One passenger, an officer from ATIC, ran up to me and handed me a roll of film.
"Here's some pictures of them," he said breathlessly. "I never thought I'd see one."
The next passengers I recognized were two other officers, Ph.D. psychologists from the Aero Medical Laboratory. I knew them because they had visited Blue Book many
times collecting data for a paper they were writing on UFO's.
The title of the paper was to be: The Psychological Aspects of UFO Sightings.
Almost climbing over each other in their effort to tell their story they told me how they had watched the UFO's from the C-54. Both had seen them
"dogfighting" between themselves.
"How fast were they going?" I asked.
"Like hell," was their only answer but the way they said it and the looks on their faces emphasized their statement.
The crowd on the ramp had increased by now and some of the newcomers had binoculars. The men with the binoculars were the focal point of several individual groups as
they watched and gave blow-by-blow accounts.
Some of the crowd were talking about jet fighters and it suddenly dawned on me that just across the parking lot was the operations office of the local ADC jet outfit,
the 97th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.
I ran over to interceptor operations and went in. I knew the duty officer because several times before the 97th people had chased balloons over Dayton. When I told him
about the UFO's all I received was a rather uninterested stare. When I said they were over the base he did me the courtesy of going out to look.
He came running back in and hit the scramble button. Three minutes later two F-86's were headed UFOward. They soon disappeared but their vapor trails kept the tense
crowd informed of their progress.
And believe me there was tension.
As the vapor trails spiraled up, first as two distinct plumes, and later only one--as they blended at altitude--more than one pilot standing on the ramp expressed his
thankfulness for his unenviable position--on the ground watching.
The vapor trails thinned out and disappeared right under the three UFO's and it was obvious that the two jets had closed in.
Here were three that didn't escape.
That night the 97th Fighter Interceptor Squadron added three more balloons to their record. The F-86's had been able to climb higher than the F-84's.
The next morning photos confirmed the balloons. They had been tethered together and carried an instrument package.