This article originally appeared in UFO Magazine (Mar-Apr, 1996) and has been revised and slightly updated for this website:-
Project 1947: A Progress ReportBy
Jan L. Aldrich
Project 1947, an examination of the beginning of the UFO era, had as its main goal screening 1,000 North American and 400 foreign newspapers during the main concentration of UFO activity in 1947, 24 June through 15 July. Clues from the first recognition of the UFO mystery in 1947 might gives us a better idea of what is happening now. During the previous 47 years researchers looked at over 850 newspapers from this era. Much of this research existed in nearly forgotten files or out of print publications. Although there were well over 1,000 incidents documented, the indications were that thousands more cases were waiting to be found.
Very little could be done now or in the 1960's, to check into this report. The retired rolls could be checked for LTC Shoesmith. His assignment records could be checked to find out what unit he was in during 1947. However, unit records might have no record of this encounter. He might have, or his heirs might still have, his flight log, but this is unlikely. If the date where pinned down, newspapers could be checked. Here again, the possibility of finding anything is unlikely. This type of investigation is generally beyond the scope of Project 1947.
The Houston (Texas) Chronicle for 18 March, 1950 carried a story which is more in line with ability of Project 1947 to follow up. A lead attached to the end of the story:
"Pilot Lem Willis said he and a passenger saw a wingless object about 6:12 p. m. Friday near Bridgeport Lane and watched it for 10 minutes.
"'I don't claim I saw a flying saucer,' Willis said, 'But I did see a moving object with no wings making a very erratic flight pattern.'
"He said it was flying at about 4400 or 4500 feet at an estimated speed of 210 miles an hour."
The Houston (Texas) Press for 1947 illustrates another possible lead that could be followed up in its 8 July 1947 edition:
"He Saw Them First--40 Years Ago
"Flying discs are nothing new says J. I . Mackrell, Baytown tinner and roofer. He saw some more than 40 years ago.
"Some time about 1906 or 1908, father and I were going home about dusk, crossing the S. P. tracks on Hardy street when we noticed two white balls, like small moons, traveling northwest," Mr. Mackrell recalls.
"They looked like toy balloons but they were traveling faster than any plane of today, just gliding along. I haven't seen any since then, though."
Sometimes reports like this when put together with others from the same time period indicate, as in the War World I flap, the wave of sightings. Perhaps sightings point to a general time period that can be examined instead of a "needle in the haystack" search for one incident.
Close investigation of the early UFO era will bring the events taking place today more sharply into focus. It may indicate how many beliefs grew up about the phenomenon and why things happened the way they did.
What about the results of Project 1947? Will they just languish in another file draw somewhere? Some preliminary results of the 1947 search will be published and released on the fiftieth anniversary of Kenneth Arnold's sighting. Recent talks with some people indicate that they would like to see some of the raw data collected so a scrapbook-like collection of newspaper clippings will also be published. Later a more detailed report will be available. A collection of pre-1947 sightings should come out shortly thereafter. Other material collected involving sightings and reports from every year in the almost last 50 years will also be available. The large amount of material collected so far is nothing compared to the huge amount waiting to be found. Very few people have any idea of the tremendous mountain of printed accounts hidden away in old newspapers or other media. Any help in the task of digging it out is greatly appreciated. Library research, copies of old scrapbooks, clippings and reports are most welcome at: