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"Why can't you accept my word there's nothing to the saucers?" he asked me one day. "You're impeaching my personal veracity."
But finally he saw there was no other way out. He told me I had been officially refused permission to see the Wright Field files. Some time later, Ken Purdy phoned General Smith.
"General, if the Air Force wants to talk to us off the record, we'll play ball. True will either handle it from then on whatever way you think best or we'll keep still."
Whether this offer was relayed higher up, I don't know. But nothing came of it.
Meantime, saucer reports had begun to come in from all over the country. Some even came from abroad. Some of these 1950 sightings have already been mentioned in early chapters. Besides the strange affair at Tucson on February 1, there were several other cases in February.
Three of these were in South America. One saucer was reported near the naval air station at Alameda, California. Some were sighted in Texas, New Mexico, and other parts of the Southwest.
In March, the wave of sightings reached such a height that the Air Force again denied the saucers' existence. This followed a report that a flying disk had crashed near Mexico City and that the wreckage had been viewed by U. S. Air Force officials.
Scores of Orangeburg, South Carolina, residents watched a disk that hovered over that city on March 10. It was described as silver-bright, turning slowly in the air before it disappeared. The day before this, residents
of Van Nuys, California, saw a bright disk moving swiftly four hundred feet in the air. Seen through a telescope, it appeared to be fifty feet in diameter.
Disks were reported at numerous places in Mexico, including Guadalajara, Juarez, Mazatlan, and Durango. On the twelfth of March, the crew and pa.s.sengers of an American Airlines ship saw a large gleaming disk high above Monterrey airport in Mexico.
Captain W. R. Hunt, the senior airline pilot, watched the disk through a theodolite at the airport. This disk and most of the others seen in Mexico were similar in description to the one sighted at Dayton, Ohio, on March 8. This was the large metallic saucer that hovered high over Vandalia Airport, until Air Force and National Guard fighters raced up after it. The disk rose vertically into the sky at incredible speed, hovered a while longer, and then vanished.
Within twenty-four hours this mystery disk had been "identified" as the planet Venus. (It was broad daylight.) Newspapers quoted "trained astronomical officials in Dayton" as the source for this explanation.
Meanwhile the Mexican government newspaper, El Nacional, quoted "a famous and reputable astronomer" as saying the numerous disks reported over Mexico "carry visitors from Mars."
One of the strangest reports came from the naval air station at Dallas, Texas. It was about 11:30 A.M. on March 16 when CPO Charles Lewis saw a disk streak up at a B-36 bomber. The disk appeared about twenty to twenty-five feet in diameter, Lewis reported. Racing at incredible speed, it shot up under the bomber, hung there for a second, then broke away at a 45-degree angle. Following this, it shot straight up into the air and disappeared.
Captain M. A. Nation, C. O. of the station, said it was "I the second report in ten days. On March 7, said Captain Nation, a tower control operator named C. E. Edmundson saw a similar disk flying so fast it was almost a blur.
"He estimated its speed at three thousand to four thousand miles per hour," Captain Nation stated. "Of
course, he had no instruments to compute the speed, so that's a pure estimate."
It was some time before this when I heard the first crazy rumor about the guided-missile display. This story, which had new details every time I heard it described the Air Force as refusing to let the Navy announce a new type of missile. According to the rumors, the Air Force was trying to prove its own missile far superior, to keep the Navy from invading its long-range bombing domain. Then the Army joined the pitched battle with still a third guided missile, according to the rumors.
And the flying disks? Army, Navy, and Air Force missiles, launched in droves all over the country to prove whose was the best? A public missile race, with the joint Chiefs of Staff to decide the winner!
It seems fantastic that this theory would be believed by any intelligent person. In effect, it accuses the armed services of deliberate, criminal negligence, of endangering millions in the cities below.
I am convinced that some of these rumors led to at least one of the published guesses about our missile program. One widely publicized story stated that the flying saucers seen hurtling through our skies are actually two types of secret weapons. One, according to radio and newspaper accounts, is a disk that whizzes through s.p.a.ce, halts suspended in the air, soars to thirty thousand feet, drops to one thousand feet, and then usually disintegrates in the air.
These saucers, it was said, ranged from 20 inches to 250 feet in diameter. They were supposed to be pilotless--and harmless.
The second type was said to be a jet version of the Navy's circular airfoil "Flying Flapjack." It was credited with fantastic speed.
The "true disks," however, were mainly Air Force devices, according to the report.
"Some are guided, others are not," said the radio commentator who released this story. "They can stay stationary, dash off to right or left, and move like lightning. But they are utterly harmless."
In these "harmless" disks there was supposed to be an
explosive charge that destroyed them in mid-air at a predetermined time.
Within a few days after this story was broadcast, the United States News and World Report declared that the saucers are real, and identified them as jet models of Navy "Flying Flapjacks." This magazine, which is not an official publication despite its name, mentioned the variable-direction jet principle that I had previously described in the True article.
These two flying-saucer "explanations" brought denials from the White House, the Navy, and the Air Force.
The Air Force flatly declared that:
1. None of the armed forces is conducting secret experiments with disk-shaped flying objects that could be a basis for the reported phenomena.
2. There is no evidence that the latter stem from the activities of any foreign nation.
Before this, President Truman stated he knew nothing of any such objects being developed by the United States or any other nation.
The Navy denial came immediately after the first broadcast story. It ran:
"The Navy is not engaged in research or in flying any jet-powered, circular-shaped aircraft."
The Navy added that one model of a pancake-shaped aircraft, called the Zimmerman Skimmer, was built but was never flown. However, a small, three-thousand-pound scale model did fly and was under radio control during flight. This last device is now being rumored as the Navy's unpiloted "missile," said to have been launched over the country like the so-called "harmless" disks.
Even though all these accounts have been officially denied, many Americans may still believe they are true. I have no desire to criticize the authors of these stories; I believe that in following up certain guided-missile leads they were misled into accepting the conclusions they gave.
But these stories, particularly the accounts of huge unpiloted disks, may have planted certain fears in the public mind-fears that are completely unwarranted. For
this reason, I have personally checked at Washington in regard to the dangers of unpiloted missiles. Here aye the facts I learned:
1. Neither the Army, Navy, nor Air Force has at any time staged any guided-missile compet.i.tion as rumored.
2. No unpiloted missiles or remote-controlled experimental craft have been tested over American cities or heavily populated areas.
3. No unpiloted missile carrying dangerous explosives, whether for destruction of the device or other purposes, has been deliberately launched or tested over heavily populated areas.
In regard to the so-called jet-propelled "Flying Flapjack," I have been a.s.sured by Admiral Calvin Bolster, of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, that this type of plane has never been produced. I concede that he might make this statement to conceal a secret development, but there is one fact of which every American can be certain: Neither this type, nor the radio-controlled smaller model, has been or will be flown or launched over areas where people would be endangered.
The three armed services are working on guided missiles. They are not risking American lives by launching such missiles at random across the United States,
Although most of our guided-missile projects are secret, it is possible to give certain facts about guided-missile developments in general.
The first successful long-range missiles were produced by the Germans.
These were the buzz-bomb and. the V-2 rocket. But research in various other types was carried on during the war. Some of this was with oval and round types of airfoils. As already stated by Paul Redell, there is strong evidence that the disk-shaped foil resulted from German observations of either s.p.a.ce ships or remote-control disk-shaped "observer units." All the n.a.z.i s.p.a.ce-exploration plans followed this discovery that we were being observed by a race from another planet.