I was reviewing some of the old cases in my files and I came across the notation for a UFO crash near San Diego in 1947. I had published all the information I had in A History of UFO Crashes and was looking for additional data.
In that book I wrote, "Unidentified witnesses reported that a flaming object was seen to fall into the ocean west of San Diego. A check at the local observatory suggested that it wasn’t a meteorite and there were no aircraft reported missing. Recently declassified documents suggest an investigation by the military into the unidentified flaming object, but the case file itself has not been discovered."
Okay, that’s not much. There were a couple of sources on this material. One of them was Flying Saucers on the Attack written by Harold T. Wilkins and published by the Citadel Press (Ace Star Books, page 72) in 1967. The only additional and probably irrelevant information contained there was that someone had checked with the Observatory at Griffith Park which is in Los Angeles and not San Diego, and the person there didn’t think it was a meteor.
The footnote for the case relates it to Sherman Brown who had an unpublished manuscript called UFO Crashes and was dated 1990. I actually reference that book several times, but could find nothing in my files that tells me anything more about it.
The other thing is that I have several letters from people attempting to track down the original sources of this information and trying to find Sherman Brown. One of those writers said that he had looked through the San Diego newspapers of the time. He found nothing there that related to an event in October.
All this led to one important point. In the book I dated the crash on October 20, 1947, but the other sources suggest, instead, September 20. I don’t know the source of the error in my book but would guess that it belongs to me.
None of this matters for those trying to run this down in San Diego. They checked the newspapers starting with the Arnold Sighting of June 24, 1947 and ran through the end of October. One man sent me a list of people who had made sightings in 1947.
I tried some other sources including the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies. They checked through their records and they found nothing to relate to either Sherman Brown or a crash near San Diego. I have believed, since there was nothing in my files on this, I had picked this up, or researched it further at the Center. Unless something strange happened there, they were not the source of Sherman Brown.
I did find that the San Diego Union carried an article about John Kuder who said he had seen "a luminous flying disc" circling about a half mile off Mission Beach. It dipped into the ocean and there was a ball of fire visible for a few seconds after the disk disappeared. This could be the source of the original story. The date isn’t close, but the location is and but the description of the event would fit with the idea that there had been a crash of some kind.
Here’s where we are on this one. I have located some of the sources about this event. I can now correct the date to the proper time or, at least, to another date in those sources which suggest September 20. Other sources, including one newspaper suggest July 6 because the story was reported on July 7. Given the story, I would opt for July 6.
The thing to do now is leave it as insufficient data. We have found a UFO sighting that goes with the report, we have a suggestion that the object might have dropped into the sea, and we have the report of a fireball moments later. At the moment, this is a single witness case and for that reason, I leave it as insufficient data, though I suspect that a mundane answer would be found with additional information.