Sunday, January 20, 2019

History's Project Blue Book - The Flatwoods Monster

Well, I have posted a review of the second episode of Project Blue Book from the point of view of someone who is watching the show for its entertainment value. Now, I’ll look at it from the other side of the fence and that is as a glimpse of history.

This episode is about the Flatwoods, West Virginia, landing of September 12, 1952, and it bears little resemblance to the actual case. It was not a crash as shown, but a landing. There were several people involved in the original sighting and the subsequent events, none of whom are actually portrayed here. There were no townspeople with shotguns surrounding the house like villagers with torches and pitchforks at Frankenstein Castle. There were townspeople with shotguns who went in search of the creature that had been reported, which is not the same thing.
There was no woman held in a hospital to be tossed through the second-floor window to her death. To suggest that this is a fiction based on truth is to stretch the truth to its breaking point. Had they not told me up front, or in the previews, I might not have recognized the situation for what it was. That is, I wouldn’t have known that this was about the Flatwoods Monster.

In fact, they get into more conspiracy here than there was in the real world and this is where I jump to that other side of the fence. This would seem to validate those out there who see conspiracy behind every bush. While I understand the necessity for creating conflict, this one aspect of the show, I fear, is going to prove problematic. In all my years of UFO research, I have never run into anything quite like this. The conspiracy aspect is overblown and gives us the X-Files vibe. The only thing missing is The Smoking Man, but in this show, set in the 1950s, everyone is smoking.

Although they provide information about the case at the end of the episode and on the History website, I try to look at it from the work I have done on the case and what I have written about it. In Encounters in the Desert, I do examine the landing and provide some insight as to who did what and when. Briefly (well not all that briefly), I wrote:

One of the first of the occupant or creature reports to reach Project Blue Book was made from Flatwoods, West Virginia, on September 12, 1952. The Air Force file on the Flatwoods case contains a project card, that form created at ATIC that holds a brief summary of the sighting, what the solution is if one has been offered, and other such easily condensed data and very little else. According to the project card for the Flatwoods sighting, it was a meteor that had been reported over the east coast of the United States on September 12. In fact, the only reference to anything suggesting a creature was on the ATIC Project Card where there is the note about the "West Virginia monster, so called."

All this presents a curious problem. Clearly the Air Force had heard of the case, and just as clearly, they had written it off as a very bright meteor. There is also a note that the meteor (or meteoroid moving through the Solar System for those of a precise and technical nature) landed somewhere in West Virginia (becoming a meteorite). Apparently, the Air Force believed that the "landing" of the meteorite was enough to inspire local residents to imagine a creature on the ground. And, apparently, they believed that the meteorite would account for all the reports of physical evidence by the witnesses.

Ufologist and biologist Ivan T. Sanderson, writing in his UFO book, Uninvited Visitors was aware of both the Air Force explanation and the meteorite that had been reported. Sanderson wrote:

...we met two people who had seen a slow-moving reddish object pass over from the east to west. This was later described and ‘explained’ by a Mr. P.M. Reese of the Maryland Academy of Sciences staff, as a ‘fireball meteor.’ He concluded - incorrectly we believe - that it was ‘traveling at a height of from 60 to 70 miles’ and was about the ‘size of your fist.’... However, a similar, if not the same object was seen over both Frederick and Hagerstown. Also, something comparable was reported about the same time from Kingsport, Tennessee, and from Wheeling and Parkersburg, West Virginia.

The whole story of the occupant sighting, as it is usually told, begins with several boys playing on a football field in Flatwoods. About 7:15 p.m., a bright red light, "rounded the corner of a hill" crossed the valley, seemed to hover above a hilltop and then fell behind the hill. One of the boys, Neil (or sometimes Neal) Nunley, said that he thought the glowing object might have been a meteorite. He knew that fragments of meteorites were collected by scientists and might be valuable, so he suggested they all go look for it.

As they watched, there was a bright orange flare that faded to a dull cherry glow near where the object had disappeared. As three of the boys started up the hill, toward the lights, they saw them cycle through the sequence a couple of times. The lights provided a beacon for them, showing them where the object was.

They ran up the main street, crossed a set of railroad tracks and came to a point where there were three houses, one of them belonging to the May family. Kathleen May came out of the house to learn what was happening and where the boys were going. Told about the lights on the hill, and that "A flying saucer has landed," she said that she wanted to go with them. Before they left, May suggested that Eugene Lemon, a seventeen-year old member of the National Guard (which has no real relevance to the story, but is a fact that is always carefully reported) went to look for a flashlight.

They found the path that lead up the hill, opened and then closed a gate, and continued along the winding path. Lemon and Nunley were in the lead with May, her son Eddie, following, and they were trailed by others including Ronald Shaver and Ted Neal. Tommy Hyer was in the rear, not far behind the others as they climbed the hill.

As they approached the final bend in the path, Lemon’s large dog, which had been running ahead, began barking and howling, and then reappeared, running down the hill, obviously frightened. Lemon noticed, as the dog passed him, that a mist was spreading around them. As they got closer to the top of the hill, they all smelled a foul odor. Their eyes began to water.

Some of them reported that they saw, on the ground in front of them, a big ball of fire, described as the size of an outhouse, or about twenty feet across. It was pulsating orange to red. Interestingly, although it was big and bright, not everyone in the tiny party saw it.

Kathleen May spotted something in a nearby tree. She thought they were the eyes of an owl or other animal. Nunley, who was carrying the
Flatwoods Monster
flashlight, turned it toward the eyes. What they saw was not an animal, but some sort of creature, at least in their perception. The being was large, described as about the size of a full-grown man. They could see no arms or legs, but did see a head that was shaped like an ace of spades. That was a description that would reoccur with all these witnesses. No one was sure if there were eyes on the creature, or if there was a clear space on the head, resembling a window, and that the eyes were somehow behind the that window and behind the face.

Lemon reacted most violently of the small party when he saw the object. He passed out. There was confusion, they were all scared, and no one sure what to do. The boys grabbed the unconscious Lemon and then ran back the way they had come.

They finally reached May’s house. Inside, they managed to bring Lemon back to full consciousness. They called others, and a number of adults arrived at the May house. The group, armed with rifles and flashlights, headed back up the hill, to search for the strange creature. None of the men seemed to be too excited about going up the hill, and in less than a half an hour, they were back, claiming they had found nothing at all.

Still others, including the sheriff, eventually arrived at the house. Most of them didn’t bother to mount any sort of search that night, and the sheriff, who was clearly skeptical, refused to investigate further than talking to May and the boys. It is important to note here that the sheriff had been searching for a downed small aircraft reported to him earlier that evening. He found no evidence of an aircraft accident and no one reported any airplanes missing. The relevance of this will become clear later.

Two newspaper reporters, apparently from rival newspapers, did, at least, walk up the hill, but they saw nothing. They did, however, note the heavy, metallic odor that had been described by May and her group which provided a partial confirmation of the story.

Lee Stewart, Jr., one of the editors of The Braxton Democrat convinced Lemon to lead them back to the spot of the sighting. Given Lemon’s initial reaction, it says something about the kid that he agreed to do so. They found nothing and saw nothing but did smell that strange odor. Steward returned early the next morning and found what he said looked like skid marks about ten feet apart heading down the hill.
The next day, there were follow-up investigations. During some of these additional trips up the hill, it was reported that they had found an area where the grass had been crushed in a circular pattern. Sanderson, who visited the scene a week later, said that he and his fellow investigators were able to see the crushed grass and a slight depression in the ground. No one bothered to photograph this reported physical evidence which is one of the problems that seem to flow through UFO research. People don’t take basic steps to ensure evidence is preserved in some fashion even if it is just a photograph.

Sanderson pointed out that the other physical evidence that had been reported, skid marks on the ground, an oily substance on the grass, and the foul odor, might have been part of the environment. The type of grass growing wild in that area gave off a similar odor and the grass seemed to be the source of the oil. Sanderson said that he couldn’t find the skid marks, and knew of no one who had photographed them.

Gray Barker, a UFO researcher, also arrived a week later and coincidently on the same day as Sanderson, found others to interview. He talked with A. M. Jordan, Neil Nunley’s grandfather who said that he had seen an elongated object flash overhead on the night of the landing. It was shooting red balls of fire from the rear and it seemed to hover before it fell toward the hilltop.

Barker also interviewed Nunley, whose description of the craft disagreed with that of his grandfather though he did say the object seemed to stop and hover before falling to the hill. I wonder if the disparity came from the different perspectives of the witnesses. Sometimes the angles from which something is viewed seems to change the shape of the object and the direction in which it appears.

When this story is reported, it always seems to end here, with the one group, led by May and Lemon, seeing the strange creature or entity. The investigations, carried out by various civilian agencies, always fail to find any proof. Many believe that if there was some corroboration, if someone else, not associated with May and her group, had seen the creature, it would strengthen the report.

As often happens, continued research produced others who said they had seen something strange that night in that area. Alice Williams said that about 7:00 p.m. she saw a slow-moving, glowing object at a low altitude west of Charleston, West Virginia. She, along with Clarence McClane and his wife said they saw ashes falling to the ground as the object seemed to come apart in the sky.

Woodrow Eagle, who was nearing Sutton, West Virginia, not all that far from Flatwoods, said that he had seen what he thought was a small airplane crash into a hillside. He turned around and then stopped at a service station to call the sheriff. The sheriff drove to the site, but he didn’t find the downed aircraft. This was the case the sheriff was investigating before he headed out to May’s house.

The trouble here is that both these witnesses, Williams and Eagle, were apparently members of a group that included Sanderson, and Sanderson had called others in that group to investigate the Flatwoods landing. Given that, a good case for cross contamination can be made. It doesn’t mean that there was any confabulation involved, only that these witnesses were not completely independent of other another as it seemed before those connections were made.

Years later, in the mid-1990s, Kathleen May Horner, was interviewed about the sighting. She told investigators that the two men that everyone thought were newspaper reporters were, in fact, government agents. She also remembered that a local reporter received a letter from some unidentified government agency that revealed the creature was some sort of rocket experiment that had gone wrong that day. There had been four such "rockets" and all of them fell back to earth.

The government agents were able to recover all but one and that one had been seen in Flatwoods. It must be noted here that there is no corroboration for this story of government intervention and that it did not surface until forty years after the fact.

There are few points of corroboration for this tale, even among those who were together that night. The descriptions of the craft in flight sound more like a bolide, that is, a very bright meteor. Newspapers from other communities in the region report on just such a meteor. P. M. Reese from the Maryland Academy of Sciences suggested the red fireball was relatively slow moving and 60 to 70 miles high.

And we know that meteors can seem to climb, though that is an optical illusion, that they can seem to hover briefly, and that they can seem to maneuver, again optical illusions. The witness testimony here is not sufficient to reject meteor, especially when it is remembered that the object was seen over a large region, suggesting something that was very bright and very high. People looking up into the night sky are simply unable to judge height and speed with any degree of accuracy. A meteor of sufficient size and brightness was seen that night.

Even if we reject, for whatever reason, the theory that any of the Flatwoods witnesses saw a meteor, we can look at the descriptions and how they vary. Even those who trekked up the hill report things differently, from the color and shape of the craft to even whether anything was sitting on the ground. Sanderson reported that the object was black but glowing red and shaped like the ace of spades, but Barker said it was spherical and some of those he interviewed said they hadn’t seen it at all.

Jerry Clark reported that the witnesses stuck to their stories but that doesn’t mean what they saw was grounded in our shared reality. That they were truly frightened only suggests they were telling the truth about what they thought they saw, but not that they saw an extraterrestrial being.

As I reviewed the literature on this, I am struck by the disparity of the witness descriptions and how these sorts of things can be overlooked. I am surprised that there are descriptions of physical remains but there is little to document any such evidence. I am struck by a number of witnesses who said they saw the bolide and that the bolide was what everyone saw... and yes, many believe that a bolide has landed close by when it has either burned out and not touched down or it landed hundreds if not thousands of miles away. In fact, several bolides have been reported to authorities as aircraft accidents... just like the one the sheriff investigated that night.

This case seems to be the result of the bolide and the hysteria brought on UFO sightings that were headline news around the country including the impressive sightings from Washington, D.C. It seems that those who climbed the hill, believing they were going to find a landed flying saucer, talked themselves into the hysteria and when they saw something in a tree with eyes that glowed in the light of their flashlights, convinced themselves they had seen an alien creature.

And, no, this isn’t a perfect resolution. It makes too many assumptions. But the evidence for a UFO sighting and a landing with an alien creature or maybe some sort of an alien robot is very weak at best. Given the timing of the sighting, given the lack of physical evidence, given the conflicting witness statements and given the well-known bias of the original investigators, and there isn’t much left here.

In the end, I’m afraid that the terrestrial explanation is more likely the correct one here. I’m not completely sold on it but it seems that the preponderance of the evidence suggests that. Until something changes, that’s probably where it is going to stay.

This then is the story of the Flatwoods monster. There was another sighting nearby that night but it is not relevant to our discussion. I covered it in Encounters in the Desert. Since History’s Project Blue Book did not mention it, I have left it out of this.

I will point out that the idea that the Air Force had sent in investigators is not corroborated by the Project Blue Book files. In fact, the entire Blue Book file on the case, as noted, consists of two pages, the project card and a one-page synopsis of the sightings. The idea that there were two Air Force investigators in the area surfaced much later.

I look forward to the next episode, which looks to be about the Lubbock Lights. I can tell you all right now that the lights did not affect the power grid in Lubbock, but the graphic in the preview did look interesting

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Roswell Deception - A Review

(Blogger’s Note: For those interested in more information about this, I interviewed James Carrion on my A Different Perspective radio show. You can listen to both hours here:

And for those who wish to read the book, you can find it here:

All this will provide information about Carrion’s theories, some of my thoughts on them, and additional points of view.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I have been involved in the investigation of the Roswell case for more than thirty years. I am deep into the minutia of the case and know where the mistakes were made and what witnesses are more than likely being less than candid. In other words, you might think that I
James Carrion. Photo copyright
by Kevin Randle
bring bias to this examination of The Roswell Deception, but I believe I can view it in a very dispassionate light. I have tried to separate what might be considered a kneejerk reaction to a new theory that moves us beyond those which has been traditionally assigned to the Roswell case.

Before we begin, there are a few things that I want to make clear. Just looking at this book as an historical thesis, we are shown a history of the United States as it existed in the late 1940s. We are shown the paranoia that seemed to run rampant, the distrust of our one-time ally, the Soviet Union, and a belief that if our government did it, there are good reasons for it. This is all demonstrated through the newspaper articles and government documents that are linked to the book through the Internet.

There are “mini-biographies” of many of the people who populated the upper echelons of both the military and civilian worlds in the late 1940s. Those are interesting in and of themselves but some of them are irrelevant to understanding UFOs. To learn a little more about the men who were running things gives us an insight into the how and why of certain decisions were made but that doesn’t really help us understand the philosophy of the times.

There was a great deal of information about the use of deception during the Second World War. This included the use of faked divisions, rubber tanks and military vehicles, and radio traffic designed to convince the Germans that the coming invasion of France would be directed at the Pas de Calais rather than Normandy as but one example. This was designed to prove that militaries, including the United States, had successfully engaged in deception in recent history.

Second, and of little importance, are a number of small errors that do suggest a problem with the overall scholarship. Walter Haut is continually referred to as Warren Haught, the name that so many newspapers used for him. I’m not sure why this wasn’t picked up and corrected. It doesn’t seem that Carrion realized this.

In keeping with misnamed people, Carrion refers to Major Curtan and provides information about Major Eugene Curtain (page 204). But this is irrelevant because the man in Fort Worth was Major Edwin M. Kirton. The FBI didn’t bother to get the correct spelling of the man’s name. They just assumed it was spelled “Curtan.”

Third, there were other things. COMINT, which is jargon for communications intelligence is defined as code breaking. True, code breaking is part of the COMINT mission, but it goes far beyond that. It is monitoring of communications, the interception of those communications and study of them. There are many aspects to COMINT.

Fourth, is the constant suggestion that the men of the 509th Bomb Group were “handpicked.” There is no evidence that this is true, especially when we look at the unit rosters from the summer of 1947. Edwin Easley complained that his MPs were routinely rotated out of the group, to be replaced by others who now had to be trained in the procedures for handling the atomic weapons and secrets. There didn’t seem to be anyone handpicking them.

And there are assumptions that are not backed up by evidence. Often, we read about what the Soviet analysts would think about a flying saucer case, or how they would have interpreted certain information, but that is all speculation. At one point, Carrion wrote, “Astute Soviet intelligence analysts would have paid attention to the flying disc news reports quoting the anonymous Cal Tech physicist.” No documentation has been offered to prove that these assumptions are valid, and in some instances, we find them contradicted in later portions of the book.

Before we get too deep into the book, we are told, “…the flying saucer stories that proliferated in the summer of 1947 were part and parcel of a U.S. led strategic deception operation…that U.S. had amazing aerial technology… goals to stay Stalin’s hand from invading Europe, smoke out spies and to break Soviet codes…”

It is later in the book that we move back to the flying saucers beginning with an analysis of the motives behind the Kenneth Arnold sighting. This was one of those aerial deceptions that Carrion wrote about. Arnold, the man who launched the flying saucers, was lured into the area by a reward offered for finding the wreckage of a Marine aircraft that had crashed some months earlier, killing all aboard but that had not been located. The theory, according to Carrion, was that the military would be interested in the Pacific Northwest because this was the route that Soviet missiles would take during an attack. By providing an opportunity for someone, anyone, to see these radical new aircraft, in the Pacific Northwest, it would suggest to the Soviets that the U.S. capability was far superior than it actually was. This would prevent the Soviets from attacking Western Europe and by extension, the United States.

The flaw here is that the U.S. had nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union did not. This would seem to be the real deterrent and this aerial deception was unnecessary. If the U.S. could obliterate the Soviet Union with those atomic weapons, that would keep the Soviets in check, at least until they developed their own atomic arsenal. Mutually assured destruction would stay their hand at that point. Carrion suggested that we had few actual bombs and that convincing the Soviets that we had a delivery system that they could not defeat was the real purpose.

But what was it that Arnold saw that was so radical that he didn’t recognize it as terrestrially based aircraft? According to Carrion (page 84), “Perhaps Arnold was not familiar with the flying wing designs which were tailless, even though they were
not a military secret. Newspapers reported in May 1946 the test flight of three N9M flying wings… and Northrop’s giant XB-35 winged bomber…”

The problems with this are many. Only four N9Ms were built. One crashed in 1946, two had been detailed to the Air Force for training and by June 1947, it seems that only one was flying. These were test aircraft and only about a third the size of the XB-35, so it is debatable that had there been nine of them and they might not have been visible at the distance reported by Arnold.

As for the larger XB-35, in June, according to the documentation, there were only two in existence. According to the PIO at MUFOC Army Air Field, “None of our flying wings has been in the air recently.”

This seems to negate the idea that Arnold saw something that was part of an aerial deception, which undermines the theory in the book. If it wasn’t an aerial deception, then what Arnold saw has another explanation. Carrion counters by saying that they might have been towing something, though it is difficult to believe that the inherently unstable XB-35 would be capable of towing anything.

Carrion tells us (page 114), that the deceivers had anticipated that the Arnold story would be a “flash in the pan,” so they began feeding new sightings to reporters, which, according to Carrion’s theory, culminated in the Roswell case. This seems to suggest they anticipated Roswell, or had planned it in advance. This would keep flying saucers in the news. But the day after the Roswell crash was reported, the news was that both the Army and the Navy had moved to suppress news stories about flying saucers. Rather than encouraging the proliferation of flying saucer tales, they were trying to keep the media from publishing more about them.

But more importantly, Carrion offers no documentation and no evidence that anyone was watching the flying saucers with an eye to keeping the story alive. No evidence that the Soviets were interested in it, or that the aerial deception had been created to suggest a superior aircraft. In fact, there are news reports and speculation that the flying saucers were “… a Soviet plot to create US panic.” This is a Soviet aerial deception.

Carrion, in writing about the Roswell crash, noted, as did some newspapers, that there had been a “blistering rebuke” (page 201) to the 509th subordinates for issuing the press release. Walter Haut, however, told me there had been no such rebuke. Maybe the press assumed it or maybe a spokesman said it, but those in Roswell were unaware of it. Karl Pflock, in his book (Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, page 290, reported that George Walsh had received a second call from Haut asking what he, Walsh, had done because he, Haut, had just received a call telling him to shut up. Of course, there is no documentation for
Walter Haut. Photo
copyright by Kevin Randle
this either and it conflicts with what Haut himself had said repeatedly.

On that same page, Carrion wrote, “Something that didn’t smell right in this news article was the revelation that ‘not all the principals were satisfied with the announcement that the wreckage found on the New Mexico ranch was that of a weather balloon.’ Which principals? Making a baseless statement was borderline gaslighting the public.”

But the answer to that question is there in the newspapers. Mack Brazel, who found the original wreckage, was quoted as saying that he had found weather observation devices on two other occasions and this was nothing like those (Roswell Daily Record, July 9, 1947, page 1.)

Eventually we learn that “Lieutenant Warren Haught delivered two entirely different press releases to the local Associated Press and United Press outlets – a purposeful decision that will make sense later in the story.”

Which might be true if there were, in fact, two different press releases delivered to the media outlets in Roswell. Walter Haut told me that he wasn’t sure if he had, in fact, delivered the press releases in person. He might have read them over the telephone. Both George Walsh and Jud Roberts said that there was no hard copy of the release (and a news wire copy reported that the press release was verbal and not written). They received it over the telephone and since one of the recipients, Walsh worked for the AP and another, Frank Joyce, worked for the UP, it seems that this explains the subtle differences in the two. It was not some sort of clever deception to out spies or break codes but just the expected differences that would develop in the ways that the press release was distributed to the news wires and then published in the newspapers.

But there is a third version of the press release which, of course, suggests that Carrion’s claim is wrong. Haut provided the press release to the Roswell Daily Record. Their story is different than those reported by the UP and AP. In other words, rather than having been filtered through Walsh and Joyce, and then rewritten by editors at the two wire services and later by editors at the newspapers that reported it, the Roswell Daily Record had the information directly from Haut. They wrote their story based on what Haut told them and not what have been sent in to the wire services.

Carrion, however, suggests that this is unimportant how many press releases there were because all the key words were in both of them (A Different Perspective radio broadcast). That would allow for the code breaking operations to go forward… but, if there was actually no need for two or more releases, why even create them?

Later, we are told (page 248), “Bottom line being that Blanchard would never have unilaterally sent out the press release unless he was under orders to do so.”

A page later, Carrion wrote, “one question that has not been adequately answered however is who authorized the Roswell press release to be sent out. As it was highly unlikely that Colonel Blanchard pulled the trigger on this decision, UFO proponents shift the finger to SAC’s deputy Commanding General Clements McMullen.”

These are more bold statements that have no facts to back them up. Blanchard, as both the 509th and the base commander, certainly had the authority to send out the press release. He was not required to ask permission from his higher
Colonel William Blanchard
headquarters. Notice that in one statement we are told he would never do it and in the next that it was highly unlikely. We are not told who these UFO proponents are.

Without actually supplying any documentation that the Soviets were at all interested in the Roswell crash, and with the story not only printed in newspapers all around the country, it was killed within three hours. It was claimed they had a flying saucer and then it was nothing more than a weather balloon and you have to ask, would the Soviet spies inside the United States actually be interested enough in this tale, as it developed, to transmit to Moscow using a code? Why not just send the information in the clear, referencing all the newspaper articles about it? No reason to encode it. Send clippings out in a diplomatic pouch because, once the explanation had been offered, there was no urgency to get the information to the Soviet Union. Carrion suggested to me that Stalin wanted the information fast and that couriers and diplomatic pouches would take too long (A Different Perspective radio broadcast).

Having provided an explanation for the Roswell crash, that is an aerial deception to fool the Soviets and a way of providing hints about Soviet codes, Carrion moves back to Kenneth Arnold. This time, however, Arnold isn’t the witness, he is the investigator. Ray Palmer, a Chicago publisher, wanted Arnold to investigate the Maury Island UFO incident. This was a semi-flying saucer crash. It was more of an emergency landing, but it resulted in damage to a fishing boat, the death of a dog, and injuries to the son of one of the men on the boat.

Maury Island is a notorious hoax. The investigation into it indirectly resulted in the deaths of two Army Air Forces officers. The aircraft they had used to travel to meet with Arnold developed engine trouble. It crashed after the crew chief and a passenger parachuted to safety. The pilots were unable to bail out and died in the crash.

All of this, from the Arnold sighting to Arnold’s investigation into Maury Island is an unnecessary diversion. Palmer, who had printed stories called the Shaver Mystery in his science fiction magazine, saw Arnold’s sighting as a way of validating some of those science fiction tales. The Shaver Mystery suggested a race hidden inside the Earth was responsible for all the troubles we face on the surface. The flying saucers were manifestations of craft used by those hidden away. Since the Shaver Mystery had been presented as truth hiding in fiction, and because these stories had boosted his circulation amazingly, Palmer wanted more. If the flying saucers could be tied to Shaver, then that would be best.

Arnold was to investigate Maury Island, the sighting reported by Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman. It has become clear over the years that Maury Island was a story invented by Dahl and Crisman to capitalize on the flying saucer craze of the moment. But there was an earlier connection. In 1946, Crisman had sent a letter to Palmer’s magazine suggesting that while he, Crisman, served in the China-Burma-India Theater during the Second World War, he had found one of the hidden caves that lead into the inner Earth. He could corroborate some of the Shaver Mystery with his first-hand observations.

All of this, about Maury Island and landed flying saucers, would have been ignored, if not for mystery calls made to newspapers about Arnold’s investigation of Maury Island. It seemed that the caller knew everything that was going on in Arnold’s hotel room as he interviewed the witnesses and discussed the matter with Captain E. J. Smith of United Airlines who’d had his own flying saucer sighting a few days earlier. This greatly disturbed both Arnold and Smith, and at one point, they nearly torn the room apart looking for hidden microphones.

But there were no hidden microphones and although the mystery caller was never identified, it is clear that it was either Dahl or Crisman. (On A Different Perspective, Carrion suggests that it was David Johnson). Given the nature of Crisman, he was probably the one making the calls. He never provided information to which he had not been privy. To prove he was on the inside, he was able to give the names of the two officers killed in the plane crash before they had been publicly released, but only because he had met them that day in Arnold’s room. Dahl and Crisman had tried to give the Army Air Forces officers some of the recovered residue from the damaged saucer but both officers knew what it was and it wasn’t part of a flying saucer. This is contrary to what Carrion suggested. George Early, in UFO, laid all this out in a series published in October, 2010; January 2011, and finally in October 2011.

The one very interesting point that comes out in all of this is that a fellow, David Johnson, had a large role in keeping the flying saucers in the newspapers. He seemed to have inserted himself into all Maury Island investigation through Arnold. Johnson, according to Carrion, singlehandedly convinced another newspaper reporter to push the Maury Island story out, over the news wire. Johnson was in communication with Arnold and knew Arnold’s plans. Johnson and Arnold would later go flying in search of the flying saucers, and Johnson would have his own sighting. If there was an outsider, a ringleader in this grand deception on a local level, then David Johnson would be a prime candidate for that. As I say, this is an interesting point made in Carrion’s book and on A Different Perspective. That alone might be enough for us all to take notice of it.

The one name that doesn’t surface in the book is that of Colonel Howard McCoy. He was involved with the Foo Fighters during the Second World War, he investigated the Ghost Rockets over Scandinavia in 1946, and then was a part of the early investigations of the flying saucers. He was an intelligence officer who seemed to be on the inside of everything, which makes him a candidate for the Roswell deception.

But the real point here is that contrary to Carrion’s belief that this was part of the grand deception, Maury Island was nothing more than a hoax carried about by two men who did not have sterling reputations and a Chicago publisher who wanted to boost his science fiction magazine’s circulation. They offered nothing that would be of interest to anyone other than those who thought the Shaver Mystery is real. The perpetrator of this was not some government organization but a magazine publisher who wanted to validate the Shaver Mystery to keep his circulation high. In this case, it was for the money.

This review could go on for much longer with these sorts of revelations. The problem for Carrion is that while he supplies links to interesting documentation, he has nothing that proves his case. He does not supply the smoking gun but suggests this lack of evidence is proof of it. He wrote, “The ‘perfect deception’ is a classic example. It is out there somewhere, but like the perfect crime, it manifests itself only in results. It is difficult to prove, and harder to study because quite often the study would attack comfortable beliefs.” (page 214)

Which is a way of saying that it must be true because we can’t prove it. We can only look at the results, but the results are inferred from documentation and information that is sometimes vague and sometimes irrelevant. The foundation is very weak and nearly nonexistent.

Worse still is what Carrion wrote early in his book. “Unfortunately, no U.S. strategic deception operations since WW2 have been declassified so I cannot offer official smoking gun documents that confirm unequivocally that the U.S. perpetrated strategic deception in the year of 1947…”

Carrion does provide an interesting history of the paranoid world of 1947, of the espionage going on by the United States as intelligence officials read all telegraph messages leaving the United States in something known as Operation Shamrock which was exposed decades ago. But all that does not lead us to an aerial deception of the magnitude claimed, that was designed to keep the Soviets from invading western Europe, to keep them from launching missiles over the Pacific Northwest and to help break the codes being used by Soviet agents.

He wrote that he was supplying a theory that could be falsified. In this case, we can say that Arnold had not been fooled by flying wing aircraft as part of an aerial deception because there were not sufficient flying wing aircraft to form a flight of nine. Of course, it might have been some other aircraft, or flying wing aircraft towing something, but again, the evidence does not support such a claim.

We can say that the Roswell press release was not part of a purposeful deception because there were not two purposeful versions. There was the single version that Haut supplied over the telephone and any variation of that version is the result of the communication over the telephone, the notes taken by those who received the calls, and the stylistic differences between the two wire services. Besides, with the information about the crash out in the public arena, and identified within three hours as a weather balloon, there would be no reason for Soviet spies to send a coded message about anything even if they thought there was something important there. In other words, the two purposeful versions did not exist and the documentation and testimony bears out this conclusion.

We can look at the Maury Island affair as a hoax dreamed up by two men with the assistance of Ray Palmer. It was a ploy to validate the Shaver Mystery and not some conspiracy by a secret government agency to convince the Soviets that we had superior military aircraft. Arnold was not part of the deception. He was just a handy foil for those perpetrating the hoax.

But in the end, Carrion admits that he provides a lot of speculation but no real evidence. While he challenges us to “falsify” his theory, to do so, we need access to still classified records of this grand deception. The problem is, such records might not exist and might never have existed. We can’t falsify the theory by proving an alternative to it because we need those records to do so.

The book is interesting for those of us interested in the minutia of the time, and the theory is clever, but it fails without any sort of evidence. Speculation is fine, but in the end, there is nothing left… the foundation is built on quick sand and rapidly collapses without the support necessary to make the case. Read the book for the history of time, for the information about the cases on which it touches, but remember that the theory is not proved.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Project Blue Book - Paul Hynek's Words

I was more than a little disturbed by the latest episode of Project Blue Book. The case, based loosely, and I do mean loosely, on the Flatwoods, West Virginia, landing of September 12, 1952, was barely recognizable. They portrayed it as a crash and left out many of the witnesses, focusing on three… a mother and her two boys.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek
What disturbed me was the first interaction between that mother and Allen Hynek. The captain with him introduced him as Dr. Hynek and it was clear the mother thought that he was a physician. He didn’t do anything to suggest he wasn’t and I couldn’t see Allen Hynek doing something like that.

But I also know that those of us not involved shouldn’t assume outrage on the part of those who are. You can think of many things in the modern world where someone gains attention by his or her outrage on the part of another. I thought I would find out what the family of Allen Hynek thought about this series and the way Allen and his wife were presented. Here is the response I received from Paul Hynek. I have left out the very kind words directed at me. With his permission, I quote in part:

Project Blue Book is a highly dramatized portrayal of my father's work with the US Air Force. As with other dramatic representations, it is not meant to be accurate in all of its details. So you can find many incidents depicted in the show that didn't actually happen in real life. I don't know offhand if my father read the whole Encyclopedia Britannica (let alone twice) when he was indeed laid up with Scarlet Fever. It wouldn't surprise me, given the frequent exhortations he made to me as a child to consult the damn encyclopedia. I have, however, attached photos of the astronomy text book that he had during this time that he often cited as creating his interest in astronomy to begin with. This is an example of something that perhaps not accurate, is certainly authentic. 
My father was a public figure, and HISTORY could have made Project Blue Book without any input from the Hynek family. However, they invited my brother Joel and I to serve as consultants on the show, so I know first hand that creator David O'Leary, showrunner Sean Jablonski, the producers, HISTORY executive Arturo Interian, and Aidan Gillen and Laura Mennell and the rest of the cast have gone to great efforts to portray my parents and the other characters in an authentic and respectful fashion. In addition, each episode is based on a real case as you remarked on in your article with the Gorman dogfight, is followed by actual information, and also has additional accompanying interviews on the website with Jacques Vallee, Robert Friend, Richard Dolan, Joel, me, and others to present actual recollections. HISTORY has also invited Joel and me to participate in numerous public forums to talk about our real life father and his actual views.
In broad strokes, the show accurately portrays my father as a highly intelligent scientist who initially thought that flying saucers were nothing more than post-war hysteria who comes to believe there is something to the phenomenon. He therefore wound up butting heads with an Air Force that was more concerned, and rightly so, with national security and tamping down public hysteria than they were with honest scientific inquiry - at least conducted out of Wright-Patterson. I also believe that should the show continue into subsequent seasons, it will show the evolution that my mother underwent as well to become an important figure in UFOLOGY in her own right. As a loving and admiring son, I'm delighted that my father's decades of work trying to answer one of the most important questions ever to face mankind are once again getting their just due.
Hynek’s family is participating in the project, and if they are cool with the way he’s portrayed, then how am I to be outraged by it. While there are other problems with the show, and I don’t know how many people bother with following up to learn the truth about the incidents presented, Paul Hynek, believes they are making a sincere effort to get the real information out to the public.

I will admit here that I am ambivalent about all this. I see the show as just that. A show. Just like any other scripted series on television, though one that is attached to the real world. I see that they have worked hard to recreate the world of more than half a century ago, and they seemed to have captured the flavor of the times. I do wish they wouldn’t bring in the nonsense of MJ-12 and the MIB, but then this is a television show and you must have some conflict or you end up with, well, I wanted to say Seinfeld, but that certainly worked for a decade or so.

I say again that I am disappointed in the direction it is taking but I say that as one who has been immersed in the UFO field for a very long time. I’m disappointed by the way the military is shown, but only because they don’t understand military customs, something they could have fixed with consultant who had actually served as an officer.

On the other hand, I do enjoy the show and I just can’t help it. I guess I’m able to separate the program from UFO research. They do make it clear that the stories as they tell them are not the reports as they were actually received. As I say, I’m ambivalent at this point… I just don’t know if I should be outraged or entertained… at the moment, I’m opting for entertained.

As a final thought. This from Paul Hynek. “If my Dad were still around, I can imagine him putting on his slippers, cooking some popcorn, sitting in his comfy chair and watching the show, having a grand old time.”

X-Zone Broadcast Network - James Carrion

In a two-hour special edition of the radio version of A Different Perspective, I talked with James Carrion, author of The Roswell Deception. This is the theory that the “Saucer Summer of 1947,” as he calls it, was a deception created by American military forces as a way of convincing the Soviets that we had a spectacular aircraft that could deliver atomic weapons deep into the Soviet Union. You can listen to the first hour of the discussion here:

And the second hour here:

In the course of the discussion, we covered the events at Maury Island, a well-known hoax that Carrion believed to be part of the deception, the Arnold sighting, a key component of the deception, and the Roswell crash, which was designed to
James Carrion. Photo
copyright by Kevin Randle.
keep flying saucers in the public arena. We might have gotten a little deep into the weeds on some of this, but I believe the information is interesting.

One thing I do want to say is that Carrion’s comments about a fellow named David Johnson are quite interesting and put Arnold’s involvement in the beginning of the US saucers sightings into, dare I say it, a different perspective. As you listen to the program, or as you read the book, look and listen for his name to appear…

And if you need to understand the Roswell case in greater detail, take a look at Roswell in the 21st Century. I believe I distilled all that has come and gone about Roswell in the book, and it provides the best look at what happened there. As they say, “A little self-promotion never hurts.”

I won’t go into great detail here simply because you can listen to the whole discussion yourself. I believe his aerial deception to be an interesting theory but fails because of a lack of supporting documentation that outlines and confirms the deception. Carrion’s book, however, provides loads of circumstantial evidence, biographies of some of the key players, and an insight into the paranoia that gripped the post-Second World War world. You can read the book, for free here:

For those interested, I will be posting a longer review of the book in the next few days. Before I posted it, I wanted the opportunity to raise some of the points with Carrion and to clarify some of the points that I didn’t fully understand. That should spark some interesting commentary.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

History's Project Blue Book

Back in the 1970s, Jack Webb of Dragnet fame created something he called Project UFO. It was based on the files of Project Blue Book and it was difficult to recognize the cases presented. The attitude of the program, if I remember it correctly, was to
Jack Webb
examine a case that might have been inexplicable and find a rational and reasonable answer before the hour expired. Although I was excited about the show, I was quickly disappointed in the final product. It reeked somewhat, again if I remember correctly, of a debunking operation.

This new incarnation, given the snappy tile of Project Blue Book, seems to be at the other end of the spectrum. It suggests a grand conspiracy that involves what most of us believe is the mythical MJ-12, Air Force officers who will go to about any length to prove a case has a terrestrial explanation and a hint of the Men in Black. In other words, it is filled with the paranoia of the UFO field and has very little to do with the reality of the situation as it was then or as it is now.

While it is suggested that it is based on the history of Project Blue Book, very little of what I saw was based on that. About the only things that were accurate were the names of some of the people such as Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Project Blue Book. Once beyond the superficial, we plunge headlong into the fantasy that has grown up around UFO investigation. In one scene, a general walks into an office that is reminiscent of Fox Mulder’s FBI office filled with photographs, newspaper clippings and drawings of alien creatures. Since this is the beginning of Hynek’s association with Blue Book (Project Sign actually), some of the material there is out of place. It shouldn’t show up for years.

And while I’m in a nitpicking mood, I’ll note that the military customs and courtesies are simply misunderstood. The civilian show runners and directors don’t understand saluting and get it wrong. You have an Air Force captain referring to Hynek as “Doc,” which seemed to be a little disrespectful. And the uniforms seemed to be a combination of Army and Air Force, meaning that elements of Army uniforms showed up on the Air Force uniforms. As I say, nitpicking.

The real trouble here is a suggestion that the stories are grounded in reality but I fear it is a reality driven by every paranoid rumor, half-truth and fantasy that has infected the UFO community since the 1940s. I just had a hard time getting beyond all of that. I was hoping for something that had a little more of a documentary atmosphere, not something that was invented for a story that has little to do with the history of Blue Book.

In other words, as Jack Webb had done decades ago, we have a show that is “based” on the truth, but that moves into fiction immediately. I was quickly disappointed again. However, this time, I recognized the case that began the tale
Lt. George Gorman on the left.
without having to have the producers tell what it was. The opening sequence and the investigation are wrapped around the October 1, 1948, sighting by Second Lieutenant George Gorman, an Air National Guard pilot, on a routine night flying mission near Fargo, North Dakota.

In the show, he buzzes a football stadium, climbs out and spots something, a glowing ball in the distance. He attempts to intercept, chases it, is apparently hit by it, and open fires on it. Once he lands, he is more than a little crazed by the events and for me, talks gibberish.  He is suffering from an acute case of PTSD and eventually ends up in the psycho ward before being given a shot and dragged off. Apparently, the shot will wipe out his short-term memory of the event.

Hynek is called in to investigate and walked over to where the plane is being examined. He is stopped by a military guard but Hynek gives him the facts of high-altitude radiation and then is allowed to not only examine the plane but to sit in the cockpit. The guard should be reprimanded because he didn’t know that Hynek was authorized to see the plane and shouldn’t have allowed him close to it. After the captain with Hynek told the guard that Hynek was authorized to examine anything he wanted should the guard allow him to pass.

But really, all of this is trivia. If you understand that this is a television drama and not a documentary, that they were not constrained by what really happened, and that they are creating situation to move the plot, then the show is enjoyable. Maybe I nitpick a little too much, but that’s half the fun for me. I am interested in where the show is going and how many elements that have nothing to do with Blue Book will be brought in. I suspect they are going for an X-Files vibe as opposed to an actually historical vibe.

For those interested in the facts of this case, I have examined the relevant documents contained in the Blue Book files. Gorman was building his nighttime flight experience at the time. As the program told us, Gorman did, in fact, fly over a football stadium but at 1500 feet, as FAA regulations required. Gorman did see a smaller aircraft about 500 feet below him. (We would later learn that it was flown by Dr. L. N. Cannon with his friend Einar Neilson thought the names are redacted in the actual files.) He then spotted another object that was flying between the Hector Airport Tower and the football field. The tower operator told Gorman that there was only one other private aircraft in the sky. Gorman said that he was going to give chase. Gorman later told the Air Force investigators:

After the initial peel off, I realized the speed of the object was too great to catch in a straight chase, so I proceeded to cut it off in turns. At this time my fighter was under full power. My speed varying between 300 and 400. The object circled to the left, I cut back to the right for a head-on pass. The pass was made at apparently 5000 feet, the object approaching head-on until a collision seemed inevitable. The object veered and passed apparently 500 feet or less over the top above me. I chandelled [a flight maneuver] around still without the object in sight. The object made a 180 degree turn and initiated a pass at me. This time I watched it approach all the way as it started to pull up, I pulled up abruptly trying to ram the object until straight up with me following at apparently 14,000 feet, I stalled out at 14,000 feet with the object apparently 2000 feet above me circling to the left. We made two circles to the left. The object then pulled out away from me and made another head-on pass. At this time the pass started and the object broke off a large distance from me heading over Hector Airport to the northwest at apparently 11,000 feet. I gave a chase circling to the left trying to cut it off until I was 25 miles southeast of Fargo. I was at 14,000 feet, the object at 11,000 when I again gave the aircraft full power… to catch it in a diving turn. The object turned around and made another head-on pass. This time when pulling up, I pulled up also and observed it traveling straight up until I lost it. I then returned to the field and landed.
Although the program suggested that Gorman had fired on the object and that his aircraft had been damaged by it, there is nothing in the Blue Book files to corroborate that. This is artistic license, I suppose, but it is important to note that this was an aspect added to the story.

Gorman did say, “I am convinced that there was definite thought behind its maneuvers.” He added:

I am further convinced that the object was governed by the laws of inertia because its acceleration was rapid but not immediate and although it was able to turn fairly tight at considerable speed, it still followed a natural curve. When I attempted to turn with the object I blacked out temporarily due to excessive speed… I do not believe thee are many pilots who could withstand the turn and speed effected by the object, and remain conscious.
There were other witnesses, though they didn’t support all of the statements made by Gorman. One of those was Dr. Cannon and he provided a statement for Air Force investigators. It said:

I was flying and Nielson was using the phone and while circling the Football Field at the A.C. at 1600 feet, the Fargo tower advised us there was a [F]-51 in the air and a few moments later asked who the third plane might be. We had noticed the 51, and when we were over the North side of Hector Field going West a light seemingly on a plane flared above and to the North moving very swiftly toward the West. At first we thought it was the 51 but we then saw the lights of the 51 higher and more over the field. We landed… and then went up to the tower and listened to the calls from the 51 which seemed to be trying to overtake the plane or lighted object which then went southward and over the city. The plane was moving very swiftly, much faster than the 51. Tried to get a better view with a pair of binoculars but couldn’t follow it well enough…
In the tower, L. D. Jensen, said that he had seen the object or light at about 1000 feet in the northwest, pass rapidly over the field, flying in a straight line. He could see no form or shape, even through binoculars, and he could not see the maneuvers of either the F-51 or the object.

Officers from Project Sign, the forerunner of Blue Book, arrived from Ohio and interviewed all the witnesses. Eventually, after an investigation that included testing Gorman’s aircraft for radiation [which might have had more to do with the altitude and cosmic radiation rather than alien spacecraft], they concluded that Gorman had engaged in a dogfight with a balloon. Dr. Donald Menzel believed that Jupiter had a role in the dogfight as well. The official answer in the Blue Book files is balloon.

Jerry Clark, who is one of the historians of the UFO field, and who might be THE historian of the field, wrote in his UFO Encyclopedia:

Though some knowledgeable students of the UFO phenomenon… have rejected such an explanation for this famous sighting, unlike some Air Force would-be solutions this one seems plausible, particularly in the light of the failure of ground witnesses to confirm the extraordinary performance Gorman ascribed to the object he was pursuing After the Mantell incident [in which another Air Guard pilot was killed chasing what turned out to be a balloon], the Gorman sighting may be the most overrated UFO report in the early history of the phenomenon.
I will note here that Clark is more liberal than I when it comes to UFO sightings and explanations, so his conclusion here carries extra weight. I agree with him. Gorman somehow tangled with a balloon.

There is one final point and that concerns the over reaction of the pilot in, dare I say it, the pilot of Project Blue Book. There is no evidence Gorman was completely freaked out over the encounter. True, he had trouble landing the aircraft, but that was the reaction of the encounter. It was not a long-term problem. He remained in the Air Guard and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1969.