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In Search of Gordon Cooper's UFOs 3/3
(original James Oberg Article)

Also please see: My Rebuttal to this James Oberg Article

and specifically to Jim Oberg's paragraph 54

From: "Jerry Cohen" <rjcohen@li.net>
Web Site: CohenUFO.org
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 06:36:27 -0500
Fwd Date: Tue, 04 Feb 1997 09:41:13 -0500
Subject: In Search of Gordon Cooper's UFOs 3/3 

Part three of Mr. Oberg's original essay, which appeared in May
1996, is reprinted from "Errol Bruce-Knapp: UFO UpDates - Toronto".
Orginally posted on UFO Updates by Dean Kanipe, Area 51 Research
Center.(Formatted BBS compatible)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Date: Sat, 11 May 1996 00:47:24 -0400
To: ebk@nobelmed.com
From: Errol Bruce-Knapp <ebk@nobelmed.com>
Subject: UFO UpDate: In Search of Gordon Cooper's UFOs


incident, and probably permanently.

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 16

52       A careful reading of his previous testimony indicates that he
had ascribed no ominous motives to what he honestly thought had been
a "disappearance" of the film. Instead, he had testified, the
UFO-related material had probably been gathered together in a
storage room and just forgotten. As for deliberate cover-ups, he has
always disputed such a notion. "If any UFO information is being
suppressed," he told OMNI, "it's certainly not by the U.S.. Air
Force, because I was at a high enough level to know about it."
That's just the opposite of how many "UFO promoters" portray his
feelings..

53       As to the accuracy of the rest of Cooper's recollection of
the "Edwards UFO", eyewitness Gettys had this to say in 1982: "I am
amazed that Gordon Cooper said the object landed -- as far as I
know, he never even saw it.... His story sounds kind of funny to
me." And Gettys -- who still does not believe the '"weather balloon"
explanation -- was there; Cooper, contrary to legend, played no role
at all..

54      Whatever the true identity of the 1957 Edwards AFB
"balloon/UFO", it is clear that the "Cooper UFO legend" is quite
inaccurate here. No coverup or information loss was involved. The
"UFO" never landed. Cooper had nothing to do with the incident (he
was not connected with the film crew in any official capacity, and
they had never heard of him) but was only an accidental bystander.
But as a certified hero, his persona has been exploited by others
who spread the legend for excitement, for ego, of for profit. That's
a theme that far predates the space age!

jc:	Please click here for my response to Jim Oberg's above comment #54

THE THIRD HUNT

55       The most sensational UFO encounter of his life happened to
Cooper while he was a fighter pilot in

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 17

Germany in the early 1950s. "Hundreds of UFOs" flew over his airbase
near Munich over a two-day period..

56       In the 1976 production of the long-playing record of
UFO-related testimony, Cooper gave the following description of the
incident: "A weatherman spotted some strange objects flying
apparently fairly high altitude with some large binoculars while
tracking a weather balloon, and reported, and before long the entire
fighter group was out peering through binoculars at these groups of
objects coming over, all heading generally from easterly to westerly
direction, and all in very strange patterns resembling fighter
formations. But unlike fighters they would stop, almost stop in
forward velocity and change ninety degrees sometimes in their flight
path. And within the next two or three days we had practically all
the fighters we could muster on the base up flying as high as they
would climb with guys with binoculars still trying to spot these
strange devices flying overhead. We never could get close enough
really to pin them dawn but they were round in shape and very
metallic looking.".

57       A year later, during an interview with Spiegel for OMNI,
Cooper elaborated: "They were large groups of metallic saucer-shaped
vehicles at great altitudes coming over in flier [sic?] formation in
various sized numbers and for the greater part of two days these
kept coming by. They were in fingertip formation, flights would
cross under, back and forth, just the same kind of formations we
used in fighter groups. They had the capability of changing
directions a little faster than a typical fighter would, stopping,
rapid starting, changing directions....".

58       Another interview in the "National Enquirer" (March 28,1978)
gave additional details: "I spent two days trying to get to them. We
got as high an altitude as we could, and they were still well above
us. Probably twenty or thirty planes, at least, went up after them.
F-84 and

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 18

F-86 jets, fairly high-speed jets. The UFOs came over in groups of
four, twelve, sixteen, twenty. They came over regularly, at
intervals, all day long for two days. They came right over the air
base. We could only get to about 45,000 feet, but we did get close
enough to see what they looked like. They were actually shaped like
saucers. we had no idea whether they were looking at us, or what
they were doing. And after two days they simply disappeared.".

59       A search for primary sources was bound to be difficult. The
incident was in 1951 (according to Cooper's UN letter in 1978),
probably in the summertime. The location was Neubiberg Air Force
Base, in a suburb of Munich. The unit was the 525th Fighter Squadron
of the 86th Fighter Wing, which was assigned to Europe between 1947
and 1952. Since there were about twenty five aircraft per squadron
and the 525th shared the base with the 526th and the 527th, there
might have been upwards of a hundred additional witnesses involved,
not to mention the inhabitants of the large city nearby..

60       In 1979 I wrote to contacts in Munich and received a negative
reply: "Neither the Munich newspapers nor the police records of that
period give any mention of the case", wrote Wolfgang Kuchler of
"P.M." magazine. An inquiry to the Albert F. Simpson Historical
Research Center at Maxwe11 Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama,
obtained the declassified unit history records for the 86th for the
period in question -- and there was no mention of anything remotely
similar to Cooper's description..

61       As a last stab in the dark, I wrote to several Air Force
related publications with a request for general information (such
publications have special columns for people doing historical
research, seeking contact with missing former buddies, or organizing
unit reunions). Months passed with no further results.

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 19

62       A year went by. Then the break came: a letter from John
Bonner in Los Angeles, who had flown with Cooper. He had been
looking through an old pile of "Air Force" magazines and spotted my
letter in the February 1980 issue. On March 10, 1981, he wrote:
"Once, while in a large group formation, I spotted a large number of
objects very high above us. I do not think anyone had a chance to
climb up to investigate that time. Another time on a Sunday morning
two of us were scrambled to intercept a large number of objects
coming in from the east. We did not intercept these as they turned
back before we got there." In a second letter two months later, in
discussing the first sighting, he added, "I felt they were not
balloons, stars or debris. I was suspicious of the Soviets. I guess
I could not rationalize to myself what I saw." Bonner's descriptions
did not tally with Cooper's at all, but he did provide another lead:
a unit reunion for the 86th was planned for that very summer in San
Antonio..

63       I immediately contacted the organizers and discussed my
research. None of the people could recall the incident but they
promised to ask around. On June 5-7, 1981, more than a hundred
pilots gathered for the party (many of them had left Neubiberg
before, or had arrived after, the date of Cooper's incident). On
August 3 I called Colonel "Swede" Larson, the reunion chairman, and
asked about my favorite topic. His reply was negative: ~I talked to
a few people who might have known, and they couldn't recall the
incident. I was there then, and I was a flight commander, but I
don't remember anything either.".

64       As a last effort, I wrote letters to two dozen people whose
names were listed in a special directory published by the reunion
committee and who had been contemporaries of Cooper in the 525th.
The directory also contained a reprint of the December 1950 base
phone book; recalling Cooper's comment that it had been a weatherman

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 20

who first spotted the objects, I wrote off to every member of the
base meteorological staff whose names were listed in that phone
book, too. My letters went out across the country and beyond to
Guam, Israel, Paraguay, and wherever the veterans of the 86th had
dispersed..

65       The answers trickled in over the passing weeks. Nobody knew
what "Coop", as they called their former flying buddy, was talking
about (along with frequent testimonials to his honesty and
integrity, which have never been in doubt). "I never experienced
such sightings," wrote one. "If I had it would be indelibly
inscribed in my memory, and I'd be happy to share any such
recollections with you." Another former Air Force pilot who later
entered the priesthood and became a state bishop wrote, "I recall
nothing about any UFOs.... As to what Gordon Cooper saw, I have not
the slightest idea." Another: "Absolutely no recall of any such
incident.".

66       One wrote: "I was at Neubiberg Air Base from July 1950 to
July 1953 as Weather Officer and Detachment Commander. During this
time I did not make any unusual sightings that could not be
explained as light reflecting from a high-flying weather balloon, or
as a lenticular cloud group over the mountains". Another pilot
wrote: "I do NOT recall any comments that Gordon Cooper made
concerning UFOs -- I was his squadron commander sometime in '51,
then got the 86th Fighter Group later, and I never recall even
hearing anything along that line.... I'm sure if these UFOs had
become a serious subject during my almost 5 years at Neubiberg, I
would have remembered something -- and I flew most every day during
all those years.".

67       Other veterans of Cooper's unit concurred. "I was a pilot and
weather officer at Neubiberg 1948 thru 1951, but I can't recall any
reports of these sightings," wrote one. Another pilot, a retired
brigadier general, wrote: "No, I am not aware of any UFO sightings.
I'm fairly

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 21

certain that I would have heard about it." Another: "I was at that
time 'A' flight commander and was therefore 'in the know' of most of
the flying activities in that area. I flew at least 25 hours each
month. The flying saucer report made reference to by Cooper is
unknown to me." Another: "I never heard mention of it before. At
that time I was Wing Communications Officer .... If true it was one
of the best kept secrets!" The base weather officer at the time
wrote: "I draw a complete blank: can remember no facts, no
discussions -- in fact, not even a rumor." And another Neubiberg
veteran flier had absolutely no recall of any such incident.".

68       In all, a total of more than a dozen men had responded to my
letter (including commanding officers and weather officers) : their
opinions were unanimous that no such event had occurred at
Neubiberg..

69       Cooper, in his first interview with Spiegel for the
"Credibility Factor" record, had made a possibly relevant comment.
When asked if it hadn't been exciting to return from the UFO chases
and compare notes with his fellow pilots, Cooper had replied
cautiously, "Yeah, it was [but]] I'm not sure we really ever
realized the impact of it, at that point in time, really."
What Cooper seemed to be saying was that the incident itself seemed
hardly memorable when it happened, which would explain why no other
witness could remember it thirty years later. But if so, one is
forced to ask how accurate can Cooper's own memory be under the same
circumstances?.

70       One more comparison is possible, thanks to yet another freak
stroke of luck. During an idle luncheon conversation late in 1982
(four years after I had become interested in researching the case),
the talk turned to the topic of UFOs. One retired NASA engineer
began to regale his table with an account of UFOs seen by his friend
Gordon Cooper (I was at the table, and hadn't even initiated that
topic -- what an extraordinary

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 22

coincidence!). All the familiar elements came out, including the
"fleets" over several days, the inability of the jets to reach them,
and the bafflement and frustration of all the pilots. But two new
factors appeared: first, the event was supposed to have happened in
the "American Middle West" [later clarified to mean the Rocky
Mountains or New Mexico, but NOT California or the "Midwest"], and
second, there had been an official explanation provided for the
UFOs, an explanation which the pilots had rejected: seed pods. My
story teller recounted Cooper's reaction to this explanation: "Seed
pods at 50,000 feet!", he described Cooper snorting with derision.

71       This account was based on a conversation which took place at
the NASA installation on Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, in late
1963, more than a decade before Cooper publicly referred to his UFO
experiences.

72       But is THIS version of the account accurate? That question
remains open, but at least it shows that Cooper was telling some
sort of UFO story privately for years. The account also suggests
that Cooper's story has undergone considerable evolution over the
years, as well.

 73      So the "fleets of UFOs" story must remain "unsolved", in
large part because the story's reliability must be judged highly
questionable. The popular version of the legend, placing the action
in Germany in 1951, simply cannot have occurred as Cooper has
described it -- if the vast majority of the witnesses are to be
believed.

HINDSIGHTS & INSIGHTS

74       What can be learned about the UFO world from Cooper's
association with and exploitation by it? Several interesting and
uncomplimentary conclusions can be reached.

      Hunting for Gordon Cooper's UFOs / Oberg / p. 23

Through it all, Cooper's behavior has been exemplary. He has been
candid in his feelings and curious about UFOs and other topics
generally considered "far out", but he has every right to such
interests.

75       This candor and cooperation has been met with exploitation
and misrepresentation from UFO promoters and publicists. From
Beckley's "Hangar 18" fantasies to the Columbia Pictures Industries
false advertisements to Dr. Hynek's explicit endorsements , Cooper
has found himself on the receiving end of frauds and fabrications
attached to his name. His usefulness to UFO proponents is based on
his honest advocacy of serious UFO research (a desire shared by many
serious researchers in the field, including myself) and on the UFO
stories associated, not always accurately as we have seen, with his
name. The image appeared good -- all the more reason for UFO
promoters to carefully avoid checking up on the UFO incidents even
though (if they paused to think about it) their past experiences
would have warned them that Cooper's decades- old recollections were
quite probably (better than 90%) based on prosaic, explainable
stimuli. 

76	But solving the cases was the last thing the UFO promoters
were interested in. People who have used Cooper's stories to "prove"
the reality of UFOs (respected ufologists such as Frank Edwards,
Leonard Stringfield, J. Allen Hynek, and less respected ones such as
Timothy Beckley) seem to have neither known nor really cared about
the real truth behind the stories. Their goal evidently was to piggyback 
on Cooper's reputation to further their own ufological careers, not to take 
the opportunity to see what Cooper's actual experiences could teach 
them about the real UFO phenomenon. The truth behind Cooper's 
stories was the last thing that seemed to interest them.

                 [Ufologists | James Oberg | Style ]

Copyright James Oberg. All rights reserved.

HTML by Area 51 Research Center, PO Box 448, Rachel, NV 89001.

Document created: 01/03/96


To: A Problem with some of James Oberg's Assertions

To:	***My Comments Regarding what Jim finally had to say about my Rebuttal***

Page from the website of:  CohenUFO.org

Search for other documents to/from: rjcohen | ebk

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