So, it has happened again. One of those specialty magazines, this one from History, that delves into the paranormal, gets some of it wrong. In the world today, paranormal includes UFO (or UAPs or flying saucers), along with ESP, ghosts, hauntings, the Bermuda Triangle and Bigfoot. I am, of course, somewhat biased. I don’t believe that UFOs should be lumped into the paranormal (and I could probably say the same thing about Bigfoot).
Yes, I was annoyed because they fell back on the Project Mogul explanation for Roswell. I had hoped for something more than the cursory examination given to that and an acknowledgement that Flight No. 4 had been cancelled, but that was too much to expect. For those interested in the long history of this explanation, just type Mogul into the search engine here or look at the long discussion in Roswell in the 21st Century.
What first caught my attention was the brief little note about the Aurora, Texas, crash of 1897. They noted that it allegedly hit a windmill and published a picture of a “UFO” near a windmill. The picture was taken in Michigan in 1966 and is of a lens flare. Anyone who has been around UFOs or cameras long enough recognized it immediately for what it was. Here is just an example of someone with no knowledge of photography or UFOs, selecting a picture because it fits the general narrative and not concerned with the truth.
|Illustration used for the Aurora crash hoax.|
The second problem for me was the photograph taken on July 16, 1952, in Salem, MA. For some reason, the Project Blue Book file is labeled as Beverlym (which is, of course, Beverly with a superfluous m at the end) in the Blue Book index but correctly as Beverly on the Project Card. Although it is difficult to read, the card is apparently marked as “unknown.”
But here’s the problem. According to a report in the file, “the results of this analysis indicated that the photo was a hoax. Extensive photographs were taken under similar conditions. Failure of the light source to cast reflections on the highly polished cars below indicated that the light was not outside and it was assumed by the analyst at the time, that the photo was a double exposure and for this reason was a hoax.”
Later, in that same report, it was noted, “It is believed that the photos represent light reflections from an interior source (probably the ceiling lights) on the window through which the photo was taken.”
In another report, the witness (name redacted but is Thomas Flaherty) said, “While working on daily reports I was summoned by Base Photographer (name redacted but is Shell Albert) … who called me to hurry and look at airborne lights. Looking out the window to the North West there appeared to be what was thought to be a quick flash. I actually could not say it was anything. It could have been reflections from passing cars or from the ocean.”
Not exactly the best of corroborating statements.
In another document, paragraph b said, “Three (3) objects glowing bright and then light and disappeared like a light being dimmed with a rheostat. Objects appeared to waver slightly and glow as a light source. [Name redacted but is Albert] could not determine the shape nor formation, aerodynamic features, or propulsion system. [Name redacted] did not see any trail, exhaust, or maneuvers. [Name redacted] did not hear any sound and could not tell if the objects were moving. After ALBERT [failed to redact the name here] developed the photograph, he noted there was a difference in numbers that what he had observed.”
In Albert’s statement to the investigators, he said, “It was an extremely hot day and I think that perhaps some sort of reflection of ground reflections could possibly have accounted for the lights, but in my estimation this is an improbable explanation. The lens was quite dirty and so was the window screen. I cannot in all honesty say that I saw the objects or aircraft, merely some manner of lights.”
I will note here, for no other reason than I found it interesting, that Lieutenant Commander, W. D. Strauch, Jr., wrote, “All personnel interviewed or questions were informed that any information concerning the objects was ‘SECRET’ [emphasis in original] and should not be discussed with any one without the permission of the CO.”
The final note in the investigation, after attempts to duplicate the pictures under various conditions had been made, Colonel Delwin B. Avery wrote, “It is therefore concluded that the authenticity of the picture, taken by the Coast Guard photographer, is open to serious doubt.”
Given the statements by the photographer, the ambiguous statement by Flaherty, and what is the inconsistencies between those statements and what is shown in the photograph, I do not understand why the Air Force would have labeled the case as “unidentified.” Everything in the file, including the witness statements indicate that the photograph is some sort of reflection if not an out and out hoax. Albert’s weasel words in his statement suggest he knew the source of the lights in the photograph and was attempting to avoid directly lying about it.
My point here is that there are better photographs that are not wrapped in the ambiguity we see here. I think the point that has been overlooked is that neither witness has a good idea what was seen and suggest something rather mundane. The statements of those involved seem to take it from unidentified into another realm, one in which we don’t need to dwell.