For many years, it was hard to obtain declassified government documents about UFOs. During the 1950s and 1960s, a few documents wended their way to the rest of the world, but this was rare. Then, in 1974, the U.S. government amended the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The result was a veritable golden age of document releases that lasted roughly until a 1982 Executive Order from President Reagan. While UFO documents continue to be released, a repeat of the Great Flood of the seventies appears unlikely.
Whether they prove that UFOs are aliens or something entirely different, they make it clear that this topic has been taken very seriously at high levels, and has been subject to a great deal of secrecy.
Considering how marginalized this subject is from mainstream culture, making this point is enough for a day’s work. There are always deeper waters within which to swim, but for now let us stay close to the shore and look at a few of these documents. Even though most of these are well-known to UFO researchers, they continue to remain almost completely unknown to the wider public.
Sometimes the best place to hide something important is in plain sight! Apparently, some things are so obvious that they are invisible.
1. The 1947 Twining Memo
|General Nathan Twining|
Twining listed several common descriptions of UFOs. They generally were silent, had a metallic or light reflecting surface, no trail, were circular or elliptical in shape, and often flat on the bottom. Many descriptions indicated a dome on top. Several reports indicated they flew in formation. Quite specific information, indeed.
UFO skeptics have pointed to Twining’s statement that no wreckage of a flying disc had been recovered. It’s true that he was probably in a good position to know. But what we don’t know is whether Twining would have been able to tell Schulgen about a UFO crash, if indeed such a thing happened. Simply put, if Schulgen lacked a “need to know,” Twining could not have told him.
On the other hand, Twining did state that UFOs were not secret American craft. This came as a surprise to Schulgen, who expected to learn that there was nothing to the affair, that everything was under control. Was Twining was hiding the fact that UFO’s were classified technology? It’s a fair question.
With the hindsight of more than fifty years, the answer seems to be no. There is simply no credible evidence that the U.S. had any craft in 1947, experimental or otherwise, that could duplicate the reported maneuvers of flying saucers. Anyway, why would Twining tell Schulgen to keep studying flying saucers if they were simply classified American craft? If there were good reasons for doing so, none have emerged.
2. 1949 FBI Memo
|J. Edgar Hoover|
“Army intelligence has recently said that “the matter of ‘Unidentified Aircraft’ or ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,’ otherwise known as ‘Flying Discs,’ ‘Flying Saucers,’ and ‘Balls of Fire,’ is considered top secret by intelligence officers of both the Army and the Air Forces.”
This was a year and a half into the modern era of UFOs. All the while, government sources had been telling the public that this phenomenon was just a combination of hoaxes, hallucinations, conventional aircraft, and misidentification of natural phenomena.
Why, then, was the subject considered top secret?
The answer is contained within the memo itself. It mentions, for instance, a near-collision by an commercial airliner with a large “rocket” type craft (with windows, no less) traveling at an estimated speed of – strap yourself in – 2,700 mph. More serious, the memo explains, were invasions of sensitive airspace by unknown objects in the vicinity of the Atomic Energy Commission’s installation at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The memo states that these had occurred throughout December 1948 (on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 20th, and 28th). The witnesses of these "unexplained phenomena" were "Special Agents of the Office of Special Investigation; Airline Pilots; Military Pilots, Los Alamos Security Inspectors, and private citizens." The sightings continued into 1949, as a similar object was seen in the area on January 6.
The memo goes on to explain that "recent observations have indicated that the unidentified phenomena travel at the rate of speed estimated at a minimum of three miles per second and a maximum of twelve miles per second, or a mean calculated speed of seven and one-half miles per second, or 27,000 miles per hour." Moreover, "on two separate occasions a definite vertical change in path was indicated." In other words, the phenomenon was able to maneuver at a very high rate of speed, and seemed to be focused on Los Alamos. The memo states that reports of the appearance of the object as typically round, occasionally diamond-shaped, "with a definite area to the light's source," and having elongated trailing lights. "On two occasions reports have been received of the sighting of multiple units." There is some speculation within the document that the objects were Soviet in origin, but no evidence or proof is offered.
The memo also refers to "scientific reasons" why the objects could not be meteorites. "The only conclusions reached thus far are that they are either hitherto unobserved natural phenomena or that they are man made. No scientific experiments are known to exist in this country which could give rise to such phenomena." On the third page, the idea of "cosmic rays" was offered, though without any theory or evidence to support it.
Although the memo does not state the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), its attempt to explain the Los Alamos phenomenon as either natural phenomena or man made does not supply any actual evidence -- the only reason why these explanations could even be offered. Because once one tries to find a "hitherto unobserved phenomena," or a "man made" object, one only comes up empty.
3. 1951 USAF Intelligence Report
“Object described as flat on top and bottom and appearing from a front view to have rounded edges and slightly beveled. From view as object dived from top of plane was completely round and spinning in clockwise direction.... Object did not appear to be aluminum. Only 1 object observed. Solar white. No vapor trails or exhaust or visible system of propulsion. Described as traveling [at] tremendous speed....Pilot states object was 300 to 400 feet from plane and appeared to be 10 to 15 feet in diameter....Pilot states he felt disturbance in the air described as ‘bump’ when object passed under plane....Pilot is considered by associates to be highly reliable, of mature judgement and a creditable observer.”
What commentary is necessary? The report says it all.
4. The Chadwell Memo of December 2, 1952
|Ambassador Walter Bedell Smith|
H. Marshall Chadwell was the CIA’s Director of Scientific Intelligence, and very much interested in this problem. In this memo, addressed to the CIA Director, General Walter Bedell Smith, Chadwell wrote:
“At this time, the reports of incidents convince us that there is something going on that must have immediate attention.... Sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and travelling at high speeds in the vicinity of major U.S. defense installations are of such nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or known types of aerial vehicles.”
This statement bears very close scrutiny. Here is yet another comment by a high-level U.S. official that UFOs were real, probably artificial, probably intelligently operated, and not apparently ours. Nor was there serious consideration that these were Soviet.
If not American, if not Soviet, if not natural phenomena, and if they appeared to be technological and under intelligent control, we begin to run out of viable options. Chadwell’s memo makes it obvious that he understood this. Understandably, he was loathe to state the obvious.
5. 1954 Maxwell AFB Emergency Report
|Definitely not a star|
The report describes the entry into airspace of a “strange stationary object variable in brilliance” which moved rapidly, then returned to its original position. The base sent a helicopter to investigate. The pilot’s assessment: “definitely not a star.” Many people watched this object from the tower, and a civilian tower radioed that it also had it in sight. The object became dimmer, showed a slight red glow, and disappeared. Could it have been a star? Possibly. Still, the personnel at the time asked the same question, and concluded it wasn’t.
According to the report:
“...pilot of helicopter wished to stress fact that the object was of a saucer-like nature, was stationary at 2000 ft. And would be glad to be called upon to verify any statement and act as witness.”
It is worth noting that copies of this report were sent to the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and each of the military services.
6. Intrusion at Minot Air Force Base, 1966
|Intrusion at Minot Air Force Base|
One of many classified reports that slipped through the cracks occurred at Minot Air Force Base, in North Dakota, on August 24, 1966. That night, an airman radioed to the base about a multicolored light, very high in the sky. A team went to the location, confirmed the original unknown, then saw a second, white object pass in front of clouds. The base radar tracked the object, which was as high as 100,000 feet (almost twenty miles). The object rose and descended several times; each time it descended, an air force officer in charge of a missile crew found his radio transmission interrupted by static, even though he was sixty feet below the ground. The object eventually descended to ground level ten to fifteen miles south of the area. The Air Force sent a strike team to check. Apparently, they saw the object either on the ground or hovering very low.
According to the official report:
“When the team was about ten miles from the landing site, static disrupted radio contact with them. Five to eight minutes later, the glow diminished, and the UFO took off. Another UFO was visually sighted and confirmed by radar. The one that was first sighted passed beneath the second. Radar also confirmed this. The first made for altitude toward the north, and the second seemed to three different midisappear with the glow of red.”
7. Malmstrom AFB 1967
|Airspace violations at Wurtsmith|
A little later, other witnesses saw several lights near the western edge of the base. The lights turned north and appeared to lose altitude. Most heard nothing, although some claimed to hear a quiet sound similar to a helicopter, but which faded quickly.
Then, three times within the space of 11 minutes, security police at the back gate reported that an object with no lights – possibly a helicopter – entered the base and hovered very low over the weapons storage area. Radar personnel detected low flying objects (plural) in the area. At the northern perimeter of the base, one of the crafts briefly turned its lights on.
A KC-135 tanker was flying to the base at the time. It was ordered to intercept and identify the object or objects. The crew tracked what at first appeared to be a single craft for about 35 miles southeast from the base. However, they soon decided they were seeing two objects, apparently communicating with each other with irregular flashing lights. Radar tracking could not last longer than 10 seconds. Every time they tried to close, the objects simply pulled away.
The crew lost the objects among fishing boat lights in Saginaw Bay, so they started back. Here is how the story ends, as told by the navigator to the base historian four years later:
“On the way back, we picked the UFO up again at our eight o’clock position. We turned away, and it proceeded to follow us. Finally, we turned back in the direction of the UFO and it really took off back in the direction of the Bay area. I know this might sound crazy, but I would estimate that the UFO sped away from us doing approximately 1,000 knots. We continued in the direction of the Bay until RAPCON (radar) called us again and said they were painting a UFO four to five miles over the coast traveling in a westerly direction. They vectored us to the position of the UFO and we proceeded but at point we were low fuel and were forced to return to Wurtsmith. I remember that while on final approach we saw the lights again near the Weapons Storage Area. Following the mission we discussed the incident and about a week later, Captain Higgenbotham was questioned by OSI and cautioned not to discuss the incident.”
Could this have been advanced helicopter technology? If so, it would have to have outperformed what was then the most advanced helicopter design in the world: the recently built Apache prototype. But as awesome a machine as the Apache is, even today it can not duplicate the reported actions of the unidentified intruders at Wurtsmith. And, of course, this still begs the question ... who was responsible for this?
9. The Amazing Encounter over Tehran in 1976
|General Parviz Jafari|
The strangeness began after 10:30 p.m. on September 18, when the control tower at Mehrabad Airport received calls about an unknown object hovering at 1,000 feet in the northern section of Teheran. The tower supervisor observed the object with binoculars, describing it as rectangular or cylindrical. In his words, “the two ends were pulsating with a whitish blue color. Around the mid-section was this small red light that kept going in a circle.... I was amazed.”
He notified the Iranian Air Force. Two hundred miles away, at Shahrokhi AFB, General Nader Yousefi ordered an F-4 Phantom to investigate. It took off at 1:30 a.m. on the morning of September 19. According to the pilot, the object was intensely brilliant and “easily visible” at a distance of 70 miles. As he came to within 25 nautical miles (about 29 statute miles), his aircraft “lost all instrumentation and communications.” He broke off the intercept and headed back, at which point his aircraft regained all instrumentation.
The General had already authorized a second F-4. When the second pilot reached a distance of 27 NM, he obtained a substantial radar return, “comparable to that of a 707 tanker.” At this point, the UFO began to move away from the F-4 at the same speed. It was extremely bright and gave off flashing strobe lights arranged in a rectangular pattern. The colors alternated blue-green, red, and orange, although the sequence was so fast that they were almost simultaneous.
The UFO then released a bright object, “estimated to be one half to one third the apparent size of the Moon.” It headed straight toward the F-4 “at a very fast rate of speed.” The pilot tried to fire an AIM-9 missile at it, “but at that instant his weapons control panel went off and he lost all communications.” Seeking to evade, he dove and turned away, but the object followed him and turned inside his own turn. It then returned to the main object “for a perfect rejoin.” The F-4 pilot then regained communications and weapons control.
At this point, another object came out of the main object and rapidly descended. The F-4 crew observed this, anticipating an explosion. Instead, the object appeared to rest gently on the Earth and cast a very bright light over an area of about 2 miles. The crew noted the object’s position and then headed back.
Before landing, they circled Mehrabad Airport several times, receiving frequent interference and losing communications. During their final approach, the F-4 crew saw a cylinder shaped object with bright steady lights on each end and a flasher in the middle. They inquired with the tower, which replied that there was no other known traffic in the area.
The next morning, the F-4 crew was taken in a helicopter to the area where the UFO was thought to have landed – a dry lake bed. They saw nothing, but picked up a beeper signal west of the area. At the point where the return was the loudest was a small house. They landed and asked the residents if they had noticed anything strange the previous night. The people mentioned a loud noise and a bright light, “like lightning.”
Although the DIA memo indicated more information would be forwarded, no follow-up military documents ever came to light. Researchers Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett stated, “reliable sources have told us the Iranian case was about one and a half inches thick, yet absolutely no admission to having this file has come from any government agency with a possible connection to the case.” Nevertheless, taped testimonies in later years by Iranian Air Force generals Nader Yousefi and Mahmoud Sabahat reveal that General John Secord, chief of the USAF mission in Orion, attended a high level briefing with Iranian authorities and the pilots.
Furthermore, Lt. General Abdulah Azarbarzin of the Iranian Imperial Air Force admitted to U.S. reporters that the UFO encounter had been carefully documented and passed on to the USAF. “This was the request from the U.S. They have the procedure, if we have some information on UFOs, we’re just exchanging all this information, and we did it.” In 2005, one of the Iranian pilots, General Parviz Jafari, confirmed the facts of the chase in an interview with Whitley Strieber and Dr. Roger Leir.
U.S. intelligence analysts found the case to be spectacular. An evaluation in the DIA files stated:
“An outstanding report. This case is a classic which meets all the criteria necessary for a valid study of the UFO phenomenon: a) the object was seen by multiple witnesses from different locations ... and viewpoints. b) the credibility of many of the witnesses was high (an Air Force general, qualified air crews, and experienced radar operators). c) visual sightings were confirmed by radar. d) similar electromagnetic effects (EME) were reported by three separate aircraft. e) there were physiological effects on some crew members (i.e. loss of night vision due to the brightness of the object). f) an inordinate amount of maneuverability was displayed by the UFOs.”
During the 1990s, Lee Graham and Ron Regehr of Aero-Jet in California confirmed that the UFO sighting over Tehran was tracked by the U.S. military’s Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite. This is a deep space platform primarily used to detect the launch of ballistic missiles. It can distinguish different aircraft by comparing their infrared signature with a comprehensive database of known aircraft. Graham and Regehr obtained print-outs showing that the DSP detected an anomalous object in Iranian air space at that time.
The obvious question is, who was operating the object over Teheran? Based on the all that is known, it makes no sense to claim that this was American technology. Why would the Americans confront the Air Force of such a key ally within its own air space? Nor has there ever been any indication in subsequent years that the Soviet Union created technology responsible for this – to say nothing of the fact that for the Soviets to have engaged Iranian F-4s over Tehran in 1976 would have been even more provocative than if the U.S. had done so. Indeed, after the encounter, the Iranian government asked the governments of the USSR and the U.S. whether this had been a test of their military equipment. Neither nation claimed responsibility.
The real problem is that this object so clearly outperformed American-made fighter jets. Some agency – or civilization – was responsible for it.
10. The 1981 Halt Memo
|Witnesses Col. Charles Halt (left) and|
Sergeant Jim Penniston (right)
A major reason for this stems from the primary military document associated with the case, prepared by Deputy Base Commander Lt. Colonel Charles Halt. This was written from memory several weeks later, left a great deal out, and ascribed incorrect dates to the major events. Nevertheless, the incredible detail provided by so many witnesses, much of which is well corroborated, makes it clear that something extraordinary happened.
Early in the morning of December 26, 1980, two USAF security police patrolmen saw unusual lights outside the back gate at Britain’s RAF Woodbridge. Under the assumption that this was aircraft in trouble, three patrolmen were ordered to proceed on foot to investigate.
According to the report by Halt (which ascribed this sighting to the following evening), they reported seeing a glowing, triangular object in the forest, about 9 feet long and 6 feet high, emitting a powerful white light. It “had a pulsating red light on top with a bank(s) of blue lights underneath.” The object was either hovering or standing on short legs.
As the patrol approached, the strange object maneuvered slowly through the trees to a nearby farm, causing disturbance among the animals. It then quickly disappeared into the sky. About an hour later, the object was sighted in the sky. The following day, investigators saw three ground traces indicating possible landing leg depressions. Later that night, Halt and other men personally witnessed a “red sun-like light,” moving and pulsing. Here is his description:
“At one point it appeared to throw off glowing particles and then broke into five separate white objects and then disappeared. Immediately thereafter, three star-like objects were noticed in the sky, two objects to the north and one to the south, all of which were about 10 degrees off the horizon. The objects moved rapidly in sharp angular movements and displayed red, green and blue lights.... The object to the south was visible for two or three hours and beamed down a stream of light from time to time.”
There also exists 18 minutes of an extraordinary audio-tape recording (covering several hours), made while Halt and his team investigated during the second night. In addition, the main airmen involved have all been interviewed, and in essentials their stories hold together well.
One important fact that has surfaced is that as the object hovered above Halt and his men, one hovered motionless and began to shine laser-like beams of light down all over the forest and RAF Woodbridge.
In Halt’s words, “It sort of danced about in the sky and it sent down beams of light.... falling different places on the base.... The people in the Weapons storage area and several other places on the base also reported the lights.... [The beam] stayed on for about 5-10 seconds and just as abruptly as it came, it disappeared...
Not only this, but in 1993 Halt told investigators privately that beams had penetrated the steel, earth, and concrete of the hardened bunkers containing the nuclear weapons secretly stored at the base. Given the history of UFOs and their proximity to nuclear weapons, it is certainly plausible. Ultimately, the beams reached the secured areas where the weapons were stored, “adversely affecting the ordinance,” in the words of Halt.
As the years go by, the stature of the Rendlesham Forest case has continued to grow, not merely as a bona fide UFO encounter, but as one of the most significant ever. The British Ministry of Defence, following its long-established policy of silence and disinformation regarding UFOs, stated curtly that the Rendlesham case was of "no defence significance."