There was always a limit as to how near the jet could get, however. The controller told me that it was just as if the UFO had some kind of an automatic warning radar linked to its power supply. When something got too close to it, it would automatically pick up speed and pull away. The separation distance always remained about 3 miles.
The chase continued on north--out of sight of the lights of Rapid City and the base--into some very black night.
When the UFO and the F-84 got about 120 miles to the north, the pilot checked his fuel; he had to come back. And when I talked to him, he said he was damn glad that he was running out of fuel because being out over some mighty desolate country alone with a UFO can cause some worry.
Both the UFO and the F-84 had gone off the scope, but in a few minutes the jet was back on, heading for home. Then 10 or 15 miles behind it was the UFO target also coming back.
While the UFO and the F-84 were returning to the base--the F-84 was planning to land--the controller received a call from the jet interceptor squadron on the base. The alert pilots at the squadron had heard the conversations on their radio and didn't believe it. "Who's nuts up there?" was the comment that passed over the wire from the pilots to the radar people. There was an F-84 on the line ready to scramble, the man on the phone said, and one of the pilots, a World War II and Korean veteran, wanted to go up and see a flying saucer. The controller said, "O.K., go."
In a minute or two the F-84 was airborne and the controller was working him toward the light. The pilot saw it right away and closed in. Again the light began to climb out, this time more toward the northeast. The pilot also began to climb, and before long the light, which at first had been about 30 degrees above his horizontal line of sight, was now below him. He nosed the '84 down to pick up speed, but it was the same old story--as soon as he'd get within 3 miles of the UFO, it would put on a burst of speed and stay out ahead.
Even though the pilot could see the light and hear the ground controller telling him that he was above it, and alternately gaining on it or dropping back, he still couldn't believe it--there must be a simple explanation. He turned off all of his lights--it wasn't a reflection from any of the airplane's lights because there it was. A reflection from a ground light, maybe. He rolled the airplane--the position of the light didn't change. A star--he picked out three bright stars near the light and watched carefully. The UFO moved in relation to the three stars. Well, he thought to himself, if it's a real object out there, my radar should pick it up too; so he flipped on his radar-ranging gunsight. In a few seconds the red light on his
sight blinked on--something real and solid was in front of him. Then he was scared. When I talked to him, he readily admitted that he'd been scared. He'd met MD 109's, FW 190's and ME 262's over Germany and he'd met MIG-15's over Korea but the large, bright, bluish-white light had scared him--he asked the controller if he could break off the intercept.
This time the light didn't come back.
When the UFO went off the scope it was headed toward Fargo, North Dakota, so the controller called the Fargo filter center. "Had they had any reports of unidentified lights?" he asked. They hadn't.
But in a few minutes a call came back. Spotter posts on a southwest- northeast line a few miles west of Fargo had reported a fast-moving, bright bluish-white light.
This was an unknown--the best.
The sighting was thoroughly investigated, and I could devote pages of detail on how we looked into every facet of the incident; but it will suffice to say that in every facet we looked into we saw nothing. Nothing but a big question mark asking what was it.
When I left Project Blue Book and the Air Force I severed all official associations with the UFO. But the UFO is like hard drink; you always seem to drift back to it. People I've met, people at work, and friends of friends are continually asking about the subject. In the past few months the circulation manager of a large Los Angeles newspaper, one of Douglas Aircraft Company's top scientists, a man who is guiding the future development of the supersecret Atlas intercontinental guided missile, a movie star, and a German rocket expert have called me and wanted to get together to talk about UFO's. Some of them had seen one.
I have kept up with the activity of the UFO and Project Blue Book over the past two years through friends who are still in intelligence. Before Max Futch got out of the Air Force and went back to law school he wrote to me quite often and a part of his letters were always devoted to the latest about the UFO's.
Then I make frequent business trips to ATIC, and I always stop in to see Captain Charles Hardin, who is now in charge of Blue Book, for a "What's new?" I always go to ATIC with the proper security clearances so I'm sure I get a straight answer to my question.
Since I left ATIC, the UFO's haven't gone away and neither has the interest. There hasn't been too much about them in the newspapers because of the present Air Force policy of silence, but they're with us. That the interest is still with us is attested to by the fact that in late 1953 Donald Keyhoe's book about