Thursday, December 28, 2023

Coast-to-Coast AM: The Rhodes Photographs Revisited


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 UFO.

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.

However, Kenneth 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.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Mysteries Uncovered - A Semi-review of a Book


In this episode of why I’m beginning to dislike Ufology, I have planned something of a rant against all the negative comments directed at me. These are challenges to my military background, my education, and that I write science fiction, though Stan Friedman once accused me of writing romances. But rather than do that, I’m going to mention a book I stumbled onto that sort of underscores the trouble with the UFO field.

Mysteries Uncovered, with the subtitle of True Stories of the Paranormal and Unexplained by Emily G. Thompson, caught my attention because in the promotional material, it mentioned the Roswell case. Well, here was a writer who had never actually been to Roswell or who had never interviewed any of the witnesses, but who was providing us with an analysis of the case. Naturally, I had to see what she had to say.

The book is loaded with analyses of many of the things that catch our attention here beginning with the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the Mary Celeste and several UFO related topics. Yes, I turned immediately to the chapter cleverly entitled, The Roswell Incident.

On the first page of that entry, after a brief synopsis of the case, there is a quote from Dr. Robert A. Baker, a hardcore skeptic. He said “It’s a modern myth, a kind of religion. There is a common human need for salvation, and it’s always coming from above.”

That didn’t bode well for the entry, but the text wasn’t quite that bad. However, in the first sentence, she told us about Mac Brazel, not realizing that it’s been a couple of decades since it was discovered by Tom Carey that he was actually Mack Brazel. This suggested that she hadn’t done the in-depth research that would have provided that small nugget of information.

She provides some descriptions that are attributed to Mack Brazel, but he never said anything like that to anyone. She wrote, “The wreckage consisted of metal, some of which was dull and some of with was shiny and thin, resembling tinfoil. There was also something that looked like transparent plastic string or wire, and thin sticks shaped like I-beams, made from a material that Brazel was unable to identify.”

It was Bill Brazel who told Don Schmitt and me about those items. She missed the important point. Bill told us that when you shined a light in one end of that plastic string it came out the other. He said that it resembled monofilament fishing line but he was talking about fiber optics.

She wrote about the size of what we have been calling the debris field. She wrote that he, meaning Mack, estimated that the wreckage covered an area of three-quarters of a mile long and 200 to three hundred feet wide. “It appeared as though some kind of machine had exploded in midair and wreckage from it had rained down of the earth.”

But we know the size of the debris field is based on descriptions from both Bill Brazel and Jesse Marcel, Sr, the Air Intelligence Officer of the military unit stationed at Roswell. The description was not provided by Mack Brazel.

And all this is in just the first paragraph.

After some discussion of other, irrelevant sightings in New Mexico, she reported that Brazel drove into Roswell to talk to Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox. She wrote that Brazel might receive a reward for the discovery.

On the July 4 weekend, there were reports of various organizations each offering a thousand-dollar reward for proof about the flying saucers. But, according to the newspaper reports, that information wasn’t available to Brazel until after he made the trek to Roswell and there has been no evidence presented that Brazel knew about that money. The reason for the trip, was, allegedly to sell some wool, but the real reason was he wanted to know who was responsible for all that debris and who was going to clean up the mess.

Yes, I could continue to pick apart this entry, but what is the real point? Instead, I’ll move to the discussion of Project Mogul, the culprit blamed for the wreckage. She reported, accurately, that the Air Force launched an investigation after several members of Congress asked for that investigation in the mid-1990s. But then wrote, “… the debris found near Corona was related to Project Mogul, a top-secret program aimed at using balloons to spy on Soviet nuclear tests. They claimed that the wreckage was part of a 600-ft balloon train…”

This really isn’t her fault but the balloon arrays launched in New Mexico had been reduced to 400 feet and contained common weather balloons and no rawin radar reflectors early in the New Mexico launches. She wrote, based on the Air Force report, “They claimed that this was peculiar material found at the crash site that neither Major Marcel or [sic] Brazel could identify.”

But they should have been able to identify it. There was nothing special, nothing classified about the balloon arrays being launched in New Mexico. They were standard, off the shelf neoprene weather balloons and rawin radar reflectors. A farmer in Circleville, Ohio, Sherman Campbell, found a weather balloon and radar reflector in one of this fields on that July 4 weekend, and knew exactly what it was.  He took it to the local sheriff, who also knew what it was. Even if Brazel hadn’t recognized it, Marcel should have.

While I hesitate to get back into the arguments about Project Mogul, there are other points to be made. Thompson quoted Charles Moore, who worked on what he was quick to point out to me that this was the New York University balloon project. She wrote, “Moore claimed that the balloons were equipped with corner reflectors [rawin radar targets] that were put together with balsa wood and coated with synthetic resin glue similar to that made by Elmer, to strengthen them.”

But Moore told me, when I visited him in Socorro, New Mexico, that the make-up of Flight No. 4, the culprit in this discussion, was the same as that as what was termed “the first successful flight,” Flight No. 5. However, the diagram of Flight No. 5, as published in the Air Force report had no radar reflectors on it and none were used on any flight in New Mexico until much later in the process.

The configuration of Flight #5. Charles Moore told me that Flight #4 was configured in the same way. Notice there are NO rawin targets on the flight Also notice the other components which were not among they types of debris described by the witnesses.

Charles Moore reviewing winds aloft data that I provided for him as we attempted to determine the flight path of Flight #4. Photo by Kevin Randle, taken in Socorro, New Mexico in the early 1990s. It was during our discussions that Moore supplied information about the activities in 1947.

Thompson then discussed the Alien Autopsy that surfaced about that time, meaning 1995. It has very little to do with the Roswell case and is an admitted hoax. Nearly everyone involved in the hoax have come forward and there are photographs of them putting together the “alien” creature that appears in the film.

To keep this from getting away, meaning too long, Thompson provided us with the Glenn Dennis tale of the nurse who saw the alien bodies. Dennis said that she had told him about seeing the aliens in the base hospital and within days she had been transferred out of Roswell. He had written to her once, but the letter came back marked, “Deceased.” Dennis said that she, with four other nurses, had been killed in an aircraft accident. But there is no record of any such aircraft accident that took the lives of five Army nurses at the time.

Thompson wrote, “The nurse was never identified.” However, Dennis, reluctantly, gave researchers the name of the nurse. In fact, her name, Naomi Self or Selff, was well known among those who were involved in research on the Roswell case. But no one could verify that there was ever a nurse by that name in the Army, let alone stationed in Roswell. The search expanded to the local hospitals with the same results. Told that there was no nurse named Naomi Self, Dennis then said that he hadn’t given anyone the right name, but then gave another one, which was a major change in his story.

The real point is that the Dennis testimony about the nurse was discredited more than a quarter century ago. That information has been published repeatedly. I covered in The Randle Report: UFOs in the 1990s, published in 1997. I wrote then, “But others, such as Glenn Dennis, who has been considered one of the important witnesses, have begun to collapse. There is little that can be said except that we have found nothing to confirm that his nurse exists or existed. And when challenged on these points, be begins to change the tale.”

In her book, Thompson discusses other UFO events such as the Flatwood monster, Barney and Betty Hill and the Rendlesham Forest encounter. I had thought about reviewing those segments here as well, but this is getting longer than I intended. I will only note here that she reports on the testimony of Larry Warren who claimed involvement in the Rendlesham Forest events, but that testimony has been discredited. Colonel Charles Halt noted that he didn’t remember Warren being there at all, and that contrary to Warren’s statements, he did not approach the object in the woods. Thompson does acknowledge this controversy.

Peter Robbins, who co-authored the book, Left at East Gate with Larry Warren, has since repudiated Warren’s involvement the case. You can read Peter’s long entries about his reasons for this here:

and here:

Those entries were written by Peter and were posted to this blog with his permission. Thompson does write about the controversy with Warren’s statements, but the account might have been stronger if she had left Warren out of the discussion or reduced him to a footnote. There were others, such as Jim Penniston and John Burroughs, not to mention Charles Halt, who were clearly there.

Again, this criticism is a little bit nitpicky, but when dealing with a case where there is so much information, testimony and legitimate players, it does seem to be a waste to mention Warren at all.

I guess I must say that I was disappointed in the quality of the reporting on the Roswell case, but then it is quite complex and there have been dozens of books written about it. I have contributed five of them, and, of course, mentioned the case in dozens of magazine articles and appeared in a dozen or more documentaries and television programs dealing with the crash. And if you look at my earlier work, you’ll find errors in it that are the result of publishing preliminary data. However, it just seems that a solid report on Roswell can be written. I saw that she didn’t reference any of the skeptical books about the case and mentioned Witness to Roswell by Tom Carey and Don Schmitt twice in the bibliography of the Roswell case.

The real problem is that I know the mistakes made in the segments that deal with UFO related events and I must wonder is there are similar problems with the other segments. Would someone well versed in the Lost Colony of Roanoke be able to find significant errors in the reporting? Or in the section about Amelia Earhart?

If this was a real review, then I would note that the book is 373 pages long and is available from Amazon both as an ebook and in a print version. There is no index but there are footnotes which are not quite as comprehensive as I would like. It just strikes me that this was a book written with no real passion for the subjects mentioned.

Although I rarely mention books that I do not like, the Roswell information was too far off the mark to allow it to pass. Unfortunately, this is not a book that I would recommend.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Coast to Coast: APRO Files and Iowa Landing


For those new to the field, they might not know much about the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), which was created by Coral Lorenzen in the early 1950s. At that time there were two prominent UFO Organizations with APRO being one and the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) being the other. There were dozens, if not hundreds of smaller, local organizations. I was a member of the Denver UFO Society in the late 1960s, but that was a group that operated in the Denver area and had no real investigation arm.

Jim and Coral Lorenzen

I mention APRO because of its size, the membership in the thousands and Coral, and later Jim and Coral Lorenzen published several good books about UFOs. Unlike NICAP, which seemed to focus on Congressional investigations and pressing the Air Force for transparency, though they certainly collected thousands of UFO reports, APRO focused on what might have been seen as the fringe areas of UFO study early on. They collected reports on landings and occupant sightings and were the first American organization to research alien abduction cases. Although they had known about the Vilas-Boas abduction in 1957, they didn’t report on it officially until the 1960s when the Barney and Betty Hill case was investigated. Interestingly, Betty Hill contacted Don Keyhoe of NICAP about her sighting and abduction. Eventually, her interest was diverted to APRO.

The point here is that the files of NICAP, the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and even many if not most of the Project Blue Books files have been collected by various civilian research and investigation organizations. The exception was the APRO files. Upon the deaths of both Jim and Coral Lorenzen in the mid-1980s, the files ended up in the hands of the Lorenzen children after. Attempts by various organizations and individuals to obtain the files had been made over the years without success.

I provide this brief history to put all this into context. As many know, David Marler, who has created the National UFO Historical Records Center, a name that does not lend itself to an easily pronounceable acronym, has announced the acquisition of the APRO records. This means, that his Center is now the repository of the largest collection of UFO records. This includes the records and investigative activities of several foreign researchers and organizations.

Marler, and his team have been digitizing these records at the headquarters of the organization, which means that searches for specific cases, and all relevant data will become a searchable file, or as Marler wrote in his press release, the files are digitized for electronic storage, analyzation, transfer and ease of access.

Interestingly, there have been, in the past, UFO researchers who guarded their records and files with a tenacity that rivals various governmental agencies. That barrier seems to have been broken to some extent now.

As I say, the important point here is the transfer of the APRO files into Marler’s group. They are currently located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and can be found at

APRO was the first UFO organization to take reports of landing and alien beings seriously. They sent the first investigators into Pascagoula to interview Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker. And were in Socorro, New Mexico, within hours to interview Lonnie Zamora about the UFO landing and occupant sighting there in 1964.

One of those APRO cases was a landing in rural Iowa on June 6, 1972. The witness, identified in the APRO only as Mr. T., but his name was Edward Tieg. He said that a flash of light caught his attention. He thought it was an airplane, but the object came closer. He saw that it was egg shaped and as it began to land, legs grew out of the bottom. He said that it was about ten to twelve feet in diameter and fifteen to twenty feet tall. He said that it cast a shadow when it was sitting on the ground.

Illustration of the sighting created by Edward Tieg.
From the files of Kevin Randle

It was about a hundred yards away. A hatch opened and according to him, some people got out. The beings were about five feet tall and were wearing a one-piece flying suit. They messed around in the corn, returned to their ship and it took off.

Investigators on the landing site.
Photo by Kevin Randle.

He said that as it lifted off, a blue flame shot out of the bottom, there was a roar and the legs retracted. The corn stocks in that area looked as if they had been caught in a whirlwind but they weren’t burned. I’ll note here that Lonnie Zamora talked about a blue flame and a roar as that craft lifted off. I’m not sure if a farmer in Iowa knew about a New Mexico policeman who described some of the same features.

Although reluctant to talk about the sighting, he did provide an illustration of what he had seen. As happens so often in UFO reports, there were no other witnesses to this sighting, though there had been others in the area about the same time.