and he's the most conservative guy I know. If he said he saw something with glowing portholes, he saw something with glowing portholes -- and it wasn't a meteor."
Even though I didn't remember the pilots' names I'll never forget their comments. They didn't like the way the Air Force had handled UFO reports and I was the Air
Force's "Mr. Flying Saucer." As quickly as one of the pilots would set me up and bat me down, the next one grabbed me off the floor and took his turn. But I
couldn't complain too much; I'd asked for it. I think that this group of seven pilots pretty much represented the feelings of a lot of the airline pilots. They weren't
wide-eyed space fans, but they and their fellow pilots had seen something and whatever they'd seen weren't hallucinations, mass hysteria, balloons, or meteors.
Three of the men at the Caffarello conference had seen UFO's or, to use their terminology, they had seen something they couldn't identify as a known object. Two of
these men had seen odd lights closely following their airplanes at night. Both had checked and double- checked with CAA, but no other aircraft was in the area. Both
admitted, however, that they hadn't seen enough to class what they'd seen as good UFO sighting. But the third man had a lulu.
If I recall correctly, this pilot was flying for TWA. One day in March 1952 he, his copilot, and a third person who was either a pilot deadheading home or another crew
member, I don't recall which, were flying a C-54 cargo airplane from Chicago to Kansas City. At about 2:30P.M. the pilot was checking in with the CAA radio at
Kirksville, Missouri, flying 500 feet on top of a solid overcast. While he was talking he glanced out at his No. 2 engine, which had been losing oil. Directly in line
with it, and a few degrees above, he saw a silvery, disk-shaped object. It was too far out to get a really good look at it, yet it was close enough to be able
definitely to make out the shape.
The UFO held its relative position with the C-54 for five or six minutes; then the pilot decided to do a little on-the-spot investigating himself. He started a gradual
turn toward the UFO and for about thirty seconds he was getting closer, but then the UFO began to make a left turn. It had apparently slowed down because they were
still closing on it.
About this time the copilot decided that the UFO was a balloon; it just looked as if the UFO was turning. The pilot agreed halfway--and since the company wasn't paying
them to intercept balloons, they got back on their course to Kansas City. They flew on for a few more minutes with "the darn thing" still off to their left.
If it was a balloon, they should be leaving it behind, the pilot recalled thinking to himself; if they made a 45-degree right turn, the "balloon" shouldn't