Times-Poet News Service
LONDON — An evidently sober American
physicist, Prof. James McDonald, is convinced that unidentified flying objects
represent “the greatest scientific problem of our time.”
He has concluded, he says, that the
possibility that they come from outside the earth “must now be given extremely
serious scientific attention.” McDonald is a professor in the University of
Arizona’s department of meteorology, and senior physicist at the university’s
Institute of Atmospheric Physics.
He accuses the United States Air
Force, officially responsible for checking on UFO reports, of gross neglect
and incompetence, and urges a congressional investigation as a prelude to a
much more thorough scientific inquiry.
“Credible UFO reports of close -
range sightings are on the increase,” he says. Reports published in newspapers
represent only “the tip of an iceberg.” Scientific and official ridicule have
made many people keep quiet. But his detailed study of sightings on record, be
says, backed by many interviews with witnesses concerned, have convinced him
that the “scientific explanations” commonly proffered are totally inadequate,
and that something quite out of the ordinary must be going on.
A detailed report of McDonald’s
investigations has been sent to the London Observer by a colleague of his,
George Dawson, a British scientist working as associate research professor at
the University of Arizona’s well-known Institute of Atmospheric Physics.
McDonald started his investigations
by delving into the files of Project Bluebook, the U.S. Air Force office at
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which handles UFO reports. This office,
in fact, consists of three men, a major, a sergeant and a secretary, and is
run as “an extremely low priority project,” one among 200 projects of the
base’s “foreign technology”.
Nevertheless, the office frequently
issues authoritative sounding “scientific explanations” of UFO sightings. In
fact, says McDonald, these are often scientifically “outrageous.”
Project Bluebook has had the effect
of setting back serious scientific study of UFO’s by many years, McDonald
alleges, since the U.S. Air Force has become convinced by its own propaganda,
while scientists have been led to believe that UFO reports were being
effectively checked and shown to be generally due to natural phenomena.
Although many saucer addicts believe
there is a vast official conspiracy to hush up the “truth” about UFO’s (in
which they often believe newspapers are implicated), McDonald says that “the
big cover-up is really just a big foul-up”.
He traces the foul-up back to 1953,
when a committee of five eminent scientists, the Robertson - Panel, spent two
days studying a small group of UFO reports, and concluded that there was no
evidence they were “artifacts of a hostile foreign power.” The results,
McDonald says, was that a recommendation was attached to the panel’s report,
deriving from the Central Intelligence Agency but never fully made public,
urging a systematic “debunking of the flying saucers” in order to “reduce
public interest in them.”
The CIA, McDonald thinks, having been
satisfied by the panel that there was no threat to national security, was
merely trying to reduce the number of (to the CIA) irrelevant reports about
The outcome was a new Air Force
regulation directing that “the percentage of unidentifieds must be reduced to
a minimum,” This Project Bluebook has since been diligently doing, with
thoroughly bogus results: “Cases bearing not the slightest resemblance to
feathered creatures were called ‘birds,’ and some of the most improbable
‘balloon’ phenomena in the history of ballooning can be found in bluebook
files…” McDonald says.
The professor cites several case
histories to illustrate Bluebook’s inadequacies. One concerns a sighting of a
luminous object which was observed and pursued by two police officers in a
patrol car over 70 miles of Ohio and Pennsylvania before dawn on April 17,
1906. They were joined by a third officer who picked up their radio reports,
and they came upon a fourth officer observing the object from the side of a
road. Shortly after, the object, which they estimated to be about 40 feet in
diameter, shot up vertically at high speed and disappeared.
A Bluebook officer suggested to one
of the policeman that he had really seen the Echo satellite go over, and had
then transferred his attention to Venus rising in the south-east. However, one
of the officers watched the object approaching from the northwest (pursued by
the two policemen who first saw it), while the whole episode lasted far longer
than Echo takes to cross the sky. Yet the Echo-Venus “explanation” still
stands in the Bluebook records. The University of Colorado is currently
engaged on an officially sponsored inquiry into UFOs. McDonald says that the
project appears to have got under way largely because the U.S. Air Force is
anxious to get rid of what it genuinely regards as a public relations problem,
not a scientific one.