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Click here for McDonald's
*Search for Principal Witnesses*

 

Response to James Oberg's:
"..... GORDON COOPER'S UFOs"

by Jerry Cohen


Oberg/Cooper rebuttal.7b
continued from 7a
(part 2 of 3)


MCDONALD ANALYSIS
re: THE KIRTLAND AFB CASE



American Association For The Advancement Of Science,
134th Meeting.Subject:  Science in Default; 22 Years
of Inadequate UFO Investigations
Author: James E. McDonald, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences

From: The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 85721
Time:  9:00 a.m., December 27, 1969
Place: Sheraton Plaza Ballroom, Boston
Program: General Symposium, Unidentified Flying Objects

Convention Address: Sheraton Plaza Hotel
 
RELEASE TIME A.M, December 28


<begin McDonald Text>


Case 4. Kirtland AFB, November 4, 1957 --Brief summary:


Two CAA control tower operators observe a lighted
egg-shaped object descend to and cross obliquely the runway
area at Kirtland AFB (Albuquerque), hover near the ground for tens
of seconds, then climb at unprecedented speed into the overcast. On
radar, it was then followed south some miles, where it orbited a
number of minutes before returning to the airfield to follow an
Air Force aircraft outbound from Kirtland. (j.c. asterisks are
mine)
"1. Introduction: This case, discussed in the Condon Report
on p. 141, is an example of a UFO report which had lain in Bluebook
files for years, not known to anyone outside of Air Force circles.
 
Immediately upon reading it, I became quite curious about it;
more candidly, I became quite suspicious about it. For, as you
will note on reading it for yourself, it purports to explain an
incident in terms of an hypothesis with some glaringly improbable
assumptions, and makes a key assertion that is hard to regard as
factual. Let me quote from the first descriptive paragraph:
"Observers in the CAA (now FAA) control tower saw an unidentified
dark object with a white light underneath, about the 'shape of an
automobile on end'
, that crossed the field at about 1500 ft and
circled as if to come in for a landing on the E-W runway. This
unidentified object appeared to reverse direction at low
altitude, while out of sight of the observers behind some
buildings, and climbed suddenly to about 200-300 ft., heading
away from the field on a 120 deg. course. Then it went into a
steep climb and disappeared into the overcast." The Condon Report
next notes that; "The Air Force view is that this UFO was a small,
powerful private aircraft, flying without flight plan, that became
confused and attempted a landing at the wrong airport. The pilot
apparently realized his error when he saw a brightly-lit restricted
area, which was at the point where the object reversed direction..."

The Report next remarks very briefly that the radar blip from this
object was described by the operator as a "perfectly normal aircraft
return", that the radar tract "showed no characteristics that would
have been beyond the capabilities of the more powerful private
aircraft available at the time," and the conclusion arrived at in the
Condon Report, without further discussion, is that; "There seems to
be no reason to doubt the accuracy of this analysis."

2. Some Suspect Features of the Condon Report's Explanation: 

It seemed to me that there were several reasons "to doubt the
accuracy of this analysis." First, let me point out that the
first line or two of the account in the Condon Report contains
information that the incident took place with "light rain over
the airfield", late in the evening (2245-2305 MST), which I found
to be correct, on checking meteorological records. Thus the
reader is asked to accept the picture of a pilot coming into an
unfamiliar airfield at night and under rain conditions, and doing
a 180 deg. return at so low an altitude that it could
subsequently climb suddenly to about 200-300 ft; and we are asked
to accept the picture of this highly hazardous low-altitude
nighttime turn being executed so sharply that it occurred "while
out of sight of the observers behind some buildings." Now
these are not casual bystanders doing the observing, but CAA
controllers in a tower designed and located to afford full view
of all aircraft operations occurring in or near its airfield.
Hence my reaction to all of this was a reaction of doubt. Pilots
don't live too long who execute strange and dangerous maneuvers
of the type implied in this explanation. And CAA towers
are not located in such a manner that "buildings" obscure so
large a block of airfield-airspace as to permit aircraft to do
180 deg. turns while hidden from tower view behind them (at
night, in a rain!).

3. Search for the Principal Witnesses: 

The foregoing points put such strong a priori doubt upon the
"private aircraft" explanation advanced in the Condon Report that
I began an independent check on this case, just as I have been
checking several dozen other Condon Report cases in the months
since publication of the Report.  Here, as in all other cases in
the Report, there are no witness-names given to facilitate
independent check, but by beginning my inquiries through the
FAA, I soon got in touch with the two CAA tower observers, both
of whom are still with FAA, one in Oklahoma, one in California.
Concurrently, I initiated a number of inquiries concerning the
existence of any structures back in 1957 that could have hidden
an aircraft from tower view in the manner suggested by the
Report. What I ultimately learned constitutes only one example of
many that back up the statement I have been making recently
to many professional groups: The National Academy of Sciences is
going to be in a most awkward position when the full picture of
the inadequacies of the Condon Report is recognized; for I
believe it will become all too obvious that the Academy placed
its weighty stamp on this dismal report without even a semblance
of rigorous checking of its contents.
 
The two tower controllers, R. M. Kaser and E. G. Brink, with whom
I have had a total of five telephone interviews in the course of
clarifying the case, explained to me that the object was so
unlike an aircraft and exhibited performance characteristics so
unlike those of any aircraft flying then or now that the "private
aircraft" explanation was quite amusing.
Neither had heard of the
Air Force explanation, neither had heard of the Condon Project
concurrence therein, and, most disturbing of all, neither had
ever heard of the Condon Project: _No one on the Condon Project
ever contacted these two men!_
A half-million-dollar Project, a
Report filled with expensive trivia and matters shedding
essentially no light on the heart of the UFO puzzle, and no
Project investigator even bothers to hunt down the two key
witnesses in this case, so casually closed by easy acceptance of
the Bluebook "aircraft" explanation.
 
Failure to locate those two men as part of the investigation of
this case is all the more difficult to understand because CAA
tower operators involved as witnesses of a UFO incident were
actually on duty would seem to constitute just the type of
witnesses one should most earnestly seek out in attempts to
clarify the UFO puzzle. In various sections of the Condon Report,
witness-shortcomings (lack of experience, lack of familiarity
with observing things in the sky, basic lack of credibility,
etc.) are lamented, yet here, where the backgrounds of the
witnesses and the observing circumstances are highly favorable to
getting reliable testimony, the Colorado group did not bother
to locate the witnesses. (This is not an isolated example. Even
in cases which were conceded to be Unexplained, such as the June
23, 1955 Mohawk Airlines multiple-witness sighting near Utica,
N.Y. [p. 143 in Report], or the Jackson, Alabama, November 14,
1956 airline case, both conceded to be unexplained, I found on
interviewing key witnesses as part of my cross-check on the
Condon Report, that no one from Colorado had ever talked to the
witnesses. In still other important instances, only a fraction of
the available witnesses were queried in preparing the Condon
Report. Suggestions that the Report was based on intensive
investigatory work simply are not correct.)

4. Information Gained from Witness-Interviews: 

When I contacted Kaser and Brink, they told me I was the first
person to query them on the case since their interrogation by an
Air Force captain from Colorado Springs, who had come to
interview them at Kirtland just after the incident. Subsequently,
I secured the Bluebook case-file on this sighting, and
ascertained that a Capt. Patrick O. Shere, from Ent AFB did
the interrogation on Nov. 8, 1957, just four days after the
sighting.
 
The accounts I secured in 1969 from Kaser and Brink matched
impressively the information I found in Shere's 1957 report in
the Bluebook case-file. There were a few recollective discrepancies
of distance or time estimates in the witness accounts given in
1969, as compared with their 1957 statements to the Air Force, but
the agreements were far more significant than the small number of
mismatches.
 
In contrast to the somewhat vague impressions I gained (and other
readers would surely also gain) from reading the Condon Report
version, here is what is in the Bluebook case-file and what they
told me directly.


 
The object came down in a rather steep dive at the east end of
Runway 26, left the flight line, crossed runways, taxiways and
unpaved areas at about a 30-degree angle, and proceeded
southwestward towards the CAA tower at an altitude they
estimated at a few tens of feet above the ground.  Quickly
getting 7 power binoculars on it, they established that
it had no wings, tail, or fuselage, was elongated in the
vertical direction, and exhibited a somewhat egg-shaped
form (Kaser). It appeared to be perhaps 15-20 ft in vertical
dimension, about the size of an automobile on end, and had
a single white light in its base. Both men were emphatic in
stressing to me that _it in no way resembled an aircraft._

 
It came towards them until it reached a B-58 service pad near
the northeast corner of Area D (Drumhead Area, a restricted area
lying south of the E-W runway at Kirtland). That spot lay about
3000 ft ENE of the tower, near an old machine-gun calibration
bunker still present at Kirtland AFB. There it proceeded to stop
completely, hover just above the ground _in full view_ for a
time that Kaser estimated at about 20 seconds, that Brink
suggested to me was more like a minute, and that the
contemporary Air Force interrogation implied as being rather
more than a minute. Next they said it started moving again, still
at very low altitude, still at modest speed, until it-again reached
the eastern boundary of the field. At that point, the object climbed
at an extremely rapid rate (which Kaser said was far faster than
that of such modern jets as the T-38).
 
The Bluebook report expresses the witness' estimate of the
climb rate as 45,000 ft/min., which is almost certainly a too-literal
conversion from Mach 1. My phone-interview notes include a quote
of Brink's statement to me that, "There was no doubt in my mind
that no aircraft I knew of then, or ever operating since then,
would compare with it." Both men were emphatic in stating to me
that at no time was this object hidden by any buildings. I
confirmed through the Albuquerque FAA office that Area D has
never had anything but chain-link fence around it, and that no
buildings other than scattered one-story metal buildings ever
existed either inside or outside Area D in that sector. The
bunker is only about 15-20 feet high, judging from my own
recent observations and photos of it from the air. The Bluebook
interrogation report contains no statements hinting that the
object was ever hidden from view by any structures (although
the Bluebook file contains the usual number of internally
inconsistent and confusingly presented details).

<end McDonald this page>


End: Oberg/Cooper rebuttal.7b
To: O/C rebut.7c

McDonald analysis re: the Kirtland AFB case (continued)
(part 2 of 3)


Go to:

Rebuttal Table of Contents (hyper-linked)



O/C rebut.1a - Introduction

O/C rebut.1b - Intro. (continued)

O/C rebut.2 - "Skything 1960"

O/C rebut.3a - Hynek, from skeptic to "qualified believer"

O/C rebut.3b - Hynek, from skeptic to ... (continued)

O/C rebut.4a - UFOs, a synopsis of.... history

O/C rebut.4b - UFOs, a synopsis of.... history (continued)

O/C rebut.5a - Hynek takes us inside Blue Book

O/C rebut.5b - Hynek takes us inside..... (continued)

O/C rebut.6 - Who is, and isn't studying the UFO Phenomenon & Why

O/C rebut.7a - Sebago & Stokes

O/C rebut.7b - Kirtland

O/C rebut.7c - Krtlnd conclusion, B. B. & Condon errors, summation


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