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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, September 2021

Advent of the Flying Saucers - 1949 - 1950

by: Rick Hilberg


August 19 - Mojave, California - A grizzled prospector reported that a "whizzing disk" crashed near Death Valley today and that two little men jumped out and disappeared in the sand dunes.

The prospector, Buck Fitzgerald, who claims he has lived in the Death Valley region long enough to know a flying disk when he sees one, said that his sidekick, Mase Garney, also witnessed the event: Related Fitzgerald:

"This flying disk, which was about 24 feet in diameter, whizzed past us going about 300 miles per hour.

"It crash-landed and two little men jumped out and started running when they saw us.

"The men looked human ant they were very small - like dwarfs.

"We chased then over a sand dune but lost them. I don't know where they went."

The two prospectors allowed that with a temperature of 138 degrees, it was too hot to chase the little men for any great distance.

Source: Paper unknown, August 19, 1949.

August 19 - Baltimore - Federal agents and State Police today found two weird disks in an abandoned barn and said they thought the discovery might furnish the answer to the "flying saucer" mystery.

The twin disks, six feet in diameter, and equipped with a propeller and motor apiece, were found near Glen Burnie, Maryland, 15 miles from Baltimore.

Officials were informed that the disks were made by Jonathin Caldwell, self-styled inventor, who reportedly disappeared with his wife and child in 1941.

The disappearance of the Caldwell family was almost six years before the mysterious "flying saucers" caused widespread scientific speculation and some anxiety across the nation.

Authorities, probing the strange Maryland disks, found John W. Ganz, a mechanic who said he once worked with the 60-year-old Caldwell. Ganz was quoted as saying that Caldwell was "10 years" ahead of his time" in the aviation field.

Ganz said Caldwell planned to set up a company to manufacture the disks, and tested one of the devices in Washington in 1939.

Officials said the disks appeared capable of flying, that one was damaged badly, but that the other apparently was intact.

Authorities were led to the disks by an anonymous "tip", and found them after a two-months search.

Source: Chicago Tribune, August 19, 1949.

December 28 - Hamlet, North, Carolina - A mysterious object moving south-westward through the sky has scores of Carolinians agog today.

The object, on which descriptions varied, was first spotted at Fayetteville, about 50 miles northeast of Hamlet at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

It was sighted again over Hamlet at about 4:45 p.m. and reports came from Greenwood, South Carolina today that the mysterious object passed westward over that city shortly after 5 p.m.

(Greenwood is about 180 miles southwest of Hamlet on a direct line extending from Fayetteville.)

Scores of residents in all three cities reported sighting the object. And at Hamlet and Greenwood, it was chased for several minutes by four pilots.

Hamlet observers said it resembled a balloon or blimp, and appeared to be about 20 or 30 feet in diameter. At Fayetteville one observer said it looked more like a vertical neon lighting tube.

At Greenwood two pilots said it appeared to be a streak of smoke 15 to 20 feet long, coming from an unseen plane. But the object, the pilots said, retained its shape during the 10 minutes or more that they followed it.

Ground observers all said that it drifted into the direction of the setting sun.

But the four pilots who chased it at Hamlet and Greenwood said they were unable to gain on it in their light planes.

The weather bureau at Charlotte said that the object apparently was not a weather balloon. But Pop Field air base officials at Fayetteville said that it very likely could have been such a balloon.

Source: St. Paul Dispatch, December 29, 1949.


January 29 - Pittsburgh - Dr. Gerald Wendt, one of the country's top-ranking scientists, said he believes he cracked the mystery of the "flying saucer."

The former science editor of "Time" believes they are fragments of rockets exploded in the stratosphere by the air force. This was done in an experiment to establish a global radar screen.

"The air force wants to put rockets in outer space to use as reflectors for ground radar," Dr. Wendt said. "These reflections, returning wider radar detection zones to earth, would increase the range of present radar."

Before it puts the scheme into effect, the air force has blown up rockets in the stratosphere, he said. It wants to study the fragments to see if they react favorably.

Dr. Wendt said the rocket fragments are blown away at high speeds, they can keep in flight indefinitely. Since there's no air resistance in outer space to act as a braking force, the fragments might even become satellites, constantly circling the earth.

Dr. Wendt believes these fragments are our "flying saucers".

If they prove the theory is sound, permanent rockets will be shot up to act as radar reflectors.

Dr. Wendt, former dean of physics and chemistry at Penn State college, was science director of the New York World's fair. He's currently on a science lecture tour of American cities.

Source: Pueblo, Chieftain, January 29, 1950.

February 1- Tucson, Arizona- Flying saucer? Secret experimental plane? Or perhaps a scout craft from Mars? Certainly, the strange aircraft that blazed a smoke trail over Tucson at dusk last night defies logical explanation. It was as mystifying to experienced pilots as to groundlings who have trouble identifying conventional planes.

I saw the menacing streamer of smoke. Never have I seen anything like last night's display. For a brief second many Tucsonians though perhaps a practicing skywriter was racing home to a late dinner. But if that was the explanation, he was certainly wasting smoke - the hour was late for serial advertising and a streak of smoke ran across the sky from west to east straight as the white line down the center of a highway.

The radio operator in the Davis-Monthan Air Force base control tower didn't know what it was. He contacted First Lt. Roy L. Jones, Jr., taking off for a cross-country blight in a B-29, and asked Jones to investigate. They feared the object might be an airplane with a smoking engine that the pilot had not seen. But Jones revved up his swift aerial tanker and still the unknown aircraft steadily pulled away toward California.

Switchboards at the Pima county sheriff's office and Tucson police station were jammed with inquiries. Hundreds saw it. No one knew what it was. And with a single exception no one heard a sound from the fiery object. A Citizen reporter said she heard a "hum, not like a motor but that's what it reminded me of."

Tom Bailey, 1411 E. 10th St., saw the object. He thought it was a large airplane on fire. He said it wavered from left to right as it passed over the mountains.

Bailey also noticed that the craft appeared to slow perceptibly over Tucson. He said the smoke it emitted apparently started billowing out a considerable distance from the tail, or rear of the object - apparently coming out in a thin, almost invisible stream and gaining substance within a few seconds.

Capt. Roy G. Robinson, acting chief of police, was in his yard at 1315 E. Sixty St., to pick up his evening paper when he spotted the smoke trail. He thought perhaps it was a skywriter, but decided it was too late in the evening - just about dusk - for such advertising.

Despite the hundreds of witnesses, there was little actual explanation on which to peg a clear picture of the event. This is what most witnesses agreed they saw:

A fiery object at very high altitude streaked across the city. Behind it spread a thick streamer of smoke. Out of sight east of Tucson the smoke disintegrated and fanned out into a broad band.

Was this the trail of a lone pilot practicing for a bombing mission? Or was it a photographic plane sneaking across Arizona for pictures of our Air Force installation in a one-man sally?

Speculation on the object was rife in Tucson today. No one - specialists, scientific experts or laymen - could offer an acceptable explanation. But a few facts emerged.

Dr. Edward F. Carpenter, head of the University of Arizona department of astronomy said no one at Stewart Observatory saw the object because none of the staff was viewing the sky at that time. However, he was certain of one thing:

He was certain that the object was not a meteor of other natural phenomena.

Couched in the usual careful language of scientists, Dr. Carpenter said he was, "inclined to doubt that it was a meteor because of the object's heavy discharge of smoke. A meteor rarely leaves a visible trail and, when it does, it leaves only a very light trail."

W. M. McLean, supervising agent of the Civil Aeronautics administration here, and other aircraft experts at the municipal airport thought perhaps the object was a B-36 bomber flying with experimental equipment. This explanation was natural enough coming from men whose work is with conventional aircraft of today. But it hardly seemed to fit the visitation that aroused hundreds of Tucsonians last night.

Source: Bob Campbell, Tucson Daily Citizen, February 2, 1950.

March 10 - Los Angeles-

A businessman has told newsmen a strange story. He says he saw an ultra-streamlined flying saucer last week, wrecked on a mountainside in Mexico.

The businessman, Roy L. Dimmick of Los Angeles , says he was told that a man 23 inches tall died in the crash and that his body has been embalmed for scientific study. There is no confirmation of Dimmick's account from any source in Mexico. The sir force in Washington says it hasn't heard of it.

Dimmick says he personally saw hard-metal remains of the saucer and was told that high Mexican officials believe it came from another planet. And says Dimmick, "I'm big enough to take the consequences of what I've said and stand my ground.

Dimmick says the crash occurred about three months ago. He says he was taken to the scene by business associates.

Describing the wreckage of the saucer, Dimmick remarked: "It was about 45 feet in diameter, built of a strange metal resembling aluminum." He added:

"The saucer was powered by two motors."

Dimmick declined further discussion. But he did say that top U.S. military officials have viewed the wreckage. And he continued:

"I think the government ought to make its position clear. If it doesn't want to disclose these things for security reasons, why not say so. It feels is unwise to make the information public for fear of panic, there should be some way found to handle the situation diplomatically."

More Flying Disks

Los Angeles - Those flying saucers are back in the news again, this time from Van Nuys, California. Police stated that several persons had telephoned today claiming to have seen a flying saucer skip hither and yon through the foggy San Fernando valley sky.

One call said the saucer was about 50 feet in diameter and black on top. Its altitude was said to be about 400 feet.

Source: Daily Siska (Alaska) Sentinel, March 10, 1950.

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