Good Old Fashioned UFO Photo Analysis

By Charles Lear

  From the early days of Project Sign to the final days of Project Blue Book, photographs played an important part in the Air Force’s UFO investigation.  On July 4th, 1947 just weeks after Kenneth Arnold’s June 24th sighting, a woman in Seattle took a picture of a UFO and this would be the very first photograph that the Army Air Corps soon to be Air Force received.  It was identified as a balloon, and perhaps it really was, but at the time, personnel assigned to the project were still figuring out how to actually approach their investigations.  They were soldiers trying to think like scientists and photo analysis in the military was historically focused on reconnaissance.  Analysis of UFO footage has different challenges and these were met by private researchers who continued investigation after the end of Project Blue Book in 1969.

The use of photography for reconnaissance didn’t become practical until cameras became small and portable following the invention of film in 1885 by George Eastman.  Aerial photography over enemy lines was the dream but with highly vulnerable balloons and kites being the only available means of flight at the time, truly effective aerial reconnaissance would have to wait.  Two inventions in the early 1900’s would change things.  The first was the well-known 1903 invention of the airplane by the Wright brothers.  The second, lesser-known invention was the pigeon cam patented in 1907 by German apothecary, Julius Neubronner.  The pigeons and the planes were both used in World War I and the planes proved more effective as they were guided by a human as opposed to pigeon brain.

By the end of the war, military planning was rarely done without photo reconnaissance.  Analysis was primarily done through the use of magnification and enlargement in concert with ground surveillance.  Accurate interpretation came from education and experience and it was often that many lives depended on it.  By the end of World War II, photo analysis had become quite sophisticated and would continue to play a part in the cold war with the advent of spy planes and long-range cameras. Read more

Maury Island Madness

by Charles Lear

June 21, 1947, three days before Kenneth Arnold had his historic sighting, a man named Harold Dahl and his crew allegedly saw six one hundred foot diameter donut shaped craft while on a salvage mission in Puget Sound near Tacoma, Washington.  According to the claim, as they approached the shore of Maury Island, one of the craft seemed to experience mechanical troubles and the other five circled it and appeared to be aiding it in some way.  The craft then rained molten metal on Dahl’s vessel, injuring his son and killing his dog, before all six objects flew away.  The case was investigated by Arnold himself as well as the US Army Air Corps and Dahl claimed that a Man In Black also poked his nose in.  The story made headlines when the plane that was to carry the Air Corps investigators back to their base with a box full of saucer slag caught fire and crashed.  The papers noted that a cover-up might have been the reason.  A case with the very first saucer and Man In Black report is exciting and the fact that it comes before Arnold’s seems to add credibility to it because no one had heard of “flying saucers” before a reporter covering Arnold’s sighting coined the phrase.  It seems like a good case until one looks into the characters involved and, in particular, a man named Fred L. Crisman.  To say that Crisman was colorful is quite an understatement and that he ends up involved in the Kennedy investigation/conspiracy circus adds a red nose and fright wig to his persona.

The story was originally dismissed by a local reporter but came to light through lovable strange tale publisher and truth boundary stretcher, Ray Palmer, publisher of Amazing Stories.  Palmer was having a good run with a series of “true” stories written by Richard Shaver, involving detrimental robots, “deros” that lived inside the earth and flew through tunnels in disc shaped craft.  Palmer received a box with some metal fragments in it and an account of Dahl’s sighting from Crisman who had previously written Palmer a letter claiming he’d fought with deros himself in a Burmese cavern during World War II.  Crisman also offered to go to a cave in Texas to retrieve dero machinery if Palmer would provide $500 to cover his expenses.  In spite of his doubts, Palmer enlisted Arnold, with whom he now had a relationship, to go to Tacoma and investigate.  In addition to working for Palmer (for which he was paid $200) Arnold also seemed to have made arrangements with a local paper, the Boise Statesman in his home state of Idaho, to provide them with a story as well.

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360. Diana Pasulka, American Cosmic

Subscribe to full shows for $2 or more per month. Alejandro Rojas with UFO Updates, then guest Dr Diana Pasulka discusses her book: American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, it is a fascinating interview where she discusses some unique experiences, feedback from her work and much more.

Show Notes

UFOs and the Scientists Who Love Them

by Charles Lear

Scientific study of the UFO phenomenon has had a sporadic history for the last 70 plus years for reasons ranging from lack of funding to the fear of the loss of standing within the scientific community.  There have been government funded studies and academics brave enough to research, but politics and rejection out-of–hand by peer reviewed journals have impeded the production of researchable literature that could lend credibility to a subject of study languishing in the realm of pseudoscience.  As a result, many researchers with academic credentials have moved to form their own study groups as a means to research and publish.  While there have been and are some admirable groups out there, what amounts to self-publishing bypasses the review process.  The review process is important in that it demonstrates that an argument has stood scrutiny by disinterested parties.  Work that has not undergone this is the poorer for it.  A solution would be to have reputable scientists, interested in the subject, establish a journal with peer review that publishes the work of outside contributors.  Are there scientists willing to risk their reputations in order to do this?  Apparently there are because a journal exists today that is staffed and supported by scientists with serious cred that was created specifically to give a voice to real research on subjects considered too out there for mainstream science, UFOs included. Read more

359. Nick Redfern, Flying Saucers from the Kremlin

Subscribe to full shows for $2 or more per month. Alejandro Rojas, UFO Updates, guest Nick Redfern discusses his latest book, “Flying Saucers from the Kremlin: UFOs, Russian Meddling, Soviet Spies & Cold War Secrets” He discusses the way Russia and the US both manipulated UFO stories for their own agendas.

UFOs and School Children

by Charles Lear

Remember that UFO sighting by all those school children some years back?  That was in Australia, right?  No, it was Florida… or was it Wales?  Perhaps it was in Africa?  The answer is that there were incidents of significance in all four locations. All were similar enough to cause confusion but the reactions by school and public officials involved were strikingly different.

The first occurrence was April 6, 1966 at Westall High School in Clayton South, a suburb of Melbourne, capital of Victoria, Australia.  Around 11:00 am a student ran in from the school sports field (the oval) shouting that there was a flying saucer outside.  The teacher whose class had been interrupted demanded his students remain seated until the recess bell, at which time, students and teachers flooded the oval and over 200 people were witness to a silvery disk.  At the time, 5 light airplanes were attempting to get near the craft and it displayed extraordinary flight characteristics in evading them, which were described by teacher, Andrew Greenwood, to a fellow teacher arriving late to the scene.  Another teacher, Barbara Robbins, was reported by student witness, Graham Simmonds, to have been taking photographs of the object.  The object then flew to a wooded area called, “The Grange” where it landed and the students followed it.  By the time most of them caught up with the object it had lifted off but one student, “Tanya”, possibly had arrived early enough to see it landed.  The object flew off and the spot where it had been was reportedly marked by a swirled patch of grass. Read more