So, I’m watching the old Science Fiction Theater on YouTube… (Science Fiction Theater was a 1950s half-hour drama that alleged that there was some science in their stories). I remembered seeing reruns in the 1960s as a kid and all this would be irrelevant to us here, except that I remembered one particular episode in which there was a flying saucer. The title, I learned, was “Are We Invaded?” I remembered that the scientist in the tale explained the UFO sighting as a temperature inversion by using chemicals that didn’t mix. The thing that struck me was that it seemed to be the same explanation Donald Menzel had used as one of his explanations of the Lubbock Lights and he even showed a light bouncing off chemicals in a fish tank.
Even that wouldn’t be of much interest, except in the beginning, Truman Bradley, the series host, said that there had been more than 2000 UFO sightings but that no one had been injured by UFOs. The copyright of the show is 1955, so this was after Mantell, after Kinross and even after Walesville.
Yes, in today’s world I believe most of us think Mantell was chasing a balloon and not Venus, and not Venus and a balloon, and not Venus and two balloons, as the Air Force claimed. But at the time, he was chasing a UFO, and in 1955, there was not a good explanation for it. My thinking is that here was a case in which someone was hurt.
In Walesville several people were killed when a fighter plunged into a neighborhood did involve a UFO report. The pilot of an Air Force fighter, who had been in an active air defense mission, reported that his cockpit filled with heat as if the aircraft was on fire. He, and his radar officer, bailed out. The aircraft crashed into a residential area, burst into flames, and killed four people. This case is sometimes linked to a UFO sighting from the day before, but this seems to be an aircraft accident rather than a UFO incident, but in 1955, it was believed that a UFO had caused the aircraft cockpit to fill with heat.
Kinross is a UFO sighting and two pilots disappeared while attempting to intercept the UFO. They had been scrambled to identify the object. Radar operators watched as the two blips, the fighter and the UFO, merged, but never separated. The aircraft and the pilots disappeared. This is case has never been satisfactorily explained and the result was the loss of the pilots.
Bradley, in his opening monologue, then, provided inaccurate information, but he always made it clear that his story was not necessarily true but based, sort of, on the science of the day. I objected to his comment about no one having been injured by a flying saucer because it wasn’t true.
The irony here is that after the UFO sighting from the show, after the actor trying to prove that there was something to UFO sightings, and seeing all his evidence evaporate with the Menzel-like demonstration, we learn that there might be something to the UFO stories. The man who had tried to prove that UFOs were alien had been handed a picture to give to the scientist. When they looked at it, they saw that it was the solar system, but the picture had to be taken from space. (Remember this was early in the 1950s, and we didn’t have photographs of the solar system taken from space).
Oh, I know what you’re thinking… what does this have to do with UFOs? It’s science fiction. I thought it was interesting, given the timing of the show, and that it was about flying saucers, and I had remembered the demonstration from it for something like forty years. Every time I saw the picture of Menzel with his light and formation of UFOs, I thought of this show. It was good to see it again, see how it was all put together, and see the obvious twist at the end.