The story of UFOs today has been revived through the recent exposure of apparently largely unaddressed, by our government, dramatic and puzzling encounters with UFOs by military personnel. In particular, there are 2 incidents, one in 2004 and the other in 2015, that currently are the main focus of attention.
This lecture will focus on the known history of American military encounters with UFOs and since there are so many cases, there will be additional lectures with small number of representative cases illustrating common patterns. From that, students can begin to analyze what Coral Lorenzen used to refer to as the “pattern and meanings” of military/ufo events.
~~~April 14 1953, Sea of Japan, Korean War theater
A P2V Neptune Navy ferret spy plane for over an hour was paced and buzzed by varying numbers of 10 present multi-colored-lit-up craft that first made their presence known when 2 of the craft flashed their lights in a sequence matching the morse code sign for the letter D. Exhibiting extreme speeds and awesome movements, different numbers of craft made 70 passes altogether on the Navy spy plane. When the Navy plane dove to an altitude of 400 feet, 4 of the objects “made at least 10 passes through that 0-400 foot altitude”.
[Brad Sparks, page 53, volume 1, 3rd edition of The UFO Encyclopedia by Jerome Clark]
Besides the initial flashing of lights, the on plane electronic intelligence systems (ELINT) detected 5 seperate radar beams from the UFOs penetrating the plane. The data on that indicated a radio frequency of 2790 MHz, a pulse repetition frequency of 500-550 Hz (pulses per second) and pulse width or duration (PW) at 1 to 1.5 microseconds.
Military followup analysis ruled out Russian craft from their closest base 400 miles away.
The passes made by these lit up craft were as close as only a few hundred feet!
This case was unearthed by Brad Sparks in 2016 when he saw it in a Project Blue Book file that in 1970 was in the hands of the late scientist James McDonald. Dr. McDonald’s 22,000 pages of files were made available to Sparks by Mary Castner of the J Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies and Paul Dean, an Australian researcher adept at using the FOIA.
The file was 14 pages and actually examined an event exactly 1 month before, in March, that occured in the same area. On March 14 1953 90 to 100 UFOs were observed passing a Navy plane!
The April event is covered on the 14th page of that report and Sparks suggests that “this case got into the Blue Books files by accident” as it was likely Top Secret whereas the March event was only stamped Secret.
~~~October 24 1968, Minot Air Force Base Radar/Visual Case, North Dakota
“During the early morning hours of October 24 1968, sixteen military personnel stationed throughout the Minuteman ICBM missle complex surrounding Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, reported a very large, brightly illuminated aerial object, alternating colors from brilliant white to orangish-red-green, with an ability to hover, accelerate rapidly, and abruptly change direction.”
[Thomas Tulien, page 748, volume one, 3rd edition The UFO Encyclopedia by Jerome Clark]
The phases of this incident are identified as follows:
-ground observations (2:15–4:02am)
-B-52 Air-radar Encounter (3:52–4:02am)
-B-52 Air-visual Encounter (4:24–4:28am)
-Oscar-7 launch facility intrusion (4:49am)
Everything started at 0215, when two men guarding the remote Oscar-6 missle launch facility from the security camper there reported to Staff Sergeant William Smith (a flight security officer stationed at the Oscar-1 launch control facility 10 miles north of them) that “a large glowing object went down by some trees not far away”.
A missle alignment team was working on the now exposed missles at Oscar 6 as the craft descended nearby, so work was ordered stopped and site resecured.
Over the next couple of hours multiple ground and air witnesswa describe a massive craft with bright lights, making it hard for most to see the precise shape. But, Captain Bradford Runyon from a B52 at 1500 feet offered a good drawing of it as it was on or near the ground.
Radar returns from returning B-52s revealed a massive craft that on one occasion moved from a spot 3 miles away to 1 mile distance in an instant. (Go to reference link below to see radarscope photo of radar return.)
Alarms also went on at one of the missle launch sites and responding teams found the door mysteriously opened by movement of the combination lock at the inner door.
The Strategic Air Command immediately began an extensive investigation and then referred the case to Project Blue Book…which fulfilled its (partial) job to calm public fears with the conclusion that observers were seeing the star Sirius and returning B-52s and the B-52 radar readings were of plasma.
The UFO Encyclopedia, 3rd edition, article by Thomas Tulien, vol 1 pgs 748-764 and….
The documentation, including graphics, collected by SAC at above link!
~~~May 14 1978, area near Pinecastle Electronic Warfare Range Tracking Station, restricted Navy facility (32 miles from Ocala, Florida…multiple civilian and witnesses and strong radar reading
A little after 10 pm on this Sunday evening, the duty officer (SK-1 Robert J. Clark) received first one, then a second, call from nearby citizens. First, a woman from nearby Silver Glen Springs asking if flares had been set off from the facility, which was easily answered (“no”).
Then a man (later identified) traveling on the road with several others (near Silver Glen Springs) called to report “that [they] had just seen an oblong-shaped flying object, some 50 to 60 feet in diameter and ‘almost the color of the moon’, pass over the top of his car [and] that it had a flashing light which was intensely bright at its center.”
[Jerome Clark, volume 2, 3rd edition, The UFO Encyclopedia, pg 829]
The duty officer contacted the nearby air traffic control center and after learning that no traffic was in the area, he and the base air controller (Gary Collins) went outside to the van where the radar equipment was kept. Security was alerted and they called in the radar technician (TD-2 Timothy Collins).
“Collins rushed to the tower. The personnel already there were watching a cluster of glowing lights off to the west-northwest. They were at eye-level and seemed to be just above an old Civil Defense tower three miles away. Even though it was a clear, quiet night, the witnesses heard no noise emanating from the lights, which apparently were attached to a single object”.
[Same source as for 1st quote]
When the radar had turned on and locked onto the target at 11:20 pm, it revealed the object to be only 50 to 100 feet above ground, about the size of a jetliner, and showing a stronger return signal than the nearby tower.
About 10 minutes or so later it suddenly disappeared visually and from the radar, but then shortly after reappeared north of them. To only go out until “around midnight it or another object was seen 3 miles to the northwest. For five seconds it moved at more than 500 knots on a course, then accelerated for 2 seconds, and executed a hairpin turn in 1 second. When it made that turn, it was 15 miles south of the base—which means it had covered 15 miles in 7 seconds; most of distance covered in the last 2 seconds…”
This last turn had brought the craft back to the base where the witnesses continued watching with radar locked on it. It finally vanished in an instant, a minute later.
[Ok…here is where the lecturer drops the mic, lol]
The Navy in a subsequent investigation failed to arrive at a conclusion. Long-time skeptics/debunkers Robert Shaeffer thought the personnel misidentified Venus, Jupiter and the star Capella and Phil Klass thought the radar returns were “ambigious”. The J Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies via Allan Hendry interviewed the several witnesses and gathered relevent data (including the radar).
References used for The UFO Encyclopedia article by Jerome Clark:
~~~NORAD, September 20 1957, radar trackings and major alert
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, aka NORAD, was formed and in operation on September 12 1957 and 8 days later they were addressing a very significant event.
Throughout its history, as shown in the basic figures they release, they detect quite a high number of uncorrelated targets (UCTs), tracks of interest (TOI), and Unknown Tracks, but when addressing for example a 2016 foia request for details of that data, NORAD responded that “the release of any details regarding Unknown Track Reports and TOIs would affect the National Defense of the US and Canada”.
[Pg 801, 3rd edition The UFO Encyclopedia, volume 2, article by Brad Sparks…above quote from NORAD internal memo “for Viggiani request 2016”]
The relevant categories used by NORAD when reporting its numbers are “uncorrelated targets”, “tracks of interest”, “remaining unknowns”, and “unidentified REMs” (remaining unidentified by followup intel and data).
In 1967 NORAD and Air Force people briefed the University of Colorado UFO Project, which would eventually release the dismissive-of-ufos Condon Report in 1969 that enabled the government to drop a public show of interest on the UFO matter. Those briefed were made to believe that NORAD had no capacity to track UFOs and thus had no data to show and share.
But, a year later after that 1967 meeting, the Project Coordinator (Ronert Low) was correctly briefed (by the AF chief recon scientist and later NRO director) on the fact that “NORAD radars could track UFOs ‘coming from outer space'”.
[pg. 804, 3rd edition The UFO Encyclopedia, volume 2, entry by Brad Sparks…his introductory article on NORAD is pgs 801-814]
Prior to 1957 and the formation of NORAD as a joint American and Canadian entity (but largely under control of 2 US Air Force agencies), we had alerts due to UFO activity. For example, on December 6 1950 an Air Force facility in Maine tracked 40 unidentified targets, which caused such concern that the White House was notified within minutes.
A lot of details have emerged in recent years on an extraordinary tracking event (dated September 20 1957) 8 days after NORAD went operational. This exposure of data is thanks in due to a still ongoing examination of Project Blue Book files obtained by scientist James McDonald in 1970 and subsequently FOIA released info. McDonald’s files are 22,000 pages and therein we can see some of his notes on this NORAD case, but given the extent of the material overall in his hands, it seems he was unable to go in depth. See reference sources below for this story.
A little past 3pm on September 20 1957 the Montauk Point Air Force Station in Long Island, NY began tracking “a high speed 4,000 to 7,000 mph target” over 242 miles off-shore. The next radar sweep 12 seconds later had the target at 219 miles out in the Atlantic, indicating a speed for that stretch at 7,000 mph.
Subsequent tracks for the whole episode showed speeds ranging from 1800 mph to 12,000 mph and altitudes as high as 135,000 feet.
Over a half-hour period, 2 or 3 objects were tracked before suddenly disappearing on approach to the SAC headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. At an earlier point, the tracks indicated a brief and sudden beering towards the Navy base at Newport, Rhode Island where Ike was (and had been for 2 weeks, using as a summer White House).
References for The UFO Encyclopedia article by Brad Sparks:
In a 2nd lecture on this subject, we will look at more case examples that go back to the “battle of LA” in 1941 and the “foo fighters” of World War 2 and up through today where we find the Navy reporting a dramatic increase in encounters by their personnel with UFOs.
There will be also a noting of some past analysis of these events. And, we will make our own attempt to discern what Coral Lorenzen back in the mid 60s called, in her own attempt to analyze, the “patterns and meanings”.
All the while, we need to be mindful of personal and cultural conditioning that impact our regard for these events and how we determine what they mean.
Lecture #3 was going to cover (according to the plan) some more well-documented “military/ufo encounters” in a part two examination of such from the past 7 decades, plus.
But, the NY Times upended those plans over the Memorial Day weekend of 2019.
They reported on unusual experiences “during training maneuvers from Virginia to Florida off the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt..” that were shared by five Navy pilots (with the writing team of three).
From the summer of 2014 to March 2015, ” strange objects, one of them spinning like a top and moving against the wind” were present.
Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, as on the historic Devember 16 2017 Times reporting, were the authors of this latest reporting on military/ufo encounters. Their lead paragraph finished noting that “Navy pilots reported to their superiors that the objects had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet, and hypersonic speeds”.
“What was strange, the pilots said, was that the video showed objects accelerating to hypersonic speed, making sudden stops and instantaneous turns — something beyond the physical limits of a human crew.”
Events and their features were fleshed out for the NY Times team by the 5 pilots interviewed, 3 of whom “declined to be named”. The two going on the record are Lt. Ryan Graves and Lt. Danny Accoin. The pilots flew Super Hornets and are part of a squadron called the VFA-11 Red Rippers, based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. At the time of these different incidents, the 5 pilots were part of a training exercise in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gilf (where they later did go into combat).
About 2 weeks of saturated news coverage followed initial NY Times, Politico and Washington Post coverage in mid December 2017 of military/ufo encounters that appears to be on the increase. And, most of us then saw the first two of the three videos that have been released so far (at end of May 2019).
The so called Tic Tac video represented a very short glimpse of incidents that happened off the coast of San Diego in 2004 during the training exercises of the USS Nimitz. With this incident we had a good picture of what was encountered from the report released by the Pentagon’s small Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
The executive summary and conclusions:
With this latest NY Times reporting, we have a little more information on the 2015 incidents that happened off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla and are related to the “Gimball” and “Go Fast” all-too-short video clips we have seen.
The Gimball one is the spinning top object mentioned above. The pilot mentions seeing a whole fleet of them, but we see only a short clip, set just above the clouds and level with the jet filming, an object that at its center is a large sphere with a somewhat flat disc outer rim rotating around the center portion. There is someting of a strange aura evident.
In this fresh reporting we learn the Gimballs were observed on January 20 2015 off the coast at Jacksonville, Florida and the Go Fast filmed below the jet and just above the water was a few weeks later.
As each jet had (early on in this period) a radically upgraded and improved radar system installed, pilots began detecting the objects before a little later having visual contact.
At first they all theorized that they were encountering a product of a secret government project, but….
“The pilot and his wingman were flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach when something flew between them, right past the cockpit. It looked to the pilot, Lieutenant Graves said, like a sphere encasing a cube.
The incident so spooked the squadron that an aviation flight safety report was filed, Lieutenant Graves said.
The near miss, he and other pilots interviewed said, angered the squadron, and convinced them that the objects were not part of a classified drone program. Government officials would know fighter pilots were training in the area, they reasoned, and would not send drones to get in the way.”
Today, all the pilots interviewed refused to offer an opinion on the nature of what they saw….and the Navy statements seemed eager to point out that it didnt necessarily mean extraterrestrials were involved.
The widespread reluctance to use the “e” word right now, or even chat with others about this story was characterized or noted in a very funny tweet by MSNBC host Chris Hayes (from the morning of May 28 2019):
“I’m confused: did the NY Times break the story of us being visited by aliens and we all just shrigged and went back to our barbecues?”
Lecture #4: Military/UFO Encounters, part 3
Pondering Patterns and Meanings: A Threat or Not?
Just 20 minutes before midnight on the Saturday evening of July 19, 1952, an air traffic controller named Edward Nugent observed seven “blips” on the radarscope in a location 15 miles south/southwest of the nation’s capital. He immediately notified the senior air traffic controller for the Civilian Aeronautics Administration, named Harry G. Barnes, as no regular flight path behavior was observed and besides no aircraft were known to be there.
Due to the odd behavior seen on the radarscope, Barnes explained what was going on to the press, here being quoted in the July 29th New York World-Telegram article “Washington Radar Observer Relates Watching Stunts by Flying Saucers”:
“We knew immediately that a very strange situation existed….Their movements were completely radical compared to those of ordinary aircraft. They followed no set course and were not in any formation, and we only seemed to be able to track them for about three miles at a time. The individual ‘blip’ would seem to disappear from the scope at intervals. Later I realized that if these objects had made any sudden burst of extremely high speed, that would account for them disappearing from the scope temporarily.”
[pg1250, volume 2 of 3rd edition of The UFO Encyclopedia, Jerome Clark]
These intense events were not a brief episode lasting from just before midnight on July 19 and to dawn on July 20, as the radar and visual detections continued sporadically for several more days.
Insofar as the military aspect of this particular case, jets could not be scrambled from Andrews AFB due to the repair work being done on the runway there at that time.
Craft had already been detected visually and by radar by ground military personnel, civilian and military control tower personnel, and commercial pilots flying DC-4s.
When military jets were scrambled from Newcastle AFB in Delaware, the craft were detected leaving the sector as the jets were on approach.
Three sighting reports (2 of them by 1 person) give us something of a picture of the craft involved.
First, Staff Sgt. Charles Davenport at 2 am from his location at the 1053rd Maintenance Squadron at Andrews AFB “spotted an orange-red light to the south of the base. ‘It would appear to stand still, then make an abrupt change of direction of direction and altitude.’ This happened ‘several times’. After Davenport notified the tower, individuals there saw the object for a few seconds as it was shooting out of sight.”
Then at 3:30 am, “Sgt. Davenport saw a UFO at treetop. Bluish-silver in color, it moved erratically, rolling from side to side as it sped by. He told Air Force investigators, “three times I saw a red object leave the silver object at a high rate of speed and move east out of sight.”
Another sighting at dawn (described in Donald Keyhoe’s 1953 book “Flying Saucers from Outer Space) was reported by a civilian radio engineer named E. W. Chambers who had just woken up and unawate of the night’s events. “He described them as five hige discs circling in a loose formation. They tilted upward and left on a steep ascent.”
[Reference: pgs 1250-51; volime 2 of The UFO Encyclopedia. 3rd edition. Jerome Clark]
The senior air traffic controller from the CAA related 10 days later, in the pages of the New York World-Telegram, “that the UFOs seemed to become most active around the planes we saw on the scope…They acted like a bunch of kids out playing..directed by some innate curiosity. At times they moved as a group or cluster, at other times as individuals over widely scattered areas…There is no other conclusion I can reach but that for six hours …there were at least 10 unidentifiable objects moving above Washington. They were not ordinary aircraft. I could tell that by their movement on the scope. I can safely deduce that they performed gyrations which no known aircraft could perform. By this I mean that our scope showed that they could make right angle turns and complete reversals of flight. Nor in my opinion could any natural phenomena such as shooting stars, electrical disturbances or clouds account for these spots on our radar.”
During the early phase of events in the general DC sector, radar detected the objects in airspace above the white house and capital building.
The following weekend (after a week of sporadic detections in this sector and significant civilian sightings in the broader region) things picked up again at 8:15 pm when the pilot and stewardess of a National Airlines flight observed several objects looking like the glow of a cigarette and moving unusually slow (100 mph) high above them.
Turned out to be a wild night with jets again scrambled from Newcastle AFB in Delaware. This amidst a scene like this hours before that:
“Fournet and the Navy officer, a Lt. Holcomb, did not arrive until after midnight, but by 9:30 both ARTC and Andrews AFB were tracking more targets than they could handle. Sometimes they moved slowly at less than 100 mph, and sometimes abruptly reversed direction and streaked across the sky at what calculations indicated was 7,000 mph. At 10:46 pm a CAA flight instructor reported seeing five glowing, orange-white lights over Washington at 2,200 feet. Six minutes later the targets all disappeared from the screens. Nonetheless, at 11 pm two F-94s were scrambled from Newcastle.”
“By the time they arrived. 30 minutes later, UFOs were back and on the ARTC scopes Lt. William Patterson, the pilot of one of the interceptors was vectored after fast-moving targets 10 miles away. He saw four white ‘glows’ and chased after them. To his horror they shot toward him and clustered around his plane. He radioed in to the tower to ask what he ought to do. According to Chop [civilian Air Force guy for public relations present in tower], the answer was ‘stunned silence…after a tense moment, the UFOs pulled away and left the scene’. ”
The aforementioned Lt Holcomb was monitoring the meterological data and he noted a slight temperature inversion but his assessment was that it didnt come close to accounting for the “good and solid” returns registering on the scopes.
During this period, a wide variety of civilian witnesses (and non civilians off base) reported stunning ufo sightings within a 200 mile radius (with many sightings also reported nationwide). Here is associated take home reading for this lecture noting specific cases:
Page 1254, volume 2, Jerry Clark, The UFO Encyclopedia, subsection “Other UFOs” in articke “Washington National Radar/Visual Case”.
Nevertheless, in an atmosphere of charged banner headlines and public anxiety, the Air Force spokesperson at a massively attended press conference on July 29 would ambigiously point to a temperature inversion as a cause for all the events, despite the actual conclusions of those seeing the readings in real time.
[pgs 1252-1253, The UFO Encyclopedia]
The governmental response to all of this, spurred by the concerns of President Truman, will be covered in depth in a lecture tied to the “US Government and UFOs” course. But, just for now, I will note what the government’s threat assessment issues and conclusions were, and what they developed as an action plan in January 1953 (all done under the auspices of the Office os Scientific Investigations at the CIA).
And, then I will share threat assessments from two civilian investigators well-versed in these types of cases: Coral Lorenzen’s 1966 examination of what she called the “patterns and meanings” and Robert Hastings’ 2017 reading of the situation.
UFO historian Jerome Clark summarizes in what direction the government threat assessment went after these events and they sure didnt seem to be concerned with UFOs themselves posing a threat to national security.
Instead [Clark, pgs 1254-55, The UFO Encyclooedia, vol 2]:
“The Washington sightings proved to be a pivotal event in UFO history. They sparked high-level fears that UFO reports–if not UFOs themselves–might constitute a threat to national security. On the 2 weekends when sightings weee at their most intense, intelligence channels were clogged with UFO-related communications. Air Force generals and CIA officials worried that an earthly enemy such as the Soviet Union could take advantage of such a logjam by launching an attack if it so chose.
Immwdiately following the Washington sightings, the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) embarked on an inquiry into the UFO issue. On September 24 OSI’s assistant director, H. Marshall Chadwell, wrote in a memo to CIA director Walter B. Smith:
The flying saucer situation contains two elements of danger which, in a sotuation of international tension, have national security implications…The public concern with the phenomena…indicates that a fair proportion of our population is mentally conditioned to acceptance of the incredible. In this fact lies the potential for the touching-off of mass hysteria and panic.
Moreover, Chadwell wrote, ‘At any moment of attack (from the Soviet Union), we are now in a position where we cannot, on an instant basis, distinguish hardware from phantom, and as tension mounts we will run the increasing risk of false alerts and the even greater danger of falsely the real as phantom.’ Chadwell suggested that identification procedures should be improved, that psychological-warfare aspects be studied, and that a ‘national policy should be established as to what should be told the public regarding the phenomena’.
All of this resulted in a CIA-sponsored meeting in January 1953, under the direction of physicist H.R. Robertson, and a recommendation that henceforth, in the interest of national security should be debunked and thereby reduced.”
Unlike the above threat evaluation, ufologists have focused on the ufos themselves and their activities in attempting to evaluate whether they are a threat to us.
In 1966, Coral Lorenzen published an updated edition of her 1962 book, then titled The Great Flying Saucer Hoax and renamed quite sensationally (by her publishers) as FLYING SAUCERS: The Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Outer Space.
Her APRO investigator and scientific consultant from Brazil, Dr. Olavo Fontes, had an alarmist perspective contrary to what she said was her own bias. Nevertheless, she listened to his thoughts regarding the “pattern and its meanings” (title for chapter 13 in above book). Page 190:
“In 1958 Dr. Olavo Fontes in Brazil offered the theory of a pattern he had found in a sweeping but careful survey of UFO sightings over an eleven-year period. Fontes said that UFOs are hostile and that the visitations of eleven years fell into a pattern indicating military reconnaissance.”
Lorenzen, in this book, illustrates the reports that do suggest heightened numbers of UFO reports ensuing from worldwide nuclear and missle test sites and military bases during key moments like the development of nuclear weapons, missles, and the Soviet launch os Sputnik in 1957.
Coral Lorenzen didnt seem to adopt the degree of alarm felt by Fontes. Fontes died too young but subsequent research revealed half a century later (as reported by Kevin Randle at https://kevinrandle.blogspot.com ) that his alarmist perspective may have impacted his credibility, especially when it was found that one of his cases involving a Brazilian fort was found unlikely to have occurred. Mrs. Lorenzen concluded this book with her own thoughts, page 278:
“There are no definite indications of hostility on the part of our visitors; but equally important here there is no indication of friendliness either. Possibly we are only the subject of a routine survey—an Interstellar Geophysical Year, so to speak. To fail to educate the public concerning the facts at hand, however, is to court danger of a particularly insidious nature. The existence of a species of superior beings in the universe could cause the civilization of earth to topple. Even on earth societies have disintegrated when confronted by a superior society.”
In 2017, long-time investigator Robert Hastings, who has for decades gathered testimony from many military personnel, published his updated UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. His book will be addressed in depth in a subsequent lecture in the Military/UFO encounters course.
His evaluation concerning the threat question seems to have a point made that I didnt see in the much older Lorenzen assessment of aliens doing updated monitorings of our advancing technology. There is messaging! The message being “get rid of your nukes”.
“When considering the nuclear incidents in particular, one might ask whether the US government is operating to protect the American public against some genuine threat from above, or merely attempting to keep us in the dark for as long as possible? If the actions of the Visitors are in fact expressions of their concern and/or disapproval of our possession of nukes, shouldn’t the public be made aware of this fact?”
With the latest revelations (up to July 2019, date for this lecture) the threat assessment focus is ongoing. Future lectures for this course will continue to address this question.