The copilot's answer was classic: "No, not one of those things."
Both pilots had only recently voiced their opinions regarding the flying saucers and they weren't complimentary.
As they watched the UFO, it passed across the nose of their DC-3 and they got a fairly good look at it. Neither the pilot nor the copilot was positive of the object's shape because it was "shadowy" but they assumed it was disk-shaped because of the circular arrangement of eight or ten "portholes," each one glowing from a strong bluish-white light that seemed to come from the inside of whatever it was that they saw. The UFO also had a blinking white light on top, a fact that led many people to speculate that this UFO was another airliner. But this idea was quashed when it was announced that there were no other airliners in the area. The crew of the DC-3, when questioned on this possibility, were definite in their answers. If it had been another airplane, they could have read the number, seen the passengers, and darn near reached out and slugged the pilot for getting so close to them.
About a month later, over northern Indiana, TWA treated all the passengers of one of their DC-3 nights to a view of a UFO that looked like a "big glob of molten metal."
The official answer for this incident is that the huge orange-red UFO was nothing more than the light from the many northern Indiana blast furnaces reflecting a haze layer. Could be, but the pilots say no.
There were similar sightings in North Korea two years later--and FEAF Bomber Command had caused a shortage of blast furnaces in North Korea.
UFO sightings by airline pilots always interested me as much as any type of sighting. Pilots in general should be competent observers simply because they spend a large part of their lives looking around the sky. And pilots do look; one of the first things an aviation cadet is taught is to "Keep your head on a swivel"; in other words, keep looking around the sky. Of all the pilots, the airline pilots are the cream of this group of good observers. Possibly some second lieutenant just out of flying school could be confused by some unusual formation of ground lights, a meteor, or a star, but airline pilots have flown thousands of hours or they wouldn't be sitting in the left seat of an airliner, and they should be familiar with a host of unusual sights.
One afternoon in February 1953 I had an opportunity to further my study of UFO sightings by airline pilots. I had been out at Air Defense Command Headquarters in Colorado Springs and was flying back East on a United Airlines DC-6. There weren't many passengers on the airplane that afternoon but, as usual, the captain came strolling back through the cabin to chat. When he got to
me he sat down in the next seat. We talked a few minutes; then I asked him what he knew about flying saucers. He sort of laughed and said that a dozen people a week asked that question, but when I told him who I was and why I was interested, his attitude changed. He said that he'd never seen a UFO but he knew a lot of pilots on United who had. One man, he told me, had seen one several years ago. He'd reported it but he had been sloughed off like the rest. But he was so convinced that he'd seen something unusual that he'd gone out and bought a Leica camera with a 105-mm. telephoto lens, learned how to use it, and now he carried it religiously during his flights.
There was a lull in the conversation, then the captain said, "Do you really want to get an opinion about flying saucers?"
I said I did.
"O.K.," I remember his saying, "how much of a layover do you have in Chicago?"
I had about two hours.
"All right, as soon as we get to Chicago I'll meet you at Caffarello's, across the street from the terminal building. I'll see who else is in and I'll bring them along."
I thanked him and he went back up front.
I waited around the bar at Caffarello's for an hour. I'd just about decided that he wasn't going to make it and that I'd better get back to catch my flight to Dayton when he and three other pilots came in. We got a big booth in the coffee shop because he'd called three more off-duty pilots who lived in Chicago and they were coming over too. I don't remember any of the men's names because I didn't make any attempt to. This was just an informal bull session and not an official interrogation, but I really got the scoop on what airline pilots think about UFO's.
First of all they didn't pull any punches about what they thought about the Air Force and its investigation of UFO reports. One of the men got right down to the point: "If I saw a flying saucer flying wing-tip formation with me and could see little men waving--even if my whole load of passengers saw it--I wouldn't report it to the Air Force."
Another man cut in, "Remember the thing Jack Adams said he saw down by Memphis?"
I said I did.
"He reported that to the Air Force and some red-hot character met him in Memphis on his next trip. He talked to Adams a few minutes and then told him that he'd seen a meteor. Adams felt like a fool. Hell, I know Jack Adams well