Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Project Mogul Double Standard

Here’s an interesting question that is generated by the recent discussions of Delbert Newhouse and his UFO footage. There are those on the skeptical side of the fence who reject his close up description of objects that were gunmetal-colored disks because that description doesn’t appear in the written record until nearly two years after the fact. One debunker seemed to be outraged that I had mentioned that this was what Newhouse told me because I didn’t talk to him until 1976. Of course, I was merely pointing out that I had talked to him and that this description of the UFOs had come from him rather than a survey of the literature, which, of course, makes that first-hand testimony regardless of when gathered.

The theory among the debunkers is that Newhouse embellished his sighing to make it more interesting for some obscure personal reasons. Maybe he didn’t want to be identified as a Navy officer who couldn’t identify sea gulls when he saw them. Maybe he was embarrassed by the identification made by those who apparently never bothered to interview him and only believed what they read in the Project Blue Book files. Maybe Newhouse wanted to increase the importance of his sighting.

Yes, we all understand that memories are often flawed and that they can be unconsciously embellished over time in a process that is known as confabulation. That means simply that the mind has filled in details that might not have been observed. The witness is not lying in the classical sense, is not aware that he or she is not relating reality, and truly believes what he or she says about the situation.

So, what does this have to do with Project Mogul and double standards?

Well, there are those on the skeptical side of the fence who believe that a Project Mogul array fell near Roswell, was partially recovered by Mack Brazel, and that is what caused all the fuss about a crashed alien spacecraft. Ironically, and ignored by those same skeptics is the theory that is refuted by the written records made at the time. Never mind that because Charles Moore, one of the engineers who worked on Project Mogul told us all that he remembered that flight, that it was the first successful balloon flight in New Mexico, and the reason for the delay in identifying it was because Project Mogul was so highly classified that he hadn’t heard the name until Robert Todd told him in 1992 (we, of course, know that the name appeared in the records made at the time in 1946 and 1947 which is one of the first indications that Moore might not be relating reality to us).

To flog this dead horse, I will repeat what we all know. According to the written record Mogul Flight No. 4 was cancelled. There is no equivocation about it. The flight was cancelled, which should be the end of the story… but no, Albert Crary’s diary, the written record and part of the source material, mentions that a cluster of balloons was flown on the date in question. This is Flight No. 4. We know this because Moore told us so fifty years after the fact and his memory, which is in conflict with the written record, is acceptable, while Newhouse’s memory is not.

Charles Moore, who knew exactly what that cluster of balloons was, told everyone that this was actually Flight No. 4. And although the Mogul flights were not scheduled before dawn in June 1947, Flight No. 4 was launched, not at dawn, but around 3:00 in the morning, according to Moore. Why? Because a weather front went through Alamogordo about dawn and the weather data from it suggest that the balloon trajectory would have not been toward the Brazel ranch. However, if it was launched about 3:00, then the winds aloft data can be used to predict a path toward Corona, New Mexico and the Brazel ranch.

The documentation from the New York University balloon project shows that the first successful flight in New Mexico was Flight No. 5. But Moore claimed that Flight No. 4 was just as successful; they just didn’t record it. If it was as successful, then why not record it and tout it as the first successful flight in New Mexico? Why not report the data collected rather than leave it out of the record altogether. Why would Crary say the flight had been cancelled if it had actually flown and was successful?

Because a cluster of balloons was just that… a cluster of balloons. We know from later entries what that means. When flights were cancelled, they sometimes conducted experiments using some of the balloons and equipment. So, Flight No. 4 was not launched in the dark, which would have violated the CAA regulations under which they operated, and was cancelled because of clouds at dawn, which was demanded by the CAA. If it was cancelled at dawn, then how could it be launched some three hours earlier at 3:00?

Let’s also remember that Moore had originally calculated the launch time as about 5:00 a.m. because that was dawn in New Mexico in July 1947, and Flight No. 5 was launched just after 5:00 the next day. That was, of course, before the winds aloft data ruled out the dawn launch. And, explain how it would make sense to say that the flight was cancelled but it was launched before the clouds became an issue… well, obviously this is true because that is what Charles Moore remembered fifty years after the fact and his memories of those long ago events are not flawed.

Oh, so we don’t get lost in arguments over source material, in his 1995 paper, Moore calculated the launch time as about 5:00 but in the Benson, Saler, Zieler, and Moore book, ironically called UFO Crash at Roswell: Genesis of a Modern Myth, on page 102, he changes the time. What we have here is clear evidence of Moore changing the times, not based on newer and better evidence, but on his memory to prove his own theory... or maybe I should say his alleged memory because there is no documentation to support the earlier launch.

The documentation available from that time also tells us that the CAA governed the launch of these Mogul balloon trains because they were some 600 or so feet long and would be a threat to aerial navigation. They couldn’t be launched when there were clouds to hide them and they couldn’t be launched at night because pilots wouldn’t be able to see them. The rules and regulations in place in 1947 are clear and the documentation is clear on those points.

True, in July, as they worked the project and the length of the arrays was reduced considerably, these factors were altered, but in June, they were in place. They couldn’t launch at night and they couldn’t launch because of clouds, so Flight No. 4 was cancelled. Until Moore said otherwise and we can believe him because it is true that he would never embellish his self-proclaimed place in history as the man who launched the Roswell wreck.

Here’s another interesting side note. There was a discussion about NOTAMs, which are Notices to Airmen about information that would be important for aviation safety. The launches of these arrays required a NOTAM to be filed, but Moore said that no NOTAM had been filed for Flight No. 4 because they expected it to remain over restricted airspace on the Alamogordo (White Sands Proving Ground) ranges until it was above normal aviation operating altitudes or something around 30,000 feet. The questions are: why would he remember that, and why should we believe him?

I could go on, but is there a point? We know, based on the records that Flight No. 4 was cancelled and that the cluster of balloons does not a Mogul array make. We know that the flight did not fly at 3:00 in the morning, but had it been launched then, it would have been noted as being launched then and there wouldn’t be the note that it had been cancelled. We know what the cluster was, based on other entries, and Moore had to know that as well but just made contradictory statements about it anyway. (In 1995, Moore acknowledged that a valid interpretation of Crary’s diary was that Flight No. 4 was cancelled.)

I say that if you reject Newhouse because his later statements about the length of his movie disagree with the documentation made within weeks of his shooting it, then Moore’s statements about Mogul Flight No. 4 can be rejected because they are in conflict with the written record. I really don’t see any difference here. In both cases we have statements made after the fact, years after the fact, which are contradicted by information gathered at the time.

I just want to see the same standards applied to both sides of the coin. But I will say this in defense of Newhouse. I don’t believe (please note the qualification here) Newhouse was consciously changing his story and there is some evidence to back that up. For example, only about 40 seconds of his movie was released, meaning that some 35 seconds are not readily available. I think he believed he was telling the truth… Moore knew what he was doing and deliberately misled us all in his attempt to be the man who launched the Roswell case. What I don’t understand is how anyone looking at the facts can believe that Moore and Mogul had anything to do with Roswell. Remember, that doesn’t prove it was alien, only that this particular explanation has failed… based on the documentation and not on the fifty year old memories of one man


Lyall M said...

Excellent points Kevin.

Anthony Mugan said...

There is an important difference between the two scenarios. Baker's analysis found a 30% reduction in average angular size of the light sources on the Tremonton film over the course of the fin which could be consistent with increasing distance ( probably mainly due to increasing altitude as discussed in previous posts). The data is consistent with, but does not prove a claim that they were a lot closer several minutes earlier.

In Moore's case the model he proposed falls apart at just about every step if the way.

cda said...

Take heart Kevin. The travel guide books tell readers that a likely spaceship crashed near Roswell, once upon a time.

These guides do not talk about such piffling and highly uninteresting matters as Mogul.

David Rudiak said...

UFO debunkery is full of double-standards. The debunkers continue to defend Moore, despite his provable lying, hoaxing, distortions, and alteration of records. (The proof is in the paper trail Moore left behind.) I consider it an acid test of the character and intellectual integrity of anyone calling themselves a skeptic as to how they handle Moore. They have all failed. I have yet to see one admit to what Moore did in an effort to become the central character of the Roswell story, namely his (nonexistent) Mogul balloon flight explained Roswell.

So numerous lies, questionable recovered memories (he initially said he had NO memory of any such flight, much less the supposed details), and a provable hoaxed trajectory calculation. He altered the real Flight #5 Mogul trajectory map in two publications, the alterations obviously all intended to hide just how close the flight came to Roswell base, while stating he was reproducing the plot "without change". "Without change" obviously does not mean the same in most people's vocabulary than in Moore's.

But Delbert Newhouse supposedly told James McDonald 18 years after the fact that he spliced two different film cannisters together in his UFO footage, and Lance Moody has a cow and insinuates that this made Newhouse a liar, or a flake, a "spinner", or I don't know what. I don't see what bloody difference it makes as to what his film actually shows or what Newhouse had been saying from the start, that he saw disc-like objects (or as his AF interviewer clumsily wrote it up, equally wide and long and THIN), or as Ruppelt, McDonald and Kevin "second-hand" said they were told by Newhouse over 2 decades, shaped like two-pans face to face, or "first-hand" by Newhouse in the 1956 documentary "UFO" in a recreation of his 1952 AF interview.

Newhouse also told McDonald the pie-pan description also appeared in the transcript, which he saw, of his original AF interview. I find such a statement totally credible because the head AF intel officer from Hamilton AFB, who conducted the interview, likely also taped it and had a transcript made. That the AF misplaced it or hid it is not Newhouse's fault. Also, the summary of that interview stated the whole family was interviewed, since they were also eyewitnesses. What happened to their statements?

No, none of this counts, because some details 18 years later related possibly to McDonald (with no allowances for McDonald possibly misunderstanding what Newhouse was saying) either could not be verified or don't totally agree with what Newhouse wrote originally in a cover letter (about the single film cannister).

Newhouse, according to McDonald, said the AF sent him a lousy copy of the movie. Well, we really don't know, unless we are psychic, what Newhouse received. (We do know the AF wrote that the original was in bad condition several years later, probably from many viewings.) We also don't know if they removed some of the initial footage in that copy, as he claimed. We DO know, that not all of the footage showed up in the 1956 documentary "UFO", only about 45 seconds instead of the 75 total seconds given by other sources (about 30 feet or 1200 frames of 16-mm film at 16 frames/sec). So what happened to the other 30 seconds of film that the AF apparently did NOT release to MGM for the documentary? I don't know, and that footage might very well have shown the objects when they were closer and their disc-shape a little more obvious. Newhouse from the start said the objects were moving away from him and technical analysis showed a reduction in angular size with time, in support of that.

So aside from a much later alleged trivial comment to McDonald about different film lengths and splicing the film, I don't know in what other significant ways Newhouse changed his _original_ story or what difference it makes. It still doesn't explain why three different early expert analyses did NOT think they were birds.

Lance said...
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