Posted on Wednesday, 13 August, 2014 | 1 comment
Columnist: Edward Crabtree
A recent issue of Anomalniye Novosti (Number 21, 19th May) – a Russian news rag devoted to the mysterious – features a shot taken in the rural outskirts of Leningradskaya Oblast. Against a clear sky a quartet of gleaming saucer-like shapes can be seen. The image seems convincing, but then again, it was sent in as a part of a competition for just such pictures, and young Russians are infamous for their digital wizardry. The same paper, however, also showcases a photograph of a metallic looking oval shaped `horn-like` form which appeared in the skies of Mexico on April 18th, and which gathered other witnesses. Indeed, that country, and Mexico City in particular, has become a focal point of such events.
Daylight observations of what appear to be unknown structured craft were characterised by Dr Allen Hynek, when he was the astronomical consultant to the American Air Force’s Project Blue Book, as `Daylight Discs`. Should this phenomenon come with a 500 foot range, then we can talk about a Close Encounter of the First Kind (or CE1K). Important testimonies involving these are still forthcoming, but tend to get drowned out by more blood-and-thunder tales of kidnappings and implants from insectoids from Zeta Reticuli, and so on.
Long standing UFO investigators such as the Californian Ann Druffel now hold that abduction and contactee scenarios are quite distinct occurrences from Daylight Disc/CE1K type events and that the latter should be studied in isolation (Lueder, p-44). We can be sure that doing so allows us to bring fresh eyes to the matter.
The Flying Discs of the Fifties.
The Fifties began with the most celebrated flying Saucer shot in the annals of UFO journalism and ushered in the decade of the flying disc.
The day was ordinary enough for Evelyn Trent as she fed her rabbits in her farm in the town of McMinnville not far from Oregon. What happened next, however, was that she espied a metallic looking disc making its way above her. She called out to her husband Paul. He grabbed a Kodak. The resulting snaps –which now seems the most surprising part of the whole story – made it to the front cover of Time Magazine. The Trents themselves did not make a dime. This fact has not prevented the aviation writer Philip Klass from insisting that all the picture shows is a truck mirror suspended from adjacent telegraph wires. Bruce Maccabee, a former optical data processor for the American Navy, however, has spent four years scrutinising the picture and holds that it shows just what it appears to show (Bainton, p-11-112).
As the decade progressed claims of saucer appearances came from people more likely to be believed than backwood farmers: from people charged with defending our air space.
In the September of 1952 NATO carried out joint exercises involving North America and Western Europe in the North Atlantic and North Sea. This went under the name Mainbrace. A myriad of daylight Disc reports were logged throughout these operations. One of these took place in Topcliffe in Yorkshire in the North of England, where the Royal Air force squadron 269 had been posted. As they were watching a Meteor aircraft coming into land, the flight Lieutenant and four other air crew personnel caught a clear glimpse of a circular and silver coloured craft. The official report stressed that the sky was clear with good visibility. After descending `like a sycamore leaf`, the object sped off in a westerly direction. Not only that, but there were additional sightings of something similar over the nearby town of York on the same day (Redfern, p-27-28).
It was also a clear and bright day when the British Flight Lieutenant with 46 Squadron engaged in a practice interception between two Javelin aircraft. The date was august 30th. The year was 1956. He was 45,000 feet up over the south of the Isle of Wight when he saw it. He imagined this saucer to be 600 feet in diameter and it was metallic grey. The Javelin pilot arriving in the other direction also confirmed its presence. As they both neared it, the thing stood still in the sky before leaping up at a speed of something like 18, 000 miles per hour. This marvel was corroborated by radar trackers in Sopley near Bournemouth on the southern coast of England. (Redfern, p-57 -58).
The first `official sighting` of such a thing made the news three years earlier. Some lazy journalists have, of late, tried to claim that the event did not involve anything saucer shaped but that a misunderstanding lead to the term `flying saucer` which then created the template for all the stories that followed. To put this to rest, let us review the salient points of what this 32 year old businessman thought he saw over Mount Rainer sixty seven years ago.
Kenneth Arnold was piloting his private Cell Air plane and was 9, 500 feet up. He first noticed a flash reflecting on one of his wings. This turned out to be coming from nine moon crescent shaped structures flying in formation. (He took the precaution –another lost detail this –of opening a window to check they were not reflections.) Each looked like `flat discs`, and he later told Chicago Tribune that they resembled `pie plates`. They were indeed circular shaped then, but it was a remark to the effect that they moved `like saucers skimming over water` which lead to journalists launching the term `Flying Saucer`. (The term was then signed and sealed by Arnold himself when he co-wrote The Coming of the Saucers in 1947.) No more did they spawn a sociocultural cult by doing so than did Bill Hailey `invent` rock and roll, however. Otherwise, how are we to account for the fact that on that very same day there were near identical reports from the ground in Washington, Oregon and Idaho? (Bainton.p-76-78, Lueder, p-16-17, Redfern, p-7-9). Nor was this anything new under the sun: on February 28th 1904 three crew members of USS supply observed three round objects approach their ship off the coast of San Francisco (The National Investigations Committee of Ariel Phenomena- NICAP at www.nicap,org –has an exhaustive and exhausting catalogue of events of this kind, many of them pre-1947.)
Smoke and mirrors?
Let us skim, like saucers over water, over some of the hard-headed interpretations of what these Daylight Discs might be.
A paperbacks from the seventies by Brinsley Le Poer Trench enclosed plates of what were to be taken as authentic saucer shots. These were almost without doubt examples of lenticular cloud formations. This meteorological condition can make for some very inspiring images, but I doubt if they would take anyone for a ride for long in real time. The same might be said of the even rarer phenomenon of cloud vortexes or smoke rings. Last April a sixteen year old girl snapped one of these on her mobile (and this even made it into Anomalniye Novostiy on 12th May this year). According to the BBC, this particular hoop was the result of fireworks being tried out at nearby Warwick Castle.
Balloons have more answering to do. On a late May evening this year I watched a flying saucer glide over a southern region of Moscow. Not one of the good people of the Novye Cheromushki region stood still to gawp: its movements were so much like the toy balloon that in fact it was. What If I had taken a picture though?
You do not even need an inflated UFO to create an impression however. A curious shot of an unsymmetrical grey oblong shaped thing over London made a few waves earlier this year (and, again received coverage in Anomalniye Novosti No. 28 in May.) The image looked interesting enough, but there seemed to be a strange absence of real time witnesses to the phenomenon. Then people began to point out its resemblance to a certain inflatable toy shark....
The first game of the best of three North Division between Vancouver Canadians and Everett Aquasox became enlivened by a visitation from a saucer complete with blue flashing lights. The video that someone filmed of this was soon accounted for as a drone that had been custom built to mimic an alien spacecraft as a promotion for a local planetarium (Huffington Post, November 2013). The proliferation of drone technology, albeit only in the last ten years, means that some `saucer` sightings can be dropped from our enquiries.
Then because a flying saucer can be seen as a single winged aircraft, and hence as the Holy Grail of aeronautical engineers the world over, it is a temptation to pass off some encounters as those with prototypes of this very thing. Remember though that the saucers in the statements given above did not really `fly` at all: rather they levitated like the flying carpets of ancient lore. Frisbees can only fly because they are spun and have a curved underside: a saucer shape is not a natural aerodynamic design.
We can say with confidence that single winged aircraft do indeed exist. The B2A spirit, only twenty of which are in service, is a matter of public record. Aeronautics enthusiasts also whisper of the Black Manta TR-3A. These craft, however, are delta and triangular in design and not saucers (for more on this see www.foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com)
The over-elaborate nebula which surrounds the proposition that the German government of the forties was making use of flying saucers is an idea which I for one am satisfied is but a dark fantasy. All things related to the history and memorabilia of the Third Reich attract camp followers often with dubious motives, and this theory is no exception. As early as 1947 Project Sign conducted a behind-closed–doors investigation into the probability that saucers were derived from technology from Hitler’s Germany. They made enquiries into all the main players in the field of German aviation at the time, including the Horten brothers. They found nothing (see Bainton, p-159-163.) After all, we know that the German V-2 know-how was expropriated with haste by both East and West for military and space ventures. German flying saucer expertise would have had similar conspicuous results –unless, that is you are willing to climb down the path of Icke style global conspiracy type thinking.....
There are iconoclasts who draw a comparison between marine life such as jellyfish and the saucer shape and claim that they are not ships at all but huge airborne creatures. This bold and fresh option still requires us to address just what means of propulsion these life forms use. Where, also, do the dead bodies of these things go?
An alternative spiritual take on this is that the saucers are in fact highly evolved `light bodies` of ascended spiritual masters, also known as Merkabas (Lueder, p-9-10). A more credible variation on this line of thought favours the idea that they are some sort of psychic manifestation thrown out by the Collective Unconscious of humanity. This possibility was forwarded by none other than Carl Jung. Jung made a correlation between the saucer shape and the ideogram of the mandala. The mandala represents wholeness of self and the unity of the cosmos. In this version of things, the coming of the saucers betokens the human race calling out to its own potential.
The paradigm which I most want to believe, however, is the one that casts saucers in the role of `chrononauts` taking a tour through the fourth dimension. This presumes that man will survive, in some form or other, well into futurity! Nevertheless if our future selves are so hardy as to have lived long enough to conjure the magic of manned time travel then it is probable that they would also forego its use. The dangers inherent in disrupting one’s own history, in no matter how small a way, are too great for any such enterprise to be worth it. Besides, why do these Omega men always need flying machines to get about?
I have left the `commonsense` – and hence commonplace –interpretation of flying disc claims to the last. This is that they are spacecraft from other planets. One can be an intellectual snob and waive this premise away for its childlike simplicity. It is no more flawed in its reasoning than any other of its competing ideas as shown above, however. Even Jung corresponded with Donald E. Keyhoe –one of the main and premier exponents of flying saucers as extraterrestrial machines. Sometimes, as Freud, that other psychoanalyst, observed, a cigar is just a cigar.
Bainton, Roy The Mammoth Book of Unexplained Phenomena: Astonishing Anomalies, Unknown Dimensions, Panic and Paranoia (London: constable & Robinson Ltd, 2013)
Lueder, Bret A UFO hunter’s Guide: sightings, Abductions, Hotspots, Conspiracies, Cover-ups, the Identified and Unidentified and More (London: Watkins Publishing, 2013)
Redfern, Nicholas A Covert Agenda: the British Government’s UFO top Secrets Exposed (London: Pocket books, 1998.)
Anomalniy Novosti: Issues No. 20 (May),No. 21 (May), no 26 (June) 2014.
foxtrotalpha.japolnik.comArticle Copyright© Edward Crabtree - reproduced with permission.