Some Forgotten UFO Cases
McMinnville UFO Photographs
On May 11th, 1950 Evelyn Trent was returning to her farm home in Sheridan, Oregon near McMinnville after feeding her rabbits when she noticed an object in the sky. She called out to her husband, Paul, who also witnessed the object and ran back inside to grab a camera. He took a couple photographs before the object vanished out of sight. A local banker displayed the photos from his bank which led a local reporter, Bill Powell, to be loaned the negatives. After publication in the local paper, which quickly got picked up nationally, LIFE Magazine published the photos in their edition on June 26th, 1950. LIFE Magazine said they had lost the negatives, only for them to be found in files for the UPI (United Press International) in 1967. The negatives, for reasons unclear, were then loaned to an astronomer in Dr. William K. Hartmann, who was working for the Condon Committee, a UFO Researchers Group in Colorado. In 1970, Philip Bladine, editor of the News-Register, was asked to return the negatives as the Trents had never been paid for use of them. Bladine asked for the negatives from UPI but never told the Trents he had them back. Dr. Bruce Maccabee found the negatives in files in 1975 and did his own investigation, determining that the event was not a hoax and the pictures were real.
In the 1980s, UFO hunters Philip J. Klass and Robert Sheaffer determined the pictures were faked largely due to the shadows on the garage reflecting that the pictures were taken in the morning, casting doubt on the veracity of the story. As a result of these findings, Hartmann retracted his statement that the event was real. Maccabee, however, argued that cloud conditions could explain the shadows and that the object was clearly above the power lines in the picture, debunking the belief that it was an object hung down from them. A study done in 2013 by researchers with IPACO concluded that the object was likely hollow and with a string used for suspension after computer software was used for analysis, but UFO researcher Brad Sparks in August said the analysis was flawed with the researchers relying on different measurements of the object when their initial dimensions were done and the conclusion did not substantiate the model theory.
Nick Mariana UFO Film
Around 11:30 A.M. on August 15th, 1950 in Great Falls, Montana, minor league baseball manager Nick Mariana and his secretary, Virginia Raunig, witnessed two silvery objects in the sky. Nick ran to his car and retrieved a 16 millimeter camera and taped them for 16 seconds in length. The camera could film in color but could not record sound. The day after, the Great Falls Tribune posted a feature story including the fact that Nick had taped them on his camera. Captain John P. Brynildsen of the Air Force interviewed Mariana and Raunig about the incident, including learning that both had seen 2 fighter jets fly over moments after seeing the UFO, and requested the film. He told the local reporter whom had tipped him off that he was only sending 8 feet of tape but reported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that he was sending over 15 feet of tape. There was no explanation for the discrepancy. In 1951, Project Blue Book supervisor Edward J. Ruppelt said there was a cursory overview due to lack of interest in 1950 and the film was written off as reflections of the two F-94 fighter jets seen by the parties.
Upon getting the film back, Mariana said there were 35 frames missing that clearly showed the objects as rotating disks. Other folks who had witnessed the film substantiated his claims. The Air Force denied this and said they only removed a single frame due to damage. This discrepancy was also never cleared up. In July of 1952, Ruppelt managed to get the film sent back to Wright-Patterson for further study with an agreement that no frames would be removed. This study concluded that the objects were not birds or balloons and more importantly it debunked the conclusion done in 1950 that they were merely reflections of the fighter jets. In January of 1953, the Air Force and CIA convened a group of scientists to view the film and they concluded the objects were, “reflections of aircraft known to have been in the area.”
In 1954, Robert M.L. Baker Jr was hired to analyze the Mariana film for a documentary. He completed his findings in 1956 and in 1969 he presented a paper at the AAAS UFO Panel that argued the objects in the Mariana film were unidentifiable. William Hartmann analyzed the film for the Condon Report and he argued that although airplanes being the objects was unlikely, it could not be ruled out and acknowledged that there were several independent arguments against the 1950 conclusion of reflections.
Exeter, New Hampshire Sighting
On September 3rd, 1965 Norman Muscarello was hitchhiking home when he saw five lights flashing in the woods at about 2 A.M. After diving into a ditch to avoid the lights as they came towards him, he flagged down a car and was driven to the police station. Reginald Toland was told the story and he radioed Eugene Bertrand Jr, whom had earlier comforted a distressed woman on Highway 108 whom claimed that a huge object with flashing red lights had followed her car along the highway for 12 miles before finally departing. Bertrand drove Muscarello back to the area where he had sighted the lights. They both saw an object with red lights lift off the ground and swayed towards them. Bertrand drew his gun but chose not to fire, instead dragging Muscarello back to his vehicle. There, he radioed David Hunt for assistance. David arrived and also witnessed the object before it vanished off. All three would return to the station and file separate incident reports about the situation and what they had witnessed.
John G. Fuller, a journalist for Saturday Review went to Exeter and interviewed various residents of the area. A high school senior, John Smith, reported that a few weeks after the initial incident, he and his mother witnessed a UFO with similar lights around 11:30 P.M. pass over their car, stop, then reverse course before disappearing into the night sky. Reginald Toland also commented that Ralph Lindsay witnessed an orange object outside her window and was on the phone with him while her kids watched the object too.
The Air Force sent Major David Griffin and Lieutenant Alan Brandt to interview all three men with a request made to not leak the story publicly to the media. A reporter from the Manchester Union-Leader, however, had already interviewed them for a story. Griffin wrote that five B-47 aircraft were in the area but were unlikely to be the causes for the object sighted. The Pentagon proclaimed it was just misjudgment of stars and planets while Project Blue Book remarked it was merely a SAC/NORAD training mission called Operation Big Blast. Bertrand rebutted that by arguing that their sighting was an hour after Operation Big Blast was said to have ended. In January 1966, Lieutenant Colonel John Spaulding wrote back to Bertrand and Hunt saying, “based on additional information submitted to our UFO investigation officer, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, we have been unable to identify the object you observed on September 3, 1965.”
In 1966, John G. Fuller published a book detailing the account of the event titled, Incident at Exeter. In a November/December 2011 edition of Skeptical Inquirer, an explanation is put forth that it was merely a KC-97 tanker aircraft being refueled from Pease Air Force Base but it doesn’t explain how Bertrand did not know what that was given his 4 years of experience in the Air Force as a tanker crewman.
If you want more weird and bizarre cases, I highly recommend checking out Andrew Lutzke’s series here.