), viewed the UFOs at relatively close range at first. They were shiny, perfectly disc-shaped objects. By the time he was able to unpack his camera, the objects had receded into the distance, but he was still able to capture them on film.

When the new Air Force information sheet was issued, NICAP forwarded a copy to Board Member Dewey J. Fournet, Jr.  Mr. Fournet is a former Air Force Major who monitored the UFO program for the Pentagon. While on active duty with the Air Force, he handled the Utah movie film, helped arrange for its analysis, was conversant with the analyses conducted and their results. The following are excerpts from his reply to NICAP:

"This [document] was apparently written by someone only very superficially acquainted with the Tremonton movie case - - some one who obviously didn't bother to study the case history in any detail, or by someone who is purposely distorting the facts of the case.

"There were two different analyses made of the movies shortly after I received them in 1952, both by the most qualified military photoanalytical labs then in existence. One was by the Wright- Patterson AFB photo lab and the other by the Navy photo lab at Anacostia. . . . The W-P lab concluded that the objects were not airplanes or balloons and probably not birds. The Navy lab concluded that they were not any of these. In neither case was there anything even remotely hinting that birds of any type had been identified in any frames of the movie.

"The 'unanimity of opinion' to which the author of "Ode D" refers must certainly be a recent development. There most certainly was no such unanimity among the original parties in this case that the objects were probably seagulls. Quite to the contrary, the majority concluded that they were probably not birds although some of us conceded this possibility if certain corollary assumptions were made: [That the witness was lying or unreliable; that despite his photographic experience, the witness panned his camera opposite to the direction the lone object was flying.]

"The 'Ode D' author apparently is unaware of or intentionally omitted reference to Newhouse's statement. . he described [the UFOs] as 'two pie pans, one inverted on top of the other.'

"Overall, whether the USAF author realized it or not, it would be necessary to conclude that Newhouse was lying in many of his statements in order to conclude that the Tremonton objects were birds. If I recall correctly, the unanimous opinion of the intelligence officers was that he was completely sincere and somewhat reserved. I have never heard anyone claim anything to the contrary. . .




2 July 1952

At approximately 1110 on 2 July 1952 while driving in the vicinity of Tremonton, Utah, Chief Petty Officer Delbert C. Newhouse's wife noticed a group of objects in the sky that she could not identify. She asked him to stop the car and look. There was a group or about ten or twelve objects that bore no relation to anything he had seen before milling about in a rough formations and proceeding in a westerly direction. He opened the luggage compartment of his car and got his camera out of a suitcase. Loading it hurriedly, he exposed approximately thirty feet of film. There was no reference point in the sky, "and it was impossible for him to make any estimate of speed, size, altitude or distance. Toward the end one of the objects reversed course end proceeded away from the main group. He held the camera still and allowed this single one to cross the field of view, picking it up again and repeating for three or four such passes. By this time all of the objects had disappeared. He stated that he expended the balance of the film late that afternoon on a mountain somewhere in Idaho.

The original film was analyzed by a photo reconnaissance laboratory shortly after the sighting. The conclusion reached was that a strong possibility existed that the bright spots of light appearing on the film were caused by seagulls soaring in thermal air currents. The credibility of the conclusion was undoubtedly supported by the presence of identifiable seagulls in some of the frames.

This conclusion was further strengthened by movies of seagulls, taken at various distances, which showed these as bright spots of light similar to those in the Newhouse film.

A recent analysis (1956) of the Newhouse film, made by USAF photo specialists totally unaware of the nature or previous history of this case, yielded the opinion that the bright spots of light on the file were bird reflections on the strong sunlight.

The unanimity of opinion present in all evaluations made in this case leaves little reasonable doubt that the UFO's in the Newhouse film were, indeed, seagulls.


Actual Document


The Sheffield Lake Case

Early on the morning of Sept. 21, 1958, a domed, disc-shaped UFO was observed a few feet above the ground outside a house in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. The main witness was Mrs. William Fitzgerald. Other residents in the area reported UFO sightings that morning. After a superficial investigation, the Air Force reported a completely counter-to-fact explanation (also incorporating the "shotgun" approach): Mrs. Fitzgerald had been fooled by a train headlight, plus a spotlight on a Coast Guard ship on Lake Erie. After a careful investigation, the Akron UFO Research Committee published a documented report, "The Fitzgerald Report" (P.O. Box 5242, Akron 13, Ohio), refuting the Air Force statements.

Air Force:

"The investigation revealed that a railroad track ran near the home of Mrs. Fitzgerald. The night of  Mrs. Fitzgerald's sighting, a train passed the house at approximately the same hour of the reported sighting. The train had a rotating headlight which, under some conditions, would produce unusual effects. Contact was also made with Chief Bosun's Mate William Schott of the Coast Guard Station, Lorain, Ohio. Chief Schott reported that he was using his spotlight in an attempt to attract the attention of another ship, and that the light was directed toward the shore in the general direction of Mrs. Fitzgerald's house. . .The weather at the time of the incident was a misty rain with haze and smoke.

"The conclusion of the Air Force investigators was that the combination of moving lights, noise of the train and prevailing weather account for the illusion experienced by Mrs. Fitzgerald. The Air Technical Intelligence Center, after evaluating the evidence in this case, concurred with the conclusion of the investigators." (Maj. Gen. W. P. Fisher, USAF, Director, Legislative Liaison, to Rep. A. D. Baumhart, Jr., l0-31-58).

The Air Force logic is apparent: UFOs are not real objects and can all be explained in terms of honest but deluded witnesses. Mrs. Fitzgerald only thought she saw a distinct disc-shaped domed object. She must have been fooled by some local light. A bright train headlight, or Coast Guard spotlight shining through mist and haze could be the cause.

Akron UFO Research Committee:

Checking each point of the Air Force statements, the Akron group found many errors and omissions. Gen. Fisher had also told Congressman Baumhart that one of the confirmatory witnesses listed by Mrs. Fitzgerald had stated she had not seen anything unusual that night. Later, the witness signed a statement, reproduced in the Akron report, that she had confirmed the sighting to Air Force investigators: A round object with a "hump" or dome. The investigators, she stated, then decided not to have her fill out a report form.

* The railroad track is situated so that no train headlights ever shine into the window of Mrs. Fitzgerald's house. Although urged to do so by the Akron group, the Air Force investigators made no attempt to check this.

* At the time of the UFO sighting, Chief Schott's ship was about 5-1/2 miles from Mrs. Fitzgerald's house. Lake Erie is not even visible from her house, being obscured by trees and other houses.

Through Ohio Congressmen, the Air Force was asked to explain these discrepancies. Various spokesmen for the Air Force reiterated their confidence in the "competence" of their investigators and that their findings were "accurate and adequate." Maj. Lawrence J. Tacker, Pentagon UFO spokesman, in a letter to the Akron group, labeled their report ". . . the erroneous charges [of] amateur organizations." He added, "Further, we are not interested in your theories or science fiction approach to this subject." (1-14-59).

When pressed by Congressman Baumhart for "a more complete report" on the incident, the Air Force was totally unresponsive. The Congressman was sent a form reply defending the Air Force position against the "mistaken beliefs" of UFO groups which make "sensational claims and contentions." The same form letter has been sent to Members of Congress repeatedly.

Redmond, Oregon

When a UFO sighting by Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) personnel on Sept. 24, 1959, at Redmond, Ore., airport [See Section V] was reported in the press, NICAP made a thorough investigation. Information was obtained from the FAA, the Weather Bureau and the IGY World Data Center at Cornell University. A taped interview of the witnesses was obtained by members in the area. The essence of the report was that a round object had descended and hovered, moved quickly to a new position, then shot up into clouds emitting a flame trail as jet interceptors approached. The jets were scrambled because, according to FAA logs, an Air Force radar station was also tracking a UFO at the time.

When queried about the official explanation for this sighting, the Air Force replied: "The Portland Oregon UFO sighting of 24 September 1959 is carried on the records of ATIC as 'insufficient information.' The ATIC account of the sighting fails to reveal any evidence of radar tracking or any success of the attempted intercept. It is the ATIC opinion that this object was probably a balloon as evidenced by its relatively long period in the area (more than an hour), and the fact that, unless equipped with reflectors, balloons are not good radar reflectors. The average direction and strength of the wind at the time of the sighting was south at 15 knots [NICAP: The UFO reportedly moved south, where it showed on radar after the visual sighting had ended'." (Maj. Lawrence J Tacker, USAF, Public Information Division Office of Information, 1 19-60).

NICAP obtained wind data from the U.S. Weather Bureau showing steady winds from the southeast throughout the morning, from 3-7 knots, until nearly five hours after the sighting. No balloon had been launched locally at the time of the sighting, and even if one had been, it almost certainly would have traveled on a northerly course. Later, the Air Force dropped the balloon explanation.

After NICAP publicity on the case drew Congressional attention, the Air Force issued a much more detailed account (admitting that six jet interceptors had been scrambled, but denying that radar had tracked a UFO). Air Force letters to Members of Congress attributed the radar sighting to an error on the part of their Ground Control Intercept radar station. "It was determined by the four senior controllers on duty during the period of the search that this radar return on the ground station scope was a radar echo from a gap filler antenna located on a mountain at the 8010-foot level. This radar return did not move during the entire period of the search. [NICAP: The FAA logs state, "Altitude has been measured on height finder at altitudes that vary from 6000 to 54,000 feet."] . The fact that this radar return did not move is in complete disagreement with ground observers who sighted the UFO visually. They all testified it maneuvered rapidly and at times hovered." (Col. Gordon B. Knight, Chief, Congressional Inquiry Division, Office of Legislative Liaison, to Senator Warren G. Magnuson, 4-27-60.)

On March 25, 1960, the Pentagon UFO spokesman had written to NICAP that ". . because of the information contained in the FAA logs, your correspondence and the copies of the logs have been forwarded to ATIC for possible additional consideration.......Based upon all the present data on this sighting, the finding of 'insufficient data' is definitely valid." As of Col. Knight's April 27, 1960, letter to Senator Magnuson, the case still was classified as ''insufficient data."

An Air Force information sheet circulated in 1963 attributes the UFO to ''tile refraction of light from the planet Venus." (The sheet also accuses NICAP of "exploitation" of the FAA logs which contradicted the Air Force story). NICAP astronomy advisors had already checked this possibility, and knew Venus was prominent in the eastern sky that morning. The witnesses were queried on this specific point and stated they did not see Venus during the UFO sighting, but did see it and identify it afterwards.

NICAP concedes that, if the radar target was perfectly stationary throughout, it was not the UFO observed visually. When trying to establish the balloon explanation, the Air Force emphasized the long period of observation (The FAA log indicates the visual sighting lasted about 10 minutes.) When dissociating the radar sighting from the visual sighting, the Air Force emphasized the high maneuverability of the UFO. Finally, the UFO which "maneuvered rapidly and at times hovered" has been explained as the planet Venus.


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At the height of the November, 1957, "flap," [See Section XII], a resident of rural Montville, Ohio, had a close-range sighting of a UFO. The report quickly spread to newspaper reporters, area Civil Defense officials and others. The witness, Olden Moore, stated that not only was he interrogated by representatives of the Federal Government, but also he was taken to Washington, D.C., and questioned repeatedly over a three-day period. At the conclusion, he was sworn to secrecy

After more than three years' observance of this, he decided the need for revealing his story superseded the need for secrecy, so he told his story to newspaper reporter Don Berliner, then of the Painesville (Ohio) Telegraph, on Jan. 21, 1961.

Moore stated that, within two weeks of the sighting, he was taken to Youngstown (Ohio) AFB by car, then to Wright-Patterson AFB by helicopter, and from there to an air base within 20-30 minutes drive of Washington, D.C. (probably Andrews AFB) in a small Air Force transport plane. At all times he was accompanied by two government representatives.

During his stay in Washington, he was quartered in a hotel-like room with one of the government men, who, impressed Moore as being there for the purpose of keeping an eye on him. Questioning and interviewing took place in the basement of the building in which he stayed. (The U.S, Court House fits the description. Upstairs are hotel-like jury rooms; in the basement are many offices, including those of U.S, Marshals.) The only time he was permitted to leave the building prior to departure was for a brief guided tour of some historic and scenic areas (which proved highly impressive to one who had never before seen the Nation's Capital.)

The interrogation, according to Moore, was not so much a question-and-answer session, as a corroboration by him of details of his experience, i.e. "was the thing you saw a such-and-such?" His answer, in almost every instance, was affirmative. This led him to conclude that his questioners were less interested in learning what he had seen than in finding out how much he had detected. He said he got the definite impression that those asking the questions were quite familiar with what he had seen.

At the end of the third day of questions, Moore was required to sign a statement promising never to tell of his trip to Washing ton. Upon returning home, all he would tell the newspapers was that he had talked with some officials at home and others elsewhere. His wife said he was taken to Washington, but Moore did not confirm this at the time.

Don Berliner, who interviewed Moore in 1961, was highly impressed by his sincerity, lack of sensationalism, and his awareness of the seriousness of revealing information he had promised to keep secret. This material was not published by Mr. Berliner at the time because of its sensitive nature. However, Mr. Moore did offer to tell his story to any Committee or Subcommittee of Congress which might be interested.

Allegedly, the Air Force (government spokesmen on this subject) has withheld nothing from the public. The implication of Moore's story is that considerable information has been withheld. A Congressional inquiry into this matter would appear to be fully justified.

The 1956 sighting of a huge disc by the crew of a Navy transport over the Atlantic [See Section IV] was followed by the personal visit to the aircraft commander by a government scientist. The man took a set of photographs out of a briefcase and showed them to the pilot, asking him to point out the object he saw. The Commander quickly identified one of the pictures as the machine he had seen, whereupon the unnamed scientist put the picture back, refused to comment further, and departed. [Report obtained by R. Adm. D. S. Fahrney, USN, Ret.].

The obvious implication of this incident is that someone in the government has considerably more information about UFOs than has been released by the Air Force. It tends to substantiate Olden Moore's report.

The Sheneman Case

On Aug. 1, 1955, W. M. Sheneman, proprietor of a radio and TV store, arrived at his home near Willoughby, Ohio, (20 miles east of Cleveland). As he got out of his car, he saw a large circular object, with a red light on the front rim, descend rapidly over a nearby field. It stopped at an estimated 800 feet altitude and shot two beams of light toward the ground. As the glow illuminated the ground, Mr. Sheneman saw several "windows" around the edge of the hovering disc. He fled into the house, but returned after a minute with his wife for another look. The craft had become dark and was hovering about 200 feet above the house; from this vantage point, he estimated its diameter at 80-100 feet. It then began to move away, revealing a dome on top lit by a white glow from within. Mrs. Sheneman reported hearing a soft humming sound.

Following report of the incident to the Air Force in 1956, the Sheneman's were visited by a major from ATIC, who told them they had seen a test of a Canadian Avro vertical-lift device developed for the U.S. Air Force. To back up his claim, the officer displayed a glossy print purportedly showing the craft in flight. This was, in fact, an artist's conception of what the Avro disc might look like, as the first example was not completed until 1959. The major tried for three hours to convince Mr. and Mrs. Sheneman that they had seen the Avro and to sign a statement to that effect, but they refused.

While definitely resembling the public idea of a "flying saucer," the 18-foot Avro VZ-9V failed to achieve its design performance of vertical take off and high-speed flight. Wind tunnel and free-flight tests demonstrated that it would not fly out of ground effect, and was therefore limited to an altitude of several inches and top speed of about 35 mph. [5]

The Kinross Case

On the night of November 23, 1953, an unidentified flying object was detected over Lake Superior by Air Defense Command radar. An F-89C all-weather interceptor was scrambled from Kinross AFB, near the Soo Locks in northern Michigan. Guided by radar, the jet sped northwest across the lake on an intercept course. On the radar screen, ground controllers saw the F-89 dose in on the UFO blip, and then the two blips merged and faded from the screen. From all appearances, the aircraft and the UFO had collided. No trace of the jet has ever been found.

The last radar contact with the F-89 showed it to be at 8000 feet, 70 miles off Keeweenaw Point, and about 160 miles north west of Soo Locks. Later, the Air Force reported that the "UFO" was identified by the F-89 as a Royal Canadian Air Force C-47. After identifying the friendly plane, the Air Force states, the F-89 turned back to base. From that time, "nothing of what happened is definitely known." [Air Force information


sheet; copy on file at NICAP. The C-47 was "on a flight plan from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Sudbury, Ontario, Canada." Air Force letter to NICAP member, 4-2-63].

The original report released by the Air Force PIO at Truax AFB, Wise., stated that contact was lost with the F-89 when it appeared to merge with the UFO. There is no mention of tracking the jet after that.

In 1961, a NICAP member wrote to the RCAF concerning the Kinross incident to verify the C -47 identification. The reply stated:

"Thank you for your letter of April 4 requesting information regarding an 'Unidentified Flying Object' on November 23, 1953.

"A check of Royal Canadian Air Force records has revealed no report of an incident involving an RCAF aircraft in the Lake Superior area on the above date." (Flight Lt. C. F. Page, for Chief of the Air Staff, RCAF, to Jon Mikulich, 4-14-61).

Later, another NICAP member wrote to the RCAF arid received an even more specific denial that any Canadian aircraft was intercepted by a U.S. jet. The spokesman added: " as you stated the C-47 was travelling on a flight plan taking it over Canadian territory; this alone would seem to make such an intercept unlikely." (See photostat).

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There are two interpretations of what happened over Lake Superior that night: (1) Air Force radar tracked a UFO, the F-89 closed in to investigate, collided with or was in some manner destroyed by the UFO (as indicated by the blips merging on radar, the fact that radar contact was lost after the blips merged, and the fact that no trace of the fully-equipped all-weather aircraft has been found.); or (2) Air Force radar tracked a temporarily unidentified RCAF plane, the F-89 intercepted it, made the identification and then crashed for unknown reasons.

The latter explanation does not account for what was observed on radar; it assumes that expert radar men cannot read radar scopes. The RCAF has no record of such an incident, although a flight plan allegedly was filed. If there was such a flight, it would have been entirely over Canadian territory. Because of international identification networks between Canada and the U.S., its flight plan would have been known to the radar stations and there would have been no need for the intercept mission to begin with. The F-89 was originally reported to be chasing an "unidentified object."

The Air Force information sheet on this case states: "It is presumed by the officials at Norton AFB [Flying Safety Division] that the pilot probably suffered from vertigo and crashed into the lake." Judging by weather reports at the time, the pilot would have been on instruments, so that vertigo (dizziness resulting from visual observation) would be an extremely unlikely explanation. Even if the F-89 was not on instruments at the time, there is no explanation why radar tracked it 160 miles out over the lake and then lost contact just after the blips appeared to merge.


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Capt. Peter Killian, American Airlines pilot, was one of several pilots who reported observing three UFOs above Pennsylvania, Feb. 24, 1959. [See Section V]. While traveling westward across the state, Capt. Killian and the other pilots saw the UFOs flying a parallel course to the south. The Air Force later stated that the pilots had seen Air Force bombers refueling from a tanker aircraft.

Reconstructing the sighting (see map), it is possible to trace a hypothetical, but very consistent, picture of the UFOs' flight path. Around 8:20 to 8:40 p.m., from Central Pennsylvania, the UFOs were observed to the SSW paralleling the westerly course of the airliners. Their distance, of course, is unknown. But based on subsequent observations, it is a reasonable supposition that the UFOs were over southern Pennsylvania, in the vicinity of Pittsburgh and Johnstown.

Around the same time that Capt. A. D. Yates, United Airlines, saw the UFOs turn and head northwest in the vicinity of Akron, three American Airlines pilots simultaneously saw the objects (8:55 p.m.). Their lines of sight converge on the Cleveland-Akron area. By 9:20 p.m., The Akron UFO Research Committee had received reports from ground observers, describing three UFOs headed west. Capt. Killian continued to observe the UFOs until he began his landing approach at Detroit, about 120 miles northwest of Akron.

In a letter to Senator Harry Flood Byrd, dated 6 May 1959, Maj. Gen. W, P. Fisher (Air Force Director of Legislative Liaison) stated:

"The investigation of this incident revealed that an Air Force refueling mission, involving a KC-97 and three B-47 aircraft, was flown in the vicinity of Bradford, Pennsylvania, at the time of the sighting by Capt. Killian. The refueling operation was conducted at 17,000 feet altitude at approximately 230 knots true air speed (about 265 mph) for a period of approximately one hour."

Assuming that this is a completely accurate statement, the Air Force could lay to rest this "flying saucer" report once and for all by publishing the exact flight plan of the refueling mission. Surely, at this late date there would be no compromising of security. On the surface, the explanation is plausible (except for the back-and-forth motion of the third UFO in line). The distance from the area of Johnstown, Pa., to Detroit is approximately 250 miles, which is consistent with the distance that would be covered by the refueling tanker. On closer analysis, however, there are several discrepancies in this explanation:

(1) Bradford, Pa., given as a geographical reference point for the refueling mission, is north of the flight paths of the American and United airliners. All the pilots saw the UFOs to the south. If the refueling mission actually took place over southern Pennsylvania (which would have to be the case to account for the reported facts), why wasn't Pittsburgh or Johnstown given as a reference point? Bradford is virtually the full width of the state away from the apparent location of the UFOs.

(2) Triangulation shows that (from the line of Capt. Killian's flight path in Central Pennsylvania) the tanker and other aircraft would have to be within 12 miles of Capt. Killian's position for a sighting angle of 15 degrees to place them at approximately 17,000 feet altitude. Even allowing for a 1/3 error in estimation of angle, the aircraft would have to be within 20 miles to the south of Capt. Killian. This is inconsistent with the observation by Capt. Yates, farther to the south, who also saw the UFOs to his south as he traveled all the way to the Pennsylvania-Ohio border.

(3) Triangulation of the simultaneous sighting by the three American Airlines pilots is even more damaging to the tanker explanation. The three lines of sight converge on the general Akron area, where ground sightings also tend to confirm the distance from Capt. Killian's aircraft. From the position of Capt. Killian's plane at the time of the simultaneous observation, the distance to Akron is approximately 70 miles.

tan 15 degrees = x / 70

x  = 70 tan 15 degrees

x = 18.1 miles
x = 95,568 feet (altitude of UFOs)
Even allowing for a 2/3 error in angle estimation:
x  =  70 tan 5 degrees
x  =  6.1 miles
x  = 32,208 feet (altitude of UFOs)

(4) The American Airlines pilots checked after landing and learned that no jet tankers were in the area. (Taped statement by copilot on file at CSI, New York). Capt. Killian is also quoted by the Air Force as stating that a check with Air Traffic Control showed no three aircraft in the area (see below).

(5) Several aspects of the Air Force handling of this case suggest a desire to explain it away, including issuance of typical counter-to-fact explanations.

Before any representatives of the Air Force contacted Capt. Killian to obtain his report, the Air Force first suggested he had been fooled by the belt of the constellation Orion seen through breaks in the overcast. (There was no overcast). This statement was issued from ATIC three days after the sighting. An anonymous spokesman implied that UFO witnesses often proved to be drunks (N.Y. Herald-Tribune; March 1, 1959)

On March 20 (more than three weeks after the sighting) the Air Force issued a statement from Washington alleging that the airline pilots had seen a refueling mission. (One critic of the USAF UFO investigation wryly suggested to NICAP that it took the Air Force three weeks to locate some of its own planes). The refueling mission explanation has since been given all inquiring Members of Congress.

When contacted by the press about the tanker explanation, Capt. Killian gave a strong rebuttal: "If the Air Force wants to believe that, it can," Capt. Killian said. "But I know what a B-47 looks like and I know what a KC-97 tanker looks like, and I know what they look like in operation at night. And that's not what I saw." [See Notes, Section V]

Later, the Air Force began circulating a copy of a statement (unsigned) which it alleges was obtained from Capt. Killian by American Airlines:


American Airlines, Inc.
Flight 139 - February 24, 1959
Captain P. W. Killian

Departing Newark 1910 arriving Detroit 2252.

It was approximately 2045 I noticed these three lights off my left wing in the vicinity of Bradford, Pennsylvania. I was flying 8,500 VFR on top of broken clouds. Visibility was unlimited with no upper clouds observed. It was extremely difficult to ascertain the distance of the lights. The color of the lights were from a yellow to a light orange. The intensity of the lights also changed from dim to a bright brilliant. Sometimes the interval of the three lights were identical to the Belt of the constellation Orion. Occasionally the rear lights lagged somewhat behind. Also changed altitudes. During the 40 minutes of observation, the three lights occasionally came forward from a 9 o'clock position to 11 o'clock position and then fell back to the original 9 o'clock position. Also occasionally the lights extinguished completely alternating from one to another, sometimes the whole three were extinguished and during this whole operation, as I mentioned before, the lights changed in intensity. This motion was not only seen by myself but four crew members and passengers on board and also by two other airplanes in the area.

The only possible explanation other than flying saucers could be a jet tanker refueling operation. Never having witnessed refueling operation at night, I am not aware of the lighting of the jet tanker.

My air speed during this complete flight was 250 knots indicated. I also do not know the air speed of tankers during operation if this could be so. I contacted ATC to find out if they had any airplanes on a clearance and no three airplanes were given.


In attempting to resolve the contradictions, NICAP once again telephoned Capt. Killian. Mrs. Killian stated to the NICAP Director that Capt. Killian had been instructed not to say any more about the sighting. She indicated he was angry about being silenced, and felt his rights were being denied.

Officially, the case has been "explained" as a refueling mission. The facts obtained before Capt. Killian was silenced (including his own public denial of that explanation), the above triangulations, and the type and timing of the Air Force statements all cast doubt on the validity of the explanation.

Though it may seem far-fetched to those unfamiliar with UFO history to suppose that the Air Force would have any motive for a deliberate cover-up, the former chief of the Air Force UFO project, himself, reported many similar incidents. A good parallel to the Capt. Killian sighting is described by Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt (Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. ppg. 119-120). When a report came in from airline pilots that their plane had been buzzed by a cigar-shaped object as they were taking off from Sioux City, Iowa [See Section V; 1-20-51], Capt. Ruppelt witnessed the reaction by Air Force investigators. The sighting was treated as a joke; the "investigator" merely located an Air Force bomber near Sioux City and blamed it for the sighting. Capt. Ruppelt acknowledged the absurdity of this answer: a bomber buzzing an airliner in an airport traffic pattern. There was no investigation; only an arbitrary and counter-to-fact "explanation."

The Ryan Case

On April 8, 1956, an American Airlines flight, headed west across New York state, saw and followed a UFO. After notifying an Air Force Base in the vicinity, the pilot, Capt. Raymond Ryan, was requested to follow the UFO until jet interceptors could reach the scene. In a taped interview [see transcript of sighting detail, Section V], Capt. Ryan admitted going off course and following the UFO as far as Oswego, N.Y., on the shore of Lake Ontario, before giving up the chase.

Although Capt. Ryan stated the UFO zoomed through a 90 degree arc from off his wingtip to dead ahead, the Air Force later blamed the sighting on the planet Venus. NICAP asked the then Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Civil Aeronautics Board for an investigation. CAA, CAB and American Airlines all denied that Capt. Ryan departed from his course. The Air Force does not admit asking Capt. Ryan to follow the UFO. [Taped interview of Capt. Ryan and all other documentation, on file at NICAP].

November 1957 Press Release

On November 15, 1957, after two weeks of highly publicized UFO sightings, the Air Force issued news release No.1108-57. Out of hundreds of current sightings, five cases were listed and debunked: 1. Levelland, Tex.; 2. Alamogordo, N. Mex. (James Stokes); 3. Coast Guard Cutter, Gulf of Mexico; 4. White Sands, N. Mex. (Army jeep patrols); 5. Kearney, Nebr. (Reinhold Schmidt).

Two, the Kearney incident and the sighting by James Stokes at White Sands, were labeled hoaxes. The first case no doubt was a hoax, but there is not the slightest evidence of a hoax in the White Sands case. At last report, Mr. Stokes was still employed as a research engineer at White Sands in good standing.

The Levelland sightings were attributed to "weather phenomena of electrical nature, generally classified as 'Ball lightning' or 'St. Elmo's fire,' caused by stormy conditions in the area

The two are totally different phenomena. The Air Force stated it was able to locate only three persons who saw the "big light." Actually, there were at least 10 witnesses who similarly described elliptical objects. [See Section XII, Nov., 1957 Chronology]

The Coast Guard sighting was attributed to "aircraft, and possible spurious radar returns." [See Section XII]

The Army jeep patrols sightings were evaluated as "astronomical." The release said: "Astro plots indicate Venus is at magnitude at the time, place and direction of the first patrol's observation, and the Moon, with scattered clouds, was in general direction of the second patrol's observation." [See Section XII]

With the exception of the Levelland sightings and the one fairly obvious hoax, the remaining cases all involve personnel under military control. This selection of cases could be significant. A few days after the November sightings began, the Air Force had rushed out a general news release stating that in 10 years of UFO investigation "the number of unknowns has been reduced to less than 2%." Both news releases bear all the earmarks of public relations utterances designed to reassure the public that (1) the Air Force is conducting a thorough scientific investigation, and (2) nothing truly unexplainable is being seen. Inside of two weeks, the Air Force found answers to hundreds of reports. The time factor, alone, casts doubt on the thoroughness of investigation and validity of the explanations.


1. Committee on Government Operations, U.S. House of Representatives, Availability of Information From Federal Departments and Agencies. (House Report No. 1884, 1958), p.2

2. Mollenhoff, Clark R., Washington Cover-Up. (Popular Library, 1963), p.73

3. Burns, James MacGregor, "The Eagle's Wings Need Realigning," Book Week, March 8, 1964. [Review of Power in Washington, by Douglass Cater (Random House, 1964)]

4. Mollenhoff, op. cit., p.12

5. NASA Technical Note D-1432


Section X, Foreign Reports (pages 118-127)
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