Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rhodes Wrap Up

I said that I would let you all know about the results of my investigation into the Rhodes photographs. When this began, I had hoped for positive results simply because it seemed that too often I was exposing hoaxes and false information. It would be nice to underscore the unknown nature of a sighting.

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.

45 comments:

Sourcerer said...

Randle "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."

The information didn't come from Rhodes, but from Lt Col Beam in May, 1948.


" 6. Mr. [Rhodes] also mentioned having seen a series of photographs taken by another civilian in Phoenix, Ariz. on approximately the same day. He promised to investigate this phase and to forward a set of these photographs to this headquarters if they are available."

In Rhodes' letter to Col McCoy: "Since I talked with Lt Col Beam and Mr Loedding I have been trying to run down additional photographs of the unidentified object.

Mr Lewis Larmore of this city has some in his possession..."

Rhodes didn't write that Larmore had taken the photos. Perhaps he said so to Beam, or perhaps Beam assumed that is what Rhodes meant.

"If Larmore did photograph something, I have been unable to find either those photographs or a follow up in the Air Force files."

So? Neither the USAF, CIC, or the FBI investigated Rhodes, or the reports have not been made public. They had ample opportunity to check with the Naval Ordinance Lab, to question Rhodes about the informing-neighbor statement that he'd gotten an honorary degree and had a paper published, that he'd been an instructor (a 30 minute drive to Mesa), and that Larmore had photos of the object (a 30 minute drive to Tempe).

There may be more material on the Rhodes case than what we have now.

Whether Rhodes lied about his education affects your sense of his credibility, but it doesn't affect the photographs. Rain falls on saints and sinners alike.

Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

Randle "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."

There was a Secretary of the Air Force in July 1947? Symington was the first Secretary of the Air Force, beginning September 19, 1947.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Sourcerer -

"The information didn't come from Rhodes, but from Lt Col Beam in May, 1948.


" 6. Mr. [Rhodes] also mentioned having seen a series of photographs taken by another civilian in Phoenix, Ariz. on approximately the same day. He promised to investigate this phase and to forward a set of these photographs to this headquarters if they are available."

Yes, the letter was written by Beam who said the information came from Rhodes. I think this is a very fine hair you're splitting here.

My point was that I have been unable to find these photographs, which is to say I have been unable to find these photographs. I was hoping that someone living in that area, who could physically go to libraries, newspaper files, the university, might have better luck with this. Not that they didn't exist, only that I haven't found them.

And of course there might be more information... that was my whole point. I was hoping that this information might inspire someone else to dig beyond where I went, not that we wash our hands of the case, but this is the status of my investigation as of today.

Yes, but his lying about his educational background suggests something about his credibility. That he would lie about that, and apparently reproduce a miniture replica of the diploma also suggests soemthing about him. I've heard from others who believe this educational inflation is of sufficient magnitude to render all other discussion moot... I am not to that point yet, but I'm getting there.

KRandle said...

Sourcerer -

"There was a Secretary of the Air Force in July 1947? Symington was the first Secretary of the Air Force, beginning September 19, 1947."

Geez - There was an Undersecretary of War for Air in 1947, which evolved into the Secretary of the Air Force... which means that a project started prior to September 1947 would be carried over with the same sort of oversight but with the names of the office having changed when Harry Truman got through remaking the separate Departments of the Navy and War into the single Department of Defense.

So the reconnaissance programs funded under the old organizations would have carried through into the new. Just redo the letterhead. I didn't think it was necessary to split this hair to provide the clues about what might have been flying in July 1947... or in keeping with the precision of this discussion... floating over Phoenix.

Sourcerer said...

Kevin, I tend to split hairs in instances where there is so little information. What little we have should be kept 'clean', the facts separated from the speculation.

For example: many believe Rhodes claimed to be a professional photographer (and then point to his dinky box brownie). I can't find any such claim made by him. Some say the claim is made on his letterhead, but the one letter we have (to Col. McCoy) does not mention photography. Neither is it mentioned in 1949 in regard to his business card .

The Arizona Republic 7/9/47 refers to him as "an amateur photographer". In all of his writing I've read online, including some patents, I do not recall seeing anything about photography. Only an informing neighbor mentions Rhodes was interested in photography.

His letterhead does say "observatory" and an informing neighbor said Rhodes had built a small telescope. Perhaps he was interested in hooking up a camera to it.

We know he had a late model Willys, had "expensive looking" radio equipment, but no mention of a darkroom or an enlarger.

Rhodes and his purported claims about photography is speculation based on hearsay, yet it is featured in opinions about him. which is why I am a hair-splitter.

In one of his articles available on line Rhodes refers to the PhD. He says people might wave their PhD about to impress potential financial backers and that he has no backers -- or some such. It has been awhile since I read it and will have to look it up.

In my opinion, Rhodes was bitter about the PhD. It irritated or rankled him. Why? It is not like skeptical ufologists were hounding him about it for a half-century.

Are there any grounds for accepting the 1949 report as anything but a cya of the 1947 report for the new 'party line' (Sign to Grudge)?

I'd look for a Navy connection, rather than AF -- if there is a connection. Rhodes was in his mid-20s in 1942, around the average age of a US soldier in WWII, I think. Was he in service? If not, did he have a deferment?

Regards,

Don

purrlgurrl said...

Oh well. You win some. You lose some. Although given the elusiveness and rarity of what I believe is the core phenomenon (whatever it may be), there will probably more losses. Just don't let it get you down or give up the game.

Sourcerer said...

Randle: "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."

Rhodes misspelled Meinel's name which indicates they did not have an ongoing relationship (but it might have been a typo).

I find it interesting that Rhodes thought Meinel had died of a heart attack. I wonder who he was confusing Meinel with.

You find it significant that Meinel did not confirm Rhodes' account of the degree. I find it significant that Meinel non-confirmation is two avoidances of a direct relpy, but that otherwise he confirms Rhodes' story.


Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

Randle: "I suppose we can ignore the photographs and the implications, unless and until someone finds something more."

What "something more" would move you to not ignore Rhodes photos?

The only evidence against Rhodes is Dr McDonald's letter to Richard Hall. Is the full text of this letter available online? The only reference I can find is the several times you have posted to it, as well as a reference in a book. All the instances are about the same excerpt.

I cannot otherwise find a claim by, or reference to a claim by, Rhodes of a degree from GWU. I have other questions such as what did the degree replica say?

McDonald concludes, "Everything else checks out solidly in his story." And that is what I have found, too. Everything else checks out solidly.

Did anyone else investigate Rhodes between Dr McDonald's conversation with him and your correspondence with Dr. Meinel? Rhodes' statement about his relationship with Meinel was made when Rhodes was 88 years old (I haven't found an earlier one). He misspells Meinel's name and confuses him with someone else when he says Meinel died.

Dr Meinel, though, appears, from what you have posted, to have remembered Rhodes from this short acquaintance in 1955, and confirms that Meinel did hire Rhodes..."development of instruments relating to the observatory's location", Rhodes wrote. I assume Meinel did not say this was false.

In the previous discussion here, JRobinson refers to Rhodes' telescope. I haven't got that issue of Sky & Telescope yet, but I do have references in publications about a telescope Rhodes built in that timeframe and it is most interesting.

To quote Dr McDonald "Everything else checks out solidly in his story".

I can say that Rhodes associating himself with Arizona State, Tempe, checks out as well (he did not claim a degree from there, but to being associated with it).

And, in fact, the 1949 RI's informants claims about Rhodes being involved in community issues also checks out.

His association with De Forest checks out.

What's left? The NOL.

I believe Rhodes. He might not have had an honorary PhD from Columbia, but he believed he did. If he didn't have the PhD, then it becomes important to determine why he thought he did. Why? because "Everything else checks out solidly in his story."

Regards,

Don

Timothy Banse said...

Forgive me. This had nothing to do with Rhodes. I pose the question: Is the incident recounted below an ET intervention?

A series of computer errors at an Air Force base in Wyoming Saturday took 50 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles -- one-ninth of the U.S. missile stockpile -- offline for about an hour, CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder reports.

Bob Koford said...

I question that it could have been a balloon borne telescope, or a balloon borne anything, unless Rhodes was a complete liar.

He recounted a whooshing sound, like a jet, that caught his attention.

Could this balloon borne telescope you mention go "whooshing" around, and perform high speed maneuvers?

Sourcerer said...

Bob,

Regarding the information offerred in the original post...I wonder how they intended to retrieve the film. Was a classified balloon launched over Phoenix, or did it drift from some remote, and more appropriate site, before popping, so that its platform swooped down over Rhode's house? How much telescope and camera could they fit onto a 3 foot diameter platform?
How was the camera's shutter released and the film wound on to the next frame? I'd guess, for the purpose of such a project, radar would also be a possibility.

I think Dr Leghorn was at Kodak in 1947, doing what, I don't know.

The "whoosh" might be accounted for by the wind in the trees. It was a stormy day. Rhodes said he did not hear it make another sound, but that the wind in the trees might have disquised the sound of it. In the same way, a gust of wind, sounding like a jet, might have been what first caught his attention.

The balloon story might be a garbled account of Rhodes' telescope project. But Rhodes (and Larmore) were more interested in pointing the camera up, rather than down towards earth.

Regards,

Don

Bob Koford said...

I admit that anything even remotely connecting the Discoverer, early aerial recon devices, to UFOs is interesting to me.

I remember reading about the "CORONA Brochures", in the Blue Book documents. These were a series of brochures published, seemingly in connection with CORONA program. They were used to complete a very large Air Defense study sometime during the Vietnam "War."

And of course there was the fact that in 1949 Dr. Kaplan first coined the term Detection Surveillance, and Protection.

I just can't get over the coincidence of the letters DSP still being in use, i.e., the Defense Support Program.

Sourcerer said...

Unmanned, high-altitude, altitude-stabilized, recoverable
photoreconnaisance platforms was part of Skyhook (right?) and Project Gopher. Between 1880 and WWI, unmanned aerial photography experiments used kites, kite trains, and (I was surprised) pigeons.

I don't see much reason for using unmanned balloons at lower altitudes rather than a manned balloon, or glider, or aircraft, or rocket.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

All -

I thought I had made it clear. I am not married to this explanation. I offered it as one that had been offered to me. I have been unable to verify it.

However, the reason to use the balloon would have been to test the stability of one of the possible platforms from which to made the photographs. Another would have been to test the capabilities of the cameras and their resolution.

This would have been one of a series of experiments... which would have become outdated with spy planes and satellites.

Sourcerer said...

Kevin,

It was very clear you weren't advocating the story. I don't know how the informants would know what Rhodes photographed. How could they tell from the photos? Their information, if true, would have to be from some other asssociation.

Whenever there's photography involved in a case, it gets my interest because film photography is a lifelong hobby of mine (if I were a musician, I'd probably attend to Rhodes-the-musician instead). I can't find any evidence that Rhodes had any interest in photography except the statements made by informants. He was, however, very interested in imaging.

The John A. Clinton note is incorrect on most points. There is nothing about the dimensions of the negative to indicate the type of camera used. Although the camera had a fixed focus at ten feet, that means the camera had adequate focus from ten feet to infinity. We can derive from that that the object could not have been less than ten feet from the camera, is all. The shutter speed was not 1/25th of a second; according to Kodak (1946) their box cameras shutters were approximately 1/50. He was correct it had a meniscus lens.

Even Gust's report is SOP cya. He could have done a technical analysis based on the print. The focal length and the image size for such a camera are not mysterious.

Loedding wrote that Rhode's had "a small but quite complete laboratory", and Fugate mentions Rhodes had expensive radio equipment. Fugate is not to be taken as an expert, but Loedding, like so many of these guys, had a home lab, too, so I take his opinion as accurate. No one mentions Rhodes having any photography equipment. No darkroom or enlarger.

I now doubt Rhodes developed the film himself. We only have Fugate's word on that, I think.

Even an amateur using Kodak's developing kit of the era would not produce the poor quality we see in the evidence available to us. But a newspaper would.

Rhodes was methodical and paid attention to detail, I think you would agree. Developing film is a 'by the numbers' process. A newspaper has no need for high quality images. Newspaper resolution is very low. They had a need for speed. The famous news photographer of the era, 'Weegee', would develop his films in the trunk of his car.

Like many other ufo photograph cases, we are not going to ever get a good image even if we had the negatives or the prints that Arnold and McDonald had.

Kevin, on 11/30/06 here you wrote:

"Rhodes sighted along the side of his camera and took his first photograph"

Is that an assumption or is there evidence that that is how Rhodes used the camera? It is important. Although Loedding got Rhodes' camera, I cannot find anything where Loedding (or Hall and Connors) identify it. As best I can tell, the camera did not have an eye-level viewfinder.


Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Sourcerer -

The comment about the cutting and development of the negatives is from the Air Force file. Give some of their other assumptions, I'm not thrilled with this. Clearly they were engaging in character assassination.

From the Arizona Republic, Wednesday, July 9, 1947... in the interview conducted by Robert c. Hanika of Rhodes...

"In the overcast sky the object continued its speedy flight from north to south and directly east of his position. Rhodes snapped the hurtling missile by sighting along side of his box camera..."

Yes, Rhodes suggested the reporter got many facts wrong, but this is the source of that statement.

Sourcerer said...

Kevin,

I thought it might come from the newspaper, but I don't have the full text of the story. I only have what I can glean from the jpegs of the page.

The photo of Rhodes and his camera, if we had a better image than what is online, would likely identify the camera model by the faceplate. It's a news story and so there's a bit of narrative to it, I'd guess, to attract interest. Probably why the photo of Rhodes was taken from a low angle with him looking up (but he doesn't hold the camera up to his eye).

We can see it is a full-size box camera, a Kodak Brownie we are told, however I do not know of any that had an eyelevel viewfinder along its length. I have a box camera from that era with one, but it is an Ansco, not a Kodak Brownie. Those Brownies commonly had a waist-level vf -- two of them. One for vertically and the other for horizontally oriented pictures. Kodak's recommendation was to hold it close to one's body and look directly down into the finder (in which the image was probably horizontally flipped). Some Brownies had several settings for aperture, as well.

Lewis Gust's AMC report is flawed. There is no Brownie that took 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch film. I don't know if there was such a rollfilm size. There was a 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 size, 616 film, and Kodak made Brownies for it, but 620 and 616 films were not interchangeable. They required different camera designs (it's the film widths 2 1/4, 2 1/2). The image size of Rhodes' photos was likely 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 (which is the aspect ratio 3:2 of the uncut (figure 2, I think) one in the Grudge report). This is probably why Gust eliminated the square format size (2 1/4 x 2 1/4) as a possibility.

I'm hoping to gather enough accurate information to provide material for at least some technical analysis, some approximation, rather that pure guesswork based on flawed information.

Thanks, for the citation.


Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

Kevin,

Btw, you can call me Don. 'Sourcerer' is an ancient usenet handle I keep around for old time's sake.


Regards,

Don

David Rudiak said...

Bob Koford wrote:

"I question that it could have been a balloon borne telescope, or a balloon borne anything, unless Rhodes was a complete liar.

"He recounted a whooshing sound, like a jet, that caught his attention.

"Could this balloon borne telescope you mention go "whooshing" around, and perform high speed maneuvers?"

Exactly Bob. Why would he make up the unusual performance characteristics of a real (& nonhoaxed) object? The high speed maneuvers included spiraling down out of the clouds, making three complete circles, then departing at high speed at a steep angle back into the clouds more or less in the direction it originally came from. Balloons can't do that. End of story.

Besides not behaving like a balloon, what balloon looked like anything in the Rhodes' photos?

This reminds me a lot of all the ridiculous debunking attempts to try to explain away the 1964 Socorro incident as some sort of balloon, ignoring the facts that make it impossible, such as flying against a stiff wind or disappearing at hundreds of miles an hour.

If it's really a duck, I want it to walk like a duck and talk like a duck. That was the case recently in the highly-publicized NY City "UFOs". In the videos I saw, they certainly looked and bobbed about like tethered balloons would in the air currents.

But what about the Rhode's photos and descriptions even remotely suggests any sort of balloon?

David Rudiak said...

KRandle said...

"The comment about the cutting and development of the negatives is from the Air Force file. Give some of their other assumptions, I'm not thrilled with this. Clearly they were engaging in character assassination."

There are other problems with Air Force Blue Book files, such as giving the time as 1600 local, or 4:00 p.m., when Rhodes' story of when the photos were taken was always at sunset or dusk. (either 8:00 or 9:00)

Incidentally, Rhodes, when interviewed by Linda Moulton Howe in 1997, said the film was developed at the Arizona Republic:

http://www.earthfiles.com/Images/news/earth099.htm

"But The Arizona Republic - I had a friend down there at that time who was head of the photography department. I called him up and he said, 'Bring it down here right now. We'll develop it and run it in the newspaper.' That was the main paper for the state and still is. So, I ran down there and they published it the next day."

So to add to the confusion, this version suggests the newspaper developed the film, though conceivably Rhodes could have been right there at the time and assisted in the development. Being a newspaper, it could have been a rush job to see what they had, maybe accounting for the poor quality of the prints the AF obtained.

As for AF critical comments about the Rhodes' negatives being badly cropped, Paul Trent's McMinnville photos also had the negatives cropped at some point after the local newspaper published the full photos on their front page. The Trent photos disappeared for 17 years until the Condon Committe finally uncovered them, so we don't know who did the cropping--maybe one of the other media or even the Air Force, who may have had possession at some point. Therefore Rhodes may not have had anything to do with the cropping of his negatives.

Sourcerer said...

I don't think Kevin's informants said it was a balloon, but part of an assembly that had been carried aloft by a balloon for aerial photography.

My question is "how would they know that?" Not from Rhodes' photos unless they can see something in them we can't.

Rhodes' wrote some of the photographs Larmore had "looked fake". Apparently, nobody asked him why he thought that. Maybe they looked too crisp and clear to have been photographed by chance, as Rhodes had done.

Did these informants see Larmore's photos, Kevin?

Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

David,

Thanks very much for the link to Moulton's article. I'll read it more than once carefully. I'd been coming to that conclusion since reviewing the Rhodes case. I think the film was over-developed, and one way that might have happened would be to use a very active developer such as HC-110 in dilution A, which is how newspapers tray developed Speed Graphic sheet film, but in a tank, which is how roll film is commonly developed. Kodak's dev charts for HC-110 caution against doing that.

I see Rhodes also knew the shutter speed of his mother's camera was more than Mr Clinton's 1/25th of a second. I don't know, though, whether anyone ever asked Rhodes (or Loedding) what model of box camera, Kodak or not, it was.

Regards, and thanks, again.

Don

Sourcerer said...

There is one misstatement by Rhodes in that interview:

He is quoted saying: "During World War II, I was a flight instructor out at Falcon's Field here in Phoenix."

Falcon Field was (and still is) in Mesa, not Phoenix.

Regards,

Don

David Rudiak said...

Don (Sourcerer) wrote:

There is one misstatement by Rhodes in that interview: He is quoted saying: "During World War II, I was a flight instructor out at Falcon's Field here in Phoenix." Falcon Field was (and still is) in Mesa, not Phoenix.

But not that far from central Phoenix--only about 15 miles.

In the area I live, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is also about 15 miles from downtown S.F., and actually located next to the town of San Bruno. When it first opened in 1927, it was called Mills Field.

So I don't consider Rhodes' statement that big a deal. It would be like saying "In 1927 I worked at Mills Field right here in San Francisco."

Sourcerer said...

David, I agree it is not a big deal. He was 83 at the time and the subject was probably not fresh in his mind and on the tip of his tongue then.

It caught my eye because Rhodes may have written something similar in his letter to McCoy in 1948, that Larmore was a resident of Phoenix ("this city"). He might have been, but he was on the staff at Arizona State, Tempe, and may have lived there (for those who haven't read it, there's an article of mine floating about the web titled "The Other Photographer" about Dr Lewis Larmore, who at the time was an assistant professor of physics at Arizona State, Tempe).

What is a big deal is why we have no report on Rhodes' claims to have worked at the NOL, Falcon Field, and having an honorary doctorate from Columbia, by special agents whose brief was to investigate his standing and character. A background check into these in the re-investigation of Rhodes Hynek suggested would seem a no-brainer.

In 1947 with a brief to investigate the photographs, checking out Larmore would seem a no-brainer as well.

Yet there is no evidence, not a peep in the files, that any of it was done.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Gentlemen -

While suggesting Mesa is Phoenix (they are very close) this simply does not address the larger issue. And no, it has nothing to do with where Mesa is in relation to Phoenix. I tell people I'm from Denver because most people don't know where Aurora is (and probably think about that little town in Texas if I do mention it).

It's not even about Columbia having no record of his claimed degree (Don, GWU came into play by James McDonald who checked there because Rhodes was in that area when the alleged degree was awarded so he just checked.) It's about two versions of how he was awarded the degree. Was it at the conclusion of some kind of testing in his "90 day wonder" program, or was it awarded after his "brilliant" article in a magazine?

And, if he would fudge the record on that... what makes you think that he might not have fudged the record in his descriptions of his sighting. You all assume that what he said was accurate and reflected reality, saying the speed and the "whoosh" eliminates the balloon explanation. I say we have only his word (as given to the newspapers and in the official investigations) that those are facts.

No, I am not arguing for this balloon simply because I believe the timing (meaning the balloons offered as the explanation, if they existed, were part of a program from the 1950s... I threw out the information in the hopes we'd get some better information) was off and they don't explain the sighting.

We do have information that Rhodes thought of himself as a photographer and the developing of black and white film is relatively easy... it doesn't take a genius to do it. So, he might have developed the film himself but had prints made at the newspaper... or he might have had the film developed at the newspaper. I'm not sure we can resolve this now.

However, the point is this. We have two versions of the Ph.D. story from him and while one does not rule out the other, it does suggest he might be willing to fudge a story and that is the real point.

Bob Koford said...

Point taken.

I guess I always gave him more credence simply based on the timing of his "sighting," being that it occurred within a fairly small window of time with a rash of sightings, and had, at least, a general relativity with the Arnold sighting.

But you are right. That doesn't preclude the possibility that he may have made it up.

That being said, it doesn't seem logical to me that so much would have been made out of it if it happened in a way other than what was reported.

We may never know ;)

Sourcerer said...

Kevin: "Don, GWU came into play by James McDonald who checked there because Rhodes was in that area when the alleged degree was awarded so he just checked."

Well, ok.

"Was it at the conclusion of some kind of testing in his "90 day wonder" program, or was it awarded after his "brilliant" article in a magazine?"

The Reports of Investigation (RI) never settle on one story, never pull it all together. Did he write a "thesis on astronomy"? An article in a "nationally known magazine"? Did he recieve an "honorary scholarship"? An "honorary degree"?

I've found a trace that Rhodes was published, probably on astronomy, in such a magazine in 1943. I need to confirm it, still. If I can confirm it, I'll make it available.

So, at this point, something accurate may be derived from the RIs. We'll see.

Rhodes' story is that Dr Ralph Bennett at the NOL broached the issue of a PhD and that it was presented to him by Dr De Forest.

Rhodes and De Forest were acquainted, but when they first met I do not know, and I don't know for a fact that Rhodes worked at the NOL. I've read a fair amount of papers and recollections about wartime work at the NOL, but nearly all of it only mentions Navy officers, 90 day wonders mostly. Finding info about civilians in R&D there is rare, but they did exist. (To digress, the NOL had manpower problems and BuPers policy created more problems. One academic recollects never even being required to go to the Midshipman school at Columbia to become a 90 day wonder. He was just commissioned and went to straight to work. So, under the conditions at the time, and with a cranky BuPers hindering their work, 'irregular' means were used to staff the NOL in the first several years of the war).

All we have on Rhodes and photography, is that informant neighbors said he was interested in photography, and someone claims Rhodes' letterhead referred to "photographic services" (but not what kind). Yet, Loedding, who visited Rhodes specifically about the photographs, who is there to get Rhodes' camera, who inspects his lab, doesn't say anything about a photo lab, a darkroom, an enlarger.



Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

Kevin wrote: "And, if he would fudge the record on that... what makes you think that he might not have fudged the record in his descriptions of his sighting."

What makes me hesitate from dismissing Rhodes is that I cannot find any other evidence against his credibility. If his claim about his education is a lie, it is isolated; he seems pretty 'straight arrow' otherwise. There is no pattern of false claims. He wasn't an opportunist, either.

He seems to have believed he had an honorary PhD from Columbia.

Against him is one sentence "Columbia said no record of any such degree". I don't doubt Dr McDonald, but it should be confirmed with Columbia.

Still, whatever the truth, it would not satisfy on the accuracy of the performance characteristics he described. However, if he had been an instructor at Falcon Field, it brings him closer to being an "expert witness".

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Don -

Here's the problem with the degree. There are two separate stories about how it came to be. There is the Columbia story and the 90 day wonder story...

And frankly, I don't know enough about the guy to say that this is an isoleted incident. Currently I know of no other.

Dr. McDonald said the degree "beclouded" the issue. Without it, we'd be having another conversation.

So, no, I'm not writing this off as a hoax, only that we have a troubling incident.

Sourcerer said...

"Here's the problem with the degree. There are two separate stories about how it came to be. There is the Columbia story and the 90 day wonder story..."

Kevin, stipulating that I probably don't know about some documents that are available, I don't see how the Columbia story and the 90 day wonder story aren't the same story.

I know the story in the Reports of Investigation (RI) which came from informants, and the story Rhodes wrote in 2004, which is where I first find "90 day wonder".

Although the expression got some civilian usage, I don't find many uses of it to refer to anything outside the military. I found one civilian use referring to a PhD, Alan Greenspan's.

The content of Greenspan's thesis were previously published articles.
I'm not an academic, but I think it could be described as a "challenge" to academic requirements based on life experience which was accepted by the university.

The earliest use of 'PhD' by Rhodes I know of occurs in a 1949 issue of the Welding Journal where he is cited as "Dr William A. Rhodes, PhD (Honorary)".

"And frankly, I don't know enough about the guy to say that this is an isoleted incident. Currently I know of no other."

If it can be shown he was not an instructor at Falcon Field, then the PhD issue would not stand in isolation and we would also have grounds to doubt his descriptdion of the performance characteristics of the object.

I have no information about Rhodes and Falcon Field.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Don -

You are right. They certainly could be the same story with slightly different spins. Still troubling, especially in the light of no additional witnesses, which suggests something low and localized.

Sourcerer said...

Lewis Larmore, Kevin, was either a witness or had photos taken by a witness, according to Rhodes.

I wouldn't know how to proceed to verify Rhodes' story. Assuming Larmore was investigated it could be that the cases were compartmentalized in such a way that the Larmore case is not hinted at in the Rhodes file. So, maybe an FOIA on Larmore would shake something loose.

***

Have you noticed how the heel-shaped platform raised aloft by a balloon resembles the drawings in Popular Mechanics FOIA story of the LRV Project?

http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent/?file=PMsaucer


Regards,

Don

David Rudiak said...

Don (Sourcerer) wrote:
Have you noticed how the heel-shaped platform raised aloft by a balloon resembles the drawings in Popular Mechanics FOIA story of the LRV Project?

http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent/?file=PMsaucer


Also check out this very similar AVRO saucer from 1953 with the chopped tail and fins, apparently inspired by Kenneth Arnold's sighting (which the AVRO engineer thought to be authentic):

http://roswellproof.com/Ramey_1953_AVROSaucer.html

(General Roger Ramey of Roswell infamy is still debunking the saucers in this article as "immaterial" things.)

It is interesting that Arnold, when shown prints of the Rhodes' photos on July 30, 1947, deemed them likely authentic, because they showed an object almost identical with the one crescent-shaped one he never publicly described. Rhodes, of course, could not have known this.

The much-later (~1962) LRV chopped saucer couldn't possibly have anything to do with what Rhode's photographed, but I wouldn't be surprised if the LRV design was similarly inspired by Arnold's sighting.

Engineer Alfred Loedding of the USAF's Project Sign was also designing slightly chopped saucers with tail fins as early as late 1947.

Sourcerer said...

Hynek: "This case [Rhodes] is especially important because of the photographic evidence and because of the similarity of these photographs to the drawings by Kenneth Arnold (incident #17). The two incidents are separated by slightly more than two weeks, and, of course, they occurred in different localities. It is, however, perhaps more than coincidence that these two best-attested, entirely independent cases should agree so closely concerning the shape of the object and its maneuverability."

Hynek doesn't say why he thought it might be "more than coincidence".

The only information about the shape of Arnold's objects Rhodes could have had, Arnold: "They were half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear" ( Oregon Journal - June 27, 1947). Rhodes could not have seen Arnold's drawings. I don't know whether he could have read Arnold's description in Phoenix papers. Most other news stories referred to 'discs', 'pie pans', and 'saucers'.

Hynek: "The present investigator would like to suggest that this incident, #40, being one of the most crucial in the history of these objects, be reopened for investigation."

And so it was, for two reasons, Hynek wrote. First to do what ought to have been done in 1947, a technical analysis of the photos with the camera used and interrogate Rhodes on the circumstances of the sighting. The second was to publically humiliate Rhodes if it were found to be a hoax, which is why they investigated his credibility.

Larmore, the NOL, Falcon Field, Columbia University...they could have checked out those easily enough. The RIs already hint about his use of 'doctor'. His account of the performance characteristics could be dismissed if he lied about being an instructor at Falcon Field.

There is no evidence in the declassified RIs that hint they did any of those things (including the photographic analysis). Finally, Rhodes was not humiliated in public.

In Rhodes' letter to McCoy, he declines an invitation to Wright-Patterson until after September 15th, but it seems there was no follow-up. I wonder why they wanted to see him at W-P. Maybe they were frustrated by CIC's reports.

Regards,

Don

David Rudiak said...

Kevin wrote:
"Still troubling, especially in the light of no additional witnesses, which suggests something low and localized."

Basically I agree. But the number of potential witnesses would also be affected by Phoenix being a much smaller city than it is now (~100,000 in 1950 vs. 1.6 million today) and Rhodes living on the north edge of town, out in the relative boonies. Add to this the (alleged) event being on a Monday, at dusk, when most people would already be indoors (also during stormy weather, another thing to drive people indoors).

Factor in further Rhodes' story of the object being mostly silent (except for the "whooshing" sound, thus wouldn't draw a lot of attention), coming down out of the clouds from the west, circling only briefly, and then going steeply back up into the clouds to the west, all limiting the likely number of people who would have seen it.

So 1)Rhodes lived in a relatively unpopulated part of town; 2)The sighting was at a less-than-optimum time; 3)The object didn't make a lot of noise to draw attention to itself; and 4)It was visible only briefly and flew a trajectory that was indeed localized and not over the more populous parts of Phoenix.

In general, only a small percentage of people are outdoors at any one time, looking at the sky, in the right place and looking in the right direction to see something unusual flying, even something conventional, such as a meteor fireball flashing overhead or a plane about to crash. So eyewitnesses tend to be few.

Sourcerer said...

David wrote: "Rhodes lived in a relatively unpopulated part of town"

Yes. The club where he was a musician is mentioned in a Phoenix New Times article:

"The restaurant that bears Durant's name originally began life as Wayne's Midway Inn, a sawdust-on-the-floor roadhouse located in what was then open country on the north edge of town."

And Rhodes lived a couple miles north of the place.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Gentlemen -

You all miss the point. It doesn't matter if Rhodes lived in an isolated part of town, or a thinly populated part of town. The point is that we have no independent corrobation of his story. We have the photographs, which do provide some evidence, and we have the note about additional photographs that I have not been able to find and I have no information about anyone else who has seen them, with the one exception noted by Rhodes.

I really wanted this story to be much more solid than it currently is. Can we validate some of it... maybe. Can we reject it... not really. We're left with some intriguing information, we're left with some important questions, but we don't have enough data to make a final, positive determination. The very definition of unidentified.

Sourcerer said...

Kevin wrote: "You all miss the point. It doesn't matter if Rhodes lived in an isolated part of town, or a thinly populated part of town. The point is that we have no independent corrobation of his story."

What ufologist the past 60 years investigated the case? Now that everyone is likely dead (including Larmore, deceased 1985), there are not good odds of finding another witness today. So, that kind of investigation cannot be done. The skills deployed in investigating Roswell -- the legalistic methodology, all the "witnesses", "affidavits", determining "credibility" and finding "corroborative" "testimony", arguing issues of "memory" -- all that is useless when everyone involved is dead.

But that is no reason to dismiss the Rhodes case. Instead it requires a different methodology.



Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Don -

I thought that I had made it clear that Dr. James McDonald had investigated the case in the mid-1960s. I have access to his letters to Dick Hall about this and have made the relevant portions available here.

Sourcerer said...

Kevin,

To my knowledge, Dr. McDonald did not investigate the sighting or the photographs. His focus was Rhodes' claim to have an honorary PhD.

You corresponded with Dr Meinel and he confirmed Rhodes worked for him at Kitt Peak.

Linda Howe did interview Rhodes on the issues in the late 1990s. As far as I know no one else did.

Whether or not Rhodes had a PhD of any sort is irrelevant to the sighting and the photographs. Larmore and Falcon Field are relevant.


Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

Might as well add the two CIC investigations. Gust, Loedding, and Hynek criticized the 1947 one. The 1949 one was just as bad, satisfying none of Hynek's criteria.

Make of it what you will.

Nothing in the RIs should be taken at face value. Everything in them requires corroboration.


Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Don -

I'm in the process of moving so many of my records are currently packed, so I can't take this as far as I want...

However, Hayden Hewes, then of Ground Saucer Watch interviewed Rhodes, and analyzed his pictures, or had someone analyze them using the emerging computer enhancement technology. He concluded the photographs to be authentic, but then, he found nearly everything to be authentic. I was never impressed with the analysis.

The point is that Rhodes was interviewed by Ufologists on a number of occasions.

Sourcerer said...

Kevin, I wasn't aware of the Hewes analysis. Do you know what was analysed? Did he have photographic prints? I only know of the prints given to Arnold who gave them to Dr McDonald who, I've read, returned them to Arnold.

The images on the internet are from reproductions from newspapers, books, magazines. Besides the lower resolution compared to a photographic print, sometimes the verso can bleed through giving the appearance of "features" where there are none.

My point is that whatever investigations there were, they did not answer the questions we have. as we still ask them.

Rhodes makes some claims that don't seem likely, such as the NOL degaussing project and being an instructor at Falcon Field. When would he have gained the skills needed for such work? There are maybe six years between when he would have graduated hs to WWII.

By 1942 he had expertise in optics. Like many amatuer astronomers, he was also a telescope maker, which inlcudes making the optics. During WWII these were valuable skills for the war effort -- one reason being the supply of optics from Germany to the US military ended.

If Rhodes were inventing a biography to inflate his credentials, he already had, in optics, more credible evidence for his claims. Optics and the NOL is a good match. Astronomy and a credible sighting is a good match.

I find it baffling he would invent so much, hardly less baffling than if we were to learn his claims were true.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Don -

Here's what I know. According to Hewes, who quoted William Spaulding of the now defunct Ground saucer Watch, they worked from first generation prints. I do not know how they established there, but do know they interviewed Rhodes on May 31, 1977.