I've never heard an explanation for this phenomenon but it exists and I've seen it on three occasions. Maybe a dense blob of air tears off the airplane, floats along behind, and reflects the sunlight. Whatever it is, it gives the illusion of a saucer "chasing" an airplane. Sometimes it's steady and sometimes it darts back and forth. It only stays in view a few seconds and when it disappears it fades and looks for all the world as if it's suddenly streaking away into the distance.
Birds, bees, bugs, airplanes, planets, stars, balloons, and a host of other common everyday objects become UFO's the instant they are viewed under other than normal situations.
Then there is radar. This poor inanimate piece of electronic equipment has taken a beating when UFO proof is being offered. "Radar is not subject to the frailties of the human mind," is the outcry of every saucer fan, "and radar has seen UFO's."
Radar is no better than the radar observer and the radar observer has a mind. And where there's a mind there is the same old trouble. If the presentation on the radarscope doesn't look like it has looked for years a UFO is being tracked.
Radar is temperamental. The scope presentation of each radar has certain peculiarities and an operator gets used to seeing these. Occasionally, and for some unknown reason, these peculiarities suddenly change. For months a temperature inversion may cause 50 or 75 targets to appear on the radarscope. The operator has learned to recognize them and knows that they are caused by weather. They are not UFO's. But overnight something changes and now this same temperature inversion causes only one or two targets. The operator isn't used to seeing this and the targets are now UFO's.
Many times we'd stumble across the fact that after the first report of a UFO being tracked on radar the same identical type of target would be tracked again, many times. But by this time the operator would have learned that they were caused by weather and it wouldn't be reported to us.
It is interesting to note that, to my knowledge, there has never been a radar sighting classed as "unknown" when radarscope photos were taken. The reason is simple. The radar operator can take ample time to re-examine what he had to interpret in seconds during the actual sighting. Also, more experienced radar operators have a chance to examine the scope presentation.
Mixed in with the fact that there are few really qualified observers on this earth is the power of suggestion. About the time someone yells "UFO!" and points, all powers of reasoning come to a screeching halt.
We saw this happen day after day.
Few people I ever talked to, once they had decided they were looking at a
UFO, stopped to calmly say to themselves, "Now couldn't this be a balloon, star, planet, or something else explainable?"
In one instance I traveled halfway across the United States to investigate a report made by a high ranking man in the State Department. An experienced observer. It was evening by the time I got to talk to him and after he'd excitedly told me all the pertinent facts, how this bright fight had "jumped across the sky," he said, "Want to see it? It's still there but it's not jumping now."
We went outside and there was Jupiter.
Then, there was the UFO over Dayton, Ohio, in the summer of 1952.
I first heard about it at home. It was about six in the evening when the phone rang and it was one of the tower operators at Patterson Field.
The tower operators at Lockbourne AFB in Columbus, Ohio, 60 miles east of Dayton, had spotted "three fiery spheres flying in a V- formation" over their base. Two F-84's had been scrambled to intercept and they were in the air right now. So far, the tower operator told me, the intercept had been unsuccessful because the objects were traveling "two to three thousand miles an hour" and were too high for the old F-84's.
He was monitoring the two jets' radio conversation and he put his telephone near the speaker.
I heard:
"At 28,000 and still above us."
"High speed."
"Headed toward Wright-Patterson."
"Low on fuel, going home."
I made it to my car in record time and took off toward Wright- Patterson, about twelve miles from where I was living.
It was still light, although the sun was low, and as I drove I kept looking toward the east. Nothing. I reached the gate, showed my pass to the guard, and had just written the whole thing off as another UFO report when I saw them.
They convinced me.
Off to the east of the airbase were three objects that can best be described as three half-sized suns.
By the time I arrived at base operations there were three or four dozen people on the ramp, all looking up.
The standard comment was: "Look at them go."
About this time a C-54 transport taxied up and stopped. It was the "Kittyhawk Flight" from Washington and I knew several people who got off.