- Note - Although this was not the Air Force's first attempt
to explain away the mass sightings of the flying saucers over the Capitol,
it was by far the most grandiose. The names of the men who would soon become
"infamous" in the history of Ufolgy, e.g., Capt. E.J.Ruppelt,
Gen. Roger Ramey, and Dr. D.H. Menzel were all present at the largest press
conference since the end of the second world war.
- Air Force Debunks Saucers As
Just 'Natural Phenomenon'
- By Austin Stevens
New York Times
July 30th, 1952
- Intelligence Chief Denies a Menace Exists -"Objects"
Believed to be Reflections, but "Adequate" Guard Will be Kept
- WASHINGTON, July 29 -Air Force Headquarters skimmed away
into the broken dishware bin today the latest wave of "flying saucers."
It called them "natural phenomenon" and announced through high
ranking general officers that henceforth the Air Force would treat reports
of the discs with "adequate but not frantic attention."
- Bedeviled by a new series of sightings of mysterious
glowing objects in the air over the capital and else where, the Air Force
called a press conference at the Pentagon to give out what information
- AT the end of one hour and twenty minutes of exchange
between a large group of reporters and the Air Forces chief "saucer"
students, Maj. Gen. James A. Samford, Chief of Intelligence, agreed to
the following summary of his views:
- "So called "flying saucers" constitute
no menace to the United States."
- "None of the several thousand 'saucer' reports checked
by the Air Force in the last six years has disclosed the existence of any
material flying object, except where the report emanated from a observer's
sighting of a United States plane or missile, and his mistaking it for
- "The United States has nothing in its arsenal of
weapons, either existing or developmental, that has an unlimited speed
and no mass, characteristics attributed to many alleged 'saucers.'"
- "Radar is capable of playing tricks for which is
what not designed; so is the human eye."
- Appearing before the press in by no means a scoffing
mood, but instead in an agreeable atmosphere of willingness to discuss
everything they new, the Air Force officials said they considered it the
service's "obligation" to continue to investigate saucer reports.
- General Samford insisted, in the face of recent reports
here from both skilled pilots and radar operators who had sighted "objects"
that the great need in "saucer" investigation was a method of
measurement. Even trained pilots, whose word is not doubted, he indicated,
are not capable of properly assessing the make-up of the fiery objects
they have been reporting.
- Out of today's conference emerged a favorite theory,
but one that the experts conceded did not answer everything.
- It is that in the kind of weather that existed here -hot
and humid-there is created something known as a temperature inversion.
This, it was explained, is the existence of a layer of cooler air stretched
between two hot layers. This condition can cause certain reflections of
light for both the human eye and the far- from -infallible radar screen,
which was designed to detect solid objects.
- For example, during inverted temperature periods might
very well appear reflected in the clouds as globes of light. These reflections
could be picked up both by airborne pilots and by ground operators of radar
apparatus, according to General Samford and the staff of specialists he
brought to the news conference.
- Third Time in Ten Days
- Three times in the last ten days, it was disclosed, the
Capitol Area has reported flying objects, some stationery, others moving
at various speeds.
- The latest report came today from operators of the Civil
Aeronautics Administration radar apparatus at National Airport, who said
their equipment had picked up numerous objects from 2:30 to 6:00 a.m. A
spokesmen said as many as twelve unidentified objects had appeared on the
radar screen at one time, but that "no visual sightings were made."
Consequently he added, the near-by Andrews Air Force Base was not notified
and no jet fighters were dispatched to investigate.
- General Samford's staff attempted to explain the supposedly
moving objects as sightings of separate phenomena.
- As an example of how ground objects can be reflected
into the clouds and mistakenly identified, one Air Force expert told of
a pilot who nearly crashed his plane into the ground while chasing an "object"
that had appeared in his airplane's radar screen.
- The Air Force experts said that although they had run
down more then 1000 supposed sightings of "saucers" or other
objects in recent years, only 20 percent of the reports from credible sources