The flight was at 19,000 ft in an area of generally fair weather, with good visibility, attested by Howard
and by weather maps for that day. No obvious optical or electrical explanation seems capable of
accounting for this long- duration sighting. The objects were dark, not glowing, and their position
relative to the sunset point precludes sundogs as an explanation. Mirage phenomena could not
account for the eighty-mile persistence, nor for the type of systematic shape-changes described by the
witnesses, nor for the geometrically regular formations taken up by the satellite objects as they shifted
positions from time to time. Just before an F-86 arrived from Goose AFB at Howard's request, First
Officer Boyd and Navigator George Allen, who were watching the objects at that moment, said the
small objects seemed to merge into the larger object. Then the large object receded rapidly towards the
northwest and was out of sight in a matter of seconds. Such a maneuver of a number of satellite
objects seeming to merge with or to enter a larger object has been reported in other UFO incidents
around the world.
7. Case 7. Goshen, Ind., April 27, 1950:
Another early airline sighting that seemed worth personally crosschecking involved the crew and
passengers of a TWA DC-3 on the evening of 4/27/50 (Refs. 4, 5, 10, 23). I have interviewed both the
pilot, Capt. Robert Adickes, and the copilot, Capt. Robert F. Manning, and confirmed all of the principal
features first reported in detail in a magazine account by Keyhoe (Ref. 31). The DC-3 was at about
2000 ft, headed for Chicago, when, at about 8:25 p.m., Manning spotted a glowing red object aft of the
starboard wing, well to their rear. Manning sent to me a copy of notes that he had made later that night
at his Chicago hotel. Quoting from the notes:
"It was similar in appearance to a rising blood red moon, and appeared to be closing with us at a
relatively slow rate of convergence. I watched its approach for about two minutes, trying to determine
what it might be. Then I attracted Adickes' attention to the object asking what he thought it was. He
rang for our hostess, Gloria Henshaw, and pointed it out to her. At that time the object was at a relative
bearing of about 100 degrees and slightly lower than we were. It was seemingly holding its position
relative to us, about one-half mile away."
Manning's account then notes that Capt. Adickes sent the stewardess back to alert the passengers
(see Keyhoe's account, Ref. 31), and then banked the DC-3 to starboard to try to close on the
unknown object. Manning continues in his 4/27/50 notes:
"As we turned, the object seemed to veer away from us in a direction just west of north, toward the
airport area of South Bend. It seemed to descend as it increased its velocity, and within a few minutes
was lost to our sight..."
Although, in my interview, I found some differences in the recollected shape of the object, as
remembered by the two TWA pilots, both were positive it was no aircraft, both emphasized its red glow,
and both were impressed by its high speed departure. Manning remarked to me that he'd never seen
anything else like it before or since; and he conceded, in response to my query, that the decreased
number of airline reports on UFOs in recent years probably stems chiefly from pilot reluctance to report.
Both he and Adickes, like most other pilots I have asked, indicated they were unaware of any airline
regulations precluding reporting, however. I mentioned to Adickes that there is indirect indication in one
reference (Ref. 5) that the official explanation for this sighting was "blast-furnace reflections off clouds."
He indicated this was absolutely out of the question. It is to be noted that here, as in many other pilot
sightings, an upper bound, even if rough, is imposed on the range to the unknown by virtue of a
downward slanting line of sight. In such instances, meteor-explanations are almost automatically
excluded. The Goshen case has no evident meteorological, astronomical, or optical explanation.
8. Case 8. Newport News, Va., July 14, 1952:
Another case in which experienced pilots viewed UFOs below them, and hence had helpful
background-cues to distance and size, occurred near 8:12 p.m. EST, July 14, 1952. A Pan American
DC-4, en route from New York to Miami, was at 8000 ft over Chesapeake Bay, northeast of Newport
News, when its cockpit crew witnessed glowing, disc-shaped objects approaching them at a lower
altitude (estimated at perhaps 2000 ft). First Officer Wm. B. Nash, at the controls for Capt. Koepke
(who was not on the flight deck during the sighting) and Second Officer Wm. H. Fortenberry saw six
amber-glowing objects come in at high velocity and execute a peculiar flipping maneuver during an
acute-angle direction change. Almost immediately after the first six reversed course, two other
apparently identical discs shot in under the DC-4, Joining the other six. I am omitting here certain other
maneuver details of significance, since these are on record in many accounts (4, 5, 10, 11, 25).
Although I have not interviewed Nash (now in Germany with PAA, and Fortenberry is deceased), I
believe that there has never been any dispute as to the observed facts. Nash has stated to T.M. Olsen
(author of Ref. 11) that one of the most accurate accounts of the facts has been given by Menzel (Ref.
25), adding that Menzel's explanation seems entirely out of the question to him. A half-dozen witnesses
on the ground also saw unknowns at that time, according to official investigators.
The objects had definite edges, and glowed "like hot coals", except when they blinked out, as they did
in unison just after the first six were joined by the latter two. When the lights came back on, Nash and
Fortenberry saw them climbing westward, eight in line, north of Newport News. The objects climbed
above the altitude of the DC-4 and then blinked out in random order and were seen no more.
Menzel explains this famous sighting as resulting from a searchlight playing on thin haze layers, an
almost entirely ad hoc assumption, and one that will not account for the amber color, nor for the distinct
edges, nor for the final climb-out of the objects. The rapid motion, abrupt course- reversal, and the
change from negative to positive angles of elevation of the line of sight to the unknowns seem to
preclude any meteorological-opti explanation, and there is, of course, no possibility of explaining cases
like this in terms of ball lightning, meteors, balloons, or many of the other frequently adduced
phenomena. Nash has stated that he feels these were "intelligently operated craft." This case is
9. Many other pilot-sightings, both recent and old, could readily be cited. Not only civilian pilots but
dozens of military pilots have sighted wholly unconventional objects defying ready explanation (see
esp. Ref. 10 and Ref. 7 for many such instances). Thus, the answer to the question, "Why don't pilots
see UFOs?" is; "They do."
|Why Don't Pilots See UFOs - continued (3)
by James McDonald, Ph.D.
6. Case 6. Eastern Quebec, June 29, 1954:
A case in which I have not been able to directly interview any witnesses, but about which a great deal
is on record, through contemporary press accounts, through the pilot's subsequent report, and through
recent interviews by BBC staff members, occurred near Seven Islands, Quebec, just after sunset on
6/29/54. A BOAC Stratocruiser, bound from New York to London with 51 passengers, was followed for
18 minutes (about 80 miles of airpath) by one large object and six smaller objects that flew curious
"formations" about it. The pilot of the Stratocruiser was Capt. James Howard, a highly respected BOAC
flight officer still flying with BOAC. At the time, he had 7500 flight hours. About 20 witnesses, including
both passengers and crew, gave statements as to the unprecedented nature of these objects (Refs. 4,
10, and Associated Press wire stories datelined June 30, 1954).
|Why Don't Pilots See UFOs?
Dr. James McDonald,
Statement on UFOs to the House Subcommittee on
Science and Aeronautics, 1968 Symposium on UFOs