Monday, February 19, 2018

Project Blue Book and the Missing Cases

As happens so often, I’m working on one project and get diverted to another. This time I was looking through the Project Blue Book file index and noticed that many of the reports were labeled as “case missing.” There was a solution attached to the sightings, but, of course the index told me nothing of the case.

I made a quick count, and given that there are a couple of pages missing in the copy of the index that I have, and given that the notations are sometimes obscured and some of the pages are barely readable, my count isn’t the most accurate. It does, however, reveal a trend that is somewhat alarming.

Part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, one time how to Project Blue Book. Photo courtesy of USAF.
By my count, there are over 300 cases that are missing. Most have cards in the files with a little information on them… but this does demonstrate some of the rather sloppy gathering of information that went on… or maybe just suggests that some of those working at Blue Book over the years weren’t as careful as they might have been.

Sure, I know what you’re thinking. Just what were these cases?

I went through a couple of the microfilms to see what the project cards had listed so that we all would have an idea about them. Following is a sample of what I found.

On December 26, 1956, in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, the witnesses, who were civilians and military, watched a white, egg-shaped object with a red tinge around the edges. It was the size of a small grapefruit. It flashed with a very bright red light that was around a tenth of the size of the object. It was in sight for fifteen to twenty-five minutes.

An unidentified officer noted on the project card, “Concur with the reporting officer that sighting caused by a/c. Although there was a helicopter in the area and the details of the sighting indicate that this was the cause, the helicopter landed ten minutes before the object disappeared. However, time in sight might have been incorrectly estimated. Therefore, prob [sic] aircraft is evaluation of this sight[ing].”

The details are somewhat sparse but the report seems to indicate that the object looked to be the size of a small grapefruit rather than actually being that small. I’m a little amused that the “concurring officer,” whoever he might have been, tells us that the sighting was caused by an aircraft because there was a helicopter in the area, but adds that the helicopter landed before the object disappeared. Seems to be a bit contradictory to me.

However, it is fair to note, without knowing more about this case, and basing it only on the few lines on the project card, that it is difficult to argue with the conclusion. But then it is difficult to believe that one or more of these witnesses (and I deduced there was more than one based on the “source,” which was labeled as civilian and military), wouldn’t have been able to identify the object had it been that helicopter.

In another of those missing cases, that would have sent me on still another diversion a couple of years ago, we learn that on January 27, 1957, near Hellenburg, Germany, a civilian witness said that he (yes, I’m assuming the witness was male based on the period of the sighting, meaning more than half a century ago) saw a bell-shaped object that was intense black-white [and yes, it says that on the card] with a fiery red trail… [It] was observed for only 3 -  4 seconds. Exploded before it hit the ground.”

In the comments section, an officer wrote, “Everything here suggests that the object was, without a doubt, a bolide (fireball). See Dr. Olivier’s and Dr. La Paz rpts [reports].”

While it is probably a meteor and even with the officer writing that it was identified without a doubt, the case I labeled as “Probably Astronomical.” I just find that a little funny. And those reports by Olivier and La Paz were nowhere to be found as the index suggested.

The last one I’ll mention here is from Georgetown, Massachusetts, on February 8, 1957. The source is listed as a civilian and a FBI report (yes, a FBI report is listed as a source), which is somewhat curious. The summary said, “A very lengthy report to the FBI, which outlines a number of theories concerning ‘flying saucers,’ makes only brief mention of a UFO sighting. A few days after reading books by so-called UFO experts Scully and Keyhow [sic] source ‘saw a group of saucers.’…”

According to the comments, “Only the date is firmly established. Files show no reports of any strange or unusual objects for that particular date or area. Source is obviously a strong believer in ‘saucers’ which may have colored his very limited report.”

This case is somewhat revealing, providing clues about the thought processes at Blue Book. Their search of the files was only a search of the Air Force files at Blue Book and if a case was not in their files, then it simply didn’t exist, at least to them.

In searching the databases available to me in 2018, I found a listing that suggested that this as a disk-shaped object, but the source for that information was the Blue Book files. There is no indication on the project card of what shape the objects might have had. It only mentions saucers and that it was a daylight sighting.

Of course, with my access to many additional databases, I carried the search a little further but I wasn’t able to find anything more on the sighting, which is to say, that I didn’t find anything. Something might be there, especially for those who can access newspaper files. I did try the Black Vault, but could find nothing relating to this particular case there either.

I will note here, that most of the cases that are labeled as missing are of the same caliber, which means that I attach no significance to the fact they are missing. The problem is probably more related to sloppiness rather than attempting to hide anything because if you were hiding something, you wouldn’t list it in the index, noting that it was missing.

This rather quick survey, which allowed me to see some other things, is that many of the early cases were, in fact, classified. I found nothing listed as “top secret,” but there were many listed as “secret,” or “restricted,” and later as “confidential,” when the classification system was reorganized. Later, most of the files were not classified at all unless there was a national security aspect to them. That normally related to collection methods, though in the Belt, Montana case in 1967, the intrusion of a UFO over missile silos had national security implications.

The significance here is probably that some 300 cases are missing, but the cases themselves don’t seem to be all that important. It shows that those at Blue Book weren’t taking this seriously. They had reached a conclusion, or it might be said that their superiors had reached a conclusion, and they weren’t going to do anything to suggest those superiors might be wrong.

One thought did cross my mind. When there were inspections of their operation, and there would be inspections, how did they explain the missing cases? Could they just blame the earlier administrations… or did the inspectors, knowing the overall opinion of UFOs, just ignore the missing cases? There is nothing to suggest the missing cases were classified, and given that, there probably wouldn’t have been repercussions.

Anyway, this was something that I discovered that I found to be somewhat amusing. I thought I would share it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Project Moon Shadow, Randy Cramer and the Templeton Spaceman

Yes, I have hit a dry spell. There really isn’t anything new to say about Curse of Oak Island as they chase the Knights Templar and other false leads. They haven’t found anything significant but you have to give them credit for keeping this thing going for so long with so little to show for it.

But, in the last couple of days I have been asked a couple of questions and saw a picture of a “spaceman” on the Internet, so I thought I might combine a couple of these things. I suppose I could break it up into a couple of new posts, but there just isn’t that much to say about any of this that hasn’t been said before.

I was asked about NASA’s, or maybe the US’s “secret space program,” a ridiculous concept that belongs right up there is with the contactees of the 1950s and the gunman on the Grassy Knoll.

First, there was this nonsense of Project Moon Shadow, which apparently recruited kids as young as four to introduce them to the military operations on Mars and in space. Sounds like Ender Wiggin, recruited to fight the “buggers” in the science fiction novel, Ender’s Game. Anyway, Randy Cramer, who originally came out as Captain Kaye, said that he would taken from his bed for days or weeks at a time and then returned to his bed within minutes of his disappearance so it was never apparent that he had been gone. At 17, he was “involuntarily recruited” (I think the real term is “drafted”) to help protect five civilian settlements on Mars. Never mind that there is no corroborating evidence for this, that we’ve had spacecraft (as have other nations) in orbit around Mars for decades and we’ve had rovers on Mars since the 20th century. There is nothing seen there that would suggest any of this… oh, wait, I forgot, NASA and the other world space programs routinely delete anything that would suggest this is true which is why we don’t see it. It is a secret after all.

Nope. I don’t believe any of this, and while the stories being told aren’t even good science fiction. I’m not sure why anyone would accept any of this as true, but apparently there are many who do. If you’re interested in these tales as just stories, fine, but if you believe this nonsense you are in need of some professional help.

Solway Spaceman aka the Templeton Spaceman
Second, on one of the news feeds, was the Solway Spaceman or the Cumberland Spaceman. The picture was taken back in the 1960s by Jim Templeton so it is also known as the Templeton Spaceman. Anyway, he didn’t see the figure in the viewfinder of the camera as he took a picture of his daughter. It looked like someone in a space suit complete with visor and this puzzled Templeton. He took the photograph to the police, who did investigate but didn’t find a solution that was satisfactory.

British UFO investigator, David Clarke, has proposed what seems like the best solution. According to him, Templeton’s wife, Annie, who was wearing a light blue dress and had short dark hair, wandered into the frame, unseen by Templeton. The camera viewfinder only showed about 70% of what would be captured on film. With her back to the camera, and her light blue dress washed out by the bright sun, it is possible that it was her in the picture. According to Clarke, other pictures taken at the same time, showed the dress in the same washed out color and the haircut that suggests some sort of helmet.

To me, this very plausible explanation makes sense. I mean, if there had been a spaceman wandering around the park that day, wouldn’t there have been other reports, and possibly other pictures. Looking at it with the thought it might be a woman with her back to the camera, you can see that as well.

The problem here, with both these stories is that one is absurd and the second is an optical illusion. Both have solutions. One you don’t believe because there is no reliable, corroborative evidence and the other we know what was seen. Yet, both of them have popped up again, this week and we shouldn’t have to deal with either of them. As I have said in the past of many other UFO cases, these two should be relegated to footnotes if not forgotten completely. That, of course, will never happen and in ten years I’ll probably have to revisit these reports to explain all this again.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Curse of Oak Island and the Knights Templar Cross

I now understand why the Laginas boys are chasing the Knights Templar again. It has nothing to do with that lead cross recovered during one of the recent metal detector sweeps. I believe it has to do with the upcoming programs on History about the Knights Templar. It is known as cross (forgive the unintentional pun) pollination.

But first, I journey into the past. Remember that old program, Chasing UFOs? They went to Roswell, camped out on the debris field (or so they said) and found a button off an Air Force uniform that some said proved the Air Force had been there… but all it really proved was that someone didn’t know his or her history. In July 1947, when it is said the UFO crashed, the Air Force didn’t exist as a separate branch, and if a button from a Class A uniform was found that had any relevance, it would have been from an Army uniform. It was clear to me that someone had planted that button out there for those camping to find. Someone who didn’t know the history of the military and someone who didn’t know that the debris field had been searched many times by many people using a variety of methods and the button had escaped detection. For more information on this, see:

So now we move to the Curse of Oak Island, and it had seemed that they had abandoned the Knights Templar connection a couple of seasons ago. Now they were back following those leads, which took them again to Europe, particularly France, where they found a Templar cross carved into the stone of a dungeon. It was a strange looking cross, with the left arm longer than the right and a bit of a loop, or maybe an “eye” at the top. They point this out to us, calling it a Templar cross… But you can find the images for the Knights Templar cross here:

And none of them look like the cross on Oak Island or the one carved into the wall of that dungeon which is seen here.

And then, coincidentally, a cross made of lead, was found on Oak Island that bears a striking resemblance to the cross craved in the dungeon. Extraordinary coincidence, or maybe something a little bit sinister?

It seemed to me, as mentioned on the program, that the cross was in very good condition, and had it been hiding there on the island all these years, you would expect it to be somewhat degraded… but not it was buried and they had unearthed it during all their boring around on the island. It wouldn’t have been exposed to the elements they way it would have been on the surface.

I’m not sure that I buy that because even if buried, it would have been exposed to chemicals in the soil and to the water that seems to be so close to the surface. To me it looked too pristine.  But hey, just my opinion…

Until I saw the promo for the upcoming programs about the Knights Templar. Now it seems to be cross promotion and a way to spin off a new series because it is becoming clear that the Laginas aren’t going to find any treasure. They’ve played around on the island for years, brought in amazing technology, dug down to the bedrock in what they said was the original money pit and they have no treasure. The string has just about played out.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Curse of Oak Island - They Reach the Bottom of the Money Pit?

The Money Pit?
Let me see if I have this straight. They drilled a huge hole using the best and most modern equipment available. They drilled it right where they had told us all season the original money pit had been dug. They defeated the water traps. The got all the way down to the bedrock. They couldn’t drill any deeper (well, probably they could but it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort and money but it is clear that those in the 17th century who allegedly created the money pit couldn’t have dug deeper) and they found…





There was no treasure. There were no hidden manuscripts. There was no vault, though there did seem to be a void which didn’t prove much of anything other than there was a void that they thought might have been the vault. But they reached the bottom, something that no one else had been able to do… and they found nothing.

Is this the end?

Why, of course not. They decided that they missed because they were slightly off the mark. After all, they had that little iron cross that seemed to match those created by the Templars they had found on the beach a few days earlier. They had those bits of manuscript, bone and pottery that were buried far down suggesting something real was hidden there. They had that spike. All this suggested to them that the treasure was there.

You have to hand it to them for tenacity. They’ve spent millions (or someone has) and they haven’t had much of a return on the investment, at least from the money pit. I don’t know how much of their own money the Laginas have spent, or how much of their investors money has been spent and I don’t know how much they’re paid for their appearance on the show or really any of the financial details, but someone is making money here. If they weren’t, last week would have been the last show.

“Well, boys and girls, we reached the bottom of the money pit and there was nothing there for us. It’s been fun but it’s time to pack up and go home. Catch ya later.”

Instead, well, there’s some money left in the bank so let’s just move the equipment, what, twenty feet to the right or left and do it all again.

I really do hope they find treasure. I’ve been interested in the money bit since I stumbled across the information in an old book that I bought in the late 1960s. As I have mentioned, it had a segment on the money pit. And I read D’arcy O’Connor’s The Big Dig, when it first came out in paperback in 1978… but I fear the Laginas have solved the mystery of the money pit and the solution is that there is no money pit (other than millions that have been thrown into the ground for the last two centuries).

I’ll be around to the end of the show, though I think we’ve already seen the end. Everything that follows is just anti-climax.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Curse of Oak Island - A Mid-season Analysis

This is going to be rather short because there is really nothing new to report here. The Laginas boys are still digging up the island, but now they have another new, high-tech piece of equipment that will create a relatively huge hole in the island. This will make access to the bottom easier and maybe a little safer for the divers
Boring operations a long time ago... and yes, I said
"Boring operations," for a very good reason.
who will be going down into it but won’t yield anything of importance. We’ve been down this road so many times that it is beginning to look like the boy who cried “Wolf!”

Sure, they have made some interesting finds, but none of them actually suggest a treasure on the island. There were the two bone fragments, one apparently from a person of European heritage and one from someone from the Middle East. That doesn’t put a treasure on the island, but apparently it was enough to move us back to the idea that the Knights Templar had a hand in all this.

For those who don’t know, the Knights Templar were organized as a sort of military force (think Jedi) who became quite rich and powerful. Those not engaged in combat operations, organized a system of early banking (think Iron Bank). King Philip IV (think Lannisters) of France, heavily in debt to the Iron Bank… I mean the Knights Templar, ordered most of them arrested on the night of October 13, 1307, and eventually executed (didn’t that happen to the Jedi?).

The point is that the Knights Templar had accumulated massive wealth, and it is now suggested that in the nearly two hundred years before Columbus (yes, I know the Vikings had landed in Canada long before this and nearly every educated person knew the world was round), made their way to Oak Island to hide much of their wealth. With that, they’re off again, meaning the Laginas, to France to begin their quest for more knowledge of the Knights Templar, even though that had been explored in the past.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy seeing the interiors of those old buildings and a look at that cities of Europe, which is why I watch The Amazing Race. You get a good look at life in other parts of the world, but with Oak Island, we’re supposed to get a look at the treasure and not some new excuse for touring parts Europe.

At this point, with History telling us every chance they get that Curse of Oak Island is the number one rated cable show, we know they’re going to stretch it out as long as possible. This is why we keep coming back to points from the past that seemed to go nowhere and its why little reference is made about the provenance of documents and debris they have found, unless it fits into their narrative. Yes, the bones were from people who lived in the decades before the treasure hunt began in 1795, but they are also from a period in which travelers from around the world were finding themselves on the North American continent. Without some sort of context, the Laginas’ discoveries don’t actually lead anywhere. The narrator asks, “If such is true, then couldn’t this mean that such is also true,” which might be the case, but probably isn’t.

Given all this, I predict that there will be no major discovery this season. While the ratings remain high, they’ll just keep milking this for all they can. When we reach the end of the season, they’ll have drilled down to a reasonable depth and there will be hints of greater things to find… but we won’t get those results just yet. We’ll have to wait to see what was found with hints that it is extraordinary.

The problem here is that we’ve been through all that before. Remember the gold object and the treasure vault they seemed to have found just as one (the third, I think) season ended? Yet in the next, they were still looking for that vault and they couldn’t find that gold object even with a diver in the shaft looking for it.

Yes, I will be tuned in each week, trying my best to stay awake while they wander around with metal detectors, stand on the surface and watch as more drilling takes place and sitting around in their high-tech war room where they discuss the “exciting” finds of the week or the month or even seasons passed.

And next season, I’ll hope they make some progress in finding actual treasure rather than a few old coins, bits of wood, iron nails, and a cap gun from the 1950s. And yes, it seems that I’m writing this season off, but what have the found, really, that has any relevance to finding a treasure. I fear we’ll have to wait longer to learn any truth about the Curse, but then, I guess that’s why we all tune in. 

Fake News and La Madera

The UFO community has had to put up with fake news for much more than a century. In 1897 there were a number of Great Airship stories that were printed by newspapers. The reporters and editors had to know that some of them were fake, but the interest was there, the stories were there and the bottom line is that newspapers need to make money. Hype a story that doesn’t deserve it, add details that the reporters invent and a few quotes to make the story better or just make it up completely.

Aurora, Texas in the early 1970s. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
I am convinced, by the evidence, or the lack there of, that the Aurora UFO crash of April, 1897, is a hoax begun by a newspaper stringer who wanted to do something for his town. Beyond the story printed in 1897, there isn’t much evidence of the airship crash, until UFO researchers became involved in the 1970s. The point here, however, is that in today’s world, this would be labeled as fake news.

To bring this closer to us, here in 2018, and keeping with the theme of the last few posts, I looked at the La Madera UFO landing. This was a sighting that took place in the hours after the Zamora sighting, and by hours, I mean something like 30 hours after the landing in Socorro. Orlando Gallegos said that just after 12:30 a.m. on April 26, 1964, he had gone outside and about 200 yards away, saw something he told Sheriff Martin Vigil, looked to be as long as a telephone pole and as big a round as a car. He said there was a bluish-white flame all around it and as Gallegos watched, the flames went out. I provided a long report on this sighting in Encounter in the Desert, for those who wish to learn more about the case.

The point here is not to talk about the sighting, but about one of the newspaper reports that appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican on December 28, 1969, some five years after the sighting. At the end of the story written by Ron Longto, Vigil is quoted as saying, “I’m not going to speculate on just what was at La Madera that night… but I hope it never comes back.”

Dr. James McDonald
Dr. James McDonald had seen the story and wanted to check on the veracity of it, meaning the quotes attributed to Vigil, not to mention some of the facts of the case. He couldn’t get Gallegos on the telephone but he could find Vigil. In a March 12, 1970, letter, McDonald wrote:

Upon explaining the purpose of my call and citing the press story, I got a laughing but emphatic statement from Vigil, “They absolutely misquoted me.” I presumed from that he was about to disclaim everything in the story but that was not the case at all. Instead, his strong initial reaction was sensitivity to the closing sentence of the story, in which the reporter took the liberty of inventing the quote that Vigil “hopes [sic] it never comes back.” The one other disclaimer was to the effect that he had said nothing to reporter Longo to suggest that “they really put the heat on Gallegos to keep his mouth shut about that sighting in La Madera.”
There is one other thing to say about all this. I have been accused of misquoting people on a number of occasions, but those allegations were untrue. I had taped the interviews and the transcripts reflected what I had said they said. J. Bond Johnson, the man who took most of the photographs in General Ramey’s office after the Roswell story broke in 1947, said that I had misquoted him on a number of points. When I read the transcripts to him over the telephone, he said that he hadn’t said those things because they weren’t true. He was convinced that I had misquoted him and he wanted to hear the tapes so he could prove it.

I sent him an edited version so that he wouldn’t have to sit through the whole four hours of interviews, but that had the quotes on them. His response was to say that I had admitted to editing the tapes and he couldn’t find all the quotes. So, I sent him all four hours, plus the transcripts, twice, and the best he could do was show that I had left an unimportant conjunction out of the transcripts. That, of course, didn’t satisfy him and even though he had the tapes, he continued to say that I had misquoted him. He had gone from telling the truth in the interviews I conducted to an assault on me, even when he knew he was wrong.

The point is that sometimes, when people don’t like the direction of the quotes, they claim to have been misquoted. Here, with Vigil, I see no reason he would claim to have been misquoted on something as innocuous as the last line in the story unless that was something that he hadn’t said. The quote is a nice wrap up for the story, a good final line, and the impression of the reporter might have been that Vigil felt that way, but Vigil said he didn’t say it. At least he said he hadn’t said it.

Is this overly important to the overall story? Not really, other than give us a look at something that in the world today would be called fake news. Vigil didn’t seem overly upset by the quote given his reaction to it. But it also demonstrates that we, as investigators, researchers, writers, and proponents of a point of view must get this stuff right even when it is something as inconsequential as that last line. E must be careful or we can damage all the work we have done.

And, besides all that, I thought it was kind of an interesting anecdote…

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Holder's "Five-Page Report" - Updated

Carmon Marano
Let’s try this one more time. I had found a reference to a five-page report written by Captain Richard T. Holder in a letter written by Dr. James McDonald. When searching for the documentation, I was using a Xerox copy of the Project Blue Book file, which, I have learned, was somewhat jumbled. I was interested in this five-page report because I could find no such report in the Blue Book files. I believe I have now sorted this out and can say, “There is no five-page report.” That means that I have found the documents and they run to more than five pages. I wonder where McDonald got the idea there were only five pages.

Searching through the Blue Book documents that were recovered by former Project Blue Book officer, Carmon Marano, which seem to be everything that was in the official file, I found a “table of contents” for a section in a folder inside the original folder also labeled with the date. That table of contents labeled the tabs, the first of which was Tab A, Lt. (sic) Holder report. That was everything that I believed was part of that original report, plus several other documents. Following, are the images of that whole section of the Blue Book file.

It is clear that the handwritten notes on the drawings made by Lonnie Zamora were made by Holder and that the illustrations were made on the evening of April 24 and in the early morning of April 25. Notice that Zamora did sign them.

Following is a three-page report that is credited to Holder. It is nearly the same as another report credited, in the Xerox file that I have, to Major William Conner, who was the UFO officer (as well as a public relations guy at Kirtland AFB). What I believe happened is that Connor used the Holder report for the basis of his report, though I’m not sure that I understand the rational for it. He added nothing to the report that would suggest a reason for retyping it. It is clear, from the small illustrations in Connor’s report, that they are not the same (meaning here the oval is larger, the symbol is more compact and the final image has a symbol on it that seems to be a hybrid of the description).

Other than some minor changes, and the names having been redacted from Connor’s report, but not in Holder’s, this is a transcript of the interview with Zamora conducted by Holder and Brynes that first night.

For comparison, here is the report attributed to Major Connor so that you all can see for yourselves what the differences are.

This, I believe, should be the end, the very end of the episode. Had it not been for McDonald’s mention of the five-page report, I’m not sure that I would have been able to put all this together. Again, there are many people who contributed to this including Carmon Marano, Ben Moss, Tony Angiola, Rob Swiatek and Rob Mercer. I have used the Project Blue Book microfilms, the Fold3 website, the Xerox copy provided to me by the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, documents retrieved from the files of Dr. James McDonald and a couple of anonymous contributions. This wouldn’t have been possible if not for the Internet and the cooperation of the people named here… and couldn’t have been done anywhere as quickly without these resources.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Moonlight in Socorro, April 24, 1964

Yes, this is something of an exercise in futility... Since the question came up about the available moonlight on the Socorro landing site on April 24, 1964, I thought, for fun, I'd see if I could find the data. Took about five minutes, but for those of you interested in such things, here it is.

Sun and Moon Data for One Day
U.S. Naval Observatory
Astronomical Applications Department
Socorro, Socorro County, NM (Longitude W106° 53', Latitude N34° 3')
Friday, April 24, 1964
Mountain Standard Time                        

Begin civil twilight
  4:59 a.m.                                      
5:26 a.m.                                    
Sun transit
12:06 p.m.                                      
6:46 p.m.                                    
End civil twilight
7:12 p.m.                                     
4:40 a.m.                                      
5:03 p.m.                                      
Moon transit
11:09 p.m.                                       
5:09 a.m. on following day                                  
Closest Primary Moon Phase: Full Moon on April 26, 1964 at 10:49 a.m. (local standard time)

Phase of the Moon on April 24, 1964: Waxing Gibbous with 96% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.