Le radar détecte des blips et des blobs

Donald E. Keyhoe (major), 1967

Note de l'auteur : Depuis 1952, lorsque mon articleCe que les radars disent des soucoupes volantes fut publié dans True, le radar a joué un rôle vital dans l'élaboration de preuves de la réalité des ovnis.

En 1952, le Directeur du Renseignement de l'AF admit plus de 300 cas de détection radar et observations visuelles confirmées par radar. Dans les années qui s'ensuivirent, il y a eu au moins 2000 cas radar supplémentaires dans les seuls U.S.. Des rapports sont venus d'opérateurs experts de l'Armée, la Marine, l'Air Force, le Corps des Marines, les Gardes-Côtes, l'Agence Fédérale pour l'Aviation (anciennement la CAA) et des pilotes ou opérateurs radar de presque toutes les principales lignes aériennes. La même situation existe dans des pays étrangers.

Not only has radar proved UFO reality, it has accurately recorded the high UFO speeds, intricate maneuvers, precise UFO formations- including changes from one formation to another-and other important data which make it possible to evaluate UFO operations and help in the search for propulsion secrets.

In the last decade, radar equipment has steadily improved. At the same time, operators have acquired wide experience in distinguishing between the blips of UFO's and those of conventional aircraft, rockets, etc. Meantime, attempts to explain away radar blips of UFO's have been jolted by scientific evidence disproving such claims in practically all of the key cases.

When the full story of the UFO's is written, radar will prove to have supplied indisputable technical evidence which finally convinced many previous skeptics.

Included in C.A.A. report was track plots of UFO's over Washington, D.C., in August, 1952, which shook up A.F. s1[Michael Mann]
Included in C.A.A. report was track plots of UFO's over Washington, D.C., in August, 1952, which shook up A.F. s1[Michael Mann]

In an intensive investigation of the flying saucers, we have secured Air Force confirmation of these important facts:

  1. Since 1947, hundreds of unidentified aerial objects have been tracked by radar operators of the Air Force, Navy and Civil Aeronautics Administration.
  2. More than 300 times, Air Force interceptor planes have chased mysterious lights and unidentified objects revealed by radarscopes.
  3. Strange round objects have shown on interceptors' gun-camera pictures and on photographs taken from the ground at a missile-testing range.
  4. The "'temperature inversion" or 'mirage" answer to radar sightings widely publicized by Dr. Donald H. Menzel of Harvard has failed to satisfy Air Force investigators because he has not at-tempted to explain any specific "saucer" cases in official files.

Several years ago, when an Air Force statement said saucer reports were hoaxes, hallucinations, or mistaken observations of normal objects, the case lists of "Project Saucer" included several puzzling radar reports. At that time, however, most Air Force officials believed they were errors of interpretation due to weather phenomena. Even during more recent years, with radar reports rapidly increasing, some Air Force officers still believed these disturbing cases were caused by temperature inversion.

Accumulated evidence, revealed in this article, now proves that very few of the reports can thus be explained. As a result, many baffling "saucer" cases investigated by the Air Technical Intelligence Command are still listed as unanswered.

One of these mystifying incidents was reported from Congaree Air Base near Columbia, South Carolina. On August 20, 1952, radar operators at a nearby interceptor post were watching their scope when a strange "blip" appeared at an indicated range of 60 miles southeast.

Evidently the object shown was very fast-moving, for within less than a minute each successive sweep of the beam renewed the blip in a different position, producing a row of widely spaced spots on the phosphor-coated glass in a track that ran off the scope. Dumbfounded, the men hurriedly computed the speed.

It was more than 4,000 miles per hour.

The operators realized that to flash an alarm was useless. Moving at 70 miles a minute, the mysterious object would be 200 miles away before a jet interceptor could take off.

C.A.A. report on radar UFO sightings is confirmed with this 1953 study done in Indianapolis by Richard Borden and Tirey Vickers s2[Michael Mann]
C.A.A. report on radar UFO sightings is confirmed with this 1953 study done in Indianapolis by Richard Borden and    Tirey Vickers s2[Michael Mann]

When I checked on this case, the Air Force made no attempt to gloss over the facts. The operators were experts, trained to recognize the blips of solid objects. The radar was working correctly. Something streaked through the skies that morning, but the Air Technical Intelligence Command frankly admits it has no explanation.

Not until July, 1952, when unidentified lighted objects were seen at Washington Airport, did the general public learn that radar was tracking the saucer. Later, conflicting news stories gave many the impression that the Air Force had "debunked all saucer reports and had no further interest." Major General Roger S. Ramey, then Director of Operations, made the Air Force position clear in the following statement for TRUE:

"The Air Force, in compliance with its mission of air defense of the United States, must assume responsibility for investigation of any object or phenomena in the air over the United States. Fighter units have been instructed to investigate any object observed or established as existing by radar tracks, and to intercept any air-borne identified as hostile or showing hostile interest. This should not be interpreted to mean that air-defense pilots have been instructed to fire haphazardly on anything that flies."

The Air Force attitude was amplified for me by another spokesman in this candid statement:

"We don't know what these things are and there's no use in pretending we do. We can't discount entirely that they may come from another planet, though we have no evidence to support it. We have found no threat to this country-there is not the slightest evidence that they come from a foreign nation-but until we know the answers we shall carry on a serious investigation."

Unfortunately, public confidence in radar has been badly shaken. Many Americans still believe that the Washington radarmen, veteran air-traffic controllers, were tricked by atmospheric conditions. The same cause was said to have created mirage lights in the sky, deceiving airline and jet pilots, control-tower men, and other trained and experienced observers.

To get the full story, I spent considerable time at the Airway Traffic Control Center at Washington Airport. I talked with the controllers who saw the strange blips and also with outside radar experts, Weather Bureau officials and radio astronomers. The final answer is startling in its implications.

The action began at 12:40 a.m. on the night of July 20, 1952. At midnight, eight air-traffic controllers, headed by Harry G. Barnes, took over the watch at the Washington Center. The night was clear, traffic was light, and the men settled down for a routine watch.

To understand the queer events that followed, you must first have a clear picture of the Center's operations. The Center is located entirely apart from the airport tower, which directs take-offs and landings and close-in traffic. The radar room of the Center is a long, dimly lit chamber, darkened so scopes can be easily read. Its radar equipment, by which controllers have guided thousands of airliners through fog and storms, is an M.E.W. (Microwave Early Warning) type similar to the sets used by the air-defense forces.

If you were operating radar at Naha, Okinawa on Oct. 7, 1962, you might have evaluated the blip as Echo I satellite - with Orion constellation and Great Nebula s3[Projet Blue Book - USAF]
If you were operating radar at Naha, Okinawa on Oct. 7, 1962, you might have evaluated the blip as Echo I      satellite - with Orion constellation and Great Nebula s3[Projet Blue Book -          USAF]

On a nearby hill, a huge parabolic antenna, rotating six times per minute, transmits a narrow radio beam which swings around the horizon. When the beam strikes a plane, an "echo" or "return" is reflected back. Amplified, this appears as a small spot or "blip" on the face of a cathoderay scope. The Center's main scope, 24 inches in diameter, has a pale lavender glow. Traveling around the glass, like a glowing clock hand, is a purplish streak called the "sweep" which shows the direction of the moving radio beam.

As the echo comes hack from a cruising airliner, a small round violet blip appears on the scope. At that spot, the phosphor coating of the glass maintains a diminshing glow. Every ten seconds, a new blip appears, showing the plane's changed position. The glass retains seven blips before the first one fades out. From the position of the blips and the space between them, the plane's course and speed can be seen at a glance, also its location, distance and compass bearing.

Besides the main scope, which is adjusted to show traffic within a 34-mile radius-a 68-mile circle-the Center operates two smaller console scopes which show the transmitter's full range of 105 miles, or a circle 210 miles in diameter.

Radarscopes show other things than planes in the sky-irregular blobs are reflected from thunderstorms, thin spotty blips from flocks of birds, spreading blotches caused by rain or snow clouds.

Des ensembles radar de très haute fréquence peuvent repérer même des toiles d'araignées aéronautes ou des insectes proches. Mais ceux-ci n'apparaissent pas sur l'écran M.E.W., pas plus que leurs échos ne ressemblent aux blip clair et précis d'un avion. Il y a 2 choses connues qui peuvent causer quelque chose des échos semblables -- des ballons spécialement équipés de grands panneaux de métal pour la détection radar, et les "paillettes" ou "fenêtre," qui sont des bandes de feuille d'aluminum lâchées par les avions militaires pour perturber les ensembles radar. La présence de l'un ou l'autre est indiquée par leur dérive à la vitesse du vent. Des bandes de paillettes, généralement lâchées par centaines, provoquent de d'énormes retours que des radaristes entraînés peuvent aisément reconnaître. De plus, les paillettes tombent au sol, de sorte que leurs blips disparaissent rapidement.

La nuit du 20 juillet, aucune de ces choses n'était impliquée, comme une vérification à l'Air Force l'a prouvé. L'écran était vierge de tous objets étranges jusqu'à 12 h 40. A ce moment, 7 blips ronds, comme ceux des avions, apparûrent soudainement dans le quadrant sud-ouest. Comme aucun groupe d'avions -- militaire ou civil -- ne devait arriver, les hommes du Centre de Contrôle furent immédiatement préoccupés. Harry Barnes, le contrôleur-en-chef, suivit les visiteurs inconnus à 100-130 miles/h -- une vitesse étrangement basse comparée à leur apparence swift.

Barnes quickly checked the consoles; both scopes showed the strange blips. He called in radar technicians; they found no flaw in the set or antenna. Worried, though the low speeds didn't indicate Soviet bombers, he called the Washington Airport tower. To handle local traffic, the tower has a separate set, an A.S.R. (Airport Surveillance Radar) with a 30-mile range.

Tower operators Howard Cocklin and Joe Zacko both reported the strange blips on their scope, and in the same position. So did Air Force radarmen at Andrews Air Force Base, which uses an A.S.R. set. Not only that, visual observers at both points could see mysterious lights moving in the sky.

Flashing word to Air Defense, Barnes turned back to the scope. The unknown visitors had separated, were now over Washington, two near the White House, one close to the Capitol.

A few minutes later, the controllers bending over the scope got a new jolt. One blip track showed an abrupt 90-degree turn, something no plane could do. As the sweep came around, another of the strange objects suddenly reversed its new blip "blossoming" on top of the one it had previously made. The unknown craft, or whatever it was, had stopped dead from over 100 m.p.h., then completely reversed direction-all in about five seconds.

"Then we noticed another strange thing," Barnes told me later. "Some blips suddenly disappeared, between sweeps. I couldn't explain it, until Jim Ritchey called 'Casey' Pierman to check on one group of the things."

Captain Pierman, flying a Capital airliner, had just taken off from Washington. In a few moments he radioed back that he saw a bright light where the scope showed one of the objects. At the very instant he called the Center, the object raced off at terrific speed.

"It was almost as if whatever controlled it had heard us, or had seen Pier-man head toward it," said Barnes. "He said it vanished from sight in three to five seconds. But here's the important point: at that very moment, the blip disappeared from the scope.

"That means it must have raced out of our beam between ten-second sweeps. It could have done this in one of two ways:
First. it could make a steep climb at terrific speed, so that in ten seconds it would be above the vertical area swept by our M.E.W. set. (The beam's average altitude, at its highest point, is from 35,000 to 40,000 feet, far out, but it is much less near the airport. At 30 miles, it is about 8,500 feet, sloping to 1,200 at three miles.) Second. it could race horizontally off our 34-mile scope within ten seconds."

Considering the objects' relative position, just before they vanished, this last would require a speed of from 5,000 to 7,000 mph. At the time, this seemed unbelievable to Barnes and the other controllers. But Captain Pierman later confirmed the objects' tremendous speed.

"They'd go up and down at terrific speed, or streak off and disappear. Between Washington and Martinsburg, we saw six of these fast-moving lights. (Control Center radar showed them at the same position.) I don't know what they were, but they weren't shooting stars."

Another confirmation of the visitors' incredible speed came later that night, from the Washington tower. Operator Joe Zacko had been watching the A.S.R. scope when one of the mystery objects abruptly appeared just west of Andrews Field. Unlike the slower M.E.W., the A.S.R., with its 28-rpm antenna, can track extremely high speeds. As Zacko watched, fascinated, the blips made a bright streak or trail, heading north-northeast toward Riverdale. Then the trail ended as swiftly as it had come.

Howard Cocklin, hastily called over by Zacko, also saw the bright trail. Together they figured the object's speed from its trace.

It had been making two miles per second-7,200 m.p.h.

"It was as if it had descended rapidly, almost vertically," Cocklin told me later. "That would bring it suddenly into the A.S.R. beam area. It seemed to level off for those few seconds, and then abruptly ascend out of the beam again."

Barnes and his men saw another significant maneuver that night. When they vectored a pilot toward one of the lighted objects, the strange blip disappeared. Then in a few seconds it reappeared behind the plane. Barnes commented, "If it was the same one-and I think it was-that was another of those high-speed vanishing acts between sweeps."

The swift acceleration of saucers, confirmed by radar and visual reports, far exceeds the acceleration of man-made rockets and guided missiles. In addition, no earthly craft can reverse from high speed or make the violent turns proved by radar tracks.

Some flying-saucer skeptics claim that no solid object, not even a revolutionary space ship, could maneuver as reported, since it would be subject to the Earth's laws of gravity, momentum and inertia.

But there is one practical answer. By applying the propulsion force in the opposite direction, abruptly reversing its thrust, an object might be halted in a few seconds. On an M.E.W. radarscope, or as seen visually, it would appear to have stopped almost instantly. After this full-power stop, a 90-degree turn could then be achieved by again changing the thrust.

The increasing evidence from the radar-and-light reports cannot be denied. It is my opinion that the saucers are devices from outer space, exploring the Earth just as our government expects some day to explore other planets.

If the saucers are not from planets of our solar system, then the problem of the vast distances from other stars' planets may seem insurmountable. But Einstein's theory of special relativity offers a solution now accepted by space travel planners in this country and abroad. Because of the relative nature of time and space, the elapsed time for a round trip to a distant point will be less for the travelers than the elapsed time recorded on Earth when that journey is ended. However, the occupants of the space craft will be unaware of any difference during their trip; to them, the daily passage of time, as shown by their clocks, will seem normal.

This difference, or "time-dilatation factor" as it is called, will increase as a space ship's speed approximates the velocity of light.

Fantastic though it seems, time dilatation has been proved mathematically. In a recent Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Dr. L. R. Shepherd gives figures for a specific interstellar voyage. He assumes that a traveler, X, makes a round trip to the star Procyn, 10.4 light years away, while an observer, Y, remains on Earth to record the elapsed time here. He also assumes that, because of the long trip at maximum speed, periods of acceleration and retardation are negligible.

"Suppose X goes to Procyn and back," says Dr. Shepherd, "with a velocity of 99c (c equals the velocity of light). While Y records X's return twenty-one years later X is aware only of a passage of three years. . . . The only shortcoming would be . . . that friends whom he left in the bloom of their youth would be found in their dotage."

This latter effect, however unfortunate, does not alter the basic fact: time dilatation can greatly shorten interstellar journeys. Nor would trips of several years daunt human space explorers any more than long sea voyages daunted Columbus, Magellan and others who left home for extended periods to explore the globe.

From all the hundreds of saucer reports, one fact stands out-there is no cause for fear. For years, these unknown visitors have been operating peacefully in our atmosphere. There has been plenty of time, if hostility were intended, for the intelligence back of the saucers to strike at our planes and our cities.

It is evident that exploration, and eventually contact, are the purposes behind the saucers' repeated visits. When that contact comes, it should be no cause for panic. Meeting intelligent beings who know the secrets of space should be of profound benefit to everyone on Earth.

It could be the greatest adventure of all time.

Donald E. Keyhoe