Saturday, July 14, 2012

Roswell and Chasing UFOs

I have waited to comment on the National Geographic Channel’s Chasing UFOs because I wanted to see the episode that dealt with the Roswell case. I wanted to see how they handled it and I wanted to see if the button that they had used on the web to promote the program actually showed up in that program. There had been talk that the buttons they would use were those metallic fatigue uniform buttons that Frank Kimbler had found during earlier searches.

I now have the answers for my questions and it is not good.
White Sands UFO
First, let’s divert for a moment. They used that old video from White Sands of something that looked disc shaped that angled to the ground, bounced high and then hit with an explosion. They were quite impressed with it and at the end said that their missile expert had said that it wasn’t a missile.
But this video has been around for a decade or more and those on the SyFy Channel’s Fact or Faked: The Paranormal Files had explored the possibility that the footage was of a missile test that had gone astray. They attempted to replicate the footage themselves and did a fairly convincing job.
White Sands UFO near telephone pole.
I wondered then, and I wonder now, why these investigators don’t bother with checking with the White Sands Missile Range. I did that and Monte Marlin said that he once had an email response prepared that he sent out to all who asked about the video. It struck me that for him to do that, it meant that there were many others who also asked the question about the footage which isn’t a bad thing. I mean there were enough people asking about the validity of the tape that he felt compelled to create a generic response to save himself some time.
White Sands explosion.
Marlin, in his email to me said that this particular video was part of “an infrared shot of a Navy missile test...The high powered optics tests are part and parcel of our test mission here at the missile range. The data we collect belongs to our ‘customers,’ the weapons developers and is used for technical purposes. Once in a while the clips make their way to the general public...”
Marlin also noted, “There are many, many launch areas and instrumentation sites on this enormous missile range. It is not uncommon to see poles in video footage. The poles may carry cabling related to the test or some poles have markings so that when we look at the footage, we can measure time/space distance.”
This seems to explain what the video shows, and it seems that there is a terrestrial explanation for it. I do wonder why, we are once again treated to this footage when a good explanation for it has been offered and why those on this new show didn’t bother with that or even know it.
Frank Kimbler
After interviewing Cliff Stone, who seems to be a nice fellow who has studied UFOs for quite a while, but who has no special knowledge about the Roswell case, they move onto the Debris Field. They did take Frank Kimbler out there with them. He explains how he located the field, talking about getting the information from the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
With metal detectors, they begin to sweep the field. Quickly (and I say quickly because it is clear they didn’t spend many hours out there), they find a bit of metal. While everyone stands around speculating about how this might be part of the craft or it might be the remnants of the recovery operation, but not seeming to be able to identify the metal as a rusted can, they move on.
After Frank returns to Roswell, they decide to spend the night, using their metal detectors, night vision photography, and their enthusiasm. Eventually, Erin Ryder discovers something. They all crowd around as they dig it up and find a button. They don’t recognize it, but believe it to be military, and if so, why then that is highly significant.

Back in LA they analyze the things they have found. They mention their missile expert but nothing from White Sands. The first metal they found was nothing more important than the remains of a tin can. They had mentioned how desolate the area was, but failed to mention that it was a working ranch and that UFO investigators had been out there, on and off, for two decades. A rusted can has no significance.
A button similar to the one they found.
They have now identified the button as Air Force. The instant I saw it, I knew it was an Air Force button. But I also realized, the instant I saw it, that the button was irrelevant. In July 1947, when the recovery operation was underway, there was no Air Force. There was the Army Air Forces, but the point is, it was the Army Air Force Forces. The Air Force wouldn’t become a separate service until September.
Here’s something else. The button is from a Class A uniform which is basically a coat and a tie. While not exactly a dress uniform, it is much fancier than the fatigues that would be worn into the field. The soldiers, who were cleaning the debris field, would have been in fatigues, and while the officers wouldn’t be down on their hands and knees, they might well have been dressed in a similar fashion because they were also in the field. Had they not been wearing fatigues, they would have been in khakis, a Class B uniform that would not have had the fancier buttons on it.
And if they were, for some reason, out there in a Class A uniform, the buttons would not have been Air Force, they would have been Army.
In other, more precise words, that button, that great find by the Chasing UFOs team, had nothing to do with the recovery operation, whether picking up an alien craft or the remains of a weather balloon (which would have taken a couple of guys most of an hour… ).
It is quite clear that the button was planted out there by someone who didn’t understand military history, military operations, or the proper wear of the uniform. That button, from a Class A uniform, did not belong out there because those recovering the debris wouldn’t have been wearing Class A uniforms.
Here is something else about that button. It seemed to be too good. The button I used for the photograph had not been buried, but only exposed to the open air for a couple of decades. It is tarnished to a bronze color. The button they found seemed to be nearly pristine. I would expect that if it had been buried for any length of time it would have degraded more than my button that had not.
What this tells me is that the National Geographic has gone the same way as the Arts and Entertainment Channel, Bravo, History Channel and a couple of others. Arts and Entertainment was originally about programing from high culture but has changed until its highest rated show is Storage Wars about those who buy abandoned storage lockers.
Bravo, which once broadcast ballet and opera now gives us Tabatha’s Salon Takeover where she teaches the owners of hair salons how to keep the place clean, treat customers and cut hair. They also broadcast the Real Housewives of NYC and Pregnant in Heels.

The point is that National Geographic is now more about ratings than research. It is about audience share and entertainment and not about finding the truth, whatever that truth might be. It is about superficial research that avoids asking the difficult questions or asking those who might actually have an answer.
Had anyone there asked me about the button, I could have told them that the Air Force didn’t exist in July 1947. I could have told them that the Air Force came into existence in September 1947 so that a button from an Air Force uniform would have been dropped some time after that. I would have told them that I would not expect to find such a button and at best it was dropped by someone in a Class A uniform long after the recovery operation. At worse, it was planted out there for someone to find and draw the wrong conclusions.
I suppose this is no worse than any other documentary. While I get that the producers seem to have an attitude that some UFOs are alien craft, I would rather see something with a little more substance. The reaction to finding the rusted tin can struck me as over the top. The excitement over the button was somewhat strained. In other words, I didn’t believe the “acting” around the finds and that detracted from the overall message of the program.
This is just another example of a program that doesn’t have research at its heart but entertainment. In this case, the entertainment seems to suggest that aliens do visit Earth. In other programs, the emphasis seems to be that those reporting UFOs are somehow deluded, mistaken or uneducated. In neither case are the programs fair… they take a point of view to the exclusion of contradictory information.
Chasing UFOs is no better and no worse than any of the others. I just wish they knew the subject a little better


Mike said...

Your commentary on the subject of Roswell and the new National Geographic Channel series, "Chasing UFOs," is refreshing in its objectivity and balance.

Sadly I agree that National Geographic has lowered its standards in the pursuit of ratings and the dollar. It seems that ever more producers of television programming today are cynical and contemptuous of their audience. What's worse is that far too many people are willing to watch the dreck that is being fed to them.

In this regard a book you might find of interest is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle," by Chris Hedges, former New York Times writer.

edithkeeler said...


You're being much too kind about Chasing UFO's. Although this episode is probably the best so far, the previous ones have been dreadful. I'm guessing you haven't seen them.

This series is a big setback for the UFO investigation genre on television. I'm still trying to understand why James Fox, who made "Out of the Blue" and "I Know What I Saw", would associate himself with it. The only point of the show I've been able to discern is that it's a showcase for FLIR equipment. Each episode consists of these three clowns strapping on their night-vision equipment and running through the bushes being trailed by the cameraman from the "Blair Witch Project." Oh, and they stick in a few "bleeped out" words here and appeal to the younger folks I guess.

Don said...

"The point is that National Geographic is now more about ratings than research"

It is 'NatGeo', these days. I assume the franchise is branding itself for the 21st century.

Regarding Kimbler's buttons. Has anyone researched the manufacturers? What are the odds army utility buttons were made by manufacturers of workmens clothes. and are identical to the buttons on, say, Mac Brazel's dungarees or work jacket?



paul thompson said...

Kevin - While I agree with your analysis, you didn't go far enough. The truth is, this program is simply laughable, and an insult to the intelligence of the viewer. How the National Geographic channel could stoop to broadcasting this drivel is beyond me.

KRandle said...

All -

Here's the deal. There are those advocating that we "geezers" abandon the field because we have accomplished nothing. We should make way for the youngsters who bring fresh insight and ideas to the table...

Then we see them rehashing material that was rejected years ago, failing in the most basic of research, and showing bits of a tin can as if it is something strange and wonderous.

I was taught that before you begin on a research project, you make a survey of the current literature on the subject. It saves a great deal of time, keeps you from going over ground that is played out, and allows you to build on the base of knowledge.

In UFOs, we see the people promoting the nonsensical Allende Letters, ignoring Allende's confession that he invented the whole thing. We see another, new investigation of Mantell when it is clear that the accident was caused by Mantell's violation of regulations. We are forced to answer the same questions over and over simply because some are too lazy to do their own research.

This is what we see here. The video footage was explained years ago... all they had to do was ask those at White Sands but failed to do so probably because they already knew the answer. The video makes for good television.

They dig up a button that excites them because they apparently didn't know that the Air Force didn't exist in July 1947... They tell us that buttons similar to the one they found were made in 1947, but the miss the critical timing simply because they didn't understand the history of the change from the AAF to the AF.

True journalism is gone and good research is gone. Instead we are left with what makes good television which is not the same thing as the truth.

PS: I wondered what the importance of the FLIR was on a field in winter when they were looking for metal and not some kind of beast.

Oh, well, it could have been worse... they could have found bits of the Mogual balloon that Charles Moore claimed was there.

paul thompson said...

Eactly right Kevin. Most UFO TV these days is just nonsense, and unfortunately it unfairly gives the whole arena of USO research a bad name.

cda said...

Why should this button excite anyone? It must have come off someone's clothing, either military or civilian. Since we know both the USAF and civilians have been to and explored the site since 1947 (and maybe earlier) what significance has this find?

If the said button could be shown to be 'not of this earth' then we would indeed have something interesting. Alas, no such luck.

So what did the Nat Geo team think they had discovered if not a terrestrial button? The discovery was simply a non-event.

I assume the purpose of such TV shows is to titillate the younger generation, and perhaps some older ones unfamiliar with the case.

KRandle said...


I think their point was that this Air Force button proved that someone in the Air Force had been out there... Of course, that wouldn't have been in July 1947 because there was no USAF in July 1947.

As I tried to make clear, the button is irrelevant and since it was very degraded, as you would expect from something that had been out there for 65 years, it was planted or lost sometime more recently.

Steve Sawyer said...
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Don said...

"Here's the deal. There are those advocating that we "geezers" abandon the field because we have accomplished nothing. We should make way for the youngsters who bring fresh insight and ideas to the table..."

Geezers vs Bored Teenagers. Who's on their team? You should ask your critics to name three.

The problem isn't reintroducing Allende or Mantell, but that they don't have any new information or insight; they play just the spooky parts because its entertainment.

One should also realize that in UFO entertainment, no one wants a solution to the mystery. Solutions don't sell, but mystery does -- until boredom sets in...consider The X-Files.

I thought Sparks reinvestigation of Mantell back in June 2008 was more than interesting.



Richard said...

Kevin, something you said got my attention
"We see another, new investigation of Mantell when it is clear that the accident was caused by Mantell's violation of regulations."
It is clear that Thomas Mantell violated regulation and that is what got him killed but do you discount the object he was following. It seems to me that he died trying to match speed and altitude with the UFO and in doing so he violated the rules but the UFO or object was real. Would like to hear your comment.
Thanks Richard

cda said...

Please don't bring up Mantell again. There have been numerous analyses of this case, too many to mention. Kevin did an exhaustive one himself about 10 years ago.

Suffice to say: No, it was not a UFO. And no, he was not killed by ETs. Neither was his body spirited away.

Nick Redfern said...


An excellent post, one that demonstrates exactly what is wrong with "Reality" TV and the lack of actual investigations in these shows.

Here's my take on it all, in a recent blog post:

Richard said...

I came to this site in my search for the truth about UFOs. It was my impression that websites that offer users a chance to comment were all about engendering discussion, sharing the truth and helping people find information on whatever their topic of interest might be. To be told................."please, don't bring up Mantell again" wreaks of arrogance, smugness and screams out......we know the truth, you don't, leave us alone". I guess I will take your advice and go elsewhere in for my search for the truth. For future reference, drop the word "please" it does not help to put a nice word in front of a nasty comment.
Many Thanks
Richard Gray

starman said...


"Neither was his body spirited away."

Nobody ever said it was. Mantell was not Moncla.

@Richard, if you have something to say in favor of the Mantell case, go ahead. :)

KRandle said...

All -

I moderate this blog and I decide what is appropriate and what is not. I do not allow political discussion or personal attacks. Other than that, most everything goes.

I remind CDA that I brought Mantell into the discussion and it is not for you decide what is appropriate.

Richard, I have done a long report on the Mantell case and given the testimony of those in the Godman Army Air Field tower, the information from the accident report, and my experience as a military aviator, that Mantell was chasing a balloon some six to seven miles above him.

The original document was published by UFO UpDates and you might find a copy of it there. If you wish to send your email address, I will send a copy to you and immediately delete the comment with your email in it.

Don said...

@ Richard

The Mantell case isn't on my short list so I have no dog in that hunt, and I haven't read much about it, including Kevin's account.

I recommend reading Sparks on Mantell, to be found on Updates, June 2008. The article isn't about the UFO, but the account of the chase. There was supposed to be a Part 2 which was to be about the UFO, but I don't recall if it was published.

His post didn't generate much comment, so I don't know what the general opinion of it is.

In the Part 1, Kevin is listed by Sparks as a source or contributor.



Lance said...

I don't think CDA meant his comments in a nasty way, just in the same spirit as Kevin's piece itself.

There is a sad resurgence in discussion of long dead cases that frustratingly ignores earlier work.

I can see Richards' side as well. He likely came in without realizing that we have a load of grizzled regulars for whom many of these cases are old hat.

Of course, that doesn't stop us from discussing one of those old cases to death!


cda said...

Here is a quote from Coral Lorenzen's book "The Great Flying Saucer Hoax" (published 1962), p.11.

"More rumors surround it [Mantell case] than any other sighting in UFO history. The latest to reach me was from a captain in the USAF Reserve who claims he took part in the investigation of that incident, including the location and inspection of the crashed F-51. He bolsters an old theory that the 'space ship' removed Mantell from his ship and then allowed it to crash. The captain says Mantell's body was never found."

There you are - a claimed first-hand witness who is talking BS. You can check the contemporary newspapers yourself and see that not only was his body found but the funeral had been arranged.

Funny, but this 'captain' reminds me a bit of some of the military guys who testified about Roswell.

I'll shut up now.

Don said...

Lance wrote: "There is a sad resurgence in discussion of long dead cases that frustratingly ignores earlier work."

True. Worse, though, is there is no new work on those cases.

They are "dead" because, beginning with the AF and Navy in 1947, right on through to today's Ufology, there is no interest in them as "cases", and how some cases might be connected, only whether there is useful evidence in them that they are actual UFOs or not, and especially if anything can be gotten from them to imply ET/NoET.

Because of the narrow-beam interest of both UFO skeptics and advocates, I think they miss a lot, when something is there to miss, even though it might be relevant to their interests, because it doesn't immediately say 'UFO' or 'ET' to them.



Steve Sawyer said...

The National Geographic Channel is, btw, owned by Fox Cable Networks, a division of News Corporation, owned by the neocon Rupert Murdoch, the guy embroiled in the ongoing phone hacking and corruption scandal in Great Britain.

I'd say that suggests at least one reason why "Chasing UFOs" is such an awful, sensationalized program.

Steve Sawyer said...

I think the bottom line here is that National Geographic has never produced or shown a UFO-related program or documentary, ever, that was not negative, ridiculing, or dismissive in nature.

They are seemingly incapable and/or unwilling to do an objective, fair, or balanced presentation when it comes to the subject of UFOs.

I watched most of the episode of "Chasing UFOs" that featured James Fox exulting about finding a rusty piece of tin, and then the absurd, post-1947 button, and found the whole show simply stupid, demeaning, and amazingly silly.

This is just another form of "disinfotainment," and while James Fox has tried to rationalize his participation,** saying he was misled by the show's producers, it seems clear he's "gone along" with the inherently self-debunking nature of the show.

This is really tragic, after Fox produced two fairly decent, good UFO documentaries. It's all about "lowest common denominator" entertainment, ratings, and money, not actual education, research, or empirical analysis.

There's an article on the UFO Chronicles website which suggests the show was "hijacked," according to Fox and Ben McGee, two of the three "UFO chasers" but, to me, it seems apparent they've sold out since they're sticking with the program despite their belated misgivings over "Chasing UFOs" thrust and direction, which is wholly subjective and simply offensive to anyone concerned about objectivity and honesty in reporting on the UFO subject.


As KR said about the recent Chase Brandon fabrications, this show, too, is simply more "crapola."

Kurt Peters said...

One must notice that Kevin really does try to give a fair hearing to both/all sides of the issues discussed here.

And here an example from Roswell research that may point to why "real" science snickers at both UFOs and Roswell:

Anti-Roswell: "scientist" Charles Moore (sneered at as a publicity-seeker by actual meteorology grad students) only had a B.S. in Engineering - NO doctorate researcher here, yet he is constantly 'refuted' here.

Pro-Roswell: "scientist" Frank Kimbler is presented as a hard-science ufologist, yet since is is at present a high school science teacher in Roswell, university-based academics will laugh at his conclusions (unfair, but true).

Neo-Roswell: "Roswell Dream Team" sounds more like a show marketing proposal to some cable channel than a serious effort at rethinking past mistakes (balloon-boy, anyone?).

Admirably, Kevin allows discussion of all three.

David Rudiak said...

"Kurt Peters" cluelessly wrote:
Anti-Roswell: "scientist" Charles Moore (sneered at as a publicity-seeker by actual meteorology grad students) only had a B.S. in Engineering - NO doctorate researcher here, yet he is constantly 'refuted' here.

Point? I'm no fan of Charles Moore, but even people with B.S.'s can do serious scientific work. I'll give Moore credit for making contributions to atmospheric science.

Pro-Roswell: "scientist" Frank Kimbler is presented as a hard-science ufologist, yet since is is at present a high school science teacher in Roswell, university-based academics will laugh at his conclusions (unfair, but true).

New Mexico Military Institute is BOTH a boarding "high school" and junior college. Kimbler teaches at both levels.

Kimbler has a masters in geology, teaches geology at the college level at NMMI where he is an assistant professor (do they have professors at mere "high schools"?), worked for NOAA and the NM Bureau of Mines, wrote "New Mexico Rocks and Minerals, the Collecting Guide." Go to Google Scholar and you will find several published science papers by Kimbler.

So yes, Kimbler qualifies as a "scientist" and an experienced geologist.

What sort of "scientist" is "Kurt Peters"? Why is "Kurt Peters" posting under a pseudonym if he/she is so brilliant and wants to be taken seriously? Because if he/she posted under his/her real name, the jig would be up, because I have strong suspicions that KP is really a certain KK, who nobody takes seriously and is constantly making ignorant remarks.

cda said...


You suspect "that KP is really a certain KK". You mean KKK don't you?

(No I am not referring to the Ku Klux Klan).

starman said...

Kal Korff.

David Rudiak said...

No, I don't mean KKK or Korff. There is another KK. Read UFO Updates and she posts there all the time to the annoyance of everyone.

(For some reason--serendipity I suppose--there seems to be a heavily "K" thing in the debunKing crowd--maybe it's a qualification.)

Of course, I'm not sure KP is KK, but it has her tone and the comments tend to be very similar, such as using the sexism card: "poor me, the male Ufologists just like to beat up on us women," instead of "they're beating up on me because I post such inane and ignorant material."

In this case, stupid comments about Frank Kimbler were being made, such as him not being a real "scientist" (in quotes) and teaching only high school. The guy was a working geologist before he started teaching college-level geology at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, which is considered junior college level. (Yes, and they also have high school students whom he also teaches--so what?)

It even annoyed me that he/she attacked Charles Moore for "only" having a bachelors in engineering, therefore he was incapable of doing "real" science either. True, his Roswell debunkery wasn't real science (more like deliberate fraud), but even I have to give the devil his due. Moore made many contributions in atmospheric science before he turned debunker.

You don't need a PhD to do good scientific work and a PhD doesn't magically protect you from bias or screwing up either.

What was the original subject of this blog? I forget.

David Rudiak said...
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dsheehan312 said...

Um the chasing ufo's team has already acknowledged all of your theories about the button and upon further investigation after the show was finalized they learned that the button is at earliest from 1949. Look here:

Lance said...
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KRandle said...

dsheehan312 -

All well and good, but here's the problem. If you watched the show, you saw them making rookie mistakes. It was clear to me the moment I saw the button that it was irrelevant. That didn't stop them from promoting it in the show as something significant.

Here's something else. That button has to be planted on the field for them to find. It show no real signs of age and degradation from the elements.

And it was only after many of us complained about the show that they let us all know that the button was irrelevant. Admitting it now does not let them off the hook because they could have done something at the end to tell us that later information clued them in to the button.

Sorry, this was a bad show and they should have known better.

KRandle said...

dsheehan312 -

Please note one other thing. Their posting correcting the mistakes came two days after I posted mine... which is not to say that they read it and reacted, only that I posted my criticisms two days before. My point was had they bothered to ask anyone with a little knowledge in the field, they would have avoided the errors...

Really the missile footage was explained long ago. I even did something about it right after it because it went viral. The footage is about 15 years old. All they had to do was ask at White Sands, something they apparently didn't bother doing... and then reported that their missile expert said it wasn't a missile.

While I am delighted they have attempted to fix the mistakes, their report is out there for all to see and it is filled with mistakes that could have been avoided.

Steve Sawyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry said...

Part 1

With regard to your main point: Yes, “Chasing UFOs” is a piece of fluff. As soon as I saw the previews for it a few months ago, with the entire crew dressed up like “Ghostbusters” I lost all hope of it having any informational content. And yes, if any of the crew had the brains that God gave a goose, they could have figured out quickly that the Air Force uniform button had no significance whatsoever. And yes, they could have avoided a lot of useless thrashing about if they had consulted a few people ahead of time who were familiar with the case.

However, what I want to question is your implication that the White Sands “disc” video is completely explained. When I first saw the video, something like 6 or 7 years ago, as a professional aerospace engineer, I spent a fair amount of time trying to identify what was being depicted. I downloaded a video file from the internet and went over it frame by frame. There are a few conclusions one can come to, based simply on photogrammetry (measuring the relative sizes and locations of images in the sequence).

1) The pan motion of the camera is horizontal to a high degree of precision, thus the camera was on a tripod or similar fixed mount with its pivot axis aligned to the vertical. (i.e., the tripod was leveled).
2) The camera motion was extremely smooth and accurate. (i.e., tracked the object precisely, with no jitter or overshoot). The camera mount was professional quality—probably with a viscous-damped pivot. The camera operator was experienced.
3) The camera was optimally placed adjacent to the apparent flight path of the object in such a location as to capture the action of the object with a minimal azimuthal range of motion.
These facts argue that a professional camera operator with professional equipment was prepositioned to capture the object’s expected flight path.

4) From the point of view of the camera, the object’s flight path was behind the poles (i.e., farther from the camera than the poles).
5) Assuming that the telephone poles were essentially identical in size to each other and placed at essentially equal intervals, the line of poles was approximately (but not exactly) parallel to the flight path of the object.
6) The setting for the image sequence was an arid, sparsely populated desert environment, typical of the American Southwest.
These facts suggest that the location of the video “shoot” was probably a military test range of the type used for free flight testing of bombs, missiles, or experimental aircraft, in which the flight of the object being tested could pose some hazard to the civilian population or the video crew. For these reasons, such facilities are located far from population centers, and are designed so that the camera operator position is removed far enough from the intended flight path to minimize the risk to the camera operator, in the event of a crash or explosion (as happened in this case).

Larry said...

Part 2
I was familiar with such a range at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, having once planned a test I was responsible for at that location. Using Google Maps, the test range can be seen about 2 to 3 miles due West of the main runway complex at China Lake. You can see that that test range has a main flight path centerline, a “West Camera Road” and an “East Camera Road” equidistant from the flight path centerline by a distance of about 1500 ft. One of those roads (I forget which) has a line of telephone poles spaced at equal intervals that runs the length of the range (on the order of 10 miles) and that carries telephone and data lines from one end of the range to the other. As those road names imply, the normal practice when filming an event at one of these ranges is to drive out onto one of the parallel roads and set up a camera at the location where one expects the action to occur.

It was apparent to me that the flight and crash of the “disc” had probably occurred at just such a range. But, the vegetation seen in the “disc” crash video and the mountains in the distance does not look like China Lake, so I surmised that the test range must be somewhere else. I speculated that White Sands might be the location, but I could not locate any overhead imagery or maps that depicted bombing ranges at White Sands. In principle, however, it should be possible to locate the exact location at which the “disc” video was taken.

Given the typical dimensions of a test range, the flight path of the disc was probably about 500 meters from the camera at closest approach, while the line of telephone poles was about 25 or so meters away. A telephone pole is about 1 ft in diameter. That means, of course, that if the “disc” image was the same size as the pole image it would be about 20 times larger, or about 20 ft in length. In fact, the “disc” image is about 2.5 times larger than the width of one of the poles, so it is more like 50 ft or more in length —approaching the size of a Lear Jet fuselage.

Also given the typical dimensions of a test range, I estimate that the flight speed was no more than 100 to 200 mph, and the maximum flight path altitude was a few hundred feet above ground level (AGL).

Then there is the behavior of the object, itself. Those who have viewed it will recall that the object projects an oval outline to the camera (with an aspect ratio of about 4 or 5 to 1), approaches from camera right in a descending flight path, contacts the ground, rebounds into the air on an ascending flight path which rounds out at the top (a few hundred feet AGL, by my estimate), descends again, contacts the ground a second time, at which point it disintegrates into glowing smithereens. I speculate that the object’s flight was originally recorded on IR film and then transferred to a video image. Filming in the IR band would explain why the object itself and its fragments after the explosion are glowing brightly and why the resolution is rather poor.

Without getting bogged down in the details, let me note a few of the anomalies of the object’s flight. If the object were an aircraft (i.e., a vehicle that flies by generating aerodynamic lift) then it would have to be of very light construction that is typical of aircraft.

Larry said...

Part 3

As I’m sure you are aware as a pilot, aluminum aircraft don’t contact the ground at a couple of hundred miles per hour, bounce into the air hundreds of feet and keep on flying—they wad up into piles of twisted wreckage. In order to survive a contact with the ground and keep functioning, whatever the object was, it had to have been constructed in a much more rugged manner than aircraft. That means it was dense. Small, solid fueled missiles are relatively rugged—they have been known to skip off a surface at grazing angles and get airborne again. However, as I’ve said, this was a large object, and it didn’t contact the ground at a grazing angle.

There is one frame that shows the moment of the first contact with the ground. In that frame, the object appears to contact the ground slightly asymmetrically, and it tilts with respect to the camera line of sight (this would be a “roll” in aircraft frame of reference). When the object rolls around its longitudinal axis, its image becomes an ellipse of lower aspect ratio (i.e., it becomes more circular). This tells me that the object was actually of circular planform and not cigar shaped. Almost immediately after the first contact with the ground, the object snaps back into its stable orientation (“wings level”) within a few frames. Clearly it is not flying aerodynamically. Since the object is not flying by aerodynamic forces, what does keep it up and propel it?

The only other conventional choice would be rocket propulsion. One of the characteristics of rocket powered missiles is that they usually fly with relatively constant thrust. Constant thrust creates more or less continual acceleration. That’s why rockets and missiles go faster as they burn off fuel. This object, however, shows basically constant horizontal flight speed.

I could go on, but the question is, how, if at all, did Monte Marlin explain any of this—the size, the speed, the shape, etc? I think there is no question that the footage was taken by a professional photographer at a dedicated desert test facility and that White Sands is a good candidate. But that doesn’t explain what the object is and why it looks and moves like a flying saucer. If he can tie this footage to a specific test of a specific vehicle, on a specific range, on a specific day, I am prepared to be persuaded. Otherwise, it sounds like he’s just guessing.

Terry the Censor said...

Epistemic values seem to have decayed into mere entertainment choices.

KRandle said...

Larry -

While I find your arguments interesting, I will note that a rocket or missile, if it strikes the ground at a shallow angle, will bounce. Those folks over at Paranormal Files: Fact or Faked were able to duplicate the missile motion.

Second, Monty Marlin pretty well defined what test it came from. I have no reason to reject his information.

Larry said...

Kevin said:
"Monty Marlin pretty well defined what test it came from..."

Well, that's what I was asking; which test was it?

I wonder if you could either post the relevant part of the message or, if there is no general interest in it, forward it to my email account, or alternatively, give me Monty's contact info so I could follow up on it independently?


KRandle said...

Larry -

Just look up the White Sands Missile Range web site and use the contact button. That's what I did. He responded quickly.

On November 4, 2011, I posted a piece about this... you could find it by typing White Sands into the search engine on the left side.

The important part of the email was,“ infrared shot of a Navy missile test...The high powered optics tests are part and parcel of our test mission here at the missile range. The data we collect belongs to our ‘customers,’ the weapons developers and is used for technical purposes. Once in awhile the clips make their way to the general public...”

I have no reason to doubt his explanation... and as I said last year, Paranormal Files did a test and found they could replicate the actions of the missile.

Nippa DJ said...

I realise the 'Button' subject has been addressed, but I would like to add to your conclusion, that the button 'found at the site', was a post 1949 Air Force silver plated brass button.
The Air Force button was initially gilt (thin gold plated) from 1947-1949, then changed to silver plated.
Here is a photo of the progression.
(Source: Record Of American Uniform And Historical Buttons, by Alphaeus H. Albert)
Brass does not rust, and the tarnished blue metal appearance of the silver is correct, even if it were buried for 40 years.
All this really shows is that 'perhaps' Air Force officers were at the site after 1949 in dress uniform (Which is unusual, but certainly a possibility), or more than likely it was 'planted' for the TV show.