Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Captured Flying Saucers: US Navy Investigates Crashed Disc, Alice, TX, July 4, 1950

X for eXperimental

STTF correspondent Roger Glassel of Sweden has provided us with the story of a crashed flying saucer, discovered in Alice, Texas, July 4th, 1950. At the time, flying saucers were thought by most people to be secret military projects, and several credible authorities were supporting the hypothesis. World War I flying ace, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, agreed that flying saucers could be real, but "belong to the U.S.A."

Portsmouth Times. May 18, 1950.
The Northrop X-4, as shown in Flying Magazine, March 1949

There were some real classified military aircraft projects underway in the 1940s and, and they carried an "X" prefix, designating experimental. The link below is to an article from FAS on the history of the projects: "The X-Plane Program has evolved from being the first rocket-powered airplane to break the sound barrier (the X-1 on 14 October 1947) and included over 30 different major research designs..." X-Planes Experimental Aircraft

The X-147-A

In Alice, Texas, on July 4th, 1950, a crashed flying saucer was discovered. The San Antonio Express reported in their  July 5, 1950 issue:
"Discoverer of the saucer was Leroy Holloman of an Alice roofing and sheet metal company. Driving along a highway bordering a plowed field, he spotted the saucer. Within an hour Alice's sleepy Fourth of July burst into a galaxy of wild rumors. Here s what the crowd saw: An aluminum object, almost round, about four feet across each way, six or eight inches thick in the middle, with antenna and 'running lights' on both sides, and a small opening in the back. Stenciled on the left side were the words 'warning. X-147-A. Don’t touch.' And no one, at first, would touch it. But excited townspeople knelt down and looked through the little hole. They could see machinery inside. Among those who came running were Police Chief Stokes Micenheimer and Managing Editor Curtis Vinson of the Alice Daily Echo."
The text on the object was in English and it looked like Army stenciling. This led to speculation that the saucer was a secret military project, perhaps gone astray. Micenheimer and Vinson contacted government authorities, and the FBI was among those they notified.

The FBI's files contain three memos on the event starting on page 35 of this PDF.

They also called in the Marines

Alice Daily Echo, July 5,1950.

Another unusual aspect of this case is that instead of the Air Force, the incident was investigated by the US Navy. Micenheimer and Vinson also contacted the Navy, from the nearby Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. Here's the story form All Hands, the US Navy magazine, "published monthly in Washington, DC, by the Bureau of Naval Personnel for the information and interest of the Naval Service as a whole."

All Hands, Sept. 1950
All Hands, Oct. 1950

This story from Naval Aviation News identifies the specific aircraft elements used to construct the counterfeit saucer's body:

Naval Aviation News, September, 1950

Photos from  the Navy's examination of the captured disc:
View of the saucer's underside, showing distinct traces of terrestrial construction.

An "alien autopsy." The saucer's propulsion unit was removed for analysis.

The Navy decided to put the crashed saucer into service:

Alice Daily Echo, July 7, 1950.
There have been many UFO hoaxes over the years, but very few of them are centered on spoofing a military secret project. The experimental "X-147-A" designation was a nice touch, but doesn't indicate any knowledge beyond what an average aircraft buff would have had at the time. The hoaxer had welding skill and access to aircraft parts, so it seems very likely he was a mechanic at the airport in Alice, Texas. 

Many discoveries of crashed flying saucers generate lasting mysteries, but due to the timely reporting and investigation, the true origin of this one was solved within a few hours. The object was determined to be of Earthly origin, but the identity of the hoaxer was not determined, so in that regard, the case remains unsolved

As with so many of the most interesting UFO cases featured here at The Saucers That Time Forgot, Project Blue Book has no file on this incident. 

A special thanks to Roger Glassel for the case details and documents.


  1. Odd the AF didn't take the lead, as they had their grudge/sign/ Blue Book pops up and running, no? Is there a deeper reason behind this or just a fluke?

    1. this occurred after the Grudge Report of Dec, 1949 had explained everything - or so they said - and Grudge had become "moribund" and not doing much in the way of actual investigation. The "flying disc" probably had been explained before the Grudge personel got around to doing anything about it

  2. The Corpus Christi NAS was the closest government folks around, and perhaps Police Chief Stokes preferred it be handled by local talent. If this hadn't been a one-day-wonder, the AF probably would have gotten involved.


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