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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Investigating 25 March 1948, Part 3: Flying Discs

©2017 By Bob Koford

Note: in this article, the author has drawn heavily on the official UFO reports available at

In his 1950’s book, Behind the Flying Saucers, author Frank Scully introduced us to the idea that a flying disc had landed on a mesa, not far from the town of Aztec, New Mexico. Mr. Scully did not provide an exact date for this event, but since the time of the book’s publication, witnesses have been located and interviewed who have given us one: 25 March 1948. Other books had been in circulation before Scully’s, discussing the subject of flying saucers in general, but none of them had seriously presented the idea that any them crashed and had been recovered.

In two previous articles [ see: Part one and Part Two ] information was presented from the investigation of this date, and whether there was any reason to believe something like a disc landing could have taken place. In this article, Part 3, evidence will be presented to show that the “Flying Discs” were taken very seriously in the period before and after the Aztec landing was to have occurred.

To begin with, it is usually reported that the 1947 Flying Saucer scare began in late June, with Kenneth Arnold. The Press had reported his story of having sighted several strange objects near Mt. Rainier, in Washington, State. It turns out, he wasn’t the first to have seen and reported something strange.

Sometime in April, a group of weather reporters in Richmond, Virginia spotted “discs” that appeared under the balloons they were tracking. As many as 4 sightings were reported to have occurred over several days. Their description of one of them was as being, “larger than [a] pibal* balloon when observed thru (sic) a theodolite**.” The exact shape was not clear, as the object had passed quickly underneath their balloon. 1

*Pibal is a known meteorological term, referring to the balloon and measuring devices.
** A theodolite is an automatic tracking telescope.

On 30 June, in Arizona, eyewitnesses in a plane reported seeing an object plummet, at an incredible velocity, toward the ground. The object was described by the witnesses as being “light gray” and “circular”. It “seemed to have hit [the]ground some 25 miles north of the south rim of Grand Canyon, Arizona”.2 Details regarding the recovery of this object have not been located. This is especially interesting to ponder, since Scully had said there were three incidents, one occurring in Arizona.

On 3 July, a Mr. John F. Cole, an astronomer in South Brooksville, Maine, reported hearing a loud roar, and saw up to 10 light colored objects flying between 600 and 1200 miles per hour. 3 He was quoted as saying, “the only concrete evidence of form appeared on left tangent of the group - two dark shaped forms”.

On 4 July 1947, a United Airlines DC-3 had a now famous encounter with unknown objects while flying over Emmet, Idaho. Up to nine flying discs were witnessed by the pilot, Captain E. J. Smith, and his co-pilot, Ralph Stevens. 4 A newspaper article reported the incident, on the sixth, adding details about the investigations into the whole flying saucer subject by authorities.

The Sunday News stated: “New reports of the baffling phenomena kept pouring in from western states, where the strange discs first were spotted.” 5The article continued, by saying, “Army Intelligence in Washington, D. C., took the flood of reports seriously enough to begin an investigation.”

The headline for the next article, which appeared on the same page, stated: “Pentagon’s G-2 On Trail of Saucers.”
The article itself read,
“Washington, D. C., July 5- Army Intelligence has begun the job of digging out the facts on the outburst of “flying saucers” reported flitting over widespread parts of the nation, but to date remains completely mystified. The News learned that the saucers are definitely not connected with an U. S. experimental military project.”

It is interesting that they claimed to know that the saucers were not part of our secret arsenal. The article continued with:
“A War Department source revealed that the G-2 section (Intelligence) went to work a year ago on reports of other strange objects flying around the skies and came to the conclusion-never fully verified-that they were meteorites of some description.”

When the author of the article wrote “…a year ago”, that would have been a reference to the Air Section of the War Department General Staff, and the Central Intelligence Group’s 1946 investigation of the so-called Ghost-Rockets, seen over Sweden and Greece.

Though the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC), at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, later became synonymous with investigating UFOs, the Army General Staff had coined the term Unconventional Aircraft. When the objects, described to them by deemed-reliable witnesses, predominantly began to take the form of “discs,” the Army added “Flying Disc” to the category of unknowns in their investigations, hence Colonel Ennis’s 25 March 1948 directive for reporting Unconventional Aircraft,” …including the so-called “Flying Discs”. 6

Within the different categories of objects taken note of over the years, the “disc”, the “sphere” and the “chevron” or “flying wing” shapes topped the list.

Kenneth Arnold reported something akin to a half-moon, and there are a few other reports of this type of object in the official files. The half-moon description did cause some intelligence analysts to take pause, because of their knowledge of the Horton brothers (see previous article), who were known to have worked on radical airplane designs for the Nazis, during World War II. Air Force Intelligence was interested to know whether-or-not any of the sightings of the flying discs could have been attributed to their work. This included the broader question about someone using advanced Nazi technology, in general.

The problem with the Nazi saucer theory can be broken into two questions:

1. Why, after so many years of sightings, had these supposed Nazi (or Soviet utilizing Nazi tech) pilots been so content to just sit back and watch, or play cat-and-mouse with American Air Defense interceptors and not attack? After all, that level of technology would have been a tremendous boost to either the Communist or some remnant of Nazi military forces.

2. If they were a result of our own Nazi-technology-based designs being witnessed, why on earth would such risks have been taken, when it was so unnecessary to do so? The possible loss of either life or technological surprise clearly posed a tremendous danger to our National Security.

It would not make sense for a cheating poker player to announce to their fellow card players that they had an “ace up their sleeve”. In much the same way, the idea that our own forces would put our National Security secrets at risk, not once or twice, but dozens of times, in the manner seen over the years, just doesn’t make sense. Likewise, the thought that some enemy of the United States would take the same types of risks, over, and over again, with nothing to show for it, also makes little or no sense. So, what does that leave us with?

As for the seriousness with which the flying discs were afforded, it can be seen in the now famous memo to General George Schulgen, written in 1947, by the engineering and Intelligence groups at Wright Field, Ohio:7
“It is the opinion that: a. The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious. b. There are objects probably approximating the shape of a disc, of such appreciable size as to appear to be as large as man-made aircraft. c. There is a possibility that some of the incidents may be caused by natural phenomena, such as meteors d. The reported operating characteristics such as extreme rate of climb, maneuverability (particularly in roll), and action which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar, lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically or remotely”

Though some respected scientists of the day were calling these sightings hallucinations, and a result of “war nerves”, it is clear from the Schulgen memo that this was not the case. If the discs were simply a product of the press and a gullible populace, it does not seem very likely that the Intelligence experts would have concluded that the discs were, “…real and not visionary or fictitious.”

On 30 September 1949, a military policeman assigned to a base in Maryland reported seeing “two unidentified aerial objects near the smoke stack of the Chevrolet Assembly Plant which is adjacent to Camp Holabird “. The witness, Corporal Gaeye Floyd, according to investigators, “described the objects as disc shape, much like an enlarged silver dollar, very shiny…”. 8

In September 1950, the Air Force issued a directive to the CIA,9 that was very similar in form as the Army Letter of 25 March 1948. It used the term Unconventional Aircraft as well, and we know from the Army Letter, 452.1 of 25 March 1948, this included Flying Discs. This is interesting since the CIA maintained, for many years, that it had absolutely no interest in this subject matter.

As for the reported landing of a disc on a mesa, in New Mexico, on 25 March 1948, one thing is a certainty. Though one may not be able to definitively say, for sure, that one landed there, based on the government files reviewed so far, it can clearly be seen that the subject matter pertaining to Flying Discs was taken very seriously, especially by the Army General Staff’s Intelligence Division. Among the several documents located as part of this 25 March 1948 investigation, probably the most compelling was the Army Letter authored by Colonel Riley Ennis, on that date.

There is no mention of a crashed or landed saucer in this directive, but it was issued on the same day that the landing event was to have taken place, and the subject of the letter was: Unconventional Aircraft and Flying Discs!


1. see: file number USAF-SIGN2-35,36; Restricted, “Mr. Minozowski observed a strange metallic disk on three occasions thru the theodolite while making pibal observations during
six-months period…when balloon was at 15,000 ft. He followed it for 15 seconds”

2. see: file number USAF-SIGN2-30,31; “On 30 June 1947 at about 0910 MST, William G. McGinty, P-80 pilot was flying at 25,000 feet over Grand Canyon, Arizona…when he saw
2 round objects going at inconceivable speeds straight down. One of the unidentifiable objects followed the other seconds apart.”

3. see: file number USAF-SIGN2-23,24;”one plane towing a lot of balloons, the witness thought, would have been easily recognized”

4. see: file number USAF-SIGN1-82,83; “…Capt Smith described them as follows: 3 ‘somethings’ which were ‘thin and smooth on the bottom and rough appearing on top”

5. see: file number NARA-PBB1-808, 809; Sunday News, July 6, 1947, True or False, 19th State Sees ‘Saucers’

6. Department of the Army, General Staff, United States Army, Intelligence Division, Washington 25, D. C., GSCID452.1, 25 March 1948, Subject: Unconventional Aircraft

7. see: file number NARA-PBB85-57; “1. as requested by AC/AS-2 there is presented below the considered opinion of this Command concerning the so-called ‘Flying Discs…’”

8. see: file number MAXW-PBB7-598; “1. Investigation predicated upon telephonic report of Captain William C. Hanley, 109th CIC Detachment, 1 October 1949, that two unidentified
aerial objects had been observed in the vicinity of Camp Holabird, Baltimore, Maryland 30 September 1949.”

9. see: CIA’s online FOIA Library; file number CIA-RDP80R01731R003500010009-8; “To: Chief, COAPS, From: Assistant Director, OCD, Subject: Unconventional Aircraft…1. General Cabell has sent us the attached instructions
for reporting upon unconventional aircraft, and has asked that CIA extend all possible cooperation to USAF in gathering such data as circumstances may make available”

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