Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio — The Air Force has changed its plan of studying "flying saucers" from one of volume to one of valid observation, according to Capt. E. J. Ruppelt, head of the Aerial Phenomena Section at Wright-Patterson.
When the study was first begun, it was thought that progress might be made by collecting large numbers of reports, sifting out those that were hoaxes and others that could be traced to balloons, plants, and various U. S. military activities: and trying to form the unexplainable portion into a pattern according to area, time of sighting, etc.
These studies yielded no pattern. Now the project is concentrating on obtaining photographs from cameras equipped with a diffraction grid over the lens, and on Schmidt telescopic cameras. The grid breaks up the photograph and allows scientists to discover from what substances the light photographed is made.
The Schmidt telescope gives a continuous record of the sky in night. Similar cameras are already in use in many observatories The Schmidt telescopes cost from $3000 to $5000 each and are not yet in production.
Another approach is that of briefing trained persons in the hope that they can make simultaneous sightings which would provide information for calculation of the altitude of the objects.
Timing the appearance and disappearance, and simple calculation of the angle of the object can be made by such trained observers.
Ordinary observation, whether from civilians with no aviation experience or from Air Force officers or airline pilots, are of little or no worth. These provide no means of measuring altitude, angle, or size.
The Air Force already has called in civilian experts to help study the saucer reports, and is considering assigning the job to civilian contractors.
The AF Aerial Phenomena project would continue in cooperation with any such private investigation.