Sixty-four years ago tonight a U.S. Air Force bombardier saw something over western Kansas that still spooks UFO researchers.
It had to be startling. Ethereal. The kind of thing that would make your skin crawl.
I devoted Chapter 6 of my book, UFO Cold Cases: Kansas, to the sighting on April 29, 1952, of one of Project Blue Book‘s 701 cases labeled as “unexplained.”
This real-life X-file started out routinely for First Lt. Ralph H. Bauer Jr.
Bauer was seated in the glass-enclosed nose of a B-29 Superfortress, the same kind of long-range warplane used to drop the atomic bomb a few years earlier on Hiroshima, Japan.
The B-29 was heading east at 30,000 feet, flying above the cloud ceiling, which was 2,000 feet below. It was about 10 p.m.
Bauer could clearly see the stars and the moon.
Out of nowhere the UFO was ahead of him at about a 45-degree angle.
He described it later to a Project Blue Book investigator, Lt. Col. George A. Hanselman, director of intelligence of the 90th Bombardment Wing M, stationed at Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka.
Bauer described the UFO as a “soft white fan-shaped light approximately 5,000 feet above, traveling very rapidly in a westerly direction toward the aircraft.”
It pulsated three to four times as it passed over the top of the plane at high speed and then out of Bauer’s vision, which was blocked by the B-29’s frame.
He estimated it took only two seconds to pass by. But he remembered every detail, which he gave to Hanselman.
What he saw was a bright light — he called it fan-shaped, as in the kind of fan you would hold in your hand that is narrow at the bottom and wider at the top.
A rough sketch is included in the documents. Hanselman calculated the speed of the object as about 2,000 mph.
It turns out that Bauer’s sighting that night was to be one of the first that year of what many researchers claim might have been an invasion of UFOs in 1952.
The Project Blue Book archives contain 196 “unexplained” sightings in 1952.
These are my own counts of the 196 unexplained cases in 1952, by month: January, one; February, two; March, three; April, 17; May, 12; June, 37; July, 49; August, 26; September, 26; October, 12; November, eight; December, three.
That’s a lot of unexplained cases in one year, considering there were only 701 such cases the Air Force documented in the 21 years that Project Blue Book was in operation.
There was probably a good reason that the military didn’t make the Goodland case — and many of the others — public.
Timothy Good, a British UFO researcher, says in his book, Need to Know: UFOs, the Military, and Intelligence, the U.S. military and other governments that sent planes up to intercept UFOs were losing planes and pilots — the UFOs were knocking them out of the sky.
He quotes Benjamin Chidlaw, Commanding General, Air Defense Command, as saying “… we have lost many men and planes trying to intercept them.”
Was the Goodland sighting part of an invasion force?
There are still so many questions out there after more than six decades that it’s difficult to sort through what’s speculation and what is reality. I’m still keeping an open mind as I sort through more documents.
There’s an old UFO tale that always sends the needle on my skeptical meter into the red danger zone: The claim that President Dwight Eisenhower met at least once, maybe several times, with extraterrestrial aliens during the mid 1950s.
Despite my own misgivings, the stories seem to continue to thrive in UFO lore.
As I was researching my book, UFO Cold Cases: Kansas, I ran across some material I didn’t include in my book — writings and videos about what happened during Ike’s mysterious disappearance during a “vacation” trip to Palm Springs, California, in February 1954.
Eisenhower, a native of Abilene, Kansas, was a military genius who became the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II. He was elected president during the 1952 election and served two terms through 1961.
His presidency covered the time period when the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigators were regularly keeping track of thousands UFO sightings around the world.
The Blue Book documents don’t have anything about the alleged visit. But I did find a documented UFO sighting the following night in the nearby Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys — something I’d never heard before.
Here’s a condensed version of the Washington Post’s feature story in 2004 on the 50th anniversary of the tale.
WaPo reports that on Feb. 20, 1954, Eisenhower “interrupted his vacation in Palm Springs, Calif., to make a secret nocturnal trip to a nearby Air Force base to meet two extraterrestrial aliens.
“Or maybe not. Maybe Ike just went to the dentist.”
The WaPo story talks about the now 62-year-old dispute between Ike’s official biographers and those who claim his emergency visit to the dentist for a chipped tooth was just a cover story.
Michael Salla, a UFO researcher whose theories are on Exopolitics.org, expounds the theory that Eisenhower went unannounced to Edwards Air Force Base, where he met with two “Nordic” aliens, so-called because their white hair, pale blue eyes and colorless lips make them resemble Scandinavian humans.
Salla claims the Nordics, who communicated telepathically, wanted to make a deal: If Ike would eliminate the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, they would share their superior technology and spiritual wisdom. Ike turned them down.
Salla also claims another race of ETs, known as the “Greys” — also met with Ike later that same year and made a deal “allowing them to capture earthling cattle and humans for medical experiments, provided that they returned the humans safely home. Since then, Salla says, the ‘Greys’ have kidnapped ‘millions’ of humans,” according to the WaPo story.
However, the WaPo story goes on to say that the archivists in the Eisenhower Library in Abilene laugh off the story and others like it.
And that would seem to be the end of it. Or is it?
As I said earlier, I searched through the Project Blue Book documents available online to see what might have been reported around that time.
I found a two-page document that seemed to be out of place in the files.
It was dated Feb. 24, 1954, and was titled “Memorandum for Chief, General Investigations Division.”
The name of the informant was blotted out, but the details were a little bit strange, given the Ike UFO story.
Could this sighting be a smoking gun for the Ike story?
The memo says the informant reported he had seen two flying saucers about 11 p.m. Feb. 21 as he was returning to his home in Van Nuys. The man said he was unlocking his garage door when he saw an object in the sky that he recognized from written accounts as a flying saucer. He called to his wife and mother, who were still in his car, to look at it.
His next-door neighbor, (name blotted out), a former Marine Corps pilot, and the neighbor’s wife also came outside to see what was going on.
The report said “the first object he saw was moving erratically at considerable speed and making changes in direction impossible to any aircraft with which he was familiar. It disappeared to the west, traveling at a very high rate of speed. (The neighbor) and his wife came into the yard in time to see this object traveling toward the west.”
Then the group saw a second object approaching from the north.
“This object appeared to be coming directly toward the group and then made three complete circles over the area and disappeared to the east.”
The two men in the group, who were both pilots during World War II and had flown about 2,000 hours, reported they had seen many natural aerial phenomena, such as St. Elmo’s fire — but the objects they saw were nothing like that.
They described the objects as luminous, reddish in the center, with an electric-blue luminosity at the edges which seemed to flash in a bluish halo as they turned. They also said the UFOs were elliptical and seemed to be transparent.
Meanwhile, below is a 2013 video of a dying man who claims he worked for the CIA and was involved in UFO investigations. In the video, he claims he was sent by Eisenhower to Area 51 where he ended up seeing the Roswell crash remains and where he saw a live “Grey” alien.
Just about everyone interested in the study of UFO history knows about the classic Roswell crash in 1947.
But did you ever hear that at least one of the crash victims — a small humanoid with a lightbulb-shaped head — was shipped in a crate by the military through Kansas?
That’s just one of the incredible claims of the late Philip J. Corso, a retired Army colonel, who rocked the ufology world in 1997 with his book, The Day After Roswell.
Corso, a former Pentagon official, claims to have come across the files and artifacts from the Roswell crash, an alleged New Mexico flying saucer accident that happened during the first week of July 1947. As the Roswell story goes, the military came in, swept up all the crash debris and the alien bodies, and swore all those involved to secrecy.
Although the Army first admitted to capturing a flying saucer, they told the news media the next day it was a weather balloon crash.
In his book, Corso tells how he helped to get alien technology into the American mainstream by secretly feeding some of the technology from the crash into corporate America, which he says led to such breakthroughs as the integrated circuit, lasers and even radar-invisible stealth technology.
And Corso tells an interesting tale of how he personally saw an alien victim on July 6, 1947, while stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas, near Junction City.
I ran across a lengthy video interview (below) with Corso, from a few years ago where he retells the story.
While Corso was stationed at the fort, a convoy of Army trucks came in to bring up a shipment of crates from New Mexico on their way to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. As a post duty officer, Corso was in charge of the activities that night, and went out to inspect the five crates that came in.
He opened one of them and found a body floating in fluid.
“It was a four-foot human-shaped figure with arms, bizarre-looking four-fingered hands — I didn’t see a thumb — thin legs and feet, and an oversized incandescent lightbulb-shaped head that looked like it was floating over a balloon gondola for a chin,” Corso wrote in his book.
The date of the event got my attention — July 6, 1947.
It was the same day that Army Air Corps Major Archie B. Browning, reported he saw a UFO as he flew over Clay Center, Kansas — only 30 miles northwest of Fort Riley.
I wrote about Browning’s encounter in Chapter 1 of my book, UFO Cold Cases: Kansas.
Meanwhile, Corso’s claims of seeing that crate on July 6 — he has no documentation to back up his claim — might have more credence if you consider Browning’s UFO sighting was on the same date.
Was Browning’s sighting related to the convoy being nearby? Could Browning’s UFO have been searching for the Roswell UFO bodies and crash debris? Or was it all just a strange coincidence?
The more I look into this topic, the more questions I have.
Did you know many UFO researchers believe the U.S. came as close as it ever has to what might have been an alien invasion 64 years ago?
Thousands of sightings were reported in 1952 all over the country.
For example, seven blips were seen on radar heading to the White House. However, nearby military jets that were sent to shoot them down couldn’t keep up — the UFOs disappeared from view on the radar, then returned after the military fighter jets left.
Were they real? Has our government told us everything they found out?
Before you dismiss the invasion idea as far-fetched science fiction, you might want to check out some of the official UFO government documents from that year.
I went through Project Blue Book’s files for 1952 and found that out of all the cases the military documented around the world, there were 196 cases — if I sorted through them correctly — that were listed as “unidentified.”
Among those was a sighting in April 1952 north of Goodland in the northwest corner of Kansas.
That particular sighting was taken seriously by the top Air Force investigators who were assigned to probe into unusual unexplained aerial phenomena.
What happened 64 years ago this month is that a U.S. Air Force bombardier flying in a B-29 about 30,000 feet above Goodland, Kansas, saw something that still remains a mystery today.
That sighting is part of Project Blue Book’s real-life X-files cases — those cases that still have no plausible conventional explanations.
In Chapter 6 of my book, UFO Cold Cases: Kansas, I go over the bombardier’s story: He saw a large fan-shaped light traveling at an impossible speed across western Kansas skies. I went through the available details in the documents that have eventually made their way to the public arena for study.
I also found out that same day, April 29, 1952, the Air Force top brass put a lid of secrecy on all such reports: They issued written orders that none of the military reports they were generating should be passed on to local media.
Why? Wouldn’t it be helpful to find out if any civilians in the area saw the same things?
Meanwhile, three months after that April 29 Goodland sighting, Major Gen. John Samford, who was then the USAF director of intelligence, tried to quell the public’s fears about flying saucers.
Samford spoke in a press conference following the Washington, D.C., sightings in July 1952. We don’t have the entire transcript of the press conference, but we can watch an old black and white film, (which might be heavily edited) that was made available by the National Archives on YouTube.com.
In the black and white film version, Samford tells the off-camera reporters that as of July 1952, the Air Force had analyzed between 1,000 to 2,000 UFO reports. Most of those were explained away as hoaxes, friendly identified aircraft, meteorological or electronic phenomena, or as light aberrations.
However, Samford admitted, there had been a certain percentage of those reports made by “credible observers of relatively incredible things.”
He said the Air Force was still attempting to resolve those reports, which we can surmise were the “unidentified” reports we find listed in the documents that have been released to the public.
However, in the black and white film, Samford quickly came out with a statement apparently designed to put the public at ease about the rash of sightings that year.
The Air Force had come to one conclusion about the remaining group of unsolved cases: That group “does not contain any pattern of purpose or of consistency that we can relate to any conceivable threat to the United States,” Samford said.
He was obviously referring to any “conceivable threat” from the Russians or from any other country that might have been hostile.
On the film, Samford also appeared to be answering a reporter’s question if the sightings could be those of our own secret aircraft tests.
But Samford insisted the 1952 sightings were in no way connected to any secret development by any U.S. department or agency.
In other words, nobody on earth — not the Russians or even our own engineers —had the technology that could produce the kinds of sightings that credible people were reporting that year.
And that was that, as far as what Samford was willing to say about it.
The military would not answer what many members of the press and public really wanted to know: Could the UFOs be a conceivable threat from a technologically superior civilization that might be visiting this planet?
While Samford didn’t touch on that question, we know others were looking into the extraterrestrial possibility.
At the end of Samford’s statement on the black and white film, another man who is wearing civilian clothing sits down at the two microphones.
It was Donald Keyhoe, a former Marine Corps major who had just authored the book, The Flying Saucers Are Real.
In the years that followed, Keyhoe went on to become one of the most respected civilian investigators of UFOs in the country. He also was a founding member of NICAP, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon.
In his short statement on camera, Keyhoe said that, with all due respect to the Air Force, he believed some of the 1952 sightings would be found to be of interplanetary origin.
“During a three-year investigation I found that many pilots have found objects of substance and high speed,” Keyhoe said
Keyhoe says on camera that one plane was buffeted by a solid object estimated at 500 mph — an object he thought had probably originated in space.
Probably due to the newness of filmed press conferences, Keyhoe’s statement was very brief. It would have been interesting to listen to him talk for much longer.
Unfortunately Keyhoe probably didn’t know about the UFO event over Goodland, Kansas, a few months earlier and that it featured an object that was estimated traveling at 2,000 mph.
And that would have given Keyhoe even more of an argument for the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
It’s too bad Keyhoe couldn’t have asked Samford at the press conference which earthly government had the technology at that time to travel at 2,000 mph.
Stories about UFO sightings in the 1960s. Tales of more recent cattle mutilations around central Kansas. And discussions about Kansas sightings related to classic UFO cases in Roswell and Aztec, New Mexico.
Those were just a few of the topics that I discussed from the podium and also privately on Sunday, March 20, at the monthly meeting of the Kansas chapter of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network.
I gave an hour-long presentation at the meeting about topics covered in my book, UFO Cold Cases: Kansas, Secret USAF files, 1947-1961, Declassified. About 30 people, most from eastern Kansas, gathered for the meeting at Wayne and Larry’s in the Hillcrest Shopping Center in Lawrence.
I was invited to speak by Larry Jordan, assistant state director of the Kansas MUFON chapter. Jordan said one of the group’s members, Geff Moyer, had alerted him about my book, which was published in mid February.
During my talk, I gave some background about the Air Force’s early secret investigations into flying saucers after World War II, which eventually became more formal programs, culminating in Project Blue Book. I told them my interest in the subject was spurred when I learned that there were more than 700 UFO cases that were unsolved, including many in Kansas.
I gave some details about the 10 cold cases I analyzed in Kansas City, Wichita, Clay Center, Goodland, Plainville, Howard, Pittsburg and Norcatur.
Stan Seba, MUFON state director, thanked me looking into so many of the Kansas cases and for providing an additional source of information on the subject.
After the meeting, I enjoyed talking one-on-one with some of the organization members. Several of them have had their own personal UFO sightings. Some of the members talked about ongoing investigations of recent UFOs seen in the state. And one member talked about an unsolved cattle mutilation near McPherson thought to be UFO-related.
The group will meet next on April 17.
Welcome to Dave Toplikar Books, your online source for information about my latest publications, talks and book signing events.
I’m a longtime journalist, editor and multimedia reporter and I live in Lawrence, Kansas, where I work at the University of Kansas as an editor and on various writing and multimedia projects.
My current non-fiction book, available at Amazon.com, is UFO Cold Cases: Kansas, USAF Files, 1947-1961, Declassified.
I’ve envisioned that book as the beginning of a series on the unsolved cold cases from the Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigations.
I’m also working on a science fiction novel set in Las Vegas, Nevada, drawing from some of my experiences in that city as a reporter and editor. That book is currently in the editing and proofing process and is expected to be out later this year. I hope to be posting progress reports on this site about the book.