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The Flying Saucers Are Real

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Author Topic: The Flying Saucers Are Real  (Read 1321 times)
Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2009, 01:13:10 pm »

Way, why did they rush this contradiction the minute the Post hit the stands?"

"Something serious happened," I said, "after the Post went to press."

"Yes, but what?" Purdy said impatiently. "That's what we've got to find out."

"Does Shallett's first piece mention Mantell's death?"

"Explains it perfectly. You know what Mantell was chasing? The planet Venus!"

"That's the Post's answer?" I said, incredulously.

"It's what the Air Force contract astronomer told Shallett. I've checked with two astronomers here. They say that even when Venus is at full magnitude you can barely see it in the daytime even when you're looking for it. It was only half magnitude that day, so it was practically invisible."

"How'd the Air Force expect anybody to believe that answer?" I said.

Purdy shrugged. "They deny it was Venus in this report. But that's what they told Shallett--that all those Air Force officers, the pilots, the Kentucky state police, and several hundred people at Madisonville mistook Venus for a metallic disk several hundred feet in diameter."

"It's a wonder Shallett believed it."

"I don't think he did. He says if it wasn't Venus, it must have been a balloon."

"What's the Air Force answer?" I asked Purdy.

"Look in the report. They say whatever Mantell chased--they call it a 'mysterious object'--is still unidentified."

I glanced through the case report, on page five. It quoted Mantell's radio report that the thing was metallic and tremendous in size. Linked with the death of Mantell was the Lockbourne, Ohio, report, which tied in with what Jack Daly had told me, over a year before. I read the report:

"On the same day, about two hours later, a sky phenomenon was observed by several watchers over Lockbourne Air Force Base, Columbus, Ohio. It was described as 'round or oval, larger than a C-47, and traveling in level

{p. 21}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2009, 01:13:23 pm »

flight faster than 500 miles per hour.' The object was followed from the Lockbourne observation tower for more than 20 minutes. Observers said it glowed from white to amber, leaving an amber exhaust trail five times its own length. It made motions like an elevator and at one time appeared to touch the ground. No sound was heard. Finally, the object faded and lowered toward the horizon."

Purdy buzzed for his secretary, and she brought me a copy of the first Post article.

"You can get a copy of this Air Force report in Washington," Purdy told me. "This is the only one I have. But you'll find the same answer for most of the important cases--the sightings at Muroc Air Base, the airline pilots' reports, the disks Kenneth Arnold saw--they're all unidentified."

"I remember the Arnold case. That was the first sighting."

"You've got contacts in Washington," Purdy went on. "Start at the Pentagon first. They know we're working on it. Sam Boal, the first man on this job, was down there for a day or two."

"What did he find out?"

"Symington told him the saucers were bunk. Secretary Johnson admitted they had some pictures--we'd heard about a secret photograph taken at Harmon Field, Newfoundland. The tip said this saucer scared hell out of some pilots and Air Force men up there.

"A major took Boal to some Air Force colonel and Boal asked to see the pictures. The colonel said they didn't have any. He turned red when the major said Symington had told Boal about the pictures."

"Did Boal get to see them?" I said.

"No," grunted Purdy, "and I'll bet twenty bucks you won't, either. But try, anyway. And check on a rumor that they've tracked some disks with radar. One case was supposed to be at an Air Force base in Japan."

As I was leaving, Purdy gave me a summary of sighting reports.

"Some of these were published, some we dug up ourselves," he said. "We got some confidential stuff from

{p. 22}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2009, 01:13:35 pm »

airline pilots. It's pretty obvious the Air Force has tried to keep them quiet."

"All right," I said. "I'll get started. Maybe things aren't sewed up so tightly, now this report is out."

"We've found out some things about Project 'Saucer,' said Purdy. "Whether it's a cover-up or a real investigation, there's a lot of hush-hush business to it. They've got astronomers and astrophysicists working for them, also rocket expects, technical analysts, and Air Force Special Intelligence. We've been told they can call on any government agency for help--and I know they're using the F.B.I."

It was building up bigger than I had thought.

"If national security is involved," I told Purdy, "they can shut us up in a hurry."

"If they tell me so, O.K.," said Purdy. He added grimly, "But I think they're making a bad mistake. They probably think they're doing what's right. But the truth might come out the wrong way."

"It is possible," I thought, "that the saucers belong to Russia."

"If it turns out to be a Soviet missile, count me out," I said. "We'd have the Pentagon and the F.B.I. on our necks."

"All right, if that's the answer." He chuckled. "But you may be in for a jolt."

{p. 23}


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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2009, 01:14:02 pm »

JUST THE idea of gigantic flying disks was incredible enough. It was almost as hard to believe that such missiles could have been developed without something leaking out. Yet we had produced the A-bomb in comparative secrecy, and I knew we were working on long-range guided missiles. There was already a plan for a three-thousand-mile test range. Our supersonic planes had hit around two thousand miles an hour. Our two-stage rockets had gone over two hundred miles high, according to reports. If an atomic engine had been secretly developed, it could explain the speed and range of the saucers.

But I kept coming back to Mantell's death and the Air Force orders for pilots to chase the saucers. If the disks were American missiles, that didn't jibe.

When I reached the lobby, I found it was ten after four. I caught a taxi and made the Congressional Limited with just one minute to spare. In the club car, I settled down to look at Purdy's summary.

Skipping through the pages, I saw several familiar cases. Here and there, Purdy had scrawled brief comments or suggestions. Beside the Eastern Airline report of a double-decked saucer, he had written:

"Check rumor same type seen over Holland about this date. Also, similar Philippine Islands report--date unknown."

I went back to the beginning. The first case listed was that of Kenneth Arnold, a Boise businessman, who had set off the saucer scare. Arnold was flying his private plane from Chehalis to Yakima, Washington, when he saw a bright flash on his wing.

Looking toward Mount Rainier, he saw nine gleaming disks outlined against the snow, each one about the size of a C-54.

"They flew close to the mountaintops, in a diagonal chainlike line," he said later. "It was as if they were linked together."

The disks appeared to be twenty to twenty-five miles

{p. 24}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2009, 01:14:12 pm »

away, he said, and moving at fantastic speed. Arnold's estimate was twelve hundred miles an hour.

"I watched them about three minutes," he said. "They were swerving in and out around the high mountain peaks. They were flat, like a pie pan, and so shiny they reflected the sun like a mirror. I never saw anything so fast."

The date was June 24, 1947.

On this same day there was another saucer report. which received very little notice. A Portland prospector named Fred Johnson, who was working up in the Cascade Mountains, spotted five or six disks banking in the sun. He watched them through his telescope several seconds. then he suddenly noticed that the compass hand on his special watch was weaving wildly from side to side. Johnson insisted he had not heard of the Arnold report, which was not broadcast until early evening.

Kenneth Arnold's story was generally received with amusement. Most Americans were unaware that the Pentagon had been receiving disk reports as early as January. The news and radio comments on Arnold's report brought several other incidents to light, which observers had kept to themselves for fear of ridicule.

At Oklahoma City, a private pilot told Air Force investigators he had seen a huge round object in the sky during the latter part of May. It was flying three times faster than a jet, he said, and without any sound. Citizens of Weiser, Idaho, described two strange fast-moving objects they had seen on June 12. The saucers were heading southeast, now and then dropping to a lower altitude, then swiftly climbing again. Several mysterious objects were reported flying at great speed near Spokane, just three days before Arnold's experience. And four days after his encounter, an Air Force pilot flying near Lake Meade, Nevada, was startled to see half a dozen saucers flash by his plane.

Even at this early point in the scare, official reports were contradicting each other. just after Arnold's story broke, the Air Force admitted it was checking on the mystery disks. On July 4 the Air Force stated that no further investigation was needed; it was all

{p. 25}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2009, 01:14:27 pm »

hallucination. That same day, Wright Field told the Associated Press that the Air Materiel Command was trying to find the answer.

The Fourth of July was a red-letter day in the flying-saucer mystery. At Portland, Oregon, hundreds of citizens, including former Air Force pilots, police, harbor pilots, and deputy sheriffs, saw dozens of gleaming disks flying at high speed. The things; appeared to be at least forty thousand feet in the air--perhaps much higher.

That same day, disks were sighted at Seattle, Vancouver, and other northwest cities. The rapidly growing reports were met with mixed ridicule and alarm. One of the skeptical group was Captain E. J. Smith, of United Airlines.

"I'll believe them when I see them," he told airline employees, before taking off from Boise the afternoon of the Fourth.

Just about sunset, his airliner was flying over Emmett, Idaho, when Captain Smith and his copilot, Ralph Stevens, saw five queer objects in the sky ahead. Smith rang for the stewardess, Marty Morrow, and the three of them watched the saucers for several minutes. Then four more of the disks came into sight. Though it was impossible to tell their size, because their altitude was unknown, the crew was sure they were bigger than the plane they were in. After about ten minutes the disks disappeared.

The Air Force quickly denied having anything resembling the! objects Captain Smith described.

"We have no experimental craft of that nature in Idaho--or anywhere else," an official said in Washington. "We're completely mystified."

The Navy said it had made an investigation, and had no answers. There had been rumors that the disks were "souped-up" versions of the Navy's "Flying Flapjack," a twin-engined circular craft known technically as the XF-5-U-1. But the Navy insisted that only one model had been built, and that it was now out of service.

In Chicago, two astronomers spiked guesses that the disks might be meteors. Dr. Girard Kieuper, director of the University of Chicago observatory, said flatly that they couldn't be meteors.

{p. 26}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2009, 01:14:40 pm »

"They're probably man-made," he told the A.P. Dr. Oliver Lee, director of Northwestern's observatory, agreed with Kieuper.

"The Army, Navy, and Air Force are working secretly on all sorts of things," he said. "Remember the A-bomb secrecy--and the radar signals to the moon."

As I went through Purdy's summary, I recalled my own reaction after the United Airlines report. After seeing the Pentagon comment, I had called up Captain Tom Brown, at Air Force Public Relations.

"Are you really taking this seriously?" I asked him.

"Well, we can't just ignore it," he said. "There are too many reliable pilots telling the same story--flat, round objects able to outmaneuver ordinary planes, and faster than anything we have. Too many stories tally."

I told him I'd heard that the Civil Air Patrol in Wisconsin and other states was starting a sky search.

"We've got a jet at Muroc, and six fighters standing by at Portland right now," Brown said.


"I've no report on that. But I know some of them carry photographic equipment."

Two days later an airline pilot from the Coast told me that some fighters had been armed and the pilots ordered to bring down the disks if humanly possible. That same day, Wright Field admitted it was checking stories of disk-shaped missiles seen recently in the Pacific northwest and in Texas.

Following this was an A.P. story, dated July 7, quoting an unnamed Air Force official in Washington:

"The flying saucers may be one of three things:

"1. Solar reflection on low-hanging clouds. [A Washington scientist, asked for comment, said this was hardly possible.]

"2. Small meteors which break up, their crystals catching the rays of the sun. But it would seem that they would have been spotted falling and fragments would have been found.

"3. Icing conditions could have formed large hailstones, and they might have flattened out and glided a bit, giving

{p. 27}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2009, 01:14:53 pm »

the impression of horizontal movement even though falling vertically."

By this time everyone was getting into the act.

"The disks are caused by the transmutation of atomic energy," said an anonymous scientist, supposed to be on the staff of California Tech. The college quickly denied it.

Dr. Vannevar Bush, world-famous scientist, and Dr. Merle Tuve, inventor of the proximity fuse, both declared they would know of any secret American missiles--and didn't.

At Syracuse, New York, Dr. Harry Steckel, Veterans Administration psychiatrist, scoffed at the suggestion of mass hysteria. "Too many sane people are seeing the things. The government is probably conducting some revolutionary experiments."

On July 8 more disks were reported. Out at Muroc Air Force Base, where top-secret planes and devices are tested, six fast-moving silvery-white saucers were seen by pilots and ground officers.

That afternoon the Air Force revealed it was working on a case involving a Navy rocket expert named C. T. Zohm. While on a secret Navy mission to New Mexico, in connection with rocket tests, Zohm had seen a bright silvery disk flying above the desert. He was crossing the desert with three other scientists when he saw the strange object flashing northward at an altitude of about ten thousand feet.

"I'm sure it was not a meteor," said Zohm. "It could have been a guided missile, but I never heard of anything like it."

By this time, saucer reports had come in from almost forty states. Alarm was increasing, and there were demands that radar be used to track the disks. The Air Force replied that there was not enough radar equipment to blanket the nation, but that its pilots were on the lookout for the saucers.

One report mentioned a curious report from Twin Falls, Idaho. The disk sighted there was said to have flown so low that the treetops whirled as if in a violent storm. Someone had phoned Purdy about a disk tracked

{p. 28}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2009, 01:15:07 pm »

by weather-balloon observers at Richmond, Virginia. There was another note on a sighting at Hickam Field, Honolulu, and two reports of unidentified objects seen near Anchorage, Alaska.

A typed list of world-wide sightings had been made up by the staff at True. It contained many cases that were new to me, reports from Paraguay, Belgium, Turkey, Holland, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. At the bottom of this memo Purdy had written: "Keep checking on rumor that the Soviet has a Project Saucer, too. Could be planted."

From the mass of reports, John DuBarry, the aviation editor of True, had methodically worked out an average picture of the disks: "The general report is that they are round or oval (this could be an elliptical object seen end-on), metallic looking, very bright--either shining white or silvery colored. They can move at extremely high speed, hover, accelerate rapidly, and outmaneuver ordinary aircraft.

"The lights are usually seen singly--very few formations reported. They seem to have the same speed, acceleration, and ability to maneuver. In several cases, they have been able to evade Air Force planes in night encounters."

Going over the cases, I realized that Purdy and his staff had dug up at least fifty reports that had not appeared in the papers. (A few of these proved incorrect, but a check with the Air Force case reports released on December 30, 1949, showed that True's files contained all the important items.) These cases included sightings at eleven Air Force bases and fourteen American airports, reports from ships at sea, and a score of encounters by airline and private pilots.

Witnesses included Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force officers; state and city police; F.B.I. agents; weather observers, shipmasters, astronomers, and thousands of good solid American citizens. I learned later that many witnesses had been investigated by the F.B.I. to weed out crackpot reports.

I ended up badly puzzled. The evidence was more impressive than I had suspected. It was plain that many

{p. 29}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2009, 01:15:21 pm »

reports had been entirely suppressed, or at least kept out of the papers. There was something ominous about it. No matter what the answer, it was serious enough to be kept carefully hidden.

If it were a Soviet missile, I thought, God help us. They'd scooped up a lot of Nazi scientists and war secrets. And the Germans had been far ahead of us on guided missiles. But why would they give us a two-year warning, testing the things openly over America? It didn't make sense.

{p. 30}


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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2009, 01:15:37 pm »

I WENT to the Pentagon the next morning. I didn't expect to learn much, but I wanted to make sure we weren't tangling with security.

I'd worked with Al Scholin and Orville Splitt, in the magazine section of Public Relations, and I thought they'd tell me as much as anyone. When I walked in, I sprang it on them cold.

"What's the chance of seeing your Project 'Saucer' files?"

Al Scholin took it more or less dead-pan. Splitt looked at me a moment and then grinned.

"Don't tell me you believe the things are real?"

"Maybe," I said. "How about clearing me with Project 'Saucer'?"

Al shook his head. "It's still classified secret."

"'Look, Don," said Splitt, "why do you want to fool with that saucer business? There's nothing to it."

'"That's a big change from what the Air Force was saying; in 1947," I told him.

He shrugged that off. "The Air Force has spent two years checking into it. Everybody from Symington down will tell you the saucers are bunk."

"That's not what Project 'Saucer' says in that April report."

"That report was made up a long time ago," said Splitt. "They just got around to releasing it."

"Then they've got all the answers now?"

"They know there's nothing to it," Splitt repeated.

"In that case," I said, "Project 'Saucer' shouldn't object to my seeing their files and pictures."

"What pictures?"

"That one taken at Harmon Field, Newfoundland, for a starter."

"Oh, that thing," said Splitt. "It wasn't anything--just a shadow on a cloud. Somebody's been kidding you."

"If it's just a cloud shadow, why can't I see it?"

Splitt was getting a little nettled.

{p. 31}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2009, 01:15:51 pm »

"Look, you know how long it takes to declassify stuff. They just haven't got around to it. Take my word for it, the flying saucers are bunk. I went around with Sid Shallett on some of his interviews. What he's got in the Post is the absolute gospel."

"It's funny about that April twenty-seventh report," I said, "the way it contradicts the Post."

"I tell you that was an old report--"

"I wouldn't say that," Al Scholin put in. "The Air Force doesn't claim it has all the answers. But they've proved a lot of the reports were hoaxes or mistakes."

"Just the same," I said, "the Air Force is on record, as of April twenty-seventh, that it's serious enough for everybody to be vigilant. And they admit most of the things, in the important cases, are still unidentified. Including the saucer Mantell was chasing."

"That business at Godman Field was some kind of hallucination," insisted Splitt.

"I suppose all those pilots and Godman Field officers were hypnotized? Not to mention several thousand people at Madisonville and Fort Knox?"

"Take it easy, you guys," said Al Scholin. "You've both got a right to your opinions."

"Oh, sure," said Splitt. He looked at me, with his grin back. "I don't care if you think they're men from Mars."

"Let's not go off the deep end," I said. "Tell me this: Did Shallett get to see any secret files at Wright Field?"

"Absolutely not."

"Then he had to take the Air Force word for everything?"

"Not entirely. We set up some interviews for him."

"One more thing--and don't get mad. If it's all bunk, why haven't they closed Project 'Saucer'?"

"How do I know? Probably no one wants to take the responsibility."

"Then somebody high up must not think it's bunk," I said.

Splitt laughed. "Have it your own way."

Before I left, I told them I was working with True.

"I want to be on record," I said, "as having told you

{p. 32}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2009, 01:16:10 pm »

this. If there's any security involved--if you tell me it's something you're working on--naturally I'll lay off."

Al Scholin said emphatically, "It's not an Air Force device, if that's what you mean."

"Some people think it's Russian."

"If it is, I don't know it," said Al, "and neither does the Air Force."

After I left the magazine section, I tried several officers I knew. Two of them agreed with Splitt. The third didn't.

"I've been told it's all bunk," he said, "but you get the feeling they've trying to convince themselves. They act like people near a haunted house. They'll swear it isn't haunted--but they won't go near it."

Later, I asked a security major for a copy of the Project "Saucer" report.

"We're out of copies right now," he said. "I'll send you one next week."

I asked him bluntly what he thought the saucers were.

"I doubt if anybody has the full answer," he said seriously. "There's been some hysteria--also a few mistakes. But many reports have been made by reliable pilots, including our own. You can't laugh those off."

As I drove home, I thought over what I'd heard. All I had learned was that the Air Force seemed divided. But that could be a smoke screen. In less than twenty-four hours, I received my first suspicious tip. It was about ten A.M. when my phone rang.

"Mr. Keyhoe? This is John Steele," said the voice at the other end. (Because of the peculiar role he played, then and later, I have not used his real name.) "I'm a former Air Force Intelligence officer. I was in the European theater during the war."

I waited. He hesitated a moment.

"I heard you're working on the flying-saucer problem," he said quickly. "I may have some information that would interest you."

"Mind telling me who told you I was on it?" I asked.

"No one, directly. I just happened to hear it mentioned at the Press Club. Frankly, I've been curious about the flying saucers ever since '45."

That startled me, but I didn't tell him so.

{p. 53}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2009, 01:16:25 pm »

"Do you have any idea what they are?" Mr. Steele said.

"No, I've just begun checking. But I'd be glad to hear what you've got."

"I may be way off," said Steele. "But I've always wondered about the 'foo fighters' our pilots saw over Europe near the end of the war."

I thought for a second. "Wasn't that some kind of antiaircraft missile fired from the ground?"

"No. Intelligence never did get any real answer, so far as I know. They were some kind of circular gadgets, and they actually chased our planes a number of times. We thought they were something the Nazis had invented--and I still think so."

"Then who's launching them now?"

"Well, it's obviously either Russia or us. If it is the Soviet--well, that's what's worried me. I don't think it should be treated like a joke, the way some people in the Pentagon take it."

I stared at the phone, trying to figure him out.

"I'd like to talk it over with you," I said. "Maybe you've got something."

"I've given you about all I know," Steele answered. "There was an Intelligence report you might try to see--the Eighth Air Force files should have it."

"Wait a minute," I said. "Give me your number, in case I find anything."

He gave it to me without apparent hesitation. I thanked him and hung up, still wondering.

If it was an attempt at a plant, it was certainly crude. The mention of his former Air Force connection would be enough to arouse suspicion, unless he counted on his apparent frankness to offset it.

And what about the Press Club angle? That would indicate Steele was a newspaperman. Could this be merely an attempt to pump me and get a lead on True's investigation? But that would be just as crude as the other idea. Of course, he might be sincere. But regardless of his motives, it looked bad. Arid who had told him about me?

I thought about that for a minute. Then I picked up the phone and dialed Jack Daly's number.

{p. 34}

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Ramona Hanneken
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« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2009, 01:16:45 pm »

"Jack, do you know anyone named John Steele?" I asked him. "I think he's a newspaperman."

"Nobody I know," said Jack. "Why, what's up?"

I explained, and added, "I thought maybe you knew him, and he'd heard about it from you."

"Hell, no," said Jack. "You ought to know I wouldn't leak any tip like that."

"It wouldn't be a tip--I don't know anything about this deal yet. By the way, when you were on the Star did you handle anything on 'foo fighters'?"

"No, that was after I left there. Bill Shippen would have covered that, anyway."

I told him I would look it up in the Star's morgue. Jack said he would meet me there at three o'clock; in the meantime he would see what he could find out about Steele.

Jack was a little late, and I went over the Star's file on the foo fighters. Most of the facts were covered in a story dated July 6, 1947, which had been inspired by the outbreak of the saucer scare. I copied it for later use:

During the latter part of World War Two, fighter pilots in England were convinced that Hitler had a new secret weapon. Yanks dubbed these devices "foo fighters" or "Kraut fireballs."

One of the Air Force Intelligence men now assigned to check on the saucer scare was an officer who investigated statements of military airmen that circular foo fighters were seen over Europe and also on the bombing route to Japan.

It was reported that Intelligence officers have never obtained satisfactory explanation of reports of flying silver balls and disks over Nazi-occupied Europe in the winter of 1944-45. Later, crews of B-29'S on bombing runs to Japan reported seeing somewhat similar objects.

In Europe, some foo fighters danced just off the Allied fighters' wingtips and played tag with them in power dives. Others appeared in precise formations and on one occasion a whole bomber crew

{p. 35}

saw about 15 following at a distance, their strange glow flashing on and off. One foo fighter chased Lieutenant Meiers of Chicago some 20 miles down the Rhine Valley, at 300 m.p.h., an A.P. war correspondent reported. Intelligence officers believed at that time that the balls might be radar-controlled objects sent up to foul ignition systems or baffle Allied radar networks.

There is no explanation of their appearance here, unless the objects could have been imported for secret tests in this country.

I read the last paragraph twice. This looked like a strong lead to the answer, in spite of the Air Force denials. There was another, less pleasant possibility. The Russians could have seized the device and developed it secretly, using Nazi scientists to help them. Perhaps the Nazis had been close to an atomic engine, even if they did fail to produce the bomb.

Jack Daly came in while I was reading the story again.

"I got the dope on Steele," he said. "He does pieces for a small syndicate, and I found out he was in the Air Force. I think he was a captain. People who know him say he's O.K.--a straight shooter."

"That still wouldn't keep him from giving me a fake tip, if somebody told him it was the right thing to do."

"Maybe not," said Jack, "but why would they want to plant this foo-fighter idea?"

I showed him the clipping. He read it over and shook his head.

"That's a lot different from disks three hundred feet in diameter."

"If we got the principle--or Russia did-building big ones might not be too hard."

"I still can't swallow it," said Jack. "These things have been seen all over the world. How could they control them that far away--and be sure they wouldn't crash, where somebody could get a look and dope out the secret?"

We argued it back and forth without getting anywhere.

{p. 36}

"I'd give a lot to know Steele's angle," I said. "If you hear anything more on him, give me a buzz."

Jack nodded. "I'll see what I can do. But I can't dig too hard, or he'll hear about it."

On the way out, I found a phone booth and called Splitt.

"Foo fighters?" he said. "Sure, I remember those stories. You think those are your flying saucers?"

I could hear him snicker.

"Just checking angles," I said. "Didn't the Eighth Air Force investigate the foo fighters?"

"Yes, and they found nothing to back up the pilots' yarns. just war nerves, apparently."

"How about a look at the Intelligence report?" I asked.

"Wait a minute." Splitt was gone for twice that time, then he carne back. "Sorry, it's classified."

"If all this stuff is bunk, why keep the lid on it?" I demanded. I was getting sore again.

"Look, Don," said Splitt, "I don't make the rules."

"Sure, I know--sorry," I said. I had a notion to ask him if he knew John Steele, but hung up instead. There was no use in banging my head against the Air Force wall.

The next day I decided to analyze the Mantell case from beginning to end. It looked like the key to one angle: the question of an Air Force secret missile. Unless there was some slip-up, so that Mantell and his pilots had been ordered to chase the disk by mistake, then it would be cold murder.

I couldn't believe any Air Force officer would give such an order, no matter how tremendous the secret to be hidden.

But I was going to find out, if possible.

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