In an earlier posting I purposely and deliberately said that the Air Force lied about sighting solutions in the Project Blue Book files. I said this because they knew, based on their own files, that the satellite solution for one aspect of the Portage County Chase did not work. They, which is to say Hector Quintanilla, knew the truth. As the man in charge, he owns the ultimate responsibility here and he had, naturally, complete access to the Project Blue Book files.
Let’s look at something that I have found in the Air Force file on the Las Vegas UFO crash of April 1962. A New York civilian had written to the Air Force and asked if fighters had been scrambled to intercept the object, whatever that object might have been. Major C. R. Hart of the Air Force Office of Public Information wrote back and said that no fighters had been scrambled. Other evidence showed that jets had taken off from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, but nothing came from Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. Did Hart lie in the letter?
No, I don’t think so. I believe he was answering the question honestly based on the information he had and based where he was located. He was not part of Project Blue Book staff but assigned to Air Force public affairs. He didn’t know of the attempted intercepts so when he wrote that none had been tried, he was telling the truth as he knew it.
The difference here is that Quintanilla knew the truth about the Portage Country chase and knew that part of the solution didn’t work. The memo for the record that mentioned that the Echo satellites were not visible in northeastern Ohio at the time was in his file, in his office and he should have seen it. I don’t believe that he ever thought the UFO files would become part of the public record or that we would ever see that memo, so that any solution provided was just fine with him.
And yes, I can provide other examples where the Air Force mislead the public about their UFO information. They say that only 701 sightings remained unidentified at the close of Blue Book but that isn’t exactly true. Overlooking the fact that some cases were labeled as identified when that identification can be shown to be untrue, there were some 4000 sightings labeled as “insufficient data for a scientific analysis.” That means that more than thirty percent of the sightings were labeled as “insufficient data,” which isn’t an identification at all but keeps that sighting off the unidentified roles.
We can reduce it to single cases as well. In Levelland, Texas in 1957, witnesses at thirteen difference locations reported that their engines had been stalled, their headlights dimmed, and their radios were filled with static as a glowing UFO landed near them or flew over them. The Air Force concluded that ball lightning was responsible.
But ball lightning is very short lived and there are no cases in which a dozen or more displays of ball lightning are seen over a limited geographic area within a couple of hours of each other. Ball lightning is small, eight inches to a foot in diameter. They sometimes roll along the ground and “pop” out of existence. They in no way match the descriptions provided by the witnesses, but in the world in 1957, the Air Force didn’t care about that. They just wanted a solution and ball lightning, to their minds, fit the bill.
To be fair, the Air Force did get some of the solutions right. In the Chiles – Whitted case from 1948 in which the two airline pilots thought they saw a cigar-shaped craft with windows on it, the Air Force suggested a “bolide.” Most rejected this idea, but when the Soviet rocket Zond 4 re-entered the atmosphere in 1968 there were some who described a cigar-shaped craft with windows. It became obvious that this sort of illusion was possible. In today’s world, with hundreds of meteor falls recorded and displayed on YouTube, it is possible to see this illusion. As the meteors break up, it does look as if there is a structured craft with windows on the side. When the witness only manages a split second sighting, this sort of explanation becomes even more likely.
The real point here, however, is that the Air Force, as their investigation continued was not interested in investigating UFO sightings, they were only interested in explaining them. If that explanation sounded “scientific” that was even better. But as we review the files, we see how some of those “scientific” explanations fail, and we see where the Air Force bent the facts to propose some ridiculous explanations. And, as noted, in a few cases their solutions were contradicted by the facts they had gathered themselves.