Section IV - Empirical Evidence
In most UFO reports there is nothing tangible to lay hold of; the evidence consists of the witnesses description of an object that he says behaves in such-and-such a way. In a small percentage of reports, however, evidence exists or was reported of something more than just a sensory impression of an aerial phenomenon. Such evidence includes reactions by animals to the presence of a UFO; electrical and electromagnetic effects occurring when UFOs were seen; deposits and traces, including fragments left by low-hovering or landing objects; and records on photographic film and radar screens of their presence. These elements, involving as they do features and circumstances beyond mere visual observation, are fragmentary; nevertheless, they provide clues to the character of the phenomena and offer supporting evidence of their actual existence. A few such cases (except for radar reports) occurred during the 1947 UFO wave.
Case 231 -- July 4, Portland, Oregon: Patrolman McDowell's report of the pigeons reacting to five discs overhead (see III-15).
Cases 263 and 350 -- July 4 & 5, Fayetteville, Arkansas: Henry Seay, a farmer living two miles north of Fayetteville, reported that on two consecutive nights, just before dark, his livestock bolted when unidentified flying objects swooped overhead. On July 4, Seay said, as he was rounding up cattle and horses, three yellow discs "about the size of pancakes, and whirling around at the same time," flying from 500 to 1,000 feet overhead, frightened the animals. The objects were reported as flying in a southwesterly path.
The following evening the same thing took place. The wire service accounts are not clear about details, but they report that a disc came down to about 300 feet and "dropped sparks, which were like dust on me," according to Seay. He said he believed the object had come down near his home, but that it was "nothing but ashes and dust when it hit." He commented briefly that "the animals sure do get up and go when they see those things."
Dr. McDonald was able to interview Seay by phone and clarified a number of points in the news accounts. He discussed the sighting on the evening of the 5th with Seay, since it seems to have involved a brief touch-down landing; the events of the preceding night were not covered, as the witness, now quite elderly, was quite reluctant to discuss it at all.
Seay told McDonald that he had been driving his cattle along his road near sunset on the 5th when he noticed a single object pass overhead. He became aware of its presence when something like dust fell on him. His arms were bare and although he felt the dust falling on his skin, it did not burn. The object appeared to be ten or twelve feet across and "the whole thing glowed." The cattle bolted as Seay looked up and saw the object. The cows, in front of him, all ran off to the other side of the pasture and it took him more than ten minutes to get them all rounded up. He had been driving them up to the barn for evening milking.
The object moved across the pasture and came down in front of him, on the south side of his barn, as he recalled. It only touched down momentarily, perhaps for a few seconds, at a distance of about 200 yards from him. He stated that he saw it on or close to the ground with the barn behind it. It had been moving to the northeast. The shape of the object was round and flattened. He heard no noise at any time.
After several seconds, the object rose up vertically about 30 or 40 feet and then shot off horizontally at a speed estimated as 50 miles an hour. It left a shower of yellow sparks as it took off. It flew over a field of oats, but did not damage the oats, although the sparks were seen falling to the ground.
The light emitted by the object was not blinding, but he could not see the shape very well. Dr. McDonald asked him if there had been any other reports from the area at the same time and Seay said there were others two or three miles away who saw it and described it similarly. He had talked to some of them but did not know their names, except for one man who came over to cut his oats several days later, and who had seen it. The man is now dead, but Seay would not give his name. He added that he had found no marks in the barnyard where the object had appeared to set down.
Case 787 -- July 9, Manchester, New Hampshire: Mrs. Earl O. Anderson, of 79 Kennard Road, was awakened at 3:50 a.m. EDT by the barking of dogs in the neighborhood. Looking out her bedroom window to see what the cause of the commotion was, she saw a "saucer-shaped light" slightly to the north of the Derryfield reservoir. The object was whirling about at a fast pace and continued this for a few minutes -- long enough for Mrs. Anderson to be certain she was not seeing a shooting star or some kind of a reflection in the starless sky. After several minutes the object finally passed beyond her view through the window in a diagonal slant.
Fragments, Ashes, and Traces
Case 19 -- June 21, near Titusville, Pennsylvania: Mill-worker Donald Bunce, of Troy Center, was driving to work at his plant in Titusville at an unspecified time of day when, he later reported, he saw an object "streaking through the sky," He said it hit the ground in a field nearby and he hurried to the spot where it came to earth. The object, glowing white and hot, was half-buried in the ground. Using a shovel that was in his car, Bunce scooped the object up, brought it to work and showed it to his fellow workers at the mill. He took it home after work and forgot about it, until reports of flying objects renewed his interest in having the object identified.
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The object was described as being about five inches long, was oval in shape, was lightweight, and resembled a piece of coral. On July 8 Bunce took it to Allegheny College, at Meadville. At Allegheny, Chemistry Professor H. R. Rhinesmith "admitted he had never seen anything like it," although no tests of the fragment appear to have been made. The object was then taken to Gannon College, in Erie, where R. H. Mitchell, Professor of Geology, examined it. He first ruled out the possibility of its being a meteorite on the basis that there was no metallic content in the fragment. He then pronounced it a "scoria" (a type of volcanic debris). But what it was doing flying through the air near Titusville, Pennsylvania, some 4,000 miles from the nearest active volcano, Professor Mitchell, or anybody else for that matter, was unable to explain.
Case 211 -- July 4, Hillsboro, Texas: An object about the size and shape of an ordinary saucer, that had not been seen in flight, was found in the garden of Bob Scott, a farmer living two and a half miles east of Hillsboro. Scott said that when he found it, "it was bright as a blow-torch, but it didn't burn me when I picked it up. I got to thinking about all these new inventions now-days, and it scared me. So I put it down. It sure didn't belong in my garden," he added.
He didn't mention the discovery until he met a friend, W. O. Kissick, and when the two of them went to investigate the object they found that it was disintegrating. Another friend, Joe Gerrick, of Hillsboro, also examined it and said that one of the remaining pieces "looked like tinfoil," but when they picked it up "it appeared to be celluloid." Whatever it was, most of it seemed to "have melted," subliming into a gelatinous residue. The men contacted Hillsboro newsman Dan Shults, who also viewed the remains. "It was a dusty, silvery substance," he reported. "I picked up some of the pieces and it wasn't like anything I'd ever seen before." Unfortunately, it seems that none of the material was given to appropriate authorities for analysis.
Case 685 -- July 7, Omaha, Nebraska: Fred R. Reibold, of 2315 Himebaugh Avenue, and his motherin-law, Mrs. Gertrude Sniffen, reported that at 10:30 p.m. CST they had seen "a flaming object" drop into the street in front of their home. The object was round, disc-shaped, and about the size of a silver dollar, and it lay in the street "burning with extreme heat." Newspapers were called and newsmen sent out to investigate. Before they arrived, however, an intrepid neighborhood boy kicked at the fragment, after the fire had subsided, and it "fell to pieces." When the reporters arrived, they scooped up the remaining ashes and took them away for analysis. The pavement was scorched where the object had lain.
The Omaha World-Herald reported the next day that chemical analysis, under Dr. C. L. Kenny, head of the Chemistry Department of the College of Dentistry, Creighton University, and carried out by two unidentified students, revealed traces of sodium, potassium, iron, aluminum, carbonate, sulphate, and unburnt carbon. According to Dr. Kenny, it was nothing more than "ordinary pipe tobacco." The report is included among those in the Air Force files. Interestingly, it is probably the only UFO on record that has been explained as "tobacco ashes."
Case 768 -- July 8, Boise, Idaho: Oliver Gregorson, Box 212, Boise, and Vesta Mitchell, of Route 5, Boise, reported to the Idaho Daily Statesman that they were about a mile and a half out of the city, on Route 20, at about sunset when they saw a number of silvery discs "twirling in the sky, large and very high." (The sun set at 8:28 p.m. MST on July 8.) They said that two of the objects appeared much larger than the others. They were shiny and reflected the rays of the setting sun, and as the two witnesses watched them, the two larger objects appeared to descend closer to the earth. Then, they said, the objects "turned red and vanished."
A moment or so following the disappearance of the objects, Gregorson and Miss Mitchell both saw "fragments of ash" floating toward the ground from the direction in which they had last seen the objects. They caught several samples of the ash as it came down, before it touched the ground. It was pearl-grey in color, and one fragment was of "a shell-like material with bits of ash plastered all over it." One of the fragments was about the size of "a rose leaf."
According to the news account, the witnesses gave the ashes to the paper, which in turn gave them to "the state chemist" for analysis. On the following day, the Statesman reported that results of the analysis indicated the fragments were nothing but ashes, probably from paper. Chemists said definitely that they were "not of a metallic residue."
Case 802 -- July 9, Midland, Michigan: Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Edward Lane were picking berries shortly after 5:00 p.m. EST when they heard a kind of "puff" noise nearby. Looking up, they saw a ball of white, sparkling fire, like a Fourth of July sparkler, about the size of a bushel basket, no more than a hundred feet away. It was hovering several feet above a stretch of sand. After about ten or fifteen seconds, the fiery object "went out," and the object vanished. The only thing remaining was a peculiar dark substance on the sand, and some metallic fragments. The report, from the Air Force files, is explained as a "Possible hoax."
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The results of the analysis of the fragments and sand samples were provided by the Air Force. Analysis does not, as such, constitute any proof of a hoax. On the contrary, it seems to confirm that something of an unusual nature did occur, although it does not seem on the face of it to be necessarily connected with UFOs.
The analysts apparently were given one sample of the metal -- an "irregular somewhat rounded pellet" which they state is principally silver. Impurities of one-tenth percent silicon are believed to be from sand picked up from the ground "before the metal solidified." The presence of molten silver in a berry patch is certainly odd, and rules out any simple "hoax." A sample of the dark residue in the sand was also analyzed and its chief constituents were iron, aluminum and titanium in amounts of one-tenth percent each. Some of the fine powder in the sand at the site proved to be chiefly thorite, a rare mineral.
According to a letter from Lt. Colonel Barnett B. Young, dated August 18, 1967, the incident, while classified as a hoax, "was not initiated by the observer."
Case 30 -- June 24, in Cascade Mts., Oregon: On the morning of the same day that Kenneth Arnold made his sighting, a Portland prospector, Fred M. Johnson, saw a loose group of five or six objects in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. He described them as "round, metallic-looking discs" and said they appeared to have tails, or fins, as they banked in the sun about 1,000 feet overhead. They were approximately 30 feet in diameter and Johnson turned his telescope on one of the objects for a closer look. As he did this, he noticed that the needle on his compass was behaving in an unusual manner, weaving wildly back and forth while the objects were overhead. This strange reaction stopped as soon as the objects moved off to the southeast. They had been in view from 45 to 60 seconds. The Air Force classifies this sighting as Unidentified.
Case 386 -- July 6, Acampo, California: Residents of Acampo, a residential community just north of Lodi, reported that they had heard a loud roar and saw a strange glow in the sky just before dawn. At the same time, the entire town had a power outage. Mrs. W. C. Smith, wife of a high school physics instructor, said the noise was "like a four-motored bomber with its props feathered for a take-off." Looking toward the sky she saw a red glow just as all the power in the community failed. Neighbors reported having seen the same glow and hearing the same roar.
Erving Newcomb of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company threw cold water on any connection between the outage and "flying saucers." He said "a low-flying crop-dusting plane" had "probably struck a power line" and burned out a transformer. There were no reports of any damaged power lines and as far as anyone knew, there had been no crop-dusting going on before dawn on that Sunday morning.
Case 637 -- July 7, Hollywood, California: Six silver discs "like silver reflections" were reported by Ralph Whitmore, an advertising man. He saw them at 3:10 p.m. going northeast over Roosevelt Park in the direction of Mount Wilson (Case 636).
Around the same time, an anonymous man from the Hollywood area phoned the papers to report that he had just seen six discs "the size of small plates" hovering over power lines near his home when he went outside to find out what might be causing "strange noises" on his radio.
Case 13 -- June 18, Eugene, Oregon: E. H. Sprinkle was one of a half-dozen Eugene residents who said that they had spotted a formation of round objects "racing overhead" on a course to the northeast from a hilltop outside Eugene at an unspecified time during the day. Sprinkle had with him a $3.50 camera and took a snapshot of the objects as they raced over. The story was reported following the publication of Arnold's sighting. Enlargements of the photograph taken by Sprinkle showed "seven dots" in a formation "shaped like an X or a Y, lined up across the sky." Newspaper photographers, examining the snapshot, said the dots "might be a fault in the developing process." They said that such dots sometimes appear on a negative which has not been agitated while in the developer.
The dots were too small to show up on ordinary newsprint paper, but were visible on a glossy 8 x 10 print. Under a microscope, reported the Portland Oregonian, "they showed a similar shape." Associated Press, which briefly carried the report on June 27 in a roundup of sightings, erroneously stated that Sprinkle's photograph showed "nothing but empty sky." As far as can be determined, the photograph has never been published in any UFO literature. Attempts to obtain copies were fruitless.
Case 257 -- July 4, Lake City, Washington: Alerted about 5:30 p.m. PST by a group of neighbors who had spotted a disc-like object approaching the northern Seattle suburb from the south, Yeoman Frank Ryman, of the Coast Guard Press Information office in Seattle, dashed into his house at 12321 22nd Street N.E. and grabbed his Speed Graphic camera. He waited until the disc was directly overhead before taking a photograph, using Super XX film, shutter speed set at 1/50 and an F 22 lens opening.
Using binoculars, he observed the object closely. "The disc came over at about 9,000 or 10,000 feet. It was flashing silver in the sun, (and was) about one-tenth the apparent size of a full moon," he reported later. He said the gleaming disc appeared to change course slightly in its northern flight. "As the object hurtled through the sky," he said, "it seemed brighter at certain times than at others. I believe it was the way the sun hit it." Ryman heard no noise, no sound of engines. "I am positive there were no wings or fins in sight. It definitely was not a plane," he asserted. "I looked for wings and other possible projections as I watched it through the binoculars. I thought it conceivably could have been a weather balloon being blown along by a high wind. The Navy told me there was very little wind --about 10 to 12 knots at most. The object I photographed appeared to be traveling over 500 miles an hour."
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Ryman said that the object was in sight for four or five minutes and was observed by at least 20 others in the neighborhood. He contacted the Post-Intelligencer immediately, and the film was developed in the newspaper's darkroom. It showed a small, blurred white oval against the background of the sky. Enlarged, it is quite distinct (see reproduction), and the enlargement was reprinted widely by the wire services. The importance of this photograph is not so much what is shown on film, but in the circumstances under which it was taken -- one of the rare cases in which a photograph is made with numerous eye-witnesses who not only saw the object in the sky, but saw the photograph being taken as well.
Case 257 - July 4, Lake City, Washington (Ryman)
In the Air Force files the Ryman sighting is explained as a "weather balloon," although the speed of the object, as well as information on the wind at the time, appear to make such an explanation doubtful. The Air Force report on this sighting gives the duration of observation as ten minutes. In the newspaper accounts -- both local and wire service versions -- Ryman specifically says the object was in view for "four to five minutes." Whether or not Ryman changed his estimate of the duration in his official report is unknown, but it is perfectly clear that a ten-minute duration would be more acceptable to the Air Force in proposing a balloon explanation.
Reports by at least three people were made in other parts of Seattle about a half an hour before the Coast Guardsman's sighting. J. H. Oakley reported seeing a group of six objects at Bow Lake (Case 252) and, at about the same time, Charles Kamp, a Seattle Transit System driver, with his wife, saw several discs "over the University district" going west at high speed (Case 253).
Case 493 -- July 6, Birmingham, Alabama: Widespread reports of objects seen over Birmingham for more than an hour from about 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. CST (see III-3,4) alerted Robert Crossland, Birmingham Age-Herald copy reader. When he saw objects passing over his residence on 29th Street and Highland Avenue, he rushed to get his camera. His developed film revealed two round, white spots close together, against a black background, according to newspaper reports. One of the spots was larger than the other. Crossland said he took a 15-second time exposure. He said that five other persons were with him when he took the photograph. Efforts to obtain copies have not been successful.
Case 683 -- July 7, Louisville, Kentucky: As in Birmingham on the previous night, numerous reports of aerial objects were made at Louisville and in other Kentucky areas during the evening and night hours. Al Hixenbaugh, a Louisville Times photographer, said that when three bright objects flew over about 10:15 p.m. CST, he took a five-second exposure of them, capturing two on the exposed plate. Described in his report as "fiery balls," the objects on film appear as long streaks, due to the five-second exposure (see reproduction).
Case 683 - July 7, Louisville, Kentucky (Hixenbaugh)
Hixenbaugh took the photograph at Preston Street Road and Bickel's Lane. He said that while it was impossible to tell their shapes, the "fiery balls" did have tails like meteors. However, the objects traveled parallel to the horizon and did not fall in arcs, as meteors most often do. He estimated that the objects were from two to five miles away and about 1,000 to 2,000 feet high. (If his estimate was even fairly accurate, the objects were flying too low to be meteors.) Their speed, estimated at approximately 200 miles an hour, was too slow for meteors.
One of the many reports from Louisville and other parts of Kentucky, at about the same time, came from Robert Delara, of 2745 West Market, who also described seeing three fiery objects shooting northward. Delara said they were "too big for falling stars," but he said he didn't know what else they could be (Case 682).
Case 651 -- July 7, near Pontiac, Michigan: Albert Weaver, 37-year-old tool and die maker of Pontiac, reported that he and two unidentified friends had seen three objects come "sailing over Orchard Lake Country Club" in the evening around sundown. According to Weaver, who said he had previously scoffed at reports of discs, he and his companions were "amazed" when three objects came into view over a hill, "about 150 feet high," and traveling at about 100 miles an hour.
The discs, Weaver said, were about two feet in diameter, about two inches thick at the edges, and four to six inches thick in the middle. They appeared to have holes in them, he said. His two companions disagreed with his size estimates: they thought that the diameter of the discs had been five feet. One man said "they appeared to have a control tower on top."
The photograph taken by Weaver shows only two objects, dark against the bright background of the sky, and with no reference points showing - at least in the available reproductions. One of the objects looks suspiciously like a phonograph record; the other is difficult to visualize as a disc, unless a large protuberance on one of its lateral surfaces is the "control tower" referred to. Nothing could be learned from the local papers about the photographer and local accounts were not available. (See reproduction)
Case 651 - July 7, Near Pontiac, Michigan (Weaver)
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Case 675 -- July 7, Phoenix, Arizona: William Rhodes, of 4333 North 14th Street, who described himself as a "free lance scientist and inventor," was on his way to his laboratory behind his home at dusk when he heard a "whoosh" overhead. Looking up, he expected to see a P-80 jet; instead, he saw a dark, heel-shaped object coming in from the west. It circled and banked at about 1,000 feet over his home. Rhodes grabbed his camera from the laboratory workbench and as the object banked in a tight circle for the second time, he took his first photograph. As it circled once again at moderate speed, he took another shot. Other than the initial "whoosh," which had caught his attention, there was no sound. Following its final maneuver the object took off at high speed to the southwest.
Case 675 - July 7, Phoenix, Arizona (Rhodes)
The photographs were reproduced in the July 9 edition of the Phoenix Arizona Republic, with accompanying details of the sighting. (The claim by a Chicago publisher that all July 9 issues had been confiscated in a door-to-door search is completely without any basis in fact.) A few weeks after the incident, an Army Air Corps Intelligence Officer and an FBI agent visited Rhodes and asked for copies of the photographs, as well as the negatives, which Rhodes turned over to them willingly. He later reported that efforts to get them back were unsuccessful.
In the Air Force files, the Rhodes sighting is termed a "possible hoax." Kenneth Arnold reported, however, that when he met Intelligence Officer Lt. Frank Brown in Tacoma on July 31, Brown said that Rhodes' photographs were among several "we consider to be authentic," explaining that copies had just been received at Hamilton Field (The Coming of the Saucers, pp. 52-53). It is also interesting to note that while Rhodes himself had no luck in getting his photographs back, officers at Hamilton Field willingly gave copies to Arnold on a subsequent trip he made to that base. Those same photos, given to Dr. McDonald by Arnold, were lent for the purpose of reproduction in this report by Dr. McDonald. The drawings below are included to give a clearer impression of the shapes in the photographs.
Case 734 -- July 8, Avalon, California: At 1:00 p.m. PST, several hundred people on Santa Catalina Island, off Long Beach, saw a flight of six disc-shaped objects pass over the Island. Among the witnesses were Army Air Corps veterans Bob Jung, Kenneth Johnson and Alvio Russo. Jung, a former aerial photographer in the service, was able to photograph one of the discs. Russo, a pilot who had flown 35 missions over Europe with the Eighth Air Force, estimated the speed of the objects at 850 miles an hour; Jung compared their speed with that of the Navy 's "Tiny Tim" rocket.
"They were in two elements. of three each," Jung said. "The formation came in from the northeast and disappeared over the hills to the south of Avalon Bay." Jung, who was a professional photographer in Avalon, had his camera with him and took two shots before the objects vanished. The film was flown to the shore for processing, and as far as can be determined, only one had been printed; it shows a single oval-shaped, light-colored object of considerable size, with the superstructure of a ship at the bottom in the foreground. The printed copy is highly retouched. Efforts to obtain a copy of the print, or the original report, have not been successful.
Case 790 -- July 9, Morristown, New Jersey: In an account published in the Morristown Daily Record (7/10) there is a description of a sighting that presumably took place on the preceding morning. The witness was John H. Janssen, of Morristown, identified as "Airport Columnist" on the Record. He reported that he was on his way to the airport at mid-morning when he "caught a glint in the sky and, looking up, saw what he first took to be a group of airplanes. Closer examination revealed a formation of four disc-like objects floating in the air at about 10,000 feet. Janssen said he "quickly fitted a filter to his camera lens" and took the photograph printed with his story. "I had only time for this one picture. While I was turning the film for the next exposure the lead disc suddenly shot upward and toward New York City in a dazzling burst of speed. The other three followed and all were out of sight in a twinkling of the eye. In my brief glimpse of the discs I did notice that the lead one was of a dull metallic color and the others appeared to be of a silvery hue.
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"From where I stood on the top of my car watching the strange craft," he said, "I guessed them to be anywhere from 100 to 300 feet in diameter. The circumference was the thinnest part of the ships and widened toward the middle where possibly they could be ten to twenty feet high-enough to provide living and operating quarters."
Case 790 - July 9 or 10, Morristown, N.J.
The photograph shows four bright objects, three of which are distinct ovals against the clear sky in a slightly curved line, while the fourth, at the top of the line, is less distinct. In the lower part of the picture is part of a cloud formation.
Janssen was the second of two UFO witnesses in the 1947 wave to publicly express belief that the objects were space ships. "I really believe these craft to be operated by an intelligence far beyond that developed by we earth-bound mortals and (I) am inclined to agree with the theory that they are space craft from another planet." He went on to theorize on possible magnetic and antigravity methods of propulsion to explain the acceleration of the objects. "In all probability these are reconnaissance craft and as they have been seen all over the world and not only in this country, are probably making a thorough study of us and our terrain and atmosphere before making any overtures."
In the light of subsequent claims by Mr. Janssen, including a story purportedly taking place several weeks later and describing how his plane was stopped in mid-air for a number of minutes while being scrutinized by a pair of discs hovering nearby, the original sighting report and photograph must be viewed with a certain amount of suspicion. As the original photograph is no longer available, a drawing of the reproduction in the Daily Record is included.
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