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.


Bob Koford said...

I was interested to learn, a few years ago, when I was re looking at this case, how Ruppelt, in 1952, admitted he was told, by his immediate superiors, that the case was a hoax. This was in connection to Mr. Rhodes wanting his pictures back.
The Assistant Chief of Staff/Intelligence, at Hamiltin Field, sent him the originals and better copies they made, if the photos. They informed Ruppelt tgat it was considered an actual "Unknown Missile".

Sky70 said...

The gist of this article, I believe, is that personal controversy can cloud any details & creditability of a UFO/UAP case/photo. This type of situation can weaken the creditability of any UFO/UAP sighting/data - think Bob Lazar. The liability that I see in this case is Mr. Rhodes' claim of a "90-day" PH.D from the military or one from any university. If it is an honorary one even from a university, it is an honorary one, and not a real one. You know the kind that movie stars/actors/celebrities receive for being famous. Like stolen valor, claims being made without evidence raises big red flags on the part of a storyteller!

KRandle said...

Sky70 -

The real point is the artificial controversy injected into the investigation for the very purpose of clouding the issue. The Navy program was designed to provide credibility to the research being conducted and the fact that Rhodes earned the "equivalent of a Ph.D. is an important step in understanding the whole issue. I hope you followed the links to the rest of the story on Rhodes. There is no real dispute about the Navy program. It is about the his claim of a Ph.D from Columbia... and while he had some sort of miniature version of that degree, there seems to be no confirmation that he earned it there. It might all be a legitimate misunderstanding on he part of Rhodes or it might have been an attempt to boost his his credibility... At any rate, there is no evidence that the pictures are faked. It is his life style and abrasive personality that seems to have created some of the controversy.

Sky70 said...

TO: KRandle, I believe that his claim of a PH.D from Columbia University is distinct from the UFO/UAP photo that he allegedly took. To me these are two different train tracks. To me the remedy is to investigate his claim of a Columbia degree first, and it appears to me that he did a little fibbing here. I have a degree from Purdue university, check my personal data and one will see that I received a degree in 1980 - this is truth backed by Purdue documentary evidence - this is public information. If there are no degree records for Mr. Rhodes at Columbia, then he did not receive any degree, really least for me. Then the UAP photo should be examined by today's modern photo analysis equipment, and then let's see what turns up! BTW, I really liked your unique Alamo book of long ago.

Sky70 said...

My last comment on this issue is that the photo is anecdotal, hence, it cannot be researched nor examined by a metallurgist to see if it is not of our earth. One must keep this little fact in mind when viewing and discussing other famous old UAP/UFO photos.

KRandle said...

Sky70 -

Really? The photographs are anecdotal. What an incredible cop out. This is an obvious an attempt to ignore the evidence by labeling them as anecdotal. Analysis of the photographs could provide corroboration for Rhodes' claims. Analysis might determine that the pictures have no evidence of fakery, that they were faked, or that there was not enough information found on the pictures that would lead to the conclusion that the object was of alien manufacture.

And what sort of expertise could a metallurgist bring to the analysis of the photographs.

It is clear from the Air Force investigation that they were interested in smearing Rhodes' name. Did you know that he held a number of patents? Did you know that his friends and collegues thought he was a genius? Do you have any evidence that Rhodes' faked the pictures? No, don't provide any anecdotal information.

Sky70 said...

This is not a cop out but using hard core science to prove all seeable things, by using the scientific method; plain and simple. Hardly a cop out. So-called photo "evidence" can only go so far, and then we need the real thing, the hard metal so scientists, metallurgists, etc., can examine it using the scientific method, now this is science not wagging tongue speculation - think David Grush & Luis Elizondo. Mr. Rhodes could be the greatest inventor of all time, but this does not mean he is correct in all things like God is.

PA said...

Rhodes was indeed recognized as a scientist with many inventions (40 patents) to his credit and even another UFO photo:

KRandle said...

Sky70 -

Of course it is a cop out. You reject Rhodes because of the anecdotal nature of his testimony but that is an argument of logical fallacy. You reject the case because you can label it but you are not required to present any evidence for your conclusion.

That's not to mention the photographs which are another form of evidence. Analysis of the photos, while not necessarily sufficient to prove alien visitation could show that there was no manipulation or fabrication of the photos, underscoring Rhodes' testimony, or that the pictures were faked, which would underscore the Air Force conclusion of "hoax."

You are suggesting that we argue this is evidence of alien visitation and I argue that this is evidence of an unexplained sighting. What the photos can do is show that Rhodes was not lying about the event and that he saw something strange. He was able to document it with photographic evidence. I'm not sure that Rhodes believed this was an alien spacecraft, but, it seems, in the very beginning, the Air Force did (or if you want to get quite technical, officers in the Army Air Forces did).

Finally, I was told that these degrees handed out by the Navy in 1940 were underwritten by various institutions. After all these years, I was unable to verify this information but also know that universities often offered extension courses to military personnel and records in those cases were sometimes not carefully maintain. Rhodes had a document which Dr. James McDonald was not able to adequately validate. Is it a problem? Of course? Is it sufficient to reject Rhodes? No. But I suggest you read my earlier postings on this aspect of the case... it is an honest assessment.

Oh, BTW, are you at all concerned about the smear tactics used by the government? Do you wonder why they would go to the trouble of attempting such a smear? Just wondering.

Sky70 said...

Kevin, I get your point, in the UFO field one cannot really trust anyone, be they self-appointed Ufologists (btw, where did they get their UFO degrees at?) or the government. Again, only hard core physical evidence is the gold!