I’ve grown tired of this NOTAM game but have to wonder why the skeptics just don’t attempt to answer the question themselves… and why do they demand that I answer their questions when they continue to ignore mine? What is this double standard where all things skeptical are accepted without critical thought but anything that might suggest an answer they don’t like is attacked?
And remember what Sherlock Holmes said about the dog that didn’t bark… but more on that later.
Anyway, take, for example, the Phil Klass diatribe against Bob Jacobs. Jacobs made a suggestion that he had been involved in a UFO case now known as the Big Sur UFO Sighting, and in the course of the discussion mentioned a paper about some aspect of it. He cited it properly, and provided Klass with all the information needed for Klass to access the paper himself but that’s not what Klass wanted. He wanted Jacobs to copy the paper and send the copy to him. Jacobs refused because, according to Jacobs, he didn’t like the tone of Klass’ letter to him. So, Klass sent a letter to Jacobs’ bosses making all sorts of allegations. We’ve explored all that before (see this blog on September 11, 2011), but the point is how Klass seemed to believe that Jacobs owed him the paper.
And now we have a similar situation about the requirements of NOTAMs for the Mogul flights. Make no mistake; this flap over NOTAMs is another red herring by the skeptical side. They demand that I supply them with NOTAMs for Mogul Flights No. 5 and 6. But it really makes no difference what those NOTAMs might have said because the issue is the NOTAM for Flight No. 4 and not those for other, later flights. What did Flight No. 4’s NOTAM say or not say is irrelevant since there was no NOTAM issued for it.
A quick review… according to the documentation available, the CAA (which was the forerunner of the FAA) required a NOTAM, an announcement about the Mogul flights because these long trains of balloons, rawin radar targets and other equipment could reach 600 feet long. If these balloon arrays drifted into the clouds, then aircraft could conceivably fly into them causing an accident. Flight crews had to know what was out there and the NOTAMs were a way of telling them that these flying monstrosities were one of those aerial hazards they might encounter (and yes, I used the word monstrosities on purpose to annoy some of you).
I wanted to see what the Mogul team had to say about the balloon arrays and how they were described in the NOTAMs. I have since learned that these arrays were not all constructed of the same components, something you wouldn’t know just by looking at the skeptical arguments (and something that I’ll explore in a later post). Documentation showed that the arrays sometimes differed from one another in significant ways and that in some cases there were no rawin targets included at all. Flight No. 5 had no rawin radar targets, the configuration for Flight No. 7 had no long string of balloons one above the next but clusters of balloons and Flight No. 10 (July 5,1947) used a polyethylene balloon as a lifter rather than the smaller neoprene balloons.
But I digress…
So, I spent about a year and a half chasing the NOTAMs, using the Internet, telephone and the snail mail. I contacted regional offices and the FAA in Washington, D.C. asking if NOTAMs had been archived at some point and where that archive might be. I expected to find little or nothing because NOTAMs aren’t of great historical significance, and the information in them is quite perishable. They might tell you a runway was closed for repairs or a lighting system was down at an airport. When the situation changed a new NOTAM would be issued sort of cancelling the last, or the NOTAM would expire and the document tossed away.
I found no repository. The only place I haven’t heard much from is the FAA office in El Paso where the Mogul NOTAMs were issued, other than to learn they don’t have anything obvious available. There might be something filed away somewhere, or at one of the regional airports around El Paso, or more likely, some airport around Alamogordo might have a file laying around with something in it… though I doubt it.
So now that I tire of the game of ignoring the skeptics about this, I reveal the answer they so patiently have demanded (did you notice the disconnect here, patiently demanded… can you actually do that?)
Even though it is a red herring and of no importance, I reveal that I learned there is no repository and apparently are no records of the NOTAMs for the Mogul flights.
And now for the dog that didn’t bark…
How do I know that there was no NOTAM for Flight No. 4? Charles Moore, in a letter dated August 10, 1995 and sent to New Mexico Representative Steven Schiff, told us. He wrote, “Since we launched from just within the restricted air space associated with the White Sands Proving ground and expected the balloons to rise high above the civil air space, we did not notify the CAA in El Paso.”
Now why in the world would Moore write such a thing as Schiff began his investigation? What would be his motivation? What does it say about the mythical Flight No. 4?
I’ll let you all ponder that, but I think the answer is fairly obvious. I’ll simply ask, “Why bring it up at all?”