I was asked to participate in the panel concerned with UFOs and nuclear tampering. In fact, I was asked to prepare two statements, although as it turned out, the Panel decided to combine the two separate sessions into one, and therefore I only delivered the one below. (The second statement, although not delivered orally, remains part of the record of the proceedings.)
Richard Dolan, April 30, 2013
From the beginning of the atomic age, there have been good reports of unknown objects with extraordinary capabilities being in the vicinity of our most advanced nuclear facilities. They certainly appear to be interested.
We are fortunate in having obtained a few items of interest via the Freedom of Information Act. It is obvious that much remains beyond our reach, but what we have is certainly of interest. I’m going to describe a few of these documents for you, but first I want to describe an event that is not in a declassified document, but a written account from a credible witness that really is quite fascinating.
This is from a U.S. Navy officer named Byron D. Varner, who wrote a privately published book called Living on the Edge: An American war hero’s daring feats as a Navy fighter pilot, civilian test pilot, and CIA mercenary.
This book includes a UFO encounter by another Navy Pilot, Rolan Powell. Both of these gentlemen was interviewed at length by the then-head of the Mutual UFO Network, Mr. Walter Andruss.
Here’s what happened:
In July 1945, near the close of the Pacific War, the Hanford Atomic Facility, located in the State of Washington, was one of the key elements of America’s new nuclear infrastructure. Although by now no one thought the Japanese could threaten it, there were still standby aircraft, armed and ready at all times, just in case.
At noon, an alert was sounded. Radar had detected a fast-moving object that was now in a holding pattern directly above the Hanford plant. It was extremely high, and no one can see it at first. Six pilots, flying Grumman F-6F Hellcats, were sent up. Finally, they saw it and flew to intercept it. It was estimated to be at 65,000 feet. Extremely high.
No one could recognize it. It had what the book described as “a saucer-like appearance,” bright, extremely fast, and very high. The pilot Rolan Powell later described the object to be as large as “three aircraft carriers side by side, oval shaped, very streamlined like a stretched-out egg and pinkish in color.” It emitted a kind of vapor, he said, around the outside edges, from portholes or vents. He speculated that the vapor was being discharged to form a cloud for disguise.
The pilots were baffled and told to go higher. They replied, “if we go much higher we can ruin these engines.” The answer came back: “Blow the engines if you have to, but use full military power, full throttle injection, maximum, continuous. Go for it!”
They were told that if the engines quit, they were to “glide back towards the airport and hope that you make it.”
Even so, no one could get close enough to the object. It didn’t seem to do anything. It merely hovered there, as if observing, staying well enough out of reach. The pilots could not believe its ability to hover like this. Finally, some of the engines did begin to fail, fuel consumption got critical, and the planes returned to base. After this, the strange craft disappeared as quickly as it came. It did not return.
The pilots had pushed their aircraft up to 42,000 feet, well above their maximum ceiling of 37,000 feet. A rather serious event.
Not surprisingly, there was no press coverage of any of this.
Now, some might quibble that this is just a story, unconfirmed by any government or military document. But this was a detailed story from an experienced World War Two pilot, and you can take from it what you will. We do, however, have a number of declassified government documents that describe UFOs being seen over America’s nuclear facilities during the early atomic era.
Several from the FBI describe a series of events over and near Los Alamos, a central component of America’s nuclear program.
One document, from January 31, 1949, and other from a year and a half later, August 1950, describe what can only be called invasions of sensitive airspace by unknown and very extraordinary objects.
The first document gives specific dates for the initial sightings when they began in December 1948. In that month, they occurred on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 20th, and 28th. The witnesses were nearly all of very high calibler: Special Agents of OSI, Airline Pilots; Military Pilots, and Los Alamos Security Inspectors. There was some speculation that the objects were Soviet, but no reasons or evidence were offered. Meteorites were ruled out.
The provisional conclusion was that this was either a previously unknown natural phenomena or something man made. Except that no one seemed to know of any project, anywhere, that could have caused the sightings. After more than sixty years, we still don’t.
The later document said that a total of roughly 150 observations had been made. It noted that there had been three types of objects.
First, the type known as Green Fireballs, which were “objects moving at high speed in shapes resembling half-moons, circles, and discs emitting green light.”
The second type were a bit more of the in-your-face variety, that is, “Discs, round flat shaped objects or phenomena moving at fast velocity and emitting a brilliant white light or reflected light.”
Third, the author writes “Meteors,” at which the reader might breathe a sigh of relief. Except that he then writes: “aerial phenomena resembling meteoric material moving at high velocity and varying in color.” Colors noted were white, amber, red, and green. Quite a range.
Another key place where the U.S. developed its atomic technology was at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Here is where the Manhattan Project had established a pilot plant for the production of plutonium. UFOs were reported from here, as well.
A declassified teletype from October 13, 1950 stated that, the night before, an Air Force radar installation picked up eleven unknown objects or perhaps more, traveling across Oak Ridge. These were slow moving, and at low altitude, from 1,000 to 5,000 feet. Fighters were scrambled but the pilots saw nothing. The teletype stated that “no reasonable explanation for radar readings yet developed although operators are experienced reliable personnel and radar set is in perfect operating condition.”
This was only the beginning at Oak Ridge. An FBI teletype of December 5, 1950 wrote of six unidentified objects over Oak Ridge from the previous day. It’s clear that people were scratching their heads, and some wondered if there was a possible weather phenomenon going on. Yet another teletype from the FBI’s Richmond Office, dated December 8, 1950, stated: “This office very confidentially advised by Army Intelligence, Richmond, that they have been put on immediate high alert for any data whatsoever concerning flying saucers.”
Violations of air space there occurred on the 15th and 16th of December 1950, and quite a few over the next few months.
Recall that this was during the Korean War. A major crisis was occurring on the other side of the world, monopolizing the efforts of the U.S. military, and yet we have this statement.
Odd craft were seen for quite some time over Oak Ridge. A fascinating document from late 1953 described a visual sighting of a UFO seen over the facility. An F-86 fighter aircraft had just flown by, after which a black object was seen to appear out of a high white cloud, about 12,000 to 15,000 feet altitude. It began to travel in large circles very rapidly for at least five minutes. Sometimes it looked cigar shaped, sometimes round. Now, in the words of the report:
“Object was extremely black in color, having an appearance of a deep black metal exterior with a fine gloss. It did not leave a vapor trail …. No sound was heard. The object flew east at a tremendous speed for what appeared to be three miles where it stopped. The object was then joined by two more of these same objects. A formation similar to a spread “V” was formed and the objects, at a tremendous speed flew in an eastward direction.”
Incidentally, there is one more document describing a UFO over the Hanford Nuclear Plant, which came up at the beginning of my statement. We have an Air Force memo from August 8, 1950, which shows us that Hanford continued to be a place of interest. Listen to this brief statement:
“Since 30 July 1950 objects, round in form, have been sighted over the Hanford AEC Plant…. Air Force jets attempted interception with negative results. All units including the anti-aircraft battalion, radar units, Air Force fighter squadrons, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been alerted for further observation. The Atomic Energy Commission states that the investigation is continuing …”
All I can say is, good grief. Do you think they were taking this seriously? Yes, I think they were.
These events were more than mere accident or coincidence. Anyone charged with security over these vital installations would have to take these events very seriously. Indeed, not to do so would be a grave violation of one’s sworn duty to protect and defend such installations. And it would not be hard to see why deep secrecy would dominate the subject of UFOs.
There are other incidents regarding UFOs and nuclear installations that occurred in later years. I will discuss some of those in the next panel shortly. There is even evidence that these types of events have continued to occur much more recently, although they are harder to confirm.
And yet, the events which took place so long ago not only demand a scientific analysis, but also cry out to be understood for what they were: a key component in the implementation of secrecy so profound, so serious, that they contributed to the creation of a state within a state, not bound by the traditional American goals of public openness and responsiveness to the people.
One might argue that such events are so serious that the public really doesn’t have a need to know. Well, I beg your pardon, but I do think that citizens in a free republic, if they are to govern, which is the basic idea, do have a need to know the important things in their world.