I have been reviewing the Levelland landing with its electromagnetic effects. I have said that an Air Force NCO conducted a one-day investigation and that was it. I have reported that the Air Force made a number of points about the case including that while Donald Keyhoe of NICAP claimed nine witnesses, there were only three. Interestingly, the claim of three witnesses is contradicted in the Blue Book file that contains interviews with a half dozen witnesses and information about others. In fact, in an undated and unsigned summary of the case, the Blue Book file says, “A mysterious object, whose shape was described variously as ranging from round to oval, and predominantly bluish-white in color was observed by six persons [emphasis added] near the town of Levelland, Texas.”
In all, I have found witnesses, on the record in 1957, at thirteen separate locations with multiple witnesses at several of those. And I haven’t even counted the law enforcement officers who had sightings. This, as noted in an earlier post, included the sheriff and the fire marshal.
As confirmed by several sources, we all know that Staff Sergeant Norman Barth made an investigation that lasted part of one day. He interviewed a few of the witnesses. He was hung up on the weather at the time of the sightings, believing that weather had an influence. Ultimately, he and the Air Force, would latch onto ball lightning as the culprit though ball lightning is not a viable explanation.
In fact, a report signed by Captain George T. Gregory, who was the chief of Blue Book at the time, made the case for ball lightning, apparently unaware that ball lightning is a short-lived phenomenon, and the it is rarely, if ever larger than a foot or two in diameter. In the Air Force report on this, also found in the Blue Book files, they say ball lightning is only about eight inches in diameter.
|Smyer, Texas, on the same road that many of the sightings took|
place in November 1957. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
But there is another problem with this case. According to a document in the Blue Book files, Major Daniel R. Kester, the Reese Air Force Base Provost Marshal, visited the “alleged scene in conjunction with local civil authorities. Negative results.” There was a handwritten note next to that notation that said, “They did not see anything unusual.”
So, while Barth takes the heat for his most of a day investigation with a notation that he failed to locate some of the witnesses, there was another “investigation” going on. I put that in quotes because I can find nothing more about this meeting between the Air Force “top cop” in the area, and the civilian law enforcement representatives.
I’m not sure what Kester would have expected to find in those locations since there is no indication of where they went and what they looked at. I was at the locations in 2012, some 55 years after the fact, and I saw nothing unusual (of course, I didn’t expect to find anything).
I did notice that some of the documents in the file had, at one time, been classified. That would have restricted access to those with the proper clearances and a need to know. That would not have included reporters who had neither the clearances nor the need to know.
While Barth apparently didn’t spend a lot of time investigating the case, though he was commended for his thorough investigation, the Provost Marshal, also conducted an investigation. I find nothing to tell me what he learned, though he must have written some kind of a report about the “meeting.”
For those keeping score at home, I seriously doubt that his report would be in the files at Reese AFB at this late date. Once the investigation was completed, the records would have been kept for a specified period of time and then destroyed, if classified and just thrown out if not. I did the same thing with classified documents while I was serving as an intelligence officer. We destroyed those things that had no more relevance to our operation but were still classified and we threw out those that weren’t classified when we no longer needed them.