Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Foo Fighters and the USS New York


Well, it’s happened again. Got an email about a Foo Fighter sighting at the end of World War II which was radar confirmed. The ship, the USS New York apparently fired on the object without results which meant that they neither hit it nor drove it away. This all happened in the middle of March, 1945, sometime after the invasion of Iwo Jima and before the invasion of Okinawa.

USS New York in 1945.
According to the story, as told in several sources, it was about one o’clock in the afternoon when the captain of the New York sounded general quarters. While the crew searched the sky for the attack, down in the ship’s CIC the radar seemed to show a single object. It was then that the crew, including the captain sighted a bright, silver object overhead, seeming to follow the ship. According to Keith Chester’s Strange Company, the captain ordered his anti-aircraft batteries to open fire but there were no results. When it was clear that they were unable to engage the light, the captain ordered a cease-fire. “Within seconds,” according to Chester which, of course, means the witness, “… the object climbed up at fantastic speed until it was out of sight and off the radar scope.”

Not exactly a disk-shaped object but it happened more than two years before Arnold, and there was the hint of radar confirmation. The witness, eventually identified as Donald Pratt, said that he also had seen the report in a magazine (he thought it was “The Times” meaning Time, I suppose, but it was The New Yorker for October 27, 1945 but more on that later).

I haven’t done a very good job of describing this sighting, but only because it was a non-event. Oh the sighting happened and the New York opened fire, but the target was a bright light in the sky without a distinct shape and was way out of range of any of the anti-aircraft artillery on the ship.

According to the NICAP website, there is another side to this event, which does not negate what Pratt told researchers, only that the identity of the object was realized by the ship’s navigator sometime after the firing started. And it probably should be pointed out here that by this time, meaning March 1945, the US military, many in the civilian government and probably thousands of civilians knew of the Japanese Balloon Bombs. These were sort of “constant level balloons” designed to cross the Pacific Ocean, and then after a couple of cycles of rising and falling, would automatically release a cluster of bombs. The idea was to set fires in the Pacific Northwest and to cause other sorts of havoc on a really random game of hit or miss. The balloons did work, to a very limited extent, but the major fires were never started.

Anyway, it seems that the captain and crew thought they were looking at one of the balloon bombs or some other Japanese secret weapon. But, according to Arthur Criste, who wrote to Patrick Huyghe who had published Chester’s book, he had been on the ship during the incident and he had a different perspective (pun intended) of the sighting.

He wrote, “The object we were firing at that day was the planet Venus. It was thought to have been a Japanese balloon…”

Okay…

He continued, “The reason the radar failed to detect a target was due to the fact of its maximum which was 20,000 yards, well beyond the range of our anti-aircraft guns (which means in its somewhat convoluted way that the radar didn’t have the range to detect the object… Venus).”

He said that when the guns began firing, it woke up the navigator who thought they were being attacked. He ran topside and looked up. He recognized the object immediately. He said, “What the hell are you shooting at? That’s Venus…”

Okay…

But a letter from another sailor does not a solution make. According to The New Yorker, on pages 39 – 40, in a short article by William McGuire and Mark Murphy, they reported on what a young sailor had told them. It is essentially the same story but there was no mention of radar being involved. Sure, it mentioned that it seemed that this luminous object was following the ship, and the captain asked the gunnery officer for the range. That man said the object was about eight thousand, eight hundred yards from the ship. They opened fire but the rounds fell short, so they kept increasing the size of the weapons brought to bear. The rounds continued to fall short. Eventually they signaled to one of the destroyers to use their five-inch guns, but still had no effect on the object.

Finally, the navigator arrived topside and mentioned that they were firing at Venus. At that point the shooting stopped… and I wonder what the captain said to the young officer who told him the object was eight thousand, eight hundred yards away…but I digress

For those keeping score at home, Pratt was correct in almost everything he said, except for the object being first seen on radar and that it seemed to leave the area when the shooting stopped. The incident was mentioned in a magazine, though it is clear he had not read the magazine in a long time. Anyway, this solution seems quite logical to me and there is no reason to argue with it. The NICAP site contains all the information about this:

This is just one more example of getting to the final and original sources. Pratt told his tale which opened the door. Others went through it, but in the end, once the trail was followed, the logical solution was found. Chester, in his footnote about the object did mention that there was no documentation for the sighting (and in fairness to Keith, there are many new resources available today that he did not have when he put together his book).

51 comments:

Wade said...

Didn't Leonard Stringfield have a foo fighter encounter flying into Iwo Jima on a C-46 in August, 1945? I believe this was in the Chester book, as well.

Should this be discounted in the pre-Arnold quest because of no publication at the time and no radar or photographic evidence?

KRandle said...

Wade -

Don't understand your point. In this case, the records are quite clear. The USS New York fired on Venus.

The problem with Len's sighting is that there is no record of it prior to Arnold. I have no reason to doubt Len's report and say only that he published nothing about it before the Arnold report and what I have been attempting to do is document sighitngs made prior to Arnold. I am sure that those reported after Arnold but made before Arnold are accurate, it's just that we can't prove it.

Lance said...

Just a note to say that these pieces you have been doing on early UFO history are excellent.

Lance

Jim Robinson said...

Venus is not a logical solution in this case. Here's why.

1.In March of 1945 Venus was near inferior conjunction, hence not far from the sun. It was brilliant in the predawn hours low in the east, but not visible without optical aid during midday hours (when this incident occurred), due to excessive light scattering near the sun. No-one could have seen Venus as a bright object at this time, in fact not at all! Furthermore,even if Venus were visible at the time it would not disappear suddenly in a clear sky. The navigator evidently saw something, but it was not Venus.

2. If the young officer told his skipper the object was 8800 yds away it was because radar indicated it,not because he was looking at something in the sky. At that time no radar on earth was capable of detecting Venus, and even if it could it would not show a range of 8800 yds.

Incidentally, in March of 1945 I was also in the vicinity of Iwo Jima as a radarman aboard USS Randolph (CV-15) and we had a somewhat similar incident. In the predawn hours one morning a brilliant light suddenly popped out from behind a cloud making us think the Japanese were dropping flares over the task group. We nearly went to general quarters also, but quickly realized this really was Venus; but this was in a dark nighttime sky...quite a different scenario from the USS New York incident.


Lance said...

The case demonstrates a fallacy often committed by UFO proponents: not understanding the limitations and vagaries of radar and conflating eyewitness accounts with disconnected radar info.

Early radar was notoriously unreliable...reporting false contacts with great regularity. Paranormal claims often depend upon this kind of noisy data....the more noise in the signal, the better.

The supposed 1952 Washington DC UFO attack is a prime example of this. UFO supporters pretend that the case is supported by radar and visual evidence. But the two types of evidence are not correlated. Indeed several aircrews confirmed that the targets they were being vectored into to investigate were not UFOs but surface features like a steamship, for instance.

UFO accounts often ignore the problems with radar and treat every bit of radar data as perfect and reliable.

Interestingly, as radar has gotten better and better (and the stuff used in the 1940s was pretty crude in comparison) radar cases for UFOs have also diminished.

This mirrors the unarguably damming problem that, as more and more people are carrying cameras with them at all time, the UFO video and photographic evidence has not improved one iota. UFO proponents rationalize this away as they do with any disconfirming evidence in their unfalsifiable pseudoscience.

Lance

Don Maor said...

Lance said:
"Interestingly, as radar has gotten better and better (and the stuff used in the 1940s was pretty crude in comparison) radar cases for UFOs have also diminished."

Have you made a research on this or it is just a claim from you? Have you access to all radar recording?

Lance said:
"as more and more people are carrying cameras with them at all time, the UFO video and photographic evidence has not improved one iota."

I don't know. Have you made a research on this?

If what you say is true (probably not), maybe it is because the UFO people already went home. They came massively in the fifties and sixties and then most of them left. Just an idea.

Another idea, if they are intelligent, we can not expect them to behave in the same manner for all these years. They maybe adaptive to human technology and resources and historical situation. If UFOs are caused by intelligent agents, almost by notion of intelligence you simply cannot expect them to behave like natural phenomena (e.g. rain, earthquakes, etc), which can be safely predicted to be better recorded and understood as the technological resources improve.

You overall argument assumes that the UFO question should be easy to respond... for example, with more radars and cameras. But the UFO enigma is difficult to solve: we have to deal with that.

Mauricio

Lance said...

Hi Don,

So you doubt my premises. But for good measure you create serial pleadings just to be sure that the UFO "hypothesis" isn't harmed.

An unfalsifiable hypothesis is the hallmark of pseudoscience.

Or maybe religion.

Lance

299 said...

Mr. Randle, a short question from a greenhorn: What exactly does radar data show about the movements of aircraft? For example, it is said that there exists extensive radar data for the "Japan Air Lines flight 1628 incident" - does this mean that we can piece together the exact movements of these objects after the event? Where and when they were at what speed? This is probably too optimistic...

KRandle said...

299 -

While this is off topic, I will point out that according to John Callahan, one of the FAA officials involved in that JAL case, he has come records of the whole 30 minutes of the incident which allowed for a complete recreation of the events. In other words, there are records made of that event from the radar data that allowed a reconstruction.

For this specific event, meaning the New York sighting, there is no radar data available... and the last source of information would be the logs from the ship, which are available at the National Archives in the Washington, D.C. area.

Don Maor said...

Lance said:
"An unfalsifiable hypothesis is the hallmark of pseudoscience. Or maybe religion."

This is pure bla-bla. Claiming that the ETH is unfalsifiable does not make it unfalsifiable. The difficulty to falsify the ETH is a problem to be solved (hopefully by the skeptics). Why don't you help and start thinking and propose a test to effectively and definitely falsify the ETH?

The good thing, and more relevant to science, is that the ETH is potentially verifiable.

Gilles Fernandez said...

Don:
Have you made a research on this or it is just a claim from you? Have you access to all radar recording?

This is a graphic made by my friend Robert Alessandri from Dominique Weinstein's visual-radar Catalogue dataes used in a study made by Gonin some years ago.

http://perso.numericable.fr/~wolf424/univers.ovni/lectures/livres_ufo/ovnis_evidence/cat_gonin_corr.gif

Do you note an increasing, a regulate curve or a dismishing of these visual-radar cases? And, of course taking into account, please, there were more radars stations, airborne radar in civilian/military planes, etc, all around the world, and time after time...

After you decide if what Lance stated about is wrong or not...

Gilles.

Phil Haultain said...

Don,
Do you consider your "It's all falsified"approach to be scientific?
Good science studies a phenomenon from the starting point of an open mind.
Period.

Lance said...

Hi Don,

You seem to be confused. Your apparent questions indiicate an understanding of science that is almost precisely backwards.

It's unfalsifiable because (as you show above) believers invent apologies for how the data fails at every test.

I mentioned two bits of damming and disconfirming data.

You asked me about radar cases and evidence to support my contention (I thought most UFO folks already knew this). Gilles provided you evidence. Does it matter to you? No, you already have an apology rationalized.

The photographic/video idea is supremely damning....and ignored by pious believers or explained away with in increasingly elaborate excuses.

Do you really think the photo/video evidence is getting better?

Lance


KRandle said...

All -

For all those interested in the lack of modern radar cases, I would suggest you look at what John Callahan had to say about that. Radars are built to discriminate so that targets that fall outside those peramaters are ignored. On FAA radars, for example, if the object does not have a transponder, then it is ignored. Aircraft flying VFR below five thousand feet are ignored... in other words, they are no seen.

In the JAL case, the Air Force radar was set to ignore a wider range of targets so that blips seen by flight control radars saw more than the Air Force radar displayed. So, a decline in radar cases might be partially explained by the changing way that radar is used and the capabilities of it to discriminate among targets.

Just a thought here.

Don Maor said...

Gilles wrote:

"Do you note an increasing, a regulate curve or a dismishing of these visual-radar cases? And, of course taking into account, please, there were more radars stations, airborne radar in civilian/military planes, etc, all around the world, and time after time..."

From the graph I do notice that there was a peak of radar visual cases centered on years 1950 and 1960. After that, many different things could have happened: (1) Most truUFOs went home(2) UFO pilots realized that they should be more discrete (3) human pilots got bored of reporting UFOs (4) Radar cases were ordered to remain classified, etc. There are so many possibilities, that I am really baffled when Lance accuses me that i am giving "excuses" or "apologies".

I insist. The good part of the radar cases is that they have happened sometime, and still happen today. We cant say nothing about why they have diminished, augmented or kept constant in number.

Don Maor said...

Lance said:
"You seem to be confused. Your apparent questions indiicate an understanding of science that is almost precisely backwards."

Thanks for the compliment dear Lance.

Lance said:
It's unfalsifiable because (as you show above) believers invent apologies for how the data fails at every test.

I don't speak for others. I would agree with you, if my "apologies" were absurd (or if your "tests" were valid, but they are not). I mentioned to Gilles a set of different possibilities that are not absurd at all. Any of them could be right, or some of them, not necessarily all.

Lance said:
You asked me about radar cases and evidence to support my contention (I thought most UFO folks already knew this). Gilles provided you evidence.

Indeed, Gilles provided evidence that radar-visual cases do exist. The temporal behavior consequences and brilliant deductions and assumptions from you or from Gilles are only in your/his imagination.

Lance said:
The photographic/video idea is supremely damning....and ignored by pious believers or explained away with in increasingly elaborate excuses.

Your own assumptions and further conclusions are so weakly based that those believers should not even bother in presenting you another possibilities ("apologies" in your mind)

Lance said:
Do you really think the photo/video evidence is getting better?

I don't know, you are the guy here making related claims. Please provide the evidence of your claims.

Conclusions such as for example: "nothing has happened in the last 50 years, ergo nothing happened ever" are absurd and highly unscientific, but you (Lance) seem to naively embrace such an approach.

The truly scientific behavior here would be to take a specific UFO case and to study it deeply, basing the conclusions on its own merits and characteristics.

Gilles Fernandez said...

Well Don,
You first did as if Lance got wrong with his claim about diminution of radar cases. Now, because his claim sounds or appears correct due to dataes, you explain the diminution of radar cases by unfalsifiable and non testable things, and BTW with the direct premise UFO Radar-cases = E.T. beings! There are not other possibilities and it seems already prooven for you...
It is exactly (and sadly) how Ufology works and imho what Lance pointed when guessing you will have an apology "rationalized", elaborated excuses.
As I often point in skeptic interviews, conferences, interventions, etc. the ufologist is like a malicious cat: when it breaks the weak branch on which he sits, he always lands on his feets. And go to sit down to another weak branch...

Gilles provided evidence that radar-visual cases do exist.

Yes, it exists in UFO litterature. But when you examine case by case, some the best radar casesby Ufologists, there are many prosaic other solutions, pists, possibilities.

But ufologists have already choosen ET is the answer. Allow me to illustrate your posture by a little video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oSJdSL8YOE

Regards,

Gilles

Anthony Mugan said...

Lance
Interested in your claim that good RV cases have become less frequent. Do you have a reference for that please?
It would be a tricky study, given changes in technology for filtering slow / fast targets etc and procedural changes in reporting routes, but will be an interesting read if there is such a study

Lance said...

Hi Anthony,

Gilles linked one bit of data for you above.

Here is the NICAP file on UFO Radar contacts:

http://www.nicap.org/radcatproject/Cat9_Entries.doc

I think this covers 1947-2000

Notice that, of the 11 pages, The first 6 and a half cover 1947-1960. The next 2 pages are the 1960's. About a page and half for the 1970's. The slightly more than a half page for the 1980's AND 90's.

I further base my claim on my own knowledge of celebrated UFO cases, which is not encyclopedic but is not inconsiderable.

Hope this helps,

Lance

Gilles Fernandez said...

Just to illustrate one my previous point (when you look closely case by case, many radar cases "suck" and sometimes the "solid" ones following UFOlogists).

In the data base provided by Lance Moody, there is our famous French "Air France 3532 " UFO case (listed 940128 in the table provided by Lance). Then a recent one. I think the case is in Leslie Kean's UFO best-seller too.

We "well" know this case in our Skeptic team (ie for a Skeptic's counter ton - In French, sorry: http://www.zetetique.fr/divers/OvniDuCnes_chapitre17.pdf ).

Even if there are many problems with this case, the military radar-echo "correlation" -sic - is at the right of the Airbus ( near Coulomiers city aerodrome !!)... but the UFO is allegued to have been always seen at the left of the plane by the pilot (J.C. Duboc), then above Paris!

There are then at least 25 to 50 nautical miles separating the pseudo UFO radar trace and the allegued object!
We think a radar trace having absolutly nothing to do with the object have been artificialy associated to a visual observation (the stewart and co-pilot have declared first to have recognized a meteo-ballon for the object...).

But AF3532 is and will remain a "solid" radar-visual correlation UFO case in many UFO books, UFO network internet medias, etc...

Regards,

Gilles

Don Maor said...

Gilles wrote:

"you explain the diminution of radar cases by unfalsifiable and non testable things, and BTW with the direct premise UFO Radar-cases = E.T. beings! There are not other possibilities and it seems already prooven for you..."

You are wrong Gilles. I mentioned different possibilities regarding the PURPORTED decrease in the quantity of radar cases. One possibility mentioned by me was perfectly prosaic and even "psichosocial". I said that MAYBE the human pilots at some point got bored of reporting UFO radar cases. Such would be a very natural, non ET, non conspiratorial, and reasonable explanation, that would explain a decrease in radar cases.

My global point in mentioning different possibilities was that Lance's brilliant deduction about how should or should not be temporal development of radar cases, is a total and inconclusive garbage.

KRandle said...

All -

I offered a rational reason for the decline of radar cases based on what an FAA official said about the radar systems and you all have ignored it to continue to speculate. So, I say again, the modern radars have the ability to discriminate, ignoring returns outside of their set patterns and two, many radar operators, will ignore objects (aircraft) not equipped with a transponder. This might explain the decline in radar cases.

Paul Kimball said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lance said...

Radar cases have always been more in the wheelhouse of the paranormal believers anyway since it is easy to "correlate" unrelated lights in the sky to radar returns, just as we see in the Kevin's post.

By the way Kevin, the trend of fewer and fewer radar cases started in the 1960's. When did the more sophisticated transponder technology come into play? I believe that is a much more recent development and doesn't explain the trend as you suggest but I could be wrong.

Don apparently doesn't agree (despite now multiple forms of evidence being presented) that cases did decline. Notice that he has offered zero actual evidence in refutation although he does talk about his beloved imaginary saucer pilots and their motivations for making his religion unfalsifiable.


Lance

Larry said...

Part 1

Kevin wrote:

“…“The reason the radar failed to detect a target was due to the fact of its maximum [range] which was 20,000 yards, well beyond the range of our anti-aircraft guns (which means in its somewhat convoluted way that the radar didn’t have the range to detect the object… Venus).”

No, I don’t think you are correctly interpreting this case. If you start with the premise that what the crew and captain were observing was Venus, then you have to conclude that radar was not tracking the same object that everyone was seeing. Therefore, whatever the radar was reporting was perhaps some kind of malfunction of the radar set, but in any case, not related to the visual sighting. This leads Lance to posture, preen, and pontificate that UFO proponents who are seemingly not as intelligent as he is, don’t understand the vagaries and limitations of radar.

However, as Jim Robinson has pointed out, it could not possibly have been Venus because Venus was on the wrong side of the planet to be visible. Also because of the final maneuver in which it ascended rapidly it does not seem to be any object moving at sidereal rate. So, if you are willing to accept that the crew and captain saw something that they fired at, the something must have been endoatmospheric and therefore at least potentially, detectable by radar.

One of the vagaries of radar is a phenomenon known as signal aliasing. I’m sure Lance knows all about this, but for all the dummies in the crowd, I will briefly explain. Recall that the name radar is an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. Those are two different processes, Detection and Ranging. A radar antenna is directional, meaning that its power to transmit and receive signals is maximum along the symmetry axis of the antenna. That symmetry axis defines the radar’s line of sight (LOS). Detection of a target on the radar’s LOS can occur when the radar transmitter sends out a short pulse of radio frequency energy and then receives that reflected pulse back a short time later. The return pulse is amplified by the receiver and displayed as a blob of light on the radar screen. In order to be useful, radar is usually operated in a long string of such pulses. If you receive a relatively unbroken string of such reflected pulses back along the LOS, then the radar is not only detecting, but also tracking a target.

Ranging occurs when you measure the time interval between the transmitted pulse and the returned pulse. Divide that time interval by the speed of light and you have the round trip distance between the radar antenna and the target. It takes about 1 billionth of a second for light to travel 1 foot. So, if the time interval that the radar set measured was 52.8 microseconds, the radar set would tell you that the object it detected was about 26,400 feet away (or 8,800 yards). Because radar needs to send out a continuing series of pulses, there comes a time when you have to stop listening for the return pulse so that you can transmit the next outgoing pulse. That’s referred to as the “range gate” of the radar. For the radar on the USS New York, the range gate was 120 microseconds, yielding a maximum distance for which you could compute the range to an object of 60,000 feet, or 20,000 yards. Note that the maximum distance for which you can measure the time of a radar return has nothing whatsoever to do with the maximum distance at which you can detect and track an object.

Larry said...

Part 2

Military radars are generally designed to be able to compute the range to any target that the weapons could engage. So, the amount of power that is put into the transmitted pulse is sufficient to “light up” say, a fighter aircraft at 20,000 yards. If the fighter aircraft were located substantially farther away than the ranging limit, it would probably be below the detection and tracking limit, as well.

But, if you had a reflective target farther out that was much larger than a fighter aircraft, there is nothing to prevent the radar from detecting and tracking that object. What would happen, however, is that the round trip light time to that target would be substantially larger than the range gate time (lets say 120 microseconds). In that case the return pulse would arrive during the NEXT interval that the radar set was listening for a return. The radar timing circuit would not know that the pulse had been sent during the previous interval and would interpret the signal as though it had been sent during the current interval. This kind of error in signal processing is known as an “aliasing error” because the signal that is being processed is operating under a false identity, or an alias.

The net result of all this is that once the range gate of a radar is chosen (let’s say 20,000 yards), the radar can never report a distance greater than that limit, regardless of the actual range to the target. This phenomenon is well known to the designers of military electronic countermeasures systems and can be used as a method to confuse or “spoof” simple military surveillance systems. So if the object was at a range of 20,000 + 8,800 yards or 28,800 yards, it would be displayed on the radar screen as 8,800 yards.

So the simplest interpretation is that all of the witnesses were accurately relating the part of the story that they were in a position to perceive and the radar system was functioning exactly as it had been designed. It was simply detecting and tracking a large radio-reflective object that was considerably beyond the range gate distance for which it had been designed.

Lance said...

Interestingly, Larry seems to concludes that the simplest(!) solution is a huge object hanging the sky behind the ship!

I shouldn't have written that UFO proponents don't understand issues with radar--that part doesn't matter as much. Closer to what I was trying to convey, is that they take advantage of limitations to promote UFO stories--most specifically the known problem with radar angels. Not referring to Larry here.

This is exactly what happened in the famous and much beloved 1952 Washington D.C. "attack".

Hmm..rereading Larry's post, I'm not sure if his contention is that the light in the sky and radar return were the same thing. Indeed, he could be referring to a return from somewhere else, for instance a ship on the surface. If this is the case then I have no disagreement. If the claim is that a huge object hanging the sky is more likely than a radar angel then I would just have to disagree (along with anyone else who is slightly rational).

The claim that the thing departed (from the MUFON "investigator" Pratt) and that it went of the radar scopes at the same time (how was the correlated?) is not supported by the other witnesses. Indeed the addition of the claim that it went off the radar scopes (by a topside corporal) indicates embellishment.

Further signs of breathless embellishment may have come from the MUFON "investigator" : "Everyone aboard the ship was stunned by this; they had never seen anything like it."



Lance



KRandle said...

Okay -

Let's start again. I'm not sure that radar played a part in this, other than the suggesting of the MUFON witness who might have assumed it. He said the object disappeared straight up when the firing stopped which, of course, doesn't make good sense.

Anyway, the next step is to get the ship's deck logs for the date, if mid-March 1945 is accurate, so I have taken that step. Don't know how long it will take. This might solve some of the problems...

And I'm a little disturbed that the ship's navigator would identify the light as Venus when those sitting around today say that Venus would have been invisible. I'd take the word of the navigator who should have know Venus when he saw it... again, maybe the deck logs will tell us something.

Anthony Mugan said...

Lance
Amazed you quote NICAP radcat as if it were an academic study. As an aside having gone through a lot of it the proportion of what I would term solid cases is quite low, although still quite a number of these over the decades. When you strip out those without good primary data and sufficient evidence to suggest conventional explanations are unlikely the average rate is around one every two or three years in that catalogue. Only a slight decline in rate evident after the closure of blue book, lately due to non-USA cases increasing. Suspect this may be a reporting effect but wouldn't use a catalogue as a formal study. Think Kevin hits a fairly large nail on the head re; technical issues.

Larry... Very interesting sequence of comments. It should be straightforward to validate the Venus issue. I shall have a go when back in the land of decent bandwidth!

Lance said...

Anthony,

Amazed that you might believe academic studies were readily available for UFO minutia!

Were you only looking for studies that used your, no doubt, highly academic method of simply proclaiming "solid cases" because I think those might be rare.

Lance

Tim Printy said...

Venus reached inferior conjunction on April 15, 1945.

http://www.astro.com/swisseph/ae/venus1899.pdf

It was not "on the other side of the planet". Venus can't be on the other side of the planet from the sun. It is an impossibility. It is always within 45-50 degres of the sun. To set the record straight, in mid-march (when this supposedly happened), Venus was a prominent evening sky object. It reached greatest brilliancy on March 11th. Venus can be easily seen in the day time sky under such conditions. All you have to do is know where to look.

BTW, please get your astronomical facts correct before making proclamations that everybody is going to repeat as if they were facts. Either give a source for the claim or use a planetarium program for goodness sakes.

Lance said...

Thanks Tim,

It is interesting if excuses are being simply made up (other side of the planet!) just to support the UFO claim.

I know that I have seen other UFO proponents do this: making scientific pronouncements that are often verbose but also completely wrong (feel free to ask me for details).

Folks like me don't know that much about planet positions, so that sounded very convincing, Larry! But I still checked with Tim, since he DOES know a lot about that topic.

Now I am so excited to see where the next bit of UFO thinking will take us!

Lance

David Rudiak said...

Lance wrote (part 1 of 2)
Radar cases have always been more in the wheelhouse of the paranormal believers anyway since it is easy to "correlate" unrelated lights in the sky to radar returns, just as we see in the Kevin's post.

It is vastly more likely that a radar return will directly correlate with something real in the sky, else it is useless as a navigation instrument, right?

By the way Kevin, the trend of fewer and fewer radar cases started in the 1960's. When did the more sophisticated transponder technology come into play? I believe that is a much more recent development and doesn't explain the trend as you suggest but I could be wrong.

Yes, you are probably wrong. Transponders, or secondary surveillance radar (SSR) technology was introduced in the 1960s and began to supplement and even replace PSR (primary surveillance radar) in many locations for civilian air traffic control. SSR does not directly detect aircraft by "painting" them with transmitted radar signals which then reflect off the aircraft back to a receiver, like does PSR.

Instead SSR transmits a query signal, and transponders on aircraft automatically respond with an identity code and altitude data from their altimeters, all of which can be put on a screen. This relieved air traffic controllers of the task of memorizing the identity of PSR blips and having to query pilots by radio for their altitudes. SSR can also detect the distance to the target by the timing delay and the azimuth from the rotation angle of the SSR unit. This is enough to pinpoint an aircraft in 3D space.

In addition, PSR has an inverse fourth power drop-off in signal (inverse square to the target and another inverse square reflected from the target), whereas SSR is only inverse square since the SSR and the transponder each transmit their own signal. This gives it greater range and it takes a lot less power to operate SSR (thus more likely to be used at smaller airports).

But if an aircraft has no transponder or turns it off, SSR cannot "see" them. A whole fleet of Vogon warships could be hovering in the sky and be totally invisible to SSR.

Also, where are SSR and PSR pointed? They are designed to check out the civilian flight lanes, not scan in all directions, such as overhead. Thus the Chicago O’Hare saucer a few years back, reported directly overhead, would not be picked up by PSR there.

Another thing that happened at the end of the 1960s is the USAF went out of the public UFO business. They were the primary source of radar and radar/visual cases that made it into the PUBLIC arena. MUFON only got the USAF radar data in the Stephensville case through FOIA requests after the AF denied having any aircraft in the area. This turned Stephensville from a purely visual case into a radar-visual one. Oh yes, according to MUFON analysts, the AF did have interceptors in the area and the radar data DID correlate with the witness reports.

And yet another thing introduced in the 1960s was computer processing of raw PSR data instead of having “dumb” blips on a screen. Radar tracking software tries to make sense of changes in blip locations from successive rotations of the radar, turning them into understandable tracks and rejecting what might be noise. Problem here is that you can filter out real targets that dumb radar does not, such as if they have erratic tracks that conventional aircraft do not (e.g., zig-zags, right-angle turns, flying straight up or down at high speed), or accelerating at rates or flying at speeds well beyond those of conventional aircraft. And those are some of the very hallmarks of what makes a UFO a UFO.

David Rudiak said...

Response to Lance (2 of 2)
Don apparently doesn't agree (despite now multiple forms of evidence being presented) that cases did decline. Notice that he has offered zero actual evidence in refutation although he does talk about his beloved imaginary saucer pilots and their motivations for making his religion unfalsifiable.

What everyone is pointing out is that the decline could simply be a case of sampling error rather than real (or it could be a combo of both), the result of changes in reporting such cases and changes in radar technology over the decades, some instances I’ve mentioned above. You can only draw valid conclusions after trying to take into account all factors that might be biasing a result one way or another. Thus multiple things happened in the 1960s that might influence whether UFOs show up on radar or are reported at all, and thus the number of radar/visual cases.

As usual, Lance and Gilles have a highly simplistic approach to things, whereas in REAL scientific analysis, things are rarely clear-cut. E.g., suppose a community introduced fluoridated water in the 1960s and thereafter someone notices that cancer rates drop there. Lance/Gilles simplistically conclude that fluoridation decreases cancer. But a real medical epidemiologist would look at a whole gamut of factors that might influence cancer rates, such as changes air quality, changes in diet, changes in population demographics (e.g., maybe a younger population is moving in and that alone would account for a drop in cancer), changes in use of chemical sprays, etc., etc. Then they would do a multi-factorial statistical analysis to try to isolate what factor or factors most likely account for the cancer drop, eliminating factors that do not. When studied in this way, it might turn out that fluoridation only coincidentally seemed to correlate with the cancer drop, but really is was because the population got younger. Fluoridation might actually increase cancer rates, but the effect would be masked by the real factor that caused it to drop in that area.

In short, without doing such an analysis, there is no way of knowing for sure if some apparent trend is real or not. (Or as the saying goes, correlation is not causation.) It could be radar-visual cases are way up for the military, but since they don’t make these cases public, there is no way of knowing. And maybe the real causes for the drop-off in civilian radar-visuals are indeed multifactorial, a combination of a greater reliance on SSR transponder technology for tracking civilian air traffic (where UFOs would not show up at all), computer filtering of PSR signals which would eliminate most UFO tracks, and the FAA being non-cooperative with their radar data just like the military. Plus there is no central clearing house for such data in all but a few countries, like France.

Lance said...

The correlation I mentioned isn't one of radar screens to objects in the sky. It's the after the fact supposed correlation of inaccurate third party sightings of (usually) lights in the sky somewhere to disconnected radar tracks, usually by nutty UFO believers.

This was rampant in UFO accounts of the 1952 Washington DC "attack" and is demonstrated quite handily in this description of the New York incident. In another celebrated case, the 1976 Tehran UFO, it is clear the proponents have misrepresented correlation of radar tracking.

I think Rudiak is correct in his basic contention that I haven't proven that improvements in radar were the sole cause of the decline in celebrated radar cases. I don't think he has proven the converse, either.

As I have said, MUCH more damming is that UFO photo/video evidence has not improved one iota over time. For instance, why didn't any of the many people at the Chicago airport think to shoot a photo of the spectacular saucer hanging over them?

I know that the buffs rationalize this out of their worldview but other folks just point and laugh.

Lance

Gilles Fernandez said...

Please, David Rudiak:
Dont deduce what "Gilles" will think when you present your total deliriums for your ET hypothesis of alien craft and your "sticks and foils" supra tuning space craft crashing in Roswell. Thank you very much, Doctor Rudiak.
Plus there is no central clearing house for such data in all but a few countries, like France.

TY for the few country. "Doctor Rudiak". When a French pilot reports a visual thing, in my few country, he takes it to civil ground radar airports. If they have nothing, and the pilot or the crew continue to see "something", it is immediatly sending to military radars, I expect they dont detect only transpondeur targets...
In France, we have only one "solid" case by radar. The one I summerized the counter-tons before. We have minor ones (Orly UFO ie.).

But you, as Believer (in a speech disguished as a scientific one), you will defend there are not a diminution of radar-visual cases, time after time, imploring and praying for dunno what pale excuses, despite the DATAES showing such diminution. That's ufology!
Gilles

Jim Robinson said...

Tim Printy is correct. When I computed the position of Venus, I neglected to allow for leap years, so Venus really was near its point of maximum visibility in mid-March. That being said, it is always difficult to find in the middle of the day even when you know exactly where to look. It may have been seen by the crew, but if so I contend it was because something else directed their attention to that part of the sky first. Logically, that something was probably radar. One of the visual witnesses described the object as much larger than the brightest star but smaller than the full moon.I know of no-one who has seen Venus in broad daylight who would describe it in those terms. There were a lot of contradictory descriptions of the incident given by the various witnesses, but I see no more reason to ignore this person's account than anyone else's.

Incidentally, most if not all naval vessels in WWII were equipped with air-search radar capable of detecting fighter planes out to 100 miles or so, but everyone here seems to be arguing about fire-control radar.
It would be interesting to know what the New York's air-search radar was seeing then.
Also, if the logs have any info showing elevation/azimuth of the firing at whatever-it-was.

Lance said...

Jim,

Do you really think further investigation is needed on this case? Does it really warrant it?

I'd like to see more research on why UFO believers will do anything before they will drop a case because I suspect that is where UFOs really exist.

Lance

KRandle said...

All -

I'm a little surprised that this case has taken off the way it has. Seems to me that the answer is Venus. Seems to me that the navigator identified it as such. Seems to me that the guy on the scene would be the one to believe. And, since all this played out in the days and weeks after the event, I see little need to go beyond it. As I say, I'm surprised that anyone thinks this is anything more than a case of mistaken identity.

However, due diligence seems to demand that we take a look at the deck logs. I have sent the request, and as soon as I know anything more, I'll post it here.

Seems that I am on the side of Lance and Gilles on this one.

Larry said...

Kevin, in your original posting you wrote:

"The reason the radar failed to detect a target was due to the fact of its maximum [] which was 20,000 yards, well beyond the range of our anti-aircraft guns..."

where I have inserted square brackets [] to indicate that a crucial word has been omitted. I don't know if you accidentally omitted the word in your transcription of the quote or if it is missing in the original, but I think it is important to know what the meaning of that sentence is. I don't have a copy of Strange Company, or I would look it up myself. Could you please supply the missing word?

KRandle said...

Larry -

I embedded a link in the story that would have lead you to that specific quote, which is what it says with the word missing.

So, the word is missing in the original document.

Lance said...

Not sure if that is a missing word or just a poorly constructed sentence. The NICAP report reads the same way.

If we find out differently though, I'm sure the case will be cracked wide open!

Was wondering Larry if you could explain your earlier sentence:

"However, as Jim Robinson has pointed out, it could not possibly have been Venus because Venus was on the wrong side of the planet to be visible."

Where does stuff like this come from? Do you just make up the things you say between complaining about preening and pontificating (!) skeptics?

Lance



Larry said...

Lance asked:

"Was wondering Larry if you could explain your earlier sentence...it could not possibly have been Venus because Venus was on the wrong side of the planet to be visible."

Good catch.

It was a mistake on my part, pure and simple. In my haste, I misinterpreted Jim's argument and remembered it incorrectly later on, when I went to write. I should have double checked.

I remembered his argument as being that Venus was below the horizon, at the time. Jim Printy's admonition notwithstanding, It IS possible for Venus to be below the horizon and in fact, on the other side of the planet, from the perspective of an observer on the Earth's surface. In fact it happens every 24 hour cycle.

However, on the day and hour in question, Venus was not only above the horizon, it was (by my estimations using the JPL online Solar System Simulator) probably within about 10 or 15 degrees of the zenith, so an excellent candidate to be seen as "overhead" the ship.

However, that still doesn't explain what was happening with the radar. A radar set, after all, doesn't know or care where Venus is in the sky.

Unless new documentary evidence emerges regarding the operation of the radar at the time of the incident, I stand by my previous analysis regarding signal aliasing.

You further stated:

"Larry seems to concludes that the simplest(!) solution is a huge object hanging the sky behind the ship!:

No, I didn't really expect you to be able to understand. I said that the simplest explanation is that the radar was detecting and tracking a large radio-reflective object that was considerably beyond the range gate distance for which it had been designed. I still think that is probably what happened, but I suspect this is a case of radar reflection. The ship's radar was possibly picking up the reflected image of another nearby, large metallic object, possibly another Navy surface vessel.

As I see it, the captain was in the command center belowdecks when the radar detected, tracked, and ranged a bogie within about 5 miles of the ship--definitely a threatening position. Not suspecting that the radar return might be a sky reflection of a distant surface vessel, he (like you) erroneously assumed the bogie must be in the sky. He went topside to try to get a visual on the target and fixed on the only significant object in the sky--Venus. Using the targeting data supplied to him by the radar, he fired in what he thought was the direction of the target with no effect.

The data also allows, but does not require that the large radioreflective object was hanging in the air beyond his visual range. Unless your religion prohibits you from believing in such things.

Lance said...


Hi Larry,

So you just accepted the Couldn't-Be-Venus explanation and added on your unique other side of the planet pontification (if I might use that word) without bothering to check anything? Interesting. I wonder why a UFO proponent might do such a thing?

Indeed, if Tim hadn't set you guys straight, I'm sure we might have seen the erroneous info quoted over and over whenever this case came up.

You might want to read the rest of my post from a few days ago--(the one where you said that you knew I wouldn't understand)--to see that I also wrote:

"Hmm..rereading Larry's post, I'm not sure if his contention is that the light in the sky and radar return were the same thing. Indeed, he could be referring to a return from somewhere else, for instance a ship on the surface. If this is the case then I have no disagreement."

In other words I exactly understood the whole thing that you superfluously reiterate above. Who is it that doesn't understand, again?

Lance

Don Maor said...

Lance wrote:
Don apparently doesn't agree (despite now multiple forms of evidence being presented) that cases did decline. Notice that he has offered zero actual evidence in refutation

I don't really have much problem in accepting that radar cases number has decreased along time. I still believe the evidence is weak, but don't you worry for that. My main problem is when you try to make a great deal of such decrease. After seeing the posts of others, there might be about a dozen different possible reasons for such decrease, but apparently your omniscient mind is capable of knowing which reasons are valid and which are not.

Lance wrote:
although he does talk about his beloved imaginary saucer pilots and their motivations for making his religion unfalsifiable.

I don't admire the saucer pilots nor they constitute my religion. I am proud of never having tried to teach my young son or wife about my UFO interests. I try to avoid talking about UFOs or ETs at home. On the contrary, I have some reasons to infer that some UFO skeptics like you, have some tendencies that are similar to religious beliefs.

Lance said...

Ok Don--I think I overstated things a bit (on the saucer pilots and such) so I apologize for that.

If you look above, I agree that I have not proven anything in regards to the radar cases nor has my contention been disproven...

In regards to the photo/video evidence the case is much stronger: well-known increase in cameras with no difference in quality of UFO evidence.

Lance

Jim Robinson said...

Lance,
I do feel further investigation is warranted. Kevin apparently broached this subject because of his search for pre-Arnold disc sightings. It's just remotely possible the radar object in this case was a disc (It certainly wasn't Venus!). The scientific method doesn't include ignoring data which doesn't fit a certain scenario.

Regards,
Jim

KRandle said...

Jim -

Have you bothered to read the file available at the NICAP site and cited in the post. I do not know how you can say that "It certainly was not Venus!" It certainly could have been...

And I'm not sure how reliable the reports of radar contact are, given the statements by others. That seems to be a ver "iffy" proposition.

I have sent for the deck logs which probably won't shed much light on this...

And I am astonished that some will defend this case. It seems as if the ship's navigator provided a solid answer for it.

Lance said...

I think Jim just means that the radar return couldn't have been Venus, which we all agree on and didn't need to be said.

The thing everyone saw in the sky seems to almost certainly have been Venus.

Jim may be hanging onto the radar/light in the sky correlation. These false correlations plague many early UFO stories.

Lance

Jim Robinson said...


Kevin,
If you re-read my last comment you will see I was referring to the radar object as "certainly not Venus", and I stand by that statement. Yes, I have read the NICAP file and I saw enough references to radar there, as well as some visual descriptions (although visual descriptions usually vary a lot) which could not be Venus,to convince me this is not an open-and-shut case.

Admittedly the firing description seems to strongly implicate Venus as the firing target, but Venus is never so conspicuous as to attract anyone's attention; so what drew the New York's attention to it?

Even if you stipulate that the ship was firing at Venus, it still seems to me there should be some curiosity about radar's role in all this. Yes, the radar accounts are "iffy", but so are the visual descriptions. My whole point all along has been that if you are looking for pre-Kenneth Arnold discs, the radar object in this case could possibly be one, although admittedly the chances of finding that out are pretty slim.

Regards,
Jim

KRandle said...

Jim -

Sorry... misunderstood your comment and took it too far...

The next source of information will be the deck logs which might provide the answer to the radar question.