A 50-year-old general machine handyman and his son, 11, claimed to have seen and photographed a "flying saucer" close to their rural home. Neither the numbers on the backs of the two Polaroid photographs nor the focus of objects in the field of view were consistent with the account of the alleged sighting.
Two Polaroid photographs of a saucer-shaped UFO were said to have been taken by the witness about 12:15 p.m. EDT. The photographs showed windows or ports in both the upper and lower halves of the object. According to Mr. A's account, he was taking a picture of his 11-year-old son with his Model 800 Polaroid camera when a high-pitched humming noise attracted their attention. They looked in the direction of the noise, and saw an UFO about 60 ft. in diameter, some 500 ft. away, moving about 30 to 40 mph, at an altitude of 500-600 ft. Mr. A snapped two pictures during the 15-20 sec. before the object departed at a speed, estimated to be 2,000 mph.
According to his account, Mr. A immediately took the pictures to a farm house, about 300 yd. from his home to show the pictures, and learn if the neighbors also had seen the object. The neighbor, Mr. B. says that Mr. A arrived at their house about 12:30 p.m. +/- 5 minutes, and the pictures were still "wet." None of the family had seen nor heard the UFO. At Mr. B's insistence the incident was made known to the public. Mr. A wanted to destroy the photos and not tell anyone else of the incident, for fear of ridicule. Mr. B.,
with A's reluctant permission, notified the state police and local newspapers of the incident and the existence of the photographs.
Although there are unexplained discrepancies in the story and pictures, project investigators were not able, on the basis of their investigation, to determine that the incident was a hoax. Mr. B was convinced the pictures were of a real object. Both Mr. A and his son's stories were generally consistent, and presented seriously with conviction. Neither witness was shaken from his original statement after hours of conversation and discussion. The suggestion that such pictures might result from deliberate deception brought only emphatic denial. Although Mr. A would not agree to lend the original pictures to this project for analysis, copies of the photographs were obtained.
In picture number one the UFO is in sharp focus but is dimly outlined against the sky because of overexposure. It appears to have three dark windows or ports on its lower section (which has the appearance of a pie tin) and a row of square dark windows of similar size, but more closely spaced, around its top portion (which resembled a lid of a frying pan, with a knob on top). A dark streak extends about half the distance along the ridge-like juncture of the top and bottom portions. This streak ends abruptly.
The image of the UFO in picture number one is just over three centimeters long. The top of a nearby automobile, the top of a ridge some 80 ft. from where Mr. A stood, and several trees and a beehive on the ridge are also visible in photo number one. The trees were not in focus.
Photo number two shows apparently the same UFO, somewhat more distant (a 2.8 cm. image), not in sharp focus, but with good contrast against the sky background. In this photo the UFO appears below a wire clothes line located seven feet from the camera. Tops of trees are visible in each bottom corner of the picture.
Both photos were taken within a few feet of Mr. A's house, number two from a position about 20 ft. from where he stood while taking number one. Photo number one was taken at a bearing of 100°, photo number two at 300°. The tree tops visible in photo number two are at distances of 40-65 ft. away from the camera. They are not the same trees that appear in photo number one.
The only response to the appeal for anyone who had seen UFO about noon on the date of Mr. A's sighting to identify himself came from youngsters. Project investigators checked what seemed the most significant of these reports but they had no relation to the object in Mr. A's photos.
One farmer did report that he and his brother, baling hay about one mile from Mr. A's home, (in the direction of claimed departure of the UFO), heard something that sounded like "many jet planes" about noon on this date. They commented on the sound to each other at the time, but did not see anything which could have generated this noise.
It seems probable that someone on the highway, or working in the vicinity, would have seen the UFO if it were as described. Inquiries were made at radar installations at Youngstown, Ohio air terminal and with the FAA Cleveland Center. No observations of unidentified objects were made at either place.
In picture number one, the object is in focus (showing square corners on portholes), while the background trees and beehive are out of focus. Since the trees and beehive are some 80 ft. away, they should have been in fairly sharp focus if the camera were focused for any distance close to or greater than 80 ft. Had the object been some 500 ft. away, as Mr. A claimed, and the camera focused essentially at infinity, the trees should be in sharper focus than the nearer car top. Photograph number one shows the car top in sharper focus than the trees, and the object in sharper focus than the car top.
In picture number two, the object is less sharp (portholes are blurred, not clearly square). The clothes wire also is somewhat out
of focus, while the trees (40-65 ft. away in this case) are in sharper focus than in picture number one.
One possible interpretation of these observations is that the object, and the camera focal distance, was closer in picture number one than was the top of the car. The object would then have been five to ten feet from the camera. Picture number two could have been made with the focus of the camera set at about 30 ft. while the object was enough closer to the camera to be noticeably out of focus.
If the object were five feet away its diameter was ten inches; if ten feet away, 20 in. Pictures duplicating Mr. A's could be produced with a 10-12 in. model, focusing the camera at five feet and 30 ft. for the first and second pictures, respectively, and suspending the model by fine thread or monofilament fishing line. (In photo number two the suspension could be either from the clothes line which appears in the picture or from a fishing pole.)
The relative focus of objects in picture number one is not consistent with the claim that the UFO was a large object beyond the trees in the picture, but is consistent with an assumption that the UFO was pie pan sized. The other discrepancies in the account discussed here also contribute to the conclusion that these photographs would not merit further analysis even if the originals were made available for detailed study.