14 June 1977
(Evening Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida)
The article reports on the U.S. Air Force’s UFO projects.
Quote from the article:
“The Air Force liked to say that a lot of UFOs were ‘balloons’ even if they really didn’t bear much similarity to balloons. Like the group of objects sighted near Odessa, Wash. by USAF Lts. Harsh and Batison from their F-94B Starfire jet interceptor.
To make any sort of case for the balloon explanation, the ‘experts’ had to ignore most of the report, for it described ‘at least a half dozen in formation,’ ‘dim reddish white light coming from two windows,’ ‘head-on, and then would suddenly stop and be pulling off in direction of aircraft,’ ‘200 kts. (275 mph) estimated,’ ‘observed for 15 minutes,’ ‘radar contact 15 minutes after lost sight.’ Balloons? Now, really!
The Air Force liked to call other UFOs ‘possible aircraft,’ a wishy-washy label that was conveniently and quietly switched to ‘aircraft’ in time to make the annual statistics look more impressive. That was what happened to an object reported by one of the most honored airplane designers of all time, Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson, who was responsible for the U-2 spyplane, the SR-71 which has held the world speed record for more than a decade, and many other world-famous aircraft.
Johnson and his wife told the Air Force of seeing a distinct black object which hovered for several minutes, then rose rapidly in a shallow climb. The experience was independently confirmed by Lockheed’s chief aerodynamicist, an engineering test pilot and others who know a lot more about flying machines than the office worker who later decided they had all seen a ‘possible aircraft.’
But others are quite beyond anyone’s current ability to understand, and yet are treated so casually that one is forced to wonder if the Air Force really cared about anything but placing every case in a compartment. It was almost as if ‘unexplained’ was an explanation.
How else to explain the lack of follow-up on a report by civilian flying instructor Harry Clark, of Nampa, Idaho? He was promptly interrogated by by the Air Force’s own Office of Special Investigations, and his report was declared ‘unexplained.’ But there is no sign that anyone bothered to try to understand it.
Clark told of seeing (July 1949) a tight formation of seven objects, about 1,500 feet from his plane and 500 feet below him. They passed him on the left, turned without banking to cross in front of him, and then went by him on the right at about 500 mph. He was doing about 100 mph in his little Piper Clipper. Clark described them as about 45 feet in span, 20 to 30 feet long and 2 to 5 feet thick; they were delta shaped and light in color except for a 12-foot dark spot at the center rear.
When he first saw them, the outer panels seemed to be oscillating.”