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UFOs photographed:

The US Air Force has a large collection of UFO photographs captured by its own personal during UFO sightings.

Table of contents:

Click! One of the two pictures.
Click! The Condon report.
Click! Short discussion.
Click! New conclusion.
Click! Reference.

One of the two photographs:

The pilot of a twin engine C-47 "Skytrain" transport aircraft of the USAF captured this reddish object on photograph in July 1966 at 11:00am. The aircraft was flying over the Rocky Mountains, at about 40 kilometers South-West of Provo, Utah.

USAF 1966

The Condon commission, which concluded that UFOs are no worth of scientific investigations, did analyze the negative at the time and concluded that the photograph shows an ordinary object thrown in the air. Underneath, I am examining this claim.

USAF 1966, enlargement

The Condon report about this photograph:

Abstract:

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.

Background:

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 100 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.

Investigation:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Short dicsussion:

The Condon investigators seem to suggest some discrepancies between the pilot and co-pilot, supposing that the co-pilot should have been aware that the pilot photographed a UFO.

There is nothing in the account to clearly support this allegation, which is just one of the many insinuations against witness that the Condon committee has been accustomed to produce. The pilot photographed the object while the co-pilot was not looking, and later the pilot asked him if he had seen "the object he just photographed" and the co-pilot said that he did not. There is no reason to state that the copilot should have known about the UFO picture. Moreover, the pilot did not report it for fear of ridicule, and even if the co-pilot had seen the object, it is likely that he would have said he did not for the same reason. The pilot only spoke about it after he left service, and only under the condition that his name is not published.

Condon investigators have indicated that "The cloud background was similar in the two pictures, showing the object to have moved about 100 to the right in picture two as compared with number one."

Although the unit of the move (100 meters? 100 feet? 100 yards) is not indicated, it is clear that the object has moved "to the right," rather horizontally more than vertically. This indicates that the object did not stricly "fall" or "raise up", unless the picture had been taken only at a slightly low altitude and had shown an object thrown in the air at an angle, at the moment when it stopped raising and started falling, at the peak of its supposed hyperbolic course.

The notion that the photographs would be showing a terrestrial object thrown in the air is obviously contradictory with their acknowledgement that the pictures show clouds seen from above. As stated in the Condon report: "Lighting of the clouds gave the appearance that one was indeed looking at the tops of sunlit clouds." One can only wonder how some sort of "saucer shaped frisbee" could have been thrown by someone from the ground up above the top of the sunlit clouds, where another person would have waited for it to arrive with a camera.

Condon investigators noted that the two pictures were not consecutive frames, the least that should have been said is what the two frames between the frames with the alleged UFO did show. The same skies without the UFO because it would have been out of the frames? Or completely unrelated pictures? Obviously a clear information about these two frames would have been sufficient to clear the case, or supportive of the case.

Condon investigators are questioning the order of the sequence, but at the same time consider the order as reliable to state that the pictures were not taken in July when the pilot was still in the Air Force. This is a discrepancy created by the investigators rather than the witness.

The notion that the photographs would be showing a terrestrial object thrown in the air and photographed is an allegation of a hoax. But clearly, there is not one single reason to imagine a hoax: the pilot did not report about the photographs. He did show them to some new colleagues months later when he had a new position at the FAA, and the knowledge of these photographs started from here. There are clear indications that the knowledge of the existence of these photograph is merely accidental and not the result of any voluntary action of the pilot to promote them. On the contrary, the investigators aknowledge that "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."

New conclusion:

The commission has searched for discrepancies and made some unspoken allegations of "object thrown in the air", and decided that any detailed analysis of the pictures is "unjustifiable."

The Condon commission's conclusion is not a conclusion in itself, it is not acceptable in strictly scientific terms. Concluding a study by a decision not to perform a detailed analysis cannot be an acceptable conclusion to a study.

The Condon commission has failed to its mission, which was claimed as a "thorough" investigation of the UFO phenomenon. Rather than a detailed analysis of the photographs themselves, they have tried to list "discrepancies" surrounding the photograph.

Just like thousands of other UFO photographic evidence that could have supported eyewitness testimonies or radar records, these photographs have subsequently been considered as no evidence of the reality of UFOs.

Interestingly enough, while hundreds of pictures of natural phenomenon and proved hoaxes were attached to the Condon report for everyone to see, this picture was not attached to their report. One can only assume that the Condon Commission did not favor the idea of letting readers to make their own judgement on the most interesting UFO photographs.

There is no wonder that this pilot, like many other pilots, stated "I knew that people were ridiculed for reporting such things."

These photographs should be fully and thoroughly analyzed.

Reference:

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This page was last updated on September 16, 2001