(Note: A number of years ago, I wrote a book called Project Blue Book - Exposed. It was an examination of cases that had been buried in the Blue Book files for years. Some were quite interesting, including reports of alien creatures. Many more were just misidentifications of natural or human created objects. I looked at the whole range of cases and then selected those that were representative and that would provide a perspective of that investigation. One of the chapters (one of the shorter ones), January 17, 1969: One of the Last of the Unidentifieds, is reproduced here.)
In an example of how the Air Force can’t win for losing, I thought we’d take a look at one of the last cases submitted to Project Blue Book that was labeled unidentified. The Project record (seen below at the left) card stated, "The most likely stimulus was a helicopter with an unusual lighting system. However, a check of the four airports in the area revealed that three definitely did not have any helo activity and the other had destroyed flight records for that date and was therefore unable to say if any helicopter activity originated from their airfield that night. It is also possible that a light aircraft such as an aerial advertiser, the Goodyear blimp, or an aircraft doing infrared photography may have been the stimulus of the sighting. However, because it has not been definitely established that an aircraft of this type was in the area, the sighting is being carried as unidentified."
If that isn’t a load of double-talk, I don’t know what it would be. It might be a helicopter, but we can’t find any records that one was flying that night and in that location. It might be an advertising plane, but there are no records of it, and, at the time of the sighting, about four in the morning, who would be awake to see the thing anyway? It might be the Goodyear blimp, but there are no records that the Goodyear blimp was anywhere near the location of the sighting. Or it might have been an aircraft doing infrared photography, but, again, there are no records to support that suggestion.
Using this same logic, we could suggest it was the space shuttle, though none had been built in 1969. Maybe it was an advance design fighter plane that had a single test flight. Maybe it was an Apollo capsule re-entering the atmosphere, but there are no records of such a flight. Besides, at four in the morning, NASA would miss the best TV audiences.
The case began at 3:24 a.m. on January 17, 1969 in Crittenden, Virginia when Roman K. Lupton was awakened by an unusual sound. He said it was like an electric motor about to go bad. His wife said that she, too, could hear the same, somewhat annoying hum.
According to Lupton, "I went to the bedroom window... looked in the direction of the sound for a few seconds before it came into sight... I watched this object with lights all around the bottom move slowly forward with an up-and-down motion which was also slow, 30 miles per hour, varying not more than 25 feet up and down. It went forward over yard light in my neighbor’s yard next door, a little further forward and started in a banking left turn with the same speed and motion as before. At this point the object seems to tilt and turn instead of changing elevation - except for this banking motion it was the same as it had been previously... At this time as it was turning the blinking light was clearest and possibly could have been the first time I saw it... At this point it went out of sight."
Lupton said that he had seen a series of windows around the bottom of the UFO that were all brightly lighted except one in the rear that blinked. The windows were rectangular and appeared translucent. They allowed the light out but Lupton couldn’t see in, and each seemed to be surrounded by a glow or haze. Lupton could see the center of the craft in the light and said that it was solid, apparently metallic, and reflected some of the light.
Lupton asked his wife if she had seen the object and she said she had. Next he called the operator in Smithfield and was startled when she said that she could hear the sound in the background.
When the noise faded out, Lupton decided that he should alert someone in authority and finally asked the operator to place a call to Langley Air Force Base. He was connected to an airman who took the UFO report.
The next day, Lupton tried to find the operator that he had talked to hoping to establish some corroboration but failed to find her. Finally, on January 22, he spoke to the supervisor who told him that the only thing the operator could have heard was some kind of aircraft. Lupton insisted, but the supervisor was equally insistent. The supervisor refused to supply the name of the operator or even let him talk to her.
Also on January 17, Lupton decided to try find others who might have heard the noise. According to Lupton, "When I got home I started looking for someone... The wife [of his next door neighbor]... remembered her mother saying she had heard something. Sure enough the lady and her three-year-old granddaughter both had heard it. The lady [Louise Bailey] stated ‘it had awakened the girl [Robin Harvill] and both were frightened,’ but the lady did not look out of her window to see what was making the sound... She also stated that ‘it sounded as if it were coming through the roof.’"
The next day, Lupton did the same thing and found another neighbor who said that she had heard the sound. Adrienne Carron (or Corbor, it’s spelled both ways in the Air Force file) said that "the sound was loud and varying and it was coming from almost right on the roof top" and it also frightened her four-year-old daughter, Evelyn.
In the letter that Lupton wrote to the Air Force about the experience, he listed all those who had heard the sound. What is interesting about the list is that the Air Force officers who reviewed the file left in all the names except a Sunday-school teacher, and a hint that someone else had reported the sound to Langley AFB.
The Air Force eventually decided to investigate the case. Almost two months after Lupton filed his report which included the standard Air Force Form 117, that is the UFO form, a NICAP form, a post card, and a road map, the Air Force got into it. Lieutenant Colonel Everett M. Worthington wrote, "After discussing this sighting with Mr. Lupton, I attempted to bring into focus the similarity between his UFO sighting and a jet-powered helicopter. He was not receptive to this line of reasoning."
On April 7, after Lieutenant Colonel Worthington had completed his investigation and suggested a helicopter, Lieutenant Colonel Hector Quintanilla (then chief of Project Blue Book) wrote to a number of agencies around the Crittenden, Virginia area asking if they had any helicopter traffic flying at that time of the morning. All the agencies except one responded they had no traffic in the area. The lone exception was the FAA which reported that such records were destroyed after fifteen days. They didn’t know if there had been any helicopter traffic in the area because they no longer had their records.
The response from Fort Eutis was the most interesting. Not only didn’t they have helicopters flying, Lurlene Martin, the flight scheduling clerk at Felker Army Air Field, said that poor weather conditions had grounded all their aircraft at 9:30 p.m. and they did not resume flying until the following morning. That would seem to suggest poor weather throughout the region that would have kept all helicopter, and other aviation activity such as flying advertisements on the ground.
This one note, in the files, could be quite important only because it suggests that the weather was bad. The poor weather could have been localized and therefore not apply to a larger region. Air Force investigators didn’t bother to find out. They had decided that Lupton saw a helicopter and tried to convince him of it.
The other question is, "If it had been a helicopter, what kind was it?" There was obviously a strange lighting configuration, and it would seem to me, that an investigation could have attacked the problem from that direction. Had they been able to locate a helicopter with a strange lighting configuration on it, that would have gone a long way to solving the case. Even if they couldn’t prove the aircraft was flying at the time of the sighting, the configuration of the lights would have been persuasive evidence. However, there is no indication in the file that the Air Force investigators even tried to do that.
In the end, we are left with a case where one man and his wife apparently saw a strange object and about a dozen others heard the sound it made. That would, of course, rule out hallucination. It does not prove that Lupton saw a flying saucer, just that he did see something strange.
It is too bad that the one of last unidentified UFO sightings in the Project Blue Book files had to be so non spectacular. There were no photographs, radar tracks, or movies taken. It was just a sighting in the early morning caused by a low-flying, and very noisy object.
What might be more important in this is the reaction of the military. Rather than investigate the case, they spent their time trying to convince the witness he had seen a helicopter when the evidence showed that no helicopters were flying in his area at the time of the sighting. And even with those negative results, they noted on the Project Card that a helicopter was the most likely answer.
To that, all I can say is, "Did I miss something?"
And now for the sales pitch. I have a limited number of the hardback copies of the book, Project Blue Book - Exposed, that originally sold for $22.95. For those interested in a copy, I would send it to you for just $10.00 plus shipping and handling of $5.00 (yeah, you have to pay the postage and for the envelop, but hey, you get the book for less than half price and if you tell me how you’d like it inscribed, why, I’d even sign it). For those interested, send a check or money order to:
PO Box 10934
Cedar Rapids, IA 52410-0934