Published: 2:13 AM 11/27/2013
By Billy Cox, Herald-Tribune
In 1956, a curious little 90-minute docudrama called “Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of the Flying Saucers” hit U.S. theaters. Despite what sounded like a compelling teaser — i.e., the inclusion of two previously classified pieces of UFO footage — the film tanked at the box office.
Maybe it was the clunky script, which sounded like it might’ve been written on thorazine. Maybe it was the robotic dialogue or its soporific pacing, delivered by an odd mix of actors and real-life participants in said events.
In this docudrama, USAF Col. Edward Ruppelt described Robert Newhouse as "a first-rate flight observer, an extremely competent one"/CREDIT: moviepostershop.com
At any rate, this was the first time Americans got a peek at the so-called Tremonton footage, taken on July 2, 1952, by off-duty career Navy veteran Delbert Newhouse (who just happened to be the service’s chief photographer) as he drove through Utah on vacation.
By that time, the 46-second clip — which showed anywhere from 7 to 16 round white objects maneuvering against a clear blue sky — had been analyzed by Wright Patterson AFB Photo Reconnaissance Lab and the U.S. Navy Photo Interpretation Center in Washington.
After subjecting the film to more than 1,000 man-hours of scrutiny, authorities were officially stumped after scratching birds, balloons, and conventional aircraft from the list of suspects. Those were the days when an ongoing official investigation into UFOs allowed military sources to speak more candidly on the record.
Nevertheless, those inconclusive assessments didn’t stop the CIA-convened “Robertson panel,” or the University of Colorado’s subsequent “Condon committee,” from resolving the mystery with the discredited bird-flock scenario. And that was pretty much the final word in this now-obscure early chapter of America’s conundrum with The Great Taboo.
Last week, a reader directed me to a lonely blog post by one Jimmy Robinson of Las Cruces, N.M. Robinson listed his credentials as a former White Sands Missile Range systems analyst and a New Mexico State University astronomer.
He previously surfaced in cyberspace in 2001, when he offered personal recollections to a web site conducting an oral history project on the late astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930.
A WWII Navy veteran like Newhouse, Robinson made his one and only venture into the blogosphere for this reason: “I'm not getting any younger, and just want to make sure my account finally gets into the record one way or another.”
He claimed he saw the Tremonton UFOs — the ones flying the same complex formations Newhouse recorded — in early July 1952. Although Robinson was in eastern New Mexico, more than 600 miles from Tremonton, he was certain the events were related. Most impressive to him was the “smooth machine-like quality of motion” of his sighting, which he detailed in exacting terms.
Robinson appears to be a keen observer, and his conscientiousness should make us wonder what American culture has cost science when it comes to contributing evidence.
“The night after the sighting I informed my family, as well as two of my best friends,but nobody seemed to take me seriously,” he writes, and he “became afflicted with the same fear of ridicule experienced by so many UFO observers over the years.
“It didn't help that, on the very first class day of an instrumentation course I took,” Robinson continues, “the professor emphatically warned the students that there would be absolutely no mention of UFOs in his class because such things were physically impossible, and any such discussion would be a complete waste of time!”
Robinson revisited his sighting by accident, in the late 1960s, when he caught the 1956 flick on TV. Seeing the Newhouse footage of the UFO formation he had tried to forget left him “thoroughly shaken.”
De Void attempted unsuccessfully to reach Robinson via the contact information on the Tombaugh chatter site, so one assumes the worst. Robinson made no hyperbolic claims in what would appear to be his final statement, no ET assertions or divination of intergalactic craft.
He merely steered the conversation back to the original data, back before the spin doctors worked their magic and the USAF actually told the truth. “Absolute proof that the objects in the Newhouse movie cannot be explained,” he wrote, “is contained in simple scientific measurements of the film.”
If only admitting “I don’t know” wasn’t such a sign of weakness in this country...