There are an abundance of UFO sightings made all around the world, but there are only a few that have been captured on camera. So here in this article, we have discussed the Mariana UFO sighting, which is among the earliest reported UFO sightings recorded on the camera. It dates back to 1950 and was recorded by Nicholas Mariana. A thorough investigation ensued, but witnesses later claimed that the US Air Force had seized the part of the film containing the most crucial evidence.
On the morning of August 15, 1950, around 11:30 a.m., Nicholas Mariana, the general manager of the city’s Class D team, was checking out the baseball field in Great Falls, Montana, with his secretary, Virginia Raunig. They were inspecting the field as a game was scheduled for later that afternoon. To determine which way the wind was blowing, Mariana headed to the grandstand.
The two brilliant lights, “like two new dimes in the sky,” caught Mariana’s attention as he glanced toward the north-western sky and the Anaconda Copper Company smokestack. Those lights were traveling at a rapid pace. After observing them for only a moment, he realized they weren’t planes. He yelled at his secretary and ran to his car, which was parked about sixty feet away. He then opened the glove box and pulled out a 16-mm movie camera. He then began shooting using a telephoto lens.
“I set the camera at f-22, picked up the objects in the viewfinders, and pressed the trigger. As the film clicked through I could see the objects moving southeast behind the General Mills grain buildings and the black water tank south of the ballpark. I filmed the objects until they disappeared into the blue sky behind the water tank. Suddenly, directly behind us – northeast – two jets shot by with a roar and we almost jumped out of our shoes.
The objects I saw were very bright and about 10,000 feet in the air. They appeared to be a shiny bright metal – like polished silver. There were two of them and they appeared to be about 50 yards apart. Both were the same size and were moving at the same rate of speed, which was much slower than the jets which shot by shortly after. I filmed the discs. The discs appeared to be spinning, like a top, and then they picked up speed and disappeared. They appeared to be about 50 feet across and bout three or four feet thick. I could not see – nor do the picture show – any exhaust, wings, or any kind of fuselage. I could see no cabin. There was no sound and no odor. The whole scene took from 15 to 25 seconds.”Nicholas Mariana
That evening’s edition of the Great Falls Leader and the next morning’s edition of the Great Falls Tribune covered the news. A number of local organizations, including the Central Roundtable Athletic Club, saw Mariana’s color video in the following weeks. After seeking permission from Mariana, Leader reporter Clifton Sullivan told the Air Materiel Command (AMC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, about Mariana’s video on September 13. Next month, on October 4, Mariana was interviewed by Captain John P. Brynildsen, district commander for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) at Great Falls (now Malmstrom) AFB.
He also gave the video recording to the commander. According to Brynildsen’s memo, Mariana saw jets hurling in the sky immediately after the sighting. The next evening, the officer told a Tribune writer, “I picked up about eight feet of film from Mariana.” A day later, when he sent the video film to AMC headquarters, he also included a transmission letter that stated he was sending “approximately fifteen feet of moving picture film taken by Mr. Nicholas Mariana.” This caused confusion, and it is still unclear whether the Air Force took eight or fifteen feet of video film.
Employees of AMC were reported in the Dayton Daily News on October 10 as saying, “The film is too dark to distinguish any recognizable objects. For this reason, it will be sent on to Washington headquarters. The Air Force has no interest in the film. The film will be returned to the owner.” After eight days, the AMC’s chief public information officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ray Ward Taylor, wrote to Mariana, saying that “our photo analysts were unable to find on it anything identifiable of an unusual nature.” Edward J. Ruppelt, who the next year would revive the Air Force’s mostly dead Project Grudge, said, “In 1950 there was no interest in the UFO so, after a quick viewing, Project Grudge had written them off as ‘the reflections from two F-94 jet fighters that were in the area.”
Nicholas Mariana Interview Regarding The UFO Sighting
After analysis, when Mariana received the film back, he noticed that the very beginning, the portion where the spinning discs were most clearly visible, was gone. He estimated that the present cut of the picture was 35 frames (or 0.9 feet) short of what was intended. His claims were supported by many people who had earlier seen the film.
The portion of the video recording that was missing clearly displayed an enormous UFO rotating at rapid speed, each with a notch or band around its outside border. The left-over recording that created the controversy only had visuals made up entirely of brilliant white dots. This created a fuss that has gone on for decades. However, the Air Force stated that the recording had not been altered.
According to a report by Bob Considine in the January 1951 edition of Cosmopolitan, the Air Force identified the objects as two F-94s that “had landed at the neighboring field at 11:33 a.m..” Mariana filed a lawsuit against Considine the following May, claiming that the article’s title, “The Disgraceful Flying Saucer Hoax,” implied that he was a “liar, prankster, half-wit, crank, publicity hound, and fanatic.” He persisted with the lawsuit until September 1955, without any results.
Reanalysis Of The Evidence
General John A. Samford ordered the Air Force’s UFO project, commonly known as Project Blue Book, to reexamine the UFO case files following the July 1952 radar and visual sightings at Washington National Airport. The case was again reopened by Captain Ruppelt. Mariana, dissatisfied with the initial examination of the recording, greeted the Air Force with disinterest this time.
However, Mariana ultimately consented to letting the Air Force view the video again on the condition that they sign a commitment to return it in its entirety this time. After Blue Book obtained the footage, they sent Lieutenant Peter Marquez, an officer Mariana had previously worked with and trusted, to conduct an in-depth interview with him.
When the AMC photo laboratory received the recording, they concluded that the object was not an air balloon or any sort of bird. The interview with Mariana took place on July 7, 1953. Great Falls AFB confirmed that two F-94s were in the area and getting ready to land, which is what Mariana had reported, but this option was ultimately ruled out.
“The two jets weren’t anywhere close to where the two UFOs had been. Next we studied each individual light and both appeared too steady to be reflections. We drew a blank on the Montana movie – it was an unknown.”Captain Ruppelt
The Air Force’s UFO evidence was reviewed by a committee of notable scientists on January 14 in Washington, DC, under the supervision of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Montana film, along with another shot by US Navy photographer Delbert C. Newhouse in 1952, were examined by the Robertson panel that morning.
It was known as the Robertson panel because it was chaired by California Institute of Technology physicist H. P. Robertson. There was not anything that changed the mind of the panel, as they were already skeptical and believed that the objects were merely a reflection of aircraft.
The Baker Analysis
Former Pentagon civilian UFO spokesperson Albert M. Chop wrote to Mariana in December 1953, requesting permission to use footage from his video in the upcoming documentary film Unidentified Flying Objects, which was being made by Greene-Rouse Motion Picture Studios. Four months after acquiring the rights, Greene-Rouse began filming a script with the help of Blue Book veterans Ruppelt and Dewey Fournet in consulting roles. On October 1, 1954, in Missoula, Montana, where Mariana now resides, he portrayed himself in a film about the incident.
Chop was a consultant for the documentary about UFOs, and he also worked for Douglas Aircraft. Similarly, Robert M. L. Baker Jr. was a scientist with training in both computer science and engineering. Baker found out about the Montana film through Chop. In 1954, he analyzed it using a 16-mm copy given to him by the Air Technical Intelligence Center, which ran Blue Book, and a 35-mm copy given to him by Greene-Rouse. Baker spoke with Mariana for more interviews and observational data.
The Left Over Recording Of The Nicholas Mariana UFO Sighting
Robert M.L. Baker Jr. spent adequate time and energy on the analysis of the photographs, and by the early spring of 1956, he concluded that the whole hypothesis was not very strong.
“Despite the considerable amount of effort spent on the analysis of the evidence and circumstances no clearcut conclusion can be brought out.”Robert M.L. Baker Jr.
He told the US House Committee on Science and Astronautics in 1958 that the F-94 explanation had no merit.
“On the basis of the photographic evidence, the images cannot be explained by any presently known natural phenomenon.”Robert M.L. Baker Jr claimed this in scientific journal of 1958
The Condon Committee investigation
The Air Force and the University of Colorado signed an agreement to conduct an independent UFO study under the supervision of physicist Edward U. Condon. Along with Montana UFO records, the informally known Condon Committee investigated other UFO cases. Psychologist David R. Saunders was a member of the committee who was fired due to the pro-UFO bias he had established during his investigations.
“One sighting of all time that did more than any other single case to convince me that there is something to the UFO problem.”David R. Saunders
Saunders collaborated with Roy Craig, a physical chemist who was also a full-time committee investigator. Saunders gathered and evaluated data from a wide variety of sources, including newspaper articles, Air Force memoranda, and meteorological records, and he also visited the site. Later, Craig met with Mariana, Raunig, and others in order to interview them personally.
“There are several independent arguments against airplane reflections. (1) Short-term variations in image size (correlated with brightness), time scale ca. 1 sec., are typically not more than ± 5%. A priori considerations of aircraft stability and emotional observations by Baker indicate that it is very unlikely that two aircraft could maintain such constant reflections over not only the 16 sec. and the 20-degree azimuth arc photographed but also the minimum of 50 sec. visually observed. I have confirmed this by studying aircraft visually in the vicinity of Tucson airports; in at least a dozen cases none has been seen to maintain a constant or unidentifiable reflection as long as 16 sec.”University of Arizona astronomer and photo analyst William K Hartmann stated this in “Photographic Case Studies” part (section IV, chapter 3) of the Condon Committee’s final report
“The case remains unexplained. The images on the film are difficult to reconcile with aircraft or other known phenomena, although aircraft cannot be entirely ruled out.”William K Hartmann
To Mariana’s knowledge, the 35 frames of the recording she accuses the Air Force of stealing have never been made public or posted to any digital sharing service. Some of the details of this UFO incident remain murky, and it is believed that the Air Force may have tampered with the evidence in order to prevent the spread of mass panic.
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Source: Donkey Junk