You could almost hear the colonel add, "O.K., so now I've said it."
For several months the belief that Project Blue Book was taking a negative attitude and the fact that the UFO's could be interplanetary spaceships had been growing in
the Pentagon, but these ideas were usually discussed only in the privacy of offices with doors that would close tight.
No one said anything, so the colonel who had broken the ice plunged in. He used the sighting from Goose AFB, where the fireball had buzzed the C-54 and sent the OD and
his driver belly-whopping under the command car as an example. The colonel pointed out that even though we had labeled the report "Unknown" it wasn't
accepted as proof. He wanted to know why.
I said that our philosophy was that the fireball could have been two meteors: one that buzzed the C-54 and another that streaked across the airfield at Goose AFB.
Granted a meteor doesn't come within feet of an airplane or make a 90-degree turn, but these could have been optical illusions of some kind. The crew of the C-54, the
OD, his driver, and the tower operators didn't recognize the UFO's as meteors because they were used to seeing the normal "shooting stars" that are most
But the colonel had some more questions. "What are the chances of having two extremely spectacular meteors in the same area, traveling the same direction, only
five minutes apart?"
I didn't know the exact mathematical probability, but it was rather small, I had to admit.
Then he asked, "What kind of an optical illusion would cause a meteor to appear to make a 90-degree turn?"
I had asked our Project Bear astronomer this same question, and he couldn't answer it either. So the only answer I could give the colonel was, "I don't
know." I felt as if I were on a witness stand being cross-examined, and that is exactly where I was, because the colonel cut loose.
"Why not assume a point that is more easily proved?" he asked. "Why not assume that the C-54 crew, the OD, his driver, and the tower operators did know
what they were talking about? Maybe they had seen spectacular meteors during the hundreds of hours that they had flown at night and the many nights that they had been
on duty in the tower. Maybe the ball of fire had made a 90-degree turn. Maybe it was some kind of an intelligently controlled craft that had streaked northeast across
the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Quebec Province at 2,400 miles an hour.
"Why not just simply believe that most people know what they saw?" the colonel said with no small amount of sarcasm in his voice.