UFO's, Flying Saucers from Outer Space, immediately appeared on best seller lists. The book was based on a few of our good UFO reports that were released to the press. To say that the book is factual depends entirely upon how one uses the word. The details of the specific UFO sightings that he credits to the Air Force are factual, but in his interpretations of the incidents he blasts way out into the wild blue yonder.
During the past two years the bulk of the UFO activity has taken place in Europe. I might add here that I have never seen any recent official UFO reports or studies from other countries; all of my information about the European Flap came from friends. But when these friends are in the intelligence branches of the U.S. Air Force, the RAF, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the data can be considered at least good.
The European Flap started in the summer of 1953, when reports began to pop up in England and France. Quality-wise these first reports weren't too good, however. But then, like a few reports that occurred early in the stateside Big Flap of 1952, sightings began to drift in that packed a bit of a jolt. Reports came in that had been made by personal friends of the brass in the British and French Air Forces. Then some of the brass saw them. Corners of mouths started down.
In September several radar sites in the London area picked up unidentified targets streaking across the city at altitudes of from 44,000 to 68,000 feet. The crews who saw the targets said, "Not weather," and some of these crews had been through the bloody Battle of Britain. They knew their radar.
In October the crew of a British European Airways airliner reported that a "strange aerial object" had paced their twin-engined Elizabethan for thirty minutes. Then on November 3, about two-thirty in the afternoon, radar in the London area again picked up targets. This time two Vampire jets were scrambled and the pilots saw a "strange aerial object." The men at the radar site saw it too; through their telescope it looked like a "flat, white-coloured tennis ball."
The flap continued into 1954. In January those people who officially keep track of the UFO's pricked up their ears when the report of two Swedish airline pilots came in. The pilots had gotten a good look before the UFO had streaked into a cloud bank. It looked like a discus with a hump in the middle.
On through the spring reports poured out of every country in Europe. Some were bad, some were good.
On July 3, 1954, at eight-fifteen in the morning, the captain, the officers and 463 passengers on a Dutch ocean liner watched a "greenish-colored, saucer-shaped object about half the size of a full moon" as it sped across the sky and disappeared into a patch of high clouds.
There was one fully documented and substantiated case of a "landing" during the flap. On August 25 two young ladies in Mosjoen, Norway, made every major newspaper in the world when they encountered a "saucer-man." They said that they were picking berries when suddenly a dark man, with long shaggy hair, stepped out from behind some bushes. He was friendly; he stepped right up to them and started to talk rapidly. The two young ladies could understand English but they couldn't understand him. At first they were frightened, but his smile soon "disarmed" them. He drew a few pictures of flying saucers and pointed up in the sky. "He was obviously trying to make a point," one of the young ladies said.
A few days later it was discovered that the man from "outer space" was a lost USAF helicopter pilot who was flying with NATO forces in Norway.
As I've always said, "Ya gotta watch those Air Force pilots-- especially those shaggy-haired ones from Brooklyn."
The reporting spread to Italy, where thousands of people in Rome saw a strange cigar-shaped object hang over the city for forty minutes. Newspapers claimed that Italian Air Force radar had the UFO on their scopes, but as far as I could determine, this was never officially acknowledged.
In December a photograph of two UFO's over Taormina, Sicily, appeared in many newspapers. The picture showed three men standing on a bridge, with a fourth running up with a camera. All were intently watching two disk-shaped objects. The photo looked good, but there was one flaw, the men weren't looking at the UFO's; they were looking off to the right of them. I'm inclined to agree with Captain Hardin of Blue Book--the photographer just fouled up on his double exposure.
Sightings spread across southern Europe, and at the end of October, the Yugoslav Government expressed official interest. Belgrade newspapers said that a " thoughtful inquiry" would be set up, since reports had come from "control tower operators, weather stations and hundreds of farmers." But the part of the statement that swung the most weight was, "Scientists in astronomical observatories have seen these strange objects with their own eyes."
During 1954 and the early part of 1955 my friends in Europe tried to keep me up-to-date on all of the better reports, but this soon approached a full-time job. Airline pilots saw them, radar picked them up, and military pilots chased them. The press took sides, and the controversy that had plagued the U.S. since 1947 bloomed forth in all its confusion.
An ex-Air Chief Marshal in the RAF, Lord Dowding, went to bat for the UFO's. The Netherlands Air Chief of Staff said they can't be. Herman Oberth, the father of the German rocket development, said that the UFO's were definitely