The radar at Brookley AFB was so located that part of the area that it scanned was over Mobile Bay. It was in this area that the UFO was detected. We thought of the theory that the same inversion layer that bent the radar beam also caused the target to appear to be in the air, and we began to do a little checking. There was a slight inversion but, according to our calculations, it wasn't enough to affect the radar. More important was the fact that in the area where the target appeared there were no targets to pick up--let alone lighted targets. We checked and rechecked and found that at the time of the sighting there were no ships, buoys, or anything else that would give a radar return in the area of Mobile Bay in which we were interested.
Although this sighting wasn't as glamorous as some we had, it was highly significant because it was possible to show that the UFO couldn't have been a lighted surface target.
While we were investigating the sighting we talked to several electronics specialists about our radar-visual sightings. One of the most frequent comments we heard was, "Why do all of these radar- visual sightings occur at night?"
The answer was simple: they don't. On August 1, just before dawn, an ADC radar station outside of Yaak, Montana, on the extreme northern border of the United States, picked up a UFO. The report was very similar to the sighting at Brookley except it happened in the daylight and, instead of seeing a light, the crew at the radar station saw a "dark, cigar-shaped object" right where the radar had the UFO pinpointed.
What these people saw is a mystery to this day.
Late in September I made a trip out to Headquarters, ADC to brief General Chidlaw and his staff on the past few months' UFO activity.
Our plans for periodic briefings, which we had originally set up with ADC, had suffered a bit in the summer because we were all busy elsewhere. They were still giving us the fullest co-operation, but we hadn't been keeping them as thoroughly read in as we would have liked to. I'd finished the briefing and was eating lunch at the officers' club with Major Verne Sadowski, Project Blue Book's liaison officer in ADC Intelligence, and several other officers. I had a hunch that something was bothering these people. Then finally Major Sadowski said, "Look, Rupe, are you giving us the straight story on these UFO's?"
I thought he meant that I was trying to spice things up a little, so I said that since he had copies of most of our reports and had read them, he should know that I was giving them the facts straight across the board.
Then one of the other officers at the table cut in, "That's just the point, we do have the reports and we have read them. None of us can understand why
Intelligence is so hesitant to accept the fact that something we just don't know about is flying around in our skies-- unless you are trying to cover up something big."
Everyone at the table put in his ideas. One radar man said that he'd looked over several dozen radar reports and that his conclusion was that the UFO's couldn't be anything but interplanetary spaceships. He started to give his reasons when another radar man leaped into the conversation.
This man said that he'd read every radar report, too, and that there wasn't one that couldn't be explained as a weather phenomenon--even the radar-visual sightings. In fact, he wasn't even convinced that we had ever gotten such a thing as radar-visual sighting. He wanted to see proof that an object that was seen visually was the same object that the radar had picked up. Did we have it?
I got back into the discussion at this point with the answer. No, we didn't have proof if you want to get technical about the degree of proof needed. But we did have reports where the radar and visual bearings of the UFO coincided almost exactly. Then we had a few reports where airplanes had followed the UFO's and the maneuvers of the UFO that the pilot reported were the same as the maneuvers of the UFO that was being tracked by radar.
A lieutenant colonel who had been sitting quietly by interjected a well-chosen comment. "It seems the difficulty that Project Blue Book faces is what to accept and what not to accept as proof."
The colonel had hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head.
Then he went on, "Everyone has a different idea of what proof really is. Some people think we should accept a new model of an airplane after only five or ten hours of flight testing. This is enough proof for them that the airplane will fly. But others wouldn't be happy unless it was flight-tested for five or ten years. These people have set an unreasonably high value on the word 'proof.' The answer is somewhere in between these two extremes."
But where is this point when it comes to UFO's?
There was about a thirty-second pause for thought after the colonel's little speech. Then someone asked, "What about these recent sightings at Mainbrace?"
In late September 1952 the NATO naval forces had held maneuvers off the coast of Europe; they were called Operation Mainbrace. Before they had started someone in the Pentagon had half seriously mentioned that Naval Intelligence should keep an eye open for UFO's, but no one really expected the UFO's to show up. Nevertheless, once again the UFO's were their old unpredictable selves -- they were there.