Flying Saucers 101

I have a link on The Quester Files indicating that a section is coming devoted to “UFOs.” The very topic makes some roll their eyes. Not an unwarranted response.

It was once a fascinating pursuit and such civilian organizations as NICAAP boasted admirals and generals as members. UFOs were then called flying saucers. That sounded too flippant and eventually it yielded to the Air Force inspired UFO — unidentified flying object. Then, ultimately, that was too inclusive. Decades later the term “Flying Saucer” came back into vogue. Admiral the Lord Hill-Norton put it best. They are better called unexplained than unidentified because saucer is the most consistent shape by which they are described.

In a way the switch back to flying saucer from UFO reflected how UFO was truly too inclusive. UFO reports, if collated, indicated a hundred different shapes and sizes to anything in the sky, and even included nothing more than lights and on occasion what seems to be ball lightning, plasmas, and charms.

When people speak of UFOs they always meant flying saucers anyway. So it is best to leave off the “unidentified” and accept that they are unexplained but not unidentified. They are not only identified. They are all identical.

Time and time again throughout history it seems that discs in the sky have been reported. This was long before our modern era and the belief in spacecraft coming from other planets. The reports of discs merely went unexplained.

When flying saucers became national and worldwide news in 1947, the term came to mean only one thing.  Flying saucer implicitly meant an interstellar spaceship. It didn’t imply something paranormal, nor religious, nor the reality behind angels and demons. They were thought to come from another planet. For the first 20 years of “UFOlogy” this theory dominated. It should have remained a very insulated, rational pursuit. . .but the occult was always trying to get involved.

Ruppelt 2
Blue Book’s most famous head, Captain Ed Ruppelt. He took UFOs seriously, but had a very conservative view.


So if we summarize the “beginnings,” it really seems like a fun mystery to pursue– the visitation by possible humans or other type of intelligent lifeforms from another planet. The science behind flying saucers underscored this. The disc shape was consistent with higher scientific knowledge of flight in space and in an atmosphere.

As a result we believed they would no doubt make contact soon. Donald Keyhoe, the first true “UFOlogist,” thought they might land in front of the White House and make contact. His theories found lasting fame in Earth vs the Flying Saucers for which he was consultant.


Well, it never happened. Decades later the whole genre is submerged in a quagmire of crank religious claims. As one member of the House of Lords said in debate: “I have no doubt that aliens contact people. I just find it amazing they only talk to kooks.”

The ramifications of unexplained speeding silvery disc in the atmosphere, of unknown origin, is completely lost. Just that. It takes no more than one genuine report and we have a problem to face. Stories of such discs in the sky were enough to captivate the public 68 years ago. But that gets old, doesn’t it? The new chapters gave us landings, abductees, contactees, mythologies.  Councils and conspiracies. Amidst this realm, how can a silvery disc report mean much? Yet it has happened. It remains unexplained.

On the whole, the reason why it remains unexplained and obscured by our own capitalizing is the fact that the occurrence is incredibly rare. After the media storm in 1947, the cranks came out and gave us the false impression that sightings are commonplace. They are not. There appears to have been a couple of occasions in which there were “flaps”– large scale activity– and then they are gone.

The early UFOlogists really weren’t investigators. They catalogued reports and indulged, sometimes whimsically, in theory.  Like the supernatural, one cannot investigate flying saucers. One can only investigate claims that a flying saucer was seen. For this reason the reality gave way to the world of unsubstantiated claims, Men in Black, and Majestic 12.

Donald Keyhoe His entire approach to the UFO question can’t even sell today. He excited readers with stories of speeding discs and the political ramifications, but as time went by and the occupants never made contact he could never explain why. The genre gave way to abductee and contactee cases, and he refused to accept those.


Yet it is a fact that many prominent people have seen discs clearly. Some, including astronaut Gordon Cooper, approached the UN about the subject of flying saucers. Cooper said Kurt Waldheim was very courteous and interested. “He talked a good game.” But nothing came of it.

How can it? How can you investigate a flying saucer?

I am not a flying saucer investigator, since I do not think they can be investigated. But the phenomenon of “discs in the sky” can be. I began over 25 years ago with an historic approach, collation of reports and comparative analysis of sightings. This is the beginning. Before one can even draw an hypothesis, this is where it must begin.

I don’t go and visit claims of landing sites and take soil samples to try and uncover what I don’t know. I desire to find consistency. Some shred that is undeniable that gives me a pattern.

Despite my intentional distancing from the genre as practiced today, I am responsible for half of its most astounding evidence as it relates to possible interaction, that is, there are only 2 solid reports of a “UFO” being seen by a pilot in flight, with his observations being recorded by the tower, before he then vanishes along with his aircraft. I uncovered one of these. It’s not from Saturday afternoon pulp reading. It was in a formal National Transportation Safety Board accident report. I also obtained the audio of the Mayday.

There had only been one in the public domain before my discovery. This was the sensational disappearance of Fred Valentich in 1978 off Australia. His words to the base station were recorded. While flying to the coast he encountered a strange silvery object following, pacing and eventually circling over him. As it bore down for its apparently final confrontation with him his engine began to cut out. Then his mic went dead. There was no trace of Valentich or his aircraft ever found.

The Case.


The other occurred in The Bermuda Triangle in 1980 and received no attention. I found it in the early 1990s when receiving NTSB reports of all aircraft posted missing/not recovered for that time period. In the group of reports I came across the disappearance of Jose Maldonado Torres and Jose Pagan Jimenez on June 28, 1980. The circumstance were similar. Torres described the “weird object” trying to interfere with their aircraft and keep it from getting to shore.

The Case.

Both the Valentich disappearance off Australia in 1978 and the Torres/Jimenez disappearance off Puerto Rico in 1980 occurred in areas where “UFOs” hade been long reported. For Australia, even Sir Francis Chichester reported an odd encounter in his book The Lonely Sea and Sky. It had occurred long before people spoke of flying saucers. For the Torres/Jimenez case, the west coast of Puerto Rico is the center of UFO reports and derelict pleasure craft being found.

I don’t have any standing in the UFO genre/community, and I don’t seek any. I don’t scoff at people for their beliefs in alien telepathy and other pseudoreligious contact claims, but that is not my interest nor can I really call that a pursuit of flying saucers. I am after hardcore, tangible clues and evidence.

A collation of flying saucer reports, in the days when they were frequently made, reveals a disturbing coincidence. All those reports from reliable persons, that is, professors, pilots, astronauts, more than one witness, describe a silver disc, lenticular in shape. There is no variation save, depending on size or angle, they can appear ovoid or round. The biggest seem to be ovoid and may look like a “flat cigar shape” when seen from the side. The smaller ones, about 60 feet diameter and 10 to 12 feet tall at the center, are round.

There is no variation except in size. There is no dome. No windows. It is a lentil. A metallic lentil. It presents like platinum, which is a little whiter than silver.


This is really as good as it gets.

Of particular interest are those reports before the dawning of the concept of flying saucers in 1947 and the worldwide attention that produced so many hoaxes of hubcaps in the air.

A significant report found place in Altai Himalaya, 1929. This book was the published travel diary of Nicholas Roerich, recounting his travels through the Gobi Desert and the Altai Himalaya mountain range in 1926. It was published by Stokes in 1929. Page 361-362:

On August 5th— something remarkable! We were in our camp in the Kukunor district not far from the Humbolt Chain. In the morning about half-past nine some of our caravaneers noticed a remarkably big black eagle flying above us. Seven of us began to watch this unusual bird. At this same moment another of our caravaneers remarked: “There is something far above the bird.” And he shouted in his astonishment. We all saw, in a direction from north to south, something big and shiny reflecting the sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed. Crossing our camp this thing changed in its direction from south to southwest. And we saw how it disappeared in the intense blue sky. We even had time to take our field glasses and saw quite distinctly an oval form with shiny surface, one side of which was brilliant with the sun.

As a result of the first great “flap” of flying saucer reports (1947-1952), the Navy cleared for publishing an article in True magazine “How Scientists Tracked a Flying Saucer” in March 1950. The first inkling we get of theories as to what the inhabitants of the saucers might be like is from the article’s author, Commander Robert McLaughlin. White Sands, New Mexico, seemed to be a place the saucers visited. They also seemed interested in the missile launches.

McLaughlin’s concept of the ovoid 105 foot saucer and its propulsion system. Center: Robert McLaughlin.

McLaughlin admitted that they had seen different sizes of saucers during their work there at the test missile base. There was a huge ovoid one (similar to Roerich’s description, though Commander McLaughlin probably did not know of that old and forgotten account) 105 feet in diameter and then, finally, two 20 inch discs followed a rocket launch. He noted that he didn’t know what could be in something that small except an insect.

Inadvertently or not this began or reflected the Pentagon water cooler theorizing that “aliens” were insectoids. Genuine flying saucers had been observed to make incredible speeds and unbelievable maneuvers that should squash anybody inside against the bulkhead. Either the inhabitants inside are designed in such a manner that they can withstand enormous G forces or the saucers, as is popular to theorize, create their own gravitational field and move with their own load. McLaughlin noted that the ovoid saucer did an accent maneuver that must have pulled 20 Gs. He reminded us that a bee can survive 20 Gs.

Naturally, this was the last time that such an article was cleared through the military.

There was much that pushed the military at this time to think it was acceptable to admit to this in an article.  Film had been taken of “flying saucers” by private citizens. A famous example is  The Montana Film

In the above film, Nick Mariana said something that is typical of all of those who have truly seen something, and by this film we know he truly did. It is but a silvery disc. I have received this description, this one vital description, in replies from university professors, military men, civilian pilots,  who have seen one. I have seen this quality in the one photo that J. Allen Hynek thought to be the really good photo of a “daylight disc.”

It is this consistency that has led me on in a chain of clues. But it is the lack of a real zest for the genre, and all that comes with it, that has allowed me to examine it dispassionately and see the one pattern. In truth, such a thing as a flying disc has been seen, but a genuine sighting is so rare that it requires adjusting theory. UFOlogy has become such a cottage industry that it has wiped out the reality of the pattern. Industry requires production. When one chapter got old, new ones were conceived. Today UFOlogy includes far out pseudo religions and as a result pointless theory based purely on mystic claims, claims completely divorced from the origins of the phenomena.

A “flap” did occur in the late 1940s to early 1950s. Amateur filmmakers captures two interesting videos in the Montana and the Utah films. Roerich’s sighting was real in 1926 in the wilderness. We must explain the pattern. We must explain a sudden onslaught and then a withdrawal again to the wilderness. We must explain the lack of contact. The cottage industry has given us many theories, but reality has given us more disturbing questions that have never been addressed.


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