A retired Air Force pilot presented two 35 mm. slides, showing a red saucer-like object against a background of sky and clouds. He claimed to have taken the pictures from the pilot's seat of a C-47 in flight before he retired from the Air Force. The witness' reputation is irreproachable. Frame numbers on the slides and others from the same film roll raised the question whether the pictures were taken under the conditions claimed.
On 9 January 1968 we received two 35 mm. color slides, each showing a distinct flying-saucer-like object against a background of broken clouds. The object was brick-red, flat on the bottom, with a dome on top and a dark band which looked like windows around the dome. One slide was generally blurred, while the other showed sharp outlines of the object against the clouds. A very bright area, spanning one portion of the window-like dark band and extending onto the metallic-appearing body of the object, had the appearance of specular reflection. The cloud background was similar in the two pictures, showing the object to have moved about 10o to the right in picture two as compared with number one.
According to accompanying information, the pictures were taken in Summer 1966 by an officer in the Air Force. He said he had been piloting a C-47 over the Rocky Mountains when he took the UFO pictures from his plane. The co-pilot was busy computing expected destination arrival times, and did not see the object, which was
visible only a few seconds. No one else saw the object or knew that the pilot had taken the pictures. The now retired officer was currently employed at one of the FAA control centers, where he had shown the pictures to friends. As a result of this showing, the slides were obtained and, with the photographer's permission, sent to the project for evaluation.
Frames of the two slides carried the processing date of December 1966. The blurred slide carried the slide number 14, and the sharper slide carried the number 11 on its frame. There was no evidence of airplane window framing or window dirt or reflection on either slide. Lighting of the clouds gave the appearance that one was indeed looking at the tops of sunlit clouds. The pictures were said to have been taken consecutively at about 11:00 a.m. local time on a day in July, and to have been left in the camera, undeveloped, until the rest of the roll was exposed and commercially developed in December 1966. The incident had never been reported to the Air Force because, the officer said he knew that people were ridiculed for reporting such things, and the pictures had not been shown to anyone outside the officer's family for a year after development.
The ex-pilot consented to our examination of his photographs on condition that his identity would not be revealed.
Checking the window structure of DC-3 planes (courtesy of Frontier Airlines), which are the same as C-47s, revealed that it would be quite easy to take 35 mm. pictures through the windshield, at ten or twelve o'clock from the pilot's position, without getting any part of the windshield framework in the field of view of the camera.
The UFO photographer and his wife were interviewed at their home. According to the officer's account the UFO incident occurred about
11:00 a.m., when the plane was about 25 mi. SW of Provo. He had turned control of the C-47 over to the co-pilot and gotten his camera ready to take pictures of the mountains ahead. He had set the shutter of his camera [VITO CL Voightlander, Lanthar 2.8 lens] at 1/500 sec. exposure, and adjusted the iris reading to give proper exposure as indicated by the built-in coupled light meter. [This was f 5.6 to 8, he thought]. He was using high speed Ektachrome film, EH 35, ASA 160. He was thus ready to take pictures of the mountains, with camera held in his hands in his lap, when the unknown object appeared at about "ten o'clock." He quickly photographed the object, wound the camera, and got a second picture before the object sped upward and to the right, out of view. He had lost sight of the object momentarily as it went behind the compass at the center of the windshield, then saw it again briefly as it passed through the visible top left corner of the right windshield before the cockpit ceiling blocked his view of the object. The object had been in sight only a few seconds, and had moved in a sweeping path in front of the plane, appearing to accelerate, but making no sudden changes in direction or speed. The officer judged the time interval the object was visible by the time necessary for him to bring the camera up to his eye, snap a picture, wind the film (a single stroke, lever advance), and snap the second picture. This required only a few seconds, and the object vanished very soon after the second picture was taken.
The co-pilot was busy with computations, and did not look up in time to see the object. In earlier telephone conversation, the officer said he told the co-pilot he had just taken a picture of something and the co-pilot's response was a disinterested "that's nice." The officer stated that the co-pilot didn't know but that he had photographed the left wing of the plane, or something of that sort. In the taped interview, the officer stated that he had asked the co-pilot if he had seen the object that the officer had just photographed, and the co-pilot had said he did not. According to this account, the co-pilot should
have known that the pilot had photographed an unidentified object but neither reported the incident upon landing,
From Provo to the next check point, Battle Mountain, Idaho, the direction of flight was slightly north of west. The witness felt they were flying SW at the time of sighting, and may have still been in a turn after passing the Provo checkpoint. If the bright spot on the picture of the object is a specular reflection as it appears, and if the object was at the photographer's twelve o'clock position at 11:00 a.m., the position of the specular reflection would require the plane to have been in a heading between east and north.
The officer's wife supported his story that they had had the roll of film developed several months after the UFO pictures were taken. The officer stated that there were pictures already on the roll before the UFO shots were taken and after the UFO pictures were taken in July, and the roll was finished during September and October. These later pictures showed park and mountain scenes, as well as a snowstorm scene.
The witness was aware that frame numbers printed on the slides (14 and 11) did not agree with his story that they were taken consecutively on the roll (14 before 11). He indicated, however, that all pictures on the roll were numbered erroneously.
Removal of slides from their mountings revealed that the numbers on the mountings were consistent with frame numbers on the edge of the film itself. Each number on the film was one integer lower than the number on the mounting. This held true also for the UFO shots, frame numbers 11 and 14 yielding pictures with numbers ten and 13 shown on the film edge. These numbers show rather conclusively that the UFO pictures were taken after the snow-storm, rather than in July when the witness was still in the Air Force. They also were not taken on consecutive frames of the roll, and were taken in an order reversed to that claimed. The numbering examination was witnessed by five project staff members.
In view of the discrepancies, detailed analysis of the photographs did not seem justifiable. They were returned to the officer with our comment that they obviously could not be used by us to support claims that the object photographed was other than an ordinary object of earthly origin thrown into the air.