Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Engineering Flying Saucers


There were circular winged aircraft before the sighting of flying saucers in 1947. At least two of them were later the cause of some confusion. 

Jonathan E. Caldwell invented the Roto-Plane around 1937, but after the crash of a test flight he abandoned the project. Later the prototypes were found in a barn and mistaken for flying saucers.

In 1942, Charles H. Zimmerman built a single-wing circular airfoil, the Chance Vought V-173, nicknamed the Flying Flapjack (or Pancake). This propeller driven disk-shaped plane was tested in 190 flights up until March 1947. 

The Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1947

Daily News, July 5, 1947

After the reports from Kenneth Arnold and others of disc-shaped unidentified flying objects, many inventors were inspired, challenged to build their own flying saucers. Here’s some notable examples from our files. 

Engineering Flying Saucers: The First Ten Years

Dr. Kay’s Revolutionary Disc

Dr. Eugene W. Kay was a Russian-born inventor and aeronautical engineer who lived in Glendale, California. He and a partner applied for a helicopter patent in 1946. https://patents.google.com/patent/US2521012A/en?inventor=Eugene+W+Kay 

Saturday Night Uforia included Dr. Kay’s press coverage extensively in the 2015 article, Saucer Summer Reading Fest (part five), but below are some of the highlights.


A nationally syndicated photo in January 1950 debuted Dr. Kay’s invention:

“… a flying saucer that he built himself and that he believes will revolutionize aviation. His 41-inch, 20- pound test model rises from the ground and spins in a 36-foot circle... U.S. Air Force officials recently watched a test flight of Dr. Kay's revolutionary disk.”

The Orlando Sentinel Jan. 16, 1950 

More press followed. Parade magazine, April 9, 1950, ran a pictorial feature on his invention and reported: “The Kay ‘saucer’ is actually a 41-inch circular aluminum disk with eight slotted vanes like fan blades. A midget motor spins the vanes and also powers a propeller for forward motion.”

Then in May, Flying magazine and Popular Mechanics.

Flying magazine, May 1950 

Popular Mechanics, May 1950 

That was the end of the press for the invention, partly due to the research being cut short. Dr. Kay died on Oct. 8, 1951, at the age of 66. The last we could find of Dr. Kay’s saucer was in Billboard magazine, Dec. 5, 1953. William Shilling was a booker in New York supplying talent and exhibits (like Hitler’s limousine) for sportsmen's shows. Kay’s flying saucer was added to his collection of attractions, but Shilling died of a heart attack in 1956. Its final fate is unknown.

The Flying Saucer Air Bus

A stunning color illustration of a flying saucer was published in October 1950, for Science and Mechanics magazine, Dec. 1950, painted by Arthur C. Bade. It was for the cover story, a three-page article written by George F. Miller, “Will ‘Flying Saucer’ Buses Lick Traffic Congestion?” The article began:

"Designed as a practical approach to some of tomorrow's transportation problems - especially through crowded cities and suburbs - the Air Bus, shown on the cover of this issue and the accompanying photos, incorporates a number of features regarded by aviation authorities as highly desirable. For commuting by air, it offers many advantages."

Miller briefly discussed the reality of UFOs:

“At first glance, today's skeptic would say, perhaps, “Oh that's just another wild dream resulting from too much talk about ‘flying saucers!’ That is untrue. Many authorities still do not admit the existence of flying saucers, even where good descriptions have been supplied by persons who have claimed to see the strange craft. But no one can deny that the reported shape of a flying saucer would be airworthy if properly designed. We believe the air bus design, on which patents are pending, would be flyable and qualified aeronautical engineers who have checked our calculations agree.”

The Air Bus was designed to be 65 feet in diameter and 10 1/2 feet high, and weigh from 80,000 to 110,000 pounds. It would fly passengers at 90 to 175 miles an hour, lifted by three counter-rotating pairs of 14-foot diameter rotors. Each rotor pair would be driven by a pancake-type 2,400 horsepower engine. 

Newspapers picked up on the story and widely printed a black and copy of Arthur C. Bade’s painting with a summary of Miller’s article. 

CITY "SAUCER" The "flying saucer" will come into its own one day as the solution to traffic congestion in most U.S. cities, thinks designer George F. Miller of Chicago. Above is Miller's conception of a saucer-shaped, 100 passenger air bus that would carry city commuters at 90 to 175 miles an hour. Miller's idea was presented in Science and Mechanics magazine.

We had no luck find a patent for the Air Bus, but George Francis Miller did file a copyright for his article.

The First Sports Model

In November 1950, U.S. newspapers carried an exciting photo of a dynamic disc-shaped object built by aviation engineer, Nick Stasinos.

“Non-Flying ‘Flying Saucer’ - This model ‘flying saucer’ was built by Nick Stasinos of Inglewood, Calif., on order for a New York museum. The craft, called the ‘Experimental NS-97,’ shows two main jet installations in the center section and eight turbo-jet ports on the outer revolving disc. Considered aerodynamically practical, the saucer is not scheduled for production now"

The unnamed customer was Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum in New York City. Like many others, the final fate of Stasino’s saucer is unknown.

Flying Further into the Fifties

In Frankfurt Germany, a propeller-driven flying saucer was designed by Walter Otto Galonska, as shown below in this 1951 news photo.

The Press and Sun-Bulletin, Jan. 2, 1951 - via Acme Telephoto

Engineers and artists had some high-flying expectation for man-made saucers, but the product never quite lived up to their dreams. Alexander Leydenfrost was an illustrator for pulp science fiction magazines before going to work for Life magazine. His work there rarely gave him the opportunity to revisit spaceships and such until Life magazine, May 31, 1954.

“The U.S. is seriously considering building a flying saucer… designed by a shy, 35-year-old English-born engineer named John C. M. Frost… It is the outgrowth of a saucerlike craft called ‘Project Y’ which Frost designed for his employers, A. V. Roe Canada Ltd.”

Life magazine, May 31, 1954

At Fort Hood, Texas, the U.S. Army's private Larry G. Anderson was building and launching his own flying saucers.

Chrysler’s Saucer Spaceship

Lovell Lawrence Jr, an assistant chief engineer at Chrysler Missiles Operations, publicized his concept for a nuclear-powered “flying saucer.” It was featured in an Associated Press story carried in The Bridgeport Post, Dec. 30, 1956. Lawrence was confident the spaceship could be built and said, “Space travel is inevitable, and the only question is when.” 

San Bernardino Sun,  March 1957

Check the links below for further information on Lawrence's concepts.

The Bridgeport Post, Dec. 30, 1956: …Space Ships May Make it Possible

Aerospace Projects Review Blog: The Chrysler Saucer

That concludes this look at plans and attempts to build man-made flying saucers. Be sure to check our past articles for more disc engineering attempts, and keep watching the skies.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Flying Saucers from Montana: The Leonard Grayson Story


On Feb. 22, 1966, a call alerted authorities to the discovery of a flying saucer in a wooded area near Shelton, Washington. The “Thing” was left in place, but photographed and examined. Guesses ran wild as to what it was, where it came from, and why it was there. 

The object was a strange craft, about as tall as a person, with a diameter of over 12 feet. Reserve Sheriff Deputy Chuck Shelton examined the object and reported that it sat on a pair of steel rails and was powered by a Ranger aircraft engine, equipped with two acts of rotor blades, 12 to a set. “In paint partly obliterated are the words Grayland (or Grayson) Aircraft Manufacturing Company.” The saucer was apparently made in the U.S.A. The Daily Olympian, Feb. 23, 1966, playfully asked:

“How did the Thing get where it is in the woodlot of A. D. Hunter who lives part of the time in California and the rest of the year on his Matlock Ranch? Did it fly? Was the pilot a man – or a jolly green giant?” The story went on to say that there was a shortage of information; the Sheriff and his deputy were both out of town, and Mr. Hunter hadn’t been heard from. “So there it sits. A Thing from Detroit, or Disneyland - or Outer Space.”

Three days later, A. D. Hunter returned and discovered there was a fuss over the discovery on his property. It turned out the flying saucer speculation was right. He was able to identify the Thing as a flying disc prototype built a few years prior by inventor Leonard. W. Grayson. Hunter was quoted as saying, “I really don’t want the hovercraft, but since it was a pilot model, my brother-in law didn’t want to scrap it, so he hauled it to my place about three years ago.” He said Grayson had moved to Montana and was manufacturing an improved version of the aircraft.

That wasn’t quite the end of the Thing, though. Or the career of its inventor. Leonard W. Grayson’s career is like many others, in that we have only bits here and there of what the media printed about him. No doubt, there’s more to the story than we’ll ever know. It’s not recorded what Grayson thought about UFOs and aliens, but it’s well-documented that he built and flew flying saucers.

A Wheel in the Middle of a Wheel

Leonard William Grayson was born on July 21, 1918. He didn’t have a degree or attend college, but he had served as a corporal in the US Army during World War II as an instrument technician. Afterwards, he returned to civilian life as a working family man in Cascade, Montana. 

While employed as a railroad agent telegrapher in 1954, he had a “Eureka’ moment:

“All at once those wheels were going around me. Just floating around me. I hadn't been consciously designing a vertical lift machine and it was amazing how the whole thing fell into place… within a few minutes… the whole design was formulated, and I drew a sketch of it.”

Working in his spare time in his garage, Grayson designed and constructed several flying disc models, assisted by his wife Lucy, their two sons, Richard, and Tom. Meanwhile, in his day job, he was employed over the next few years as a carpenter, and a civil engineer technician.

Grayson’s design featured two non-axial, counter-rotating rings, to which blades for propulsion were attached. It generated a vertical lift that acted both as a rotor craft and a jet. His first successful working model was completed in 1956, a 30-inch diameter model, powered by a 3/8 horsepower electric motor. He filed a patent for his “Disc Shaped aircraft” on Oct. 10, 1955, saying the vehicle “may be employed with equal facility as an aircraft or as a land vehicle for traveling on the highways.” The patent was granted on May 3, 1960.

Disc Shaped Aircraft (link to patent.)

While waiting for the patent, Grayson began construction of a manned 21-foot, 1,600-pound test model powered by a 165-horsepower aircraft engine he’d bought for fifty dollars. He and the family briefly lived in Shelton, Washington, and that’s where he completed the disc and conducted test flights. It flew, but only a few feet off the ground, enough to satisfy him that with the proper facilities and financial backing it could be built and even scaled up for passenger flight.

Caption for 1965 article:

“21-Footer – This 21-foot model Grace-N-Air was built by Grayson in a garage at his home in Cascade. He began building the machine in March, 1959, and had it ready to get off the ground by July, 1960. Here the vehicle is shown as it was beginning to rise off the ground in a test. The outside duet, or framework is made of aluminum. Grayson was operating this machine which was powered by a 165-horsepower airplane engine. This picture was taken in Cascade [probably Shelton, WA] in the summer of 1960. This model since has been dismantled and is stored in a Seattle garage.”
(That caption was off, as we know the location was actually a heavily wooded field, where it was discovered as the Thing.)

Around 1963, the Graysons moved back to Montana and set up house in Bozeman. By 1965, Grayson was satisfied with the performance of his smaller models and began aggressively campaigning for his invention to be noticed by private industry and the US military. 

The Billings Gazette, May 24, 1965, ran a story on the first Montana Inventors Congress. The second-most popular invention:

“…was a flying saucer built by Leonard Grayson of Dillon. Grayson said his Grace-N-Air Flying Saucer could be built with a 500-foot diameter and could carry 500 passengers. The one Grayson had on display is three feet in diameter and is powered by a five-horsepower electric motor… He said it will travel 60 miles per hour and that a larger model could go at least 300 mph.”

More publicity followed. The Great Fall Tribune Sunday magazine, Montana Parade, June 5, 1965, cover story was “Dillon Inventor’s Disc-Type Aircraft New Flying Concept,” story and photos by Clyde Reichelt.

Grayson’s invention was not built for space travel, and he didn’t bill it as a flying saucer. In March 1966, press about the UFO sightings in Dexter, Michigan, got the flying saucer fever going again. If the press was short on UFOs stories, they could run pictures and stories of Grayson’s discs. Apparently, he didn’t discourage them. 

The Exponent, May 13, 1966

In June 1966, Montana State University film students, Tom Gordon and Don Tone made a short 16 mm color movie documenting Grayson’s aerodynamic concepts and inventions. The film included an animated sequence to illustrate the potential of the invention at a larger scale for applications such as those of conventional aircraft, including commercial transportation. The movie was granted a copyright in 1967, and Grayson exhibited the film at his public appearances and in meetings with prospective customers.

GRACE-N-AIR. Leonard W. Grayson;. 22 min., color, 16 mm.
© Leonard W. Grayson;; 8Jun67; MU7837. 

Grayson was seeking a contract with the U.S. government, but figuratively speaking, when the phone rang, it was the flying saucer people.

Saucer Clubs and Conventions

We don’t know exactly when Leonard Grayson had his first contact with UFO buffs, but he was approached by Wayne. S. Aho, director of the New Age Foundation of Seattle, Washington. Aho had been lecturing on UFOs for years and claimed to have had contact with aliens. He had become a perennial guest at Contactee conventions, first an advocate for UFO “Disclosure,” then transitioning to a more spiritual and religious figure, promoting peace and harmony through alien teachings or whatnot. Aho had been involved with some shady characters, and narrowly avoided prosecution for the sale of bogus stock in the Otis T. Carr spaceship business

The New Age Foundation held a UFO convention near Mt Rainier each year. Aho must have seen the February news about the “Thing” in the woods, and obtained permission from Grayson to have the prototype moved to Eatonville and the Flying M Ranch, the site of the convention. It was held July 15-17, 1966. The Associated Press published with some inaccurate details about Grayson and his work:

“Flying saucer fans gathered here for the fifth annual Interplanetary Age Convention... The fans also peered at a machine that once rose 15 feet… The machine, now a jumble of twisted metal and pipes was built by a Montana State University professor. Its counterrotating blades provided the lift. Wayne Aho, a retired major, believes the object will someday be enshrined in a museum.”

Instead, after the convention, thieves stole the Grayson saucer’s 165-horsepower engine. What happened to the Thing after that is lost to history.

The Billings Gazette, Aug. 20,1966

Space Research Inc. hosted a “Space Age conclave” on UFOs on Aug. 20-21, 1966, in Spokane, Washington. About 15 speakers were presented, Wayne. S. Aho, Lenora Croft, and Leonard Grayson gave a “demonstration of an earth-type flying saucer principle.”

The “Big Sky Research Group” club led by Mrs. Dorothy Hankins in Billings, Montana, invited Grayson to lecture for them and present his film as soon as it was completed.

Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph Colorado Springs, May 6, 1967

Grayson demonstrated his invention and won a 1967 inventor's prize.

"Leonard W. Grayson, Bozeman inventor of the ‘flying saucer’ which won him the sweepstakes award of the Inventors’ and Manufacturers’ exposition at Missoula Saturday. The affair opened Friday. Grayson, formerly of Antelope, now working for the railroad at Cascade."

Saucer Scoop, June 1967, reprinted a news item on Grayson’s entry into the Inventors Congress.

The Missoulian, July 17, 1968

In 1968, Leonard Grayson was billed as the main speaker for the seventh annual Northwest UFO-Space Convention held in Eatonville, WA, by Wayne Aho’s New Age Foundation. He demonstrated his saucer model and flight and showed the movie, “Grace-N-Air.”

As far as we can tell, that was Grayson's final UFO conference. 

Growing Pains

At some point, Grayson stopped using his electric motor-powered saucer and began exhibiting a 34-inch model, its blades powered by air piped in from an external air compressor. The photo below is from a demonstration on Aug. 23, 1969 in Denver, Colorado.

Where the press is concerned, 1969 to 1973 were fairly quiet years for Grayson. Perhaps coincidentally, those were bad years for the UFO business in general.) In 1970, the Graysons moved to Hamilton MT, where they ran the Town Pump service station. 

While developing a commercial model airplane version of the saucer to promote the project and raise funds, “… he sold stock to friends and formed a closed corporation.  According to Grayson, when the friends became directors, they decided the idea was too big for one man and tried to wrest his patents away from him. The directors complained to the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and an injunction was placed against further work on the Grace-N-Air. Grayson was cleared of charges by the SEC in 1975 but his work was held up for five years.”

U.S. Pat. No. 3,845,670; Issued Nov. 5, 1974

Grayson continued to promote the Grace-N-Air concept and film in public, for local officials, the Ravalli County Fair in Montana, wherever he could. 

The_Missoulian, Feb. 24, 1974

The Ravalli Republic, Aug. 27, 1974

The Ravalli Republic, July 30, 1976

In 1975 he began working on a 20-foot manned fiberglass model that he hoped would eventually be mass-produced for commercial vehicle sale. The Grayson Research Institute, incorporated March 1, 1976

Things picked up for the UFO biz in late 1973 with the Pascagoula abduction story, and newspapers needed saucer stories again. Grayson was featured in The Missoulian, Oct. 16, 1977, updating his business efforts, and he received some prime time television exposure.

The Montana Kaimin, May 24, 1978 (University of Montana student newspaper) reported in “Leonard Grayson’s inventions are getting off the ground” by Judy Casanova:

“Grayson is an independent inventor and he and his wife have made four trips to Washington, D.C., at their own expense, to get the military interested in the concept of the Grace-N-Air. In February, Grayson was invited to the Defense Department in Washington, D.C. to make a presentation of the Grace-N-Air. … the Grace-N-Air has received national news coverage by NBC. Grayson said, "This may open some more doors to us."

The Final Flight

Richard L. Weir also lived in Montana and was friends with Grayson. They shared similar backgrounds and interests, and Weir devised a “Rotary Foil Type Aircraft” and applied for a patent in 1957, granted in 1964. Weir owned a Cessna 182 plane and was an experienced pilot, often accompanied on flights by his wife Mary. 

On Feb. 19, 1980, Mr. and Mrs. Weir were joined by Leonard and Lucy Grayson on a fight to Mesa, Arizona to visit relatives. When they failed to arrive, their plane was reported missing. Severe winter weather delayed the search, but on Feb. 27, Civil Air Patrol and National Park Service searchers found the Cessna below the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The plane had crashed after hitting a tree, and all four aboard were killed.

Here's a link to the 
Richard and Mary Weir Memorial article. Below are the obituaries for Leonard and Lucy Grayson.

The Missoulian, March 5, 1980

We were unable to locate any information on what became of Grayson's film, "Grace-N-Air" or if copies still exist. 
Leonard Grayson is seldom mentioned in UFO literature and history. A rare exception was in the Journal of UFO History, Vol. 2 No. 1, March-April 2005, “US Patents for Disc Aircraft.”

We have to wonder, what might have happened if the U.S. government or industry had ever made an attempt to produce a fully realized Grayson aircraft. With the advances in material construction and aviation technology in the decades since Leonard Grayson’s passing, how high might the Grace-N-Air fly today?

. . .

Thanks to STTF co-founder Claude Falkstrom for the primary research on this report. Also, thanks to researchers Roger Glassel and Jeff Knox for providing supplementary material.

P.S.  Other Flying Saucer Discoveries

Most discoveries purported flying saucers turn out to be phonies or junk that never flew. Some of them have been from balloon-borne packages, intended for anything from weather study to espionage platforms. Besides Grayson’s Thing, there was one other discovery of a real disc-shaped aircraft. It was found in an old tobacco barn near Baltimore, Maryland in 1949.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Noah Clubb and the UFO Crash Retrieval Case

There’s a UFO crash retrieval case that’s been forgotten. In April 1949, newspapers reported that fragments from a flying saucer had been recovered, and were being examined by the Air Force. 

The story begins like another you may have heard, with a rancher finding some strange metal debris from the crash of an unidentified flying object. While riding on horseback in late April 1946, rancher Noah L. Clubb was in an open, rocky treeless terrain 6 miles south-southwest of Delta Colorado when he made a discovery, but it wasn’t made public until three years later. Clubb was 55 years old at the time, a respected citizen and family man, not prone to foolishness. After seeing the constant news coverage about flying saucers, he came forward with what he’d found, and dutifully reported it to the authorities. The story as disclosed in the United Press article from April 7, 1949: 

Flying Disc Segments Recovered in Colorado 

MONTROSE, Colo. (UP) Air force intelligence men have recovered two segments of what may have been one of the flying discs that caused widespread speculation during the summer of 1947, and have supposedly been seen during the last few days. One of the segments was in the possession of Noah L. Clubb of Montrose, until he was requested Tuesday to turn it over to the intelligence men. The intelligence men were reported to have spent two days scouring a mile square section of rugged country about 15 miles west of Delta, where a second and longer segment was reported found. Pieced together the segments evidently were part of a wheel-shaped instrument about four feet in diameter, the rim being of aluminum construction. It was slightly less than two inches across and one inch thick. On the inner edge of the wheel, at intervals of about three inches, were tube-like wicks about two inches long and of brass construction. Each wick, which witnesses said might have been fuel feeders, bore an even number.

 Another version from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 7, 1949.

It seems too close in time for it to be coincidence, but the same month, the FBI was also being questioned about the recovery of a flying saucer, one said to be made in Japan.

Believe It or Not!

Robert Ripley was the creator of the famous Ripley's Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, then brought the franchise to radio, then as an NBC television show in March 1949. 

On April 13, 1949, Ripley sent a Western Union telegram to radio commentator Walter Winchell: 

“Have the only authentic Japanese flying saucer ever recovered in this country. … Would like very much to have you join me on the Believe it or Not television show next Tuesday April 19th NBC network 9:30 to 10:00 PM and give your comments on the flying disc and your exclusive knowledge…”

Winchell forwarded the telegram to the FBI with the handwritten note:

“To J. Edgar Hoover – True?” 

FBI files contain an Office Memorandum. Subject: Flying Discs. To: Mr. [Redacted], From: [Redacted] 26 May 49. An FBI agent consulted Colonel [Redacted] of USAF Office of Special Investigations (OSI) about a recovered saucer. For whatever reason, the results were negative:

“He advised he would check with the authorities at right field to determine if any information is available concerning the recovery of a Japanese flying saucer. Colonel [Redacted] has now advised that there is no information available in any arm of the Air Force to the effect that any flying saucers of any kind have been recovered in the United States.”
FBI “Unexplained Phenomenon” files pages 26 and 27 of, “UFO Part 6”

Robert Ripley died weeks later of a heart attack at the age of 59, on May 27, 1949. We found no mention elsewhere of Ripley presenting a Japanese flying saucer anywhere, so apparently his plans did not come together. Read on to see how his claims may have been connected to the UFO parts discovered by Noah Clubb.

Back to the Saucer Debris Investigation

Like with the Roswell flying disc story, the mystery of Clubb’s saucer was solved in one day. 

Project Blue Book file: 4 April 1949, X Delta, Colorado 

From page 5 of the April 8, 1949, Phoenix, Arizona Republic:

Relic Is Identified As Jap War Gadget 

DENVER, Apr. 7 (AP) That "whazzit" found in Southwestern Colorado wasn't a forerunner of a new war. It was a relic of the old one part of a Japanese incendiary balloon. So said Maj. Lester J. Seibert of the Lowry Air Force Base office of special investigation Thursday. Noah Clubb found the curved, hollow piece of metal near Montrose Wednesday. Knobs protruded from the inside of what looked like a small portion of a wagon wheel.

As is often the case, the hype gets the newspaper front page, but the disappointing correction that follows gets lost deep inside. Far more people saw the initial story than the news it was solved.

Project Blue Book files state that the Air Force investigators recovered about half of the device and shipped them to Wright Field to be photographed and examined. The fragments were determined to be: “Definitely identified as ballast ring from a Japanese incendiary balloon.” 

Noah Clubb was named, but his discovery was discussed in “Something in the Sky,” for Daniel Lang's “A Reporter at Large” column for the Sept. 6, 1952, New Yorker Magazine. (Later collected in his 1954 book, The Man in the Thick Lead Suit.)

For a time in the spring of 1949, it looked as though a Colorado rancher had been harboring a piece of a flying saucer for three years. Back in April, 1946, the rancher, riding his horse on a high, rocky mesa, had come across a bit of tattered rigging attached to a steel ring. He took it back to his house, tossed it into a closet, and forgot about it. Then, belatedly reflecting on the wave of saucer sightings, he recalled the contraption in his closet. He showed it to two friends, one of whom, an omniscient type, stated definitely that it was part of a flying saucer. ‘I've seen too many saucers not to know one when I'm holding one in my own hand,'’ he said. The rancher forwarded his find to Wright Field, where it was identified as a remnant of one of the incendiary balloons the hopeful Japanese dispatched across the Pacific during the war in an effort to start forest fires.

The Pre-Saucer US Government Cover-Up

In 1944-5, over 9,000 incendiary balloons were launched from Japan’s island of Honshu. The balloons travelled at a high-altitude across the over the Pacific Ocean carried by the high-speed currents of the jet stream. Fu-go: The Curious History of Japan's Balloon Bomb Attack on America by Ross Coen provides more information. The balloons were fusen bakudan (balloon bombs), but the Japanese Imperial Army gave them the code name fu-go. 

“Measuring over 30 feet in diameter and filled with hydrogen… Each balloon carried four incendiary bombs and one thirty-pound high explosive bomb, all designed to drop in a timed sequence once the vehicle had completed its transoceanic voyage…” 

These balloon flights resemble later UFO events in a few ways. There was a government policy of secrecy, and it had two goals, prevent the Japanese military from getting valuable targeting information, and to avoid a public panic. Western Air Command held meetings with civilian pilots who were asked to report sightings to the military while remaining silent to the general public. Many confirmed sightings were reported, but there were also many false ones, the most common cause for which was the planet Venus. One report not made public at the time, was from a credible witness reported a relatively incredible thing. A woman in Selawik, Alaska claimed to have seen a balloon in the middle of the night from which “Little Men came down a ladder to the earth.” The local Alaska Territory Guard searched the area but found nothing.

Of the thousands of fu-gos launched, only about 300 were known to make it to North America, most in the U.S., some seen or discovered in Canada and Mexico. Most of them caused no harm, with one notable exception. On May 5, 1945, Bly, Oregon, minister Archie Mitchell, his pregnant wife Elsie, and five children from their Sunday school class were on a morning picnic. As Mitchell parked the car, the others found a strange balloon on the ground. The bomb it carried exploding and all six people were killed. The site of the tragedy is now marked by the Mitchell Monument to honor the only Americans killed by enemy action during World War II in the continental United States. 

Noah’s discovery has been forgotten for the most part by ufologists, but Rick Hilberg included a partial account of his story in “Saucer Fragments” in Flying Saucer Digest, Fall 1970.

As far as we can tell, Noah Clubb lived a full life thereafter away from the flying saucer business. He died on the morning of Nov. 15, 1970, at the age of 76.

. . .

Months after Noah Clubb's discovery, a few miles south of Baltimore, Maryland, the Air Force was called out to investigate the remains of  flying saucer discovered in a barn.

The OTHER Air Force Captured Flying Saucer Retraction

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