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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 15

'Popular Mechanics' Accuses US Government Of UFO

From: Stig Agermose <wanderer@post8.tele.dk>
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 02:21:45 +0200
Fwd Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 08:30:00 -0400
Subject: 'Popular Mechanics' Accuses US Government Of UFO

From the July edition of 'Popular Mechanics'.



But do go the page itself! The numerous photos make it well worth
a visit.

Links are preceded by asterisks.



July 1998

Six Unexplainable Encounters

These UFO sightings continue to defy science and the skeptics.


*- SHERAZ, IRAN, October 8, 1978
*- TRINDADE, BRAZIL, January 16, 1958
*- BENTWATERS, ENGLAND, December 27, 1980
*- ZANESVILLE, OHIO, November 13, 1966
*- HILLSDALE, MICHIGAN, March 21, 1966
*- What The Government Really Knows About UFO Sightings

Skeptics say it is easy to make a UFO crash. Just poke it with a
pointed question. Consider the legendary Mantell incident in
which a UFO supposedly shot down a F-51 Mustang in broad
daylight. Ask if any other military aircraft were aloft over
Kentucky that fateful Jan. 7, 1948 afternoon. You will discover
that Capt. Thomas F. Mantell Jr., a pilot in the Air National
Guard, died after running out of oxygen while chasing the Sun's
reflection off a then-secret Navy Skyhook balloon.

Radar has proven as fallible as the human eye, producing
headlines describing fleets of UFOs over Washington, D.C., Los
Angeles and sensitive military installations. In each case the
real invaders were overlapping radar signals, air masses of
differing densities, or flocks of birds that suddenly tightened
formation. Each anomaly can cause multiple targets or blimp-size
objects to appear one second and disappear the next.

At times, differences in interpreting the "facts" of a case can
make ufologists and skeptics seem like members of warring
tribes. There is, however, one point on which they agree: Most
UFO sightings are aircraft, planets or other natural phenomena.

Most sightings doesn't mean all sightings. And while government
investigations have repeatedly assured the public that UFOs pose
no danger to national security, the very same reports also
detail dozens of sightings that neither science nor the skeptics
can adequately explain. Among these cases are six sightings that
are more puzzling now than when they were originally reported.

POPULAR MECHANICS offers no opinion on whether these mysterious
flying machines originate from secret military airstrips here on
Earth or spaceports somewhere "out there." We do, however, feel
comfortable making one prediction: When the shell of security
surrounding UFOs finally cracks, it will be because one of the
sightings we present here provided the wedge.

(Image text: Trent described the UFO that he photographed as "a
good-sze parachute canopy without strings, only silvery bright
mixed with bronze." A colorized computer enhancement of the
photo reveals no evidence of strings, and a smooth bottom and
sharp edges that suggest an artificial, rather than natural,

Asked to pick the most credible UFO photos ever taken,
ufologists select the simple black-and-white snapshots taken by
Paul Trent, a farmer in McMinnville, Ore.

The photos allegedly confirm a sighting that occurred on May 11,
1950, when an inverted pieplate flying machine was seen by
Trent, his father-in-law and his wife.

Mrs. Trent saw the craft first. She told Air Force investigators
that she first spotted it about 7:30 pm as she walked across her
yard. About 30 ft. across, it floated noiselessly toward her
from the northeastern sky, creating a wake that rustled her

Thinking it was "something the Army was experimenting with," she
shouted for her husband to bring the camera. As he darted
outside and began snapping photos, she ran inside to phone her
parents, who lived next door. Thus alerted, her father caught a
glimpse of the craft a (sic!)

When the film was developed, Trent showed it to his friend Frank
Wortmann, a local banker, who displayed the pictures in the
bank's window. A local reporter saw and published the photos.
Within a month the main photo was circulated by news wires and
printed in Life magazine. The FBI and Air Force interviewed the
Trents. And then the photos disappeared.

Found in a news wire photo archive after 17 years, the misfiled
pictures were sought out by skeptics. "The pictures attracted
attention because they depicted not nebulous lights but an
artificial, structured aircraft," says Jerome Clark, of the J.
Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (JAHCUS). He investigated the
case while researching an encyclopedia titled The UFO Book.

Skeptics found nothing to disparage the Trents' integrity, and
no financial motive for having faked UFO pictures. The strongest
criticism of the photos to date has come from Philip J. Klass,
an aviation journalist who has published several books and a
newsletter debunking UFO claims. Klass says the Trent photo
shows a shadow pattern that could be produced only if the
picture was taken in morning light. Bruce Maccabee, an optical
physicist more sympathetic to ufologists, says the same effect
could have been created by cloud cover.

And so the mystery continues. "If authentic, they comprise
significant evidence for the reality of intelligently controlled
UFOs," says Clark.

SHERAZ, IRAN October 8, 1978

In the late 1970s, the long-friendly relationship between the
United States and Iran soured after the ouster of the Shah of
Iran. Anticipating armed conflict, both sides ratcheted up their
military preparedness. With U.S. spy satellites looking down and
Iranian radar installations looking up, the skies over Iran
became the most heavily monitored airspace in the world.                    =

(Image text: The Sheraz photo, shown enlarged in the upper right
corner, closely resembles Tacit Blue, a secret stealth jet.)

Had it not been for these political events, it is doubtful the
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff would have been interested in a
snapshot taken by 16-year-old Jamshid Saiadipour. Up late
studying for exams in June 1978, he saw and photographed a UFO
from the window of his family's apartment in the town of Sheraz.

The photo caused a stir among ufologists because it resembled a
UFO reported by pilots during their landing approach to the
Teheran airport earlier in the year.

On Oct. 8, 1978, a similar craft was photographed by another
youngster, Franklin Youri, from outside his home near Lake Urmia
in western Iran. This picture, however, was not revealed until
the Youri family relocated to the United States three years

A Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit (see "What The
Government Really Knows About UFO Sightings" below) ultimately
led to the release of Defense Department documents that revealed
the American military's interest in the sightings.

What made ufologists and the U.S. military so interested in
photos of UFOs taken by two Iranian teenagers? Ufologists claim
that Iranian airspace had been a hotbed of UFO activity for many
years. They say a pivotal moment occurred on Sept. 19, 1978,
with an encounter between two Iranian Phantom jets and an object
that failed to appear on radar. When the American-made F-4
fighters got close enough to release their air-to-air missiles,
the planes' weapons-firing control systems mysteriously and
repeatedly failed.

Skeptics point out the real reason for the interest from the
Joint Chiefs of Staff may have been the strong resemblance
between the object that appeared in the two photos and a
then-secret stealth aircraft, Tacit Blue. Based at the former
Area 51 secret aircraft development center in Nevada, it was
designed to test stealth technology.

Ufologists say the case needs further investigation. Until then
it remains a valid UFO.

TRINDADE, BRAZIL January 16, 1958

(Image text: The Trinidade UFO was photographed and seen by more
qualified observers than any other sighting.)

When ufologists and skeptics can't find strings, shadows or
signs that a UFO photo is faked, they question the credibility
of the photographer and witnesses. Trained observers=96including
pilots, ship captains and military officers=96are usually
considered the best witnesses. It is the credibility of the 47
crew members of the Brazilian naval vessel Almirante Saldanha
that makes the Trindade, Brazil UFO photo so important.

As part of its contribution to the 1957-58 International
Geophysical Year, the Brazilian navy set up a weather station on
the small rocky island of Trindade, in the south Atlantic Ocean.
In January 1958, observers began spotting unusual aerial
activity, including fast-flying disks. On the night of Jan. 16,
the disk shown here appeared within view of the ship's company.

Among those present was civilian photographer Almiro Barauna,
who snapped a series of six photos. After the ship returned to
port, the photos, which had been developed on board in a
makeshift darkroom, were turned over to the Brazilian Navy
Ministry. Analysts determined the photos to be authentic and
concluded they showed a 50-ft.-dia. object moving at 600 mph.

Skeptics have offered two explanations for the craft. Initially,
Harvard University astronomy professor Donald H. Menzel said the
UFO was simply a plane flying through fog. Then, in the first of
several books he would write debunking UFOs, he claimed the
photos were faked. Barauna, he said, had first photographed a
model UFO in his home and later double-exposed the same roll of
film with pictures of the open sky. However, a 1978 examination
by an independent laboratory using digital photo analysis ruled
out such tampering.     

"Given the number of witnesses, the results of photo analysis,
both military and civilian, and the need for debunkers to
reinvent the incident to 'explain' it, it seems most unlikely
that the Trindade photographs were hoaxed," says JAHCUS's Clark.

BENTWATERS, ENGLAND December 27, 1980

"I started my tour of duty believing in aircraft lights," Nick
Pope tells me as we eat a traditional English lunch of fish and
chips at London's Red Lion pub, just down the block from his
office in the British Ministry of Defence (MOD). "I ended it
believing in aliens."

For three years Pope was assigned to the MOD office responsible
for investigating UFO reports. Holding a rank equivalent to
captain, he knew the detours around the roadblocks bureaucrats
put in the way of ufologists.

(Image text: England's UFO investigator, Nick Pope, went from
skeptic to believer.)

Among the cases he examined was an incident that has come to be
known as England's Roswell. It occurred over the last days of
December 1980, near a now-closed U.S. Air Force base in
Bentwaters. For two nights security patrols observed unusual
lights in the Rendlesham Forest just beyond the base's fence. On
the second night they entered the forest with generator-powered
floodlights, Geiger counters and 2-way radios. At the critical
moment when an angular, 20-ft.-wide, 30-ft.-tall craft appeared,
the radiation-detecting instruments started to clatter and the
spotlights and radios began to sporadically fail.

Daylight revealed broken tree limbs and three 1 1/2-in. deep,
7-in.-dia. circular depressions, suggesting something had
landed, just as the observers claimed.

Initially, skeptics dismissed this physical evidence as wind
damage. They explained the unusual lights by constructing a
complex chain of events that included unusual astronomical
activity, satellite debris burning up on reentry, and the
rotating beam of a lighthouse several miles away.

What the skeptics couldn't explain, says Pope, is a scientific
report he found in the MOD files. It revealed radiation levels
25 times higher than normal background levels in the soil and
trees surrounding the landing site. (Image text: The USAF
account was found in British UFO files.)

As Pope delved more deeply into MOD files he found that the
Bentwaters case, as it is known to ufologists in the United
States, was the second to occur in the Rendlesham Forest.

On Aug. 13, 1956, British radar had picked up blips similar to a
jet aircraft's=96only it was moving at speeds up to 9000 mph.
Technicians later told investigators for Project Blue Book that
diagnostics checks indicated their radar was operating normally.
The incident remained classified until 1969.

Pope said the two Bentwaters episodes and others he investigated
during his stint as England's top UFO investigator moved him
from skeptic to believer, and inspired him to write a book
titled Open Skies, Closed Minds.

"As long as we are all afraid of ridicule, the UFOs are going to
be ignored," says Pope. "Perhaps we ignore them at our peril."

ZANESVILLE, OHIO November 13, 1966

For those who believe UFOs are piloted by child-size creatures
with large almond eyes, any sighting that takes place in the
state of Ohio merits special attention.

The attraction is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In addition
to being the headquarters for Project Blue Book, it was also
home to the Air Technical Intelligence Centers, which analyzed
flying machines based on Nazi German "flying disc" designs (see
Roswell Plus 50, July '97). What makes these stories even more
appealing are recurring rumors that the base is also the
repository for debris from crashed UFOs, and alien bodies.                  =

(Image text: The Zanesville photos fit descriptions of craft
seen by police and sheriff's deputies elsewhere in Ohio in the
spring and fall of 1966.)

Ohio holds another distinction in UFO lore. In Zanesville, on
Nov. 13, 1966, local barber and amateur astronomer Ralph Ditter
took the two spectacular UFO photos shown here. Beyond their
detail=96which to some skeptics is evidence itself of fraud=96the
importance of the photos lies in their similarity to the craft
reported during a series of sightings that occurred throughout
the year.

At least two of these sightings were made by law enforcement
officials, credible witnesses on everyone's list. In Toledo, on
March 25, two Lucas County deputies, Robert Schultz and Stanley
Nelepa, reported seeing a huge object floating at treetop level.
Four days later, a glowing orange object was seen floating over
the Ohio Turnpike administration building in Berea. Three days
later it was spotted a second time, by Berea patrolmen Clarence
T. Janowick and John R. Galik Jr.

Because Ditter took his photos with a Polaroid camera, there are
no negatives to investigate for signs of tampering. The jury
remains out=96and perhaps may never be able to return a verdict on
whether the Zanesville photos are spectacular evidence or
spectacular frauds.


Ufologists sometimes say skeptics are people who haven't had a
"close encounter." Josef Allen Hynek, who coined the phrase
"close encounter," might agree.                    

(Image text: As with the Bentwaters site, higher radiation
levels were also found at the Hillsdale site.)

Hynek was a University of Chicago-trained astrophysicist and
confirmed skeptic who served as the scientific consultant to the
Air Force Project Blue Book UFO investigation. And then he
changed sides. The case that prompted his conversion occurred in
Hillsdale County, Mich., on March 21, 1966, and involves the
photo shown here.

At about 10:30 pm a resident of the women's dormitory at
Hillsdale College reported a strange object in the sky. County
Civil Defense director William E. Van Horn responded and
confirmed that a bright glowing object was indeed bouncing
across a nearby hollow and then became airborne. Hynek, who died
in 1986, dismissed the Hillsdale sighting as "swamp gas." Within
two weeks, however, he changed not only his opinion about the
sighting, but also sides in the great UFO debate.

Perhaps it was the contents of Van Horn's report that sparked
the conversion. Soil analysis showed that on the very spot where
the "swamp gas" had touched down, radiation levels were higher
than in the surrounding terrain. More significant still was the
finding that the ground was also contaminated with boron, the
element used to slow nuclear chain reactions.

What The Government Really Knows About UFO Sightings

Do you believe the government is telling the truth about UFOs?
Each of the government's major UFO studies - projects Blue Book,
Grudge and Sign - claimed to have made a clean breast of things.
Yet, according to JAHCUS's Clark, 80% of Americans "believe the
government is hiding evidence of UFOs."

David M. Jacobs, a historian at Temple University, says the
government's own paper trail suggests there may be a good reason
to distrust the official version. He points out that between
1953 and 1969, the entire period the Air Force was responsible
for investigating UFOs, its officers operated under standing
orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that made it a crime under
the Espionage Act to share UFO reports with unauthorized

"This action effectively stops the flow of information to the
public," says Jacobs. "Only if Blue Book could positively
identify a sighting as a hoax or misidentification would the Air
Force release information to the public."

The rules, Project Blue Book advisor Hynek once remarked, made
it impossible to evaluate a UFO report as anything other than a
natural object, weather or atmospheric phenomenon, a hoax or a

Hynek claimed that the Air Force was also under economic
pressure to reduce the paperwork that UFO reports generated. To
help keep the work flow manageable, said Hynek, Blue Book made
arbitrary rules. For example, sightings reported by anyone under
18 were automatically disregarded. Toward the end of the
project, enlisted men were allowed to summarily dismiss cases by
claiming they were filed by crackpots.

Now, many of the sightings that Blue Book and earlier UFO
investigations refused to examine are about to come out. In 1980
a group called Citizens Against Unidentified Flying Objects
Secrecy filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act
that asked the National Security Agency (NSA) to open its files
on 239 sightings. In documents filed under a top-secret security
classification, NSA responded that revealing its knowledge of
UFO activity would damage national security.

But now, under revised declassification rules, many of these
documents are being released by virtue of their age. Included
among them are the Joint Chiefs of Staff communications about
the Iran sighting. Historians and ufologists may soon have the
final pieces of the great UFO puzzle. 

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