L'Ere de confusion commence

Le mardi 23 septembre 1947, le directeur du Centre de Renseignement Technique de l'Air, une des unités de renseignement les plus hautement spécialisées de l'Air Force, envoya une lettre au général commandant de ce qui était alors les Forces Aériennes Armées. La lettre était en réponse à la requête verbale du général commandant de faire une étude préliminaire des signalements d'objets volants non identifiés. La lettre disait qu'après une étude préliminaire des rapports d'ovnis, l'ATIC concluait que, pour citer la lettre, les phénomènes signalés étaient réels. La lettre incitait fortement à ce qu'un projet permanent soit établi à l'ATIC pour enquêter et analyser les signalements d'ovnis à venir. Elle demandait une priorité pour le projet, un nom de code répertorié, et une classification de sécurité de l'ensemble. La demande de l'ATIC fut accordée et le Projet Sign, the précurseur des projets Grudge et Blue Book, fut lancé. Il reçut une priorité 2A, 1A étant la priorité la plus haute que puisse avoir un projet de l'Air Force. Avec cela l'Air Force plongea dans la controverse la plus grande et la plus prolongée qu'elle ait jamais rencontrée. L'Air Force attrapa l'ours proverbial par la queue et à ce jour elle n'est pas parvenue à la lâcher.

La lettre au Général Commandant des Forces Aériennes de l'Armée du chef de l'ATIC a utilisé le mot phénomène. L'histoire a montré que ce n'était pas un mot très bien choisi. Mais le mardi 23 septembre 1947, lorsque la lettre a été écrite, les spécialistes du renseignement de l'ATIC ne doutaient pas qu'en quelques mois ou 1 année ils auraient la réponse à la question, Que sont les ovnis ? La question, Les ovnis existent-ils ? ne fut jamais mentionnée. Le seul problème auquel lesgens de l'ATIC étaient confrontés était, Les ovnis étaient-ils d'origine russe ou interplanétaire ? Un cas ou l'autre nécessitait un projet sérieux, entouré de secret. Seuls les gens de plus haut niveau à l'ATIC furent affectés au Projet Sign.

Bien qu'un projet formel d'enquête sur les ovnis n'ait pas été mis en place avant mardi 23 septembre 1947, l'Air Force a été extrèmement intéressée par les signalements d'ovnis à partir du vendredi 24 juin, le jour où Kenneth Arnold fit le signalement d'ovni originel.

L'histoire par Arnold de ce qu'il vit ce jour-là ayant été prise en main par les bardes du soucoupisme, les véritables faits ont été déformés, tordus et changés. Même certains points du propre récit de son observation par Arnold tels que publiés dans son livre, The Coming Of The Saucers, ne sont pas en accord avec ce que les dossiers officiels disent qu'il a dit à l'Air Force en mardi 24 juin 1947. Cet incident ayant été l'observation d'ovni d'origine, j'avais l'habitude de recevoir de nombreuses demandes à son sujet de la part de la presse et aux réunions d'information. Afin d'obtenir la véritable et exacte histoire de ce qui arriva à Kenneth Arnold le mardi 24 juin 1947, je dus me replonger dans les vieilles archives de journaux, les rapports officiels et discuter avec les gens qui avaient travaillé sur le projet Sign. En recoupant ces données et discutant avec les gens qui avaient entendu Arnold parler de son observation d'ovni peu après qu'elle soit arrivée, je finis par revenir avec ce que je crois être l'histoire exacte.

Arnold avait décollé de Chehalis, dans l'état de Washington, avec l'intention de voler vers Yakima, toujours dans l'état de Washington. Vers 15:00 il arriva aux environs du Mont Rainier. Il y avait un avion de transport C-46 du Corps des Marines perdu dans la zone du Mont Rainier, et Arnold avait donc décidé de voler alentours un moment pour le rechercher. Il regardait en bas vers le sol lorsqu'il remarqua soudain une série d'éclairs lumineux au loin à sa gauche. Il chercha la source de ces éclairs et vit une chaîne de 9 objets très brillants en forme de disques, qu'il estima faire entre 45 et 50 pieds de longueur. Ils voyageaient du nord vers le sud devant le nez de son avion. Ils volaient en échelon inversé (i.e., l'objet meneur en haut avec les reste descendant de niveaux) et alors qu'ils volaient tout du long ils ondulaient à l'intérieur et l'extérieur des pics de la montagne, passant une fois derrière l'un des pics. Chaque objet individuel avait un mouvement de saut décrit par Arnold comme une soucoupe sautant sur l'eau.

Pendant que les objets étaient en vue, Arnold had clocked their speed. He had marked his position and their position on the map and again noted the time. When he landed he sketched in the flight path that the objects had flown and computed their speed, almost 1,700 miles per hour. He estimated that they had been 20 to 25 miles away and had traveled 47 miles in 102 seconds.

I found that there was a lot of speculation on this report. Two factions at ATIC had joined up behind two lines of reasoning. One side said that Arnold had seen plain, everyday jet airplanes flying in formation. This side's argument was based on the physical limitations of the human eye, visual acuity, the eye's ability to see a small, distant object. Tests, they showed, had proved that a person with normal vision can't "see" an object that subtends an angle of less than 0.2 second of arc. For example, a basketball can't be seen at a distance of several miles but if you move the basketball closer and closer, at some point you will be able to see it. At this point the angle between the top and bottom of the ball and your eye will be about 0.2 of a second of arc. This was applied to Arnold's sighting. The "Arnold-saw-airplanes" faction maintained that since Arnold said that the objects were 45 to 50 feet long they would have had to be much closer than he had estimated or he couldn't even have seen them at all. Since they were much closer than he estimated, Arnold's timed speed was all wrong and instead of going 1,700 miles per hour the objects were traveling at a speed closer to 400 miles per hour, the speed of a jet. There was no reason to believe they weren't jets. The jets appeared to have a skipping motion because Arnold had looked at them through layers of warm and cold air, like heat waves coming from a hot pavement that cause an object to shimmer.

The other side didn't buy this idea at all. They based their argument on the fact that Arnold knew where the objects were when he timed them. After all, he was an old mountain pilot and was as familiar with the area around the Cascade Mountains as he was with his own living room. To cinch this point the fact that the objects had passed behind a mountain peak was brought up. This positively established the distance the objects were from Arnold and confirmed his calculated 1,700-miles-per-hour speed. Besides, no airplane can weave in and out between mountain peaks in the short time that Arnold was watching them. The visual acuity factor only strengthened the "Arnold-saw-a-flying-saucer" faction's theory that what he'd seen was a spaceship. If he could see the objects 20 to 25 miles away, they must have been about 210 feet long instead of the poorly estimated 45 to 50 feet.

In 1947 this was a fantastic story, but now it is just another UFO report marked "Unknown." It is typical in that if the facts are accurate, if Arnold actually did see the UFO's go behind a mountain peak, and if he knew his exact position at the time, the UFO problem cannot be lightly sloughed off; but there are always "ifs" in UFO reports. This is the type of report that led Major General John A. Samford, Director of Intelligence for Headquarters, Air Force, to make the following comment during a press conference in July 1952: "However, there have remained a percentage of this total [of all UFO reports received by the Air Force], about 20 per cent of the reports, that have come from credible observers of relatively incredible things. We keep on being concerned about them."

In warping, twisting, and changing the Arnold incident, the writers of saucer lore haven't been content to confine themselves to the incident itself; they have dragged in the crashed Marine Corps' C-46. They intimate that the same flying saucers that Arnold saw shot down the C-46, grabbed up the bodies of the passengers and crew, and now have them pickled at the University of Venus Medical School. As proof they apply the same illogical reasoning that they apply to most everything. The military never released photos of the bodies of the dead men, therefore there were no bodies. There were photographs and there were bodies. In consideration of the families of air crewmen and passengers, photos of air crashes showing dead bodies are never released.

Arnold himself seems to be the reason for a lot of the excitement that heralded flying saucers. Stories of odd incidents that occur in this world are continually being reported by newspapers, but never on the scale of the first UFO report. Occasional stories of the "Himalayan snowmen," or the "Malayan monsters," rate only a few inches or a column on the back pages of newspapers. Arnold's story, if it didn't make the headlines, at least made the front page. I had the reason for this explained to me one day when I was investigating a series of UFO reports in California in the spring of 1952.

I was making my headquarters at an air base where a fighter bomber wing was stationed. Through a mutual friend I met one of the fighter- bomber pilots who had known Arnold. In civilian life the pilot was a news paper reporter and had worked on the original Arnold story. Il me dit que lorsque l'histoire first broke all the newspaper editors in the area were thoroughly convinced that the incident was a hoax, and that they intended to write the story as such. The more they dug into the facts, however, and into Arnold's reputation, the more it appeared that he was telling the truth. Besides having an unquestionable character, he was an excellent mountain pilot, and mountain pilots are a breed of men who know every nook and cranny of the mountains in their area. The most fantastic part of Arnold's story had been the 1,700-miles-per-hour speed computed from Arnold's timing the objects between two landmarks. "When Arnold told us how he computed the speed," my chance acquaintance told me, "we all put a lot of faith in his story." He went on to say that when the editors found out that they were wrong about the hoax, they did a complete about-face, and were very much impressed by the story. This enthusiasm spread, and since the Air Force so quickly denied ownership of the objects, all of the facts built up into a story so unique that papers all over the world gave it front-page space.

Il y avait une vieille théorie selon laquelle Arnold avait peut-être vu le vent fouettant la neige le long des crêtes de la montagne, so I asked about this. I got a flat "Impossible." My expert on the early Arnold era said, "I've lived in the Pacific Northwest many years and have flown in the area for hundreds of hours. It's impossible to get powder snow low in the mountains in June. Personally, I believe Arnold saw some kind of aircraft and they weren't from this earth." He went on to tell me about two other very similar sightings that had happened the day after Arnold saw the nine disks. He knew the people who made these sightings and said that they weren't the kind to go off "half cocked." He offered to get a T-6 and fly me up to Boise to talk to them since they had never made a report to the military, but I had to return to Dayton so I declined.

Within a few days of Arnold's sighting, others began to come m. On June 28 an Air Force pilot in an F-51 was flying near Lake Mead, Nevada, when he saw a formation of five or six circular objects off his right wing. Tiiis was about three fifteen in the afternoon.

That night at nine twenty, four Air Force officers, two pilots, and two intelligence officers from Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama, saw a bright light traveling across the sky. It was first seen just above the horizon, and as it traveled toward the observers it "zigzagged," with bursts of high speed. When it was directly overhead it made a sharp 90 degree turn and was lost from view as it traveled south.

Other reports came in. In Milwaukee a lady saw ten go over her house "like blue blazes," heading south. A school bus driver in Clarion, Iowa, saw an object streak across the sky. In a few seconds twelve more followed the first one. White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico chalked up the first of the many sightings that this location would produce when several people riding in an automobile saw a pulsating light travel from horizon to horizon in thirty seconds. A Chicago housewife saw one "with legs."

The week of July 4, 1947, set a record for reports that was not broken until 1952. The center of activity was the Portland, Oregon, area. At 11 h 00 a carload of people driving near Redmond saw four disk- shaped objects streaking past Mount Jefferson. A 13 h 05 a policeman was in the parking lot behind the Portland City Police Headquarters when he noticed some pigeons suddenly began to flutter around as if they were scared. He looked up and saw 5 large disk shaped objects, two going south and 3 going east. They were traveling at a high rate of speed and seemed to be oscillating about their lateral axis. Minutes later 2 other policemen, both ex-pilots, reported 3 of the same things flying in trail. Before long the harbor patrol called into headquarters. A crew of 4 patrolmen had seen 3 to 6 of the disks, "shaped like chrome hub caps," traveling very fast. They also oscillated as they flew. Then the citizens of Portland began to see them. A man saw 1 going east and 2 going north. At four thirty a woman called in and had just seen one that looked like "a new dime flipping around." Another man reported two, one going southeast, one northeast. From Milwaukee, Oregon, 3 were reported going northwest. In Vancouver, Washington, sheriff's deputies saw twenty to thirty.

La 1ère photo fut prise le 4 juillet à Seattle. Après beaucoup de publicité elle se révéla être un ballon météo.

Cette nuit-là un équipage des United Airlines volant près de Emmett (Idaho), en vit 5. Le rapport du pilote indique :

5 "quelques choses," qui étaient fins et adoucis à la base et semblant rugueux au sommet, fut vus en silhouette devant le coucher du Soleil peu après que l'avion ait décollé de Boise à 20 h 04. Nous les avons vus clairement. Nous les avons suivis selon une direction nord-est pendant près de 45 miles. Ils finirent par disparaître. Nous avons été incapables de dire s'ils nous avaient semés ou s'ils s'étaient désintégrés. Nous ne pouvons dire whether they were "smear like," oval, ou quoi que ce soit d'autre mais quoi qu'ils étaient ils n'étaient pas des avions, nuages ou de la fumée.

Civilians did not have a corner on the market. On July 6 a staff sergeant in Birmingham, Alabama, saw several "dim, glowing lights" speeding across the sky and photographed one of them. Also on the sixth the crew of an Air Force B-25 saw a bright, disk shaped object "low at nine o'clock." This is one of the few reports of an object lower than the aircraft. At Fairfield-Suisun AFB in California a pilot saw something travel three quarters of the way across the sky in a few seconds. It, too, was oscillating on its lateral axis.

According to the old hands at ATIC, the first sighting that really made the Air Force take a deep interest in UFO's occurred on July 8 at Muroc Air Base (now Edwards AFB), the super secret Air Force test center in the Mojave Desert of California. At 10:10 A.M. a test pilot was running up the engine of the then new XP-84 in preparation for a test flight. He happened to look up and to the north he saw what first appeared to be a weather balloon traveling in a westerly direction. After watching it a few seconds, he changed his mind. He had been briefed on the high altitude winds, and the object he saw was going against the wind. Had it been the size of a normal aircraft, the test pilot estimated that it would have been at 10,000 to 12,000 feet and traveling 200 to 225 miles per hour. He described the object as being spherically shaped and yellowish white in color.

Ten minutes before this several other officers and airmen had seen three objects. They were similar except they had more of a silver color. They were also heading in a westerly direction.

Two hours later a crew of technicians on Rogers Dry Lake, adjacent to Muroc Air Base, observed another UFO. Their report went as follows:

On the 8 July 1947 at 11:50 we were sitting in an observation truck located in Area #3, Rogers Dry Lake. We were gazing upward toward a formation of two P-82's and an A-26 aircraft flying at 20,000 feet. They were preparing to carry out a seat ejection experiment. We observed a round object, white aluminum color, which at first resembled a parachute canopy. Our first impression was that a premature ejection of the seat and dummy had occurred but this was not the case. The object was lower than 20,000 feet, and was falling at three times the rate observed for the test parachute, which ejected thirty seconds after we first saw the object. As the object fell it drifted slightly north of due west against the prevailing wind. The speed, horizontal motion, could not be determined, but it appeared to be slower than the maximum velocity F-80 aircraft.

As this object descended through a low enough level to permit observation of its lateral silhouette, it presented a distinct oval shaped outline, with two projections on the upper surface which might have been thick fins or knobs. These crossed each other at intervals, suggesting either rotation or oscillation of slow type.

No smoke, flames, propeller arcs, engine noise, or other plausible or visible means of propulsion were noted. The color was silver, resembling an aluminum painted fabric, and did not appear as dense as a parachute canopy.

When the object dropped to a level such that it came into line of vision of the mountain tops, it was lost to the vision of the observers.
It is estimated that the object was in sight about 90 seconds. Of the five people sitting in the observation truck, four observed this object.
The following is our opinion about this object:
It was man-made, as evidenced by the outline and functional appearance.
Seeing this was not a hallucination or other fancies of sense.

Exactly four hours later the pilot of an F-51 was flying at 20,000 feet about 40 miles south of Muroc Air Base when he sighted a "flat object of a light reflecting nature." He reported that it had no vertical fin or wings. When he first saw it, the object was above him and he tried to climb up to it, but his F-51 would not climb high enough. All air bases in the area were contacted but they had no aircraft in the area.

By the end of July 1947 the UFO security lid was down tight. The few members of the press who did inquire about what the Air Force was doing got the same treatment that you would get today if you inquired about the number of thermonuclear weapons stock-piled in the U.S.'s atomic arsenal. No one, outside of a few high-ranking officers in the Pentagon, knew what the people in the barbed wire enclosed Quonset huts that housed the Air Technical Intelligence Center were thinking or doing.

The memos and correspondence that Project Blue Book inherited from the old UFO projects told the story of the early flying saucer era. These memos and pieces of correspondence showed that the UFO situation was considered to be serious; in fact, very serious. The paper work of that period also indicated the confusion that surrounded the investigation; confusion almost to the point of panic. The brass wanted an answer, quickly, and people were taking off in all directions. Everyone's theory was as good as the next and each person with any weight at ATIC was plugging and investigating his own theory. The ideas as to the origin of the UFO's fell into two main categories, earthly and non earthly. In the earthly category the Russians led, with the U.S. Navy and their XF-5-U-l, the "Flying Flapjack," pulling a not too close second. The desire to cover all leads was graphically pointed up to be a personal handwritten note I found in a file. It was from ATIC's chief to a civilian intelligence specialist. It said, "Are you positive that the Navy junked the XF-5-U-1 project?" The non earthly category ran the gamut of theories, with space animals trailing interplanetary craft about the same distance the Navy was behind the Russians.

This confused speculating lasted only a few weeks. Then the investigation narrowed down to the Soviets and took off on a much more methodical course of action.

When World War II ended, the Germans had several radical types of aircraft and guided missiles under development. The majority of these projects were in the most preliminary stages but they were the only known craft that could even approach the performance of the objects reported by UFO observers. Like the Allies, after World War II the Soviets had obtained complete sets of data on the latest German developments. This, coupled with rumors that the Soviets were frantically developing the German ideas, caused no small degree of alarm. As more UFO's were observed near the Air Force's Muroc Test Center, the Army's White Sands Proving Ground, and atomic bomb plants, ATIC's efforts became more concentrated.

Wires were sent to intelligence agents in Germany requesting that they find out exactly how much progress had been made on the various German projects.

The last possibility, of course, was that the Soviets had discovered some completely new aerodynamic concept that would give saucer performance.

While ATIC technical analysts were scouring the United States for data on the German projects and the intelligence agents in Germany were seeking out the data they had been asked for, UFO reports continued to flood the country. The Pacific Northwest still led with the most sightings, but every state in the Union was reporting a few flying saucers.

At first there was no co-ordinated effort to collect data on the UFO reports. Leads would come from radio reports or newspaper items. Military intelligence agencies outside of ATIC were hesitant to investigate on their own initiative because, as is so typical of the military, they lacked specific orders. When no orders were forthcoming, they took this to mean that the military had no interest in the UFO's. But before long this placid attitude changed, and changed drastically. Classified orders came down to investigate all UFO sightings. Get every detail and send it direct to ATIC at Wright Field. The order carried no explanation as to why the information was wanted. This lack of an explanation and the fact that the information was to be sent directly to a high-powered intelligence group within Air Force Headquarters stirred the imagination of every potential cloak- and- dagger man in the military intelligence system. Intelligence people in the field who had previously been free with opinions now clammed up tight.

La période de confusion progressait.

Les premières déclarations à la presse, qui formèrent l'opinion du public, ne réduisirent pas le facteur de confusion. Alors que l'ATIC consacrait un effort acharné et maximum dans une étude sérieuse, certains responsables haut placés se gaussaient officiellement à la mention des ovnis.

En le mois suivant une dépèche de l'International News Service cita l'officier de relations publiques de Wright Field disant, Jusqu'ici nous n'avons rien trouvé confirmant que les soucoupes existent. Nous ne pensons pas qu'il s'agit de missiles guidés. Il continua pour dire, Telles que sont les choses maintenant, elles semblent être soit un phénomène soit le fruit de l'imagination de quelqu'un.

Quelques semaines plus tard un lieutenant-colonel qui était Assistant du Chef d'Etat-Major de la 4ème Air Force fut largement cité disant, Il n'y a aucun fondement à croire qu'il y a des soucoupes volantes dans la région de Tacoma 1[faisant référence à une observation d'ovni dans la région de Tacoma, Washington], ou dans une quelconque autre zone.

Les "experts," dans leurs histoires de saucer lore, have said that these brush offs of the UFO sightings were intentional smoke screens to cover the facts by adding confusion. This is not true; it was merely a lack of coordination. But had the Air Force tried to throw up a screen of confusion, they couldn't have done a better job.

When the lieutenant colonel from the Fourth Air Force made his widely publicized denunciation of saucer believers he specifically mentioned a UFO report from the Tacoma, Washington, area.

Le rapport sur l'investigation de cet incident, le Mystère de l'Ile Maury, fut l'un des rapports les plus détaillés du début de l'ère des ovnis. Le rapport que nous avions dans nos dossiers avait été rassemblé par le Renseignement de l'Air Force et d'autres agences parce que les 2 officiers de renseignement qui avaient démarré l'enquête n'avaient pu la terminer. Ils étaient morts.

Pour l'Air Force l'histoire commença le dimanche 31, lorsque le lieutenant Frank Brown, un agent de renseignement de la base aérienne de Hamilton, en Californie, reçut un appel téléphonique longue distance. L'appelant était un homme que j'appelerai Simpson, qui avait rencontré Brown alors qu'il enquêtait sur une observation d'ovni antérieure, et il avait a hot lead sur un autre incident d'ovni. Il venait juste de parler à 2 gardes-côtes de Tacoma. Un d'entre eux avait vu 6 ovnis survoler son bateau de patrouille et répandre de gros morceaux d'un métal étrange. Simpson avait certains des morceaux de métal.

L'histoire sonnait trop bien pour le lieutenant Brown, et il la rapporta donc à son chef. Son chef accepta un voyage et en moins de 1 h le lieutenant Brown et le capitaine Davidson étaient dans un vol vers Tacoma dans un B-25 de l'Air Force. Lorsqu'ils arrivèrent ils rencontrèrent Simpson et de ses amis pilote de ligne dans la chambre d'hôtel de Simpson. Après le tour habituel des présentations Simpson dit à Brown et Davidson qu'il avait reçu une lettre d'un éditeur de Chicago lui demandant, lui Simpson, d'enquêter sur ce cas. L'éditeur l'avait payé 200 $ et voulait l'exclusivité de l'histoire, mais les choses devenaient trop chaudes, et Simpson voulaient que les militaires prennent la main.

Simpson continua pour dire qu'il avait entendu de l'événement au large de l'Ile Maury mais qu'il voulait que Brown et Davidson l'entendent d'eux-mêmes.

Il avait appelé les 2 gardes-côtes et ils étaient sur le chemin de l'hôtel. Ils arrivèrent et racontèrent leur histoire.

J'appelerai ces 2 hommes Jackson et Richards bien qu'il ne s'agisse pas de leurs véritables noms. En juin 1947, dit Jackson, son équipage, son fils et le chien de son fils se trouvaient sur son bateau de patrouille, patrouillant près de l'Ile Maury, une île dans Puget Sound, à environ 3 miles de Tacoma. C'était un jour gris, avec a solid cloud deck down à environ 2500 pieds. Suddenly everyone on the boat noticed six "doughnut shaped" objects, just under the clouds, headed toward the boat. They came closer and closer, and when they were about 500 feet over the boat they stopped. One of the doughnut shaped objects seemed to be in trouble as the other five were hovering around it. They were close, and everybody got a good look. The UFO's were about 100 feet in diameter, with the "hole in the doughnut" being about 25 feet in diameter. They were a silver color and made absolutely no noise. Each object had large portholes around the edge.

As the 5 UFO's circled the 6ème, Jackson recalled, one of them came in and appeared to make contact with the disabled craft. The two objects maintained contact for a few minutes, then began to separate. While this was going on, Jackson was taking photos. Just as they began to separate, there was a dull "thud" and the next second the UFO began to spew out sheets of very light metal from the hole in the center. As these were fluttering to the water, the UFO began to throw out a harder, rocklike material. Some of it landed on the beach of Maury Island. Jackson took his crew and headed toward the beach of Maury Island, but not before the boat was damaged, his son's arm had been injured, and the dog killed. As they reached the island they looked up and saw that the UFO's were leaving the area at high speed. The harbor patrolman went on to tell how he scooped up several chunks of the metal from the beach and boarded the patrol boat. He tried to use his radio to summon aid, but for some unusual reason the interference was so bad he couldn't even call the three miles to his headquarters in Tacoma. When they docked at Tacoma, Jackson got first aid for his son and then reported to his superior officer, Richards, who, Jackson added to his story, didn't believe the tale. He didn't believe it until he went out to the island himself and saw the metal.

Les problèmes de Jackson n'étaient pas terminés. La matin suivant un mystérieux visiteur dit à Jackson d'oublier ce qu'il avait vu.

Plus tard le même jour les photos furent développées. Elles montraient 6 objets, mais la pellicule était si salement spotted et fogged, comme si la pellicule avait été exposée à une sorte de radiation.

Then Simpson told about his brush with mysterious callers. He said that Jackson was not alone as far as mysterious callers were concerned, the Tacoma newspapers had been getting calls from an anonymous tipster telling exactly what was going on in Simpson's hotel room. This was a very curious situation because no one except Simpson, the airline pilot, and the two harbor patrolmen knew what was taking place. The room had even been thoroughly searched for hidden microphones.

That is the way the story stood a few hours after Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson arrived in Tacoma.

After asking Jackson and Richards a few questions, the two intelligence agents left, reluctant even to take any of the fragments. As some writers who have since written about this incident have said, Brown and Davidson seemed to be anxious to leave and afraid to touch the fragments of the UFO, as if they knew something more about them. Les 2 officers se rendirent à la base aérienne de McChord, près de Tacoma, où leur B-25 était garé, eurent une conférence avec l'officier de renseignement de McChord, et décollèrent pour rentrer à leur base, celle de Hamilton. Lorsqu'ils quittèrent McChord ils avaient une bonne idée de l'identité des ovnis. Heureusement ils dirent à l'officier de renseignement de McChord ce qu'ils avaient déterminé d'après leur interview.

En quelques heures les 2 officiers étaient morts. Le B-25 s'était écrasé près de Kelso, dans l'état de Washington. Le chef d'équipage et un passager avaient sauté en parachute pour se sauver. Les journaux laissèrent entendre que l'avion avait été saboté et qu'il transportait des éléments hautement classés. Les autorités de la base de McChord confirmèrent ce dernier point, l'avion transportait des éléments classés.

En quelques jours la publicité donnée au crash par les journaux retomba, et le Mystère de l'Ile Maury ne fut jamais publiquement résolu.

Des rapports ultérieurs disent que les 2 gardes-côtes disparûrent mstérieusement après le crash fatal.

Ils auraient dû disparaître, dans Puget Sound. Tout le Mystère de l'Ile Maury était un canular. Le 1er, peut-être le 2ème meilleur, et le plus sale canular de l'histoire des ovnis. Un passage dans le rapport officiel détaillé du Mystère de l'Ile Maury indique :

Tous les 2 ______ (les 2 gardes-côtes) admirent que les fragments de roche n'avaient rien à voir avec les soucoupes volantes. L'ensemble de la chose était un canular. Ils avaient envoyé les fragments de roche [à l'éditeur d'un magazine] comme une blague. ______ Un des patrouilleurs ______ [l'éditeur] déclarant que la roche pourrait provenir d'une soucoupe volante. Il dit que la roche venait d'une soucoupe volante parce que c'était ce que [l'éditeur] voulait qu'il dise.

L'éditeur, mentionné ci-dessus, qui, dit l'un des 2 auteurs du canular, voulait qu'il dise que les fragments de roche venaient d'une soucoupe volante, est le même qui paya 200 $ l'homme que j'appelle Simpson pour enquêteur sur le cas.

Le rapport continue en expliquant plus de détails sur l'incident. Aucun des 2 hommes ne put jamais produire les photos. Ils les avaient égarées, dirent-ils. Un d'entre eux, j'ai oublié lequel, était le mystérieux informateur qui appela les journaux pour signaler les conversations qui se déroulaient dans la chambre d'hôtel. Le mystérieux visiteur de Jackson n'existait pas. Aucun des hommes n'était garde-côtes ; ils possédaient simplement un couple de vieux bateaux beat-up qu'ils utilisaient pour récupérer le bois de charpente flottant de Puget Sound. Le crash de l'avion fut l'une de ces choses malheureuses. Un moteur pris feu, se consuma, et juste avant que les 2 pilotes puissent sortir, l'aile et la queue s'arrachèrent, les empêchant de s'échapper. Les 2 officiers morts de la base aérienne de Hamilton avaient senti le canular, expliquant leur courte interview et hésitation à se préoccuper de prendre les "fragments." Ils confirmèrent leurs convictions lorsqu'ils parlèrent à l'officier de renseignement de McChord. Il avait déjà été établi, par un informateur, que les fragments étaient de ce que pensaient Brown et Davidson, des scories. Les éléments classés sur le B-25 étaient un dossier de rapports que les 2 officiers avaient proposé de ramener à Hamilton et n'avaient rien à avoir avec le Mystère de l'Ile Maury, ou mieux, le canular de l'Ile Maury.

Simpson et son ami pilote de ligne ne furent pas informés du canular pour une raison. Dès qu'il fut découvert qu'ils avaient été "eus", et bien eus, et qu'ils ne faisaient pas partie du canular, personne ne voulu les embarrasser.

La majorité des auteurs of saucer lore have played this sighting to the hilt, pointing out as their main premise the fact that the story must be true because the government never openly exposed or prosecuted either of the two hoaxers. This is a logical premise, but a false one. The reason for the thorough investigation of the Maury Island Hoax was that the government had thought seriously of prosecuting the men. At the last minute it was decided, after talking to the 2 men, that the hoax was a harmless joke that had mushroomed, and that the loss of 2 lives and a B-25 could not be directly blamed on the 2 men. The story wasn't even printed because at the time of the incident, even though in this case the press knew about it, the facts were classed as evidence. By the time the facts were released they were yesterday's news. And nothing is deader than yesterday's news.

As 1947 drew to a close, the Air Force's Project Sign had outgrown its initial panic and had settled down to a routine operation. Every intelligence report dealing with the Germans' World War II aeronautical research had been studied to find out if the Russians could have developed any of the late German designs into flying saucers. Aerodynamicists at ATIC and at Wright Field's Aircraft Laboratory computed the maximum performance that could be expected from the German designs. The designers of the aircraft themselves were contacted. "Could the Russians develop a flying saucer from their designs?" The answer was, "No, there was no conceivable way any aircraft could perform that would match the reported maneuvers of the UFO's." The Air Force's Aeromedical Laboratory concurred. If the aircraft could be built, the human body couldn't stand the violent maneuvers that were reported. The aircraft structures people seconded this, no material known could stand the loads of the reported maneuvers and heat of the high speeds.

Still convinced that the UFO's were real objects, the people at ATIC began to change their thinking. Those who were convinced that the UFO's were of Soviet origin now began to eye outer space, not because there was any evidence that the UFO's did come from outer space but because they were convinced that UFO's existed and only some unknown race with a highly developed state of technology could build such vehicles. As far as the effect on the human body was concerned, why couldn't these people, whoever they might be, stand these horrible maneuver forces? Why judge them by earthly standards? I found a memo to this effect was in the old Project Sign files.

Le projet Sign finit jeudi 31 juillet 1947 avec un nouveau problème. Comment recueillez-vous du renseignement interplanétaire ? During World War II l'organisation that was ATIC's forerunner, le département secret "T-2" du Commandement du Matériel de l'Air avait développé des moyens particulièrement efficaces de wringing out every possible bit of information about the technical aspects of enemy aircraft. L'ATIC connaissait ces méthodes, mais comment cela pouvait-il être appliqués aux vaisseaux spatiaux ? The problem was tackled with organized confusion.

If the confusion in the minds of Air Force people was organized the confusion in the minds of the public was not. Publicized statements regarding the UFO were conflicting.

A widely printed newspaper release, quoting an unnamed Air Force official in the Pentagon, said:

Les "soucoupes volantes" sont l'une de ces 3 choses :

  1. Des reflets solaires sur des nuages bas.
  2. De petits météores se décomposant, leurs cristaux captant les rayons du soleil.
  3. Icing conditions could have formed large hailstones and they might have flattened out and glided.

A follow-up, which quoted several scientists, said in essence that the unnamed Air Force official was crazy. Nobody even heard of crystallized meteors, or huge, flat hailstones, and the solar reflection theory was absurd.

Life, Time, Newsweek, and many other news magazines carried articles about the UFO's. Some were written with tongue in cheek, others were not. All the articles mentioned the Air Force's mass hysterical induced hallucinations. But a Veterans' Administration psychiatrist publicly pooh-poohed this. "Too many people are seeing things," he said.

Il fut largement suggéré que tous les ovnis étaient des météores. 2 astronomes de Chicago queered this. Le Dr. Gerard Kuiper, directeur de l'observatoire de l'Université de Chicago, fut cité déclarant platement que les ovnis ne pouvaient être des météores. Ils sont probablement de fabrication humaine, dit-il à l'Associated Press. Le Dr. Oliver Lee, directeur de l'observatoire de l'Université Northwestern, était d'accord avec le Dr. Kuiper et ajouta un nouveau facteur de confusion qui était au fond de l'esprit de nombreux gens. Peut-être s'agissait-il de nos propres appareils.

Le gouvernement avait nié que les ovnis appartiennent aux U.S. depuis le début, mais le Dr. Vannevar Bush, le scientifique de réputation mondiale, et le Dr. Merle Tuve, inventeur du fusible de proximité, y ajoutèrent leur poids. Impossible, dirent-ils.

All of this time unnamed Air Force officials were disclaiming serious interest in the UFO subject. Yet every time a newspaper reporter went out to interview a person who had seen a UFO, intelligence agents had already been flown in, gotten the detailed story complete with sketches of the UFO, and sped back to their base to send the report to Project Sign. Many people had supposedly been "warned" not to talk too much. The Air Force was mighty interested in hallucinations.

Thus 1947 ended with various sized question marks in the mind of the public. If you followed flying saucers closely the question mark was big, if you just noted the UFO story titles in the papers it was smaller, but it was there and it was growing. Probably none of the people, military or civilian, who had made the public statements were at all qualified to do so but they had done it, their comments had been printed, and their comments had been read. Their comments formed the question mark.