Friday, June 21, 2019

The First Several Saucer Solutions of 1947

In the weeks following the historic UFO sighting by Kenneth Arnold, many explanations surfaced for the reports of flying saucers. This was spoofed in a cartoon in the July 7, 1947 edition of The Times Record from Troy, New York:
The Times Record, Troy NY, July 7, 1947
The explanations offered ranged from the serious to the silly. STTF's Claude Falkstrom has collected some of the most notable ones from the summer of 1947.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 28, 1947

The Tennessean Sun, June 29, 1947 
The Vought  XF5U-1 "Flying Flapjack?" 

Daily News, July 5, 1947

The Montana Standard, July 5, 1947 
Atomic Experiments?

The Independent Record, July 6, 1947
Mass Hysteria?
Dr. Steckel v. Dr. Overholser
Two psychiatrists gave their conflicting opinions on saucers, Dr. Harry A. Steckel v. Dr. Winfred Overholser on flying saucers as mass hysteria:
The News-Press, (Fort Myers, FL)  July 7, 1947
Remotely-piloted Missiles, Corpuscles?

The Mexico Ledger, July 7, 1947, The Evening Sun, July 7, 1947
Optical Illusions and the Power of Suggestion?

The Milwaukee Sentinel, July 7, 1947
Meteors, Birds or Reflections? 

The Ottawa Journal,  July 7, 1947,  Tampa Bay Times and The Evening Sun, July 9, 1947
Airborne Radioactive Waste?

The Daily Courier, July 10, 1947

Grain Silo Reflections?

 The Sentinel, Carlisle PA, July 9, 1947

Several Silly Suggestions:

The Weekly Acadian, July 10, 1947
Entoptic Phenomena?

Tampa Bay Times, July 13, 1947
Fear-Inspired Folklore?

Messenger-Inquirer, July 20, 1947

Associated Press Science Editor, Howard W. Blakeslee wrote a long article on how the flying saucers might be a "new folklore in the making":
The flying disks are probably the first of a series of aerial puzzles, with others to come, in the opinion of Dr. J.L. Moreno, New York... Men have been seeing things like flying disks for centuries. Now these apparitions have a new meaning and some of them a new dreadfulness. 
The full text of the article can be found at Saturday Night Uforia, "in the news 1947," look for the story, Seeing of Saucers in Flight Is Phenomenon of Current Fears

Industrial Waste?
The News Palladium, July 30, 1947

The Saucers That 1947 Forgot

By August of 1947, the flying saucer sensation was over, and the topic was spoken of in the past tense. The Gallup Poll asked "What do you think the saucers are?" After months of conflicting explanations, no one could be sure, but of the respondents who thought saucers were real, the top answer was military "secret weapon."
Aug. 15, 1947
When saucers were discussed, the idea lingered that the UFOs could be a secret military weapon, but there was no consensus on who was flying them.

The Soviets thought they were ours.

St. Clair Chronicle, Aug. 23, 1947

Oregon Representative Harris Ellsworth got word that behind the saucers story we might find a rocket from Russia.
The Freeport Journal-Standard, Dec. 22, 1947

Stories of saucer sightings, and various explanations from the credible to the crackpot variety, continued to make good copy. The newspapers continued to provide stories about flying saucers for their curious readers. It didn't much matter to the newspaper editors what was being seen, or whether it was real; saucers were news, and they sold news. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

UFOs: Contact in the Comics from 1964

Buz Sawyer was the daily comic strip created by Roy Crane in 1943 featuring the adventures of a heroic Navy pilot. When a Sunday comic strip was added, it was produced by Crane's assistants and featured a different storyline starring Rosco Sweeney, Buz Sawyer's comic sidekick. The Sunday strip was a comedy, mostly about Rosco Sweeney and his sister, Lucille, dealing with country life on the family farm.

A typical day at the Sweeney farm, 1963.
Al Wenzel's (Albert Borth Wenzel, 1924 -1995) art career took flight illustrating Superboy comic books in the late 1940s, and by the early 1950s he was producing cartoons for magazines and ghosting comic strips such as Will Eisner's The Spirit. In 1960, he became Crane's assistant on the Buz Sawyer Sundays, then took over producing the strip in 1962. Wenzel continued the premise and flavor of the strip, but in 1964, things got weird when a flying saucer turned up.

Robert Barrow, a long-time ufologist, sent us a note about some comic strips he'd saved:
After the Lonnie Zamora UFO report in 1964 all manner of newspaper responses showed up.  These are three separate weeks from the Sunday newspaper comics featuring the "Buz Sawyer" series by Roy Crane, and these involve "his pal" Rosco Sweeney.
We've shared the 1964 strips below, and Claude Falkstrom was able to locate some black and white reproductions of the other strips in the the series, along with a few of the final ones in color from UFOPOP. It looks like there was an earlier introduction, that may be missing, but otherwise the story looks complete. It's an interesting look at the attitudes of the time, from the public's view on Air Force UFO denials to the concern by witness that they'll be seen as kooks. As for the visiting extraterrestrial, he's a little green man from Mars.



The Dec. 1964 episode ended the flying saucer storyline, at least for a while. In March of 1968, the Martian made a return visit.

Thanks to Robert Barrow for sharing his original newspaper clippings from 1964. Check out Robert's work at UFO: The True Story of Flying Saucers 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Man-Made UFOs over Connecticut

UFOs from the start were suspected of being secret military aviation projects. That's what Kenneth Arnold said he initially thought about the nine objects he saw skipping across the skies like saucers in 1947, and many others speculated along the same lines. The development of the atomic bomb had been kept secret from the public, and many thought flying saucers were another technological breakthrough. The Cold War between the US and the USSR was on, so the concern was who was flying the saucers - us or them?

In a previous article, 1950 Disclosure: UFOs are Made in the USA, we looked at how Henry J. Taylor, a major news commentator and columnist, made an amazing announcement in 1950 that flying saucers are real, and they are US military secret projects. He wasn't the only one suggesting it, and the rumors seemed to be confirmed in Oct. 1955 when Donald A. Quarles, the secretary of the Air Force, disclosed that aircraft were being developed, "a new phenomenon in our skies and under certain conditions could give the illusion of the so-called flying saucer."

There were many military projects over the years mistaken for flying saucers.
Tipton Tribune, IN, April 3, 1953
Here's another one reported in the Connecticut skies in 1954, a US Navy aircraft project.

Pittsfield Berkshire Evening Eagle (MA) June 18, 1954
American Helicopter June 1954

Kaman Aircraft Conducts “Rotor Tip Light Study”

With lights mounted on the tips of its rotor blades, a Kaman HTK-1 helicopter has been inadvertently assuming the role of "Flying Saucers" in the night skies over northern Connecticut. Under a contract with the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics, Kaman Aircraft Corporation is conducting a "Rotor Tip Light Study," to determine the feasibility of lighted rotor blades as a nighttime aid to other aircraft and as a help in night formation flying of copters.

A more detailed account was printed in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, July 1954:
Flying Saucers over Connecticut Bloomfield Conn. - Reports of "Flying Saucers" in the night skies over northern Connecticut, were revealed today by the U. S. Navy and Kaman Aircraft of Bloomfield to be a Kaman HTK-1 helicopter equipped with lights mounted on the tips of its rotor blades. The "Rotor Tip Light Study," as the project is officially named, is being conducted by Kaman Aircraft under a contract with the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics. The “tip lights” consist of small electric light bulbs housed in transparent plastic covers at the end of each rotor blade. In flight the rapidly revolving blades cause the lights to appear as a large circle giving rise to the “Flying Saucer” rumors.
Purpose of the project is to determine the feasibility of lights mounted on the tips of helicopter rotor blades (1) as an aid to other aircraft during night flights and (2) as an aid in night formation flying of helicopters. In case (1) it is pointed out that the flight characteristics of a helicopter brought about by- its ability to slow down suddenly, to stand still in mid-air, to fly backward or sideward as well as forward, and to rise and descend vertically, make it necessary for helicopters to carry a distinguishing mark for easy identification by pilots of other types of aircraft which do not have the maneuverability characteristics of the helicopter. For this purpose a bright white light which is visible over a long distance as a bright circle readily identifies the aircraft as a helicopter. Thus pilots of other types of aircraft cannot mistake the helicopter for a fixed-wing airplane which they might assume to be flying at a speed similar to their own, an assumption which could result in an accident. In case (2) the use of rotor tip lights will assist pilots flying helicopters in formation at night to determine the, exact location of the rotors of all ships in the formation, thereby precluding the possibility of flying closely enough to cause an accident. In this respect two types of rotor tip lights are being tested. One uses blue bulbs which result in a continuous circle of blue light. The second type uses red and green bulbs which produce a circle which is green on the starboard (right) side and red on the port (left) side. The latter method makes any change in the helicopter's flight path readily discernible to the pilots of accompanying helicopters. The red and green circle is accomplished by automatically timing the switching "on" and "off" of the red and green bulbs to the turning of the rotor itself.
Family Weekly July 3, 1955

Another article appeared in the military magazine, Army Aviation Digest Oct. 1955, probably near the conclusion of the study.

Army Aviation Digest Oct. 1955

This particular project merely produced a lighting effect that was mistaken for flying saucers. Far more interesting are the aviation projects that attempted to duplicate the appearance or performance reported in sightings of flying saucers.

The First Several Saucer Solutions of 1947

In the weeks following the historic UFO sighting by Kenneth Arnold, many explanations surfaced for the reports of flying saucers. This w...