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Classic Mysteries—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, May 2024

Is California's San Diego area a hot spot for UFOs?

by: Brent Raynes

"San Diego seems to be a hot spot for UFOs," retired engineer Wil Wakely, a resident of the city, informed me recently. "I run the San Diego MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) zoom meeting each month with about 35 attendees." Others, including the media, have expressed this same sentiment about San Diego being a hot spot for UFO activity. Link: https://www.cbs8.com/article/news/local/san-diego-hot-spot-ufo-sightings/509-9061adbe-4f5e-43ba-a8cb-588ff5dd34f9

Wakely admits he hasn't seen any in San Diego himself, blaming the city lights, explaining how if you want to do some serious skywatching go about 30 miles off to the east to try and see them. However, he admits his one and only personal UFO sighting to date happened over in Russia, back in July 2008 while on a cruise in the Baltic Sea, where he says, "I saw a fleet of silver spheres off in the distance at mid-day," in the area of St. Petersburg. “The 'silver spheres' were in random formation and at least 10 miles away at normal cloud level. If they were balloons, they would have to be very large. They seemed to match photos of other silver spheres I have seen, maybe from Jaime Maussan. Did not see any appendages or portholes at that distance. Looked large enough to be occupied, but small enough to be drones. Doubt if they were Russian military because they were flying over the city in daylight. They moved slowly in level flight into adjacent clouds. I have 2 photos, before and partially entering clouds.”

A recent trip to San Diego, California, brought back memories of a fascinating series of UFO sightings that were being reported in and around that area in the 1960's. A ufologist back then provided me with eyewitness testimony of not only himself but others in San Diego and nearby Lemon Grove. When in San Diego in 1973 for a few days, while in the U.S. Navy and my ship the U.S.S. Paul DE-1080, a destroyer escort, was docked there for a few days, I phoned the ufologist [one Donald R. Carr, an aeronautical engineer] to chat some and thank him for sharing all of the information that he did back then to a then teenaged UFO enthusiast.

In preparation for the recent trip, I did some research online and discovered how Carr had investigated an interesting case involving two 11-year-old boys who had reported a dark domed disc-shaped craft an estimated 18 inches over the ground in a field [though later four impressions of possible "landing pods" were found on the ground], which one of them tapped the object with a flashlight, whereupon the object lit up, began rotating and making a "woooo..woooo..woooo.." sound as it began to rise into the air, eventually disappearing up into the clouds. Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/UFONewsGroup/posts/2144495719235861/

I also discovered how Carr, from a location in National City, and several others in other nearby locations, back on the night of May 13, 1952, including a teacher who is a former Navy pilot, observed what Carr initially thought was a "shooting star" until it seemed to be slowing down, began to dart from side to side, and then after traveling almost due west for an estimated mile it turned toward the northwest and seemed to circle over San Diego Bay and Point Loma, eventually disappearing to the north. A little later that night it, or an object very similar, seemed to make a return visit, passing over downtown San Diego, where Carr felt he observed bright ground lights reflecting off of a metal surface of the object. This finding makes me suspect that this is when Carr initially became deeply curious about the UFO phenomenon. This case became part of the Air Force's Project Blue Book files. Link: https://www.nicap.org/reports/520513natcity_report.htm

The Extraordinary Lemon Grove UFO

I recall it was in a published newsstand magazine [back in the day when newsstands and bookstores often carried such things; not like nowadays]. It was sometime in 1967, in an article that I'm pretty sure was penned by none other than that prolific author Brad Steiger, that there was a review of fairly recent UFO activity across the country. One in particular, that caught my eye sounded quite impressive, even though the summary was brief as I recall, possibly only two paragraphs. But it gave a name, a city and a state, and back in the day one could easily get on the phone and call a live operator and acquire phone numbers and sometimes even mailing addresses from said operators. In the following instance, that proved not only sufficient for allowing contact to be made with this particular contact, but it proved to be a highly rewarding response that resulted.

Donald R. Carr of 1613 Woodrow Avenue, of Lemon Grove, California, mailed me a thick manilla envelope stuffed with copies of newsclippings, detailed xeroxed sighting reports, and a personal handwritten letter dated January 28, 1968. Mr. Carr was then an investigator for NICAP [National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena], a civilian UFO organization located in Washington, D.C., founded back in 1956 by retired Major Donald E. Keyhoe, a former Marine Corps naval aviator. Not only was Carr a NICAP field investigator, but he had been doing sky watches in 1966 as UFO activity was significantly on the upswing back then.

Here's what he wrote me:

Dear Brent,

I am writing to you in lieu of Bill Gilchrist. He is a neighbor of mine, and he saw one of the objects that other neighbors and I saw on the nights of December 19, 20, & 21, 1966. Similar objects were also reported here on Friday, Dec. 16, Saturday, Dec. 17, and Thursday, Dec. 22. The Dec. 16 objects, four in number, were observed by several Navy helicopter pilots at Ream Field, a Navy Air Field near here. Bill Gilchrist received a phone call from a Navy fighter pilot at Miramar Naval Air Station who said that he and his wing man, flying a night training mission in Crusader aircraft, had sighted visually, and established radar lock-on, an orange spherical object with black or blue stripes on it. Although they were flying at Mach .95, they were unable to close with the object, which disappeared. This occurred about 10 days before the subsequent series of sightings. My neighbors and I saw a total of 15 objects over a period of 3 nights. One time there were 5 visible at once, and another time there were 4 at once. The sighting on Dec. 20, when the two hovered overhead for 5 or 6 minutes was, of course, for us, the most spectacular.

I am sending you some reports on objects seen in this area over the past couple of years. My neighbor, Mr. Salcedo and I used to watch the sky almost every evening for many months. I don't think this area is particularly favored by UFOs. I just think that our consistent observing produced results.

I am a member of NICAP which I would recommend you join, if you haven't already. Dues are $5.00 per year. They publish a bi-monthly bulletin called UFO INVESTIGATOR. Also, they published a report in 1965, which is still available, called THE UFO EVIDENCE.

If you want my opinion as to the nature of the UFOs, I believe they are the vehicles of some extra-terrestrial race, who for some reason, are keeping the earth under surveillance. Why they don't establish contact, I don't pretend to know. I do not believe the various contact stories, although some of them may be true.

We can only hope that the current investigation at the University of Colorado is being conducted in an open-minded and honest manner, and not as another Air Force cover-up.

I hope the enclosed reports will be of interest to you. They indicate the diversity of objects seen, and I am confident that my competence as an observer is sufficient that I am not being deluded by conventional objects. I am a mechanical engineer by profession and an amateur astronomer by avocation, so I'm familiar with the sky, and the estimation of angles, etc. Therefore, I'm sure that the objects I've seen have been actual UFOs. Yours truly,
Donald R. Carr

The most extraordinary incident that Carr was an eyewitness to happened on the night of March 30, 1966. He and his neighbor Mariano Salcedo [1607 Woodrow Avenue] were outside their homes in Lemon Grove, conducting their nightly sky watch. At approximately 8 p.m. they saw Echo 1 moving across the sky from the northwest to the south-southeast. Then all was quiet, until about 8:45 p.m., when Salcedo spotted a bright light rising from almost due west, which he initially thought was Echo 1 again. But it seemed too soon for another passage of the satellite. Pointing at it he shouted to Carr: "Look, look, look!"

When Carr looked, the object was at an approximate elevation of 15 degrees to the horizon in the southeastern sky. It was moving at a rapid rate of angular travel of about 5 degrees per second and rapidly increasing in size as it rose, which indicated to Carr that it was approaching them. When the object had risen to an elevation of about 40 degrees it disappeared. It had reached the approximate size of three-quarters the size of the moon, which was out that night, in a half-moon phase. The object, which had an elliptical shape, came within about 25 or 30 degrees of it.

Carr and Salcedo described the object as a "very sharply defined ellipse" and "like a coin on edge." Glittering particles could be seen streaming off of it, and the object was golden white in color. When Carr entered his home that night, his wife asked: "What's the matter with you? You're as white as a ghost."

Carr was pleased to later discover that a Mr. Merlin D. Gindlesperger of La Mesa had made an observation of the anomaly too. Thanks to him, Carr was able to triangulate the sighting and make some important determinations like the relative size of this thing as Gindlesperger had made his sighting in San Diego, several miles from Lemon Grove.

"The object I saw was clearly outlined in the evening sky," Gindlesperger noted. "The part that drew attention was what seemed to appear as a vapor trail behind a jet aircraft, differing in that the trail was not any longer than it appeared wide. It was of very appealing coloring, starting very brightly on the outer edges of the trail and getting dimmer and of less coloring in the center. The front of the object as I remember, impressed me as being round and with an extra black ring around the front and circular part. As in relation to speeds of jet aircraft, this object seemed to be moving rather slowly. It became visible, and to use an example (as a Traster element heats up). It went out of view in the same way. Perhaps fading out of view slower than when first appearing."

While Gindlesperger's description of the object was very similar to Carr and Salcedo's, the two noted in their report that in his observation the object was nearly circular whereas they saw it as an elliptical object. "This would, of course, be true if he were viewing it from a less acute angle," Carr's report noted. "Also, to him its angle of ascent was less acute, or flatter. However, his estimate of its position in the sky at the time of its disappearance, when measured, was in close agreement with that of the other observers."

By carefully reviewing the observational data made by all three observers, from two separate vantage points, Carr was able to establish "trigonometric solutions to the object's distance, size, and speed." From his calculations he arrived at some intriguing conclusions. He wrote: "...a true distance to the object of 20.5 miles, and an actual diameter of the ellipse of 846 feet. ...Actual speed of the object based on the two trigonometric solutions for distance, and an angular displacement of 5 degrees per second, calculate out at 10.17 miles per second for a true distance of 116.5 miles, and 1.79 miles per second for a true distance of 20.5 miles. It is the writer's opinion that the greater of the two figures is the more nearly correct, since it is felt that the lesser figure is based on too great a variation of the azimuth angles."

The description of the object, contained herein, the measurements of its elevation and azimuth angles, and the statements of the observers, are as accurate and truthful as is humanly possible, lacking precision measuring instruments, and not having had elaborate photographic equipment at hand at the time of the sighting. However, it is felt that it has been established that a very large object of extremely unusual appearance, was seen by the three observers.
Signed: Donald R. Carr

Attached is a reproduction of the complete report that Mr. Carr sent me on his and Salcedo's observation, complete with mathematical illustrations based on the geometry of the sightings and the trigonometry used, with illustrations, along with a topographical map of the sighting locations, and a NICAP questionnaire form filled out by Gindlesperger.

March 30, 1966 complete report

Other Sightings

Carr prepared a signed, hand-written report of a sighting that he and Salcedo had at 10:45 p.m. on March 25, 1966. He wrote: “Unusual object seen traveling E to W approx. 10 degrees above southern horizon. Appeared to be approx. 1 mile away, over Lomita Village area. Was closer than aircraft which followed similar path (although slightly higher) a few minutes later.”

“The object was moving much faster than later prop-jet aircraft, but was absolutely silent, No sound could be heard, although the area was quiet. Other plane was quite noisy.”

“Traversed about 15 degree/sec, silhouetted against glow from ground lights. Observed through 16 x 50 binoculars by Carr, and through 7 x 35 binoculars by Salcedo. The sketch shows apparent size through 16 x 50 binoculars. The shape closely approximated that of a folded paper airplane. No wings were apparent. Visible about 8 – 10 seconds (Traversed about 120 degrees – disappeared behind houses across street).”

“Since the craft was traveling from left to right, the green light should have been behind the nose on the right wing and the red light on the left wing should have been invisible because of the low viewing angle. Also, ordinarily, the white light would not be below the fuselage. Note that the green light is at the extreme point of the nose, while the red light is above the white light at the tail. This is contrary to FAA regulations.


Next click attachment of other sightings Carr reported on that include illustrations.

Other UFO sightings

Thursday, June 20, 2024