|The film, introduction.|
|The original account by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt of USAF's Project Blue Book (This page).|
|The Kevin Randle comments.|
|Michael David Hall & Wendy Connors comments.|
|Analysis by Greene-Rouse.|
|Analysis by Robert L. Baker.|
|The Condon Report, case 47.|
|Montana Film - James R Leming (MUJ 223,10).|
|November 27, 1957 letter to Keyhoe from AF Press Desk.|
|On the question of tampering with the 1950 Great Falls UFO film - Barry Greenwood.|
|Articles from the press.|
|MPEG movie of the film.|
|Frames from the film.|
Source: "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects," by Ed Ruppelt, Page 219.
The Hierarchy ponders:
By early January 1953 the scientists who were to be members of our panel of experts had been contacted and had agreed to sit in judgment of the UFO. In turn, we agreed to give them every detail about the UFO.
We had our best reports for them to read, and we were going to show them the two movies that some intelligence officers considered as the "positive proof" - the Tremonton Movie and the Montana Movie.
On Friday morning we presented the feature attractions of the session, the Tremonton Movie and the Montana Movie. These two bits of evidence represented the best photos of UFO's that Project Blue Book had to offer. The scientists knew about them, especially the Tremonton Movie, because since late July they had been the subject of many closed door conferences. Generals, admirals, and GS-16's had seen them at "command performances", and they had been flown to Kelly AFB in Texas to be shown to a conference of intelligence officers from all over the world. Two of the country's best military photo laboratories, the Air Force lab at Wright Field and the Navy's lab at Anacostia, Maryland, had spent many hours trying to prove that the UFO's were balloons, airplanes, or stray light reflections, but they failed - the UFO's were true unknowns. The possibility that the movie had been faked was considered but quickly rejected because only a Hollywood studio with elaborate equipment could do such a job and the people who filmed the movies didn't have this kind of equipment.
The Montana Movie had been taken on August 15, 1950, by Nick Mariana, the manager of the Great Falls baseball team. It showed two large bright lights flying across the blue sky in an echelon formation. There were no clouds in the movie to give an indication of the UFO's speed, but at one time they passed behind a water tower. The lights didn't show any detail; they appeared to be large circular objects.
Mariana had sent his movies to the Air Force back in 1950, but in 1950 there was no interest in the UFO so, after a quick viewing, Project Grudge had written them off as "the reflections from two F-94 jet fighters that were in the area."
In 1952, at the request of the Pentagon, I reopened the investigation of the Montana Movie. Working through an intelligence officer at the Great Falls AFB, I had Mariana reinterrogated and obtained a copy of his movie, which I sent to the photo lab.
When the photo lab got the movie, they had a little something to work with because the two UFO's had passed behind a reference point, the water tower. Their calculations quickly confirmed that the objects were not birds, balloons, or meteors. Balloons drift with the wind and the wind was not blowing in the direction that the two UFO's were traveling. No exact speeds could be measured, but the lab could determine that the lights were traveling too fast to be birds and too slow to be meteors.
This left airplanes as the only answer. The intelligence officer at Great Falls had dug through huge stacks of files and found that only two airplanes, two F-94's, were near the city during the sighting and that they had landed about two minutes afterwards. Both Mariana and his secretary, who had also seen the UFO's, had said that the two jets had appeared in another part of the sky only a minute or two after the two UFO's had disappeared in the southeast. This in itself would eliminate the jets as candidates for the UFO's, but we wanted to double check. The two circular lights didn't look like F-94's, but anyone who has done any flying can tell you that an airplane so far away that it can't be seen can suddenly catch the sun's rays and make a brilliant flash.
First we studied the flight paths of the two F-94's. We knew the landing pattern that was being used on the day of the sighting, and we knew when the two F-94's landed. The two jets just weren't anywhere close to where the two UFO's had been. Next we studied each individual light and both appeared to be too steady to be reflections.
We drew a blank on the Montana Movie - it was an unknown.
We also drew a blank on the Tremonton Movie, a movie that had been taken by a Navy Chief Photographer, Warrant Officer Delbert C. Newhouse, on July 2, 1952.
Our report on the incident showed that Newhouse, his wife, and their two children were driving to Oakland, California, from the east coast on this eventful day. They had just passed through Tremonton, Utah, a town north of Salt Lake City, and had traveled about 7 miles on U.S. Highway 30S when Mrs. Newhouse noticed a group of objects in the sky. She pointed them out to her husband; he looked, pulled over to the side of the road, stopped the car, and jumped out to get a better look. He didn't have to look very long to realize that something highly unusual was taking place because in his twenty one years in the Navy and 2,000 hours' flying time as an aerial photographer, he'd never seen anything like this. About a dozen shiny disk like objects were "milling around the sky in a rough formation."
Newhouse had his movie camera so he turned the turret around to a 3 inch telephoto lens and started to photograph the UFO's. He held the camera still and took several feet of film, getting all of the bright objects in one photo. All of the UFO's had stayed in a compact group from the time the Newhouse family had first seen them, but just before they disappeared over the western horizon one of them left the main group and headed east. Newhouse swung his camera around and took several shots of it, holding his camera steady and letting the UFO pass through the field of view before it disappeared in the east.
When I received the Tremonton films I took them right over to the Wright Field photo lab, along with the Montana Movie, and the photo technicians and I ran them twenty or thirty times. The two movies were similar in that in both of them the objects appeared to be large circular lights - in neither one could you see any detail. But, unlike the Montana Movie, the lights in the Tremonton Movie would fade out, then come back in again. This fading immediately suggested airplanes reflecting light, but the roar of a king-sized dogfight could have been heard for miles and the Newhouse family had heard no sound. We called in several fighter pilots and they watched the UFO's circling and darting in and out in the cloudless blue sky. Their unqualified comment was that no airplane could do what the UFO's were doing.
Balloons came under suspicion, but the lab eliminated them just as quickly by studying the kind of a reflection given off by a balloon - it is a steady reflection since a balloon is spherical. Then, to further scuttle the balloon theory, clusters of balloons are tied together and don't mill around. Of course, the lone UFO that took off to the east by itself was the biggest argument against balloons.
Newhouse told an intelligence officer from the Western Air Defense Forces that he had held his camera still and let this single UFO fly through the field of view, so the people in the lab measured its angular velocity. Unfortunately there were no clouds in the sky, nor was he able to include any of the ground in the pictures, so our estimates of angular velocity had to be made assuming that the photographer held his camera still. Had the lone UFO been 10 miles away it would have been traveling several thousand miles an hour.
After studying the movies for several weeks, the Air Force photo lab at Wright Field gave up. All they had to say was, "We don't know what they are but they aren't airplanes or balloons, and we don't think they are birds."
While the lab had been working on the movies at Wright Field, Major Fournet had been talking to the Navy photo people at Anacostia; they thought they had some good ideas on how to analyze the movies, so as soon as we were through with them I sent them to Major Fournet and he took them over to the Navy lab.
The Navy lab spent about two months studying the films and had just completed their analysis. The men who had done the work were on hand to brief the panel of scientists on their analysis after the panel had seen the movies.
We darkened the room and I would imagine that we ran each film ten times before every panel member was satisfied that he had seen and could remember all of the details. We ran both films together so that the men could compare them.
The Navy analysts didn't use the words "interplanetary spacecraft" when they told of their conclusions, but they did say that the UFO's were intelligently controlled vehicles and that they weren't airplanes or birds. They had arrived at this conclusion by making a frame-by-frame study of the motion of the lights and the changes in the lights' intensity.
When the Navy people had finished with their presentation, the scientists had questions. None of the panel members were trying to find fault with the work the Navy people had done, but they weren't going to accept the study until they had meticulously searched for every loophole. Then they found one.
In measuring the brilliance of the lights, the photo analysts had used an instrument called a densitometer. The astronomer on the panel knew all about measuring the density of an extremely small photographic image with a densitometer because he did it all the time in his studies of the stars. And the astronomer didn't think that the Navy analysts had used the correct technique in making their measurements. This didn't necessarily mean that their data were all wrong, but it did mean that they should recheck their work.
When the discussion of the Navy's report ended, one of the scientists asked to see the Tremonton Movie again; so I had the projectionists run it several more times. The man said that he thought the UFO's could be sea gulls soaring on a thermal current. He lived in Berkeley and said that he'd seen gulls high in the air over San Francisco Bay. We had thought of this possibility several months before because the area around the Great Salt Lake is inhabited by large white gulls. But the speed of the lone UFO as it left the main group had eliminated the gulls. I pointed this out to the physicist. His answer was that the Navy warrant officer might have thought he had held the camera steady, but he could have "panned with the action" unconsciously. This would throw all of our computations way off. I agreed with this, but I couldn't agree that they were sea gulls.
But several months later I was in San Francisco waiting for an airliner to Los Angeles and I watched gulls soaring in a cloudless sky. They were "riding a thermal," and they were so high that you couldn't see them until they banked just a certain way; then they appeared to be a bright white flash, much larger than one would expect from sea gulls. There was a strong resemblance to the UFO's in the Tremonton Movie. But I'm not sure that this is the answer.
The presentation of the two movies ended Project Blue Book's part of the meeting. In five days we had given the panel of scientists every pertinent detail in the history of the UFO, and it was up to them to tell us if they were real - some type of vehicle flying through our atmosphere. If they were real, then they would have to be spacecraft because no one at the meeting gave a second thought to the possibility that the UFO's might be a super secret U.S. aircraft or a Soviet development. The scientists knew everything that was going on in the U.S. and they knew that no country in the world had developed their technology far enough to build a craft that would perform as the UFO's were reported to do. In addition, we were spending billions of dollars on the research and development and the procurement of airplanes that were just nudging the speed of sound. It would be absurd to think that these billions were being spent to cover the existence of a UFO type weapon. And it would be equally absurd to think that the British, French, Russians or any other country could be far enough ahead of us to have a UFO.
The scientists spent the next two days pondering a conclusion. They reread reports and looked at the two movies again and again, they called other scientists to double check certain ideas that they had, and they discussed the problem among themselves. Then they wrote out their conclusions and each man signed the document. The first paragraph said:
We as a group do not believe that it is impossible for some other celestial body to be inhabited by intelligent creatures. Nor is it impossible that these creatures could have reached such a state of development that they could visit the earth. However, there is nothing in all of the so-called "flying saucer" reports that we have read that would indicate that this is taking place.
The Tremonton Movie had been rejected as proof but the panel did leave the door open a crack when they suggested that the Navy photo lab redo their study. But the Navy lab never rechecked their report, and it was over a year later before new data came to light.
After I got out of the Air Force I met Newhouse and talked to him for two hours. I've talked to many people who have reported UFO's, but few impressed me as much as Newhouse. I learned that when he and his family first saw the UFO's they were close to the car, much closer than when he took the movie. To use Newhouse's own words, "If they had been the size of a B-29 they would have been at 10,000 feet altitude." And the Navy man and his family had taken a good look at the objects - they looked like "two pie pans, one inverted on the top of the other!" He didn't just think the UFO's were disk shaped; he knew that they were; he had plainly seen them. I asked him why he hadn't told this to the intelligence officer who interrogated him. He said that he had. Then I remembered that I'd sent the intelligence officer a list of questions I wanted Newhouse to answer. The question "What did the UFO's look like?" wasn't one of them because when you have a picture of something you don't normally ask what it looks like. Why the intelligence officer didn't pass this information on to us I'll never know.
The Montana Movie was rejected by the panel as positive proof because even though the two observers said that the jets were in another part of the sky when they saw the UFO's and our study backed them up, there was still a chance that the two UFO's could have been the two jets. We couldn't prove the UFO's were the jets, but neither could we prove they weren't.
The controversial study of the UFO's' motions that Major Fournet had presented was discarded. All of the panel agreed that if there had been some permanent record of the motion of the UFO's, a photograph of a UFO's flight path or a photograph of a UFO's track on a radarscope, they could have given the study much more weight. But in every one of the ten or twenty reports that were offered as proof that the UFO's were intelligently controlled, the motions were only those that the observer had seen. And the human eye and mind are not accurate recorders. How many different stories do you get when a group of people watch two cars collide at an intersection?
Each of the fifty of our best sightings that we gave the scientists to study had some kind of a loophole. In many cases the loopholes were extremely small, but scientific evaluation has no room for even the smallest of loopholes and we had asked for a scientific evaluation.
When they had finished commenting on the reports, the scientists pointed out the seriousness of the decision they had been asked to make. They said that they had tried hard to be objective and not to be picayunish, but actually all we had was circumstantial evidence. Good circumstantial evidence, to be sure, but we had nothing concrete, no hardware, no photos showing any detail of a UFO, no measured speeds, altitudes, or sizes - nothing in the way of good, hard, cold, scientific facts. To stake the future course of millions of lives on a decision based upon circumstantial evidence would be one of the gravest mistakes in the history of the world.
In their conclusions they touched upon the possibility that the UFO's might be some type of new or yet undiscovered natural phenomenon. They explained that they hadn't given this too much credence; however, if the UFO's were a new natural phenomenon, the reports of their general appearance should follow a definite pattern - the UFO reports didn't.