UFO Hunters case# 54103 radar/visual

RB-47 E - July 17, 1957
(4 months before Kirtland, Sebago, Stokes which occurred 11/57)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..B-47

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3/18/2009: Just as the occurrence of the undeniable Chicago, O'Hare case practically demanded I add it to my first three prime cases here at CohenUFO, the following case, has, in a similar fashion, forced its way into the lineup . . but this time into my 1957 group. As if the Kirtland, AFB case wasn't enough to give us a hint something out of norm was going on back then, this next doozie appears to be a cornerstone for that entire group. (Although each stands on its own) It became known as the RB-47 case. It was investigated by the Condon Study, Project Blue Book, Phillip Klass, James McDonald, and eventually updated by researcher Brad Sparks. (Also, please see Brad's specific comments regarding RB-47 here and especially note #'s 7 & 8.)

Brad Sparks, in one of his letters to me a number of years ago, happened to mention "RB-47" as a case which he felt was superior to many he had looked at. Evidently, it had become a major passion with him. He said it was one of the most technically impressive reports he had come across in many years and that it contained a tremendous amount of solid data which confirms that something apparently followed that SAC plane; something that wasn't simply some kind of electronic anomaly.

Unfortunately, gathering, confirming and detailing the large volume of material I was focusing on for my own site left me little time to think about Brad's case back then. (Brad, I apologize for this, but please note I've just realized your data here appears to dovetail with some of mine on this.) There was just so much to absorb and confirm regarding the FOIA releases from back then. I eventually forgot about it . . . until just recently.

A week or so ago, the History channel's "UFO Hunters" (Bill Birnes, Ted Acworth, Pat Uskert) gave a presentation of its file #54103 (RB47). I must admit they weren't quite hitting the mark when they first started their series, with Bill himself, at times letting his speculations fly far ahead of strict scientific reasoning, and this still happens in some of them. But with that said, they have also had a number of shows which I believe will eventually be seen as contributing to both the study and public awareness of this persistent enigma. Those shows include the topics of pilot sightings, Iran, Peru, O'Hare International Airport, Osaka, Japan, etc.

The particular show to which I was referring was one of those better efforts. It's title was "Lost UFO Files, The Files of the late James McDonald." It was an update of three UFO cases from the meticulously detailed work of that highly competent scientist. After having his own personal UFO sighting in 1954, McDonald found himself driven to use his own extensive scientific knowledge to examine the UFO controversy in great depth. Over the next 16 years, he investigated many UFO cases, interviewed over 500 hundred witnesses, documented it all, and attempted to bring them to the attention of other scientists.

McDonald had become a senior physicist at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics and professor in the Department of Meteorology, University of Arizona, Tucson. After his passing in 1971, his files were archived at that University. When one sees these files, it is literally impossible not to be impressed with the extraordinary effort he put into his investigations and the quality of same.

Those who know my site will realize I had to be extremely happy that UFO Hunters was highlighting the efforts of McDonald. My site defends him from less-than-knowledgable skeptics, and that particular UFO Hunters presentation did a fine job explaining McDonald's great importance to Ufology, at the same time, reconfirming for me the wealth of forgotten investigative material that most likely still exists in his files. It even highlighted several things I hadn't known before.


Upon viewing the presentation on RB-47, I was impressed with the over-all case and its technical aspects. However, equally important, the date of it took me by surprise. What I had never realized when Brad originally mentioned it, was that the RB-47 incident occurred July 17, 1957; just _four_ months prior to the three November 1957 cases (Kirtland, Sebago, Stokes), which I first detailed here about ten or eleven years ago at CohenUFO. We can also note RB-47 occurred two months after the May 2nd Edwards AFB case Jim Oberg had us focus on concerning Gordon Cooper.

Readers familiar with CohenUFO may remember, I had discovered via discussions with Jan Aldridge, Project 1947, that those three November 1957 cases had occurred just hours apart, not days apart as I originally thought. Even though the RB-47 incident occurred four months prior to those three cases, the evidence from it is compelling in its own right and tends to lend credence to the veracity of the huge number of sightings that were reported that November. It certainly gives one the distinct impression that many of the witnesses who reported UFOs in that general time period, including the control tower personnel from Kirtland, were neither crazy, smoking a pipe, misidentifying, or hoaxing what they reported.

We can be pretty confident the object in the RB-47 case wasn't a "quantum manifestation(s) not at the usual infinitesimal level but at a macro-cosmic level" as argued by a poster at ufocon.blogspot.com (The ufo Iconoclasts). The person that argued that is going to have to explain to us, if he hasn't already, how that supposed "quantum manifestation" followed that plane for approximately ninety minutes (1 1/2 hrs), over 700 miles, blinked on and off simultaneously both visually to the pilots, to the listening equipment, and to the radars involved, and stayed with the plane even when the RB-47 looped around trying to lose it. On top of this, the thing was sending out a radar signal. (Earthlights following a plane? A mirage following it? Not likely.)

If the poster says it was all happening because the radar taking the measurements was creating it, he has to reconcile this with the fact the plane's listening equipment was passive, that the ground radar was able to see the UFO flying with the plane. He'll also have to reconcile the myriad technical case details and items researched by McDonald and Brad Sparks and, he will also have to explain why this very same phenomenon isn't happening on a regular basis concerning radars and planes of this type. I suspect he'll most likely run afoul of Occam's Razor in his attempt. What we really need to do is ask ourselves which explanation is more plausible, his . . . a quantum manifestation, a mirage, or (taking into consideration the total research performed on the RB-47 case, the myriad people that have testified concerning this topic in general), and the many military cases including Kirtland etc.), the one I've proposed as the main theme of this web-site . . . *there are high-tech craft flying around out there and they are not ours*. Readers can come to their own conclusions as to which makes more sense.

Once can click here for a brief statement from the command pilot, taken from McDonald's interview with him.

Now on to the case itself.

THE RB-47 CASE (a brief summary):

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RB-47 with different configuration

One of our most advanced radar-listening planes of the 1950's was flying its final training mission before the men and equipment aboard were to be actively deployed. The plane contained ELINT (our most advanced radar listening technology) and a pilot, co-pilot, navigator and freshly trained crew of three ELINT operators. They were on their last mission just prior to being deployed. The aircraft used was an RB-47 SAC aircraft of the type used to fly along the border of the Soviet Union to monitor their radars. It contained some of the most sophisticated radar listening equipment in the world at the time, and was an extremely important piece of the United States front-line defense. The DF receivers are not radars and do not emit a signal for reflection off a distant target. They only listen passively to incoming radar signals and analyze their signatures and other characteristics.

The mission left from Forbes AFB, Kansas. The unidentified object was first noticed over Gulfport, Mississippi. An ELINT operator picked up the signal from the unidentified object at 2,995-3000 mhz. The signal moved rapidly up the scope, indicating a rapidly moving signal source. At first the operator(s) thought the signal was a malfunction and checked the RB-47 ELINT. It seemed fine, but just to be sure, they switched to another antenna and system. They could see the radar signal from the object, but the operator(s) were still thinking they must have some kind of electronic malfunction.

As the RB47E approached Jackson, Mississippi for the 2nd part of its planned exercise to perform ECM runs against known ground radar units (about 150 miles from Gulfport), the command pilot spotted what he first thinks are landing lights of another jet coming in very fast. The pilot tells the crew; "Looks as though we may have to take evasive maneuvers." Before he can do anything else, the light is upon them, changes direction and flashes directly across their flight path. Both pilots see this occur. Then, taking them totally by surprise, the light simply blinks out.

In an interview with James McDonald, the pilot stated it didn't take off. It just disappeared in front of them. Just before it blinked off, the object had jumped from an 11 o'clock position to a 2 o'clock position in the blink of an eye, as witnessed by both pilots. Neither the movement or the blinking out is technologically possible for our planes, even today. (I believe scientists may have recently moved sub-atomic particles similar to this but not whole planes, and remember, this is back in 1957, more than fifty years ago.)

Pilot and co-pilot immediately begin talking about what had just happened. One of the ELINT operators remembered he got a signal at 2,995-3000 mhz, and set his #2 monitor to scan at 3,000 mhz. On his first scan, the operator got a strong 3,000 mhz signal from their two o'clock position; the bearing on which the luminous object had blinked out moments earlier. The operator of monitor #1 then tuned his equipment to the same frequency and got the same return. He saw it too.

The RB-47 started accelerating and decelerating to attempt to lose the object, however it stayed with them on their journey. (jc: Now, think about what they were chasing in Belgium for approximately 75 minutes in 1990. Yep . . . invisible there too!)

The pilot then contacts Duncanville. Duncanville could see both the UFO and the aircraft with their radars. Something was definitely moving with the plane.

The plane gets permission and eventually attempts to go after the object, which is at a lower altitude. The object stops and they overshoot. At that point, they are running low on gas and have to break off their pursuit. They decide to head home, north to Forbes AFB, Kansas. The object stays with them until approximately half-way home. Then, around Oklahoma city, the object disappears.

It is to be noted, active ground radar had picked up the UFO. At one point in the sighting, the object simultaneously blinked out both visually and radar-wise. (i.e. on the plane and on the ground.) When the object reappeared, it reappeared to the ELINT and ground radar as well.

McDonald interviewed Louis D. Chase, the veteran pilot with twenty years experience who was flying the RB-47. Chase stated that the object approached, changed course instantly, and flew in front of him before he could even react . . . then, it just blinked out. Here was a trained Air Force Pilot who knew what all planes from that era looked like, but he still could not identify it. In his report he said: "The object moved at a velocity he had never seen in his flight experience."

When McDonald completed his analysis of the incident, he found himself unable to agree with Blue Book's findings. To him, the case had to remain unidentified.

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Brad Sparks and Philip Klass both performed analyses of this case. Sparks found other details to the case as well as mistakes that Klass had made in his analysis. If you missed it, and would like to learn more about this case, visit the NICAP website by clicking here. (if any problem, click here.)

There is a posting of, what appears to be, McDonald's original report located at UFO Casebook here.





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