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Tremonton, Utah, UFO Color Film of July 2, 1952:

When a Warrant Officer and Navy photographer named Delbert C. Newhouse and his wife were driving along a road seven miles from Tremonton and spotted a formation of brilliant metallic looking disc shaped objects, clear against a bright blue sky, you have an interesting sighting report by a qualified, reliable and educated observer.

When this Officer has the chance to use a 16mm camera and telephoto lens to shoot forty feet of film of the objects maneuvering, and submits it to Project Bluebook for evaluation, and when it is studied for three months at the Photo Reconnaissance Laboratory of the Air Force Intelligence, and when the conclusion convince the head of project Bluebook that it does show unearthly flying machines, you have more than a good sighting report.

When the Bluebook team feels it is evidence of the reality of UFOs as extraterrestrial craft, and feels a scientific team should be gathered to look at the evidence, you may hope that this evidence will be made public. But if this scientific panel is set up by the CIA, then the film becomes merely evidence of... birds.

Here is the fully documented story.

Table of Contents:

Click! The events: the sighting, the filming, the witness, the analysis, a discussion.
Click! The transcript of 1956 filmed interview of the witness.
Click! The original account by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt of USAF's Project Blue Book.
Click! The Kevin Randle comments.
Click! The case as summarized by the French government GEPAN official UFO project in Note N.2.
Click! Analysis by the Air Force published by Greene-Rouse.
Click! Presentation by analyst Robert L. Baker at the hearings of the Committee on Science & Astronautics, 1968.
Click! The Robertson Panel conclusion.
Click! Thornton Page, Robertson Panel, additional comments.
Click! The Condon Report, case 49.
Click! November 27, 1957 letter to Keyhoe from AF Press Desk.
Click! A letter by Pr. James McDonald, May 4, 1970, to Arthur C. Lundahl.
Click! Extract of "Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis," by Paul R. Hill.
Click! Article: "Tremonton's bright, silvery saucers stand up as one of top-rated UFO sightings."
Click! Deseret News, 1996 press article.
Click! Frames from the film.
Click! MPEG movie of the film.
Click! References.
Frame from a compressed video version of the film.

The Robertson Panel report:

As a measure of the panel's investigative technique, Delbert Newhouser's Tremonton, New Jersey, film was dismissed as a flock of geese. This overlooks Newhouse's testimony that initially, before he began filming, the objects were close enough to be distinguished as silvery discs.

This 1953 report summarizes the meetings, conclusions and recommendations of a CIA-organized panel officially known as the "Scientific Advisory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects". The once-secret report probes the potential national security threats of UFOs, and offers some startling suggestions for how to "debunk" sightings and monitor possibly "subversive" groups composed of private citizens who investigated UFOs. Here is the extract of the report in relation to the Tremonton filimg:

(...)

For example, case histories involving radar or radar and visual sightings were selected for Dr. Alvarez while reports of Green Fireball phenomena, nocturnal lights, and suggested programs of investigation were routed to Dr. Page. Following these remarks, the motion pictures of the sightings at Tremonton, Utah (2 July 1952) and Great Falls, Montana (15 August 1950) were shown. The meeting adjourned at 1200.

(...)

Among the case histories of significant sightings discussed in detail were the following:

Bellefontaine, Ohio (1 August 1952); Tremonton, Utah (2 July 1952);
Great Falls, Montana (15 August 1950);
Yaak, Montana (1 September 1952);
Washington, D.C. area (19 July 1952); and
Haneda A.F.B., Japan (5 August 1952);
Port Huron, Michigan (29 July 1952); and
Presque Isle, Maine (10 October 1952).

(...)

TREMONTON, UTAH, SIGHTING

This case was considered significant because of the excellent documentary evidence in the form of Kodachrome motion picture films (about 1600 frames). The Panel studied these films, the case history, ATIC's interpretation, and received a briefing by representatives of the USN Photo Interpretation Laboratory on their analysis of the film. This team had expended (at Air Force request) approximately 1000 man hours of professional and sub-professional time in the preparation of graph plots of individual frames of the film, showing apparent and relative motion of objects and variation in their light intensity. It was the opinion of the P.I.L. representatives that the objects sighted were not birds, balloons or aircraft, were "not reflections because there was no blinking while passing through 60 degrees of arc" and were, therefore, "self-luminous." Plots of motion and variation in light intensity of the objects were displayed. While the Panel Members were impressed by the evident enthusiasm, industry and extent of effort of the P.I.L. team, they could not accept the conclusions reached. Some of the reasons for this were as follows:

a. A semi-spherical object can readily produce a reflection of sunlight without "blinking" through 60" of arc travel.

b. Although no data was available on the "albedo" of birds or polyethylene balloons in bright sunlight, the apparent motions, sizes and brightnesses of the objects were considered strongly to suggest birds, particularly after the Panel viewed a short film showing high reflectivity of seagulls in bright sunlight.

c. P.I.L. description of the objects sighted as "circular, bluish-white" in color would be expected in cases of specular reflections of sunlight from convex surfaces where the brilliance of the reflection would obscure other portions of the object.

d. Objects in the Great Falls case were believed to have probably been aircraft, and the bright lights such reflections.

e. There was no valid reason for the attempt to relate the objects in the Tremonton sighting to those in the Great Falls sighting. This may have been due to misunderstanding in their directive. The objects in the Great Falls sighting are strongly suspected of being reflections of aircraft known to have been in the area.

f. The intensity change in the Tremonton lights was too great for acceptance of the P.I.L. hypothesis that the apparent motion and changing intensity of the lights indicated extremely high speed in small orbital paths.

g. Apparent lack of guidance of investigators by those familiar with U.F.O. reports and explanations.

h. Analysis of light intensity of objects made from duplicate rather than original film. The original film was noted to have a much lighter background (affecting relative brightness of object) and the objects appeared much less bright.

i. Method of obtaining data of light intensity appeared faulty because of unsuitability of equipment and questionable assumptions in making averages of readings.

j. No data had been obtained on the sensitivity of Kodachrome film to light of various intensities using the same camera type at the same lens openings.

k. Hand "jitter" frequencies (obtainable from early part of Tremonton film) were not removed from the plots of the "single pass plots" at the end of the film.

The Panel believed strongly that the data available on this sighting was sufficient for positive identification if further data is obtained by photographing polyethylene "pillow" balloons released near the site under similar weather conditions, checking bird flight and reflection characteristics with competent ornithologists and calculating apparent "G" forces acting upon objects from their apparent tracks. It was concluded that the results of such tests would probably lead to creditable explanations of value in an educational or training program. However, the Panel noted that the cost in technical manpower effort required to follow up and explain every one of the thousand or more reports received through channels each year (1,900 in 1952) could not be justified. It was felt that there will always be sightings, for which complete data is lacking, that can only be explained with disproportionate effort and with a long time delay, if at all. The long delay in explaining a sighting tends to eliminate any intelligence value. The educational or training program should have as a major purpose the elimination of popular feeling that every sighting, no matter how poor the data, must be explained in detail.

Attention should be directed to the requirement among scientists that a new phenomena, to be accepted, must be completely and convincingly documented. In other words, the burden of proof is on the sighter, not the explainer.

POTENTIAL RELATED DANGERS

The Panel Members were in agreement with O/SI opinion that, although evidence of any direct threat from these sightings was wholly lacking, related dangers might well exist resulting from:

a. Misidentification of actual enemy artifacts by defense personnel.

b. Overloading of emergency reporting channels with "false" information ("noise to signal ratio" analogy -- Berkner).

c. Subjectivity of public to mass hysteria and greater vulnerability to possible enemy psychological warfare.

Although not the concern of CIA, the first two of these problems may seriously affect the Air Defense intelligence system, and should be studied by experts, possibly under ADC. If U.F.O.'s become discredited in a reaction to the "flying saucer" scare, or if reporting channels are saturated with false and poorly documented reports, our capability of detecting hostile activity will be reduced.

Dr. Page noted that more competent screening or filtering of reported sightings at or near the source is required, and that this can best be accomplished by an educational program.

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This page was last updated on March 28, 2002