Rhodes, it seemed, was a genius with multiple patents, who had a Ph.D. and who had photographed some kind of unknown object over Phoenix back in 1947. The Army, and later the Air Force, investigation seemed to be geared more to smearing him than it did to finding an unbiased answer to this case. That smear has little to do with the evidence that surround the pictures.
Here’s where we are today. Rhodes told, at least, two versions of how he received his advanced degree without spending the time and energy earning it in a more traditional fashion. While I could accept one version, that is, he had been awarded some sort of equivalency based on testing and his work with the Navy, the other didn’t make any sense to me.
That he gave two versions eliminates, at least in my mind, the validity of his degree. He had inflated his educational background more for his own ego than for any other reason. Because of this, his story is more than "beclouded" as Dr. James McDonald suggested.
In my research, I talked to or communicated with a couple of people who knew Rhodes. It seems they held him in high regard, were impressed with his genius, and knew that he was a clever man. One of those, Dr. Aden Meinel, who had worked with him in the mid-1950s would not confirm the story that Rhodes told about his "90 day wonder" degree, and I find that telling.
In the course of my work, I learned that what Rhodes had photographed, according to one source, was some sort of balloon-borne telescope and it was part of a then classified project that had been directed by SAFSP which is the Secretary of the Air Force Special Projects. Most of these were related to aerial reconnaissance and photography. In other words, they were attempting to determine how well objects on Earth could be photographed using a variety of platforms at a variety of altitudes.
There was also a mention of ITEK Corporation, but this organization wasn’t started until several years after Rhodes took the pictures. However, the man who started it, Richard Leghorn, had been knocking around Arizona before the beginning of the corporation he started and had been involved in this aerial reconnaissance research. From his own website I learned:
He was recalled to active duty to plan and photograph the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. What he saw changed the course of world history. It was obvious to Mr. Leghorn that there could not be another war using nuclear weapons. His vision; a new approach- deterrence and arms control- to prevent military conflict and to prevail if deterrence failed. So began his pursuit into aerospace reconnaissance, where he became one of the unsung heroes of the Cold War.
Richard Leghorn has been described as a true visionary in conceiving, planning and implementation of activities in the field of airborne and space reconnaissance developments, including origination of the "Open Skies" concept subsequently in preparation for Eisenhower’s conference of the four powers (US, USSR, Britain and France) at Geneva on July 15 1955. As a consultant and then active participant to the USAF Scientific Advisory Board as special assistant to the President for Disarmament Affairs, he was principal contributor to the early CORONA camera development. He was Chief of Intelligence and Reconnaissance Systems Planning and Development at the Pentagon. In "the Secret Empire- Eisenhower, the CIA and the Hidden Story of America’s Space Espionage", Philip Taubman of the New York Times wrote "no one person can fairly be called the progenitor of the reconnaissance revolution, but Richard S. Leghorn comes as close as anyone to fitting the description. Without Leghorn’s incredible skills and dedication our space reconnaissance technology would never have developed." Mr. Leghorn was among six pioneers inducted to Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame on August 24, 2006 for his development of early airborne and space-based photographic reconnaissance systems.
So, it is possible that Rhodes photographed something that had been created to test cameras and photographic capabilities from high altitudes. The problem is that craft, as has been described to me, is about only about three feet in diameter. If it was balloon-borne, it should not have made noise, and would be drifting with the wind, not flying about at several hundred miles an hour.
However, if it was only three feet in diameter, then Rhodes miscalculated the size, and if he had done that, then his estimates of speed and altitude would be way off as well. All his calculations were in error.
And I would expect other photographs to be made of something strange that hung in the air for two days, unless it was small and at low altitude. We do have the suggestion that Lewis Larmore also photographed the object, but, unfortunately, that information came from Rhodes and as far as I can tell has not been corroborated. If Larmore did photograph something, I have been unable to find either those photographs or a follow up in the Air Force files.
At this point, this is all the information that I have. I’m hoping that someone in Arizona or New York(where Leghorn lives) might be able to check the local libraries and newspapers to see if there are any follow up stories or examples of other photographs. A look at the city directories for Phoenix and William A. Rhodes might be interesting if not very useful.
At this point, given what I now know, I have little faith that the Rhodes photographs will lead us anywhere useful. The reputation of the man who took them is tainted by his own "resume enhancements." We have not found anything to suggest the other pictures he mentioned ever surfaced and it seems that his interest in anything was fairly short term. In the end, I suppose we can ignore the photographs and the implications, unless and until someone finds something more. This was not the result that I had hoped for.