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ACUFO:

ACUFO is my comprehensive catalog of cases of encounters between aircraft and UFOs, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ACUFO catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file.

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Virginia, USA, on January 1, 1937:

Case number:

ACUFO-1937-01-01-VIRGINIA-1

Summary:

The American author Jerome Clark, erudite historian on UFO matters, is the most detailed available source for this case. He indicated in his 2003 book "Strange Skies" that there was a letter in the file of the defunct American ufology group NICAP (National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena) which spoke of an aerial UFO encounter in Virginia on January 1, 1937.

The witness was Howard Behr, later a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force.

The encounter occurred while he was piloting a Curtis-Wright Sedan at 3,000 feet toward Raleigh, North Carolina, at noon in an overcast sky, with excellent visibility below.

He suddenly saw to his right and about 1,000 feet below his plane and perhaps half a mile away, an object heading across his flight path.

The object looked like a gondola with both ends facing upwards, it was gunmetal in color, it had no visible windows and no visible propellers. Behr estimated it was 35 or 40 feet long, traveling 60 mph faster than his plane which was flying 90 mph.

The object went to his left where Behr lost sight of it.

As the sighting was very bizarre, Behr concluded that he had been the victim of a hallucination and did not say a word about it to anyone. It was only years later that he realized it might have been what was now called a "flying saucer."

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: January 1, 1937
Time: Noon.
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1950's or 1960's.
Reporting delay: 1 to 3 decades.

Geographical data:

Country: USA
State/Department: Virginia
City:

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 1

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Witness letter to NICAP, in the CUFOS archive?
Visibility conditions: Day, overcast sky, excellent visibility below.
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: Yes.
UFO departure observed: Yes.
UFO action: Crossed path.
Witnesses action:
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: Thought he had been hallucinating.

Classifications:

Sensors: [X] Visual: 1
[N/A] Airborne radar:
[N/A] Directional ground radar:
[N/A] Height finder ground radar:
[ ] Photo:
[ ] Film/video:
[ ] EM Effects:
[ ] Failures:
[ ] Damages:
Hynek: DD
Armed / unarmed: Unarmed.
Reliability 1-3: 2
Strangeness 1-3: 3
ACUFO: Possible extraterrestrial craft, lacks information.

Sources:

[Ref. jah1:] JAN ALDRICH:

Scan.

1937 Jan 1, 1200 hours, local, At the Virginia-North Carolina border, Howard S. Behr, LTC, USAF, retired. He was flying a plane south at 3000 feet. A gondola shaped object of gun metal color crossed his flight path. He was flying a Curtis Wright Sedan. He was military pilot flying in a non-duty status in a private plane.

Source: CUFOS files. (Credit: Jerry Clark.)

[Ref. prt1:] JAN ALDRICH - "PROJECT 1947":

Some time before 1999, the ufology website Project 1947 listed an aircraft - UFO encounter as:

Screenshot.

1937: January 1, 1200 hours local, Virginia-Nth Carolina border

At the Virginia-North Carolina border, Howard S. Behr, LTC, USAF, retired. He was flying a plane south at 3000 feet. A gondola shaped object of gun metal color crossed his flight path. He was flying a Curtis Wright Sedan. He was military pilot flying in a non-duty status in a private plane.

A/C Code: P (Curtis Wright Sedan) GXE codes: _ __

Source:

First hand account in CUFOS files.
(Credit: Jerry Clark.)

[Ref. dwn1:] DOMINIQUE WEINSTEIN:

French ufologist Dominique Weinstein compiled a catalog of the cases of UFOs observed from aircraft ([dwn1]). The first case in February 2001 (6th edition) catalog appears as:

DATE 37.01.01
TIME 12:00 LT
COUNTRY USA
LOCATION Virginia / North Carolina border
A
TYPE OF PLANE AND WITNESSES A Curtis Wright Sedan
military pilot
UFO DESCRIPTION a gondola-shaped object of gun metal color crossed the aircraft's path.
Radar
G
X
E
SOURCES 03

The source "03" is referenced at the end of the catalog as:

03 Project 1947 Reports, newsclippings and documents (cases from Jan Aldrich and Barry Greenwood)

[Ref. lhh1:] LARRY HATCH:

In the general catalog of UFO sighting reports by US ufologist Larry Hatch, 2002 version ([lhh1]), this report appears as:

425: 1937/01/01 12:00 1 78:00:00 W 36:30:00 N 3333 NAM USA NCR 6:6
WARREN co,NC:Pvt.PILOT:12M MTLC GONDOLA >SE/250kph:NO WINDOWS or PROPELLER!
Ref#150 WEINSTEIN,D; UFO/AIRCRAFT ENCOUNTERS Page No. 0 : IN-FLIGHT

Which reads: On January 1, 1937, at 12:00, in Warren, Colorado, a flying pilot saw a 12-meter metallic gondola going to the southeast at 250 km per h, which had neither windows nor propeller, the reference being the catalog of Dominique Weinstein.

[Ref. jck1:] JEROME CLARK:

Erudite UFO historian Jerome Clark indicated in his "Strange Skies" book of 2003 ([jck1]) that there was a letter in the file of the defunct US ufology group NICAP (National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena) that told about an aerial UFO encounter of Virginia on January 1, 1937.

The witness is described as Howard Behr, would bemace later a Lieutenant-Colonel in the US Air Force.

The encounter occurred as he was flying a Curtis-Wright Sedan at 3.000 feet to Raleigh, North Carolina, at noon in an overcast sky, with visibility below excellent.

He suddenly saw about his right and about 1.000 feet below his aircraft and at perhaps a half-mile of distance from him, an object heading across his flightpath.

The object looked like a gondola with both ends turned up, it was of gun-metal color, it had no visible windows or propellers. Behr estimated that it was 35 or 40 feet long, that it travelled 60 mph faster than his aircraft who was flying at 90 mph.

The object flew off to his left where Behr lost sight of it.

As the sighting was so bizarre, Behr concluded that he had been the victim on an hallucination and said no word about it to anyone. It was only years later that he realized it might have been what was now being called a "flying saucer".

[Ref. arg1:] "ATLANTIS RISING" MAGAZINE:

The UFO magazine Atlantis Rising #135 for May / June 2019 reported:

Scan.

Around noon on New Year's Day, 1937, U.S. Army Air Corps Lieutenant Howard S. Behr was flying south, three thousand feet over the Virginia-North Carolina border in his Curtiss-Wright CW-15 Sedan, a four-seat, single-engine utility aircraft, when "a gondola-shaped object of gun metal color crossed his flight path."

(Jerome Clark. The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial. Ml: Visible Ink Press, 1997). Unusual, even by Ufology standards, the craft observed by Lieutenant Behr represented the last sighting of its kind before the outbreak of the Second World War, two years later. (http://listverse.com/2017/11/10/10-lesser-known-ufo-encounters-of-world-war-ii/).

This was part of an article titled "U.S. Forces vs. UFOs Before Roswell - Could Forgotten Accounts Force a Look at Evidence Once Considered Taboo?", by Frank Joseph. Note that the Listverse reference does mention similar cases but not this one. Not does it seem to appear in Jerome Clark's "The UFO Book".

Aircraft information:

The Curtiss-Wright CW-15 (photo below) was a four-seat high-wing monoplane utility aircraft with a fully enclosed cabin produced in small numbers in the United States in the early 1930s. Its maximum speed was 150 mph (185 km/h).

CW-15.

It was a civilian plane, not used in the Army Air Forces, so it must indeed have been the witness' own private plane.

Discussion:

Map.

In the Air Force News for January - June 1931, there is this mention indicating that 2nd Lieutenant Howard S. Behr moved from Washington D.C. to Mitchel Field, a US Army Air Force base located on Long Island, New York:

Scan.

The name Howard S. Behr also appears in a 1943 "USAF Incident and Accident Personnel List".

So, it seems that at least the witness' name exists, as name of a US Army Air Force 2nd Lieutenant at least at the time of the alleged sighting.

Of course, I miss the original letter it is said he wrote to NICAP, which may be in the CUFOS archive, and its date.

Evaluation:

Possible extraterrestrial craft, lacks information

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross September 24, 2023 Creation, [prt1], [lhh1], [jck1], [arg1].
1.0 Patrick Gross September 24, 2023 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross November 9, 2023 Addition [jah1].

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This page was last updated on November 9, 2023.