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During the afternoon two independent reports of a disc-like object seen over the city were made, one by a sheriff's officer.
John Mourning, county night jailer, submitted an official report to the sheriff's office describing his observation of "a bright, shiny object coming from the west," and flying at an altitude above that of most planes. The object "appeared to be round," and had no wings or apparent means of propulsion. Mourning said he had heard no motor sound, and declared that "jet planes are very slow in comparison to what I saw."
David Allen, 18, reported that he, too, had seen an object during the afternoon. While he was washing windows in the downtown area, he saw something that "looked like a silver dollar, and was going very fast." His observation might be an independent verification of Mourning's report; had the reporter taken time to include some basic facts,such as the time of the sighting and the direction of the object, speculative assumptions about "possible verifications" would be unnecessary. (Allen's sighting is Case 119.)
Sergeant David Menary, of the State Highway Patrol, was driving onto the Golden Gate Bridge from the Lombard Street approach shortly after 2:15 p.m. PST, when he and passenger Walter Castro saw six small objects plummet down past the bridge and into the Bay.
"They were close together," Menary later reported, "about a foot apart. They were silver and shiny, about as big as a football but shaped round, like a basketball. They were falling, down, straight down, I couldn't estimate how fast. They fell into the Bay, east of the bridge. That's the last I saw of them." Castro, a San Rafael garage owner, confirmed Menary's description. Neither had any idea what they might be or where they may have come from.
Commenting on this report from his office in the Presidio, Army Major Steve Monroe brushed the sighting off. "I can see the same thing right now," he told reporters. "Friday is the Fourth of July, in case you've forgotten, and some of the boys are down on the waterfront trying out the fireworks." But as far as Sgt. Menary was concerned, what he and Castro saw fall into the Bay "were no fireworks."
Police officer George Mayfield, of 820 East Division Street, reported that at about 9:30 p.m. CDT he saw four objects which he first thought were étoiles filantes. However, their "straight flight pattern through the air" and "their odd, flat shape" fitted them to the descriptions of flying saucers reported elsewhere, he said.
The first report of disc-like objects seen over the city came at about 1:00 p.m. PST when Jon Metcalfe, employed at Oaks Amusement Park, said he saw them over the Park and reported the sighting to Park superintendent William LeRoy, who then notified police headquarters.
At approximately the same time, Patrolman Kenneth A. McDowell, feeding the pigeons in the parking lot behind Precinct House No. 1, said that he noticed the pigeons "become quite excited over something." Looking up, he saw 5 large, disc-shaped objects dipping up and down in an oscillating fashion. They disappeared quickly, at great speed, two going south and the remaining three going east. McDowell hurried into the station to report what he'd seen (Case 231). At 1:05 p.m. Dick Haller, Police Radio Officer at headquarters, sent out an all-car alert to all patrolmen to report any aerial objects seen over Portland. The response was almost immediate.
Across the Columbia River, at Vancouver, Washington, Clark County Sheriff's Deputies Fred Krives, Clarence McKay, and John Sullivan, having heard the alert, went outside to check. They reported seeing 20 to 30 disc-like objects streaking over toward the southwest, directly above the Court House. They were "dark, not flashy," and were reported to have looked like "a bunch of geese." They were flying in a single line, Krives said, "strung out in what appeared to be evenly-spaced intervals." The objects were breaking formation as they flew southward, "peeling off to the side" over Portland, about three to five miles away, deploying to the south and west. The witnesses described hearing a "low humming sound," or "drone," as the objects flew over (Case 232).
Dr. McDonald interviewed Krives by phone and learned the following: Clarence McKay (now Sheriff of Clark County) had not been one of the original witnesses, but seven or eight deputies had been present, including Sullivan, Joe Kurth, Bill Giles, and a deputy named MacKeag. The objects were seen to the southwest, over the Court House, at an angular elevation of about 30 to 35 degrees. The objects, about 20 in all, were receding from them, going southwest. They were in several groups, the first of which had about seven objects in it. The tail end of the formation split off the main line and formed a separate line, rising above the others. They were round and disc-shaped, and estimated to be about 1,000 feet high. Their speed was about that of conventional aircraft. He was emphatic in saying these objects could not have been regular aircraft, however.
Almost simultaneously, sightings were made by Harbor Patrolmen at the Irving Street headquarters in Portland. Captain K. A. Prehn, Pilot A. T. Austad, and Patrolman K. C. Hoff said they saw three to 6 disc-like objects, resembling "chromium hub-caps, shining and flashing in the sun," going south at an estimated altitude of 10 000 feet. They appeared to wobble and oscillate as they flew, "turning and weaving," so that at times a full disc was seen, and at others only a "crescent," making it difficult to be certain how many there were. They were flying at "terrific speeds" (Case 233).
Dr. McDonald spoke with Prehn by phone and the news account checked out. Prehn was in his office when one of the harbor pilots called him out. He recalled the afternoon as being clear with a bright sun. He saw three objects, like hubcaps face-to-face. They were headed south, and seen to the east, sailing along about the "speed of an aircraft." They were close enough to see their shape distinctly; their outlines were sharp, not hazy, and they looked silvery, metallic. The other two men were Pilot Austad and Patrolman Kent Hoff. None of them were ever interviewed by the Air Force. Prehn had gone inside to get a pair of binoculars and when he got back, the objects were gone. He is now retired.
Responding to the all-car alert, according to the Portland newspaper accounts, were Patrolmen Walter A. Lissy and Robert Ellis, in Car 82, near Oaks Amusement Park. Both were veterans, and Lissy was a private pilot. They described seeing "three flat, round discs flying at terrific speed in a straight-line formation" to the south. The last disc "fluttered rapidly to the side in an arc." The objects appeared white against the clear blue sky, with occasional "flashes," and were estimated to be at 40,000 feet. The 2 witnesses heard no sound, and saw no vapor trails nor any apparent means of propulsion (Case 234).
Dr. McDonald was able to interview Walter Lissy by telephone and learned there were several substantial errors in the original news account. Robert Ellis was not the second witness; Lissy was with Officer Andrew Fox at the time of the sighting. During press interviews later, Ellis had stepped in for the purposes of photographs when one of the other witnesses was not present, which accounted for the error. It was Lissy's recollection that they had seen six or seven objects, rather than three, as reported in the press. He and Fox heard the alert and saw them high in the sky, near the zenith, somewhat west of south. They were zigzagging and making sharp angle turns. As a pilot, Lissy said he knew these turns were too sharp for any aircraft. He confirmed their position near Oaks Amusement Park.
Another patrolman reporting to headquarters was Patrolman Earl Patterson, in Car 13, who was approximately three miles from Lissy, in the southern suburbs at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Foster Road. He said he had seen a single disc come out of the west, going at "terrific speed" at an estimated 30,000 feet. The disc was aluminum-colored, or "egg-shell white," and did not appear to reflect the sunlight. It passed under the sun and, without decelerating, made an abrupt 90-degree turn "with no difficulty" and proceeded toward the southwest. Because of its strange behavior, Patterson, a former Army Air Corps pilot, was of the opinion that the object could not have been a plane (Case 235).
Dr. McDonald spoke with Patterson by phone about the sighting. He was alone in his patrol car at the time, at Foster Road near 80th. He saw only a single object, as reported, but it did not make any "90-degree turn," as stated. He said it traveled across the sky from northeast to southwest in an arc at rapid speed. He said it was aluminum-colored -- not "egg-shell white" -- and it did reflect the sunlight, "like an aluminum plane." It appeared to be extremely high but he said it was difficult to tell its height. There was no sound, no vapor trails. He told McDonald that its speed was what had impressed him most.
At about the same time the rest of these observations were being made, Sergeant Claude Cross of the Oregon State Police Department said that he "plainly saw" two or three objects from his headquarters at 9200 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., in Milwaukee, due south of Portland. They were seen to the east at an "undetermined height" and were following each other in a northeasterly direction at a "terrific speed." He said they looked like "toy balloons, almost pure white, and (they) traveled sideways with no flashing." Dr. McDonald did not interview this witness (Case 236).
Meanwhile, scores of residents called the newspapers and police stations reporting similar objects (see II-9 and II-18). In the Air Force files, these sightings are explained as "chaff" - strips of aluminum foil used for radar interference. While a flight of B-29 bombers, followed by a flight of P-80 fighters, had crossed over the city a short time before the sightings, there is only one reference in the press that would even remotely suggest that something resembling chaff had been discharged over the city: Burl Nolisch, 64, of 6604 N. Burrage Street, claimed he saw a plane fly over at 1:00 p.m. and said he saw foil or aluminum pieces nearby, swirling along on the wind currents, appearing as if they had been dropped by the plane. Apart from Case 231, the cases contained in the Air Force files are derived entirely from the accounts found in the local press the following day -- and many of these were not accurately recorded. If there was any first-hand information on the July 4 sightings over Portland other than Patrolman McDowell's report, it was not there when the files were examined for the purposes of this report.
Members of the San Leandro police department reported having seen a disc circle over the city at 7:00 p.m. PST after they had received approximately 15 calls about the object. Officers Bill Williams, S. D. Capitola, and Tony Gomez said the disc-like object approached from the west and circled over the area for a half an hour. Capitola said it appeared to be between 5,000 and 10,000 feet high, a "white speck about the size of a dollar." He said the object disappeared to the south. Most of the San Leandro police officers on duty saw it, as well as members of the fire department. Police in Oakland received five calls from people who said they had seen the object.
Patrolman Frederick Schlauch, of the Elizabeth police force, went off duty at 5:00 p.m. EDT. He had just finished changing a tire on his car when he saw two shiny objects moving erratically through the sky. Schlauch said that the objects "resembled chrome plates" and were "diving in a fluttery fashion, like pursuit planes." The two discs, traveling in a northeasterly direction toward New York City, were going at an estimated speed of 400 miles an hour. "They were not planes," Schlauch asserted, and said that as they were disappearing from view he realized that they must have been the shining discs being reported from other sections of the country.
Policeman Arthur H. Fellows, 45, of 2022 Fourth Street, reported that he and three companions had seen a disc-like object in the eastern sky about 7:00 p.m. PST. He said that as it moved along, "it had a dipping motion," adding that "we heard a steady hum, which was not the kind of sound that an airplane makes."
Police report seeing a large disc with smaller discs - see Satellite Object Reports (II-19).
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