Thursday, January 17, 2019

Project Blue Book - Paul Hynek's Words

I was more than a little disturbed by the latest episode of Project Blue Book. The case, based loosely, and I do mean loosely, on the Flatwoods, West Virginia, landing of September 12, 1952, was barely recognizable. They portrayed it as a crash and left out many of the witnesses, focusing on three… a mother and her two boys.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek
What disturbed me was the first interaction between that mother and Allen Hynek. The captain with him introduced him as Dr. Hynek and it was clear the mother thought that he was a physician. He didn’t do anything to suggest he wasn’t and I couldn’t see Allen Hynek doing something like that.

But I also know that those of us not involved shouldn’t assume outrage on the part of those who are. You can think of many things in the modern world where someone gains attention by his or her outrage on the part of another. I thought I would find out what the family of Allen Hynek thought about this series and the way Allen and his wife were presented. Here is the response I received from Paul Hynek. I have left out the very kind words directed at me. With his permission, I quote in part:

Project Blue Book is a highly dramatized portrayal of my father's work with the US Air Force. As with other dramatic representations, it is not meant to be accurate in all of its details. So you can find many incidents depicted in the show that didn't actually happen in real life. I don't know offhand if my father read the whole Encyclopedia Britannica (let alone twice) when he was indeed laid up with Scarlet Fever. It wouldn't surprise me, given the frequent exhortations he made to me as a child to consult the damn encyclopedia. I have, however, attached photos of the astronomy text book that he had during this time that he often cited as creating his interest in astronomy to begin with. This is an example of something that perhaps not accurate, is certainly authentic. 
My father was a public figure, and HISTORY could have made Project Blue Book without any input from the Hynek family. However, they invited my brother Joel and I to serve as consultants on the show, so I know first hand that creator David O'Leary, showrunner Sean Jablonski, the producers, HISTORY executive Arturo Interian, and Aidan Gillen and Laura Mennell and the rest of the cast have gone to great efforts to portray my parents and the other characters in an authentic and respectful fashion. In addition, each episode is based on a real case as you remarked on in your article with the Gorman dogfight, is followed by actual information, and also has additional accompanying interviews on the website with Jacques Vallee, Robert Friend, Richard Dolan, Joel, me, and others to present actual recollections. HISTORY has also invited Joel and me to participate in numerous public forums to talk about our real life father and his actual views.
In broad strokes, the show accurately portrays my father as a highly intelligent scientist who initially thought that flying saucers were nothing more than post-war hysteria who comes to believe there is something to the phenomenon. He therefore wound up butting heads with an Air Force that was more concerned, and rightly so, with national security and tamping down public hysteria than they were with honest scientific inquiry - at least conducted out of Wright-Patterson. I also believe that should the show continue into subsequent seasons, it will show the evolution that my mother underwent as well to become an important figure in UFOLOGY in her own right. As a loving and admiring son, I'm delighted that my father's decades of work trying to answer one of the most important questions ever to face mankind are once again getting their just due.
Hynek’s family is participating in the project, and if they are cool with the way he’s portrayed, then how am I to be outraged by it. While there are other problems with the show, and I don’t know how many people bother with following up to learn the truth about the incidents presented, Paul Hynek, believes they are making a sincere effort to get the real information out to the public.

I will admit here that I am ambivalent about all this. I see the show as just that. A show. Just like any other scripted series on television, though one that is attached to the real world. I see that they have worked hard to recreate the world of more than half a century ago, and they seemed to have captured the flavor of the times. I do wish they wouldn’t bring in the nonsense of MJ-12 and the MIB, but then this is a television show and you must have some conflict or you end up with, well, I wanted to say Seinfeld, but that certainly worked for a decade or so.

I say again that I am disappointed in the direction it is taking but I say that as one who has been immersed in the UFO field for a very long time. I’m disappointed by the way the military is shown, but only because they don’t understand military customs, something they could have fixed with consultant who had actually served as an officer.

On the other hand, I do enjoy the show and I just can’t help it. I guess I’m able to separate the program from UFO research. They do make it clear that the stories as they tell them are not the reports as they were actually received. As I say, I’m ambivalent at this point… I just don’t know if I should be outraged or entertained… at the moment, I’m opting for entertained.

As a final thought. This from Paul Hynek. “If my Dad were still around, I can imagine him putting on his slippers, cooking some popcorn, sitting in his comfy chair and watching the show, having a grand old time.”

X-Zone Broadcast Network - James Carrion

In a two-hour special edition of the radio version of A Different Perspective, I talked with James Carrion, author of The Roswell Deception. This is the theory that the “Saucer Summer of 1947,” as he calls it, was a deception created by American military forces as a way of convincing the Soviets that we had a spectacular aircraft that could deliver atomic weapons deep into the Soviet Union. You can listen to the first hour of the discussion here:

And the second hour here:

In the course of the discussion, we covered the events at Maury Island, a well-known hoax that Carrion believed to be part of the deception, the Arnold sighting, a key component of the deception, and the Roswell crash, which was designed to
James Carrion. Photo
copyright by Kevin Randle.
keep flying saucers in the public arena. We might have gotten a little deep into the weeds on some of this, but I believe the information is interesting.

One thing I do want to say is that Carrion’s comments about a fellow named David Johnson are quite interesting and put Arnold’s involvement in the beginning of the US saucers sightings into, dare I say it, a different perspective. As you listen to the program, or as you read the book, look and listen for his name to appear…

And if you need to understand the Roswell case in greater detail, take a look at Roswell in the 21st Century. I believe I distilled all that has come and gone about Roswell in the book, and it provides the best look at what happened there. As they say, “A little self-promotion never hurts.”

I won’t go into great detail here simply because you can listen to the whole discussion yourself. I believe his aerial deception to be an interesting theory but fails because of a lack of supporting documentation that outlines and confirms the deception. Carrion’s book, however, provides loads of circumstantial evidence, biographies of some of the key players, and an insight into the paranoia that gripped the post-Second World War world. You can read the book, for free here:

For those interested, I will be posting a longer review of the book in the next few days. Before I posted it, I wanted the opportunity to raise some of the points with Carrion and to clarify some of the points that I didn’t fully understand. That should spark some interesting commentary.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

History's Project Blue Book

Back in the 1970s, Jack Webb of Dragnet fame created something he called Project UFO. It was based on the files of Project Blue Book and it was difficult to recognize the cases presented. The attitude of the program, if I remember it correctly, was to
Jack Webb
examine a case that might have been inexplicable and find a rational and reasonable answer before the hour expired. Although I was excited about the show, I was quickly disappointed in the final product. It reeked somewhat, again if I remember correctly, of a debunking operation.

This new incarnation, given the snappy tile of Project Blue Book, seems to be at the other end of the spectrum. It suggests a grand conspiracy that involves what most of us believe is the mythical MJ-12, Air Force officers who will go to about any length to prove a case has a terrestrial explanation and a hint of the Men in Black. In other words, it is filled with the paranoia of the UFO field and has very little to do with the reality of the situation as it was then or as it is now.

While it is suggested that it is based on the history of Project Blue Book, very little of what I saw was based on that. About the only things that were accurate were the names of some of the people such as Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Project Blue Book. Once beyond the superficial, we plunge headlong into the fantasy that has grown up around UFO investigation. In one scene, a general walks into an office that is reminiscent of Fox Mulder’s FBI office filled with photographs, newspaper clippings and drawings of alien creatures. Since this is the beginning of Hynek’s association with Blue Book (Project Sign actually), some of the material there is out of place. It shouldn’t show up for years.

And while I’m in a nitpicking mood, I’ll note that the military customs and courtesies are simply misunderstood. The civilian show runners and directors don’t understand saluting and get it wrong. You have an Air Force captain referring to Hynek as “Doc,” which seemed to be a little disrespectful. And the uniforms seemed to be a combination of Army and Air Force, meaning that elements of Army uniforms showed up on the Air Force uniforms. As I say, nitpicking.

The real trouble here is a suggestion that the stories are grounded in reality but I fear it is a reality driven by every paranoid rumor, half-truth and fantasy that has infected the UFO community since the 1940s. I just had a hard time getting beyond all of that. I was hoping for something that had a little more of a documentary atmosphere, not something that was invented for a story that has little to do with the history of Blue Book.

In other words, as Jack Webb had done decades ago, we have a show that is “based” on the truth, but that moves into fiction immediately. I was quickly disappointed again. However, this time, I recognized the case that began the tale
Lt. George Gorman on the left.
without having to have the producers tell what it was. The opening sequence and the investigation are wrapped around the October 1, 1948, sighting by Second Lieutenant George Gorman, an Air National Guard pilot, on a routine night flying mission near Fargo, North Dakota.

In the show, he buzzes a football stadium, climbs out and spots something, a glowing ball in the distance. He attempts to intercept, chases it, is apparently hit by it, and open fires on it. Once he lands, he is more than a little crazed by the events and for me, talks gibberish.  He is suffering from an acute case of PTSD and eventually ends up in the psycho ward before being given a shot and dragged off. Apparently, the shot will wipe out his short-term memory of the event.

Hynek is called in to investigate and walked over to where the plane is being examined. He is stopped by a military guard but Hynek gives him the facts of high-altitude radiation and then is allowed to not only examine the plane but to sit in the cockpit. The guard should be reprimanded because he didn’t know that Hynek was authorized to see the plane and shouldn’t have allowed him close to it. After the captain with Hynek told the guard that Hynek was authorized to examine anything he wanted should the guard allow him to pass.

But really, all of this is trivia. If you understand that this is a television drama and not a documentary, that they were not constrained by what really happened, and that they are creating situation to move the plot, then the show is enjoyable. Maybe I nitpick a little too much, but that’s half the fun for me. I am interested in where the show is going and how many elements that have nothing to do with Blue Book will be brought in. I suspect they are going for an X-Files vibe as opposed to an actually historical vibe.

For those interested in the facts of this case, I have examined the relevant documents contained in the Blue Book files. Gorman was building his nighttime flight experience at the time. As the program told us, Gorman did, in fact, fly over a football stadium but at 1500 feet, as FAA regulations required. Gorman did see a smaller aircraft about 500 feet below him. (We would later learn that it was flown by Dr. L. N. Cannon with his friend Einar Neilson thought the names are redacted in the actual files.) He then spotted another object that was flying between the Hector Airport Tower and the football field. The tower operator told Gorman that there was only one other private aircraft in the sky. Gorman said that he was going to give chase. Gorman later told the Air Force investigators:

After the initial peel off, I realized the speed of the object was too great to catch in a straight chase, so I proceeded to cut it off in turns. At this time my fighter was under full power. My speed varying between 300 and 400. The object circled to the left, I cut back to the right for a head-on pass. The pass was made at apparently 5000 feet, the object approaching head-on until a collision seemed inevitable. The object veered and passed apparently 500 feet or less over the top above me. I chandelled [a flight maneuver] around still without the object in sight. The object made a 180 degree turn and initiated a pass at me. This time I watched it approach all the way as it started to pull up, I pulled up abruptly trying to ram the object until straight up with me following at apparently 14,000 feet, I stalled out at 14,000 feet with the object apparently 2000 feet above me circling to the left. We made two circles to the left. The object then pulled out away from me and made another head-on pass. At this time the pass started and the object broke off a large distance from me heading over Hector Airport to the northwest at apparently 11,000 feet. I gave a chase circling to the left trying to cut it off until I was 25 miles southeast of Fargo. I was at 14,000 feet, the object at 11,000 when I again gave the aircraft full power… to catch it in a diving turn. The object turned around and made another head-on pass. This time when pulling up, I pulled up also and observed it traveling straight up until I lost it. I then returned to the field and landed.
Although the program suggested that Gorman had fired on the object and that his aircraft had been damaged by it, there is nothing in the Blue Book files to corroborate that. This is artistic license, I suppose, but it is important to note that this was an aspect added to the story.

Gorman did say, “I am convinced that there was definite thought behind its maneuvers.” He added:

I am further convinced that the object was governed by the laws of inertia because its acceleration was rapid but not immediate and although it was able to turn fairly tight at considerable speed, it still followed a natural curve. When I attempted to turn with the object I blacked out temporarily due to excessive speed… I do not believe thee are many pilots who could withstand the turn and speed effected by the object, and remain conscious.
There were other witnesses, though they didn’t support all of the statements made by Gorman. One of those was Dr. Cannon and he provided a statement for Air Force investigators. It said:

I was flying and Nielson was using the phone and while circling the Football Field at the A.C. at 1600 feet, the Fargo tower advised us there was a [F]-51 in the air and a few moments later asked who the third plane might be. We had noticed the 51, and when we were over the North side of Hector Field going West a light seemingly on a plane flared above and to the North moving very swiftly toward the West. At first we thought it was the 51 but we then saw the lights of the 51 higher and more over the field. We landed… and then went up to the tower and listened to the calls from the 51 which seemed to be trying to overtake the plane or lighted object which then went southward and over the city. The plane was moving very swiftly, much faster than the 51. Tried to get a better view with a pair of binoculars but couldn’t follow it well enough…
In the tower, L. D. Jensen, said that he had seen the object or light at about 1000 feet in the northwest, pass rapidly over the field, flying in a straight line. He could see no form or shape, even through binoculars, and he could not see the maneuvers of either the F-51 or the object.

Officers from Project Sign, the forerunner of Blue Book, arrived from Ohio and interviewed all the witnesses. Eventually, after an investigation that included testing Gorman’s aircraft for radiation [which might have had more to do with the altitude and cosmic radiation rather than alien spacecraft], they concluded that Gorman had engaged in a dogfight with a balloon. Dr. Donald Menzel believed that Jupiter had a role in the dogfight as well. The official answer in the Blue Book files is balloon.

Jerry Clark, who is one of the historians of the UFO field, and who might be THE historian of the field, wrote in his UFO Encyclopedia:

Though some knowledgeable students of the UFO phenomenon… have rejected such an explanation for this famous sighting, unlike some Air Force would-be solutions this one seems plausible, particularly in the light of the failure of ground witnesses to confirm the extraordinary performance Gorman ascribed to the object he was pursuing After the Mantell incident [in which another Air Guard pilot was killed chasing what turned out to be a balloon], the Gorman sighting may be the most overrated UFO report in the early history of the phenomenon.
I will note here that Clark is more liberal than I when it comes to UFO sightings and explanations, so his conclusion here carries extra weight. I agree with him. Gorman somehow tangled with a balloon.

There is one final point and that concerns the over reaction of the pilot in, dare I say it, the pilot of Project Blue Book. There is no evidence Gorman was completely freaked out over the encounter. True, he had trouble landing the aircraft, but that was the reaction of the encounter. It was not a long-term problem. He remained in the Air Guard and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1969.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Curse of Oak Island - In the Year 2019

Yes, I know that I haven’t written much about the new season of Curse of Oak Island… probably because there isn’t much that is new. They are still chasing that iron cross they believe was created and then dropped by the Knights Templar. Sure, they have an analysis that suggests it was made from iron mined in the Middle Ages but that doesn’t mean that it was dropped on Oak Island at that time.

We have them using seismic detonations to determine what is hidden below the surface of the island. They found a void that seemed to be in the place that a deeply buried underground vault had been located by earlier researchers. Turned out that it was a place filled with sand as opposed to the harder ground around it. There was no vault there.

They’ve installed a coffer dam so that they can dig up a beach looking for proof of the booby trap system created to protect their nonexistent (yes, I said it) treasure. The beach may, in fact, be something of an artificial construct but I think it was to facilitate the repair of British ships in the 18th century and not a clever way to protect a treasure.

Of course, we see that the metallic wall erected to protect the beach is now leaking… not badly, but leaking none-the-less. When the Laginas called the company that erected it, it seemed that their solution was some sort of silicon gel that the Laginas had to apply. I’m wondering why the company didn’t want to get it right the first time, especially when the problem was being broadcast to what is basically an international audience.

I could go on in this vein, but what’s the point. The problems might be new but the solutions are the same. They might be finding more “treasure” on the surface of the island, but it is more like the debris you would find in any area that had been inhabited for hundreds of years. Random losses and not some kind of hidden wealth.

As I have said, I have been interested in Oak Island for decades. I first learned about it in a book I bought in the 1960s. I have followed the expeditions and commentary on it in other books, in magazine articles and television documentaries. I applaud the Laginas for their attempts to find the treasure, but when you bring in a rock that has been squared and used in a leather tanning
Joy Steele... Oak Island Researcher.
process that smoothed it out, only to claim this is THE stone tablet found centuries ago, I lose my patience. Are we really to believe that this stone, that has no writing on it, once held the clue that treasure was hidden below?

I had hoped they would find treasure. I believe they have solved the mystery. The answer does not involve treasure but a very different history that has been exploited for profit for a couple of hundred years. I think Joy Steele is closer to the answer than a claim of pirate treasure. I don’t think the Knights Templar were involved. I think it was a repair facility created in the 18th century. I’m sorry to say that because I really would have rather seen a huge treasure found, even if I don’t get any of it. That would be exciting. Instead we have Al Capone’s Vault (don’t get the reference? Google it.)

Monday, December 31, 2018

James Carrion, The Roswell Deception and the Press Release

This is a different post than I had planned. After reading James Carrion’s The Roswell Deception, I was planning to do a short article about one tiny aspect of it. It was something that seemed to undermine his premise, but as I was searching for additional information, the tone changed and I made a discovery or two that I thought important.

James Carrion. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle
To bring everyone up to speed on this, let me say, “This isn’t a review of The Roswell Deception. It is an analysis of a single statement that seems to be at odds with the facts, but it is an important discrepancy.”

For those who haven’t read the book, Carrion proposes that the flying saucer craze of 1947 including the crash of something near Roswell was a grand deception. It had two purposes. One was to convince the Soviets that we, meaning the United States, had an airplane that was far superior than anything the Soviets had. Military strategists had learned during the Second World War that control of the air was an important part of winning the war on the ground.

The second was to either expose Soviet spies in the United States, or to gather through the use of deception, information that would help break the codes that the Soviet Union was using. In time of war, not to mention during time of peace, being aware of the other side’s strengths, weaknesses and worries would help in any sort of negotiations. Knowing the enemy’s goals in advance would help to blunt them and, by extension, improve our position in the world.

These were the reasons for creating the aerial deceptions and the activities designed to keep it going. Carrion believed that the Roswell crash, and more importantly, the stories around it were necessary for the deception.

With that in mind, he wrote, “Lieutenant Warren Haught [Walter Haut… I don’t know why he couldn’t get the name right] delivered two entirely different press releases to the local Associated and United Press outlets – a purposeful decision that will make sense later in the story.”

The most obvious problem is the assertion that there were two different press releases and that it was purposeful. There is no evidence to support the idea that there was any sort of purposeful decision here. The evidence suggests otherwise and here’s why.

Simply, I have found more than two versions of the press release. There was one version that appeared on the United Press wire service, one that appeared on the Associated Press service, and still another version that appeared in The Roswell Daily Record. Many of the newspapers printed their own versions, rewritten by their reporters or editors to fit their formats and style.

For those interested, George Walsh of radio station KSWS was the first to get his version of the press release on the AP news wire at 2:26 p.m. (MST). It said:

The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chavez County.
The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office.
Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.
Frank Joyce, at radio station KGFL, followed about fifteen minutes later with the United Press version. It said:

KGFL Radio Station in the late 1940s.
The Intelligence office reports that it gained possession of the “Dis:” [sic] through the cooperation of a Roswell rancher and Sheriff George Wilson [sic] of Roswell.
The disc landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher, whose name has not yet been obtained, stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the Roswell sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office notified a major of the 509th Intelligence Office.
Action was taken immediately and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home and taken to the Roswell Air Base. Following examination, the disc was flown by intelligence officers in a superfortress (B-29) to an undisclosed “Higher Headquarters.”
The air base has refused to give details of construction of the disc or its appearance.
Residents near the ranch on which the disc was found reported seeing a strange blue light several days ago about three o’clock in the morning.
The last of the versions was published by the Roswell Daily Record. It is different than the other versions. It said:

The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.
According to information released by the department, over the authority of Maj. J. A. Marcel, intelligence officer, the disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had notified Sheriff Geo. Wilcox, here, that he had found the instrument on his premises.
Major Marcel and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk, it was stated.
After the intelligence office here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquarters.
The intelligence office stated that no details of the saucer’s construction or its appearance had been revealed.
Articles in other newspapers, especially those on the west coast, offered variations of the press releases. The Oroville, California Mercury-Register, for example, reported, “Possession of a ‘flying disc’ was disclosed today by the intelligence office of the 509th bomb group of the Roswell army airbase.”

Walter Haut. Photo copyright
by Kevin Randle.
An analysis from all these sources show that the same information is the basis for all of them, but there are subtle differences. This happened, I believe, because Walter Haut phoned it in, so to speak. Haut told me, as he had many others, that he wasn’t sure if he had hand carried the press release to the four media outlets in Roswell or if he telephoned each of them and read it to them. That would account for the subtle differences, at least partially.

Art McQuiddy, who in 1947, was the editor of the Roswell’s Morning Dispatch told me (see UFO Crash at Roswell, pp. 70 – 71; Pflock, Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, p. 266), “I can remember quite a bit about what happened that day. It was about noon and Walter [Haut] brought in a press release… By the time Haut had gotten to me it hadn’t been ten minutes and the started ringing. I didn’t get off the hone until late afternoon.”

On the other hand, Karl Pflock in his book wrote (p. 244), “Among other things, they [teletype messages retained by Frank Joyce of the information communicated by the United Press] confirm Roswell AAF did not [emphasis in original] distribute a written press release on the Brazel discovery.”

Can we resolve this?

Yes. I think the answer is in the subtle differences found in each of the versions. Had Haut taken the press release into the various offices, then the content would be virtually the same. The big difference is with the version published in the Roswell Daily Record. It smacks of the local newspaper being familiar with the players, the locations, and the situation. Had they had a printed version of the
Roswell Daily Record. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
press release, their version would have followed those others with, of course, the local modifications.

There is another aspect of this. As I was looking for copies of both the AP and the UP versions, I was struck by a thought. I had been given, by Frank Joyce, copies of the wire service copy from 1947. There were Joyce’s notes written on it. I wondered, if in the early 1990s, after we’d talked to Joyce, and Moore had talked to Joyce, if maybe, Joyce had cobbled this together. He would have been familiar with the style of the news wires in 1947, he had moved from Roswell radio station, KGFL, up to Albuquerque’s KOB. He knew Haut and the boys in Roswell, so there was a possibility that he had been able to create something in coordination with Haut and the others that none of us would challenge.

And, more importantly, Joyce had told us, that is Don Schmitt and me, that within the days, possibly hours of the original press release, the military had come by KGFL and swept the office for any paper or evidence of the crash. Given that we were hearing about military attempts to suppress the information from a number of people, that just seemed to be a part of the larger picture.

It wasn’t until recently that I had another thought on this. If the military had searched the radio station, why hadn’t they taken the teletype messages that Joyce had saved. If he had hidden that material, why wasn’t the press release with it? And, why was the military even bothering with this? The story was out and the press release, maybe not verbatim, but close enough to the original had already been circulated so that it was of no importance. We knew, pretty much, what it said.

Given all this, I believe that we can conclude that Haut didn’t visit each place, but used the telephone. Art McQuiddy might believe that Haut visited him, but he would be wrong about that. When I interviewed Jud Roberts about running into the military cordon of the area, he told me that there had been a blue staff car parked by the side of the road. In July 1947, the staff cars would have been green, given this was the Army. It wasn’t until after the Air Force became a separate service that the staff cars would have been painted blue. Was Roberts lying? No, he had just spent decades looking at Air Force blue cars. The point is that he might have actually remembered the staff car by the side of the road, but in his mind it was blue.

We can conclude, then, based on the evidence, based on Walter Haut’s vague memory, and the information printed in the newspapers, that there might have been a written press release that Haut read to the media sources over the telephone. However, if he was working from notes rather than a completed release, then we can see that there would have been other, subtle differences interjected in the press release.

As for the original reason to begin this rather esoteric look at that one paragraph that Carrion wrote, we conclude that Carrion was wrong as well. There weren’t two different press releases issued as a way of exposing Soviet spies or as a means of cracking Soviet codes. There was a single press release, delivered over the telephone that created the differences. And from that point, the newspapers updated, edited, and added to the press release meaning that there weren’t two versions, but many. On this point, Carrion’s theory about two press releases, fails.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Jefferson Airship - A Brief Update

For those who have been wondering, yes, I chose the name for the articles, “Jefferson Airship,” because the 1960s band, Jefferson Airplane which became Jefferson Starship and the just Starship. What would you have called a story
Jefferson Herald and the
Airship Crash, 2018
about the Great Airship crashing near Jefferson, Iowa? Just seemed to make sense to me.

Andrew McGinn, the editor of the Jefferson Herald, which had been the Jefferson Bee, supplied a little additional information. He wrote:

Just thought you'd like to know that, while letters to the editor attributed to "George Washington" and "Truthful James" scream FAKE NEWS, one name in the main report, Mahlon Head, was very much a real resident of Jefferson at the time. In fact, he would be considered a city father. Maybe THE city father, in fact. The ship was said to have crashed in his "celery patch."
It makes me wonder if he was in on the hoax or was aghast at his name being used.
Mahlon served multiple terms in the Iowa Legislature. His brother Albert was at one time Speaker of the Iowa House.
Reading the stories and letters as a whole, it's so clearly a hoax. Those letters, in particular, are just too crazy. The Aurora story was just bare-bones enough, I think, to fuel curiosity and create a legend. Plus, in Aurora, they supposedly were able to bury a body!
The next step would be to check the Waterloo newspaper to see if any of the men involved with that hoax are identified. After more than 120 years, drawing a connection between them and the people in Jefferson is probably going to be nearly impossible. Since we know that both “sightings” are hoaxes, it is more about curiosity than it is with UFO investigation. Sometimes, when you learn a lead isn’t working or a story is faked, there is little reason to continue the research.

Still, it is an interesting challenge and I’ll see what I can learn.

PS: Yes, I just said the name of the real guy out loud...

Just so you don't think that I swallowed this without looking it up, having said the name out loud... this from an official Iowa government website. It just proves that some names are laugh out loud funny but belong to real people... though I have never found anyone actually named Moses Lahn (yes, read that out loud).

Oh, and I'm informed that it is pronounced May Lon rather than Mellon... still, pretty funny.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Jefferson Airship vs. Aurora Crash

As I was working on the articles about the Jefferson Airship crash, I wondered what was the difference between that event and the Aurora, Texas, crash. Both were reported in the newspaper which was supposed to add some credibility to the stories. But Aurora has been splashed all over the media since the 1960s including documentaries, magazine articles and mentions in books, and even a movie about the disaster. Jefferson is rarely mentioned and often relegated to a mere couple of sentences in obscure books or buried in the detail of more popular ones.

Aurora, Texas. Photo only important to show that I was
there. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
Here’s the thing. I have found more evidence for the Jefferson crash than for the Aurora crash. True, I interviewed several people who had lived in Aurora and Wise County, Texas, in 1897 but know of none who are alive today who would have seen the Jefferson crash. I was in Aurora, Texas, in the early 1970s, but knew virtually nothing about the Jefferson event until the last few days.

Now, we have great detail about Jefferson, Iowa. We have good descriptions of the craft, we have letters to the newspaper that describe the crash, and we even have illustrations that match those descriptions. For Aurora, we have none of that, other than the original newspaper article. There is no follow up on it, the descriptions are vague and the debris that had apparently been scattered all over the streets of Aurora has vanished into thin air.

If we are to look just at the documentation from 1897, then the Jefferson crash is the better tale. Again, I point to the letters printed in the newspaper written by witnesses who were there. In Aurora there is no such documentation. That, of course, gives the nod to Jefferson.

Even more important is the illustration that appeared in the Cedar Rapids newspaper three days later. It does set up something of a conundrum. How was
The airship from the Cedar Rapids Gazette and
as description in the Jefferson Bee.
the letter writer able to describe the object days before the illustration appeared? It is a match and suggests a bit of reality… or a level of coordination between the writer of the letter and those who were talking about the landed craft in Waterloo.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are two books written about the history of Wise County, Texas, within a decade of the crash. Neither of those books mentions the Aurora crash, which, given the timing of it, should have had a prominent place in both those books. That it was not even mentioned is suggestive of a hoax rather than a real event.

I could mention that we do have names of real people in the Aurora case. T.J. Weems, however, was not a signal corps officer as reported but was the local blacksmith. That certainly does nothing for the veracity of the tale. Others who were identified turned out not to be what they were said to have been.

The names associated with the Jefferson crash are not identifiable as real people living in the area. George Washington was mentioned, but I thought this had more to do with Washington’s reputation for truthfulness than it did the name of the person who wrote the letter. George could not tell a lie, but it seemed the letter was full of them. Sort of ironic, I would say. In fact, that seems to be the very definition of irony.

Both events suggest that there was wreckage. In Jefferson, it was at the bottom of a huge crater created by the crash. In Aurora, the debris was dumped down a well, which is a good way to get rid of it, although not a very smart way. Searches of the well have produced no evidence that could be confirmed as having come from an advanced technology.

The real point here, however, is that there are many more details from the Jefferson crash than there are from Aurora. Had Jefferson been found by researchers in the 1960s, we might have seen all those documentaries, magazine articles, books, and the film made about Jefferson rather than Aurora. The Jefferson story is much more interesting.

In the 21st century, none of that is important. We know, today, that the Jefferson tale is a hoax, and the letters were written by people who might have been inspired by the newspaper… or the original article was inspired by those letters, which in turn, were inspired by the tales of the Great Airship. In fact, it seems that several tales from Iowa were linked and that might have given a note of credibility to the Jefferson story had we not already found those tales from Cedar Rapids and Waterloo to be hoaxes. That tales are all linked is important and everything resulting from that linkage collapses under dispassionate scrutiny.

I have said for decades that the Aurora crash is a hoax. Most accept that once they examine the evidence or the lack thereof. True, there are some hardcore believers, but for them, all the evidence of a hoax is just a CIA or Air Force plot to keep the truth hidden. In the case of these two crashes, the only truth is that sometimes newspapers get caught up in the moment. Sometimes their reporting is more with tongue in cheek than in the reality of a situation. And, sometimes, they just want to have some fun

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Jefferson Airship - The Follow Up

There was some follow up to the Jefferson airship crash. The crash happened on Saturday night, April 10, but was not reported in the newspaper until April 15. If it was a real event, with most of the town aware of it, then the following letters to the editor would have had a chance to make their way to the newspaper office for publication on Thursday. That seems to be the case because there were more descriptions of the craft. One of them, dated April 12, is particularly interesting. It said:

April 12, 1897.
EDITORS BEE —It may be a matter of some interest to your readers to know that some sort of a contrapshun (sic) lodged in a big ash tree two hundred yards from my home last night at about nine o'clock. For half an hour prior to that time we had seen a brilliant light in the southeast apparently approaching us at a rapid pace. Whether from lack of control or neglect I cannot say, but the thing struck the top of the tree, passed partially over and then settled down into the large limbs, the big fan-shaped wheel at the rear end having been clogged by the branches. This must be that blamed air ship so many people have seen. At all events it is a big long, pointed cylinder with a little square house on top and a lot of traps at the rear. Several things, rather larger than a man, having hall a dozen arms and legs each, have been working to fix the business up, but they have had poor success. The creatures, whenever they hail from, are very queer acting, having some sort of reversible head, no matter what their position their face is always to ward you. When I start up the tree they dive back into the iron cylinder. I am afraid the poor things will starve. Don't you think the county supervisors ought to attend to the matter. If any readers of Tin; BICE are inclined to doubt the truth of these statements, let them come down here and I will show them the tree. Success to THE BEE.
There are two points of importance in this letter. First, is the description of the crash in George Washington’s letter (isn’t that a clue to the veracity of the letter), matches the description of the airship that appeared in both the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Waterloo Courier on April 16.

The Airship as illustrated in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Second, in the original article (see the last post), one of the scenes of an airship sighting or landing mentioned, was Cedar Rapids, suggesting some sort of communication between the Gazette and the Bee. In a telegram printed in the Gazette on Friday, April 16, 1897, about the Waterloo landing, there was this information:

The airship has two cigar-shaped cylinders, canvas-covered, thirty-six feet long and seven feet in diameter at the largest part. It also has a screw propeller and fins along the sides. It is now being viewed y thousands. It lies on the river bank and there is no charge to see it. It is a most excellently executed fake.
The timing of all this is interesting. I give no importance to the date on the letter because we don’t have the original. The important date is on the newspaper, which is April 15. And the illustration of the airship, printed in the Gazette is dated April 17.

It seems, however, that the printing of the Jefferson Bee on April 15 corresponds to the landing in the early morning hours of the airship in Waterloo. The article in the Gazette, has a dateline in Waterloo of April 16, claiming that it had landed about four in the morning.

Given the timing here, it seems that there was some sort of coordination between “George Washington” in Rippey and those who constructed the fake airship in Waterloo. The idea had to surface in the area around Jefferson, Iowa. Rippey is just south of there.

Normally, this would seem to suggest that the two sightings were linked and therefore corroborated one another. The trouble is that the Waterloo landing was exposed as a hoax, and there is no evidence that the information in the Washington letter is valid. That it described the same object that was a hoax would suggest that the letter too, is a hoax.

But that wasn’t the only follow up for the Jefferson crash. There was another letter in the Jefferson newspaper that added some detail, or you might say, a different perspective. It said:

April 12,1897,
Special to THE BEE: — I have a 40-foot airship in custody. Ira feeding three beings of some sort. Notify sheriff and have him bring hundred feet of rubber rope. Sunday morning about four o'clock I arose to apply a hot-water bag to an aching tooth, and looking out of the window saw the dim outlines of a big cigarshaped affair gradually descending in a little piece of timber east of my house. As Boon as daylight came, with my sons and hired man I started for the spot. The ship had settled in a little clearing and was resting on four legs unfolding from the bottom of the ship. We had provided ourselves with ropes and an ax, a fortunate circumstance, for as soon as we came in view the operators attempted to start up and get away. A great fan or wheel at the rear revolved rapidly and the ship was moving ahead and upward, when I rushed up and dealt the fan a blow with the ax. This deranged the apparatus so the wheel ceased to move and the big cylinder again settled back upon its legs. We have tried to tie the ship down but every time we touch any part of it a severe shock is felt; that's why we want insulated rope. There are heavy plate windows in a square cupola on the top of the center and we have seen several persons through the glass. They appear to have two sided faces and four arms each. Haven't time to write any more send up a reporter. Enclosed subscription to THE BEE to Jan. 1,1898
So now, here was another story that seemed to be connected to the airship that landed in Waterloo. But instead of it just flying off into the night, we learn that the letter writer, “Truthful James,” has captured the airship. No, it was never seen, unlike the airship at Waterloo, which was, of course photographed as well. The point is that if “Truthful James” had an airship, we would have heard more about it.

Another writer to the newspaper made still another claim about the airship. This story is just as wild as the others.

April 13, '97
Special to THE BEE: Last night one of those pesky airships halted about two hundred feet above my house for an hour. Evidently it was a gay party, making the awfullest racket you ever heard anywhere; whooping and bellowing and shrieking, until in my grief I loaded up the musket with big slugs and blazed away at the black hull. Instantly the bawling ceased and I could hear a hissing sound like escaping steam. Shortly after several balls of fire shot out from the ship and I heard them strike the ground near me. Then the ship began to wobble and gradually descended, settling off to the north in the pasture. I lighted a lantern, and with my boy Justus went out to examine the beast. The ship was lying on its side, lights out and no sign of life on board. I sent the boy back for the gun and stationed him where he could perforate the ship in case any attempt was made during the night to patch up the leak and get away. Along about one o'clock a multi-legged and armed creature straddled out of the square tower, but the boy fired into the air and the creature scrambled back. This morning I dug up the balls discharged by the ship, and find thein about four inches in diameter and of a yellowish metal, and unaffected by acid. The airship appears to be made of some soft metal and is very ingeniously constructed. It will pay people to come miles to see It.
The Jefferson Bee now leads us to another tale of an airship crash. It seems that airships were falling all over that part of Iowa. This tale does, sort of, resemble the others.

April 12, 1897.
To THE BEE: — A very strange phenomenon is in operation on the Coon river north-east of this town. About nine o'clock Monday night, just as I was about to retire, there came a crash and jar upon the earth that knocked me against the cook stove. I thought It was an earthquake and sat up until 11 o'clock in readiness to flee if necessary, but there were no further disturbances and 1 went to bed. The following morning while driving the cattle to pasture, my son was amazed to see the river bed perfectly dry. Following the stream up to a point opposite the house the cause of the sudden stoppage of water was discovered. An immense round hole, thirty feet in diameter, appeared in the river bed and into this yawning chasm the water poured in a mighty torrent. No noise can be heard which indicates that the chasm is so deep that the sound is lost before it reaches the top. What is to be done about the matter no one knows. The stoppage of the water will work great hardship to farmers along the stream and the slimy river bed will breed malaria and fever. The only way I cannot account for the strange conditions is that an airship must have plunged into the river ad gone to the bowels of the earth. Great crowds are coming hourly to see the strange sight. Don't you think I could establish a fashionable watering place here.
[The above explains the situation at Adel. A dispatch appeared in Tuesday's dailies, dated Adel, saying that for some unaccountable reason the river at that point had fallen so that the mills cannot run. — EDITOR.]
We have now run the gamut of letters to the editor about the airship. I noticed, as I’m sure you have, that we don’t have a single name that we can vet. The names signed all suggest honesty and truthfulness, but you have to wonder why they couldn’t use their real names to underscore their honesty and truthfulness… if these letters were actually written by different individuals. Given the situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that all the authors either worked at the newspaper, knew the editor, were a single individual or were conspiring to keep the airship afloat.

But all might not be as it seems, and while the newspaper was having some fun with these stories, and might have sold a couple of newspapers, there is a hint that it just wasn’t true. In the final note, alluded to in the last post, it was said:

The airship editor of THE BEE IS sick and the regular editors have had to handle this matter as best they could, without that valuable technical knowledge of lying that would have enabled the making of a really highly-ornamented fake. But we have done the best we could, presented the main points and we believe the public will accept the will for the deed.
This seems to be a confession of sorts. They seem to acknowledge that there isn’t much in the way of evidence, and they suspect it is all a lie. You just have to read to the very end of the column to find that little bit of confession.

The only real question left is if the men who were found on the Waterloo fairgrounds with their airship were part of a larger conspiracy. Did they know what was going to be printed in the newspaper and take their inspiration from that or had they been working to create a plausible airship (one that wouldn’t fly, by the way), and drag it to the fairgrounds for all to see after alerting some of the local newspapers. The ship, from the photograph, doesn’t seem to be something that could have been thrown together in a couple of hours. It took some planning… and since the description of it appeared in the Jefferson Bee before it reached the fairgrounds in Waterloo, if only by a couple of hours, that suggests that the letters “sent” to the newspaper, had been written prior to the airship arriving in Waterloo.

That is a mystery that we might not be able to unravel these 120 years plus since the Great Airship soared over the United States. Which came first, the faked airship or the letters about it. But then, it’s not really all that important because we know the truth about this aspect of the airship. It was a fake