Aviators reported few encounters with unusual aerial
phenomena prior to 1942. After consulting much of the literature,
talking to UFO historians, and visiting Dr. Richard Haines, here
are the few known cases. Some are of very doubtful reliability.
Jeff Lindell, a major researcher into World War II reports, said
he had vague references to sightings by French military pilots in
War World I, but he had nothing specific. New cases and further
details are welcome.
(Thanks to Murray Bott, Dr. Thomas Bullard, Jerome Clark, William
Chalker, Dr. Richard Haines, Larry Hatch, and John Stepkowski.
They all contributed information concerning these sightings.)
# indicates the report is of doubtful reliability.
The other codes and abbreviations are those used by Dominique
1916: January 31, 2045 hours, local, Near Rochford, England
Flight Sub Lieutenant J. E. Morgan. Flying at 5000 feet, he saw
a row of lights like lighted windows on a railway carriage with
the blinds drawn. Thinking he had encountered a German Zeppelin,
he fired his Webley Scott pistol. The lights rose and rapidly
disappeared. (This is the first sighting from an aircraft and
the first firing on UFO from an aircraft.)
| A/C Code: M
||GXE codes: _ _ _
Source: THE GERMAN AIR RAIDS ON ENGLAND, 1914-1918,
Capt. Joseph Morris (London 1925), page 81
(Credit: Dr. Thomas E. Bullard)
1926: # January, 1300 hours, local, Between Wichita, Kansas and Colorado
Bert Anacosta, stunt pilot, saw six "flying manhole covers."
(This is a third hand report. C. W.
Finch, an Ohio researcher, went to a lot of trouble to verify the
original story which came from Frank Edwards. Fitch had no luck.
Some accounts give 1922 as the date, but 1926 is the date in all
of Finch's documents.)
| A/C Code: P
||GXE codes: _ _ _
Source: PROJECT DELTA,
by Dr. Richard Haines, page 152.
1926: #Late September, (the exact date so far is unavailable), at 2300 hrs.
An Air-Mail pilot named Colin Murphy was repeatedly
`buzzed' by a huge glowing object an hour after take-off from
Salt Lake City. The pilot described the object as a cylinder
without any wings or propeller that he could see, and at least
three times the length of his DH-4 aircraft (this would make the
object at least 90 feet long), and 8 to 10 feet in diameter.
Murphy also stated that every time the object approached closer
than fifty-yards to his aircraft, the engine would begin to
sputter and misfire. He was finally forced to land in a sheep
pasture. Upon landing, the object 'took off like a shot out of a
gun' disappearing to the south in a 'few seconds'.
"I am curious about newspaper reports in the Salt Lake area. If
anyone living there can check out old papers for the last half of
September, 1926 and post anything they find, it would help to pin
down the exact date.
"This account is taken from a journal kept by Richard West.
Portions of it were serialized in `Sky Trails' magazine, a small
general aviation magazine.. The above account comes from the
June, 1933 Issue."
| A/C Code: A
||GXE codes: _ _ E
Source: [From: Wayne Thompson Submitted: 12 Feb 94 to "Fido UFO" BBS Network..]
1931: June 10, afternoon, Tasman Sea. Sir Francis Chichester
"A flashing airship" seen from Chichester's converted "Gypsy Moth" aircraft.
Chichester first published his account in 1932.
|A/C Code: P
(Converted "Gypsy Moth")
|GXE codes: _ _ E
The OZ Files, William Chalker (Duffy & Snellgrove, Australia, 1996)
THE LONELY SEA AND THE SKY, Sir
(Pan , London, 1964,), page 185.
1932: #Daytime, East Coast of Greenland
LTC Peter Grunnet and LT Tage Anderson, Royal Danish Air Force.
THE SAGA UFO REPORT for October 1977 carried an article entitled
"UFO Crisis over Greenland" by Rufus Drake. (SAGA magazine like
many other magazines in the late 1960s and 1970s, also had a UFO
magazine with the same title. Barry Greenwood wrote to several
and found that many of the stories originated from letters the
magazines received. He had no luck in getting the magazines to
show him their material.)
Here is a very interesting -- if true -- report from the article:
The earliest UFO sighting by Danish fliers occurred in 1932
when three H. E. 8 seaplanes were dispatched to the east coast of
Greenland to conduct a photogrammetric survey.
[A sighting report in the same article tells of an encounter near
Thule. A B-17 bomber being ferried to England in 1942
encountered "incandescent flying objects" thought to be from a
German aircraft carrier....of course, there were no German
"In those days, manned aircraft had no heaters, insulation or
pressure suits. Only the daring and hardy ventured into the
glacier zone in wood and canvas planes, and many failed to
return. The pilot during this particular UFO incident was Lt.
Col. Peter Grunnet, a supremely rugged figure who lives quietly
in retirement today. His copilot was Lt. Tage Anderson, who in
later years became Commander-in-Chief of R. D. A. F., and died in
"We had many adventures flying under primitive conditions in
the frozen north," says Grunnet. "But none compared with this."
Huddled under body-length parkas and numbed by the cold,
their breath forming clouds of condensation in front of them,
Grunnet and Anderson coaxed the trouble-prone H. E. 8 over a
mirror like section of sprawling glacier. Suddenly, the copilot
spotted a second shadow pursuing the shadow of their seaplane
across the ice.
"I looked back and saw something that didn't make sense,"
Anderson was quoted.
About a mile behind their plane partly obscured by the glare
of sun against snow, a flying object was following their flight
course. Grunnet eased his throttle forward. The engines of his
H. E. 8 gnashed and vibrated noisily as he forced the plane into
a shallow turn, to get a better view of the alien object.
"It was nothing like flying machines of that period,"
Grunnet, recalling the UFO sighting recently during a visit to
the U. S. "It was hexagonal, flat, and seemingly made of
aluminum or some other metal, with no breaks in the surface and
"At the time, I had a spooky feeling. I can't explain it.
It was as if I 'felt' the presence of whoever was inside that
craft--and the feeling was hostile. In the years since, I've
realized that the craft was 'saucer' shaped, and I believe it
really was a flying saucer."
Do our Scandinavian colleagues know anything about this
story? Was it made up by the SAGA writer?
|A/C Code: M
(HE 8, Seaplane)
|GXE codes: _ _ E
1933: # July 5, Sussex, England.
On July 5th 1933, during a night cross country training flight
over Sussex, England a flight of four Hawker Fury I biplane
fighters was broken up by a "huge" circular light that "dropped
down from above their formation, into its very centre." RAF
Capt. Nigel Tompkins was forced to land
after his engine quit. Lt. Bruce H. Thomas suffered burns to
his face and hands after passing close to the light while trying
to land his aircraft after his engine quit...
| A/C Code: M
|GXE codes: _ X E
History of the III Fighter Squadron,
Printed by London Press, 1947.
[From: Wayne Thompson. Submitted: 12 Feb 94 to "Fido UFO" BBS Network.]
1937: January, Van Buren,
A local pilot chased a flying disk. The pilot would later become a state government official.
| A/C Code: P
||GXE codes: _ __
by H. D. Rutledge, page 213.
Hatch, Larry, *U* UFO database
1937: January 1, 1200 hours local, Virginia-Nth Carolina border
At the Virginia-North Carolina
border, Howard S. Behr, LTC, USAF, retired. He was flying a
plane south at 3000 feet. A gondola shaped object of gun metal
color crossed his flight path. He was flying a Curtis Wright
Sedan. He was military pilot flying in a non-duty status in a
| A/C Code: P
(Curtis Wright Sedan)
|GXE codes: _ __
First hand account in CUFOS files.
(Credit: Jerry Clark.)