Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chiles, Whitted, Turbulence and Ed Ruppelt

Yes, I thought we would revisit the Chiles-Whitted sighting just one more brief time. As I was working on something else, I happened to thumb through Ed Ruppelt’s book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects when something about the Chiles-Whitted sighting caught my eye. These guys were airline pilots who suggested a cigar-shaped object had flashed by their aircraft. In the hours that followed they said that there had been no turbulence associated with the sighting but they also said that there had been turbulence. It was a case of taking the position which most closely matched your own belief structure because a solid case could be made from either position.

About the sighting (see pages 57 – 58 in his book), Ruppelt wrote, “Just as the UFO flashed by about 700 feet to the right, the DC-3 hit turbulent air. Whitted looked back just as the UFO pulled up in a steep climb.”
Does this change anything?

Not really. Ruppelt was working from the Blue Book file, and that information is in the file. There are also indications that someone there (Hynek?) thought that a bolide would explain the sighting and that the turbulence was nothing more than imagination, like the double row of brightly lighted windows.

I have to say that while I lean toward the bolide explanation, especially after the Zond IV reentry confusion in 1964, and having seen those compilations of meteor falls on YouTube, there is just enough here to make you wonder. There aren’t actually additional witnesses to that craft or that bolide and that leaves the door open however slightly. If you ask me, I would cautiously say that they saw a bolide that was bigger and brighter than other meteors they’d seen at night, but in the back of my mind there would still be a sliver of doubt.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

X-Zone Broadcast Network - Lorna Hunter

This week I talked with Lorna Hunter of The International Paranormal Society about UFOs in Minnesota, especially the sighting known as the Tin Can Man, and Val Johnson’s encounter that left his patrol car damaged and, of course, we did get into the Paranormal briefly. You can listen to it here:

To learn more about her work in the Paranormal, you can find it here:

We talked about the UFO landing in Minnesota on October 23, 1965, in which the witness said that he had seen a “Buck Rogers” type spaceship, or maybe I should say, something more like a V-2, that had landed on its fins on a Minnesota highway. Under it were several little moving objects that were no bigger than Coke cans. They disappeared into the ship and it took off. The Air Force investigated but decided the sighting was the result of psychological problems. If you go to search the Project Blue Book databases, you’ll need to use Lone Prairie, Minnesota rather than the actual Long Prairie. You can see more about the Tin Can Man here:

Next week’s guest: Larry Lawson

Topic: Yes, we move again into the world of the Paranormal.

Friday, March 17, 2017

X-Zone Broadcast Network - David Halperin

As I was doing research for another project, I had occasion to look up information on the Glassboro, UFO landing, and that lead me to David Halperin. He was the guest on A Different Perspective, the radio show. You can listen to it here:

We talked about the Glassboro landing, which he had investigated at the time, though as a teenager interested in UFOs rather than an adult with a predetermined bias. His investigation suggested to him that it was real, but events overtook him and within months, the case was an admitted hoax. He was, of course, disappointed about that, but it was the conclusion that the Air Force had reached, though NICAP had pronounced the case “Impressive.”

The NICAP U.F.O Investigator for September/October 1964 carried a front-page story about the landing including several pictures of their investigator and of the New Jersey State Police examining the landing site. The story, as told by NICAP, the Air Force and the newspapers, was that two men saw a red UFO slowly descending, land and then take off several minutes later. When it was gone, they searched the woods and found a crater with landing gear impressions around it. They never came forward to officially report the sighting but did tell two boys who were fishing about what they had seen. Those boys, in turn, told their father, Ward Campbell, who was the local NICAP representative.

This is the picture that I mention to
David with the State Troopers
looking into the crater.
From that point the story got out and Campbell quickly investigated and according to the U.F.O Investigator, “…established the facts which challenged the later Air Force conclusion that the case was a hoax perpetrated by youngsters in the area.”

The Air Force did investigate as required by Air Force regulations that were in effect at the time. Before they arrived, the sightseers (which would include a whole bunch of self-announced UFO investigators) had trampled the area. The Air Force, after their investigation and according to NICAP, finding “…three bubblegum wrappers, the remains of a cherry bomb and four footprints made by a pair of Ked sneakers… [and that it was] further claimed that the Air Force personnel, using elaborate camera equipment, had identified two teenage hoaxers by photographing the crowd.”

Then according to NICAP, “On September 30, newspapers reported the Air Force had called the case a hoax… The absurdity of this conclusion is apparent.”

But NICAP didn’t report that in January, one of the boys who had been involved in the hoax (not the two sons of Campbell), Michael Hallowitz, was fined fifty bucks for perpetrating the hoax, but all that was suspended. He did have to pay ten dollars court costs. He explained how he had done it and that he had the help of two others.

While you all might disagree with the Air Force conclusion, and you might notice that NICAP wasn’t above a little hyperbole in their condemnation of the Air Force, you can listen to Halperin give his tale of investigating the case and his disappointment when he learned it was a hoax. Just goes to show that the Air Force did, once in a while, get it right.

We also talked about his book, Journal of a UFO Investigator, which he described as a work of fiction, but that real world elements in it. The book does seem to give a glimpse into the world of flying saucers as it existed some fifty years ago.

Next week’s guest: Lorna Hunter

Topic: Minnesota UFO Sightings and Investigations.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

X-Zone Broadcast Network - Brenda McClurkin, University of Texas, Arlington Special Collections

Veering away from UFOs, sort of, I spoke with Brenda McClurkin of the Special Collections at the University of Texas at Arlington library about their, well, special collection. We learned that there were over four million negatives held in their state-of-the-art, climate controlled vault. You can listen to the interview here:

Ramey, DuBose and the
infamous sheet of paper.
Copyright: University of Texas
at Arlington, Special Collections.
Although the point was to talk about the investigation of the Ramey Memo, which is a photograph of Brigadier General Roger Ramey in his office holding a piece of paper we did deviate from that somewhat. We talked about the photographer, J. Bond Johnson, who had been sent there because a wire service story said that debris from a flying saucer found near Roswell was being sent to Ramey. From that we can deduce that the memo relates to that Roswell in some fashion. Attempts to read the memo have met with various degrees of success and it had been hoped that the latest attempt, using the latest equipment, software, and examined by experts in forensic photographic analysis might be able to provide a definite answer about the memo. That didn’t happen.

For those who would like to see the “Roswell” negatives for themselves, they are available on line here:

For those who are interested other aspects of this, we talked about the Alamo because of some of the items held in their collection, the history of the Texas Revolution and the historical significance of other things that they housed. We also talked about the procedure to visit the Special Collections… and for those of you who might want to see the original Ramey negatives, I will point out that you have to give them at least twenty-four hours notice so that they can remove the negatives from the vault and allow them time to adjust, slowly to the higher temperature and other climate factors outside the vault.

Next week’s show: David Halperin

Topic: I had originally contacted him about the Glassboro, New Jersey UFO landing but we’ll also talk about his book, Journal of a UFO Investigator.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Project Blue Book and Fold3

While chatting with Barry Greenwood on the radio version of A Different Perspective, we got around to talking about Fold3. This is a web site that houses tens of thousands if not millions of documents that have historic and military information. Most of the Project Blue Book files are included and those interested can “join” the web site for free to have access to those files. Other aspects of the site require a paid membership, but the Blue Book files are there for free.

Greenwood said that the site was sometimes a little difficult to navigate and I know that I’d had trouble with I before. The way it had been designed displayed everything one page at a time with buttons that allowed you to move one page or five pages forward or backward. It was unhandy and sometimes confusing, especially if you were searching for something in particular but didn’t have precise information.

But I’ve had reason to use the site again recently and it has changed. It allows you to type in the specific case and takes you to it. Rather than having to navigate through a long file, especially those that contain multiple copies the AF Form 117, which is that long UFO sighting report form that seems to go on forever, a search canould be quite trying. But now, the whole file is displayed in small pages on the right side of the screen that allows you to jump to the documents you want.

The point is that the whole thing has been redesigned for ease of use. So, while it was once painfully slow, everything has been sped up. The new design (though it might not be all that new) is more user friendly and makes searching for specific cases simpler. At one time, I could say that I had a complete set of the Blue Book files on microfilm at my house. Now, everyone can make that claim because of Fold3 and the Internet.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Chasing Footnotes: The Chiles-Whitted Cigar... Again

As so often happens, I’m doing research on one thing and stumble onto something else that is interesting. Such is the case today. I was looking through Dick Hall’s The UFO Evidence when I noticed something that struck me as incorrect so I thought I would chase a footnote or two.

Hall wrote that the Chiles-Whitted UFO sighting on July 23, 1948, involved a physical manifestation which, in this case, was turbulence that rocked the aircraft. Both men reported they had seen a cigar-shaped craft that flashed by their airliner very early in the morning. Hall’s reference took us to Section V of his book, and noted that the Air Force contested the belief that there had been turbulence. The footnote said, “For additional details see Flying, July 1950; Saturday Evening Post, May 7, 1949.

Timothy Good in his Above Top Secret, wrote that Chiles said, “It [the UFO] veered to its left and passed us about 700 feet to our right and above us. Then, as if the pilot had seen us and wanted to avoid us, it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame from the rear and zoomed into the clouds, its prop wash or jet wash rocking our DC-3.”

The trouble here is that in some of the first interviews conducted with Chiles and Whitted by military officials, they mentioned nothing about any sort of turbulence associated with the object. In a statement prepared by Chiles on August 3, 1948, and originally classified as “secret,” he wrote, “After it passed it pulled up into some light broken clouds and was lost from view. There was no prop wash or rough air felt as it passed.”

Whitted also provided a statement which is undated but is in his own words. He said, “We heard no noise nor did we fell any turbulence from the object.”

At some point after these statements were taken, the idea that there had been turbulence was introduced. I wasn’t sure when the idea there was turbulence was introduced but both Hall and Good mention it. Hall, in his The UFO Evidence, provided two sources and did mention that the Air Force rejected the idea. The important point here is that the case was classified so Hall did not have the benefit of those “official” interviews with the two pilots. He was working from the information in the NICAP files and from the two magazines he noted. The Saturday Evening Post article does not mention a thing about the turbulence. It gives a solid account of the sighting without that detail.

The Flying article that Hall referenced does contain the information. According to Curtis Fuller, who wrote the article, Chiles, quoted in a story written by Louis Blackburn of the Houston Press, said, “Then, as if the pilot had seen us and wanted to avoid us, it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame from the rear and zoomed into the clouds, its prop wash or jet wash rocking our DC-3.”

Although I don’t have a copy of the Houston Press article, I do have another written by Albert Riley in the Atlanta Constitution. There is no date on the clipping, which was part of the Blue Book files, but the first paragraph mentioned the sighting “yesterday morning,” which does, of course provide a time frame. It contains the quote, “Then, as if the pilot had seen us and wanted to avoid us, it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame from the rear and zoomed into the clouds, its prop wash or jet wash rocking our DC-3.”

And, I have another newspaper article that has no source (United Press in the dateline) but does include a date of July 24, 1948. In a quote that might be a little more invention than reality, it said that their DC-3 fluttered in the “prop-wash, jet-was or rocket-wash.”

Timothy Good quotes Chiles, but there is no footnote on the quote and the footnote on the next paragraph leads to The Coming of the Saucers by Ray Palmer and Kenneth Arnold. It doesn’t provide any solid information. I suspect his information will ultimately chase back to the Houston Press article that was quoted in Flying.

My original point here was going to be that this idea of a prop-wash had been added sometime later based on the documentation found in the Blue Book files. These were the statements allegedly signed by the witnesses but that isn’t exactly the case. Given that some of the information is redacted we are unable to see if there is a signature on Chiles statement rather than just a typed name and there is no place on Whitted’s statement for a signature which leaves us with a question or two. It does seem that within hours, they were talking about prop-wash, but all the quotes are basically the same suggesting a single source. And their statements to the Air Force, originally classified as “secret” suggest no turbulence.

It is clear that their statements are contradictory. They were all made within hours of the event. Chiles’ statement for the Air Force was completed and apparently signed days later but the newspaper quotes are from hours later. I had thought that we had a clear-cut case of embellishment based on the first statements found in the Blue Book files, but that isn’t true. We might suggest a bias by UFO researchers sometime later in adding the turbulence as an additional effect of the passing object but that isn’t correct. We might say the Air Force induced them to make the comments about no turbulence but there is no evidence of that. Given that both pilots mentioned no turbulence in their Air Force statements, I suspect both were asked the question about it during those interviews.

There really is no solution for this dilemma. I would say that the earlier statements, taken in the hours after the event are probably the most accurate, but it seems that they made both comments within hours of the sighting. In 1948, the Air Force was actually attempting to learn more about the flying saucers and the reporters who interviewed the pilots were trying to get a good but accurate story. In the final analysis, all I can say is that they mentioned turbulence and said that there had been none. Pick the quote that fits best into your own bias because I have no idea which is accurate.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

X-Zone Broadcast Network - Barry Greenwood

Barry Greenwood
Barry Greenwood was the guest on this week’s program. Barry is one of the UFO field’s historians, preserving the documentation that has been accumulated over the years, including the periodicals that were professionally produced (magazines) and the newsletters and other printed material from the civilian UFO organizations. You can find the interview here:

(A side note … this is the American Talk Network rather than the YouTube site… all the programs are stored here in chronological order so that you can access the older programs more easily than you could on YouTube.)

Given what Colonel Halt had said last week, and since Barry with his partner Larry Fawcett were the ones who brought the Rendlesham Forest case into focus in the U.S., we did talk about that, learning a little more about Larry Warren’s role in it and some of the things that Warren had done and said in the past. This included the controversial picture he circulated not all that long ago that showed an Air Force A-10 attack jet with a UFO over it at the Bendwaters base. According to Barry, the picture had been manipulated because in an older version of that picture, there was no UFO in it.

I did ask if there were some UFO cases that he thought of as interesting and he mentioned the Levelland UFO landings from November 1957. While the Air Force attempted, at one time to suggest the sightings were the result of ball lightning, it is clear that the answer is inadequate given the number of reports from independent sources.

For those interested, the following photographs were taken in the Levelland area at the sites where the UFO was reported to have landed.

Pedro Saucido landing site.
FM 1490, the scene of the Clem and Long sightings.
Highway 114, the scene of the Wheeler and Wright sightings.

On the edge of Levelland, Texas. All photographs of the area are
copyright of Kevin Randle.

Next week’s guest: Brenda Mcclurkin, UTA Special Collections

Topic: The Ramey Memo and the University of Texas at Arlington’s role in the latest attempt to read it.