Dr. James E. McDonald

September 24, 1968 Lecture,
"UFOs: A Case Study in Public Mis-information"
at Kent State University, Ohio

from: Wendy A. Connors, An Audio Retrospective;
ETH, The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis, #05

NB: A listing of Wendy Connors disks can be found
at Project 1947: Faded Discs audio archives.

Below you will find a portion of a lecture (and a sound clip) given by Dr. James McDonald which mentions the reason he became involved with UFOs and what brought him to the realization that many of the Air Force explanations concerning various UFO sightings were erroneous. In the lecture, he speaks about the convening of the Robertson Panel in 1953, the fact they couldn't conclusively prove an extraterrestrial source in the short space of time alloted, and that in order to unclog their intelligence channels so that agents wouldn't waste time on them, the CIA had asked the Air Force to debunk UFOs to decrease all public interest in same. Dr. McDonald then proceeds to give us several illustrations as to _how_ Project Blue Book went about doing this. The first of those illustrations is an amazing case he personally investigated, 4/17/66 Ravenna, Ohio (Spaur-Neff).

Underlined links contain further information



In McDonald’s own words: (<--Sound clip)

McDonald: I took a summer and decided to prove to myself there was nothing to this UFO problem. But when I got to Wright Paterson, examined the Blue Book files, and talked with the people there with present and past responsibility, talked to the chief scientific consultant (jc - Hynek), and reviewed the NICAP files in Washington, I realized that this problem had to take precedence over my own professional concerns.

Air Force assurances are meaningless. The Air Force (jc - UFO) program since 1952 has been marked by increasing incompetence, increasing superficiality, and a more or less studied effort to play the whole UFO problem down."

jc After covering the history of UFOs from 1947 onward, McDonald speaks about one of the cases that he felt literally dragged him into the whole controversy; Portage County, Ravenna Ohio, April 17th, 1966, (Spaur-Neff case). This was one of the cases in which Dr. Hynek wasn't consulted by the USAF before it released its explanation for the sighting.

McDonald: This case of April 17th, 1966 is a beautiful illustration of how the percentage of unidentified shall be reduced to a minimum. You may know the case.

Officers from the Portage County sheriff’s office were investigating an abandoned car. While they were checking it an object came over some trees, illuminated them. They called, asked for instructions and were told to follow it, and in following through those instructions they ended up going out of the state of Ohio into Pennsylvania. It occupied something of the order of 80 minutes and they went about 75 miles, at times reaching speeds of 100 mph. I’ve interviewed three (3) of the police officers, by the way, and spent a great deal of time looking into this case.

This one was explained in the 1st instance, in the 2nd instance and at present, by Project Blue Book as Echo Satellite and Venus, in the following (manner) sequence.

Air Force Explanation

The officers saw a satellite go overhead, transferred their attention to Venus which was rising in the East, and followed Venus.

McDonald: These men wore out their tires, got two other police officers involved in the chase; at times the object was only 200 ft. above them and they estimated it to be about 40-50 ft. in diameter. One of the officers, Wayne Huston, a police officer in East Palistine, heard the transmissions of the first car. They were coming down Route 14. He realized they weren’t far away. He went out and parked. Sure enough, down the highway came a high-speed car. It had two officers in it. Above it was an unidentified flying object. It was a luminous object that looked vaguely like an ice-cream cone upside down, and this officer sped up, caught up with them, and now there were _two_ patrol cars going down (the highway) and they passed out of Ohio into Pennsylvania.

And this is (explained as) the Echo Satellite and Venus.

jc         Dr. McDonald interviewed (at great length) the officers involved, did his own analysis taking into account the Air Force explanation, and eventually found himself believing their story.

McDonald: I wrote a memorandum to the Colonel in-charge down there and got an agreement at one stage of the game that they were changing their assessment. Then I found a month later that they had sent by your congressman, Stanton, assurances that a re-investigation on the part of the Air Force had confirmed the original explanation. That’s when I started speaking out.

jc        A great deal of well-investigated, documented information concerning this case can be found at the NICAP web site. Documentation courtesy of CUFOS. (also: enter portage in their search engine)

McDonald: I thought there might have been some hope in the summer of ’66 when I was up at Wright Paterson. My hope has not been rekindled since.

The Portage County case finally was explained once and for-all as a confusion over the Echo Satellite and Venus. Unbelievable!  You should hear the transcript of the interrogation by the Blue Book officer. It’s really ugly . . . the United States Air Force.”

jc 7/21/2009:   During some of my own research, I discovered that the Portage County's Sheriff's Department police chief, Gerald Buchert, apparently photographed the craft himself, made sure the pictures he had were solid proof, was then told to send the negatives to the USAF, who then claimed the pictures were severely fogged and that the officers had been chasing the planet Venus.

One might also note, the A.F. handling of this case is similar to their handling of
Exeter, New Hampshire (9/3/65).

Additionally, the Portage case discussed above occurred eight days prior to a case witnessed by Gov. Haydon Burns and his entourage during his re-election campaign.

Then McDonald immediately quotes another case.

McDonald: When you see these cases, when you look at examples like Red Bluff, California (August 13, 1960), when two California highway patrolmen were, as one of them put to me, within easy pistol range of the object, which was about the size of an airplane fuselage, had no wings, and 6' lights on it, and was interfering with radio transmissions so they could not call back to the radio dispatcher for more cars, and all they had was 44 pistols with armor-piercing shells.

Officer Carson said they had the guns out and were going to shoot; there was nothing else to do. . . . And this is explained as Aldeberan and Capella . . . a twinkling and an inversion.  And (if) you look at the radiosonde sensors . . . I have. There was no inversion in the first place. You look at the star charts and the stars weren’t even in the sky.

Now, if that was the only time it happened it would not be so surprising or distressing, but that is what has happened over and over again.

In August of 1965, sheriff’s cars all over the mid-west were sighting and reporting unidentified flying objects. Out of 50 cars in the Minneapolis area, every one reported some unidentified aerial object on the night of Aug. 2nd, 1965. This, too, was explained as stars in terms of Betelgeuse and Rigel, but a Planetarium director pointed out those weren’t in the sky either. The answer (by the person that put out the statement) was he meant Wyoming, not Oklahoma. (Unfortunately, not visible there either.)


To hear other Wendy Connor clips,
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