Monday, May 30, 2022

Capt. William Davidson & Lt. Frank Brown, 1st Casualties of Ufology

 Originally published at Blue Blurry Lines, May 27, 2018

Captain William L. Davidson (L) and Lieutenant Frank M. Brown (R).

Remembering Captain William Davidson and Lieutenant Frank Brown, and how the Maury Island hoax of 1947 resulted in the first casualties related to ufology. 

Shortly after the news of Kenneth Arnold's famous sighting in June 1947, Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman reported an amazing story of seeing giant doughnut-shaped flying discs near Maury Island in Puget Sound, Washington. Maybe it was fate, but Kenneth Arnold himself was hired by (science fiction magazine editor) Ray Palmer to go there as a reporter. Arnold called in Capt. William Davidson and Lt. Frank Brown, the two Army Air Force officers that he'd spoken with about his own sighting. They flew in to investigate, but after being unfavorably impressed in their interview with Dahl and Crisman, the two intelligence agents left. Tragically, their B-25 airplane crashed, and both Davidson and Brown perished.

The Galveston Daily News Aug. 3, 1947

Excerpts from The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects by Edward J. Ruppelt, 1956.
Ruppelt changed the names of Kenneth Arnold, Ray Palmer (publisher of Amazing Stories and Fate magazine, and also the "harbor patrolmen," Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman. 
For clarity, I've inserted the true names in parentheses.

For the Air Force the story started on July 31, 1947, when Lieutenant Frank Brown, an intelligence agent at Hamilton AFB, California, received a long-distance phone call. The caller was (Kenneth Arnold), who had met Brown when Brown investigated an earlier UFO sighting, and he had a hot lead on another UFO incident. He had just talked to two Tacoma Harbor patrolmen. One of them had seen six UFO's hover over his patrol boat and spew out chunks of odd metal. (Arnold) had some of the pieces of the metal.

The story sounded good to Lieutenant Brown, so he reported it to his chief. His chief OK'd a trip and within an hour Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson were flying to Tacoma in an Air Force B-25. When they arrived they met (Arnold) and an airline pilot friend of his in (Arnold's) hotel room. After the usual round of introductions (Arnold) told Brown and Davidson that he had received a letter from (Ray Palmer) a Chicago publisher asking him, (Arnold), to investigate this case. The publisher had paid him $200 and wanted an exclusive on the story, but things were getting too hot, (Arnold) wanted the military to take over.

(Arnold) went on to say that he had heard about the experience off Maury Island but that he wanted Brown and Davidson to hear it firsthand.

He had called the two harbor patrolmen and they were on their way to the hotel. They arrived and they told their story... two men (Harold Dahl) and (Fred Crisman)... 

In June 1947, (Harold Dahl) said, his crew, his son, and the son's dog were on his patrol boat patrolling near Maury Island, an island in Puget Sound, about 3 miles from Tacoma. It was a gray day, with a solid cloud deck down at about 2,500 feet. Suddenly everyone on the boat noticed six "doughnut shaped" objects, just under the clouds, headed toward the boat. They came closer and closer, and when they were about 500 feet over the boat they stopped. One of the doughnut shaped objects seemed to be in trouble as the other five were hovering around it. They were close, and everybody got a good look. The UFO's were about 100 feet in diameter, with the "hole in the doughnut" being about 25 feet in diameter. They were a silver color and made absolutely no noise. Each object had large portholes around the edge.

As the five UFO's circled the sixth, (Dahl) recalled, one of them came in and appeared to make contact with the disabled craft. The two objects maintained contact for a few minutes, then began to separate. While this was going on, (Dahl) was taking photos. Just as they began to separate, there was a dull "thud" and the next second the UFO began to spew out sheets of very light metal from the hole in the center. As these were fluttering to the water, the UFO began to throw out a harder, rocklike material. Some of it landed on the beach of Maury Island. (Dahl) took his crew and headed toward the beach of Maury Island, but not before the boat was damaged, his son's arm had been injured, and the dog killed. As they reached the island they looked up and saw that the UFO's were leaving the area at high speed. The harbor patrolman went on to tell how he scooped up several chunks of the metal from the beach and boarded the patrol boat. He tried to use his radio to summon aid, but for some unusual reason the interference was so bad he couldn't even call the three miles to his headquarters in Tacoma. When they docked at Tacoma, (Dahl) got first aid for his son and then reported to his superior officer, Crisman, who, (Dahl) added to his story, didn't believe the tale. He didn't believe it until he went out to the island himself and saw the metal.

(Dahl's) trouble wasn't over. The next morning a mysterious visitor told (Dahl) to forget what he'd seen.

Later that same day the photos were developed. They showed the six objects, but the film was badly spotted and fogged, as if the film had been exposed to some kind of radiation.

Then (Arnold) told about his brush with mysterious callers. He said that (Dahl) was not alone as far as mysterious callers were concerned, the Tacoma newspapers had been getting calls from an anonymous tipster telling exactly what was going on in (Arnold's) hotel room. This was a very curious situation because no one except (Arnold), the airline pilot, and the two harbor patrolmen knew what was taking place. The room had even been thoroughly searched for hidden microphones.

That is the way the story stood a few hours after Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson arrived in Tacoma.

After asking (Dahl) and Crisman a few questions, the two intelligence agents left, reluctant even to take any of the fragments. As some writers who have since written about this incident have said, Brown and Davidson seemed to be anxious to leave and afraid to touch the fragments of the UFO, as if they knew something more about them. The two officers went to McChord AFB, near Tacoma, where their B-25 was parked, held a conference with the intelligence officer at McChord, and took off for their home base, Hamilton. When they left McChord they had a good idea as to the identity of the UFO's. Fortunately they told the McChord intelligence officer what they had determined from their interview.

In a few hours the two officers were dead. The B-25 crashed near Kelso, Washington. The crew chief and a passenger had parachuted to safety. The newspapers hinted that the airplane was sabotaged and that it was carrying highly classified material. Authorities at McChord AFB confirmed this latter point, the airplane was carrying classified material.

In a few days the newspaper publicity on the crash died down, and the Maury Island Mystery was never publicly solved.
Later reports say that the two harbor patrolmen mysteriously disappeared soon after the fatal crash.

They should have disappeared, into Puget Sound. The whole Maury Island Mystery was a hoax. The first, possibly the second-best, and the dirtiest hoax in the UFO history. One passage in the detailed official report of the Maury Island Mystery says:
Both ______ (the two harbor patrolmen) admitted that the rock fragments had nothing to do with flying saucers. The whole thing was a hoax. They had sent in the rock fragments [to a magazine publisher] as a joke. ______ One of the patrolmen wrote to ______ [the publisher] stating that the rock could have been part of a flying saucer. He had said the rock came from a flying saucer because that's what [the publisher] wanted him to say.
The  publisher (Ray Palmer), mentioned above, who, one of the two hoaxers said, wanted him to say that the rock fragments had come from a flying saucer, is the same one who paid (Arnold) $200 to investigate the case.

The report goes on to explain more details of the incident. Neither one of the two men could ever produce the photos. They "misplaced" them, they said. One of them, I forget which, was the mysterious informer who called the newspapers to report the conversations that were going on in the hotel room. (Dahl) mysterious visitor didn't exist. Neither of the men was a harbor patrolman, they merely owned a couple of beat-up old boats that they used to salvage floating lumber from Puget Sound. The airplane crash was one of those unfortunate things. An engine caught on fire, burned off, and just before the two pilots could get out, the wing and tail tore off, making it impossible for them to escape. The two dead officers from Hamilton AFB smelled a hoax, accounting for their short interview and hesitancy in bothering to take the "fragments." They confirmed their convictions when they talked to the intelligence officer at McChord. It had already been established, through an informer, that the fragments were what Brown and Davidson thought, slag. The classified material on the B-25 was a file of reports the two officers offered to take back to Hamilton and had nothing to do with the Maury Island Mystery, or better, the Maury Island Hoax.

(Arnold) and his airline pilot friend weren't told about the hoax for one reason. As soon as it was discovered that they had been "taken," thoroughly, and were not a party to the hoax, no one wanted to embarrass them.

The majority of the writers of saucer lore have played this sighting to the hilt, pointing out as their main premise the fact that the story must be true because the government never openly exposed or prosecuted either of the two hoaxers. This is a logical premise, but a false one. The reason for the thorough investigation of the Maury Island Hoax was that the government had thought seriously of prosecuting the men. At the last minute it was decided, after talking to the two men, that the hoax was a harmless joke that had mushroomed, and that the loss of two lives and a B-25 could not be directly blamed on the two men. The story wasn't even printed because at the time of the incident, even though in this case the press knew about it, the facts were classed as evidence. By the time the facts were released they were yesterday's news. And nothing is deader than yesterday's news.

(Twin Falls) Times-News Aug. 3, 1947

Oakland Tribune Aug. 6, 1947

For further reading, see the case files in Project Blue Book on the Maury Island UFO hoax.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

UFOs: Crimes and Punishment

Our earlier article, The U.S. Government’s UFO Hoax Policy talked about how the Air Force developed a policy that no matter what the nature of the report, the names of witnesses were to be kept confidential. Interviewed in 1966 about his retirement from Project Blue Book, TSgt. David N. Moody talked about the problem with UFO hoaxers. “The Air Force has no means to take action against perpetrators. That it’s a matter for civil authorities.”

Especially after 1957, the Air Force did declare some UFO cases hoaxes, but they were not in the business of exposing the hoaxer themselves or of punishing them. If the hoaxer committed a crime, that was up to local law enforcement or the FBI to press charges. The number of UFO hoaxers who have faced justice by the law is very small. Below is a partial list of the few that paid for their crimes, as well as some examples of those that escaped prosecution.


1947: The Maury Island Hoax

Shortly after the news of Kenneth Arnold's famous sighting in June 1947, Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman reported an amazing story of seeing giant doughnut-shaped flying discs near Maury Island in Puget Sound, Washington. 

Fred Crisman and a depiction of his story.

Captain Edward J. Ruppelt covered the investigation in his 1956 book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. Ruppelt's chapter, "The Era of Confusion Begins," stated that the government had thought seriously of prosecuting hoaxers Dahl and Crisman:

"At the last minute it was decided, after talking to the two men, that the hoax was a harmless joke that had mushroomed, and that the loss of two lives and a B-25 could not be directly blamed on the two men. ...By the time the facts were released they were yesterday's news."

Dahl and Crisman avoided charges and prosecution for their hoax.

1949/1950: The Aztec Crashed Saucer Hoax

Silas Newton and Leo Gebauer were partners in the Aztec UFO hoax which was the basis for Frank Scully's 1950 book, Behind the Flying Saucers. The saucer story was the backdrop for an oil fraud scheme: the duo was selling "doodlebugs," phony mineral detectors that they claimed used magnetic technology from the Venusian saucers. 

Newton and Gebauer were charged with fraud, and found guilty and convicted in 1953, but for selling the bogus devices, not the saucer hoax itself. The two managed to dodge any prison time. 


1953: The Little Green Man Hoax
July 8, 1953, three young men, Edward Watters, Tom Wilson, and Arnold Payne claimed their truck hit and killed a small alien from a flying saucer. They had the body, and subsequent examination by a veterinarian revealed the "Martian" was a monkey that Watters had killed and mutilated. The men confessed it was a prank stemming from a $10 bet that Watters could get his name in the newspaper. 

Incidentally, the case has the only "alien autopsy" mentioned in Air Force files.

A jurisdictional technicality prohibited Watters from being charged for animal cruelty, but he plead guilty to a charge of highway obstruction and was fined $40. For more details see, the Project Blue Book Case File.

1958: The Little Blue Man

For several weeks in early 1958 motorists around Elkton, Michigan, reported seeing a blue man on or near the roadway, possibly a being from outer space. Witnesses accounts varied, describing the creature as two to ten feet tall, and one said, "It ran faster than any human." The stories persisted, and when a busload of kids witnessed the blue man, their parents pressured the authorities to investigate. Facing the the heat from the law, the "alien" turned himself in.

Elkton Review April 24, 1958

The Little Blue Man was the creation of Don Weiss, Jerry Sprague and LeRoy Schultz. The three created a glowing blue costume with blinking lights to look like a space visitor. They confessed to the police who were amused by the prank and left them off with a warning. For further details, see: Last surviving ‘Blue Man’ prankster amused by interest in tale six decades later, from the Huron Daily Tribune, Feb. 25, 2022.

The Crackdown on Saucer Swindlers

While the law didn't care much about typical hoaxes, there were some serious saucer-related swindles that drew their attention. In the late 1950s, the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) began informing the FBI about saucer-related crimes. Major James F. Byrne (from the Pentagon’s Press Desk) sent a memo on May 10, 1957:

“The subject of U.S. persons using the UFO hysteria for personal gain has been informally brought to the attention of the FBI. Documented cases where illicit or deceptive devices or methods are used by individuals to arouse public interest in UFOs should be made available to the FBI through the OSI. This subject is being studied by AFOIN-X1 and further development will be brought to your attention." 

The result? The FBI checked up on some sketchy characters.

There were several scoundrels scamming saucer fans, and three were caught and convicted from 1957 to 1961, most notably Harold J. BerneyOtis T. Carr, and Reinhold O. Schmidt

Hard Time was a Rarity

Getting back to typical UFO hoaxes, police were often involved in local UFO investigations, but seldom punished the perpetrators of false reports. Below is a rare exception, but take notice of the light penalty involved.

1965: The Glassboro, New Jersey, Saucer Landing

Michael Hallowich or Hallowitz was fined $50 for hoaxing his Sept 4, 1964, sighting of a UFO landing, but it was suspended. He was just ordered to pay $10 in court costs.

Project Blue Book files contain the news story from the clipping above from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Jan. 19, 1965

Post-Project Blue Book

There was a lull in UFO activity following the closure of Project Blue Book, but things picked up in 1973 with the Pascagoula abduction case, and many phonies sprung up in its aftermath. 

The NICAP UFO Investigator, Nov. 1973, “Flap Yields High Noise Level” covered several of the 1973 hoaxes, including those below.

1973: The Silver Saucerians

From an Associated Press story, October 23, 1973:

'Little men in silver suits' fined by judge for their gag 

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Two men accused of "impersonating visitors from outer space" have been fined $25 each, plus $24.80 in court costs on charges of malicious mischief. Municipal Judge John States suspended 30-day jail sentences for the two — Stanley Burdyshaw, 18, and William Wilson, 21, both of Bono. State Trooper Daniel Oldham and a sheriff's deputy, Bill Finley, said about 20 motorists reported Sunday night that "little men in silver suits" were obstructing traffic on U.S. 63 near Bono. Oldham said he and Finley found the two standing at the edge of the highway "covered from head to toe" with aluminum foil. The motorists had complained that the "little men" had been jumping in front of cars, the officer said. 

1973: The Delaware Saucer Landing

On Oct. 16, 1973, traffic backed up as drivers stopped to take a look to see if it was really a flying saucer landed on the hill by the road.  When the police came they discovered it was a saucer-shaped circle of flashing lights powered by portable generator. The perps were five young volunteer firemen who had set it up as prank. Since the distraction could have caused a traffic accident they were arrested, but only charged with disorderly conduct.

An imaginative depiction from UFOs Flying Saucers #4, Nov. 1974

This concludes our sampling of UFO hoax-related crimes. In a future article, we’ll take a look at crimes committed while under the influence of ufology, from the comedic to the truly tragic.

. . .

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The U.S. Government's Policy on UFO Hoaxes

Why aren't UFO hoaxers sent to jail? Making false reports to law enforcement agencies is a punishable offense but hoaxing a UFO is not a crime under any known local, state, or federal statute. Even if it was, the United States Air Force has never had law enforcement jurisdiction except on their own bases and installations. Project Blue Book was given the job to investigate UFOs including reports from civilians, but there was a policy preventing them from exposing hoaxers. 

Our investigation began while pondering a statement from the Department of Defense’s Office of Public Information (OPI). Pan American pilot Captain Bill Nash was a witness and UFO advocate with questions for the Air Force. In a reply dated July 16, 1954, Captain Robert C. White replied saying:

"As stated in the enclosed fact summary, it is contrary to our policy to identify hoaxes in order to avoid embarrassing innocent parties."

From UFOs: A History 1954 June-August Supplemental Notes by Loren E. Gross, page 30.

The reprint of the letter didn’t not include the “Fact Summary,” so the hunt was on. The Air Force UFO files mainly concentrate on their investigations, not policy, but a few examples were found. The following material is best viewed as exhibits in an evidence folder. Not a comprehensive collection, a folio of some of the key suspects and prime offenders.   


The 1949 Flying Saucer Cover-Up 

Project Blue Book files contain a report from Nov. 3, 1949, about the Air Force’s investigation of Mikel Conrad’s UFO story. Conrad starred and directed in the film The Flying Saucer and he promoted it with the claimed that it featured real footage of a real saucer filmed in Alaska. 

The Pittsburgh Press, Sept. 18, 1949

When questioned, Conrad admitted it was to promote the movie, “not a reality.” The reports stated that Conrad asked them not to reveal “the fact that the saucer is a hoax,” which would hurt its take at the box office. They agreed. “OSI had no interest in his picture, since he had not actually sighted any unconventional object in the sky.” 

By the early 1950s, the Air Force estimated that less than 2% of UFO reports were due to hoaxes, but the phonies caused a disproportionate amount of effort to investigate. A review of the UFO cases listed in Project Blue Book files shows that the hoax label was most often applied to cases where photos or alleged UFO physical material were determined to be false. Many of the cases without physical evidence were evaluated as “Insufficient Evidence,” or Psychological.” The USAF developed a policy that no matter what the nature of the report, the names of witnesses were to be kept confidential.


The Public Disclosure of the USAF Hoax Policy

Science Service Staff Writer Allen Long interviewed an unnamed spokesman for the Air Force on the saucer issue for a Oct. 12, 1953, syndicated newspaper article. (Later reprinted as Science Digest Jan. 1954, "The Air Force Looks at 'Saucers'" and in Great Adventures in Science, 1956.) Long wrote:

“… the mystery apparently is made to grow deeper by an Air Force policy of not discrediting a person or organization. ...If the experts conclude that the sighter had hallucinations or that he deliberately concocted a hoax, the Air Force remains silent rather than discredit the person who turned in the report. No official statement is issued saying the sensational sighting was bunk. 

This assures the Air Force that other persons will continue turning in legitimate reports without fear of other persons will continue turning in legitimate reports without fear of public ridicule. It also means the Air Force will continue receiving a certain number of red herrings.” 

As reprinted in  in Great Adventures in Science, 1956.

 A few months later, this policy acknowledged in an official disclosure. The "Fact Summary" sent to Capt. Nash mentioned in our opening was actually the "Fact Sheet" issued in late 1953 (reprinted as “Plenty Going on in the Skies” in US News & World Report Jan. 1, 1954) which stated:

"The names of the persons involved in the sightings are withheld in respect of their privacy. They are free, however, to say what they please." 
[And three paragraphs later,] Although hoaxes comprise but a small percentage of total reports, some of them prove to be the most, sensational and the most publicized. However, to insure that the Air Force will not embarrass individuals or groups who are sincere in their beliefs or who may be victims of such hoaxes, the facts brought out in the investigations of these false reports are generally not made public. Unfortunately, this policy has often given the erroneous impression that the Air Force is deliberately denying or withholding. information which, if revealed, would prove the existence of ‘saucers'." 

US News & World Report Jan. 1, 1954

Captain Edward J. Ruppelt

In 1951, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt took over as head of the UFO investigation by the U.S. Air Force, and in 1956 wrote a book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

In the foreword he stated:

“In many instances I have left out the names of the people who reported seeing UFO's, or the names of certain people who were associated with the project, just as I would have done in an official report. …This policy of not identifying the ‘source,’ to borrow a term from military intelligence, is insisted on by the Air Force so that the people who have co-operated with them will not get any unwanted publicity.”

Ruppelt’s personal files included material used in the preparation of his book, and a few of them shed light on the policy. Ruppelt got into hot water over a hoax accusation in 1952.

Shell Alpert - Sunday Herald Aug 3, 1952

Seaman Shell R. Alpert supposedly photographed four UFOs above the Coast Guard Air Station at Salem, Massachusetts, on July 16, 1952. The New York World-Telegram and Sun reported on July 30, 1952, “Without questioning anyone’s integrity, Capt. Ruppelt said his first impression was the picture is a fake. He said the alleged saucers appear to have been painted in.” The Blue Book card for the case selected the box, “Unknown,” with comments stating, “open to doubt.” The monthly case listing booked it as “Unidentified.”

Ruppelt’s notecard on the Shell Alpert case:


Coast Guard - I got into trouble on these. I said that I thought they were fakes. The CG didn’t like it. The photo lab didn’t believe that they were kosher because of the highlights. They were missing from the cars. They set up lights on the building and got highlights from them.”

Specific to hoaxers, there were two notecards, one by hand, one typed, with nearly identical comments. 

Very few hoaxes, about 2%. They are usually elaborate and draw a lot of attention. The press helps out a lot in digging them out. Some cost the government a lot because of investigations or because they 'kick off' other reports. I wanted to really slap somebody. Photos are biggest hoaxes. Difficult to prove it unless the person admits it.”

The typed version included another line: "We are stymied because we can't give it away." 

1957: Public Accusations

Sometime in 1957, the new Blue Book head, Captain George T. Gregory, prepared a lecture for the Air Technical Intelligence Center, “The UFO Program.” In the brief section on “Hoaxes,” Gregory said, “Public relations must be maintained; we cannot, nor do we desire to initiate legal charges.” 

During the 1957 flap, the Air Force was bombarded by UFO reports, and Project Blue Book was busy trying to investigate and explain them. 

The Nov. 15, 1957, Department of Defense press release presented the Air Force’s “evaluation of recent Unidentified Flying Objects reports.” They made an unusual policy exception of labelling James Stokes’ and Reinhold Schmidt’s stories as a hoax, but did not name the men, just identified the incident locations: 

Alamogordo, New Mexico: "EVALUATION: Hoax, presumably suggested by the Levelland, Texas ‘reports.’" 

Kearney, Nebraska: “Investigation revealed that local officials consider originator wholly unreliable… EVALUATION: Hoax…”

See pages 16 &17 of UFOs: A History 1957 Nov. 13th-30th by Loren Gross. Information from the DOD was used in newspaper stories.

The Plain Speaker, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 1957,

More 'Objects' Reported In Region; Air Force Discredits Space Stories

The Rocket from Russia 

While not a typical UFO case, the following incident provides insight into how the Air Force usually dealt with hoaxers. On Oct. 29, 1957, Angelus Crest Hwy, California, a man made a phony Russian missile as a prank on his boss, but it went out of bounds when the authorities were called in. The man confessed and the investigator agreed not to expose hoaxer’s identity. Blue Book discussed featuring the case on a television show program along with other examples of hoaxes.

San Bernardino Sun, Oct. 31, 1957

The Air Force was taking a harder line with hoaxers and bluffed on a television show to deter hoaxers. The Armstrong Circle Theatre “UFO: Enigma of the Skies,” was broadcast live on January 22, 1958, and Colonel Spencer Whedon, Chief of the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) implied committing a UFO hoax was a federal crime:

“The important thing here is that this type of hoax besides being a violation of federal law, is a rather expensive joke. A single UFO investigation may well cost the government $10,000.”

The Hector Quintanilla Years

Hector Quintanilla came in as Blue Book head in 1963. During his tenure, the policy of not prosecuting hoaxer continued, but he was more active in exposing them publicly.

In The Skywrighter (Dayton, Ohio) April 15, 1966, TSgt. David N. Moody was interviewed about his retirement from Project Blue Book. On the topic of UFO hoaxes Moody said, “The Air Force has no means to take action against perpetrators. That it’s a matter for civil authorities.”

Dr. J. Allen Hynek echoed that impotency in a report dated June 4, 1968, to Blue Book chief, Lt. Colonel Quintanilla. Discussing Carroll Wayne Watts' claim that a hypnotist had manipulated him into hoaxing a UFO story, Hynek said (emphasis added):

"One of the original reporters called up, quite incensed, and asked whether I couldn’t get the Air Force to prosecute the hypnotist for unethical practices, etc., for having made a dupe of [Mr. Watts] and subjected him to public ridicule. I told him that first of all the Air Force did not prosecute in such cases, and that furthermore in such lawsuits it is the injured party who brings suit and that I hardly felt that the Air Force or I had been injured by the purported hypnotist’s actions."

Hector Quintanilla saw Blue Book through to its end in 1969. In his unpublished memoirs written in 1974, UFOs: An Air Force Dilemma, he said: 

“On a number of occasions, I was crucified because I labeled certain sightings as hoaxes. I always believe in calling a spade a spade, but sometimes in my position this became extremely difficult. What most critics didn’t realize at the time was that I had good evidence or good reason to label a sighting a hoax. Every sighting that I labeled a hoax turned out to be just that from the very beginning or was subsequently proven to have been perpetrated by an individual.” 

During Quintanilla’s tenure, several hoax accusations were made by the Air Force. Below are some prominent examples of Hector applying the heat to hoaxers: 

The April 29, 1964, multi-witness case involving five children at Canyon Ferry Village, Montana, was also called a hoax by an Air Force investigator.

The Billings Gazette, May 5, 1964

March 2, 1965: John Reeves of Brooksville, Florida, claimed to have seen a landed saucer and met the aliens. 

After Project Blue Book investigated Reeves story, “it is the opinion of the Air Force that an attempt was made to perpetrate a hoax.”

Rex Heflin took several UFO photos on August 3, 1965, and during the publicity that followed, Hector Quintanilla said Blue Book had investigated and, “We have classified it as a photographic hoax.”

Rex Heflin and one of the photos that brought him fame.

Dan and Grant Jaroslaw said they photographed a UFO on January 9, 1967, at Mount Clemens, Michigan. The Air Force didn’t say hoax, but after investigating, Dr J. Allen Hynek said there was “considerable doubt on the sighting and removes it from serious consideration.”

This Week, March 5, 1967

Immunity from Exposure

The findings of the government-contracted UFO evaluation led by Dr. Edward U. Condon was published as Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. It essentially followed the Air Force’s policy by not naming the witnesses in discussing the cases it examined. The study reached a negative conclusion on the value of the government continuing UFO research. As a result, Project Blue Book was closed in 1969. For a few years the UFO business was quiet, but in 1973 things heated up again. Without Project Blue Book to serve as a scarecrow, hoaxers had the run of the field.

Hattiesburg American (Mississippi) Oct. 19, 1973

We’ll close with a quote from Ed Ruppelt. His files also contained the original and revised drafts for his 1956 book. After his section on the 1947 Maury Island case, on page Ruppelt wrote:

"So long ago that nobody knows why, the government established a policy not to comment on anything that is written or said by private citizens. People can make any fantastic claim with a relatively high degree of immunity to being exposed… 
This policy has been a bonanza to the writers of saucer lore. The basic concept of 'saucerism vs. the Air Force' warfare is to print or say anything and as proof of your honesty, dare the Air Force to contradict you."

For whatever reason, those paragraphs were cut from Ruppelt's printed book.

. . .


 Bad Science Fiction

There were a few times The Air Force commented on UFO authors and their books:

Kenneth Arnold
In a July 12, 1947, report the investigator stated:
"It is the personal opinion of the interviewer that… if Mr. Arnold can write a report of the character that he did while not having seen the objects that he claimed he saw, it is the opinion of the interviewer that Mr. Arnold is in the wrong business, that he should be writing Buck Rogers fiction.”

George Adamski
On October 30, 1959, Major Lawrence J. Tacker replied to an inquiry about The Flying Saucers have Landed by George Adamski. Tacker replied:
“Mr. Adamski is a popular science fiction writer, but he has never presented any proof of his claims to the USAF.”

Frank Scully
On June 24, 1965, Col. Eric T de Jonckheere replied to an inquiry about a UFO book:
 “The incident referred to in Frank Scully’s book, “Behind [the] Flying Saucers” is not based in fact. The Air Force has no connection with this alleged incident. The Air Force considers this incident and Mr. Scully‘s book as science fiction.”

Donald Keyhoe
On Aug. 25, 1965, Col. Eric T de Jonckheere suggested this reply to an inquiry:
“The Air Force regards the books by Donald E Keyhoe on flying saucers as science fiction.”

The Professor's Message from Space

In 1952, UFO reports seemed to indicate an impending invasion by monstrous aliens: June 1952: News of Oskar Linke’s 1950 sighting of a lande...