There is much more detail, not all mutually consistent as to maneuvers and directions, in the full accounts I
obtained from Vinther, Bachmeier, and Williams. The dive, pacing, and fly-under maneuvers were made
quickly and at such a distance from the field that Williams did not see them clearly, though he did see the
object leave the vicinity of the DC-3. An Air Force colonel and his aide were among the passengers, and the
aide caught a glimpse of the unknown object, but I have been unable to locate him for further cross-check.
The erratic maneuvers exhibited by the unknown object while under observation from the control tower
would, by themselves, make this a better- than-average case. But the fact that those maneuvers prompted a
tower operator to alert a departing aircrew to investigate, only to have the object dive upon and pace the
aircraft after a non-inertial course-reversal, makes this an unusually interesting UFO. Its configuration, about
which Vinther and Bachmeier were quite positive in their remarks to me (they repeatedly emphasized the
bright moonlight, which checks with the near-full moon on 1/20/51 and the sky-cover data I obtained from the
Sioux City Weather Bureau), combines with other features of the sighting to make it a most significant case.
The reported shape (tailless, engineless, unswept aircraft of large size) does not match that of any other
UFO that I am aware of; but my exposure to the bewildering range of reported configurations now on record
makes this point less difficult to assimilate. This case is officially carried as Unidentified, and, in a 1955
publication (Ref. 29), was one of 12 Unidentifieds singled out for special comment. A contemporary account
(Ref. 28), taking note of a then recent pronouncement that virtually all UFOs are explainable in terms of
misidentified Skyhook balloons, carried a lead- caption: "The Office of Naval Research claims that cosmic
ray balloons explain all saucer reports. If so, what did this pilot see?" Certainly it would not be readily
explained away as a balloon, a meteor, a sundog, or ball lightning. Rather, it seems to be just one more of
thousands of Unidentified Flying Objects for which we have no present explanations because we have
laughed such reports out of scientific court. Bachmeier stated to me that, at the time, he felt it had to be some
kind of secret device, but, in the ensuing 17 years, we have not heard of any aircraft that can execute
instantaneous course-reversal. Vinther's comment to me on a final question I asked as to what he thinks, in
general, about the many airline-pilot sightings of unidentified objects over the past 20 years, was: "We're not
all having hallucinations."
4. Case 4. Minneapolis, Minn., October 11, 1951:
There are far more private pilots than airline pilots, so it is not surprising that there are more UFO sightings
from the former than the latter. An engineer and former Air Force P-38 pilot, Joseph J. Kaliszewski, flying for
the General Mills Skyhook balloon program on balloon-tracking missions saw highly unconventional objects
on two successive days in October, 1951 (Refs. 5, 7, 10). Both were reported through company channels to
the official investigative agency (Bluebook), whose report (Ref. 7) describes the witnesses as "very reliable"
and as "experienced high altitude balloon observers." On October 10, at about 10:10 a.m., Kaliszewski and
Jack Donaghue were at 6000 ft in their light plane, climbing toward their target balloon, when Kaliszewski
spotted "a strange object crossing the skies from East to West, a great deal higher and behind our balloon
(which was near 20,000 ft at that time)." When I interviewed Kaliszewski, he confirmed that this object "had a
peculiar glow to it, crossing behind and above our balloon from east to west very rapidly, first coming in at a
slight dive, leveling off for about a minute and slowing down, then into a sharp left turn and climbing at an
angle of 50 to 60 degrees into the southeast with a terrific acceleration." The two observers had the object in
view for an estimated two minutes, during which it crossed a span of some 45 degrees of the sky. No vapor
trail was seen, and Kaliszewski was emphatic in asserting that it was not a balloon, jet, or conventional
The following morning, near 0630, Kaliszewski was flying on another balloon mission with Richard Reilly and,
while airborne north of Minneapolis, the two of them noticed an odd object. Quoting from the account
submitted to the official agency (Ref. 7, Rept. No. 2):
"The object was moving from east to west at a high rate and very high. We tried keeping the ship on a
constant course and using the reinforcing member of the windshield as a point. The object moved past this
member at about 50 degrees per second. This object was peculiar in that it had what can be described as a
halo around it with a dark undersurface. It crossed rapidly and then slowed down and started to climb in lazy
circles slowly. The pattern it made was like a falling oak leaf inverted, It went through these gyrations for a
couple minutes and then with a very rapid acceleration disappeared to the east. This object Dick and I
watched for approximately five minutes."
Shortly after, still another unknown object shot straight across the Sky from west to east, but not before
Kaliszewski succeeded in radioing theodolite observers at the University of Minnesota Airport. Two
observers there (Douglas Smith, Richard Dorian) got fleeting glimpses of what appeared to them to be a
cigar-shaped object viewed through the theodolite, but could not keep it in view due to its fast angular
motion. In my conversations with Kaliszewski about these sightings , I gained the impression of talking with a
careful observer, in full accord with impressions held by three other independent sources, including Air Force
The October 10 sighting is officially categorized as "Aircraft," the October 11 main sighting as "Unidentified."
When I mentioned this to Kaliszewski, he was unable to understand how any distinction could be so drawn
between the two sightings, both of which he felt matched no known aeronautical device. Clearly, objects
performing such intricate maneuvers are not meteors, nor can they be fitted to any known meteorological
explanations of which I am aware. Instead, these objects seem best described as devices well beyond the
state of 1951 (or 1968) technology.
5. Case 5. Willow Grove, Pa., May 21, 1966:
Skipping over many other pilot observations to a more recent one which I have personally checked, I call
attention to a close-range airborne sighting of a domed-disc, seen under midday conditions by two
observers. One of them, William C. Powell, of Radnor, Pa., is a pilot with 18,000 logged flight hours. He and
a passenger, Miss Muriel McClave, were flying in Powell' s Luscombe in the Philadelphia area on the
afternoon of 5/21/66 when an object that had been first spotted as it apparently followed an outbound flight
of Navy jets from Willow Grove NAS made a sharp (non-banking) turn and headed for Powell's plane on a
near-collision course. As the object passed close by, at a distance that Powell put at roughly 100 yards, they
both got a good look at the object. It was circular in planform and had no wings or visible means of
propulsion, both witnesses emphasized to me in interviews. The upper domed portion they described as
"porcelain-white", while the lower discoid portion was bright red ("dayglow red" Powell put it). It was slightly
below their altitude as it passed on their right, and Powell pointed out that it was entirely solid, for it obscured
the distant horizon areas. His brief comment about its solidity and reality was, "It was just like looking at a
Cadillac." He estimated its airspeed as perhaps 200 mph, and it moved in a steady, non- fluttering manner.
He estimated its diameter at perhaps 20 feet. Miss McClave thought it might have been nearer 40 feet
across. Each put the thickness-to- diameter ratio as about one-half. After it passed their starboard wing,
Powell could see it only by looking back over his shoulder through a small aft window, but Miss McClave had
it in full view when suddenly, she stated to me, it disappeared instantaneously, and they saw no more of it.
Powell flies executive transports for a large Eastern firm, after years of military and airline duty. I have
discussed the case with one of his superiors, who speaks without qualification for Powell's trustworthiness.
At a UFO panel discussion held on April 22, 1967 at the annual meeting of the American Society of
Newspaper Editors , Powell was asked to summarize his sighting. His account is in the proceedings of that
session (Ref. 30). I know of no natural phenomenon that could come close to explaining this sighting. The
visibility was about 15 miles, they were flying in the clear at 4500 ft, and the object passed nearby. A pilot
with 18,000 hours flight experience is not capable of precise midair distance and speed estimates, but his
survival has probably hinged on not commonly making errors of much over a factor of two. Given the account
and accepting its reliability, it seems necessary to say that here was one more case of what Gen. Samford
described as "credible observers seeing relatively incredible objects". I felt that Powell's summary of his
sighting at the ASNE meeting was particularly relevant because, in addition to my being on the panel there,
Dr. D. H. Menzel and Mr. Philip J. Klass, both strong exponents of meteorological-type UFO theories, were
present to hear his account. I cannot see how one could explain this incident in terms of meteorological
optics nor in terms of ball lighting plasmoids. Here again, we appear to be dealing with a meaningful
observation of some vehicle or craft of non-terrestrial origin. Its reported instantaneous disappearance defies
(as does the same phenomenon reported by J. B. Whitted and numerous other UFO witnesses) ready
explanation in terms of present-day scientific knowledge. Powell reported his sighting at Willow Grove NAS,
but it engendered no interest.
|Why Pilots Don't See UFOs - continued (2)
by James McDonald, Ph.D.
The essential point to be emphasized is that, shortly after Vinther Got his DC-3 airborne, under Williams'
instructions to investigate the oddly- behaving light, the object executed a sudden dive and flew over the DC
at an estimated 200 ft vertical clearance, passing aft and downward. Then a surprising maneuver unfolded.
As Vinther described it to me, and as described in contemporary accounts, the object suddenly reversed
course almost 180 degrees, without slowing down or slowing, and was momentarily flying formation with their
DC-3, off its port wing. (Vinther's dry comment to me was: "This is something we don't see airplanes do.")
Vinther and Bachmeier agreed that the object was very big, perhaps somewhat larger than a B-, they
suggested to newspapermen who interviewed them the following day. Moonlight gave them a good
silhouetted view of the object, which they described as having the form of a fuselage and unswept wing, but
not a sign of any empennage, nor any sign of engine-pods, propellers, or jets. Prior to its dive, it had been
seen only as a light; while pacing their DC-3, the men saw no luminosity, though during the dive they saw a
light on its underside. After about five seconds, the unknown object began to descend below them and flew
under their plane. They put the DC-3 into a steep bank to try to keep it in view as it began this maneuver;
and as it crossed under them, they lost it, not to regain sight of it subsequently.
|Why Don't Pilots See UFOs?
Dr. James McDonald,
Statement on UFOs to the House Subcommittee on
Science and Aeronautics, 1968 Symposium on UFOs