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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Jul > Jul 17

Re: The 1952 Tremonton Utah

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 14:02:58 +0100
Archived: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 10:03:33 -0400
Subject: Re: The 1952 Tremonton Utah

>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 10:01:53 -0600
>Subject: Re: The 1952 Tremonton Utah 'Seagulls' Confirmation?


>It is notable that the objects
>apparent diameters diminish smoothly by ~30% during the film,
>indicating that they are traveling _away_ from the camera, such
>that the raw angular rate data would underestimate the actual
>speed at range.

This is an interesting point, Mike. I recall seeing this 30%
somewhere. Do you have the reference?

Hartmann's meta-analysis of the Baker and Navy studies assumes
that because the objects were filmed at high elevation there is
no significant component of velocity in the line of sight, but
evidently a 30% monotonic diminution of angular size suggests
about a 1.4 range ratio between first and last frame. If the
group of "birds" was 2000 ft away at its nearest then it was
about 2800 ft away by the end. During 75 seconds this equates to
a little over 7 mph. Transverse angular rates measured within
the group correspond to about 9 mph at 2000 ft, representing
minima for internal velocity within the group, so that the lower
bound on the total velocity for any group member is the vector
sum of a bulk radial rate of ~ 7 mph and 9 mph =  about 11.5

If a single object that goes off alone returns to rejoin the
group then we can treat it as a member of the group in the same
way and can assume, whatever its behaviour, that the lower bound
on it's mean true velocity during the loop is the vector sum of
its transverse rate and the radial bulk rate of the group. The
transverse rate measured for the single object is equivalent to
a speed in the range 45-55 mph (Hartmann) or 54 mph (Baker) for
a gull at sufficient distance to be unresolvable (2000 ft).
These values are already accepted by Hartmann to be "on the
margin of acceptability", a conclusion given emphasis by David
Rudiak's experimental resolution of gulls at an estimated 3000
ft (although variations in camera, film and other conditions
would have to be taken into account). Adding a radial vector of
11.5 mph could well be enough to push the hypothesis off the
edge of plausibility completely.

But the single object didn't rejoin the group, and so we can't
proceed like this. It travelled away and vanished in a different
direction. Therefore its total velocity is independent of the
group and could be virtually zero in the line of sight. One
could argue that it is very unlikely to be exactly zero, since
this would imply a constant radius curve around the camera, but
it could very well be negligible. We would need to know the rate
of diminution of angular size of this object independently, and
I don't know if we have this information.

Another point that concerns me about the overall diminution of
angular size is Hartmann's suggestion (citing Al Chop and an AF
report) that the objects are unresolved and flared due to
overexposure. If so then the image size becomes to some unknown
extent a function of brightness as well as distance, and in fact
one of the official documents (NPIC analysis I think) pointed
out that changes in object brightness correlated with change in
size. Notice that about a third of the way into the film
Newhouse stopped down from f/8 to f/16 (because he feared he
might be overexposing). This could in itself reduce the image
size. So I'd like to know that the 30 % size reduction is indeed
"smooth" and is a figure arrived at after subtracting the
reduction in flare.

>In any case, the seagull theory remains unconvincing, but not
>absurdly so with regard to range/velocity constraints. I must
>say I would be surprised if someone with as much photographic
>experience as Newhouse would be susceptible to 'compensatory
>panning' of the camera to any significant degree.

I agree about the seagulls. In terms of the film alone I think
the seagull theory is strained, but not quite impossible,
especially _if_ a little of the angular rate could be shed by
assuming that each time he interrupted his panning with the
object instead of just stopping perfectly still he
unintentionally overcompensated and allowed the camera to swing
back against the direction of the action. Is that plausible?
Maybe. Baker's analysis concludes that there is a variation in
the rate between about 0.6 - 4.0 deg/sec due to camera jitter,
or about equal in +/- amplitudes to the average transit rate of
the object, so we know that the camera (hand-held, pointing at a
very high angle of 70 degs, so possibly not well-braced) was
_not_ perfectly still. What we are asking is whether it was
_averagely_ still. Maybe it wasn't. Think of what happens when
you spin in your chair and then stop, or come off a shingle
beach onto concrete - there is a physiological instinct to
counter a perceived drift in the opposite direction to the force
applied. That's only an analogy of course, but I can imagine
something like this happening when staring through the
viewfinder at a moving bright point with no fixed reference
points in the field of view.

If Newhouse saw the objects as 0.5 degree wide gunmetal discs
before turning the camera on them then obviously they weren't
gulls. But does this description appear in the original AF
reports? In his original Blue Book letter of 11 Aug 1952 he only
described them as unrecognisable "objects". He does not say that
their appearance to the eye differed in any way from what
appears on the film. Other than saying that they were "milling
about" and didn't look like anything he had seen before his only
description is "it was impossible for me to make any estimate of
speed, size, altitude or distance". He offered the film "for
whatever value it may have in your investigation of the so-
called 'Flying Saucers'", which as Hartmann points out does not
hint at extraordinary large metallic discs. But to be fair he
might have assumed that the film would speak for itself,
especially if the original had more dramatic frames at the
beginning which were later "lost" (see below) and maybe in his
covering letter he _would_ be careful not to sound like a

Had this been the case then he would presumably have made good
the deficiency later in the September AF Intelligence interview
or in letters or in some other place soon afterwards. But Baker
stated in a letter to Hartmann that the description of gunmetal
discs the size of B29s at 10,000 ft dated from interviews Baker
had with the witness at the time of his own investigation in
1955, three years after the event. The Green-Rouse film
interview giving the same description was made in 1956. Ruppelt
also records this description in 1956. There don't seem to be
any earlier versions.

After the Condon Report came out with Hartmann endorsing the
"seagulls", Newhouse told McDonald in about 1970 that he _had_
given this description during the AF intelligence interview at
his home back in September 1952, and even claimed that he had
seen the transcript in which it was written down. McDonald
indicated that he was going to check whether such a documented
existed in the file. I don't know if he did, but the interview
report by the Director of Intelligence, 28th Air Division, is
available at


and against Question 9B "shape of objects?" the following answer
is recorded: "Objects appeared approx as long as they were wide
and thin." The rest of the interview adds nothing to this
description. I can't find any other source in the original BB
documents that contains or alludes to a more explicit
description. So there's apparently no evidence that Newhouse
described gunmetal saucers face-to-face the size of a B29 at
10,000 ft before 1955, but in 1952 he did describe the objects as
thin and flat, which one can interpret easily enough as

The fact that the film showed not these full-moon-sized discs
but, rather, unresolved or scarcely resolved lights only about
1.5 - 5.5 arcmins across was explained by Newhouse. It took two
or three minutes to get the camera out of the suitcase and the
film was taken when the objects were already receding. They had
been seen as big discs at first (within 10 degs of the zenith,
he told McDonald around 1970) but they were moving away towards
the W when he started filming. He never got the original back,
which was in bad shape anyway, but only a copy (to which he had
previously agreed according to BB documents). The original was
then supposedly destroyed in a fire! The copy had some frames
missing from the beginning according to Newhouse. This seems
quite possible since the film reel had been separated into
several different sections by AF and Navy people during
analysis. A Navy document references "90 seconds" of film which
seems to support the claim that frames were missing because the
known film is apparently 75 seconds long. Could these frames
have showed the objects to better advantage?

Possibly, but he described the objects as being well up towards
the zenith at 70 degs elevation and "proceeding in a westerly
direction" from one side of the sky to the other. There's no
mention of them rapidly climbing away from him or anything, the
group just drifted across the sky. So 15 seconds of missing film
presumably could have showed the objects a little closer and a
little larger. But not in the order of 10 times closer and 10
times larger. So it seems unlikely that any missing frames would
have showed the moon-sized gunmetal discs.

So, seagulls or not? Don't know, it's a 50/50 for me. Hartmann
claimed to have seen identical seagull flocks in sunlight near
Tremonton. Baker said he'd never seen seagulls like this. NPIC
didn't believe they were gulls. The character and rate of the
changes in brightness weren't right for wing motions, they were
too bright for too long, etc. But it is a bit concerning to see
the way the witness narrative seems to have firmed-up over time
and it would be nice not to have to rely on it for interpreting
the film.

Martin Shough

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