Friday, June 27, 2014

Levelland, Texas Revisited

In an earlier post I had suggested the Air Force lied about some of the information hidden away in the Project Blue Book files. I had been going to expand on the comments about the Portage County UFO chase, but then remembered some of the things I had read about the Levelland, Texas UFO landings and EM Effects case of November 2, 1957.

What struck me as I read the file in years past was that the Air Force and Donald Keyhoe, at the time the Director of the civilian National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), were engaged in a publicity war, each suggesting the other was lying. The Air Force said there were only three witnesses but Keyhoe said there were nine. Well, both couldn’t be right so I thought I would take another look at what appears in the Blue Book files.

In a document from those files, I found the following statement. “Contrary to Keyhoe’s and Washington Press reports only three, not nine persons witnessed the incident.”

But later in the file, there is another document that said, “A mysterious object, whose shape was described variously as ranging from round to oval, and predominately bluish – white in color was observed separately by six persons near the town of Levelland.”

In a separate document which was apparently part of a newspaper account of the Air Force investigation, the reporter wrote, “The investigators said further (note the plural) [which is a parenthetical comment in the document] that they could find only three witnesses who actually saw the object.”

This could explain the discrepancy inside Air Force file which is to say that only three saw the object but the others were involved in the incident. This would mean that the Air Force, while not telling the whole story was only slightly shading the truth.

Except, in another part of the file, that included newspaper reports, it is clear that more than three saw an object as opposed to a streak of light. For example, the sheriff, Weir Clem, is reported to have said, “It lit up the whole pavement in front of us [he and a deputy] for about two seconds.” He called it oval shaped and said that it looked like a brilliant red sunset.

This brings up a separate issue, which is the color of the object. The Air Force focused on the blue-white light, suggesting that this was related to lightning, supposed to be flashing in the area at the time. But in several of the cases the witnesses talked about a bright red and if that was accurate, then the Air Force explanation fell apart or partially fell apart.

The Air Force eventually explained the case as ball lightning, a phenomenon that science was still investigating in 1957. Those descriptions found by the Air Force claimed it was a bright blue-white and ball shaped. What the Air Force didn’t bother to mention was that ball lightning was short lived, just seconds, and that it was extremely small, something on the order of eight or nine inches in diameter. The witnesses suggested something much larger.

This newspaper quote about the sheriff seeing something larger and oval from the time seems to corroborate statements made by Clem’s wife some forty or forty-five years after the fact. According to a report by Richard Ray of FOX News 4, Oleta Clem, the sheriff’s widow said, “Well, he just said he’d seen a thing that lit down in that pasture with lights all around. It come down and then it went back up as fast as it come down.”

So, we have Clem describing, in 1957, an oval-shaped object and we have his wife saying, in 2002, that he had seen a thing with lights all around. She is telling us he was closer than the Air Force gave him credit for and we had him, making statements in the public record in 1957 that says the same sort of thing. Is this good proof? Not really, but it is interesting testimony and it does suggest that the Air Force was playing fast and loose with the facts.

The Air Force file contains newspaper clippings that have the names of many of the witnesses, statements made by them about what they saw and what happened to their vehicles, and giving the hometowns or locations of these witnesses. Without too much trouble, it is possible to come up with the names of more than three people who saw an object, all available in the Project Blue Book files which negate the Air Force statements about the case.

And yes, I would agree that these newspaper reports are not the most reliable source of documentation, but it would have provided the Air Force investigators, if there had been investigators, a place to begin. Instead, they noted in the file that they hadn’t interviewed one of the primary “sources” because he didn’t live in Levelland, but outside the town… and as an aside, there was but a single investigator who spent most of a day attempting to find and interview witnesses rather than investigators.

What we have here is a clear case of the Air Force pretending to investigate a major sighting and then writing it off as ball lightning when everything argues against that explanation. There were multiple sightings of an object made by more than three people in separate locations, and who made the reports independently to various agencies including the Levelland sheriff and the news media.

The other thing that caught my attention was the NICAP investigator who showed up, one James A. Lee of Abilene, Texas, and said that he had been studying these things for twenty years. Since this was 1957, that would mean he started his investigations in 1937. I would have liked to know what sparked this interest. Had he seen something? Had he read Charles Fort? Did he know of the Great Airship of 1897, or one of the other airship waves that had happened? Or was this some sort of hyperbole to show his long and deep interest in UFOs? I don’t know, but found the qualification, mentioned several times, interesting.

The point here, however, is simply the nonsense of an argument over the number of witnesses rather than an attempt to interview them. Had this happened in 1957, in the days that followed the sightings, we might have learned something about UFOs, electromagnetic effects and a possible landing trace case. Instead we have a file labeled as “ball lightning” and witnesses who were not interviewed in 1957. Everyone dropped the ball.

Monday, June 23, 2014

America Unearthed and the Smithsonian

As sometimes happen, I was just cruising around the TV dial (remember when there were dials on televisions?) and came across an episode of America Unearthed. They were looking at a stone covered in runes that suggested Vikings had made it to the new world and had actually gotten as far south as New England long before Columbus. Examining the stone, the guy said that because of the type of stone, he couldn’t tell if it was weathered enough to be from the proper time frame.

Now I believe that the Vikings reached Canada… that evidence seems to be solid. I believe that a group of Europeans, from southern France arrived about 2000 years ago and remnants of their settlement have been located in Florida. It also seems that the Clovis people, who might also have been related to those in Europe, have been found in Virginia, suggesting that these Europeans arrived much earlier than Columbus.

And, there seems to be evidence turning up in Oregon that suggests the Chinese arrived there some seventy or eighty years before Columbus. Or, in other words, a lot of people from a lot of different places arrived long before Columbus, and I haven’t even mentioned the people that all those others found when they got here.

But that’s not the point. It was something the geologist said after he asked the owner of the stones if she had contacted the Smithsonian. She said she had but their response was to ask her to donate the stones to the museum for display.

His response to her suggested that he didn’t think the stones would be displayed. He thought they would have disappeared into one of the warehouses holding all those things there were not on display. In other words, he thought they would be swallowed up and never seen again because, and here I’m speculating, the stones suggested an alternative to our accepted history.

That set me to thinking. How many other discoveries, how much other evidence has been submitted in good faith only to be hidden away by those who believe they know best? How much evidence has disappeared into classified files, been buried deep in an archives, how much has vanished into files and locations that are misnamed, and how many documents have been destroyed to keep those secrets?

There is some corroboration from the academic arena. During the “Dinosaur Wars” of the late nineteenth century, Edward Drinker Cope and his nemesis, O.C. Marsh, fought over the discoveries, the fossil beds, and even stole discoveries from one another. Marsh had the majority of his fossils confiscated by the government with them then being given to the Smithsonian. Ahh, nothing like having the federal government getting involved in science research and determining who would be the recipient of their generosity.

 Yes, I know that the confiscation of fossils and then giving them to a museum is not the same as hiding the information away in their basements, but it certainly does suggest a precedent. It does suggest that information that should be in the public arena might be stored away where no one can ever see it, and if they can’t see it (or study it) then the status quo can be maintained.

I could apply some of what we know about the history of UFO research to this. There are some disappearing files that might have given us some interesting answers. As I noted in Government UFO Files, the U.S. government collected information on the Swedish Ghost Rockets, but those files disappeared when the official investigation began in 1947. There are hints that they existed once, but they are gone now, lost in the great bureaucracy that is the U.S. government.

This all was sparked simply by the suggestion that had the Viking runes been donated to the Smithsonian, they might have disappeared into the basement. Maybe the Smithsonian would have put the runes into a public display. I don’t know. I just thought it an interesting observation by a fellow who had worked with the Smithsonian in the past. I thought of it as an interesting way of hiding alternative history without having to deal with the problems such history caused. I thought of it as a way of maintaining written history as we all have been taught it was rather than updating it when we learn something new.

(And as a side thought, the Smithsonian probably would have attempted to vet the runes and certainly wouldn’t have displayed them if there was any doubt to their authenticity… which is not a bad thing.)

(Update -  I have been given the real name of the series... as I say, I caught it as I was cruising around the cable. Thought I would make the change.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

MJ-12: The Beginning

My friend, Alejandro Rojas, has posted to the Open Minds YouTube channel an analysis of the beginnings of MJ-12. It is based on some original research he conducted through interviews with some of those involved and on FOIA requests that he has made recently to the U.S. Air Force. The thirty minute program can be found here:

There are two additional points that I think should be made that add some context to this story. First, Stan Friedman told me about twenty years ago when we were in California on a research trip that Bill Moore had said he had run into a wall on his Roswell research. Moore said that he was thinking of creating a “Roswell-type” document to shake things loose. Moore apparently thought that if he had an official looking document it might induce some of the reluctant witnesses to tell all that they knew.

Friedman has since denied that the conversation ever took place. Fortunately this isn’t one of those “he said, he said” situations. There are others who heard a similar tale. Brad Sparks said that Moore had told him much the same thing and he, Sparks, called Friedman, saying that it was a really bad idea. The information about Sparks and his memory of this can be found on the Internet. For more information see:

While I hesitate to mention this, simply because it comes from Philip Klass and will be rejected out of hand by many here is another source:

Those who wish for more information or other corroboration can conduct their own searches. Just remember, that I’m reporting what Friedman said to me and I’m noting that he now denies he said it.

The second point is how the documents were released. Alejandro reported that Timothy Good received the Eisenhower Briefing Document [EBD]before it entered the public arena. But that copy came from Bill Moore and that can be proved as Barry Greenwood demonstrated. The copy of the EBD has a chevron-like artifact on several of the pages. Since it does not appear in the same place on other pages, it means that it is an artifact produced by a specific copier. It floats from page to page.

Okay, you say, but so what?

That chevron-like artifact also appears on the EBD released by Moore, but it is not in the same place as it is on the pages released by Good. In other words, the EBD copies were produced on the same copier and that means there was a single source for them. One person made several Xerox copies and sent one of them to Good.

Since it was Moore who had the original film negatives, it would seem that Moore made copies of them and sent them off. Moore, then, was the source of the copies that Good had. Good simply jumped the gun, revealing the existence of the EBD to the press before Moore had a chance to do so.

It is clear that Moore’s copies were made from the pictures printed from the 35 mm film on which the EBD fell into his hands. If he wanted copies of it, he could run all that he needed… but there is that chevron artifact that appears on his copies as well as those given to Good. Or, in other words, it was Moore (or one of his buddies) who made the Xerox copies from the originals, and that links Moore to the copier and to Good.

So, while it might be said that Good’s copy came from another source, it is clear that his copies came from the same copier that Moore used. There is a single source for all the copies and that is the film sent to Jaime Shandera, Moore’s pal in California.

I thought these two points should be made. But there is the new information revealed by Alejandro that should convince even more people that MJ-12 is a hoax and that not a single document linking the U.S. government to something called MJ-12 has ever been independently found. I can’t FOIA a government agency and receive a series of documents as we can in so many other UFO related matters.

I have said for years that MJ-12 should be relegated to a footnote in the history of UFO studies, but it keeps appearing. I know that Alejandro’s piece will not end the debate, but, at least, it comes from a different perspective.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Air Force Lies about the Close Encounters Chase

Although the reason for my post on the “Close Encounters Chase” was simply to point out that there had been a negative impact on the lives of some of the police officers involved, other points have been raised. So, I have been looking at some of other material available. My original intent here was to just show that part of the Air Force explanation was a blatant lie (which is obvious from the record of the case), but I’m going to expand it slightly.

First, the lie. The Air Force, on the Project [Blue Book] Card, lists the following explanations. 1. PHOTO: (PROCESSING DEFECTS) 2. SATELLITE 3. Astro (VENUS).

I’ll ignore the discussion of the photographs because they aren’t very good and I could argue that if the Air Force fudged one part of the explanation, why should we accept the rest, but I’ll let that go. Instead I’ll focus on the second part of the explanation which is the beginning of the sighting. The Air Force claimed that the object moving from west to east across the sky was a satellite.

In an undated Memo for the Record in the Project Blue Book files, it said, “The following agencies were called by airman [sic] Elmer to find out if one of the satellites Echo I, II, ; Pegusus [sic] I, II, III, would be visable [sic] in the area at the time of the sighting on 17 April 66.”

From the Goddard Space Flight Center, in response to the inquiries, “Definitaly [sic] not ECHOI or ECHOII they were over the southern hemisphere at the time of the sighting.”

Robert Sheaffer, on page 250 in his book, The UFO Verdict, wrote, “Neither Pegasus nor any other bright satellites had been visible.” He also noted that his friend and colleague, James Oberg had been able to find that information relatively easily some ten years after the fact.

So, the Air Force, with no evidence whatsoever, wrote off part of the case as a satellite. Even their own files show that this explanation for part of the sighting doesn’t work.

And that would have been the end of this post, but I found something else in the book written by Hector Quintanilla, the final chief of Project Blue Book and who retired as a lieutenant colonel. In writing about this case, he noted:

He [Hynek] reasoned that a policeman, a Congressman, a professor, a reporter, the biggest hobby club in the United States were all involved and if I didn’t change my evaluation they would make life miserable for me. They did make life miserable for me, but I never did change my evaluation. I would have changed the evaluation on scientific merit, but not because of political pressure.

But, as we can see, that statement is not accurate. The files showed no evidence of a satellite in the right area at the right time moving in the right direction. Although the Air Force’s halfhearted effort failed to eliminate the Pegasus satellites, they could have learned that with a little more effort. Once there were a few cracks in the satellite explanation, Quintanilla should have reevaluated it and eliminated it because it wasn’t true.

Here’s the point. The Air Force was again caught with an explanation that didn’t work. The evidence was stacked against it, but clearly they, which is to say Quintanilla, weren’t about to open a flood gate by changing what, to his mind, was a good explanation.

Before we get into a long debate about the rest of the sighting, or what it was that Dale Spaur saw in the west, let me say that it is only the satellite explanation that can be rejected based on this information. Even the skeptics seem to agree with that.

We can’t reject other explanations for other parts of the sighting based on this limited information but we can reject this segment. It does demonstrate the mindset of those in the Air Force when conducting their investigations. Clearly they knew better but it seems that they just didn’t care. Their answer was posted and that was it.