This whole UFO thing is becoming quite confusing with little bits and pieces dropping in from all sorts of places. As I wrote a while ago, I had been driving into the Hy Vee grocery store parking lot when I got a call from someone wanting to talk about William Rhodes (See a series of postings in October 2010). That set off a bit of an investigation into the photographs he had taken on July 7, 1947, in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Air Force worked hard, I thought, to discredit Rhodes and their investigation into his background was some what snarky on the surface. They maligned his occupation, suggesting he was little more than a third-rate musician who lived off his wife’s salary as a teacher. They didn’t think much of his Panoramic Research Laboratory which seemed to be a well-equipped home lab, and overlooked that he held a number of patents. They mentioned that he claimed to be a doctor, but could find no reference in the telephone director showing that he was a physician or a vet, apparently never considering that he might hold a Ph.D or looking for other documentation besides that in the telephone book.
As I have noted before, this question of a post-graduate degree is a somewhat murky area and as James McDonald suggested, clouds his otherwise interesting tale of taking two photographs of a flying saucer. For some, this issue is enough to suggest the Rhodes photographs are a hoax. For others it is an aberration that suggests something about Rhodes’ personality but does not mean the pictures were faked.
I mention all this by way of background to a new point. I have been working on a book for Visible Ink Press and one of the things I have been doing is revisiting the Maury Island sighting. This took place on June 21, 1947, which is only a couple of days before Kenneth Arnold made his sighting, but it received no publicity, or interest, until after Arnold’s report exploded all over the newspapers and the world.
George Earley, who describes himself as an “Opinionated Oregonian,” and who had researched the case for a long time, published a four-part series in UFO magazine about the Maury Island case. (I will note here that Bill Birnes who is the publisher of UFO and who, on UFO Hunters on History (which used to be the History Channel, but they do little history any more), investigated the Maury Island case, published Earley’s series which seems to conflict with Birnes’ opinion of the sighting. It is always good to see opposing opinions freely stated without acrimony, but then, I digress).
You’re all probably wondering what this means and how does it all tie together. Simple. Earley, in part four of the series, mentioned that Arnold, who was investigating the Maury Island sighting for Ray Palmer of Amazing Stories, believed that he had gotten himself in over his head. Arnold just wasn’t sure what to do, but remembered that Lieutenant Frank Brown, who had investigated Arnold’s sighting, had told him to call if he had any questions. Arnold did that, calling Brown at Hamilton Army Air Field in California.
Brown, with Captain William Davidson, took a B-25 (with permission, of course) and flew up to Tacoma, Washington, where Arnold was investigating the case. They all got together in Arnold’s hotel room late in the evening where Arnold showed them the debris that had been recovered on Maury Island. Both Army officers seems to believe that the material was nothing more than smelter slag and believed the tale of the crippled UFO to be a hoax. (And while all that is not critical to this, I will note that I find no reason to disagree with the two officers and their analysis.)
Anyway, the point is, and according to Earley, Arnold asked the two officers what Army intelligence had learned about UFOs. Davidson then drew a picture and said, “This is a drawing of one of several photographs we consider to be authentic.”
All well and good, but what has this to do with anything else, you might ask? Well, Brown then said, “It came from Phoenix, Arizona the other day. We have prints of it at Hamilton Field, but the original negatives were flown to Washington, D.C.”
Earley then wrote, “If they were, the late Edward Ruppelt, one-time head of Project Blue Book, made no mention of them in his book.” (But there is a case file in the Blue Book files so Ruppelt had to know about it.)
It is clear to me, that those pictures were the ones that Rhodes had taken since there are no other photographs taken in July 1947 in Phoenix, Arizona. It is interesting that Brown mentioned Hamilton Field because Rhodes does the same thing. And Hamilton Field was part of the Fourth Air Force in 1947, and Rhodes had communications with officers at Fourth Air Force about his photographs as well.
Now I realize these statements, uttered so long ago by officers who would be dead a few hours later (their B-25 crashed and burned), doesn’t mean much in and of itself. But still it is an interesting bit of information buried in a long story about the Maury Island hoax written by Earley, a man who has long studied that case and is well-versed on the ins and outs of it.
And no, there is nothing more we can do. Brown and Davidson died within hours of the conversation., Captain E. J. Smith, an airline pilot who was also in the room during the discussion and who had his own UFO sighting on July 4, 1947, and Kenneth Arnold who asked the question are both gone as well. We only have the information provided by Arnold so long ago in his writings about UFOs, about a case that he didn’t investigate with pictures he probably didn’t see, and what we all know about the Rhodes photographs. It is interesting, as I say, but doesn’t prove much one way or the other.