Monday, December 31, 2018

James Carrion, The Roswell Deception and the Press Release

This is a different post than I had planned. After reading James Carrion’s The Roswell Deception, I was planning to do a short article about one tiny aspect of it. It was something that seemed to undermine his premise, but as I was searching for additional information, the tone changed and I made a discovery or two that I thought important.

James Carrion. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle
To bring everyone up to speed on this, let me say, “This isn’t a review of The Roswell Deception. It is an analysis of a single statement that seems to be at odds with the facts, but it is an important discrepancy.”

For those who haven’t read the book, Carrion proposes that the flying saucer craze of 1947 including the crash of something near Roswell was a grand deception. It had two purposes. One was to convince the Soviets that we, meaning the United States, had an airplane that was far superior than anything the Soviets had. Military strategists had learned during the Second World War that control of the air was an important part of winning the war on the ground.

The second was to either expose Soviet spies in the United States, or to gather through the use of deception, information that would help break the codes that the Soviet Union was using. In time of war, not to mention during time of peace, being aware of the other side’s strengths, weaknesses and worries would help in any sort of negotiations. Knowing the enemy’s goals in advance would help to blunt them and, by extension, improve our position in the world.

These were the reasons for creating the aerial deceptions and the activities designed to keep it going. Carrion believed that the Roswell crash, and more importantly, the stories around it were necessary for the deception.

With that in mind, he wrote, “Lieutenant Warren Haught [Walter Haut… I don’t know why he couldn’t get the name right] delivered two entirely different press releases to the local Associated and United Press outlets – a purposeful decision that will make sense later in the story.”

The most obvious problem is the assertion that there were two different press releases and that it was purposeful. There is no evidence to support the idea that there was any sort of purposeful decision here. The evidence suggests otherwise and here’s why.

Simply, I have found more than two versions of the press release. There was one version that appeared on the United Press wire service, one that appeared on the Associated Press service, and still another version that appeared in The Roswell Daily Record. Many of the newspapers printed their own versions, rewritten by their reporters or editors to fit their formats and style.

For those interested, George Walsh of radio station KSWS was the first to get his version of the press release on the AP news wire at 2:26 p.m. (MST). It said:

The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chavez County.
The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office.
Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.
Frank Joyce, at radio station KGFL, followed about fifteen minutes later with the United Press version. It said:

KGFL Radio Station in the late 1940s.
The Intelligence office reports that it gained possession of the “Dis:” [sic] through the cooperation of a Roswell rancher and Sheriff George Wilson [sic] of Roswell.
The disc landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher, whose name has not yet been obtained, stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the Roswell sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office notified a major of the 509th Intelligence Office.
Action was taken immediately and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home and taken to the Roswell Air Base. Following examination, the disc was flown by intelligence officers in a superfortress (B-29) to an undisclosed “Higher Headquarters.”
The air base has refused to give details of construction of the disc or its appearance.
Residents near the ranch on which the disc was found reported seeing a strange blue light several days ago about three o’clock in the morning.
The last of the versions was published by the Roswell Daily Record. It is different than the other versions. It said:

The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.
According to information released by the department, over the authority of Maj. J. A. Marcel, intelligence officer, the disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had notified Sheriff Geo. Wilcox, here, that he had found the instrument on his premises.
Major Marcel and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk, it was stated.
After the intelligence office here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquarters.
The intelligence office stated that no details of the saucer’s construction or its appearance had been revealed.
Articles in other newspapers, especially those on the west coast, offered variations of the press releases. The Oroville, California Mercury-Register, for example, reported, “Possession of a ‘flying disc’ was disclosed today by the intelligence office of the 509th bomb group of the Roswell army airbase.”

Walter Haut. Photo copyright
by Kevin Randle.
An analysis from all these sources show that the same information is the basis for all of them, but there are subtle differences. This happened, I believe, because Walter Haut phoned it in, so to speak. Haut told me, as he had many others, that he wasn’t sure if he had hand carried the press release to the four media outlets in Roswell or if he telephoned each of them and read it to them. That would account for the subtle differences, at least partially.

Art McQuiddy, who in 1947, was the editor of the Roswell’s Morning Dispatch told me (see UFO Crash at Roswell, pp. 70 – 71; Pflock, Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, p. 266), “I can remember quite a bit about what happened that day. It was about noon and Walter [Haut] brought in a press release… By the time Haut had gotten to me it hadn’t been ten minutes and the started ringing. I didn’t get off the hone until late afternoon.”

On the other hand, Karl Pflock in his book wrote (p. 244), “Among other things, they [teletype messages retained by Frank Joyce of the information communicated by the United Press] confirm Roswell AAF did not [emphasis in original] distribute a written press release on the Brazel discovery.”

Can we resolve this?

Yes. I think the answer is in the subtle differences found in each of the versions. Had Haut taken the press release into the various offices, then the content would be virtually the same. The big difference is with the version published in the Roswell Daily Record. It smacks of the local newspaper being familiar with the players, the locations, and the situation. Had they had a printed version of the
Roswell Daily Record. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
press release, their version would have followed those others with, of course, the local modifications.

There is another aspect of this. As I was looking for copies of both the AP and the UP versions, I was struck by a thought. I had been given, by Frank Joyce, copies of the wire service copy from 1947. There were Joyce’s notes written on it. I wondered, if in the early 1990s, after we’d talked to Joyce, and Moore had talked to Joyce, if maybe, Joyce had cobbled this together. He would have been familiar with the style of the news wires in 1947, he had moved from Roswell radio station, KGFL, up to Albuquerque’s KOB. He knew Haut and the boys in Roswell, so there was a possibility that he had been able to create something in coordination with Haut and the others that none of us would challenge.

And, more importantly, Joyce had told us, that is Don Schmitt and me, that within the days, possibly hours of the original press release, the military had come by KGFL and swept the office for any paper or evidence of the crash. Given that we were hearing about military attempts to suppress the information from a number of people, that just seemed to be a part of the larger picture.

It wasn’t until recently that I had another thought on this. If the military had searched the radio station, why hadn’t they taken the teletype messages that Joyce had saved. If he had hidden that material, why wasn’t the press release with it? And, why was the military even bothering with this? The story was out and the press release, maybe not verbatim, but close enough to the original had already been circulated so that it was of no importance. We knew, pretty much, what it said.

Given all this, I believe that we can conclude that Haut didn’t visit each place, but used the telephone. Art McQuiddy might believe that Haut visited him, but he would be wrong about that. When I interviewed Jud Roberts about running into the military cordon of the area, he told me that there had been a blue staff car parked by the side of the road. In July 1947, the staff cars would have been green, given this was the Army. It wasn’t until after the Air Force became a separate service that the staff cars would have been painted blue. Was Roberts lying? No, he had just spent decades looking at Air Force blue cars. The point is that he might have actually remembered the staff car by the side of the road, but in his mind it was blue.

We can conclude, then, based on the evidence, based on Walter Haut’s vague memory, and the information printed in the newspapers, that there might have been a written press release that Haut read to the media sources over the telephone. However, if he was working from notes rather than a completed release, then we can see that there would have been other, subtle differences interjected in the press release.

As for the original reason to begin this rather esoteric look at that one paragraph that Carrion wrote, we conclude that Carrion was wrong as well. There weren’t two different press releases issued as a way of exposing Soviet spies or as a means of cracking Soviet codes. There was a single press release, delivered over the telephone that created the differences. And from that point, the newspapers updated, edited, and added to the press release meaning that there weren’t two versions, but many. On this point, Carrion’s theory about two press releases, fails.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Jefferson Airship - A Brief Update

For those who have been wondering, yes, I chose the name for the articles, “Jefferson Airship,” because the 1960s band, Jefferson Airplane which became Jefferson Starship and the just Starship. What would you have called a story
Jefferson Herald and the
Airship Crash, 2018
about the Great Airship crashing near Jefferson, Iowa? Just seemed to make sense to me.

Andrew McGinn, the editor of the Jefferson Herald, which had been the Jefferson Bee, supplied a little additional information. He wrote:

Just thought you'd like to know that, while letters to the editor attributed to "George Washington" and "Truthful James" scream FAKE NEWS, one name in the main report, Mahlon Head, was very much a real resident of Jefferson at the time. In fact, he would be considered a city father. Maybe THE city father, in fact. The ship was said to have crashed in his "celery patch."
It makes me wonder if he was in on the hoax or was aghast at his name being used.
Mahlon served multiple terms in the Iowa Legislature. His brother Albert was at one time Speaker of the Iowa House.
Reading the stories and letters as a whole, it's so clearly a hoax. Those letters, in particular, are just too crazy. The Aurora story was just bare-bones enough, I think, to fuel curiosity and create a legend. Plus, in Aurora, they supposedly were able to bury a body!
The next step would be to check the Waterloo newspaper to see if any of the men involved with that hoax are identified. After more than 120 years, drawing a connection between them and the people in Jefferson is probably going to be nearly impossible. Since we know that both “sightings” are hoaxes, it is more about curiosity than it is with UFO investigation. Sometimes, when you learn a lead isn’t working or a story is faked, there is little reason to continue the research.

Still, it is an interesting challenge and I’ll see what I can learn.

PS: Yes, I just said the name of the real guy out loud...

Just so you don't think that I swallowed this without looking it up, having said the name out loud... this from an official Iowa government website. It just proves that some names are laugh out loud funny but belong to real people... though I have never found anyone actually named Moses Lahn (yes, read that out loud).

Oh, and I'm informed that it is pronounced May Lon rather than Mellon... still, pretty funny.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Jefferson Airship vs. Aurora Crash

As I was working on the articles about the Jefferson Airship crash, I wondered what was the difference between that event and the Aurora, Texas, crash. Both were reported in the newspaper which was supposed to add some credibility to the stories. But Aurora has been splashed all over the media since the 1960s including documentaries, magazine articles and mentions in books, and even a movie about the disaster. Jefferson is rarely mentioned and often relegated to a mere couple of sentences in obscure books or buried in the detail of more popular ones.

Aurora, Texas. Photo only important to show that I was
there. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
Here’s the thing. I have found more evidence for the Jefferson crash than for the Aurora crash. True, I interviewed several people who had lived in Aurora and Wise County, Texas, in 1897 but know of none who are alive today who would have seen the Jefferson crash. I was in Aurora, Texas, in the early 1970s, but knew virtually nothing about the Jefferson event until the last few days.

Now, we have great detail about Jefferson, Iowa. We have good descriptions of the craft, we have letters to the newspaper that describe the crash, and we even have illustrations that match those descriptions. For Aurora, we have none of that, other than the original newspaper article. There is no follow up on it, the descriptions are vague and the debris that had apparently been scattered all over the streets of Aurora has vanished into thin air.

If we are to look just at the documentation from 1897, then the Jefferson crash is the better tale. Again, I point to the letters printed in the newspaper written by witnesses who were there. In Aurora there is no such documentation. That, of course, gives the nod to Jefferson.

Even more important is the illustration that appeared in the Cedar Rapids newspaper three days later. It does set up something of a conundrum. How was
The airship from the Cedar Rapids Gazette and
as description in the Jefferson Bee.
the letter writer able to describe the object days before the illustration appeared? It is a match and suggests a bit of reality… or a level of coordination between the writer of the letter and those who were talking about the landed craft in Waterloo.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are two books written about the history of Wise County, Texas, within a decade of the crash. Neither of those books mentions the Aurora crash, which, given the timing of it, should have had a prominent place in both those books. That it was not even mentioned is suggestive of a hoax rather than a real event.

I could mention that we do have names of real people in the Aurora case. T.J. Weems, however, was not a signal corps officer as reported but was the local blacksmith. That certainly does nothing for the veracity of the tale. Others who were identified turned out not to be what they were said to have been.

The names associated with the Jefferson crash are not identifiable as real people living in the area. George Washington was mentioned, but I thought this had more to do with Washington’s reputation for truthfulness than it did the name of the person who wrote the letter. George could not tell a lie, but it seemed the letter was full of them. Sort of ironic, I would say. In fact, that seems to be the very definition of irony.

Both events suggest that there was wreckage. In Jefferson, it was at the bottom of a huge crater created by the crash. In Aurora, the debris was dumped down a well, which is a good way to get rid of it, although not a very smart way. Searches of the well have produced no evidence that could be confirmed as having come from an advanced technology.

The real point here, however, is that there are many more details from the Jefferson crash than there are from Aurora. Had Jefferson been found by researchers in the 1960s, we might have seen all those documentaries, magazine articles, books, and the film made about Jefferson rather than Aurora. The Jefferson story is much more interesting.

In the 21st century, none of that is important. We know, today, that the Jefferson tale is a hoax, and the letters were written by people who might have been inspired by the newspaper… or the original article was inspired by those letters, which in turn, were inspired by the tales of the Great Airship. In fact, it seems that several tales from Iowa were linked and that might have given a note of credibility to the Jefferson story had we not already found those tales from Cedar Rapids and Waterloo to be hoaxes. That tales are all linked is important and everything resulting from that linkage collapses under dispassionate scrutiny.

I have said for decades that the Aurora crash is a hoax. Most accept that once they examine the evidence or the lack thereof. True, there are some hardcore believers, but for them, all the evidence of a hoax is just a CIA or Air Force plot to keep the truth hidden. In the case of these two crashes, the only truth is that sometimes newspapers get caught up in the moment. Sometimes their reporting is more with tongue in cheek than in the reality of a situation. And, sometimes, they just want to have some fun

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Jefferson Airship - The Follow Up

There was some follow up to the Jefferson airship crash. The crash happened on Saturday night, April 10, but was not reported in the newspaper until April 15. If it was a real event, with most of the town aware of it, then the following letters to the editor would have had a chance to make their way to the newspaper office for publication on Thursday. That seems to be the case because there were more descriptions of the craft. One of them, dated April 12, is particularly interesting. It said:

April 12, 1897.
EDITORS BEE —It may be a matter of some interest to your readers to know that some sort of a contrapshun (sic) lodged in a big ash tree two hundred yards from my home last night at about nine o'clock. For half an hour prior to that time we had seen a brilliant light in the southeast apparently approaching us at a rapid pace. Whether from lack of control or neglect I cannot say, but the thing struck the top of the tree, passed partially over and then settled down into the large limbs, the big fan-shaped wheel at the rear end having been clogged by the branches. This must be that blamed air ship so many people have seen. At all events it is a big long, pointed cylinder with a little square house on top and a lot of traps at the rear. Several things, rather larger than a man, having hall a dozen arms and legs each, have been working to fix the business up, but they have had poor success. The creatures, whenever they hail from, are very queer acting, having some sort of reversible head, no matter what their position their face is always to ward you. When I start up the tree they dive back into the iron cylinder. I am afraid the poor things will starve. Don't you think the county supervisors ought to attend to the matter. If any readers of Tin; BICE are inclined to doubt the truth of these statements, let them come down here and I will show them the tree. Success to THE BEE.
There are two points of importance in this letter. First, is the description of the crash in George Washington’s letter (isn’t that a clue to the veracity of the letter), matches the description of the airship that appeared in both the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Waterloo Courier on April 16.

The Airship as illustrated in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Second, in the original article (see the last post), one of the scenes of an airship sighting or landing mentioned, was Cedar Rapids, suggesting some sort of communication between the Gazette and the Bee. In a telegram printed in the Gazette on Friday, April 16, 1897, about the Waterloo landing, there was this information:

The airship has two cigar-shaped cylinders, canvas-covered, thirty-six feet long and seven feet in diameter at the largest part. It also has a screw propeller and fins along the sides. It is now being viewed y thousands. It lies on the river bank and there is no charge to see it. It is a most excellently executed fake.
The timing of all this is interesting. I give no importance to the date on the letter because we don’t have the original. The important date is on the newspaper, which is April 15. And the illustration of the airship, printed in the Gazette is dated April 17.

It seems, however, that the printing of the Jefferson Bee on April 15 corresponds to the landing in the early morning hours of the airship in Waterloo. The article in the Gazette, has a dateline in Waterloo of April 16, claiming that it had landed about four in the morning.

Given the timing here, it seems that there was some sort of coordination between “George Washington” in Rippey and those who constructed the fake airship in Waterloo. The idea had to surface in the area around Jefferson, Iowa. Rippey is just south of there.

Normally, this would seem to suggest that the two sightings were linked and therefore corroborated one another. The trouble is that the Waterloo landing was exposed as a hoax, and there is no evidence that the information in the Washington letter is valid. That it described the same object that was a hoax would suggest that the letter too, is a hoax.

But that wasn’t the only follow up for the Jefferson crash. There was another letter in the Jefferson newspaper that added some detail, or you might say, a different perspective. It said:

April 12,1897,
Special to THE BEE: — I have a 40-foot airship in custody. Ira feeding three beings of some sort. Notify sheriff and have him bring hundred feet of rubber rope. Sunday morning about four o'clock I arose to apply a hot-water bag to an aching tooth, and looking out of the window saw the dim outlines of a big cigarshaped affair gradually descending in a little piece of timber east of my house. As Boon as daylight came, with my sons and hired man I started for the spot. The ship had settled in a little clearing and was resting on four legs unfolding from the bottom of the ship. We had provided ourselves with ropes and an ax, a fortunate circumstance, for as soon as we came in view the operators attempted to start up and get away. A great fan or wheel at the rear revolved rapidly and the ship was moving ahead and upward, when I rushed up and dealt the fan a blow with the ax. This deranged the apparatus so the wheel ceased to move and the big cylinder again settled back upon its legs. We have tried to tie the ship down but every time we touch any part of it a severe shock is felt; that's why we want insulated rope. There are heavy plate windows in a square cupola on the top of the center and we have seen several persons through the glass. They appear to have two sided faces and four arms each. Haven't time to write any more send up a reporter. Enclosed subscription to THE BEE to Jan. 1,1898
So now, here was another story that seemed to be connected to the airship that landed in Waterloo. But instead of it just flying off into the night, we learn that the letter writer, “Truthful James,” has captured the airship. No, it was never seen, unlike the airship at Waterloo, which was, of course photographed as well. The point is that if “Truthful James” had an airship, we would have heard more about it.

Another writer to the newspaper made still another claim about the airship. This story is just as wild as the others.

April 13, '97
Special to THE BEE: Last night one of those pesky airships halted about two hundred feet above my house for an hour. Evidently it was a gay party, making the awfullest racket you ever heard anywhere; whooping and bellowing and shrieking, until in my grief I loaded up the musket with big slugs and blazed away at the black hull. Instantly the bawling ceased and I could hear a hissing sound like escaping steam. Shortly after several balls of fire shot out from the ship and I heard them strike the ground near me. Then the ship began to wobble and gradually descended, settling off to the north in the pasture. I lighted a lantern, and with my boy Justus went out to examine the beast. The ship was lying on its side, lights out and no sign of life on board. I sent the boy back for the gun and stationed him where he could perforate the ship in case any attempt was made during the night to patch up the leak and get away. Along about one o'clock a multi-legged and armed creature straddled out of the square tower, but the boy fired into the air and the creature scrambled back. This morning I dug up the balls discharged by the ship, and find thein about four inches in diameter and of a yellowish metal, and unaffected by acid. The airship appears to be made of some soft metal and is very ingeniously constructed. It will pay people to come miles to see It.
The Jefferson Bee now leads us to another tale of an airship crash. It seems that airships were falling all over that part of Iowa. This tale does, sort of, resemble the others.

April 12, 1897.
To THE BEE: — A very strange phenomenon is in operation on the Coon river north-east of this town. About nine o'clock Monday night, just as I was about to retire, there came a crash and jar upon the earth that knocked me against the cook stove. I thought It was an earthquake and sat up until 11 o'clock in readiness to flee if necessary, but there were no further disturbances and 1 went to bed. The following morning while driving the cattle to pasture, my son was amazed to see the river bed perfectly dry. Following the stream up to a point opposite the house the cause of the sudden stoppage of water was discovered. An immense round hole, thirty feet in diameter, appeared in the river bed and into this yawning chasm the water poured in a mighty torrent. No noise can be heard which indicates that the chasm is so deep that the sound is lost before it reaches the top. What is to be done about the matter no one knows. The stoppage of the water will work great hardship to farmers along the stream and the slimy river bed will breed malaria and fever. The only way I cannot account for the strange conditions is that an airship must have plunged into the river ad gone to the bowels of the earth. Great crowds are coming hourly to see the strange sight. Don't you think I could establish a fashionable watering place here.
[The above explains the situation at Adel. A dispatch appeared in Tuesday's dailies, dated Adel, saying that for some unaccountable reason the river at that point had fallen so that the mills cannot run. — EDITOR.]
We have now run the gamut of letters to the editor about the airship. I noticed, as I’m sure you have, that we don’t have a single name that we can vet. The names signed all suggest honesty and truthfulness, but you have to wonder why they couldn’t use their real names to underscore their honesty and truthfulness… if these letters were actually written by different individuals. Given the situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that all the authors either worked at the newspaper, knew the editor, were a single individual or were conspiring to keep the airship afloat.

But all might not be as it seems, and while the newspaper was having some fun with these stories, and might have sold a couple of newspapers, there is a hint that it just wasn’t true. In the final note, alluded to in the last post, it was said:

The airship editor of THE BEE IS sick and the regular editors have had to handle this matter as best they could, without that valuable technical knowledge of lying that would have enabled the making of a really highly-ornamented fake. But we have done the best we could, presented the main points and we believe the public will accept the will for the deed.
This seems to be a confession of sorts. They seem to acknowledge that there isn’t much in the way of evidence, and they suspect it is all a lie. You just have to read to the very end of the column to find that little bit of confession.

The only real question left is if the men who were found on the Waterloo fairgrounds with their airship were part of a larger conspiracy. Did they know what was going to be printed in the newspaper and take their inspiration from that or had they been working to create a plausible airship (one that wouldn’t fly, by the way), and drag it to the fairgrounds for all to see after alerting some of the local newspapers. The ship, from the photograph, doesn’t seem to be something that could have been thrown together in a couple of hours. It took some planning… and since the description of it appeared in the Jefferson Bee before it reached the fairgrounds in Waterloo, if only by a couple of hours, that suggests that the letters “sent” to the newspaper, had been written prior to the airship arriving in Waterloo.

That is a mystery that we might not be able to unravel these 120 years plus since the Great Airship soared over the United States. Which came first, the faked airship or the letters about it. But then, it’s not really all that important because we know the truth about this aspect of the airship. It was a fake

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Jefferson Airship - 1897

To fully understand a case, it is necessary to return to the original source. I had the opportunity to do that just the other day. Andy McGinn of the Jefferson Herald, which had been the Jefferson Bee, called to ask about an entry in Crash: When UFOs Fall from the Sky. He was interested in an entry for April 15, 1897 which
Greene County Courthouse, Jefferson,
discussed a crash near Jefferson.

Frankly, I didn’t remember it off the top of my head. It was a short entry and gave the bare bones of the story. I had written:

The Jefferson Bee reported that an airship had crashed in a farmer’s field on the north edge of town. Most of the town’s residents gathered around the huge, smoking hole. The next day, a man was lowered into the ole on a rope, along with a Volapak [sic, Volapuk] dictionary, which is the second time that this artificial language has been mentioned in connection with an airship crash. Once in the hole, the man claims he entered the airship that seemed neat and clean, despite the violent crash.
McGinn and I discussed the airship stories that had been circulating at the time. He said that he had pulled the newspaper for that date, April 15, 1897, and read to whole story. It was more detailed than what I had reported. He also mentioned that the last paragraph seemed to suggest the tale, which had been printed on the front page, was a hoax. I was interested in what that last paragraph said.

In the world today, there are lots of sources of information available that don’t require trips to libraries or newspaper morgues. I found, online, a short article about the crash in the Omaha Bee on April 17, 1897. It said:

JEFFERSON, Ia. April 16 – (Special Telegram) – A local paper this morning printed a lurid story concerning the airship which was alleged to have plunged into the earth north of town. Before noon a number of people had actually visited the place to see the hole.
That certainly didn’t clarify anything and added nothing to what I already knew. I did find an entry in Jerome Clark’s UFO Encyclopedia, Second Edition, but his information had been drawn from the Omaha newspaper, so he had even less information than I did about this crash.

What I really needed was to see the original article. McGinn was kind enough to send me a pdf. of the front page which carried the story. Rather than paraphrase it, and in keeping with the idea that the original source would be better than my interpretation of it, I thought I would provide the text.

The Mystery of the Aerial Visitor Solved at Last.
Details of Accidents Important Discoveries
Up to the hour of going to press five air ships have been located by the enterprising citizens of Greene county. Air ships know a good thing when they see it, and so when wo heard of a flock of aerial pilgrims in Kansas, Nebraska, Omaha, Cedar Rapids, North wood, Evanston, St. Paul and Marshalltown, it became a settled conviction with us that it was only a question of time until they should be with us and taste the Joys of our Incomparable mud.
Two hundred nervous Jefferson people scanned the horizon Saturday night. They looked for an air ship. Along about 9:30 one came cavorting (sic) along the etherial (sic) domain like a wash tub on a mill pond. It was a giddy thing, evidently fresh from the shops, and after arriving within two or three miles of the earth, began cutting all sorts of pigeon wings, grapevines and doubledutch (sic) rolls. The sight was bewitching and cheer after cheer ascended as the airship executed some difficult selection.
Part of the time the great white light at the bow was visible and then the green light suddenly appeared and the ship would reverse itself. Then it evolved into a monstrous pin wheel, the green, red and white blending into a circular disc beautiful beyond compare, followed by an undulating, weaving motion as though flouting on a heavy swell.
Suddenly the great boat seemed to steady itself; the white light became fixed and gradually increased in size.
The Airship that landed in Waterloo, Iowa, 1897.
Somebody shouted, "the airship is headed for the earth," and sure enough.
Rapidly the great ball of purest white grew until it assumed the proportions of a full moon; then to the size of a wagon wheel and in the sky dim outlines of the great hull could be seen rushing downward at a rate of speed simply incalculable.
When within a thousand yards of the earth a distinct roar could be heard which Increased to the proportions of a cyclone us with ajar like an earthquake the mighty engine plunged into the earth.
The concussion was so terrific that houses trembled, children were thrown from their beds, dishes fell in showers from cupboards and hundreds of panes of glass were shattered.
Men rushed hatless out upon the street shouting for Information as to the whereabouts of the airship. There was a wild scurrying around to locate the point of contact but the search was fruitless—the earth had evidently swallowed the aerial visitor and sealed the opening.
Sunday morning, however, hundreds of men joined in the search and about nine o'clock a huge circular hole, twenty feet in diameter was discovered on the cast side of Mahlon Head's celery patch adjacent to the Northwestern depot. The hole was as clean cut and smooth - as though made by expert well-diggers, and was apparently bottomless. Ropes were secured, a heavy iron weight attached to one end and lowered into the abyss. A hundred feet had been played out when there was a sound us If a metallic object had been struck.
The airship had been sounded. [Yes, that is what it said. I don’t understand it.]
The next problem was what to next.
Finally it was decided that someone must descend and investigate. The rope was hauled up, a noose made and volunteers called for.
A hush fell upon the great throng, which by this time numbered over a thousand. It looked as if the scheme must fail when a local newspaper man, clad In a Prince Albert and with n huge $1 25 diamond flashing alternately with his eyes, strode forth and grasped the rope. A lantern, cold chisel, hammer and drill were tied about him, and with a clubbing list, and a Volupuk (sic) dictionary in his inside vest pocket, he gave the word.
It will be a long time before we forget the peaceful expression that lit up his alabastine (sic) face as he disappeared — in fact we don't think we will ever forget it.
Down, down sped the rope until lack of tension showed the explorer had landed. Soon after hoarse, guttural tones in the Volupuk tongue were wafted upwards and then hammer were heard. In the course of half an hour there was a pull at the rope and willing hands hauled away with vim. It seems that the rear portion the ship was blunt like the hot end of a cigar, but a door, apparently fastened on the inside, eighteen inches square was found. The hinges were chiseled off and the door pried open. The Interior was found to consist of an oblong chamber or room eight feet square and eighty feet in length This room, which was situated in the upper part of the ship, was elegantly appointed; finished in plush fancy woods and provided with every convenience. About forty feet from the rear end was a square tower that could be raised and lowered, after the manner of a conning tower upon a submarine torpedo boat. This had been drawn down leaving the ship in the form of a cylinder. At the extreme end toward the bow the bodies of four persons, probably men, were discovered, jammed almost to a pulp by the terrific force of the concussion. The beings were somewhat larger' than earthly inhabitants, and each seemed to have a face on each side of the head, two sets of arms and legs, evidently so as to locomote forward or back without necessitating turning around.
It would be quite interesting to go into the details concerning these strange people, but we must defer that until a future time. At all events they were dead—both sides.
Further Investigation revealed that the ship, except the eight feet occupied by the salon, was perforated, horizontally by tubes about the size of a stove pipe. At the rear was a great propeller (sic), having eight blades. This was connected with a small electric motor, which evidently merely served to start the ship, as when motion has been secured the air rushes through the tubes at such a rapid rate that the propellor was driven at high speed and this forced the ship ahead like greased lightning.
The speed was regulated by means of a brake on the rim of the propellor.
Two plans are suggested. One to build a permanent ladder down to the air ship; another to ascertain if the monster can be raised. It is probable a meeting will be held within a few days to determine upon the best course. Meanwhile a sort of windlass has been erected at the mouth of the opening and hundreds of people have examined the wonderful craft that evidently slipped a cog, somewhere on that fatal Saturday night.
It seems to be the general Impression that the ship hailed from Mars, and if this Is the case, other ships of which there seem to be several hundred, will eventually alight without fatal results to the operators and the secret of aerial navigation will be solved.
Green county is the rendezvous of the fleet of air ships operating in this part of the state, is very evident. The following messages from men of unquestioned veracity, prove this fact and at the same time throw considerable light upon the Interesting topic.
This tells us, in great detail, what happened, or was alleged to have happened. One thing that came out of this is that the crash occurred on April 10 rather than the fifteenth. The date given by many of us for the crash was based on the date of the newspaper story rather than the date of the actual incident. There was very little follow up.

Friday, December 21, 2018

History Channel, Project Blue Book and Chiles and Whitted

Our pals over at History (which used to be the History Channel) have decided to take on Project Blue Book in a series that is based on those files. This is, of course, the second series to do that. Back in the 1970s, Jack Webb created Project UFO which was based, loosely, on the Project Blue Book files. I have said in the past
The two stars of Project UFO.
that we owed Webb a bit of recognition because he paid to have the Blue Book files converted to microfilm, which allowed us to see what had been hidden there for so long, but I digress.

In a story that I stumbled across dated August 16, 2018, written by Greg Dauherty, is the tale of Clarence Chiles and John Whitted, who saw a “cigar-shaped” object flash by their aircraft. There really isn’t much with which to disagree here. Dauherty lays out the facts without a lot of hyperbole. I might disagree with some of his adjectives, but I can’t really fault the reporting. He does touch all the bases. You can read his story here:

What inspired this was his last line. He wrote, “No wonder the Chiles-Whitted case continues to baffle and intrigue, even 70 years later.”

This is where we disagree. I don’t believe the case continues to baffle and intrigue. I believe it was solved and that J. Allen Hynek was correct in his analysis. Rather that repeat myself here, I’ll just suggest that you take a look at some of the earlier postings about the case on this blog. You can find them here:

and here

and here

For those who are dispassionate, it seems that the bolide explanation is the correct one. The reentry of the Zond IV in March 1968 is strong evidence of that. While the case was interesting and unidentified for years, we have a solid explanation for it now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

David Rudiak's Latest on the Ramey Memo

(Blogger’s Note: David Rudiak has supplied his analysis of what Kaleb wrote about his work on the Ramey Memo. I thought that David’s analysis would be of interest to those who visit here regularly. I also believe that it seems we have not progressed beyond where we were which is to say that there is no consensus. Following is what David wrote in response to Kaleb.)

1. Why the extremely low resolution (only about 11 pixels wide/character when our best scans are at 10 times that)?  There may be reasons to use reduced resolution because of limitations in software, time, or computer power (or increased resolution doesn't make it more readable), but resolution should definitely not be dropped _this_ much. Any final Ramey memo should be at least 3 or 4 times more resolution than these last results by Kaleb.

2.  As a corrollary of #1, such low resolution will _necessarily_ introduce artifacts by eliminating higher detail.  Thus, e.g., an "S" in the word "DISC" got blurred/smeared into the letter "O" (in Kaleb's most smeared version) and we are informed by him that it is 

an "O" and the word definitely isn't "DISC".  Really?  Well what is it then?  Besides the fact that just about everybody else who has ever studied the memo now agrees the word is "DISC", is Kaleb aware of the historical context of this message?  1) How the word "disc" was a brand new use of the word to describe the strange flying objects being reported the previous 2 weeks, 2) As a result was frequently placed in "scare quotes" to indicate the new, unusual usage, and  3) Roswell base and Gen. Ramey both putting out press releases and _public_ statements actually using the word "disc" to describe what was found, transported to Fort Worth, and displayed in Ramey's office. Thus, no reason why it shouldn't also appear in an internal message about Roswell. 
I've attached an example newspaper front page with articles using DISC to describe Roswell, sometimes in quotes, sometimes not.

There is no question in my mind and most other readers of this message that the word is indeed "DISC" (in quotes). The proper way to try to interpret this message is to bring ALL information to bear on it, including historical context and linguistic analysis, and not just twiddle computer processing dials to the point that all sorts of artifacts can be introduced and muddy the waters.  If Kaleb wants to continue to claim that the word isn't "DISC" but "??O?", then he needs to provide a four-letter word there with the "O" that makes grammatical, semantic, and historical sense and isn't just a bunch of gibberish.

(Incidentally I've scientifically tested this word and many other words against the original teletype font using a cross-correlation tests, which creates a degree of match between the original letters and the degraded one.  In the case of "DISC", both the "I" and "S" tested as #1 probability letters, whereas "O" came out around #7 in the 3rd letter position.  So, it isn't just my say-so or others opinions that agree that the letter is really "S".

To illustrate the degradation of the image and how this has created an artifactual "O" in place of an "S", I've created a graphic with comments (2018 DISC image comparisons.jpg) showing two of Kalebs images plus an old one of mine off of one of my original 8x10" prints, and one of our 2015 ScanPro 3000 scans.  Notice the huge difference in image sizes and letter quality.  Going to such low resolutions is going backwards, not forwards.  Kaleb's alternate image which he says retains some of the fine grain is better, but still much poorer than images I was obtaining off of blow-up prints almost 20 years ago. (see graphic again).

3. What's the purpose of re-rotating the message when our best scans on the ScanPro 3000 had the message about as horizontal as overall possible?  Rotating the text away from horizontal only makes the message harder to read, not easier.

4.  Ditto all the other crap all around the message.  Remove it.  We don't need to see Gen. Ramey's thumb twice, rotated and unrotated, nor some mystery protractor dial. What's the point of leaving this stuff there?

5.  Why is there no correction for perspective, which squashes down the letters typically by about 50% in the vertical direction?  NOT doing this can change the appearance of letters into something else?  E.g., with the letters compressed, a capital "V" in normal proportion can be squashed down and appear as a small "r" to some people.  I'm also wondering if Kaleb is aware that the message is all-caps teletype font, and there will be no small "r"s or other small letters in the message, and it certainly isn't a mix of cap and small letters.

6.  As an example, I've taken Kaleb's latest rendition which he says retains some of the fine grain (and IMHO is thus more readable than the first examples where the letters are more smeared) and done the following:  1.  Rotated about 30 degrees back to the horizontal position; 2.  Cropped away all the unnecessary and distracting junk around the message;  3) Stretched the message 50% in the vertical direction to make the letters closer to the true proportions of teletype font; 4) Done a simple lightening function.  See second attachment.  Just very basic, simple stuff that took about a minute to do.  That's the basic format I want to see this message at in the end, not rotated obliquely, not squashed down, not with a lot of other unnecessary things there.  And also at much higher resolution.

7.  I've also attached one of my lighter version, full resolution attempts (from our ~10000 pixels wide scans) at flattening and straightening out the message), which (ideally) corrects for perspective distortion and letter distortion, makes all letters equally sized and spaced (as is true for impact printer, non-proportional font, which is what Teletype font is), straightens out all the lines and edges of the paper, and gets rid of the folds.  I used the morphing program Abrosoft 
Fantamorph 5, which is capable of handling such large files.(I did this work about a year and half ago and haven't been able to get back to it because of many pressing personal matters.  I thought everyone here was aware of it.)

As in ALL image processing, there are again artifacts introduced by this, particularly smearing of very distorted letters where there is a lot of perspective distortion, such as the top of the page above the top fold, the center of the page in the middle fold, and at the left where Ramey's thumb is warping the left margins of the paper (and shadow is making it very difficult to see exactly where the letters actually are). Also where the letters and words aren't clearly visible, it takes some educated guesswork as to where they are, which affects the warp model.  But overall, this I consider to be a much better rendition of the memo. Once I get a warp model, I consider good enough, it can be applied to all the various lightness levels of a particular sequence of Scanpro scans to try to extract more information.

E.g., a lighter scan might be used to try to make out anything in the shadows, whereas darker scans help bring out the more visible letters in the middle of the memo.  And you guys seem to have methods of mixing the various light and dark scans to try to suppress film grain.  This I think would be better done on the flattened, straightened images.  But don't overdo it. Making the message clearer to read is the primary goal, not getting rid of a maximum amount of grain (which can very easily be done just by cropping it out between lines and between words). Remove too much grain and letter detail is also going to get compromised.It is clear Kaleb is very dedicated and put in a lot of hard work into this, much more so than the average person.  But so far, I don't see the results getting better. Indeed, let's get back to basics, which should include higher resolutions, emphasis on letter clarity and retaining necessary detail, straightening things out, and keeping them properly proportioned.

It might also help me if Kaleb's methodology was provided.  Currently I don't have a clue how he is approaching this.