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The conclusions of the Colorado University UFO project are fully negative, as we predicted.
However, some of the chapters contain strange contradictions of what the project's director, Dr. Edward U. Condon, stated in his two opening sections. Several reports state the probable existence of structured, intelligently controlled, unknown objects capable of precise maneuvers and extremely high speeds.
In one case (No. 46, Bantam, 396-407), a scientific evaluation of photographs was carried out along with detailed interviews with the witnesses. After an 11-page evaluation in the Bantam edition (entitled Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. . .), the analyst states "the simplest, most direct interpretation of the photographs confirms precisely what the witnesses said they saw." "This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses," the analyst concluded. (Bantam, 407).
Regarding this case, Dr. Condon stated, "The UFO images turned out to be too fuzzy to allow worthwhile photogrametric analysis."
A Mohawk Airlines pilot computed a UFO's speed between 4,500 and 4,800 mph. The project's analysis states that this sighting "must certainly be classed as an unknown pending further study, which it certainly deserves." (Bantam, 143)
Yet Dr. Condon's overall conclusion is that no further investigations of UFOs are justified.
A UFO paced an RAF fighter plane for 10 minutes while ground radar tracked it. The Colorado report said of this case that the "probability that at least one genuine UFO was involved appears to be fairly high." (Bantam, 248-256).
At least 20 percent of the less than 100 cases in the report are listed as unidentified.
Condon Did Not Investigate Cases
Dr. Condon, although he is named in the Air Force contract as the project's principal investigator, did not make a single field investigation. Nor did he interview even one of the hundreds of pilots, astronomers, aerospace engineers, control tower operators, and other highly competent witnesses sent to him by NICAP at Colorado's request.
Large volumes of case material was apparently completely ignored, (see pages two, three, & Five) including the deaths of three Air Force pilots involved in UFO chases and a UFO encounter with an Air Force transport captain who said he believed they were "shot at."
Dr. Condon stated that there should be no attack on the integrity of persons having different opinions on UFOs. Yet, he ridiculed UFO witnesses, well-informed scientists on the subject, and NICAP, (Bantam, Section I).
In regard to witnesses, he said, "Phenomena is often noted by a witness who is inexpert, inept, or unduly excited." The reports, he stated, are usually vague and inaccurate. He also said that witnesses often change their stories until they all agree. Even reports by some astronauts are indicated as dubious by the project director. In one case he says that the window was smudged and the astronauts were very busy, indicating that the report is not authentic. "When field studies are made by amateur organizations such as . . . NICAP," Condon continued, "there are often several members present on a team, but usually they are persons without technical training and often with a strong bias toward the sensational aspects of the subject."
Condon and Low Praise NICAP
On December 1, 1967, Dr. Condon wrote NICAP's Director urging that we continue cooperation with the project. "We deeply appreciate the cooperation which has been given to our own scientific study of UFOs," he wrote, "from both the central office and field groups of NICAP. It is my earnest wish that we can continue to work in full cooperation with NICAP because the help that you have given us so far has been of great importance . . ."
Further confirmation of NICAP's competence was indicated by Project Coordinator Robert Low on December 8. "NICAP's assistance has been invaluable," he stated. "I have said this to you many times and I would like to repeat it here. Your files, because of the high caliber of field investigations NICAP has conducted, are of very good quality. Our working relationship with the headquarters office and NICAP members in the field have been from our point of view excellent, and they have provided valuable support to our research effort. It would be a great pity if they were terminated."
Kook Cases Get Coverage
Dr. Condon takes up considerable space in the report discussing numerous hoaxes and "contactee" trips to Venus but did not include, in his sections, even one strong, responsible case from a good witness. He also accepts Dr. Donald Menzel's misconceptions and states that witnesses should be examined for defective vision (spots before the eyes).
From 1947 to 1966, Condon added, almost no attention was paid to the subject by well-qualified scientists. This is not true. In 1949, for instance, Project Grudge made use, however inadequately, of numerous government agencies, laboratories and private industries, including the Rand Corporation. Dr. Condon also ignored the fact the Air Force, for over 20 years, has had a chief UFO scientific consultant, Dr. J. Allen Hynek. There have been numerous other individual scientists, such as Dr. James E. McDonald, who have given the subject careful study.
(U.F.O. Investigator page 2)
Dr. Condon denied in the report that there was any evidence of secrecy. NICAP gave him evidence of cases that were withheld, reports whose very existence was denied, and sightings whose conclusions were changed years later.
Two days after Colorado signed the contract with the Air Force, Dr. Condon was asked about possible Air Force secrecy. He replied that some people believed this, but that he personally didn't. "Maybe they are [misleading us] . . . ." he stated. "I don't care much." (Rocky Mountain News, November 5, 1966). Although the Congressional hearings of July 29, 1968, before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics was mentioned in the report (Bantam, 49), virtually all of the evidence presented by the highly qualified scientist participants was ignored.
NAS Report Inadequate
A strong statement by the highly prestigious, 32,000-member American Institute for Astronautics and Aeronautics (AIAA) calling for a full scientific study of UFOs was presented to Dr. Condon before it was published, but there is no indication that it was passed on to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for consideration.
The NAS report fully accepting the project's conclusions and recommendations was based solely upon Colorado's report itself. NAS scientists conducted no study and interviewed no witnesses. They also must have read the report quickly because there is no mention of the discrepancies between the report's "no evidence" conclusion and the unidentified cases listed. Dr. James E. McDonald stated that the Academy's acceptance of the report will prove "a serious source of future embarrassment" to NAS (see p. 7).
NICAP feels that the collective body of criticism to the report will, in the final analysis, discredit Colorado's conclusions and force the subject more into the open than it has ever been.
In addition to more than half a million dollars, Colorado is also receiving royalties from the hardcover and Bantam editions of the report.
WHAT HAPPENED TO KEY WITNESSES?
Among the omissions in the Condon report are the hundreds of detailed UFO sightings by reputable witnesses whose intelligence and credentials make examinations of their reports essential. Without an evaluation of these high-quality UFO cases any conclusions are meaningless.
Their exclusion from the official report cannot be because Dr. Condon did not know that this source material existed or could not obtain access to it. Not only NICAP, but independent researchers, such as Dr. James E. McDonald, made special efforts to be certain that the Colorado University scientists were aware of these cases.
The fact that the project did have these reports in its records is unequivocally established by examination of the project's computer print-out, listing case references with a coded number assigned each case. Obviously, the project had to select certain reports and omit others, but when one examines the 59 case histories the project reviewed in Section IV, Chapters 1-3, an important question emerges: why were certain low-priority, easily-explained sightings chosen for investigation and discussion rather than cases such as those listed below?
In Section II, Summary of the Study (6. Field Investigations), Condon offers a partial answer.
"We concluded that there was little to be gained from the study of old cases, except perhaps to get ideas on mistakes to be avoided in studies of new cases. We therefore decided not to make any field trips to investigate cases that were more than a year old, although in a few cases we did do some work on such cases when their study could be combined with a field investigation of a new case." (Bantam, 15-16).
By this arbitrary decision, a large body of important reports was left unexplored and unexplained.
Another explanation is offered by Dr. Roy Craig in discussing field studies:
"In general, testimony of the witnesses recorded shortly after their experiences can be considered more reliable than their retelling of the story two to 20 years later, both because of memory and because of a tendency to crystallization of the story upon repeated retelling. For this reason, reexamination of witnesses in 'classic' cases was not considered a useful way for the project to invest time. Field investigation of classic cases was therefore limited to those in which existing reports contained a serious discrepancy which might be resolved." (Bantam, Section III, Chapter 1, p. 52).
This is a specious argument. By this principle, all testimony in courts would be thrown out where it was consistent. Referring to the Washington, D.C., radar reports of July 1952, for example, Craig writes:
"On-site interviewing had contributed no new information. Since our experience generally showed that new interviews of witnesses in classic cases did not produce dependable new information, few on-site investigations of such cases were undertaken." (Bantam, 55).
Credible Witnesses Ignored
(U.F.O. Investigator page 3)
Hundreds of credible witnesses were therefore ignored because "they could not add anything new" to their original reports. But is this actually the case? On the contrary. Both NICAP and individual investigators like Dr. McDonald have uncovered new information and testimony regarding important cases, although working on a far more modest budget than Colorado's. In the very case the Craig mentions, the Washington sightings of 1952, project scientists were given explicit new leads to additional information by NICAP- for example, the report of an airline employee who was present during the sightings and whose testimony had never been heard. The information was ignored by Colorado.
Thus, arguing from a false premise, the Condon committee authorized itself to sweep aside most of the important and unexplained reports by highly credible witnesses. Is this the scientific method?
Top Cases Omitted
Among the cases that were brushed off were many reports by scientists - case material that certainly met Colorado's own requirements of witness reliability. These unexplained cases include the following:
A round, silvery UFO that flew north near the White Sands test center, seen by missile expert Dr. Carl J. Zohn and three others (6/29/47); a rapidly ascending ellipsoidal UFO, seen near the horizon by astronomer Dr. Lincoln LaPaz and his family near Fort Sumner, N.M. (7/10/47); a high-speed oval object tracked with theodolite by aerologist Charles E. Moore and his staff during a balloon tracking at Arrey, N.M. (4/24/49); passage overhead of a fixed formation of rectangular lights seen by astronomer Dr. Clyde Tombaugh and his wife at Las Cruces, N.M. (8/20/49); sightings of several glowing objects performing "controlled maneuvers" on two consecutive days by cosmic-ray expert J.J. Kaliszewski and associates in the air over Wisconsin and Minnesota (10/10-11/51); the sightings by aeronautical engineer Paul R. Hill and a companion at Hampton, Va., of a maneuvering flight of four objects (7/16/52); three round UFOs seen by astronomer Dr. H.P. Wilkens over northern Georgia during a flight from Charleston, W. Va., to Atlanta 96/11/54); a sighting by physicist Dr. Vasil Uzunoglu of a lighted, low-flying UFO near Andrews AFB, Md (8/1/66); a boomerang-shaped object over Houston, Texas, observed by Dr. Albert Kuntz, University of Houston psychologist (1/21/67); geology professor Bryce M. Hand's sighting of an elongated, silvery UFO near Amherst, Mass. (9/23/67); and a low-hovering, white-glowing object seen by physicist Lewis Hollander and his wife at Mendota, Calif. (10/14/67).
Pilots' Sighting Not Included
Reports by scientists were not the only category rejected by project investigators on the basis of their exclusion criteria. There was wholesale elimination of sightings by engineers and other technical personnel, including many airline pilots. While the report does include several of the more recent airline pilot reports, the omission of the older, well-known cases constitutes a glaring defect. A complete listing of such cases, beginning with the United Airlines sightings of July 4, 1947, in which Capt. E.E. Smith and co-pilot Ralph Stevens saw two groups of disc-like objects while flying between Emmett, Idaho, and Ontario, Oregon, would fill several columns. Even a small selection would have to include the following, none of which was considered:
The Eastern Airlines case of 7/24/48, over Montgomery, Alabama, in which Capt. C.S. Chiles and co-pilot John Whitted saw a rocket-like object pass close to their DC-3, then pull up in a sharp climb; the TWA sighting (and associated reports from the ground and other pilots) near Dayton, Ohio (3/8/50); the observation of a circular UFO with a ring of lighted "ports" underneath by Chicago and Southern Airlines pilots Adams and Anderson over Stuttgart, Ark. (3/20/50); the Mid-Continent Airlines observation by pilots Lawrence Vinther and James Bachmeier, at Sioux City, Iowa (1/20/51); the Pan American sighting of eight maneuvering discs seen by pilots William Nash and William Fortenberry over New port News, Va. (7/14/52); and the American Airlines sighting of a glowing orange UFO over central N.Y. by Capt. Raymond Ryan (4/8/56).
Other notable early sightings were made by many private and military pilots. The list is too long to itemize here.
One airline case discussed in some detail by Gordon Thayer (Bantam, Section III, Chapter 5, pp. 139-40) is the well-known BOAC sighting of June 29, 1954, over the Quebec-Labrador area, in which the airliner was paced for a number of minutes by a large object which changed shape and up to six smaller objects that emerged from and merged with the parent UFO. The project's solution for this report is a classic in itself: "Some almost certainly natural phenomenon, which is so rare that it apparently never has been reported before or since."
Reports by Police
Among the omissions are reports by police officers and sheriffs' deputies. In several cases, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials also figured in the reports, such as the one at Redmond, Ore., on (9/24/59), when a large disc was seen pursued by a formation of F-102s, while the flight was tracked on FAA radar; and repeated sightings, some at close range, of a large, lighted, cigar-shaped UFO at Red Bluff, Calif., in mid-August, 1960.
Other excluded cases in which police officers were involved are the well-known Socorro, N.M. report by Officer Lonnie Zamora, who observed a landed, egg-shaped object which left traces (4/24/64); and the equally well-known police report of an 80-mile chase of a UFO from Portage County, Ohio, into Pennsylvania (4/17/66).
The number of important cases involving key witnesses is hardly exhausted by the examples listed above. The project's decision to ignore them was ill-advised. It not only removed from the field of study some of the strongest and potentially most significant data that have been accumulated in the past 20 years; it also greatly weakened the project's conclusions. No study failing to examine carefully these classic cases from groups of well-qualified witnesses can be regarded as complete or even taken seriously.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CASE MATERIAL?
(U.F.O. Investigator, pg. 5)
Significant Data Omitted
Another major defect of the Colorado Project was the meager use it made of the enormous reservoir of case material available to it. Over the 20 years preceding the project, between 10,000 and 15,000 UFO sighting reports had been recorded. Yet the report treats only 50 cases from this period, or 1/2 of 1% of the available material.
The March 1966 wave, chiefly in Michigan, received nation-wide publicity and was the immediate cause of the establishment of the Colorado Project. Hundreds of sightings were recorded, including many by police officers; but not one of the Michigan 1966 cases is examined in the Report. One case in particular from this period, a March 31 sighting near Kalamazoo, Michigan, in which a disc-like UFO, inches above the highway, maneuvered around the witness's car, buffeting it violently, was furnished to the Project, at Mr. Low's specific request, immediately after the Project began. The case, although it certainly warranted careful examination, does not appear in the Report.
The sighting wave of July-September 1965, which touched off countless editorials critical of the Air Force, also involved hundreds of reports. Only three are treated in the Report. The radar case of August 2, in Wichita, Kansas, "may probably" be due to false radar returns; associated visual sighting "may have been enhanced" by temperature inversions. Analysis of the Heflin photographs of August 3 in Santa Ana, California is inconclusive. The August 8 photographs in Beaver, Pennsylvania, are considered a probable hoax. Among the omitted cases are the remarkable close range sighting near Damon, Texas (Sept. 3) by two sheriff's (furnished to the Project both by NICAP and by Dr. J. E. McDonald). The sightings at Exeter, N.H., of the same date and later, are briefly mentioned but not analyzed.
One of the most extraordinary sighting waves of all time, in November 1957, at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico, but at least 118 sightings were reported that November (see The UFO Evidence, pp 163-67), and 20 of these were in New Mexico and the adjacent Texas panhandle; none are referred to in the Report.
The wave of summer 1952 is similarly neglected. It included a large number of puzzling radar-visual sightings by the Air Force and the FAA, and jet pursuits of UFOs. The Report discusses only five cases, with "explanations" that are subject to challenge (some will be disputed in a later NICAP report). A major omission is the classic sighting (July 14, 1952) by two Pan-American Airways pilots, who saw 8 discs moving in formation at high speeds over Newport News; this case was recommended to the Project both by NICAP and by Dr. McDonald. Important radar-visual jet pursuit cases on July 23 (Massachusetts), July 26 (California), and July 29 (Michigan) are omitted.
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