hovered for hours turned out to be the North Star viewed through a cheap telescope, and the "whole formation of space ships" were the Pleiades.
Then it happened again.
On the evening of March 23rd Stringfield's telephone rang. It was Charles Deininger at the Mt. Healthy GOC post. They had a UFO in sight off to the east. Could Stringfield see it? He grabbed his extension phone and ran outdoors. There, off to the east, were two, large, low flying lights. One of the lights was a glowing green and the other yellow. They were moving north.
This was Stringfield's first reaction but during World War II he had made the long trek up the Pacific with the famous Fifth Air Force and he immediately realized that if it was an airplane it would have to be very close because of the large distance between the lights. And, as a clincher, no sound came through the still night.
He dialed the long distance operator and said the magic words, "This is Foxtrot Kilo Three Dash Zero Blue." Seconds later he was talking to the duty sergeant at the Columbus Filter Center. A few more seconds and the sergeant had his story.
Another jet was scrambled and this time Stringfield, via a radiotelephone hookup to the airplane, gave the pilot a vector. Stringfield heard the jet closing in but since it was a one-way circuit he couldn't hear the pilot's comments.
Once again the UFO took off.
This was a fitting climax for the Cincinnati flap. As suddenly as it began it quit and from the mass of data that was collected the Air Force got zero information.
In the mystery league the UFO's were still ahead.
Although the majority of the UFO activity during the last half of 1955 and early 1956 centered in the Cincinnati area there were other good reports.
Near Banning, California, on November 25, 1955, Gene Miller, manager of the Banning Municipal Airport and Dr. Leslie Ward, a physician, were paced by a "globe of white light which suddenly backed up in midair," while in Miller's airplane. It was the same old story: Miller was an experienced pilot, a former Air Force instructor and air freight pilot with several thousand hours flying time.
Commercial pilots came in for more than their share of the sightings in 1956.
On January 22, UFO investigators talked to the crew of a Pan American airliner. That night, at 8:30P.M., the Houston to Miami DC- 7B had been "abeam" of New Orleans, out over the Gulf of Mexico. There was a partial moon shining through small wisps of high cirrus clouds but generally it was a clear night. The captain of the flight was back in the cabin chatting with the
passengers; the co-pilot and engineer were alone on the flight deck. The engineer had moved up from his control panel and was sitting beside the co-pilot.
At 8:30 it was time for a radio position report and the co-pilot, Tom Tompkins, leaned down to set up a new frequency on the radio controls. Robert Mueller, the engineer, was on watch for other aircraft. It was ten, maybe twenty seconds after Tompkins leaned down that Mueller just barely perceived a pinpoint of moving light off to his right. Even before his thought processes could tell him it might be another airplane the light began to grow in size. Within a short six seconds it streaked across the nose of the airliner, coming out of the Gulf and disappearing inland over Mississippi or Alabama. Tompkins, the co-pilot, never saw it because Mueller was too astounded to even utter a sound.
But Mueller had a good look. The body of the object was shaped like a bullet and gave off a "pale, luminescent blue glow." The stubby tail, or exhaust, was marked by "spurts of yellow flame or light."
The size? Mueller, like any experienced observer, had no idea since he didn't know how far away it was. But, it was big!
One sentence, dangling at the bottom of the report was one I'd seen many, many times before: "Mr. Mueller was a complete skeptic regarding UFO reports."
During 1956 there was a rumor--I heard it many times--that the Air Force had entered into a grand conspiracy with the U.S. news media to "stamp out the UFO." The common people of the world, the rumor had it, were not yet psychologically conditioned to learn that we had been visited by superior beings. By not ever mentioning the words "unidentified flying object" the public would forget and go on their merry, stupid way. I heard this rumor so often, in fact, that I began to wonder myself. But a few dollars invested in Martinis for old buddies in the Kittyhawk Room of the Biltmore Hotel in Dayton, or the Men's bar in the Statler Hotel in Washington, produces a lot of straight and reliable information--much better than you get through official channels. There was no "silence" order I learned, only the same old routine. If the files at ATIC were opened to the public it would take a staff of a dozen people to handle all the inquiries.
Secondly, many of the inquiries come from saucer screwballs and these people are like a hypochondriac at the doctor's; nothing will make them believe the diagnosis unless it is what they came in to hear. And there are plenty of saucer screwballs.
One officer summed it up neatly when he told me, "It isn't the UFO's that give us the trouble, it's the people."