As a double check I called several newspaper editors the other day and asked, "Why don't you print more UFO stories?" The answers were simple, it's the old "dog bites man" bit--ninety-nine per cent have no news value any more.
On May 10, 1956, the man bit the dog.
A string of UFO sightings in Pueblo, Colorado, hit the front pages of newspapers across the United States. Starting on the night of May 5th, for six nights, the citizens of Pueblo, including the Ground Observer Corps, saw UFO's zip over their community. As usual there were various descriptions but everyone agreed "they'd never seen anything like it before."
On the sixth night, the Air Force sent in an investigator and he saw them. Between the hours of 9:00P.M. and midnight he saw six groups of triangular shaped objects that glowed "with a dull fluorescence, faint but bright enough to see." They passed from horizon to horizon in six seconds.
The next day this investigator was called back to Colorado Springs, his base, and a fresh team was sent to Pueblo.
The man really chomped down on the dog in July and the UFO really made headlines.
Maybe it was because a fellow newspaper editor was involved, along with the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Navy and the Air Force. Or, maybe it was simply because it was a good UFO sighting.
About the time Miss Iowa was being judged Miss USA in the 1956 Miss Universe Pageant at Long Beach, the city editor of Arkansas City Daily Traveler, and a trooper of the Kansas State Highway Patrol were sitting in a patrol cruiser in Arkansas City. It was a hot and muggy night. Occasionally the radio in the cruiser would come to life. An accident near Salina. A drunk driving south from Topeka. Another accident near Wichita. But generally South Central Kansas was dead. The newspaper editor was about ready to go home--it was 10 o'clock--when the small talk he and the trooper had been making was brought to an abrupt finale by three high pitched beeps from the cruiser's radio. An important "all cars bulletin" was coming. Twenty- five years as a newspaperman had trained the editor to always be on the alert for a story so he reached down and turned up the volume. Within seconds he had his story.
"The Hutchinson Naval Air Station is picking up an unidentified target on their radar," the voice of the dispatcher said, with as much of an excited tone as a police dispatcher can have. "Take a look."
Then the dispatcher went on to say that the target was moving in a semi-circular area that reached out from 50 to 75 miles east of Hutchinson. A B-47 from McConnell AFB at Wichita was in the area, searching. The last fix on
the object showed it to be near Emporia, in Marion County.
The two men in the patrol cruiser looked at each other for a second or two. Like all newspaper editors, this man had had his bellyful of flying saucer reports--but this was a little different.
"Let's go out and look," he said, fully doubting that they would see anything.
They drove to a hill in the north part of the city where they could get a good view of the sky and parked. In a few minutes an Arkansas City police car joined them.
It was a clear night except for a few wispy clouds scattered across the north sky.
They waited, they looked and they saw.
Shortly before midnight, off to the north, appeared "a brilliantly lighted, teardrop shaped, blob of light." "Prongs, or streams of bright light, sprayed downward from the blob toward the earth." It was big, about the size of a 200 watt light bulb.
As the group of men silently watched, the weird light continued to drift and for many minutes it moved vertically and horizontally over a wide area of the sky. Then it faded away.
As one of the men later told me, "I was glad to see it go; I was pooped."
The next morning literally hundreds of people spent hours conjecturing and describing. After all these years of talk they'd actually seen one. Several photos, showing the big blob of light, were shown around, and two fishermen readily admitted they'd packed up their poles and tackle boxes and headed home when they saw it.
Editor Coyne summed up the feeling of hundreds of Kansans when he said: "I have tended to discount the stories about flying objects, but, brother, I am now a believer."
What was it? First of all it was confusion. Early the next morning Air Force investigators flooded the area asking the questions: "What size was it in comparison to a key or a dime?" "Would it compare in size to a light bulb?" "Was there any noise?"
As soon as they left, the military tersely announced that no radar had picked up any target and no B-47's had been sent out. Then they pulled the plugs on the incoming phone lines. The confusion mounted when newsmen tapped their private sources and learned that a B-47 had been sent into the area.
A few days later the Air Force told the Kansans what they'd seen: The reflection from burning waste gas torches in a local oil field.
This was greeted with the Kansan version of the Bronx Cheer.