FLYING Magazine June 1951

FLYING Magazine - June, 1951

Captains Bachmeier and Vinther
Captain Vinther (right) and co-pilot James F. Bachmeier examine sketch of strange object.  Vinther, 33, has over 8,000 hours, is ex-USAAF cadet instructor.
The Office of Naval Research claims that cosmic ray balloons explain all “saucer” reports. 
If so, what did this pilot see?

Mid-Continent Airlines DC-3

Mid-Continent Airlines DC-3 similar to Vinther's plane

Another Saucer Mystery

When the Office of Naval Research recently disclosed that all “reliable reports” of flying saucers can be attributed to cosmic balloons, the nation's press sat back stolidly and accepted the statement at face value.

The press services, the leading weekly news magazines, most of the country's newspapers and a host of periodicals hailed the revelation as the solution to a long-standing mystery.

Yet the mystery is not solved. It has only been deepened.

In the past 11 months, Flying has reported the observations of five veteran airline pilots who, along with their co-pilots, encountered strange objects flying over the United States.

Last July, Flying said: “. . . it is obvious that skilled pilots, trained observers of sky phenomena, saw something. If they saw it, it must exist.  They are not all victims of hallucinations despite the ready explanations of the physicists. But what the strange phenomena are, the editors of Flying do not pretend to know.”

The following is a report from a veteran Mid-Continent Airlines captain, the sixth report of this type to be published in Flying.—The Editors.
FLYING June 1951 Vinther Skyhook

     By LAWRENCE  W.  VINTHER       Captain, Mid-Continent Airlines

I WAS taxiing out for take-off at Sioux City, la., on Mid-Continent Airlines’ scheduled Flight 9 of January 20, 1951, when the tower asked if I would investigate a very bright light west of the field.  I told him that what he saw was a star.

“No,” the tower said, “I see what you mean, but this is higher than that — about 8,000 feet.”

Looking higher, I saw the light moving from north to south, west of the field and fairly high.  I agreed to investigate it.

The crew of the Mid-Continent Airlines DC-3 that night, in addition to myself, included Co-pilot James F. Bachmeier, lieutenant commander in the Naval Air Reserve (who returned to active duty March 1, as commanding officer of a supply squadron), veteran of World War II in the South Pacific where encounters with Jap night fighters were commonplace.  Bachmeier had flown nearly four years with Mid-Continent and had a total flight time of over 6,000 hours.

Immediately after a northwest take-off, a left climbing turn was started, following the left-hand circle of the observed light. The radius of the circle of the light was at least two miles—possibly more—outside the circle made by the DC-3.

Southeast of the field the strange lights were blinked five or six times.  The rest of the time they were steady.  When we reached a point east of the field (the DC-3 was headed northeast), we observed a change in the object.  By the time we realized what the change was, it dived over our nose at about a 160° angle to the heading of the DC-3 and 200 feet above it.

That brought the object down beyond the left wing of the airliner, and then came the strangest part of the whole encounter.  Instead of running by, as any aircraft will when met nearly head-on, the object abruptly (as quickly as the heads of the pilots could be turned) was flying in the same direction as the airliner — and at the same altitude and the same speed!  Here it was, flying formation with us, about 200 feet away!

And the object was big!  We estimated the size as being anywhere from that of a B-29 to half again as big.  The time was 8:30 on an exceptionally clear moonlight night, so we got an excellent silhouette view.  There was a definite fuselage and wing configuration.  The fuselage was cigar-shaped.  The wing was further forward than a B-29 wing and no engine nacelles or jet pods could be seen.  The wing had no sweepback, being perfectly straight.  It had a high aspect ratio like a glider wing.

I couldn't tell whether the object turned around or just reversed direction.  We didn’t see any jet glow or exhaust flame.  As the object dived across our nose, the bright white light observed by the tower could be seen at a slight angle — not in full force as it would have been head-on.  As nearly as could be determined, this light was located on the bottom of the fuselage.  It was either in a “tunnel” mounting that blocked the view, or was turned off as it came toward us.  From take-off to the time of this run toward the airliner, we were able to see a red form of navigation light.

There was insufficient light to determine the probable material from which the object was made, or if there were any markings on it.

About the time this object was flying on the wing of the DC-3, a Cessna 140 made an emergency landing at Sioux City and parked while the object was still in sight.  After the object was lost to sight a Bonanza arrived from the east-northeast.  These were the only other aircraft in the vicinity at the time.

The object flew formation on the left wing of the DC-3 for four or five seconds or more, then started dropping down and under the fuselage of our aircraft.  I reduced power and made a left turn to the west over the Sioux City field attempting to keep the object in view.  After losing sight of the object under the belly, we made a right turn in an attempt to regain sight of it, but no further contact was made.  We continued our scheduled flight to Omaha, Nebr.

In addition to the two Mid-Continent Airlines’ pilots, three other persons are known to have seen the object.  One was a passenger aboard the flight who happened to be looking out the window at the time.  The other two were Chief Controller John Williams of Sioux City Tower, and his fellow controller, whose name I don’t know.

The passenger, incidentally, is an aide to Col. Matthew Thompson, USAF, at Offutt Field, Omaha, Nebr., who is assigned to investigation of strange aircraft.

1952 REPORTS    
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