Case 8549 : September 15, 1963
Don Berlinner describes this case as:
Sept. 15, 1963; Vandalia, Ohio. 66 p.m. Witness: Mrs. F.E. Roush. Two very bright gold objects--one shaped like a banana and the other like an ear of corn--one remained stationary, the other moved from west to north during 10 minutes,1
This doesn’t sound like a very exotic case. An examination of the Blue Book file might present additionally information.
Blue Book’s file
The Blue Book file contains just seven pages. These are the completed pages of the standard UFO report form used by the USAF that was filled out by FTD duty officer Captain De Leon, who was talking to the witness on the phone.2 There was no other investigation
or follow-up. Because this report was not directly filled out by the witness, there seems to have been some errors. According
to the form, the witness reported that they saw the UFOs at 6:00 PM EST just after sunset. However, sunset did not occur until 6:45 PM CST. Based on what the report states, one has to assume that the event occurred shortly after sunset.
From the form we get the following information3:
The event lasted about minutes
The objects were golden color and appeared as bright as the sun just before setting. It was not so bright that one could not observe it without discomfort.
One, or both, of the UFOs appeared to stand still initially.
Both objects faded quickly but at different times
The objects appeared to be the shapes of a large banana and a large ear of corn.
There was no exhaust or vapor trails.
The banana-like object changed shape with time.
The ear of corn like object was short-lived.
The objects distance was estimated to be at least 15 miles away.
The witness was on their porch balcony facing west.
The witness did not use any optical aid. All observations were with the naked eye.
The ear of corn object was only visible in the west.
The banana like object went from due west to due north.
The angle of elevation estimates are confusing. The witness did not mark it except with a statement of “Evening star” and arrow towards the 30 degree elevation.
The objects were initially close to each other and standing still.
These objects appeared in the region of sky above the area where the sun had set.
Their paths crossed as they accelerated.
Then the “ear of corn” faded from view.
The “banana” moved north.
At this point one can not conclusively state what the witness saw but there is reason to speculate about the source of their sighting.
The key to this sighting appears to be the time of day and direction of the sighting. It appears that the objects observed were being illuminated by the setting sun. In this issue of SUNlite, I describe my observations of airplane contrails after sunset during
the Autumnal equinox. September 15th is only eight days short of the equinox and the sun was well positioned to illuminate airplane contrails. Airplane contrails can appear like an “ear of corn” and a “banana” depending on the direction one is viewing the event from.
Of course, the witness stated that they did not observe any vapor trails or exhaust. This implies they were familiar with such phenomena.
However, there are recent examples of people reporting contrails at sunset as UFOs and there is no reason to suspect the witness was familiar to seeing contrails under such conditions. It is most important to note that this was 1963. Jetliner air travel was something new to ground observers. The first Boeing 707s and DC-8s did not become operational until 1958-1959. Many of
the travel brochures for the various airlines made sure to highlight the fact that a jet was being flown. Jets could fly at high altitudes compared to the lower altitudes used by propeller driven aircraft in the early and mid- 1950s. Their high altitude and jet exhaust brought something new to observers on the ground. A distant aircraft flying at high altitudes may not be visible but its contrail could be, which gave the impression that the contrail itself was an actual object.
Looking at some of the airline tables from the time period we see some of the scheduled non-stop flights that might have been involved as the “ear of corn” (all times are local time)4:
It is harder to determine what the northbound flight was. Several of the airlines flew jets into the Detroit/Windsor, Canada from southern locations like Mexico and New Orleans or central locations like St. Louis. It also could have been a military jet. There is no reason to suspect it was anything but an airplane contrail because it behaved exactly like one would expect from an aircraft at high altitude.
Blue Book’s lack of effort
I am not sure where this case rated in Blue Book’s priorities but the file seems to indicate that nobody bothered to look into this case at all. No effort appears to have been expended to collect data regarding air activity in the area. Was this simply a case of the Blue Book staff just not being interested? It may have been a case of the staff recognizing that the case had no publicity and, as a result, it was best to ignore it. Whatever the reason, Blue Book probably could have solved this one if they made a modest effort to identify the air traffic that evening. Because of their lackadaisical attitude, it ended up in the “unknowns” pile.
While one can not positively identify the source of the reported UFOs, there is no reason to suspect they were anything other than airplane contrails. This report should be reclassified as probable airplane contrails.
Quelle: SUNlite 6/2014