It made the problem of UFO analysis one of getting opinions. All we could do was hope the opinions we were getting were the best.
My attempts to reach a definite conclusion as to what the professors had seen met another blank wall. I had no more success than I'd had trying to reach a conclusion on the authenticity of the photographs.
A thorough analysis of the reports of the flying wings seen by the retired rancher's wife in Lubbock and the AEC employee and his wife in Albuquerque was made. The story from the two ladies who saw the aluminum colored pear shaped object hovering near the road near Matador, Texas, was studied, checked, and rechecked. Another blank wall on all three of these sightings.
By the time I got around to working on the report from the radar station in Washington State, the data of the weather conditions that existed on the night of the sighting had arrived. I turned the incident folder over to the electronics specialists at ATIC. They made the analysis
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and determined that the targets were caused by weather, although it was a borderline case. They further surmised that since the targets had been picked up on two radars, if I checked I'd find out that the two targets looked different on the two radarscopes. This is a characteristic of a weather target picked up on radars operating on different frequencies. I did check. I called the radar station and talked to the captain who was in charge of the crew the night the target had been picked up.
The target looked the same on both scopes. This was one of the reasons it had been reported, the captain told me. If the target hadn't been the same on both scopes, he wouldn't have made the report since he would have thought he had a weather target. He asked me what ATIC thought about the sighting. I said that Captain James thought it was weather. Just before the long-distance wires between Dayton and Washington melted, I caught some comment about people sitting in swivel chairs miles from the closest radarscope. . . . I took it that he didn't agree the target was caused by weather. But that's the way it officially stands today.
Although the case of the Lubbock Lights is officially dead, its memory lingers on. There have never been any more reliable reports of "flying wings" but lights somewhat similar to those seen by the professors have been reported. In about 70 per cent of these cases they were proved to be birds reflecting city lights.
The known elements of the case, the professors' sightings and the photos, have been dragged back and forth across every type of paper upon which written material appears, from the cheapest, coarsest pulp to the slick Life pages. Saucer addicts have studied and offered the case as all conclusive proof, with photos, that UFO's are interplanetary. Dr. Donald Menzel of Harvard studied the case and ripped the sightings to shreds in Look, Time, and his book, Flying Saucers, with the theory that the professors were merely looking at refracted city lights. But none of these people even had access to the full report. This is the first time it has ever been printed.
The only other people outside Project Blue Book who have studied the complete case of the Lubbock Lights were a group who, due to their associations with the government, had complete access to our files. And these people were not pulp writers or wide-eyed fanatics, they were scientists, rocket experts, nuclear physicists, and intelligence experts. They had banded together to study our UFO reports because they were convinced that some of the UFO's that were being reported were interplanetary spaceships and the Lubbock series was one of these reports.
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The fact that the formations of lights were in different shapes didn't bother them; in fact, it convinced them all the more that their ideas of how a spaceship might operate were correct.
This group of scientists believed that the spaceships, or at least the part of the spaceship that came relatively close to the earth, would have to have a highly swept back wing configuration. And they believed that for propulsion and control the craft had a series of small jet orifices all around its edge. Various combinations of these small jets would be turned on to get various flight attitudes. The lights that the various observers saw differed in arrangement because the craft was flying in different flight attitudes.
(Three years later the Canadian Government announced that this was exactly the way that they had planned to control the flying saucer that they were trying to build. They had to give up their plans for the development of the saucer like craft, but now the project has been taken over by the U.S. Air Force.)
This is the complete story of the Lubbock Lights as it is carried in the Air Force files, one of the most interesting and most controversial collection of UFO sightings ever to be reported to Project Blue Book. Officially all of the sightings, except the UFO that was picked up on radar, are unknowns.
Personally I thought that the professors' lights might have been some kind of birds reflecting the light from mercury vapor street lights, but I was wrong. They weren't birds, they weren't refracted light, but they weren't spaceships. The lights that the professors saw - the backbone of the Lubbock Light series - have been positively identified as a very commonplace and easily explainable natural phenomenon.
It is very unfortunate that I can't divulge exactly the way the answer was found because it is an interesting story of how a scientist set up complete instrumentation to track down the lights and how he spent several months testing theory after theory until he finally hit upon the answer. Telling the story would lead to his identity and, in exchange for his story, I promised the man complete anonymity. But he fully convinced me that he had the answer, and after having heard hundreds of explanations of UFO's, I don't convince easily.
With the most important phase of the Lubbock Lights "solved" - the sightings by the professors- the other phases become only good UFO reports.
The New Project Grudge
While I was in Lubbock, Lieutenant Henry Metscher, who was helping me on Project Grudge, had been sorting out the many bits and pieces of information that Lieutenant Jerry Cummings and Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten had brought back from Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and he had the answers.
The UFO that the student radar operator had assumed to be traveling at a terrific speed because he couldn't lock on to it turned out to be a 400-mile-an-hour conventional airplane. He'd just gotten fouled up on his procedures for putting the radar set on automatic tracking. The sighting by the two officers in the T-33 jet fell apart when Metscher showed how they'd seen a balloon.
The second radar sighting of the series also turned out to be a balloon. The frantic phone call from headquarters requesting a reading on the object's altitude was to settle a bet. Some officers in headquarters had seen the balloon launched and were betting on how high it was.
The second day's radar sightings were caused by another balloon and weather - both enhanced by the firm conviction that there were some mighty queer goings on over Jersey.
The success with the Fort Monmouth Incident had gone to our heads and we were convinced that with a little diligent digging we'd be knocking off saucers like an ace skeet shooter. With all the confidence in the world, I attacked the Long Beach Incident, which I'd had to drop to go to Lubbock, Texas. But if saucers could laugh, they were probably zipping through the stratosphere chuckling to themselves, because there was no neat solution to this one.
In the original report of how the six F-86's chased the high flying UFO over Long Beach, the intelligence officer who made the report had said that he'd checked all aircraft flights, therefore this wasn't the answer.
The UFO could have been a balloon, so I sent a wire to the Air Force weather detachment at the Long Beach Municipal Airport. I wanted the track of any balloon that was in the air at 7:55 A.M. on September 23, 1951.
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While I was waiting for the answers to my two wires, Lieutenant Metscher and I began to sort out old UFO reports. It was a big job because back in 1949, when the old Project Grudge had been disbanded, the files had just been dumped into storage bins. Hank and I now had four filing case drawers full of a heterogeneous mass of UFO reports, letters, copies of letters, and memos.
But I didn't get to do much sorting because the mail girl brought in a copy of a wire that had just arrived. It was a report of a UFO sighting at Terre Haute, Indiana. I read it and told Metscher that I'd quickly whip out an answer and get back to helping him sort. But it didn't prove to be that easy.
The report from Terre Haute said that on October 9, a CAA employee at Hulman Municipal Airport had observed a silvery UFO. Three minutes later a pilot, flying east of Terre Haute, had seen a similar object. The report lacked many details but a few phone calls filled me in on the complete story.
At 1:43 P.M. on the ninth a CAA employee at the airport was walking across the ramp in front of the administration building. He happened to glance up at the sky - why, he didn't know - and out of the corner of his eye he caught a flash of light on the southeastern horizon. He stopped and looked at the sky where the flash of light had been but he couldn't see anything. He was just about to walk on when he noticed what he described as "a pinpoint" of light in the same spot where he'd seen the flash. In a second or two the "pinpoint" grew larger and it was obvious to the CAA man that something was approaching the airport at a terrific speed. As he watched, the object grew larger and larger until it flashed directly overhead and disappeared to the northwest. The CAA man said it all happened so fast and he was so amazed that he hadn't called anybody to come out of the nearby hangar and watch the UFO. But when he'd calmed down he remembered a few facts. The UFO had been in sight for about fifteen seconds and during this time it had passed from horizon to horizon. It was shaped like a "flattened tennis ball," was a bright silver color, and when it was directly overhead it was "the size of a 50 cent piece held at arm's length."
But this wasn't all there was to the report. A matter of minutes after the sighting a pilot radioed Terre Haute that he had seen a UFO. He was flying from Greencastle, Indiana, to Paris, Illinois, when just east of Paris he'd looked back and to his left. There, level with his airplane and fairly close, was a large silvery object, "like a flattened orange," hanging motionless in the sky. He looked at it a few seconds, then hauled his plane around in a tight left bank. He headed directly toward the UFO,
The New Project Grudge.113
but it suddenly began to pick up speed and shot off toward the northeast. The time, by the clock on his instrument panel, was 1:45 P.M. - just two minutes after the sighting at Terre Haute.
When I finished calling I got an aeronautical chart out of the file and plotted the points of the sighting. The CAA employee had seen the UFO disappear over the northwestern horizon. The pilot had been flying from Greencastle, Indiana, to Paris, Illinois, so he'd have been flying on a heading of just a little less than 270 degrees, or almost straight west. He was just east of Paris when he'd first seen the UFO, and since he said that he'd looked back and to his left, the spot where he saw the UFO would be right at a spot where the CAA man had seen his UFO disappear. Both observers had checked their watches with radio time just after the sightings, so there couldn't be more than a few seconds' discrepancy. All I could conclude was that both had seen the same UFO.
I checked the path of every balloon in the Midwest. I checked the weather - it was a clear, cloudless day; I had the two observers' back-grounds checked and I even checked for air traffic, although I knew the UFO wasn't an airplane. I researched the University of Dayton library for everything on daylight meteors, but this was no good. From the description the CAA employee gave, what he'd seen had been a clear-cut, distinct, flattened sphere, with no smoke trail, no sparks and no tail. A daylight meteor, so low as to be described as "a 50 cent piece held at arm's length," would have had a smoke trail, sparks, and would have made a roar that would have jolted the Sphinx. This one was quiet. Besides, no daylight meteor stops long enough to let an airplane turn into it. Conclusion: Unknown.
In a few days the data from the Long Beach Incident came in and I started to put it together. A weather balloon had been launched from the Long Beach Airport, and it was in the vicinity where the six F-86's had made their unsuccessful attempt to intercept a UFO. I plotted out the path of the balloon, the reported path of the UFO, and the flight paths of the F-86's. The paths of the balloon and the F-86's were accurate, I knew, because the balloon was being tracked by radio fixes and the F-86's had been tracked by radar. At only one point did the paths of the balloon, UFO, and F-86's coincide. When the first two F-86's made their initial visual contact with the UFO they were looking almost directly at the balloon. But from then on, even by altering the courses of the F-86's, I couldn't prove a thing.
In addition, the weather observers from Long Beach said that during the period that the intercept was taking place they had gone outside and
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looked at their balloon; it was an exceptionally clear day and they could see it at unusually high altitudes. They didn't see any F-86's around it. And one stronger point, the balloon had burst about ten minutes before the F-86's lost sight of the UFO.
Lieutenant Metscher took over and, riding on his Fort Monmouth victory, tried to show how the pilots had seen the balloon. He got the same thing I did - nothing.
On October 27, 1951, the new Project Grudge was officially established. I'd written the necessary letters and had received the necessary endorsements. I'd estimated, itemized, and justified direct costs and manpower. I'd conferred, inferred, and referred, and now I had the money to operate. The next step was to pile up all this paper work as an aerial barrier, let the saucers crash into it, and fall just outside the door.
I was given a very flexible operating policy for Project Grudge because no one knew the best way to track down UFO's. I had only one restriction and that was that I wouldn't have my people spending time doing a lot of wild speculating. Our job would be to analyze each and every UFO report and try to find what we believed to be an honest, unbiased answer. If we could not identify the reported object as being a balloon, meteor, planet, or one of half a hundred other common things that are sometimes called UFO's, we would mark the folder "Unknown" and file it in a special file. At some later date, when we built up enough of these "Unknown" reports, we'd study them.
As long as I was chief of the UFO project, this was our basic rule. If anyone became anti flying saucer and was no longer capable of making an unbiased evaluation of a report, out he went. Conversely anyone who became a believer was through. We were too busy during the initial phases of the project to speculate as to whether the unknowns were spaceships, space monsters, Soviet weapons, or ethereal visions.
I had to let three people go for being too pro or too con.
By the latter part of November 1951 I knew most of what had taken place in prior UFO projects and what I expected to do. The people in Project Sign and the old Project Grudge had made many mistakes. I studied these mistakes and profited by them. I could see that my predecessors had had a rough job. Mine would be a little bit easier because of the pioneering they had done.
Lieutenant Metscher and I had sorted out all of the pre 1951 files, refiled them, studied them, and outlined the future course of the new Project Grudge.
When Lieut. Colonel Rosengarten and Lieutenant Cummings had been at the Pentagon briefing Major General Cabell on the Fort Monmouth
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Incidents, the general had told them to report back when the new project was formed and ready to go. We were ready to go, but before taking my ideas to the Pentagon, I thought it might be wise to try them out on a few other people to get their reaction. Colonel Frank Dunn, then chief of ATIC, liked this idea. We had many well known scientists and engineers who periodically visited ATIC as consultants, and Colonel Dunn suggested that these people's opinions and comments would be valuable. For the next two weeks every visitor to ATIC who had a reputation as a scientist, engineer, or scholar got a UFO briefing.
Unfortunately the names of these people cannot be revealed because I promised them complete anonymity. But the list reads like a page from Great Men of Science.
Altogether nine people visited the project during this trial period. Of the nine, two thought the Air Force was wasting its time, one could be called indifferent, and six were very enthusiastic over the project. This was a shock to me. I had expected reactions that ranged from an extremely cold absolute zero to a mild twenty below. Instead I found out that UFO's were being freely and seriously discussed in scientific circles. The majority of the visitors thought that the Air Force had goofed on previous projects and were very happy to find out that the project was being re-established. All of the visitors, even the two who thought we were wasting our time, had good suggestions on what to do. All of them offered their services at any future time when they might be needed. Several of these people became very good friends and valuable consultants later on.
About two weeks before Christmas, in 1951, Colonel Dunn and I went to the Pentagon to give my report. Major General John A. Samford had replaced Major General Cabell as Director of Intelligence, but General Samford must have been told about the UFO situation because he was familiar with the general aspects of the problem. He had appointed his Assistant for Production, Brigadier General W. M. Garland, to ride herd on the project for him.
Colonel Dunn briefly outlined to General Samford what we planned to do. He explained our basic policy, that of setting aside the unknowns and not speculating on them, and he told how the scientists visiting ATIC had liked the plans for the new Project Grudge.
There was some discussion about the Air Force's and ATIC's responsibility for the UFO reports. General Garland stated, and it was later confirmed in writing, that the Air Force was solely responsible for investigating and evaluating all UFO reports. Within the Air Force, ATIC was the responsible agency. This in turn meant that Project Grudge
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was responsible for all UFO reports made by any branch of the military service. I started my briefing by telling General Samford and his staff about the present UFO situation.
The UFO reports had never stopped coming in since they had first started in June 1947. There was some correlation between publicity and the number of sightings, but it was not an established fact that reports came in only when the press was playing up UFO's. Just within the past few months the number of good reports had increased sharply and there had been no publicity.
UFO's we're seen more frequently around areas vital to the defense of the United States. The Los Alamos-Albuquerque area, Oak Ridge, and White Sands Proving Ground rated high. Port areas, Strategic Air Command bases, and industrial areas ranked next. UFO's had been reported from every state in the Union and from every foreign country. The U.S. did not have a monopoly.
The frequency of the UFO reports was interesting. Every July there was a sudden increase in the number of reports and July was always the peak month of the year. Just before Christmas there was usually a minor peak.
The Grudge Report had not been the solution to the UFO problem. It was true that a large percentage of the reports were due to the "misidentification of known objects"; people were seeing balloons, airplanes, planets, but this was not the final answer. There were a few hoaxes, hallucinations, publicity seekers, and fatigued pilots, but reports from these people constituted less than 1 per cent of the total. Left over was a residue of very good and very "unexplainable" UFO sightings that were classified as unknown.
The quality of the reports was getting better, I told the officers; they contained more details that could be used for analysis and the details were more precise and accurate. But still they left much to be desired.
Every one of the nine scientists and engineers who had reviewed the UFO material at ATIC had made one strong point: we should give top priority to getting reasonably accurate measurements of the speed, altitude, and size of reported UFO's. This would serve two purposes. First, it would make it easy to sort out reports of common things, such as balloons, airplanes, etc. Second, and more important, if we could get even one fairly accurate measurement that showed that some object was traveling through the atmosphere at high speed, and that it wasn't a meteor, the UFO riddle would be much easier to solve.
I had worked out a plan to get some measured data, and I presented it to the group for their comments.
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I felt sure that before long the press would get wind of the Air Force's renewed effort to identify UFO's. When this happened, instead of being mysterious about the whole thing, we would freely admit the existence of the new project, explain the situation thoroughly and exactly as it was, and say that all UFO reports made to the Air Force would be given careful consideration. In this way we would encourage more people to report what they were seeing and we might get some good data.
To further explain my point, I drew a sketch on a blackboard.
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