interplanetary vehicles.
In Belgium a senator put the screws on the Secretary of Defense--he wanted an answer. The Secretary of Defense questioned the idea that the saucers were "real" and said that the military wasn't officially interested. In France a member of parliament received a different answer--the French military was interested. The French General Staff had set up a committee to study UFO reports.
In Italy, Clare Boothe Luce, American Ambassador to Italy, said that she had seen a UFO and had no idea what it could be.
Halfway around the world, in Australia, the UFO's were busy too. At Canberra Airport the pilot of an RAAF Hawker Sea Fury and a ground radar station teamed up to get enough data to make an excellent radar- visual report.
In early 1955 the flap began to die down about as rapidly as it had flared up, but it had left its mark--many more believers. Even the highly respected British aviation magazine, Aeroplane, had something to say. One of the editors took a long, hard look at the over-all UFO picture and concluded, "Really, old chaps--I don't know."
Probably the most unique part of the whole European Flap was the fact that the Iron Curtain countries were having their own private flap. The first indications came in October 1954, when Rumanian newspapers blamed the United States for launching a drive to induce a "flying saucer psychosis" in their country. The next month the Hungarian Government hauled an "expert" up in front of the microphone so that he could explain to the populace that UFO's don't really exist because, "all 'flying saucer' reports originate in the bourgeois countries, where they are invented by the capitalist warmongers with a view to drawing the people's attention away from their economic difficulties."
Next the U.S.S.R. itself took up the cry along the same lines when the voice of the Soviet Army, the newspaper Red Star, denounced the UFO's as, you guessed it, capitalist propaganda.
In 1955 the UFO's were still there because the day before the all- important May Day celebration, a day when the Soviet radio and TV are normally crammed with programs plugging the glory of Mother Russia to get the peasants in the mood for the next day, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences had to get on the air to calm the people's fears. He left out Wall Street and Dulles this time--UFO's just don't exist.
It was interesting to note that during the whole Iron Curtain Flap, not one sighting or complimentary comment about the UFO's was made over the radio or in the newspapers; yet the flap continued. The reports were obviously being passed on by word of mouth. This fact seems to negate the theory that if the
newspaper reporters and newscasters would give up the UFO's would go away. The people in Russia were obviously seeing something.
While the European Flap was in progress, the UFO's weren't entirely neglecting the United States. The number of reports that were coming into Project Blue Book were below average, but there were reports. Many of them would definitely be classed as good, but the best was a report from a photo reconnaissance B-29 crew that encountered a UFO almost over Dayton.
About 11:00A.M. on May 24, 1954, an RB-29 equipped with some new aerial cameras took off from Wright Field, one of the two airfields that make up Wright-Patterson AFB, and headed toward the Air Force's photographic test range in Indiana. At exactly twelve noon they were at 16,000 feet, flying west, about 15 miles northwest of Dayton. A major, a photo officer, was in the nose seat of the '29. All of the gun sights and the bombsight in the nose had been taken out, so it was like sitting in a large picture window--except you just can't get this kind of a view anyplace else. The major was enjoying it. He was leaning forward, looking down, when he saw an extremely bright circular-shaped object under and a little behind the airplane. It was so bright that it seemed to have a mirror finish. He couldn't tell how far below him it was but he was sure that it wasn't any higher than 6,000 feet above the ground, and it was traveling fast, faster than the B-29. It took only about six seconds to cross a section of land, which meant that it was going about 600 miles an hour.
The major called the crew and told them about the UFO, but neither the pilot nor the copilot could see it because it was now directly under the B-29. The pilot was just in the process of telling him that he was crazy when one of the scanners in an aft blister called in; he and the other scanner could also see the UFO.
Being a photo ship, the RB-29 had cameras--loaded cameras--so the logical thing to do would be to take a picture, but during a UFO sighting logic sometimes gets shoved into the background. In this case, however, it didn't, and the major reached down, punched the button on the intervalometer, and the big vertical camera in the aft section of the airplane clicked off a photo before the UFO sped away.
The photo showed a circular-shaped blob of light exactly as the major had described it to the RB-29 crew. It didn't show any details of the UFO because the UFO was too bright; it was completely overexposed on the negative. The circular shape wasn't sharp either; it had fuzzy edges, but this could have been due to two things: its extreme brightness, or the fact that it was high, close to the RB-29, and out of focus. There was no way of telling exactly how high it was