Francis L. Ridge

Trindade Island Saucer

There is a quantum leap in technology that surfaced a half-century ago that, if exhibited today as in the early phases, has either severely degraded or has been replaced by a vastly inferior one. It doesn't make much sense. It's as if someone wrote a story about evolution and got the chapters mixed up. Either that or ET has sent most of its fleet back home. 

As someone who was an official investigator during, in my opinion, some of the best years for UFO evidence, I have noticed almost a total lack of contemporary evidence for flying saucer reality during the last few decades. This is in stark contrast to the earlier years, especially the first half of the half-century since the wave of 1947. Why is this? Apparently, the genuine component of the UFO phenomenon has gone covert, taking along with it the more dramatic flying saucer reports. I believe that this is the principal reason why it is harder to defend UFOlogy today because the contemporary evidence is much less compelling. For the record, this is my case for flying saucers.

But before we do that let me first make a few things clear. The situation of UFOs and flying saucers becomes more difficult to accept when you look at the wrong evidence. Skeptics and non-believers continuously pick reports from the "identified" or IFO category, the ones even WE don't pay much attention to. When that fails they generally try to re-write history by changing facts regarding the good cases. It isn't working, but the attention to what we DO know is still being distracted.

What is a  good UFO report? Personally, I would have never gotten involved in the UFO controversy had I dealt only with civilian sightings. In the early years before the more close-approaches and close encounters by civilians, we had a lot of what we now refer to as nocturnal lights and distant objects being reported by citizens all over the world. But it was the more-detailed military closer encounters that got my attention, especially the pilot reports and the radar tracking. And after the Robertson Panel in 1953 set the new rules for the Air Force handling of the UFO investigation, the debunking campaign took serious attention away from the UFO subject, at least in the eyes of the media and the public. Press releases in the late 50's and early 60's constantly reported that the Air had no evidence that indicated the possibility that UFOs might really exist.

By the 1980's Dr. David Saunders and CUFOS  had over 106,000 sightings on the UFOCAT computer. Included in this database were some of the best UFO reports ever filed. To date we have:

*  More than 3,000 sightings from aircraft, 6% or 185 cases involving E-M effects.
*  489 radar cases, 21% of which are radar/visuals.
*  5600 physical trace cases, with at least 4104 involving actual UFO sightings.
*  441 cases of vehicle interference or E-M cases.

But from the very beginning the descriptions of the real objects was very similar. People, military and civilian, were reporting daylight observations of "flying saucers". And later the CE-II group, where the objects leave some form of evidence of their existence on the ground, etc., very often supported the existence of an object, circular in shape and about 30' or more in diameter! Coincidence or not, the Project SIGN report postulated a 30' disc, and reports many times described a disc approximating this size. But let's start at the beginning.

On September 23, 1947, after the massive wave of 1947 subsided, which included the famous Roswell incident, General Nathan Twining sent a letter to the Commanding General, Army Air Forces. He stated that the reported phenomenon were real! Our first word of this came in 1956 from Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, former director of Project Blue Book in his book, "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects".  Then, later, we found the complete document which states:

"It is the opinion that:
a. The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious.
b. There are objects probably approximating the shape of a disc, of which appreciable
    size as to appear to be as large as man-made aircraft.
c. There is a possibility that SOME of the incidents may be caused by natural
    phenomena, such as meteors.
d. The reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb,
    maneuverability (particularly in a roll), and action which must be considered
    evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar, lend belief to the
    possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically
    or remotely.
e. The apparent common description of the objects is as follows:

1) Metallic or light reflecting surface.
2) Absence of a trail, except in a few instances when the object apparently was
    operating under high performance conditions.
3) Circular or elliptical in shape, flat on the bottom and domed on top."

What this tells us is that the Army-Air Force was getting reports of "flying saucers" and they were being taken seriously. These were military reports, some of which occurred during one of the most intense sighting waves in UFO history, the Wave of 1947. During this six-week period of intense UFO activity from late May to the early part of July, there were many reported observations of flying discs, many times over sensitive areas, and at least half the time in broad daylight. The intense wave suddenly ended with the reported crash of a flying saucer near Roswell, New Mexico. With the crashed saucer "explained" as a weather balloon the news media and the public stopped reporting, but the military continued to have UFO encounters.

Then, in February of 1949, the Project SIGN Report (page 19) described what the Air Force had discovered in the reports up to that time:

Group 1 -- The most numerous reports indicate the daytime observation of metallic disk-like objects, roughly in diameter ten times their thickness. There is some suggestion that the cross-section is asymmetrical and rather like a turtle shell. Reports agree that these objects are capable of high acceleration and velocity; they often are sighted in groups, sometimes in formation. Sometimes they flutter.

Group 2 -- The second group consists of reports of lights observed at night. These are also capable of high speed and acceleration. They are less commonly seen in groups. They usually appear to be sharply defined luminous objects.

Group 3 -- The third group consists of reports of various kinds of rockets, in general appearing somewhat like V-2 rockets.

Group 4 -- The fourth group contains reports of various devices which, in the writer's opinion, are sounding balloons of unusual shape such as are made by the General Mills Company to Navy contract.

Group 5 -- The fifth group includes reports of objects in which little credence can be placed.

There were several other reports and studies that mention "flying saucers", but we won't go into those here. suffice it to say, "flying saucers" were taken at face value from the very beginning. The question very soon became, "who do they belong to?" When foreign powers were eliminated, the lid went down. 

In 1960 I  was appointed subcommittee chairman for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. My 7-man investigation unit in SW Indiana later (1968) became a rapid response team assigned by NICAP to the University of Colorado UFO Project. In 1964 NICAP released a document, "The UFO Evidence", which gave a  summary of known patterns in appearance and behavior as determined from cases they had studied through 1963. Regarding appearance, the most common type was a disc shape, followed by spherical, oval/elliptical, cylindrical, and triangular. Discs were observed in 26 % of the cases, with a considerable balance very possibly describing a disc viewed from various angles; round, elliptical, cylindrical (28.3%). 

And the discs were not just floating by aimlessly. Remember the September 23, 1947 letter? 

"The reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability (particularly in a roll), and action which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar, lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically or remotely."

Here were reports of "flying saucers" that were not only flying, they were considered as high-performance vehicles. 

" Absence of a trail, except in a few instances when the object apparently was operating under high performance conditions."

Many of you have seen WWII footage of "dog-fights" where tight turns by fighter aircraft created heated wing tips, which produced two vapor trails.  "Flying saucers" were being reported to do that, something which none of the later explanations could account for. 

On January 16, 1957, the day after NICAP's Board of Governors met for the first time, Board Chairman Delmer S. Fahrney called a press conference. News media all over the country quoted his statements, identifying him as one of the few "top brass" to speak out in defense of UFOs. 

"Retired Rear Adm. Delmer S. Fahrney, once head of the Navy's guided missile program, said Wednesday reliable reports indicate that "there are objects coming into our atmosphere at very high speeds. Fahrney told a news conference that "no agency in this country or Russia is able to duplicate at this time the speeds and accelerations which radar and observers indicate these flying objects are able to achieve."

Fahrney told reporters he had no information or preconceived ideas as to whether the unidentified flying objects were from outer space, but he believed that they involved "a tremendous amount of technology of which we have no knowledge," and that their development must have taken a long period of time. 

By 1957 the evidence for the existence of "flying saucers" was pretty strong. And this high-performance vehicle,  if based on this Earth and owned by one of the super powers, should have shown up in somebody's defense department inventory a long time ago. But it never did.  All the time the discs were being reported, somebody was putting down the disc shape. It just couldn't be real. It just couldn't "fly". But that all changed by the 60's and 70's. 

I have maintained a small file throughout the years, of statements by scientists and engineers regarding the use of a saucer shape for space travel and flight within the Earth's atmosphere. In 1990 there was a fascinating article in the April/May issue of  SCIENCE DIGEST (Ref 2), entitled, "Planet Of Origin: Hollywood", by Dennis Meredith, adapted from AIR & SPACE MAGAZINE. According to engineers at McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, some of the craft used in motion pictures are actually plausible. Several members of the company's space-station design team analyzed three of the most famous spacecraft from the movies: 

1) 2001's "Discovery"
2) Star Trek's "Enterprise"
3) Star War's  "Millennium Falcon"

Before getting more into disc performance, let me briefly mention some other interesting statements which have some relevance to UFO's. According to Meredith's article, the consensus is that writers of these films were scientifically timid in some ways, accurate in others. The supercomputer, "HAL", (of 2001) was too big, says Robert Wood, director of the space station's advanced systems and technology. In fact, he found all three movies to be overly conservative in terms of computers and optical systems. "Based on the trends I've seen, in another hundred years optical computers, in which the calculations are done with light, will be almost magical devices, they'll be so powerful and compact. What does this say about reports of close encounters where humans remember being onboard the craft? If the description is that of very futuristic devices, the story just might be genuine. If the equipment sounds too much like our present hi-technology, the story may either be a fabrication or an honest, but dreamed-up experience. 

Concerning the "barriers"' to ET coming here, Fritz Runge, McDonnell Douglas' manager of user integration and commercialization, and other experts, still wonder about surpassing the speed of light. "Maybe it will be like breaking through the sound barrier. The faster you go, the harder it gets and greater the drag. Until you break through; then it gets easier." 

Rating the three Hollywood spacecraft, some other interesting comments emerged. 2001's "Discovery" came under criticism for its lack of scanning devices for objects ahead, and the impressive rocket boosters it never needed out in space. However, it would make the most impressive warship. "You want a warship to have the smallest possible radar cross-section for anything ahead or behind it," says George King, a specialist in spacecraft configuration design. "So a hot-dog shape is best." Cigar or torpedo-shaped UFOs were mentioned in the Air Force Project Sign report and have been reported many times. The large "Carrier" class of UFOs (Ref. 3) is generally described as a giant cigar-shaped or rectangular craft. 

The most interesting part of the article was actually mentioned last. Wood said he appreciated the "Millennium Falcon's" UFO-like contours. "The saucer shape gives you a nice lift-to-drag ratio for aerodynamic maneuvering. The Falcon reflected a McDonnell Douglas study that showed a flying saucer would be IDEAL for maneuvering within the atmosphere. Wood, himself, headed that project, which investigated propulsion schemes that could take advantage of Earth's magnetic field. His team calculated that a gigantic saucer shape, encircled laterally by a band of superconductirig material, could hold a huge electric charge. "We concluded that you could actually consider a big saucer that would float in the Earth's magnetic and electric fields." 

The Air Force Project Grudge Report of December 1949 (Ref 4) concluded, on the basis of actual military intelligence reports of UFOs, that the objects were of three basic types. 

1) The most numerous-reports indicate daytime observation of metallic
    disc-like objects roughly in diameter ten times their thickness.

2) Rocket-like objects.

3) Sharply-defined luminous objects appearing as lights at night.

Other shapes during the first few decades have been reported in rarer appearance, but becoming more and more common in the 80's & 90's (Ref 5). One of these is a  "V" shaped object, or "boomerang". Another is a "triangle", sometimes black with  running lights. "Stingrays", "futuristic" and "stealth-looking" have been observed. 

But getting back to the discs, a few years ago I conducted some experiments on the disc shape which provided some interesting insights into UFO propulsion and many reported maneuvers. A nine-inch plastic disc, flat on top and bottom, approximately 3/8" thick was tested in a pool of water 8-1/2' deep. When moved about under water, water effectively simulating airflow and resistance, the disc maneuvered very well by hand as long as you pushed along the discs horizontal plane. When it was tilted from its normal plane the resistance to continue in the same direction became almost like a brick wall, depending on the angle of change. An abrupt turn was the easiest and most dramatic. This resulted, if the forced motion was continued on the "aft end" of the disc, in a right-angle turn or a tight "U" turn, depending on what you desired. Since the disc is an omnidirectional wing, it could be moved in any direction without turning the disc's crew compartment. As stated previously, there was little or no resistance during a maneuver as long as you pushed in the craft's plane of movement, no matter whether this plane was perpendicularly level to, or at angles to, normal gravity. Of course, if the disc was vertical it would move ahead without resistance, but gravity was pulling it down into a turn instead of letting it go perfectly straight. 

In another test, when the model was simply dropped vertically into the water, without being pushed or handled in any way, was unable to enter absolutely vertical and was immediately deflected. It was during these tests that it was noticed that the disc started to go into a "pendulum motion" or "falling leaf" maneuver. As the disc arched into a curve and slowed to a stop, it hovered briefly, then retraced its motion in the opposite direction, but slightly lower in another upward arc, then down again. The "falling leaf" motion occurred over and over again in ever-widening arcs until the disc settled on the bottom of the pool in a perfect UFO landing configuration! Whenever the disc was nearly perfectly level and not in motion, it hovered because the line of maximum resistance was directly under it. A very noticeable barrier could be felt just as if the water was Jell-O! The disc was weightless and would not move "down" even when touched. However, when the disc was pushed forward, it slid effortlessly forward until a turn was made and the increasing turn angle made the resistance so great to continue on straight that the disc seemed to avoid the undesired direction arid glided effortlessly in the desired direction. The weird effects on the disc during motion, some of which are hard to describe, were felt during every maneuver, except the drop test. 

There are other advantages to the disc as a vehicle. A large ship built in this manner would have the "bridge", "sickbay", "security", "cafeteria", and all the other pie-shaped "bays", etc., directly accessible to the entrance just a few feet away. If large enough, the entrance would be an elevator to other levels, all very accessible to each other, opening under the ship! Smaller "scout ships", as are generally described in abductions, however, appear to be a much simpler version of the disc. 

For the non-disc sightings where, to some it appears that the objects responsible for them are new stealth aircraft produced from UFO technology, the data actually suggests something else, possibly a covert "Trojan Horse" action by someone with superior technology! A small percentage of the reports could be indicative of our own actual stealth craft, but most reports by reliable witnesses suggest an almost silent, hovering craft, or one that flies under 100 mph. 

"Flying saucers" or "flying discs" predominated the first 30-years of the UFO era and no doubt were the basic unit involved in the first phases of the UFO agenda. In the beginning some of the uninformed skeptics wanted more proof. "If these things are real, somebody would have taken a picture by now." When they got their pictures, many of them of disc-shaped objects, they cried out for MORE proof. And when the Air Force had two top secret UFO films in their hands (1950 & 1952), that wasn't enough either. But even earlier, at the very beginning of the UFO era some thought, "If these things are real we should be able to pick them up on radar..." Well, that was a complete lost cause. There were two official reports from 1945; one near Okinawa (ground radar) and one near the Hanford Nuclear Plant in Washington (ground/visual). In 1948 there were five good radar cases. 

But most UFOs did NOT show up on radar. Skeptics loved this. This was their "proof" that UFO couldn't exist. I find it extremely interesting (and rewarding) that none of us had any way of knowing that stealth-technology would be possible so early and explain this "anomaly". UFO technology from the outset centers around a basic and very efficient disc that makes little or no noise. The disc can and does maneuver at high speeds and appears to have had stealth qualities all along. The "wings" and "boomerangs" are reported to travel very slow, sometimes very low, almost deliberately asking to be seen, but sometimes traveling faster in straight line speed runs. But UFOs apparently are only seen or tracked on radar when they want to be or possibly when an action taken, such as a  maneuver, give them away. 

In the 1980s and early 90's there was much talk about crashed saucers and the subsequent emergence of stealth into our technology. Building a winged craft from UFO technology may sound reasonable to some, but many disagree. The need for a race (or races) to change from a perfected, high-performance disc to a wing shape 30-40 years later doesn't seem to make much sense, unless it's a deliberate attempt to pass as aircraft and deceive, OR the function of the craft is different requiring the wing or delta shape. The UFO operation may be in a new phase, whereby the occupants may be piloting less sophisticated vehicles. 

During the Gulf War I had two sons in the military. During and after this terrible experience for all of us a lot of things went through my mind. In the beginning of the war we had the huge aircraft carriers, high-performance jets, and sea and air-launched cruise missiles. After the war had ended coalition forces kept the peace, but the bulk of the mighty armada was pulled out. The high-performance vehicles returned to base and the region was kept under surveillance by more distant, less sophisticated vehicles. 

This is pure speculation on my part. Lets' suppose that the original ETs that were in the strike team during the first phases (1947) were replaced by a "coalition" force (1990's) which had vehicles and a technology less sophisticated. For the most part the high-performance flying disc and its carrier could have been phased out. As for the bona fide winged group of UFO' s, they may be important, because there was a dramatic increase in this group in the 1990's and the sightings of these cannot all be explained as misidentified aircraft. I have been a witness to several of this class (which I classify as Category 9's)  myself, simply by being "on call". These objects would "pass" as aircraft by 95% of the population. 

But there is a quantum leap in technology that surfaced a half-century ago that, if exhibited today as in the early phases, has either severely degraded or has been replaced by a vastly inferior one. It doesn't make much sense. It's as if someone wrote a story about evolution and got the chapters mixed up. 

One thing for sure, the basic disc is not a lost cause after all the criticism throughout the years by skeptics. "When flying saucer sightings first broke into print, most aeronautical engineers considered the reported performance impossible. Experts went on record stating that disc-shaped airfoils were inefficient, unstable arid difficult to control (Ref 6). Later, as UFO reports got better and refused to go away, engineers have begun to praise the disc performance. Martin Gerloff, aerodynamics expert for General Electric in 1960 released his views on the disc: 

"The discus shape has equally good ability to operate in dense air, rarefied regions, and in empty space. The discus shape is superior to all rotating-wing designs (such as helicopters) in vertical take-off, climb and cruising. Between the 17-mile altitude of today's jets (1963) and 200-mile orbits of earth-circling satellites, there is an uncovered region. The discus is extremely capable of flying in this rarefied area. The discus planform has a blunt-nose radius and an extended leading edge which alleviate local heating." (Ref.6,7). 

Isn't it strange that the disc's performance, which was considered impossible in the 1940's and 1950's, is now considered, not only possible by our own present technology, but highly recommended by McDonnell Douglas and others? All the arguments against the UFO/disc reality seem to be finally falling by the wayside. After over 50 years we still do not have a flying saucer. Some feel that OUR hi-tech version of that high-performance vehicle now has to have wings and noisy jet engines. As the little girl in ET said, "Give me a break." 

If flying saucers were real and moving around in our atmosphere, somebody would see them. Occasionally, some of these people would be credible and articulate. Occasionally someone would have the sense and the loaded camera to film one. Rarely, but eventually somebody would get a motion picture of one or more. But almost from the beginning, somebody should have picked them up on radar. Strange, but all these things have already occurred!  And since UFOs don't need lights and most of the time are operating in a stealth mode, why do they let us take a glimpse at all? 

While preparing the final draft of this paper I asked Richard Hall, the author of the NICAP "UFO Evidence", to comment on it. I was very surprised: 

"Actually, there have been quite a few more radar cases in the past 30 years than you might realize, and many dozens of disc sightings, as "The UFO evidence: II" will make clear. I wouldn't have known this except for thoroughly reviewing the world literature, because the missing factor is news transmission as things are happening compared to the old days. But when you pull together sightings from all over the world, I guarantee you there are going to be some very surprised people on how strong and consistent the patterns are. 

"Your thesis about UFOs going covert is defensible, especially in context with abductions and the reduction in CE-I and CE-II sightings, at least that get publicized. There does appear to have been a scaling back of that kind of activity, but it has not totally disappeared. Overall, a lot of very strong evidence has been quietly accumulating, and UE-II is really going to raise some eyebrows. I can hardly wait!" 

Finally, something strange is beginning to happen as we approach the year 2000. The flying discs are back in the news! 

2. SCIENCE DIGEST, April/May 1990, by Dennis Meredith
3. UFOLOGY, 1973, James McCampbell
5. NIGHT SIEGE, 1987, The Hudson Valley Sightings, Imbrogno/Hynek
6. THE UFO INVESTIGATOR, Vol. II, No.9, June/Sep 1963
7. AEROSPACE ENGINEERING, Jan 1960, Martin Gerloff.