Monday, October 04, 2010

Beyond the Rhodes Photographs

Not long ago I got a strange telephone call from a fellow who claimed that he had known William A. Rhodes, the guy who took two UFO pictures on July 7, 1947. He said that he had known Rhodes well and that his expertise extended way beyond his brush with the world of UFOs.

Now I confess that my interest in Rhodes extended to the pictures he took, and the way the object seemed to mirror that being seen around the country at that time, and little else. No, it wasn’t a flying saucer because it wasn’t saucer shaped. It was more of a heel shape that was what Kenneth Arnold had reported when the term "flying saucer" was invented (Arnold drawing on top, Rhodes photograph on bottom). People talked of flying saucers, but the name covered all sorts of objects from circular to cigar shaped to ball shaped and most of anything else.

Rhodes, who claimed to have a Ph.D, but who was unable to produce any document supporting that claim, might not have been the lunatic that some thought. According to what the caller told me, Rhodes held a number of patents and had been working on a "gravity shield."

He said that Rhodes had gone to work for the War Department during World War II, and that had been working on something that either prevented the magnetic mines from detonating or a way of detecting enemy submarines by a means other than sonar.

I knew that the Air Force had written off Rhodes’ photographs as a hoax but the motivation there might have had nothing to do with Rhodes, and more with what the photographs looked like. They seemed to provide a corroboration of the Arnold sighting. Given some of the descriptions of the craft that crashed at Roswell, the photographs might have also shown an object similar to what had fallen there. At any rate, the Air Force was not impressed with either Rhodes or his background.

I did what anyone would do when presented with this sort of dilemma in today’s world; I checked the Internet. I found an article, apparently written by Rhodes defending his degree. He wrote:

Additionally, after being thoroughly investigated by the FBI, I was issued top-secret status. Not even my wife was to know. The creation was a method of neutralizing the earth's magnetic field in ships. Not a single ship or sailor was lost to magnetic mines during the war's remainder. One day, my boss summoned me to his office and explained: "We have a total absence of degree'd doctorates, and having already passed requirements, you have been selected to receive a Ph.D in Physics. The degree would be known by the nickname "90 Day Wonder", and my work would not be disrupted to gain it.
The way this was explained to me was that Rhodes had taken some sort of test for the position he held. Depending on how well you had done, you were assigned work. Some were given work that would have been assigned to those who had the "equivalent" of a MS and some a Ph.D. Rhodes scored high enough for the Ph. D.

Rhodes explained that this evaluation extended beyond his work with the War Department. He wrote:

Working 16 hours daily, seven days a week, my health began failing. The degaussing system was in full production. My resignation was accepted by Commander Bennett from whom I received a letter of regret, and wished me the best. Back home in Phoenix found the same old agrarian system. Ph.D's could only find work picking oranges of vegies, so I began searching for clients nationally. Soon they found me without advertising. Forward to 1955. From the U of Michigan came Dr. Aden Baker Minel chosen by the National Science Foundation to locate what is presently Kitt Peak Observatory. I applied and was hired immediately for development of instruments relating to the observatory's location. He inquired about my education. When I said 90 day wonder, he grinned and said "Me too", and continued, "Why are you not using it." Replying I didn't think it had any value. "It has the same value as one issued by any university. Use it like I have, your research business needs it." After Kitt peak was selected, Dr. Minel moved to the University of Arizona where he developed what is now know as the Hubble Space Telescope. A few years later he died from heart failure. I owe him a debt of gratitude for his insisting my degree should be used.

He also said that his background had been investigated by the FBI for a security clearance so he could do his classified work. It would seem to me that if this is true, then those investigating his UFO photographs should have known that, especially since the file suggests the FBI was involved. And if they were, then the smear campaign that took place about Rhodes’ background and education was just that, a smear campaign. Even if the Air Force didn’t know, and no one told them, someone at the top knew and didn’t mention it.

Right now, I don’t know how accurate this information is. I have been told that Rhodes held a number of patents and I have seen, again, on the Internet, several patents issued to William A. Rhodes. They were assigned to a guy living in Phoenix, which is where Rhodes lived, and I suspect it is the same guy, but I just don’t know for certain.

If the information is accurate, and this is the same William A. Rhodes, then he got a short shift from the governmental UFO investigators. The questions about his degree become somewhat irrelevant simply because the government was the entity that suggested he had the "equivalent" of a Ph. D and treated his work accordingly. Then, later, because they didn’t happen to like what he had photographed, they asked the questions about it, suggesting he was less than honest and therefore his photographs could be questioned. Talk about double dealing.

This is something that I’ll pursue, seeing what I can learn about Rhodes. It seems he might be something of a radical, in the mold of Nikola Tesla, but who didn’t get the same publicity as Tesla.

But that doesn’t say anything about the pictures. I can see no reason for Rhodes to have faked them, it gained him nothing, and given the information released by the government, made him look rather unreliable. This really is something that deserves more work.


cda said...

An interesting sideline is that Ray Palmer, who swore by the Rhodes photos, claimed in 1959 that he had heard that all copies of the "Arizona Republic" of July 9, 1947 (which featured Rhodes' photos) were seized by the military in a house-to-house operation, which explained why very very few copies were obtainable, so Palmer claimed.

This was all bunk of course, but the sideline is that the headline on page 1 of that particular issue had nothing to do with Rhodes but was instead a headline on the Roswell crashed saucer, which featured prominently! The Rhodes photos were relegated to a minor story.

Palmer's story reminds me of the similar claims, made in the recent Schmitt-Carey book (among others) about the military going around people's houses at the time threatening citizens while searching for debris from the Roswell UFO.

Some things never change.

Anonymous said...

shrift - short shrift

Anonymous said...

Lots of google hits on a William A. Rhodes from Phoenix, but 21st century dates on material written by him are common. So, either he is very long-lived or it is someone else.



Anonymous said...

Rhodes photos:

This looks like it was taken in the 1960s

More recent:,_William_(I)

Seems near the right age



Anonymous said...

The second photo does not appear to be our Mr Rhodes. So, that is a false trail.



KRandle said...

CDA - I really can't let this go unchallenged. While I know you don't accept it, there is testimony from a dozen or more civilians who have made this claim. Carey and Schmitt did not invent it. Reject it if you wish, but the testimony is out there.

William Rhodes, according to my information, died in 2009 (or maybe 2008), so yes, he had a long life... and as you'll see in the next post, he did hold a number of patents. Something the Air Force didn't bother with. They were just to busy making fun of him.

Anonymous said...

Mr Rhodes company in Phoenix was (and is) Arizona Hydrogen Manufacturing, Inc.

Contact info is readily available. I'm surprised no one contacted Mr Rhodes there.

For several years prior to his death (re: Kevin) there are articles and forum disputes between a Mr William A Rhodes and Yull Brown regarding bragging rights about oxyhydrogen -- or, something like that. I know nothing about the subject. I'm just browsing around. This Mr Rhodes' claimed the "PhD", the label "Physicist" and an association (at what time I don't know) with Arizona State University.

Images of Citigroup's William R Rhodes are often identified on the web as those of William A Rhodes.

CDA...Palmer is can I put this? Never mind 8-)

"...was instead a headline on the Roswell crashed saucer, which featured prominently!"

Sometimes it seems it's the skeptics who started the story that a flying saucer crashed at Roswell.



Orka said...

I always thought it was interesting Arnold made efforts to contact Rhodes and was quite excited when he saw his photographs published, as they looked very similar to the 8th craft, (2nd to last) Arnold saw, which apparently had a different shape than the others. Arnold said he'd kept the difference secret so as to recognise hoaxes(?).
There is discussion about Arnold embellishing his story about the eighth craft in Martin Shough's "The Singular Adventure of Mr Kenneth Arnold" Interesting nonetheless.

Bill Morris said...

William Albert Rhodes was my uncle. He passed away in 2007 at 90 years of age. His last wife (of six) Nancy lives still in their house on 13th place in Phoenix, she celebrated her 87 birthday last January. A long time resident of Arizona he lived in Phoenix when it was a small village of 35,000 people. In those days you were judged by what you knew and what you did rather than what a piece of paper said you knew. It was literally the Wild West at the time. Bill was friends with many leading people of the time including two men who were to become governors of Arizona. Intellectually Bill was brilliant and had many interests not limited to what I've read here. He was very active in the early radio music scene in Arizona. He played piano throughout his life at a very high level. He held many patents including the water welder, of which I have one in my garage. He worked extensively in the solar field and his home still has a hybrid solar panel for heating water and a "helioscope", which uses reflected light via mirrors to illuminate the inside of a building, among other innovations. He organized a "solar showcase" in Arizona in 1955, which while covered by the local media was a relative flop due, I believe, to entrenched corporate interests such as Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project. He was a "90 day wonder" and never said otherwise. No one who knew him even a little bit would think he didn't deserve to be called Dr. He invented Rhodes Gas and although it's now called Browns Gas it was his development and invention. He had some success in business but made many bad decisions and had no lasting business interests. He was used and abused business wise throughout his life. I know little about the UFO pictures having been born in 1947. He always kidded me and told me I was half alien. His personal life aside (obviously having had six wives) he wasn't the most stable of family men, but in the end he was one of a kind, complex, intelligent, flawed as most of us are.

Rick Martel said...

Mr. Randle,

If it would help your research, I have a photo of Rhodes together with Lewis Larmore who also took several photos of the unidentified object. Both were members of the Phoenix Observatory Association. Dr. J. Allen Hynek claimed that Blue Book had hundreds of photos of UFOs--I've been trying to track down the final disposition of some of these photographs.

You can contact me at my email address, or you can find the picture and accompanying article which I posted yesterday on Whitley Strieber's FaceBook homepage....

Unknown said...

I believe the Rhodes sighting and the Roswell crash are related.It looks to me like the Phoenix craft was a search and rescue for their downed comrades in New Mexico.....ask yourselves, which direction were they heading?