Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Air Force Lies about the Close Encounters Chase

Although the reason for my post on the “Close Encounters Chase” was simply to point out that there had been a negative impact on the lives of some of the police officers involved, other points have been raised. So, I have been looking at some of other material available. My original intent here was to just show that part of the Air Force explanation was a blatant lie (which is obvious from the record of the case), but I’m going to expand it slightly.

First, the lie. The Air Force, on the Project [Blue Book] Card, lists the following explanations. 1. PHOTO: (PROCESSING DEFECTS) 2. SATELLITE 3. Astro (VENUS).

I’ll ignore the discussion of the photographs because they aren’t very good and I could argue that if the Air Force fudged one part of the explanation, why should we accept the rest, but I’ll let that go. Instead I’ll focus on the second part of the explanation which is the beginning of the sighting. The Air Force claimed that the object moving from west to east across the sky was a satellite.

In an undated Memo for the Record in the Project Blue Book files, it said, “The following agencies were called by airman [sic] Elmer to find out if one of the satellites Echo I, II, ; Pegusus [sic] I, II, III, would be visable [sic] in the area at the time of the sighting on 17 April 66.”

From the Goddard Space Flight Center, in response to the inquiries, “Definitaly [sic] not ECHOI or ECHOII they were over the southern hemisphere at the time of the sighting.”

Robert Sheaffer, on page 250 in his book, The UFO Verdict, wrote, “Neither Pegasus nor any other bright satellites had been visible.” He also noted that his friend and colleague, James Oberg had been able to find that information relatively easily some ten years after the fact.

So, the Air Force, with no evidence whatsoever, wrote off part of the case as a satellite. Even their own files show that this explanation for part of the sighting doesn’t work.

And that would have been the end of this post, but I found something else in the book written by Hector Quintanilla, the final chief of Project Blue Book and who retired as a lieutenant colonel. In writing about this case, he noted:

He [Hynek] reasoned that a policeman, a Congressman, a professor, a reporter, the biggest hobby club in the United States were all involved and if I didn’t change my evaluation they would make life miserable for me. They did make life miserable for me, but I never did change my evaluation. I would have changed the evaluation on scientific merit, but not because of political pressure.

But, as we can see, that statement is not accurate. The files showed no evidence of a satellite in the right area at the right time moving in the right direction. Although the Air Force’s halfhearted effort failed to eliminate the Pegasus satellites, they could have learned that with a little more effort. Once there were a few cracks in the satellite explanation, Quintanilla should have reevaluated it and eliminated it because it wasn’t true.

Here’s the point. The Air Force was again caught with an explanation that didn’t work. The evidence was stacked against it, but clearly they, which is to say Quintanilla, weren’t about to open a flood gate by changing what, to his mind, was a good explanation.

Before we get into a long debate about the rest of the sighting, or what it was that Dale Spaur saw in the west, let me say that it is only the satellite explanation that can be rejected based on this information. Even the skeptics seem to agree with that.

We can’t reject other explanations for other parts of the sighting based on this limited information but we can reject this segment. It does demonstrate the mindset of those in the Air Force when conducting their investigations. Clearly they knew better but it seems that they just didn’t care. Their answer was posted and that was it.  


Robert Blakey said...

I always had the impression that Quintana hated his job and his attitude could be summed up thusly: there's good, good enough, and then there's the way we do it. Apathy and incompetence more than cover up in other words. Is that thought shared by most or am I alone?

KRandle said...

Robert -

I believe that Quintanilla knew he was in a deadend job. Those on the fast track to promotion didn't become the chief of a project that no one in the Air Force wanted. If you read his book, you see that he disliked Hynek, thought that those who saw UFOs were unreliable, and spent time trying to sound scientific. But the bottom line is that he knew when he was handed the assignment, his military career was over.

David Rudiak said...

Robert Sheaffer rightfully criticized Quintanilla for claiming an Echo satellite explained the first part of the Ravenna sighting, Q. knowing full well that the two Echo's were invisible in the Northern hemisphere at the time because he had been told as much by Goddard Spaceflight Center, who were tracking the Echos.

But the irony is (as discussed ad nauseum by me two blogs back) that Sheaffer played the same game, substituting a nonexistent "meteor fireball" for Q's nonexistent satellite. Again, as discussed extensively, Sheaffer claimed that there had been a B.B. meteor fireball report from nearby Vandalia, Ohio that exactly matched what Spaur/Neff had reported. But when I fact-checked this by looking up the report, there was no date given, other than the month, and the details reported did NOT match a meteor. B.B. wrote it down as "insufficient evidence" but thought it a strictly local report of an aircraft coming in for a landing at the Vandalia airport, not Sheaffers "meteor" allegedly seen over a wide area. Like Q.'s matching satellite, Sheaffer's matching meteor was a total fabrication.

The other irony, is the same pages where Q. & B.B. were trying to match a satellite also has them trying to find any sort of balloon in the area and coming up with nothing. Despite that, Sheaffer claimed the end of the sighting in Pennsylvania was partly explained by a "research balloon". He must have known full well that B.B. could not find any evidence of such a balloon, just as they could find no evidence to support a satellite sighting.

Sheaffer was just taking a page from Quintanilla's playbook while hypocritically criticizing him for doing exactly the same thing.

KRandle said...

David -

I'm not sure that is correct. In the BB file, the report gives a day in the blank for day. She wrote, "Sunday." But underneath that, someone wrote in April 17 and that looks to be the same handwriting to me (which, of course, is my untrained opinion).

She also noted that she guessed at the time, which isn't a very good confirmation. Sheaffer was reaching here, but then, Qunitanilla had to know that the satellite (or satellites) has nothing to do with the sighting, which was my point.

Lance said...


Can you provide a link for that file. I think David and I were depending upon the Fold3 archive and there I don't see any date connected to the sighting.

Very much appreciated!


David Rudiak said...

Kevin, are we discussing the same report? I don't think the witness ever filled out the requested Form 164, at least 30 days after it was sent to her, according the Project 10073 Record:


This also still records the date as an indefinite "April 1966", as does the B.B. April 1966 summary sighting sheet.

If she did, I haven't been able to find it on fold3 B.B. records or over on the bluebookarchive.org website. Maybe somebody can locate it if it is there.

The only handwritten form on fold3 is page 3 of their Vandalia folder, which looks like phone notes by someone at B.B.:


At the top is some indistinct handwriting, starting with "S" and ending with what looks like "64". I suppose that could possibly be "Sunday", but can't tell from this copy. I can't find anything like "April 17" on either the handwritten or typed up B.B. forms for this sighting, only "April 1966".

Even if it was April 17, it is still a huge stretch to making this a meteor. Meteors do not have 2-3 minutes duration. B.B. thought the duration and apparently direction indicated a plane approaching the local airport for landing. The witness seems to have been north of town and the airport to her south or southwest, so not exactly in the right direction to take it up to where Spaur & Neff were.

The trajectory is also all wrong. The witness said out of the west headed NE. But Spaur said their object came slowly out of the west, slightly north of west, crossed the highway a little to the south, then slowly came back north over their heads and sat there stationary directly over them for about a minute subtending a large angle-- again hardly the description of a meteor.

Sheaffer omitted the entire critical part of their testimony about the object sitting directly over their heads for an extended period of time, instead wrote it up as them immediately dashing back to their car as the object flew over. He also omitted the fact that Spaur, Neff, and Huston all agreed in their detailed description of the object looking like a brilliant ice cream cone, a bright, solid-looking, irregular dome on top and a squat cone of bright light underneath, again nothing like a meteor.

Yes, I would say he was severely stretching the truth to make a meteor fit, just like Quintanilla "stretched the truth" to make satellite fit, no matter how you look at it.

Lance said...

David, before you start all the back pedaling, lets confirm the date thing.


Lance said...

I posted in the other thread. Ruidak was completely wrong about the date of the Vandalia case that he falsely and repeatedly called Robert Sheaffer a "liar" over. I included the document that confirms this.

The date of the Vandalia case is clearly April 17. It is written on the first page and the last page of the report.

Perhaps calling folks liars should be done more carefully?

Now what was this latest post all about...


KRandle said...

All -

Okay, I've figured this out. David was looking at a case from Vandalia, Ohio that has little information about it and has no date other than April 1966 assigned to it.

I was looking that the BB file for the Ravenna case which is the Portage County case. In that file there is a BB form, filled out by a 44 year old woman who saw something in the western sky moving to the northeast. She is clearly aware of the sighting events because she mentioned that the sheriff had a picture.

So, David was looking at one case that probably is not relevant and I was looking at another case which is part of the BB file on it.

And Lance, I can't give you a link because I'm looking at the microfilm on my microfilm reader.

Lance said...

Thanks Kevin,

I think you will find all this cleared up in the other thread.


Chuck Finley said...

Kevin -
Could you please post info on the title/ISBN of Quintanilla's book?


cda said...

I don't think he ever wrote a book, but he did contribute one chapter in "UFOs 1947-1997" edited by Hilary Evans and Dennis Stacy.

He may have contributed elsewhere too.

KRandle said...

Chuck -




It wasn't published until NIDS got it. If the above link fails, type in NIDS Quintanilla and you should be able to find an active link.

Anthony Mugan said...

Just a specific item in terms of the Venus hypothesis.
There is a diagram in the NICAP directory files on this case by one of the officers showing a schematic of the 'departure' (rise in angle of elevation / reduction of angular size) of the UFO.
This contains the moon and a bright object to the right (south) of the moon in addition to the UFO to the left (north) of the moon. The southerly bright light is noted a stationary but not names on the diagram, as far as I can see.
Using US Naval Observatory data for Conway, Penn. it is possible to determine that at 6am (12:00 UT)
The Moon - Declination S8 deg 35 mins, Azimuth 127.4 deg.
Venus - Dec, S7 deg 28 mins, azimuth 135.49
(Figures not corrected for refraction etc)

In other words more or less spot on - Venus would have been seen to the right of the moon, consistent with the diagram.