The late, fabulous, Fortean writer, John A. Keel stated several times in his intriguing books that UFO flaps were numerous sightings that could either concentrate in a particular region over a short period of time or could even occur on a national scale in massive numbers as in 1952 which saw record UFO witness reports across America. In 1948 the US was reeling from the events of the alleged Roswell UFO crash in the first week of July of 1947. In that year alone Kenneth Arnold’s compelling sighting which actually pre-dated Roswell, near Mt. Rainier of 9 silvery disks traveling at an estimated 1200 miles per hour had shocked the American public as well as a score of military agencies even the FBI.
We hear today of dramatic photos and film footage which more often than not seem to be in question. Many supposed UFO films have been explained away as photo shop editing, or even the mistaken shutter aperture image of cameras adjusted to the infinity setting and pointed skyward. With relatively cheap software one can just about fake anything on a film from a plane crash to the President’s birth certificate, but in 1948, the phenomenon was not only relatively new but much harder to fake on film with film trickery being relatively easy to identify.
A reality unacquainted with fraud
Photography was an expensive and demanding hobby for any enthusiast to spend time at. A plethora of imaginary illusion had not yet come to pass as the American audiences had not yet been exposed to one science fiction movie after another. When fantastic sightings took place during this era, if someone were to pull off a hoax, they had to be especially talented as there simply was not much trivia and pop culture to draw upon. What pop culture space men that existed at that time might have been Buck Rogers, which was very unsophisticated in terms of special effects.
With the armed forces involved in intense if not desperate missile development programs along with experimental aircraft, the southwest region of Texas and New Mexico became inundated with strange aerial sightings. Expert witnesses such as Clyde Tombaugh, the famous astronomer who discovered Pluto, even admitted to witnessing 2 separate UFO sightings in New Mexico where he worked and lived. Experts in several scientific fields were being summoned by the US Department of Defense to partake in examining the incredible incidents of flying disks, aerial lights, and even green fireballs being seen over military bases such as Ft. Hood in Texas and White Sands testing grounds in New Mexico.
Sightings at White Sands
Was it a pure coincidence that UFO sightings seem to pop up and concentrate in areas where the US military was conducting secret tests on remote missile ranges? Missile expert and Naval Commander, R. B. McLaughlin, gave an incredible testimony on the observations made by his crews during the launch and tracking of rockets from White Sands missile range. He even gave a discussion to a major US magazine about his positive findings describing them (UFO’s) as entering our atmosphere at high altitude, intelligently controlled, and being capable of high speed maneuvers.
At that time, one of the state of the art tracking systems used to record telemetry data was a cinetheodolite, by taking several photos per second and recording rocket performance, two or more phototheodolites could triangulate their findings in order to confirm important information. Two men would be seated on a rotating device that was packed with instruments such as telescopes for measuring upper atmosphere impact upon rockets that were being tracked. They would move in tandem seated on a gimbal with their faces pressed into faceplates intently monitoring the instrument clusters recording information that was taking place. Notable UFO sightings were tracked by this type of instrument over not only White Sands Proving Grounds, but the infamous Holloman Air Force Base, the scene of many alleged UFO sightings, and at least one landing, as well as being the purported meeting site of dignitaries of another world with representatives of the Eisenhower administration.
Among the well known scientists being called upon to investigate strange nocturnal aerial sightings were Doctor Lincoln La Paz, who was enlisted to try and track the paths of green fireball reports. Meteorites were his specialty. Doctor Anthony Mirarchi, had the responsibility of Project Twinkle, also fielded in response to the green fireball sightings. Over a period of a year in 1949 intelligence had been gathered over reports of 75 green fireball sightings in an area that stretched from Sandia Base to Los Alamos then southeast to the Holloman AFB/Alamagordo/White Sands area to the Vaugn, Texas region. In the beginning three months of 1950 there were 26 such sightings recorded in the same areas of New Mexico and Texas.
Project Twinkle was commenced and funded under a joint effort between Air Force Personnel and a private contractor, Land Air employees, who operated cinetheodolites while radio frequency receivers and spectrographic cameras were run by Holloman Air Base staff. Under contract now and the responsibility of Doctor Anthony Mirarchi, original hours of surveillance began sun up to sundown, but Mirarchi insisted upon expanding the observations to a 24 hour venture.
Meanwhile Doctor Lincoln La Paz, confident that based upon information from eye witnesses that he had been given, he could track the paths of green fireballs to the point of impact as he could with any normal meteors entering the earth’s atmosphere, encountering the heat of atmospheric friction, and striking the desert floor. However, after several months of tracking anticipated impact zones based upon testimony and mathematical calculations, La Paz admitted to Air Force authorities that after exhaustively chasing suspected flight patterns, green fireballs did not behave like a natural phenomena, and were behaving more like aircraft of some type.
Doctor Mirarchi was skeptical of the true source behind green fireballs, but was reportedly much more concerned over the elliptical and disk variant reports of unknown aerial objects being investigated as part of project Twinkle as he detected a certain amount of reluctance and lack of objectivity about the research being conducted. This concerned him during his tenure with the program. There had been difficulties in attaining the desired triangulation of objects that might be recorded on one cinetheodolite while not registering on another that was set to confirm simultaneous tracking of the same event. This led to frustration that preceded Dr. Anthony Mirarchi’s retirement.
Another Project bites the dust
According to Bruce Maccabee, a historic event was to occur due to the retirement of Dr. Anthony Mirarchi. The next person to move into his position would be Director, Dr. Louis Elterman. Where as Doctor Mirarchi had made objective reports and had recorded the anomalies that had occurred which amounted to a demonstrated effect that may not have been satisfactorily documented by incomplete readings as was evidenced by one cinetheodolite capturing an event while another failed to record the same event, Dr. Elterman saw fit to deny that anything at all had happened. For it was not Doctor Anthony Mirarchi who would author the concluding statement on Project Twinkle. He was in the process of accepting his retirement. So, this task was left to his predecessor, Doctor Elterman, who willfully misrepresented the findings of Project Twinkle records, and denied anything of significance at all had occurred.
Dr. Elterman is the prime example of many bureaucrats to follow in his footsteps in their rush to judgment to deny that a phenomenon exists because it is controversial and therefore should not exist as far as any governmental agency is concerned. Those who followed in his corrupt and cowardly wake would be the Robertson Panel in 1953, who took the best reports of Project Blue Book and denied they had any validity saying that new policies to discourage reporting would now be implemented as UFO’s did not represent a threat to national security. This they proclaimed as US pilots of the armed forces were being killed, disappearing, or crashing in pursuit of these supposedly benign flying objects. Donald Menzel, a well respected physicist, who wrote books on the unreliable human mind in observing UFO’s was more than to blame for flying saucers that, more often than not, were merely tricks of the imagination. This Menzel proclaimed when years later after his death it was revealed that he had, in fact, worked in several highly classified projects which his family denied any knowledge of.
Debunkers and deniers
Last but not least, we shall not forget Doctor Edward Hugh Condon, who accepted a 3 million dollar contract on the behalf of the University of Colorado to research the findings of the Air Force’s past UFO studies, Projects “Sign” “Grudge” and “Blue Book” 23 years of government sanctioned investigation of the unknown aerial phenomena, to determine whether or not this endeavor was justified in continuing. While Condon devoted little if any time to evaluating the feasibility or authenticity to such reports, his investigators such as James McDonald worked tirelessly to quantify the evidence that UFO’s indeed existed, showed intelligence behind their flight characteristics, exhibited defensive reactions to aggressive military pursuits, and performed far beyond the mechanical limits of human designed aircraft. Despite the fact that several researchers in Edward Hugh Condon’s committee came to the conclusion that the extraterrestrial theory could be the only explanation in several cases, it was clear that the study commissioned by the US Air Force had another agenda all together, and that was to ridicule, deny, and repudiate findings that were positive in verifying UFO existence. The verdict arrived at by the Condon Committee was to advise the US Air Force against continuing further funding or efforts toward the UFO issue.
What happens to whistle blowers
Naval Commander R.B. Mc Laughlin was a missile expert. He was responsible for the examination of in flight data of rocket launches at White Sands Proving Grounds. There were many resources and personnel under his authority. Yet, his career took a strange twist shortly after his interview with True magazine. What did his candid and truthful response to the civilian news media get him? Commander Mc Laughlin was relegated to destroyer patrol in the Arctic. This according to Captain Edward J. Ruppelt’s 1956 book, “The Report on UFO’s”. Not a very enviable assignment, I might add. Much the same as the old Soviet comment whenever a military figure failed at his task. That unfortunate soul would be assigned to some mission in Siberia. Apparently, R. B. McLaughlin just as many before and many after him ended up on the short end of the stick when admitting to the truth rather than perpetuating the lie that cannot survive the light of day. Such is the case in the mystery world of the UFO, treacherous to say the least, but even more damning is the bureaucratic response to the unknown that often swallows lives and leaves no traces.