Given one of the developing
situations in the world of the UFO, I thought I would revisit the information
swirling around two photographs taken by William Rhodes in July 1947. There are
two reasons for this. I have found a great deal of misinformation about Rhodes
on the Internet recently, and the official investigation into the sighting
shows the bias against witnesses, even when they have photographic evidence ignored
by those charged with the investigation. This is something that persists even in
today’s more enlightened environment. And that’s not to mention the recent NASA
report that suggested no solid evidence of alien visitation had been found. Had
the Air Force (yes, I know it was the Army Air Forces at the time) investigation
in 1947 been conducted properly, the photos might have provided the sort of
solid evidence that NASA desires, if they were inclined to research any of the
history of UFOs.
Rhodes, according to
what he told reporters and later military and government investigators, was on
his way to his backyard lab when a “whooshing” sound caught his attention. He
thought it was a jet, but when he spotted the object, he realized his mistake.
He ran to his lab and grabbed his camera. Back outside, he photographed the
It was a black,
heel-shaped object with what he described as a clear dome in the center. In the
drawing he made it was more of a domed disc than heel shaped, but that might be
a matter of perspective. He took one picture and realized there was a single
frame left on the film. He hoped the object would come closer and when it
didn’t, he took the last picture.
|The best of the two Rhodes photos, showing the "dome" in the
center and the heel shape that would become important.
The Air Force
investigated, were unimpressed with Rhode’s lifestyle, suggesting he was living
off his wife’s occupation rather than earning a living himself. They noted he
sometimes played piano in a local bar but I’m not sure why that would be a
disqualification. They didn’t care for his claim to be the director of the
Panorama Research Lab, which was the well-equipped lab in his backyard. They
officially wrote the case off as a hoax. I believe that was mainly because they
just didn’t like him.
Arnold, the man whose sighting brought us the term flying saucer, had been
asked by Ray Palmer, the editor of a science fiction magazine, to investigate
the Maury Island sighting of June, 1947. That was because he and Arnold had
something of a professional relation, meaning Arnold had supplied an article
about his sighting to the magazine. Arnold traveled to meet the witnesses but
found himself overwhelmed by the task. Arnold called on Lieutenant Frank M.
Brown, who had investigated Arnold’s sighting.
None of that would be
relevant to the Rhodes’ sighting, except that Brown and Captain William L.
Davidson, joined Arnold in that investigation. Arnold asked Brown what was
happening with that flying saucer business. Confidentially, Brown told him
about Rhodes. Arnold asked what was happening with the whole flying saucer
business. Brown said they, meaning the Army Air Forces had received two
pictures that looked like Arnold’s original heel-shaped object. Although Brown
didn’t supply much in the way of information, just mentioned evidence in Phoenix,
but that was a clear reference to the Rhodes.
|The original drawing Arnold provided to the Air Force. It shows the heel
shaped-object. Rhodes would not known about that in 1947.
The Air Force smeared
Rhodes’s with allegations about his character. They interviewed his neighbors
who said that Rhodes didn’t like their animals running around on his property.
Most of it was trivia like that. And the investigation ignored information that
would shed a more favorable light on Rhodes. Others since then have used the
Air Force file as a source to reject the value of the Rhodes photographs. Not
many look beyond what is found in the Project Blue Book file.
I have learned more
about Rhodes. He claimed a Ph.D., but could not produce documentation except
for a replicate of his diploma in a small, plastic sealed card. Rhodes
explained that while serving with the Navy at the beginning of WW II, the Navy
gave its civilian employees a test. Depending on the score, they were awarded
the equivalency of a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or a Doctorate. Rhodes scored high
enough for the doctorate. That might be the source of the confusion, though
Rhodes seems to be a little vague about it.
I spoke with a friend
of Rhodes who told me that Rhodes had something of an abrasive personality, but
that he was a genius. Rhodes liked to solve problems and this man said that
they had hired Rhodes to solve a problem at an Arizona university.
As I say, I have
written more about this here and in a couple of my UFO books. You can find that
information in no particular order here:
The point here is that
we have some very good information about specific UFO sightings but they are
overlooked because of controversy. Often that controversy is injected as a way
of eliminating compelling testimony and evidence without a good reason. That’s
where we are with Rhodes, and it is where we are going with much of the latest
testimony. Nobody remembers the good, only the bad. Just ask Bill Buckner.