ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON

As this exciting book goes to press, a flock of
new reports on sightings of unidentified flying objects
has been noted in such divers areas as Michigan,
Texas, Massachusetts, Louisiana and Connecticut.
At the moment the most widely observed and
authenticated reports come from the Michigan area
where, according to metropolitan newspapers, 11SOme
30 persons, including an off-duty deputy, phoned the
Washtenaw County sheriff’s office, and police
agencies in Bad Axe, some 150 miles north, were
also swamped with calls • . •11

Indicative of the importance of these sightings is
the fact that Maj. Donald E. Kehoe, Ret. U.S.A.F.,
publicly accused our Air Force of suppressing evidence
concerning the UFOs and, in a recent newspaper
article, it was stated that “In Washington,
meanwhile, House Republican leader Gerald Ford,
Mich., called for a Congressional investigation of
unidentified flying object sightings.11
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON is the most
􀅅 rational and scientifically oriented examination of
the UFO question yet produced. It is the updated, l comprehensive, authoritative report on unidentified
flying objects-as immediate and factual as today’s
,f;•1 I

newspaper •

About the author:
Jacques Vallee, born and educated in France, holds
degrees in mathematics and astronomy. He is a
consultant on the Mars Map Project, and a mathematician-
analyst connected with Northwestern
University. Formerly he was a research associate
at the MacDonald Observatory of the University
of Texas. Before coming to the United States he
was a ‘government scientist at the Paris Observatory
associated with the artificial satellites project, and
participated in the theoretical study of a radar
alert system, a classified french defense project.

Anatomy of a Phenomenon

The detailed and unbiased report of UFOs by
JACQUES VALLEE ACE BOOKS, I N C .
1 1 20 Avenue o f the Americas
New York, N.Y. 10036
Copyright, 1965, Henry Regnery Company
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 65-19161
No portion of this book may be reprinted without permission
of the publisher.
An ACE STAR BOOK by arrangement with
Henry Regnery Co.
Printed in U.S.A.

I

I.

CONTENTS

  • THE LEGEND OF “FlYING SAU C ERS” 15
  • LIFE AND I N TELLIGENCE IN TH E U N IVERSE 56
  • MODERN UFO REPORTS AND TH E I R RELIABI LITY 78
  • THE SCIENT I F I C PROBLEM 116
  • FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN REASON 153
  • TYPICAL P HASES OF U FO B EHAVIOR 185
  • THEO R I ES AND HYPOTH ESES 220

 

REFERENCES 246

PREFACE TO THE REVISED ACE EDITION
THE APPEARANCE of this book’s original edition in June 1965
has coincided with two remarkable events: the success of
the Mariner IV mission, which has given us the first objective
view of the Martian landscape and a sudden burst of
sightings of unidentified flying objects over all five continents
of the world. For the months of July and August alone,
the United States Air Force received more reports than in the
previous three years combined. At the same time, the Air
Force estimated the number of objects it had been unable
to identify since inception of its Project Blue Book at close
to seven hundred.
Taking into account these two events, which have greatly
contributed to the evolution of the public’s view of our
problem, this book’s appearance in a paperback edition has
given me the opportunity to make certain additions and
changes in the text. Some of these modifications suggested
themselves as patterns noticeable in early observations which
appeared in full light during the world wave of sightings in
1965. Other additions fill gaps which exist in the literature
of the subject. For instance, the “loss” of a planet by nineteenth
century astonomers-the story of the observations of
Vulcan-has never received the attention it deserves. Similarly,
I have included in my chapter on “Theories and
Hypotheses” a new review of the arguments in favor of the
concept of UFO “hostility.”
My analysis of theories concerning life and intelligence in
the universe has been greatly expanded. Also has my section
on psychological and emotional patterns associated with
the generation of the sightings. A presentation of UFO phenomena
within the framework of rationalism is proposed in
answer to criticisms offered by some scientists. These writers
have insisted that UFO observations were essentially void of
any scientific value and should simply be disregarded, no
matter how reliable or qualified the observer, as belonging
to the same category as manifestations of witchcraft or ap-
7
PREFACE TO THE REVISED ACE EDITION
paritions of ghosts. “UFO Phenomena,” wrote Charles A.
Schweighauser of the McDonnell Planetarium, “must be regulated
to the same classification assigned to unicorns and
leprechauns.” We feel our new presentation of the problem
will answer this misconception.
Once again I want to make very clear the explicit
distinction between dealing with reports as scientific data
(‘they may lie, but they lie in patterns’) and believing in
their contents as such.
Although the book has not been received by “Hying saucer”
groups and cults with the enthusiasm which generally
characterizes them, the reviews of ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON
in the general press have been exceptionally
serious and provocative, showing that the American opinion
is much better informed and more seriously concerned by
the subject than is generally believed.
What has prompted me to publish a general survey of
the field and to make a new appraisal of the scientific value
of the accounts in question was the realization that unusual
aerial phenomena and the myths associated with them constitute
one of the live issues of our times and, therefore, a
proper field for detailed investigation and research. How such
research can be conducted within the framework of rationalism
and why it can lead to an increase of our lmowledge
of the physical and mental universe are the subjects of this
book.
8
JACQUES VALLEE
Chicago, January 1966
PREFACE TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION
EVER since the amazing series of sightings of unidentified
Hying objects in France in 1954, I have been deeply interested
in the problem of the origin, behavior and physical
nature of the UFO phenomenon. When I was authorized
to study the general files of the United States Air Force I
welcomed this opportunity to clarify my ideas concerning
the official approach to the sightings and to understand better
the attitude of the scientific and military authorities toward
this problem.
In the course of this research I had access to many interesting
reports which had never been made publi). Simultaneously,
I was able to conduct a thorough analysis of the
European files kept up-to-date by a number of researchers,
some of whom worked in collaboration with professional
scientists acting privately. This resulted in the accumulation
of a unique collection of data, the volume of which is at
present double that of the official files.
I soon reached a point in my personal research at which
I realized that I was rapidly approaching the limits of my
competence, and that it was becoming increasingly important
for me to receive the advice of specialists of other disciplines.
Unfortunately, communication between scientists still
follows medieval patterns and any attempt on my part to
bring the subject into the open would have resulted in misunderstanding.
Thus I determined to restrict my work to a
few specific points which could be investigated with scientific
-instruments without resulting in sensational interpretations
or exaggerated publicity. But the reactions to some
earlier publications on the subject led me to realize that by
considering the scientific issue alone and trying to avoid a
public debate I was seeing only part of the problem. I then
came to believe that one should not try to “prove” that
UFOs constitute a new phenomenon of an unknown, possibly
artificial, natur􀃵 before one has made an attempt to un-
9
PR EFACE TO THE ORIGI NAL EDITION
derstand why such violent reactions are provoked by the
thought of extraterrestrial intelligence.
My writing this book in a popular form is deliberate, because
it is my opinion that my subject is important and
concerns not only the scientist, but the military man, the
philosopher, the man of the cloth and the general public
as well.
It would be unrealistic on my part not to expect this
book to be misinterpreted. It seems certain that any mention
of the problem of extraterrestrial intelligence by a professional
scientist (even if he insists that this is only a convenient
hypothesis among others which he plans to study) will
be commented upon by groups of enthusiasts as an indication
that new evidence, unknown to the general public, has
been obtained. I can categorically state that such is not the
case. Furthermore, the position I am taking here is purely
individual. It does not reflect the viewpoint of a group, nor
the opinion of the research institution with which I am associated,
nor that of any of the groups with which I have
been associated in the past. In bringing my opinion into the
open I simply make use of a privilege every scientist has,
namely, the right to publish his views even when they are
in opposition to generally accepted ideas.
I have endeavored to write a book that will help interested
researchers become seriously acquainted with the problem,
and I have tried to be objective in presenting summaries
of all current theories related to the main points in the discussion.
This book is documented with references,” and illustrated
with pictures designed to aid the reader in visualizing
a difficult problem-one which is unsolved after twenty
years of analysis by outstanding scientists. Every statement
of importance is supported by documentary authority.
On several occasions I have had to admit that I could not
commit myself to any particular point of view, but I have
always kept an open mind and have been careful not to
reject extreme hypotheses merely on the ground of their
“fantastic” character, for nothing can be more fantastic than
a natural phenomenon not yet recognized and classified by
the human mind. In so doing, however, I have not lost
“Numbers in parentheses within the text refer to the bibliography
at the end of the book.
10
PREFAC E TO THE O R I G I NAL EDITION
sight of the fact that “an open mind does not mean credulity
or a suspension of the logical faculties that are man’s most
valuable asset” (Menzel, [121]).
The interest of research is not solely what prompted me
to take this frightening step; I was impressed by the deep
emotion and the cry of anguish in many of these reports,
which should be viewed as a challenge by all scientists;
any citizen who becomes so concerned by the events he
witnesses that he writes a detailed account of them has the
right to ask us to study this report as a piece of scientific
information, and ‘vith an open, objective mind. We must
view with contempt and irony those who will continue to
call the problem ridiculous only because they do not know
the solution. “Ridicule,” wrote one of the eminent researchers
in this field, “is not part of the scientific method, and the
public should not be taught that it is” (Hynek, [176]).
This book is not intended to convince; the author himself
is far from having reached a definite opinion as to the
nature of the puzzling phenomenon he studies. The numerous
observations quoted in this work are not there to prove,
but to illustrate only. They are taken from reliable, but not
exceptional, reports, because our purpose is neither to shock
nor to demonstrate, but to lead the reader to the idea that
the phenomenon, whatever its nature and origin, can only
be studied in terms of classes, not as a collection of individual
oddities. Dr. Menzel’s work”‘ has indicated that the average
report could often be explained, assuming the witnesses
had been the victims of some combination of physical or
mental aberrations. As the number of reports of higher than
average reliability becomes larger and larger, however, this
approach loses its appeal to the scientific mind, and one is
led to the idea that either an entirely new type of mental
aberration, indeed most extraordinary, has taken an important
place in the life of our civilization, or that the UFO
phenomenon is unique in nature, is of large amplitude and
thus deserves a special investigation.
“‘Dr. Donald Menzel, director of the Harvard College
observatory, has published two major books on the UFO
Phenomenon: Flying Saucers (Harvard University Press,
1953) and The World of Flying Saucers (Doubleday, 1964),
co-authored with Mrs. L. Boyd.
1 1
PREFACE TO TH E ORIGINAL EDITION
How to progress in such an investigation with the greatest
guarantee of scientific accuracy is the subject of this
book. The phenomenon under study is not the UFO, which
is not reproducible at will in the laboratory, but the report
written by the witness. This report can be observed, studied
and communicated by professional scientists; thus defined,
the phenomenon we investigate is obviously real. Our problem
is no longer to explain, but to analyze. We are dealing
with “the science of structure, not the science of substance”
(Eddington). The question, then, is no longer to believe or
disbelieve, since we do not have elements of comparison
upon which to base such a judgment; the question is rather
how to derive proper methods of investigation, classification
and control which will satisfy all guarantees necessary in the
rational progress of knowledge to which science is devoted,
without refusing to consider certain hypotheses. Among these,
of course, is the possibility that the UFO phenomenon is
an attempt at contact with our civilization by nonhuman
knowledge for nonhuman purposes, possibly prompted by
nonhuman emotions and perceptions.
This possibility has been neglected because, in the present
context, its discussion involves a danger of seeing “metaphysical”
considerations reintroduced into scientific reasoning.
This is a danger we will try not only to avoid, but to oppose
and defeat as well. We will show that only rational
analysis on the basis of actual facts can guide an attempt
to understand possible manifestations of extraterrestrial intelligence,
and that possible connections with traditional
interpretations or legends should be considered only on a
speculative basis.
I should thank many persons for having helped, guided
or stimulated this work. I will mention only a few in this
long list. My wife has certainly done more than anybody
else to give me the confidence I needed to undertake such
a book. The comments of Air Force officials, especially Dr.
Allen Hynek’s, on my classification system and project of
revised catalogue have been invaluable. And I wish to express
my gratitude to Dr. Donald Menzel for having criticized
and helped clarify several ill-defined points in our
early attempts at rationalization of the UFO phenomenon.
Without Aime Michel’s remarkable contribution to the clarification
of the UFO problem it would be impossible today
to attain a good understanding of the important European
12-
PR EFACE TO THE O R I G I NAL EDITION
sightings, and we owe to him much of the recent progress
made in the constitution of the files. I am indebted to Harvey
Plotnick and Samuel Randlett, whose work on the manuscript
served greatly in making this book presentable to
the public. The authorization given by A. M. Rener to use
one of his paintings, published here for the first time, is
gratefully acknowledged.
13
Chapter 1
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCERS”
AS OLD AS MAN H IMSELF?
On January 24, 1878, John Martin, a Texas farmer and
“‘a gentleman of undoubted veracity” saw a dark flying object
crusing high in the sky “at a wonderful speed” and
used the word “saucer” to describe it. The story appeared
in the January 25, 1878 edition of the Dennison Daily News
under the heading “A Strange Phenomenon.” It recounted a
piece published by the old Dallas Herald, which is worth
preserving here as the first true account of a ‘flying saucer’
described as such:
Mr. John Martin, a farmer who lives some six miles
north of this city (Dallas), while out hunting, had his
attention directed to a dark object high up in the northern
sky.
The peculiar shape, and the velocity with which the
object seemed to approach, riveted his attention, and he
strained his eyes to discover its character. When first
noticed it appeared to be about the size of an orange,
which continued to grow in size.”‘
After gazing at it for some time, Mr. Martin became
“‘Many witnesses make the same mistake as John Martin
when reporting apparent diameters: Was the size of the
object comparable to that of an orange seen a few feet
away? A few yards away? A few miles away? The apparent
size of an object seen in the sky should always be compared
to the apparent size of the moon or the sun. See the
note on page 133 in this respect.
15
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
blind from long looking and left off viewing in order to
rest his eyes. On resuming his view, the object was almost
overhead and had increased considerably in size
and appeared to be going through space at a wonderful
speed. When directly over him it was about the size of
a large saucer and was evidently at a great height.
John Martin seems to have been a true pioneer; seventy
years later another man, Kenneth Arnold, spoke of “flying
saucers.” This time the word was here to stay.
The legend of the flying disks has exited throughout history.
Apparitions of strange objects in the sky have for centuries
stirred popular emotion and have at times caused
crises and panics. Some writers have gone so far as to try
to attribute them to “unknown civilizations” said to have
preceded us on this planet ( 2). Such past societies, they
argue, could have reached a very high level of evolution and
developed space travel; or they could have remained at a
stage of low technology under the domination of extraterrestrial
“visitations” who are said to have departed from our
planet for some unknown reason, leaving almost no traces.
According to the same writers, some of our religious texts
might have been inspired by such contacts with a supercivilization.
Posnansky and Kiess, as well as Epstein, have
studied the Tiahuanaco monuments and have interpreted
some of their features as possible indexes of extraterrestrial
“visitations” in prehistoric times. Tschi Pen Lao, of the University
of Peking, has also discovered remarkable drawings
on a Hunan mountain and on an island in Lake Tungting.
Possibly made in 45,000 B.C., these granite carvings depict
people with large trunks, and cylindrical objects in the sky
on which similar beings are seen standing. In 1961, the
Russian astronomer Alexander Kazantsev brought to the attention
of the readers of the Soviet magazine Smena a discovery
made by Henri Labate in the Tassili plateau in Sahara
of sculpted rocks showing human beings with strange
round heads, and other mysterious scenes. These sculptures
were dated 6,000 B.c.
Along the same line, the prophet Ezeldel’s vision has often
been commented upon in books dealing with unidentified
flying objects. This description (Ezeldel, chapter 1) of a
16″
T H E LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCERS”
strange machine coming from the sky and landing close to
the Chebar River in Chaldea (now part of Iraq) in 593
B.C. includes expressions said to be similar to those commonly
used by witnesses of modem sightings of UFOs.
Ezekiel says that out of a whirlwind from the north ap­
peared a fiery sphere. As remarked in ( 3, and 4) :
Ezekiel’s narrative in the Bible is mainly concerned with
describing this incident in his own phraseology, however
vague it may seem to us today. Ezekiel lived in an era
of few metals’ and no machines. The war chariot and the
plough were the last word in their “technology.” For this
reason it was extremely difficult for Ezekiel to portray
with his vocabulary the event he witnessed.
According to the same sources, an attempt to reconstruct
from Ezekiel’s words a model of the phenomenon in modem
terms would lead to the conception of a machine rather
than a natural phenomenon such as a mirage:
The vehicle which Ezekiel observed had four distinct
pillars. From each pillar protruded two wings, eight in
all, which moved about. At the base of each column
there were rings with circular openings. The four columns
formed a cubic body over which there was a transparent
dome. For lack of any better term Ezekiel defined it as
a “firmament.” A throne of sapphire stone crowned the
dome, encircled by a rainbow. The reference to sapphire,
amber, crystal and beryl may be allusions to plastics which
certain parts of the ship were made of.
The prophet describes the workings of this extraordinary
craft. Except for the wings no other parts moved. The
wings produced a sound “like the noise of great waters.”
A fiery and thunderous exhaust issued from the base of
the engine.
The incident is so objectively depicted that it could
hardly be considered a tale to impress superstitous listeners.
This ship had other unusual features-it could extend
a “hand” giving Ezekiel a roll with inscriptions
“within and without.” Then the prophet was taken on
17
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
board the craft to Tel Abib Mountains. There he remained
“speechless” for seven days . … 0
This is a type of interpretation commonly found in the
literature that deals with our problem. The terminology also
should be noted. The words “ship,” “craft,” “engine” are
used without justification. The scientist, obviously, will not
be guided by situations thus presented. But the explanation
given by Dr. Donald Menzel (that Ezekiel observed a sun
dog) is equally unconvincing.
Wilkins and Drake (5, 6) have given numerous indications
of luminous disks in the sky at day, or lights at night,
under the Roman Empire. Some of these accounts describe
beings associated with the objects. ( In Ezekiel’s story the
figure of a man surrounded with a blinding light was mentioned.)
Prodigiorum Liber, as well as in Livy, it is said that
in many places there appeared men in white clothing corning
from very far away; in Arpi a shield Hew through the sky;
two moons were seen at night; ghost whips appeared in the
sky; luminous lamps were seen at Praeneste-all this is 218
B.c. If the Romans had had a more developed communications
system, they would probably have interpreted this series
of observations as a “UFO wave” similar to the celebrated
series of sightings in the United States which we will review
later.
In 213 B.c. in Hadria an “altar” was seen in the sky,
accompanied by the· form of a man in white clothing. A total
of a dozen such observations between 222 and 90 B.c. can be
listed, but we have eliminated many more sightings reviewed
in the literature because we felt that they could best be
explained as misinterpretations of meteors or atmospheric
phenomena.
We will not attach much weight to rumors of such antiquity.
As Sagan remarked ( 7 ) :
W e require more of a legend than th e apparition o f a
strange being who does extraordinary work and lives in
the sky . . • . A description of the morphology of an in-
0It is well known, of course, that Elijah was taken away
in similar fashion: “And it carne to pass, as they still went
on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of
fire • . • and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into Heaven.”
18
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCERS”
telligent non-human, a clear account of astronomical realities
for a primitive people, or a transparent presentation
of the purpose of contact would increase the credibility
of the legend.
It is, however, interesting to find that such reports were
made, and in practically the same terms as the modem
ones, concerning strange vehicles flying across the sky long
before the advent of Christ. B. Le Poer Trench, for instance,
quotes in his book (182) from a papyrus found damaged,
with many gaps in the hieroglyphics, among the papers of
the late Professor Alberto Tulli, former director of the Egyptian
Museum at the Vatican, and translated by Prince Boris
de Rachewiltz, who stated that the original was part of the
annals of Thutmose III, circa 1504-1450 B.c.:
In the year 22, of the third month of winter, sixth hour
of the day . . . the scribes of the House of Life found it
was a circle of fire that was coming in the sky . . . it
had no head, the breath of its mouth had a foul odor.
Its body one rod long and one rod wide. It had no voice.
Their hearts became confused through it: then they laid
themselves on their bellies . . . they went to the Pharaoh
.. ‘ . to report it. His Majesty ordered . . . has been examined
. . . as to all which is written in the papyrus rolls
of the House of Life. His Majesty was meditating upon
what happened. Now after some days had passed, these
things became more numerous in the sky than ever. They
shone more in the sky than the brightness of the sun, and
extended to the limits of the four supports of the heavens.
. .. Powerful was the position of the fire circles. The
army of the Pharaoh looked on with him in their midst.
It was after supper. Thereupon, these fire circles ascended
higher in the sky towards the south .. , ,
These facts are certainly worthy of study. Unfortunately,
we have no chance to gather more information today concerning
the “men in white clothing,” and it would be of little
help to go now collecting samples on the shores of the
Chebar River. But we can at least be sure that ·these re­
ports were not provoked by a psychological reaction to
atomic fear, or to mass hallucination typical of overcrowded
cities. Certainl>: no explanation based on the assertion that
19
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
the alleged UFO’s are misinterpreted conventional objects
could be consistently correct over such periods of time.
HAST THOU SEEN YE U FO?
A plain near Mortimer’s Cross-Herefordshire.0
Edward: Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?
Richard: Tirree glorious suns, each a perfect sun,
Not separated with the racking clouds,
But sever’d in a pale clear-shining sky.
See, see! They join, embrace and seem to kiss,
As if they vowed some league inviolable:
Now are they one lamp, one light, one sun,
In this the heaven figures some event. 1
(Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part III, Act II, Scene I) i I
We have on file more than three hundred UFO sightings’
prior to the twentieth century and, although it is difficult
to comment upon them in the light of scientific analysis, we
feel they should be treated exactly as modem reports in
respect to their psychological and sociological aspects. Many
of these accounts were written during the nineteenth century,
but this should not be presumed to favor the “modem”
character of the UFO myth, for some of the older reports
indicate that series of objects had been witnessed much
earlier; but most of the accounts were lost and resulted only
in a few general notes in some very rare manuscripts. Of sightings before the year 1800, after eliminating a I
large number of descriptions too vague to be included in
our catalogues, we have finally retained sixty observations
manifesting a fair degree of homogeneity with the balance
of our files. Remarks worth studying, for instance, are those
presented by Drake ( 8) :
Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons, wrote in “De Grandine
et Tonitrua” how in 840 A.D. he found the mob in Lyons .
lynching three men and a woman accused of landing from
a cloudship from the aerial region of Magonia. The great
German philologist, Jacob Grimm, about 1820 described
0Quoted in B. Le Poer Trencli ( 182) .

20
THE LEGEND OF “FLY I N G SAUCERS”
the legend of a ship from the clouds, and· Montanus, an
eighteenth century writer on German folklore, told of
wizards flying in the clouds, who were shot down. The
belief of Beings from the skies who surveyed our Earth
persisted in human consciousness throughout the Middle
Ages.
Several drawings and engravings clearly depicting phe­
nomena treated in the same way in which the modem
public interprets UFOs should be added to the lists of historical
documents to be studied in this context, as Professor
C. G. Jung pointed out (9). Amateurs in Europe could
easily find many more documents and reports simply by
consulting the innumerable local libraries in castles, churches,
monasteries throughout Great Britain, France, Holland,
Belgium, Germany, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal
and Spain. Our selections were not accumulated
through direct research and therefore represent only a small
sample. We hope that researchers with advanced knowledge
of history will examine more carefully this mine of information.
Their attention, for example, should be directed to the
ship that was seen speeding across the sky, at night, in
Scotland in A.D. 60. In 763, while King Domnall Mac
Murchada attended the fair at Teltown, in Meath County,
ships were also seen in the air. In 919, in Hungary, spherical
objects shining like stars, bright and polished, were re­
ported going to and fro in the sky. Somewhere at sea, on
July 29 or 30 of the year 966, a luminous vertical cylinder
was seen; this may well have been the first report made in
a very fascinating series which we will discuss later. In
Japan, on August 23, 1015, two objects were seen giving
birth to small luminous spheres. At Cairo in August, 1027,
numerous noisy objects were reported. A large silvery disk
is said to have come close to the ground in Japan on August
12, 1133.
Drake ( 183) gives a translation of the Annales Laurissenses
for the year A.D. 776, which reads:
Now when the Saxons perceived things were not going
in their favor, they began to erect scaffolding from which
they could bravely storm the castle itself. But God is
good as well as just. He overcame their valour, and on
21
ANATOMY OF A P H E N OMENON
the same day they prepared an assault against the Christians,
who lived within the castle, the glory of God appeared
in manifestation above the church within the fortress.
Those watching outside in that place, of whom many
still live to this very day, say they beheld the likeness
of two large shields reddish in colour in motion above
the church ( et dicurit vidisse instar duorum scutorum
colore rubeo flammantes et agitantes supra ipsam ecclesiam
) , and when the pagans who were outside saw this
sign, they were at once thrown into confusion and terrified
with great fear they began to flee from the castle.
These sightings sometimes come in series, affecting selected
areas. We translate the following account ( 10), which contains
a confirmation of the remarks by Drake quoted above:
In 927 the town of Verdun, like the whole eastern part
of France, saw fiery armies appearing in the sky. Flodoard’s
chronicle reports that they flew over Reims on a Sunday
morning in March. Similar phenomena happened several
times under King Pepin the Short, under Charlemagne,
under Louis I, the Debonair. These sovereigns’
capitularia mention penalties against creatures that travel
on aerial ships. [Italics mine-Author.] Agobard, the archbishop
of Lyons, is said to have freed three men and a
woman who had come down from one of these spaceships,
and were accused by the mob of being emissaries sent by
Grimoald, Duke of Benevento, to spoil the French harvests
and vintage by their enchantments. Emperor Charlemagne’s
edicts forbid the perturbing of the air, provoking
of storms by magical means and the practicing of mathematics.”
Agobard’s manuscript, which can be consulted
at the National Library, mentions that the astronauts captured
in Lyons were obviously foreigners and that “by an
inconceivable fatality, these unfortunate people were so
insane as to admit they were wizards.” The mob killed
them, and their corpses were fastened to boards and
“Lecky points out (198) that Mathematicus was the name
given to astrologers. A law of Diocletian says: “Artem geometriae
disci atque exerceri publice interest. Ars autem mathematica
damnabilis est et interdicta omnino.”
22,
THE L EGEND OF “FLYING SAU CERS”
thrown into the rivers. . . . In March, 842, multicolored
armies were seen marching in the sky …. These sightings
of infernal armies were nocturnal. They several times ac­
companied the seige of Jerusalem.
A similar occurence took place in Thann, Alsace, where a
chapel was built in 1160 after three lights had been observed
over a fir-tree. A luminous cross was seen in 1188 between
Gisors and Neaufles-Saint-Martin; a cross carved in stone
still marks the spot.
We observe here that the appearances of lights or phenomena
interpreted as objects, seen in the sky, were not in
general associated with the idea of “visitors” or with the
possible arrival of fantastic creatures, but rather with religious
beliefs, and were treated as manifestations of supernatural
forces. After the twelfth century, reports became more
documented; religious chronicles give more space to local
events and a larger quantity of information is recorded by
monasteries. On January 1, 1254, at Saint Alban’s Abbey, at
midnight, in a serene sky and clear atmosphere, with stars
shining and the moon eight days old, there suddenly appeared
in the sky a kind of large ship, elegantly shaped, well
equipped and of a marvelous color. (Matthew of Paris,
Historia Anglorum, quoted in Wilkins [5], with numerous
other good reports.) The observation made in 1290 at Byland
Abbey, Yorkshire, of a large silvery disk flying slowly
is a classical one and can be found in a number of books. On
November 1, 1461, a strange object shaped like a ship,
from which fire was seen flowing, passed over the town of
Arras in France (5). Jacques Duclerc, a chronicler, and connselor
to King Philip the Good, writes a detailed acconnt of
this sighting in his Memoirs of a Freeman of Arras: “A fiery
thing like an iron rod of good length and as large as one
half of the moon was seen in the sky for a little less than
a quarter of an hour.”
An incunabulum made in 1493, which belonged to the
Saint Airy Library and is now visible in a museum in Verdun,
may contain the earliest example of the representation
of UFOs in Europe. The author of the manuscript, the
German Humanist Hartmann Schaeden, describes a strange
sphere of fire sailing through the sky, following a straight
path from south to east, then turning toward the setting sun.
An illumination depicts a cigar-shaped form in a blue sky,
23
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON I surrounded by flames, flying over the green, hilly country- ·
side. The date of the sighting seems to have been 1034.
A round shape with a rotating light or beam was described,
accompanied by two fiery suns, in the sky of Erfurt
in 1520. A “cloud cigar” was possibly seen in France on
October 12, 1527 (11).
With the observations of Nuremberg (April 14, 1561) and.
Basel (August 7, 1566), of which drawings were made and
are preserved in Zurich, we reach a period analyzed in detail
by Professor Jung. Again, the Nuremberg sighting involves
large tubes shown in inclined positions, from which
spheres originate, generally three or four. Spheres and disks
were seen and appeared to fight each other in aerial dances.
The same behavior was described in Basel, where the objects
were large black spheres.
After the year 1600 many good references will be found
in the books of Charles Fort, in addition to the reviews by
Wilkins. It should, however, be pointed out that the accounts
Fort seem to prefer concern luminous objects’ in the
sky associated with earthquakes and cataclysms on the
ground, and that these should be considered with extreme
caution. An article (quoted in [12]) has discussed this possible
connection between seismic phenomena and atmospheric ·
perturbations. We do not seem to be dealing here with reports
of the same nature, although it is understandable that
Fort could be puzzled by such descriptions, at a time when
the nature of earthquakes was not at all understood.
On March 6, 1716, the astronomer Halley saw an object
which illuminated the sky for more than two hours in such
a way that he could read a printed text in the light of this
object. The time of the observation was 7: 00 P.M. After
two hours, the brightness of the phenomenon was reactivated
“as if new fuel had been cast on a fire” ( 5).
Interesting reports are also given by Wilkins for March
19, 1718 (Oxford), December 5, 1737, and especially December
16, 1742 (London). But this book cannot possibly
elaborate upon all of these cases; it can only be suggested
that extensive studies be made to determine whether these
old documents refer to phenomena of the same general type
as the modern reports, as this preliminary study would seem 1
to indicate. We will have to discuss, for instance, the sighting
of “luminous spheres corning out of a bright cylinder”
24
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAU C ERS”
1 in Augermanland, Sweden, in 1752, in connection with similar
sightings in modem times.
, In the latter part of the eighteenth century and during
I the nineteenth centmy observations of UFOs made by as-
1 tronomers were quite common. The modem gospel that “as-
. tronomers have never seen UFOs” is untrue. Old astranomical
chronicles are very interesting in this respect: On
August 9, 1762, an object was seen in front of the sun
by two different observatories in Switzerland. On June 17,
1777, Charles Messier observed a large number of dark
spots (13). On August 18, 1783, at 9:25 P.M., at Windsor
Castle, Tiberius Cavallo, a Fellow of the Royal Society,
described a peculiar luminous phenomenon (see page 146).
In Greenwich, on August 30, 1783, there was seen a very
strange object giving rise to eight satellites which disappeared
slowly toward the southeast. These observations by
professional scientists reached their peak in the nineteenth
century.
UFO’S I N THE N I N ETEENTH CENTU RY
After the year 1800 the reports of objects in the sky become
so numerous and well documented that one can lay
aside the popular rumors and study only accounts published
in the scientific press. They represent a large amount
of data, and their reliability is excellent.
Consider for example this observation by John Staveley
(5) on August 10, 1809, at Hatton Garden, London, published
by the Journal of Natural History and Philosophy
and Chemistry :
I saw many meteors moving around the edge of a
black cloud from which lightnings flashed. They were like
dazzling specks of light, dancing and traipsing thro’ the
clouds. One increased in size till it became of the brilliancy
and magnitude of Venus, on a clear evening. But
I could see no body in the light. It moved with great
rapidity, and coasted the edge of the cloud. Then it became
stationary, dimmed its splendour, and vanished.
I saw these strange lights for minutes, not seconds. For
at least an hour, these lights, so strange, and in innumerable
points, played in and out of this black cloud. No
lightning came from the clouds where these lights were
25
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
playing. As the meteors increased in size, they seemed
to descend . • . •
Concerning observations at Embrun, France, on September
7, 1820, Franr;ois Arago writes in the Annales de chimie
et de physique:
Numerous observers have seen, during an eclipse of the
moon, strange objects moving in straight lines. They were
equally spaced and remained in line when they made
turns. Their movements showed a military precision.
These old reports are often marked by much ingenuity
and naivete. They show nineteenth-century astronomy as a
very dynamic science which had nothing of the dogmatic
character we observe today. Observations were honestly reported
and published, even when they did not fit into the
classical patterns, and it is most clear that no scientific periodical-
except, maybe, the French journal L’Astronomiewould
publish today any of the three observations that we
are going to quote now, and which can be found in L’Annee
Scientifique ( Onzieme An nee, p. 28 and Douzieme An nee,
p. 43). The first observation is dated July 30, 1866 and
reads:
A German astronomer has made a very strange observation
that seems to prove that shooting stars sometimes
come as low as one kilometer above the ground. The
astronomer in question is M. Behrmann, of the Royal Observatory
of Geottingen, already known for works of the
first order and some very important discoveries in the
theoretical field.
On Ju!y 30, 1866, at 9 P.M., this observer was looking
at the clouds accumulated on the oriental horizon when
all of a sudden he saw, at a point he had had in sight
for about half a minute, a shooting star of third to fourth
magnitude. He had the impression the meteor was pierc­
ing the layer of clouds, which was much too thick to allow
the vision of a shooting star by transparence. The
cloud from which this phenomenon had emerged did not
have an elevation in excess of fifteen degrees. The shooting
star remained visible for about four tenths of one
second, very approximately estimated by M. Behrmann.
26-,
T H E LEGEND OF “FLY I N G SAUC ERS”
It disappeared again into the clouds after a flight of five
to six degrees.
Another most interesting observation, relative to the
category of the meteors0 has been made by M. Heis on
October 4, 1866 at 8:30 P.M. M. Heis, who was studying
the Milky Way, very clearly saw a dark body detach
itself against the light background of this cluster of
stars. It had the proper motion of a shooting star. This
dark meteor followed an arc of eleven to twelve degrees
before it was lost in the dark blue-black of the sky.
·
The third report reads:
On August 21, 1867 at 8:30 P.M., the inhabitants of
Moncalieri (Piemonte, Italy) have had the unusual sight
of a bolide flying under the clouds, at a small distance
from the ground, over a very large space. These are the
circumstances of this phenomenon: One half of the sky
was almost completely covered with dark clouds, especially
in the southeast. All of a sudden a magnificent luminous
meteor came from the northwest under Ursa Major
and flew under the clouds as it went towards the southeast.
Between these clouds and the ground it followed a
straight trajectory over about fifty degrees. It was of first
magnitude and about the apparent diameter of Jupiter;
its color was very bright red. The altitude of the clouds
did not exceed 300 meters.
In July, 1868, at Capiago, Chile, an aerial construction
emitting light and giving off engine noise was D:tterpreted
locally as a giant bird with shining eyes, covered with large
scales clashing to produce a metallic noise ( 15 and 16).
On March 22, 1870, an observation was made aboard the
“Lady of the Lake” in the Atlantic Ocean at 5°47′ N. and
0Some scientists think such observations have no place in
a study of the UFO phenomenon since their authors themselves
reported the objects as “meteors.” These scientists forget
that the word “meteor” has only recently received a
precise definition. The nineteenth-century astronomers used
it with a great variety of meaning. De Monetmont, in 1840,
pointed out the greek root ( meteros meaning high, elevated)
and defined meteors as “phenomena of the air, such as the
rainbow, the aurora borealis, the thunder, etc.”
27
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
27°52″ W. The object seen was a disk of light gray color.
What appeared to be the real part was surrounded by a
halo and a long tail emanated from the center. This UFO
was viewed between 20° and 80° elevation for half an hour.
It flew against the wind and Captain Banner made a drawing
of it.
On April 24, 187 4, a Professor Schafarick saw in Prague
“an object of such a strange nature that I do not know
what to say about it. It was of a blinding white and crossed
slowly the face of the moon. It remained visible afterwards
….” ( 18 )
On January 24, 1878, John Martin used the word “saucer”
to describe his UFO. On May 15, 1879, at 9:40 P.M.,
from the “Vultur” in the Persian Gulf two giant luminous
wheels were observed spinning and slowly descending. They
were seen for thirty-five minutes, had an estimated diameter
of forty meters and were about four diameters apart. Similar
“giant wheels” were seen the year after, again in May
and in the same part of the ocean, but by another ship,
the steamer Patna (20 ) .
This observation of May 1880 was published by the scientific
periodical Knowledge in the following terms: 0 !
Seeing so many meteorological phenomena in your excellent
paper, KNOWLEDGE, I am tempted to ask for,
an explanation of the following, which I saw when on 1
board the British India Company’s steamer Patna while ! on a voyage up the Persian Gulf. In May, 1880, on a
dark, calm night, about 11:30 P.M., there suddenly appeared
on each side of the ship an enormous luminous j
wheel whirling round, the spokes of which seemed to
brush the ship along. The spokes would be 200 or 300 ·
yards long, and resembled the birch rods of the dames’ ‘
schools. Each wheel contained about sixteen spokes, and
0Ivan T. Sanderson has conducted a special study of:
about 100 such cases observed during the last century and·
discusses them in an article published in Fate Magazine,
(July 1964, p. 42). Noting that luminescent plankton must·
be the immediate source of light, he suggests that the ex-‘
traordinary pattern-the wheel without rim-“is produced .
by a rotating source of radiation that triggers emission of ,1· light by the plankton.” 1
2S
THE LEGEND OF “FlYING SAU C ERS”
made the revolution in about twelve seconds. One could
almost fancy one heard the swish as the spokes whizzed
past the ship, and, although the wheels must have been
some 500 or 600 yards in diameter, the spokes could be
distinctly seen all the way round. The phosphorescent
gleam seemed to glide along flat on the surface of the
sea, no light being visible in the air above the water. The
appearance of the spokes could be almost exactly represented
by standing in a boat and flashing a bull’s-eye
lantern horizontally along the surface of the water round
and round. I may mention that the phenomenon was also
seen by Captain Avern, commander of the Patna, and
Mr. Manning, third officer.
Lee Fore Brace.
P.S.-The “wheels” advanced along with the ship for
about twenty minutes.-L.F.B.
On June 11, 1881, at 4:00 A.M., between Melbourne and
Sydney, the two sons of the Prince of Wales, one of them
the future king of England, saw a strange celestial object
similar to a fully illuminated ship. ( See The Cruise of the
‘, Bacchante, written by the two princes. ) In the last twenty years of the nineteenth century we
I have found eighty-four observations of interest, thirty-four
of which were published in full detail in the scientific press.
These alone would justify a systematic investigation. The
1 proportion of witnesses with a high scientific standing is I greater in these reports then, for example, those of 1947. I They give more detailed descriptions, and by the precision
and clarity of the accounts we lmow that they were not the
products of mass hallucination or emotion. Among them, we
find our second detailed account of a “landing,” the first
one being the Ezekiel incident. On April 10, 1897, at Carlinville,
Illinois, an object landed in the fields but took off as
‘soon as the witnesses came close to it. Its shape was that /
of a cigar with a dome ( 21).
A large number of the reports published in the scientific
press concern objects of the general aspect of a bolide, but
following strange paths, sometimes at very low speeds. Although
we would like to think of these phenomena as peculiar,
but natural, astronomical objects, it is difficult to do so
in many instances, and Flammarion designated them under
the new name of “bradytes.” A typical example is found in
29
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
L’A stronomie, the bulletin of the French Astronomical So­
ciety, for the year 1883. The report reads:
On February 23, 1883, at 7 : 00 P.M., as I was observing
the sky in the direction of Orion, i.e., toward the south, 1 I saw a luminous point appearing behind Alpha Orionis 1
and sliding to Sirius after a double tum as shown on the 􀀕 attached figure. This was not, however, a period of the 1
year with abundant shooting stars. This bolide had the 1
luminosity of a fourth-magnitude star. Its maximum lumin- ‘
osity was estimated by me to correspond to the third •
magnitude when it was in A, and it had a minimum in ;
B, where it remained stationary for a while. It continued J toward Sirius with a brightness corresponding to the
fourth magnitude. I lost sight of it as if it had gone l behind Sirius and had not reappeared.
The year 1883 was rich in reports; no less than twelve
have so far come to our- attention. During the summer, at
Segeberg, the children and the teacher of an elementary
school saw two fiery spheres in the sky with the apparent
diameter of the full moon; they traveled side by side, not
very fast, on a north-south course. On August 12, in the
morning, the astonomer Jose Bonilla, of Zacatecas Observatory
in Mexico, saw and photographed “formations” of circular
objects which crossed the disk of the sun on a westeast
course. They were separated by regular intervals and
were in groups of fifteen to twenty. The author of the report
counted 283 such objects. Earlier in the year (April 15
and 25) similar formations had been seen over Marseilles,
France. But the reliability of these observations can always
be contested : How trained were the authors of these reports?
How can we be sure that the alleged objects were
not flocks of birds?
In 1885 we have six reports, five of them from L’Astronomie.
Two of these reports are of special interest to us in
our attempt to show that the UFO phenomenon is not of
recent origin. The first report we will quote here is dated
August 22. The time was 8 : 15 A.M. and the place, Saigon:
M. Reveillere and Lieutenant Guiberteau have witnessed
a very strange meteorological phenomenon. Looking toward ;
the south and having in front of them the Southern Cross,
30
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCE RS”
these scientists saw a magnificent red object, larger than
the planet Venus and having a fairly large lateral motion.
Both observers were without instruments. They saw the
meteor appear suddenly in the south, and disappear in the
southeast. Its elevation was between 15° and 20 °. Its mo­
tion, practically level with the horizon, was not faster than
that of a cloud in an average wind. It took seven or eight
minutes for this meteor to travel on an arc equal to about
one-third of the celestial sphere, and it disappeared behind
a cloud of average opacity. One of the witnesses,
M. Guiberteau, thought he saw the meteor above the cirrus
clouds, when according to M. Reveillere the meteor
lost some of its brightness because of the clouds, and this
brightness varied according to the thickness of the cloud.
It is difficult to decide what this meteor was.
The second report was made on November 1, 1885, at 􀁘9:30 P.M., at Andrianople, Turkey, and reads:
M. Mavrogordato, of Constantinople, calls our attention
to the following strange observations which have been
communicated to him.
(1) On November 1, at 9: 30P.M., there was seen, west
of Andrianople, an elongated object giving off a strong
luminosity. It seemed to float in the air and its apparent
disk was four or five times larger than the full moon.
It traveled slowly and cast light on the whole camp behind
the station with a brightness about ten times greater
than a large electric bulb.
(2) In the morning of November 2, at dawn, a very
luminous flame, first bluish, then greenish, an d moving at
a height of five to six meters, made a series of turns
around the ferryboat pier at Scutari. Its blinding luminosity
lighted the street and flooded the inside of the houses
with light. The meteor was visible for one minute and
a half and finally fell into the sea. No noise was heard
when the immersion took place.
Are these two meteors really bolides? One might doubt
it. At any rate, these observations are quite interesting
(L’Astronomie, 1885, and R. Veillith, [22] ).
One may think of the phenomenon termed “ball lightning”‘
in connection with the second incident. Ball lightning is a
31
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
natural, but still largely mysterious, phenomenon. In our
opmwn, UFO files do contain several very good accounts
of objects which fall into this category, and some of the
best we have ever read are in the files of the Aerial Phenomena
Group of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. It is
certainly unfortunate that no physicist with interest in this
field has ever studied these reports. 0 Such an investigation
would also reveal that many sightings have been “explained
away” as ball lightnings because no intelligent answer could :
be found, and the specialist would be surprised at some of ;
the reports placed in this category. We have here an old ,
example of the same attitude, from L’ Astronomie again,
dated November 12, 1887, and flatly called “ball lightning” :
In the North Atlantic Ocean a new case of ball lightning, j one of those so strange and still so inexplicable effects, j has been observed. On November 12, 1887, at midnight, 1
near Cape Race, a huge ball of fire appeared, slowly j
emerging from the ocean to an altitude of sixteen to seven- ; teen meters. This sphere started moving against the wind ! and stopped close to the ship from which it was ob- ! served. Then it rushed away in the sky and disappeared
in the southeast. The whole observation had lasted five ·
minutes. [Italics mine-Author.] i
During the night of January 8, 1888, luminous bodies f were seen flying through the sky in lines for one hour, ac- ·
cording to the Memoirs of the Minor Brothers of Ragusa, :
Italy.
In 1893 several observations of disks and “wheels” at sea .
were made, mainly between Japan and China. In the United ‘
States, on December 20, 1893, another huge “wheel” giving
off noise appeared; it remained motionless for fifteen min- ·
utes before leaving. In Oxford, England, on August 31,
1895, at 8 : 00 P.M., a disk was seen rising above some trees
0 As a courtesy, several professional scientists, including
this writer, have received permission from the interested authorities
to study the nonclassified reports. Physicists concerned
with the interpretation of ball lightnings could probably
obtain information on specific cases through similar chan- 11
. nels. _

3! ‘
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCERS”
and disappearing in the east ( Dr. J. A. H. Murray) ( 192) .
In Chicago, on April 2, 1897, at 2 : 00 A.M., amazed citizens
clambered to the top of a skyscraper to observe an enormous
flying object which seemed to have fins at each end and
a beacon. On the tenth of the same month the “landing”
in Carlinville, Illinois, which we mentioned earlier, was reported.
On the fifteenth an object in the shape of a cigar
was seen at Benton, Texas, and several other places. It
cruised toward the southeast, and was described as “a magnificent
sight.” The Chicago object, or a similar one, was
observed on April 19, at 9 : 00 P .M., at Sisterville, West Virginia,
with flashing colored lights. ”
But L e Roy, Kansas, is the place w e will have to remember.
“Last Monday night, about 1 0 : 30,” said Alexander Hamilton,
we were awakened by a noise among the cattle. I arose,
thinking that perhaps my bulldog was performing some
of his pranks, but upon going to the door saw to my
utter astonishment an airship slowly descending upon my
cow lot, about forty rods from the house.
Calling my tenant, Gid Heslip, and my son Wall, we
seized some axes and ran to the corral. Meanwhile, the
ship had been gently descending until it was not more
thaii thirty feet above the ground, and we came within
fifty yards of it.
It consisted of a great cigar-shaped portion, possibly
three hundred feet long, with a carriage underneath. The
carriage was made of glass or some other transparent substance
alternating with a narrow strip of some material.
It was brilliantly lighted within and everything was plainly
visible-it was occupied by six of the strangest beings
I ever saw. They were jabbering together, but we could
not understand a word they said.
“Since the publication of the first edition of this book, a
systematic investigation of the 1897 wave has been undertaken
by D. Hanlon. His careful analysis of many reports
of that period reveals an amazing number of sightings, some
of them by thousands of witnesses. The significance of this
series of events seems to have escaped even the attention of
Charles Fort.
33
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
Every part of the vessel which was not transparent was
of a dark reddish color. We stood mute with wonder
and fright, when some noise attracted their attention and
they turned a light directly upon us. Immediately on catching
sight of us they turned on some unknown power, and
a great turbine wheel, about thirty feet in diameter, which
was slowly revolving below the craft began to buzz and
the vessel rose lightly as a bird. When about three hundred
feet above us it seemed to pause and hover directly
over a two-year-old heifer, which was bawling and jumping,
apparently fast in the fence. Going to her, we found
a cable about a half-inch in thickness made of some red
material, fastened in a slip knot around her neck, one end
passing up to the vessel, and the heifer tangled in the
wire fence. We tried to get it off but could not, so we cut
the wire loose and stood in amazement to see the ship,
heifer and all, rise slowly, disappearing in the northwest.
We went horne, but I was so frightened I could not
sleep. Rising early Tuesday, I started out by horse, hoping
to find some trace of my cow. This I failed to do, but
corning back in the evening found that Link Thomas, ‘
about three or four miles west of Le Roy, had found the
hide, legs , and head in his field that day. He, thinking
someone had butchered a stolen beast, had brought the
hide to town for identification, but was greatly mystified
in not being able to find any tracks in the soft ground. After
identifying the hide by my brand, I went horne. But
every time I would drop to sleep I would see the cursed
thing, with its big lights and hideous people. I don
know whether they are devils or angels, or what; but •
we all saw them, and my whole family saw the ship, and
I don’t want any more to do with them.
Hamilton has long been a resident of Kansas and is
known all over Woodson, Allen, Coffey and Anderson
counties. He was a member of the House of Representa- ‘
tives. He staked his sacred honor upon the truth of his
story.
An affidavit follows :
As there are now, always have been and always vill be
skeptics and unbelievers whenever the truth of anything
bordering the improbable is presented, and knOving that
some ignorant or suspicious people will doubt the truth-
34 .
T H E LEGEND OF “FlYING SAUC ERS”
fulness of the above statement, now, therefore, we, the
undersigned, do hereby make the following affidavit:
That we have known Alexander Hamilton for one to
thirty years, and that for the truth and veracity we have
never heard his word questioned, and that we do verily
believe his statement to be true and correct.
Signed: E. W. Wharton, State Oil Inspector
M. E. Hunt, Sheriff
W. Lauber, Deputy Sheriff
H. H. Winter, Banker
H. S. Johnson, Pharmacist
J. H. Stitcher, Attorney
Alexander Stewart, Justice of the Peace
F. W. Butler, Druggist
James W. Martin, Registrar of Deeds
and H. C. Rollins, Postmaster
Subscribed and sworn before me this 21st day of April,
1897 ( 45).
On April 25, 1898, at 9 : 32 P.M., in Belgrade, a strange
meteor was observed which, according to J. Michailovitch,
a professor at Belgrade Observatory, remained motionless in
the sky for more than six minutes. In Lille, France, a red
object was seen motionless for ten minutes on September 4,
‘ 1898, then left a few sparks and went away.
ASTRONOMERS LOSE A P LANET
If the reader ever attends a lecture on the subject of the
solar system, he will undoubtedly be told about Mercury,
Venus, Mars and its two satellites Phobos and Deimos; Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are similarly unavoidable.
If he is lucky he will hear a word about the asteroids
: Ceres and Juno, Eros, Hermes and a few others
such as Pallas. At the end of two hours his head will be
filled with more names of Roman and Greek gods than can
conceivably cohabit on the narrow summit of Olympus. And
then, if he has a chance to pause for a while before returning
to his earthly occupations, maybe he will notice that
this cohort of divinities is still incomplete : The great Vulcan
is missing; the colorful figure of the God of Industry and
subterranean regions is nowhere to be seen.
At this point, however, the reader definitely should not
35
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
raise his hand and demand an explanation, for he would at
once get into trouble with two centuries of astronomy.
The truth is, there once was a planet called Vulcan in our
solar system. Its orbit was interior to that of Mercury, and
it would be observed when passing in front of the sun. It
revolved around the sun in nineteen days at a distance of
0.1427 astronomical unit. The inclination of its orbit was
12° 10″ and the longitude of its ascending node, 1 2 ° 59′. Its
existence was predicted by theory and attested by the observations
of numerous astrop.omers of great reputation. As
a matter of fact, it was most fashionable around 1880 to
observe dark spherical bodies that crossed the disc of the
sun in one or two hours. Thus, we read in L’ Annee Scientifique
of 1878 ( p. 16) that:
The scientific public has learned with the greatest satisfaction
that during the eclipse of the sun of 29 July
1 878, M. Watson, director of the Ann Arbor (Michigan)
observatory has seen on the disk of the sun a body animated
with a great velocity. ( Italics mine-Author)
Such satisfaction regarding what must be called today
a UFO report found its justification in the fact that celestial
mechanics, in 1878, predicted the existence of such
a planet revolving around the sun inside the orbit of Mer- ·
cury. The director of Paris Observatory, Le Verrier, had
computed the precise point where the planet Neptune could
be discovered-and it was. Vhy not apply the same method
to the perturbations of Mercury? Le Verrier indicated that
these perturbations must be caused by a nearby planet. An
outstanding astronomer and an extraordinary computer, he
had re-examined the motion of all the planets in the solar
system and had published new tables giving their positions
with a precision long unequaled; but Mercury resisted his
analysis : There was a discrepancy of 32° of arc per century
that could not be accounted for. Le Verrier verified that an
error on the mass of Venus could not be responsible for this
difference, and he concluded that it had to be caused by
the gravitational perturbations of one or several intramercurial
planets. ( It is now known that such planets need not
exist in order to explain the peculiar motion of Mercury.
The correct theory was developed in this century and is a
result of the work of Einstein. But prerelativistic astronomy
36 –
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUC E RS”
could only represent the difference in terms of newtonian
forces. }
Le Verrier’s theoretical considerations were not confumed
until March 1859, when Dr. Lescarbault made an observation
that seemed to prove that the intramercurial planet
did exist. The scientific community received the observation
with enthusiasm, as shown the documents quoted below, and
the new planet was called Vulcan. Le Verrier immediately
started his researches and computations anew. He stated that
Dr. Lescarbault’s observations were most reliable and left
him no doubt on the existence of at least one intramercurial
body. But his work did not lead to any new breakthrough
until about 1876. During this period new observations accumulated
and Le Verrier gathered about thirty of the most
reliable ones: All were relative to dark bodies seen in front
of the sun ! Among these thirty, he selected five that led
to determinations of the motion of an intramercurial planet
which were in agreement within half a degree of arc'”.
From the computed elements of Vulcan’s orbit, the date
of the next transit could be predicted as October 2 or 3,
1876. But the mysterious object was not again observed then;
Le Verrier died the following year, unshaken in his convic­
tion that Vulcan must exist. That is why M. Watson’s ob­
servation of a fourth-magnitude body during the eclipse o£
1878 was received with such enthusiasm; Watson was no
amateur. Director of Ann Arbor observatory, he was a specialist
in the asteroids, the discoverer of many of them, and the
author of a well known and authoritative astronomical
treatise. At Paris Observatory, M. Gaillot, a man who had
for sixteen years assisted Le Verrier in his computations,
showed that Watson’s observation was compatible with one of
the possible orbits calculated by Le Verrier for Vulcan. But
the theory always failed to predict the return of the enigmatic
object. A scientific book published in 1912, noting
that “the most recent observations have brought no new
element to the solution of the problem,” borrowed the following
conclusions from the astronomer Tisserand:
l. We feel one must abandon the hypothesis of a single
0The five observations are no. 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the
table given on page 42.
37
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
planet producing the perturbations observed in the motion
of Mercury. This seems to result from the body of
observations made during solar eclipses, especially that of
29 July 1878.
2. If there are intramercurial planets whose dimensions
are comparable to those of the object M. Lescarbault
saw in front of the sun, these planets must be in very small
number; otherwise, they could not have escaped detection
by astronomers such as Canington and Sporer, who
describe and measure the most minute spot on the solar
surface.
3. These planets alone could not produce the perturbations
of the motion of Mercury. ·
4. One must come back to one of Le Verrier’s first
ideas, namely, that there is a ring of asteroids between
Mercury and the sun.
Shortly thereafter, Einstein’s theory of relativity accounted
for the irregularities of the orbit of Mercury, and the theorretical
need for intramercurial planets vanished. Much re­
lieved, astronomers suddenly forgot all about Vulcan. Discredit
and ridicule fell on – people who saw objects in front
of the sun. The observations recorded by so many excellent
scientists were hastily pushed into oblivion. Not a word of
apology or justi£cation appeared in the astronomical literature.
The observations of the mysterious planetoid that once
had been called Vulcan remained unexplained. The name
of Le Verrier, one of the most powerful minds of the nine­
teenth century, remained in astronomy for many remarkable
works, but it was forg9tten that he had spent an important
fraction of his astronomical career studying the motion of
the mysterious object. The care which he took in this study
is evidenced by the following account of his visit to Lescarbault
in 1859.
When the director of Paris Observatory received the letter
written by Lescarbault, an amateur astronomer who prac­
ticed medicine in the small village of Orgeres, he was deeply
involved in the computation of possible orbits for an intramercurial
body. He had published his views on the problem
some time before, and this publication had been followed by
much correspondence between him and several astronomers
who had observed objects in front of the sun. Le Verrier
went to the Academy of Sciences to explain that these ob-
38-
T H E LEGEND OF “FLY I N G SAU C ERS”
servations were not good enough to serve as a basis for computation.
Many other astronomers sent accounts of mobile
objects which were similarly rejected. It is interesting to
ask what these objects were. But they were not the missing
planet.
Lescarbault’s observation, on the contrary, seemed to apply
very well to the mysterious body. An interesting point
was that Lescarbault had started to look for planets in the
vicinity of the sun long before Le Verrier published his
theoretical views.
In his letter, he explains how on March 26, 1859, he
saw a black circular dot which had a proper motion of
translation across the sun, this indicating that the object
was a planetary body. The angular diameter was less than
one quarter that of Mercury, as seen by the same observer
on May 8, 1845:
The duration of the passage of the new planet was
one hour seventeen minutes, and twenty two seconds of
sidereal time. ” I have the conviction that, some day, a
black dot, perfectly circular, very small, will be seen again
passing in front of the sun. . . • This black dot will be,
with a great degree of probability, the planet whose mo­
tion I followed on March 26, 1859, and it will become
possible to compute all the elements of its orbit. I tend
to believe that its distance to the sun is smaller than
that of Mercury.
This object must be the planet or one of the planets
whose existence in the vicinity of the solar globe you have
announced a few months ago, M. Director, using this
same wonderful power of computation that made you
recognize the existence of Neptune in 1846, when you
determined its position at the frontiers of our planetary
world, and traced its path across the depths of Space.
Such a communication, remarks L’ Annee Scientifique, called
for all of Le Verrier’s attention :
“Le Verrier verified that this was the time of transit along
a cord measuring 9’17”. The time the object would have
taken to cross the sun along a diameter was 4 hours, 26
minutes, 48 seconds.
39
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON ,
Assuming it was real and absolutely accurate, this ama-J teur astronomer’s discovery might have taken away from,:
him a fraction of the effective glory, since the physician /
of Orgeres had observed the intramercurial planet six :
months before Le Verrier placed the question in front] of the scientific world. The great minds, however, do not 􀀣 ,
stop at such narrow views. They consider only the gen-t era! interest of science, where others would pettily be con-r
cemed over their own reputation. M. Le Verrier hastily’􀃘
verilied the calculations of his country correspondent and 1 1
found them to be correct. He could not understand, how- ·
ever, how this observation, made six months earlier, had 1
not yet been announced to the scientists. Under these
conditions, M. Le Verrier took the best decision; with a .
friend, M . Valee, he started towards Oregeres on December
31, 1859. I When he arrived in this tiny village, M. Le Verrier started /
by gathering information about Dr. Lescarbault. Everyone i
answered that h e was a learned man, surrounded b y the !
friendship and high regard of all, practicing with honor and:
dignity his noble profession of physician. They had only i
one criticism : “He looked too much at the stars.” Thus informed, our two travellers knocked at the door1,
of the astronomer, who opened it in person and remained!
very much surprised to find in front of him two visitors from􀀔 Paris, one of them no less than the Director of the Observa-1 tory and member of the Academy and Senate. M. Le Verrier
was soon convinced that Dr. Lescarbault was a serious scientist.
He had not published his discovery because he hoped ·
to see the object a second time. He had designed and built
a small observatory that Le Verrier inspected with the most ,
minutious care, and he answered all of Le Verrier’s ques- ·
tions concerning the good scientific conditions of his obser-·
vations. However, there was no ink or paper in Lescar;
bault’s observatory. The simple man used chalk to write his”‘
observations on a board of pine-wood, a practice borrowed)! from the professional woodcraftsmen. When he wished to !
re-use the board he erased everything with his smoothin g- ! plane. The board on which the observations of March 26
were written had fortunately been preserved. Le Verrier
found it in a comer of the room, received Dr. Lescarbault’s
permission to take it with him to Paris as an authentic docu-
40
T H E LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUC ERS”
ment of the important observation, and presented it to the
Academy in January, 1860. Long articles were published on
the remarkable discovery. No one doubted that Lescarbault
had observed Vulcan. He received the Cross of the Legion
of Honor and was invited by the physicians of Paris to a
banquet to be held in one of the most fashionable hotels in
the Capital, an invitation the simple man declined.
As Lescarbault’s observation provided a serious indication
in favor of the theory of intramercurial planets, astronomers
started to review the documents that pointed in the same
direction. A number of observations thus came back to
light.
Such was the observation by Messier on June 17, 1777,
about noon, of a considerable number of small, dark globes
which crossed the sun in five minutes-too fast for Le Verrier’s
theory. On October 20, 1839, de Cuppis, then a student
at the Roman College, observed a black dot, perfectly
circular, which took six hours to cross the diameter of the
sun. Such observations were so commonplace that an American
astronomer, Herrick, of New Haven published a memoir
entitled:
Observations concerning certain peculiar spots tending to
prove the existence of a planet inside the orbit of Mercury.
Herrick quoted the following observations : 0
1 ° ) Gruthinsen had seen two small, well-defined spots in
front of the sun on July 26, 1819.
2 ° ) Pastorff, of Buckholz, saw two remarkable spots on
23 October 1822 and 24, 25 July 1823. In 1834, he saw
two small objects that passed six times in front of the sun
at different times during the year. The largest had an
apparent diameter of three seconds, the smallest, from 1
to 1.25″ of arc. Both were perfectly circular. The smallest
was sometimes before, sometimes after the other. The
largest distance observed between them was one minute
and sixteen seconds. They were often very close together
and employed s everal hours to cross the diameter
of the sun. Pastorff saw similar objects on October 18,
1836; Novermber 1, 1836; and February 10, 1837.
0 See also Buys-Ballot: Changements de Temperature depe7lf[ant
du Soleil et de la Lune; and Flauquerques de Viviers
: Correspondence Astronomique du Baron de Zach.
41
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON
Study of the history of astronomy thus shows that the
observation of dark objects in front of the disk of the sun
was a frequent event during the nineteenth century. We
have established that professional astronomers such as Le
Verrier, who gathered about thirty such accounts, authen- ·
ticated these observations and devoted to their close study
an important fraction of their scientific life. Yet we must ·
admit today that the celestial object whose transit was ob- ·
served by the good doctor of Oregeres and by astronomer –
Watson remains unidentified. The following table provides ;
a reference for these accounts-observations of a planet t
which cannot be found today:
No. Date Observer !
1 June 17, 1777 Messier
2 Oct. 10, 1802 Fritsch
3 July 26, 1819 Gruthinsen
4 1822 to 1837 Pastor££
5 Oct. 20, 1839 De Cuppis
6 March 12, 1849 Sidebotham
7 March 26,1859 Lescarbault
8 March 20, 1862 Lummis
9 July 19, 1878 Watson
THE ATOM IC EXPLOSION OF JUNE 30, 1908
This incident has received considerable attention from
Soviet and American scientists and is still a subject of con­
troversy.
The event took place about 800 kilometers North of the
B􀍒ikal J:ake, at 12: 17 A.M. In an article for the French magazme
LExpress (No. 734), Claude Feuillet notes that the
engineers of the Trans-Siberian Railroad brought to Moscow
􀍑
T H E LEGEND OF “FlY I N G SAUCERS”
the first details of the disaster : “Beyond the forests, hundreds
of miles away, we saw a huge column of fire rising in the
sky, crown,􀄈d by a boiling cloud that was shaped like a
mushroom.
Feuillet also notes that two farmers, named Semenov and
Kosolopy, were about forty miles away from the blast; one
said that his shirt had been burnt on his back, the other
told of his silver samovar being fused. At Irkoutsk Observatory,
perturbations of the earth’s magnetic field similar
to those that follow nuclear explosions were recorded. The
sky became luminous over an area 500 miles in radius and
the noise was heard at twice that distance. The luminosity
of the atmosphere remained so high that for several weeks
people in the Caucasus could read a printed text at night
· without any other source of light. Strange clouds, of a
smoky color, yellow and greenish, drifted toward Africa. Recently,
the study of the wood of century-old trees in Siberia,
Arizona and California showed that the radioactivity of the
earth’s atmosphere had very clearly increased about 1908.
The first expedition sent by the Academy of Sciences of
the USSR was caught in the swamps and had to tum back.
In 1927, explorer Kulik was able to reach the site of the
explosion and discovered an apocalyptic spectacle. Every
trace of life had been erased over a huge area. Twenty
years after the explosion, no new vegetation had grown.
Kulik declared: “The trees have not been destroyed from
the bottom up, as in a fire, but from the top and only on one
side. . . . It appears that a blast of a fantastic violence has
literally crushed all natural life.”
According to the London Daily Express of May 4, 1959 :
The inhabitants of the Jenissei district of Siberia saw
a gigantic ball of fire. Immediately afterwards there was
a colossal explosion which devastated a forest area of
seventy miles in diameter. The shock waves were registered
in England. Scientists looked in vain for traces of
meteorite and a crater. Curiously, in the centre of the
devastated region only the tops of trees had been snapped
off.
The Sydney Sun, Australia, quoting from the official Czech
trade-union newspaper, Frace, stated that the Russian scientist
Kazantsev had written in a book called A Guest from
43
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON l the Universe that people living near the explosion died of a
then-unlmown illness with the same symptoms as exposure
to atomic radiation and that the explosion had its biggest impact at some distance from its center, exactly like an J
atomic explosion.
BETWEEN 1 900 AND 1 946
More than one hundred reports of unidentified Hying ob- .
jects seen in the air, on the ocean or on the ground are
known to us for this period. Again, a number of them come
from the scientific press. Again, we want to stress the fact
that these “old” reports do not lack any of the fantastic
characteristics of recent observations, although they were
made under very different conditions. We will find extraordinary
descriptions, including kidnappings and even a frightful
report of a being eight feet tall who is said to have
landed on January 22, 1922! More seriously, the description
made at Fatima, Portugal, of a silvery disk which Hew
through the sky, was seen by seventy thousand witnesses and
was photographed as it maneuvered, deserves a place in
our resume of the “Hying saucer” legend ( 23, 24, 180 ) .
But we are not free to comment on such incidents ; hypotheses
are inexpensive, easy to make. One should refrain
from offering hypotheses when one is not able to provide
at the same time a reliable way of checking them and
an objective basis for more advanced investigations. We
wish, therefore, to limit ourselves to those reports which
can be verified by the investigator; we will comment on
them as little as possible in order to keep these data as
free from distortion as we can.
On October 28, 1902, at 3 : 05 A.M., an object was seen
by the second officer and two other witnesses aboard the
“Fort Salisbury” at 5 ° 31′ S. and 4 ° 42′ W. It was a huge,
illuminated object, which sank and disappeared. No ship was
reported missing in this part of the ocean. On February 28,
1904, in the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S.S. “Supply” saw three
red spheres larger than the sun remain below the clouds
for a while, then ascend and disappear.
The observation is described in the Monthly Weather Review
of March 1904, page 1 15, in the following terms:
The following report, as kindly communicated by the
44
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAU C ERS”
editor of The Pilot Chart, is dated U.S.S. Supply, at sea.
1. I have the honor to report that three somewhat remarkable
meteors were observed from this ship at 6 : 10
A.M. ( Greenwich Mean Time: 3 hours, 12 minutes ) February
28, 1904, in latitude 35° 58′ N., long. 128° 36’ W.
2. The meteors appeared near the horizon and below
the clouds, travelling in a group from northwest by north
( true ) directly toward the ship. At first their angular motion
was rapid and color a rather bright red. As they
approached the ship they began to soar, passing above
the clouds at an elevation of about 45 ° . After rising above
the clouds their angular motion ceased, when they appeared
to be moving directly away from the earth at an
elevation of about 75 ° and in direction west-northwest
(true ) . It was noted that the color became less pronounced
as the meteors gained in angular elevation.
3. When sighted, the largest meteor was in the lead,
followed by the second in size at a distance of less than
twice the diameter of the larger, and then by the third
in size at a similar distance from the second in size. They
appeared to be travelling in echelon, and so continued as
long as in sight.
4. The largest meteor had an apparent area of about
six suns. It was egg-shaped, the sharper end forward.
This end was jagged in outline. The after end was regular
and full in outline.
5. The second and third meteors were round and showed
no imperfections in shape. The second meteor was estimated
to be twice the size of the sun in appearance, and
the third about the size of the sun.
6. When the meteors rose there was no change in their
relative positions; nor was there any time any evidence of
rotation or tumbling of the large meteor.
7. I estimated the clouds to be not over one mile high.
8. The near approach or these meteors to the surface
and their subsequent Hight away from the surface appeared
to be most remarkable, especially so as their
actual size could not have been great. That they did
come below the clouds and soar instead of continuing,
their ( celestial? ) course is also equally certain, as the
angular motion ceased and the color faded, as they rose.
The clouds in passing between the meteors and the ship
45
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
completely obscured the former. Blue sky could be seen
in the intervals between the clouds.
9. The meteors were in sight over two minutes and
were carefully observed by three people, whose accounts
agree as to details. The officer of the deck, acting boatswain
Frank Garvey, U.S. Navy, sighted the meteors and
watched them until they disappeared.
In December of the same year an object with a beacon
was seen in several cities in Massachusetts (including Worcester
and Boston ) . It was a long object with red lights,
cruising at a variable speed.
On March 29 the next year (1905 ) at 10:00 P.M. a vertical
luminous tube “like a hot, red-orange iron rod” was
reported at Cardiff, Wales. At Llangollen, Wales, was seen
on September 2, 1905 a black object with short wings, apparently
ten feet long, which seemed to have four legs ( 27 ) .
There seems to have been a “wave” of reports in May,
1909, in Great Britain; it was perhaps the first wave re­
ported as such. The Weekly Dispatch of May 23, 1909,
published a list of twenty-two towns “visited” by flying objects
between May 16 and May 23, and nineteen towns
visited before that period. A light was again seen at Sanford
twenty minutes after a similar “light” had been seen in
the sky at Southend on May 9, 1909, at 1 1: 00 P . M . We have,
of course, no way of determining if the two sightings were
of the same “object.”
Fort says that
. . . upon the night of March 23, 1909, at 5 : 10 o’clock
in the morning, two constables, in different parts of the
city of Peterborough, had reported having seen an object,
carrying a light, moving over the city, with sounds
like the sound of a motor. In the Peterborough Advertiser
, March 27, is published an interview with one of
the constables, who described “an object, somewhat oblong
and narrow in shape, carrying a powerful light.”
On June 3, 1909, at 3 : 00 A.M., men on the Danish steamer
“Bintang,” cruising in the Malacca Strait, saw a brilliantly
lighted wheel under the surface of the ocean. This
peculiar object came to the surface and was seen spinning.
On the sixteenth of the same month, we find in L’Astronomie
( 22, 28 ) the following article:
46
I 1
I
T H E LEGEND OF “FlYING SAUCERS”
M. Beljonne, at Phu-Lien Observatory, Tonkin, sends us
peculiar bolide observations. The first one, especially remarkable,
was made at Dong Hoi, Annam, by M. Delingette,
Inspector in the Civil Guard, head of the meteorological
station.
At Dong Hoi, on June 16 at 4 : 10 A.M., a bolide of an
elongated shape, truncated at both ends, flew over the
city on a west-east course, casting a great luminosity. The
witnesses-Hoang Nic, of Dong Hoi; Tran Ninh, of SaDong-
Danh; Quyen, of Dong-Duong-Hoi; and Danh Lui,
of the same village-who were fishing at sea, reported
that the phenomenon lasted from eight to ten minutes,
between the time the object appeared and the time it
fell into the sea, at about six kilometers from shore.
After Great Britain and Southeast Asia, the 1909 wave
shifted to New Zealand, where the most massive and precise
occurrences have been recorded. Local researchers investigated
these forgotten sightings and unearthed the “wave”
in 1964.
The very clear pattern of “waves” shown by the reports
of the period 1880-1910 is going to vanish during the next
few years. A few observations of a remarkable character will,
however, come to light.
Several most interesting reports can be found in a privately
printed book by Orvil R. Hartle” titled A Carbon
Experiment? Mr. Hartle has made a number of investigations
in his area, and he provides evaluations of the reliability
of the witnesses (most of whom he has personally met and
interviewed) as well as the relation of their observations.
According to his work, a remarkable observation was made
“a week prior to Halloween 1909” (i.e. at the end of October
or in the first days of November as the New Zealand
wave had just subsided) by a group of people from Church,
Indiana. These people were on a hay-ride when they saw
an object which frightened their horses :
The driver had to stop to quiet the team. The UFO
appeared very large and a source of “bright white light”
with tendrils of light extending below the object giving
0Nf 1702 K Street, La Porte, Indiana.
47
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
the appearance of the tentacles of an octopus, these tentacles
of light having a phosphorescent color.
One of the witnesses reported it was “the most frightening
experience she ever had.” The similarity of the description
with that given at Arkansas City in 1956 (see page 230 ) or
the observation of Le Vauriat ( France ) in 1962 is certainly
striking.
In the south of the China Sea, on August 12, 1910, at
midnight, a bright wheel spinning close to the surface was
seen from the Dutch ship “Valentijn.” At Porto Principal,
Peru, in January of 1912, an “aerial ship” was reported at
tree height. The same month, in the U.S., a Dr. Harris saw
a very large, intensely black object in front of the moon.
Another “wave” seems to have occurred in Great Britain
in 1913. The first observation of that year was made
on the morning of January 4, 1913, at Dover, England:
An unknown flying object was seen moving toward the sea.
On January 17 at Cardiff a huge flying object which left
a smoke trail was observed. The witnesses were Captain
Lindsay, chief constable, and another person. The London
Standard of January 31 published a list of towns “visited”
by UFO’s. Among them were Cardiff, Newport and Neath.
The wave apparently lasted three weeks.
One night, early in the fall of the year 1917, Mr. John
Boback, of Mt. Braddock, Pensylvania, missed the last streetcar
home and had to walk the railroad track between Youngstown
and Mt. Braddock. At approximately 12 : 30 A.M., he
observed what he describes as a “saucer-shaped” object with
“rows of light and a platform” at rest on the ground in a
pasture to his left approximately 100 feet distance. According
to Orvil Hartle’s book, from which we extract this report,
the following occurred :
Mr. Boback, very much frightened, said he froze and
observed the unidentified object for a “couple of minutes.”
Then the object took off into the air with a “high-pitched
sharp sound,” travelling in a gradually sloping upward
ascent away from him at a speed comparable to that of
a slow-moving airplane.
Mr. Boback at that time was seventeen years of age and
he states there is no possibility this object could have
been an aircraft of any sort, as this was before he saw his
48 –
;
• ,
I T H E LEGEND OF “FlYING SAU C ERS”
first airplane. Boback’s size description of the unknown
object was “about the size of a car.”
Rows of oblong or oval windows or ports circled the
upper portion in what Boback describes as a “dome.” He
says he is sure he saw forms at the windows inside. Mr.
Boback also asserts that since that time he has told many
people of his experience, only to be scoffed at with disbelief.
During the early twenties, according to Frank Edwards,
took place the first sighting of flying discs from the air.
One of the pioneers of the days of “barn-storming” flying,
a pilot named Bert Acosta, told his friends that one day,
as he was flying somewhere in the south-west, he suddenly
noticed
. . . about half a dozen things flying way off his starboard
wing. He said they seemed to be about two hundred
yards away, and they looked just like manhole
covers! He told us how they flew alongside him for five
minutes or so, and had no trouble in keeping up with
him. In fact they “rabbled” along beside him, and finally
turned, changed course, and flew away. Bert said he had
never seen anything like it before, and he had no idea
what the things were, but, he had no doubt that they
were very real.
On August 5, 1927, at 9 : 30 A.M., in Mongolia, Nicolas
Roerich and his caravan were watching the flight of an eagle
when they observed a huge elongated object speeding
through the sky: “We all saw, in a direction from north
to south, something big and shinny reflecting the sun, like
a huge oval moVing at great speed. Crossing our camp, this
thing changed in its direction from south to southwest. And
we saw how it disappeared in the intense blue sky. We even
had time to take our field glasses and saw quite distinctly
an oval form with shiny surface, one side of which was
brilliant from the sun” ( 5, 191; the date in [5] is probably
incorrect ) . In 1921 in Marseilles the first report of a UFO
“kidnapping” known in modern times was made. Unfortunately,
we do not know the exact reference of this information,
found in the G. Quincy catalogue ( l l ) without any
49
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
indication of source. We will not consider this report very
seriously.
In the first days of November, 1928, a man who now
lives in La Porte, Indiana, “a solid citizen,” plumber by
trade, and Officer of Eagles Lodge, and his brother, were
driving cattle at night across a prairie four miles northeast
of Milton, North Dakota. The time was approximately 10 : 30
P.M., when they saw an object shaped like “a soup-bowl
turned upside down” which had four or five rays of light
extending to the ground ahead of the craft in its Bight. It
was 20 to 25 feet in diameter, flying 15 to 20 feet above the
ground, and appeared to be made of polished metal “judging
from the lights on the vehicle.” Seen for 15 to 20 seconds,
this object allegedly came within 100 or 150 feet from the
witnesses, who heard a sound similar to that of air coming
out of a tube.
In 1931, a Mr. Chichester, who was flying above the
Tasman Sea from New South Wales to New Zealand in his
private plane, saw an object resembling a silver pearl flashing
like a bright beacon and going very fast, then losing speed,
accelerating again and vanishing. In October, 1935, at
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a disk was seen motionless in the sky
by numerous witnesses, among whom was the French student
of Africa, Pierre Ichac. In 1941, a team of mountaineers
searching for three missing Alpinists in Switzerland are
said to have found traces tending to show that the three
men had stopped where sorrie flying object had landed,
since three holes in a triangle of thirteen meters were seen
in the snow, and their footprints did not continue. The r&­
liability of such a report, of course, is nil. More significant is
the observation made on February 26, 1942, aboard the
“Tromp,” of the Royal Netherlands Navy { 3 1 ) : A large
aluminum disk came toward the ship at a very high speed,
circled it and left. During the war, many luminous spheres
were seen by bomber pilots in Germany and in the whole
of western Europe, Scandinavia, Greece and Turkey. Lieutenant
E. Schulter, of the 4 15th U.S. Night Fighter Squadron,
met eight to ten balls of red fire flying at a high speed
twenty miles north of Strasbourg, France, on November 23,
1944. Lieutenants Henry Giblin and Walter Cleary saw
a huge fiery object above their plane on November 27, 1944
at Speyer, Germany. In December, 1944, a Major Leet, a
bomber pilot, watched a disk follow the plane’s maneuvers
50 –
‘ THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCERS”
at Klagenfurt, Austria, at night. Lieutenants David McFalls
and Edward Baker, flying over Haguenau, France, on December
22, 1944, at 6 : 00 P.M., saw two very bright lights
approaching them from the ground. These lights remained
behind the aircraft; they appeared to be “under pedect control.”
But observations of this type are not very conclusive;
enormous orange lights can be caused by reflections or even
by phenomena of atmospheric distortion, as Dr. Menzel has
pointed out. More difficult to interpret in terms of natural
phenomena are sightings such as the one made in Kingsport,
Tennessee, in 1945 by Charles Hamlet and Edward Cate, who
saw an object “in the shape of a chimney.” It was a “wonderful”
color, and crossed the sky at high speed.
The lights seen at night by pilots during the war have
been called “faa-fighters.” As we have seen, they were merely
balls of light, red or orange, without details or structure.
They do not seem to have been detected on radar. Seen at
night or during the day, they followed the planes even into
the clouds. But these reports have to be considered with
caution, for the behaVior of the objects is very often that of
a distorted image of the aircraft itself or a reflection of some
ground object. The wartime conditions, the birth of a new
technology involving rockets, electronic guidance and the
ever-present fear of “secret weapons” make the sightings of
that period difficult to analyze.
Mter World War II comes a period of UFO history on
which we have a formidable amount of data. It seems unrealistic
to try to write a single book about them; an encyclopedia
would almost be required. We will, however,
attempt to organize these data and to show why we should
be concerned with the existence of this phenomenon. Before
we do, we will briefly review the older reports on a
statistical basis.
STATISTICAL ASP ECTS OF U F O H I STORY
If we try to sum up the information found in old reports
and to draw general conclusions from them, we could
do so along the following lines :
( 1) In modem and even in historical times, reports of
observations have been made by scientists as well as by the
general public concerning flying disks in the sky, objects
seen at sea and on the ground. Only in recent times, how-
51
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
ever, has the idea of space travel been associated with this
type of vision ; this is one of the reasons that old reports, interpreted
at the time in very different contexts, are not generally
recognized as manifestations of the same phenomenon.
( 2 ) Careful study of the best reports made before this
century tends to show that :
a) The objects described are similar in appearance to
what has been observed since May, 1946.
b ) Public emotion over these incidents and the scientific
reaction to them since 1946 is an exact duplication of the
popular fears of “signs in the sky” in the Middle Ages and
of scientific statements made during the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries concerning such unusual events.
( 3 ) Apart from the fact that one country ( the United
States ) has now undertaken official investigation of the
modem sightings, and that we tend today to interpret in a
technological context ( space travel ) what was interpreted
in a religious context (signs of God’s wishes or decisions ) in
older times, the behavior of the phenomenon appears exti:emely
similar in early and recent reports.
( 4 ) No massive accumulation of observations seems to
have occured before May, 1946, that could be compared with
the planetwide “waves” we have experienced since then.
However, local “peaks” of observations can be detected when
a sufficient amount of data is gathered; these have definitely
been recognized as waves by the local populations, at least
in 1909 and 1913, when newspapers published lists of reports
and fragmentary statistics.
( 5) These peaks do not appear to follow a definite, continuous
pattern as modem waves do. They are separated
by intervals of several years, but we are unable to determine
if the gaps between the main periods of activity are
due to a lack of information and bad communication between
different parts of the world in those days, or to some
real discontinuity in whatever phenomenon underlies the
UFO behavior.
( 6 ) The main periods of activity we can delineate on the
basis of our present data are:
a) a possible wave in the last six months of 1881, with
observations in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Chile, the U.S. and
Great Britain;
b ) a possible wave in the last six months of 1 885, with
significant observations in France, the Middle East and the
52
THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCERS”
Far East. These three periods are separated by gaps
of total inactivity : not one significant report between December,
1881, and November, 1882; only one in 1882 and
one in the first six months of 1883; no significant report
during the first six months of 1884; only two in the last six
months of that year; and two again in the first 􀅥ix months
of 1885. We are unable to find any recognizable pattern
in the frequency distribution of UFO reports until 1897.
c ) A peak was reached in 1897 over the U.S. Middle
West, from Chicago to Kansas City, with reports in Saint
Louis and in Ohio, and even some in Texas, Colorado and
West Virginia. Then we find the first landing of a classical
“flying saucer” with dome, in Carlinville, Illinois-all this
in one month, April, 1897, which would deserve attention
if for no other case than that of the butchered cow in Le
Roy, Kansas.
d) There is an apparent concentration of sightings in
the spring of 1905 and another one in December. It is difficult,
however, to conclude that a wave has taken place.
e) We have a recognized wave in May, 1909, over Wales.
It extended to Asia in May-Jrme and to New Zealand from
July to September. In the New Zealand wave were present
all the characteristic patterns formd after 1946. The last
sighting of the wave was made in Indiana.
f) We have another recognized wave in January-February,
1913, over Great Britain, with a possible extension into
Canada.
( 7 ) Between 1914 and 1946 the phenomenon had not
completely disappeared, but no pattern can be established,
at least from our data, and it seems difficult to believe that
any large series of observations could have passed rmno­
ticed; both the efficiency of communications systems and the
growing popular interest in science, as well as the concern
for aerial flight and the development of aircraft and balloon
technology, were such that all conditions were present for
UFO waves to develop fully if they had been mere consequences
of misinterpretation, hallucination and newspapers
interest in fantastic stories. For thirty-two years however,
the sky remained empty of rmknown objects. The situation
was to change suddenly in the spring of 1946, when the
Scandinavian wave developed, as we will see in Chapter
3.
(8) We feel that our documents for the period between
53
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
1870 and 1914 are sufficient to justify an attempt to correlate
UFO activity with the oppositions of Mars. Correlation
of these limited data has so far given negative results, as
shown in the following table:
Date of peak
( UFO waves )
Dec. 1881
summer-fall 1883
summer-fall 1885
Apr. 1897
1905
May-Sept 1909
Jan.-Feb. 1913
Closest opposition Average difference
of Mars in months
Dec. 1881
Feb. 1884
Mar. l886
Dec. 1896
May 1905
Sept. 1909
Jan. 1914
0
+4
+5
-4
+2
+12
One should use extreme caution in interpreting, in any
direction, the existence or absence of correlations such as
these. It may, or may not, be interesting to remark here that
the “dead” period of UFO activity has been one of the
richest in science-fiction stories of all kinds, and has seen
the growing interest of the motion-picture industry in fantastic
and “horror” tales which might have resulted in an
increasing number of hoaxes and hallucinations, and even
in UFO waves, if the “psychological” theory of UFOs were
correct. As early as 1916, Otto Ripert’s film Homonculus
was about the creation of an artificial man by a mad scientist.
In 1914 and 1920 the German industry produced two films
on the subject of the “Golem” ( Paul Wegener and Henrik
Galeen ) . In 1924 the film Orlac’s Hands was made, after a
novel by Maurice Renard. In 1926 Fritz Lang created
Metropolis, and we should not forget that 1920 saw the
introduction of the word “robot,” with a play by Karel Capek,
Rossum’s Un iversal Robots ( R . U. R. ) . In 1928, Fritz
Lang did The Woman in the Moon (Die Frau im Mond) .
The first “trip to the moon” had been made by the French
54 –
‘ THE LEGEND OF “FLYING SAUCERS”
pioneer Melies in 1902 ( 32 ) , and the celebrated series of
Frankenstein and John Carter of Mars were created during
this period. If UFO sightings are motivated by some mechanism
through which the public can release hidden fears and
satisfy a need for fantastic or horrifying tales, why did
“saucer wavesn not coincide with such science-fiction feasts
as the Orson Wells radio adaptation of The War of the
Worlds in 1938 or with the happy time of the great comics
and their motion-picture versions, such as Flash Gordon
( Frederick Stephani, 1936} or Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars
( 1937 ) ?
In our opinion, the theory that the public generates and
propagates UFO rumors as a way of releasing psychological
tensions is denied by the absence of correlation between
important periods of interest in science fiction and peaks of
UFO activity.
On the other hand, our analysis of modem reports will
show that the idea that individuals “see flying saucers”
when they are so motivated or looking for fantastic experiences
is denied by the fact that thousands of Scandinavians
saw and reported flying disks, flying cigars and even objects
on the ground in 1946, and that no one among them sug-
” gested that these objects could be of interplanetary origin.
We think this tends to prove that the birth, growth and expansion
of a UFO wave is an objective phenomenon independent
of the conscious or unconscious will of the witnesses,
and their reactions to it. Furthermore, we will now
see that the permanence of the myth of the “signs in the
sky” is even more remarkable when placed within the context
of the changing conceptions of life in the universe.
55
Chapter 2
LIFE AND INTELLIGENCE IN THE U N IVERS E
Those who explore outer space should expect to find
living forms when they get there.
Dr. Douglas J. Hennessy, Fordham University
A P H I LOSO P H I CAL ISSUE
IN RECENT YEARS there has been a strong reactivation of
interest in the question of whether life and intelligence are
found throughout the universe. Because of our newly acquired
potential for space exploration it becomes increasingly
important to evaluate the possibility that natural processes
have already brought about the development of intelligent
races elsewhere in the universe, including races capable
of traveling through space owing to a technology equal
or superior to ours. Such races, because of their possible
technological superiority to us, might even represent a threat,
if not to our existence on this planet ( to which we may
suppose we should be best adapted ) , at least to our expeditions
to the various worlds of our solar system within
the next decades. It is, therefore, important to take a new
scientific look at the problem of life in the universe; we will
present a brief summary of existing data and considerations
about the probability that intelligent races able to communicate
with us or to visit our planet do exist.
THE ANCIENT VIEW
The ancient Greek philosophers in the sixth century B.c.
considered life to be a property of matter and taught that
the world had always been alive. Oparin and Fesenkov ( 33 )
remark that “the panspermic theory” ( formulated b y Ana-
56 􀀢
r
LIFE AND I NTELLIGENCE I N THE U N IVERSE
xagoras and maintaining that invisible “ethereal germs of
life” were dispersed throughout the world, giving rise to
all living creatures including man) was further developed
by Roman philosophers :
The doctrine was later adoped by early Christianity and
formed part of the teachfugs of the fathers of the Church.
For example, so authoritative a theologian as Saint Augustine
taught that the world was filled with hidden
germs of life, the invisible, mysterious seeds ( occulta germina)
of a spiritual principle, which generated the various
living creatures from earth, air and water.
But many ancient philosophers were much more specific
in their theories :
The whole of this visible universe [said Lucretius] is
not unique in nature, and we must believe that there
are, in other regions of space, other earths, other beings
and other men.
Also, these words related by Proclus ( Commentaries on
the Times ) :
God made an immense earth that the Immortals called
Selene, and men the Moon, in which there are a great
number of habitations, mountains, and cities.
Even in these remote times, writes Bailly in his Histoire
de l’Astronomie Ancienne, the opinion of the plurality
of the worlds was adopted by all the philosophers
who had enough genius to comprehend how great it
was, and how worthy of the author of Nature.
Anaxagoras taught the inhabitability of the moon as an
article of philosophical doctrine, claiming it contained, like
our globe, waters, mountains and valleys (Plutarchus, De
Placitis Philosophorum, Lib II, Cap XXV) . A well-known believer
in the motion of the E arth, he was persecuted and
was threatened by execution for having contended that the
sun was larger than the Peloponnesos.
Heraclides developed the teachings of Philolaus and those
of Nicetas of Syracuse to the point of claiming that each
star is a small universe, having, like our own, an Earth, an
atmosphere and an immense extent of ethereal substance.
57
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
Xenophanes, the founder of the School of Elee, taught
the plurality of the worlds and said :
Anthropomorphism is a natural tendency, to such an
extent that, if oxen wanted a god, they would conceive
it an ox, and lions as a lion, just as the Ethiopians do
when they imagine black divinities, and the Thraces, who
give their gods a rude and savage face. ( See Nourrisson.
Progres de la Pensee Humaine. )
It is also worth noting that Aristotle himself said that the
incorruptibility of the Heavens was the only reason that prevented
him from accepting other earths and other skies
( De Coelo, Lib II, Cap. III ) .
Epicurus said that, since the causes that produced the
world were infinite, their effects too had to be infinite. And
Metrodore of Lampsaque, among other philosophers, pointed
out that it would be just as absurd to put only one world
in the infinity of space, as to contend that only one ear of
wheat could grow in a vast plain ( Lalande, Astronomie, t.
III, art. 3376 ) .
But Lucretius, of all the ancient philosophers, left the
most convincing plea in favor of the multiplicity of life in
the universe:
If the innumerable creative streams move and flow
under a thousand different forms across the ocean of infinite
space, could they have generated only the orb of
the earth and its celestial sphere in their fecund Hight?
Should we believe that beyond this world, such a vast
accumulation of elements lies condemned to an idle rest?
No, no . • . if generating principles have given birth to
masses from which sprang the sky, the waters, the earth,
and its inhabitants, one must assume that in the remaining
emptiness elements of matter have given rise to innumerable
animated beings, seas, skies, earths, and have dispersed
through space worlds similar to the one which
swings under our steps through aerial streams. Every
time immense matter will find a space to contain it and
no obstacle to its development, it will give birth to life
under varied forms; and if the mass of the elements is
such that, in order to number them, the ages of all beings,
added together, would be insufficient, and if nature
has given them the same faculties it gave to the generating
principles of our globe, then the elements have spread
58 ·
r I LIFE AND I NTELLIGENCE I N THE UN IVERS E
beings, mmtals and worlds in other regions o f space. (De
Natura Rerum, Lib. II, v. 1051-1045)
In these old discussions we do not only find very modern
arguments developed, but we even see philosophers asking
some of the questions that modern exobiologists study quite
intently ( see Aime Michel’s Hypotheses and the Feasibility
of Contact, page I7 1 ) . Witness this extract from “The Travels
of the Young Anacharsis in Greece” Chapter XXX, a
work dated of the fourth century B.C. :
As Nature is even richer by the variety than by the
number of the species, I spread in the various planets, according
to my fancy, peoples who have one, two, three
or four senses in supplement. I then compare their geniuses
with those Greece has produced, and I must confess
that Homer and Pythagoras inspire my pity.
THE PLU RALITY OF THE I N HABITED WORLDS
The popularity of theories of older philosophers, as well
as Lucretius’ views of the Earth ‘swinging through aerial
streams,’ came to an abrupt stop when Christianity developed.
The Ptolemaic system postulated that the earth, with
its privileged position in the center of the universe, was the
only world supporting life : There was, it seems to us, more
than a mental parallel between the idea of the uniqueness
of God as it was expressed by the Scholastics and that of
the uniqueness of mankind. At any rate, how this theory
prevailed during the Middle Ages is well known, although
the theme of extraterrestrial life remained a popular one and
a great source of inspiration to the alchemists and the philosophers
of Hermeticism Flammarion, in his excellent book
on the subject ( La Pluralite des Mondes Habites, Paris,
1862 ) even finds a curious passage in a treatise of theological
philosophy, showing that the dispute was by no means
settled by the end of the sixteenth century:
Beyond this world, i.e., beyond the empyreus sky, exists
no body; but in this infinite space (if it is permitted so to
speak ) where we are, God exists in His Essence and may
have formed infinitely more perfect worlds, as certain
theologians claim. . . . ( Christophori Clavii Bambergensis
in Sphaeram Joannis de Sacro Bosco Commentarius, Venice,
1591, p. 72 ) .
59
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
But the great philosophers of the end of the Middle Ages
-Nicolas de Cusa (author of the treatise De Docta Ignorantia
) , Michel de Montaigne, Gailileo, Tycho Brahe, Cardan,
and Thomas Campanella ( Author of The City of the Sun )
-all gave support to the theory of the plurality of the
worlds, as the Copernican system, which relegated the earth
to a position equal to that of the other planets revolving
around the sun, and suggested the possibility that life
might have developed on other worlds similar to ours.
Giordano Bruno, in his book De l’In£nito, Universo e Mundi,
expressed this theory plainly: “There are innumerable
suns and innumerable earths, which revolve around their
suns, as our seven planets revolve around our sun . . . . These
worlds are inhabited by living creatures.” After a long incarceration,
he died in an auto-da-fe in 1600 for this heresy.
But the struggle he had initiated continued, and after the
Copernican system had gained full recognition Bernard de
Fontenelle could publish, in 1686, a book affirming that life
existed throughout the universe.
It is true that Fontenelle presented his thesis only as a
diverting topic for a conversation in a noble salon. Ten years
later, however, astronomer Huygens, then almost seventy,
wrote his Cosmotheros, which Flammarion calls the most
serious work on the subject and where we read that . . .
. . . a great number of men have been unable to apply
themselves to this study [of life in space], either because
of their lack of disposition or because they did not have
the opportunity to do so or because they were prevented
by some cause. We do not blame them by any means.
But, if they think that the care we put into these researches
must be condemned, we appeal to more learned judges.
Even before Fontenelle, Cyrano de Bergerac had written
in his Histoire des Etats et Empires de la Lune et du Soleil
( about 1650 ) :
I believe that the planets that roll around the Sun
are as many inhabited worlds, and that the fixed stars are
as many suns that have planets around them, i.e., worlds
we do not see from here because they are too small and
because their borrowed light cannot come to us. How,
in good faith, could one imagine that such vast globes
are only desert expanse and that ours, because we camp on
it, has been constructed for a dozen little arrogants?
6D-
LIFE A N D I NTELLIGENCE I N THE U N IVERSE
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are full of works
favorable to this doctrine, especially those of Leibnitz, Bernouilli,
Voltaire, Newton, Swedenborg, Buffon, Bailly, Bode,
Herschel, Lalande, and Laplace.
Brewster wrote in More Worlds Than One ( Chap. IV) :
On a planet more magnificent than ours, could there
not exist a type of intelligences the weakest of which
would still be above that of Newton? Do not its inhabitants
use telescopes more penetrating or microscopes more
powerful than ours? Do they not have more subtle processes
of induction, more fertile means of analyzing, and
deeper combinations? There, have they not resolved the
Three-Body Problem, explained the enigma of the luminiferous
ether and wrapped the transcendant strength of the
mind into the definitions, axioms, and theorems of geometry?
In his Histoire Generale de Ia Nature, Emmanuel Kant
writes that the physical and moral perfection of the inhabitants
of the planets increases in proportion to the distance
of their worlds to the sun. According to this theory, the inhabitants
of Mercury and Venus are too material to be
reasonable and their intellectual faculties are not developed
enough for them to have the responsibility of their acts. The
inhabitants of Earth and Mars are in an intermediate state
between perfection and imperfection, in perpetual struggle
with matter that tends to inferior instincts and spirit which
tends to good.
Herschel, in Outlines of Astronomy ( ch. XIII, Sec. 592)
makes the authoritative statement:
One should have learned very little from the study of
astronomy in order to suppose that man is the sole object
of the care of his creator, and in order not to see,
in the vast and amazing instrument that surrounds us,
places destined to other races of living beings.
Bode, the German astronomer who wrote a treatise on
the happiness of the inhabitants of the sun, believed, like
Herschel, Humboldt and Arago, that the structure of the sun
might permit the development of life . . . . Thus, because of
lack of new observational data, the question was to remain
for a long time within the limits of philosophical discussions
of the type originated by Fontenelle and little progress was
61
ANATOMY OF A P HENOMENON
made. The problem of life on other worlds, however, was
studied in many of the popular books on astronomy, occasionally
giving rise to theories of a perfectly fanciful
character. Already Fontenelle had described very amazing
inhabitants on the soil of other planets; thus, Mercurians
“must be fools because of their excessive vivacity,” while on
Saturn “the inhabitants are so dull that it takes them a
whole day to comprehend and answer a question.” The striking
contrast between such extrapolations, designed to please
an elegant and superficial public, and the serious technical
and physical discussions which illustrated the development
of the scientific spirit adds a humorous touch to such treatises
as the Lettres sur l’Astronomie by Albert de Montemont,
where we read, concerning the inhabitants of comets :
We have now to examine the question of the inhabitants
that live, according to what is said, on the surface
of comets. Without doubt, if they exist, they have been
created especially for them. Thus, we can imagine that
in order to keep about the same temperature, they reduce
their atmosphere when they come close to the sun and
that when this atmosphere is later expanded, it surrounds
them like a coat to protect them against the rigorous
cold, when they go away from the star that vivifies them
( 46 ) .
However, when he comes to consider the sun, Monte­
mont writes :
According to Herschel, it is a solid body, surrounded
by an atmosphere of fiery clouds that would let us see
the dark nucleus when they open slightly. This famous
astronomer does not hesitate to believe it is inhabited.
But, as remarked by M. Voiron, what organized living
beings can we imagine in the midst of this eternal blaze?
Later, in a note, this same writer adds that, according
to Herschel, there is a second layer of clouds around the
sun that protects the dark globe of the nucleus from the
heat and luminosity emitted by the upper layer. “Finally he
allowed himself to conclude that the dark globe of the
sun could be inhabited by beings similar to ourselves. . . •
But here Herschel’s views are purely hypothetical and, as
such, do not deserve our attention.” And he remarks :
62-
L I F E AND I NTELLIGENCE I N THE U N IVERSE
This idea that the sun is inhabitable seems so extravagant
at first sight that in England, in a lawsuit where a
man named Eliott was tried for attempted murder of a
man named Boydell, the Court was told that M. Eliott
had written a letter to the Royal Society of London
where he maintained that the sun could be inhabited, this
in order to substantiate the idea that M. Eliott was insane.
This fact surprised the jury very much, and contributed
greatly to the verdict, that was that the crime
was understandable, given the state of insanity of the
accused ( 46 􀁗.
So much for the inhabitants of the sun.
THIS PRODIGIOUS D R EAM
It is in the language of poets that the greatness of the
idea of the plurality of the worlds has found its most beautiful
expression. Many writers have turned to imaginary inhabitants
of other worlds in times of distress and anguish
and disaster, times only too frequent on Earth. Such was the
cry of Young in The Night:
0 you, situated far from my weak dwelling, at a distance
the fastest rays of my sun could not travel in a century,
I wander far from my native land. I am looking
for new marvels, for Man’s admiration. Neighbors to the
abode of happiness, are you mortals or gods? Are you a
rolony come from heaven?
As I am speaking to you, a fatal war is tearing apart the
moaning Europe : This is how we call a tiny comer of
the universe, where insane kings agitate themselves . . .
0 you, inhabitants of these distant worlds, answer me:
Those who send you to your death, do they sit upon
thrones too? In your world, does the furore of destruction
create the gods? Do conquerors find glory by spreading
the blood of men?
Ponsard, in Galilee, had the intuition that differences between
us and the “extraterrestrials” might be not only physical,
but also mental, and he writes :
63
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
. . . Other fecundated skies
Are inundated with stars, beyond our skies :
Everywhere is action, motion and soul !
Everywhere, rolling around their fiery centers,
Are inhabited globes, whose thinking inhabitants
Live as I live, feel as I feel:
Some lower, and others, maybe,
Higher than we, on the steps of existence!
Charles Bonnet, in his Contemplations de la Nature, was
prophetic and promised mankind a total knowledge of the
organization of the cosmos :
Inhabitants of the Earth, you have been given reasoning
powers strong enough to lead you to the conviction that
these other worlds existed : Are you never to walk upon
them? Will the infinitely good Being who shows them to
you from these great distances forever deny their entrance
to you? No: Destined to take your place some day
among celestial hierarchies, you shall fly as they do from
planet to planet. Eternally, you shall go from perfection
to perfection. All that was denied to your terrestrial perfection,
you will obtain under this glorious regime: you
shall know as you have been known.
While Victor Hugo remarked in Post-Scriptum de ma Vie:
“The souls spend eternity crossing immensity”: This
is what the Druids were saying two thousand years ago.
Had they already a sort of intuition of the Plurality of
the Worlds? They raised their heads; they contemplated
the stars; and they made this prodigious dream.
THE MODERN V I EW
Present-day discussions on the existence of life in the
universe reflect all the arguments and the struggles which
we have just reviewed too briefly. From the confidence of
the early materialists to the dry theories of nineteenth-century
rationalists, every doctrine has contributed to the complex
image modern man has of the earth’s environment and
of the possibility of finding there friendly or unfriendly forms
of life. To a large degree, modem scientists have learned to
LIFE AND I NTELLIGENCE IN T H E U N IVERSE
use great caution in this field during the violent fights that
took place at the beginning of this century on the subject
of the “Martians.” As remarked by Oparin and Fesenkov
( 33) • • •
• • • in the nineteenth century and even in the beginning
of our own, science had very little factual information
concerning the physical nature of the planets and the
conditions required for the origination and existence of
life. This gave rise to all sorts of speculative and very farreaching
inf()rences frequently based on very doubtful,
uncritically accepted and casual observation.
Such were the assertions by Lowell, tending to present
the Martian “canals” as engineering structures designed for
the transportation of water from the polar caps to the
equator of the planet; although the existence of dark spots
selectively appearing in lines on the Martian surface is an
observational fact, there is a very large step between the
observation of such phenomena and their interpretation as
consequences of the activity of intelligent beings, a theory
that asks more questions than it solves. We will certainly have
to be very careful not to jump similarly to conclusions in our
interpretation of UFO reports. Certain persons have a natural
tendency to attribute to some sort of intelligence any natural
phenomenon they are not yet able to understand. An opposite
inclination is found among people who will attribute
everything to illusion and the imagination of the observer.
These two attitudes simply illustrate once more the Principle
of the Least Effort: It is less expensive and much easier
to accept any phenomenon we do not understand as either
the indication of some unknown, “occult” power, such as a
divine or intelligent manifestation, or as a pure hallucination
than to undertake objective research. Physics is still full of
concepts and theories whose formulation owes much to the
, early days of science when the first approach was commonly
· accepted.
It seems surprising that a man like Pickering could have
‘seriously believed that the moon was inhabited by insects
·which provoked the observed modifications of some lunar
features by their migrations, when one could think of several
physical causes explaining the facts.
Some scientists, even today, consider life a primary attribute
65
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
of matter, as the early Greek philosophers did, and conse­
quently no conditions, even those on the surface of the
stars, should exclude its possibility; but this reasoning certainly
lacks scientific grounds. The problem we will be considering
here is resbicted to the probability of the origination
of life on planets and their satellites, either in our solar
system or in other planetary system in our part of the galaxy.
We ‘\ill do so under the hypothesis stated by Sagan:
The production of self-replicating molecular systems is
a forced process which is bound to occur because of the
physics and chemistry of primitive planetary environments.
Such self-replicating systems, situated in a medium IDled
with replicating precursors, satisfy all the requirements
for natural selection and biological evolution ( 7 ) .
We will, however, work under a different conception of
possible intellectual differences between intelligent forms of
life; while Sagan seems to have considered only one level of
intellectual capacity, we will try to broaden this picture. We
will review astronomical evidence of conditions existing in
our solar system and try to evaluate the probability of visitation
by space travelers presenting the same general type of
intelligence we possess, and coming from worlds comparable
to ours. For, as unreasonable as it seems to build models
of universal intelligence in which only our type of intellect
is allowed to prosper, it would be perfectly unjustified
to generalize beyond the present data of biology and make
assumptions concerning intelligence on an infinite scale.
L I F E IN T H E SOLAR SYSTEM
In his book on Mars {47 ) , Richardson remarks that ·scientists
today are exceedingly closemouthed when it comes
to admitting the existence of living organisms on other planets.”
But such an attitude is not based entirely, as some
people seem to think, on lack of imagination or pure stubbornness.
All scientific evidence seems to point against the
idea of indigenous life on the moon in historical times.
Mercury, on one hand, and the planets outside the Asteroid
Belt, like Jupiter and Saturn, are not likely to have I been conducive to the development of any sort of life. We
will not, however, presume that there are sufficient grounds ;. –
I 66 ”
LIFE AND I NTELLIGENC E I N THE U N I VERSE
at the present time for us to extend this statement to the
satellites of these planets, about which very little is known.
For example, Titan ( S aturn’s sixth satellite ) , with a diameter
of 5,000 kilometers, or 1.5 that of the moon, and a mass
double that of our satellite, is likely to have an atmosphere;
the possibility, however small, of finding some sort of life
on such satellites, even at very low temperatures, cannot be
rejected a priori.
Mars and Venus, so appealing to man’s imagination, remain
today the two main subjects of argument among astronomers
and . biologists. Very little, however, can be said
about conditions on Venus. The remarkable performance of
Mariner II has not solved the many difficult questions concerning
that planet, which is surrounded by a very dense
atmosphere. Never has the soil of Venus been observed,
and the discussion of the nature and properties of the elements
of its atmosphere is an open field, the subject of
many controversies and discoveries to come.
Mars is still very much a mystery. At the closest oppositions,
it can be seen with the apparent diameter of a small
crater on the moon, and it seems obvious that only space exploration,
using automatic probes equipped with 􀃂pecial cameras
or other devices, provides a means of solving the problems
posed by that planet to the physicist and the biolo­
gist ( 63 ) . The soil of Mars, however, is observable. Permanent
and variable configurations as well as clouds and polar
caps covered with hoarfrost can be recognized and mapped.
Agreement seems to have been reached concerning the probable
density and composition of its atmosphere ( 94% nitrogen,
4% argon, 2% carbon dioxide, and trace of water
vapor ) . Polarimetric studies have provided speci’alists with
reasonable estimates of the chemical nature of the light,
red, permanent areas. But the dark, changing areas, often
said to have been caused by vegetation or to have allowed
its development, are still very much a subject of argument.
According to Lederberg and Sagan ( 48 ) ,
. . . some terrestrial microorganisms survive in purported
simulations of the average Martian environment ( 49, 50 ) .
Most would fare poorly, and whether any can proliferate
in an accurately simulated environment is less clear. In
any event, how well the Martian organisms have learned
to cope with the same constraints remains to be seen.
67
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
But so little is really known about the existing local physical
conditions, which may differ considerably from those
predicted by our present “models,” that no simple answer
can be given to any question about the path life could have
followed on that planet.
A considerable change is perceptible today in the ideas
entertained by biologists dealing with the forms of life that
may survive in environments very different from ours. Experiments
realized since 1960 tend to show that the early concepts
that made oxygen a necessary element for life were
exaggerated to a large extent. Cucumber seedlings raised
in only two percent oxygen { vs. 21% in our air) can be
frozen for an hour and then thawed without dying: This
is but one of the experiments made by Dr. Sanford Siegel
of Union Carbide Research Laboratories that led him to the
discovery that high forms of plant-life such as beans, could
survive well in environments generally considered as extreme,
and that low oxygen content of the atmosphere actually improved
resistance to freezing.
In the same series of experiments, it was found that cac­
tus grew in subzero cold when the oxygen content of
the atmosphere was reduced to 0.05% and that turtles
remained normally active when the atmosphere was reduced
to a tenth of normal sea-level pressure.
When he simulated a Jupiter-type atmosphere-ammonia,
methane, and hydrogen-the same author found that some
bacteria were very happy in this mixture. Most exobiologists
consider that water is essential to life, and water exists
on Mars, although not in abundant quantity. But some
specialists in plant physiology, such as Dr. Frank Salisbury,
consider that certain forms of life could use water as
a vitamin rather than as a basic constituent, and would
thus require only infinitesimal amounts of water in order to
survive. These ideas show a considerable departure from
the traditional conceptions on the possibility of finding life
on other planets, in our solar system and elsewhere.
METEOR I TES
Meteorites are the only physical evidence we possess on
which research of living organisms such as germs or microbes
of extra-terrestrial origin might be attempted in the laboratory.
According to a report by C. Meunier, Pasteur tried to
68 .
LIFE AND I NTELLIGENCE I N THE U N IVERSE
extract viable bacteria from meteorites, but obtained negative
results. In 1932, C. Lipman published a report in which
he stated that he had obtained microbes identical to the
ordinary earthly bacteria, but it seems probable that he had
been unable to prevent the penetration of earthly bacteria into
his samples during the analysis. By 1834, however, Berzelius
had analyzed the Alais meteorite and had found that
it contained carbonaceous material; and Flammarion writes
( Pluraite des Mondes Habites, p. 404):
If spectroscopic analysis shows the existence of water on
the planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, chemical examination
of the carbonaceous material found in certain
aerolites has recently shown to M. Berthelot, the promo­
ter of organic chemistry, that the most probable origin
( not to say the certain origin) of this carbonaceous material
belongs to an organic reign whose chemical principle is
similar to that of our vegetal reign on earth.
Berthelot’s communication ( v. Comptes Rendus) is also
quoted in Flammarion’s book :
Certain meteors contain a carbonaceous material whose
existence and origin indicate a most interesting problem.
These materials contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and
can be compared with ulmic compounds, ultimate residues
of organic substances. It would be most important
to be able to go back from this residue to the material
that generated it. Stated in these terms, the question lies
outside the field of knowledge of our present science. But
a first step in this direction can be made by going back,
not to the generators themselves, but to compounds that
derive from it through regular reactions. I have described
a “universal method of hydrogenation” that allows transformation
of any organic compound into corresponding
hydrocarbons. This method is applicable even to carbonaceous
materials such as charcoal and coal; it changes
them into carbides similar to those of the oils.
I have applied the same method to the carbonaceous
material in the Orgueil meteorite, and I have produced
a non-negligible quantity of formenic carbides C2n H2n+2
comparable to the oils of petroleum, although with more
difficulty than from coal.
I wish I had been able to study these carbides in more
69
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
detail; unfortunately the amount of material at my disposal
was too small to permit more than the conclusion
that various carbides-some gaseous and some liquidwere
formed. In any case, this formation shows a new
analogy between the carbonaceous material in meteorites
and the carbonaceous compounds or organic origin that
are found at the surface of the earth.
The story of the Orgueil meteorite was summarized by
Flammarion in the following terms :
An aerolite fallen on May 14, 1684 in the south of
France, at Orgueil { Tarn-et-Garonne ) . . . contained water
and peat. But peat is formed by decomposition of
vegetals in water. The Orgueil aerolite therefore comes
from a globe where there is water, and certain substances
analogous to terrestrial vegetation.
In 1961 (a century after Flammarion wrote these lines ) a
new study of this meteorite was undertaken by American
scientists and a variety of complex hydrocarbons were found.
The authors of this discovery ( B . Nagy, D. Hennessy and W.
Neischeim ) wrote that . . . .
. . . The mass-spectrometric analyses reveal that hydrocarbons
in the Orgueil meteorite resemble in many important
aspects the hydrocarbons in the products of living
beings and sediments on earth. Based on these pre­
liminary studies, the composition of the hydrocarbons in
the Orgueil meteorite provides evidence for biogenic activity.
According to Mason ( 51 ) ,
. . . the quantities of hydrocarbons in the meteorite indicate
that there can be no reasonable doubt that they were
present when it entered the earth’s atmosphere and are
not the result of terrestrial contamination. They are truly
extraterrestrial in origin.
Considerable discussion arose on this point when researchers,
including Edward Anders of the University of Chicago,
pointed out that the compounds may have been formed in
nonbiological reactions catalyzed by high-energy radiation in
space. But in November, 1961, G. Claus and B. Nagy announced
the discovery of “microscopic-sized particles, re-
7q
LIFE AND I NTELLIGENCE IN T H E U N IVERSE
sembling fossil algae, in relatively large quantities within the
Orgueil and Ivuma carbonaceous meteorites.” If it can be
proved that these particles are not terrestrial contaminants
or crystals of organic or inorganic compounds, this finding
would be evidence of life in the parent bodies of these meteorites,
whether in the solar system or beyond. And even
if this conclusion is in doubt, it is still certain that rather
complex hydrocarbons and other organic substances have
been produced in outer space.
THE PROBA B I L I TY OF CONTACT
The credit goes to Dr. J. E. Lipp for the first scientific
investigation of the possibility that extraterrestrial beings are
endeavoring to make contact with us, or at least to maintain
our civilization under some kind of observation at close
range. His work was done for the U.S. Air Force’s Project
Sign and has only recently been declassified. The report
( 52 ) , never made public, concerned itself with the investigation
of the unidentified flying objects which had been
closely analyzed by the Air Technical Intelligence Center
( ATIC ) in Dayton. Much of the data in this section is digested
from this report.
The problem was well stated by Dr. Lipp when he wrote:
Conceivably, among the myriads of stellar systems in the
Galaxy, one or more races have discovered methods of
travel that would be fantastic by our standards. Yet, the
larger the volume of space that must be included in order
to strengthen this possibility, the lower will be the
chance that the race involved would ever find the Earth.
. . . A super-race (unless they occur frequently ) would
not be likely to stumble over Planet III of Sol, a fifthmagnitude
star in the rarefied outskirts of the Galaxy.
In order to evaluate the probable number of such races,
Dr. Lipp statiscally analyzed neighboring stars, finding twenty-
two that can be considered as having potentially habitable
planets in a sample spherical volume of sixteen lightyears’
radius. Assuming this volume to to be representative, the
contents of any reasonable volume of radius larger than
71
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
five parsecs can be computed. 0 It is then necessary to make
an “educated” guess as to the number of habitable planets.
“This guess,” adds Dr. Lipp, “will be made with low confidence,
since intelligent life may not be randomly distributed
at all.” If we assume that there is one habitable planet
per eligible star, and if we make the hypothesis that man
is average in the spectrum of technical advancement, environmental
difficulties, etc., then one-half of the other planets
are behind us, while the other half are ahead of us and have
achieved various levels of space travel. We can thus imagine
that in our sample volume of sixteen light-years’ radius
there are eleven races of beings who have begun
space explorations. The formula giving the number of races
exploring space in a spherical volume of radius r larger than
sixteen light-years is, therefore : S = 11 ( r/16 ) 3,
On the basis of these calculations, Dr. Lipp concludes that
the chance of space-travellers existing at planets attached
to neighbouring stars is very much greater than the chance
of space-travelling Martians: if the Martians are now visiting
us without contact, it can be assumed that they have
just recently succeeded in space travel and that our civilization
would be practically abreast of theirs. But the
chance that Martians, under such widely divergent conditions,
would have a civilization resembling our own is
extremely small.
This reasoning is based, of course, on the assumption that
intelligent life is randomly distributed. A direct consequence
of such a hypothesis is that if “unidentified objects” were
shown to be of Martian origin, we should expect relations
between both planets to have existed in a distant past, possibly
before our civilization developed on earth, and a common
origin of both races could be sought. For chance
alone does not seem to be able to explain that two civilizations
so close to each other could independently reach the
same state of technological development practically at the
01£ we denote as S the number of eligible stars, as r the
radius of the volume considered, in light-years, we have 1
S = 22 ( r/16 ) 3. Note that 1 parsec = 3.26 light-years 1
= 210,000 times the mean distance earth-sun.
72
LIFE AND I NTElLIGENCE I N THE U N IVERSE
same moment. And if the alleged Martians have possessed
space travel long before us, then the nonexistence of “contacts”
could be explained by postulating that enough knowledge
had been accumulated in the past concerning our
planet. F. L. Whipple ( 64 ) carefully considered the possibility
of intelligent life on Mars :
If we have correctly reconstructed ths history of Mars,
there is little reason to believe that the life processes may
not have followed a course similar to terrestrial evolution.
With this assumption, three general positions emerge. Intelligent
beings may have protected themselves against
the excessively slow loss of atmosphere, oxygen and water,
by constructing homes and cities with the physical conditions
scientifically controlled. As a second possibility,
evolution may have developed a being who can withstand
the rigors of the Martian climate. Or the race may have
perished.
These possibilities have been sufficiently expanded in
the pseudo-scientific literature to make further amplification
superfluous. However, there may exist some interesting
restrictions to the anatomy and physiology of a Martian.
Rarity of the atmosphere, for example, may . require a
completely altered respiratory system for warm-blood creatures.
If the atmospheric pressure is much below the
vapor pressure of water at the body temperature of the
individual, the process of breathing with our type of
lungs becomes impossible. On Mars the critical pressure
for a body temperature of 98.8° F occurs when a column
of the atmosphere contains one sixth the mass of a similar
column on the Earth. For a body temperature of 77 °
F the critical mass ration is reduced to about one twelfth,
and at 60 ° F to about one twenty-fourth. These critical
values are of the same order as the values estimated for
the Martian atmosphere. Accordingly the anatomy and
physiology of a Martian may be radically different from
ours.
Dr. Lipp’s report was written in 1949, and much progress
in the study of the possibility of Martian life has been made
since. In ( 53 ) F. Salisbury writes :
Of all the proposals put forth to account for the ob•
73
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
served Martian phenomena, the idea of life on Mars
seems to be the most tenable . . . . If in place of struggling
lichens we assume a thriving vegetation cover, then it is
easy to add other members of the biotic community. If
plant-like organisms have solved the problem of growth
in the Martian environment so well, one might surely expect
to find mobile forms comparable to our animals
that feed on plants. And from there it is but one more
step ( granted, a big one ) to intelligent beings. In view
of the evidence, we should at least try to keep our minds
open so that we could survive the initial shock of encountering
them.
The alternate possibility, which, in Dr. Lipp’s model,
leads to higher probabilities than the system of the “spacetraveling
·Martians,” is that of visits by superior galactic
communities. It will be discussed in more detail in a NOTE
at the end of this volume, where we will see that it is by
no means fanciful to estimate that the number of inhabitable
systems is about 3 to 5 per cent of the number of stars
( S . S. Huang, 1963 ) -yielding eight billion inhabitable
planetary systems in our galaxy.
THE SEARC H FOR S I GNALS F ROM RAT IONAL BEI NGS
The search for signs of intelligence in the universe is an
old preoccupation of many professional and amateur scientists.
The observation of what was often recorded as “bright
flashes” on Mars led nineteenth century scientists to the idea
that light signals could be used for communication among
beings living on different planets. Profes90r Pickering, who
observed Mars at Lowell Observatory at the end of the nine­
teenth century, seems to have been certain of the existence
of such ‘signals.’ ( Many of the phenomena described, however,
are indistinguishable from Class I clouds. ) Such bright
phenomena, suggested Sir Francis Galton in 1896, could be
produced by “an immense assemblage of large heliographs.”
From there, he imagined the building of a code for a true
exchange of information between Mars and the Earth.
More than fifty years earlier, in his course in astronomy
at the Sorbonne, Arago used to mention the suggestion of
a German geometrist to enter in communication with possible
inhabitants of the moon : His design was to send a
74 –
LIFE AND I NTELLIGENCE IN THE U N IVERSE
scientific commission to the open plains of Siberia, where a
large nwnber of mirrors would be built along predetermined
geometrical figures on the ground. These mirrors would reflect
the light from the Sun towards the moon. Should the
inhabitants of the moon answer with a similar pattern of light,
it would be possible to devise an ideographic language that
would permit to initiate an exchange of information.
All these proposals have, of course, a chimerical aspect.
But they lead to interesting problems in the theory of
communications. Extensive work has been done in recent
decades on methods that cquld be used by two space communities
to teach one another basic linguistic concepts and
later come to a useful exchange of scientific information. A
systematic approach has been proposed by a noted topologist,
Dr. Hans Freudenthal of the University of Utrecht,
Netherlands, in a book entitled LINGOS: Designs of a Language
for Cosmic Intercourse ( 1950 ) .
When radio wave-lengths started to be used early in this
century, some strange echoes were reported by experimenters
and sometimes attributed to an intelligent source outside the
earth. In 1927, 1928, and 1934, in particular, such perturbations
( whose origin was probably atmospheric ) were noted
( 199 ) . These echoes could be attributed, said Dr. Bracewell,
a Stanford astronomer, to an artificial planetoid placed
in solar orbit by another civilization. The transmissions would
be “signals” the satellite would send after picking up the
terrestrial broadcasts. A science-fiction novel by Murray Leinster,
“The Invaders of Space,” uses a similar argwnent.
The pioneer of wireless telegraphy, Nicolas Tesla, said he
had picked up “a series of triplets” which he thought were
of Martian origin. Similarly, Marconi attributed to the Martians
some unexplained signals received on his yacht “Electra.”
But modem researchers place the possible sources of
intelligent signals much father away in the universe.
Thus, on April 12, 1965, the official Soviet agency Tass
disclosed that Gennady Sholomitsky, a radio-astronomer,
had for several months observed a radio-source ( listed as
CTA-102 and situated in direction of the constellation Pegasus
) that emitted “flickering” radio waves with a periodicity
of one hundred days. The official announcement of these
observations was made at the Sternberg Astronomical Institute
in Moscow. Dr. Iosif S. Shklovsky, a leading soviet
astronomer, called the object “an absolutely new, still un-
75
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
known type of cosmic object in the galaxy,” and there was
wide speculation, not only on the physical nature of the
object but also on the possible artificial origin of the signal
it emitted. A year before, a former student of Dr. Shklovsky,
Nicolas Kardashev, had published in the Astronomical Journal
of the Soviet Academy of Sciences the theory that radio­
sources CTA 21 or CTA 102 might be space beacons used
by a super-race.
The western press devoted considerable place to the information;
a certain uneasiness was perceptible in the articles
and comments it published.
For several years, the attention of the American astrono­
mers has been focused on observational projects similar to
the Russian one. In 1960, the U.S. National Radio-Astronomy
Observatory conducted a three-month effort to study patterns
of possible “rational” origin in the radio signals coming
from the direction of Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani, two
stars of a type suitable for the development of a planetary
system supporting life. Dr. Drake was director of this project,
called Project OZMA after the princess in “the land
of Oz,” a popular series of books for children.
A study made for NASA in 1964 by the Brookings Institution
under the direction of Donald N. Michael warned
that the discovery of life in the universe could be a threat
to the stability of our own civilization because of its psychological
implications. And the report insisted that “while
the discovery of intelligent life in other parts of the universe
is not likely in the immediate future, it could, nevertheless,
happen at any time.”
The same report added :
Societies sure of their own place have disintegrated
when confronted by a superior society, and others have
survived even though changed. Clearly, the better we
can come to understand the factors involved in responding ;
to such crises, the better prepared we may be.
The problem of detection of signals from rational beings
is here seen to converge to the problem of interpretation of
the UFO Phenomenon. And an obvious question is : Why
do scientists show so much excitement at the possibility of
deciphering radio signals from distant civilizations but neglect
to investigate thousands of reports by reliable observ-
76
LIFE AND INTELLIGENCE I N TH E U N IVERSE
ers on earth that indicate objects of foreign origin may
travel through our skies?
It is safe to work on projects aimed at the long-term
study of signals coming from a star eleven light-years away.
But in so doing, we neglect the fact that advanced civilizations
(of the type that would use an artificial star as a
beacon for galactic navigation) might have abandoned radio
communication as we !mow it as obsolete and inadequate
a very long time ago. Is it not natural to imagine
that such a superior society might have developed means
of transportation that would be fantastic by our standards?
The knowledge of sociology such a race might have accumulated
through observation of the path of intelligent evolution
on hundreds of planets would stagger the imagination.
Would not this race know the dangers of direct contact
mentioned in the Brookings report?
The atmosphere of secrecy that surrounds the projects
that have succeeded OZMA and the obvious competition
between the Russians and the Americans in this field
show clearly enough how far we are from understanding
the real problems posed by the universal nature of life and
intelligence. Is not, then, a project such as OZMA a futile
and childish manifestation of our shyness, as we stand on
the border of space and dare not realize the obvious? Can
we find manifestations of extra-terrestrial intelligence much
nearer to us? We will try in this book to gather documents
and to develop a language to answer this difficult question.
But Project OZMA will remain in scientific history as
the first practical attempt made by man to participate in the
concert of rational beings in the universe.
77
Chapter 3
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND THEIR RELIABI LITY
SOU R C ES OF DOCUMENTATION
To STUDY efficiently an nnresearched phenomenon requires
time and a combination of techniques utilized by a homogenous
team of investigators. A second important problem
is data collection. 0
Our hypotheses concerning the UFO problem may prove
incomplete, or naive, or wrong. But we feel that if we have
only been able to gather a collection of facts which could
be employed as the basis of research by other scientists
our contribution will have been positive.
In this introduction to the description of modem reports
we want to delineate the field of our exploration; the details
themselves will be found further in the book, but we
feel it necessary to impress upon our reader in advance the
high degree of consistency and reliability of UFO dizta.
“Noise level” in UFO reports is undoubtedly very high ( by
“noise level,” we mean that fraction of the reports which are
explainable in terms of meteors, aircraft, balloons, artificial ,
satellites, hoaxes or any natural phenomenon or conventional
object misinterpreted by the witness ) . When speaking of
UFO data, however, we will always be referring to a sub­
set of these reports which has been filtrated by competent
“Those among our readers who wish to call our attention
to published or unpublished reports or to periodicals or
reviews from any part of the world dealing with our problem
will be most welcome, for our research relies entirely
upon a process of data gathering as complete as possible.
78

MODERN UFO REPORTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
analysts in such a way that all common misinterpretations
have been eliminated. To these selected sightings will be
attached, during the first step of the analysis, a description
in general terms and a reliability index. The handling of the
information contained in the report will be described as a
process with several stages involving a series of decisions,
but the reliability of the operation is kept at a high level
throughout this process, as explained and illustrated else­
where ( 189, 193) .
The first result obtained in this analysis will probably
come as a surprise to most “Hying saucer” enthusiasts; we
are in firm agreement with the previous statistical estimates of
the U.S. Air Force concerning the proportion of sightings
which can be explained by conventional effects : generally
between 70 and 90 per cent.
The files we have developed over the years are the result
of the analysis of a number of reports double in number
those in the official files, on which these previous estimates
were based. This is a very large amount of data. Collection
of new information from private or official sources does
not necessarily result in an increase of the files’ volume; in
numerous cases, more information results in the elimination
of reports which had previously been considered as doubtful
or, as the air force would say, as “insufficient information.”
But we do not classify the reports according to the
amount of data they contain; “insufficient data” alone is no
ground for elimination. A more detailed discussion of air force
methods will show how naive it is to label as “insufficient
information” the very phenomenon you are studying; think of
a physicist discontinuing his research because he does not
have “sufficient information” about the structure of the atom,
or the FBI allowing a criminal to escape because the witness’
description of his face is not sufficiently accurate!
When we speak of the sightings we have on file, we re­
peat that we do not mean the number of observations
made, or reported, or studied by us, but only the volume of
a selected sample considered of scientific value. We intend
to analyze the global and individual features of these accounts
to show that they define a truly unique phenomenon,
which cannot be explained by combinations of ordinary
effects. We tend to think that there must exist a common
cause that has produced all of these effects. In our opinion,
79
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
there are reasons to think that this cause may be related to,
or a manifestation of, extraterrestrial intelligence.
We have been helped in our data collection problem by
several persons, among whom Aime Michel deserves the
first mention. We have also found much information in scientific
or popular periodicals. We will see that American
sightings are generally less interesting than observations made
elsewhere in the world, or at least are less important than
is generally thought; the UFO phenomenon did not begin
in the U.S., with the Kenneth Arnold incident over Mount
Rainier in June of 1947. The modem aspect of this activity
was first observed in Europe at the end of the war. The
first important “wave” which can be accurately traced occurred
in Sweden in July-August, 1946, one year before Arnold
allegedly saw a formation of silvery disks from his
private airplane in the state of Washington. The most important
sightings have been made in Europe, many of them
in France in autumn of 1954. The high population density
of that area of the world and the small dimensions of the
local communities have produced reports of a high reliability;
the witnesses are almost always known and the exact location
of the object can be pinpointed on the map.
UFO waves are known to have taken place in Russia, Po­
land, Hungary and other communist countries. Some of the
reports involved are quite detailed. Witness this article in
Ogoniok, No. 11, March, 1958, by Soukhanov ( 88; see also
87, 89 ) :
Recently, not far from Moscow and at an altitude of
about three thousand meters, a strange object flying at
great speed was seen. The witnesses maintained that it
had exactly the shape of a disk, of relatively large dimensions.
No one was able to say what this disk was, or
where it came from. Very fantastic interpretations and ,
hypotheses have been started by this incident. A little
later, the disk came down toward the ground with a
motion in spiral and started upward again, turned over
and, suddenly speeding, disappeared behind a nearby
forest.
We have here, incidentally, another example of a type of
behavior well known to French researchers : the “dead-leaf”
80

MODERN UFO REPORTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
fall or descending spiral motion; we will see several other
good cases of the same type.
Similarly, consider the following report, dated Warsaw,
October 1960:
A mysterious luminous object, rising and dropping and
changing direction of flight, appeared in the skies over
Poznan yesterday. Newspaper reports said the object was
seen by many Poznan residents as well as by police
guards and railway guards.
Pravda on January 8, 1961 refers to .. a photograph taken
in one of the northern districts of the country”, which “further
stimulated the interest in ‘flying saucers’,”
There were, adds the article, many rumors on the appearance
of ‘cosmic saucers’ over cities of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea have been important
areas of UFO activity, but the only source comparable
with the U.S. or western Europe in sheer numbers
of sightings is South America. Some of the “waves” in this
region have been very carefully studied by local organizations.
The information provided by M. Vogt has been found
especially reliable. Olavo Fontes has contributed to the study
of the Brazilian reports. In Spain, Antonio Ribera has shown
that waves occurred in 1950, and his compatriot Eduardo
Buelta has made the first full statistical analysis of the general
pattern followed by the successive waves. ( Their work will
be discussed in detail and the references will be indicated
in the Bibliography further in the book ) . In Great Britain, the
Flying Saucer Review, published bimonthly, has opened
its columns to all writers interested in this field and has supplied
coherent needed clarification.
Scientific publications, although important sources of information
on early sightings, treat modem UFO reports with
great reserve. As we have pointed out, we do not observe
the phenomenon under study, but rather a “sociological image”
of it, generated in the minds of other human beings
and transmitted through society. Each of the steps involved
in this process is affected by distortion and noise. As we will
see, however, the “noise” associated with UFO rumors is of
different quality from what we expect generally from popu-
81
ANATOMY OF A P HENOMENON
lar channels of tradition. We are dealing with a very deep
and complex system of stimuli whose study cannot be undertaken
without asking fundamental questions concerning
our vision of the world as a whole.
A MOMENT OF HISTORY
No survey of the UFO phenomenon has been made by
historians or sociologists, although it would seem, from the
continual accumulation of sightings since 1946, that we
are faced with a problem of sociological significance. fu the
absence of such studies, no complete documentation is available,
and only very few scientists have seen the m eaningful
reports ; the majority of them have been discouraged by the
“sensational” interpretation of the facts presented in the newspapers,
and by the number of obvious misinterpretations
and hoaxes, among which the true phenomenon seems very
difficult to find. Intelligent and serious reports, however, do
exist; about 10 to 30 percent of the eight thousand American
sightings kept up to date in Dayton by ATIC could
be called intriguing, to say the least. It is the opinion of
this writer that their accumulation constitutes a true phenomenon
in itself, well worth a detailed and extensive scientific
study.
Whether or not UFOs were seen, or imagined, during preceding
centuries, the Middle Ages or even in Biblical and
legendary times remains an open question. Their modem
epic seems to have started sometime during World War II,
when many pilots reported strange lights apparently under
intelligent control. The first great peak of sightings took
place after the war, one year before the Mount Rainier incident
and the 1947 U.S. wave. This wave reached its
maximum by mid-July, 1946, and affected the northern regions
of Europe. We will try here to clarify the incidents of
that period, from comments that appeared in the French
press (94 ) .
The first account we have been able to find comes from
the newspaper Resistance of July 19, 1946:
During the last few months the populations of the
southern part of Sweden, and those of the northern part,
have been somewhat disturbed; from time to time, especially
at night, bright meteors, traveling at fantastic
82-t
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND THEIR RELIABILITY
speeds, cross their skies. Within fractions of seconds, these
bolides appear and disappear, vanishing into the deepness
of space with an infernal roaring.
The first description immediately evokes the thought of
ordinary meteors, misinterpreted by people still very much
under the stress of a terrible war. But L’Aurore of July 27
gives more specific details :
More than five hundred rocket-propelled projectiles are
said to have been seen over Sweden since the beginning
of July. According to some sources, the projectiles that
streak across the Swedish sky look like jet planes, but
make less noise than usual aircraft. Others describe
them as like “sea gulls without heads.” On the map, the
projectiles do not show uniform trajectories. They go to­
ward the west as well as the south, which leads to the
possibility that they are guided by remote control of
some sort. It has been impossible to get hold of any of
these “V-I’s”; all of them have fallen into the lakes.
We are already far from the meteor explanation; the objects
are interpreted by the witnesses as material products
of human technology. The reference to the German “V”
weapons is very indicative of the psychology prevailing in
Europe at that time; at no time during the entire “wave”
was a hypothesis of the extraterrestrial origin of the objects
made by the witnesses or by the newspapers. It seemed evident
to everyone that the observed objects were a new
type of aircraft or rocket. It is interesting to remember that
this response was also the reaction of many scientists in the
United States in the period 1947-1950; the situation, however,
soon became more complicated. We read in L’Etoile,
August 8:
In a n official statement made public on August 6 in
Stockholm, General Nils Ahlgreen, chief of the Swedish
Air Defense, has announced that some of the objects have
been seen at low altitudes, that more than three hundred
have been reported between July 9 and July 12, that they
maneuvered in half-circles and appeared to come from
the south most of the time. One of the objects is said to
have fallen into Lake Overkalix, in norther Sweden.
83
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
In Le Monde, August 9:
Lieutenant Lennart Naclanan, of the Swedish Air De­
fense, has seen one of the objects as a sphere of fire surrounded
by flames of a light yellow. The object was
flying at an altitude of about one thousand meters and
its speed, despite the height, allowed the eye to follow
its course. According to experts, the meteoric hypothesis
is absolutely rejected. Thousands of letters reporting the
objects have arrived from all over Sweden.
In Liberatipn-Soir, on the same day:
They generally arrive from the south and do not follow
a straight trajectory. Some of them change direction, either
slowly or abruptly. The longest trajectory recorded by
Swedish observers is one thousand kilometers long, which
is three times the range of the German V-rockets. Many
of them come from the south, follow the Baltic coast, then
curve their path toward northern Russia.
Etoile-Soir, August 14:
The mystery deepens since it has been impossible to
find fragments of the rocket shells recently reported. It
has been officially announced in Marieham, captial of
the Aaland Islands, midway between Sweden and Finland,
that luminous phenomena have been observed there on
Sunday night, for the first time.
The same day, in Paris-Presse:
Everyone speaks about it in Stockholm; in the streets,
in the restaurants and at home, the only discussion is
about the luminous bombs which fly mysteriously over
Sweden at low altitude. Popular imagination is stricken.
Fantastic descriptions of the phenomenon are circulating,
Between July 19 and July 30, three hundred reports
have been submitted to military authorities. Others still
arrive every day.
To the student of UFO rumors, such reports are familiar;
the “meteors” of the first days have become “flying bombs”
84 ”
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
or “luminous spheres” flying at low altitude, able to change
direction, leaving no fragments and exciting popular imagination.
Their range is fantastic, compared with the technological
state of development at the time. Still, the thoughts
of war are so current and so strong that all descriptions
are in terms of destructive technology : bombs, shells, rockets.
The terminology, however, will slowly change.
La Depeche de Paris, August 17:
Copenhagen, August 16: According to the Danish press,
a new rocket was seen last night by numerous witnesses
over Copenhagen.
Le Figaro, on the same day: •
London, August 16: A rocket-like projectile has exploded
over the island of Mahnoe. A large number of glass
windows have been broken.
On the previous day, Le Monde had described a similar
phenomenon over Finland:
Helsinki has announced that a flying bomb exploded on
Tuesday afternoon over the city of Tammersfors, in western
Finland. Witnesses heard a loud explosion, then saw
a cloud of smoke in the center of which appeared a
luminous phenomenon. Another rocket has been seen
over Helsinki on Tuesday night.
Liberation-Soir, August 28:
The Swedish military authority continues t o receive
numerous reports about the mysterious projectiles which
fly over the country. The following facts have been found :
( 1 ) There are two kinds of projectiles, those which
have a level flight at eight hundred kilometers per hour
with a bright light in the rear, and · those which fall
vertically from a greater height with a superior speed . • • •
( 2 ) None of these projectiles has exploded on the
ground. No one has been wounded and no damage has
been caused. Some of the projectiles may have exploded
in the air, but no fragment has been found.
85
ANATOMY OF A I’HEHOMEHOH
After that date, the .!lituation becomes more oonfwing,
because of the obvious futility of the official explanations
( Hying born bs, projectiles, rockets ) , but the facts become
more like what we have observed in recent years, i.e., a
phenomenon apparently material, commonly interpreted by
witnesses as a new type of aircraft, yet displaying maneuvers
in contradiction to the technology of the time. Of importance,
in our opinion, is the report of landings.
Epoque, August 28:
Some of the objects are said to change their direction
of flight after landing, when they go back toward their
place of origin, according to the results of an investigation
made by the correspondent ·of the Daily Telegraph in
Stockholm.
Another important fact is the extension of the “wave” to
other regions of the world:
Epoque, August 29:
Other objects have been reported from Switzerland and,
a few days ago, from Waterford, Ireland. The objects
seen in Sweden left a trail of fire similar to the tail of a
comet. Others, on the contrary, have a light in front.
The American General James Doolittle has just arrived
in Stockholm, offiCially on a business trip for the Shell
Company. In reality he is to conduct an investigation
along with the Swedish authorities.
L’Aurore, September 4: The article reports that these “extraordinary
craft” have been seen more and more frequently
over Sweden, Belgium and even France. But more complete
information is to be found in Le Figaro of September 5:
More than two thousand ghost-rockets have been reported
during the past few months over Sweden. Our
English brother, the Daily Mail, has instructed its reporter,
Alexander Clifford, to conduct an investigation on
the subject. We reproduce here the more important part
of his conclusions. According to a message from Stockholm
sent by the English reporter, scientists are puzzled
86′ ‘
MODERN UFO REPO RTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
by the phenomena; in some circles they are attributed to
mass hallucination. Others think they are due only to
meteors or luminous balloons used in meteorological experiments.
They are the subject of jokes on the music-hall
stage, but the Swedish and Danish military staff are taking
the matter seriously and have begun an investigation.
. . . ‘
Mr. Clifford reports that a fairly large number of the
two thousand luminous balloons have been seen by reliable
witnesses. These are, he says, the facts on which
all of them agree :
( 1 ) The projectiles are in the shape of cigars.
( 2 ) Flames are projected out of their tail. The color
is orange, but some people have said they were green.
( 3 ) They travel at an· altitude of three hundred to one
thousand meters.
( 4) Their speed is about that of an airplane. Some
say a rather slow airplane . . . .
( 5 ) They do not make any noise, except a slight whistling.
Nobody has mentioned wings, but some have said they
saw fins, and this is where science comes in to say that
the thing is impossible; no wingless projectile could fly so
slowly, especially in silence. Mr. Clifford mentions that,
during a certain period, these flying bombs seemed to
travel from southeast to northwest, but the first ones have
been reported last May from the extreme north of Scandinavia
and, generally speaking, their lines of travel have
slowly shifted toward the south. The more recent of
them have been observed over Denmark. The strange
thing is that no physical evidence has been found. Vhere
explosions have taken place, researches and excavations
have been made, but nothing has been found.
The reaction to the. 1946 Scandinavian wave is typical
of what can be expected of political and scientific communities
confronted with a new phenomenon and intent upon
placing it within known concepts. More generally, we will
observe that the features of the UFO phenomenon remain
permanent, but the reports made in a certain epoch are
written in terms of that particular field of human activity
which seems to provide the largest volume for the expansion
of power over Nature: mythology for the Greeks, religion
87
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
until the end of the nineteenth century, technology in our
era. At the time of the Scandinavian events, UFO rumors
were cOmpletely unknown. Since 1915 no important
report had been made public. The Fatima phenomenon,
which is now claimed by UFO students, was interpreted
as purely religious. The reports of “strange lights” seen by
pilots during the war ( “foo-fighters” ) were not known to
civilians. And no evidence was found that the phenomenon
was other than conventional. Only now, with the experience
we have accumulated in dealing with the UFO problem,
can we observe that no answer has been found, almost
twenty years later, to the Swedish incidents, and we can
draw an interesting parallel between them and similar events
recorded in other countries. Unfortunately, most of the information
concerning these early Scandinavian reports lies
in stacks of forgotten letters or files of newspaper clippings.
Much could be brought to light by extensive study of these
documents; on the basis of the data we have seen, there
does not seem to have been one single voice suggesting that
the “objects” seen in 1946 might have been of interplanetary
origin; lack of “sensationalism” has allowed these events to
be forgotten, while the systematic exploitation of the American
incidents of 1947 had the opposite effect.
T H E AMER ICAN PERIOD (1 947- 1 952)
The 1947 American scare was triggered by the wide publicity
given to the Arnold incident. But scientists in the U.S.
immediately had the same reaction as their European colleagues
the year before. The explanation, they thought, was
obvious. American technology was engaged in a series of
revolutionary research projects, especially in the fields of
physics and aerodynamics. It is understandable that the idea
of interplanetary “visitors” was the furthest thing from their
minds; this suggestion was supported only by newsmen interested
in selling copy and by a handful of enthusiasts;
their arguments were very feeble. For most American scientist
the physical existence of the objects reported could not be
denied. They were not astronomical phenomena like meteors,
but experimental devices. A few, including the Scandinavians,
saw the hand of Moscow behind the mysterious airships.
Others, knowing that Russian engineers were then far from
capable of developing aircraft of such flexibility and speed,
88 •
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND THEIR RELIABILITY
concluded that the objects must be secret experimental devices
of American origin. This was the most logical explanation,
and the general public accepted it for a very long time,
even when reports were received which could not be accounted
for under this reasoning.
The original problem-meteors or secret weapons?-has,
through the years, slowly evolved. Today, the two theories
usually put forth are the “mirage-hallucination-error” theory
of Dr. Menzel, and the “extraterrestrial” hypothesis, which
explains the “objects” as artificial devices of nonhuman origin.
Both involve many speculative elements which cannot
be completely’ tested today by scientific means, and both
have inherent weak points, as we will see later.
The idea that the objects were craft of terrestrial ( U.S.
or Soviet) origin was abandoned when such reliable observers
as meteorologists, ballistics experts and pilots described
behaviors incompatible with what human physiology could
endure in classical propulsion aircraft. Most of these sightings
were made in the southwestern U.S. from 1947 to 1952.
1947
When the 1947 wave started, a total of five atomic bomb
explosions-Alamogordo ( July 16, 1945 ) , Hiroshima (August
6, 1945 ) , Nagasaki, Crossroads A and Crossroads Bhad
aheady taken place. “Of these, the first two were in
positions to be seen from Mars, the third was very doubtful
( at the edge of Earth’s disk in daylight) and the last two
were on the wrong side of the Earth” ( 52 ) . At the time of
Alamogordo and Hiroshima, Mars was 165,000,000 and
153,000,000 miles away from the earth, respectively.
Hence the suggestion (see Dr. Lipp’s report, [52] ) that
other galactic communities may have kept a long-term routine
watch on earth and may have been alarmed by the
sight of our A-bombs as evidence that we are warlike and
on the threshold of space exploration.
In April of 1947, in Richmond, Virginia, an interesting
observation had aheady been made. A weatherman tracking
a balloon with a theodolite saw a disk-shaped object, with
a flat bottom and a dome on top, cross his field. On about
the eighteenth of May, at sunset, a flat cigar-shaped object
crossed the sky very rapidly. In another account, the “cigar”
89
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
was described as a disk seen at an angle; it was white and
sped to the northwest. On May 19, between 12: 15 P.M. and
1 : 15 P . M . at Manitou Springs, Colorado, a silvery object
was seen coming from the northeast; it remained motionless
for several minutes, then started “dancing” -maneuvering,
climbing, diving and finally rising against the wind. These
acrobatics are typical behavior, often observed in France
and in other parts of the world.
About June 10, 1947, two weeks before the Arnold sighting,
a UFO wave occurred in Hungary; it could hardly be
considered “a psychological flap consecutive to the Arnold
incident.” Approximately fifty reports were submitted describing
“silvery balls” which crossed the sky in full daylight
at great speed ( 30 ) .
On June 14 at 2 : 00 P.M., at Bakersfield, California, Richard
Rankin, a U.S. pilot, saw a “formation” of ten objects
flying north; this observation is one of the “unidentified” of
that period, still classified under this category in the official
files. One might reasonably insist on the similarity of
this incident to the Arnold case, for one cannot scientifically
discuss UFO reports in individual terms, but only in terms
of classes and behaviors. Rankin was flying from Chicago
to Los Angeles when he saw ten “saucers” in a triangular
formation; they seemed to be disks with a diameter of thirty
meters, flying at nine hundred kilometers per hour. The
dimension-thirty meters-is another constant in UFO de­
scriptions by pilots. It seems to be an invariant of the objects
seen in Hight, as opposed to the smaller dimensions of
the “objects” allegedly witnessed on the ground, which seldom
exceeded eight meters.
The Arnold incident took place on June 24, but it is by
no means one of the best reports of that period. It happened
that Arnold gave his story to newsmen and that the
whole country found it across the front pages of their newspapers
the following morning. But on June 28, at 2:00 P.M.,
an air force jet pilot, a Lieutenant Armstrong, flying thirty
miles north of Lake Meade, Nevada, saw a formation of five
or six white disks at an altitude of six thousand feet. The
same day, at 3 :45 P . M . , M. Beuscher, at Rockfield ( sixteen
miles northwest of Milwaukee ) , saw more than seven “disks”
above his farm. He described them as blue objects that
made no noise, and flew south. According to a news pro-
90 –
MODERN UFO REPO RTS AND THEIR RELIABILITY
gram on the same day, similar objects were seen in Illinois
later in the afternoon.
The next day, at 4 : 45 P.M., seven miles from Clarion, Iowa,
a bus driver traveling from Des Moines to Mason City saw
one object followed by four others, then thirteen new objects
coming from the opposite direction at an altitude estimated
at twelve hundred feet. The shape of these craft was oval,
and they looked, said the witness, like inverted plates of a
white color. They made the noise of a dynamo and disappeared
in the north-northwest.
One morning, early in July of 1947, several white UFO’s
were seen “fighting” in the sky over Cambridge, Massachusetts,
“at a .fantastic speed, like those low clouds seen before
a storm.
On July 3, 1947, at 2 : 30 P.M., at Harborside, south of
Brooksville, Maine, John F. Cole watched a series of objects
which gave off a roar; they were in the north and
were proceeding northwest at high speed. He estimated
their diameter at one hundred feet ( thirty meters ) .
The first two weeks of July seem to have marked the
crest of this wave. Several outstanding observations were
made during that period, and they show most of the characteristics
that were to be observed on later dates. On July
8, 1947, at 9:20 P.M., spherical objects were seen flying
against the wind at eight thousand feet, not faster than
three hundred miles per hour; the sighting lasted several
minutes, and took place at Muroc Air Force Base in California,
where earlier the same day two military engineers
had watched a metallic disk for ten minutes. The official
treatment given this case is not known to this writer. Another
classical case is the Twin Falls, Idaho, incident of August
13: A blue “disk” was allegedly seen flying at a very low
altitude above a forest, and trees were said to bend below
it as under a violent wind.
The 1947 wave lost intensity and subsided at the end of
August. We have mentioned here only a very few sightings
among the more interesting, but a much larger quantity
of reports is known, and these seem to represent only a
very small fraction of the sightings that were actually made
but were not reported, or were forgotten or lost. The writings
of those who, like E. J. Ruppelt, studied this period indicate
that a very important series of observations was made, and
that repercussions were considerable.
91
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
1948
Only isolated incidents were reported prior to the next
period of significant activity, which came in the summer of
1948. One of these incidents was the Mantell case, which
has been fairly well identified as having been caused by
a Skyhook balloon which Mantell tried to chase too high
without proper oxygen equipment. Several incidents were,
however, reported in January, but we are unable to de­
cide from our data whether or not this sudden burst of
observations should be considered significant. On Janu􀃐
ary 9, 1948 ( two days after the death of Captain Mantell) ,
at 7 : 20 P.M., there was seen at Clinton, North Carolina, for
thirty five minutes an object of a type that will be found
described in many French reports in 1954 and 1957: a
cone􀃑shaped UFO, red with a diffuse green tail, dancing and
“fighting” in the sky at an amazing speed. Its brightness
was such that its contour could still be discerned even when
it was hidden behind some clouds. 0
On February 1, another UFO was reported close to the
ground at Circleville, Ohio, by Bruce Stevenson. ( See page
188 ) . Other observations of interest were made on February
20 at Boise and Emmett, Idaho. It is diflicult to speak in
this instance of a “wave,” but we do have indications of
major UFO activity in the United States at that time. It
appears, from our data, that it had vanished by the end of
February ( 30, 1 1 , 95 ) .
In March of 1948 the phenomenon appeared in Italy.
On March 23, at Florence, reports were made of disks and
spheres leaving trails of smoke as they roared across the
sky. Similar accounts were published the next day concern􀃒
ing objects seen under the same conditions between 5 : 00
P.M. and 6 : 3 0 P.M. in Surrey and in Kent, England. Similar
phenomena were observed in Birmingham at midnight. In
April, the phenomenon returned to the United States. lh
the afternoon of April 5, Holloman ( New Mexico) Air
Force Base personnel reported having witnessed an object
in the shape of a disk, thirty􀃓five meters in diameter, exe­
cuting a series of violent turns and maneuvers-it is worth
0This class of objects reappeared over the United States
during the summer of 1964.
92 ,
MODERN UFO REPO RTS AND THEIR RELIABI LITY
making a note of the dimension of the “disk,” as estimated by
these competent observers. Another disk was seen the same
day displaying similar behavior at Manila; and in Delaware,
Ohio, on April 8, there was observed what appears to be
the first case of large “luminous cigars” to be fonnd in modem
reports ; as we will see, a nwnber of outstanding descriptions
of this extraordinary and puzzling phenomenon were
made later, especially in France in 1954 and in Australia
more recently.
Activity subsided after April, 1948, and the only reports
that continued to arrive came from Alaska. At this
point, it is veiy difficult to suggest any hypothesis without
entering very treacherous ground. By reading the reports
that we have, which represent only a small sample
of the true activity, one does gain the impression that if
the UFO phenomenon has a physical cause this succession
of rumors (never before related within one study) is to
be linked to a physical effect that traveled across the
planet in a few months and left limited traces of its passage.
Such a common-sense interpretation cannot be proved and
usually should not be trusted. But everything appears as
if this were the case. H we tried to interpret the reported
activity in terms of machines, we could consider that a
single flying object was responsible for all the incidents.
This limited activity does not justify the use of the word
“wave.”
A true wave, however, did occur in July of 1948. (The
1946 Swedish wave and the 1947 American wave also
reached their maximums in July. ) On July 8 witnesses at
Osborn, Ohio, reported a sighting. On the same day, observations
were made in several parts of France. On July
17, UFOs were seen aronnd New Mexico. But this period
is remembered mainly because of an incident that occurred
twenty miles southwest of Montgomery, Alabama, on July
25 at 2 : 45 A.M. It is often referred to as the “Chiles
and Whitted case,” after the name of the pilots of an Eastern
Airlines’ DC-3, from which the object was observed.
Described as a thick, torpedo-shaped craft with two rows
of lights or “portholes,” surronnded by a blue glow and
followed by a trail of orange flames, it maneuvered suddenly,
as collision with the aircraft seemed imminent, and disappeared.
It might be of interest to remark that five days
before, a “cigar” with eight lights, having “two decks and
93
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
no wings,” had been observed at The Hague, Holland. The
observations were made from the ground, on four occasions.
The same type of object was seen at Clark Airfield, on the
Philippine Islands, about August 1; the report describes a
torpedo-shaped UFO with a double row of lights.
On July 27, 1948, at 8 : 35 A.M., a scientist at New Mexico
University, driving in the streets of Albuquerque, saw distinctly
for ten minutes a Hat and circular object that seemed
to be a metallic disk motionless in the sky. In addition to his
scientific training, the witness had had more than two thousand
hours of flight as a navy pilot and was, of course, familiar
with classical aircraft. This sighting has never been reported
officially, and the witness wishes to remain anonymous.
After that date the frequency of sightings decreased in
the U.S., but the wave continued to develop elsewhere on
the planet. Unfortunately, this activity hit mainly Eastern
countries, from which little information can be obtained;
this may be the reason the wave appears to have died at
the end of July. On August 1, however, as we have already
noted, a sighting took place in the Philippines. The same
day, a peak of reports developed in Saigon and, as far as
we can tell, in the whole of Southeast Asia. Samy Shnon,
a French radio-television correspondent, was flying between
Hong Kong and Saigon when all crew members and passengers
of the plane saw a long, metallic fish-like object reflecting
the sunlight. Below it there appeared to be another
long, solid object. No flame or smoke was noted. The size
was esthnated as twice that of a large bomber. Without
diminishing speed, the craft made a ninety-degree turn and
vanished in the clouds. On August 2, UFO rumors spread
to the whole of Indochina with the characteristics of public
emotion and masses of reports typical of the classical “flying-
saucer wave.”
In Moscow during the fall of the same year, shnilar reports
were made, and a few sightings of a new type occurred
in the U.S. before the wave died completely. These
new incidents are best illustrated by the Gorman case.
Gorman was piloting an F-51 aircraft over Fargo, North
Dakota, when he saw a light of an estimated diameter of
twenty to thirty centimeters. It displayed “remarkable evolutions.”
This was on October 1, 1948, at 9 : 00 P.M., and
the sighting lasted twenty minutes. The Gorman incident
94
MODERN U FO REPORTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
has been commented upon by writers as confirming opposing
theories, all with limited success. Twenty-minute ball
lightnings would be more surprising to the physicist than
flying saucers piloted by vegetable men. The “light” was
seen close to the aircraft by control-tower operators and
by people in other locations, who viewed it from very different
angles and gave consistent descriptions, tending to prove
that the phenomenon occupied a definite location in space,
unlike a distorted image of a rising star or planet, or a
looming effect. But the idea that the light was some kind
of “flying saucer” is clearly repulsive. The suggestion made
by certain enthusiasts that the object was guided by remote
control “of some sort” is inadequate, as it raises more
questions than it answers. All we have are several excellent
reports by competent pilots and observers, and the recognition
of a pattern. A similar incident took place at Andrews
Field near the Capital on November 18 at 9 : 45 P.M. On
December 3 a strange “ball of light” of the same type was
seen, this time at Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base in California.
The “object” climbed toward a plane against a strong
wind and disappeared from view at thirty thousand feet
altitude, still rising.
1949
Nineteen hundred and forty-nine is another year that
might reveal surprising information to future investigators
if they are able to gather more information concerning
sightings in Asiatic countries. Between the two excellent
American reports of April 24 ( Charles Moore } and August
20 ( Clyde Tombaugh) a wave may have taken place in
Sweden and the U.S.S.R., but it is difficult to support this
assumption from our present data. UFO activity that year,
at any rate, seems to have begun somewhere in South
America in March and developea- in the U.S. at the beginning
of April. On March 21 the Adams-Anderson incident
took place fifteen miles north of Stuttgart, Arkansas where
an object with eight to ten lights ( again enthusiastically
labeled “portholes” in the specialized journals ) was seen traveling
north. It was associated with a blinking blue light.
On April 6, several incidents occurred at White Sands Proving
Grounds in New Mexico. The next day a huge “column
of metal” was reported at Des Moines, Iowa; the UFO was
95
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
seen standing vertically in the sky, surrounded by fiery
lights and blue, yellow and purple glows ; the witness
said that he had never seen anything more dreadful in his
entire life.
The Charles Moore incident is of interest, an air force
document notes, because of the high technical qualifications
of the observer. Preparing a site for the launching
of a large test balloon at White Sands on April 24,
1949, Moore was checking on crosswinds in the valley
between two mountain ranges and had launched a small
weather balloon, watching it in a theodolite, keeping it
on the cross hairs. He had a new man on the team who
wanted experience in tracking balloons. And so Moore
turned the theodolite to him, cautioning him to keep it ·
on and not lose it, because Moore did not want to waste
a balloon. Shortly after, Moore looked up to check the
balloon by unaided eye and thought he saw it moving
off to the east. He yelled to the man that he had lost
the balloon, but the man said, “No, it is still on the cr9ss
wires.” Moore looked and confirmed this, and then rapidly
switched the theodolite to the strange object, catching
it after it had “passed through” the sun. It was elliptical,
two or three times as long as it was wide, moving along
its major axis, and covered the entire sky from the southwest
to the northeast in sixty seconds. Five others saw it
and confirmed Moore’s sighting. Moore checked his refocus
of the theodolite and found it had been focused
for infinity. Moore then launched another balloon and
tracked it throughout its course of ninety thousand
feet. At no level were the winds from the southwest,
so a balloon is ruled out ( 45) .
In July, 1949, disks and spheres were reported Hying
over Sweden and toward the U.S.S.R. The summer was
quiet everywhere else, with no special sign of activity in
the United States until the Las Cruces, New Mexico, incident
of August 20, when the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh,
the discoverer of Pluto and a well-known planetary expert,
sighted a geometric formation of rectangle-shaped lighbl.
It was lost in the southeast. California, New Mexico and
Oklahoma were sources of reports later that year, and a
oo-
MODERN UFO REPO RTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
few observations were also made in Europe; they remain
vague and ill-defined.
As far as the “American” period is concerned, the most
important series of sightings took place from 1950 through
1952. But UFO activity during these three years was by
no means limited to North America ; we will see that parallel
“waves” developed in Spain, North Africa and France,
as well as other countries. But the publicity that made the
UFO’s famous had its origin in the American press during
that period.
1950
Nineteen hundred and fifty is a very typical year for
UFO activity. A wave developed at the end of February,
reached a maximum in the last two weeks of March and
decreased in the following months. The United States and
Spain shared the more interesting observations, but the
Mediterranean Sea-from Italy to Turkey and North Africa
as well-was visited by parallel phenomenon. On March 18
an observation at Farmington, New Mexico, had several thousand
witnesses. The phenomenon-another demonstration of
“aerial fight” -lasted no less than one hour. The next day,
in Texas, a huge “cloud cigar” giving rise to secondary ob­
jects was reported.
The Spanish observations of that period have been uncovered
and partly analyzed by Ribera; unfortunately, not
all the details of these events have yet been published by
Spanish researchers. According to another source ( 96 ) , an
interesting sighting was made on April 27, 1950, at 5 : 30
P.M., twenty-five kilometers from Seville, going in the direction
of Malaga. The UFO was a flying disk, described with
a fair amount of detail. The observation, lasting twenty
seconds, was made by an engineer from Switzerland who
was driving twoard Malaga with one of his friends :
It was an ellipsoid as could be formed by putting two
plates together, or like the body one would obtain by
wrapping in one single package planet Saturn and its
rings. The material seemed to be the same dull white
used by lamp manufacturers. The motion was most irregular.
Sometimes it reminded us of that of a plate falling
through water.
97
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
This observation had another witness, who saw the ob­
ject from the town of Osuma ( eighty-eight kilometers
from Seville ) after it had departed from the first point. The
behavior reported here is again typical; the zig-zag “deadleaf’
motion, which is described by some observers as similar
to that of an object falling through water, has been
observed on many occasions and in many countries.
In the night of April 27, 1950, an aircraft flying toward
Chicago met a thick red disk at two thousand feet altitude
just before reaching the South Bend Airport. The entire crew
and all of the passengers saw the object flying on edge
like a wheel. As soon as the plane turned in the direction
of the object, it veered off at 450 miles per hour, went as
low as fifteen hundred feet altitude ( and was then seen
under the plane) and finally left at great speed. The “disk”
was polished and streamlined, but no detail of structure was
visible.
On May 22, 1950, the· astronomer Seymour Hess, at Lowell
Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, saw a metallic disk.
On May 29, at 9 : 20 P.M., twelve kilometers east of Mount
Vernon, Captain Willis Sperry, of American Airlines, flying
from Washington to Tulsa, observed a bright blue fluorescent
light coming toward the aircraft. The “object” then stopped
and, as the plane continued, was seen against the moon
as a dark silhouette in “the shape of a submarine,” without
fins or wings. It appeared to be metallic and took off at
high speed when the pilots tried to make a turn to pursue
it.
1951
To the degree that 1950 was a typical year of activity,
1951 was typically inactive. The largest number of reports
made in a two-week period is five ( first half of October ) ,
but some of these reports are most interesting. UFO activity,
it is clear, does not occur only in waves; in addition to
the recurrence of large peaks of reports one should consider
a constant phenomenon of local “flaps” or isolated sightings
such as the following. A flat object of a blinding white
color was seen, on March 12, 1951, at 4 P.M., for fifteen
minutes, at Corcelles-Neuchatel in Switzerland ( 97 ) .
The witnesses were Professor Alfred Lombard and his fam-
98′
MODERN UFO REPO RTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
ily, and several other persons. The UFO was seen above
the lake. It followed a large course across the sky, leaving
a white and woolly smoke trail as it progressed with sudden
leaps forward. Sometimes it would remain perfectly
motionless. After fifteen minutes the object traveled in a
half-circle and turned upside-down, appearing as a perlect
disk. It then took off vertically, at a fantastic speed, emitting
no smoke or noise, and was lost in an instant.
We have already expressed our feelings of puzzlement
concerning the interpretation of sightings of UFOs for
durations of twenty minutes as “ball-lightining.” Those who
are interested in a scientific description of such a twentyminute
ball lightning are invited to such a treat by L’ Astron­
omie ( 98 ) , in which the beautiful object is reported. It
was red and remained motionless for a while, then went
toward the northeast, then toward the southwest, and at
the same time it came closer to the ground. Later it began
to ascend again, only to assume a swinging motion, after
which it went out of sight. The place was the little town
of La Roche-sur-Yon, Vendee, France, and the date was
June 15, 1951, at 1 1 : 30 P.M. The sky was clear, and the
moon and the stars were bright. According to the witness’
estimate, the object was spherical and the size of an orange.
.
On August 25, 1951, at 9 : 58 P.M., a V-shaped object
was seen at Alburquerque, New Mexico, flying from north
to south. It was larger than a B-26 and flew at four
hundred miles per hour at an altitude of eight hundred to
one thousand feet. It was a silvery object with six or eight
lights grouped in pairs. On either side of the center, six
to eight dark bands could be seen on the wing. No sound
was heard. The object definitely reflected the lights of Central
Avenue as it flew over the area. There were two witnesses,
one of them a security guard at Sandia Base ( 99 ) .
The case has never been solved.
On November 29, 1951, at sunset, close to Highway 5
at Madisonville, Indiana, three duck hunters saw in the
sky an object which left a vapor trail; it came lower and
stopped just above them. One of the men took his gun and
raised it, but the UFO allegedly left at high speed, then
turned on one side, and they could see that it was diskshaped
and streamlined. It carne lower as if it were going
99
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
to land, but did not; instead, it took off again. In the setting
sun it looked like a white metallic object.
1952
A true worldwide wave occurred in 1952. So many sightings
were made all over the planet between April and the
end of November that not even the exceptional ones can
be completely listed here. Rather than imposing on the
reader descriptions of the standard cases, such as the Washington
incidents ( which can be found in most books on the
problem ) , I will try to select a few lesser-known cases
that might also prove of interest.
As early as January, at Gallup, New Mexico, several objects
that moved swiftly and occasionally remained in front
of the disk of the sun had been seen. On January 30, in
Korea, a huge disk that revolved like a large horizontal
wheel was observed for several minutes. It radiated an orange
light from its whole surface and gave off bluish flames
from the edge. On May 10, 1952, at 6 : 00 P . M . , twelve persons
in La Roche-sur-Yon saw a flat disk fully lighted; it
flew without noise and took off vertically to overtake another
UFO seen higher in the sky ( 100, 10 1 ) . On May 20,
1952, an aerial object was reported at Denham, England,
“giving rise to small disks that scattered in all directions.”
On June 12, a celebrated sighting was made at Le Bourget
Airport in Paris ( 1 02 ) . A large number of witnesses
saw the ‘1ight,” including the control tower operators, pilots
in landing aircraft and persons living on the north side of
the city.
During the month of July-which marked the maximum
of the wave-activity was equally divided behveen France,
North Africa and the United States. On July 6, for instance,
two bluish “disks” were seen at Thann in Alsace; a luminous
sphere was reported at Bone, Algeria; and another
disk was seen at Bou-Hadjar, near Oran, during the night
of July 7.
Maximum intensity was reached in the last two weeks of
July, and then the wave decreased and fell to a minimum
in the second week of Semptember. But even then it did
not die completely; a new burst of sightings appeared in
European countries. The peak of the wave had been marked
by two sensational observations. made in vVashington above
100′
MODERN UFO REPO RTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
the Capitol and the White House, a restricted-flight area
permanently controlled by radar. ” The second lobe of the
intensity distribution, which took place in the fall, corresponds
to another series of sensational sightings, those made
during maneuvers of the navy of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (Operation Main brace) .
A sighting had already been made in Beine, a French
village in the department of Yonne, on September 19. This
sighting was described in a scientific journal under the title
“suspicious object” ( 103 ) :
M. R. Sommer, pilot and aircraft manufacturer, coming
back from Beine to Chablis, Yonne, on September 19,
writes : “I was driving back in the night, which was dark,
without moon or stars. We came out of the village of
Beine and drove about five minutes, when we were greatly
surprised to realize that a bright, unknown object had
appeared in the sky on the left side of the road. It had
the shape of an olive and a golden color. Its major axis
was vertical, The sighting was indeed fairylike. The phenomenon
lasted for five minutes. The minor axis of the
object was a little smaller than the apparent diameter of
the moon. A few minutes later, I visited the neighboring
villages and examined the churches, fearing the apparition
might have been caused by illuminations or reflections;
but everywhere I found the same absolute calm,
and no important light was to be seen. The road was
deserted.”
The next day, three photographs of a flying disk were
taken from the aircraft carrier “Franklin Roosevelt” during
Operation Mainbrace in the English Channel. The object was
flying extremely fast behind the NATO fleet, and the witnesses,
obviously, were numerous and competent in · identification
of flying objects. The same day a number of sightings
were made elsewhere in Europe; and the most important
military airbase in Denmark saw a flying disk, apparently
metallic, at 7 : 30 P . M . It disappeared in the east.
On September 21, six jet fighteres chased a bright spheri-
“The approved explanation (meteorological return on radar)
is not entirely convincing.
101
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
cal object for two minutes. One of the aircraft returning to
its base spotted the UFO again and tried without success
to reach it. The same day, Morocco was flooded with
reports of disks from Tangier to Marrakesh and Casablanca.
In the latter case, five thousand persons attending a boxing
match saw the object. On September 22, the night shift
of a factory in Bayonne, France, watched for twenty minutes
the classical “swinging motion” of a UFO. Later that
day, an aircraft landing at Titrnellil-Casablanca Airfield was
passed at a low altitude by a bright object. Witnesses on
the ground simultaneously saw the UFO passing between
them and the plane, an indication that no optical illusion
was occurring. On September 24, Operation Mainbrace was
the occasion of a third UFO sighting. A jet fighter “meteor”
from Topcliffe Air Force Base in Great Britain took off and
carne close to the UFO, described as a whitish-silvery sphere
that revolved aronnd its axis and flew away before further
observations could be made.
On September 28, Denmark, Sweden and the north of
Germany and Poland were flooded with dozens of reports
involving spheres, disks and cloud cigars ( 104 ) . There were
thousands of witnesses ( 105) . Other “suspicious objects” were
reported in L’ Astronomie ( 106) . The first “landing” replete
with description of “little men” was reported in France about
October 15 at La Vigan, France (page 195) .
The most striking events of the end of the 1952 wave
were the observations made at Oloron and Gaillac. The
Oloron sighting took place about 1 2 : 50 P.M. on October
– 17. The author of the best report is a Mr. Pringent, a teacher,
who was accompanied by a number of other witnesses.
He describes a white cylindrical object, long and thin, standing
at a 45 ° angle. The object was surrounded by about thirty
yellow disks with domes. These disks traveled in pairs and
maintained constant distances between them; when they carne
closer to one another a sort of “electric arc” or discharge
would suddenly appear between the two objects. The radar
station at Mont-de-Marsan was perturbed by the phenomenon.
In addition, the witnesses reported seeing white smoke
. corning out of the top of the cylinder, while filaments fell
to the ground in large amounts. These fibers, sometimes called
“angel hair” in UFO terminology, dissolve spontaneously upon
touching the ground, as if formed of ionized particles in an
unstable state. It has been su􀄫gested that cases of “angel
10􀄤
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND THEIR RELIABILITY
hair ” often associated with sightings of UFOs, are merely
due

to the migration of huge clouds of very young spiders;
this hypothesis has had little support, especially among biolo­
gists.
The Oloron situation was repeated at Gaillac ten days
later. Sixteen disks accompanied a “vertical cylinder” or
“cloud cigars,” then hovered over the town for ten minutes,
while the same whitish substance fell from the sky and covered
the trees and houses, dissolving rapidly. A few minutes
after the Gaillac sighting, a meteorological station at BrivesCharensac
sighted a silvery metallic disk that crossed the sky
and flew to the southeast. It was followed by another
UFO in the shape of a cigar, which remained motionless
in the sky for thirty seconds. There were five witnesses.
On October 28 Marc Perrot, an engineer in Paris, saw,
while traveling three kilometers from Nemours, an object
going toward Fontainebleau. This is related in L’Astronomie
( 103 ) . Later, Africa seemed also to be “visited.” At
least one significant sighting was made in Bocaranga in
French West Africa on November 22 ( 103 ) .
In Mont-de-Marsan on November 27, 1952, at 6 : 30 A.M.,
Paul Bellocq, a contractor-builder, and several other persons
witnessed a phenomenon that we will find reenacted in
the north of France during the 1954 wave: A luminous
object, in the shape of a disk, suddenly seemed to “split”
into two parts, while hovering above the witnesses; later
it rermited and left at a great speed ( 11 1 ) .
No sign of UFO activity comparable to what had been
observed during the 1950 and 1952 waves can be formd in
1953. Several of the best sightings known were, however,
made in that period. It is important to recognize that UFO
waves are sudden peaks of the number of sightings that
come as an addition to a constant phenomenon of low intensity,
but whose abnormal character can hardly be denied.
One of the most remarkable events in the history of
American sightings took place on August 6, 1953, when four
objects danced, moved rapidly or hovered for three hours
above an air filter center at Bismarck, North Dakota. In the
official files, the special report is several hrmdred pages long.
It contains interviews and accormts made by many witnesses,
mainly military personnel and pilots.
The initial incident had taken place at Black Hawk,
South Dakota, where a red object hovered and later sped
103
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON
away on August 5 at 8 : 05 P . M . It was seen by observers
on the ground, tracked by radar and chased by a jet fighter
until the pilot had to give up . The object having left toward
the nmth, communication was established with Bismarck,
two hundred miles north of Black Hawk. But before individuals
in Bismarck saw the object, several civilians quite
independently reported seeing it between the two bases in
South and North Dakota.
The object was observed at Bismarck at 1 1 : 42 P.M. It
appeared as a point-source having a general curved course
with sudden erratic jumps. It went up and down, turned and
deviated from its general course, until it came close to the
air filter center. It then hovered and glided slowly in full
view of many witnesses who followed its movements from
rooftops, making marks to record the exact sequence of
maneuvers. The object disappeared between midnight and
1 : 00 A.M., but three other objects arrived at midnight. A
Globemaster C-154 in the area did not see the four UFOs,
but observers on the ground noticed one of the objects suddenly
flashing, as if signalling to the aircraft, and two others
did the same after a while. Their apparent altitude was of
the order of ten thousand feet. They never came close
enough for any structure to be discernible, and they went
away suddenly after three hours of maneuvering in the clear
night.
Ten days later, according to a scientific report ( 1 13 ) , two
objects were observed close to the ground in Tours, France.
( p age 195 ) . On August 23, at noon, a film was taken at Port
Moresby, New Guinea-where most amazing events were to
take place in 1959-by a witness of very high reliability. The
film, an official document, shows a disk coming out of a
peculiar “cloud” and making ninety-degree turns. Other
sightings of interest were made the same month, for example
at Coyote Pass, California, on August 25, and in Vernon,
France, on August 3 1 . All of these sightings are interesting,
but no “wave” can be detected. And no activity occurred
that could be compared with the series we have
described above, or with the French wave of 1954.
THE FRENCH PERIOD (1 953-1 960)
Because of the psychological impact of the French wave
of 1 954, the patterns observed during that period have
1 04


MODERN UFO REPORTS AND THEIR RELIABILITY
become important references
.
in the analysis of UFO behavior,
and the vadous maneuvers observed have been given names
of French towns. But the 1954 wave, as well as its successor,
covered the entire planet. We ltave already noted the
similadty between French and Amedcan observations in the
1950 and 1952 waves. Many of the 1954 descriptions appeared
to be truly new and unprecedented when Michel
published his important findings, but we will see that the
pattern had been set long ago, and that the only peculiarity
in the French wave is the amazing number of reports.
“Landings,” “cloud cigars” and “aerial fights” had already
been observed in almost every country on the globe when
the pedod studied by Michel opened; but nobody had
paid much attention to the similarities because a particular
case was always forgotten before the next one hit the
front page.
The French wave of 1954, however, was inescapable.
Dozens of reports were made every day in September, October
and November, and the phenomenon was so intense,
the impact on public opinion so deep, the newspapers’
reactions so emotional that scientific reflexes were saturated
long before a serious investigation could be organized. As
a result, no scientist could risk his reputation by studying
openly a phenomenon so emotionally distorted; French scientists
remained silent until the wave passed and died. Extensive
files were not collected, for the clippings of one single
month represented an amazing volume of paper, so that only
an efficient organization of experts could have completed
the task. By the time the wave died, the problem had
been ridiculed; the situation has remained in this state
of paralysis ever since . .
The name of the little town of Vernon, forty miles northwest
of Paris, became associated with a category of sightings
after an observation made on August 23; the sighting,
which took place at 1 : 00 A.M., is recognized as the first
landmark of importance in the wave.
A Vernon businessman, Bernard Miserey, had just put his
car away when, coming out of the garage, he saw a pale
light illuminating the town, which had been in complete
darkness a little while before. The night was completely
clear and the moon was at last quarter, and hence was
rising about that time.
Looking at the sky, he saw a huge, silent, motionless, lumi-
105
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
nous mass, apparently suspended above the bank of the
river some three hundred yards away. It could have been
compared to a gigantic cigar standing on end.
“I had been watching this amazing spectacle for a couple
of minutes,” Mr. Miserey later reported,
when suddenly from the bottom of the cigar came an
object like a horizontal disk, which dropped at first in
free fall, then slowed, and suddenly swayed and dived
horizontally across the river toward me, becoming very
luminous. For a very short time I could see the disk fullface;
it was surrounded by a halo of brilliant light.
A few minutes after it had disappeared behind me,
going southwest at a prodigious speed, a similar object
came from the cigar and went through the same maneuvers.
A third object came, then a fourth. There was
then a long interval, and finally a fifth disk detached
itself from the cigar, which was still motionless. This last
disk dropped much lower than the earlier ones, to the
level of the new bridge, where it remained still for an
instant, swaying slightly. At that time I could see very
clearly its circular form and its red luminosity-more intense
at the center, fading out at the edges-and the
glowing halo surrounding it. After a few seconds’ pause,
it wobbled like the first four, and took off like a Hash
toward the north, where it was lost in the distance as
it gained altitude. During this time the luminosity of the
cigar had faded, and the gigantic object, which may
have been three hundred feet long, had sunk into darkness.
The spectacle had lasted about three-quarters of an
hour.
The observer was not aware that there were corroborating
witnesses. Two policemen making their rounds at 1 : 00 A.M.
had also observed the phenomenon, as had an army engineer
southwest of the town. The case was described briefly
by a Paris newspaper ( 1 1 4 ) . With the exception of an
investigation conducted by Michel, no further study was
made of the case.
Three weeks later, on September 14, the phenomenon reoccurred
in broad daylight and was observed by hundreds
of witnesses in a half-dozen villages 250 miles southwest of
Paris. Only one newspaper mentioned it, and only by chance
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND T H E I R RELIABI LITY
was it investigated, because the story came to Michel’s attention.
Witnesses were mostly farmers and a few priests and
schoolteachers. One witness reports :
It was about five in the afternoon. Emerging from the
thick layer that looked like a storm coming up, we saw
a luminous blue-violet mist, of a regular shape something
like a cigar or a carrot. Actually, the object came out of
the layer of clouds in an almost horizontal position,
slightly tilted toward the ground and pointing forward,
like a submerging submarine.
This luminous cloud appeared rigid. Whenever it moved,
its movements had no connection with the movements of
the clouds, and it moved all of a piece, as if it were
actually some gigantic machine surrounded by mist. It came
down rather fast from the ceiling of clouds to an altitude
which we thought was perhaps a half-mile above us. Then
it stopped, and the point rose quickly until the object was
in a vertical position, where it became motionless.
During this time the dark clouds went on scudding
across the sky, dimly lighted from underneath by the
violet luminosity of the object. It was an extraordinary
sight, and we watched it intently. All over the countryside
other farmers had also dropped their tools and were
staring up at the sky like us.
All at once white smoke exactly like a vapor trail came
from the lower end of the cloud. At first it pointed to the
ground but finally rose up to describe around the vertical
object an ascending spiral. While the rear of the trail
was dissolving in the air and being carried off by the
wind, the source of the trail went up to the very top of
the vertical object and then started to come down again,
turning in the other direction. Only then, after the smoke
trail had vanished entirely, could we see the object that
was sowing it-a little metallic disk, reflecting in its rapid
movements flashes of light from the huge vertical object.
The little disk then stopped turning around the luminous
cloud and went down toward the ground again, this time
moving away. For quite a few minutes we could see it flying
low over the valley, darting here and there at great speed,
sometimes speeding up, then stopping for a few seconds,
then going on again, flying in every direction between
villages that were four miles apart. Finally, when it was
107
ANATOMY OF A P HENOMENON
almost a mile from the vertical object it made a final dash
toward it at headlong speed and disappeared like a shooting
star into the lower part, where it had first come out
Perhaps a minute later the carrot leaned over as it began
to move, accelerated and disappeared into the clouds in
the distance. The whole thing lasted about half an hour
( l l5 ) .
At Amiens, on September 7, at 7 : 15 A.M. :
My eyes were caught by a sort of mound, two hundred
yards away in a field. It looked something like an unfinished
haystack, with an upside-down plate on top.
“That’s a queer color for a haystack,” I said to Yves,
“look at it.”
All of a sudden I noticed that the haystack was moving
a little, with a slight swing back and forth, like
an oscillation. We both rushed toward the mysterious object.
When we got close the object took off on a slant,
traveled diagonally upward for about fifty feet and then
began to go straight up. We watched it for three minutes.
The object was about thirty feet in diameter.
We read in France-Soir, September 15:
Three investigators for the air police arrived at Quarouble,
Nord, yesterday to interrogate M. Marius Dewilde,
the man who saw two “Martians” near his back-yard gate.
They left the village with the assurance that, during the
night of Friday to Saturday, a mysterious craft had indeed
landed, as claimed by M . Dewilde, on the railroad
tracks of the line Saint-Amand-Blanc-Misseron, near the
railroad crossing No. 79.
Their inquiries seem, in effect, to confirm the statement
made by the metal worker. The witness has declared that
Friday, about 1 0 : 30 P.M., he had seen a machine of an
elongated shape, three meters high, six meters long, sitting
on the tracks a few meters away from his house. Two
entities of human appearance, of very small height and
apparently wearing diving suits, could be seen nearby.
M. Dewilde walked toward them, but at this moment a
beam of greenish light was focused on him from the craft
and he found himself paralyzed. When he was able to
108 ,
MODERN UFO REPORTS A N D T H E I R RELIABILITY
move again the machine had sta1ted to rise and the two
entities had disappeared.
The investigators have found no trace of the existence
of these entities. The gronnd, examined meter by meter,
does not show traces of footsteps. However, one of the
sleepers on the tracks showed traces that could have been
made by a machine landing on it. In five places the wood
of the sleepers is tapped on a surface of about four square
centimeters. These markings have all the same appearance
and they lie symmetrically, on one line. Three of themthose
in the middle-are separated by an interval of
forty-three centimeters. The last two are sixty-seven centimeters
away from the preceding ones.
A craft that would land on legs instead of wheels like
our own aircraft would not leave other traces, one of the
inspectors of the air police has declared.
The narrative made by M. Dewilde is also.. confirmed
by several inhabitants of the region. In Onnaing, a young
man called M. Edmond Auverlot and a retired man, M.
Hublard, have seen about 10:30 P . M . ( the time indicated
by M. Dewilde ) a reddish light traveling in the sky. The
same light has been seen from Vicq by three yonng men.
The railroad specialists consulted by the investigators in
respect to the markings on the wooden ties calculated that
the pressure indicated by the prints corresponded to a weight
of thirty tons. These marks were fresh and sharply cut,
showing that the wood of the ties had been subjected at
those five points to very heavy pressure. In an examination
of the gravel of the roadbed, the policemen fonnd another
puzzling fact : At the site of the alleged landing the stones
were brittle, as if they had been calcined at high temperature
( 115) . Some blackish traces were also found. Although
nothing was determined about the existence of the “operators,”
it was said in the report that the ground was hard
and that the absence of footprints did not disprove the
story.
September 18:
. . . An object arrived at high speed over the horizon,
stood still several minutes over the town and then disappeared
into the zenith.
109
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
September 19:
A circular object appeared suddenly in the north. It was
flat, gray, and appeared to be metallic. It slowed, stopped,
and remained motionless for about thirty seconds, during
which time it swayed back and forth slightly. Mter a
half-minute it went off again in a north-west direction.
September 22:
Under the clouds, a huge, luminous ball hung motionless.
Reddish and surrounded by a sort of moving smoke,
almost luminous. Watched for half an hour. Then suddenly
from the lower part of the ball there emerged
another, much smaller luminous ball; after a few seconds
of free fall it slowed, turned obliquely and disappeared at
high speed. A moment later a second ball dropped and
went off-and then a third, and a fourth. Just then an
airplane appeared in another part of the sky. It seemed
on a collision course with the ball. The ball abruptly
changed position and rose into the clouds and disap­
peared.
September 26:
The little dog began to bark and howl miserably. She
saw it standing in front of something that looked like a
scarecrow. But going closer she saw that the scarecrow
was some sort of small diving suit, made of translucent
plastic material. Behind the blurred transparency of the
helmet, two large eyes were staring out at her. The suit
began moving toward her with a kind of quick, waddling
gait.
She uttered a cry of terror and took to the fields. L9oking
back she saw a big metallic object, circular and rather
flat, rise behind some nearby trees, move off toward
the northeast with considerable speed, gaining altitude
as it did so.
Neighbors gathered quickly and at the spot where the
object had risen they found a circle, ten or so feet in
diameter, where the shrubs had been crushed. Trees at
the edge of this imprint had some branches broken and the
bark rubbed off, and the wheat in the direction of take-
llO 􀅄
MODERN UFO REPO RTS A N D T H E I R RELIABI LITY
off was flattened out in radiating lines. The original witness
was found in a state of nervous collapse. She was
put to bed, where she remained for two days with a high
fever.
September 28 :
A tramp locomotive was running on a railway line
from Nantes to Vannes. In the marsh close to the tracks
a circular, flat machine was in rapid flight just above the
ground. Luminous, dark red, tinged with violet. It soon
reached the · locomotive, flying only a few yards above
it. Then it accelerated and disappeared toward the west
at a terrifice speed. For a few seconds the clouds continued
to be illuminated by a violet light. The fireman,
bewildered, was trembling so much that his place had to
be taken until they reached the station. He had to be
helped to his bed and for several days he suffered from
nervous shock.
Dr. Allen Hynek, later commenting upon this activity, noted :
Hundreds of similar reports flooded in. But there was
no mechanism whatever to handle them. No scientist
would touch this tricky subject, and their official air
force team began sorting reports by tossing out the “obviously
incredible reports.” They latched onto those cases
in which they could see a natural explanation, a most human
and understandable reaction.
It is October 4 and we are at Poncey. “It was about
8 : 00 P.M.,” Mrs. Fourneret said, “and it had already been
dark for some time. About twenty yards from the house,
in the meadow, a luminous body was balancing itself
lightly in the air, to the right of the plum tree, as if
preparing to land. As well as I was able to judge, the
object was about three yards in diameter and seemed
elongated, horizontal and orange colored. I was beside
myself with fright and seized the boy, running with him
to Mrs. Bouillier’s house, where we closed the door tight.”
The neighbors armed themselves, the report continues,
and went out to investigate. Nothing was there, but they
said they found an area over a yard and a half long,
twenty-seven inches wide at one end, twenty at the other,
111
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON
where the ground appeared to have been sucked up. On
the fresh soil of this hole, they said, white worms wiggled,
and the earth that had been tom out was scattered all
around the hole in clods ten or twelve inches across,
over a radius of about four yards. On the inner edge
of the hole similar clods hung down. The earth had been
pulled out in such a way that about halfway down the
hole was wider than at ground level.
They reported further that the little roots and rootlets
in this fertile soil were intact everywhere on the inner
surface of the hole and that not one had been cut, as
would have been the case if the excavation had been
made in the normal way. At the center of the hole, they
said, lay a plant with a long root, still attached by the
end of the root to the soil at the bottom of the hole, with
all its roolets exposed to the air, completely undamaged.
In short, if we are to accept this report, . . . it looked
just as if the mass of earth spread over the surrounding
grass had been sucked out by a gigantic vacuum.
During the night of September 26-27, about 2 : 30 A.M.,
a bus returning from Vals-les-Bains along Route D-130, in
the department of Card, stopped at Foussignargues to
drop off Mrs. Julien and her son Andre. They had
turned toward their village of Besseges, about half a mile
beyond, when they noticed in the sky to the east a
reddish luminous object, encircled by a halo of dimmer
light. It seemed to be moving toward the ground. Ten
minutes later, Mrs. Roche, living at a place called Revety,
went out on her terrace for a breath of air. Her eyes were
at once caught by the red light coming from a round luminous
object, apparently on the ground beside the road a
hundred yards or so away, and lower down. “It was
rather like a luminous tomato,” she described it later.
“Five or six vertical stalks, rather thick, came out of the
center of it on top.” Mrs. Roche and her husband stood
there watching for twenty minutes, not daring to go down
and look more closely. As it was cold, they finally left. The
object was still there at 3 : 30 A.M. In the morning it had
disappeared ( 45 ) .
It has been suggested that the propulsion of UFOs, if they
are machines, has something to do with “anti-gravity” ( 1 17 ) .
This is a rather inexpensive hypothesis. However, several
112
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND THEIR RELIABILITY
reports mention observations that could hardly have been
simply “imagined,” and the hole in the field at Poncey often
quoted by supporters of the “anti-gravity theory,” was a
reality. In this respect, the following account might also
prove of interest.
On October 16, 1954, at Cier-de-Riviere (a small village
ten kilometers from Saint Gaudens and seven kilometers from
Montrejeau, Haute-Garonne ) , Guy Puyfourcat, a farmer, was
returning from the fields with a mare he held by the rein.
Suddenly, the animal seemed to become very frightened.
At the same time, a sort of machine with a diameter of five
feet, of a gray
·
color and in the shape of a large pan, took
off from behind some trees and bushes. It climbed to an
altitude of about fifty meters and came toward them. Then,
the mare was suddenly drawn up in the air about three
meters above the ground and the witness had to release
the rein. The mare fell back down like an inert mass and remained
motionless for ten minutes. Later, the animal was
able to stand up, but would stumble and tremble with fear.
The machine had disappeared at a very great speed. The
witness himself had not felt anything ( 1 1 6 ) .
In the evening of October 20, Jean Schoubrenner, of Sarrebourg,
was driving near the village of Turquenstein when
he noticed on the highway ahead of him a luminous body.
He slowed down as he approached this object, but, when
he was about twenty yards from it, he suddenly felt as
if he had been paralyzed. At the same moment his motor
stopped and, as the car’s momentum carried it forward,
a sensation of increasing heat spread through his body. A
few seconds later the object flew away and these symptoms
disappeared.
We will not supply further examples of sightings from
this series, for we are sure that no sample, however large,
could give the reader a complete picture of how the wave
developed. Michel’s second book is probably the best reference
in this respect; it discusses about one-fourth of all
sightings made during the fall in France. The publication of
an extensive catalogue of sightings is, of course, to be desired.
An American wave, although smaller than the French
series, had developed somewhat earlier. At the same time,
considerable peaks of activity appeared in every country
on the globe, as can be seen from frequency distributions
113
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
where the different countries are shown separately. In January,
a peak of reports had already been noted in Australia,
where a curious mushroom-shaped object was described
on several occasions by highly reliable witnesses ( 30 ) .
The following year, 1955, was not quiet, as witness the
reports made at Kelly, Kentucky; at Cochise, Arizona; at
Keflavik Airport in Iceland; at Duluth, Minnesota; and
Cheyenne, Wyoming. An enormous amount of detailed reports
is available for the sightings made after 1954; triggered
by the formidable impact of the events described .
above, amateurs and enthusiasts, among whom were several
serious students of the phenomenon, organized themselves on
a local scale and started to publish some of the information
they were able to gather. A few professional scientists also
became interested in the UFO problem and began sorting the
reports from official or private sources, where hoaxes and
errors were obviously present, and compiling limited catalogues.
Thanks to this activity, the data are so abundant
that we must review the last period summarily. As I write
this chapter, I have in front of me three drawers full of index
cards covering the period 1955-1964. Each card is a reference
to the files in which the sighting is to be found, and
each card usually mentions at least two or three different
sources available for each case.
UFO waves developed in 1956, 1957 and 1958. The apparent
periodicity of two years, discernible in the four preceding
peaks of activity, seems to vanish during this period.
The sightings continue to follow the patterns established in
1952 and verified with such strength in 1954. Most of the
examples we will use in later chapters will be chosen from
among these recent documents, for UFOs are still seen and
reported today in all parts of the world.
TH E U N F I N ISHED SYMPHONY
UFO activity did not cease after the 1958 wave, the last
important and massive series of incidents we have been able
to record. We do not yet know all reported sightings of the
last three years; publication of descriptions made by witnesses
in Argentina in 1962 is only beginning. For other
countries, such as Africa and New Zealand, we may have
to wait much longer before knowing what has happened in ‘
the recent period. In the United States, the delay is generally
1 1 1
MODERN UFO REPORTS AND T H E I R RELIABILITY
of a few months only. But it will take weeks before reports
made in the summer of 1964 are analyzed and classified,
and only then will we know if we are dealing with events
of interest to our study, or if baseless local rumors have
triggered a series of mistakes, hallucinations and misidentifications.
One hundred and eighty-six observations representative of
the UFO phenomenon, according to our criteria, were made
in 1959. We count 132 for 1960, 141 for 1961, 163 for 1962.
The figures for 1963 will be of the same order of magnitude.
Those for l964 and 1965 are much higher.
April 18, 1963, at Cliems, England: At 9 : 00 P.M. a bright
orange object was seen, from which fifteen lights detached
themselves at intervals.
September 10, 1963 : A Hat, elliptical object with a metallic
appearance remained stationary in the sky over Norland
in Halifax at 10 : 00 P.M.
December 27, 1963 : A bright white object landed in a
field near Epping, England, at 4 : 00 P.M. The left side of
the object was more brightly illuminated. The UFO was eight
feet long, three feet high. It took off horizontally and was
hidden to the witness behind an obstacle after thirty yards.
The grass had been flattened in a circle. Shallow depressions
were found in the ground where the object allegedly had
landed.
April 29, 1964, a little after noon: A high-school teacher
and six pupils saw a disk hovering, swaying, sometimes giving
the appearance of a Hat rim, sometimes an elliptical silhouette.
April 30, 1964 : A brown. dome-shaped object hovered
above a hill and landed. The observation was made ten
miles west of Baker, in California. The UFO left a large
depression. It was observed by three witnesses for five to
six minutes.
The answer to the question these sightings present is
certainly not trivial. It can lead the psychologist to elaborate
new theories of human motivation. It can lead the physicist
to improved models of atmospheric optics. But it could
also project us into the fantastic, even though it may not
be easy to accept this possibility.
115
Chapter 4
THE SCIENTIFIC PROBLEM
When any new and unexplained phenomenon offers it- –
self to our inquiry, the fust duty of the investigator is to 1
inform himself, with the most scrupulous accuracy, of all
the circumstances, however minute, which accompany it; 1
and if past observation cannot answer all circumstan- I
tial inquiries which his understanding may suggest as I
necessary, he must patiently wait the recurrence of a like j phenomenon, and diligently observe. When he shall thus
have collected all the circumstances that can be imagined
to throw light on its origin, he w.ill then, and not until 1
then, be in a position to justify an inquiry into its cause. II
Dionysius Lardner, D.C.L. Popular Physics, 1856. I
( Quoted by Waveney Girvan, [ 185] . )
A N U N USUAL SC I ENTI F I C PUZZLE
The UFO problem appears to be a new type of scientific
puzzle in two respects. In the usual procedure of scientific ·
discovery, a specialist is suddenly confronted with a fact 1
or a series of facts which contradict one or more established
theories. The new fact is later supported by measurements
and experiments within the state of the art; and efforts are ·
made by the scientist to develop theories and experimental 1
devices that will cast light on this new area, until the weak
point in the old conception is clearly defined. When this is
done, experimental developments take place, with specialists
of several disciplines generally taking advantage of the new
theory to build unique equipment. But scientists do not
1 1!1
THE SCI ENTIFIC PROBLEM
commit themselves until all tests have been completed and
until they are confident of the precise nature of the new
phenomenon. Such an approach cannot be taken in the case
of the UFO problem; the analyst is confronted here with
two theories, one of which claims that the facts are not “new,”
that only publicity and exaggeration have made them appear
so. The second theory claims that the phenomenon
is indeed of an unprecedented nature-not yet recognized
and classified by human reason.
This dilemma has been clearly seen by the official investigators.
A U.S. Air Force consultant, for example, wrote
in 1960:
This “noisy signal” has been corning at us for the past
dozen years at least and occasionally there seems to be
a “blip” which rises well above the noise level, as in the
case of some of the French sightings; one does indeed
wonder whether the time has come to pay some attention
to it. The role of the air force in the problem of the UFO
in the past dozen years has been in line with its avowed
mission, namely that of determining the potential hostility
of any action in the air that cannot be immediately
explained. Their verdict to date has been that whatever
the stimuli for the unknown sightings may be, there is
no indication of hostility. And since the great preponderance
of the reports are easily explainable as misidentifications
of common objects, it seems almost justifiable
to extrapolate a bit and cover the remaining 2 or 3 per
cent. . . . Many of the reports would be most difficult to
explain as misidentification. Yet to continue such researches
places one on what General Chassin, general air defense
coordinator, Allied Air Forces, central Europe, NATO,
has called “the difficult path of research that is temporarily
in disrepute.” He has further stated that “true, the
reported sightings include observations of meteorites and
balloons, and even lies and dreams. That is why vigorous
examination of reports is essential. But after all the
examination and screening is finished, we still have a
percentage of observations that stubbornly resist every
conventional explanation. We can, therefore, categorically
say that serious objects have indeed appeared and continue
to appear in the sky that surrounds us.” His conclusion
would be correct if he were dealing with phenomena
117
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON that occur in any other £eld of human experience, in law, I
in medicine, or in the many branches of the sciences.
Evidence so well attested would certainly be accepted in
court. But it is understandable why it cannot be as yet in
the area in which we are dealing. We do need either a
breakthrough here-and a breakthrough would consist
of one or more sightings that occurred in front of a
battery of scientists and their instruments, and which
sightings also produced copious amounts of hardwareor
we need a very careful and devoted study of the evidence
already at hand, even recognizing that the signalto-
noise ratio is extremely low and indeed less than unity.
At least, it appears to me that work should be done on
testing some of the hypotheses that have been put forward
in cases in which numerous witnesses were present
and the phenomenon lasted a reasonable length of time.
(45) .
H we let things follow their normal course, therefore, the
solution to the mystery might present itself one day or another,
when this “breakthrough” might occur in the form of an
unusually good sighting; after all, this is how the mystery
of meteorites was solved, “when so many stones fell on the
little village of L’Aigle in France that the evidence became
incontrovertible.”
But can we be certain that the apparent nonhostility will
persist when this “incontrovertible evidence” is finally at
hand?
How do you go about determining whether or not actions
possibly planned and executed by nonhuman intelligence
are hostile? How do you know if actions that would
appear “nonhostile” by our standards are really harmless on
a longer scale? In our laboratories, we slowly develop cancer
on mice and guinea pigs, all the time keeping the most
friendly attitude toward them.
If UFOs are mirages the Air Force mission is too sophisticated;
if they are space travelers, it is inadequate.
THE DANG EROUS P R ECAUTIONS
When scientists say that the UFO problem cannot be
oonsidered a scientific one because no physical evidence
liB
THE SC IENTIFIC PROBLEM
has been found yet, I am tempted to answer that what will
happen if physical evidence is found will be anything but
science. U there ever was a proper time for research, the
time is now. The decisions we will make when physical
evidence is finally present will be determined by the level
of our knowledge and understanding of the phenomenon,
and now is the time to acquire this information. By permitting
ridicule to bury the problem and waste our chances
of obtaining more accurate, more reliable data from the
witnesses, we are not acting as scientists.
Emphasis should be placed on the processing of data
already known, not solely on “physical evidence.” If the “objects”
are craft developed by an advanced technical civilization,
their “operators” have probably possessed space travel
for a very long time, and the sampling of our planet had
in all likelihood not been planned before all problems of
hardware reliability had been solved; this is precisely what
we ourselves are planning to do with our own space probes.
It is not very realistic for us to wait for a “flying saucer”
suddenly to fall apart in our back yard.
It would indeed be very dangerous to take too many
precautions when confronted with a problem of this importance
and to refuse to study it before physical samples are
collected. Because the possibility of an extraterrestrial origin
of the UFOs is considered too “emotional” to be allowed
into a scientific discussion, one has to break the barrier and
say in plain words what the specialist’s jargon would not
permit. This is a new occasion for us to wonder if logicians
do not restrict a little too much our area of responsibility
when they ask us to disregard our emotions and block
our imaginations to the bare facts, and to see everything
through a microscope with the mind of a machine.
As a specialist in data processing I have exactly the opposite
view: The logical, unemotional part of my work is performed
excellently, much better than I could perform it,
by computers whose lack of imagination cannot be questioned.
I feel perfectly justified in asking questions and interpreting
answers with that part of my brain that makes me different
from the machine-my imagination and my emotional mind.
By so doing, I claim I stay on a safe scientific ground, and
that only scientists who continue to ignore modem techniques
and tools should make up for it by lowering their human
brain to the level of unemotional reasoning.
119
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON
THE NEED FOR A N EW SYSTEM OF ANALYSIS
Science has always chosen the subjects of its own investigations;
new facts generally have been discovered in the
course of scientific experiments and, by definition, study was
undertaken within the state of the art. Our logic and our
philosophy of science is adapted to this particular process.
When it is not followed, when events occur from the outside,
scientists react as emotional human beings, not as welltrained
specialists. Other areas of human activity, such as
philosophy or theology, are in a position to undertake a
study of the phenomenon, but science must remain silent.
The Fatima vision, for example, could be interpreted by
theologians and philosophers; similarly, C. G. Jung could
discuss the UFO problem long before the scientists could
adapt his methods of investigation to the phenomenon, for
new concepts had to be defined and solid psychological
barriers broken.
When scientists are thus confronted with the totally unexpected,
their normal reaction is labeling the unknown instead
of studying it. A monstrous animal always looks less
terrible when it has a name, preferably Latin. From the label,
scientists can jump to conclusions, all the time keeping as
far away from the monster as possible, later searching for
some aspects of the phenomenon which will fit their models
computed a priori. Of course, they can prove their point very
well by this process, and the whole argument seems very 1
reasonable and objective; any new phenomenon has aspects !
that, when isolated from the whole monstrous body, “look
like” already known and classified effects.
This point is excellently illustrated by meteorites and “flying
saucers”; certainly, we have not chosen to be confron- 1
ted with these objects, and similarly no farmer has ever
chosen to have a stone fall from the heavens through the
roof of his bam. Whatever the state of the art, the phenome- ‘
non is here, and so is the hole in the roof. If the cause of
the manifestation is natural, one day the expansion of science
will absorb it; if I drop my pencil now, and watch it
fall to the floor, I am performing an experiment which is only
accurately described-but poorly explained-by science. I
am, however, confident that some day physicists will master
this amazing effect. On the other hand, when we are confronted
with a manifestation of. seemingly intelligent origin,
120.
THE SCIENTI FIC PROBLEM
the problem is much more complex. Because we ourselves
are reasoning animals, we feel compelled to try to understand
it. As a consequence we are tempted to interpret
it in a subjective fashion; the risk involved is much greater
than in the case of natural events.
Since the concepts that would allow us to grasp the phenomenon
in its entirety may not have been formed yet,
or may lie beyond the potentiality of the consciousness which
is characteristic of the present state of the human brain, we
have a tendency to start from plausible solutions and work
backward. But this is no longer science:
It is not in the spirit of science for an investigator
‘ either to do a sloppy job or to, a priori, jump to a conclusion.
He may be dead right, but in science conclusions
are not arrived at by jumping; they are arrived at by a
careful step-by-step analysis ( 45) .
Our problem, therefore, is clear: We must analyze the
evidence already gathered in such a way that we neither
presuppose nor pre-exclude any possible conclusion. And
this is not at all what previous investigators seem to have
done.
THE HARVARD SY NDROME
Very uncommon indeed are astronomers who consider with
excitement the possibility of life and intelligence in the universe
. They seem to have practical reasons for being afraid
of discoveries in this field, but there is, in addition, a psychological
barrier that prevents them from conceiving of
extraterrestrial life. They cannot replace in their imaginations
the huge cosmic cemetery for celestial bodies which they des cribe
in their books with a world of life and thought. In this
respect I like to remember the wonderful words of the Astronomer
Royal (the highest astronomical position in Great
Britain ): “Space travel is utter bilge.” This was , mind you,
in 1957, a little before October.
Another reason astonomers tend to dislike this subject is
a direct consequence of their education. Nine astonomers
out of ten started as young students in astronomy, went
through high school and college with the idea of becoming
what they are now, considered only astronomical matters
121
ANATOMY OF A P HENOMENON
at college and have jumped directly from their doctoral
dissertation into research and teaching without indulging
themselves in any romantic affair with earthly matters. This
results in many a disaster when they are later faced with
decisions involving business matters, industry contracts or
computer programming. It also results in their complete
inability to survive if they must live in a different environment;
they are therefore careful not to risk their astronomical
positions.
Some astronomers have, however, understood the UFO
problem and have studied it seriously, even if they have until
now neglected to send the result of their discussions to the
Astrophysical Journal. These researchers have carefully studied
many UFO reports and have analyzed them according
to the techniques with which they are familiar. Our own results,
obtained in the light of different techniques, seem to
indicate that the present prevailing attitude is too limited,
that there is more to be found in this phenomenon than
is claimed, because the samples of data they study are too
small and the techniques they employ too narrow. In this
book, we oppose a certain method of analysis, namely, the
system which distorts a set of unknown phenomena until
it is recognizable by ordinary standards. This process is
the normal interpretation scheme employed by science in
its investigations. But manifestations of extraterrestrial intelligence,
if they occur, will filter through this type of analysis
without being detected because they will always show
aspects which can fall under ordinary classifications, thus
allowing the skeptic to claim that the observed phenomenon
can be explained as a combination of ordinary effects,
“seen under peculiar circumstances.”
When only individual cases are taken into consideration,
this approach, which is illustrated in Dr. Menzel’s work and,
more generally, in the U.S. Air Force’s investigations, is
quite correct. But this type of study is insufficient in cases
involving new concepts to be extracted through research, 0
0cf. this statement by Captain Ruppelt, 11 April 19M:
“Regarding a theory by Dr. Menzel that all UFOs were sundogs,
halos, light refractions, etc., I was told by advisers to
our organization ( ATIC ) that this theory was not valid except
for a few cases that we had already written off as such.”
122 .
THE SC IENTI F I C P RO BLEM
investigation of individual cases should be combined here
with general analysis. Today’s official attitude is an illustration
not of extremely careful scientific research as claimed
but of this chronic wealmess of the human mind excellently
termed by Professor Remy Chauvin the Syndrome of Resistance
to the Future.
SPECIALISTS AND ANALYSTS
“Dammit, which of them is a poor fellow to believe?”
“Both of , them, as long as they simply put their facts
down on the table. But neither of them, if they ignore each
other and start to piece the whole puzzle together on their
own. That’s the strength of pure research,” I said.
“And that’s its greatest wealmess,” said my Aku-Aku.
“In order to penetrate ever further down into their subjects,
the host of specialists narrow their fields and dig
down deeper and deeper till they can’t see each other
from hole to hole. But the treasures their toil brings to
light they place on the ground above. A different kind of
specialist should be sitting there, the only one still missing.
He would not go down any hole, but would stay on top
and piece all the different facts together.”
“A job for an Aku-Aku,” I said. ·
“No, a job for a scientist,” retorted my Aku-Aku. “But
we can give him a hint or two.” ‘
( Thor Heyerdahl, Aku-Aku ) .
A number of specialists have studied the reports of UFO
observations and have “put their facts on the table.” But no
one has yet been called to gather their results and attempt
to gain access to the general behavior of the phenomenon. As
a matter of fact, one could even say that the “specialist”
approach has represented an attempt to deny the reality of
the UFO phenomenon and that the spirit followed in this
approach has been very antagonistic, in practice, to the idea
that the reports could lead to the definition of a consistent
pattern.
UFO reports have never been analyzed as manifestations
of a global effect; the very existence of “waves” of sightings
is ignored, or simply denied, by officials in charge of the investigations.
The reports are analyzed one at a time, with
an amount of energy directly proportional to the publicity
123
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
they have received in specialized “enthusiast” reviews or in
the press, radio and television. A side effect af this process
is that the most interesting reports are completely unknown
to the public and to civilian scientists who might, otherwise,
have a very different attitude toward the subject. The more
widely discussed cases, such as Washington in 1952, are
rather poor and, in our files, would be considered secondrate.
Abominable selection effects have been introduced and
work of very unequal quality has been done on the various
reports. The typical period is that of Captain Ruppelt, who
was in charge of the UFO problem during the 1952 wave. 0
It was during the 1952 wave that the official pattern for
handling and classifying reports seems to have been set up
by Ruppelt, who surrounded his office with a series of specialists-
an astrophysicist, a psychologist and so forth. He
himself made the selection among incoming reports, automatically
eliminating accounts of “landings” ( and throwing
them into the trash can, he writes in his book [ 1 18] and
submitting to his consultants only those few reports which
he thought could be best explained in the light of their
specialties. The astronomer, for example, saw only cases of
probable meteors and mirages, and had no access to the remainder
of the files.
Once again I am purposely avoiding discussing this process
in scientific terms, for science had nothing to do with the
official motivations at that time. I shall, on the contrary,
try to expose and dramatize the enormous contradictions of
this methodology by taking an imaginary example.
Let my reader suppose that a fleet of atomic bombers of
the Strategic Air Command suddenly finds itself projected
backward in time. It is now rushing through the European
°Captain Ruppelt died in 1960. The field of UFO research
is now old enough that other eminent pioneers are no
longer alive. C. G. Jung died in the summer of 1961. Wilbert
B. Smith, a Canadian researcher, died on December 27,
1962, and Waveney Girvan ( author of Flying Saucers and
Common Sense and editor of the British Flying Saucer Review
) died on October 22, 1964. Astronomer M. K. Jessup
( author of The Case for the UFO ) committed suicide on
April 20, 1959, in conditions surrounded with some mystery.
124 •
TH E SCI ENTI F I C PROBLEM
sky in the time of the empire of Charlemagne, in A.D. 800.
Thousands of farmers, soldiers, monks and officials watch it
and hear it. The news reaches the Emperor, and a committee
of specialists is appointed to solve the mystery. This
committee includes : a) an erudite in Greek manuscripts; b )
the Astrologer of the Palace; c ) the Archbishop of Paris;
d) two theologians; e) the Physician of the Court; f) the
Chief of the Royal Cavalry; and g ) the Emperor’s jester.
Each committee member is given only those reports that
fall under his jurisdiction. Of course, people of very different
backgrounds have seen the objects, some at night, some during
the day. Since none of them has ever witnessed anything
of the kind before, they will describe their vision in ordinary
terms, and they are very likely to differ in their interpretations
because they are not all familiar with the s ame usual objects.
Undoubtedly, most of the daytime witnesses will say they
have seen a flying crucifix, and heard the cries of Jesus jolting
the horizon. These reports will be given to the Archbishop
and, since they may contain information of very high
value to the Church, and could even shake its very foundations,
they are not communicated to the other members of
the committee, especially to the physician, the astrologer and
the jester.
At night, many farmers and shepherds have seen strange
lights dashing through the sky. These reports are completely
uninteresting to all except the astrologer, who locks himself
in his observatory to study them in peace.
By that time the Greek erudite has read all of Herodotus
and Plato again and comes up with a couple of suggestions :
He points out that nothing similar has been reported by these
authors, and remarks that the human soul is often affected
by strange dreams and visions. Noting a possible new interpretation
of an obscure mythological point, he goes back
to the library and is never heard of again.
The Physician of the Court is given a hundred reports
made by farmers, who describe enormous birds flying in
clusters through the sky, accompanied by strange noise and
wind. But this does not fool him, and he explains at once
these facts, which may appear “strange” only to vulgar, uneducated
people, by the yearly migration of some species of
birds, which apparently falls earlier this season. The gracious
animals have probably taken advantage, he says, of the
strong winds generated by a storm-whence the noise. But,
125
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
of course, uneducated farmers see supernatural phenomena
everywhere ! The doctors, fortunately know better.
The Chief of the Royal Cavalry is very angry because he
has not yet been consulted. He must agree that the objects
do not represent a threat to the welfare of the empire, since it
is obvious that they do not carry spears, bows or arrows. He
will open a file, however, to keep the record of what is done
and classify the observations. But in order to do any serious
research on these documents he would need part of the money
reserved for the Department of the Royal Ships, and the
Great Admiral will never let him do that. Exit the Chief of
the Royal Cavalry.
By that time, the Emperor’s daughter has fallen deeply in
love with a handsome prince, and the people are very busy
filing income tax reports, so that nobody speaks of Hying
crucifixes any more. The general opinion at the Court is that
it is not in the interest of the Crown to favor the spreading
of rumors, and the less said about it publicly the better.
A nice little old fellow had reported a very strange vision.
He said he was working in his field when he suddenly heard
a most unusual noise, and saw a huge Hying cross rushing
from behind a cloud, surrounded with smoke and fire, and
falling into the ocean at some distance from the coast. A few
minutes later a large white Hower appeared in the sky with
the shape of a human being dangling below it, as if at the
end of a string.
The strange entity landed on top of a big tree in the forest
and disappeared. Ten minutes later, as the farmer was still
trying to figure out the meaning of his vision, and was pondering
whether he should tell it to the priest, a very tall man
in green clothes with peculiar hoses hanging around his neck,
an insignia on his overcoat and a black tube in his right
hand came toward him from the forest and said a few incomprehensible
words. Realizing he was not understood, he
left and did not return.
The author of this fantastic tale was asked ·many questions;
since he never touched a bottle of wine, he was de­
clared mad in the seventh degree and possessed by the Devil.
Therefore, he was neatly and promptly hanged the same
week.
The astrologer published a monograph in Latin concerning
the interpretation of moving lights. His general conclusion
from the sightings he had studied was that the next sum-
126 .
THE SC IENTIFIC P ROBLEM
mer would not be quite so dry as the last one and that the
Emperor would have six grandchildren, all male. As a token
of royal gratitude for this good news he was promoted and
given two pounds of gold.
The Church did not release any general statement at that
time, but a considerable number of sermons were made
throughout the land concerning the necessity of believing in
the Old Texts and being careful in the interpretation of miracles,
since the Devil often plays tricks with the imagination
of the honest citizen.
But the people were unhappy and still in a state of shock
after the strange visions. The Jester of the Court fortunately
had an inspiration and wrote a ballad saying that the whole
thing had been a good joke and that it was ridiculous to look
at the .skies to discover strange signs when the land of France
was so full of pretty girls. The ballad soon became very popular.
Everybody laughed and danced for three days and
three nights, and many children were born less than a year
later.
This little tale, I claim, bears a striking resemblance to the
official process for handling UFO reports : The main piece
in the mechanism is missing. A different kind of specialist
should be sitting there. The missing man is the analyst.
During the last decades, on the basis of scientific, technical
and industrial experience, and under the pressure of wartime
necessity and the requirements of private enterprise, a
body of techniques has emerged which encompasses operations
research, decision-making, large-scale date processing,
information theory and control analysis. These new techniques,
disciplines and sciences have been employed to classify
human activity, technical processes and natural events in sets
and classes and to generalize the findings of specialists into
global approaches and general descriptions. In the last twenty
years, they have found application in every field of human
activity. Some of the techniques thus developed could find
immediate application in UFO research.
The analyst would demand access to all the facts. He
would completely ignore the labels used by official authorities-”
good report,” “bad report,” “unreliable,” “insufficient”
-because they reflect subjective, nonscientific verdicts. He
would introduce his own system of classification without
bothering to state first that the phenomenon must belong to
this or that field of research, because there is no such thing
127
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
as a “field of research,” and research itself is only a part of
human activity that has not been defined in scientific terms.
He has learned that, although specialists sometimes use different
techniques, tricks, or know-bows and like to think of
their work as an entity separated from the rest of the universe
by golden barriers, there are wide bands of similarity
across these little cells through which can be gained almost
immediate access to any of these disciplines. He will not
bother to ask for permission to contradict accepted theories,
because he is a researcher and any researcher must be conscious
of the possibly novel nature of the phenomenon he
may suddenly be confronted with. Nor will he apologize for
including in his research so-called “fantastic” reports, for
“fantastic” can only be defined with respect to a local system
of reference ; he will try to work in a scale where he knows
no other constraint than the relative laws of human reasoning
and the limits of his own imagination. Human limitations
of memory and capacity to process huge masses of data
without forgetting or making mistakes are no problem with
the advent of computers; the UFO problem is made for the
analyst. But he has never been asked to study it.
If an analyst were given the opportunity to study the UFO
problem his first demand would be that one or two mathe­
maticians be added to the team of specialists. If new
phenomena are present in the set of patterns that constitutes
the UFO problem, there is a possibility that these phenomena
may lie outside the scope of any one of the specialties
recognized today by science, and still be discernible to the
mathematical mind. At least, the abstract structure of these
behaviors may fall under some mathematical category or may
be approached by mathematical descriptions when all other
specialists have come to the limits of their competence.
I will not endeavor to prove that specialists have indeed
come to the limits of their competence in their attempts to
see through the blackness of the UFO mystery; this is obvious,
since after twenty years of investigation we are still at
the point where Ruppelt was when he set up his “committee
of specialists.” ·
It is a fascinating experience to review the old arguments
used against the pioneers of astronomy-Copernicus, Kepler,
Galileo-and to realize that the mental processes that today
oppose the hypothesis of extraterrestrial intelligence are pre­
cisely those we like to suppose were abolished four centuries
128 ,
TH E SCI ENTI FIC PROBLEM
ago. In this respect, it b of interest to remark, in the light of
official interpretation of UFOs as reflections, mirages, distortion
through haze layers, etc., that some early Greek philosophers
believed that the sun and the stars did not have
substance or p ermanence; they were thought to be
“. . . hazy effluvia that rose from the earth and caught
fire. Stars are consumed at dawn; in the evening new exhalations
form new ones . Similarly, a new Sun is hom each
morning, constituted of accumulated sparkles. The moon
is a compre􀄑sed cloud, that takes one month to dissolve;
later a new cloud is formed. Above the different regions
of the Earth we see different moons and suns : all are nebulous
illusions” ( quoted in [ 1 20] ) .
Such a position was very tenable. It solved the problem
much more completely than any of the systems astronomers
painstakingly elaborated later. There is, however, a part of
the human mind that rebels against this negative approach
to the interpretation of reality.
Theories tending to deny the reality of physical phenomena
are seen recurring in cosmology each time dogma is shaken
by new observational material. In order not to destroy mental
contraptions called theories-which the scientist knows are
born only in his imagination and stay alive only by constant
investments from his imagination-the scientist claims that
physical facts themselves are in his imagination; there is something
fascinating indeed in the spectacle of the human mind
denying entrance to the kingdom of material existence to facts
that do not fit into theoretical models.
On November 1 1 , 1572, Tycho Brahe, while walking outside
his observatory before dinner, became aware of the existence
of a new star brighter than Venus, close to the constellation
of Cassiopeia. This discovery of the first nova since
the birth of Christ was in compelte contradiction to the astronomical
doctrine of the time. The contemporary view was
that all changes, all effects involving modification, birth or
death could only take place in the vulgar part of the universe,
in the immediate environment of the earth. On the contrary,
the eighth sphere, the sphere of the fixed stars, remained
unchanged since the creation of the world.
The reality of the phenomenon could not be denied, but
a number of ingenious theories were invented to prove that
129
ANATOMY OF A P HENOMENON
the new object was not a star. Some explained that it was a
comet formed by the condensation of the vapors of sin and
set to fire by divine anger ( 120 ) . It produced a sort of poisonous
dust that fell on the people’s heads and generated all
sorts of evil things such as “bad weather, pestilence and
Frenchmen.” Most astronomers described the new object as
a comet which had no tail and moved very slowly. Tycho
Brahe’s answer to these acrobats-0 coecos coeli spectatores/
( Blind spectators of the Sky l ) -could find applications today.
No less an astronomer than Galileo occasionally made the
same mistake. Because comets did not fit into his model, he
denied their reality as material objects. He decided they had
to be phenomena like aurorae or sun dogs; they were provoked
by a reflection of the hazes from the earth “that rise
in the sky higher than the moon.”
Material existence, however, should obviously be tested. In
the case of UFOs, the recognition of this property is so crucial
that one has indeed to be very careful. The official approach
is satisfactory if the data are representative of the
phenomenon one wants to study, and if criteria exist which
limit the possible complexity of the final “explanation.” In his
book ( 121 ) , Dr. Menzel works from a selected sample of
UFO reports and does not limit the potential complexity of
his system. But very few of the cases he studies would be
thought worthy of consideration in an objective system of
analysis where weights are distributed according to welldefined
criteria, and not according to the amount of publicity
the case has received in “enthusiast” circles obviously
unconcerned with scientific analysis. Thus we find ourselves
confronted again with this selection effect of official 0 and
private secrecy on good reports and exaggerated publicity on
average or frankly bad reports. A classical example is the
Lubbock case, highly acclaimed in the ranks of the “believers.”
We would like to confront those scientists who are opposed
to the theory of the material existance of the UFOs with
sightings like Vernon, Poncey, Ponthierry, Foussignargues,
Quarouble in France or Levelland, Texas and Lock Raven,
“Regarding the so-called “official secrecy,” we shall point
out, however, that because the cases are not individually
publicized does not mean that they are secret.
130
THE SCI ENTIFIC PROBLEM
Maryland. The same omission is deplored in their analysis
of the diflicult problem of “landings.” No serious investigator
has ever been very worried by the claims of the “contactees” t
(see Chapter 5 ) . But the reliable reports of objects seen on
or close to the ground are ignored by the present official
analyses, and nothing is done to satisfy our curiosity concerning
such excellent accounts as those given by Gachignard
in Marignane or Marius Dewilde in Quarouble. The statements
made by leading scientists opposing the material reality
of the UFO phenomenon contain many comments on physical
effects that take place in the atmosphere and natural phenomena
that could puzzle untrained persons and, granted, –
are commonly · misidentified in the enthusiast journals. But
they do not give one new piece of information to the competent
investigator.
REQU I R EMENTS FOR AN OBJ ECTIVE ANALYSIS
OF U FO REPORTS
How can we approach the problem so that we will be
certain that most simple natural and conventional effects are
rejected from our analysis at an early stage and that no feasible
solution ( however fantastic, in a natural or artificial
sense) has escaped because of selection effects?
We certainly cannot do it if we begin with the idea that
UFOs must be natural, and sort them as they arrive as our
good friend Charlemagne did. We have to be much more
careful and refuse to work from selected samples. We must
patiently gather objective information from all sources; officials
and amateurs, enthusiasts and crackpots or cultists have
the right to send us their views.
We will then make a series of general comments and statetThe
word “contactee” applies to persons who claim to
have received knowledge of the nature and origin of the
“flying saucers” from the operators of the craft themselves.
Most of them, like George Adamski ( formerly head of a mystical
cult known as the Royal Order of Tibet) , add that they
have actually traveled in “flying saucers.”
131
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON
ments re'”‘oar0ng the purpose of our investigation. We could,
for eu:::nple, open om research by s'”…ating th2t we are not
interested in prm-±:::ig the e:riste-nce or nooeri:;tenre of “fl)ing
sauce􀍎: which is not in itself a sdentilic problem. bot in
finding the morn·ation behind the obs.en·ed t:eneration of re­
po:ts by the public concerning c-elestial ob;ed:s. By so doing, ; we wJl have defined a prob􀄁 much more simple than the
one 2Stronomers such as Dr. 􀍍{enzel, the V..S. Air Forre”s
consultants O£ the groups of enthU.S.::..a<ts are trying to attad;,
and we cmt re2SOD2.bly hope to soh·e it within a few yea.”S.
We would not s+..art from bown effee.s and trv to £ll the
hole in the roof with them. We would be coo􀀺 with one single effect: R.eporu are indeed generated. They are obsen·able
and can be printed and sent through the nom! c·h,nnels
of communication between resea.-cbers; they are indeed pieces
of scientilic data. To get more in!O!’nlZtion on the cases is a
nu.’ter. of phD<“.£ calk
From this basis.. we would w<rl: by successh·e deductions.
h<JV.ng to cefule objectfye}y the chararteri..-t:ics of the phe­
oomenon”s e>use, and later to identify it through constant
reference, not to iso!a!:ed C2.SeS, but to <.’ODS.stent classes,
pe=2:1ent enti�es, inv:a.Iiahle patterns. Only then will we be
able to define a LrO. l”ntil our worl: reaches this point, we
will srm?l:· remark that in the 1963 eetion of the Encyclo­
pedia Britannial, Dr. Hynel.::”s defutition bas foond its place
-between the headings l.􀇐nicoro- and wl”nified Field Theory·!
RELIABiliTY OF THE SOU RCES OF INFORJMTION
In addition to reports found in the official records we haYe
studied a m.rmber of other sources of documentation, which
may be dassi£ed mainly into the cateogries of published
2.!1<! unpublished informati£XL. �.r reliabili􀍐·. of course, is
variable. Homogenci..’T and consistency can be achie..-ed
only by reC.uct:ion to a C’Orrl!IlOD basis in a rigidl)· defined
system of classification. And it remains im􀍏.b!e to eliminate
comple>..ely the inf!uenre of the S?irit of each nation; descrip­
tions marle by French v.itnesses are in general more detailed 1 than those made by Americans, while the terms used to
describe the same thing in Japan or Great Brittin will be ‘
132
THE SC I E NTI F I C PROBlEM
very different. Clearly, it would be a mistake to put the
emphasis on the specific terms used by the witness. A typical
example in this respect is that of the “cigar,” which may turn
out to be either an “egg or a “disk.” And we will have to
ask questions that are independent of the witness’ character
and background. Defining categories according to the reported
size of the object would lead to considerable confusion
; the average American witness compares the apparent
dimension of Venus or Jupiter to that of “a baseball at arm’s
length.”‘ 0 This should not be viewed as an indication of the
unreliability of the report, or as a “basis of contradiction”
which would eliminate the case, as some official investigators
assume. This particular piece of information should simply
be ignored or, if apparently reliable, taken into account with
a weight relative to all the other characters in the report.
It is always possible, even in the presence of such natural
mistakes (which are expected and should not come as a
surprise to the researcher ) , to define an approach that will
minimize the risks of misclassification; information from very
different sources, even if very disparate, can still be formed
into a general catalogue by the process we shall describe
later.
One should be very careful when using books as sources of
information, for the psychology or personality of an author
( and also the fact that he is trying to use these accounts to
prove something or to make the reader grasp a certain point )
will always generate distortion effects. This is why we have
tried, both in this book and in other publications on the subject,
to put the emphasis on classes and behaviors rather
than on individual cases.
Quite a large number of volumes have already been vritten
on the subject and those we have found intelligible are
listed in the Bibliography at the end of this volume. A person
who would like to become familiar \ith the problem
could, however, find most of the scientific material, in addition
to a large number of specific examples, in the books of
the serious students of the phenomenon who have avoided
0Ve have even found an object as big as “a star at arm’s
length.” But let my reader, if he laughs at these mistakes, see
how much of his TV screen is covered ( when watching from
a usual distance) by an ordinary stamp held at arm’s length.
133
ANATOMY OF A P H E NOMENON
the pitfalls of “loose thinking” and resisted the temptation of
fantasy: 0
( 1 ) C. G. Jung, A Modern Myth ( 9 )
( 2 ) E. Ruppelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying Obfects
( ll 8 )
( 3 ) Aime Michel, The Truth About Flying Saucers ( 148 )
( 4 ) Aime Michael, Flying Saucers and the Straight Line
Mystery ( l l 5 )
( 5 ) D. Menzel and L. Boyd, The World of Flying
Saucers ( 121 )
In addition, the general background will be provided by
the following popular books :
( 1 ) Charles Fort, The Book of the Damned (40)
( 2 ) D . Keyhoe, Flying Saucers are Real
( 3 ) C . Lorenzen, The Great Flying Saucer Hoax ( 188 )
( 4 ) NICAP, UFO Evidence
We have already mentioned the scientific journals as a
source of documentation. Of course, there is a definite drop
after 1947, when banning of UFO reports became general.
However, some astronomical publications, especially those put
together by amateurs, continue to report “peculiar” meteors
0 A poll made in 1958 by a UFO journal, Saucers, among
U.S. amateurs disclosed that Ruppelt and Keyhoe tied for
first place as “Best author of UFO material” ( 28 per cent
each ) , followed by Aime Michel ( 18 percent) . At the question,
“Which of the following has most harmed . UFO research?”
59 per cent answered “Official censorship and ridicule,”
27 per cent “Fantastic claims by some contactees,” 9 per cent “Public apathy and conformity” and 5 per cent
“Press apathy.” The “Best book on UFO’s” was The Report on
Unidentified Flying Objects ( Ruppelt, 32 per cent) . Michel’s
two books tied for third place, with Keyhoe’s Flying Saucers
from Outer Space (9 per cent) behind Miller’s Flying Saucers:
Fact or Fiction ( 14 per cent ) .
1�4
I
I, I
TH E SC I ENTI FIC PROBLEM
and “‘ball lightning” so strange they deserve a card in our
UFO file.
Researchers who want to study the 1954 French wave
should consult newspaper collections as Michel did, and as
we did to corroborate some of Michel’s findings. But let them
be prepared to be confronted with an enormous quantity of
work! Most of the good reports have become collector’s items,
and the early docwnents that circulated as private communications,
such as the Quincy catalogue, cannot be found today.
Between the periods of mass publicity one cannot gain information
concerning the sightings through the large newspapers
and must therefore turn to the local press, a very
difficult task if one does not receive help from local correspondents.
Another solution would be for local UFO groups
to collect information in their areas and send it without distortion
or comment to a data-processing center, where the
general file would be kept. But everybody prefers to keep
jealously his own docwnents and most of the information
never comes to light. One could also subscribe to a newsclipping
service, but this would require a fairly good organization
set up by data-processing experts, because of the volume
of material involved; the U.S. Air Force tried to do that
at a certain period but had to give it up because they received
too much information!
Unpublished information is superabundant and would seem
almost limitless to a naive researcher who would start a systematic
review of all stacks of letters or clippings kept by
enthusiasts throughout the world, or would obtain permission
from local police or large newspapers to consult their archives.
Michel received so much information that he was unable to
read and classify all of it. Most of the old documents contained
in his files have since been clarified (which is how
the forgotten 1946 wave was rediscovered) and a thorough
analysis of the remainder of his files, begun four years ago,
is still in progress. Such work can be conducted with efficiency
and relative speed only within the frame of a general
system of classification and with the aid of indexes and
catalogues, and even this preliminary work will represent
years of activity for a group of experienced researchers.
Rumors and unreported personal experiences are still the
largest reservoir of information. They are quite variable
135
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
in quality; many astronomers, 0 pilots and official personnel
would fiercely deny having seen anything like a disk in the
sky. Some will admit, in private, having seen peculiar objects,
but will never report them officially, not because they
feel they do not have evidence to support their account, ‘
but because they are afraid of the consequences; pilots are
not supposed to see things and astonomers are not supposed
to spread superstitious rumors-not to mention the fact
that in some countries “spreading rumors” is a crime punishable
by two weeks in jail.
Through personal association with interested astronomers
and scientists we were in a favorable position to discover how
different their private attitudes are from their official standpoints,
and we could often gain access to otherwise “reserved”
information. An unfortunate consequence is that we would be
in difficulty if we were asked to cite the exact reference or
source of some of this information. In France, for example,
no official record has been kept of the observations. A special
bureau of the army seems to have existed when public emotion
was at a maximum, but the useful part of its files contains
only a few reports, made by meteorologists in Sahara and
control-tower operators, in addition to naive considerations
about meteors taken from some encyclopedia. The Italian
Air Force once issued a vague statement concerning its files,
which contained, in their own words, only very limited information
on objects seen flying on the eastern coast of their
country in 1954.
Considerable private activity has developed and is being
maintained in Europe. Although no unifying force exists, this
activity is not always wasted. Interested scientists search for
new facts and their findings are often of high quality.
One should always, however, check completely the original
source, for UFO data are generally transmitted burdened by
superstition and falsehoods. Through extremely careful analy-
0 In 1959, a restricted newsletter from the Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory had this to say on the subject of
“popular comments on UFO’s”: “It is exceedingly undesirable
to become associated with these ‘sightings’ or the persons
originating them . . . on no account should any indication
be given to others that a discussion even remotely concerned
with UFO’s is taking place.”
136
TH E SCIENTI FIC PROB LEM
sis of the miginal facts one can generally find the truth. But a
very intimate understanding of the people and of local conditions
is required for such research.
THE SEARCH FOR I NVARIANTS
We have not yet defined the UFO phenomenon. We have
to do so in such a way that a scientific study will be permissible,
and this implies not trying to define “flying saucers,”
for the events connected with their alleged apparition are
not observable at will or reproducible under the guarantees
of official science. We will propose the following definition:
Manifestations of the UFO phenomenon are to be found
among reports of the perception of a visual image, commonly
interpreted by the witness as that of a material flying object,
which possesses either or both of the following properties : a )
an appearance which, to the witness, is unusual; b ) a behavior
which, to the witness, is unusual.
UFO phenomena are thus subject to scientific study ( since
the reports are observable by official scientists ) , whereas
the alleged “object” escapes rational analysis. In addition to
this definition, we will make the following statement:
Manifestations of the UFO phenomenon occur as a result
of physical causes that can be described in terms of natural
laws.
UFOs may therefore be mirages, meteors or interplanetary
vehicles, but not mystical entities escaping rational analysis.
This may seem a superfluous precaution to the scientific
reader, but it will be seen that the student of the UFO
problem needs a statement of this sort to claim the right to
analyze some of the cases he is bound to meet in his investigation.
In the following, we will call a “UFO event” the generation
of an unusual image by a physical cause, and we will
call a “UFO sighting” the perception of this image by a witness.
The report of this perception is the phenomenon the
scientist observes.
In the present chapter we will try to give as clear an outline
as possible of the method we have used in our own investigation
of the UFO phenomenon. The basic strategy is
to accept all reports and to deal with classes, not with individual
cases, in the first ( classification-codification ) and the
second ( analysis of behavior ) steps of the process. The third
137
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
step will be an attempt at interpretation in physical terms,
in which we will evaluate the results already obtained and
will allow ourselves to consider specific points present in a
few well-defined sightings. Only in this third step will the
door be open to speculation and hypothesis.
Confronted with masses of letters, clippings and documents,
how are we to proceed to organize a “hierarchy of
reliability” among the reports? How may we classify this information
in such a way that our work will indeed result in
clarification and will be objective, a necessary condition for
other researchers to be able to use our data and to criticize
them meaningfully?
This can only be done through a long process of patternanalysis.
The first steps in this process are elementary. Whoever
the witness, whatever his background, occupation or
drinking habits, we possess at least two objective pieces of
information concerning him: the place of the sighting and the
date. This is our most natural access to the case: its coordinates
in space and time.
Obvious as this seems, many “Ufologists,” officials and amateurs
who claim they are doing “scientific research,” neglect
this point; even such specialized journals as the UFO Investigator
or the APRO Bulletin, published in the United States
(see p. 162, not to mention publications of less importance,
print numerous descriptions of UFO sightings but do not
bother, in any instances, to mention the date or the place.
In books by UFO enthusiasts one finds quite often the irritating
situation of knowing the exact day, hour and minute
when the author received a very important call from the
Pentagon concerning a certain sighting, and we are given all
the details of the call, and we know that the author was getting
ready for breakfast and had already put butter on his
toast when the phone started ringing, but we remain totally
ignorant of the date and place of the sensational sighting.
Some official reports will indicate carefully the name, address
and military status of the witness, but not the place of the
observation.
A third piece of information contained in the report is a
description-the witness claims he has seen something either
in the sky or on the ground. His claim is real, but the object
of his claim may be a hoax or an illusion. We must not, therefore,
classify mainly according to such factors as the dimension,
the shape or the course of the object, but according to
13S
TH E SC I ENTI F I C PROBLEM
its behavior, which is an integrated impression of very high
stability. And this should again be in terms so general that
mistakes made by the observer, or failure of his memory concerning
the apparent diameter or elevation of the phenomenon,
will not affect this classification to a large degree.
CRITICISM OF THE OFFICIAL C LASSIFICATION SYSTEM
The interested services have never, to our knowledge, tried
to codify the sightings for the purpose of research since the
days of Special Report 14!’ A classification system has, however,
been introduced to help in the tedious task of keeping
the official records in order. This is a perfectly sound thing
to do, as long as one does not try to use this classification as
a basis for statistical or any other kind of analysis. And even
the findings of Special Report 14 are, in the view of this
writer, as void of scientific interest as the work of the mathematician
who tried to evaluate the probability that the sun
will rise tomorrow.
Like a computing machine, a statistical procedure never
creates information, but only transforms it. A statistical result
is only the expression, under a new and possibly more readable
form, of the information present in the data, i.e., translated
through the code. The analyst, if working with a reliable
classification system developed with this particular application
in mind, is able to extract from the data entities that
were already present, but not perceptible, in the original
material.
We would agree with the statement that at least 50 per
cent of the reports that we have studied ( and, in some cases,
as many as 80 or 90 per cent) cannot be considered as representative
of the UFO phenomenon. But the term “unidentified”
has no meaning; as a specialist in this field, this writer
denies categorically any significance to the claim that “only
so many per cent” of the sightings contained in the official
files are unidentified under the present system of reference.
No scientist could accept such a statement any more than he
0Project Blue Book Special Report No. 1 4 was declassified
by the U.S. Air Force in 1 955. It was mainly concerned
with elementary statistical analysis of sightings of the early
period.
139
ANATOMY O F A P H ENOMENON
could accept the idea that a rabbit has suddenly disappeared
into a magician’s hat, even if the magician says so.
The official system consists in attaching to each UFO report
one of the following labels :
( 1 ) Was balloon
( 2 ) Probable balloon
( 3) Possible balloon
( 4 ) Was aircraft
(5) Probable aircraft
( 6 ) Possible aircraft
( 7 ) Was astronomical
( 8 ) Probable astronomical
( 9) Possible astronomical
( 10 ) Other
( 1 1 ) Unknown
( 12 ) Unidentified
( 13) Insufficient data
Categories 1, 4 and 7 are supposed to contain only those
reports which have been shown to refer to a conventional
object, when this object has really been identified, not only
as a balloon ( or an aircraft, etc. ) but as a specified balloon,
aircraft, etc. For example, a witness calls the sheriffs office
to report seeing a sphere in the sky. Policemen go out, observe
the sphere and, by calling the local airport, determine
that the origin of the sighting is a balloon tracked at the very
moment by the local station. This is a true identification. Similarly,
a so-called “strange light” photographed at night is
shown to fit exactly the trajectory of an artificial satellite.
Such reports obviously have no place in a study of UFO’s.
In categories 2, 5 and 8 are found reports of objects that
displayed a behavior so similar to that expected from a conventional
object that no reason exists to believe that this particular
object was other than conventional. To give an extreme
example, I cannot prove that my grocer is not a Venusian
in disguise, but on the other hand I have no reason to
believe that he is other than human as long as his appearance
and behavior are human. We will often find ourselves
in agreement with the official conclusion and ignore most of
these reports.
Even if disagreement sometimes exists concerning the
“probable” categories, it is never very considerable. Real
disagreement begins when it comes to the “possible.” For
this is a human, not a scientific, notion and there is no con-
140-
THE SC I ENTIFIC PROBLEM
trol over the amount of complexity one is allowed to accept
to make up these imaginary “possibilities.” The analyses of
UFO reports published recently by certain professional astronomers
are an illustration of this type of situation. The discussion
is purely “literary” and no weight can be attached
to either interpretation. It is as void of real meaning as the
nineteenth-century dispute about “mystical” properties of the
Empty Set. The percentage of rejection through this category
is a function of the imagination of the man who happens to
be in charge of the project at the time; the result is disconcerting.
0
The limit of <J.stonishment is reached when it comes to the
“insufficient information” category. We read in Thor Heyerdahl’s
extraordinary book Aku-Aku the following remark:
“How far would the F.B.I. get if they only collected fingerprints
without trying to catch the thief?” The category “insufficient
data” has been defined in a way that would have
delighted a Jesuit of the good old days. A report is said to
give insufficient information when there is reason to believe
that had the investigator possessed more information on the
case he would have classified it in one of the conventional
categories. The amusing point is that some of the reports
stamped “insufficient” contain a full page of fine print with
all possible details. But you can always assume that the missing
information would have contained details such that it
would have become clear to the investigator that the cause
of the sighting was conventional. This is anything but science.
We must limit ourselves here to a few of these contradictions,
for this is not an accusation against official commissions
obviously not qualified in this type of analysis. What
worries us is that the scientists’ judgment against the reality
of UFO’s has been based on such nonscientific evaluations
0Very humorous situations are sometimes created by
this process. In the files of the U.S. Air Force there is an object
which is identified as a “bird with .four lights” and
we read, concerning an identification made by the Australian
Air Force, this comment by puzzled scientists : “If those objects
reported as jets over Longreach in Queensland were
birds, it should be a great moment in history for students of
ornithology, for it is the first recorded appearance of supersonic
pelicans.”
141
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
made under no general plan of research and in conditions
one must criticize. The expensive Special Report 1 4, for example,
was made for ATIC by a private consulting firm whose
name is kept secret, not because of the results or contents of
the investigation, but because this company did not want its
name attached to a study of “Hying saucers.” What sort of
science is this, when the authors of a scientific report that
will be used for years as an authoritative reference do not
want their names to be mentioned because they fear the
ridicule . attached to the problem could affect their business?
The classi.S.cation system is very poor for another reason. A
“possible aircraft” could very well also be a “possible balloon,”
and I do not see how one could prove that the description of
a ball of light seen very far away in the western sky is Venus
rather than a balloon when no accurate position is given;
all these categories overlap and the classi.S.cation is purely
arbitrary. In addition, “astronomical” can refer to a misinterpretation
of Venus, Mars or Jupiter, as well as to a meteor.
An analysis based on divisions of such poor homogeneity is
not likely to lead to satisfactory results when the testing of
hypotheses is attempted.
We are left with three categories into which we can put
reports that, from the point of view of the UFO student, are
interesting. They are “other,” “unknown” and “unidentified.”
This is not very appealing.
THE MYTH OF ” U N I D ENTI F I E D” OBJ ECTS
What does “unidentified” mean? Take the Vernon sighting
as described by Michel in his second book or as we described
it in Chapter 3. In the official classification the Vernon cigar
would be “unidentified.” But is it really?
Identification is realized when a certain event or object is
recognized by human intelligence as belonging to a class.
What this class might be is irrelevant. The incident that took
place in Vernon may seem strange or fantastic by our present
standards, but this is a lay reaction, not a scientific one. Its
fantastic character should not prevent the student of the
phenomenon from recognizing the same pattern already seen
at work in Poncey, Montlevic, Oloron, Gaillac, as well as in
Dallas, Trenton or in the Gulf of Mexico. This consistent behavior
is typical of a set of events, which may or may not
142
THE SCIENTI FIC PROBLEM
later be found to be of material nature but do have in common
the same properties.
As soon as consistency in the report is such that class properties
can be defined, we can speak of identification; as far
as I am concerned, the Vernon report is perfectly identifiable
as a member of a specific class of behavior. The fact that I do
not at present Imow the exact nature of the cause of the report
is not of primary importance at this stage of analysisthe
exact nature of UFOs is precisely what I am trying to
find. Similarly, a nuclear physicist knows a pion from an
ordinary meson when he sees one, but he does not Imow what
they are.
I cannot think of anything more treacherous than this
label “unidentified.” Anything you have never found on your
way before starts as unidentified. When my prehistoric ancestor
saw a mammoth for the first time, it was in his view a
perfect URO ( Unidentified Running Object ) . Of course, this
was only a small percentage of all the animals he could recognize
in the jungle. However, I do thank Heaven he was a
better logician than our official researchers, and did something
about it before identification was complete!
We can also have the opposite situation: A report classified
as “unidentified” by official investigators may be of no interest
to the analyst concerned with the UFO phenomenon.
For example, on January 26, 1955, at 6 : 15 P.M., a black
smoke trail was seen at Lakeland, Florida, for an unlmown
duration. The trail of black smoke made a large circle, an
explosion took place and the object was observed falling.
This is called “unidentified” because the investigator has been
unable to find the exact cause of the phenomenon. But the
behavior described is so similar to that of a missile out of
control that we should not include this in a UFO file, even
with very low weight.
On January 9, 1956, twenty miles southwest of Chanute
Air Force Base in Illinois, a light whose color changed from
red to green to white was seen at approximately two thousand
feet; this is classified “insufficient data for evaluation.”
But it would seem that we have from this limited account a
quantity of information concerning not the object itself, perhaps,
but the conditions under which the observation was
made. We Imow that the witness saw only a light changing
color; it would not be very realistic to hope that more information
could be gathered concerning this “light” if it was
143
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
flying at that altitude. We know that an aircraft, as well as
several other physical causes, could produce the same appearance.
This is a type of sighting from which we simply
cannot obtain more. Even knowing the exact distance, the
azimuth and elevation of the object would not help us. We
have to make a decision: either reject the case, or include it
with an extremely low weight.
Consider the following case, also classified “insufficient information”:
in Anita, Iowa, on June 15, 1955, a cigar-shaped
object with a blue and white glowing color and a red exhaust
was observed. The object appeared to be five hundred to
one thousand feet above the ground, and the observer noted
a soft hissing sound. Even if additional information would be
welcome, it seems to us that one could already start doing
something more with this sighting than putting it into the
same category as the preceding one. And we wonder what
their reason was for not making it an “unknown.”
All these categories may be of help as far as the administrative
routine is concerned, and they certainly could be
maintained. But they cannot help in an analysis of the UFO
problem. The two operations-maintaining a file of reports in
accordance with official regulations, and doing research on
the information contained in the reports-should be very
clearly separated, and separate codes should be used.
BASIS OF A SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION
We will not try to define a “scientific classification” with
reference to the “administrative classification,” but will rather
start from a completely different point of view, which has
apparently never been presented before. We will forget about
all identified reports and we will neglect all those involving
objects similar in behavior to conventional objects as they
would usually appear.
When this elimination is made ( and it could be made objectively,
by reference to a computer program, for example,
thus eliminating problems of “personal choice”) we are left
with a set of reports which we call manifestations of the
UFO phenomenon. The existence of such manifestations is
an empirical fact, not an assumption. It is the set of all these
manifestations that is the object of our study. This criterion
completes the general definition given on page 137.
We want to determine if all these reports can be explained
144.
THE SCI ENTI FIC PROBLEM
as conventional objects and phenomena seen under unusual
circumstances, or if a fraction of them does correspond to
some effect still unknown to science. We want to distribute
them between “disjoint sets”; i.e., we want to define classes
that do not overlap, as the official catgories do, and we
want to define them as simply as possible. We can remark
that there are not many sorts of UFOs, even if the witnesses
use very different words or expressions to define them. Their
behavior is bound to fall under one, and bnly one, among
the five categories that follow ( 122 ) :
I. They can be seen ( or imagined, or perceived ) as objects
situated on the ground or close to the ground ( at tree
height ) .
II. They can display the behavior observed at Vernon or,
more generally, appear as huge cylindrical forms surrounded
by cloud-like formations, often vertical. The latter behavior
defines a sub-class II-A, when descriptions of actual generation
of secondary objects are called II-B.
III. They can be described as aerial forms hovering in the
atmosphere, or following a path interrupted by a stationary
point; a precise point will be defined on the ground from this
discontinuity.
IV. They can be seen as objects crossing the sky without
such interruption or discontinuity.
V. They can be distant objects seen as lights.
Experience has shown that clarity is increased when three
to five categories are defined within each group. We will
thus speak of a report of Type II-B, III-D, etc. 0 The reliability
attached to each category is obviously variable. We will
describe now the approach that is followed when problems
arise in the use of this classification system.
COMMENTS ON THE VARIOUS TYPES OF UFO REPORTS
Each of the categories defined above is closed on itself
and contains consistent reports that can be significantly compared.
From a comparison of objects of the same class one
can now try to extract global information. The gap between
any two of these classes is so considerable that there is little
chance of misclassification, even if the code is used by an
0This system is completely described in ( 189 ) .
145
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
untrained person, except for extreme cases when greater experience
is needed. In general, only classillcation within
Type II will require a great deal of familiarity with the
problem and considerable attention. These events are rare
and remarkable, but sometimes treacherous. Only in twenty or
thirty good cases is there no possibility of mistake. Some of
the average reports of this category should be analyzed in
the light of Dr. Menzel’s approach, in which one puts the
emphasis on the very strange behavior that extreme cases of
mirages and other natural phenomena can present. We will
give tvo examples of cases where the author has until now
been unable to reach a definitive verdict, although he has
classilled both reports under Type 11-B :
On July 9, 1686, at 1 : 30 A.M., at Leipzig, the German
astronomer Gottfried Kirch reported that he saw a burning
globe with a trail that appeared 8.5° from Aquarius and remained
motionless for more than seven minutes. Its apparent
diameter was one-half that of the moon, and it gave so much
light that one could read with no other source of illumination.
It vanished gradually at the same place. The object
pointed downward at an angle and left two small globes that
were visible only with a telescope.
The second observation is described in ( 5) in the following
terms :
A startling cosmic body appeared over the Terrace of
Windsor Castle on August 18, 1783. It was watched by
Tiberius Cavallo, F.R.S. He called it “a most extraordinary
meteor.” He wrote: “Northeast of the Terrace, in clear sky
and warm weather, I saw appear suddenly an oblong
cloud nearly parallel to the horizon. Below the cloud was
seen a luminous body. It soon became a roundish body,
brightly lit up and almost stationary. It was about 9 : 25
P . M . This strange ball at first appeared bluish and faint,
but its light increased, and it soon began to move. At first,
it ascended above the horizon, obliquely toward the east.
Then it changed its direction and moved parallel to the
horizon. It vanished in the southeast. I saw it for half a
minute, and the light it gave out was prodigious. It lit up
every object on the face of the country. It changed shape
to oblong, acquired a tail, and seemed to split up into
two bodies of small size. About two minutes later came a
rumble like an explosion.
146
TH E SC I ENTI F I C PROBLEM
The first of these sightings carries in our files a weight relegated
to incidents we feel could have natural causes, and
the second one, a weight indicating that we are ahnost positive
it is not a UFO phenomenon, but an extreme case of a
meteor. These two examples will give our reader an idea of
how we define the “boundaries” of our classification.
Type I will be discussed later; the reports in this category
are those where objects are said to have been seen on the
ground or close to the ground. But we will clarify immediately
some points that concern the subclass, in which we find
reports of “objects described close to the ground, and said to
have displayed interest in, or followed, a moving terrestrial
object as a train, a car or a motorcycle.” Many natural situations
can be expected to cause emotional witnesses to report
that they have been followed by a strange light. The moon is
very often the origin of the scare, especially when the witness
travels on a winding road at night; under the influence
of fear he will become unable , to realize clearly the turns he
makes, and will say that the mysterious object was sometimes
to his left and sometimes to his right. Stars or planets seen
through haze layers, or headlight reflections, will sometimes
do the trick. But one should not disregard this type of observation
on the basis of these understandable errors.
As we have said above, Type JI-B is sometimes critical.
Enthusiast publications speak of “a huge mother-ship with
small objects” in the case of a bright meteor breaking into
fragments ( A necessary condition for a sighting to be entered
under Type II is a duration of at least several minutes,
not seconds. And one should remember that the really good
events of this category have lasted between a half hour and
several hours. The extreme case is the Wyalong-Toompang
incident in Australia, described in ( 123 ) , that took place in
June, 1961 :

“We were marking lambs in Toompang. Near the lunch
hour we heard what we thought was a jet. I looked up for
the jet and saw an eagle-hawk, high in the sky. I was
taking a bit of interest in the eagle-hawk when we heard
another sound, as if the jet were overhead again. But I
still could not see a jet.
“Then I saw this round object. It looked like a silver star,
and seemed to be over Wyalong, it was so high up and so
far away. It was stationary. I said to the others-there
147
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
were seven of us-‘Get a load of this.’ One man is shortsighted.
Another who is could not pick up the object. But
four others did, and watched it off and on for over an
hour, possibly two hours. I saw one object leave the first
object and go to the left, and later two objects go to the
right, then come back. One of the other men said he saw
two objects go to the left. I would not know about that,
we were working, marking lambs, and we were not able
to keep an eye on it all the time.
“The objects I saw leaving the stationary object seemed
round. But when the one I saw leave it on the left came
overhead as it went towards Young I could see it seemed
to be V-shaped. I do not know what I saw, but I know that
when the objects left the stationary object on the righthand
side they went out to the side and then went straight
up fast. The one that passed overhead towards Young was
really travelling.”
A second man backed this up. He said he could not say
that any of the objects were V-shaped. They all appeared
to him to be round, shimmering slightly in the sun. At
times the silver sheen winked a little on the small objects
as they were leaving or returning to the main object. They
left slowly, then went out at high speed, circled and returned,
slowing down as they approached the big stationary
object. Then they seemed to land on it or go into it
because they disappeared when they reached it.
Three or four at a time watched an object leave the
big object, commenting about where it was going and what
it was doing. This man said he had told the others that
“somebody should phone some authority about it.” But a
combination of being four or five miles from a phone, of
‘ having work to do, and of risking scorn decided them
against this. However, the man did get a pair of dark
glasses out of the glove box of his vehicle; “The glasses
made it easier still to watch the things.” Mr. Neville Sheanan,
a Toompang employee, said he was the one who saw
the objects repeatedly. Mr. Sheanan, who gave permission
for his name to be used, said the large object seemed to
him to be round, with a dome on it. The small objects
which left it seemed flattened.
“We watched them when we sat down to lunch,” he
said. “About two o’clock the sun moved around in that
direction and we could not see the things any more against
148
THE SCI ENTI F I C PROBLEM
the strong light.” All the men were interviewed separately.
Their stories agreed in substance, with just enough discrepancy
to testify to the truth of their stories. Dr. Gascoyne,
of Mount Stromlo Observatory, said he could not
hazard a guess about what the explanation might be. He
asked for a copy of the report. A meteorologist at the
weather bureau said that no equipment used by the
Bureau would behave in this way.
It should be clearly understood that under no circumstances
will point-sources alone be classified under the first four
groups. Without this precaution, Type III would be crowded
with misinterpretations of Venus and Type IV would be
flooded with artificial satellites. All reports in types I through
IV should be relative to extended objects seen at a distance
such that a certain amount of detail could be presented ( as
in the above example ) without the aid of binoculars or telescopes.
Even with these precautions, we cannot claim that Type
IV is absolutely free of misinterpretations of aircraft seen
under such peculiar circumstances that our elimination system
has failed to reject them. But Type III should be practically
free of balloons, if one has been careful not to admit
cases when the motion of the alleged object did not show
definite extremes.
Type V is open to wide discussion, since we reach here the
frontiers of our domain. But we feel that if the UFO phenomenon
is original in nature and still unknown to our intelligence,
a certain proportion of the total information lies in
this category and we should take certain chances, it being
understood that we will compensate for that accordingly by
attaching a low weight to this category.
THE MYTH OF ABSOLUTE RELIABILITY
In th e case o f Vernon, Michel has remarked that under
different circumstances the report made by the two policemen
would have been judged sufficiently reliable to send a
man to jail or to the guillotine. However, since the event had
to do with an unusual phenomenon and not with a thief or
criminal, the report was treated lightly and forgotten by all
but Michel’s readers. Thus the present official system uses a
reliability factor when it tends to show that a report is poor,
149
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
but it does not use it when it tends to show that a report is
significant. When the witnesses are numerous and, according
to all investigators, reliable, what happens to the report? Is
the attention of the public called to it? Are astronomers and
other scientists shown the facts? No-the report silently goes
with the others, wearing the label “unidentified” or “unknown.”
During the same week enough misinterpretations of
Venus are sent to the official services so that the figures show
a reassuring 5 per cent unexplained. This is not the way percentages
should be calculated. How many misinterpretations
you receive is insignificant; misinterpretations are not what
you are studying.
Like our courts of justice, official commissions seem to direct
their attention only to the “bad guys.” I wish a good guy
were shown to the public from time to time, so that everybody
could see what he looks like.
P ROPOSED REORGA N I ZAT I O N OF UFO RESEARCH
It has been suggested that the U.S. Air Force turn over its
UFO files either to an agency dealing more directly with
scientific investigations or to a group of civilian scientists. Our
appraisal of both proposals is very pessimistic. Keeping so
enormous an amount of data both up-to-date and reasonably
organized is routine work which must be conducted with
great attention and care; we feel that the air force has done
a good job in this respect, a job smaller groups could not
possibly have done successfully. A group of civilian scientists,
especially, would certainly have failed, for a number of reasons,
to provide the absolute consistency necessary in such an
analysis. This lack of rigorous consistency also makes the efforts
of nonscientific amateur groups almost worthless.
In addition, the air force group has, under the present
system, acquired experience in dealing with this particular
problem which is without parallel. Turning the files over to
another group would be a waste of energy and possibly a
source of error; this field requires a great deal of experience
and persons unfamiliar with the very delicate problems involved
would certainly be led to irreparable mistakes.
It is true, however, that something is missing in the present
structure. No serious, large-scale scientific work can be done
under today’s conditions, because the system is built entirely
on the assumption that UFOs can be identified without ex-
150
THE SCI ENTI FIC PRO BLEM
ception as conventional items if each case is sufficiently investigated;
that there are pseudo-UFOs which exist at different
stages of the identification scale, but there is no absolute
UFO and, therefore, no UFO phenomenon; under this
approach there is simply addition, super-imposition of mistakes
and conventional effects. The lack of scientific value in
this system is becoming increasingly apparent. But this deficiency
could easily be eliminated; instead of calling upon
individual scientists as assistants or consultants with no real
power and no funds to test their own scientific ideas about
the problem, the Aerial Phenomena Group should work in
liaison with a permanent research bureau which would be
given the task of analyzing the UFO problem as a whole.
In the system we propose, the air force would retain its
IDes and its methods of classification, investigation and evaluation.
The scientific group would be a team of from six to
ten civilian researchers competent in their various fields and
already familiar with the field of UFO research, who would
volunteer to conduct independent studies.. They would be
given permanent access to the nonclassified cases kept up-todate
by the Dayton group and would have sufficient funds
to cover telephone calls, travel expenses and such things as
laboratory equipment or computer time. They would have
the ability ( which the air force does not have ) to examine
foreign reports as scientific data, and to meet serious foreign
researchers for consultation. Such a team would conduct, on
a global scale, an analysis of the reports which would be of
interest in more than one respect.
It has been suggested, especially by memebers of the amateur
group NICAP, that a congressional hearing on UFOs
should be held to examine the “‘evidence” that UFOs exist
and are “space-vehicles under intelligent control.” The Air
Force IDes are said to contain such evidence, which is at present
( according to the NICAP Director ) kept from the public.
There is little ground to support such a claim and NICAP
representatives would realize that plainly during the first
hours of such a congressional debate. Although it could be
the occasion of an interesting scientific confrontation, only
confusion and probably further ridicule would result from it
in the long run. Not one of the seven hundred cases presented
in NICAP’s recently published report The UFO Evidence
could, in the view of this writer, stand the test of an
extensive scientific discussion. An experienced opponent of
151
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
UFOs, such as Professor Menzel, would certainly be able to
show that some doubt exists in each case, simply because no
UFO report has yet been investigated as such by scientists
working within the framework of a general analysis. NICAP’s
cases would be interesting elements in such a research, but
the “evidence” they contain, if real, is still to be extracted
through a long and careful scientific analysis of the type illustrated
in this book. Taken individually, the best report does
not prove anything.
What is required here, therefore, is not a change in official
policy or a sensational disclosure of the fact that “we are
visited !” but a careful, quiet and necessarily slow series of
analyses on the material already on hand and on reports to
come. Such a study, if made in liaison with the Aerial Phenomena
Group of Dayton, and oriented toward the investigation
of the nature of UFOs as a phenomenon rather than
toward their individual “explanation,” could possibly produce
( after three or four years of work ) material worthy of congressional
attention, and by-products that would be of interest
to several branches of science.
152
••
Chapter 5
FLYING SAUCERS AND HUMAN REASON
THE EMOTIONAL SKEPTIC
We do not presume here to be adding anything to the
psychological description of the UFO problem made with
such authority by Professor Carl Jung. But we feel some of
our documents should be treated as psychological data, and
this treatment should include the skeptic’s reaction to the
reports as well as the motivation.s of the witnesses.
As we have seen earlier, many men of science react to UFO
reports in a very peculiar fashion. They go so far as neglecting
to conform with the basic rules of scientific honesty when
confronted with this problem, and they allow themselves to
act as they never would in the presence of a more “classical”
mystery. On the contrary, anxiety has been released on more
innocuous projects like certain programs sponsored by professional
astronomers,”‘ in which one would record the radio
signals coming from nearby stars and look for possible strings
of pulses or “messages” of intelligent origin ( Project OZMA ) .
All this points to one conclusion : The reaction of many scientists
to the problem has never been anything but emotional. 0 0
“‘See in Chapter Two our discussion o f “the search for
signals from rational b􀅗ings.”
“‘ “‘A leading biologist and UFO student disagrees with this
view. He thinks the great majority of the scientists have been
maintained in passive ignorance. It is true that the Air Force
statements have discouraged many researchers from taking
a close look at the files. And they had a devastating impact
on civilian UFO research outside the U.S.
153
ANATOMY OF A P HENOMENON
In this line of thinking, it is justifiable to assume that other
civilizations are sending radio signals through space because
radio waves are a good vehicle of information and because
space travel between planetary systems is inconceivable. Both
assumptions are extrapolations of conditions existing on earth
today. They neglect entirely the fact that our idea of space
travel as well as our idea of information exchange are very
closely related to present physical conceptions.
It has been repeatedly affirmed by scientific authorities that
what constitutes a scientific subject is not its qature but the
way it is treated. Therefore the scientist, on one hand, has
every right to study the UFO problem and, on the other, has
no right to take into account the public reaction and emotion
or the official concern over this question, or the ridicule
that may be attached to it, once he has perceived its importance.
Unfortunately, this is only theory. In practice, men of
science are not confronted with Nature alone. Besides this
common mother, they have families, friends, students and
bosses. Their work is defined within a certain structure and
their own careers as professionals depend, in large measure,
upon the subjects they choose to investigate, the degree of
success they meet in these investigations and their attitudes
toward accepted theories. This is today the main limitation
to the free expansion of fundamental research. Similarly, only
half-hearted attempts have been made to investigate the process
of · scientific discovery and to define what is to be called
a scientific problem and who is going to determine the amount
of energy required to solve each problem in a certain amount
of time. A constant source of wonder and amazement to me
is the realization that astronomers specialized in the study of
Mars, whose number on our whole planet does not exceed
seven or eight, have never been able to get together, plan
their experiments in common and pool their results. They are
working today with obsolete equipment and ideas as iso­
lated artisans, with no highly qualified technical help, on
what could become in a few years one of the most important
problems facing our civilization.
We reach here the crucial point of the UFO problem, with
the realization of the fact that scientific structure is heavily
hampered by emotional aspects and is still relying for its
development on random processes rather than rational acquisition
of knowledge. The UFO problem lies well within the
154
FLYING SAU CERS AND H UMAN REASON
capability of modern research. But official attention is denied
it for purely emotional reasons that have nothing to do with
science.
U FOs AND RATIONALISM
1. The undersigned Panel of Scientific Consultants has
met at the request of the Government to evaluate any
possible threat to national security posed by unidentified
flying objects ( “flying saucers” ) and to make recommendations.
The Panel has received the evidence as presented
by cognizant Governmental agencies, primarily the United
States Air Force, and has reviewed a selection of documented
incidents.
2. As a result of its considerations, the Panel concludes:
That the evidence presented on unidentified flying objects
shows no indication that these phenomena constitute
a direct physical threat to national security.
We firmly believe that there is no residum of cases which
indicates phenomena which are attributable to foreign artifacts
capable of hostile acts, and that there is no evidence
that the phenomena indicate a need for the revision of
current scientific concepts.
3. In the light of this conclusion, the Panel recommends
:
That the national security agencies t”ake immediate steps
to strip the unidentified flying objects of the special status
they have been given and the aura of mystery they have
unfortunately acquired.
We suggest that this aim may be achieved by an integrated
programme designed to reassure the public of the
total lack of evidence of inimical forces behind the phe-
nomena.
( Signed )
Lloyd V. Berkner, Associated Universities, Inc.
H. P. Robertson, California Institute of Technology.
Luis W. Alvarez, University of California.
S. A. Goudsmit, Brookhaven National Laboratories.
Thornton Page, John Hopkins University.
When they have studied the recurrence of accounts of
unusual aerial phenomena, psychologists Jung and Heuyer
and astronomers Menzel and Hynek have not denied the
155
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
place this body of rumors has taken in our culture. Indeed,
they have emphasized it, as they have the fact that its study,
analysis and interpretation poses philosophical problems of
a difficult, if not unprecedented, nature. As we have seen,
the efforts made by the United States Air Force to solve the
problem during its phase of early development were unsuccessful.
As the patterns first observed in the years that followed
the war were seen to recur in the early 1950’s the
problem of global interpretation clearly posed itself and the
ability of current knowledge to account for the phenomenon
was put under question by many persons.
On January 17, 1953, five leading scientists signed the
statement quoted above, the public release of which was
made on April 9, 1958. It was centered on the notion of
hostility and concluded that no indication of a threat to the
national security of the United States was evident. On the
question of determining whether or not a residum of cases
existed which could be attributed to ‘foreign artifacts’ and
whether or not a revision of current scientific concepts was
indicated, the statement ‘we firmly believe’ was used as sole
justification of a negative answer. The word believe, in such
a context, and in the writing of scientists of such standing,
clearly calls for a close examination.
The fact that enthusiastic acceptance of even the poorest
observations of unusual aerial phenomena has been added
very early to the arsenal of the superstitious, the professional
ignorants, and the cultists, and that it is exploited almost
exclusively by men foreign to the scientific spirit and method,
cannot be denied. It is equally true that an attempt to reject
narratives that contain contradictions to current knowledge
is as characteristic of Rationalism as enthusiastic faith in
unproved allegations is reminiscent of Obscurantism. Such an
attempt, says Lecky, “is so emphatically the distinctive mark
of Rationalism that with most persons it is the only conception
the word conveys.” The impossibility, or at all events, the unreality
of the so-called unidentified flying objects, is thus
regarded as axiomatic. Many rationalists treat reports of such
objects as they would accounts of miracles; they reject them
“as simply impossible and irreconciliable with the known and
universal laws which govern the course of events.”
However, stating the belief that there is no residum of
cases is equivalent to saying that no difference exists between
the atmosphere in which accounts of miraculous events
156
F LYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN R EASON
or · of witchcraft were generated and that of our own time,
when the author of an extraordinary relation is immediately
exposed to the disbelief and ridicule of his environment and
the censorship of his own education and conscience.
At this point, the modern scientist who is familiar with the
most reliable reports of the post-war period is well founded
to insist that on the contrary, the present situation is at considerable
variance with that presented by the old miraculous
accounts, which Rationalism can indeed reject merely on the
basis of their incredibility, as probable products of the wellknown
superstitions of the time. He will maintain that there is
a coruiderable distance between the blind acceptance of
miraculous and alleged supernatural narratives and a sincere
desire to apply· the analytic apparatus of science to those accounts
of unusual aerial phenomena that are reducible to a
series of factual observations; that he is not treating these
reports as occasions of amazement, but as scientific data; and
that he resents the insinuation that the display of open interest
in such a study is contrary to Rationalism and barely
compatible with the reputation of the professional scientist.
Finally, he will point out that in spite of the adoption by
the responsible agencies of a policy which is based on the
recommendations made by the panel of scientific consultants,
the number of reports that reach the official centers
continues to increase, and he will tend to infer from this
character of stability of the phenomenon the conclusion that
the unwillingness to bring it under the light of open analysis
serves only in depriving the scientific public of important
elements of information.
U FOs A N D SOCIOLOGY
Perhaps we should now generalize and ask if the reaction
recorded at the sociological level does not follow the same
general contours. The leading communities in our worldthe
west European, the North American, the Russian-have
always chosen their ways of doing things and have always
been limited or helped in their ambitions by the same wellknown
enemies or friends. Sudden contact with other societies,
possibly organized in higher levels of jurisdiction on a
galactic scale, possibly depending upon types of relations unknown
to our planet, would be a psychological infringement
157
ANATOMY OF A P H E NOMENON
a s well as a source of unexpected problems for our governments
and our legal systems.
We should even proceed a step further, and ask if mankind
as a whole, led by the proud communities we have
mentioned, would not react to such “visitation,” if evidenced
by physical proof, with deep shock. Civilization could be hurt
by this experience like a self-conscious virgin brutally confronted
with unknown forces, unwilling to accept them within
her limited universe.
This brings to mind a conversation between H. G. Wells
and Lenin in 1920 which the former related to Krassine
( 186) :
“I said to Lenin that the development of human technology
might some day change the world situation. The
Marxist conception itself would then become meaningless.
Lenin looked at me and he said:
‘You are right. I understood this myself when I read
your novel The Time Machine. All human conceptions are
on the scale of our planet. They are based on the pretension
that the technical potential, although it will develop, will
never exceed the “terrestrial limit.”
<If we succeed in establishing interplanetary communications,
all our philosophical, moral and social views will
have to be revised. In this case, the technical potential,
become limitless, would impose the end of the role of violence
as a means and method of progress. • • .’ ”
Think how deeply we are still supposed to be attached to
the land in which we were hom, and in which our parents
were born, although we receive, through education, multiple
evidence that our fathers were not wiser, or better scientists,
or better warriors than the father of the guy across the river.
We can even go out in the open at night and see artificial
satellites circling this tiny planet of ours in a matter of minutes;
indeed, if all the peoples of the earth had not brought
something of their genius, from the Chinese to the Greek,
the Khmer, the Russian and the Briton, this light would not
be in the s􀄒-y. But we remain attached to a little piece of
land between two lines of mountains, where our emotional
roots are sealed. And if this is so, what feeling must we have
158
FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN R EASON
for om planet ! For earth is indeed all we have. If other communities
are able to travel to us and land here, then we are
at the mercy of their intelligence and of their feelings toward
us as a civilization-and both may be entirely foreign
to anything we have known before.
THE ENTH USIASTS: GROU PS, C L U BS AND C U LTS
A complete list of UFO groups throughout the world would
h_ave several hundred entries, and a list of the regular publications
on the subject would take several pages. This gives
an idea of the degree of enthusiasm generated in the public
by the possibility of a visitation by other civilizations.
One may well wonder whether amateurism is a characteristic
of superficial or futile minds or, on the contrary, indicative
of man’s desire for personal participation in important
events, and the proof that passion for research does not
necessarily coincide with payment for it. The recent history
of astronomy has shown that amateurs, because they have
not been bound by traditional views, have often come up
with more than interesting suggestions. At the same time, their
work is less reliable than the output of a team of professional
researchers who have access to large collections of documents
and modem equipment.
The UFO mystery, because of its appeal to human imagination,
provides an opportunity for persons who live a
generally dull life to bring a touch of extraterrestrial horror
into their existence. UFO “investigation” has thus become a
popular hobby. Clubs and groups have developed, mainly
since 1952, apparently in every part of the world. The cmve
of activity of these groups has been closely related to the
density of UFO events. Their only positive contribution has
been the publication of sightings, but very few of the groups,
unfortunately, have devoted their attention to this point. The
others have found much more fun in publishing foggy “theories”
concerning anti-gravity, the fomth dimension and the
hair of Venusian dogs, or in letting the world know of the
details of their editor’s private life.
A very few UFO groups have risen above this generally
hideous level, and have left some imprint on the literature
of the subject. The Flying Saucer Review of Great Britain,
established in 1954, is the only periodical a student of UFO
159
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
problems must consult regularly. 0 Although its attitude regarding
Kcontactees” and its discrimination between meteors
and “true UFOs” have not always been clear, the Review
is the official journal of UFO controversy and has been honored
by articles by Professor Menzel himself.
A number of groups have organized in Great Britain independent
of the Review. The British UFO Research Association
{ BUFORA) early in 1964 united the British UFO Association
and the London UFO Research Organization. Both
bodies previously issued regular publications, and BUFORA
now publishes a quarterly journal.
In Italy, the few groups of enthusiasts we know of are not
worthy of mention; their only activity is merging one into
the other every two or three years.
In Spain, Antonio Ribera and Eduardo Buelta founded in
Barcelona the Centro de Estudios Interplanetarios in 1958.
The group published a bulletin, of which we have regrettably
seen only one number, which contained excellent statisti,cal
analyses of the frequency distribution of sightings on a
planetary scale. Unfortunately, as much as the Italian groups
have a tendency to merge, Spanish groups have a tendency
to split, and it is difficult to evaluate what amount of real
work is being done at the present time in Spain.
In Argentina, CODOVNI ( Commision Observadora de Objectos
Voladores no I den tificados ) has done serious work on
analysis of the local sightings and has regularly published
reports. In France, ClEO { Commission Intemationale d’Enquetes
Ouranos ) started publishing a review and maintained
it for some time. It preserved in UFO literature excellent
investigations into the important 1957 cases. A new group,
called GEP A ( Groupe d’Etudes des Phenomenes Aeriens ) ,
was founded a t the end of 1962. Another UFO periodical
in French is Lumieres dans Ia Nuit, published by Raymond
Veillith. 0 0
Australia is another interesting country in this respect.
Although irregularly published, the Australian Flying Saucer
􀁦
0The Flying Saucer Review is edited bimonthly and published
by Flying Saucer Service, Ltd., 21 Cecil Court, Charing
Cross Road, London, W.C. 2.
0 0Les Pins le Chambor-sur-Lignon {Haute-Loire) France.
160
FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN R EASON
ReView has generally maintained a good level and an original
presentation. Its main appeal is the large amount of practical
information it has given concerning sightings made in the
area. It was originally edited under the aegis of the UFO
Association of Australia, which amalgamated several groups
in September, 1960 . ” In 1965, at the conclusion of the Ballarat
seminar on Aerial Phenomena, a federation of UFO
societies in Australia and its territories was formed. Called
The Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organization,
the new federation had Air Marshal Sir George Jones
as a Patron.
Similar groups exist in all countries where the UFO problem
is commented upon and is the object of public concern
at times. The numerous UFO groups in the United States have
proved low in quality, although it is now the only country
where an educational institution, Ohio Northern University,
has undertaken a study of “flying saucer” reports ( 1960 ) .
Two large organizations exist in the U.S. One is NICAP ” ”
( National Investigation Committee o n Aerial Phenomena ) , a
very official-appearing group founded by Major Keyhoe,
and the other is APRO ” ” ” ( Aerial Phenomena Research Organization
) of Tucson.
Both groups are composed of sincere, dedicated persons.
NICAP, created in 1956, claims about 5,500 members. APRO,
founded in 1952, had 800 members in 1964. Both have
played a key role in preserving and classifying the basic data
on UFO observations and they have kept the public and
researchers abroad informed of the new sightings. Without
APRO and NICAP, it is clear that those who oppose the idea
of the reality of the UFOs would have entirely succeeded in
establishing a complete censorship of the subject, as was the
case in France. Yet both groups can be criticized in the
sense that they conduct their activity in a way which is unscientific.
“It is now available from the Victorian Flying Saucer Research
Society, P. 0. Box 43, Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia.
“”NICAP 1536 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington
6, D.C.

“” “APRO 3910 E. Kleindale Road, Tucson, Arizona
85716.
,
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ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
It seems that NICAP’s main concern is to obtain official
recognition of the existence of “Hying saucers” by the U.S.
Congress. The progress made since 1956, however, seems
small, even when one reads the well-documented report UFO
Evidence, published by NICAP in 1964 ; this activity obviously
misses the point, since it is not seen that the UFO
problem is basically a problem of methodology, and a very
difficult scientific question that cannot be solved by political
or military authorites alone.
APRO is more seriously dedicated to investigation and research
and has gone to laudable effort to present reports of
sightings made abroad, as well as articles by foreign contributors.
The studies conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzen, the
leaders of APRO, have brought to light many remarkable
sightings from North and South America. Mrs. Coral Lorenzen
has brilliantly presented and documented the theory of UFO
“hostility” in her book “The Great Flying Saucer Hoax.”
Several of the leaders of NICAP, especially Richard Hall
and Charles Maney, have also made good contributions
to the field. Maney, for example, has gathered detailed
accounts of electromagnetic phenomena associated with UF
Os.
Although they often use the names of scientists said to
“‘approve” of their actions, apparently none of these groups
has obtained practical assistance in their daily work from
competent professional researchers, and their publications are
at best acceptable documentaries. But this is already much
better than what most UFO groups produce.
In our view, the reason for the apparent failure of the
American groups to present intelligent assistance to the official
services is that their leaders are unfamiliar with sightings
made in other parts of the world and make no effort to learn,
when only a planetary picture can cast light on the American
cases. The attitude seems to be the same in official circles,
but this is more easily understandable, since under their
specific mission they have no authority to investigate incidents
in foreign countries.
For a very small but active number of UFO cultists in
America, however, the only real problem is to “sell Hying
saucers,” as one would sell hot dogs or ice cream. What does
it matter if the sightings are invented, if the photographs are
faked, if the trip to Venus is imaginary? What does it matter
162
FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN R EASON
if the serious reader, deceived two or three times, decides
on the basis of this mockery that UFO’s are a joke? The
“easy buck” is the sole motivation for their “research” activity.
Sometimes the tale is told with real talent. Sometimes it is
rather sad and disgusting. But the dream remains:
0 the poor lover of chimerical lands!
Shall we put into iron, or cast into the sea
This drunken sailor, inventor of Americas?
Baudelaire asked. No; let them dream. Maybe they will balance
the conservative part of the scientific mind that always
looks behind.
THE WITN ESSES’ R EACTIO N
Every possible step seems t o have been taken t o prevent
ideas favorable to the existence of UFOs from finding their
way into official and educated circles. This process has clearly
developed unconsciously. For example, when official authorities
decided to obtain a scientific evaluation of the problem,
they selected scientists who were entirely ignorant of it; it
would have been simple, and interesting, to have arranged a
meeting of Tombaugh, Hess, Moore and other scientists who
saw and reported UFO’s. But this would probably have contradicted
the official view that “astronomers do not see flying
saucers,” one of the arguments often presented to a misinformed
public.
Witnesses of UFOs are generally characterized by their
silence. As if they had experienced a very bad or revolting
dream, they talk only reluctantly about it, both because some
of them remain nonbelievers and are shocked by their seeing
something which does not agree with their reason, and because
they suddenly find themselves on the other side of the
fence; newsmen come, ask them questions and print imaginary
tales concerning them. They can feel, even in their immediate
family, a modification of the atmosphere about them.
Human relations are affected and their whole world changes
almost imperceptibly.
Those who write to military authorities give in their letters
evidence of deep concern and high reliability. In a typical
report, a New York physiotherapist wrote:
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ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
During World War II, I was a pilot in the U.S. Air
Force and all my flying experience was within the Continental
limits of the United States. In all that time I never
once, night or day, observed anything unusual in the skies.
Now, at age 43, I have observed phenomena which are beyond
my comprehension, and which tax my sense of reasoning
and credulity.
Many others express interest in the problem in general, following
their experience, and ask for more information.
The inadequacy of the official questionnaire sent to those
who ask for it in their letters is evidenced by a comparison
between the original letter and the answers given by the same
witness to such specific questions as elevation, size and direction,
which break the consistency of the report into series
of points sometimes irrelevant to the main problem, or points
that cannot be answered with -fPrecision by an average person
without covering the whole incident. This is not the proper
place to discuss in detail how the questionnaire could be revised,
for the whole data-gathering system should be improved.
The point applies even more to unofficial questionnaires
sent by groups of enthusiasts. We would advocate the
replacement of such forms by a single sheet on which the witness
would write his own description of what he saw, with
space reserved for the coding system and a series of ten to
twenty clear, specific questions requiring information on points
which are not usually covered by the original description
made by the witness. Such a form would be completed in a
much shorter time, and could give the author of the report
more confidence in the amount of attention the case will be
given later by the investigators, a personal contact thus being
established. However, we would certainly recommend keep­
ing the detailed forms for cases in which the investigators
interview the witness directly.
Clearly, I cannot speak here with the authority a team of
psychologists could after careful analysis of a sample of typical
letters. But it is my experience that from such descriptions,
spontaneously made by the witnesses, the cause of their concern
is generally recognizable when it is a conventional
object such as a meteor, an aircraft, a star, a balloon, a kite
or a unique luminous effect seen under conditions not extremely
peculiar, even when the authors of these descriptions
show signs of deep emotion or excitement as a result of their
164
FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN REASON
experience. This seems to be an indication in favor of the
high reliability of most UFO reports.
Thanks to the efforts of Veillith and Michel we are able to
present here a document which we think of remarkable interest
in this respect. This case would be automatically dismissed
by a commission of military investigators, or by any
committee of scientific officials; the documents consist of two
letters from the witness to a French student of UFOs who
wrote to this person after seeing a brief account of the sighting
in a local newspaper. The observation took place at dusk.
The witness was alone, and is known to have been a mental
patient under treatment. A detailed study of the account,
however, shows a remarkable stability in the characteristics
of the behavior described, and the reader will notice that
all the basic criteria of our Type II are met very clearly. It is
our opinion that the witness has indeed observed a UFO
phenomenon behaving exactly as in the Vernon case, and
has given an account of it fantastically distorted by her mental
disability. Here is the first letter :
At my house it has passed a flying saucer which formed
into a very bright cigar towards its behavior of spindle very
luminous of a very beautiful brilliance, leaving behind a
smoke trail more than three meters as it comes closer to the
house the smoke was better less the cigar formed three
cordons very close the one in the middle flattened, a little
lower has stopped the cordon to the right withdrawing
and small balls like 0 to detach themselves and to disappear
one after the other in the sky. In spite of my curiosity
I was unable to wait for the end of the phenomenon, the
cold forced me to go inside-Good luck.
Puzzled by this description-which could seem to point
simply to a misinterpreted smoke trail left by a jet, for example-the
investigator asked for more details regarding
duration, shape, weather conditions, time of day, exact movements.
He received the following answer:
You know the time for the month of October it was the
evening almost at night fall the weather neither overcast
nor clear the craft come from the direction of-straight on.
The craft was a little in the shape of a cigar but which
formed three tight ribbons or cordons if you want. The craft
165
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
not flying very high coming straight crosses the roof of my
habitation I said what a pity if it had been earlier in the
evening I would have been able to make out certainly
what was going on inside the craft but a brilliant craft
which seemed to my eyes all made of diamond the nose in
the shape of an aircraft but half longer than having passed
my habitation by four to five meters making a slight deviation
toward the east at this moment it stops a little the
ribbon in the middle detaches itself from the other two,
from the one in the middle detach themselves very fast
several little balls 0-crossing the right ribbon goes higher
and go back into the sky then the three ribbons unite the
craft starts again weakening and coming back lower straight
on then I saw the nose which dived to go and land not
much farther away in spite of my desire to see it land very
close this was impossible to me the cold had forced me to
go back into my house the stars lit the sky it was freezing
the distance from my house to towards the landing three
minutes the time I observed the phenomenon twenty minutes
if not thirty a policeman had asked me if I had not
been afraid when it had passed over my roof I had answered
oh no it was too pretty.
U FOs AND THE HUMAN MIND
Jung has given numerous examples o f dreams in which
the shape of the saucer, the mandala or the cigar were present,
and were associated with unearthly feelings such as absence
of weight. The very elusiveness of some UFO apparitions
suggested to him that an interesting link was to be
found between their observation and certain fundamental
needs in the subconscious mind. 0 “‘What I have always
thought as the most beautiful thing in a theater,” writes
Baudelaire, “during my childhood and even now, is the
chandelier, a beautiful luminous object, crystalline, complicated,
circular and symmetrical.” This fascination of a poet’s
soul for the circular, luminous object is indicative of the existence
of complex mental mechanisms which may be linked
0There are several documents of this nature in the files of
the U.S. Air Force. See for example the letter and drawing
dated 25 Jan. 1958, made after a dream.
166
FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN R EASON
with UFO observations. Unlimited space and unlimited power
are associated with the vision of a UFO. Marvelous speed,
blinding light, silence are characteristic of a class of objects
that seem to lend themselves most easily to interpretation in
terms of psychological entities. And the old appeal of the
mystery can be felt again in these stories where science
fiction seems to flourish and take life.
In about 1510, Ariosto, the Renaissance poet and playwright,
wrote about glass strips in Orlando Furioso, Canto
I, Stanza 8 :
Bear ye some [spirits] in great strips of glass
For the proud Demons, a hundred times and a hundred,
Impel them from the rear with puffs from bellows
So that never was there greater wind.
( See W. R. Drake, FSR II, No. 4, p. 15)
It is impossible to speak of the shape of the “saucer” as an
archtype without making the remark that Jonathan Swift,
in Gulliver’s Travels ( 1726 A.D. ) gives this amazing description
of a “flying island”: ”
I walked a while among the rocks, the sky was perfectly
clear, and the sun so hot, that I was forced to turn my face
from it : When all on a sudden it became obscured, as I
thought, in a manner very different from what happens by
the interposition of a cloud. I turned back, and perceived
a vast opake body between me and the sun, moving forward
towards the Island : It seemed to be about two miles
high, and hid the sun six or seven minutes, but I did not
observe the air to be much colder, or the sun more darkened,
than if I had stood under the shade of a mountain.
As it approached nearer over the place where I was, it
appeared to be a firm substance, the bottom flat, smooth,
and shining very bright from the reflexion of the sea below.
I stood upon a height about two hundred yards from
the shoar, and saw this vast body descending almost to a
parallel with me, at less than an English mile distance. I
took out my pocket-perspective, and could plainly discover
numbers of people moving up and down the sides of it,
” It is on this flying island that he meets astronomers who
reveal to him the existence of the two satellites of Mars.
167
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
which appeared to be sloping, but what those people were
doing, I was not able to distinguish.
And the idea that the fantastic character of the concept
of UFO places it outside the usual scale of human emotions
finds an excellent illustration in the following quotation from
Edgar A. Poe’s story, “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion,”
where he describes human reactions to the coming of
a comet that will annihilate all life on the Earth.
The chimerical aspect of their terror was gone. The ,
hearts of the stoutest of our race beat violently within
their bosoms. A very few days sufficed, however, to merge ,,
even such feelings in sentiments more unendurable. We ,
could no longer apply to the strange orb any accustomed 11
thoughts. Its historical attributes had disappeared. It oppressed
us with a hideous novelty of emotion. We saw it not
as an astronomical phenomenon in the heavens, but as an
incubus upon our hearts, and a shadow upon our brains.
DREAM AND H OAX AS EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS
Our domain reaches here the border of these carefully
concealed areas where the full complexity of the human mind
appears among unwonted creations of the brain . .T heodore
Flournoy, a professor of psychology at Geneva University 1
in Switzerland, published in 1900 his observations on the i
alleged travels through space performed by the medium Helen
Smith ( 135) . The book contains a dictionary for translating
Martian into French. More · recent examples of similar claims,
especially those that developed after the American waves of
1950-52, show less ingenuity.
An emotional climax is reached when the dream is arti- ‘I ficially forced into reality, when the witness becomes an
actor, the maker of the mystery, when a hoax is performed I, and presented as a true manifestation of unknown forces. It , ,
is interesting to remark that when Leo Taxil, setting the stage
for the series of enormous hoaxes that shook both the religious , ,
and the atheistic worlds in the last decade of the nine­
teenth century ( 136 ) , described a meeting between Thomas
Vaughan and the Devil, he used terms similar to those found
in many “contact” stories : II 168 11 1i
FLYING SAUCERS A N D H UMAN R EASON
· During a summer night, according to Philalethes’ narrative,
as he was walking in the moonlight, the moon, which
he saw through the branches of trees in the forest, suddenly
seemed to come nearer and appeared to glide like
a blinding and penetrating light. Little by little, the lunar
crescent, that kept coming closer, took the appearance of
a sort of curved couch, luminous, floating through space,
and coming, coming towards the Earth. . . . The legend
also states that the ship-bed landed in a clearing and
that the brush caught fire all around, without being consumed;
many little devils, similar to seven- or eight-yearold
children, carne out of the ground, their arms full of
flowers . . . .
In many cases, hoaxes have been perpetrated as mere jokes,
not as serious attempts to gain official recognition. This has
been the general case in France and in most European countries.
In the New World, however, more credit is usually
given to the individual and one thus has a better opportunity
to find a public ready to believe in the fantastic. “Contact”
stories have emerged into life on this basis. We read in { 137 )
the following story:
Gabriel Green, a bright and youthful Johnny-come-lately
to the candidate game, is right in step with the space age.
Mr. Green was not running for the presidency in 1960 to
promote a noble cause, or for publicity, or because the
Bible told him to. He was a candidate because ( says Gabe )
one night, while he was sitting in the living room of his
California home, there was a knock at the door. And on
the front steps there stood what looked like an earthman.
But the “man” introduced himself as a visitor from a planet
of Alpha Centauri, a nearby star. The visitor said: “We
want you to run for President of the United States.” Gabe
said yes, without hesitation. 0
This celestial ambassador never did explain why he and
0The “Space Age Platform” of Gabriel Green was published
in the AFSCA World Report of July-August 1960.
Green ran again for the office of United States Senator in
the California Democratic primaries in 1962 and received
over 171,000 votes.
169
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
his fellow Alpha Centaurians wanted Gabriel Green to become
President, but that did not stop Gabe from entering
the race. Possibly, the folks from Alpha Centauri wanted as
America’s Chief Executive a man who was concerned with
the problems of outer space. And _wasn’t Gabriel Green
president of the Amalgamated Flying Saucers Club of America,
Inc.? Surely, he had the interest of the entire universe
at heart, Alpha Centauri included.
Green claimed to have received many phone calls from
other inhabitants of the distant star and also said that
alougside the Alpha Centauri females “Earth women just
don’t compare.”
The investigator of the UFO phenomenon is rarely concerned
with such reports of contacts, which follow an easily
recognizable pattern, and no confusion is possible unless information
is very fragmentary. I was once criticized by the
editor of a specialized review ( 138 ) for not including “Venusians”
of the type described by the “contactees” in a survey of
entities reported to have been associated with Type I sightings.
It would seem that consistency has a measure of scienti.Sc
approval [read the article], but this is not allowed as
a virtue when the long line of contactees from Adamski”
to Siragusa come to beg for admittance. Certainly these
stories are very similar and have much more in common
than exists between any of the groups in Vallee’s type-I
list.
Indeed, consistency is always a virtue, but it does not necessarily
result in what the author of the text called “approval”;
it can also result in rejection, when all criteria of imagination
and fraud are met by these “consistent” stmies. A consistent
thief is not an honest man, although it is much easier to find
consistent thieves than consistent honest men. But I do not
think anyone has ever been seriously worried by childish
,descriptions of space conditions copied from newspapers’
” George Adamski died on April 23, 1965. Another writer
who greatly contributed to the discredit of the UFO problem,
Frank Scully, had died in June 1964.
170
FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN REASON
comics or stories whose author is said to have landed on
Venus or on the mysterious planet Clarion, permanently hidden
by the moon ! The pieces of “physical evidence” presented
to support such accounts-a few blurred photographs
and a reproduction of a design taken from the sole of a
Venusian shoe-are so poor that we start to doubt if the
author’s imagination is so bright after all, for only very naive
persons can believe that any credence will be attached to
photographs so evidently faked that the positive image itself
is already a confession of crime!
But credence is a very relative notion for the authors of
these little space operas. The mention of their names is all
they hope for, and they find the fulfilment of their dreams in
the worship of them by their fanatics.
An astronomer has given a description of these characters :
Long years of experience with people who come to the
observatory, or write in about their stories . . . have taught
me how a typical fraud . . . chooses his words and phrases.
Among other things, he cannot conduct a rational discussion,
but resorts to constant repetition. He will not listen
to the other person and cannot answer questions rationally
or intelligently . . . . Scarce wonder that the whole subject
-which undoubtedly has some scientific paydirt in it-is
so easily tossed aside by responsible people. At a convention
of [“flying saucer” fanatics] one could buy a book entitled
My Saturnian Lover, photographs of saucers, the
moon seen from an approaching saucer, moon scenery,
and could buy a record of Satumian music. And, if they
stayed late enough, the conventioneers would see mysterious
blue lights at play and observe a balloon-shaped
saucer that rose opportunely from behind the bam. • • •
No joke could stay alive long enough to cause so much
disturbance, however, if deeper feelings were not associated
with these “experiences.” In { 13 9 ) Norkin writes about one
of the “contactees”:
He had been taken up in a balloon-shaped spacecraft
to a great height above the earth and then given the
opportunity to view it from that height. The incident happened
on the night of July 23, 1952, from the dry bed of
the Los Angeles river, where it borders Los Angeles and
171
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
Glendale. It was a beautiful sight, but Orfeo said he wept
unashamedly. The realization came that underneath that
surface beauty was a sick humanity suffering from untold
misery. He didn’t wish to come back but was told he had
to because it was now his mission to tell the people the
truth-about life in outer space. Just like those who were
advanced had come from other planets to help us, so those
who were contacted here should help their fellow men with
the information that had been revealed. As proof that his
experience was real, a scar was imprinted on the skin of
his chest below the heart. It was the mark of the hydrogen
atom, of which everything in the universe is ultimately
formed.
This is a very common theme in this sort of story, and such
accounts appear to be a way for certain souls to release their
anguish in the face of modern scientific changes, their fear
of war and atomic cataclysm and their inability to adapt to
the present rhytlun of life. These experiences are indeed consistent;
they are nothing but the ever-repeated story of the
humble man suddenly chosen by Providence to ful£1 a terribly
important mission, · to be entrusted with amazing secrets
and become the master of supernatural powers.
This is also a convenient subjective way to criticize modem
life and to release personal resentments. In ( 140) another
contactee gives this information on his “visitors” :
She said : “We are visiting regularly o n your earth,
and enjoy it very much.” She added: “We enjoy your
laughing mirth,” which she said was new to them. That
they had expected that people with all our problems and
troubles would not be able to joke and laugh. That on
Clarion they liked a good joke and loved to laugh.
She also made the statement that they were never in a
rush up there on Clarion, and they always wondered why
everything on earth appeared to be rushing or in a hurry ·
to be finished. She said it was a similar sight all over the
earth, people rushing madly in all directions.
‘CONTACTEES’ AND ‘MARTIANS’ I N H I STORY
Are these aberrations typical of the ‘Space Age’? Are they
only the products of science fiction, atomic fear, and twen-
172
FlYI N G SAUCERS AND H UMAN R EASON
· tieth century living conditions? They are much more than ! thlit. They are the modem aspect of psychological processes
that have produced similar effects under very different processes
that have produced similar effects under very different
conditions : Adamski claimed he had met an inhabitant of
Venus, whose flying saucer he had seen land in the California
· desert in 1952: His beauty was superior to anything Adamski ! had ever seen before. He looked young, had long blond hair;
with different clothes he would have appeared as ‘an ex.
ceptionally beautiful woman’ . . . Adamski’s colorful story is
considered as having founded the myth of the ‘contactees.’
, But it is generally unknown today that similar stories-ex.
pressed almost in the same terms-have been reported for
centuries. They follow a well-established very stable psychological
pattern: In the seventeenth century, writes Flammarion,
a man named David Fabricius claimed he had been
in contact with the inhabitants of the moon. Another writer,
Kircher, “could not find his words” to convey to his readers
the admiration he felt for the inhabitants of Venus. He
describes them as young men of a wonderful beauty, whose
clothes were as transparent as crystal, and who danced to
the music of lyres and cymbals, while some of their companions
continuously spread perfumes out of the baskets they
were carrying . . .
Swedenborg, the great eighteenth century Swedish mystic,
left a description of some small Moon-men “the size of children.”
Sometimes he speaks like the Aetherius Society. 0
In a piece entitled De la terre de Jupiter, we read :
0The Aetherius Society, of London and Los Angeles, is dedicated
to the diffusion of space messages. On August 22, 1959,
for instance, it relayed over loud-speakers extracts from a
tape recording of a speech from Mars ( Sector 6 ) called
“Demand the Truth,” to a crowd in Trafalgar Square, London.
The Journal of the Society adds : “Members of the
Aetherius Society held banners on the plinth of the famous
Nelson Column as a background to the platform in order to
proclaim that ‘Flying Saucers are real, are physical, are
friendly, are extra-terrestrial’ . . . The crowd stood listening
in the hot sunshine for well over two hours, while the extracts
from Mars Sector 6 Transmission were played between
speeches by Aetherius Society members.”
173
ANATOMY OF A PHENOMENON 1 By the spirits who are on this planet, I have received information concerning . several things about its inhabi1
tant’s; for example, about their food and their dwelling . . ·.!
Later: t I have been informed by angels that the first language :
of all on each planet has been the facial language, and! this by means of the lips and the eyes . . . ·
One of the most elaborate hoaxes of the ‘Martian’ type was
perpetrated in 1864. It took such large proportions that a •
scientific periodical, L’Annee Scientifique ( 9th year, page ·
33 ) devoted several pages to an article guarding the public 􀃅
against the hoax. The story, which originated somewhere in
Paris, was carried by numerous newspapers in the country, .
including Le Pays ( 17 June 1864 ) , and was titled An Inlwbitant
of the Planet Mars. The facts it related had allegedly
taken place in the United States, where a rich land owner,
“Sir Paxton,” had undertaken a searcl:i for oil. One morning
( read the article ) the workers found a layer of various unexpected
materials and M. Davis ( “a most distinguished
geologist from Pittsburg” ) insisted that it should be followed.
After fifteen days of work a considerable mass of rock was
unearthed. It presented the appearance and composition of an
enormous meteorite.
A scientific committee went to see the meteorite and had
the idea to drill a hole into it: and a cavity was discovered
in the center of it! Finally, the hole was enlarged so that
John Paxton ( Sir Paxton’s son ) was able to visit the inside of
the aerolite with M. Davis. They carne back, very pale, carrying
a strange amphora, and said they had found a metallic
floor. After several days, this floor was removed and the two
gentlemen, accompanied by a M. Murchison, went down
again, only to discover a sort of rectangular tomb, which
contained the petrified corpse of a four-foot man. This
mummy was extracted from the tomb and carefully studied.
There was no hair on the face, the brain was triangular. No
nose, but a sort of trunk on the forehead. A very small
mouth and very long arms completed the picture. Near the
body was found a drawing of the Solar System where planet
Mars was represented by a big spot, thus indicating unmistakably
the origin of the strange aerolite.
More recently, similar accounts of fantastic adventures have
174
FLYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN R EASON
been commonplace. The first twentieth-century report of
“landing,” with a description of the operators near their craft,
was made in the spring of 1909, and it was a hoax. The encounter
is said to have taken place on May 18 at l l : OO P.M.
at Caerphilly, Wales. The· witness, a Mr. Lethbridge, said he
had been walking along a road when he 10aw a large cylindrical
object, alongside of which were two men wearing fur
coats, who spoke in an excited voice when they saw the
witness. Immediately afterward they took off and the object
disappeared. This incident is reported in the Daily Mail of
May 20, 1909, and is discussed by Fort in his book New
Lands ( 21 ) . According to Fort himself, a hoax is very probable.
Another fantastic story is that told by a man who allegedly
observed a UFO on February 22, 1922, at 5 : 00 A.M. in
Hubbell, Nebraska: A hunter, William C. Lamb, was following
mysterious traces when he heard a crackling noise followed
by a high-pitched sound and realized that a circular
object was Hying above his head, masking the stars. The
witness allegedly hid behind a tree and saw this object, now
brilliantly lighted, land behind a depression. Where he thus
lost sight of the disk, he saw a magnificent Hying creature
that landed like an aircraft and left traces in the snow. It
was at least eight feet tall; it came toward the tree where
Lamb was hiding, passed by and disappeared. Lamb followed
the traces for five miles, then gave up the chase ( 30 ) .
THE HOLLOW EARTH THEORY
The incoherent cluster of fables that we have to review now
would not be worthy of attention if it were not ( like the
claims of the “contactees” ) related to fantastic themes that
are a part of our culture.
The · starting point of these diverging fantasies-that we
feel should be treated much as the basic archetypes of
children’s literature-is the idea that a superior race of very
ancient history inhabits the interior of the Earth.
Archaeologists know well that this theme is common to
many cultures : “The ancient writings of the Chinese, Egytians,
Hindus and other races, and the legends of the Eskimos
. . . speak of a race that lives under the earth’s crust,
and that their ancestors came from this paradisical land in
the interior of the earth” ( 197 ) . The origin of this theme is
175
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
easy enough to determine, that our ancestors, in prehistoric
times, were often cave dwellers, is well known. And, through- ‘
out history, the same tunnels and caves they had used have ·
been reopened by populations threatened by invasion or natu- 1
ral disaster. For obvious reasons, the locations of these openings
were kept secret, thus contributing to create an atmosphere
of mystery. •
In two areas of the world has the necessity for preservation
of entire cultures threatened by invasion arisen with a
special character of emergency: In Asia, and also in America,{ where ancient Indian cultures were destroyed on the surfacef
by the Spanish conquest. And these are the areas where J
modern claims of the existence of “underground civilizations” ·
naturally flourish. The Tibetan mountains and the Matto ,
Grosso, regions of difficult access inhabited by people whose 🙂
traditions appeal to the imagination, are usually associated ·l
with the “mystery.”
That this array of legends has its origin in half-forgotten ‘
stories from a time of persecutions and invasions is further ·
shown by the very descriptions of the way of life of these;
“underground civilizations”: ‘
More than six thousand years ago, a holy man, with his .
entire tribe, disappeared into the interior of the earth and 􀃓
was never seen again on the surface. Many men, how- ·
ever, have since visited this mysterious realm . . . [Agharta]
• . . Nobody knows where it is situated. Some say in
Afghanistan, others in India. All its members are protected :
against evil and crime does not exist within its frontiers. ·
Science has developed in tranquillity, and no one lives ‘
threatened by destruction. The subterranean people have
reached the apex of wisdom. I
I
At this point, the theme ceases to be distinguishable from ‘
the contactee’s gospel: The same pattern of wishful thinking
and escape from reality underlies these stories as it does tales
for children and the adult dream of a world where no one •
would live “threatened by destruction.” We are not dealing ‘
•see Le Guide de la France Mysterieuse ( IO ) for many
accounts of tales of underground cities, and locations of act- 1
ual underground dwellings that may be visited today.
176 j
FlY I N G SA UCERS A N D H UMAN R EASON
here with the unorganized productions of isolated “crackpots,”
but with an extrapolation in fantastic terms of a very
tragic and real situation. Mter all, the threat of nuclear war
may some day force our own wise men, and their tribes,
to preserve our scientific culture in the “underground kingdom”
of fallout shelters!
THE I N N E R EARTH PEOPLE A N D THE K I N G
OF THE WORLD
The theories we are reviewing here find, therefore, a natu
·ral starting point in fantastic distortions of a psychological
reality. A good example of an extreme extrapolation is found
in the Prophecy of the Coming Nuclear Armegeddon, by
the King of the World, and the Extermination of Surface
Humanity, Leaving the Earth Inhabited only by its Subterranean
Inhabitants, which is quoted by Bernard ( 197 ) :
The Nuclear Armegeddon of World War III will be followed
by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, involving
a Flood of Radioactive Fire followed by a Flood of Water,
which will purge and purify the Earth’s surface, leaving it
devoid of life, until eventually the subterranean people
will once more come up to the surface and repopulate it.
Dr. Menzel and Mrs. Boyd have given a fine account of the
groups which propagate this mythology in their book “The
World of Flying Saucers.” During the development of the
UFO waves of the “American period” these theories were
mainly known as “The Shaver Mystery.”
In 1947 Palmer was the editor of Amazing Stories and
Fantastic Adventures, two of the great magazines of science-
fiction in which stories of spaceships and interplanetary
travel have long been commonplace. For several years
he had been hinting to readers of these magazines that
alien spaceships might actually be cruising in our skies,
but Fate was the first magazine that seriously promoted
the idea . . .
In January 1944 began the publishing drama that for
a time changed the direction of Amazing and heralded
the advent of flying saucers. The “discussions” department
that month included a letter captioned “An Ancient Lan-
177
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
guage?” which introduced what came to be known both as
the Great Shaver Mystery and the Great Shaver Hoax . . . •
The first of the Shaver series, “I remember Lemuria” ap­
peared in March, 1 945, along with “.Mantong, the Language
of Lemuria,” the article signed by both Shaver and
Palmer, and other stories followed quickly in succeeding
issues of Amazing. The basic themes were shopworn-a
jumble of Fortean ideas, Plato’s fables, and mystic science
-but when brightened by Palmer’s magic pencil, they
seemed fresh and exciting : The Earth had an ancient past,
now forgotten. 0 The lost continents of Atlantis, Lemuria,
and Mu had been colonized many thousands of years ago
by superior beings from another planet who could travel
through space by utilizing forces unknown to present-day
earthmen. Eventually these noble aliens had been forced
to abandon the earth to escape evil radiations coming from
our sun, but they had left descendants who still lived on
earth in concealment in great subterranean cities that could
be entered through certain caves. The underground dwellers
in the hidden world had retained all the secret powers
of their ancestors. They could communicate by thought
transference, could speak to earthmen by mental “voices,”
and could travel on beams of light because they understood
the true nature of gravity and magnetism.
These creatures were divided into two opposing groups,
one good and one evil. The dero ( detrimental robots ) were
the bad guys and they caused all the unexplained accidents
and misfortunes that happen to human beings. The
tero (integrative robots ) were the good guys; they warned
earthmen of danger and tried to protect them from the
destructive forces of the dero.
FLY I N G SAU C E RS F ROM T H E EARTWS I N TERIOR
Once it is admitted that the Earth contains large caves
populated by wise men, it is but one more step to connect
all these caves with tunnels, and finally the idea that the
whole planet is hollow suggests itself. As will be seen in the
next paragraph, the idea is not new. Similar legends existed
0This theme is also found in many stories by H. P. Lovecraft.
178
FLYI NG SAUCERS AND H U MAN R EASON
already two centuries ago. The new element is provided by
the claim that the cavity inside the earth is the point of
origin of the “flying saucers.” ( See, for example, Palmer’s
article in the December 1959 issue of Flying Saucers, the
Magazine of Space Conquest and Dr. Menzel’s remarks in
The World of Flying Saucers, page 25 ) . According to Palmer,
Bernard, and a few others, flying saucers sail from the interior
of the Earth to our atniosphere through a large opening
situated at the North Pole.”‘ We read in one of Bernard’s
brochures :
A Russian who formerly served in the Russian Army said
he and his troops once reached Lhasa, Tibet, where he was
stationed some time, and there he came in touch with a
secret society of Tibetan vegetarians who made regular
trips by flying saucer through the North Polar opening to
the hollow interior of the earth. He says he saw the saucer
that made the trips. He said that the supreme object of all
Tibetan Lamas and Yogis is to prepare their bodies to be
worthy to be picked up by a Hying saucer and carried to
the hollow interior of the earth, whose human population
consists mostly of Tibetan Lamas and Oriental Yogis, with
very few Westerners, since Westerners are too bound to
the things of this world, while lamas and yogis wish to
escape this miserable world and enter a much better world
in the hollow interior of the Earth.
“‘I understand there is also an opening at the South Pole;
unfortunately it is blocked by the ice ! Commenting upon the
believers in the “Hollow Earth Theory,” The Journal of the
British UFO Association ( vol. 1, no. 4) notes : “An AmericanItalian
writer, one Giannini, has provided grist for their mill,
in recent years, by publishing a book in which much play
was made of statements by the late Rear-Admiral Byrd concerning
aeroplane flights “beyond the Pole.” H Giannini and
his ilk would take the trouble to read Byrd’s own explanation
of this phrase, in the American “National Geographic
Magazine,” vol. XCII, no. 4, October 1947, they would find
that his views on the globe were perfectly orthodox and that
his much-publicized remark implied only that the South Geographic
Pole does not occupy a central position in respect
to the Antarctic land-mass.
179
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
Bernard points out that “there is no proof at all that these
reports are true-they may be lies invented by the narrators
in order to create an impression.” And he adds :
This contactee describes Hying saucers as made of a brilliant
nickel that glows with a light at night. He says that the
people of the Earth’s interior wield a form of energy beyond
atomic energy which motivates ( ? ) their Hying saucers.
They use this superior energy-the “vril” of Bulwer
Lytton-only for peaceful purposes.
Also these people have one government and one nation
and are not divided into warring nations as we are. This
is helped by their speaking all the same language. They are
in advance of us in all ways. They live without religion as
we know it, obeying the laws of nature, which they consider
better than believing in religion and supernatural
gods and saviors, while disobeying nature’s laws in our
daily lives, such as by eating meat, indulging in sex, etc.
These people are vegetarians and all live in perfect chastity.
This short quotation is worth studying for the amount of
contradictory statements it packs in a few sentences. The state
of disorganization of this contactee’s account is extreme; yet
he is able to piece together in one compact story a large cluster
of very different myths. The origin of some of these myths
can be accurately traced to theories of the past centuries.
THE HOLLOW EARTH THEORY I N H I STO RY
In this book, we have seen again and again that the themes
popular among Hying saucer enthusiasts, and ridiculed by
their opponents as a modern form of mental disturbance
typically induced by the twentieth-century way of living and
the influence of science-fiction were in reality nothing but the
resurgence of traditional archetypes. We have already mentioned
that in the seventeenth century there were already
people who claimed they had seen the inhabitants of the
moon. Kircher could not find his words to describe accurately
the beauty of the Venusians, and Swedenborg claimed to
have been informed by the spirits of Jupiter of “several things
concerning its inhabitants.”
180
. F LY I N G SAUCERS AND H U MAN R EASON
The Hollow Earth Theory is such an archetype. 0 According
to Flammarion, Humboldt writes in the first volume of his
Cosmos that “Lesbie’s geognostical determinations on the terrestrial
sphere, that he supposed could be hollow, led unscientific
persons to fantastic conceptions. Not only did they
take Lesbie’s theory as the expression of reality, but they
went as far as populating this hollow earth with different
beings. Furthermore, they imagined two asteroids in order
to light it: Pluto and Proserpine . . . They even indicated
that, at latitude 82°, one found an opening through which
surface dwellers could reach the interior.”
Flamroarion very appropriately remarks that “these ideas
have points in common with the tales of the Devil’s Well
that we feared · when we were children-an opening located
at the bottom of an old crater and which communicated
with Hell.” Similarly, an underground journey to the center of
the Earth is narrated in Hoffmann’s tale. “The Devil’s Elixir.”
The narrator falls one day into a precipice and into an abyss
which is the interior of the Earth. His fall leads him to the
planet Nazar, which occupies the center of these regions.
Humboldt’s remarks on the Hollow Earth Theory ( Cosmos
I, page 192) are worth quoting in full as a conclusion to this
paragraph :
In order to make the hypothesis o f indefinite compressibility
of matter agree with the measured oblateness, now
known with good precision, the ingenious Leslie was led
to picture the inside of the Earth as a spherical cave “filled
with a weightless fluid that had an enormous force of
expansion.” These audacious conceptions provoked in the
minds of persons entirely foreign to the sciences the generation
of even more fantastic ideas. They went as far as having
plants growing in this hollow earth. They populated it
with animals and, in order to dissipate the darkness, they
imagined two stars, Pluto and Proserpine. These subterranean
regions were given a constant temperature, an
air always luminous because of the pressure it supported.
” The Freudian interpretations of the myth of the Hollow
Earth ( the Earth as “the mother of life” ) are obvious. See
the Greek legend quoted by Misraki, page 226 ( Ouranos and
Rhea ) , in this context.
181
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
They probably forgot that they had already put two suns
there to light it. Finally, near the North Pole, at latitude
82 ° , was an enormous opening through which the light of
the aurorae flew, and that allowed a journey into the hollow
sphere. Sir Humphrey Davy and I were publicly invited
and urged by Captain Symmes to undertake this
underground expedition. Such is the force of the maladive
urge that leads certain minds to fill unknown spaces with
wonders, without taking into account the facts known to
Science or universally recognized laws of nature. Already,
near the end of the seventeenth century, the notorious
Halley, in his “Magnetic Speculations,” had imagined a hollow
Earth. He assumed that a nucleus, freely rotating in
this natural cavity, was responsible for annual and diurnal
variations of the declination of the compass . These ideas,
that were never anything but pure fiction for the ingenious
Holberg, fructify nowadays, and people have tried with
unbelievable seriousness, to give them a scientific coloration.
M ETAPHYSICAL U FOS
I had quite a shock once when I happened to come across
a booklet entitled Flying Saucers and Space Men, A Scientific
and Metaphysical Dissertation in Interplanetary-Travelling, by
Dr. John H. Manas, Ph. D., N.D., Psy. D., Ms.D., D.T.D.,
B.Sc., D.Hum., M.H., and Founder-President, Pythagorean
Society ( 141 ) .
Until then I had divided my attention between professional
scientists, who generally thought that life was possible else­
where in the universe but did not believe that other communities
could travel to us and, therefore, did not want to
consider the possibility of UFOs being material objects; and
the people who, on the opposite side, accepted enthusiastically
the existence of “flying saucers” without reservation,
saying that “they had no proof, but they had evidence.” I
had no idea that a third category existed, made up of strong
believers in the existence of “flying saucers,” but firmly opposed
to their spatial origin, and even to their physical reality.
I was thus quite unprepared when I read in Dr. Manas’ book:
There is another very important reason against the physi-
182
FlYING SAUCERS AND H UMAN REASON
cal existence of “space ships.” Suppose that a certain soul
or a spiritual entity from Venus or from Mars wants to pay
us a visit. Is it necessary for it to travel in a “space-ship”?
Cannot the soul travel in its astral or etheric body or
vehicle?
I wonder what Pythagoras would have answered to that.
Dr. Manas later makes the following statement:
It is a well-known fact to all metaphysicians and occultists
that even a clear and strong thought can be projected
and be sent many thousands of miles away and be
materialized at its place of destination, and under proper
conditions, to be seen by men. All these phenomena are
not mysteries’ or miracles . . . • This is the truth about UFO,
commonly known as “flying saucers,” space ships and space
men, disrobed of all superstition, ignorance, emotionalism
and human weakness, which is the lot of young human
souls.
It would seem, therefore, that earthbound “entities” or
spirits produce images of “flying saucers.” Being a “young
human soul,” characterized by the weaknesses enumerated
by Dr. Manas, and many others, this writer is obviously incompetent
to comment on the theory. However, he finds it
interesting that ardent spiritualists are seen taking against
the material existence of UFO’s the same extreme positions as
ardent “materialists.”
We could extend this chapter into an entire book without
ever reaching the limits of the extraordinary, and not even
the limits of fraud or lunacy. But these few pages may have
been sufficient to give our reader a clear image of what
the human mind can produce when it does not work within
the boundaries set up by rationalism, and denies the necessity
of control. Our problem is not original in this respect;
similar fancies have been found in all branches of science.
One point, however, is very clear in the present case: When
one has heard the message of all “contactees,” listened to
the tales, read the stories, traveled to Saturn and back in the
arms of a nine-legged octopus and shared the evening dinner
of a friendly average Venusian family, one comes back to this
detestable planet and finds the UFO mystery unsolved.
Theories are often like the good servant of the play, who talks
183
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON 11 with the irritated father while his lovely daughter escapes with li a musician. We have watched Dr. Menzel’s mirages and listened
to Adamski’s harpsichord; we have seen Captain Aura
Rhanes returning to Clarion and have touched a hair of a
185-pound Venusian dog; we have also observed meteors and
the rising moon. Now we would like to come back to our
problem and find out what it is reliable witnesses have seen;
for the Vernon cigar was not a cloud, the hole in the field in
Poncey was not of a metaphysical essence. Officer Zamora
had not heard the noise of a spiritual motor, and it was not
a meteor that lifted Hamilton’s cow in April, 1897. Someone
once asked, if angels are pure spirits, why do they eat and
make love? We might add, speaking of modem legends appearing
under our own eyes : If spacemen are thought images,
why should they butcher a cow and drop her head in the
desert?
Beliefs and theories; imagination and dream and pretension
: tormented human souls, trying to reach for their small,
infinite, fancy they catch a star. In a forest of theories, each
man climbs his own tree. He reigns on his branch and directs
insults at the mockingbird. Undisturbed, lines of facts stretch
across the horizon with patience. But night falls on the
scene, and men go to sleep. In this night they remain, unidentified
in their relative universe. A hand from Heaven reaches
down into their dreams, and they wonder.
184
Chapter 6
TYPICAL PHASES OF UFO BEHAVIOR
T H E G E N E RAL TYPE I EVENT
Whether they actually correspond to the “landing” of a
machine or only to a misinterpretation of hallucination, Type
I events are of interest to us because they allow a deeper
analysis of the mechanism through which individuals are
led to write a UFO report.
If average imagination is sufficient for a witness to interpret
the rising moon or the planet Venus as a “spacecraft,” it requires
much more for a citizen to fabricate completely a long
and consistent story like the Quarouble or Foussignargues
episodes. This is evidenced by cases of the Adamski type,
and by “contact” stories in general, credible or half-credible
when first narrated, which become more and more complicated
and inconsistent as details are added.
Most Type I reports, on the contrary, are simple and very
clear: Individuals of varying age, occupation and reliability
rush to the police, write under oath perfectly unbelievable
stories and are never heard of again. The typical witness
generally states in his report that he was performing a quite
ordinary task when the sighting took place. He was not out
in the fields looking for a UFO because he had just read a
book about it. He had not rushed into the desert in answer
to a “‘telepathic” message. He was coming back to his farm or
riding a bicycle. Most of the witnesses state that they 􀄳d not
believe in “‘flying saucers.” Some of them stay unconvinced,
but feel they must report what they have seen, even if they
do not understand it.
On October 14, 1954, at 6 : 1 5 P.M., Jose Casella, working
185
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
at Antibes, was riding his bicycle through the town of Biot,
in the Maritime Alps, when he suddenly found in front of
him on the road a massive, oval aluminum-like object. He
applied the brakes; simultaneously, the object took off without
noise, at a very great speed. It was shaped like an egg,
perfectly smooth and bright. Five to six meters long and a
little over one meter in height, it left no trace. Several inhabitants
of Biot made independent reports that confirmed
the reality of Casella’s experience. Descriptions of the incident
can be found in the French newspapers of October 17
( France-Soir, La Croix, Paris-Presse, etc. ) .
On October 21, 1954, in the department of Charente, a
man from Cherbonnieres was driving his car toward Pouzou.
With him was his three-year-old son. Suddenly he felt pricklings
all over his body, similar to electric discharges; this
painful feeling became more intense as the car kept going.
Soon the child started to cry and, as the car proceeded, the
engine died and so did the headlights. At the same time the
witness noticed a bright, glowing red color changing to orange,
soon becoming of a blinding intensity. For a few seconds
he saw an object hovering; it disappeared soon afterward.
He was then able to start his engine again.
In L’Astronomie, in 1954, we £nd the following account:
Suspicious object. M. G. Mouillon, engineer at Genelard,
Saone-et-Loire, has observed, on October 14 at 8 : 50 P.M.
between Ciry-le-Noble and Montceau-les-Mines, an enormous
object surrounded with a green flame quickly falling
to the ground over an area of about 10° in elevation.
The object itself certainly had an apparent diameter of
several degrees, maybe as much as five degrees. No noise
was heard.
This observation is quite interesting in the light of the
series of events that took place in the same area that very
day, and which were summarized by Michel in his second
book, from which we extract the following:
M . B., living in Montceau-les-Mines, was riding a
motorcycle on the road from St.-Romain-sous-Gourdon to
Brosses-Tillots, also in Saone-et-Loire. Suddenly without ••
apparent reason his motor stopped and could not be started ‘
again. He got off, and a bright light burst out about fifty
186
TYPICAL PHASES OF UFO BEHAV I O R
yards in front o f him, revealing a circular object that
looked, he said, ” like a plate turned upside dowri.”
M. B. looked at the sight in amazement, then in fear,
and decided to turn back, walking and pushing his motorcycle.
But when he reached the point where his motor
had stopped, it started up again . • . . ( 1 15 ) .
A few minutes later, Andre Cognard, who lives a t Ciry-leNoble,
was driving toward his town, coming from Gueugnon:
“All at once,” said M. Cognard, “at the top of a slope I
found myself face to face, so to speak, with a sort of disk
of such brilliance that it blinded me, like a lighthouse
beam. I had to stop. The object flew over me slightly to my
right at a low altitude and continued its route westward,
where it remained visible for several minutes before disappearing
in the distance.”
Both incidents above occurred “at nightfall.” At about 7 : 30
P.M., two inhabitants of Gueugnon, Messrs. Jeannet and
Garnier, were driving on road D-25 from Clessy toward
Guegnon. They were crossing a wooded area called Chazey
Wood when a sort of reddish glow flew over their car at high
speed:
“‘All at once the motor stopped and we had no lights.
After a few seconds, when the light shed by the ball had
gone out in the distance on our left, the headlights came
on. I pushed the starter, and the motor began to turn over.”
This series of events took place in a very narrow patch of
a few kilometers. The identity of the witnesses is known. They
reported their experiences independently. One of them was
published by a scientific journal unknown to Michel, who
did not use it in his description of the sightings of October 14.
The impression made by this series of reports is, as Michel
remarks, inescapable: An uncommon activity, associated with
the presence of a brilliant disk-shaped object, took place in
this area. This object was very close to the ground, and it
remained on the spot for at least an hour.
One might have the impression one is reading some kind of
ghost story when confronted with such accounts, or one
might think that the whole thing is only a dream; the reader
187
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
will awake and find himself again in a rational world, where
only cars and bicycles use the roads and where only farmers
and their familiar, reassuring equipment are to be seen in
the countryside. However, these reports do exist. We have
even found several of them in the scientific press. They are
still unexplained and “unidentified.”
France has no monopoly on this type of activity. However,
early American reports of Type 1-those made in the years
1946 to 1952-are difficult to find. Such sightings were not,
in general, reported to authorities, and practically no civilian
activity was seriously organized to gather information on the
cases. As a result, only a few incidents, like the case of Desvergers,
a Florida scoutmaster who claimed he was burned
by a “saucer,’r or another sighting made at Flatwood, West
Virginia ( in which monsters were described by apparently
reliable witnesses, but no evidence was produced ) , were
publicized, when a large number of sightings of interest
would have deserved equal attention. In addition, we should
remember that numerous reports turned in to the U.S. Air
Force concerning “landings” before 1952 seem to have been
thrown into the trash can as “obviously unbelievable,” especially
when they contained descriptions of “operators.” This
made it very easy to claim later that too little information
was present to investigate these events. The official handling
of these cases fortunately seems to have improved.
As an example of a sighting that should have been investigated
thoroughly we will call the reader’s attention to the observation
reported by B. Stevenson of Circleville, Ohio, on ‘
February 1, 1948. He saw a metallic disk hovering above a
farm. It had, he said, a diameter of sixty feet and was ten to
twelve feet thick at the center; it gave off a blinding orange
light from its central part.

In the fall of 1949, at night, D. Bushnell, a plant superin- ·
tendent at the Southwestern Porcelain Steel Corporation, was
driving with his wife near Tulsa, Oklahoma, when an object
dived from the sky toward the road in front of the car, then
disappeared ( described by Keyhoe in [ 142] ) .
In December of 1950, another observation of interest was made
by American personnel aboard a U.S. ship in Korean .
waters. They saw two objects in the sky, followed by trails of
white smoke. Both objects fell into the sea at very high speed;
two columns of water rose up to thirty meters in the air ( cf.
Aviation News, February 18, 1951 [ 143] ) .
– 188
TYP ICAL P HASES OF U FO B E HAVI O R
More information becomes available after 1952, when
the UFO problem assumed its new look and when public
opinion became seriously concerned. Although the reliability
of the report is unlmown, we feel we should mention here
the Oscar Linke incident of July 1 1 , 1952, as an introduction
to the next American sightings. The event took place at Hasselbach,
Germany, in a forest a few miles from the frontier
between the American and Russian zones. The witness, accompanied
by his eleven-year-old daughter, allegedly saw two
men in shiny coveralls standing by a large disk, eight meters
in diameter, that took off when the witness was heard approaching.
On July 29, 1952, a man “as white as a sheet” entered the
Enid, Oklahoma, police station. He said his name was Sid
Eubank and told Sergeant Vern Bennell his impression that
a “flying saucer” had tried to kidnap him. He was driving, he
said, on Highway 81 between Bison and Waukomis, before
dawn, when a large flying disk dived toward him, followed
by such a shock wave that the air pressure threw the car off
the road. The object remained above the car for a while, then
departed at high speed toward the west ( 144 ) . In August
several memorable ( if not reliable ) incidents took place, including
the Desvergers monster and the alleged kidnapping
of Tom Brooke, in the same part of Florida. On August 31,
H. Long, of Kutstown, Pennsylvania, said he saw a disk land
fifty feet from the road, and he made a sketch of it. This entire
period has been excellently described by Captain Rup­
pelt in his book ( 1 1 8 ) .
Since 1955 the material concerning American “landings”
has been abundant. On August 1, 1955, at 9 : 00 P.M., a Mr.
Sheneman, coming from Willoughby, Ohio, got out of his car
at Chardon Road with his wife and two children when he
saw a circular object with a red light coming down rapidly
and hovering above the ground. Two beams of light appeared
on the object and several openings allegedly became visible.
The witnesses started running toward their house. The object
hovered two hundred feet above the ground; it had a diameter
of one hundred feet and a dome on top, which was
illuminated with a white light.
In the first days of November, 1955, a similar object was
seen by an officer in a police car at Williston, Florida; according
to Keyhoe ( 142) the witness felt his arms and legs
paralyzed and his clothes hot.
189
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
After this date more reports are found in the official files.
Some of them are quite interesting. They provide a good basis
for contradiction of the accepted theory that “landing” reports
are all unreliable and therefore cannot be studied scientifically.
On April 6, 1956, at McKinney, Texas, a silvery object
reportedly landed in a field one hundred meters from the
two witnesses, who stopped their car and got out; the object
then took off at very high speed. On June 6, 1956, at 5 : 30
A.M., an object was seen one hundred feet above the ground
at Banning, California. The witness stopped his car, watched
the object slowly cross the road one hundred yards from
him, turn to the left, then come back to cross the road again
behind the car and disappear.
On September 2, 1956, at 4:30 A.M., the night watchman
of the Dayton ( Ohio ) Country Club saw an oval object, eight
to ten feet thick, hovering five or six feet above the ground.
It came slowly toward the witness, lighting the area in a
radius of five to six meters. However, this sighting cannot be
ranked among the best, for the night was very dark and the
object gave only a weak light; it might have been a balloon,
although the shape ( like two saucers glued together by the
edge ) is peculiar. A more valid case, by our standards, is the
incident that took place in South Dakota, on Highway 34, on
November 25 of the same year. Two policemen patrolling
the highway saw an object hovering on the side of the road.
It had the shape of an egg and gave off a red glow sufficient
to light the highway. It took off rapidly and the witnesses
chased it, but remained one mile behind it throughout the
six-mile chase. The object made no noise. Several photographs
were taken, one of which shows an egg-shaped object, three
times larger than the moon, with a projection at one end,
also visible on the film. The witnesses were Don Kelm and
Jack Peters of the South Dakota Highway Patrol ( 145 ) . Two
nights before, a civilian pilot flying over Aberdeen, Maryland,
reported he was passed by a rocket-shaped object that
went down toward the ground. It was seen in flight for five
minutes. Later, witnesses saw a red glow like a fire on the
ground where the object seemed to have landed.
On November 6, 1957, at 9 : 00 P.M., near Lake Baskatong,
one hundred miles north of Ottawa, Jacques Jacobson and
three other witnesses saw a bright sphere much larger than
the moon hovering above a hill two or three miles from ‘
them. This incident is described !:>y A. Mebane in his addition
190,
I
TYPICAL PHASES OF UFO BEHAVIOR
to the American version of Michel’s second book ( 115) . From
the bottom and the top of the sphere spread cones of light
so bright that the trees and the clouds were illuminated. No
structure was visible through binoculars. The radio was
blacked out. One of the witnesses was an electronics engineer
and tried a short-wave receiver he had, but all wavelengths
were blocked except one, where a very strong signal was
perceived. It was rapidly modulated like Morse code, but it
was not Morse code. Fifteen minutes later the sphere took off
and the radio worked again.
On April 19, I957, at 1 1 : 52 A.M., two metal disks were
seen entering the Pacific Ocean at 31 ° 1 5′ N. and 143 ° 30’ E. A
violent turbulence followed their immersion. The witnesses
were Japanese fishermen on board the “Kitsukawara Maru.”
The point in question is among the deepest in the Pacific
Ocean (more than ten thousand meters deep ) .
On November 2, before midnight, Pedro Saucedo and Jose
Salav were driving a truck on Highway l l 6 in Texas when
they saw what they described as a bluish-green torpedoshaped
machine 150 to 200 feet long which remained close
to the ground for two or three minutes, then ascended, its
color changing to red. The headlights of the truck were off
and the motor had died.
“‘We first saw a flash of light in the field to our right, and
we didn’t think much about it-then it rose up out of the
field and started toward us, picking up speed. When it got
nearer, the lights of my truck went out and the motor died.
I jumped out and hit the deck as the thing passed directly
over the truck with a great sound and a rush of wind. It
sounded like thunder, and my truck rocked from the blast.
I felt a lot of heat. Then I got up and watched it go out of
sight toward Levelland.”
Afraid to return to Levelland for fear of encountering it
again, the two men drove to Whiteface, ten miles west of
Levelland . . . where they phoned in their report. Although
Saucedo sounded terrified, the officer on duty did not at
that time take the report seriously.
But an hour later the police got another telephone re­
port. Jim Wheeler, about four miles east of Levelland, had
seen a blazing two hundred-foot egg-shaped object sitting
on the road ahead of him. At the same time, his car lights
went out and his motor died. The object rose and disap-
191
ANATOMY OF A P HENOMENON
peared. A few minutes later came a call from Witharral,
ten miles north-northeast of Levelland. Jose Alvarez reported
that his lights and motor had gone dead as he drove near
a bright, egg-shaped object on the road. At 12: 15 A.M.
Frank Williams of Kermit, Texas, reported a similar encounter
in the same area ( 45) .
According to Mebane in ( 115) , and corroborated by the
study of the official reports:
After a few such calls, police cars and firemen were on
the roads looking for the object; county sheriff Weir Clem
himself saw “a streak of neon-red light crossing the highway
less than a quarter of a mile ahead, that lit the whole
pavement in front of us for about two seconds.”
While officials were investigating, the police headquarters
received another call from James Long, who reported
that at 1 : 15 A.M. he had been driving on a farm
road five miles northwest of Levelland when he came upon
a 200-foot long, egg-shaped mass that glowed like a neon
sign. His engine coughed and died, and his lights went out.
As he got out and approached the object, which was
less than a hundred yards away, it suddenly took off
straight upwards. After the object was gone, his engine
started easily. –
A Texas freshmen was approaching Levelland at 12:05
A.M. when he noticed his amperemeter jump to discharge
and back-then his motor quit as if it were out of gasand
the lights went out. He got out and looked under the
hood but could find nothing wrong. Tu.–ning around he
saw on the road ahead an egg-shaped object with a flattened
bottom-like a loaf of bread and glowing not as
bright as neon. No portholes or propellers were visible.
Frightened, Wright got back into his car and tried to start
it, but without success. After a few minutes, the egg rose
almost straight up, veered slightly to the north and disappeared
from view in a “split instant.” After it was gone,
the car started normally.
Here it may be interesting to point out, in addition to
these sightings in the immediate vicinity of Levelland, the
following:
1􀄨
TY P I CAL P HASES OF UFO BEHAVIOR
a) A “blue” UFO had been reported at 1 1 : 20 P.M. by
two operators of the control tower at Amarillo Airport
( 142 ) .
b) Three miles west of Canadian, Texas, civilian and military
sources reported the landing of an object in the shape
of a submarine, two or three times larger than a car and
eight feet high. Close to this machine someone was standing
and a flash of light was directed toward the witnesses
( official files ) .
c) A large object with a blue light was seen at Midland,
Texas, the same day ( 142 ) .
d ) Odis Echols, owner of Radio Station KCLV, saw a yellow
object traveling at high speed at 8 : 00 P.M. at Clovis,
New Mexico ( 142 ) .
e) The next day a UFO was seen flying over Deming, New
Mexico, and three other landings took place, one at Abilene,
Texas ( Dyess Air Force Base, Sergeant Jack Waddell) , and
two at White Sands Stallion Site in New Mexico (army
patrol) at 3 : 00 A.M. and 8 : 00 P.M. ( 142, 146, 147 ) .
The official fairy tale concerning the Levelland case is that
the “sensational” interpretation of the sightings by the press
triggered the series of reports now known as the 1957 wave.
It is difficult to apply this theory to the incident that took
place in Seoul on November 6, 1957, when military personnel
saw ( according to Keyhoe ) a white, luminous object hovering
above the ground that went out suddenly and disappeared
“like a bulb turned off.” On November 9, at 1 : 00
A.M., a man driving a car near Lake City, Missouri, reported
that his motor had died as an elongated object appeared
hovering fifty feet above the ground. Everything returned to
normal when the object left, as in the Levelland incidents
and in many cases in France.
In November of 1957, in the Nevada desert between Tonopah
and Las Vegas, a U.S. soldier driving a car saw four
disks on the ground. He reportedly observed them for twenty
minutes, but they took off with a humming sound ahnost unbearable
when he approached them closely.
On April 24, 1964, Officer L. Zamora saw a bright object
which landed on four legs two miles out of Socorro, New
Mexico. It has been argued, and even categorically stated,
that the Socorro object was not interplanetary, but very prob-
ably one of the experimental devices recently developed by
193
ANATOMY OF A P H E N OMENON
the U.S. for the exploration of the moon and planets. It is
true that modem technology has now reached a point where
machines built by man could almost display the behavior
attributed to UFOs in most average reports. However, the
analysis of older reports is not affected by this reasoning,
and it is difficult to believe that Canada, for instance, could
build in 1959 an object that would behave like the machine
described in Socorro by Officer Zamora. But this is precisely
what one could be tempted to say after reading the following
report.
The sighting took place near Grassy Plains, 360 miles north
of Vancouver, on April 29, 1959. Alex Gillis and Jerry Monkam,
the witnesses, fearing ridicule, reported the event one
month later. What they had seen was an object in the shape
of an egg, about fourteen feet long, which had landed on the
road. The upper part radiated a bright light. Mter a few minutes
the object took off silently. This brings to mind a number
of other reports of egg-shaped objects seen in flight or on the
ground before this date, too numerous to be quoted here in
full detail, but very often of fair reliability.
About October 5, 1959, a young girl riding a horse near
the Canadian town of Glenora was frightened by an object
hovering above her and illuminating the ground with a brilliant
light. She rushed back home and called her father, who
observed with her an orange object producing a noise so high
and loud they felt pain in their ears ( 149 ) .
During the night of September 19-20, 1961, at about midnight,
Mr. and Mrs. Barnley Hill, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire,
were traveling on U.S. Highway 3 in that state when
they saw a large object flying across the sky. Using binoculars,
they were able to see a string of lights that seemed to
be on a line around the edge of a disk. The whole thing
seemed to be revolving. About five miles from Woodstock, it
came down in front of the car and hovered at twenty-five
to thirty meters above the ground. The witnesses then saw
two red lights, before the object took off again ( 150 ) . On
September 15, 1962, at Oradell, New Jersey, two bright disks
were seen hovering above a water reservoir. They were surrounded
by a bright glow ( 151 ) .
Observations of such “landings,” or Type I reports of all
kinds, have been made in all parts of the world. In addition
to the few American cases we have just mentioned, we should
make a note of the following accqunts :
194.-
TY P I CAL PHASES OF U F O B E HAVIOR
On October 26, 1951, in Australia, at 4 : 00 A.M., the engineer
of a transcontinental train on the east-west line was
surprised to see the track brilliantly illuminated by an object
that came close to the train, seemed to examine it closely
and even gave the impression it was going to land in the
desert, but took off and disappeared. On October 12, 1952,
in the evening, Jim MacKay and Jim Robinson were in Sunshine
Road; a Melbourne suburb, when they heard a swishing
sound and saw a red and blue disk coming toward them.
They took cover while the “saucer” sped above them at low
altitude and vanished.
In LeVigan, France, on October 15, 1952, at 7 : 10 P.M.,
a brilliantly illuminated yellow cigar-shaped object was seen,
with two figures wearing helmets standing nearby. The craft
was allegedly thirty meters long, six meters high. It was surrounded
by a sort of haze at both ends.
On July 31, 1953, at 7 : 00 P.M., on a road near railroad
tracks at Wolin, Poland, a metallic object sixty-five feet in diameter
came down at high speed and landed. There were
seven witnesses, five Poles and two Germans. The center of
the object was closed and spherical. The disk itself was flat,
with circular openings.
On August 16, 1953, at 8 : 30 P .M., an observation was made
in France which was related in the scientific press, a new
indication of the fact that UFO reports, even when they involve
objects on the ground or very close to the ground, are
not easy to dismiss :
M. Claude Pastier of Tours, in Indre-et-Loire, relates with
numerous and accurate details the apparition over Tours,
on Sunday, August 16, at about 8 : 30 P.M., of two circular
machines flying very low with a “resonant and hard”
sound which did not bear resemblance to that of any
known craft. The motion was very slow, absolutely rectilinear,
and both machines moved in a perfectly similar manner,
as if mechanically connected. ( L’Astronomie, 1953. )
In March of 1959, on the coast of Poland near Kolobrzeg,
Polish soldiers saw the sea suddenly become agitated. A triangular
object, each side measuring about four meters, came
out of the water and started to fly in circles over the barracks,
then sped away and vanished.
In an earlier publication ( 152 ) , we have presented statis-
195
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
tics concerning the distribution in time of Type I sightings.
These statistics were based on 2 1 1 cases of alleged landings
when the time of day was known. From these statistics, we
estimated that an equal number of these events, if independent
of human imagination, may have occurred but not been
observed, because their time of occurrence fell during the
night hours when few people are awake. We also estimated
that the total number of “landings” that must have occurred
on our planet-of which, under these conditions, approximately
half were seen and reported-would be in the neighborhood
of 700. But this figure took no account of the events
that could have taken place in desert areas, or in countries
from which we receive but little information. This evaluation
would certainly have to be revised now and set in the neighborhood
of 1,000 “events” since 1946.
THE “O P E RATORS”
In some of the reports mentioned above, we have already
found cases in which the authors of the accounts state that,
in the vicinity of the object they interpret as machines, they
saw entities of human form, often called “pilots” in the subsequent
treatment of the sightings by the press. Another
popular term for these entities is the familiar name “Martians.”
lf we confine ourselves to a study of the statistical aspect
of the question, which we have every right to do, and if we
try to reduce our study of the lists and files to rough figures,
we find that more than 150 such “beings” have been described
in UFO reports all over the world, this figure being
broken down as follows : about 20 before 1954; 100 during
the 1954 “wave”; more than 40 since. Obviously, cultist
claims and hoaxes of the usual “Venusian” type have all been
eliminated from this list.
Are these sightings coherent, and what are the characteristics
most often attributed to their “entities” by the authors
of such reports? What do we obtain if we seek to extract the
chief features from these accounts?
Let us hurry to claim that “little green men” have never
been seriously described in connection with UFOs. The origin
of the word “green” in association with reports of beings ‘
foreign to the earth is not difficult to trace : Even the “Martians”
described in Bernard Newman’s novel “The Flying Sau- ,
􀍋􀍌 􀀓 􀀎
TYP I CAL PHASES OF U F O BEHAV I O R
cer” had green skin. S o did the leprechauns. An d a learned
treatise in Latin entitled “De Viridibus Pueris” ( “About the
Green Children” ) was written by a twelfth century scholar
following the disrovery of a boy and a girl, “completely
green in their persons,” wearing “garments of strange colour
and unknown materials” who emerged from a pit near BurySt.
Edmunds, Suffolk.
In his Historia Rerum Anglicarum, chronicler William of
Newburg writes that “the boy was the younger of the two
and died first. They said they lived in a twilight land, not
warmed by the beams of the sun.”
Additional details are given by Abbot Ralph of Coggeshall
in his Chronicon Anglicarum and also by Gervase of Tilbury.
They are extensively quoted by Harold T. Wilkins in his
Strange Mysteries of Time and Space.
Coming back to the modem accounts, if we gather all
reports that seem to present some guarantee of reliability, and
if we try to extract from them a coherent interpretation, we
have to divide the alleged occupants into two groups. On one
hand, we find descriptions of men ( more than fifty have been
described in about twenty cases ) similar to us in height and
behavior; on the other hand, many accounts speak of “dwarfs”
measuring between three and four feet in height. The agreement
on this small stature is unanimous. According to M .
Carrouges, who made a special investigation of the French
cases ( 155 ) :
There would seem to exist two kinds of “pilots,” at three
points of view :
( 1 ) small pilots one meter or 1 .20 meters tall and pilots of
human height;
( 2 ) pilots wearing “diver’s suits” and pilots wearing ordinary
clothes with the face visible;
These two points, we must admit, constitute a correct statement
of the characters described in the reports. There is a
definite correlation between the “dwarf’ and the “diving
suit,” whether the latter is heavy equipment as in the Quarouble,
Orchamps or Premanon episodes, or a light silver suit as
in Fontenay, Hennezis, Erbray, Lugrin, Saint-Ambroix or
Kelly.
UFO erudites will reserve in their classification a place for
the “hairy dwarfs” which were described in France on six
197
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
occasions and in South-America on at least four occasions.
The best description of a “hairy dwarf,” cited here only for
its picturesque character, was made by Starovski in Erchin.
It is frightfully specific. The witness, a miner, was allegedly
confronted with a midget, three feet, six inches tall, with a
large head, wearing a brown skull-cap forming a fillet a few
inches or so above the eyes. These were protruding, with a
small iris, and were slit. Long hair fell down from under the
sl..’Ullcap onto the shoulders. The nose was flat, and the lips
thick and red. A strange detail; the witness did not describe
any UFO. But his story happens to be typical of a small
category of reports, in which similar “entities” are described
close to their “machines.” We will see a few examples of such
stories in the next paragraph.
Another category, which is slowly becoming classical
among enthusiasts, can also be considered only with suspicion,
not only because the authors of these reports may
have been mistaken as to what they saw, but because they
may not have seen anything at all. In at least two cases, giants
have been described in connection with UFO sightings. But
one case was a recognized hoax, and the other one was extremely
vague. Similar reports, however, seem to have originated
more recently in South America; we have experienced
the unreliability of these reports when no serious local group
of investigators such as CODOVNI has checked into them;
as far as we know they did not confirm these rumors, which
may have originated anywhere along the line of newspapers
and enthusiast groups that carry this sort of information, in
the absence of official confirmation.
In some cases the “entities” were not only of giant size but
also of monstrous appearance. The celebrated Flatwood incident
in 1952, for instance, has become the subject of a ballad
written by Cindy Coy to the tune of “Sweet Betsy of Pike” :
The size of the phantom was a sight to behold.
Green eyes and red face, so the story was told.
It floated in the air with fingers of flame;
It was gone with a hiss just as quick as it came.
Descriptions of “pilots” or “occupants” being commonly ob­
served in connection with UFO reports, some writers argue
that the discussion on the “purpose of the landings” is inescapable:
Why would an interplanetary craft land for a few
198 .
TYP ICAL P HASES OF UFO B E HAVIOR
minutes in Mrs. Brown’s back yard to take off as soon as somebody
comes into view? On the basis of such reports, these
writers think they can realistically make the assumption that
our planet is indeed visited by another community using circular
craft, but that direct contact is systematically avoided.
We will discuss later the reasons they have imagined that
could motivate such a decision to be taken by the “visitors.”
As far as we, as analysts, are concerned, their present questions
cannot be answered and their hypotheses are beyond
the reach of our current data.
We do notice, however, that only in two cases have visitors
been described that remained in full view for a considerable
length of time. One is
·
the 1959 New Guinea episode,
in a country that has one of the poorest communications systems
on the planet; the other is the puzzling 1955 KellyHopkinsville
case, whose link with our problem is not clear,
if real; again, the event occurred in a region poorly supplied
with official centers.
The few cases when direct contact with men is said to
have been made ( i.e., gestures from a distance of a few
meters ) were associated with deserted areas or, at least,
very retrograde regions of France, Great Britain, Italy, the
United States and South America .
The large majority of other Type I events were of very
short duration and took place far from highly populated
areas. Landings made in populated areas were of extremely
short duration, and landings of long duration made in
moderately populated areas, like the Foussignargues episode,
were never associated with the appearance of the “operators”
themselves.
Some of the reports, however, are of a more disturbing
character. They involve close contact between the witnesses
and the “entities.” And although their credibility is reduced,
they deserve a place in this survey because they provide an
illustration of the most extreme situations that can confront
the investigator.
The incidents in Venezuela to which we have made reference
in introducing the Kelly landing took place at the end
of 1954, and have been described by Mrs. Coral Lorenzen
( 188 ) . They can be resumed as follows :
Case 1. At 2 A.M. on November 28, 1954, Gustavo Gonzales
199
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
and Jose Ponce had started from Caracas in a panel truck for
Petare when they . . .
were startled to see a luminous sphere, some eight to ten
feet in diameter, blocking the street. It appeared to be
suspended about six feet off the ground. Gonzales and
Ponce got out of the truck to investigate, and a dwarfishlooking
man came toward them. Gonzales grabbed the
little man . . • He was immediately impressed by the light
weight of the creature who, he estimated, weighed about
thirty-five pounds. The little man, whose body seemed to
be very hard and covered with stiff, bristly hair, gave
Gonzales a push with one hand which threw him about
fifteen feet. Ponce watched the scuffie, became frightened
and ran to the police station about a block and a half
away, but not before he saw two other little men emerge
from the bushes with what looked like chunks of dirt or
rock in their arms. With apparent ease they leaped into
the sphere through an opening in the side.
Gonzales, meanwhile, was having his troubles. The little
creature which had knocked him down appeared to leap
into the air and come towards him with eyes glowing.
Scared out of his wits, Gonzales pulled out his knife and,
as the creature approached him with claws extended, he
made a stab at its shoulder. To his amazement, the knife
seemed to glance off as though it had struck steel. Then
another of the hairy little men emerged from the sphere,
holding a small tube. He beamed a light at Gonzales and
blinded him momentarily. The little men then climbed into
the sphere which took off swiftly and was lost to sight
within seconds. Overcome with exhaustion and fright, Gonzales
stumbled toward the police station, arriving there
shortly after Ponce. The men were suspected of being
drunk, but examination showed they had had nothing to
drink. They were both given sedatives, and Gonzales was
put under observation for a long, red scratch on his side.
Several days later one of the doctors who had examined
Flores and Gomez ( the witnesses of Incident No. 2) after
their experience admitted that he had witnessed the fight between
Ponce and Gonzales and the creatures. Out on a night
call, he had driven into the street where the truck was
stopped, saw what was going on and left, apprehensive that
he “might be involved in undesirable publicity” if he stayed.
200 ,
I
r TYP I CAL P HASES OF UFO B E HAVIOR
Case 2. On December 10, two boys, Lorenzo Flores and
Jesus Gomez, who were hunting near the trans-Andian Highway
between Chico and Cerro de las Tres Torres, saw a bright
object off the road and approached it, thinking it was a car.
But they discovered an object shaped like “two huge
washbowls placed one atop the other, hovering about two or
three feet off the ground.” They estimated the size as about
nine feet in diameter, and said it ejected fire from the bottom.
Then four little men came out of it and tried to drag
Jesus Gomez toward the machine. His companion struck one
of them with his unloaded shotgun, which broke into two
pieces ! The little men left Gomez unconscious, and the object
took off. According to the boys, the attackers were approximately
three feet tall. The facial features were not seen, as it
was dark, but they did notice the abundant hair on their
bodies and their great strength.
Case 3. On December 16, at night, Jesus Paz of San Carlos,
Venezuela, who was with Luis Mejia, a member of the National
Guard, and a third man, came upon a hairy-appearing
little man and saw him run away toward a flat, shiny object
which hovered a few feet above the ground in a San Carlos
park. During the brief moment that followed the sudden
appearance of the creature, it attacked Jesus Paz and left
him unconscious on the ground. Authorities who interviewed
the witnesses said that all three were obviously frightened
and that Paz was in a state of shock. Paz had several long,
deep scratches on his right side and along his spine, as if
he had been clawed by a wild animal.
Case 4. On December 19, Jose Parra, an eighteen-year-old
jockey from Valencia, who was doing some night-training,
during the early hours, suddenly saw six little men pulling
boulders from the side of the highway and loading them
aboard a disc-shaped craft which was hovering less then nine
feet from the ground. Parra started to run away, but one of
the little creatures pointed a small device at him, which
gave off a violet-colored light and prevented Parra from moving:
“He stood there helplessly while the little creatures
leaped aboard their ship, disappearing rapidly into the sky.”
T H E J U N E 1959 N EW G U I N EA E P ISODE
This is one of the great classics in UFO history. It is,
however, known to few persons, although it has a perfectly
201
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
official character and has remained unidentified after a number
of investigations. The main witness, Rev. William Booth
Gill, is an ordained priest of the Church of England and a
graduate of Brisbane University. He was accompanied, mind
you, by thirty-seven other witnesses when the sighting occurred
and the narratives are extremely consistent and clearly
reliable.
Mr. Gill had been on the staff of the .Anglican Mission
in Papua for thirteen years when the event took place.
He had been working mainly on the northeastern coast of
Papua, in the Goodenough Bay area, about ninety miles
from Samarai, and his main interest had been educational
work ( 161 ) . He states very clearly, in an interview with
Australian reporters, that before the sighting he thought
UFOs were “a figment of imagination, or some electrical
phenomenon.” The interview continues as follow:
“The first sighting occurred over Waimera about twentyfive
miles from us. It was observed by Dr. Ken Houston
at a place called Waimera, near Tagora, and that was late
November of last year. At Boianai itself, where I am
working, the first recorded incident was on the night of
Sunday, the 21st of June. My own observations began on
the 26th of June and extended over a number of days.”
We have here the indication of repeated sightings taking
place, once again, over a small area. This is a new example
to be added to similar concentrations of UFO activity,
like the Charente area in France in 1952, the Haute-Loire
area in 1954, or the northern regions of France at another
period within the same wave. The states of New Jersey,
Illinois and Michigan have known similar “flaps” in recent
years, and the series of incidents over Texas and the
Southwest in November of 1957 is memorable. But nothing
similar to the New Guinea episodes was ever reported there.
Mr. Gill states that he came out of the dining room on
June 26 at 6:45 P . M., after dinner and
“casually glanced at the sky with the purpose, I suppose,
of seeing Venus. Well, I saw Venus but I also saw this
sparkling object which was to me peculiar because it sparkled,
and because it was very, very bright. . . . The whole
thing was most extraordinary. The fact that we saw what
appeared to be human beings on it, I think, is the im-
202

TYPICAL P HASES OF UFO B E HAVIOR
portant thing. I t is certainly the important and exciting
thing to us. They were not noticeable at first. The object
came down at about, I should say, 400 feet, maybe 450
feet, perhaps less, maybe 300 feet. It is very difficult
to judge at that time of night and, not having experience
in measuring elevation, it is purely guesswork, but
as we watched it men came out from this object, and
appeared on the top of it on what seemed to be a deck
on top of the huge disk. There were four men in all,
occasionally two, then one, then three, then four-we
noted the various times that men appeared, and then
one, two and three appeared and one and two, and then
numbers one, three, four and two and so on. And then
later all those witnesses who are quite sure that our rec­
ords were right . . . signed their names as witnesses of
what we assume was human activity or beings of some
sort on the object itself.
“Another peculiar thing about it was this shaft of blue
light which emanated from what appeared to be the
centre of the deck. They would bend forward and appear
to manipulate something on the deck, and then
straighten themselves up occasionally, would turn around
in our direction, but on the whole they were interested
in something on the deck. Then from time to time-this
light-rather like a thin spotlight emanated skywards to
stay on for a second or two, and then switch off. I recorded
the times that we saw that blue light come on
and off-for the rest of the night. After all that activity
it ascended and remained very high.
“The craft looked like a disk with smaller round superstructures,
then again on top of that another kind of superstructure-
round rather like the bridge on a boat. Underneath
it had four legs in pairs pointing downward diagonally.
These appeared to be fixed, not retractable, and
looked the same on the two nights-rather like tripods.
On the second night the pencil beam came on again for
a few seconds, twice in succession.”
Mr. Gill, after stating that he was a poor mathematician,
said that the dimensions of the object seemed to him to be
about thirty-five to forty feet at the base and perhaps twenty
feet at the top.
203
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
At the question : “Did you try to establish contact with the
pilots of the craft?” he answered:
-we did. As one of the men seemed to lean over as
though over a rail and look down on us, I waved one
hand overhead and the figure did the same as though
a skipper on a boat waving to someone on a wharf. I
could not see the rail but he seemed to lean over something
with arms over it. We could see him from just below
waist up. Ananias, the teacher, waved both hands overhead
and the two outside figures waved back with two
arms over heads. Then Ananias and I both waved arms
and all four figures seemed to wave back-no doubt that
movement made by arms was answered by the figures.
“What was the reaction of the natives at signal?”
“Surprised and delighted. Small mission boys called
out-everyone beckoned to invite the beings down but
no audible responses . . . . No expressions discernible on
the faces of the men-rather like players on a football
field at night.”
“We understand you tried to signal the beings with
a torchlight?”
“Yes, we flashed the light and the object swung like
a pendulum, presumably in recognition. When we flashed
the torchlight towards it, it hovered, and came quite
close towards the ground . . . and we actually thought
it was going to land but it did not. We were all very
disappointed about that.”
A strip of motion-picture film of ninety-four frames was
taken at Port Moresby on August 23, 1953, by T. C. Drury,
deputy-director of the Civilian Aviation Department in New
Guinea. It showed a disk-shaped object in flight, making
ninety-degree maneuvers, after coming out of a peculiar
cloud. This is a sign that the area of Port Moresby was
indeed repeatedly the source of important reports. According
to the former Minister for Air, the man who took the film
was a “reliable, credible person.” The film has been studied
by the Intelligence of the Royal Australian Air Force and
was also examined by experts 􀃡 of the United States Air
Force, according to ( 163 ) .
204,
TY PICAL PHASES OF UFO BEHAVIOR
FATIMA: TH E MI RACU LO US U FO
If we were to restrict ourselves to the sightings already
mentioned, and were content with statistical analyses, we
could continue to regard our problem as a purely scientific
question, even after realizing that several hundred witnesses,
of average or fair reliability, have described “entities” in connection
with their experiences. After all, the alleged operators
never did show signs of hostility. If we attach credence
to most of the reports in question, it seems that they were
careful not to )Je approached at close range by human witnesses
and, in the case we have just seen, they even showed
some contempt in the face of human enthusiasm. But we
have never found an indication that any aspect of their
activity, if real, could constitute an effort to interfere with
human problems; even if they did come to this planet-as
enthusiasts claim-they left no trace and did no harm.
This has been a characteristic of most UFO sightings since
1946. But some UFO students have become aware of the
fact that older events suggest different interpretations, and
they consider with increasing interest reports that were, in
older times, simply classed as miraculous by theological authorities.
In the view of these writers, there is no better
example than the Fatima episode.
“Fifty years ago,” writes Ribera ( 23 ) ,
Portugal was a very backward country and the strange
happenings which took place in that remote comer of it,
among illiterate peasants, were apt to receive a religious
explanation, more so in times of superstition, such as
existed in the Portuguese countryside in 1917. Those happenings
were currently interpreted as an apparition of the
Holy Virgin, but two thousand years ago they could have
been interpreted as the coming of the gods upon the
Earth.
“Fatima is inescapable,” writes G. Inglefield ( 160 ) .
There is no possible doubt that something occurred
there; it is by far the best authenticated “miracle” of the
twentieth or, for that matter, of any century, and it was
seen by at least 70,000 witnesses. You may find photo­
graphs in G. Renault’s Fatima, Esperance du Monde
205
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
of their perplexity as spectators watch the phenomenon.
There are articles in contemporary newspapers and there
are people alive today who were there. Lucia herself, now
in a Spanish convent, is still with us.
The crowd that stood in a field at Fatima, a small village
in the district of Leiria, some sixty-two miles north of
Lisbon, on October 13, 1917, was waiting there for a miracle,
because three children had been assured such an event
would take place after a number of meetings with an “entity”
that came from the sky in a globe of light. The witnesses
were three shepherds : Lucia, aged ten, and her cousins
Francisco Marto and Jacinto Marto, aged nine and seven.
Today, Fatima is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage
in the entire world. The Roman Catholic Church
has authenticated the miracle. The Basilica each year receives
thousands of believers who come to pray to the Holy
Virgin. And, as remarked by Paul Misraki; “sick persons
are cured and sensational conversions take place.”
“These children’s sightings,” writes Ribera,
would today be included among the contact claims, for
contact they were: in all the six instances reported ( from
May 13 to October 13 ) the children met a “celestial
being” in the Corva da lria, an enormous creek, roughly
circular in shape, which lies at 2.5 kilometers from Fatima.
In that place, while the three children were collecting
their sheep about noon, they saw a Hash in the heaven.
Some minutes later, a white, bright figure appeared near
a small oak tree. Now we must bear in mind the general
law quoted above; how could a space being have looked
to ignorant, illiterate children from a Catholic country
of fifty years ago? As the Holy Virgin, naturally. As they
later said, “The wonderful lady looked young. Her dress,
white as snow and tied to her neck by a gold band,
wholly covered her body. A white cloak, with a golden
edge, covered her head.
The strange dialogue between the Holy Virgin and the
children began. “Remember,” continues Ribera, “the white
explorer who presents himself to backward natives as ‘the
great white god’ in order to win their reverence and to
convey to them some simple ideas and truths.”
206:
TYPICAL P HASES O F U F O BE HAV I O R
A second and a third contact occurred, at exactly onemonth
intervals, June 13 and July 13. Many clergymen were
hostile to the story; some local authorities suggested that
the children were tempted by the Devil, and emotion was
such that they were even put into jail for several days! But
on the third sighting the entity announced that a great
miracle would be performed in October in order to convince
everybody. A variety of other episodes took place. The
fifth meeting was on September 13. There were a number
of witnesses, and they could see the “sphere of light” used
by the entity to come to the place of the meeting. According
to the very words of the Reverend General Vicar of Leiria,
who was one of the witnesses, the lady came in an “aero­
plane of light,” an “immense globe, flying westwards, at
moderate speed. It irradiated a very bright light.” Some other
witnesses saw a white being coming out of the globe,
which several minutes later took off, disappearing in the
direction of the sun.
The last episode was the miracle itself. It was seen by
seventy thousand persons, among whom were pious individuals
and atheists, clergymen and reporters from a socialist
newspaper. As promised, it happened on October 13
at noon. Among the crowd was Professor Almeida Garret,
of Coirnbra University, a scientist, who described the phenomenon
in the following terms :
It was raining hard, and the rain trickled down everyone’s
clothes. Suddenly, the sun shone through the dense
cloud which covered it: everybody looked in its direction.
It looked like a disc, of a very definite contour. It was
not dazzling. I don’t think that it could be compared to
a dull silver disc, as someone said later in Fatima. No. It
rather possessed a clear, changing brightness, which one
could compare to a pearl. It looked like a polished wheel.
This is not poetry. My eyes have seen it. This clear-shaped
disc suddenly began turning. It rotated with increasing
speed. Suddenly, the crowd began crying with anguish.
The sun, revolving all the time, began falling towards
the earth, reddish and bloody, threatening to crush everybody
under its fiery weight. [ Italics mine-Author.]
“How does one tie up chapter one with chapter two?”
asks Inglefield.
207
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
The explanation must be that a liaison existed between
the visions and the final “sign.” Was this liaison involved
with the most vital of our religions-Christianity? Was
the “sign” of the “dancing sun” a confirmation of the
visions and their messages? Or was it-and this is a disagreeable
thought-a gesture of mocking?
TYPE I I SIGHTI NGS: CLOUD C I GARS A N D
T H E G E N E RATION OF U FOS
Two ideas are commonly assumed in discussions of the
observations of the Vernon type and, more generally, all
events of Type II: the idea that they are extremely rare, and
that they are typical of the 1954 French wave. Both are
erroneous. Type II sightings have been associated with every
important phase of UFO activity and have been reported
in every country, from Portugal to Greece and the U.S.S.R.,..
as well as Australia, New Zealand, South America and the
United States.
It is true that sightings in this category are not numerous,
but their character is such that they must be considered
among the very best of the UFO cases . And their rarity is
certainly not extreme, as evidenced by the fact that no less
than fourteen are already known for the 1959-1964 period.
These cases are detailed in the table on page 209.
Case 7 has been described earlier. This leaves us with thirteen
sightings, of which at least seven have never, to our
knowledge, been published before. We will give resumes
of these reports to clarify our definition of Type II.
Case 1. An object surrounded by smoke and a peculiar
haze seemed to dive rapidly toward the ground. Suddenly
four small objects sprang from it and climbed at a steep
angle, apparently · in formation. The course of the main object
was southeast ( 30) .
Case 2. A reddish object with silvery shades was seen
motionless in the western sky. It had the apparent diameter
of the sun. Its shape was that of a fountain pen and it was
tilted at an angle of about 45° with respect to the horizon.
After three minutes the witness noticed a slight white tail
that seemed about four times as long as the object itself.
Shortly afterward it started moving and climbed into the
clouds, going from west to northwest ( 30) •
208 ,
Witnesses Weight
dozens
numerous
numerous +
7 +
6
7 +
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
Case 3.
Four strange glowing objects appeared over Broken
Hill at about 10:30 P.M. on July 21st shortly after an
unidentified flying object was sighted at Woomera rocket
range. The screening of a film at the drive-in theatre had
to be stopped as the patrons left their cars to watch the
objects. Even the projectionist left his box. Mr. Brian
Grosvenor, correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting
Commission, noticed what he thought was a falling star.
Then there was a fall-out of four glowing objects from
the tail of the main one. These travelled in single file at
low level across the sky and then faded from view. The
main object, travelling at high speed, erupted then another
ball of light and disappeared from view ( 163 ) .
Case 4. A white object in the shape of a cylinder, compared
to a baseball bat, reflecting sunlight and standing in
a vertical position, moved slowly for about forty-five minutes.
( This sighting carries a low weight because of the remote
possibility that it might have been a balloon, even though
it matches our definition of Type II-A. ) ( 30 ) .
Case 5. At 2 : 10 P.M. the first in a series of four very
large objects was seen. At 40° elevation, it was surrounded
by a white, luminous substance that resembled angel hair,
and appeared as a dense sphere. One minute later a
second one came into view. It resembled a piece of earthenware
brilliantly lighted from the back and was surrounded
by a blue glow. Two of the numerous witnesses shot color
films, one of which was seen by official investigators but did
not permit identification. The sighting remains in the “unidentified
category ( 30 ) .
Case 6.
“Rev. Lionel Browning, an Anglican minister and Tasmanian
Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and
Mrs. Browning, observed in Cressy, Tasmania, a strange
cigar-shaped airship accompanied by five smaller craft
at 6 : 10 P.M. on Tuesday, October 4, 1960.
” ‘First we saw a large, dull-grey object about 300
feet long. It came at plane-stalling speed and seemed to
pause,’ said Mr. Browning, who estimated the speed of
the ship at less than fifty miles per hour. The object was
2HT
f
TY P I CAL P HASES OF UFO BEHAV I O R
stationary for about thirty seconds. ‘Then out of the
clouds above and behind the ship, five or six small discs
came shooting at terrific speed:
“According to the minister, they were approximately
thirty feet across and flat underneath with a dome on
top. They ‘came towards the ship like flat stones skipping
along water.’ The clergyman and his wife were reticent
about releasing this sighting until they heard other local
residents’ repots. Mrs. Doris Bransden of Cressy said,
‘It was a fantastic sight-like a lot of little ships flocking
around a bigger one.’ The aviation authorities stated there
were no planes in the area at the time of Rev. Browning’s
sighting. It is a notable fact that the clergyman did not
believe in the reality of flying saucers before this experience.”
This observation was discussed before the Australian
Senate on October 18, 1960. ( Quoted from [164] . )
Case 8. Five miles from Beulah, Michigan, two youths in
a car saw a bluish-white light going from southeast to northwest
at the speed of a jet. Then the object stopped and
came lower, rose again to about 20 ° elevation, came closer
to the ground and was lost to view behind some trees.
A reddish glow then appeared and was observed for about
two minutes, when the witnesses decided to drive to Beulah
and came back with two other persons. They saw the object
illuminating the countryside as a full moon would and
observed it for fifteen minutes. Then they drove on to Zimmerman
Road, where they had a better view of the object.
Inside the glow it produced they could see another sort of
light similar to that of a rotating beacon. Five minutes later,
a red object came from the direction of the forest, then a
white one. Both were close to the ground and seemed to interchange
positions. Then four objects appeared from behind
the car and took part in the strange phenomenon.
Extremely puzzled, the four persons drove again to Beulah,
came back with two additional witnesses and they all
observed the original, beacon-like source of light and the
glow. But they returned home without attempting to go
closer to the strange object. When the three men came
back that night to investigate, nothing was seen any more.
All witnesses lived in Beulah, except one who lived in Benzonia
( 30 ) .
Case 9. Two objects separate from each other, maneuver
211
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
and reunite. The report is officially rejected because “the
maneuvers described do not fit any classical aircraft pattern”!
ClMe 10. From a cloud emerged twenty to thirty. flying
objects of various sizes, which flew in different directions;
a majority of them, however, went toward the east. (Duration
two minutes.) ( 1 66 ) .
ClMe 11. A brilliant red oval object, emitting sparks at
both ends, slowly descended behind some trees. Its center
was white or yellow. It was seen by seven witnesses in
different parts of the area. The exact place was on Massachusetts
Highway 23, three-quarters of a mile west of the
junction with Massachusetts Highway 20. Some of the witnesses
could see the object from their cars for two miles.
In all descriptions, the phenomenon is said to have been
large and impressive ( 165 ) .
Case 12. An oval object, emerald green, surrounded by
a sort of glow, was seen hanging in the sky for ten minutes,
after which the witness saw several smaller objects emerge
from the large one, as it had assumed a vertical position.
These small objects flew away and disappeared over the
Channel ( 30) .
ClMe 13. The best way to describe this sighting is to reproduce
here the text of the letter written ·by the witness
himself, a physiotherapist who resides in the state of New
York:
On April 1, 1964, my wife, two children and I were
having a picnic supper on a hill 1,800 feet above sea
level, about ten miles northwest of Homer, New York. It
was 6 : 30 P.M. Several jet bombers had left vapor trails
up high, traveling from west to east, but these trails
quickly disappeared.
As I looked up in the sky a little to the northwest of us
at about 6 : 30 P.M. there appeared what I thought was
a very large jet trail from northeast to southwest. It was
very white and wide and at the southwest end there was
a break on the trail of about one mile. Then a very black
spiral formation of what appeared to be smoke appeared,
about one mile long. We remarked that the white trail
was unusually wide for a jet trail and apparently the
black portion looked dark because of the angulation of
212 f
TY P I CAL PH ASES OF UFO BEHAV I O R
the glow o f the setting sun behind the western hill several
miles away.
The white vapor trail hung in the sky and gradually
drifted to the south, slowly disappearing. Up to this point
we were observing what we believed to be a normal
situation, except for the abrupt ending of the white tail,
the space and the continuation of the black spiral tip.
Approximately ten minutes had now passed and it suddenly
occurred to me that the black spiral cloud had
slowly moved to the west while the white trail had drifted
south. Also,· the cloud became much darker and we all
observed this. At this point, I took my 6×25 binoculars
to observe it and was shocked to see wisps of smoke
actually streaming out of the black cloud . . . almost
boiling out. It was now slowly approaching the distant
stratus cloud formation silhouetted against the westem
hill. Suddenly the black cloud, still retaining its spiral
shape, changed from the horizontal position to a vertical
position with greater smoke activity and resembled a smoking
plane slowly falling from the sky, at the same time
assuming a shape not unlike a banana. Then it no longer
seemed to be falling, but simply stopped and hung there
for two or three minutes and then very slowly seemed to
sink into the clouds and was obliterated. Every one of us
observed this strange phenomenon plainly, with the naked
eye.
After about three minutes had elapsed, while we were
all wondering if our eyes had played tricks on us, my
daughter suddenly exclaimed, “There’s another one.” It
appeared as a horizontal pencil-shaped object. It was impossible
to determine the length, but it could have been
as large as a submarine. It moved from the left of the
horizon to the right. We could not agree as to whether
this was the original object or another rendezvousing with
the first object, as this second sighting appeared to the
left of where the first object became obliterated by the
clouds.
As I was observing it with my binoculars, there was a
flash of white light from the rear of it and it shot forward
with incredible speed for a distance of about five times
its length and as suddenly stopped, still maintaining the
pencil shape, apparently hovering. My son described the
incident as it happened while I watched it with binoculars.
213
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
It became thick in the middle and, with a cloud of
smoke emanating from it, shot backward as rapidly as it
had gone forward, about the same distance. Again it
hovered and then began to shorten in length until it
appeared saucer shaped, fat in the middle. Then the
most incredible part occurred . . . from the saucer shape
it became almost perfectly round and slowly divided into
two parts, one above the other, very much as a single
cell does under a microscope. The top object slowly be­
came smaller as it appeared to fade off in the distance,
while the second object headed downward at a 45° angle
toward the spot where we had seen the banana-shaped
object disappear. At this point it divided in two again but
the bottom object now assumed a vertical pencil shape
while the top oval object slowly faded away. We realize
the pencil shape could well be a disc observed from the
side. Then the pencil-shaped object also faded from sight.
This whole episode took place in about forty-five minutes,
and ended just about dusk. If it were not for the
fact that all four of us observed this event I would hesitate
to bring this to your attention.
Case 14. A private pilot and war veteran with three years
naval gunnery service, now manager of a photographic service
in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was driving near Georgetmvn,
S.C. when he saw two large oval-shaped objects of a
silvery color, each accompanied by about half-a-dozen small­
er, round objects. The witness, Mr. Lissauer, said the formation
was moving slowly at an altitude he estimated as
about 3,000 feet. After two or three minutes, the “smaller
units went into the larger main units” and they went out
of sight. Mr. Lissauer drove to Myrtle Air Force Base and reported.
HOVE R I N G AND SPECIAL MAN EUVERS:
TYPE I l l S I G H T I NGS
M. and Mme. Vitre, grocers on the Place Madeleine in
Beaune, had just left the village of Meursanges ( Cote
d’Or ) to go home by car. They had driven only a few
hundred yards on Route D-1 1 1 when they noted through
the window a luminous object flying at high speed. Quickly
leaving their car, they call􀄱d to the people at a nearby
214•
TYPICAL PHASES OF UFO BEHAVIOR
farm, and together they watched the maneuvers of the ob­
ject. Their description is fascinating when we recall such
a case as that of Frasne, two days earlier, or many
others that are as good as identical.
“The object,” they said, “stopped for an instant, came
down slowly, balancing and changing color, throwing out
yellow, orange and violet beams, and then resumed its
course and disappeared behind the trees of a wood.” Next
to this group of trees, and east-south east of Meursanges,
is the village of Chevigny-en-Valiere. Here another witness
described the Meursanges object, seen at the same
time. Still fiuther to the east-southeast is the village of
Palleau, four miles in a straight line from Meursanges and
two and a half miles from Chevigny. At that moment M.
Begin, a farmer of Chevigny, saw passing overhead a
round, green, luminous object crossing the sky at high
speed.
These observations from Meursanges, Chevigny and Palleau
deserve special attention for several reasons. First,
though the witnesses at Chevigny and at Palleau knew
one another quite well ( both lived in Chevigny, a tiny village
) they gave different accounts: the witness at Palleau,
farther east, only saw “a green ball in rapid movement,”
while the one at Chevigny reported a complicated spectacle:
slowing down, stopping, a “dead-leaf’ descent, and
a profusion of varied colors.
Second, whereas the two well-acquainted witnesses described
quite different phenomena, those who did not
know each other-those at Meursanges and the one at
Chevigny-described exactly the same sight. These two
reports that are in agreement were from people only a
few miles apart.
The observation made at Frasne, which is referred to in
this quotation from Michel’s excellent second book ( 1 15 ) ,
was that of a round object emitting ocher-yellow and violet
light, and flying straight at a moderate speed. As the witnesses,
an industrialist and his friend, had stopped their
car the object started to descend “with a jerky movement.”
It then stopped and started off toward tqe southwest.
The credit for recognizing such descriptions as different
in nature from the majority of UFO reports undoubtedly
goes to Michel. Unfortunately, the importance of this point
215
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
has not yet been seen by other students of the problem,
too often hypnotized by the immediate aspects of the cases
and unfamiliar with the scientist’s reflex of thinking in
terms of classes. This applies especially to the American
groups that do not lack data to conduct such an analysis,
but fail to do anything beyond accumulating details.
In our analysis, descriptions such as those above fall into
Type III. They are typical of a class of events that very
clearly stand out from the general background of the reports
which constitute the majority of the files. These events
are often associated with an object of a definite shape
( called “jellyfish-saucer” by Michel ) that has been related
in many instances to the production of electromagnetic disturbances
and colorful luminous effects.
On October: 3, 1954, inhabitants of Chereng, in the de­
partment of Nord, observed an object that Hew at low altitude
and great speed toward the Marque River, where it
stopped, emitted what seemed to be sparks and descended.
As the numerous witnesses ran toward the point at which it
seemed about to land, the object gained altitude, still without
making any sound. Forty minutes later, a person living
at Marcoing, thirty-five miles south of Chereng, saw a
luminous object which hung motionless in the air above
Gouillet Woods : “It was circular, and red-orange in color.
A little below this immobile object, and as though suspended
from it, she saw a small spot of light with a kind
of see-saw movement.” The father of the witness, a policeman
at Marcoing, several other policemen and their families
( in all, twenty witnesses) continued to watch this phenomenon
until, about 8 : 30 P.M., the object underwent a sudden
transformation, the little spot of light vanishing while the
ball assumed the shape of a cigar and left horizontally.
According to police estimates, the altitude of the object at
that time was about two thousand feet. Later investigation
disclosed the fact that the phenomenon had been observed
over a fairly large area at the moment of its arrival. These
reports, exceptionally consistent, led to the belief that the object
had come from the direction of Chereng, and was possibly
the very cause of the sighting reported there a halfhour
earlier. All these cases were carefully checked during
our four-year investigation of the European files, and there
is no question as to the genuine character of these reports.
Consultation of collections of French newspapers or
2Ht
I TYP ICAl P HASES OF UFO B E HAV I O R
direct inquiry to the local authorities will show that w e are
indeed faced here with original reports that have not been
distorted by specialized journals or groups of enthusiasts.
A few minutes after the Marcoing incident, and in the
direction taken by the object, three residents of the town
of Amiens saw a luminous ball of a brilliant orange color
at low altitude, having the shape of a “mushroom hat.” According
to the report, “The upper part of the ‘mushroom’
appeared to vibrate as it changed color from violet to greenish,
w􀀡e short ‘cables’ of some kind hung from the bottom
surface.
The sightings · followed one another in the evening of October
3, always in the same northern region of France. Most
of them involving objects in the shape of a “mushroom” or
“half-moon” displaying typical Type III behavior. Such a motionless
object was seen at 9 : 15 P.M. at Armentieres by
dozens of witnesses. Ten minutes later, Jean Lecoq of Lievin
observed an elongated object swinging slightly in the
sky, at low altitude above the plateau of Lorette. He called
other persons; soon one hundred witnesses were watching
the phenomenon. They saw part of the object detach itself
from the bottom of the rounded UFO. This little object
descended rapidly to the ground, remained a few seconds in
contact with it and rose again. After this maneuver the main
object, reunited, took off toward the south.
Such series of events are not without parallel in other
countries. For example, a sighting at Yaounde, Cameroun,
on October 28, 1954, by numerous persons of that town, one
of whom was the head of the hospital, refers to “an enormous,
stationary disk, powerfully illuminated,” which is described
in detail in an official report as “mushroom-shaped
and carrying beneath it a cylinder of a length equal to its
own diameter, which was dangling from it.”
On October 22, 1963, at 3 : 30 P.M., an object was seen
for ten minutes at Ipswich, England, composed of a large
bright part and a smaller one; it came from the northeast
at a very high speed. Mter hovering for some time, turning
and spiraling, it finally left toward the southeast. On August
12, 1963, at 8 : 30 P.M., a pear-shaped object was seen in
several towns in the Black Country district in England. It
was described by witnesses at the Birchills Power Station
as a light from which smaller lights dropped or toward
which they went up while the main object was motionless.
217
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
On February 18, 1963 (in the morning ) , for a considerable
length of time, objects were seen that displayed typical
“aerial fight” behavior of the sort already illustrated in Jung’s
book ( 9 ) . They were motionless at times; at other times
they would rush toward one another at fantastic speeds,
in apparent disorder, giving the impression they were going
to crash. They were flat, metallic objects ( 30) . This sighting
took place in Maiden, North Carolina. Nine days later, on
February 27, 1963, a large, crescent-shaped object was seen
at Modesto, California. It was described as a large craft
with portholes, which hovered, descended to an altitude of
about one thousand feet and emitted for fifteen seconds a
bright beam of light. There were seven witnesses ( 167) .
On July 31, 1962, at 1 1 :00 P.M., the Director of the
Corrientes Airport at Camba Punta, Argentina, and Dr. Gustavo
Revidapte, a judge at Corrientes, saw a strange object
coming toward the runway from the west. It emitted
flashes of green, white and red light. Its altitude was of
the order of nine hundred meters, and its brilliance was
such that it was impossible to ascertain its shape. Six other
persons, including several policemen, were called and observed
the object as it stopped at the end of the runway,
spinning and emitting beams of light. When the witnesses
got into a truck and drove toward the object it left at
great speed ( 168) . On September 14, 1961, at 7 : 18 P.M.,
an object, white and circular, whose color turned to red,
was seen for ten minutes at Osan Air Force Base in Korea.
Its movement was irregular in speed and direction. At a
certain moment it stopped completely, became very bright
for two or three minutes, then rose vertically while changing
color. When a jet plane came into the area the object
started forward, made a ninety-degree tum and later turned
again to continue on its original course toward the east-southeast.
At that moment it was no larger than a star but was
very bright and went faster than any aircraft; it suddenly
dashed away and was lost to sight. The whole observation
lasted twelve minutes. On September 2, 1961, at 1 1 :40 P.M.,
several circular, silvery objects were seen for ten minutes at
Albuquerque, New Mexico, moving from west to east with
erratic movements. They gave the impression of reflected
sunlight on a metallic surface. On two occasions they released
smaller silvery objects, of apparent diameter about
one-sixteenth of the main objects.
218
TY P I CAL P HASES O F U F O BE HAVI O R
O n July 8 , 1961, a t 10: 10 P.M., a n orange-yellow object
that looked like “an umbrella with a light below” was
!een at Fairborn, Ohio, for ten minutes. The sketch given
by the witness fits exactly the description of the “jellyfish”
object in flight as given by the French observation of Millyla-
Foret and other classical cases. The UFO followed a
straight line and disappeared toward the southwest ( 30 ) .
The observation at Milly-la-Foret belongs to the series
of October 3, 1954, that originated in the northern area
of France. About 9 : 30 P.M., a witness living a few miles
east of Paris had seen an object dividing itself into two
luminous points like stars. These later reunited and, after a
series of maneuvers scrupulously noted by the witness, left
toward the south. At approximately the same time, four
persons in Milly saw precisely the same sort of phenomenon,
which they described as an object “in the shape of a halfmoon”
at first. But they soon realized that the moon was visible
behind them; it was in first quarter two days later.
After an interval of immobility, the object came lower and
became more clearly visible as it approached the place where
the four persons were standing. They described its shape
then as “a kind of reddish cigar accompanied below by a
small shining ring.”
These are a few examples of typical behaviors of UFOs
seen in all parts of the world. Any valid system of hypotheses
concerning the UFO phenomenQn should represent them, or
at least not contradict the patterns, consistently observed,
of their production. Until such a system of hypotheses is
presented, however, these reports can only be defined objectively
as elements of a class. As such, their scientific study
is indeed permissible.
219
Chapter 7
THEORIES AND HYPOTHESES
When a scientific work is undertaken, it is always with
a preconceived idea. Things could not be otherwise. The
use of the material at one’s disposal, the observations
one is able to make or the experiments one conducts will
later show what modifications should be made to the
original views. The scientific tact consists in the ability
to abandon what was wrong and to let research guide
you in the direction where truth can be encountered.-Le
Verrier
We leave now the scientific field to sum up the information
obtained and compare it with popular theories commonly
found in books or journals. We seem to have touched a
grave problem, but our curiosity bas not been satisfied. It
is most clear that we have discovered in the structure of
modem science a mechanism that would, in the event of
an actual manifestation of extraterrestrial intelligence, probably
prevent its recognition as such and would generate the exact
type of emotional reaction we observe today. However, physical
evidence to support the hypothesis that reports made
by reliable observers are best explained as results of confrontation
with extraterrestrial intelligence is not only missing;
the purpose of possible visitations is still to be revealed.
Fragmentary theories have been presented, which have tried
to shed light on this point. We feel we should not conclude
this book without reviewing them, even if they appear as
mere speculations with little factual support.
229
T H EO R I ES AND HYPOTH ESES
AGREST’S TH EORY
Because of the variety of their implications, theories that
relate the UFO phenomenon to the older subjects of debate
and reflection are of great human interest. These theories
seem to receive more support from traditional texts and
legends than from objective archaeological facts. Although
often presented as unusual interpretations of religious beliefs,
they do not generally contradict them.
According to Professor Agrest, a Russian physicist, “visitors”
could have come to our planet, not from another world
in our system, · but from an inhabited planet of a distant
star. 0 In an interview with P. Calkin and W. Chernin,
published in ( 177 ) , Agrest said that he felt these visitors
may have landed in the Near East, where remains of puzzling
ancient structures have been found. One of these is the
Baalbek Platform, in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, made of
stone slabs weighing about two thousand pounds each and
carried from a quarry at the foot of the hill. Professor Agrest
claims that this theory, according to which the builders of
these monuments were of extraterrestrial origin, is supported
by four categories of traces or other indications:
( 1) Tektites, mysterious glasslike stones which contain
radioactive isotopes of aluminum and beryllium and are not
older than a few million years, might be remains of experiments
performed by the “visitors.”
( 2 ) Monuments of ancient art, especially the pictures
showing “round head” figures in the French Sahara, could
be images of “spacemen.”
( 3 ) Ancient religious traditions that speak of “gods”
and “sons” of gods” who descended to earth and of a man
named Enoch, who was taken alive to Heaven, might be
considered references to the same category of events.
( 4 ) Ancient scientific treatises that seem to contain more
than would be expected from primitive knowledge might
reflect fragments of early teachings once handed to earthmen
by the “visitors” and preserved in fragments.
Professor Agrest’s hypothesis is certainly stimulating, but it
could lead to grave pitfalls. It does not represent archaeolog-
0 Agrest’s theory was favorably reviewed by George Ostroumov
in ( 187 ) .
221
ANATOMY OF A P H E N OMENON
ical observations better than any speculation one could make
a priori. Why did these unknown superior communities leave
so suddenly, and why did they come in the first place?
Why can we not explain the “incongruities” mentioned by
Agrest (monuments, ancient knowledge ) as remains of older
terrestrial cultures rather than extraterrestrial? This theory
also fails to explain the recurrence of UFO observations in
historical and modem times . And it displays the same lack
of imagination found in the Project Ozma theory, and calls
for the same type of impractical decisions ( e.g., listening
to Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti on radio wavelengths ) .
The link between the celebrated tektites and the “visitors”
seems to be especially weak; how could we relate biblical
events, a few thousand years old, with the millions-ofyears-
old tektites? What happened between these two series
of “extraterrestrial” interventions in earthly matters? More­
over, other theories of the origin of tektites exist, but Professor
Agrest does not seem to take them into account, or
try to disprove them.
References to “ancient knowledge” are commonly found in
extrascientific literatures, and they are, as a rule, incompetently
treated. Professor Agrest does not provide evidence
of greater familiarity or personal experience with the subject
than most of the modem popular writers, and he does
not present, at least in the statements we have seen, specific
examples of such “incongruities” that could lead to the idea
that older, more knowledgeable civilizations preceded us on
this planet.
The Agrest theory is a speculation of a type often presented
by Western science-fiction novelists on the basis of arbitrary
combinations of archaeological mysteries; Easter Island and
Tiahuanaco, as well as other sites where monuments left
by strange cultures have been found, have been associated
with such ideas of “extraterrestrial visits” in prehistoric times.
The myths of Mu, Atlantis and similar sunken continents
are well known, and carry as much, or as little, weight as
Agrest’s theory.
MISRAKI’S THEORY
Misraki’s views, although of a similarly speculative nature,
are the product of a more imaginative and more extensive
study of basic writings of our civilization. Well-versed in
22″2 ‘
THEORI ES AND HYPOTH ESES
traditional texts and a student of the origins of Christianity,
he published in 1962 a system of hypotheses that covers
modem UFO activity and relates it to fundamental writings.
By so doing, he claims that he is able to receive support
from two series of facts-the observations made in modem
times, of the Fatima type, and some mysterious descriptions
found in the Bible and a majority of basic writings
made at the dawn of history. 0 His views are largely paralleled
by those of the British author B. Le Poer Trench ( 182 ) .
As had Agrest, the Soviet astronomer Kazantsev had suggested,
before Misraki and Le Poer Trench, that angels could
be men from space. In ( 178 ) it is remarked that this view
finds serious corroboration in the Bible:
According to Genesis 1 9 : 3 Lot took the two angels he
met at the gate of Sodom to his house “and made them
a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.”
But according to dictionary definitions angels are spiritual,
ethereal beings. Angels who ate with Lot could not
have been such beings.
Rev. H. Wipprecht of Cobalt, Canada, says that the
Bible’s description of angels fits “intelligent beings” from
other planets. In the Old Testament these “mysterious
messengers” were said to regularly visit the Earth from
the sky, and on occasion actually intermarried with human
beings. The angels who married earth women could not
have been “heavenly spirits” ( 179, 178 ) .
Similarly, notes Le Poer Trench, we read in Gen. 18:4-
5, 8:
“Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched and wash
0Misraki points out very clearly that the study of biblical
events in the context of UFO phenomena would be an amusing
but pointless game if attention upon such a relationship
had not been focused by recent observations of the Fatima
type. The idea that the UFO phenomenon and certain aspects
of religion are inseparable in discussion of the Fatima
case is basic in Misraki’s system. His view here is much more
specific than Agrest’s, who studies traditions of the primitive
period exclusively.
223
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will
fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts, after
that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your
servant. And they said, so do, as thou hast said.”
“And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he
had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by
them under the tree and they did eat.”
In Gen. 6 : 4, this passage:
“There were giants in the earth in those days, and also
after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters
of men, and they bore children to them, and the same
became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
Misraki points out that the idea of the “spiritual” nature
of angels did not appear in the teachings of the Church
before the sixth century A.D., a relatively recent date. The
Fathers of the Church had, until then, tended to consider
the angels as physical beings.
According to Le Poer Trench, the Bible provides evidence
that the “armies of God” were an extraterrestrial expedition
coming from outer space : 0
“I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also
called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that re­
joice in my highness.
“They come from a far country, from the end of
heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation,
to destroy the whole land.” ( Isaiah 1 3 : 3, 5 )
In Misraki’s interpretation, “Yahweh’s Glory,” the bright
cloud that guided the Hebrews across the desert and later
often hovered above Jerusalem and the Temple, is neither a
mythical symbol used by poets, nor a product of superstitious
imaginations, nor a supernatural entity, but a physical
object and even, possibly, some type of craft capable of
space travel. Biblical events would be that series of facts,
obviously exaggerated or distorted through human memories,
that followed the contact between the “visitors” and primitive
human congregations. This contact did not happen by
0 Also : “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even
thousands of angels : the Lord is among them, as in Sinai,
in the holy place” Psalm 68: 17.
224
T H E O R I ES AND HYPOTH ESES
chance, but as part of the plan the “visitors” had concerning
the development of civilized life on earth.
This view is startling specific; but it has been evaluated
as a valid interpretaion of the biblical text and is not in
contradiction with the traditional teachings of the Church.
The first part of Misraki’ s book ( 1 80 ) is concerned with
quotations from the Bible and their interpretation in the
author’s view, as well as parallels to behaviors described
by modem witnesses of UFO activity. Later, he generalizes
his theory to include indications found in the majority of
ancient documents. For example, he remarks, concerning the
apparent disagreements among the gods, including Yahweh
himself:
It would seem that the Yahwist and Elohist tradition
has been purposely censored in accordance with directions
given by “celestial guides” of the Hebrews, who had
very understandable reasons to conceal the fact that their
leadership on our planet had been established in the midst
of important disorders. We find nothing similar among the
promoters of concurrent traditions.
In narratives coming from all points of the globe, quarrels
and disastrous fights are described at length. One
finds mentions of dissensions resulting in ferocious battles,
to which the convulsions of the crust of the earth gave
a physical parallel.
A Mediterranean gnosis taught that the world, i.e., the
earth, had been created by laldabaoth, an incompetent
‘demiurge’ “who took himself to be God.”‘” Confronted
‘” Lecky points out ( 198) that “Most of the Gnostics regarded
the God of the Jews as an imperfect spirit presiding
over an imperfect moral system. Many, however, regarded
the Jewish religion as the work of the principle of Evil-the
god of matter; and the Cainites made everyone who had
opposed it the object of reverence, while the Ophites actually
worshipped the serpent. We have, perhaps, a partial
explanation of the reverence many of the Gnostics had for
the serpent in the fact that this animal, which in Christianity
represents the principle of Evil, had a very different position
in anicent symbolism.” See in this connection the works
of B. Le Poer Trench.
225
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
with accumulating manifestations of his clumsiness, his
son bad to seize power violently in order to establish a
new reign and repair his father’s mistakes. This son, whose
name is Sabaotb, bas reigned ever since in Heaven. This
tradition has left traces even in the Catholic liturgy; at
every mass the congregation sings: “Sanctus, Sanctus,
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth, pleni sunt coeli et terra
gloria tua.”
The Bible itself mentions this preliminary struggle for
power in several books, a proof that the prophets themselves
did not hold absolutely accurate the version given
in Genesis. Isaiah 51 : 9 mentions “the generations of long
ago,” when Yahweh bad to destroy Rahab, also named
Leviathan, the dragon. Similarly Job 26 : 12 and several
of the Psalms ( 74 : 14 and 89: 10 ) .
This fight, which preceded and established the reign
of Yahweh over the earth, is found in the Judea-Christian
tradition in the episode of the Archangel Michael
destroying the dragon.
In India, the Bbagavata Purana shows Vishnu, the Prajapati
(progenitor ) , producing not light, as the biblical
Elohim ( Let there be light! ) , but darlmess, error and utter
tenebrae. And, adds the text: “Then, having contemplated
this reprehensible creation, the Creator felt little
admiration for himself.” In order to repair such a sad
beginning, Vishnu sent “wise men” with directions to create
for him. But they neglected their duty and remained in
motionless contemplation. Then, in order to put an end
to this inertia, a young red god bad to spring forth from
the Prajapati’s anger and to create the first human beings
in place of his father.
Aztecs attributed their first creation to a couple, Ome­
tecubli and Omeciuatl, soon dethroned by younger, more
active gods. In Assyria the dissensions between the
early gods were accompanied with such vociferations that
the universe was filled with it, and mountains collapsed.
From Greece comes the same voice; a legend, easily
understandable, says that Ouranos (or Uranus ) -the sky,
space-fecundated his wife Rhea-the earth; we understand
that life on earth bas a “spatial” origin. But from
that union were born abominable monsters; their father
was horrified and sent them back into their mother’s
womb, another way of saying they were buried, and we
226
T H E O R I E S AND HYPOT H ESES
find them now as fossils. Now Time ( Kronos or Chronos
-the Latin Saturn ) takes the leadership; but Time “devours
his children” and everything stagnates in an unproductive
routine ( “and the wise men, neglecting their
duty, fell in contemplation instead of creating” ) .
Later, we find the final landing of a strong new team
led by Zeus ( Jupiter, or Yod-Pater ) . All traditions celebrate
his dynamism or “youth.” His attributes, in Greece
as in all other places, are synonymous with light, speed,
power: fire, lightning, whiteness, solar radiance, eagle.
The word Zeus, like the Latin deus, comes from the root
di, common to our words “diurnal” and “divine.” This
is equivalent to the Indian “Red Child,” the Persian “Solar
Ormazd” ( victor over Ahriman ) and the Hebrew Archangel
Michael ( victor over the dragon ) . From then on, a
new creation begins, and its object is man.
Are we to say that under this new reign everything is
peaceful and quiet? Not at all; other dissensions appear,
precisely about this new creature : man, whose appearance
does not seem equally desirable to all. A narrative
found by a man called Abu Zayd Al-Balkhi, in the margin
of the Koran, gives us some indications about what may
have happened in the mind of our predecessors; it reads :
” ‘I have the intention,’ said God, ‘to establish on
earth a vicar.’ ” ( This is how he designated man . ) “But
the angels, the companions of lblis, then called Azazil,
answered to him : ‘Are you going to place on earth somebody
who will introduce there corruption and will shed
blood, when we, we do not cease to adore you?’ But
God answered : ‘I know what you do not know’ ” ( 180 ) .
Misraki’s system, therefore, is complex and is not easy to
realize at once with all its possible long-term developments
and implications. It may contain errors in the interpretation
of some documents; the texts themselves are subject to contradiction.
The main events, however, and the essence of the
documents are respected and even sometimes illuminated
by this theory. What seems important here is the spirit in
which Misraki treats the problem. This is a rational attempt
to translate historical and prehistorical events into a pattern
that can be interpreted in modem, technological terms. This
standpoint is new and presents three advantages, complementary,
in a way, to the three obstacles we found to ac-
227
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
ceptance of Agrest’s theory. ( 1 ) It does not extrapolate
from individual oddities found in the legendary or mythical
side of traditional writings, but { 2 ) considers them as historical
documents relative to classes of events, and ( 3)
treats their content in the light of a consistent analysis.
Whereas the modem tendency is often oriented toward an
interpretation of religious events as primitive legends or pure
myths, Misraki’s theory on the contrary treats them as real
events produced by physical beings but distorted through
the imagination of primitive writers. And it provides a possible
solution to the mystery of modem UFO activity.
Misraki’s ideas may not have been handled with all the
necessary precautions the scientist would like to see observed.
Even if this system does contain elements of feasible
solutions to some of the problems the basic texts lay
before us, it leaves certain contradictions unsolved.
It is of interest, however, to observe in what sense the
problem of the UFO phenomenon in modem times has been
related by knowledgeable and reliable writers to fundamental
questions that puzzled man’s imagination for ages.
FLETC H E R’S “SC I ENTI F I C” THEORY
In 1954, when the largest known wave took place over
the entire planet, a number of interpretations and hypothe­
ses were presented. Among them, G. Duncan Fletcher’s
theory was mentioned by numerous newspapers and has
remained fairly popular.
Fletcher, vice-president of the Kenya Astronomical Assoc­
iation, suggested that UFOs were interplanetary ships sent
to map the earth. Other hypotheses of the same general inspiration
were published, in which the alleged visitors were
said to be conducting other sorts of scientific missions.
The interest of such theories is limited; the existence of 􀀠 UFOs as material ships is not denied by them, but it is 􀀟 assumed that the communities that developed these machines
are interested in scientific activities that duplicate
precisely our present level of technology. This seems to be
a very narrow view. Since the time of Fletcher’s declaration
{ October, 1954 ) our own techniques of aerial mapping have
greatly evolved and we would not expect now from vehicles
carrying out a mapping mission on our planet the same be­
havior we conceived in 1954. Actually, one single ship or-
228

T H EO R I E S AND HYPOTH ESES
biting the earth at several hundred miles’ altitude could collect
the necessary data after a few revolutions, if equipped
with long-range optical instruments and means for memorizing
this information of the type we are developing now for
our own space probes. Such a ship, if covered with a material
absorbent to light and radar waves and able to modify
its orbit according to a programmed set of instructions,
would completely escape detection. Besides, such an orbiter
could be very small, and guided by remote control. If this
is within the range of our present capability, we should not
expect a “visiting community” to do less.
Instead of global mapping, detection of metals in the
ground, search for materials, or gathering of sociological date
might be the purpose of such an expedition. But here again
more efficient methods could be used. We are not able to
find, in the arsenal of modem science, activities that would
require such an extensive survey, made over a period of
more than twenty years ( earlier surveys, if any, were not extensive
) .
If we hypothesized that UFOs are indeed material vehicles,
we would have to conceive of the 1954 French wave,
for example, as an event involving an amount of planning
and control equivalent to that of the landing in Normandy
by the Allies in 1944. The entire 1954 wave, on a planetary
scale, including transportation of the expedition from its place
of origin to the environment of the earth, would represent
something of the amplitude of World War II. By the standards
of such a “community” this may be very small; if
space travel was acquired long ago, such expeditions may
be a matter of routine, and their execution relatively inexpensive.
Still we reach the conclusion that UFO activity, _
if an artificial effect conditioned by rational thought, cannot
have a purely “scientific” purpose as suggested by theories
of the Fletcher type (mapping, search for minerals, etc. ) .
Another argument against the Fletcher theory is that in the
case of a scientific exploration one would expect to find far
more specific activities associated with “landings,” when the
opposite situation seems to be the case.
M I C H E L’S HYPOTH ESES AND T H E FEAS I B I L ITY
OF CONTACT
In his second book, Michel has summarized the hypotheses
229
ANATOMY OF A P H E N OMENON
one could make concerning the purpose of UFO exploration
and the attitude of the “operators” toward us. According
to his theory, one of four main hypotheses may be true:
( 1 ) At the time of space exploration, contact between
races of different biological origins may be impossible, or
may follow one-way channels parallel to the “contact” be­
tween a naturalist and the insects he observes; insects do perceive
the contact but only on their level, and they are
unable to participate in a voluntary exchange of information.
( 2 ) Although possible, this contact may be systematically
or temporarily avoided.
( 3 ) The contact may already have taken place secretly.
( 4) The contact may be openly realized on a “spiritual”
level which is not perceptible to us; it is made on “their”
mental level and remains invisible to us in our present state
of consciousness. Similarly, mice may have eaten thousands
of books without ever perceiving them for what they are.
Contact with superior communities might present situations
of this general type.
The range of possibilities is so large that one should not
reject alternatives 1 or 4 when the problem is considered
in abstracto. But these speculations do not seem to correspond
to the behavior of UFOs observed since 1946; in the
present case, if we make the hypothesis that extraterrestrial
intelligence is indeed responsible for the observed phenomena,
we seem to be confronted with beings of human form that
display many analogies with human psychology. Most of their
“machines” have shapes that could almost have been designed
by human engineers, and there is nothing, in most descriptions,
that could not be interpreted in technical terms. This
is true even of the biblical events, as we have just seen,
although they were long considered essentially supernatural
and miraculous.
A limited number of observations, however, refer to behaviors
almost indescribable in terms of our technology, and
certainly do not lend themselves to simple interpretations.
Among these are the “aerial fight” episodes already described
at Basel and Nuremberg and quoted by Jung and most of ,
the cases in Type III-D, including the observation in Arkansas
City, Kansas. There, on June 19, 1956, at 12: 10 A.M.,
a number of luminous objects with appendages were seen
for several hours by Bryan Coyle, the editor of the Arkansas
City Traveler; his wife; a Mr. and Mrs. Bradberry; and 􀁖
230 ”
T H E O R I E S A N D HYPOTH ESES
three policemen. Meanwhile witnesses in Wichita, Hutchinson,
Eldorado and Wellington saw a large light dancing in
the sky; the Hutchinson radar painted the movements of
the object. Another very puzzling case is the Bismarck, North
Dakota, episode, already mentioned ( page 104 ) .
Type III events, I imagine, could generally be interpreted
by “believers” as maneuvers linked with some property of
the propulsive power used by the machines. We would prefer
to study them as manifestations of artificial intelligence
( especially reports of “aerial fight” ) ; but we have no real
grounds on which to base such hypotheses at this time. Another
mysterious phenomenon is, of course, the actual process
of UFO generation and reintegration by Type II objects.
For our part, however, if evidence is ever presented
that we are visited by a superior community, we would be
more impressed by the similarity of the reported features
than by differences. We would be guided by these remarks
in our judgment and would tend to conclude that, although
his appraisal of the general problem is correct, Michel’s
idea of the nonfeasibility of contact may not be applicable
in the particular case we are facing here.
OBE RTH’S THEORY
H. Oberth, well known for his contributions to the early
development of rocket technology and connected engineering
problems, has repeatedly claimed that UFOs are vehicles
from another solar system. Others have also made this hypothesis,
but they are often in disagreement over the exact
origin of the “visitors”; the reader will often find the stars
Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani associated with such speculations,
simply because they are ·among the closest to the sun.
There is very little ground to support these theories, especially
when one begins to attach specific names to the
hypothetical places whence such an expedition might have
originated.
In our present view, there is no reason to assume that
reports of UFO activity made in historical times refer to
the same type of “exploration” as the modern or the biblical
reports; a theory presenting the view that UFOs are material
machines would gain in generality by avoiding this
assumption. The identification of the sightings made in historical
times with what we call here the UFO phenomenon
231
ANATOMY OF A PH ENOMENON
weakens, undoubtedly, as one goes back in time. The fact
that similar shapes are involved in both ancient and modem
cases does not constitute a “proof’ of identity as to their
origin, since, on one hand, arguments of the type presented
by Jung ( the shape of the “saucer” as an archetype ) would
continue to hold and, on the other hand, the shape of the egg
or disk is clearly optimal for space travel, and many “communities”
might have arrived at the same concepts after following
very different paths of technical experience. Similarly,
the question of the exact origin in space is ill-defined; expanding
civilizations mght well establish colonies; we might
even imagine that we are visited now by descendants of
older terrestrial civilizations contacted by superior communities
at a date so remote that no legend has recorded the
event. Human imagination is rich and one has the right to
use it in order to describe possibilities and suggest hypotheses.
But the claim that such speculations correspond to
the reality presently observed is merely a mockery of science.
The only document we have at the present time on which
such a study could be tested is the graph of UFO activity
over the past eighteen years. But early attempts made by
several researchers to extricate the true signal from the noise
and correlate the apparent periodicity of the function with
astronomical events fail to present conclusive evidence of
the Martian, or non-Martian, origin of the alleged visitors
( the Martian solution being obviously the simplest and the
most tempting) . But only vague indications of a possible
correlation have been presented.
T H E MOON R ELAY
A Harvard astronomer, ‘t>r. Carl Sagan, has given new
life to the old science-fiction idea that UFOs might use the
hidden side of the moon as a relay for a survey of our
planet He was not specifically applying the theory to the
phenomena we are studying in this book, but to hypothetical
vehicles that would be the product of the technology
of a superior community. This is an idea which has tempted
many students of the UFO mystery.
In support of this theory, it is often pointed out that a
base on the visible side of the moon would be very convenient
for surveillance of our planet, although space stations
in orbit might have advantages in many cases. The reader
232-#
, THEOR I ES AND HYPOTH ESES l int􀀍rested in this controversy can consult the documents
published in regard to plans for orbiting and lunar observatories;
he will find that both proposals have advantages and
inconveniences. A base on the moon would prove more ad-
: vantageous for large colonies having a constant need for
• supplies. But there would be little reason to put such a base
on the “other” side, since it would have to be mainly underground
anyway and could be hidden easily from terrestrial
· telescopes even on the visible side. The only reason one
. could be led to prefer the invisible side would be to hide
· one’s activities, if they involved huge constructions on the
surface. But the craft going to or from the base would still
be easily visible, or would leave clear traces on moon photographs,
while all the advantages of direct optical survey of
the earth would be lost. ·
And the observational evidence in support of this theory is
nil.
Without going deeply into these “strategic” aspects of the
question, we feel that UFOs, if indeed 􀄣aterial objects
and if our conception of their reliability and performance
is accurate, would have an excellent alternate solution if
they wanted to keep a continuous watch on human activity:
A machine in the shape of a disk or an egg, able to travel
through space, is also able to travel through air or water.
The bottom of our oceans would thus prove a splendid
solution to the problem of a base, and certainly a much safer
one than the lunar base. Let the reader compare the information
we have on our spatial environment with the information
we possess concerning our oceans, and see which is
better known. We are likely to reach the moon long before
we have means to reach the bottom of the Pacific Ocean
safely, and there is little doubt that we will have less difficulty
establishing a base on the moon than building even
a small unit very deep in the water. In space, the range
of visibility is many orders of magnitude greater than our
ability to travel. Under the surface of the ocean, only a
few feet can be explored visually, even with powerful searchlights.
Most of our oceanic waters are so deserted that an
object leaving or reentering the water would have a far
greater chance of doing so unnoticed than a space vehicle
racing through the night sky under the eyes of telescopes of
: dozens of satellite-tracking and moon-mapping stations.
( Most of the sightings in our Type I-B could be interpreted
l 233
ANATOMY OF A P H E N OMENON
in this context. ) Although no serious indication shows that
hypotheses of this type are tenable, a moon station to maintain
our civilization under close watch is even less appeal- ‘
ing. o
THE ‘HOST I LITY’ T H EORY
The next war will be an interplanetary one, with the na- ,
tions of the world having to unite against attack by intelligent
people on other planets.-General Douglas MacArthur
In our discussion on “UFOs and Rationalism” (page 155)
w e have noted that the motivation o f the Air Force’s contin- ·
ued interest in the reports was the concept of hostility, and
that the security of the United States was the task assigned ·
to the Panel of Scientific Consultants.
How seriously the Air Force took its mission to identify, .
intercept, and destroy any object flying illegally over the
territory of the United States is shown by the following
incident, described in the own words of Captain Ruppelt,
former head of Pro;ect Blue Book. It shows that the Air
Force did not hesitate to risk the lives of its pilots in its
attempts to fulfill its mission. This is one point flying saucer
enthusiasts, in their attacks against government agencies,
tend to forget too often.
One day, says Ruppelt in his Report on Unidentified Flying
Ob;ects, the Intelligence officer of a fighter base called
Dayton, Ohio and asked if Ruppelt had plans to visit them
in the near future, because “he had something very interesting
to show me.” However, he would not discuss the question
over the phone and even refused to put his message into
a secret wire. When Ruppelt visited the base about a week ,r
later, the intelligence officer opened his safe and extracted
from it a thick report which had not been sent to Project
Blue Book according to the usual regulation and added that
this was the only existing copy: “He said he had been told
0 1van T. Sanderson similarly notes in Fate Magazine,
July, 1964, p. 5 1 : “Any craft that can travel through space
should be able to continue in a liquid medium, since said
craft must be completely sealed. Vhat better place to land
than the bottoms of the seas?” Also see “UFOs and the Sea”
by Antonio Ribera, FSR X, No 6, ( Nov-Dec 1964 ) p. 8.
234
TH EORIES AND HYPOTH ESES
to destroy all copies, but had saved one for me to read”. Ruppelt
took the report and found the following:
About ten o’clock in the morning, one day a few weeks
before, a radar station near the base had picked up an
unidentified target. It was an odd target in that it came
in very fast-about 700 miles per hour-and then slowed
down to about 100 miles per hour. The radar showed
that it was located northeast of the airfield, over a sparsely
settled area.
Unfortunately, the radar station didn’t have any heightfinding
equipment. The operators knew the direction of
the target and its distance from the station but they didn’t
know its altitude. They reported the target, and two F-86’s
were scrambled.
The radar picked up the F -86’s soon after they were
airborne, and had begun to direct them into the target
when the target started to fade on the radarscope. At the
time several of the operators thought that this fade was
caused by the target’s losing altitude rapidly and getting
below the radar’s beam . Some of the other operators
thought that it was a high-flying target and that it was
fading just because it was so high.
In the debate which followed, the proponents of the
high-flying theory won out, and the F-86’s were told to go
up to 40,000 feet. But before i:he aircraft could get to that
altitude, the target had been completely lost on the radarscope.
The F-86’s continued to search the area at 40,000
feet, but could see nothing. After a few minutes the aircraft
ground controller called the F-86’s and told one to
come down to 20,000 feet, the other to 5,000 feet, and
continue the search. The two jets made a quick letdown,
with one pilot stopping at 20,000 feet and the other heading
for the deck.
The second pilot, who was going down to 5,000 feet,
was just beginning to pull out when he noticed a flash
below and ahead of him. He flattened out his dive a
little and headed toward the spot where he had seen the
light. As he closed on the spot he suddenly noticed
what he first thought was a weather balloon. A few seconds
later he realized that it couldn’t be a balloon because
it was staying ahead of him. Quite an achievement for
a balloon, since he had built up a lot of speed in his
235
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
dive and now was flying almost straight and level at 3,000
feet and was traveling “at the Mach.”
Again the pilot pushed the nose of the F -86 down and
started after the object. He closed fairly fast, until he
came to within an estimated 1,000 yards. Now he could
get a good look at the object. Although it had looked
like a balloon from above, a closer view showed that it
was definitely rotmd and flat-saucer-shaped. The pilot
de􀃶cribing it as being “like a doughnut without a hole.”
As his rate of closure began to drop off, the pilot knew
that the object was picking up speed. But he pulled in
behind it and started to follow. Now he was right on the
deck.
About this time the pilot began to get a little worried.
What should he do? He tried to call his buddy, who was
flying above him somewhere in the area at 20,000 feet. He
called two or three times but could get no answer. Next
he tried to call the ground controller, buf he was too low
for his radio to carry that far. Once more he tried his
buddy at 20,000 feet, but again no luck.
By now he had been following the object for about two
minutes and during this time had closed the gap between
them to approximately -500 yards . But this was only momentary.
Suddenly the object began to pull away, slowly
at first, then faster. The pilot, realizing that he couldn’t
catch it, wondered what to do next.
When the object had traveled out about 1,000 yards,
the pilot suddenly made up his mind-he did the only
thing that he could do to stop the UFO. It was like a
David about to do battle with a Goliath, but he had to ‘
take a chance. Quickly charging his guns, he started shooting
. . . . A moment later the object pulled up into a climb
and in a few seconds it was gone. The pilot climbed to 1 0,–
000 feet, called the other F -86, and now was able to contact
his buddy. They joined up and went back to their ‘
base. I
As soon as he had landed and parked, the F-86 pilot1
went into operations to tell his story to his squadron com-·mander.
The mere fact that he had fired his guns was
1
enough to require a detailed report, as a matter of roull
tine. But the circumstances under which the guns actual-,
ly were fired created a major disturbance at the fighter
base that day. 􀀒 236
T H EO R I ES A N D HYPOTH ESES
Several similar incidents, in which jet fighters attempted
to destroy “flying saucers” have occurred, but they are not
as fully documented as the preceding one-or else they are
kept out of the reach of “bona fide scientists”. Several
such incidents are described in the books by Major Keyhoe.
In April 1955, for instance, U.S. Air Force jets fired
on a UFO near Rockford, Illinois. But there are even
cases when anti-aircraft fire has been used. On July 25, 1957,
Radio-Moscow disclosed that the Soviet anti-aircraft batteries
on the Pacific coast had opened fire on unidentified flying
objects. According to information carried by the wireservices
( Reuter ) and datelined Vladivostok : “Last night
the batteries of the Kouril Islands have opened fire on UFOs.
Japanese authorities have reported that the whole of the
Soviet artillery was in action and that powerful searchlights
were searching the sky. The guns have fired again in the
morning.” The U.S. Air Force at once issued a communique
stating that no American aircraft was flying in the vicinity
of the Soviet coasts. In a most unusual move, Radio-Moscow
quoted this communique of the U.S. Air Force and added
that the objects in question were luminous, flew very fast,
and that none had been hit.
At least fifteen persons are known to have met a death
directly or indirectly connected with the sighting of a UFO,
in eight different incidents :
I. Captain William L. Davidson and Lieutenant Frank
M. Brown, two intelligence officers from Hamilton Air Force
Base, died as the plane that brought them back from
an investigation of the Maury Island hoax crashed in the State
of Washington ( July 1947 ) .
2. Captain Thomas Mantell died while trying to identify
a UFO in the vicinity of Godman Air Force Base. Mantell
lost consciousness because of lack of oxygen as he attempted
to climb toward his objective ( 7 January, 1948 ) .
3. The pilot of an F -89 and his plane vanished during an
attempt to intercept a UFO tracked on radar by Kinross
Air Force Base. The incident, known as the “Kinross Case,”
has become a classic of UFO literature ( 23 November 1953 ) .
4. Four persons, two of them children, were killed when
an F-94 Starfire jet crashed in the heart of the town of
237
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
Walesville, New York. The plane had been sent up to identify
an unknown blip on Air Defense radarscopes. As it
climbed toward its objective, the pilot and the radar observer
were able to see a strange gleaming object moving swiftly
above them. But suddenly a wave of heat filled the coc1.'”-p. it
of the jet with an intolerable blast. Although the pilot could
see no sign of trouble with his instruments, the heat in
creased and the plane seemed close to bursting into Hames :
The two men, dazed and frantic, baled out. The UFO continued
to be seen by many persons in the area between
Walesville and Utica ( July 1954 ) .
5. Colonel Lee Merkel, commander of the Kentucky Air·
National Guard, was killed as he attempted to pursue an
unidentified object ( January, 1956 ) . 􀁕 6. Two jet fighters collided above the sea as they tried to
identify a large number of unknown objects detected by the
radar of the Air Force Base at Okinawa. One of the pilots
was rescued by Japanese fishermen, the other was lost ( 26
Oct. 56) .
7. Four persons died in the crash of an Air Force C- 1 1 8
five miles southeast o f Sumner, Vashington, about half-anhour
after the pilot had radioed: “We’ve hit something or
something has hit us.” The plane had taken off from MeChord
Air Force Base on a local training Hight. Witnesses
in the Sumner area stated none of the four engines was running
when the C-l l 8 passed over their area and reported
that parachute-like glowing objects were following the transport,
part of whose tail assembly was missing. A large por
tion of the horizontal stabilizer was later found on the nor
side of Mount Rainier ( 1 April 1959 ) .
8. At l l P.M. on October 6, 1961, a huge luminous ob-i
ject coming from the direction of Santa Rita, Venezuela,l
Hew over Lake Maracaibo where numerous people were fish-j ing. The object flew so low and presented such a terrify-{ ing sight that dozens of fishermen jumped into the lake. One’
of them, Bartolme Romero, was drowned. The object flew,
leaving a reddish trail.
At this point we are faced with the following facts :
a) In the context of the mission of our military forces,
2􀅉8
T H EORIES AND HYPOT H ESES
we are hostile to the UFOs as unconventional objects which
fail to identify themselves. ”
b ) As observed with some naivety b y the Panel o f Scientific
Consultants in 1953, UFOs have failed to indicate
direct hostility to our civilization in the sense that they did
not drop bombs on our cities and did not land in force
to claim a part of what we are used to consider our territory.
c ) However, there exists a well-defined subset of reports
which refer to objects indifferent to possible accidents with
earth vehicles or human beings-and which at times do appear
hostile.
Such an incident is the Fort Itaipu case of November 4,
1957, long kept secret by the Brazilian army. The garrison
of the fort was asleep when two sentries noted a “new star”
in the sky, soon to appear as a round glowing object which
was over the fort within seconds. Then it stopped and slowly
drifted down. The surprised sentries could see it as a large
object, about the size of a big Douglas, but round and diskshaped
and surrounded by a strong orange glow. A distinct
humming sound could be heard. Then one of the men
thought he heard a faint whining sound, and an intolerable
wave of heat struck them:
One of the sentries said later it was like a fire burning
all over his clothes, the air filled with the UFOs humming
sound. Blind panic seized him; he staggered, his only
conscious purpose to escape from that invisible fire which
seemed to be burning him alive. He gasped and beat the
air before him; then he blacked out and collapsed to the
ground. The other sentry had the horrible feeling that his
clothes were on fire. He began to scream desperately,
stumbling and crying like a trapped animal. He did not
know what he was doing, but somehow he managed
to skid into shelter beneath the heavy cannons. His loud
“In hundreds of cases where UFOs have been observed
by military radar, we have sent against them jet fighters
which, by their very shape and armament, clearly stated our
hostile intentions rather than slow observation planes which
would have permitted us to secure photographs, electromagnetic
recordings, and possibly spectrographs, and thus
would have permitted an early and complete identification of
the nature of the phenomenon.
239
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON 1 cries awoke the garrison. Inside the installation everything
was confusion, men and officers trying to reach their
battle stations. 1 Suddenly the lights throughout the fort collapsed; the :
electrical system which moved the turrets, cannons and 1 elevators failed; the intercommunication system was dead; 1 someone switched on the emergency circuits, but they
failed to function. ! The fort was helpless. Confusion changed to widespread
panic, soldiers and officers running blindly along the dark ‘
corridors . Then the lights came on again and every man 􀃐
ran to face the enemy attacking the fort. Some were t in time to see an orange light climbing vertically above ‘ the fort and then moving through the sky at high speed. 􀇏
One of the sentries was on the ground, still unconscious.
The other was hiding in a dark corner, mumbling and
crying.
Both sentries, badly burned, were put under medical
care. One of them had a severe case of heat syncope;
he was still unconscious and showed obvious signs of peripheral
vascular failure. Both had first-degree and deep
second-degree burns of more than ten per cent of the body
-mainly on areas covered by clothing. The sentry who
could talk later was in deep nervous shock and it was
many hours before he was able to tell his story. . . . j On the next day, November 4, the fort commander,
an army colonel, issued orders forbidding discussion of
the incidents, even with relatives. Intelligence officers came
and took charge, working frantically to silence everyone. 1
The fort was put under martial law and a top-secret re- ·
port was submitted to headquarters. Days later, American ,
officers with the U.S. Army Military Mission arrived at
the fort with officers of the Brazilian Air Force to question
the sentries and other witnesses. A special Air Force
plane took the two injured sentries to Rio de Janeiro, where 1
they were completely isolated behind a tight security cur- i tain in the Army’s Central Hospital. ( 188). I
The ltaipu incident, which was disclosed through the I efforts of a prominent researcher, Brazilian physician Dr. ‘
Olavo Fontes, is not the only case of its type. II
Outside of this subset, there is a larger group of incidents j where UFOs have been described as the direct or indirect 􀃑
240 I
T H EO R I ES AND HYPOT H ESES
source of power failures in aircraft, cars and other motor vehicles
( diesel and jets have never been affected; in a case
when a UFO flew over two tractors, one a diesel and the
other a conventional engine, the latter stopped working, the
diesel continued; also the source of physiological effects
such as paralysis, affections of the skin, temporary loss of
vision, etc. Such effects have been described in the Fort
Itaipu case. We will give other examples :
One December 2, 1955, six UFOs were sighted in Williston,
Florida by a dozen witnesses. As the objects flew over
a police patrol car, the policemen ( Deputy Sheriff A. H.
Perkins and P.atrolman C. F. Bell ) reported their clothes
became intolerably hot and their arms and legs were almost
paralyzed.
The heat sensation (which caused the Watesville crash seen
earlier ) has also been reported in the Turquenstein incident
of October 20, 1954 ( see page 1 13 ) . The same afternoon, in
the Lusigny forest, also in France, M. Robert Reveille, a lumber
dealer, was walking along a road when his attention
was attracted by a loud rustling sound, such as would be
made by a flight of pigeons.
Looking up, he noted, at tree-top height, an oval-shaped
object perhaps twenty feet long. At the same time, he felt
an ever more intense heat. In a few seconds the machine
disappeared upward. In the woods, the heat was now
intolerable and it was producing a thick fog. It was almost
a quarter of an hour before M. Reveille was able to
approach the site. He then found that, in spite of the
rain, the ground and trees at that spot were as dry as if
they had been exposed to full sunshine. ( 1 1 5 )
Some civilian researchers, especially the leaders o f AFRO
and Dr. Olavo Fontes, view these incidents as instances in
which the “controlling intelligence” behind the UFOs has
tested weapons designed to disable our propulsion systems
“on different types of vehicles under various conditions, weather
included” and to immobilize human beings.
But a majority of UFO specialists seem to think that although
UFOs have often interfered with human activity there
has never been any clear indication that the incidents were
tests of weapons specifically designed for the purpose of
immobilizing this activity and blocking our defenses. They
241
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
view them as instances where chance had created a situation
where human beings or their vehicles interfered with UFO
activity and were simply put “out of the way.” We can
only wish that these researchers had presented better documented
cases to support their theories.
The weakest point in the “hostility” theory is AFRO’s
claim that . . .
The bulk of the sightings has been made in the vicinity
of or on vital defense installations, according to a map ,
which was based on sightings gathered by the Air Force ,
up to early 1952. ( 188 }
This is an obvious selection effect. We see no mystery in 􀍉
the fact that the most detailed sightings the Air Force was j
able to gather until 1952 came from its own installations! ·
This only serves to emphasize an observation that we have
already made: That the reports in the official files are not
representative of the phenomenon as a whole.
But other remarks presented by the supporters of the
“hostility” theory do make sense. It is to be deplored that
the relevant incidents are not fully documented-and such a
documentation could only have been gathered by an official ·
agency. If the idea of a “controlling intelligence” is retained I
to explain the few incidents quoted in this paragraph, then j
a most disturbing idea comes to mind: We are playing
“sitting duck” for a superior community equipped with a
technology far in advance of ours. Dr. Fontes points out
that if sufficient people knew the actual status of the
UFO situation, particularly those incidents regarding hostility
there might be hope for a defense. In his words “civilian ] scientists and technicians working in every country might
help to find new weapons and defenses before it is too late … ] To this writer, the “hostility” theory remains unconvincing,
not only in the form stated by Dr. Fontes, who does believe that current UFO activity is only the prelude to a I
large-scale invasion, but even in the form of the theory most
popular among civilian groups, namely that UFOs are sampling
our planet for super-scientific reasons and carefully watch I our military
,
activities because they are simply “not taking 􀍊
any chances. I It is not easy to distinguish what is the part of objectivity
in these theories, and what is simply an illustration of man’s j 242
T H EO R I ES A N D HYPOT H ESES
changing ideas about his place in the world-his dim perception
of new entities, still beyond his grasp, and yet so
vivid to his imagination.
A N EW SYSTEM OF HYPOTHESES
We should probably stop here, having shown that none
of the present interpretations of the UFO phenomenon is
fully satisfactory; we would thus stay on the safe side of
the fence. However, we feel we must complete this chapter
by stating wh.ere our own system of ideas tends to stand
between the various theories we have reviewed. We are
assuming, of course, that it is understood that the system is
purely speculative in nature. ‘We would summarize it under
the following seven points :
( 1 ) It is scientifically permissible to work under the general
hypothesis that UFOs are material objects, not excluding
the possibility of their being nonhuman vehicles. There is
no reason only theories based on the idea that the senses
of all witnesses have been abused should bear the stamp of
scientific consideration. On the contrary, the hypothesis that
the authors of reports have indeed been in visual contact
with physical objects, possibly behaving under intelligent
control, leads to an analysis of the UFO phenomenon that
lacks neither objectivity nor consistency.
( 2 ) Under such a hypothesis, the fact that the “controlling
intelligence” could not belong to any of the communities
which are present today on our planet would be shown by
the permanence of UFO activity through changing phases
of our technology and even, possibly, through early phases
of our historical development.
( 3) Historically, it would be difficult to determine a
starting point for this activity, even if considered artificial
in nature. The only fact clearly visible from the data we
have is that UFO activity almost ceased between 1914 and
1946 and was considerably renewed in May of 1946. It has
been present ever since.
( 4 ) If the hypothesis that UFO phenomena are manifestations
of a controlling intelligence finds serious confirmation
in years to come, through research or otherwise, we feel
that one should then accept the idea that UFO operators
have been seen on the ground on several occasions.
243
ANATOMY OF A P H ENOMENON
( 5 ) Under such circumstances, we would expect intellec­
tual contact to be possible, owing to the fact that human
concepts seem, in our observation, to be applicable to UFO
behavior. But we would continue to reject the claim of
particular individuals that they have been “contacted” and
allowed to know the origin of the “visitors.”
( 6) In a discussion concerning the “purpose” of UFO ac-
tivity we would point out:
a) that technological development on the earth is now
such that we are able, at least in theory, to reach any
point in the universe which lies within our visual range,
having thus overcome the handicap of creatures that
can live only on the surface or very close to the surface
of a planetary body;
b) that UFO activity was suddenly renewed after World
War II, when both rocket and aircraft technology had
reached a point where space travel could be realistically
visualized;
c ) that a particular peak of activity, quite unlike other
waves, took place in 1957 when Sputniks I and II were
launched into orbit.
( 7 ) It is our opinion that a dispassionate, scientific debate
could be established concerning the UFO phenomenon,
and that such a discussion could well be conducted within
the boundaries set by rationalism for the purpose of objective
acquisition of knowledge. The various points involved in the
present arguments over the nature of this phenomenon could
then be checked by reference to a system of catalogues of
observations, very often of high reliability, that falls within
the competence of the professional scientist. The existing
files, kept up-to-date by official services in this country and
by a few reliable amateurs abroad, would provide a basis
for the establishment of a general investigation of this type.
If, however, these documents and the underlying phenomenon
they manifest should be neglected by professional scientists,
only obscurantism and charlatanism would be encouraged.
Such an attitude would lead to the generation of
myths that could constitute a danger when the sociological
impact of space exploration reaches its full strength.
Through UFO activity, although no physical evidence
has yet been found, some of us believe the contours of an
amazingly complex intelligent life beyond !he earth can
already be discerned. The wakening spirit of man, and the
244
T H E O R I ES A N D HYPOTH ESES
horrified reaction of his too-scrupulous theories : what do
they matter? Our minds now wander on planets our fathers
ignored. Our senses, our dreams have reached across the
night at last, and touched other universes. The sky will
never be the same again.

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