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Four Army Air Corps officers at Maxwell Air Base they had watched a strangely maneuvering light over the base at 9:20 p.m. CST. Captain William H. Kayko, Captain John H. Cantrell, First Lt. Theodore Dewey, and a Captain Redman, watched the bright light for 25 minutes. It was first seen to the west, close to the horizon, in the clear moonlight. It approached the observers in a jagged, zigzagging course, with frequent bursts of speed. In five minutes the light had approached to a point directly overhead, and the four officers reported that it then made a sharp, sudden turn toward the south, moving slowly southwest, where the witnesses lost sight of it at 9:45 p.m. They heard no noise. The report, from the Air Force files, is explained as a "balloon."
A Colorado Springs Air Base pilot, who did not want his name to be quoted, reported that he had seen a disc-shaped object near the field after he had completed a flight late in the afternoon. The pilot said that after he landed, while standing next to his craft, he glanced toward the east and saw a disc, "about the size of a dime" and about the same shape, making a rapid ascent into the sky. He said that the disc must have been extremely large, for it disappeared into clouds that were later estimated to be about 20 miles distant. He turned to several other pilots standing nearby to call their attention to it, but when he looked back, the disc was no longer visible. The ceiling was estimated to be at 20,000 feet at the time the disc vanished into the clouds. No official report seems to have been made.
Home on leave from Hamilton Air Base, Sgt. Charles R. Sigala reported in San Jose that at 11:00 a.m. PST, he and his wife, with his mother-in-law and a neighbor, saw a silvery, disc-shaped object fly over his Mountain View home, at the southern end of the Bay area. The object, at an estimated altitude of 5,000 feet, was clearly visible to the witnesses as it circled over Black Mountain, the tallest, peak in the Monte Bello range, five miles southwest of Mountain View. It "dipped several times," and then headed westward toward the sea, Sigala reported. He said that the object appeared to be about "as big as an automobile," and made no noise.
Army Air Corps pilot Captain James H. Burniston, and his wife, were in the yard of their home near the Base when they saw a "round, flat object" flying at an "excessive rate of speed" from the northwest to the southeast. The object "reflected the sun strongly" from its surface, according to Burniston, and in its passage across three-quarters of the sky it was seen to roll from side to side three tines on its lateral axis. Burniston and his wife reported that they could see no wings or fuselage, and the object was estimated to be about the size of a C-54. It appeared to be flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet, the pilot said, and was in view for almost 60 seconds. This report is one of the Unidentified sightings in the Air Force files.
While no specific time is given for the Burnistons' sighting, there were reports of single objects seen around the Bay area all afternoon: about midday a Hamilton Air Base private named O'Hara saw a disc on his way to the mess hall (Case 422); Charles Butler and his son, at Mill Valley, saw a disc hurtle over Mount Tamalpais at 1:30 p.m. (Case 426); and several reports of single discs were made in San Francisco during the afternoon (Cases 419, 434, and 437).
Army Staff Sgt. Ira L. Livingston, of 1354 Meadow Lane, was finishing supper at 8:45 p.m. CST, when he was called outdoors by his neighbor, Mr. Herman H. Sockwell, of 1360 Meadow Lane. Outside, his neighbors were excitedly watching a strange aerial display. A procession of round objects, glowing dimly, were moving singly through the southern sky to the southeast, in what appeared to be an arc rather than a straight line.
As one would disappear from view, another would come in sight from the same direction as the previous ones. Livingston counted from seven to ten of them as they appeared, at an elevation he estimated was about 45 degrees. He put their height at 2,000 feet, and their speed at 500 or 600 miles an hour. He said they appeared to he about two feet in diameter, and were completely soundless.
In their account to the paper, Mr. and Mrs. Sockwell described the objects as "streaks of light flying very slow." Having heard radio broadcasts of flying saucers being seen over the city, Mrs. Sockwell had hurried outside to look for them. She was followed by her husband, and at least five neighbors, including Sgt. Livingston, gathered to watch the aerial procession. Mrs. Sockwell described having seen at least six of the discs flying "fairly low," and said they were "the size of a baseball," traveling in a "big curve from the southwest to the southeast." They came at intervals of one about every five seconds, she said.
Hundreds of others in and around Birmingham reported to police stations and newspapers that they had seen numerous objects between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. Among others reporting the "procession" were high school students Dan Smirl, of 1429 10th Place South, and Marvin Pharo, of 626 10th Avenue South, who said the objects were seen one at a time, increasing in number, and seemed to "go over the mountain" to the south (Case 494). A procession of numerous egg-shaped, fluorescent objects were seen flying "fairly low against the nearby mountain" for a period of more than half an hour by J. H. Chatham, a state mines inspector, and his neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hockings (Case 495). Saucer-like objects described as "about the size of an auto-tire" were seen by Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Martin and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Arnold, of 732 47th Way South, from the Arnold home during the evening (Case 496). Miss Connie Murdock, of 512 South 10th Court, said she saw nine luminous objects "like gobs of light moving around in the sky" (Case 497).
Numerous other reports of sightings were printed in the local papers, yet the Air Force file on Livingston's sighting gives no indication of the widespread nature of the phenomenon reported, or that it had been independently corroborated by many witnesses. The official explanation for Livingston's sighting is "fireworks."
Three Lowry Field soldiers, one a former aerial combat gunner, reported they saw an object flying near the Field at 7:45 a.m. MST. Technical Sgt. John Todd, Technical Sgt. Richard S. Walker, and corporal Bernade Sanchez, were all attached to Squadron I, Military Police, at Lowry Field. They first saw the object over the eastern section of the Field, near Guardhouse No. 2, where they were going on duty. "At first," reported Walker, "it looked like sunlight reflecting from an airplane." Sanchez obtained a pair of binoculars from the guardhouse, and all three men observed the object with the aid of the glasses. Several other M.P.'s joined them.
"It appeared to be traveling at about the cruising speed of an AT-6" (120 to 150 miles an hour), Sgt. Walker said. "It was just a bright spot and seemed the size of a dishpan. It made no noise. It circled to the south, back to the north, and then went out of sight to the east," he reported. Sgt. Todd agreed with Walker's description. "Although I have never seen anything like it, I believe, because of the way it looked and the fact that it made no sound, that it was a reflection from something on the ground -- something like the windshield of an automobile," Walker explained. Todd and Sanchez both agreed with this explanation. No official report was made out.
The first of three UFO sightings at this base was made about 9:30 a.m. PST by First Lt. Joseph C. McHenry, billeting officer at the Base. As he was walking toward his office he spotted two disc or sphere-shaped objects moving northward toward the Mojave Desert, and he called them to the attention of Staff Sgt. Gerald F. Newman, Technical Sgt. Joseph Ruvolo and Miss Jeanette Marie Scott, an office stenographer. McHenry said the objects, silver in color, were moving against the prevailing wind at a speed estimated to be 300 miles an hour, in straight, level flight. They appeared to be about 8,000 feet high. Three other persons were hailed, but by the time they had responded the objects were rapidly disappearing into the distance. A third object, however, came into view at about the same time, from the same direction as the first two; similar in appearance to the other objects, this one performed tight circles as it sped northward. Five out of the seven witnesses saw this object before it too disappeared. The Air Force explanation for these objects is "balloons."
The second sighting of the day at Muroc occurred about forty minutes later, and was made by test pilot, Major J. C. Wise. As he prepared to take off in an XP-84 for a test run of the new fighter plane, he glanced toward the north and saw what he first thought was a weather balloon, flying in an east-to-west direction. Taking note of the prevailing wind, he found that this object would have had to be flying into the face of it; its forward speed was 200 to 225 miles an hour, far too great for a balloon even if the wind had been in the right direction. He described the color of the object as yellow-white and its shape as spherical. Judging its size to be about that of a normal aircraft, or about 50 feet in diameter, its altitude was estimated as 10,000 to 12,000 feet. It oscillated with a forward, whirling motion as it proceeded westward. According to the Air Force, this also was a "balloon."
The third Muroc sighting took place just before noon. A group of officers and technicians were assembled in Area Two at Rogers Dry Lake, east of Muroc, watching several aircraft prepare to carry out a seat-ejection experiment. As they watched their attentions were drawn to a peculiar object in the north.
Major Richard R. Shoop, of the Office of Technical Engineering at Muroc, reported later that his attention was called to the object by Colonel Signa A. Gilkey, another observer. In his report, Major Shoop said the thin, metallic object he saw was moving in a northerly direction at a distance he estimated to be from five to eight miles off. It was seen first high up, moving slowly in an oscillating fashion, and appeared to be about the size of a pursuit plane. It was then seen descending almost to the ground, but rose slightly before it was lost to view in the distance toward the mountains in the northwest. The object was of a shiny, aluminum color and its speed was slow, only about three times the rate of descent of the test parachute from the seat ejection experiment, which took place a short time after the object was first seen. Shoop said the observation lasted about eight minutes.
Another witness, test pilot Captain John Paul Stapp, said that at 11:50 a.m., he saw a silvery object, resembling "a parachute canopy" when first observed, traveling somewhat north of due west. As the object slowly descended, presenting a lateral view, it gradually changed its shape from hemispheric to oval, and two "knobs" or "fins" appeared at the top, crossing each other slowly and giving the impression of a slow rotation, or oscillation. It seemed to be flying more slowly than a conventional aircraft as it descended from an estimated altitude of 20,000 feet. Its diameter appeared to be approximately 50 feet. It descended toward the mountaintops to the northwest and was lost to view after approximately 90 seconds. No sound was heard. No vapor trails were seen, nor any visible means of propulsion.
Of the five men assembled to watch the seat ejection experiment, four had observed the strange object. In a collective report, all of the witnesses agreed that the object appeared "man-made, as evidenced by the outline and functional appearance" they had observed. Again, the Air Force explanation was "balloon."
Following a talk Dr. McDonald gave in Las Vegas, Nevada, in May, 1967, a man came up to him and said he knew one of the witnesses who had been involved in the Muroc sightings in 1947. He identified the witness as Oliver Earl Cooper. In August, Dr. McDonald was able to get in touch with Cooper, and it appears that Earl Cooper was the fourth observer referred to in the final sighting at Muroc on July 8, 1947. (His name was not mentioned specifically in the Air Force files.)
As Cooper recalled the incident for McDonald, he was with a group of four or five people on the west side of Rogers Dry Lake, near Area One (note discrepancy). They were at the east end of a 10,000-foot runway, looking east, with the runway to their backs. He couldn't recall what test was being carried out, but thought it was a fuel test involving the XP-84. He recalled that a pilot had been one of the group (Stapp).
It was a hot, clear day. The object was first seen at about 20 to 25 degrees elevation to the east. According to Cooper's recollection, 20 years later, it was moving in a generally southerly direction -- possibly east southeast (approximately 180 degrees off from the directions listed in the contemporary report). He stated that everyone had looked up, but, that no one would say anything about it until it was noticed that the others were also observing it. He told McDonald that as the object moved south it stopped, then moved again before it disappeared. It moved in a horizontal path and Cooper recalled no irregularity of motion. He described the speed as not terribly fast -- his impression was perhaps ten miles an hour. He had a vague recollection of its moving a bit from side to side at times, but not fluttering -- just veering somewhat sinuously. He estimated he watched it for four or five minutes.
He described the shape of the object as elliptical, somewhat rounded; its color was off-white, with no glinting from the sun. The altitude was approximately 10,000 feet. Toward the end of the sighting he recalled the object as having accelerated somewhat before disappearing. He did not recall any other reports from Muroc that day, but he may have never had occasion to hear of them. He said that all of his group were asked to make statements on the sighting later. He did not recall the seat-ejection experiment, although his recollection about this point twenty years later can be expected to he vague, as well as for other finer details.
He told McDonald that later the sighting was explained to them as possibly a weather balloon. They were told that it changed apparent size because of "atmospheric conditions." Apparently no explanation was given for the balloons to have been able to fly into the face of the wind.
Captain William H. Ryherd reported that he had sighted two objects near Hamilton Field at 2:50 p.m. PST. They were traveling at high speed, one after the other, on a course to the south southwest. The first object proceeded in straight level flight while the second followed in what Ryherd described as a "guard'' formation, swinging alternately from the right to the left. This sighting is among those Unidentified in the Air Force files.
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