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Kansas City 1961, a Blue Book "unknown":

Blue Book case Nr. 7579:

On August 12, two college seniors, J.B. Furkenhoff and Tom Phipps witnessed a very large and unusual object. They drove right under the hovering object, they were able to watch it for 3-5 minutes, before it flew straight up and east.

In relation with their observation, Phipps mother contacted a USAF major she knew, who in turn obtained from the nearby Air Force Base that a non-identified object was detected on radar, which may or may not be the object reported by the two boys.

Project Bluebook's investigation was unacceptably brief, but could not explain the sighting by some trivial cause, and recorded it in their "unknown" category.

The summary by Dr. James E. McDonald:

The case is one of a selection of illustrative example cases presented by physicist James E. McDonald at the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute Astronautics symposium, Montréal, Canada, March 12, 1968:

Case 9. Kansas City, Kansas, August 12, 1961.

Another such case, involving very much closer-range observation of a craft-like object, is to be found in Bluebook files as an unidentified. The USAF has repeatedly asserted for fifteen years that, in their unidentified cases lies nothing that defies explanation "in terms of present-day science and technology." This is simply not so. I am making a special study of Air Force unidentifieds, and would stress that there is a very large body of phenomenology in those cases that most certainly defies explanation in terms of today's science and technology. This is the principal conclusion of most serious students of the UFO problem.

At about 9:00 p.m. on August 12, 1961, two college-age boys living in Kansas City became involved in a close-range sighting of considerable interest (see reference 12). I have recently interviewed both of these witnesses, T. A. Phipps and J. B. Furkenhoff. They were driving towards Furkenhoff's home in Phipp's open-top convertible near Old Mission High School on 50th Street. Furkenhoff sighted the object first and had been watching it for some time before he called it to Phipp's attention. It seemed to be hovering, by that time, at perhaps 50-100 feet altitude over a point only a few city blocks away. It appeared to have lights all around its lower ledge, and made no sound then or later.

They drove almost directly under it and looked up at its base, where it hovered over houses whose residents were evidently unaware of the object, since no other persons were seen out of doors by the two boys. No wings, tail or propellers were visible, and no exhaust or noise was perceptible. The lights around its underside were yellowish and had a neon-glow character, according to Phipps. It was the complete lack of sound that eventually made them uneasy after a total viewing time of several minutes. They did not get out of the convertible, from which they had a quite adequate view.

The size was estimated at that of a "football field" when they were interrogated by USAF personnel in 1961 (Bluebook file), but when I interviewed them in early 1968, they put it at more like 100 feet across. It was opaque, solid, obscured the sky above, which was cloudless according to the Bluebook data. The Bluebook file report indicated that its shape was compared to that of a "sled with running boards," yet neither witness, when I questioned them, had the slightest idea how such a description was filed by the interrogating personnel. Their recollections differed as to shape. Phipps recalled it as disc-shaped; Furkenhoff recalled it as a rounded cylinder.

After about 3 or 4 minutes of observing the silently hovering object, their uneasiness was broken by the sudden departure of the object. It accelerated from a stationary position and climbed away out of sight in a time of only a few seconds, each witness agreed. The 1961 Air Force interview recorded the climb-out as beginning with a directly vertical ascent, followed by an inclined departure path to the east.

The boys each told their parents, and Mrs. Phipps asked a friend who was on active Air Force duty, a Major John Yancer, to phone the Richards-Gebaur AFB near Kansas City. He was told that an unidentified had been seen on radar, so he urged that the boys be interviewed by USAF personnel. Telephone interviews occurred the next day, but no further USAF interrogation in the ensuing six years was ever carried out. This lack of follow-up of even the most intriguing unidentified cases is almost the rule, not the exception. This systematic failure to pursue UFO reports is only one of many disturbing facets of the USAF investigations since 1953.


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This page was last updated on June 6, 2002.