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Case 233 . . . definitely no balloon . . . made turns . . .
accelerated from 200 to 500 miles per hour . . . .
Going back over this group of cases, I made an incredible discovery: All but three of these unsolved cases were officially listed as answered.
The three were the United Airlines case, the White Sands sightings, and the double-decked s.p.a.ce-ship report from The Hague.
Going back to the first report, I checked all the summaries. Nine times out of ten, the explanations were pure conjecture. Sometimes no answer was even attempted.
Although 375 cases were mentioned, the summaries ended with Case 244.
Several cases were omitted. I found clues to some of these in the secret Air Weather Service report, including the mysterious "green light" sightings at Las Vegas and Albuquerque.
Of the remaining 228 cases, Project "Saucer" lists all but 34 as explained. These unsolved cases are brought up again for a final attempt at explaining them away. In the appendix, the Air Materiel Command carefully states:
"It is not the intent to discredit the character of observers, but each case has undesirable elements and these can't be disregarded."
After this perfunctory gesture, the A.M.C. proceeds to discredit completely the testimony of highly trained Air Force test pilots and officers at Muroc. (The 300-400 m.p.h. research balloon explanation.)
The A.M.C. then brushes off the report of Captain Emil Smith and the crew of a United Airline plane. On July 4, 1947, nine huge flying disks were counted by Captain Smith and his crew. The strange objects were in sight for about twelve minutes; the crew watched them for the entire period and described them in detail later.
Despite Project "Saucer's" admission that it had no
answer, the A.M.C. contrived one. Ignoring the evidence of veteran airline pilots, it said:
"Since the sighting occurred at sunset, when illusory effect are most likely, the objects could have been ordinary aircraft, balloons, birds, or pure illusion."
In only three cases did the A.M.C. admit it had no answer. Even here, it was implied that the witnesses were either confused or incompetent.
In its press release of December 27, 1949, the Air Force had mentioned 375 cases. It implied that all of these were answered. The truth was just the reverse, as was proved by these case books. Almost two hundred cases still were shown to be unsolved-although the real answers might be hidden in Wright Field files.
These two black books puzzled me. Why had the Air Force lifted its secrecy on these case summaries? Why had Major Boggs given me those answers, when these books would flatly refute them?
I thought I new the reason now but there was only one way to make sure. The actual Wright Field files should tell the answer.
When I phoned General Sory Smith, his voice sounded a little peculiar.
"I called Wright Field," he said. "But they said you wouldn't find anything of value out there."
"You mean they refused to let me see their files?"
"No, I didn't say that. But they're short of personnel. They don't want to take people off other jobs to look up the records."
"I won't need any help," I said. "Major Boggs said each case had a separate book. If they'd just show me the shelves, I could do the job in two days."
There was a long silence.
"I'll ask them again," the General said finally. "Call me sometime next week."
I said I would, and hung up. The message from Wright Field hadn't surprised me. But Smith's changed manner did. He had sounded oddly disturbed.
While I was waiting for Wright Field's answer, Ken Purdy phoned. He told me that staff men from Time and Life magazines were seriously checking on the "little men" story. Both Purdy and I were sure this was a
colossal hoax, but there was just a faint chance that someone had been on the fringe of a real happening and had made up the rest of the story.
They key man in the story seemed to be one George Koehler, of Denver, Colorado. The morning after Purdy called, I took a plane to Denver.
During the flight I went over the "little men" story again. It had been printed in over a hundred papers.
According to the usual version, George Koehler had accidentally learned of two crashed saucers at a radar station on our southwest border. The ships were made of some strange metal. The cabin was stationary, placed within a large rotating ring.
Here is the story as it was told in the Kansas City Star:
In flight, the ring revolved at a high rate of speed, while the cabin remained stationary like the center of a gyroscope.
Each of the two ships seen by Koehler were occupied by a crew of two. In the badly damaged ship, these bodies were charred so badly that little could be learned from them. The occupants of the other ship, while dead when they were found, were not burned or disfigured, and, when Koehler saw them, were in a perfect state of preservation. Medical reports, according to Koehler, showed that these men were almost identical with earth-dwelling humans, except for a few minor differences. They were of a uniform height of three feet, were uniformly blond, beardless, and their teeth were completely free of fillings or cavities. They did not wear undergarments, but had their bodies taped.
The ships seemed to be magnetically controlled and powered.
In addition to a piece of metal, Koehler had a clock or automatic calendar taken from one of the crafts.
Koehler said that the best a.s.sumption as to the source of the ships was the planet Venus.
When I arrived at Denver, I went to the radio station
where Koehler worked. I told him that if he had proof that we could print, we would buy the story.
As the first substantial proof, I asked to see the piece of strange metal he was supposed to have. Koehler said it had been sent to another city to be a.n.a.lyzed. I asked to see pictures of the crashed saucers. These, too, proved to be somewhere else. So did the queer "s.p.a.ce clock" that Koehler was said to have.
By this time I was sure it was all a gag. I had the feeling that Koehler, back of his manner of seeming indignation at my demands, was hugely enjoying himself. I cut the interview short and called Ken Purdy in New York.
"Well, thank G.o.d that's laid to rest," he said when I told him.
But even though the "little men" story had turned out-as expected--a dud, Koehler had done me a good turn. An old friend, William E.
Barrett, well-known fiction writer, now lived in Denver. Thanks to Koehler's gag, I had a pleasant visit with Bill and his family.
On the trip back, I bought a paper at the Chicago airport. On an inside page I ran across Koehler's name. According to the A.P., he had just admitted the whole thing was a big joke.
But in spite of this, the "little men" story goes on and on.
Apparently not even Koehler can stop it now.
FOR TWO WEEKS after my return to Washington, General Sory Smith held off a final answer about my trip to Wright Field. Meantime, Ken Purdy had called him backing my request to see the Project files.
It was obvious to me that Wright Field was determined not to open the files. But the General was trying to avoid making it official.