Ohio Northern University


  Ada, Ohio


  March 18, 1953



In recent summers throughout the United States there has been a considerable wave of interest in the phenomena, known popularly as "flying saucers".  The members of the press have devoted considerable space to the phenomena.  As a result, the public has developed an interest in this matter which has few precedents.  Yet little has been done to adequately screen information and to aid in presenting a scientific appraisal of this phenomena to the general public.  There appeared to be need for some private institution to objectively collect data and to distribute reports of the results of careful study to the public.  For this reason, Ohio Northern University decided to initiate Project A, Investigation of Phenomena in order to accomplish the following basic objectives.


1.    To objectively collect data from all possible sources dealing with "flying saucers".  To analyze this data in various of the departments of the university.

2.    To make public the results of research of a private institution unhampered by bureaucratic restrictions.

3.    To stimulate and promote objective study of all types of illusory phenomena by individual observers.  To issue a report in which the steps taken by our researchers are outlined in order to aid in instructing the general public in the process of thinking according to the scientific method.  It is hoped that this will lead to more logical appraisal of phenomena observed in all walks of life.

4.    To aid (in connection with Objective #3) in creating more accurate observers for the civilian air defense program.


1.    The first step was that of collection of data.  This data was requested through the media of the press from all persons who had sighted "flying saucers".  This data was collected on standard forms listing specific information required in our study.

2.    All data collected was categorized according to geographical location, type of sighting, day or night observation, size, number of witnesses, etc.

3.    This information was to be analyzed and synthesized by various departments of the University according to the approach to the problem employed by experts in each of the following fields:
  a.    Physics
b.    Mathematics and astronomy
c.    Chemistry
d.    Psychology and sociology
e.    History
f.    Electrical engineering
g.    Mechanical engineering
h.    Philosophy and religion

This wide dispersal of fields was to enable an objective and scholarly study of this phenomena from the approach of sociological and psychological conditioning to the study of metals which could withstand the stress and heat an object would be subjected to if it were to follow the pattern established by the sightings of illusory phenomena.

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4.    A progress report was to be publicized as soon as possible after the collection of data.  This report was to record the number and type of sightings listed with Project A at Ohio Northern University and it was to outline the first steps being taken by each department in its handling of data.  Another report was to be issued, probably at the end of the first year of research, which was to include articles by each individual working on this project.  These articles were to outline the methods used and the results obtained by the specialist in that department.  This report was to be as complete as possible and was to be drafted in non-technical terms whenever possible.  Dissemination of information to the public was to be made between reports whenever particularly outstanding sightings, photographs, or research material were available.


Project A of Ohio Northern University aimed to collect information such as was being collected by the United States Air Force in order to coordinate the study of this information by experts of many fields and then to disseminate this information to the general public.  Special stress was to be made on the efforts employed in the hope that this was to be a step forward in adult education in the analyzing of all type of phenomena in the future.


Many persons contacted Project A shortly after announcement of its objectives was made to the press.  For the past seven months, letters have arrived requesting information with regard to our findings.  Some other correspondents have enclosed statements of their own theories concerning the phenomena.  We have appreciated the interest evidenced by these sincere correspondents.  Unfortunately, however, these correspondents have far outnumbered those persons who have sent sighting data to Project A.  Only fifty-four sightings have been reported to Project A in seven months of investigation.  The staff of Project A have collected newspaper clippings from all corners of the United States and with the cooperation of foreign language publications and other interested parties who are listed later in this report, we have obtained newspaper and periodical information from abroad.  When names and addresses were mentioned in these articles, we dispatched a Project A sighting report immediately to the individual concerned.  Therefore, many more sighting report forms were dispatched than have been returned to Project A.  Our interpretation of the reason for this poor response is included later in this report.  The cooperation of the press and radio was far greater than had been expected by the staff of Project A.  The lack of sighting data collected by Project A is in no way a reflection on the cooperation of the press.  In fact all sighting data received was directly or indirectly from contact made by the press or radio.  Likewise, other groups organized within the United States to investigate "flying saucers" have offered their cooperation.

In the second section of this report entitled Analysis and Evaluation of Sighting Data, we have attempted to present all pertinent information forwarded to Project A with a brief analysis of that material.

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  By Month:          
  January 1   July 12  
  February 1   August 13  
  March 0   September 10  
  April 3   October  4  
  May 2   November  4  
  June 3   December  1  
  By Geographical Location:  
  Ohio 11   Illinois 17  
  Texas 11   Canada  2  
  Kentucky 4   Washington, DC  1  
  Virginia 3   Missouri  1  
  Connecticut 3   South Dakota  1  
  Michigan 3   California  1  
  New Mexico 3   Arkansas  1  
        Indiana  1  
  By Time:          
  Daylight 20        
  Night 30        
  Dusk  4        
  By Weather Conditions:  
  Clear 48        
  Cloudy  6        
  By Witnesses:  
              Sighting made by one person 28  
              Sighting made by group of persons 26  
  By Distance:  
              Close enough for detailed description  5  
              Distant 49  
  By Shape or Form:  
  Disc 39        
  Sphere  9        
  Cylinder  3        
  Other  3        
  By Audible Sound:  
              Audible Sound Evident  4  
              No audible sound evident 50  

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With only fifty-four sightings reported to Project A, it has been impossible for the staff to make a scientific study of this project.  Unless at least two hundred sightings are reported, it is impossible to make a scientific sampling of the material that has been received by the staff.  The number, fifty-four, is such a small group of the total number of sightings reported in the United States by the press that there would be no way to determine whether or not these were representative samplings.  However, in general, the clippings collected by Project A have corresponded in their results to the information received from the fifty-four sightings, therefore, we are able to draw certain very general conclusions with regard to "flying saucer" sightings.  However, it has been impossible with the very limited data to more than draw general conclusions.  These general conclusions are as follows:

1.    From the fifty-four sightings broken down above and from newspaper accounts, the sightings occur largely during the months of July, August, and September.  Very few sightings occur from December through May.  Early summer and early autumn bring some sightings, but most have occurred during the height of the summer.  It will be noted that this ties in with the weather conditions referred to by persons sighting phenomena.

2.    The sightings reported from the State of Ohio led in number.  This is not the general trend throughout the nation according to collected press reports.  The reason more reports were received from Ohio was that the local Ohio press and radio gave more emphasis to the project which was conducted by an Ohio university.  Therefore, more persons were made aware of this project in the State of Ohio than any other state, according to our limited information.  The State of Texas returned the second highest number of sighting reports.  We have noted that the coverage by the press in Texas was quite thorough.  This no doubt was owing to the fact that most sightings in the nation have occurred in the State of Texas and the press and the public there are more concerned with the problem than are the press and public in some of the other states.  The Kentucky region has been reached by some of the Ohio press.  In the case of Virginia and Connecticut, the persons contacting us stated that they had learned of Project A through the broadcast by Mr. Frank Edwards of the Mutual Broadcasting System.  The case of Michigan is similar to that of Kentucky, in that the Ohio press reaches into the Michigan area.  The remaining states have sent in very few sighting reports, but in all cases they have been notified either by the press or by persons who have read of this project and corresponded with tho person who sent us the sighting report.  The nationwide trend, discounting the Ohio receipts of this project, indicates that most sightings occur in the southwestern part of the United States.

3.    A large number of the sightings were daylight sightings which discounts somewhat the theory of stars and navigation lights on aircraft.  The majority of the sightings however, are night sightings which may be due to the fact that persons are attracted by a moving light at night more than by a moving object in the skies during bright daylight.

4.    Forty-eight of the sightings out of fifty-four appeared in clear weather.  Press accounts indicate that this is the trend throughout the country.  This may also be due to the fact that the sightings occur during July, August, and September when the weather tends to be more clear than during the rest of the year.  The combination of the geographical location, time of the year, and weather conditions seem to indicate also that there might be similar phenomena throughout the year, but that the conditions for observation were ideal during these particular months.

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5.    The breakdown of witnesses is almost a fifty-fifty breakdown.  This has been of considerable help in that there have been more than one witness to some of these sightings and the comparison of their sighting reports has indicated that various members of the group reacted in the same way to the phenomena.

6.    Only five of the fifty-four sighting reports were from persons who witnessed the phenomena from a sufficiently close range to give an accurate description of an object.  The other forty-nine sighting reports were valuable from the point of view of data on location, time of the year, weather conditions, and other similar data, but have not been able to furnish information which would aid in any other scientific appraisal of the object.  When objects are sighted at a distance of several miles and the witness is not able to judge altitude at that distance, it is also very difficult to get an estimate of speed or shape.

7.    The shape indicated by thirty-nine persons was that of a disc, nine indicated a sphere, three a cylinder, and three other shapes.  This tends to follow the national trend described in the daily press, and over the radio.  This leads us to believe that the shape of the phenomena is that of a disc.  The majority of persons have observed the object over a course which revealed its shape to be that of a disc.  However, if the object remained fairly stationary, or did not change its particular position while traveling in a horizontal line, and was in the shape of a disc standing in a vertical position with relation to the earth, that disc would appear as a sphere.  Likewise, if the disc was in a horizontal position with relation to the earth, the edge would be all that appeared to a witness and the shape of a cylinder would be observed.  However, no sphere or cylinder would be likely to appear as a disc.

8.    Only four persons noted audible sound.  The audible sound was reported by pilots who were at approximately the same altitude as the disc sighted by those pilots.  All persons sighting the disc from any great distance referred to the fact that no sound was evident.


Most of the forty-four sightings concurred with the press accounts prevalent in the nation in that they indicated a very high speed whenever the object sighted was in motion.  The speeds would exceed that of several hundreds or thousands of miles per hour.  This would indicate that if the object were a material object rather than a light reflection, ionized air, etc. that this particular object would be at a very great altitude.  An object traveling through the earth's atmosphere at a speed of a thousand or several thousand miles an hour would set up shock waves and sound waves which would be far greater than those set up by the modern jet aircraft.  Those sound waves would not be set up by any motor or other form of motive power but by the very speed of the object itself.  This would be similar to the noise of the V-12 rocket or an artillery shell multiplied many times.  Such a sound should be evident several miles from the object.  However, if the object had sufficient altitude to be above the layer of atmosphere usually employed by standard aircraft, there would be less severe sound waves set up.  The detailed descriptions of persons who observed objects as they were leaving the earth or as they were observed in flight are very similar.

A wooden model was received from one group of witnesses, a drawing was received from Canada, another from Texas, sketches were sent in by persons in other areas.  The sketches accompanying this report seem to be standard as far as most press accounts and as far as the sighting reports sent to this project.

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A pattern of flight has been described by persons who claim to have observed objects rising from the earth's surface.  This pattern is that of an object which slowly rises vertically from the earth, then moves in a horizontal line for a short distance, again rises vertically, then again follows a horizontal path, end in a series of steps reaches a desired altitude before accelerating to a very high rate of speed.

Circumstances surrounding some sightings indicate that the observers probably sighted the lights on aircraft approaching airfields.  Other observers may have noted light reflections.  Theories of atmospheric conditions probably will be the answer to other sightings.  However, there still remain those unexplained sightings at close range.  These sightings (see Appendix) made from distances of seventy-five feet to a few hundred yards are not easy to explain. All trained observers, including pilots, artillery air observers, and army intelligence officers, have indicated to us that their sightings were of "objects". This definite classification of a phenomenon, as a material object, is also made by the observers who were within a few yards of the object sighted.  As those close sightings were usually of an object only a few feet above the earth's surface the explanations of light reflection, cloud formation, ionization, and similar natural phenomena become inapplicable.  It is primarily with these sightings that Project A has become concerned.  Unfortunately, these sightings have accounted for less than twenty percent of the sighting report sheets returned to Project A.  This very small group of sightings, of course, cannot be the basis of a detailed scientific analysis.

The accounts of several very reliable witnesses, some with experience as aerial observers, indicate that the object sighted was not a conventional aircraft.  Of equal importance is the fact that whether the object was sighted in Canada, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, tho description was very similar in each case.  As these persons were reliable, and had no contact with each other, more credence can be lent to the details of their description and sketches submitted by these parties.

In view of the limitations placed on tho scientific analysis of such evidence, Project A is at this time reproducing two sketches that in general include the characteristics described by all persons who claimed close sightings.

One further piece of evidence submitted by the trained observers, was the ability of the object to change course radically at high speeds.

All close sightings reported that the dome (see Appendix) gave off an amber light.  At night the description was of a more red than amber color.  The rest of the disc was silver colored, save for a pale blue light observed, almost as a haze, around the outer edge.  At night this blue or green color was described as being much brighter.  Some observers claim the brilliance was that of the blue-white observed in an arc lamp.

There have been frequent statements that any unnatural phenomena, must be a new form of weapon or aircraft designed by the United States Air Force.  Project A, finds two reasons to doubt that this explains all "objects" sighted.  (l)  Sightings have been forwarded which were recorded with sketches as early as 1938.  This was in an era well before the high speed of jet aircraft was attained.  (2)  This fails to account for sightings in Australia, Switzerland, Germany, South America, and Japan, unless it is assumed that a secret test "weapon" is being employed in all these nations.

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A study of letters accompanying the sighting reports gives indication as to why so few reports were received.  Many persons did not wish to have their names revealed, and further stated that they were concerned over the possibility of being ridiculed for their statements.


As in all such projects, the staff of Project A was likely to be plagued by some persons who wore either cranks or were attempting to continue a hoax.  Fortunately, most of those parties were not difficult to separate from sincere persons cooperating with the project.  Some models and photographs were received from conscientious parties.  On the other hand, some rather crudely "touched up" photos were also received by Project A.


The public response to Project A's appeal was evidence of the great aid rendered by several members of the press and radio.  Most of this response, as noted above, was in the form of requests for information, and not in sighting reports.  Mr. Floyd Lattimore, of the Lima News and the Ada Herald, presented a factual account of the objectives of Project A, which was responsible for wire service stories in Texas, Canada, New Mexico, and other areas from which sighting reports were forthcoming.  Mr. Frank Edwards, of the Mutual Broadcasting System, in presenting a second appeal for public cooperation, brought responses from Connecticut, Virginia, and Washington, D. C. The publication Spiritual Life, of Cleveland, Ohio, forwarded clippings from Australia, Germany, and Switzerland which reported European sightings.

The Astronautical Society of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Civilian Saucer Investigation of Los Angeles, California, have been generously offered to share information with Project A.  Time Laboratories of Tecumseh, Michigan also have contributed material to this investigation.


Project A has been unable to attain enough data to attain all of its Basic Objectives.  Method #3, of attaining those objectives, has not been employed as had been hoped, owing to the limited material available.  However, Objective #2 is being adhered to in so far as our available information is being released to the public.

There appear to be several explanations for sightings recorded by Project A.  Our major conclusion to date is that no one explanation fits all sightings, and about twenty percent of the sightings definitely fit the category of unnatural phenomena.  Probably a larger percentage fits this Category, but insufficient evidence is available in these other cases to make a definite statement to that effect.

Project A can do little until this summer, at which time, if the trend of the past six summers is followed, there will be many new sightings reported.  At that time, if the parties who claim sightings will contact Project A, the staff may be able to attain its original objectives.


The following sketches are made from descriptions sent to Project A.  These are not the impressions of the staff of Project A nor are they the interpretations the Project A has made through terms of what they would have imagined to be the appearance of the "Flying Saucer".  Rather, these are accurate copies of information sent to Project A by persons who have claimed to have sighted such phenomena.

Sections A and B both include the "dome" which is usually described as having been amber in color.  At night the color is more red than amber.  Practically all descriptions have included a statement of a pale blue haze in the area of the cambered slots during the day time and a brilliant blue or green light at night.  In fact, the night sightings have reported the blue as approaching the color of blue-white in some cases.  One observer has indicated that in Sketch A from a distance of about seventy-five feet he observed that the underside was concave.  One sighting in the Philadelphia area has accounted for Sketch B in which the underside is convex.  The remainder of the sightings appear as indicated in Sketch A.

Project A Flying Disc Sketches

Various newspaper reports about "Project A" can be read here.

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