It seems that every time I sit down to add to this blog, I’m exposing another myth or solving another mystery. It begins to look as if I’m really a debunker in disguise. The truth is that I believe that we must publish, as quickly as we can, the solutions to mysteries that have baffled us for years. I’m fascinated by answers to long held mysteries which is why I often jump at the chance to expose them. Coming up in later blogs will be the solution to the disappearance of the Stardust and a possible solution to the disappearance of an Air Force interceptor in 1953.
There are mysteries out there that remain intriguing. In August 1951 four college professors saw strange lights fly overhead in Lubbock, Texas, and the Lubbock Lights mystery was born. Many of those sightings have since been solved, and the solutions offered make sense. There is, however, one part of the case that remains as mysterious today as it did more than fifty years ago and that is the photographs taken by Carl Hart, Jr.
On February 1, 1993, I had the opportunity to interview Carl Hart about the photographs. What follows is that interview. (For those interested in more about the Lubbock Lights, I suggest a look at my 1997 book, Conspiracy of Silence.) I offer the notes of the interview without commentary (well, not much).
After learning that the man I was talking with had taken the famous pictures, I asked, "Were you looking for the lights when you saw them?"
He said, "Oh, no. Of course this was summer time and very hot. We didn’t have anything like central air conditioning. I slept with the windows open and I liked to sleep with my head stuck out the window and there they were."
"You saw them fly over one time?"
"Oh, I think if I remember there were like three formations... of course they had been in the news here for a week or two before I happened to see them and they usually showed up in several flights when they would so... when I saw them I went on outside with my camera..."
"Did you get a feel for the size of the objects or how high above you they were?"
"Not really... the only thing I saw was lights. Wasn’t any other objects associated with them. Wasn’t any noise..."
"Now you were questioned quite closely by the Air Force..."
"The Air Force and everybody else."
"Did the Air Force give you a final conclusion of what they thought you had photographed?"
"No, no they didn’t. I never did hear an official version. I heard some unofficial things that came out later... about how they thought I had faked them somehow or another." (Attempts to duplicate the pictures by a professional photographer failed... and because of that, this part of the mystery remains unsolved.)
"Of course you hadn’t faked them..."
"You have no idea what they were?"
"I really don’t. I’m not even sure who it was. There was someone tried to duplicate the light in a laboratory by reflecting light off a pan of water where they could cause a ripple run down the water and they could cause them to move and his theory was that it was a cold air inversion and that it had waves in it like the ocean and the sensation of them moving across the sky so I don’t know if that’s what happened or not." (This was Dr. Donald Menzel whose results were published in 1952. Later Menzel decided, without evidence, that Hart had faked the pictures. Menzel, it seems, could not admit that some aspects of the UFO phenomenon were inexplicable.)
"You really have no clue about what you saw..."
"I really don’t. Nothing’s ever come forward to explain those and there wasn’t anything for me to judge them by other than just the lights on the bottom of just one object or group of individual lights... They were lights either on something or individually."
Did you know the professors who had seen the things the first night?"
"Later on I did. I didn’t know them at the time."
"Oh, yeah. I think there were some of the ones felt like I had stolen their glory... They weren’t too receptive of what I had done as best I could recall."
"Have you made any money off this thing?"
"I might have made three or four hundred dollars total over the years."
"The pictures appear in books and magazines all the time."
"I wasn’t aware enough of what was going on to copyright them. If anyone paid my anything it was to save themselves from possible legal problems later on... for several years people would ask before they would use them... My advice from a friend and professional journalist at the time was that if you copyright them somebody’s going to think you faked tem and are trying to make money out of them"
Hart did tell me that he doesn’t particularly disbelieve in flying saucers. He said, "I’m kind of open minded on that. If one would show up some place else here, I think I’d accept."
I asked him one last time if he knew what he had photographed.
"I really don’t."
(I have found that those faking UFO pictures eventually come clean, admitting the hoax, sometimes decades later. With Hart, although no one would really care at this late date if he had faked them, he maintained he didn’t know what he had photographed. Because of that, the photographic part of the Lubbock Lights remains unsolved.)