Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Levelland Sightings and the Condon Committee

I had always wondered why the Condon Committee, that University of Colorado study of UFOs financed by the Air Force, which is to say us, never bothered looking into the Levelland UFO sightings of November 1957. In their final report there is a single mention of Levelland in which they report, “Magnetic mapping of automobiles involved in particularly puzzling UFO reports of past years, such as the November 1957 incidents in Levelland, Texas, would have been
The Levelland sign. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
most desirable, but the cars were no longer available.”

An interesting idea and the scientists working with Condon had pointed out that the manufacture of the cars’ steel components such as hoods and doors would have created a magnetic signature. Even if the cars involved in the incidents had not been mapped prior to the sighting, those manufactured at the same time, at the same place, would have a magnetic signature that matched those from the UFO event. It meant that the magnetic signature of all the cars were similar and any major deviation would have been significant.

They did follow up on this, after a fashion. They reported that two of their investigators, Fred Hooven and David Moyer (actually part of the Ford Motor Company) investigated a case (Case No. 12 in the official report) from the winter of 1967, in which a woman said that a lighted UFO hovered over her car for several miles and that it interfered with the electrical functions of her car. Hooven and Moyer said that an examination of the car some two months later found all the electrical systems working as they should and that they discovered no magnetic anomalies when the magnetically mapped the automobile.

I will note here that it seemed a real effort was made to investigate the case including extensive examination of the car by Ford engineers. What they found was a car in poor repair with a radio antenna that was broken so that it only picked up the local stations, a fan belt that was loose so that it was not charging properly, that the speedometer had been broken, repaired and apparently broken again so that there were speed functions on the dashboard display and that oil gauge was malfunctioning because of leakage in the electrical system. In other words, it seemed that everything the witness had reported about car trouble was related to the car itself and not some sort of outside influence such as the hovering UFO.

They, that is Hooven and Moyer, reported that she seemed to be a nice woman who was not prone to hysteria and who was competent, meaning I suppose, that she was intelligent and wasn’t mentally ill in some way. However, they noted that her memories of the UFO incident were not without problems including that she remembered a bright, full moon when it was actually in its last quarter and that though she claimed to have seen the UFO in her rearview mirror, the configuration of the car and the placement of the mirror meant that the UFO couldn’t have been seen in the way she described.

There was a second case (No. 39) from the fall of 1967 and in a location noted as the South Pacific, that had somewhat similar results. Again, the Condon Committee doesn’t supply the name of the witness, only that he was a businessman who said that his car had been stopped by a UFO sometime between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. The lights failed and the radio went dead. He also reported that he felt something pressing down on his head and shoulders. Through a break in the fog, he saw a UFO that passed over his car and stopped, hovering over the highway. He thought it was about thirty feet in diameter, red-orange, saucer shaped but with a fuzzy outline. It had rotating lights and wobbled as it moved and hovered about 160 feet above the ground. He watched it for about a minute and a half, before it took off into the fog. When it was gone the radio came back on, the lights brightened and he was able to start his car. (Note here that he had to take an action. The car did not spontaneously restart.)

Once he had started the car, he drove to the nearest town in search of someone to talk to. He didn’t find any additional witnesses. Eventually the case made its way to NICAP. That investigation showed that the car’s clock had stopped at 3:46 a.m. and, according to the unnamed witness, the clock had been working perfectly prior to the sighting. Interestingly, they found that stereo tapes that had been in the car at the time of the sighting had lost some of their fidelity, especially in the lower ranges and that the rear window had some sort of distortion in the glass.

The Condon Committee investigation was carried out by Roy Craig, who recorded the interviews with the witness and gathered additional details. In this case they found a car of similar manufacture and engaged in a magnetic mapping of the hoods of both. There were a couple of points where the magnetic signature differed significantly but for the most part, the magnetic signatures of the two cars were similar.

What I found interesting is that Craig reported that the radio’s FM band no longer worked, though, according to the witness, it had been fine until the sighting. Five days after the sighting all that could be heard was a loud hum across the whole FM spectrum.

And, now, according to the witness, he was no long certain that the clock had been working in the days prior to the sighting. The clock stoppage might not have been relevant.

Craig was bothered by the witness’ vague description of the object and with the inconsistencies in his estimates of the size and distance as they were determined later by measurement. He was also worried that no one else had seen the object and that the car didn’t seem to show an exposure to a strong magnetic field. Craig wrote, “…car body did not show evidence of exposure to strong magnetic fields, a more detailed investigation of this event as a source related to electro-magnetic effect on automobiles did not seem warranted.”

These were the only cases of reported electromagnetic effects stalling cars but they did look into other aspects such as power outages caused by UFOs. In their research of several of these blackouts, they could not establish a causal relationship. In other words, the evidence didn’t support the idea that a UFO had been
Location of the first Levelland sighting.
Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
responsible for a blackout and I have to agree with that assessment.

The purpose here, however, was to try to understand why the Condon Committee seemed to ignore the Levelland case. It differed from those they did investigate because it had multiple, independent witnesses, and included law enforcement officers among those who had seen the object or the light.

The papers, documents, research, rough drafts and other material collected during the project were eventually sent to the American Philosophical Society Library. It turns out that they did make a study of the Levelland case though it seemed to have been based solely on the Project Blue Book files, what NICAP reported, and what was found in Dallas Times Herald newspaper.

Although there seemed to have been no original research, meaning they didn’t interview any of the witnesses and noted that the vehicles involved couldn’t be located (I have to wonder if this was just an excuse, though 10 years had passed and the effort to locate those vehicles would have been extremely difficult) they didn’t take their investigation any further. It amounted to a synopsis of the sources quoted, a short discussion on areas of further investigation that was only about related weather phenomena, especially ball lightning, which was the Air Force final conclusion, none of which made it into the final report.

At the end of the Condon Levelland report, there was a series of hypotheses suggesting solutions. This seems to have been taken almost directly from an Air Force document about the case. They simply did not bother to follow up on this case, though they noted its importance. There were multiple witnesses to the suppression of the electrical system made independently and there were multiple witnesses who reported an actual, physical object either close to the ground or sitting on the ground.

In the end, I’m unsure of the motives here. We know that Condon was instructed about the conclusions of his study prior the beginning of the work, and we know that he adhered to those instructions. We see evidence in other aspects of this research where solid leads were virtually ignored (Shag Harbour, though it could be argued that the Canadian case fell outside the scope of their project), and we see that sometimes they gave little more than lip service to the investigation. I had thought we’d find some more evidence of the committee ignored a solid case, but given the circumstances, it might just have been impossible for them to do more than they did with Levelland.


However, the Levelland case provided some interesting dynamics such as the craft interacting with the environment, multiple independent witnesses, and an opportunity for some scientific investigation. It suggested that they look a little deeper into this idea of electromagnetic interference, which they did, sort of. Instead, they found a way to ignore Levelland and move onto other aspects of their research. This was at best, a missed opportunity and at worst just another example of how not to actually conduct research.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MJ-12 and Cognitive Dissonance

In the world of the UFO, we frequently talk about cognitive dissonance, which is defined, simply as “the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or value.”

It means believing in two things that seem to mutually exclusive. We run into this, I believe, when we begin to talk about the Eisenhower Briefing Document (EBD) and the second crash of a UFO on the Texas – Mexico border in December 1950.

Simply put here, if the EBD is authentic, then the information contained in it must also be authentic. If a portion of that information can be shown to be fraudulent, then the credibility of the entire document collapses at that point.

Here’s where we are on this. According to the EBD, “On 06 December, 1950 a second object of similar origin, impacted the earth at high
Robert Willingham, the man
responsible for the fatal flaw.
speed in the El Indio – Guerrero area of the Texas – Mexican border after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere. By the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object had bee almost totally incinerated. Such material as could be recovered was transported to the A.E.C. facility at Sandia, New Mexico, for study.”

The problem here is that this tale was told by Robert Willingham who had claimed to have been a fighter pilot in the Air Force and had retired (or rather left the service) as a colonel. I have, in the past, on this blog, explained why it is clear that Willingham was neither a fighter pilot nor a colonel. Rather than go into all the reasons again, just refer the articles that can be found here:








Well, I think everyone gets the point. I have written about this on many occasions and believed that this should have driven a stake, not only through the heart of the Willingham tale but through the EBD as well. That one paragraph is based on a hoax that those on the inside who were allegedly writing the EBD would have known was a hoax. Please note that other, known hoaxes were not addressed, including the famous Aztec hoax (which I mention solely to create more havoc).

Here’s the point of this short piece. At the Roswell Festival (I don’t remember if it was in 2011 or 2012) Stan Friedman came up and said, “I think you’re probably right about Willingham but not about the Eisenhower Briefing Document.”

Cognitive dissonance. Two mutually exclusive beliefs. One that Willingham had been lying about the El Indio – Guerrero UFO crash but that the EBD was real.

Yes, I know the fall back position. The EBD is disinformation, containing some real information but also some that is faked. But given the context and everything else, that makes no sense and does very little to establish the validity of the EBD. All it does is call into question the whole of MJ-12 without actually damaging the idea of an alien craft at Roswell. The EBD is seen as just a poor attempt by UFO researchers to provide documentation of UFO crashes. It doesn’t prove that Roswell wasn’t alien, only that this document was fraudulent.

But what I don’t understand is how you can see that the Willingham tale is bogus and not question the entirety of the EBD. There are other problems in the EBD, but this seems to me, to be the fatal flaw. The information is based on a lie, yet that isn’t enough to reject the EBD.


If there was any other source on the El Indio – Guerrero crash, that would be one thing, but all references to it, in various books, articles and documents are all traceable back to Willingham as the original source. He provided a number of dates and locations for the crash as the tide in the UFO community changed. Without Willingham and his ever-changing story, there would be no tale of this crash and if it hadn’t happened, then MJ-12 is equally bogus… yet there are those who hold these mutually exclusive ideas that the document is real but Willingham was lying… the very definition of cognitive dissonance, and that is what I don’t understand. How can you argue for the validity of one while confirming the other is untrue? I have yet to receive a good answer for the question that isn’t wrapped in a lot of rhetoric without explaining anything.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A New Roswell Solution?

Well, we have a new solution to the Roswell case. No, it’s not a weather balloon as the Army Air Forces claimed in 1947 and no, it’s not a Project Mogul balloon that many skeptics and the Air Force have claimed, starting with Robert Todd in the early 1990s (or late 1980s) but something called a satelloon. This was, is, a huge polyethylene balloon that had been covered with a thin layer of aluminum to enhance the reflective properties and create a passive communications satellite or something like that.

Dr. Bob W. Gross appeared this last week (June 12) on Martin Willis’ show, UFO Live. Gross, who had lived in New Mexico from 2001 to 2010 and who traveled all over the state, thought that he had the solution to the Roswell case. Naturally, I was skeptical. You can listen here (Roswell begins in the second hour):


And you can read more about his theories here:

Here’s the problem as I see it. Gross has cherry-picked his evidence to bolster his theory. He talked of the debris field and the metallic residue that had been collected there. These were fragments of one of these aluminumized balloons that had exploded and rained down the debris or so he claimed. Apparently, they can explode. See:

https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4308/ch6.htm

But the problem is that he has ignored the other debris found there as described to me by Bill Brazel. Brazel said:

There was only three items involved. Something on the order of balsa wood and something on the order of heavy gauge monofilament fishing line and a little piece of… it wasn’t really aluminum foil and it wasn’t really lead foil but it was on that order…
Bill Brazel. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
While the piece of aluminum-like material could have been the remains of one of these satelloons, the other two pieces were not. According to Brazel, you could shine a light in one end and have it come out the other, or, in other words, he was talking about fiber optics. And the balsa like material was so strong that he couldn’t get a shaving using his pocket knife.

Gross also said that these satelloons took on a disk shape, at least the early versions did and that some of them were tested in New Mexico, hidden in the Mogul arrays. In my many communications with Charles Moore, among others, nothing like that was ever mentioned, and I suspect that if the Air Force could have connected these two events together, they would have done so.

Charles Moore. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
The real problem with this theory is that I can find nothing to support the idea that the testing was going on in New Mexico in 1947. In fact, there is quite the history available on the topic and the research around it. You can find more about all this and Project Echo satelloons here:


And the history of these “Giant Spheres” here:

And here:


And to confuse the issue even more, or maybe clarify some of the research into it, take a look at this:

http://badufos.blogspot.com/2017/09/another-nonsensical-explanation-for.html#comment-form

While I can find nothing that suggests any of this was going on in 1947, Gross alluded to witnesses and documents that could do that. If true, then he might have something. However, it is difficult to ignore the information about the debris provided by Brazel and Jesse Marcel, Sr., and several others who handled it in 1947, which doesn’t fit with his descriptions.

And, while Gross said that he found no testimony of anyone seeing the flying saucer crash, there are those who reported seeing a more intact structure, not on the debris field, but on a secondary site some distance away. That testimony seems to have escaped his research.


No, the problem is that all the information that I have been able to find does not put any of these strange balloons in New Mexico in 1947. Unless he can do that, this falls into the same category of the anthropomorphic dummies that Captain James McAndrew used in his attempt to explain the bodies reported by some of the witnesses. The timing is just flat wrong. If the dummies weren’t being dropped in 1947 and the satelloons weren’t being tested in 1947, then the explanations fail at that point. We must wait, however, for Gross to provide the additional documentation and witnesses that he claims to have before providing a final analysis. That will be coming in his book.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Vetting Information or Another Way to Chase Footnotes

Here’s something that relates to my “Chasing Footnotes,” posts. Over the weekend (June 1 and 2), I ran into an article that was related to Roswell told by Raymond Szymanski (which I commented on here a few days ago). As I was working on that article, I had a number of questions that weren’t answered by any of the sources that I could readily access. I was worried about the claim that Raymond Szymanski had worked in some high-level jobs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for thirty-nine years. I didn’t know if this was true and if those who had written the various articles had bothered to verify the information.

Don’t get me wrong here. I have no evidence that Raymond Szymanski’s self-reported credentials are anything less than the truth. I just don’t know if anyone attempted to verify the information with independent third parties.

Robert Willlingham circa
1965.
This is a question that has been raised in the past about other witnesses (and other claims as well). For example, it was reported, repeatedly, that Robert Willingham was a retired Air Force colonel and fighter pilot. Everyone seemed to take these facts as accurate but I learned that no one had bothered to check. True, there were pictures of Willingham in uniform from the 1960s and 70s, which tended to support his claim.

Given that, I decided to look a little deeper and learned that Willingham had a mere 13 months of active military service. He left as a low ranking enlisted soldier with no indication of flight training, flight status, or a commission. Those pictures turned out to be of Willingham in the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the Air Force that does important search and rescue work and training for teenagers interested in aviation and the Air
Civil Air Patrol identification on
Willingham's uniform.
Force but that is not the same as being in the Air Force.

The point is that everyone, including me, had reported that Willingham had been a colonel in the Air Force, each of us thinking someone else had verified the data. No one had. They accepted what Willingham said, the photographs he offered as proof, and documentation that he handed them. It wasn’t until I secured the documentation from an independent, meaning government source, the Records Center in St. Louis and another Air Force records center in Denver that we all learned the truth.

CAP collar insignia. In the Air Force his rank insignia
would be pinned there instead. More proof of his
status in the CAP rather than the Air Force.
The same can be said for Frank Kaufmann, who claimed he had been trained in intelligence, had been a master sergeant and was a member of Colonel Blanchard’s staff. He provided a picture from the 1947 Yearbook and other documentation to prove it. When documentation was recovered from an independent third party, again the Records Center in St. Louis, we found that Kaufmann had no training in intelligence, had been an administration specialist, and that he was not a master sergeant as he had claimed.

There is, of course, Gerald Anderson, who told of seeing a crashed disk on the Plains of San Agustin in 1947. He said that Adrian Buskirk was the archaeologist involved… but Buskirk turned out to be his high school anthropology teacher. Other parts of Anderson’s story broke down and it was learned that he had forged a number of documents to prove his tales. That verification took several months. Ironically, when it was learned that Anderson had forged a telephone bill to make me look bad, it was reported that Stan Friedman had discovered the evidence. That didn’t happen until after I had presented that same evidence to CUFOS, FUFOR and MUFON.

Here’s the point. We have had a number of witnesses, and that number continues to grow, who claim inside knowledge of the Roswell case in particular and UFOs in general. Too often, when we begin to check these things out, we find that some have taken liberties with the truth. They weren’t the military officers they claimed to have been, they weren’t involved in the investigations as they claimed to be, or they weren’t at the locations they said they were.


So, when I read about Raymond Szymanski and his pal, Al, I was skeptical. I have no information that verifies the claim but I suspect we’ll learn that Szymanski was at Wright-Pat for all those years and held the positions that he claimed. That, of course, doesn’t mean the tale told to him by the mysterious Al is true. It just means that we have no evidence that it is, and in the world today, we need to see more than just a first name.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Important Administration Notes

Rich Reynolds over at UFO Conjectures alerted me yesterday to a Blogger problem. Seems that all the comments posted to our blogs are not sent to us via email as they are supposed to be. Some are dumped into an area that tells us they are waiting for us to monitor them. I’m not sure why this is happening because there is no reason for it. Comments by those who visit here regularly are there and who comments are often sent to me via email are, but not all of them. It seems to be hit or miss.

Rich said that he found some 1500 comments. I only found a few hundred but they go back a number of months. The point, I suppose, is if you made a comment and didn’t see it posted, it might have ended up waiting for me to review it in that file.

An updated photo. The military picture
is now, what, 14 years old?
Looking deeper, I found that some comments have ended up in the spam folder… something more than 300. True, most of those comments, in that folder would have been deleted because they are mere advertisements for some other website or some product and many probably aren’t legitimate. Anyway, I need to go through those as well.

I will note that I don’t always post everything. If you have a complaint about me, well, if it is nasty or unjustified, it won’t see the light of day here. If it is a logical extension of the discussion that suggests I have errored in some fashion, then sure, I’ll post it, and sometimes respond.

In the past there have been several interesting comments that have also included nasty and irrelevant remarks about the president and some that included pleasant endorsements of the president that were also irrelevant. I have no desire to get into those discussions which are often ugly, filled with contempt and have nothing to do with the topics I discuss here. Put in a political comment, from any point of the spectrum, and it will disappear faster than a UFO being chased by a fighter or a snowball in July.


The point here, of course, is to let you know that something has changed with blogger (I found a note on blogger telling me they had made some changes) and if your comments weren’t posted, the problem is probably there. Sorry for the inconvenience, but as they say, “It’s not my fault.”

Monday, June 04, 2018

Another Roswell Witness - Sort Of

Nearly thirty years ago John Keel, one of those self-styled UFO researchers that Ken Macdonald complained about in his June 2, 2018 AOL Newsribol article about Roswell, said that by the turn of the century (meaning in 2000), there would be hundreds of new witnesses clamoring for their place in the Roswell mythology. Turns out he was right (not about the mythology but about the new witnesses). People have been all over the place claiming to know something special or someone special or something important about the Roswell case.

Macdonald writes about the Roswell story as if this is something new but draws his information from the Roswell Daily Record article published in 1947. He even includes the irrelevant tale of Dan Wilmot, a Roswell resident who saw something on July 2, 1947. That Wilmot made the report about a craft in the sky doesn’t necessarily mean that what he saw was what was responsible for the debris found by W.W. “Mack” Brazel in early July 1947.

What annoyed me first here was this idea that the alien spacecraft was spying on our testing of nuclear weapons, according to what Macdonald wrote. Of course, those of us who can think beyond the end of a sentence realize the flaw in this theory. The first atomic explosion took place in July 1945, with two more in Japan in August 1945… So, if it was atomic explosions that grabbed the aliens’ attention, wouldn’t they have gone to Japan rather than New Mexico? There had been more explosions there.

And since we know the speed of light, and even if we grant the alien ability to spot these brief flashes of very bright light on the Earth’s surface, from where do the aliens originate? Even granting them Faster-than-Light travel, the light from those detonations had only been traveling for two years. Do the aliens have an outpost in our Solar System? Maybe on that ninth planet out in the Kuiper Belt somewhere that some astronomers claim is there?

But what really annoys me is that we have another, new but unidentified, witness to the bodies from the Roswell crash. Oh, he
Nope. Not the real creature, just a model
made for the ShowTime Movie, Roswell.
didn’t see them in New Mexico, but in Ohio, sort of like Philip Corso didn’t see them in New Mexico but in Kansas.

According to this story (and please don’t tell it’s been around for a couple of years because I know that) Raymond Szymanski, who says he worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an “engineer and high-level researcher,” for 39 years, is the man behind this tale. He said that he was privy to some of the biggest and darkest secrets floating around the base which included the cover up of the Roswell crash.

He, himself, saw underground tunnels and chambers under the base, and this was where the material, and by material, I mean the craft and bodies recovered at Roswell, were stored. Now, he didn’t see the Roswell stuff, only these secret tunnels and chambers and given the history of Wright-Pat, and the paranoia of the Cold War, wouldn’t underground shelters and tunnels be something you’d expect? A purpose other than hiding alien bodies I mean, but I digress.

Szymanski tells of a friend, Al, who spilled the beans to him. Szymanski, according to what he has said, was a “young co-op student barely in his first week” and was let in on the secret… Security
Obviously, the gate to Wright-
Patterson AFB.
clearances take a while to complete, so this is an amazing breach of military etiquette, but I’ll ignore that because it really doesn’t make a lot of difference here.

He talked of a small group of 10,000 people that he had now joined. I don’t know if all 10,000 were at Wright-Pat or scattered among research facilities around the country… anyway, that’s a lot of people in on the secret and not exactly a small group.

But here’s the deal with this tale. We don’t know who Al is. We just have the first name and a suggestion that he was an important man or scientist. And we have Szymanski’s claim that “everyone” he talked to about this over the years didn’t deny the rumors… No one suggested he was out of his mind, but according to him, he has no smoking gun.

So, here we are, with another man claiming some sort of inside knowledge about the Roswell crash but unlike so many others, he admits that he hasn’t seen the bodies or the craft, only been told about it by people he finds to be reliable. But how many times have we been down that road only to learn that the sources for the information are not credible? I’m not even going to bother naming the names because those who visit here on a regular basis, or who have read Roswell in the 21st Century, know how many have fallen to increased scrutiny.


No, right now I’m not buying this and I don’t really know why AOL Newsribol thought it necessary to dredge up this tale again. It is clear that the story was based on newspaper articles and press releases and that the writer did very little if anything to verify the information. That’s left, I guess, to we self-styled UFO researchers. Too bad so much is ignored by self-styled investigative journalists.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

How the US Influences other Countries Policies on UFOs

For years, decades actually, the skeptical community has wondered how the US has been able to suppress information about UFOs in foreign lands. Why would foreign governments submit to a US demand that UFO sightings and UFO reports remain hidden behind a curtain of secrecy? The answer is probably a little more complex than I can attack here, on this blog.

However…

First, let me point out that during the Ghost Rocket wave that began in Finland but swept into all of Scandinavia in 1946, the Finnish government response was to suppress the news reports about them while those in Sweden were free to report every sighting until it became nearly overwhelming. At that point the Swedish military and the government began to actively suppress the sighting reports as well. Their reasons were varied, but they enacted that policy with no guidance from the US. A policy, BTW, that seemed to have ended the reports though not necessarily the sightings.

Second, let’s take a longer look at the situation in Australia. On August 14, 1952, with the United States buried hip deep in UFO reports from a wide variety of sources from all over the country, William McMahon, the Minister for Air told the Australian Parliament that the flying saucers were nothing more than “flights of imagination.” Even with that, he believed that a thorough investigation was warranted, which, of course, didn’t set it off on the right foot. His conclusions might have been inspired by the information released by Major General Samford in his press conference about the Washington National UFO sightings in July of that year.

This idea was reinforced in the United States by the CIA sponsored Robertson Panel, which was a five-day investigation into UFOs, especially after the summer of 1952 sightings. The Panel concluded that there wasn’t much to the sightings, suggesting that stories about UFOs be debunked, which then became an unofficial policy of
Captain Ed Ruppelt
ridicule. Remember, Ed Ruppelt explained the difference between flying saucers and UFOs. Calling then “flying saucers” had a note of ridicule in it as in “You don’t believe in flying saucers, do you?”

On November 20, 1953, many months after the Robertson Panel met, McMahon suggested that the UFO question was one that belonged to the psychologists rather than the defense authorities. He wrote, “The Royal Australian Air Force has received many reports about flying saucers, as have the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force, but the phenomena have not yet been identified… The Royal Australian Air Force has informed me that, so far, the aerodynamic problems relating to the production of flying saucers have not been solved.”

The response was a “Note of Action,” that indicated that “…all reports are still being investigated closely and recorded as an aid to further research into future reports of this natures.” Or in other words, they thought the sightings should be investigated and the Royal Australian Air Force was the responsible agency. But, as was the case in the United States, they simply weren’t investigating all the reports and they were not looking at them for evidence of alien visitation but thought they belonged in a more psychological arena. Delusions, illusions and other psychological problems were the answer.

Australian Richard Casey, the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), who originally thought little of the “saucer” reports, changed his mind and this is the point where the USAF and Donald Keyhoe come into play, which is the real point of all this. And yes, it has taken a while to get here but some background was
Donald Keyhoe
necessary. I laid much of this out in The UFO Dossier (pp. 237 – 254) and Michael Swords and Robert Powell did the same thing UFOs and Government (pp. 373 – 422) for those of you who would like to learn more.

Casey sent Keyhoe’s book, Flying Saucers from Outer Space, to his Chief of the Division of Radiophysics, Dr. E. G. Brown, along with a note that suggested he had also seen the USAF statements “… about ‘Unexplained Air Objects,’ which are always carefully worded and are at pains to explain that the greater part of the ‘sightings’ are explainable as natural phenomena or on some other grounds.”

Bowen wasn’t too impressed with the information. He wrote that he “found the book by Major Keyhoe intensely amusing and entertaining… I am far from convinced by any of the anecdotes or arguments.” He also claimed that he knew many scientists involved with defense matters in the United States, and that they rejected Keyhoe’s suggestions.

In keeping with a belief held at high levels, Bowen thought that Keyhoe’s book, while entertaining, would eventually lead to the conclusion that there was nothing to the tales of flying saucers. The public would eventually become disillusioned with the UFOs and that would be the end of it. Of course, that didn’t turn out to be the case.

It might be said that all of this caused a change in the way the Australians dealt with the UFO problem. Melbourne University’s O. H. (Harry) Turner was asked by the DAFI to undertake a classified study of the early investigations held in their files. It could be said that this was the Australian equivalent to the Robertson Panel, that is, a review of the evidence gathered earlier with respected scientists studying the data. The outcome was certainly different.

According to Swords, based on information recovered by Australian researcher Bill Chalker, Turner, in his detailed report, recommended greater official interest with a concentration on radar-visual reports. One of his conclusions was “The evidence presented by the reports held by the RAAF tend to support… the conclusion… that certain strange aircraft have been observed to behave in a manner suggestive of extra-terrestrial origin.”

In what can only be considered a case of irony, Turner cited Keyhoe’s Flying Saucers from Outer Space, using the reports he described as coming from the USAF. Turner did qualify his report, saying “if one assumes these Intelligence Reports are authentic, then the evidence presented is such that it is difficult to assume any interpretation other than that UFOs are being observed.”

Given that Turner had used Keyhoe’s interpretation of what official USAF reports and intelligence documents said, the DAFI did communicate with the USAF to confirm the accuracy of Keyhoe’s statements, which isn’t surprising. The response from Washington, D.C. was “I have discussed with the USAF the status of Major Keyhoe. I understand that his book is written in such a way as to convey the impression his statements are based on official documents, and there is some suggestion that he has made improper use of information to which he had access while he was serving in the Marine Corps. He has, however, no official status whatsoever and a dim view is taken officially of both him and his works.”

As a result of this, the report was weakened considerably. The Department of Air concluded, “Professor Turner accepted Keyhoe’s book as authentic and based on official releases. Because Turner places so much weight on Keyhoe’s work, he emphasized the need to check Keyhoe’s reliability. [The Australian Joint Service Staff] removes Keyhoe’s works as a prop for Turner’s work so that the value of the latter’s findings and recommendations is very much reduced.”

The problem here was the RAAF and the DAFI believed the information that was provided by the USAF. In the Levelland, Texas, sightings in November 1957, the Air Force and Keyhoe got into another such battle with the Air Force suggesting that Keyhoe was wrong about the number of witnesses. Keyhoe had claimed there were nine but the Air Force said there were only three who had seen an object. A study of the case, including an examination of the Project Blue Book files, shows that both were wrong. There is good evidence that witnesses at thirteen different locations saw something, and there is a very good possibility that the sheriff was one of those who saw a craft.

The relevance here is that the USAF was not a fan of Keyhoe so that when the Australians asked for an analysis of Keyhoe and his book, they got a biased report that was not based on the evidence but on what the USAF had claimed about Keyhoe’s reliability. It is now evident that the Air Force had engaged, as Swords wrote, “an act of either conscious or unconscious misrepresentation on the part of the U.S. Air Force. They were engaged in a campaign to undermine the popularity of Donald Keyhoe’s books. While Keyhoe may have slightly overstated his USAF data, the intelligence reports quoted by Keyhoe and used by Turner to support his conclusions to DAFI were authentic. Eventually the Air Force admitted that the material Keyhoe used was indeed from official Air Force reports.”

Or, in other words, the USAF was able to manipulate the investigation being conducted in Australia to match their conclusions. If nothing else, it should be obvious based on this that after the negative conclusions of the Robertson Panel in 1953, the Air Force was actively attempting to implement the various debunking recommendations and were not interested in gathering UFO information. They were more interested in convincing everyone that there was nothing to UFO reports.

But in the world of 2018, we now know that Keyhoe was right more often than not, and that his work was based, at least in part, on official investigations and classified information. According to Frank J. Reid, in the International UFO Reporter for Fall, 2000, “For a little over five months – from August 1952 through February 1953 – a narrow window opened into Project Blue Book… According to Dewey J. Fournet Jr., an Air Force major assigned as Pentagon liaison to Blue Book, ‘The entire press had the privilege of requesting this [UFO] info: Don Keyhoe happened to be one who found out quickly about this [new] policy and took maximum advantage of it.’… Especially good cases were volunteered to him…”

What this means, of course, is that Keyhoe’s information was solid and had been rejected by the RAAF because their counterparts in the USAF told them Keyhoe was unreliable. I don’t know if the USAF officers were lying or simply didn’t know the truth. They were reporting to the RAAF what their superiors had told them. Keyhoe couldn’t be trusted.

Which brings us back to the original point. The USAF was able to influence the RAAF, leading them to a conclusion that was ill advised. What would have happened had they known that Keyhoe did have the inside sources, some of them official, who were providing him with quality information about the UFO situation. Instead, there was a watered-down version of their official report because they believed it was based on tainted information when, in fact, the information was good.


In other words, the prominence of the USAF in the world of UFO investigation suggested to the RAAF, that there wasn’t much to UFOs, and the RAAF responded in kind. They thought the USAF had the “goods” but it turned out to be more fool’s gold. It looked good, it looked right but it just wasn’t what everyone thought it was. And today we have to live with that misguided interpretation so that we continue to have these discussions rather than moving forward… but we see how, at least in part, the US can suppress UFO information in other countries.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Library Fairy: Coyne Edition

There is something that writers know about called the “Library Fairy.” We believe in it but know that it is not a real entity. It is just a serendipitous discovery of information that makes a story more real, provides insight into an event or answers a question that needed explanation. For me it happens frequently.

Sure, here is an example that does not relate to UFOs or the Coyne helicopter sighting. I was working on an action/adventure novel that had several scenes set at Khe Sanh but I didn’t know what it looked like. I could guess based on my experiences in Vietnam and figured that one such base would look pretty much like another. However, while I was looking at video tapes in a record store, I saw one about the Battle of Khe Sanh. It had all the visuals I would need so that I could describe the base accurately. The thing is, I rarely entered that now long-gone store and the tape was not prominently displayed but I did find it. The Library Fairy did her job.

How does this relate to UFOs in general and the Coyne helicopter case in particular? About ten days ago I was on 21st Century Radio’s Hieronimus & Co. show. You can listen to the show here:


They always send a nice gift box of books and magazines as a way of thanking the guests. One of the books was Paul Hill’s Unconventional
Another UFO with rad and green lights.
Flying Objects
. As I was thumbing through it, just taking a general look at it, I found an illustration that I thought interesting. On page 134, there was an illustration of a UFO seen by Anton Kukla and Audrey Lawrence in western Australia in November 1965. The details of the sighting weren’t all that important and not many were given anyway. It was the illustration that was important because of the red and green lights that were seen and their placement on the object.


You all can decide if this sighting and illustration are important to the discussion. I just thought I would mention it because of everything that has been said in the last couple weeks, especially about the color of lights on UFOs.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Why I Chase Footnotes - The Coyne Edition

One of the things that I enjoy is chasing footnotes. Gives us all a chance to look at the information circulating in the UFO community, and how some of the myths and legends of the field grow. We see how the information is slightly changed as one writer or researcher uses it to prove a point. One of the latest examples of this, published here, concerned the Coyne helicopter case and whether or not a refueling aircraft was the culprit in the sighting.

As I have mentioned in the past, Richard Dolan, in UFOs and the National Security State, wrote, about other aircraft in the area at the time of the sighting, “When he
Richard Dolan. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
[Coyne] tried to confirm the existence of a craft out of Mansfield, his UFH and VHF frequencies were dead (Mansfield later confirmed there were no aircraft in the area).

Jennie Randles in The UFO Conspiracy wrote, “Mansfield later confirmed that they did not have any aircraft in the area.”

And I spoke with Bob Yanascek who said that there was nothing else in the area. But it seems he received that information from Coyne that night, in the helicopter or shortly after they landed rather than hearing it himself.

The various sources I checked, including Dolan and Randles, referred me to Jennie Zeidman and her work on the case including a monograph published by the Center for UFO Studies and an article in Flying Saucer Review. I also looked at her presentation at the MUFON Symposium in 1989, but that focused more on the additional, ground-based witnesses, than what Coyne and his crew saw.

I now believe that the quote comes from Zeidman’s A Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio, published in March 1979. On page 71, she wrote, “In addition, when Captain Coyne checked with the FAA, he could find no record of any other aircraft in the area, and the last known F-100 of the Mansfield Air National Guard landed at 10:47 p.m.”

Here’s what bothers me about this. Both Dolan and Randles give the statement a little more authority than I see in the original. Finding no record of other aircraft in the area is not quite the same thing as confirming that there were no other aircraft in the area. What gives me pause here is that, according to the records, they couldn’t even confirm that Coyne’s aircraft was in the area at the time. Though he said he had made contact with Mansfield, when he checked, the recording from the tower that night didn’t have his transmission on it. In other words, it seems the record is incomplete at best.

Based on the information we have, we know that whatever Coyne and his crew encountered, it was not an F-100 fighter. That all of them were on the ground prior to the UFO encounter seems to be properly documented.

Is this splitting a fine hair? Oh, absolutely. But it is an important one because, while it seems that Mansfield did say there had no other aircraft in the area, there are no records to back up that bold claim. Zeidman’s statement about the lack of records is not the same as confirming there was nothing else around.


Does this open the door for the refueling aircraft? Maybe a little, but there is other information that affects it. Those arguments have been made elsewhere so we don’t need to repeat them here. Just note that the statements about a lack of traffic are in the Mansfield area at the time are not as positive as they had been. This is chasing footnotes to the bitter end.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Chasing Footnotes - Coyne Encounter, Update

To recap briefly, I noted that Richard Dolan and Jennie Randles suggested that Mansfield had said that there was no other traffic in the area the night of Coyne incident. That would suggest no air refueling aircraft had made the close approach.

The endnotes by both suggested that the information had come from Jennie Zeidman, but I haven’t been able to find that specific reference. To be fair, I have not consulted her book published by CUFOS about it, but then, in her later writings and lectures about the case, she didn’t seem to mention it. I have seen the information as supplied in the Flying Saucer Review article and looked at her 1989 MUFON Symposium paper. All that took me to a dead end.

However, on May 9, 2018, I spoke with Robert Yanascek, the crew chief on the helicopter, about the sighting and asked two relevant questions. First, I wanted to know what he had seen that night. He had reported it as an “unidentified object with light.” He told me that it was shaped something like a submarine silhouetted against the bright starry background with a bright red light at the front and a bright light at the rear. In other words, a cylindrically shaped object that didn’t look like any conventional aircraft. He also mentioned that the red and green lights didn’t look like the navigation lights seen on aircraft. His experience was extensive which included tours as a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam.

Second, I asked about attempts to learn what had been flying in the area that night. He told me that they checked with Mansfield and the FAA. They were told that there was nothing else flying in their area.

What this means here, is that I have been able to find a source who was involved that night and who said that they had been unable to verify any other aircraft in the area. I would still like to find any reference in which Jennie Zeidman said that Mansfield had said there was no other traffic around them. However, since I have a source who was there, at the time, and the statement is confirmed as having come from the participants, this seems to prove that nothing else was in the air. That includes the Air Force refueling aircraft and, at lease, one additional helicopter. There could have been more for a training mission like this, but there had to be one. Documentation confirming all this would be helpful, but frankly, not overly necessary, given what we now know.

Helicopters in formation in Vietnam. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
I worried about a question about why the craft didn’t show up on radar. My go to answer these days is “Stealth,” which could apply to an alien craft but certainly not to an Air Force Tanker in 1973. However, it seems that Parabunk has supplied that answer. He wrote, “I just found out that Mansfield didn't have a radar before 1982 (sources at the end of my blog post), so the closest one was probably at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, some 50 miles away.


What is also important here is that these flights were made under IFR, that is Instrument Flight Rules,” and because some of the flight would have been above 14,000 feet, a flight plan would have been required. Had a refueling aircraft been in the area, Mansfield would have had a record of it. When Coyne and his flight crew checked on other aircraft in the area, small, private planes flying VFR (visual flight rules) wouldn’t necessarily have a flight plan and there might not be a record of their flight. Military aircraft would have a flight plan. This seems to rule out any sort of Air Force refueling plane. I can say that with the confidence of someone who is still looking for records and data which might change that conclusion.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Brad Steiger Has Died

My friend, Brad Steiger, has passed away, after what I believe was a long illness. You can read the obituary here:

http://funeralinnovations.com/obituary/257658/Brad-Steiger/

I first learned of Brad while I was still in high school. As I have mentioned in the past, I read Strangers in the Skies, while sitting in study hall, and while that didn’t spark my interest in UFOs, it certainly set me on a track to study them.

Brad Steiger
While in college, one of my friends from Clinton, Iowa, told me about a fellow there, Warren Smith, who wrote about UFOs and the paranormal. He often paired with Brad writing books, sometimes under the pen name of Eric Norman. Brad, it seems had invented the name, but it was often Smith who used it.

In the 1970s, I was working on a book about the paranormal (which, by the way, was never published) and I was discussing the tales of people who seemed to have vanished in very mysterious ways. One of those cases was from 1909, and Brad had written about it. Given that I had met Smith, I knew the secret for finding Brad. He had been born as Eugene Olson and had adopted the name Brad Steiger because he admired the actor, Rod Steiger. Anyway, I knew that Brad taught at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and was listed in the telephone book as Eugene Olsen. Back in those days, without the Internet, I used Directory Assistance to get the telephone number and called Brad.

He was most cordial and told me that he had learned, since his book that contained the story was published, that the case was a hoax. We had a long chat, and that began the friendship that lasted for decades.

When I hosted my radio show in the 1990s (and yes, it was on the radio because podcasts didn’t exist) on KTSM-AM in El Paso, Texas, Brad was one of my first guests and often helped me to book others that he knew. If I was in some kind of a jam for the program, I could count on him to either fill the void, or find someone to step in.

Brad and Sherry Steiger
We often shared information about UFOs, sometimes about ghosts or other aspects of the paranormal. He helped me on several occasions, providing some insight to a specific case or avenue for research. Sometimes, he would provide inside information. On one occasion, as we talked about Al Bielek, who had stayed with Brad and Sherry several times over the years, they learned that Bielek’s tale might not be grounded in reality. Both were disappointed to discover that a friend had been less than candid in his tales of time travel and the Allende Letters case.

Which reminds me that back in the early 1970s, while I was still on active duty in the Army, I read Brad’s book (written with Joan Whritenhour) about the Allende case. It seems that one of Brad’s friends had written to the Navy, which provided information about the case. My thought was that if he could do it, so could I. Brad, you might say, was the inspiration for that bit of investigation… but I digress.

At one of the MUFON Symposiums held in Denver, I don’t remember if it was 2010 or 2011, a fellow came up and said that I had written more UFO books than anyone else. I immediately said that I didn’t think so. I thought it was Brad. Later, Brad and I had a chuckle about this and I don’t believe we ever resolved who had written more… not that we cared. We did notice that Nick Redfern was making a real run at this “record.”

When I began my last radio show/podcast on the X-Zone Broadcast Network, I thought that one of the first guests should be Brad. We exchanged emails and while Brad was delighted with the offer, he had just returned to Iowa and there were many problems getting settled, getting the house ready, and confidentially, his health wasn’t the best. He had an open invitation and we had even scheduled what I thought of as our Halloween “Spooktacular” show, to talk of UFOs and ghosts and other things that wen bump in the night. Brad had to cancel for health reasons. I was, of course, disappointed, but then so was Brad.

We finally worked out the details, and Brad did make an appearance on the show. It was, of course, one of the easiest interviews because Brad was the perfect guest. He knew how to answer a question, knew where to go to make the topic interesting, and in this case, said some very nice things about me. You can listen to that interview here:


Not all that long ago, I learned that Brad’s health was declining. He asked that I not share the information, which I didn’t. I was sad to hear about his health problems and worried about them. And, of course, sadden to learn that they had caught up with him.

A young Brad Steiger.
Brad was born on February 19, 1936, apparently in a blizzard in Iowa. His career took him around the country, he appeared on dozens of radio and television shows, and hosted and produced some himself. He had a near death experience when he was 11 which changed his life. He was interested in UFOs, angels, the paranormal, and, of course, near death experiences. He once told me that he accepted what people told him until he learned that they couldn’t be trusted. He didn’t look for the bad and didn’t belittle those with whom he disagreed. He had a belief in people and in their goodness, realizing that some simply were no good.

I admired his philosophy in life but the cynic in me didn’t let me accept everyone so readily. He assisted me when he could, provided help when I asked, and I never heard him say anything nasty about anyone, though he had cause to do so on more than one occasion. I suppose you would say that he had a good heart, enjoyed what he was doing, and had more than a little fun doing it.

Had I known that the last time I would speak to him would be during that interview, I probably would have done things a little differently. But you just never know. I’ll miss him, as I’m sure many others will as well. Take a moment to think of him during the next few days, and don’t forget to include Sherry, his wife since 1987, in your thoughts.


Brad was 82.