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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, July 2020

Advent of the Flying Saucers

by: Rick Hilberg

Some Early "Debris" Cases

Back at the very beginning of the modern day "flying saucer" era - long before they would be renamed UFOs - there were many claims published in the newspapers of persons having allegedly recovered pieces of the mysterious flying saucers that everybody was talking and speculating about. Most, if not all of these reports, later turned out to be outright hoaxes . Everything from old saw blades to tin plates were found, with the newspapers and radio giving full coverage to these silly events. But even though the published reports were skeptical regarding the validity of the "evidence", it's quite possible there was indeed some truth to some of the stories.

Early on during the advent of the saucers, on July 6, 1947 a jeweler named Norman Hargraves claimed that he found an aluminum disk floating in the water near Trinity Bay, Texas. At first the papers gave little space to the story, Hargraves later allegedly saying that the whole thing "...was all a joke." However, the Houston Chronicle said, "There are some mysterious facts contained in Hargraves' first report that lend credence to the tale."

Supposedly the following was written on the disk: "Military secret of the United States of America, Army Air Force M4339658. Anyone damaging or revealing descriptions or whereabouts of this missile subject to prosecution by the U.S. Government. Call collect at once, LD446, Army Air Forces Depot Spokane, Washington."

Hargraves allegedly told a reporter from the Chronicle that a Colonel Voyce from Spokane Depot had strongly cautioned him about revealing information regarding the disk.  Hargraves also said that the officer instructed him to turn the disk over to the local police for safe keeping. The police in nearby Pelly, however, denied that they had the disk in their possession. At the same time Colonel R. W. Warren, Commanding Officer at Ellington Field, said that his office would investigate the matter.

This report was carried in the Houston Press of July 8th: "Norman Hargraves, former Boy Scout executive, admitted today it was he who perpetrated a flying saucer hoax that even Army authorities took seriously.

"A disk that made a crash landing near his home bore lettering and directions to notify an Army Air Force officer in Spokane, Washington," Mr. Hargraves told newspapermen.

"Ellington Field officers investigated the report late yesterday and pronounced it as false."

Now to me at least, an aluminum disk twenty inches in diameter sounds like an awfully expensive and time- consuming hoax to pull off. Many have speculated that Hargraves actually did find some sort of secret Army "test saucer" that somehow went astray, and that the Army pressured him into making his confession for security reasons to squelch the story. However, the true facts in the case are now unfortunately lost to history some 73 years later.

While the Hargraves incident was being written off as a hoax in the newspapers, and at the same time that the infamous Roswell debris was likewise written off as nothing more than a crashed weather balloon, a man in Hillsboro, Texas found some really strange "stuff" in his garden that just melted away when he touched it.

Bob Scott said that he found pieces of four-inch saucer shaped thing in his garden. He further added that it appeared "spidery and dusty" and gave off a light so bright he could not look directly at it. The object was about as thick as four pieces of tinfoil or silver foil, but was translucent when examined on its side. 

When Scott picked it up it seemed to slowly dissolve in his hand without any sensation of heat. Again, a strange object found, this time with possibly some sort of built-in "self-destruct" mechanism?

Another case of allegedly found saucer debris surfaced in October of 1948 by cattlemen located near Montrose, Colorado. In April of the following year, a Noah L. Clubb told that he was requested to turn the fragments that he had in his possession over to Air Force intelligence men. The Air Force men were reported to have spent two days searching a one- mile square section of rugged country some fifteen miles west of Delta, where a second and supposedly longer segment was reportedly found.

The original segment of the circular rim-shaped piece was found by cattlemen identified only as the Calhoun brothers. When the two finds were pieced together, they looked as if they were part of a wheel-shaped instrument about four feet in diameter. The aluminum-appearing device was about two inches across and one inch thick.

On the outer edge of the "wheel" were tube-like wicks about two inches long and made of brass. Some speculated that these even numbered wicks may have been part of some fuel feeding system.

Clubb said that the Air Force intelligence men were taking the two segments, one 14 inches and the other 26 inches long, to Lawry Field near Denver for further examination. Unfortunately, no more was ever published regarding this possible find.

On September 26, 1950 four Philadelphia police officers found something that just dissolved much like in the Bob Scott case from Texas three years earlier.

Patrolmen John Collins and Joseph Keenan reported that that night they saw a mysterious object about six feet in diameter floating to earth in an open field.

They quickly summoned Sgt. Joseph Cook and Patrolman James Casper to the scene. They all then approached the mysterious something with flashlights in hand.

Collins tried to pick "the thing" up. The part touched by his hand dissolved, he said, leaving a sticky, odorless residue. Within a half hour the entire object had evaporated, and whatever it was had to have been so light that it didn't even bend the weeds and grass that it rested upon.

Sgt. Cook promptly notified the FBI - but unfortunately, there was nothing to show the responding agents except a spot on the ground.

On December 18, 1950, the University of New Mexico announced to the press that they were investigating, without success, an eighteen-inch sphere that was found by deer hunters a month previously. Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, of the "Green Fireball" fame of 1948, was unable to come up with any answer as to what the object was, or who made it.

The find included the sphere itself, built of a very light material - possibly duralumin - weighing seven pounds and two ounces; an object resembling a large flower pot made of plastic embedded with nylon fibers; a cheap alarm clock equipped with an expensive micro-switch, and three packages of photographic film of a type used in nuclear research. LaPaz suspected that the object was aloft on November 29, as the number 29 was written in ink with a ditto mark on a segment of the film. The film itself was manufactured by Ilford Limited of London, England, and dated November 14, 1949.

Dr. LaPaz stated that only a few days after November 29 he received two reports of the mysterious green fireballs in the general area where the sphere was found. When asked whether he thought the find could be a hoax he stated, "You could hardly find a place to leave a hoax where it would be less likely to be found.” In many of the reports that I've mentioned here, the found ‘debris’ seemed to be more than quickly fabricated hoaxes. They seemed to be either a real operating object or components of one. They also were all identified as probably being made of terrestrial material, and in some case rather common material. Can we not speculate that maybe there was some sort of experimental program being carried out by some agency or agencies trying to duplicate the "saucers" that so many were seeing all over the country during those early "flying saucer" era years? 

I don't know, but it sure makes me think...

Thursday, August 18, 2022