by Jan. L. Aldrich


The amount of published UFO information is truly staggering.  In North America there are probably well over 300,000 newspaper stories!  You may think, "Absolutely not! Hardly anything is published in my local newspapers."   However, this conservative number could be easily reached if each newspaper in North America published two UFO items a year for the last almost fifty years.  So 300,000 stories are not unthinkable, but I contend it is probably a reality.

    Of course, some newspapers publish no stories for years, and certain localities may produce few UFO incidents.  Even allowing for differences in areas and times with few reports, there are huge amounts of untapped data.  It should be made clear that local data are being discussed.  When wire service stories are added, the total published material swells.  Sometimes even wire service stories are carried only in a few regional newspapers close to the event. (In July 1947, the Fairbanks, Alaska NEWS-MINER reported on an earlier UFO sighting in April. Apparently this story made it to the United Press wire service as a small upstate New York newspaper also carried the story. However, out of over 2800 North American newspapers checked for PROJECT 1947 no other newspaper carried the story.)

    The experience of  PROJECT 1947 tends to confirm the estimate of huge numbers of untapped local stories.  Where newspapers are well indexed or have well maintained UFO clipping files, there are large numbers of reports.   However, even in British Columbia where the Victoria and Vancouver newspapers are well indexed I was able to supplement the indexed UFO reports after just a short search.   A wealth of new material awaits further research.

    PROJECT 1947 was founded to find this "new" material.   Carrying on the early work of Ted Bloecher whose research found over 850 reports from 1947, PROJECT 1947 is a modest attempt to expand on the foundation that Bloecher laid down when he wrote Report of the UFO Wave of 1947.  Not content with this research Bloecher continued work on 1947-1953 and turned up hundreds of new reports filling in many gaps.

Encounter over Kingman

    Searching newspapers that Bloecher did not check continues to bring interesting 1947 reports to light.  For example: at about 10 p. m., 7 July 1947, near Kingman, Arizona, Charles Ely, co-owner of the Western Auto Store, and Frank Marbel, a flight instructor, prepared to land the Piper Super Cruiser they were flying.   Two bright lights approached them at the Piper's altitude of 600 feet from the north end of the Hualpai mountains. Ely blinked his landing lights twice to notify what he thought was an oncoming aircraft that he was landing.   He received no answer; so again he blinked his lights.   Again, there was no answer.  About this time the fliers estimated that the lights were about 500-600 feet away and about 20 feet apart.

    After receiving no answer, Ely banked the aircraft to get out of the way.  Markel watched the two lights separate and in a few moments rejoin each other over Kingman and continue their westward flight.  The lights looked the same going away as they did when they approached.   The lights cast no beam.   On the ground the airport operation personnel said they heard only the aircraft that Ely and Marbel were flying.  Ely told the newspaper reporter who took the story he did not drink. [1]

Unique Maneuvers

    William T. Powers warned us in 1966 to consider carefully how we encode data for computers. He was concerned that unique items which had no data reduction code would be lost in the computerization process. [2]

    Two such reports can be found during 1947, one in California and the other in Washington, tell of disc-shaped objects following one another horizontally in a line as if attached by a string and moving on an oscillatory flight path.   They had another unusual feature in that the first object in the pattern would would flip over like a coin and then each object in pattern would also perform the maneuver in turn.   The California sighting based on the witnesses' written account was briefly summarized in the CUFOS Associate Newsletter years ago while the Washington sighting was mentioned in a small article in a 1947 weekly Washington newspaper.

    At first I suspected balloon trains as answer to these sightings.   While not yet confirmed, I believed there was a weather research project conducted in the summer of 1947. The press has many reports of radiosondes and deflated weather balloons coming down all over the US and Canada, especially in the Northeast and Missouri. Meteorological research programs have successfully mobilized meteorological assets from the active duty military, Reserves, National Guard and colleges and research institutions.   During a 1970s tornado research project over 90 mobile balloon launching/tracking crews were fielded.   In 1947 balloon trains using several balloons one above another were employed.   Also, balloon vendors in a Portland park were launching children's balloons tied together in a line.   However, it seems unlikely that balloons would behave in this manner.

    Two other cases bear some slight resemblance to the "flipping coin" cases.   The Monon Railroad case in Central Indiana of 3 October 1958 had objects that seemed to move in coordinated motion sometimes with the objects flying on edge. [3] A forest ranger on lookout duty at Mt. Josephine, Skagit County, Washington on 17 August 1947 saw a disc-shaped object appear to dropz straight out of the sky to the northeast.   It came down at a tipped angle, but as it approached its final altitude the angle of the tip diminished.  When it reached it final altitude it completely righted itself and seem to float leisurely about as if "suspended on a cord" for several moments.   Suddenly it started away to the southeast and disappeared at a great rate of speed. [4]

    The origin of this last report is very interesting. It comes from a letter to Project Blue Book in July 1952. The letter was filed in a catch all file entitled "Public Response to the April 1952 LIFE Magazine article." This file was later microfilmed and during some housecleaning about the time of Condon Committee, LTC Quintanilla, Project Blue Book head, was about to throw it out along with about 30 other rolls of microfilm containing UFO newspaper clippings from 1952. Luckily, Dr. Herbert J. Strentz, who at the time was working on his dissertation in journalism, received these microfilm files instead of the trash can. These files were saved and later handed over to Barry Greenwood of CAUS. The "LIFE file" contains hundreds of letters on various subjects. Many letters reported UFOs. These reports were not counted as Blue Book case files.

    Few reports for 1947 have yet been found in Europe.   The London and Paris newspapers generally gave only short accounts of sightings and ridiculed UFOs as a American phenomenon. Capt.   Norman E. Waugh, pilot for Airwork, Ltd. of London was ferrying a plane to Argentina when the crew saw a grayish object which looked like a tadpole.  The sighting took place over the Bay of Biscay at 10 o'clock GMT.   The plane was flying above the clouds at 8,000 feet while the object appeared to be at 16,000 feet at a distance of five or six miles.  Capt. Norman had 16 years of flying experience and service in Bomber Command and Transport Command during the war. First Officer Peter Roberts, a Squadron Leader during the war, and Radio Officer S. J. R. Chineck also witnessed the UFO. [5]

  Reports from Other Periods

    An experienced pilot and airport operator was flying near Mountain Home, Idaho at 12:05 p. m. on 24 July 1949 when seven weird V-shaped objects about 1500 feet under him overtook his aircraft and continued on a easterly course at tremendous speed.   The objects which were in view for 2 minutes were V shaped with a circular body and a belly-like protuberance under the nose of the V.  They did not bank or tilt when they turned.   There were no markings.  The objects' color was neither white or gray, but a shade the pilot had never seen before.  The circular portion toward the nose of the V seemed to change color.  There was no indication of pilots in the objects.  The objects flew in two lines of three with the seventh object between the two lines or above them.   There was no evidence of propulsion or exhaust.   The Air Force flight center at McCord Field had no record of any military flights authorized in the area.  The Mountain Home Air Base had no experimental aircraft. [6]

    An early close encounter in August or September 1939 was recalled by a Fort Worth, Texas woman.   She was sleeping on a bed in her back yard on a night with the moon shining.  She heard a whirring noise "like an electric fan" coming from the east.  As she raised up on her elbow to look, a strange object came directly toward her from a height of about 20 or 30 feet.  The object slowed and descended to a height even with her bed.   It appeared to be three feet long by one foot high, grayish in color, and with strata or veins appearing to run through it.   It was shaped like an old time Mississippi steam boat.  Surrounding it was a soft blue-green glow.  It moved toward the foot of her bed, then suddenly zoomed into the sky and disappeared. [7]

Filling in the Gaps

PROJECT 1947, a two and half year research project into the 1947 UFO wave, continues to turn up hundreds of reports from 1947.   Soon after beginning the project, it became evident that there was a huge amount of material in other eras such as World War I [8], 1950, 1956, 1957, etc.   So part of the effort became to fill in the gaps in these other eras.   Screening newspapers continues to be the biggest source of reports.   I have also found UFO files in libraries, universities, newspapers, and historical societies.   Hundreds of people have contributed copies from their files, copies of scrapbook, personal reports, or research in their local area.

    A number of people have asked how they might assist this effort.   If MUFON members did a few hours of searching in their local areas, the results would dwarf efforts to date.   Many people do not have the temperament nor time to sit in front of a microfilm reader or bound copies of old newspapers looking for UFO stories.   However, there are other routes.   Many newspapers still have clipping files which are open to the public.  However, their number is decreasing as many newspapers charge the public to use their files.

    Some libraries, historical societies and universities have "vertical files" on subjects that interest the public or they may have indexed local newspapers. Sometimes you will find UFO reports indexed or filed under other headings besides "Flying Saucers,","UFOs," or "Unidentified Flying Objects."   All the following headings have worked in one place or another: Aeronautics, Airships, Astronomy, Ball Lightning, Balloons, Crackpot, Extraterrestial Life, Fireballs, Ghost Lights, Hallucinations & Illusions, Jack-o-Lanterns, Lights, Meteors, Mysterious Lights, Phantasms, Phantom Airships, Phenomena, Space and Spook Lights.   Local historical societies are one of the least exploited resources in UFO research, but many times they will have reports, especially before 1947.  Many communities had local scientific or philosophical societies in the late 19th century or early 20th century which published papers.   It is possible to find accounts of strange meteors or other aerial phenomena in these publications.

    Many times the librarian or archivist is the best resource and in many cases I have received invaluable assistance.   Many librarians wanted some of my research in their local areas for the library's files.

    If you have friends interested in genealogy, you might ask them to be on the look out for strange sky phenomena when they do their newspaper or local history research.

    I would be most happy to hear from people who would like to assist PROJECT 1947 or help "fill in the gaps".   Reports, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks are most welcome.  Foreign language translation is always needed. Research in local areas is most welcome. 

   You can write to me at PROJECT 1947, P. O. Box 391,Canterbury, CT 06331, or telephone (860) 546-9135. E-mail:


(1) "A Saucer? A Disc? Who Knows?" Kingman (AZ) MOHAVE COUNTY MINER, 10 July 1947, page 1.

(2) Powers, William T., "Some Preliminary Thoughts on Data Processing," Flying Saucer Review, Volume 12, # 4, pps 21-22.

(3) See: Ridge, Francis L., Regional Encounters: The Files, UFO Filter Center, Mt Vernon, IN, 1994, p.167.

(4) See: Gross, Loren E., UFOs: A History, Volume 1: 1947, Arcturus Book Service, Fremont, CA, 1991, p. 61.

(5) "Man Who Saw a Flying Saucer," Buenos Aires HERALD, 22 August 1947.

(6) Johnson, Dave, "Pilot Spots Weird V-Shaped Objects Flying Over Mountain Home Desert," Boise DAILY STATESMAN, 25 July 1949, page 1; " Strange Flying Objects Leave Boise......,": Boise EVENING STATESMAN, 25 July 1949, page 6. ; "Pilot Sees Unidentified V-Shaped Craft Near Mountain Home Sunday Afternoon," Mountain Home, (ID) NEWS, 28 July 1949, page 1.

(7) "Woman Says Strange Object Flew by Her Bed in Yard," Fort Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 24 March 1950, page 23.

(8) See upcoming article in Just Cause.

Originally published in MUFON JOURNAL April 1996, reproduced by permission.

Mutual UFO Network, 103 Oldtowne Road, Seguin, TX 78155-4099 U.S.A. Membership/subscription: $30/per year. US and foreign in US funds.

Since this article was written the number of newspapers screened world-wide has reached almost 5000.



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