by James E. McDonald

Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
December 27, 1969

from UFO-Evidence Website


NO SCIENTIFICALLY ADEQUATE investigation of the UFO problem has been carried out during the entire 22 years that have now passed since the first extensive wave of sightings of unidentified aerial objects in the summer of 1947. Despite continued public interest, and despite frequent expressions of public concern, only quite superficial examinations of the steadily growing body of unexplained UFO reports from credible witnesses have been conducted in this country or abroad. The latter point is highly relevant, since all evidence now points to the fact that UFO sightings exhibit similar characteristics throughout the world.

Charging inadequacy of all past UFO investigations, I speak not only from a background of close study of the past investigations, but also from a background of three years of rather detailed personal research, involving interviews with over five hundred witnesses in selected UFO cases, chiefly in the U.S. In my opinion, the UFO problem, far from being the nonsense problem that it has often been labeled by many scientists, constitutes a problem of extraordinary scientific interest.

The grave difficulty with essentially all past UFO studies has been that they were either devoid of any substantial scientific content, or else have lost their way amidst the relatively large noise-content that tends to obscure the real signal in the UFO reports. The presence of a percentually large number of reports of misidentified natural or technological phenomena (planets, meteors, and aircraft, above all) is not surprising, given all the circumstances surrounding the UFO problem. Yet such understandable and usually easily recognized instances of misidentification have all too often been seized upon as a sufficient explanation for all UFO reports, while the residue of far more significant reports (numbering now of order one thousand) are ignored. I believe science is in default for having
failed to mount any truly adequate studies of this problem, a problem that has aroused such strong and widespread public concern during the past two decades.


Unfortunately, the present climate of thinking, above all since release of the latest of a long series of inadequate studies, namely, that conducted under the direction of Dr. E. U. Condon at the University of Colorado, will make it very difficult to secure any new and more thorough investigations, yet my own examination of the problem forces me to call for just such new studies. I am enough of a realist to sense that, unless the present AAAS UFO Symposium succeeds in making the scientific community aware of the seriousness of the UFO problem, little immediate response to any call for new investigation is likely to appear.

In fact, the over-all public and scientific response to the UFO phenomena is itself a matter of substantial scientific interest, above all in its social-psychological aspects. Prior to my own investigations, I would never have imagined the wide spread reluctance to report an unusual and seemingly inexplicable event, yet that reluctance, and the attendant reluctance of scientists to exhibit serious interest in the phenomena in question, are quite general. One regrettable result is the fact that the most credible of UFO witnesses are often those most reluctant to come forward with a report of the event they have witnessed. A second regrettable result is that only a very small number of scientists have taken the time and trouble to search out the really puzzling reports that tend to be diluted out by the much larger number of trivial and non-significant UFO reports. The net result is that there still exists no general scientific recognition of the scope and nature of the UFO problem.

Within the federal government, official responsibility for UFO investigations has rested with the Air Force since early 1948. Unidentified aerial objects quite naturally fall within the area of Air Force concern, so this assignment of responsibility was basically reasonable. However, once it became clear (early 1949) that UFO reports did not seem to involve advanced aircraft of some hostile foreign power, Air Force interest subsided to relatively low levels, marked, however, by occasional temporary resurgence of interest following large waves of UFO reports, such as that of 1952, or 1957, or 1965.

A most unfortunate pattern of press reporting developed by about 1953, in which the Air Force would assert that they had found no evidence of anything “defying explanation in terms of present-day science and technology” in their growing files of UFO reports. These statements to the public would have done little harm had they not been coupled systematically to press statements asserting that “the best scientific facilities available to the U.S. AirForce” had been and were being brought to bear on the UFO question. The assurances that substantial scientificcompetence was involved in Air Force UFO investigations have, I submit, had seriously deleterious scientific effects. Scientists who might otherwise have done enough checking to see that a substantial scientific puzzle lay in the UFO area were misled by these assurances into thinking that capable scientists had already done adequate study and found nothing. My own extensive checks have revealed so slight a total amount of scientific competence in two decades of Air Force-supported investigations that I can only regard the repeated asseverations of solid scientific study of the UFO problem as the single most serious obstacle that the Air Force has put in the way of progress towards elucidation of the matter.

I do not believe, let me stress, that this has been part of some top-secret cover-up of extensive investigations by Air Force or security agencies; I have found no substantial basis for accepting that theory of why the Air Force has so long failed to respond appropriately to the many significant and scientifically intriguing UFO reports coming from within its own ranks. Briefly, I see grand foul-up but not grand cover-up. Although numerous instances could be cited wherein Air Force spokesmen failed to release anything like complete details of UFO reports, and although this has had the regrettable consequence of denying scientists at large even a dim notion of the almost incredible nature of some of the more impressive Air Force-related UFO reports, I still feel that the most grievous fault of 22 years of Air Force handling of the UFO problem has consisted of their repeated public assertions that they had substantial scientific competence on the job.

Close examination of the level of investigation and the level of scientific analysis involved in Project Sign (1948–9), Project Grudge (1949–52), and Project Bluebook (1953 to date), reveals that these were, viewed scientifically, almost meaningless investigations. Even during occasional periods (e.g., 1952) characterized by fairly active investigation of UFO cases, there was still such slight scientific expertise involved that there was never any real chance that the puzzling phenomena encountered in the most significant UFO cases would be elucidated.Furthermore, the panels, consultants, contractual studies, etc., that the Air Force has had working on the UFO problem over the past 22 years have, with essentially no exception, brought almost negligible scientific scrutiny into
the picture. Illustrative examples will be given.

The Condon Report, released in January, 1968, after about two years of Air Force-supported study is, in my opinion, quite inadequate. The sheer bulk of the Report, and the inclusion of much that can only be viewed as “scientific padding,” cannot conceal from anyone who studies it closely the salient point that it represents an examination of only a tiny fraction of the most puzzling UFO reports of the past two decades, and that its level of scientific argumentation is wholly unsatisfactory. Furthermore, of the roughly 90 cases that it specifically confronts, over 30 are conceded to be unexplained. With so large a fraction of unexplained cases (out of a sample that is by no means limited only to the truly puzzling cases, but includes an objectionably large number of obviously trivial
cases), it is far from clear how Dr. Condon felt justified in concluding that the study indicated “that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.”

I shall cite a number of specific examples of cases from the Condon Report which I regard as entirely inadequately investigated and reported. One at Kirtland AFB, November 4, 1957, involved observations of a wingless egg-shaped object that was observed hovering about a minute over the field prior to departure at a climb rate which was described to me as faster than that of any known jets, then or now. The principal witnesses in this case were precisely the type of witnesses whose accounts warrant closest attention, since they were CAA tower observers who watched the UFO from the CAA tower with binoculars. Yet, when I located these two men in the course of my own check of cases from the Condon Report, I found that neither of them had even been contacted by members of the University of Colorado project! Both men were fully satisfied that they had been viewing a device with performance characteristics well beyond anything in present or foreseeable aeronautical technology.


The two men gave me descriptions that were mutually consistent and that fit closely the testimony given on Nov. 6, 1957, when they were interrogated by an Air Force investigator. The Condon Report attempts to explain this case as a
light-aircraft that lost its way, came into the field area, and then left. This kind of explanation runs through the whole Condon Report, yet is wholly incapable of explaining the details of sightings such as that of the Kirtland AFB incident. Other illustrative instances in which the investigations summarized in the Condon Report exhibit glaring deficiencies will be cited. I suggest that there are enough significant unexplainable UFO reports just within the Condon Report itself to document the need for a greatly increased level of scientific study of UFOs.

That a panel of the National Academy of Sciences could endorse this study is to me disturbing. I find no evidence that the Academy panel did any independent checking of its own; and none of that 11-man panel had any significant prior investigative experience in this area, to my knowledge. I believe that this sort of Academy endorsement must be criticized; it hurts science in the long run, and I fear that this particular instance will ultimatelyprove an embarrassment to the National Academy of Sciences.

The Condon Report and its Academy endorsement have exerted a highly negative influence on clarification of the long-standing UFO problem; so much, in fact, that it seems almost pointless to now call for new and moreextensive UFO investigations. Yet the latter are precisely what are needed to bring out into full light of scientific inquiry a phenomenon that could well constitute one of the greatest scientific problems of our times.

Some examples of UFO cases conceded to be unexplainable in the Condon Report and containing features of particularly strong scientific interest:

  • Utica, N.Y., 6/23/55

  • Lakenheath, England, 8/13/56

  • Jackson, Ala., 11/14/5

  • Norfolk, Va., 8/30/57

  • RB-47 case, 9/19/57

  • Beverly Mass., 4/22/66

  • Donnybrook, N.D., 8/19/66

  • Haynesville, La., 12/30/66

  • Joplin, Mo., 1/13/67

  • Colorado Springs, Colo., 5/13/67

Some examples of UFO cases considered explained in the Condon Report for which I would take strong
exception to the argumentation presented and would regard as both unexplained and of strong scientific interest:

  • Flagstaff, Ariz., 5/20/50

  • Washington, D. C., 7/19/52

  • Bellefontaine, O., 8/1/52

  • Haneda AFB, Japan, 8/5/5

  • Gulf of Mexico, 12/6/52

  • Odessa, Wash., 12/10/52

  • Continental Divide, N.M., 1/26/53

  • Seven Isles, Quebec, 6/29/5

  • Niagara Falls, N.Y., 7/25/57

  • Kirtland AFB, N.M., 11/4/57

  • Gulf of Mexico, 11/5/57

  • Peru, 12/30/66

  • Holloman AFB, 3/2/67

  • Kincheloe AFB, 9/11/67

  • Vandenberg AFB, 10/6/67

  • Milledgeville, Ga., 10/20/67

Illustrative Cases
The following treats in detail the four principal UFO cases referred to in my Symposium talk. They are presented
as specific illustrations of what I regard as serious shortcomings of case-investigations in the Condon Report and in
the 1947-69 Air Force UFO program. The four cases used as illustrations are the following:

1.  RB-47 case, Gulf Coast area, Sept. 19, 1957
2.  Lakenheath RAF Station, England, August 13–14, 1956
3.  Haneda AFB, Japan, August 5–6, 1952
4.  Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, Nov. 4, 1957

My principal conclusions are that scientific inadequacies in past years of UFO investigations by Air Force Project Bluebook have not been remedied through publication of the Condon Report, and that there remain scientifically very important unsolved problems with respect to UFOs. The investigative and evaluative deficiencies illustrated in the four cases examined in detail are paralleled by equally serious shortcomings in many other cases in the sample of about 90 UFO cases treated in the Condon Report. Endorsement of the conclusions of the Condon Report by the National Academy of Sciences appears to have been based on entirely superficial examination of the Report and the cases treated therein. Further study, conducted on a much more sound scientific level are needed.





















Case 1.


USAF RB-47, Gulf Coast area, September 19–20, 1957

Brief summary: An Air Force RB-47, equipped with ECM (Electronic Countermeasures) gear, manned by six
officers, was followed over a total distance in excess of 600 miles and for a time period of more than an hour, as it
flew from near Gulfport, Miss., through Louisiana and Texas, and into southern Oklahoma. The unidentified object
was, at various times, seen visually by the cockpit crew (as an intense white or red light), followed by ground-radar,
and detected on ECM monitoring gear aboard the RB-47. Simultaneous appearances and disappearances on all three
of those physically distinct “channels” mark this UFO case as especially intriguing from a scientific viewpoint. The
incident is described as Case 5 in the Condon Report and is conceded to be unexplained. The full details, however,
are not presented in that Report.

Summary of the Case
The case is long and involved and filled with well-attested phenomena that defy easy explanation in terms of
present-day science and technology. The RB-47 was flying out of Forbes AFB, Topeka, on a composite mission
including gunnery exercises over the Texas-Gulf area, navigation exercises over the open Gulf, and ECM exercises
in the return trip across the south-central U.S. This was an RB-47 carrying a six-man crew, of whom three were
electronic warfare officers manning ECM (Electronic counter-measures) gear in the aft portion of the aircraft. One
of the extremely interesting aspects of this case is that electromagnetic signals of distinctly radar-like character
appeared definitely to be emitted by the UFO, yet it exhibited performance characteristics that seem to rule out
categorically its having been any conventional or secret aircraft.

I have discussed the incident with all six officers of the crew:

  • Lewis D. Chase, pilot, Spokane, Wash.

  • James H. McCoid, copilot, Offutt AFB

  • Thomas H. Hanley, navigator, Vandenberg AFB

  • John J. Provenzano, No. 1 monitor, Wichita

  • Frank B. McClure, No. 2 monitor, Offutt AFB

  • Walter A. Tuchscherer, No. 3 monitor, Topeka

Chase was a Major at the time; I failed to ask for information on 1957 ranks of the others. McClure and Hanley
are currently Majors, so might have been Captains or Lieutenants in 1957. All were experienced men at the time.
Condon Project investigators only talked with Chase, McCoid, and McClure, I ascertained. In my checking it proved
necessary to telephone several of them more than once to pin down key points; nevertheless the total case is so
complex that I would assume that there are still salient points not clarified either by the Colorado investigators or by
myself. Unfortunately, there appears to be no way at present to locate the personnel involved in ground-radar
observations that are a very important part of the whole case. I shall discuss that point below.

This flight occurred in September 1957, just prior to the crew’s reassignment to a European base. On questioning
by Colorado investigators, flight logs were consulted, and based on the recollection that this flight was within a short
time of departure from Forces to Germany, (plus the requirement that the date match a flight of the known type and
geography) the 9/19/57 date seems to have emerged. The uncertainty as to whether it was early on the 19th or early
on the 20th, cited above is a point of confusion I had not noted until preparing the present notes. Hence I am unable
to add any clarification, at the moment; in this matter of the date confusion found in Thayer’s discussion of the case
Science in Default (1, pp. 136–138). I shall try to check that in the near future. For the present, it does not vitiate case-discussion in any significant way.

The incident is most inadequately described in the Condon Report. The reader is left with the general notion that
the important parts occurred near Ft. Worth, an impression strengthened by the fact that both Crow and Thayer
discuss meteorological data only for that area. One is also left with no clear impression of the duration, which was
actually over an hour. The incident involved an unknown airborne object that stayed with the RB-47 for over 600
miles. In case after case in the Condon Report, close checking reveals that quite significant features of the cases
have been glossed over, or omitted, or in some instances seriously misrepresented. I submit that to fail to inform the
reader that this particular case spans a total distance-range of some 600 miles and lasted well over an hour is an
omission difficult to justify.

From my nine separate interviews with the six crew members, I assembled a picture of the events that makes it
even more puzzling than it seems on reading the Condon Report — and even the latter account is puzzling enough.
Just as the aircraft crossed the Mississippi coast near Gulfport, McClure, manning the #2 monitor, detected a
signal near their 5 o’clock position (aft of the starboard beam). It looked to him like a legitimate ground-radar signal,
but corresponded to a position out in the Gulf. This is the actual beginning of the complete incident; but before
proceeding with details it is necessary to make quite clear what kind of equipment we shall be talking about as we
follow McClure’s successive observations.

Under conditions of war, bombing aircraft entering hostile territory can be assisted in their penetrations if any of
a variety of electronic countermeasures (ECM techniques as they are collectively termed) are brought into action
against ground-based enemy radar units. The initial step in all ECM operations is, necessarily, that of detecting the
enemy radar and quantitatively identifying a number of relevant features of the radar system (carrier frequency,
pulse repetition frequency, scan rate, pulse width) and, above all, its bearing relative to the aircraft heading. The
latter task is particularly ample in principle, calling only for direction-finding antennas, which pick up the enemy
signal and display on a monitor scope inside the reconnaissance aircraft a blip or lobe that paints in the relative
bearing from which the signal is coming.

The ECM gear used in RB-47’s in 1957 is not now classified; the #2 monitor that McClure was on, he and the
others pointed out, involved an ALA-6 direction-finder with back-to-back antennas in a housing on the undersurface
of the RB-47 near the rear, spun at either 150 or 300 rpm as it scanned in azimuth. Inside the aircraft, its signals
were processed in an APR-9 radar receiver and an ALA-5 pulse analyzer. All later references to the #2 monitor
imply that system. The #1 monitor employed an APD-4 direction finding system, with a pair of antennas
permanently mounted on either wing tip. Provenzano was on the #1 monitor. Tuchscherer was on the #3 monitor,
whose specifications I did not ascertain because I could find no indication that it was involved in the observations.
Returning now to the initial features of the UFO episode, McClure at first thought he had 180-degree ambiguity
in his scope, i.e., that the signal whose lobe painted at his 5 o’clock position was actually coming in from the 11
o’clock position perhaps from some ground radar in Louisiana. This suspicion, he told me, was temporarily
strengthened as he became aware that the lobe was moving upscope.


(It is important here and in features of the case cited below to understand how a fixed ground-radar paints on the ECM monitor scope as the reconnaissance aircraft flies toward its general direction: Suppose the ground radar is, at some instant, located at the 1 o’clock position relative to the moving aircraft, i.e., slightly off the starboard bow. As the aircraft flies along, the relative bearing steadily changes, so that the fixed ground unit is “seen” successively at the 2 o’clock, the 3 o’clock, and the 4 o’clock positions, etc. The lobe paints on the monitor scope at these successive relative azimuths, the 12 o’clock position being at the top of the scope, 3 o’clock at the right, etc. Thus any legitimate signal from a fixed ground radar must move downscope, excluding the special cases in which the radar is dead ahead or dead astern. Note carefully that we deal here only with direction finding gear. Range is unknown; we are not here speaking of airborne radar set, just a radar-frequency direction-finder. In practice, range is obtained by triangulation computations based on successive fixes and known aircraft speed.)

As the lobe continued moving upscope, McClure said the strength of the incoming signal and its pulse
characteristics all tended to confirm that this was some ground unit being painted with 180-degree ambiguity for
some unknown electronic reason. It was at 2800 megacycles, a common frequency for S-band search radars.
However, after the lobe swung dead ahead, his earlier hypothesis had to be abandoned for it continued swinging
over to the 11 o’clock position and continued downscope on the port side. Clearly, no 180-degree ambiguity was
capable of accounting for this. Curiously, however, this was so anomalous that McClure did not take it very
seriously and did not at that juncture mention it to the cockpit crew nor to his colleagues on the other two monitors.
This upscope–downscope “orbit” of the unknown was seen only on the ALA-6, as far as I could establish. Had
nothing else occurred, this first and very significant portion of the whole episode would almost certainly have been
forgotten by McClure.

The signal faded as the RB-47 headed northward to the scheduled turning point over Jackson, Miss. The mission
called for simulated detection and ECM operations against Air Force ground radar units all along this part of the
flight plan, but other developments intervened. Shortly after making their turn westward over Jackson, Miss., Chase
noted what he thought at first were the landing lights of some other jet coming in from near his 11 o’clock position,
at roughly the RB-47’s altitude. But no running lights were discernible and it was a single very bright white light,
closing fast. He had just alerted the rest of the crew to be ready for sudden evasive maneuvers, when he and McCoid
saw the light almost instantaneously change directions and rush across from left to right at an angular velocity that
Chase told me he’d never seen matched in his flight experience. The light went from their 11 o’clock to the
2 o’clock position with great rapidity, and then blinked out.

Immediately after that, Chase and McCoid began talking about it on the interphone and McClure, recalling the
unusual 2800 megacycle signal that he had seen over Gulfport now mentioned that peculiar incident for the first
time to Chase and McCoid. It occurred to him at that point to set his #2 monitor to scan at 2800 mcs. On the first
scan, McClure told me, he got a strong 2800 mcs signal from their 2 o’clock position, the bearing on which the
luminous unknown object had blinked out moments earlier.

Provenzano told me that right after that they had checked out the #2 monitor on valid ground radar stations to be
sure it was not malfunctioning and it appeared to be in perfect order. He then checked on his #1 monitor and also got
a signal from the same bearing. There remained, of course, the possibility that just by chance, this signal was from a
real radar down on the ground and off in that direction. But as the minutes went by, and the aircraft continued
westward at about 500 kts. the relative bearing of the 2800 mcs source did not move downscope on the #2 monitor,
but kept up with them.

This quickly led to a situation in which the entire 6-man crew focused all attention on the matter; the incident is
still vivid in the minds of all the men, though their recollection for various details varies with the particular activities
they were engaged in. Chase varied speed, to see if the relative bearing would change but nothing altered. After over
a hundred miles of this, with the 2800 mcs source keeping pace with the aircraft, they were getting into the radarcoverage area of the Carswell AFB GCI (Ground Controlled Intercept) unit and Chase radioed that unit to ask if they showed any other air traffic near the RB-47. Carswell GCI immediately came back with the information that there
was apparently another aircraft about 10 miles from them at their 2 o’clock position. (The RB-47 was
unambiguously identifiable by its IFF signal; the “other aircraft” was seen by “skin paint” Only, i.e., by direct radar
reflection rather than via an IFF transponder, Col. Chase explained.)

This information, each of the men emphasized to me in one way or another, made them a bit uneasy for the first
time. I asked McClure a question that the Colorado investigators either failed to ask or did not summarize in their
report. Was the signal in all respects comparable to that of a typical ground radar? McClure told me that this was
what baffled him the most, then and now. All the radar signature characteristics, as read out on his ALA-5 pulse
analyzer, were completely normal — it had a pulse repetition frequency and pulse width like a CPS-6B and even
simulated a scan rate: But its intensity, McClure pointed out, was so strong that “it would have to had an antenna
bigger than a bomber to put out that much signal.” And now, the implications of the events over Gulfport took on
new meaning. The upscope–downscope sweep of his #2 monitor lobe implied that this source, presuming it to be the
same one now also being seen on ground radar at Carswell GCI, had flown a circle around the RB-47 at 30–35,000
ft altitude while the aircraft was doing about 500 kts.

Shortly after Carswell GCI began following the two targets, RB-47 and unknown, still another significant action
unfolded. McClure suddenly noted the lobe on the #2 monitor was beginning to go upscope, and almost
simultaneously, Chase told me, GCI called out that the second airborne target was starting to move forward. Keep in
mind that no visual target was observable here; after blinking out at the 12 o’clock position, following its lightninglike
traverse across the nose of the aircraft, no light had been visible. The unknown now proceeded to move steadily
around to the 12 o’clock position, followed all the while on the #2 monitor and on the GCI scope down at Carswell
near Ft. Worth.

As soon as the unknown reached the 12 o’clock position, Chase and McCoid suddenly saw a bright red glow
“bigger than a house,” Chase said, and lying dead ahead, precisely the bearing shown on the passive radar directionfinder that McClure was on and precisely the bearing now indicated on the GCI scope. Three independent sensing systems were at this juncture giving seemingly consistent-indications: two pairs of human eyes, a ground radar, and a direction-finding radar receiver in the aircraft.

One of the important points not settled by the Colorado investigations concerned the question of whether the
unknown was ever painted on any radar set on the RB-47 itself. Some of the men thought the navigator had seen it
on his set, others were unsure. I eventually located Maj. Hanley at Vandenberg and he informed me that all through
the incident, which he remembered very well, he tried, unsuccessfully to pick up the unknown on his navigational
radar (K-system). I shall not recount all of the details of his efforts and his comments, but only mention the end
result of my two telephone interviews with him. The important question was what sort of effective range that set
had. Hanley gave the pertinent information that it could just pick up a large tanker of the KC-97 type at about 4
miles range, when used in the “altitude-hold” mode, with antenna tipped up to maximum elevation. But both at the
start of its involvement and during the object’s swing into the 12 o’clock position, GCI showed it remaining close to
10 miles in range from the RB-47. Thus Hanley’s inability to detect it on his K-system navigational radar in altitude
hold only implies that whatever was out there had a radar cross-section that was less than about 16 times that of a
KC-97 (roughly twice 4 miles, inverse 4th-power law), The unknown gave a GCI return that suggested a crosssection
comparable to an ordinary aircraft, Chase told me, which is consistent with Hanley’s non-detection of the
object. The Condon Report gives the impression the navigator did detect it, but this is not correct.

I have in my files many pages of typed notes on my interviews, and cannot fill in all of the intriguing details
here. Suffice it to say that Chase then went to maximum allowable power, hoping to close with the unknown, but it
just stayed ahead at about 10 miles as GCI kept telling them; it stayed as a bright red light dead ahead, and it kept
painting as a bright lobe on the top of McClure’s ALA-6 scope. By this time they were well into Texas still at about
35,000 ft and doing upwards of 500 knots, when Chase saw it begin to veer to the right and head between Dallas and
Ft. Worth. Getting FAA clearance to alter his own flight plan and to make sure other jet traffic was out of his way,
he followed its turn, and then realized he was beginning to close on it for the first time. Almost immediately GCI
told him the unknown had stopped moving on the ground-radarscope. Chase and McCoid watched as they came
almost up to it. Chase’s recollections on this segment of the events were distinctly clearer than McCoid’s. McCoid
was, of course, sitting aft of Chase and had the poorer view; also he said he was doing fuel-reserve calculations in
view of the excess fuel-use in their efforts to shake the unknown, and had to look up from the lighted cockpit to try
to look out intermittently, while Chase in the forward seat was able to keep it in sight more nearly continuously.
Chase told me that he’d estimate that it was just ahead of the RB-47 and definitely below them when it
instantaneously blinked out, At that same moment McClure announced on the interphone that he’d lost the 2800 mcs
signal, and GCI said it had disappeared from their scope. Such simultaneous loss of signal on what we can term
three separate channels is most provocative, most puzzling.

Putting the aircraft into a left turn (which Chase noted consumes about 15–20 miles at top speed), they kept
looking back to try to see the light again. And, about halfway through the turn (by then the aircraft had reached the
vicinity of Mineral Wells, Texas, Chase said), the men in the cockpit suddenly saw the bright red light flash on
again, back along their previous flight path but distinctly lower, and simultaneously GCI got a target again and
McClure started picking up a 2800 mcs signal at that bearing: (As I heard one after another of these men describe all
this, I kept trying to imagine how it was possible that Condon could listen, at the October, 1967, plasma conference
at the UFO Project, as Col. Chase recounted all this and shrug his shoulders and walk out.)

Securing permission from Carswell GCI to undertake the decidedly non-standard maneuver of diving on the
unknown, Chase put the RB-47 nose down and had reached about 20,000 ft, he recalls, when all of a sudden the
light blinked out, GCI lost it on their scope, and McClure reported loss of signal on the #2 monitor: Three-channel
consistency once more.

Low on fuel, Chase climbed back up to 25,000 and headed north for Oklahoma. He barely had it on homeward
course when McClure got a blip dead astern and Carswell radioed that they had a target once more trailing the RB-
47 at about 10 miles. Rear visibility from the topblisters of the RB-4 now precluded easy visual check, particularly if
the unknown was then at lower altitude (Chase estimated that it might have been near 15,000 ft when he lost it in the
dive). It followed them to southern Oklahoma and then disappeared.

This incident is an especially good example of a UFO case in which observer credibility and reliability do not
come into serious question, a case in which more than one (here three) channel of information figures in the overall
observations, and a case in which the reported phenomena appear to defy explanation in terms of either natural or
technological phenomena.

In the Condon Report, the important initial incident in which the unknown 2800 MC source appeared to orbit the
RB-47 near Gulfport is omitted. In the Condon Report, the reader is given no hint that the object was with the
aircraft for over 600 miles and for over an hour. No clear sequence of these events is spelled out, nor is the reader
made aware of all of the “three-channel” simultaneous appearances or disappearances that were so emphatically
stressed to me by both Chase and McClure in my interviews with them. But even despite those degrees of
incompleteness, any reader of the account of this case in the Condon Report must wonder that an incident of this sort
could be left as unexplained and yet ultimately treated, along with the other unexplained cases in that Report, as
calling for no further scientific attention.

Actually, various hypotheses (radar anomalies, mirage effects) are weighed in one part of the Condon Report
where this case is discussed separately (pp. 136–138). But the suggestion made there that perhaps an inversion near
2 km altitude was responsible for the returns at the Carswell GCI unit is wholly untenable. In an Appendix, a very
lengthy but non-relevant discussion of ground return from anomalous propagation appears; in fact, it is so unrelated
to the actual circumstances of this case as to warrant no comment here. Chase’s account emphasized that the GCI
radar(s) had his aircraft and the unknown object on-scope for a total flight-distance of the order of several hundred
miles, including a near overflight of the ground radar. With such wide variations in angles of incidence of the
ground-radar beam on any inversion or duct, however intense, the possibility of anomalous propagation effects
yielding a consistent pattern of spurious echo matching the reported movements and the appearances and
disappearances of the target is infinitesimal. And the more so in view of the simultaneous appearances and
disappearances on the ECM gear and via visible emissions from the unknown. To suggest, as is tentatively done on
p. 138 that the “red glow” might have been a “mirage of Oklahoma City,” when the pilot’s description of the
luminous source involves a wide range of viewing angles, including two instances when he was viewing it at quite
large depression angles, is wholly unreasonable. Unfortunately, that kind of casual ad hoc hypothesizing with almost
no attention to relevant physical considerations runs all through the case-discussions in the treatment of radar and
optical cases in the Condon Report, frequently (though not in this instance) being made the basis of “explanations”
that are merely absurd. On p. 265 of the Report, the question of whether this incident might be explained in terms of
any “plasma effect” is considered but rejected. In the end, this case is conceded to be unexplained.

No evidence that a report on this event reached Project Bluebook was found by the Colorado investigators. That
may seem hard to believe for those who are under the impression that the Air Force has been diligently and
exhaustively investigating UFO reports over the past 22 years. But to those who have examined more closely the
actual levels of investigation, lack of a report on this incident is not so surprising. Other comparable instances could
be cited, and still more where the military aircrews elected to spare themselves the bother of interrogation, by not
even reporting events about as puzzling as those found in this RB-47 incident.

But what is of greatest present interest is the point that here we have a well-reported, multi-channel, multiple-witness
UFO report, coming in fact from within the Air Force itself, investigated by the Condon Report team,
conceded to be unexplained, and yet it is, in final analysis, ignored by Dr. Condon. In no section of the report
specifically written by the principal investigator does he even allude to this intriguing case. My question is how such
events can be written off as demanding no further scientific study. To me, such cases seem to cry out for the most
intensive scientific study — and the more so because they are actually so much more numerous than the scientific
community yet realizes. There is a scientific mystery here that is being ignored and shoved under the rug; the
strongest and most unjustified shove has come from the Condon Report. “Unjustified” because that report itself
contains so many scientifically puzzling unexplained cases (approximately 30 out of 90 cases considered) that it is
extremely difficult to understand how its principal investigator could have construed the contents of the report as
supporting a view that UFO studies should be terminated.


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