Thursday, October 22, 2020

The OTHER Air Force Captured Flying Saucer Retraction

UFOs are nothing more than misidentified conventional objects with a few hoaxes in the mix. That was the message of the notorious anti-saucer article in the April 30, 1949 issue of  The Saturday Evening Post, “What You Can Believe About Flying Saucers” by Sidney Shalett, written with the support and cooperation of the US Air Force. 

The article prompted an interesting response that led to an official investigation. In May Stewart Smith of Baltimore, Maryland, wrote to the Air Force saying he believed that inventor Jonathan E. Caldwell's company was making the flying saucers. The AF's Office of Special Investigations assigned the job to Captain Claudius Belk, and with the help of the Maryland State Police, he made a discovery in an old tobacco barn in Glen Burnie. The news broke on August 20, 1949.

The Air Force made the hasty statement that they'd discovered the origin of the flying saucers. The press went wild. After they had a chance to examine what was actually found, the Air Force issued a retraction, a bit like what had happened two years earlier with the Roswell debris.

An early photo of a Caldwell plane in pristine condition.

UFX is the site of ufologist Joel Carpenter, who passed away in 2014. It hosts Carpenter's 1996 article which is the definitive examination of the case, linked from the home page as, "Roswell: The Sequel." 

Flying Saucers Found In Maryland!
The Glen Burnie Incident: the Air Force's Second Officially Announced Flying Saucer Capture

Part 1: Flying Saucers Found In Maryland!

Part 2: Caldwell's Saucers 

Part 3: The OSI Discovery

Part 4: Glen Burnie's Aftermath 

In Joel Carpenter’s article, he likened the case to the reporting of the 1947 Roswell saucer story, and said:

“The Glen Burnie Incident offers a different perspective on the Air Force's handling of the flying saucer phenomenon circa 1949… The Glen Burnie fiasco also reveals that the problems the Air Force faced regarding flying saucer press relations remained unsolved. Twice within little more than two years senior Air Force officers were forced to issue strong statements denying hasty claims by lower levels that genuine flying saucers had been retrieved.”

That chaotic press coverage is perhaps the most interesting, particularly since we are still dealing with the same kind of problem today. We’ve collected a few examples of the sensational and often misleading newspaper headlines. 

The news coverage from Aug. 20:

An Air Force  spokesman stated: "It Is apparent that both ships would give the appearance of flying discs. They could well be the prototype of what have been reported as flying saucers."

A day later, the Air Force put on the brakes. On Aug. 21, the retraction:
"The Air Force states that the two experimental aircraft found near Baltimore, Md. yesterday have absolutely no connection with the reported phenomenon of flying saucers. Neither its configuration nor its reported characteristics of flight would qualify it to be related to the reports of flying saucers."

Even with the facts in hand, some newspapers continued to spread confusion. The same United Press  story as packaged by two different editors.

A few days late, one editorial tried to take it all in stride, as part of the cost of searching for the truth.

Jonathan E. Caldwell, the "missing" inventor had just moved from Maryland to Nevada. He was still developing aircraft, but he said none of his machines had anything to do with the flying saucers. 

The Project Sign Investigation

Project Blue Book files contain 14 pages of photos on the case and a 53-pages of documents on their investigation, including copies of some of the original newspaper stories. Failing to have a classification for "embarrassing mistake and public relations fiasco," the Air Force designated the case a hoax.

Project Sign: August 17, 1949, Glen Burnie, Maryland 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The 1957 UFO Crash at Knoxville, Tennessee

In late 1956 into early 1957 there were a series of UFO reports near the atomic energy installation in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The sightings came to an abrupt end when a flying saucer was seen to crash in flames. Although local authorities searched for the wreckage, they found nothing. News reporters had better luck.

Here's the story as reported in The Knoxville Journal, February 2, 1957.


The flying saucer turned out to be man-made, an experiment by seven high school students: Gene Bradburn, Ben Baker, Dewaine Speaks, D.C. Hunley, J.D. Seat, Boots Dew, and Johnny Henry. The newspaper coverage gives no indication the boys were perpetrating a hoax, but their balloon did cause a stir, at least on it's final flight. The saucer likely would have remained a mystery and become another UFO legend if the boys had not been persuaded to tell their story to the press.

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

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