Les soucoupes volantes venues de l'espace

Keyhoe, D. E.: Henry Holt, 1953, New York

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Environ 2 fois par an depuis la fin de 1950, Smith avait pris l'avion pour Washington pour affaires officielles. Chaque fois, avant qu'il reparte, nous avions discuté des soucoupes et échangé des rapports d'observation. Dans l'espoir qu'il envisage une autre visite, je lui écrivait à Ottawa. C'est alors que, alors que j'attendais la réponse, je passais en revue les informations que j'avais sur l'investigation canadienne.

2 ans avant cela, lorsque j'appris pour la 1ère fois l'intérêt canadien pour les soucoupes, la plupart des responsables et scientifiques de Dominion étaient ouvertement sceptiques. Mais au début de 1952, après une série d'observations inhabituelles, leur attitude avait changé. Bien que la plupart de ces observations récentes aient été classées secret, quelques unes accessibles au public. 2 des rapports publiés venaient d'aviateurs vétérans de la Force Aérienne Royale Canadienne. La nuit du 1er janvier 1952, un disque rouge-orangé apparût au-dessus de North Bay, où la RCAF avait une nouvelle base de jets. Pendant 8 mn, volant à haute altitude, la machine fit des cercles, plongea et zigzagga au-dessus du terrain. D'après sa hauteur estimée dans la stratosphère, la soucoupe était une des plus grandes jamais observée. Ses manoeuvres étaient faites à des vitesses supersoniques. Lorsque le rapport fut publié, le Renseignement de la RCAF refusa de le commenter. Puis une 2nde soucoupe fut signalée, encore au-dessus de North Bay. Approachant depuis de sud-ouest, elle s'arrêta directement au-dessus de la base. Après être restée stationnaire pendant un moment, elle inversa rapidement sa direction. Grimpant à un angle de 30 °, elle disapparût à une vitesse énorme. Dans le même temps, d'autres signalements dérangeants avaient atteint la RCAF. Jusqu'alors, de nombreux officiers de haut rang, taking their cue du démontage du Pentagone, s'étaient moqués des observations. Mais après le 2nd cas de North Bay, une conférence de haut-niveau fut tenue à Ottawa. 4 jours plus tard le Renseignement de la RCAF admit publiquement entâmer une enquête sérieuse. Au même moment le Comité de Recherche de la Défense annonça un nouveau projet, maintenant secret. Nous étudions minutieusement les informations, dit le Dr. O. M. Solandt, président du comité. Pour l'instant nous sommes tout aussi mystifiés que n'importe qui d'autre. Une autre déclaration officielle fut livrée par le Dr. J. C. Mackenzie, président de l'Atomic Energy Control Board et ancien président du Conseil National de la Recherche. Il semblait fantastique qu'il puisse y avoir une telle chose, dit le Dr. Mackenzie. Au début la tentation était de dire que tout cela était insensé, une série d'illusions d'optique. Mais il y a eut tellement de signalements de la part d'observateurs responsables qu'ils ne peuvent être ignorés. Il semble difficilement possible que tous ces signalements puissent être dûs à des illusions d'optiques. Le Dr. Peter Millman, un fameux astrophysicien de Dominion, admit également être dérouté après avoir étudié les rapports d'observation. Il n'est pas bon de juste se moquer de ces signalements. Nous ne pouvons découvrir aucune explication conventionnelle qui couvrirait les manoeuvres rapportées de ces objets. Juste 4 jours après que le nouveau projet ait commencé, une formation de disques rouges-orangés fut observée au-dessus de Toronto, volant haut au-dessus de la ville. Puis le 1er mai une soucoupe unique, se déplaçait à une vitesse terrible, flashed over de la capitale canadienne. Dans cette observation à Ottawa, la vitesse du disque fut calculée à 3600 miles/h par les enquêteurs du gouvernement du "Projet Magnet." Inconnu de la plupart du public, ce projet spécial avait été démarré 3 ans plus tôt, par des ingénieurs en géomagnétisme et scientifiques de la Division des Télécommunications, au Département du Transport. Son initiateur, l'ingénieur en charge, était Wilbert B. Smith. Probablement personne à Ottawa n'était mieux équipé pour une enquête sur les soucoupes que Wilbert Smith. En tant que responsable chargé de la surveillance des émissions, il pouvait demander à ses hommes d'écouter tous messages étranges ; en tant qu'ingénieur en géomagnétisme, un laboratoire du gouvernement à sa disposition, il pouvait mener des recherches sur certaines théories de propulsion ; à travers les observatoires officiels de la ionosphère il pouvait garder un oeil radar sur des soucoupes volant à des altitudes extrêmement élevées.

En plus de cela, Smith était un expert en électronique, avec plusieurs inventions à son crédit. Une était un high-speed radio direction finder utilisé pendant la 2nde guerre mondiale. Une autre était un nouveau type de voltmètre, et une 3ème était un filtre de bruit régénérateur. C'était aussi un expert en analyse électronique de graphic charts.

Lorsque je rencontrais Smith, en 1950, il était à Washington pour représenter le Canada à une conférence internationale sur l'allocation de longueur d'onde. Pendant 2 semaines, entre ses réunions de comité et de nuit, nous couvrîmes tous les angles de la problématique des soucoupes. Homme grand, à la voix calme, aux cheveux noirs coupés de près, Smith avait le détachement froid d'un scientifique typique. Dans notre première discussion il me parla des analyses que lui et ses hommes avaient faites. Puis il me donna son opinion.

Je suis convaincu qu'elles sont réelles — qu'il s'agit d'une sorte de machines. Nous avons pesé 3 possibilités. 1, elles sont interplanétaires. 2, il s'agit d'un appareil secret des Etats-Unis. 3, elles sont russes. Les 2 derniers ne tiennent pas. Avoir avoir pesé les éléments je pense les soucoupes viennent de l'espace. Et je pense que leur apparition est ce qui a soudain accru l'intérêt de votre gouvernement pour le voyage spatial et un satellite artificiel. A en juger par vos propres opérations, je suis sûr que votre gouvernement aussi est vitalement soucieux d'apprendre le secret de propulsion. Que pensez-vous que ce soit ? lui demandais-je. Smith laid a pad on the table-we were lunching at a downtown hotel. Then he sketched a rocket-shaped craft. "First, let's consider the parent ship. From the high altitude sightings, I think it must be a type like this. For power it could use nuclear fission, mass conversion of energy, or some other revolutionary source, such as cosmic rays. But our experiments indicate that the true discs, which are probably launched from large parent ships, utilize magnetic fields of force. And it's possible that the parent ships also use this same source of power. It wasn't the first time the electromagnetic field theory had been suggested. Before Scully used the idea, in his story of the little men, I'd checked it with two or three engineers. But when several well-known scientists ridiculed the theory, I'd lost interest in it. The first hint of electromagnetic propulsion had come in '47, on the day of Ken Arnold's now famous sighting. About that same hour, an Oregon prospector later reported, several discs appeared over the Cascade Mountains. As they circled overhead, his compass needle went wild. His claim drew a tart comment from Project Sign analysts. "It is difficult to take this seriously. It would imply fantastically large magnetic fields. ' There had been other hints of discs rotating to utilize magnetic fields. One report came from the Reverend Ross Vermilion, a former B-29 pilot. The minister and other witnesses had described a rotating saucer which hovered a few hundred feet over a Kansas highway. Also, I had found some scientific support in the experiments of Dr. Fernand Roussel, a Canadian physicist now living at Lasqueti Isle, British Columbia. In a privately published treatise called "The Unifying Principle of Physical Phenomena," Dr. Roussel explained his theory of universal electromagnetic fields, which he believed space ships could tap in travelling between planets (This treatise, which is now out of print, has several points in common with Einstein's unified field theory). Quoting Doctor Roussel, I mentioned this propulsion theory in my 1950 book on the saucers. But after the storm raised by Scully's electromagnetic explanation, I'd stopped giving it serious thought. Since then, several scientists have backed the theory. One who publicly advanced the idea was Dr. Franz Zwicky of the California Institute of Technology. In 1951, writing in the Journal o f the American Rocket Society, Dr. Zwicky said that it may be possible to use the electricity of the ionosphere. In this upper atmosphere ions are stripped of some outer electrons by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. This ionization frees molecules which carry large electric charges. "If we can tap this electric farce," said Dr. Zwicky, "it may prove better than atomic energy for propulsion." Recently the Carnegie Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism admitted new discoveries about the ionosphere. Until two years ago this layer, which begins about 50 miles up, was believed to be utterly still. Now, radio-echo ( radar ) tracking shows there are high-speed "waves" which reach speeds up to 540 miles an hour. Unsuspected downward velocities, as high as 275 m.p.h., also have been discovered. Future ionosphere research may give us the key to tremendously powerful magnetic forces now unknown. Other reputable groups, including scientists of the British Interplanetary Society, have suggested space-ship propulsion by means of external fields of force. It is only the beginning, but it shows the changing attitude toward this once-derided theory which a more advanced race may long ago have put to practical use. In 1950, however, Wilbert B. Smith and his little group were the only government scientists I knew who took the idea seriously.

"Certainly the theory's been ridiculed," Smith said when I mentioned some scientists' reaction. "So were plans for the aeroplane, the helicopter, jets, the A bomb-practically all our modern developments. I'd have doubted it myself before our experiments."

At the start the Canadian project was unofficial, though the research was done in a government laboratory with official approval.

"If you publish any of this," said Smith, "I want you to make that clear. We re government engineers and scientists, but we are working on our own time. We've gone back to the fundamentals of electromagnetism and examined all the old laws. We know now it is possible to create current by a collapse of the earth's magnetic field. Eventually, I think, we can achieve enough current to power a flying disc. And we plan to build such a disc." "How much of this can I use?" I said. Smith hesitated. "I'll give you the information, but it will have to be cleared with my government." After his return to Ottawa, Smith rewrote my original draft and sent it to the Canadian Embassy in Washington. The revised report was cleared for me by Mr. Arnold Wright, Defense Research member of the Canadian Joint Staff, after a check at the Pentagon. The following is a verbatim copy of the most important statements. A group of Canadian scientists has been working for some time on certain problems connected with the earth's magnetic field. These investigations appear to point the way to a new technology in magnetics, and if the initial conclusions are correct they offer a ready-made explanation for many of the striking features which have been reported in connection with the sightings of flying saucers. The basic premise is that it is possible to produce a magnetic sink [the name arbitrarily chosen by Smith and his engineers] within the earth's field; that is, a region into which the magnetic flux will flow at a controlled rate, giving up some of its potential energy in the process. Such a `sink' would have many interesting properties, such as the following:

  1. Electrical power could be obtained from the collapse of the earth's magnetic field into the `sink.'
  2. Powerful reaction forces could be developed in a conducting ring surrounding the sink and offset from it, sufficient to support a suitably designed ship and to propel it.
  3. If the rate of flow of magnetic flux is modulated, the resulting magnetic disturbances could be used for communication purposes.

"It is curious to note that most of the descriptions of flying saucers are in accordance with the design which would be necessary to exploit the properties of a magnetic sink. For example, the saucers are described as consisting of a large circular disc, with a small central cabin. In this case, the sink could be located in the upper central part of the cabin. The collapsing field in cutting through the surrounding metallic ring would induce in it an electric current which would react with the magnetic field which induced it, producing a force that would have a substantial vertical component. Support and propulsion of the ship would then be a combination of this resultant force, the airfoil action of the disc, and the interaction between eddy currents induced in the disc by its rotation and the main fields.

"Rotation of the disc may be either deliberate, for the induction of eddy currents, or may be incidentally caused by the electron drag of the very large current circulating around the disc. In any case, there is good observational evidence that the disc appears to rotate. "Since the lift on the saucer will be proportionate to the product of the earth's magnetic field and the field produced by the current induced in the disc, it follows that when the saucer is accelerating upwards a greater force is required, and hence a greater circulating current. "If the circulating current is sufficiently large and the cooling of the disc is inadequate, it may become red or even white hot, which is in line with several reported observations. Also, under certain conditions of operation, a very high voltage may be built up between the center and the rim of the disc, which could result in a corona discharge through the surrounding air, if the saucer were at a sufficiently high altitude. Such a discharge would resemble the Northern Lights but would be very much more intense. This also seems to be confirmed by observations. "Navigation of such a flying saucer," the report went on, "would be a very complex process indeed. In the first place, the earth's magnetic field makes all sorts of angles with the horizontal, depending upon geographical latitude and peculiar local conditions. Thus the direction of the force which results from the interaction of the earth's field and the field of the disc may be in almost any direction. "Furthermore, the tilt of the saucer to get the reaction force in the wanted direction most probably will result in aerodynamic forces in some other direction. Navigation therefore will resolve into a determination of the field direction, comparison with the direction in which it is desired to move, and analysis of the aerodynamic forces which would result from such a motion-and, finally, a suitable correction in the initial tilt of the saucer and flow of magnetic flux. "It is doubtful if a human pilot could manage to do all this at the speed which would be necessary to manoeuvre a saucer at the speeds and through the intricate motions which have been observed. It is therefore highly probable that the saucer control systems are semi- if not fully automatic. There are many reports of saucers hovering in one spot for some time. For a saucer designed to operate as described, this would probably be its easiest manoeuvre. It would be necessary merely to adjust the flux flow and the tilt until the resultant force exactly balanced the weight of the saucer. There would be little or no aerodynamic problem in this case.

There is no indication that the accelerations to which a saucer crew would be subjected would be any different from the accelerations experienced in any other type of aircraft going through the same manoeuvres. Those authorities who have been consulted say that even Einstein's Unified Field Theory does not indicate that gravity can be neutralized or the inertia of matter overcome. Where saucers have been observed to execute close turns and other manoeuvres which would result in large accelerations, it is most probable that such saucers are remotely controlled and do not contain living matter as we know it."

During our talks Smith had enlarged on several of the major points. One night, while we were dining at the Roger Smith Hotel, I told him I was puzzled by the conflicting reports of the saucers' lights.

"If the reports are right," I said, "they're every colour of the rainbow. And pilots say they sometimes appear suddenly, or blink out like a light bulb when it's switched off. It just doesn't make sense to me." "I think I can clear it up," said Smith. "Most of the effects are caused by the disc's rotation, though sometimes a corona discharge is the cause. In the first place, probably many discs aren't seen at all, especially at night. If they're not heating up from rotation, and there's no corona discharge, you wouldn't see one unless it was caught in a searchlight beam or you saw its metal surface shining in the moonlight." He stopped as I held out my cigarette case. "No, thanks, I don't smoke." He waited until I had lit up, then went on. "Now let's assume a rotating ring begins to speed up, so that it overheats from its movement through the magnetic field. At first, out of the darkness, you'd see a pale pink-if the speed-up was not too rapid. Then the colour would brighten to red, orange-red, through yellow to the glow of white-hot metal. If you slowly heat any metal you'll see the same changes." "That's right, I've noticed it," I said. "Now if the ring's rotation was very swiftly accelerated " Smith continued, "the human eye couldn't catch the rapid changes. It would go from red to white too quickly. The same holds true when the rotation is reduced. If the slowing is gradual, you'll see the various stages as the saucer turns yellow, orange, red, pink, and finally becomes dark. But if the rotation were abruptly slowed or stopped, the cooling effect of the air, especially at high speed, would be very swift. You could get the impression that the light had actually been turned off." "It sounds logical enough," I agreed. "It explains all but the blue and green combinations." Smith paused while the waiter put down our dessert orders. "Those colours come from the corona effect. Under certain atmospheric conditions you'll get the Northern Light colours. At different heights a certain shade would predominate. For instance, at relatively low altitudes, any corona discharge would be very short in length and you'd see more of a blue-white colour. Somewhat higher, it would be green, or bluish green. Higher still, you might see all the normal corona colours-red yellow blue and green. "If the ring were overheating, could you still see a corona discharge?" Smith nodded, then qualified the answer. "Ordinarily a bright red or white glow would nullify it. But if the rotation speed was only moderate, you might get a reddish colour tinged with blue. Higher up, you'd be more likely to see a red shade, from heating, tinged with green or bluish green. It would most likely be a rather hazy effect instead of precise colours. In the majority of cases, however, you could expect just the red- orange-white range, and the reports bear that out." "This certainly backs up the rotating disc answer," I told him. "It's the first convincing explanation of all the night sightings: ' "It explains the daytime variations, too," said Smith. "It's fairly clear, from the reports, that the discs are made of some silvery-coloured metal. In sunshine they gleam like conventional aircraft. But there are colour changes in daytime, when the saucers manoeuvre or suddenly speed up. Many of them have been described as turning red or getting white-hot-also the reverse. However, in bright sunlight it's harder to detect the changes-and to recognize the disc shape, too." "Come to think of it," I said, "Project Sign mentioned that in its 1949 analysis. I'll bring the report next time we get together." Our next talk was at the Pan American Union, where the wave-length conferences were being held. Smith had an hour to spare, and we found an empty room. I had brought my copy of the final Project Sign report, which contained one section entitled, "Confidential Analysis of Intelligence Reports." Though it had been declassified, not many people knew the analysis details. Together, Smith and I went over the main points. "Group 1. The most numerous reports indicate daytime observation of metallic disc-like objects, roughly in diameter ten times their thickness. Some suggest the cross-section is asymmetrical and rather like a turtle shell. Reports agree that the objects are capable of high acceleration and velocity. They are often sighted in groups, sometimes in formation. Sometimes they flutter. "Group 2. Lights observed at night. These are also capable of high speed and acceleration. They are less common in groups. They usually appear to be sharply defined luminous objects. "Group 3. Various kinds of rockets, in general like the V-2. "Group 4. Various devices, probably cosmic-ray balloons. "Group 5. Reports given little credence.

"In general, there are few if any indications of noise or radio interference. Nor are there many indications of any material effects or physical damage attributed to the observed objects."

Smith carefully reread the last sentence.

"Not many indications," he said. "That could be taken to mean they do have a few. I didn't think any disc had come that close." "What do you mean?" I said. "There is an area of possible danger." Smith reached for a pencil, sketched a rotating disc, then roughly outlined a city beneath it. ` With a disc 100 feet in diameter, for instance, there will be two fairly large fields of magnetic force around it while it's in operation. If it were to fly low over this city-let's say at 500 feet-eddy currents would be induced in power lines and metal surfaces. It could blow fuses, perhaps even burn out wires. The danger zone might even e larger; possibly it would extend for a thousand feet. I believe it's the main reason discs have avoided flying low over inhabited areas." "How close could a plane come without danger?" "Well-" Smith stopped, gave me a shrewd glance. "You're thinking about Mantell. Judging from the report, he never got near enough for any such effect. However, if a pilot did fly into a region where a magnetic field was collapsing it would produce eddy currents in his plane. "At a moderate distance it would merely throw off his direction finder and compass. If he were fairly close, it could affect his ignition and set up strong vibrations in his plane. It might even cause a fire. But the plane would have to be well inside the danger zone. Could the vibrations cause a plane to disintegrate?" I asked. "Possibly," replied Smith. "But it would have to be extremely close with a 100-foot disc. A larger one, rotating at high speed, would have a greater danger zone, of course." He looked back at the Project report. "I see they recommended that the discs' flutter be analyzed. What ever came of that?" "Nothing that I know of." I glanced at another section where Project analysts had discussed the saucers' shape and colour, and checked several paragraphs for Smith: "Colour. Observers universally report light-collared objects. . . Seventy per cent said the objects were glittering, shiny, luminescent. "Shape. Over half were reported as round, disc-shaped, spherical or circular. Very few [observers] saw any distinctive shape. . . "Individuals who see objects in daylight either look at the reflection of the sun on a shiny surface, or else directly at a light source of high intensity. In the war, camouflage experts placed bright lights on the leading edges of anti-submarine aircraft to conceal them from sub lookouts. So if observers in daytime actually see lights, or the reflection of the sun on objects, it would account in large measure for their not identifying them." "That also holds for the daytime difference in colours," said Smith. "On a sunny day a disc could be bright red from rotation, but seen close to the sun it would appear as just a brilliant object. Also, any corona effect would be much dimmer in daylight. The farther from the sun, the more of the true colour you'd see. "On a cloudy day people have seen the actual colour changes. At first a disc which isn't heating up will look silvery-or gray, on a very dark day. Then increased rotation will give it a reddish tint, and on through orange to white. And of course the reverse, as rotation decreases."' "It all adds up," I agreed. "But what about the rocket-shaped types?" It was getting close to Smith's next conference. He looked at his watch, hesitated. "Let's cover that later. Call me tonight and we'll set a date." Before our next meeting I listed a few points that still puzzled me. When we got together for dinner, Smith picked up the discussion exactly where we'd left off. "You were asking about the rocket-shaped types. I think the large parent ships have that general shape. There may be a smaller cigar- shaped type operating nearer the earth, but I'm not convinced. A disc seen at various angles will give all the effects reported." He took out a half-dollar, poised it between his fingertips. "Assume this is a disc-shaped saucer. Narrow your eyes, so your vision blurs a little and you don't see the sharp outlines. Now I'm holding it flat, edgewise to you-you see it looks like a long, extremely narrow cylinder." He tilted it slowly. "Now it's a narrow ellipse, the typical `cigar shape.' As I tilt it a bit more, it looks more like a football, then egg-shaped. And finally it becomes perfectly round." He laid down the coin. "I believe many, if not all, of the saucers described as egg-shaped, oval, or cigar-shaped have simply been tilted discs, travelling at varying angles because of the local magnetic fields. And that brings up another point-the reportedly sudden disappearances. Take the daytime sightings first. Suppose a disc seen as round or oval abruptly tilts so it's edgewise to the observer. At best, all he could see would be a very narrow cylinder-shape, little more than a line. Except at close range, the human eye couldn't resolve it-the disc would seem to vanish.

"Abrupt manoeuvres may also explain some of the night disappearances. Some witnesses describe discs as glowing on top, but dark on the lower side. It may be that there is a stationary section under the rotating disc, and only the moving ring heats up. There may be some other explanation. But if the lower side remains dark, then any manoeuvre that turned the bottom toward an observer would give the effect of a sudden blackout."

During one of our talks Smith had sketched his idea of a flying saucer, showing a rounded, turret-like central cabin. It was possible, he said, that the turret might retract in flight, to reduce resistance. I got out the sketch and looked it over as Smith finished his blackout explanation.

"With all that heat," I said, "it's hardly possible the things could be piloted-unless, of course, they're creatures be a smaller cigar- shaped type operating nearer the earth, but I'm not convinced. A disc seen at various angles will give all the effects reported." He took out a half-dollar, poised it between his fingertips. "Assume this is a disc-shaped saucer. Narrow your eyes, so your vision blurs a little and you don't see the sharp outlines. Now I'm holding it flat, edgewise to you-you see it looks like a long, extremely narrow cylinder." He tilted it slowly. "Now it's a narrow ellipse, the typical `cigar shape.' As I tilt it a bit more, it looks more like a football, then egg-shaped. And finally it becomes perfectly round." He laid down the coin. "I believe many, if not all, of the saucers described as egg-shaped, oval, or cigar-shaped have simply been tilted discs, travelling at varying angles because of the local magnetic fields. And that brings up another point-the reportedly sudden disappearances. Take the daytime sightings first. Suppose a disc seen as round or oval abruptly tilts so it's edgewise to the observer. At best, all he could see would be a very narrow cylinder-shape, little more than a line. Except at close range, the human eye couldn't resolve it-the disc would seem to vanish. "Abrupt manoeuvres may also explain some of the night disappearances. Some witnesses describe discs as glowing on top, but dark on the lower side. It may be that there is a stationary section under the rotating disc, and only the moving ring heats up. There may be some other explanation. But if the lower side remains dark, then any manoeuvre that turned the bottom toward an observer would give the effect of a sudden blackout." During one of our talks Smith had sketched his idea of a flying saucer, showing a rounded, turret-like central cabin. It was possible, he said, that the turret might retract in flight, to reduce resistance. I got out the sketch and looked it over as Smith finished his blackout explanation. "With all that heat," I said, "it's hardly possible the things could be piloted-unless, of course, they're creatures who can withstand extreme heat as well as the high gs." "I agree," said Smith. "If they were human-like beings, they'd have to avoid operations that would cause such heat and high g-forces. The cabin would need to be heavily insulated. They might also have special cooling systems, perhaps a nonconducting gas in hollow compartment-walls. But I think most if not all of the disc-type saucers are under remote-control." We had already covered some of the reconnaissance angles. Smith agreed with me that some of the discs undoubtedly carried television scanners and cameras. Others, he thought, would be equipped with devices like our tape recorders, to pick up broadcasts and code messages for later analysis aboard the mother ship. Though he admitted it was pure speculation, Smith also had sketched his ideas of how discs could be berthed on the larger craft. Each mother ship could have small cup-shaped niches in its sides, into which the disc turrets would fit, with the rest of the saucers lying flat against the parent ship's side. If the turrets retracted, it would be even simpler for the discs to attach themselves to the larger craft. They might be held in place magnetically, or by some mechanical lock. Another angle which Smith had covered was the operating steps. To take off, he said, the revolving section would be rotated until the resultant cutting of magnetic fields caused sufficient upward thrust. Since less resistance would be encountered in edgewise flight, this was obviously the reason for the discs' tilting up at steep angles, during swift climbs. The actual control was one point which puzzled me, and I asked Smith about it now. "Even if they're remote-controlled from the mother ship," I said, "it must take some kind of robot to calculate all the forces: ' "No doubt of it," Smith answered. "They probably use an automatic device which constantly analyzes the magnetic fields through which a disc is travelling. This robot would be in the disc itself-even if it were manned. I think it must be linked with the controls, so that it instantly changes the disc position, and the speed of rotation if necessary, to compensate for magnetic field variations. And the same would apply for manoeuvres. For turns, climbs, hovering, and other manoeuvres, the operator would have a series of push buttons- whether he was aboard the disc or on the parent ship. When he pushed a button for a turn, or to speed up, the robot would do the rest." Another thing I had wondered about was the oscillation or flitting motion so frequently reported. "They seem to waver before making a turn or climbing, I said to Smith. Some pilots say they've seen the discs oscillate even in straight flight." "That's to be expected," he told me. "Let's say a master- control button was pushed for a turn. There'd probably be a split-second delay while the robot-analyzer checked the resultant forces needed, then it would move the controls. This accounts for oscillation before any sudden change such as a steep climb or a sharp turn.

"In straight flight, oscillation would be caused by the disc s adjustment to changing magnetic fields. In a formation, you'll sometimes see individual saucers wobble in succession as they pass through Different fields."

He looked at me quizzically as I glanced at my notes.

"I see you still have some doubts about electromagnetic propulsion." "No, I think you're right. Some of the points are hard to grasp, that's all." "When we do get all the answers," Smith said soberly, "it will be a tremendous thing-and we'd better get them before Russia does. Magnetically powered discs would be terrible weapons. Their range would be unlimited, and their speeds would be far beyond anything we've even dared hope for. They'd make perfect guided missiles, and they could easily carry A-bomb warheads-perhaps even the H bomb, when we get it." "And their being silent would make it even worse," I added. "You'd never hear them until they hit." "Well, of course, that applies to even slower missiles," said Smith. "The people in London never heard the V-2s before they struck." "Incidentally," I said, "that was the last question on my list. I don't understand why the saucers have never been heard, even at fairly low altitudes." "A few people have reported hearing them," answered Smith. "But most sightings, I think, have been at altitudes higher than witnesses thought-so high that you wouldn't hear anything. In two or three cases, when discs passed overhead at a moderately low altitude, people have said they heard a swish. And of course if you were very near a saucer on the ground, or if it was hovering close to the earth, you'd undoubtedly hear a humming sound from the rotation. That is, unless other sounds-like a train passing by-drowned it out." This was our last meeting before Smith left for Ottawa. It was two months after this when he sent back the revised version of the article I'd written. It had been intended for early publication, but was held up to include details of the Canadian disc experiments. Later in '51, Smith told me they had made laboratory tests with a rotating disc, but by that time Project Magnet had been classified. I decided to wait a while longer, hoping that the details, and pictures of the disc, would be released. But Smith had been unable to clear them, and the article had remained unpublished. Now, as I read over the material, in December of '52, Smith's earlier explanations seemed almost uncanny in light of the recent sighting reports. For a careful check I went through my entire file of sightings. There were several which described the red-green- yellow-blue combination indicating a saucer's corona discharge at high altitudes. The most outstanding case was at Phoenix, where hundreds of people had seen the so-called "jewel box" saucer. In sightings at lower altitudes, case after case bore out Smith's explanations. During daytime periods, scores of metallic-looking discs had been seen to change colour during manoeuvres. One typical report, in 1950, described an encounter near Lewisburg, West Virginia. Two round, silvery devices had approached the city, then had swung into tight, fast circles. As the manoeuvres began, both discs turned orange-red. When they straightened out, reducing speed, the orange hue quickly faded and the discs resumed their normal silvery colour.

In detailed night reports, too, observers' descriptions backed up Smith's analysis. One carefully reported encounter, which I had personally investigated, was the dramatic incident near South Bend, on the night of April 27, 1950. Because of this check-up, I was able to get the passengers' stories as well as the crew's account.

At 8:25 P.M., a Trans World Airlines DC-3 was droning westward over Goshen, Indiana. In the left-hand seat, handling the controls, was Captain Robert Adickes, a stocky ex-Navy pilot with ten years' service in TWA. Over on his right was Robert F. Manning, also a four-stripe captain, who was acting as first officer on this flight to Chicago.

The DC-3, Flight 117, was cruising at 2000 feet when a strange red light below and behind the airliner suddenly caught Manning's eye. Moving swiftly, it climbed up on the right, overtaking the plane.

Puzzled, Manning watched it close in. This was no wingtip light - the red light was too bright. The DC-3 was cruising at 175 m.p.h., but the mysterious object overtook it rapidly, the light steadily growing in size. It was now an orange-red color, like a round blob of hot metal sweeping through the night sky. Craning his neck, Manning looked down on a spherical shape which glowed brightly on top, its lower half in shadow.

Look over here, he said to Adickes. What do you make of this ?

Adickes stared down through the starboard window, then told Manning to crank it open to make sure it was not some freak reflection. The saucer was still visible, now almost at the airliner's level. Over the top, the pilots could see scattered ground lights, cars moving on a highway. Adickes hastily called Air Traffic Control, but ATC had no record of any craft near their ship.

By this time the saucer was parallel with the DC-3. As they watched, it slowed down, keeping pace with the plane. To Adickes it looked like a huge red wheel rolling down a road. He banked toward it, but the disc instantly slid away, keeping the same distance. Again he tried, with the same result.

Calling the hostess, Gloria Hinshaw, Adickes told her to alert the passengers. To make sure he had plenty of witnesses, he went back into the cabin, watching the passengers' reaction. When he returned to the cockpit, he tried once more to bank in for a closer look. When the disc again slid away, he cut in sharply, at full throttle, for a direct chase.

Instantly the glowing disc dived, racing off to the north past South Bend. Adickes estimated its speed at nearly 400 miles an hour. Since it had been pacing the airliner at 175 m.p.h., this meant it had doubled its speed in about three seconds. For a few minutes more the weird light remained visible - a diminishing bright red spot. Then it faded into the darkness.

Before meeting the two pilots, I checked on them with TWA.

Quiet . . . conservative . . . serious . . . careful, were the reports on both men. Nobody in TWA questioned that Adickes and Manning saw exactly what they described.

Captain Manning, the first one I saw, was an ex-Air Force pilot. He had flown six years for TWA, and his flight time was over 6,000 hours.

When he first saw the saucer, Manning said, it seemed a brighter color than when it flew alongside. Apparently the reduction in power as it slowed to pace the DC-3 decreased the heating effect. He also agreed that the device had evaded attempts to get near it.

It was like flying formation with another plane. The thing seemed to slide away when we turned toward it.

How large do you think it was ? I asked.

That's hard to say, because we could only guess at its distance, said Manning. But it had to be fairly large. When I first saw it, the thing was near the horizon, perhaps ten miles away. Even then it was big enough to stand out.

He quietly spiked the idea that the saucer had been a jet plane's tail pipe.

I've seen jets at night. If you're directly behind one, you see a round red spot. But this was huge in comparison. Beside, I saw it coming up from behind us - a jet's exhaust would be invisible from that angle. You wouldn't see much from the side, either.

Manning wouldn't speculate as to what the machine was.

All I can say is that it definitely was there. And it was uncanny enough to startle anyone first seeing it.

Captain Adickes agreed with Manning on all the main points.

Before then, I wasn't convinced by the saucer reports. Now I know they do exist. One thing, it wasn't cherry-red, as some papers said. It was about the color of hot metal.

Beside trying to close in on the saucer, Adickes also had attempted to get above it.

Each time it veered away, as if it were controlled by repulse radar. And when I went straight after it, the thing was off in a flash. Manning and I estimated its diameter at 50 feet or more. When I tried to cut in toward it, it streaked away at twice our speed, but even then it took several minutes to fade out. So it had to be fairly big - maybe a lot larger than 50 feet.

As it speeded up to escape, Adickes said, he caught an edge-on glimpse of the saucer. It seemed to be about one tenth as big as its diameter. Though he couldn't be sure of its distance, while it was pacing the airliner, Adickes believed it was at least half a mile away. It had not been close enough to affect his instruments or radio.

Hostess Gloria Hinshaw had seen the disc from both the cabin and the darkened cockpit.

It looked like a big red wheel rolling along, she told me. It was certainly a strange-looking thing. If I hadn't seen it, I don't think I'd have believed the pilots.

Later, by long-distance calls, I interviewed 11 passengers. The first was S. N. Miller, manager of a jewelry company in St. Paul. He had watched the saucer, he said, for several minutes.

"The thing was the color of a neon sign - just a big red disc. I used to laugh at saucer stories -but not any more.

Among other passengers who confirmed the sighting were C. H. Jenkins and D. C. Bourland, engineers with the Boeing Aircraft Company, and E. J. Fitzgerald, vice-president of a metal equipment corporation in Chicago. Later several officials of the International Harvester Company also admitted they had seen the glowing disc as it paced their plane.

Though there were some variations in the passengers reports, most of them were minor differences - estimates of size, distance, and speed. Their combined testimony left no doubt that some kind of controlled machine, a type unknown to the pilots and the Boeing experts, had been flown near the airliner for a careful observation.

As I read the details again, I checked them against Smith's explanations. The pattern fitted perfectly.

The more recent cases, too, seemed to rove that the discs were magnetically powered. One report, cleared to me by ATIC, described an unusual sighting by four astronomers at Greenville, South Carolina. On the night of May 13,1952, the astronomers had seen four saucers flying in a diamond-shaped formation. Glowing a reddish yellow, the machines passed silently overhead, wobbling several times before they went out of sight. All four saucers, the astronomers agreed, had an oval shape, like that of a disc flying on its side.

Several other Intelligence reports, from Goose Bay Air Force Base, gave similar evidence from pilots and ground men. The first was the sighting on June 19,1952, when a glowing red disc approached the field at night. As already described ( in Chapter IV ) the machine wobbled a moment, then turned white and climbed out of sight at high speed. On November 26 an F-94 pilot chased another disc several miles from the Labrador base. As it turned and climbed, the saucer's colour changed from bright red to white. On December 15 he saw a second disc and tracked it on his radar. Again, he watched the colour change from red to white, when the saucer swiftly manoeuvred. The colour changes were also seen by a T-33 jet pilot. In the Pan American-Norfolk case, every point seemed to fit Smith's answer-the brief fading of the orange-red glow, as the discs slowed; the quick flipping on edge before the turn; their brightening glow as they speeded up. But 7the clincher, to me, was an incident at Camp Drum, on September 22,1952. For 30 minutes that night the duty officer and several soldiers watched a round, orange-red object circle above the camp. At least three times they heard what they later described as "the whine of a generator or rotating discs." During its half-hour observation of the camp, the strange machine hovered, accelerated for swift climbs, and descended again. Part of the time it was apparently operating at a very low altitude, for the humming sound was distinctly heard on the ground. Though it still wasn't absolute proof, it looked as if Smith had been right from the start. If so, we now knew what the saucers were like, and how they were operated. But where did they come from? What kind of beings controlled them? And most important of all:

Why were, they watching this planet?

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