Friday, February 23, 2018

A Flying Cucumber Comes to Kansas, Sept. 1954

Before the term UFO for Unidentified Flying Object took hold, every flying weird thing was called a Flying Saucer - at least by the newspapers. John Jacob Swaim, though only age twelve, was found to be credible. He reported seeing a "cucumber ship," but also referred to it as a "saucer." What makes the story more remarkable is that Swaim the sighting included a small humanoid, and the fact that physical traces- tiny foot prints- were left behind to be examined by authorities.

First, the story as discussed in The Belleville Telescope from Belleville, Kansas, November 11, 1954.

A story appearing in the September 8 issue of the Wichita Eagle by Don Pinkston, reporter, concerning a 12-year-old Coldwater boy, John Jacob Swaim seeing a "flying saucer and a little man" was sent to The Telescope by Mrs. Clara Blakeloy of Scandia, a great-aunt of the boy. The boy's story seemed to be backed up by odd-looking footsteps found in the farm field of his father, John Swaim, the next morning by the county sheriff and other spectators. The news story indicates that John Jacob's "little man, and the saucer he flew away in. is the biggest topic of conversation in Coldwater and the surrounding community these days." Mrs. John Swaim, the boy's mother, is a niece of Mrs. Blakeley. More people read the Telescope than any other paper in North Central Kansas
Here's the story that had them talking:

Hutchinson News, Herald KS, Sept 15, 1954
On the editorial page of the Arkansas City Traveler, where it was noted that a Government investigation of the incident was unlikely. They close the article by defining their policy on printing saucer stories, "The reader is left to judge for himself..."

The Arkansas City Traveler, Sept. 20, 1954

Often misspelled as "Swain" in the few places that mention the sighting.

Gray Barker later covered the Swaim sighting story in Saucerian #6, Spring 1955, pages 12-13

The Lincoln Star coverage had the most detailed description of the unusual small footprints found at the sighting scene of this early close encounter of the third kind.
The Lincoln Star, Sept. 24, 1954

Another Cucumber

Project Blue Book has no file on this incident, however their files do carry a report on an earlier flying cucumber- one carried on the roll as "unidentified," Incident #252, dated  27 Jan 1949:  

Witness sketch by Capt. Sannes, USAF
A UFO sighting by a military witness AF Captain Eckerman Sannes and his wife Dorothy, between Cortez and Braderton, Florida.

Are these two cucumbers connected or coincidence? "The reader is left to judge for himself..."

Friday, February 9, 2018

Operation Hush-Hush: The UFO Crash and ET Bodies Cover-Up

Frank Scully was a Hollywood gossip columnist, with "Scully's Scrapbook" dishing up tinseltown gab for Variety magazine. Scully was also a respected reviewer of literature and wrote a few books of his own. In 1949, he published two Variety columns on the discovery of flying saucers (Aztec) and a follow-up piece Jan. 11, 1950 with 20 questions he thought the Air Force should answer, accusing the US Government of covering things up.
Those columns laid the foundation for what is arguably, the most influential book in UFO history, Behind the Flying Saucers, the original story of the cover-up of small alien bodies retrieved from captured UFOs in New Mexico. The tale also featured other elements that would later resurface in the resurrection and expansion of the story of the saucer debris taken to Roswell, such as the recovery and scientific examination of the spaceship's strange light metal, advanced technology and the dead aliens it contained.

The saucer story itself was thin, barely fleshed out from Scully's sketchy columns, but he added details about how oilman Silas Newton had heard about the discs from the mysterious magnetic research scientist Scully called "Dr. Gee," and there was extensive discussion of how the saucers were constructed on the "System of Nines," and flew using magnetic propulsion. Newton was interested in using that alien magnetic technology to detect oil, and that would come to play an important role in his future.
Silas Newton and Frank Scully
There were no verifiable details or evidence presented to prove the saucer tale, but then Scully said the Pentagon had it all, concealed by "Operation Hush-Hush." The book also featured a lot of padding or filler, including quotes from early news flying saucer stories, titled, "The Post-Fortean File 1947-1950," ironically, ultimately the most genuine and valuable part of the volume.

Scully secured a lucrative deal with major hardcover book publisher, Henry Holt and Co., whereas Donald Keyhoe's book was merely a paperback by Fawcett's Gold Medal Books. Behind the Flying Saucers became an international bestseller, a hit in hardcover and in paperback reprints. Here's a collection of items by (and on) Scully that didn't make it into his book.

Toledo Blade, Sept. 25, 1950

Variety: Scully’s Scrapbook, May 10, 1950
Frank Scully claimed he was surprised by being asked to make a premature disclosure about his UFO book. It was on May 6, 1950, at a banquet hosted by Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewcz was at Ciro’s in Los Angeles:
Then Mank threw me to the Lions... grabbed the mike and said I was writing a book on flying saucers and he was sure the Columbia alumni would rather hear about that more than anything else.  
So l had to violate my oath of office and talk for 15 minutes, striving desperately not to tell these diners anything of the sort. Surely Mank must have known that the first rule of a hep literati is, “Don’t tell it, sell it!” In the second place, why should I go to jail for Telling All before I get the book out? And in the third place, I’ve noticed only too often that people who get it through their ears never bother to get it through their eyes. Besides, if Henry Holt & Co. knew I was going around talking about this book instead of writing it; they’d slug me with a flying saucer, magnetically directed to hit me right where it would hurt most; which at this moment, due to millions of units of penicillin injections that read like a Truman budget, Would be right where I’d like it least. 
So these are some of the reasons I dummied up and wouldn’t talk about “Behind the Flying Saucers” (July, 1950, $2.75 all bookstores).
Variety, Nov. 22, 1950

Variety: Scully's Scrapbook, Nov. 22, 1950
Scully toots his own horn by reprinting an interview he'd given with a local paper.
(Full text below clipping.)
Scully's Scrapbook, Variety, Nov. 22, 1950
Scully’s Scrapbook
By Frank Scully
College Inn, Nov. 17. 
Among the sea of letters, clippings and exhibits, which have all but swamped Bedside Manor since I became the Saucerian ambassador (without portfolio) to the Pentagon, 98% have been favorable. Some of the best have come from those between the ages of 14 and 30. In fact in a coming issue of Pageant I am printing one from a 14-year-old 
amateur astronomer. But the best has just come from a 20-year-old student specializing in music at DePaul University, Chicago. 

His name is Richard Wyszynski. I realize that such a name more properly belongs in a Notre Dame backfield but this boy was fast, too. He chased me over half of Chicago and cornered me at the Bismarck hotel just when I was trying to get away from it all by catching a revival of vaude at the RKO Palace. I even offered to settle by taking him to the show and shelve the interview. But he said he could catch the show any time and wouldn’t take long to get his story because he had his questions all typed out. 

He was true to his word, and later we caught Belle Baker, whose son I understand is a nut on flying saucers; Smith and Dale, Frank Paris and others— a grand bill and a full house. 

Frankly I never expected to hear from Richard the Lion Hearted again but in the current DePaulia his piece is printed, and if Readers Digest can reprint the cream of the crop, why can’t I? Here then is the Scully Award for the Best Reporting of 1950: 

Frank Scully’s Theories on Flying Saucers 

By Richard Wyszynski 

Last year about this time, a man named Frank Scully wrote in his column in Variety that flying saucer had been dismantled and investigated. Since that time, Scully, an elderly gray-haired man who moves along at a spirited clip and talks in a low strong voice, has had his book “Behind The Flying Saucers” (On which he has been working since 1947) published and brought before the public. The book has risen from 13th to 4th place among the nation’s reading, but several areas in the country remain aloof from the book, and that’s why Scully was shuffled into Chicago, a few weeks ago, which also provided the fortunate opportunity for this private interview, coincidentally exactly a year after his first saucer article appeared in Variety. 

For those unacquainted with the lore of the airborne ovals, I might explain that Scully, along with Donald Keyhoe, Commander Robert McLaughlin U.S.N. (now serving sea duty) and 5% of the nation’s populace (according to Gallup, May 22, 1950) thoroughly believes that saucers are guided interplanetary space ships. 
Scully differs from his contemporaries in favoring Venus as the home planet of the discs and embracing magnetic force as the means of the ships’ propulsion. According to this theory, these ships ride on or across magnetic lines of force of which there are 1,257 to the square centimeter throughout the universe. In his book, Scully explained the instances of the mysterious lecturer at the University of Denver who amazed the students with his information on saucers, and also proclaimed that of all the saucers which landed here, none remain intact, although various parts of these missiles were hurriedly recalled by Washington from official personnel who had ransacked the saucers. The book also contained a detailed explanation of magnetic forces and a history of the antagonistic struggle between the Air Force and saucer-writers. 

When the book came out, it caused a lot of “backstage screaming” and one friend of Scully’s said: “Somebody in the Pentagon is going to have a hemorrhage.” When Scully wrote that valuable parts of the grounded saucers had been carelessly taken by personnel as souvenirs, the Air Force made a hasty summons for all disc equipment not in their possession. The Pentagonians, however, still ignored the twenty direct questions Which Scully fired at them in Variety and in his book (and in several newspapers which reprinted the article), although the Rosenwald Museum in this city took the trouble to refute any reports of an exhibit of a Venusian corpse in its display dealing with the growth of the human body. 
The Airforce fears 1) panic 2) revelation of military secrets if they let out all their data on saucers, they could reveal only that information which would not endanger national security, but Scully doesn’t accredit them with the necessary intelligence to do this. He also believes that secrecy-for-security-s’il-vous-plait requests from Washington have stifled any available reports from men stationed at Palomar, world’s most powerful telescope. 

Venusians Curious 

Scully’s train of thought on our global neighbors runs along these lines: the Venusians, maintaining the quality of curiosity, sent their reconnaissance force to investigate the atomic detonations of the past five years. There have been only two instances of hostility: the scattering of Captain Mantell’s body and F-51 over the Fort Knox countryside after a high and hot pursuit of a flying saucer, and the head-on crash challenge offered to Lt. George Gorman after his 27-minute dogfight with a disc above Fargo, North Dakota. (At the last moment, Gorman decided not to risk his skull on something so weird and relinquished the chase) Scully believes that the Venusians of the grounded saucer died not because they couldn’t maintain level flight over our magnetic fault zones, but because they hadn’t mastered the means of safe disembarkation into the atmosphere of this planet. The difference in gravitation between Venus' and Terra may account for the Venusian’s small, but proportionally accurate, sizes. 

Scully also affirmed three statements, to the effect that: 1, The mysterious lights sighted over Sweden for such a long period of time shortly after World War II were probably caused by fractures of magnetic forces of flying saucers. (The Aurora Borealis is an example of resplendent light caused by “fractures” of magnetic disturbances). 2. The United States of America has a defense weapon utilizing magnetic force. 3. Scientists, in their highly developed work with this secretive power of destruction, are actually defending the country more effectively than the Air Force, which should be considerably distressing to Major Alexander P. DeSeversky. 

States Disgust for National Officials 
Frank Scully is thoroughly disgusted with the foibles of inefficient officials stationed in the nation’s capital throughout past several decades; he stated that if he would’ve been president at Woodrow Wilson’s time, this country would’ve been saved a lot of trouble.
Scully likes to to “work out in the open” and that is just what he is doing in his book. He compares himself to a writer in the 15th century revealing the facts of modern civilization and being subject to the condemnation of the people of the time. His work is not that of a theorist, nor of a scientist, nor even of a witness, of a flying saucer; he is strictly a reporter trying to do his job as he sees fit and finding it to be a pretty rough task.

And in trying to separate the fact from the fantasy, if what Scully reports is all wet, why is the Pentagon so perturbed ... why has Scully’s phone been tapped for the last three years? And if this data turns out to be completely authentic, cannot the American people extend their concept of existence past the barriers of this globe and into the universe? Perhaps it is as Mr. and Mrs. Scully both said to me: “They don’t believe in them because they're scared. We seem to be scared of practically everything these days.
- - -

De Flygande Tefaten and The Journal of a Flying Saucerian

In 1952, Billboard magazine reported that Frank Scully's book was being circulated all over the world, and he was working on a second UFO volume, to be titled, "The Journal of a Flying Saucerian."

Billboard Aug. 6, 1952

Billboard Aug. 20, 1952

Billboard makes a mention of the debunking of Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers. It was published in True magazine's September, 1952 issue, an article by J.P. Cahn titled, "'The Flying Saucers and the Mysterious Little Men." It exposed the story as a hoax and ultimately put crashed saucer stories out of business until the 1970s. For more on J.P. Cahn's article and the follow up, see debunker Robert Sheaffer's page, The Frank Scully "Crashed Saucer" Hoax (1950).

The influence of Silas Newton's saucer tale and Scully's book is incredibly far-reaching, and we'll return to other facets of the story in future installments here at The Saucers That Time Forgot.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Feb. 3, 1953: The Oklahoma Flying Saucer Flop

Not all man-made flying saucers are hoaxes. Some are the attempts of enterprising engineers to duplicate the objects and performance described by flying saucer witnesses.

Sooner Magazine, March 1953
On February 3, 1953, an event at the University of Oklahoma marked the opening of their new engineering facilities.  It was celebrated by a flying saucer launch. The press considered it a flop.

The Daily Ardmoreite, Feb. 4, 1953

"Flying Saucer" Built By Students Falls First Test 
NORMAN, Okla., Feb. 5 —UP— Aeronautical engineering students at the University of Oklahoma Wednesday were trying to figure out why their "flying" saucer — 30-inch model—won't fly. The builders, with a large, ready-made crowd left over from dedication ceremonies for their new classroom-laboratory building Tuesday afternoon, came off red-faced when the shiny disc sputtered, whirled around a few times, and flopped to the ground. "Our smaller wind-tunnel models worked," mused the designer, Bob Winneberger, Oklahoma City. "Must be something wrong with this one." Winneberger had warned that the "saucer" might not fly, since it was finished in a dead heat with the dedication and he did not have a chance to test it. 
Lubbock Evening Journal  February 5, 1953

The launch was the cover feature of the March 1953 issue of Sooner Magazine, published for University of Oklahoma graduates and former students. While they acknowledged the larger model did not launch, they chose to emphasize that the smaller model had successfully launched.

O.U. Engineering students have proved conclusively that flying saucers are possible. A small model, powered by rockets, delighted a crowd of 1,000 gathered to dedicate the Aeronautical Engineering Building on the North Campus as the saucer lifted, dipped and flew on. The dedication had CBS national radio coverage. Bob Winneberger, aeronautical engineering student, designed the saucer.

Beyond Human Ken

The Sooner Magazine issue also had a pair of thematically linked essays, the first on the history of aviation, "Up in the Air" by L.A. Comp, Professor of Aeronautical Engineering, who probably authorized the flying saucer demonstration.

The second essay was by a science fiction author, "The Sky's No Limit" by Dwight V. Swain, Instructor in Journalism. He discusses the far future of 1975, and the difficulty of imagining the unknown. A select quote: 
Consider, for example, the plight of the author or artist who creates "extraterrestrial life-forms" (what most folks call bug-eyed monsters) for pseudo-science magazines. Even with the accent on imagination and no holds barred, the boys still come up with relatively unoriginal (and unimpressive) variations on the familiar...  In a word, no one can imagine anything truly beyond human ken, any more than a Stone Age savage could invent radar.
That's worth thinking about, and even our understanding of UFOs could be a failure of our imagination, by thinking of them only in terms equivalent to our own aircraft. Nevertheless, exploring these kinds of ideas can serve as inspiration, and pursuing these dreams and visions can lead to making technological breakthroughs and new scientific discoveries. Along the way, there have been some missteps and bad launches. That's expected. What matters is that we keep at the work of reaching for the stars.

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. 

Donald E. Keyhoe: From Saucers to Swamp Gas

Donald E. Keyhoe was born in Iowa in 1897, so he was a 50-year-old man during the summer the flying saucers arrived in 1947. He went on to b...