The Red Bluff UFO Incident is the narrative of two California highway patrol officers who claimed to have witnessed swiftly moving unexplained flying objects in the sky in 1960 in Red Bluff. Also, their claims were further followed by the Project Blue Book investigation that followed their claims.
The Red Bluff UFO Incident
The evening of August 13, 1960, a Saturday, had been a regular one for California Highway Patrol Officers Charles A. Carson and Stanley Scott up until the point when they noticed the object in the sky above them.
In the early morning hours, as they drove along a farm road two miles east of Corning, they had no clue that they were seconds away from an amazing meeting that would make headlines around the country.
It crossed over the road in front of me. As soon as it came within 100 or 200 feet of the earth, it did something completely unexpected as it turned 180 degrees and rocketed 500 feet above before taking up a hovering position.
It crossed over the road in front of me. As soon as it came within 100 or 200 feet of the earth, it did something completely unexpected as it turned 180 degrees and rocketed 500 feet above before taking up a hovering position. At this time it was clearly visible to both of us. It was surrounded by a glow making the round or oblong object visible. At each end, on each side of the object, there were definite red lights. At times about five white lights were visible between the red lights.”Similar to what Carson would write in his official report.
The UFO appeared metallic in appearance, and it was fashioned in some way like a football and measured over 100 feet in length. The two officers thought the white lights resembled a row of “windows,” so they called them that. They soon discovered that the red lights also served as searchlights, which was a welcome discovery.
Scott rushed for the radio and called the dispatcher at the Tehama County Sheriff’s office, Deputy Clarence Fry, to report the incident. Scott requested that Fry notify all of the cars in the area and lead some of them to the spot. He also requested that Fry checks with the Air Force radar station in Red Bluff (approximately 20 miles to the north) to see if anything was being picked up.
After hovering for a few minutes, the UFO proceeded closer to them, coming within 150 yards of them. Despite their discomfort, Carson and Scott drew their sidearms, each of which was loaded with armor-piercing rounds, with the aim of drawing them and opening fire if the object approached any closer to them. A blazing crimson beam about six feet in diameter rushed across the scene as it pivoted and scanned the area. The two red lights on either end of the ship served as searchlights, but only one of them was operational at a given time. Carson subsequently pointed out that:
“The beam wasn’t movable in itself, the entire object had to move to move the beam light.”
During this phase of the sighting, one or the other beam flashed six or seven times on either side of the ship. In every direction, the object was making incredible movements, shooting back and forth in every direction. Static could be heard on the radio during the course of the conversation. Despite the fact that it would continue as long as the UFO was visible, it was not enough to completely shut down all contact. There were sporadic exchanges with Fry (who had escaped from the jail in order to witness the UFOs for himself), and at one point Carson and Scott were informed that an object was being tracked by the Red Bluff radar.
Scott used the patrol car’s own red light to direct his attention to the UFO. As soon as the light found its mark, the object scurried away from the light source. It began to move in an easterly direction. Carson and Scott decided to follow the UFO after being assured by dispatcher Fry that other police cars were on their way. Despite their best efforts, it remained to their south, at a distance they estimated to be 50 to 75 yards, and maintained its irregular movement, sometimes drifting lazily and at other times zipping around at speeds they described as “unbelievable.”
Because of its relatively low altitude, the object disappeared from view in the mountainous terrain from time to time, and the cops, who were familiar with the area, had to use back roads until they were able to locate it again. When it disappeared behind a hill and failed to reappear, they stopped the car and got up on the hood, from which they had a panoramic view of the surrounding area and the surrounding hill. The UFO appeared on the other side for a brief moment before disappearing. “It appeared to jump over the crest of the slope all at once,” Scott recalled. It got closer and closer until there were just 150 feet between the object and the spectators. After that, it began to move eastward again.
In a letter to Walter N. Webb, Carson recalled:
“Most of our time was spent observing the object. However, we made several attempts to follow it, or I should say get closer to it. But the object seemed aware of us and we were more successful remaining motionless and allowing it to approach us, which it did on several occasions… There were no clouds or aircraft visible… The object was illuminated by a glow. This glow was emitted by the object, not a reflection of other lights. The object was solid, definitely not transparent. At no time did we hear any type of sound except radio interference.”
Carson and Scott eventually turned around and returned to Highway 99E, which they had just passed a few minutes before as the thing grew further and further away. Once on the road, they drove south to a fire-watching tower to observe the flames. The forester was no longer present, but the building was still accessible.
The officers raced to the top of the building and peered out toward the UFO, which was now simply a faint light source hanging towards the horizon at this point. Soon after, though, it ascended up and over a range of hills three miles to the east, and it resumed its journey eastward. Just as the first light faded away from view for the last time, another light flew in from the south and joined it. At 2:05 a.m., it was no longer possible to view the objects.
Disappearing Lights And Flying Wings
Around midnight, Deputy Fry and Deputy Max Montgomery departed Red Bluff and drove southeast for a few miles down to the small village of Los Molinos, where they set up shop on a hillside overlooking the town. According to what Fry would write in an official report:
“At approximately 12:30 a.m. we observed four objects in the Western sky; they were travelling from the south to the north in a straight line and at times they would go straight up or down; one of the objects seemed to hover over the Red Bluff area. After a short time there was a object seen going from the North to the South.”
There were several additional people who saw or heard the same or similar items that night, according to the sheriff’s office and press reports, however, Sheriff Lyle Williams would not divulge the identities of individuals who contacted or wrote to him about it. On August 17, the Associated Press reported a sighting that occurred around midnight in Willow Creek, California, which is 90 to 100 miles north-northwest of Red Bluff.
The sighting was reported to have occurred around midnight in Willow Creek, California, 90 to 100 miles north-northwest of Red Bluff. The witnesses were two young girls, ages seven and thirteen, who were camping with their families at the time. At the time of their discovery, the children were in sleeping bags and a safe distance away from their parents, who were conversing with friends around a campfire at the time of their discovery.
“The description given by the two highway patrolmen is identical to what our children said they saw.”Their mother, Mrs Morse, said
The following evening, at approximately 10:05 p.m., Fry received a radio communication from Deputy Montgomery, who was in the Los Molino’s region at the time of the message. Montgomery was keeping an eye on an object that had landed on the ground twice before. Was it possible for Fry to observe it from his vantage point at Red Bluff? When Fry went outdoors, he noticed a strange object coming in from the west. It came to a complete stop and remained still for a short period of time southeast of him.
Fry summoned the four dependables who were inside to come out and take a look. By the time they answered, the object had vanished from view – albeit for a brief while. A local man who had joined the group had noticed something unusual in the northwest while scanning the sky, and soon everyone was staring at a hovering object that, according to Fry’s description, “appeared like a gigantic Rail Road car with two large Red Lights, one on each end, on either end.” In fact, the UFO itself had a pale golden glow around it. There were three or four enormous rectangular “windows” in the middle of the structure, through which a bright white light shined.
The item took off in a southerly direction, toward Corning. One of Corning’s police officers happened to notice it a few moments later when he saw it west of the city and traveling south at a high rate of speed.
North-central and northern California were engulfed in an avalanche of reports during the next few days. For example, near Vallejo, California, around 2:40 a.m. on August 15, 2015, C. L. Shurtleff observed a “huge big red thing” at 300 to 500 feet altitude.
“I couldn’t hear any sounds,” he said, “so I knew it wasn’t a jet plane or anything like that. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It moved with incredible speed.”
Four Corning homeowners reported seeing two cigar-shaped objects with red and white lights in the middle of the night the next day. The UFOs made erratic maneuvers for ten minutes before disappearing in the direction of the northeast. At the very least, sightings continued until the nineteenth century.
The Project Blue Book And The Red Bluff UFO Incident
They went to the Red Bluff Air Station, which is nine miles outside of the city, on August 14. As Deputy Fry had been told just a few hours before, nothing unusual had shown up on the radar scopes. The commanding officer of the 859th Radar Squadron disagreed with what Deputy Fry had been told. Carson and Scott were skeptical, so they asked to speak directly with the radar operator, but they were turned down. There was a bad fight, and the officers left after that.
An Air Technical Intelligence Center representative called Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, on August 16 to ask if anything had been seen on the radar and the response received was “no”. Asked about radar tracking in a follow-up phone call the next day, Major LeRoy refused to tell anyone about the incident.
From McClellan Air Force Base, the Air Force conducted a cursory examination. Carson would call that inquiry as “tongue in cheek” based on his own observations. It resulted in a “solution” that contradicted both witness evidence and astronomical data, prompting the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) to describe it as “one of the most strained ever.” The Air Force states:
“The sightings which occurred in the Red Bluff area were due to Atmospheric Refraction. It is impossible to determine the exact light source for each specific incident, but the planet Mars was the most probable culprit in the instance of the highway patrolmen. The planet, at the time of the sighting, was just below the horizon and probably hove into view due to the refraction of its light by the atmosphere. A contributing factor to the sightings could have been the layer of smoke which hung over the area in a thin stratiform layer. This smoke came from the forest fires in the area hung in a layer due to the stable conditions associated with the inversion.”
Lt Col Lawrence J. Tacker, the Pentagon’s UFO spokesman, added Aldebaran and Betelgeuse to the list of suspects in a letter dated September 16, and on October 6 he concluded that “Mars and the star Capella were the most likely explanations” for the sightings.
Astronomer and NICAP advisor Walter Webb prepared his own analysis:
“The official USAF explanation for the Red Bluff sighting was a refraction of the planet Mars and /or the stars Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. At NICAP’s request, I checked the positions of the planet and the two stars for the date, time, and place of the observation. It was found that all three objects were below the eastern horizon at the start of the sighting, that Mars did not rise above the horizon until about an hour after the sighting began, that Aldebaran did not rise until 1 a.m., and Betelgeuse not until 3 a.m., an hour after the sighting was over. Atmospheric refraction can elevate celestial objects above the horizon but by no more than 35 minutes of arc (a little more than the apparent diameter of the sun or moon). Refraction can also cause a star or planet near the horizon to appear to shift or wobble slightly. However, the Red Bluff object reportedly performed violent maneuvers over a wide area of the eastern sky before disappearing below the eastern horizon (a celestial object in the east would have continued to rise higher in the sky and eventually set in the west). Further, the object described by highway patrolmen Scott and Carson bore no resemblance at all to a refracted star or planet – a very large, oblong object shaped somewhat like a football with a red light on each end and a row of white lights visible at times between the red lights. According to the officers, the object swept the sky and ground six or seven times with a red beam of light. In my opinion, the explanation used by the Air Force is completely without basis and ignores the fundamental facts of the observation.”
In a separate statement NICAP added:
“As for Capella, which was barely above the horizon when the sighting began, no star, by the wildest stretch of the imagination, could give the appearance of a large ellipse a few hundred feet off the ground, nor could it maneuver as described by the police officers. Also, the objects disappeared below the eastern horizon at the end of the sighting, whereas Capella would have risen about 35 degrees in that period.”
Though the Air Force and subsequently astronomer/debunker Donald H. Menzel claimed that all of northern California was blanketed in temperature inversions on August 13/14, 1960, atmospheric scientist James E. McDonald discovered no evidence to support this assertion in meteorological records.
Carson, a veteran of the Air Force and a private pilot, dismissed the numerous proposed theories, stating that he and Scott were both experienced sky viewers “Be cognizant of the tricks light can play on the eyes in the dark. Our observations and estimations of the object’s speed, size, and other characteristics came from aligning it with immovable objects on the horizon.” “I’d hate to have to take one of my cases to court with such poor arguments,” he observed in reference to the Air Force explanation.
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