August 13, 1960 Red bluff, California.
The chronology describes the event as follows:
August 13, 1960--Red Bluff, California. State Police reported highly maneuverable elliptical UFO. [VII]1
Section VII presents us with the statment made by officer Charles Carson to his area commander via police teletype2 and a sketch3 of the UFO.
Officer Scott and I were E/B on Hoag Road, east of Corning, looking for a speeding motorcycle when we
saw what at first appeared to be a huge airliner dropping from the sky. The object was very low and di-
rectly in front of us. We stopped and leaped from the patrol vehicle in order to get a position on what we
were sure was going to be an airplane crash. From our position outside the car, the first thing we noticed
was an absolute silence. Still assuming it to be an aircraft with power off, we continued to watch until
the object was probably within 100 feet to 200 feet off the ground, when it suddenly reversed completely,
at high speed, and gained approximately 500 feet altitude. There the object stopped. At this time it was
clearly visible to both of us. It was surrounded by a glow making the round or oblong object visible. At each end, or each side of the object, there were definite red lights. At times about five white lights were visible between the red lights. As we watched the object moved again and performed aerial feats that were actually unbelievable.
At this time we radioed Tehama County Sheriff’s Office requesting they contact local radar base. The radar base confirmed the UFO - completely unidentified.
Officer Scott and myself, after our verification, continued to watch the object. On two occasions the object came directly towards the patrol vehicle; each time it approached, the object turned, swept the area with a huge red light. Officer Scott turned the red light on the patrol vehicle towards the object, and it immediately went away from us. We observed the object use the red beam approximately 6 or 7 times, sweeping the sky and ground areas. The object began moving slowly in an easterly direction and we followed. We proceeded to the Vina Plains Fire Station where it was approached by a similar object from the south. It moved near the first object and both stopped, remaining in that position for some time, occasionally emitting the red beam. Finally, both objects disappeared below the eastern hori- zon. We returned to the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office and met Deputy Fry and Deputy Montgomery, who had gone to Los Molinos after contacting the radar base. Both had seen the UFO clearly, and described to us what we saw. The night jailer also was able to see the object for a short time; each described the object and its maneuvers exactly as we saw them. We first saw the object at 2350 hours and observed it for approximately two hours and 15 minutes. Each time the object neared us we experienced radio interference.
We submit this report in confidence for your information. We were calm after our initial shock, and decided to observe and record all we could of the object.
Carson also wrote a letter to NICAP’s Walter Webb. Some of the extracts were4:
We made several attempts to follow it, or I should say get closer to it, but the object seemed aware of us and we were more successful remaining motionless and allow it to approach us, which it did on several occasions.
There were no clouds or aircraft visible. The object was shaped somewhat like a football, the edges (here I am confused as to what you mean by edges, referring to the outside visible edges of the object as opposed to a thin, sharp edge, no thin sharp edges were visible) or I should say outside of the object were clear to us . . . [the] glow was emitted by the object, was not a reflection of other lights. The object was solid, definitely not transparent. At no time did we hear any type of sound except radio interference.
The object was capable of moving in any direction. Up and down, back and forth. At times the movement was very slow. At times it was completely motionless. It moved at high (extremely) speeds and several times we watched it change directions or reverse itself while moving at unbelievable speeds.
When first observed the object was moving from north to south [patrol car moving almost due east]. Our pursuit led in an easterly direction and object disappeared on eastern horizon. It was approximately 500 feet above the horizon when first observed, seemingly falling at approximate 45 degree angle to the south.
As to the official explanation [See Section IX.], I have been told we saw Northern lights, a weather balloon, and now refractions.
I served 4 years with the Air Force, I believe I am familiar with the Northern lights, also weather balloons. Officer Scott served as a paratrooper during the Korean Conflict. Both of us are aware of the tricks light can play on the eyes during darkness. We were aware of this at the time. Our observations and estimations of speed, size, etc. came from aligning the object with fixed objects on the horizon. I agree we find it difficult to believe what we were watching, but no one will ever convince us that we were witnessing a refraction of light.
This sounds like a very interesting case and other sources needed to be checked to verify the story.
Dr. James McDonald wrote about the case and stated the events started at 11:00 PM PDT and that they were close enough to
consider shooting the object with their pistols. The rest of the story is similar. McDonald recounted that the local radar station
was tracking the object and it behaved like the object they were observing. Of course, this is a bit more elaborate than the story told in his statement to the area commander. There was no mention of the radar contact behaving the same way their object was behaving. It was only a casual mention of the object being seen by the radar. McDonald also mentions that when Carson and Scott tried to talk to the Radar station the next day, the USAF personnel denied there ever was a radar contact being tracked.
Dr. Hynek briefly mentioned this in his book, The Hynek UFO report.6 He reproduced the written report and added that Blue Book had no record of a radar contact. Hynek’s copy of the report indicates the time of the sighting was at 2330 PM PDT. After criticizing Blue Book’s handling of this case, He offered little in the way of new information. I find it interesting that Hynek was critical of the investigation but never seems to have bothered to look into the matter in August/September of 1960, when he could have made a difference.
The Blue Book file
Finding all the documents in the Blue Book file is not that easy. While the case is located in one folder, parts of it are missing and can be found with another case folder from Littleton, Colorado.
In the file, there is a transcript of an interview conducted by KBLF radio with Officer Carson a few days after the event. From that transcript7, Carson states:
The event started at 11:50 PM PDT.
They were located 4 miles east of Corning, when they saw the object.
They got no closer than a half-mile.
The windows on the object were not easily visible. The object had to tilt at a certain angle so they could be seen.
It was visible for two hours and fifteen minutes.They last saw the object on 99E.
The report to the area commander was also in the folder.8 The time listed was 2350 (not the 2330 listed in Hynek’s book) and dated August 13. Since the event happened around midnight on August 13/14, it was impossible for the report to have been written on that date. When was the report actually written? The 14th, the 15th, or, possibly, later?
The folder also contained a type-written report from another officer, who is, apparently, Clarence Fry.9 In this document, he stated that at 2330 PM, the police department was aware that Carson and Scott had been observing a UFO for about an hour. According to his account, he, and another officer (Deputy Montgomery), then went to Los Molinas near Blue Berry hill at 2400. They saw four objects to the west going from south to north. After this, they saw an object going from north to south. They did not report seeing the object reported by Carson and Scott. The observer then stated, that on August 14 around 2205-2210 PM, he observed an object from the Tehama County Jail come in from the west head towards the southeast. The description matched the report by Carsonand Scott. His sketch also looked like Carson’s. However, the dates and times on that sketch match the written report. This indicates that Fry’s sketch10 is not of the object seen by Carson but some other event.
Another item in the file is an extract copy of the log from the 895th radar squadron.11 The entries are for 14 August and are listed as local time:
0030 - XXXXX Red Bluff police officer called in to report a “UFOB”. Obv flying north shape round red bright said state troopers also saw these.
0100 - Police officers saw 4 of these objects above. XXXXX called these in. All infer we read was passed to Maj Fredrick at PADS.
0230 - XXXX called said they received interference and jamming on all their radios.
0240 - Passed all back information to PADS.
The Operations log is also found in the file.12 The time on this was Zulu, which was 7 hours ahead of local time (PDT).
0715Z - Received a call from XXXXX at this time. He reported he had received various calls from individuals in town reporting an object flying eastbound. The way he described the object and from my own observations. I told him it was satellite ECHO 1, that was supposed to be in view at this time. (RS) Relayed this info to PADS (KS).
0735Z - SSgt Day received a call from XXXXX of Red Bluff Police, He said he received a call from a Calif. Highway patrolman patrolling Hwy 99 and the Hyway patrolman reported seeing 3 (three) flying objects - traveling northbound. Patrolman then went outside and saw for himself 1 (one) object flying North. Patrolman XXXX then described it as being round, with a red glow and a white light directly behind and to the left. He reported that it was doing between 30-40 mph @ around 1000 feet no Noise was heard. SSgt Day then called Red Bluff airport and they said they had an aircraft take off @ approx this time and would check on any flights of threes. We saw nothing here on PPI. Patrolman XXXXX address is XXXX Red Bluff. Reported this info to PADS (KS).
1015Z - Received another call from XXXX. He reported seeing 4 (four) red flashing objects between 1200 Local - 0100 Local. Between 0100 Local - 0130 Local he saw 5 (five) red flashing objects. He said the whole RBPD and Calif Hyway Patrol on duty tonight had seen the objects. We observed nothing This info was passed to PADS (KS)
Another document in the file are handwritten notes from an interview that happened on 18 August.13 The document is very faded and it is hard to make out details. About the only thing that I could read was that the sighting was in the early morning hours of August 14.
The Air Intelligence report from McClellan AFB, dated 23 August, stated the sightings began at 2345 PST.14 The use of a standard time, vice Daylight savings time, was an error that would haunt Blue Book in their explanation for the sighting. Daylight savings time was not universal throughout the United States in 1960 and caused a lot of confusion. California was on PDT and not PST. Therefore, the celestial positions chosen by Blue Book for this sighting were off by an hour. The report outlined the investigation. It also mentioned that forest fires in the area had made the skies hazy near the horizon. The reporting officer mentioned watching a red light, reported as a UFO, move into the haze and disappear.15 It later would come out of the haze and reveal that it was nothing more than a star.
Blue Book also stated they had records that indicated there was a strong temperature inversion in the Northern California area during these events.16 I did a check with the radiosonde data available from ESRL database17 and found only the Oakland data. There was a temperature inversion in Oakland but I am not sure how it translates to the area near Red Bluff. While the temperature inversion theory is interesting, I doubt it played as significant role in light refraction as Blue Book states.
Blue Book eventually stated that the planet Mars had been seen through a temperature inversion that night and was the source of the patrolman’s sighting.18 This is obviously wrong since Mars did not rise until about 12:45PDT. As a result, we can reject the explanation.
Reexamination of the information
There are several issues I have with some of the information in these reports. The first problem I have is the time of the sighting. One report had the sighting happening as early as 2230. Others reported 2330 and
2350. The radar station log seems to be the only record of the actual events as they
transpired. They reported receiving the call at 0030. Considering that the patrolmen
seemed to be intensely interested as to what the radar station had to say on the matter, it seems the initial sighting was between 2350 and 0030. Unless they waited 40 minutes to call the USAF, one has to wonder if the 2350 time was accurate. Is it possible that it might have been later?
Deputy Fry’s account is perplexing. His account appears to be a mix of the events and the times are all confused. He describes events that sound like the events reported in the media, where he was at the jail. This supposedly happened at 1AM on the 14th. However, Fry states in his document and sketch that it was around 10PM on the night of the 14th! If he was at the jail at 1AM, it seems unlikely that Fry could have gone with Montgomery to Los Molinas at midnight. The travel time to and from Los Molinas was at least a half hour. The log at the radar squadron mentions being called by a police officer at Red Bluff between midnight and 1AM. This may have been officer Fry, which makes it unlikely he could have accompanied Officer Montgomery and then return in time at 1AM. A probable explanation is that Fry never was with Officer Montgomery and, instead, was always at the Jail. Another possibility is that his times regarding the events at the jail after midnight on the 14th, like many of the other items in his statement, were inaccurate.
Another item that seems to be overlooked was the sky conditions. While the sky conditions were clear, there are also indications that there was smoke and haze from forest fires in the region. If this is true, then the smoke would make any bright distant white light near the horizon appear red and, possibly, be blurred and distorted.
Finally, in some accounts, Carson and Scott claimed the object was close enough to shoot with their pistols. However, when pressed, they indicated they never got closer than a half-mile. Most police officers practice at 50-100 yards, which indicates this part of the story is probably an exaggeration. I also have to question the part of the story where they “chased” the UFO for over two hours. The distance between the location of their initial observations and location for final observation was less than a dozen miles! It was not much of a chase based on that information.
Items not mentioned or ignored
While Blue Book seemed to focus their attention on stars and planets, there were other items in the heavens that night that might have played a role.
Rising in the east around 0015 PDT, was the waning last quarter moon. In most of the accounts, the moon was never mentioned. Only the APRO bulletin19 mentioned the moon rising and their time was listed as 1:20 AM, which is incorrect. It would have been in the same general location as the UFO and would have been a good comparison object for the UFOs size. It was never mentioned. Allan Hendry noted that the moon has been misperceived as a UFO. Even Police officers are not immune and he documents a case where the police chased the setting moon.
In case I00 police officers in separate cars were convinced that the setting moon was moving away from them at fantastic speed “while setting on Main Street” at 3:25 A.M. The police sped up to 60 mph to chase it, but to no avail.20
Other cases he mentions sounds similar to what Carson described:
Finally, in case 977, the witnesses perceived what they thought was a little white dot going “around” their UFO twice (as the moon set and flattened out). ln a related case, the witnesses thought they saw red lights on the side of the moon shaped in a horizontal oblong shape. In some of the cases, the motion of the setting moon was described “like a pendulum” moving back and forth.21
This photograph of the moon rising over the ocean shows how the atmosphere can distort the shape of the moon. If the atmo- sphere was not as clear as it was when I took these images, it would be more distorted and deceptive.
Another consideration is that Perseid meteor shower had just past its maximum and, on the night of August 13th, activity would still have been significant from this shower, and others. The Kappa Cygnid radiant, which peaks on August 17th, can also produce occasional fireballs. Of course, there is always the occasional random fireball that is not associated with any meteor shower. The possibility that a bright fireball might have been observed has to be considered. As Allan Hendry notes, bright fireballs can be misperceived as an airplane crash.
Descriptions have included “downed planes,” missiles, fireballs, half-moons, comets, teardrops, “swept-wing jets,” cigars, spheres, saucers, sparklers, and sometimes formations of individual lights (as the meteor breaks into pieces in the earth’s atmosphere). 22
Recall that Carson thought they first saw a large plane was coming down.
Another possibility is that the Echo-1 satellite might have been a factor. It was causing a lot of excitement in the media because it had been launched a day before and was easily visible to the naked eye (estimates in the news media put it at first magnitude or brighter). Additionally, it was in a very high orbit (1000 miles) and took a good deal of time to transit the sky. Papers listed the times
of the visible passes for their area (although some noticed that Echo was running about 15 minutes ahead of schedule). I ran the first TLEs23 for Echo1 into Heavensat and discovered that Red Bluff had three passes that night.
Between 2130 and 2150, Echo 1 went from southwest to northeast with a peak elevation of around 35 degrees.
Between 2330 and 2400, Echo 1 went from southwest to northeast. It passed directly overhead (see image above showing track - Times are in one minute intervals with the last being 23:56:00).
Between 0140 and 0200, Echo 1 went from northwest to northeast. it had a peak elevation of about 55 degrees.
Because of its high altitude and the time of year, the satellite was illuminated on all of these passes meaning it would have been visible. The 2330-2400 pass appears to have been mentioned in the USAF operations log, when local police reported receiving calls from people who saw an object pass across the sky.
Finally, I mentioned forest fires. About 50 miles to the east of the Red Bluff area is Longville, California. According to the August 16 edition of San Rafael Independent Journal, a large forest fire was present in the Longville area and firefighters had been battling it for the past three days.24 One has to wonder if, on the night of the 13th, if this fire, or the smoke and haze from it, might have played a role.
There is no single convincing solution for this case but, in my opinion, there is the possibility that this was a combination of events:
A bright meteor, which left a persistent train, might have been the source of the initial sighting. After the train had disappeared, the officers noticed the moon rising as the UFO reversing course and coming back.
The Echo satellite may also have been the source of the initial sighting. It went from Southwest to Northeast and might have appeared to be a bright object that was descending (like a plane silently dropping out of the sky). After its disappearance, the officers then noticed the moon rising as the UFO reversing course and coming back.
The moon rising through the smoke and haze from regional forest fires, would have appeared reddish and changed shape as it rose through the layers of the atmosphere close to the horizon. The officers reported losing sight of the UFO at some point and then reacquired it before it disappeared. It is possible that they lost sight of the moon as they drove down a road, where trees, buildings, or hills obscured it. Once the moon was high enough in the sky, the officers noticed the moon and then determined that their UFO had “disappeared”.
While some may find this potential explanation unlikely, one has to wonder why the officers never mentioned the moon and how a UFO could be visible at two locations 15-20 miles apart (assuming they observed the same object). Either the object was enormous and at extremely high altitude or the object was something celestial in nature. For those wishing the object to be some sort of craft, one has to question why the radar never recorded it. Perhaps it is because the object was not as close as the officers claimed.
In my opinion, this case has a potential explanation but requires some assumptions that many UFOlogists would consider unlikely to the point of impossible. Even if this explanation is wrong, I don’t consider this case, by itself, proves UFOs are alien spaceships as the Best Evidence document implies. As Dr. Carl Sagan once stated:
No anecdotal claim - no matter how sincere, no matter how deeply felt, no matter how exemplary the lives of the attesting citizens - car- ries much weight on so important a question. As in the older UFO cases, anecdotal accounts are subject to irreducible error.25
Quelle: SUNlite 4/2017