Monday, July 16, 2018

Ed Ruppelt and Thomas Mantell

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Ed Ruppelt did us no favors. And as you all know, I have been reexamining the Mantell case and found a few problems in the way it has been reported in the past. I don’t think there is anything nefarious in those mistakes, it’s just that I have access to information that they might not have had. Donald Keyhoe didn’t have the case file or the accident report, but I do. Ed Ruppelt didn’t have access to information about the Skyhooks, and I don’t know how good his weather data were, but I have information for both of those.

Ruppelt thought that the Navy Skyhook might solve the mystery of what Thomas Mantell had chased back in January 1948. He thought that a balloon launched from the Clinton County Air Force Base (Wilmington, Ohio) on the morning of January 7 might have drifted far enough south to be the culprit. He wrote:

The group who supervise the contracts for all the skyhook research flights for the Air Force are located at Wright Field, so I called them. They had no records on flights in 1948 but they did think that the big balloons were being launched from Clinton County AFB in southern Ohio at that time. They offered to get the records of the winds on January 7 and see what flight path a balloon launched in southwestern Ohio would have taken…
He also admitted that he couldn’t prove it, but thought it was a good explanation for the Mantell case. He also wrote:
Somewhere in the archives of the Air Force or the Navy there are records that will show whether or not a balloon was launched from Clinton County AFB, on January 7, 1948. I never could find those records. People who were working with the early skyhook projects “remember” operating out of Clinton County AFB in 1947 but refuse to be pinned down to a January 7 flight. Maybe they said.
Sightings reported on January 7, 1948 through the center
of Kentucky. None of these sightings were made or
verified by the Godman AAF tower crew.
When you line up the sightings in central Kentucky with the launch site in south central Ohio, it certainly does suggest a Skyhook launched from there could have easily been over central Kentucky at the right time. Sure, the times are a little problematic, but there are reasonable explanations for that. It seems to work out and a large number of people bought the solution, even if the precise evidence wasn’t there.
The trouble is that we now know that the Skyhooks weren’t being launched from Clinton County AFB until a couple of years later. And we have the winds data from that location as well. Though Ruppelt seemed to believe that the wind was blowing from the northeast, the weather data shows that it was coming from the west. Ruppelt’s explanation fails on those two points. Besides, the tower crew at Godman Army Air Field all reported the object was to the southwest of them. Although alerted to a possible object to the east, over Lexington, Kentucky, they never saw anything in that direction. Other law enforcement agencies told them of the object to the southwest of them, the one they tracked.
Weather data in Lexington, Kentucky on January 7, 1948 showing that the winds were from the southwest
and the west southwest, suggesting a balloon in that area would have been moving in a direction opposite of what
Ruppelt had predicted.

For those paying attention, this simply means that Mantell did not chase a Skyhook launched from Clinton County. The source of the balloon was actually in Minnesota, but we’ll deal with that in another post.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Finding the Ruth Barnett Diary

I recently posted that we had been looking for any documents, diaries, journals, personal letters or anything else from July 1947 that mentioned the Roswell case without luck. That wasn’t exactly the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This doesn’t relate directly to Roswell, but it had been attached to the information about it for decades.

Barney Barnett claimed to have seen a crashed flying saucer on the Plains of San Agustin. There are those who believe that this happened in July 1947 and the wrecked craft had collided with the one that fell on the Foster (Brazel) ranch. I don’t subscribe to that theory and believe the evidence for it is weak at best and more likely nonexistent. But, as I say, that’s my opinion.

Magdalena Ranger Station at the edge of the Plains of
San Agustin. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
As we, and by we, I mean Don Schmitt and I investigated the Roswell case, we were also interested in what Barney Barnett had said. I had been in touch with Alice Knight, the niece of Ruth and Barney Barnett. I asked, as had others, if there were any written documents that related to what Barney had claimed to have seen. The answer had always been, “No.”

Then, one day, a couple of decades ago, as I talked with her, the answer changed to, “I found a diary for 1947.”

This was a “Daily Reminder” book that someone had given to Ruth Barnett. She kept is faithfully for the year of 1947. And for the dates of the crash (and I mean dates because there have been a number of them offer) it seems that Barney was in no position to see anything out on the Plains. He was in Socorro on those days, including July 5, the date that Gerald Anderson claimed he had seen Barney on the Plains.

The point is the diary, however. We know where Barney was and what he was doing. During that first week in July, there is no hint that Barney had seen anything extraordinary. That sort of documentation, from the right time, is difficult to ignore.

Oh sure, the answer is that Barney had been sworn to secrecy and, of course, didn’t say a word about it to Ruth. She wouldn’t know anything about the crash and therefore couldn’t have written anything about it in her diary.

But, there is another aspect to this. According to family and friends, Barney told them about the crash at a Thanksgiving dinner in 1947. That means the secret was out and Barney felt comfortable enough to talk about it to family. But, again, the diary holds no information about this event either.

I think everyone sees the problem. We find a document written in 1947 by someone who might not have seen the crash but whose husband did. She didn’t mention it in her diary. Not when it happened and not when he told her, other members of the family and friends about it. This, I believe, argues forcibly against a crash on the Plains in July 1947. We find a document, and there is absolutely no hint about flying saucers or crashes in it. Somehow, this bit of information is overlooked when we talk about the Plains… It should be one of the first things mentioned.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Jesse Marcel's Journal

Jesse Marcel, Sr.
As you all know, one of the problems with the Roswell case is that we have been unable to find any letters, diaries, journals, or notes that were written in 1947 that would tell us about the crash. There have been hints about this, but to this point, none of those hints produced anything that is conclusive. Inez Wilcox, wife of the Roswell sheriff, had written a story about her “four years in the county jail,” talking about what it was like to be the wife of the sheriff. Although the original article contained nothing about the crash, she added a page later that talked about that. Unfortunately, the document was undated, so didn’t help us at all. She could have written her story sometime after 1978 when Jesse Marcel, Sr. told Stan Friedman and Len Stringfield about picking up pieces of a flying saucer in New Mexico.

Jesse Marcel, Sr. Photo
copyright by Kevin
Now I learn, through emails sent to me by several colleagues, that we might have some of those documents. Christina Stock reported in the Roswell Daily Record, that Marcel Sr. might just have left that sort of documentation. Jesse Marcel III, the grandson of Jesse Sr. and son of Jesse Sr., announced that they had found a “treasure trove” of documents relating to his grandfather’s military service, including a journal kept by the senior Marcel. If such a journal contains references to what he saw on the Brazel ranch that day in July 1947, and if it contains descriptions of the find, and if it makes any reference to alien beings, that would be huge. Here would be a document that contains information written in 1947 while still fresh in the mind and that would not be contaminated by everything that followed when the Roswell case exploded into the mainstream in the late 1970s.

As I say, this could be the sort of documentation that we all have been waiting for. True, it’s not something official from the US government, but it would be something written in the proper time frame and that would make it a very important document. The lack of any thing like that, written at the time in the form of letters, diaries or journals, has always been a worry for all of us. If this pans out, it might be the key to unlocking the mystery.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Donald Keyhoe and Thomas Mantell

For reasons that will become clear later, meaning in the future and not in this post, I have been reviewing some of the Mantell case. I won’t bother telling you that it involved Thomas Mantell who died while chasing an unidentified object. What I want to mention are two things, both relevant to understanding the case, but that have gotten buried in the minutia of the sighting.

Donald Keyhoe
Donald Keyhoe, when he was writing about the case in his book, The Flying Saucers Are Real, thought the balloon explanation was wrong. He wrote, “To fly the 90 miles from Madisonville to Fort Knox in 30 minutes, a balloon would have required a wind of 180 m.p.h. After traveling at this hurricane speed, it would have to come to a dead stop above Godman Field.”

Keyhoe, who didn’t have access to the official file on the case as I do now, made two assumptions that were incorrect. The first was that the object would have had to travel 90 miles in 30 minutes. That was assuming that the object wasn’t seen to the northeast of Madisonville and to the southwest of Godman. This is actually the case. The time calculation is flawed based on his assumptions.

The other problem is that the object was never over Godman Field. Looking at the case file, those at Godman who reported the object were looking to the southwest. Since the object was never over the field, his calculation of the distances are equally flawed.

The record shows that none of those with Mantell saw the object when first asked to intercept it. They had to be directed toward it by those in the Godman Tower until Mantell spotted it in front of him and at a higher altitude.

The point here, which is sort of about chasing footnotes, is that many have used Keyhoe as a primary source. The flaw there is that Keyhoe’s information came, not from the documentation and the investigation, but from his sources inside the Pentagon. While he did get many facts correct about UFOs and the investigation of them, he did not have access to the documents in the Mantell case. Had he had those, he would have known the truth about the distances. This is why I chase footnotes and try to get to the original source. There will be a part two on this, because it is clear that the official file is in error as well.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Curse of Oak Island - Season Six Guesses

As I was sitting around, waiting for summer to officially begin in a couple of hours, I realized that the Lagina boys would be back at Oak Island if there was really a plan for Season Six. I had noticed, at the end of Season Five, as they sat around in their war room, that Dan Blankenship didn’t seem to be too enthusiastic for another assault on the island and said that it wasn’t his money to spend. They also had laid out all the treasure they have found over the five seasons that looked somewhat impressive until you realized that most of it had been found on the surface and not buried deep in the ground. Some of it was completely irrelevant. In those five seasons they hadn’t found much of anything to support the idea of a treasure on the island.

I had said that Season Six might not happen because it seems they had exhausted nearly every possibility of a treasure and without some positive results, they might just chuck it in… unless, of course, the ratings suggested something else. High ratings might be producing a bit of a treasure for those involved with the show.Anyway, I queried a friend in Nova Scotia and asked him if History and the Laginas had returned to Oak Island because, if they were going to return, they should be there by now. Remember, last year they showed up in May and here we are in the middle of June. He told me, “I believe they’re gearing up for yet another season, although I haven’t seen any recent funding announcement from the government.”

I also learned that The Curse of Oak Island is History’s Number One program and that it is the top cable program in its Tuesday night time slot. I know that I was there each week, yelling at the TV because I couldn’t believe the conclusions there were drawing on the material they were finding. But even with those negatives, meaning not actually finding anything of value, the ratings would dictate another season and that seems to be a good guess now. There will be a new season.

Excavations at the Money Pit.
But remember the hype from the beginning of Season Five. They “found” the actual “money pit,” which meant they thought they had located the original hole, though it was hinted at something better and more exciting. And, each week we were left with something of a cliff hanger as they teased about important discoveries to be revealed later. For me, when the season ended, I was disappointed because they had not found the pot of gold (or vault full of gold, or whatever) but just some trinkets close to the surface that in and of themselves weren’t really valuable.

So now, maybe they’ll build that great coffer dam to find out what secrets are hidden on the beach that had been created with the coconut husks and that supposedly contained the drains that booby trapped the Money Pit. Maybe they’ll find the rest of the human bones that suggest two people had died on the island in the late 17th century. I don’t know what they really expect to find, other than high ratings and sponsor’s cash.

Yes, I’ll be watching each week and I expect to be disappointed each week, but on the bright side, I think they are solving the mystery of Oak Island. It’s just not the answer they had wanted.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Levelland Sightings and the Condon Committee

I had always wondered why the Condon Committee, that University of Colorado study of UFOs financed by the Air Force, which is to say us, never bothered looking into the Levelland UFO sightings of November 1957. In their final report there is a single mention of Levelland in which they report, “Magnetic mapping of automobiles involved in particularly puzzling UFO reports of past years, such as the November 1957 incidents in Levelland, Texas, would have been
The Levelland sign. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
most desirable, but the cars were no longer available.”

An interesting idea and the scientists working with Condon had pointed out that the manufacture of the cars’ steel components such as hoods and doors would have created a magnetic signature. Even if the cars involved in the incidents had not been mapped prior to the sighting, those manufactured at the same time, at the same place, would have a magnetic signature that matched those from the UFO event. It meant that the magnetic signature of all the cars were similar and any major deviation would have been significant.

They did follow up on this, after a fashion. They reported that two of their investigators, Fred Hooven and David Moyer (actually part of the Ford Motor Company) investigated a case (Case No. 12 in the official report) from the winter of 1967, in which a woman said that a lighted UFO hovered over her car for several miles and that it interfered with the electrical functions of her car. Hooven and Moyer said that an examination of the car some two months later found all the electrical systems working as they should and that they discovered no magnetic anomalies when the magnetically mapped the automobile.

I will note here that it seemed a real effort was made to investigate the case including extensive examination of the car by Ford engineers. What they found was a car in poor repair with a radio antenna that was broken so that it only picked up the local stations, a fan belt that was loose so that it was not charging properly, that the speedometer had been broken, repaired and apparently broken again so that there were speed functions on the dashboard display and that oil gauge was malfunctioning because of leakage in the electrical system. In other words, it seemed that everything the witness had reported about car trouble was related to the car itself and not some sort of outside influence such as the hovering UFO.

They, that is Hooven and Moyer, reported that she seemed to be a nice woman who was not prone to hysteria and who was competent, meaning I suppose, that she was intelligent and wasn’t mentally ill in some way. However, they noted that her memories of the UFO incident were not without problems including that she remembered a bright, full moon when it was actually in its last quarter and that though she claimed to have seen the UFO in her rearview mirror, the configuration of the car and the placement of the mirror meant that the UFO couldn’t have been seen in the way she described.

There was a second case (No. 39) from the fall of 1967 and in a location noted as the South Pacific, that had somewhat similar results. Again, the Condon Committee doesn’t supply the name of the witness, only that he was a businessman who said that his car had been stopped by a UFO sometime between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. The lights failed and the radio went dead. He also reported that he felt something pressing down on his head and shoulders. Through a break in the fog, he saw a UFO that passed over his car and stopped, hovering over the highway. He thought it was about thirty feet in diameter, red-orange, saucer shaped but with a fuzzy outline. It had rotating lights and wobbled as it moved and hovered about 160 feet above the ground. He watched it for about a minute and a half, before it took off into the fog. When it was gone the radio came back on, the lights brightened and he was able to start his car. (Note here that he had to take an action. The car did not spontaneously restart.)

Once he had started the car, he drove to the nearest town in search of someone to talk to. He didn’t find any additional witnesses. Eventually the case made its way to NICAP. That investigation showed that the car’s clock had stopped at 3:46 a.m. and, according to the unnamed witness, the clock had been working perfectly prior to the sighting. Interestingly, they found that stereo tapes that had been in the car at the time of the sighting had lost some of their fidelity, especially in the lower ranges and that the rear window had some sort of distortion in the glass.

The Condon Committee investigation was carried out by Roy Craig, who recorded the interviews with the witness and gathered additional details. In this case they found a car of similar manufacture and engaged in a magnetic mapping of the hoods of both. There were a couple of points where the magnetic signature differed significantly but for the most part, the magnetic signatures of the two cars were similar.

What I found interesting is that Craig reported that the radio’s FM band no longer worked, though, according to the witness, it had been fine until the sighting. Five days after the sighting all that could be heard was a loud hum across the whole FM spectrum.

And, now, according to the witness, he was no long certain that the clock had been working in the days prior to the sighting. The clock stoppage might not have been relevant.

Craig was bothered by the witness’ vague description of the object and with the inconsistencies in his estimates of the size and distance as they were determined later by measurement. He was also worried that no one else had seen the object and that the car didn’t seem to show an exposure to a strong magnetic field. Craig wrote, “…car body did not show evidence of exposure to strong magnetic fields, a more detailed investigation of this event as a source related to electro-magnetic effect on automobiles did not seem warranted.”

These were the only cases of reported electromagnetic effects stalling cars but they did look into other aspects such as power outages caused by UFOs. In their research of several of these blackouts, they could not establish a causal relationship. In other words, the evidence didn’t support the idea that a UFO had been
Location of the first Levelland sighting.
Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
responsible for a blackout and I have to agree with that assessment.

The purpose here, however, was to try to understand why the Condon Committee seemed to ignore the Levelland case. It differed from those they did investigate because it had multiple, independent witnesses, and included law enforcement officers among those who had seen the object or the light.

The papers, documents, research, rough drafts and other material collected during the project were eventually sent to the American Philosophical Society Library. It turns out that they did make a study of the Levelland case though it seemed to have been based solely on the Project Blue Book files, what NICAP reported, and what was found in Dallas Times Herald newspaper.

Although there seemed to have been no original research, meaning they didn’t interview any of the witnesses and noted that the vehicles involved couldn’t be located (I have to wonder if this was just an excuse, though 10 years had passed and the effort to locate those vehicles would have been extremely difficult) they didn’t take their investigation any further. It amounted to a synopsis of the sources quoted, a short discussion on areas of further investigation that was only about related weather phenomena, especially ball lightning, which was the Air Force final conclusion, none of which made it into the final report.

At the end of the Condon Levelland report, there was a series of hypotheses suggesting solutions. This seems to have been taken almost directly from an Air Force document about the case. They simply did not bother to follow up on this case, though they noted its importance. There were multiple witnesses to the suppression of the electrical system made independently and there were multiple witnesses who reported an actual, physical object either close to the ground or sitting on the ground.

In the end, I’m unsure of the motives here. We know that Condon was instructed about the conclusions of his study prior the beginning of the work, and we know that he adhered to those instructions. We see evidence in other aspects of this research where solid leads were virtually ignored (Shag Harbour, though it could be argued that the Canadian case fell outside the scope of their project), and we see that sometimes they gave little more than lip service to the investigation. I had thought we’d find some more evidence of the committee ignored a solid case, but given the circumstances, it might just have been impossible for them to do more than they did with Levelland.

However, the Levelland case provided some interesting dynamics such as the craft interacting with the environment, multiple independent witnesses, and an opportunity for some scientific investigation. It suggested that they look a little deeper into this idea of electromagnetic interference, which they did, sort of. Instead, they found a way to ignore Levelland and move onto other aspects of their research. This was at best, a missed opportunity and at worst just another example of how not to actually conduct research.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MJ-12 and Cognitive Dissonance

In the world of the UFO, we frequently talk about cognitive dissonance, which is defined, simply as “the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or value.”

It means believing in two things that seem to mutually exclusive. We run into this, I believe, when we begin to talk about the Eisenhower Briefing Document (EBD) and the second crash of a UFO on the Texas – Mexico border in December 1950.

Simply put here, if the EBD is authentic, then the information contained in it must also be authentic. If a portion of that information can be shown to be fraudulent, then the credibility of the entire document collapses at that point.

Here’s where we are on this. According to the EBD, “On 06 December, 1950 a second object of similar origin, impacted the earth at high
Robert Willingham, the man
responsible for the fatal flaw.
speed in the El Indio – Guerrero area of the Texas – Mexican border after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere. By the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object had bee almost totally incinerated. Such material as could be recovered was transported to the A.E.C. facility at Sandia, New Mexico, for study.”

The problem here is that this tale was told by Robert Willingham who had claimed to have been a fighter pilot in the Air Force and had retired (or rather left the service) as a colonel. I have, in the past, on this blog, explained why it is clear that Willingham was neither a fighter pilot nor a colonel. Rather than go into all the reasons again, just refer the articles that can be found here:

Well, I think everyone gets the point. I have written about this on many occasions and believed that this should have driven a stake, not only through the heart of the Willingham tale but through the EBD as well. That one paragraph is based on a hoax that those on the inside who were allegedly writing the EBD would have known was a hoax. Please note that other, known hoaxes were not addressed, including the famous Aztec hoax (which I mention solely to create more havoc).

Here’s the point of this short piece. At the Roswell Festival (I don’t remember if it was in 2011 or 2012) Stan Friedman came up and said, “I think you’re probably right about Willingham but not about the Eisenhower Briefing Document.”

Cognitive dissonance. Two mutually exclusive beliefs. One that Willingham had been lying about the El Indio – Guerrero UFO crash but that the EBD was real.

Yes, I know the fall back position. The EBD is disinformation, containing some real information but also some that is faked. But given the context and everything else, that makes no sense and does very little to establish the validity of the EBD. All it does is call into question the whole of MJ-12 without actually damaging the idea of an alien craft at Roswell. The EBD is seen as just a poor attempt by UFO researchers to provide documentation of UFO crashes. It doesn’t prove that Roswell wasn’t alien, only that this document was fraudulent.

But what I don’t understand is how you can see that the Willingham tale is bogus and not question the entirety of the EBD. There are other problems in the EBD, but this seems to me, to be the fatal flaw. The information is based on a lie, yet that isn’t enough to reject the EBD.

If there was any other source on the El Indio – Guerrero crash, that would be one thing, but all references to it, in various books, articles and documents are all traceable back to Willingham as the original source. He provided a number of dates and locations for the crash as the tide in the UFO community changed. Without Willingham and his ever-changing story, there would be no tale of this crash and if it hadn’t happened, then MJ-12 is equally bogus… yet there are those who hold these mutually exclusive ideas that the document is real but Willingham was lying… the very definition of cognitive dissonance, and that is what I don’t understand. How can you argue for the validity of one while confirming the other is untrue? I have yet to receive a good answer for the question that isn’t wrapped in a lot of rhetoric without explaining anything.