Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Jacques Vallee and the 'Secret Onion'


John B. Alexander's 2011 book, 'UFOs: Myths; Conspiracies and Realities' took us inside the 'Advanced Theoretical Physics Project,' (ATP) a group of US government employees, and others working in private enterprise, who took a detailed look into UAP, in the 1980's.

Image courtesy of Amazon Books

Jacques Vallee's latest book, 'Forbidden Science: Volume Three' has a number of very interesting observations about the ATP, and even after thirty years, his perceptive comments are of real value. I therefore, thought that I would cite these references to the ATP, for your perusal, given that few people obtain a copy of this series of the Vallee diaries. In addition, I will add some comments from Alexander's book.

Image courtesy of Amazon Books

The ATP according to Alexander

' We also anticipated that if an exploration of the topic were conducted responsibly, one of two things would happen. The best scenario would be that we would be brought into the existing program, thus gaining the information we wanted. In addition, done properly, we believed that the ATP members could bring some new expertise to the table. The less desirable outcome was that we would be generically advised of a project and then censured...' (Alexander, p.15.)

'The initial desired outcome would be to determine who knew what about UFOs.' (Alexander, p.16.)

'The first set of meetings and briefings were conducted from 1984 through 1988.' (Alexander , p.21.)

Vallee 24 July 1985 p.199

'There was a meeting on frontier subjects in Washington recently. When Hal arrived he discovered the topic was UFOs, and the overall project was structured in multiple layers; like an onion.The meeting was classified above top secret, under a codeword. Fifteen attendees reviewed cases like Kirtland AFB, Cash-Landrum and Tehran. They included Howell McConnell and John Tyler. Kit had been invited but couldn't attend.

Two aspects of the meeting were ironic, Hal said. First, attendees were there because they ran programs that were impacted by unidentified signals but they were not necessarily interested in the UFO phenomenon itself.

Second irony; they came to the conclusion there must be as secret UFO project, somewhere else! Does the government have in its custody some saucer fragments? Perhaps it does not know what to do with them, someone suggested. Perhaps American industry should be given access to the supposed hoard of alien treasures? Perhaps it already has? In the absence of any hard fact this remains wild speculation, even at such high levels of the government.'

27 July 1985 p.200

'Hal...left with a  proposal from me that he will take to the Washington group (which I now nickname the "Secret Onion.') on August sixth.'

30 July 1985 p.200

'Bill Calvert, one of my most trusted sources, called me on Friday with some urgency."I've heard about a new group in Washington." he began, "a high-level project headed up by John Alexander, an Army expert. They study UFOs. Fifteen participants are positive, five are negative about UFO reality. One of them is John Gardner, who controls billions of dollars, probably for Star Wars. Creation of the group seems to have been precipitated by rumours started by the Soviets. They hinted to their friends in Washington that they had pieces of a saucer and didn't know what to do with them."

"How did you learn all this?" I asked, astonished that the supposedly classified group ("above top secret" Hal had told me, swearing me to silence) was already compromised. "I heard it from Jack Houck, an engineer at McDonald in Huntington Beach. He is a student of a woman friend of mine, a medium in L.A. He keeps bringing her some CIA types who give her coordinates and asks what she sees...So I called Hal , suggesting lunch, and I confronted him with the leak of his "supersecret" information. Hal was shocked when he heard it: "After all the care we took to define the secret according to different layers of the Onion," he said, "we've already failed! The idea was to dangle our collective skills before whoever is running the Big Project. Now that will never happen, we blew it. again!"

26 August 1985 p.203

'Hal send me a note from Texas,where his own institute is now established. He tells me that my proposal is included in what we still jokingly call the Secret Onion, because of the layers of increasing secrecy around the core people. Leaks have been stopped. John Alexander's horse had already fled the barn, however.'

23 November 1985 p.218

'News about Jack Houck: he will not be involved in UFO research with the government group after all...Hal tells me this results from official reactions when it became obvious that news of the Secret Onion's existence had somehow leaked to his New Age friends. The group has now given a briefing on UFOs to the Under Secretary for Defense. They requested copies of my biography and my proposal.

"If they give us a green light, I'll have to get organized," I told Hal. "You won't be the only one," he replied. "If they give us a green light, about 20 people will have to get organized."

1 January 1986 p.222

'Hal told me the Secret Onion project was delayed again.'

8 March 1986 p.226

'I have developed a screening process for reports, based on my expert system, and wrote an article about it (22).Hal promises funding from the Secret Onion, but I am not holding my breathe.'

(22) 'Towards the Use of Artificial intelligence Techniques in the Screening of Reports of Anomalous Phenomena.'   Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Los Angeles,19 April 1986.

23 March 1986 p.228

'Over dinner with Hal on Friday, I learned that the Secret Onion wasn't quite dead: a briefing was recently given to McMann, number two man at the CIA, who seemed to favour releasing some funds. He was asked two questions: (1) would a study of UFOs be useful to the agency? (2) Are other groups already doing it? McMann answered yes to the first question and no to the second.

16 April 1986. p.234

'I expect nothing from my visit to the Elysee, as I expect nothing from Hal's project with John Alexander and the Secret Onion.'

11 May 1986. p.242

'To Kit I intend to present strong comments about the Secret Onion project: I have no intention of becoming part of the outer skin of some shadowy organization whose chief's I don't trust and who seem to know less than I do about the problem.' (2)

(2) p.480.

'In February 2011 Colonel Alexander published a book (UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities. NY. Macmillan) describing his efforts to obtain funding for the top-secret project. It has become known that the key meetings took place under DoE supervision on May 20-25, 1985 in the secure facility of the BDM Corporation in McLean, Virginia. The group called itself the "Advanced Theoretical Physics Conference" or ATP.'

Alleged participants were Samuel Finch, Oke Shannon and John Kink of Los Alamos National Laboratory; Bill Wilkinson from CIA; Howell McConnell from NSA (whom I met in October 1972); Hal Puthoff and Jack Houck; Ed Speakman of INSCOM (Army Intelligence); Bill Souder and Bob Wood of McDonnell Douglas; Jack Stuart of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Bert Stubblebine of BDM; Ron Blackburn, Milt Janzen and Don Keuble of Lockheed; Ralph Freeman, Gary Bright, radiologist Paul Tyler, Ed  Dames and Lt. Col. Mike Neery. Ron Pandolfi of CIA also claims to have been involved.'

18 May 1986. p.243

'Kit and I only had two hours together at Detroit airport. He shares my concerns about the Secret Onion; some of the participants seem increasingly willing to believe any wild rumour they pick up from ufologists, without checking their reliability. He refused to take part in the meetings as long as no budget had been allocated to give it an official status. He recommended that I stay on the sidelines.

"There are two communities involved," he said, "On one hand are the scientists, together with the paranormal researchers like you and me, Hal and Dick Haines, Sturrock, Niemtzow, Schuessler; we represent a small community, 20 at most; on the other side are analysts, who come from Intelligence. So the idea would be to take some members from both groups, as in the Manhattan project, the intersection of these two sets. The challenge is to pick people carefully, so they can attack the problem in some concrete fashion."

"So what's the hang-up" I asked.

"Simple. The folks from the government side come from Star Wars; they are used to enormous budgets, so they have escalated their ambitions. What they have in mind is none other than your Alintel. By the way, in the process, they've become convinced that there was no other project."

"So what's the structure?" I asked.

"At the core is a group of bureaucrats from DoD running the proposed budget. The next layer would include scientists like you and Hal. You'd know everything except where the funds come from. The next layer would be composed of mission specialists with particular assignments. The outer layer of the Onion would be made up of consultants."

There were many problems with this concept when I reviewed it in my mind. For one thing, the core members include high-level analysts who have a religious agenda...Another problem I have with the Onion has to do with its supposed secrecy. These people are giving briefings left and right throughout Washington, looking for money. So, isn't the confidential nature of the project already compromised?"

22 June 1986 p.247

'Hal whispered to me that on July 2nd the briefing for the Secret Onion would be submitted to Lieutenant General Abrahamson, head of the Star Wars project.

"So what's new with the Secret Onion?" I asked. "Is it just another club, people who want to talk about flying saucers?"

"No, they're completely serious. The committee now includes the president of an aerospace company. He is willing to analyze any hard samples. The project comes before Lieutenant General Abrahamson on July 2nd; he is supposed to give us a charter, as I told you."

"What if he doesn't?"

"Then its a major setback, but we're working on other leads."'

SDI according to Alexander

'After setting the stage with the services, it was time to transition the project into a formal program with a real budget. The logical place to go was Strategic Defense Initiative, known to most people simply as SDI or by the colloquial name - Star Wars...Headed by Lieutenant General Jim Abrahamson, SDI had a budget of about five billion dollars...We figured that SDI certainly had both the money and the mission  that could support a small program to study UFOs...Our concern was that an uncorrelated target - meaning a UFO - might trigger a response based on erroneous data...As we moved ahead with the meeting and presented more data, the tone changed considerably. General Abrahamson noted that as a former fighter pilot the concepts intrigued him...However, when it came to money, he turned us down.' (Alexander, p.33-34.)

17 August 1986 p.257

'I had a long conversation with Hal: Abrahamson heard the Secret Onion briefing, reacted in an encouraging way, and appointed a scientific committee to make a recommendation, in true bureaucratic fashion. It is headed up by a man Hal describes as a friend, who financed part of the SRI work over the years. (8).

(8)  Vallee, p.481. 'Jack Vorona, a top manager for the Defence Intelligence Agency.'

More SDI according to Alexander

'General Abrahamson was not totally dismissive. He told us that his program would soon be monitoring more of space than had ever been done before. If we  could tell him what to look for, he would consider including that data in the algorithms that were being generated for the SDI system. For reasons not related to SDI, we did not have the opportunity to follow up on his offer.' (Alexander, p.35.)

20 September 1986 p.262/263

'Hal Puthoff tells me that the big Secret Onion briefing of September 5th has been sidetracked: a highly placed official decided the Abrahamson committee was the wrong venue. Unfortunately he never said what the "right" venue would be.'

28 November 1986 p.268

'Hal tells me that the Secret Onion project is dead. After all those high level meetings, someone who was even higher threw a monkey wrench into the gears. I believe they became visible prematurely. The ludicrous episode with Jack Houck has demonstrated that they were incapable of maintaining confidentiality."

7 March 1987 p.276

'Separately, Kit and Hal have assured me that plans for the Secret Onion were being revived in Washington. A budget 'niche' has been found, but someone has requested that the group brief the Air Force on their plans. The Space Command gave an enthusiastic green light. Already, arrangements are made for investigators to dig into some cases, but the first targets would be dead horses like the Bentwaters incident, Ummo, or the Prieure de Sion, all that conspiratorial stuff that obscures the genuine mystery. I have no doubt they can easily spend millions of dollars on such wild goose chases and come up with nothing. All this reinforces my suspicion that nobody in or out of government has taken the measure of the real problem.'

30 July 1987 p.288

'Hal, who has news about the Secret Onion project, tells me the latest briefing went to the top of the SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) staff, who asked for the Air Force's advice. Briefings were set up for the Space Command.

"There's only one more step, Jacques for a really massive project to begin, " Hal said. "All the cut-outs are set up, covers for the funds. We've started a physicist on a study of advanced propulsion."

"Does he know anything about UFOs?" I asked.

"Of course not, " Hal answered laughing, 'he doesn't even know there's any connection. We're in the middle of  your Alintel."

13 September 1987 p.294

'A phone conversation with Hal: he had spoken to the action officer in charge of briefings for the project, I still call simply "the Secret Onion." He has been told everything was fine; he should go brief the Air Force, and maybe the Secretary. Finally everybody signed off. The next step is to set up contractual channels. One defense contractor backed out but two others were eager to step in.

"Well its a turning point indeed, " I said. "Now it is up to us to do something smart."

"I went back and pushed on that point, " said Hal, "you're in the right spot; we need you before things get off to a big start. We should avoid past mistakes. We need your international research contacts, and a good expert system."

Something may happen after all, but I still wonder why it should be kept secret, when so much more could be achieved in the open.'

3 October 1987 p.297

'Hal has received my letter containing some thoughts about the Secret Onion. He will send it on to his liaison officer.'

17 January 1988 p.309

'On Thursday I had lunch with John Alexander...He is one of the military leaders behind the Secret Onion project, which is still stumbling along.'

6 March 1988 p.313

'We (Hal) also caught up with some news of the Secret Onion. As I had surmised, John Alexander is expected to serve as the operational head and the Army will be in charge, having finally obtained the agreement of its Science Board. Dick Haines was brought in for a briefing about pilot sightings but wasn't told about the full scale of the project.'

The Army Science Board according to Alexander

'...a meeting was established for a small group of members of the Army Science Board...This was probably the longest briefing conducted on UFOs in the entire  ATP experience and it lasted most of a working day...Among the experts present was Richard Haines who was then working at NASA-Ames in California...Dick gave an excellent briefing on the results of his extensive research into reports provided by predominantly civilian pilots...At the end of the meeting, the members of the Army Science Board present discussed what they had heard...The members present unanimously concluded that there was sufficient evidence of high-quality observations and data from veridical sources to proceed...There was one area on which they were split - that was whether or not the Army should be leading the project...the project leadership issue turned out to be moot...' (Alexander was reassigned, and ended up at Los Alamos.) ''For the record I was able to hold a meeting similar to ATP at the lab.'"(Alexander, pp36-38.)

13 March 1988 p.315

'On Friday I had lunch with Dick Haines. He told me about the invitation he'd received to brief staffers of an Army Undersecretary, describing his research on pilot sightings. Hal and John Alexander had suggested this briefing to try and get a final decision. Thus, contrary to what people have been told, the Secret Onion project has not been established yet.'

29 May 1988 p.323/324

(Hal) ' This led us to discuss the Secret Onion project, ill conceived from the beginning.

"It's unrealistic to believe that the government will finance a large project that can only bring controversy at a time when Reagan is accused of consulting with astrologers," I told him, "while his Star Wars project is being scaled down." 

I continue to think the best way to make progress, in a hard science sense, would be a succession of small, discreet, but open, independent projects, yet everybody seems to be on a big public crusade. Even with all the precautions they claim to be taking, I don't believe John Alexander's project could be kept quiet for more than  few months.'

28 June 1988 p.326/327

'I spoke privately with Hal, who confirmed the Secret Onion was dead. This didn't happen because higher-ups were not interested but, on the contrary, because there were so many new bits of data, and such concern for military security, that the Pentagon kept the lid on everything.'

16 June 1988 p.396

'The Secret Onion project is still headed up by John Alexander, now a Project Manager at Los Alamos. He attended the SSE meeting in Boulder.It did get off the ground, as it turns out. Its first step was to go out into the desert with an infra red camera, and they did record a V-shaped object similar to the Hudson Valley craft. But everything stopped when they set up a second camera, and eventually the effort was disbanded. In my opinion, it was doomed from the beginning: too obvious, and starting from false premises.'

26 June 1988 p.402

(Talking to Hal.) 'I also mentioned John Alexander and the Secret Onion project. "In my conversation with Alexander," I pointed out to Hal, "he didn't ask anything about any of my data. We spoke about parapsychology, the recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, dolphins..."

"They started with an ETH model," Hal said, "Alexander lined up several labs for material and photographic analysis. He had experts rewrite NORAD software to inventory all objects flying on trajectories that didn't match ICBMs. But they didn't have a theoretical framework."

"That may have been part of the problem," I said. "How did the whole thing collapse?"

"He was only serving as the action officer for heavy-weight people, high-ups in aircraft companies, industry, government, and the national labs. A lot of people had been briefed and had agreed to cooperate. But all of a sudden he was re-assigned as part of a move that affected 40,000 people in the Armed Forces. He was sent away to Los Almos. He lost his power base."

That left me unconvinced. "My experience is that if someone really high up wants something done, it gets done. Surely they could have prevented one person out of 40,000 from being re-assigned."

"The plan may have been killed by someone deciding that the timing was wrong, or they were the wrong people., or the approach was bad," Hal conceded vaguely.

"How do you know that nothing got done?"

"Only one project got started, because it could spend year-end money, a small investigation into some electromagnetic and gravity effects. Another project, which had to do with potential detectors never got off the ground. The group that backed the whole idea is still  there. I would know if anything concrete had developed.'

18 October 1989 p.446

'Yesterday afternoon Colonel John Alexander from Los Alamos came over to my office in Menlo Park to discuss his UFO research plans following the failure of the Secret Onion project....'

Closing comments

It is always good, to be able to have a second individual, provide comments, from the time period. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Levelland, Texas - November 1957 - audio recordings transcribed


Late on the evening of 2 November, 1957 and the early hours of the morning of 3 November, 1957 (local time), a number of individuals reported a series of incidents involving an unusual object, near the location of Levelland, Texas in the United States of America. There is much material available on the net, but I have been looking for primary material relating to the event, i.e. audio recordings of those directly involved; or written statements from those directly involved. This was to give me a better understanding of the core information, without the distortion of being written up in summary form by third parties.

Map of sighting locations by unknown author

Interestingly, I located no audio recordings of interviews with the actual witnesses. You might consider this normal for that era, i.e. rural Texas in 1957. However, I did locate two audio recordings made in 1957 with one of the central figures, Sheriff Weir Clem; plus, a transcript of a third interview with Sheriff Clem.  These are the closest one can get to the witnesses’ testimony, at least in audio format. I will present these three in transcript form. After which, I will present written material gathered from direct interviews between witnesses and the United States Air Force's Project Blue Book. 

Transcript one

Sheriff Clem: ‘Pedro Sauced’, that is a Mexican (words missing)

Interviewer: ‘What did he say he has seen?’

C: He was travelling coming east on highway, state highway 116, and about 5 miles west of Levelland. He said there was something came over his car and came into contact with it. It killed his motor, knocked out his lights, and he said there was a terrific sound like a big blast – a big thunder, or something like that.

I: Well, that was one of the things I wanted to ask you. Did you notice a sound when you saw it?

C: No, sir, I did not.

I: You noticed no sound whatsoever. Did you see a light?

C: Yes, sir, I definitely seen the light, and the light is all I seen. It was seen by several different people. They called in also highway patrols and they had, I guess, fifteen units out hunting that thing last night.

I: Well, some of the eyewitnesses that saw it, what did they describe it as – as in size, etc?

C: James D Long, a colored male from Waco, Texas, working here in the cotton harvest, he drove up on it settlin in the highway, on the farm to marker road, we call the Oklahoma (word missing) Road. Runs north and a little west of Levelland. And he said, just as he drove up to this object, turned his car lights and drove up. It was sitting in the road, (word missing) his car lights shined on it, just as plain as could be, and he had made his stop, and presumably to get out, and this thing lit up, and when it did, to take off, why his lights went out and his motor died.

I: Well, did his lights reflect from it as he drove up on it?

C: Yes, sir. And he said it was egg shaped (words missing) the best he could figure it looked like a big egg.

I: Was it spherical – I mean by that, was it a solid object or did it appear to have windows, or openings in it?

C: That he did not give us at all. He said it just looked like an egg shape, big oval egg-shaped object.

I: Any of the eyewitnesses who came that near to it, did they notice any other effect other than the noise and the lights; in other words, any physical effect from it?

C: No, sir.

I: How close did you get sheriff?

C: Well, the lights that I seen, of course, I never did see the object now; the light that was reflected from the object, one presumes it was, I would say 300 yards.

I: Did you get any reports from homeowners or businesses near the place that there was any effect in their electrical systems?

C: No, sir. Haven’t yet – we sure didn’t. That could have been up in the night, you know- from 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock this morning. All of them was, anyone was in bed at that time.

I: What other eyewitnesses did you have?

C: Mr Frank D Williams, from Kermit, Texas. He said he done him the same way on highway 51, about 9 miles north of Levelland.

I: Did he report a noise also?

C: No, sir he didn’t. He didn’t report the noise. By this time I was out there trying to find it and he called in to the dispatcher and they did not report any noise to me. I am trying to locate Mr Williams on the phone at this time.

I: Well, thank you very much sheriff. And this is the report- another feature of KKDA Live-wire. We return to music at 11 minutes past 3.’

(Source of this transcript is part of a communication from a Calvin Smith of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to James E McDonald in 1967.  The date of this recording is stated to have been 3 November 1957 which is consistent with references to ‘this morning’ in the transcript.)

Transcript two

Paul Parker: When did you first receive word that such an object had been sighted?

Clem: That was at 11.15 on Saturday night, 11.15.

P: Who called you?

C: A Latin American subject on the, called me from 5 miles west of Levelland, Texas, where the object was seen, when it cut his motor and his lights off, on his car.

P: When did you receive the second report?

C: At 12.05.

P: From the same general area?

C: Ah, no, yes, it was from the north west of Levelland. I was making a routine check of it all. I went to the first, when I got my first report at 11.15. I went to the scene where it was supposed to be. Nothing, we did find. We found nothing there.

P: What was the condition of the man’s car?

C: After it was over there was no harm whatever. It started. His lights came back on. He started the car and went on into town.

I: And how many miles was that from the first report?

C: It was about 8 or 9 miles’ cross country.

I: Did the description coincide?

C: Yes.

P: Have there been any Air Force people on the scene?

C: Yes. It is definitely the fact that it has been here. There have been objects reported here. We have talked to four different witnesses. None of them knows each other. Never came into communication with each other.

(The recording was of an interview between Paul Parker, staff member of radio station WIP, Philadelphia, and Sheriff Weir Clem of Levelland, dated 11 November 1957. Courtesy of Roy Craig's collection via Michael Swords.)

Transcript three

Anthony Edwards: Tell me exactly, what does this story add up to, down there in Levelland, Texas. I understand the Air Force is currently investigating that area, and other areas, and would you tell me what transpired late Saturday night, early Sunday morning down there, and what you were told by many witnesses who saw it. Number one, a Mr Wright, who told you a very interesting story. Sheriff, what was his story?

Clem: Mr Wright is a (words missing) Levelland, Texas. While returning from Lubbock, Texas a short time after midnight, when he drove his automobile close to the object. But Mr Wright said he did not know the object was there, until his motor died. His lights went out. He thought he had something else wrong with the car. Checked his battery, checked his wiring systems on his car; found nothing wrong. And he looked out of his car, turned around and seen this big object in the road just ahead of him. That frightened Mr Wright pretty much, so he jumped back in his car. He said he watched this object for about four minutes. He said it had a beautiful glow to it. A bluish, greenish glow. It was an oval shape (words missing) but flat on its bottom. The object was estimated to be 125 to 200 feet in diameter. After Mr Wright had watched the object for about four minutes, the object then takes off, almost straight up at a terrific speed, and about two seconds Mr Wright said it was out of his sight. It did not make any sound at all. Mr Wright said there was no portholes, doors, windows or any sign of life about this object. Nor any signs of motors or propellers, that he could see at all.

E. Well, sheriff Clem, how many other people in Levelland, Texas witnessed a sighting of the phantom object?

C: There was only four that really seen the object. There was two more drove up to the object as (word missing) Mr Wright did, sittin on the highway. That was Mr Williams from Kermit, Texas, who came up with the same story. He did describe the object same as Mr Wright. And also, there was a negro (words missing) from Waco, Texas who drove up on the object in the road, exactly as Mr Wright.

E. I understand you yourself saw the object, not on the ground but in the sky. Is that correct?

C: No, sir it is not. I did not see the object. I seen the lights, I will say the beams from the object.

(The recording was an interview between an Anthony Edwards and Sheriff Clem. It is undated, and was found in the “Faded Discs” collection on the internet.)

Project Blue Book material

The Project Blue Book Levelland file, contains an Air Intelligence Information Report, prepared by Lt. Col. W. P.  Brunson (USAF.) The report is dated 18 November 1957. In it there are details obtained from four witnesses by investigator Staff Sergeant Norman P. Barth. The four witnesses are:

1.       Mr Newel E Wright.
2.       Mr Pedro Saucedo.
3.       Sheriff Weir Clem.
4.       Lee Roy Hargrove.

Details given are as follows.

I SOURCE: Newel Eliphalet Wright, Jr.
Address: 1369 Eight Street, Levelland, Texas.
Age: 19
Occupation: Student at Texas Technological College, Lubbock, Texas.
Education: Second semester, Freshman year, Texas Tech.
Qualifications: None.

II RELIABILITY: SOURCE seemed to the investigator to be very sincere about his sighting. He was appalled at the amount of publicity given him and was anxious to have the sighting resolved. He was unhesitating in his replies; however, during the course of further questioning, he admitted uncertainty in some of his answers. SOURCE can be considered usually reliable.

III SOURCE’S DESCRIPTION OF SIGHTING: SOURCE stated that he was driving home from Lubbock, Texas (FJDD0935) on the night of 3 November 1957 at 0005 CST on Texas highway 116. Approximately four miles west of Smyer, Texas (FJDD2035), the ampmeter on SOURCE’s automobile began cutting out as it were not getting enough gas. After it had quit running the lights and car radio went out. SOURCE then got out of the car and lifted the hood to check for battery malfunction, finding none, closed the hood of the car and turned around to look for help. It was at this time that SOURCE saw the object and returned to the inside of the car.

SOURCE described the object as oval shaped and he thought that the size of the object was that of a baseball at arm’s length. He estimates that he object was seventy-five to one hundred feet at its longest dimension. SOURCE stated that the object was white in colour, with a greenish tinge, possibly caused by the tinted windshield of SOURCE’s car.

SOURCE estimated that he had been observing the object for four to five minutes when it rose virtually straight up and out of his line of vision. SOURCE was unable to estimated the speed with which the object left the area and was unable to estimate the distance he was from the object.
Upon the departure of the object SOURCE stated that the lights and radio of the car came on and the motor started with no difficulty.

SOURCE stated that there were heavy clouds in the area and a light rain falling.

SOURCE had no opinion concerning the possible cause of the sighting.


‘I was driving home from Lubbock on state highway 116 at approximately 12.00pm when the ampmeter of my car jumped to complete discharge, then it returned to normal and my motor started cutting out like it was out of gas. After it had quit running my lights went out. I got out of my car and tried in vain to find the trouble. When I found nothing, I closed the hood and looked for a passing motorist to obtain help.

It was at this time that I saw the object. I got back into my car and tried to start it, but to no avail. After that I did nothing but stare at this object until it disappeared about five minutes later.

I then resumed trying to start my car and succeeded with no more trouble than under normal circumstances. I then proceeded home very slowly and told no one of the sighting until my parents returned home from a weekend trip to Hobbs, New Mexico for fear of public ridicule. They did convince me that I should report this and did so to the sheriff around .3pm Sunday November 3rd.’

I SOURCE: Pedro Saucedo.

Address: 219 Avenue H, Levelland, Texas.
Age: 30
Occupation: Barber.
Education: Grade school.
Qualifications: Nil.

II RELIABILITY: SOURCE appeared to be of below average intelligence. He stated his occupation as barber; however, Sheriff Clem of Hockley County, stated that SOURCE was a part-time farm labourer; dishwasher; barber etc. SOURCE had no concept of direction and was conflicting in his answers. SOURCE can be considered not usually reliable.

III SOURCE’S DESCRIPTION OF SIGHTING. At 02/2300 CST November 1967, SOURCE was driving west on Texas highway 116 about four miles from Levelland, Texas (refer to inclusion 1, Part seven) when he saw a large flame in the west. SOURCE thought it was caused by lightning. The object however, moved over his position and his truck engine and lights went out. Because of the heat and speed of the object, SOURCE got out of his truck and laid on the ground. SOURCE described the object as shaped like a torpedo. The color of the object itself was blue. The object had yellow flame coming out the rear and white smoke surrounding the flame.

SOURCE estimate the dimension of the object to be two hundred feet long and six feet wide.

SOURCE stated the object was in sight for two to three minutes and disappeared by burning out.
SOURCE estimated the speed of the object to be eight hundred miles per hour and he estimated the object to be three hundred feet away. Upon disappearance of the object, SOURCE was able to restart the engine and after the engine started, the lights of the truck came on. SOURCE stated he thought the object was an electronically controlled rocket.


To whom it may concern, on the date of November 2, 1957 I was travelling north and west on route 116, driving my truck. At about four miles out of Levelland, I saw a bright flame, to my right, front, then I thought it was lightning. But when the object had reach to my position, it was different, because it put my truck motor out and lights. Then I stop, got out, and look, but it was so rapid and quite some hear, that I had to hit the ground, it also had three colors, yellow, white and it look like a torpedo, about 200 feet long, moving at about 600 60 800 miles an hour.’

I. SOURCE: Weir Clem.

Address: Box 1907, Levelland, Texas.
Age: 43.
Occupation: Sheriff of Hockley County.
Qualification: Officer’s school of Texas.

II. RELIABILITY: SOURCE impressed the investigator as being of average intelligence. He was eager to cooperate in resolving the sighting and frequently asked the investigator for advice on releases to the press. He was rather pleased with the sudden importance of the county. SOURCE can be considered fairly reliable.

III SOURCE DESCRIPTION OF THE SIGHTING: At 03/0130 CST November 1957, SOURCE was driving in his car looking for objects that had been reported in the area. SOURCE was travelling south on the Oklahoma Flat Road (refer to inclusion 1, part seven) at twenty miles per hour when he saw “just a streak of light one time.’ This light had  a reddish glow and moved from south to west in two seconds. SOURCE estimated the object to be eight hundred feet at its longest dimension and estimated the object to be four hundred yards from his point of observation. SOURCE had no opinion as to the possible cause of the sighting.’

‘I SOURCE: Lee Roy Hargrove.

Address: 600 W First Street, Littlefield, Texas.
Age: 24.
Occupation: Texas highway Patrolman.
Eduction: High school.
Qualification: Patrol school and jet fighter school.

II RELIABILITY: usually reliable.


Was driving south on the unmarked roadway known as the Oklahoma Flats highway and was attempting to search for an unidentified object reported to the Levelland Police Department. When I saw a strange looking flash which looked to be down the roadway approximately a mile to a mile and one half, the flash went from east to west and appeared to be close to the ground. The flash lasted only a fraction of a second and was red to orange red color. This flash occurred approximately 1.15am on the morning of November 3, 1957.’


I came across a large number of newspaper accounts of the above, and other, accounts of witnesses. However, it is often difficult to tell, which press stories were drawn from direct interviews with the witnesses and which were simply compilations of existing material. So, I will err on the side of caution and simply present the above material, which does give a flavour of the events of that night.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Perth photographs - January 1966

Hi all,

The last of the series from James E McDonald's 1967 Australian audio collection.

Identification Code/CD Number: 3T22S205/CD59
Date Recorded: June/July 1967
File Size:  9.4 MB
Interview Duration (m:s): 9:47
Interview Details: James E McDonald interviews Les Benedek
Sighting Date: 24 January 1966
Sighting Time: 2230hrs
Location of Sighting:  Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Duration of Sighting: Ca. 15 seconds
Witness(es): Mr Les Benedek



On 24 January 1966 at about 2230 hours, a Mr Benedek was in Perth, Western Australia.  He said he was taking colour photographs when he saw a bluish-green light, he described the object as, ‘It was oval shaped with an ‘antenna’ on the front and dropped towards the river at terrific speed’. 

It is claimed that the Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) examined the photographs but nothing to this effect has been found on RAAF files in the National Archives of Australia. 

Various details on this sighting have been published:

1. Australian Flying Saucer Review (Victorian edition). July 1966. Number 5. p.20.
2. AFSR (UFOIC edition). Number 9. Front cover.
3. 'Sun Herald' newspaper. Sydney. 5 July 1966.
4. 'Perth Sunday Times.' 5 June 1966.
5. 'Life International' magazine. 18 April 1966.

Audi recording

Benedek says that he moved back with the camera, and placed the camera on a rock.  McDonald states that it is clear that the second and third photographs were taken from a slightly different place, as indicated by the position of the brush in front.  McDonald mentions someone called Martin, who was bothered about the first of the three photographs, in that the alignment of the distant lights suggests quite a substantial displacement from the other two photographs.  The photograph in questions was the one showing a small dot.  Benedek responds by saying that the first photograph referred to by McDonald may not in fact be the first one that he had taken.  Benedek claims he used a complete roll of film.

Benedek was at Kings Park, Perth, taking photographs.  Then he went towards the bay where there is a park.  There he said he sighted the ‘flying saucer’, and he was able to take three photographs of the object while standing at the same location.  McDonald suggested that the first photograph was taken 400 to 800 metres from the other two photographs.  Benedek wondered if he had mixed up the photographs.

McDonald said the pictures appeared in an UFOIC magazine cover with an arrow pointing to a dot.  McDonald then discussed Martin’s second point of concern.  This was that photograph two, the one with the flare-like object at a higher angular elevation than photograph three, shows the streaks on a distance highway broken into three parts.  A correspondent of Martin’s had surveyed the site, this indicated that the small breaks in the photograph were caused by trees.  This finding appeared to confirm that there were only three cars.  McDonald then states that based on this finding his estimate of the photograph’s negative exposure time was 15 seconds.  Ripples on the streaks had been measured and corresponded with a breathing rate.  He was puzzled about the tripod mounting and how the sinusoidal ripples occurred?

Benedek claims that he had the camera on a tripod.  He kept his finger on the button to keep the camera shutter open, allowing him to take a time exposure.  The ripples in the photograph could have been due to his hand shaking.  McDonald claims that Martin thought it was on a cable release.  Benedek claimed that he had set the camera to ‘B’ setting and therefore not used a cable shutter release.

McDonald then asks, ‘what about the estimate of 15 seconds?’  Benedek is uncertain, stating, ‘I thought it was less than 15 seconds, perhaps 10 seconds’.  Benedek claims the object was hovering at first then moved downwards.  Martin’s correspondent had duplicated the scene using a 15 second exposure.

McDonald asked, ‘How long it had been between when the photographs were taken and developed?’, Benedek answered, ‘it was a week’.  McDonald then asks, ‘what did you do then?’, Benedek replies, “I took them to the Sydney Morning Herald, they said, ‘we will reproduce them as black and white, why not take them to Life International?’”  Benedek claims a Mr Shirley of Life International told him to submit the photographs to the RAAF.  He did this, and an officer from the RAAF told him, ‘certainly not reflections’.

Life International published the photographs in the 18 April 1966 edition.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A strange series of sightings - Hobart, Tasmania - 1959

Hi all,

Yet another interview from the 1967 McDonald collection.

Identification Code/CD Number: 3T18S202/CD55
Date Recorded: 6 July 1967
File Size: 10.1 MB
Interview Duration (m:s): 10:33
Interview Details: James McDonald interviews Alan D Shaw (Part 1)
Sighting Date: 8 January 1959
Sighting Time: 0900 hrs
Location of Sighting: Hobart Bay, Risdon, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Duration of Sighting: 15 minutes
Witness(es): Alan D Shaw and W L Newton; both electrical engineers for the Tasmanian Hydroelectric Commission.


The two men were inspecting a transmission structure near the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia.  They were outside during the observation.

Shaw read a typed statement to McDonald, that Shaw had prepared on the day of the incident.

At 0920 hrs Shaw drew Newton’s attention to what appeared to be a piece of newspaper in the air.  The object may have been caught in an updraft, over the zinc works, at an estimated height of 1000 feet (300 metres), it floating downwards to about 200 feet (60 metres).  It then accelerated to a high speed and disappeared between two buildings, about a quarter of a mile (400 metres) away.  It was travelling at about 30 to 60 mph (110 to 220 kilometres per hour), and appeared ‘flexible’ in shape.  They later searched the area and found nothing to account for this sighting.

Newton then saw a similar second object, and both men watched it until it disappeared, behind the admin building, a few seconds after the first object disappeared from view.

Image courtesy Google maps
To the north-west, both men then saw a third, high flying, high speed object, which travelled across the sky and disappeared behind Mount Direction, that is 1469 feet (448 metres) high.  This one was small, and flashing a white light at 1500 cycles per minute.  It appeared to be several thousand feet (over 300 metres) high.  In one second it travelled through an angle of 20 degrees.  A similar object was seen to the north-east.  At one time this object made large clockwise circular motions in the sky.  This object hovered, then moved towards the sun, before being stationary.

After seeing these four objects, the men witnessed two more.  The latter two were jet black in colour and elongated, and observed to the north of the sun.  Mr Newton thought they had emerged from the fourth object seen.  They looked like inverted bowling skittles with the ball leading.  The men each watched one of these black objects to watch.  Shaw’s one neared the Derwent River which at this point is 600 yards (550 metres) wide.  He thought his black object was three to six feet (one to two metres) long and 300 yards (275 metres) away.  When it got to about 100 feet (30 metres) above the river it stopped, then moved horizontally to the south for about 100 feet (30 metres).  It descended vertically and entered the water with no splash, at 1800 feet (550 metres) from Shaw.  Two seagulls were passing by and they appeared to momentarily stop and investigate the area where the object entered the river.  The time was 0945 hrs.

The weather was sunny, with a light southerly breeze with sparse clouds.  Both men were wearing sunglasses during the observation.

Identification Code/CD Number:  3T19S101/CD56
Date Recorded: 6 July 1967
File Size: 19.3 MB
Interview Duration (m:s): 20:09
Interview Details: James E McDonald interviews Alan D Shaw (Part 2)
Sighting Date: 8 January 1959
Sighting Time: 0900hrs
Location of Sighting: Hobart Bay, Rison, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Duration of Sighting: 15 minutes
Witness(es): Alan D Shaw and W L Newton


Mr Shaw advised McDonald, that he (Shaw) had, the previous year, given a talk to the local Astronomical Society about the events of 1959.  Shaw had prepared slides illustrating the event, which he and McDonald viewed as they spoke.

Shaw said that both the weather bureau and the Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) had been informed of the observations but that no one had an explanation for what was seen.  A check for weather balloons found that on this day none were released, apparently due to faulty equipment.

Shaw advised McDonald that on that day, a total of six objects had been seen.  Two ‘paper’ like ones; two flashing ones and two black ones.

When viewing the slides, McDonald clarified various points which Shaw read out from his prepared statement (without the slides it is difficult to follow parts of the conversation).

The newspaper like objects that appeared to be a 2:1 ratio in size, and they were ‘flexing’ as they moved.  The second one at times had a shape similar to a carrot or a turnip.  These disappeared behind buildings.

The black objects were near the sun.  With sunglasses, and obscuring the sun, the black objects were clearly outlined and visible.  They had no surface features.  They were dull, jet black.  When the object had entered the water he had seen no obvious splash.

McDonald states that objects entering the water is of interest to him.

Shaw said that the resident RAAF officer commented to Shaw that he may as well forget what he had seen.

Shaw gave a talk about the incident to members of the local Astronomical Society, as he was a member of that group.

Ron Sullivan - Victoria - April 1966

Hi all, 

On April 4, 1966, Ron Sullivan was driving by car at night when he saw a 'light' in an adjacent paddock. He then stated that the headlights of his car veered to the right for no apparent reason. Later inspection revealed an unusual area of disturbed soil in the paddock where the 'light' had been observed. 

The incident was recorded at the time in:

  1. The 'Melbourne Age.' 7 & 12 April 1966.
  2. The 'Ballarat Courier.' 12 April 1966.
  3. The 'Maryborough Advertiser.' 15 April 1966.
  4. APRO Bulletin. May 1966. p.1.
  5. Australian Flying Saucer Review (Victorian edition) No. 5, p.12. July 1966.

James E McDonald interview

The following is drawn from an audio recording with Ron Sullivan, by James E McDonald, during a visit to Australia in 1967. 

Identification Code/CD: 3T16S204/CD52
Date Recorded: July 1967
File Size: 21.0 MB
Interview Duration (m:s): 21:55
Interview Details: James McDonald interviews Ronald F Sullivan
Sighting Date: 7 April 1966
Sighting Time: Ca. 2030 hrs
Location of Sighting: Maryborough to St Arnaud Road, Victoria, Australia
Duration of Sighting: Not stated during recording
Witness(es): Ronald F Sullivan

Image courtesy Whereis?

Sullivan was driving long a bitumen road in a 1965 Ford Falcon sedan, at approximately 60 mph (96 km/hr) speed.  The sky was very clear.  There was no moonlight and there was a slight breeze.  He first saw a light and thought it was the rear lights of a tractor in a paddock.  As he got closer he saw a light, that lifted off the ground.  This light had, ‘Tubes of coloured lights.’  These ‘lights’ were, ‘All the colours of the spectrum.’  The tubular coloured lights were coming off it.  There appeared to be a, ‘Disc or cone 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 metres) in diameter.’  Each ‘tube’ was four to five inches (10 to 13 cm) in diameter.

The police determined that the position of the object, in the paddock, could have been 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 metres) from the road, since a depression was found in the paddock located that distance from the road.  The ‘disc’ was estimated to be 20 to 30 feet (six to nine metres) above the ground, at one point.

The most unusual aspect was that this car’s headlight’s beam ‘bent’ to the right, towards this light formation, ‘As if they were magnetised.’

McDonald asked if Sullivan could see the beams of his headlights, Sullivan said, ‘Yes.’  Questioning then lead to the suggestion that a car, half a mile ahead (one km), and going in the same direction, as Sullivan, was kicking up dust.  This was suggested as the reason Sullivan could see the beams of his headlights.  The headlights of the car were sealed in and could not independently move.

The police, Sargent Suttie of Maryborough, found a ground marking in the paddock.  A circular depression in the ground, four to five feet (10 to 13 cm) in diameter and seven to eight inches (18-20cm) deep.  These measurements were smaller than what Sullivan would have estimated from the size of the ‘disc’.  There were no human or animal markings around the depression.  The soil inside seemed to have been rippled in a clockwise direction.

Ron Sullivan in 2014 - image courtesy VUFOA

Sullivan noted no unusual noise above the noise of his vehicle.  The motor of his car was not affected, just the headlight’s beam appeared bent.  Responding to a question from McDonald about suffering any physiological effects, Sullivan said, ‘Only paralysis.’  Further questioning led him to say, ‘A temporary mental paralysis.’  He was not frightened at the time, but hours later he queried what had happened.

At the time he had only told his wife about this event.  However, when he heard about the death of a motorist in that same spot, he told the Police what he had seen.  They went out with Sullivan to the spot and found the depression in the paddock.

McDonald then questioned Ronald about the ‘bent’ headlight’s beam.  Sullivan admitted it was difficult to properly describe what exactly occurred to the headlights.  However, the following points were given.  The total duration of the effect to the headlights was only, ‘A couple of seconds.’  The headlights beam veered to the right by 30 to 45 degrees.  The headlights had then momentarily turned off.  Following this they came back on and the beam ‘bent’ 30 to 45 degrees to the right.  Then the headlights functioned normally.  Sullivan said it was difficult to describe this incident.  He used the words, ‘The ground location of the bend was the same.’

He did not stop to investigate but travelled approximately 40 miles (64 km) to his destination.

McDonald asked if the Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) had investigated, Sullivan said, ‘They had not.’  McDonald asked if the Department of Civil Aviation had investigated, he said, ‘No, they had not.’  Only the police, UFO Investigation Center (UFOIC) and Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (VFSRS), and some university students had investigated this sighting.

Ronald concluded that the headlights had been ‘bent’ by ‘magnetism’ or ‘gravity’.

Project Galileo

Project Galileo Or to give it its full name, "The Galileo project for the Systematic Scientific Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial...