The RB-47 of the U.S Army possessed such technical advancement it could handle almost anything. However, on the morning of July 17, 1957, in the southern United States, an RB-47 stumbled across something that was least expected. That morning, a US Air Force RB-47 saw what is today regarded as one of the classic radar/visual UFO sightings.
Equipped with electronic intelligence equipment, the aircraft departed Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, on a goal with multiple objectives, including gunnery, navigation, and electronic countermeasure (ECM) training. Three of the crew’s six members were electronic-welfare officers who operated the ECM equipment.
One of the three officers who were operating the electronic countermeasures (ECM) equipment detected an unusual signal as the first indication of what was to come. The radar blip passed a distance in front of the RB-47 and then over Mississippi as it climbed the radar screen. When the first two set goals were achieved, Frank B. McClure, who was operating the second of three ELINT stations aboard the RB-47, detected a signal at a frequency of 3000 megahertz (MHz) at 5 o’clock in relation to the plane’s position as it flew back over the Gulf of Mexico near Gulfport, Mississippi.
McClure initially believed that the signal originated from a ground-based radar; however, the signal moved upslope, passed the path on which the aircraft was moving, and descended downslope on the other side. ELINT station number one was not operating on the frequency at the time, and station number three was incapable of ever operating on that frequency.
Though perplexed, he remained silent. However, a few minutes later, at 4:10 a.m., the pilot and copilot were startled by the sudden appearance of an intense blue light bearing down on the aircraft. Even more unsettling, the object abruptly changed course and vanished at the two o’clock position. The aircraft radar detected a powerful signal in the same location. Even as the RB-47 continued toward East Texas, the UFO maintained its position.
McClure, recalling the strange signal he had received a few minutes earlier, scanned the 3000 MHz range and discovered a strong signal emanating from the plane’s two o’clock position. Immediately, a check of the #2 monitor on known ground-radar stations revealed that it was operating flawlessly, and the signal was also detected by John J. Provenzano’s #1 monitor. The potential that an unknown ground-radar station was responsible for the signal was eliminated when it moved gradually upslope – not downslope, as it would have if its source was on the ground – as the RB-47 continued on its 500-mph westward trajectory.
The aircraft and its crew were in east Texas, within the radar coverage area of a Utah-coded Air Force radar unit in Duncanville. The occupants of the aircraft grew increasingly uncomfortable with their mysterious companion. The pilot observed a “huge” light 5000 feet below him at 2 o’clock at 4:39. Even though he was unable to prove it, he firmly believed his intuition that the light was atop a larger object. McClure at ELINT #2 reported two signals at 40 and 70 degrees a minute later. Chase and McCoid have now spotted a second UFO at the former location, where the first UFO was spotted. To everybody’s surprise, the second UFO was briefly visible.
Chase informed Utah and requested all available assistance as he deviated from his flight path and approached one of the UFOs. At 4:42, ELINT #2 detected one signal at a bearing of 20 degrees. When Chase quickened to 550 miles per hour, the UFO retreated. Moments later, McClure received two signals at 40 and 70 degrees, but only one signal at 50 degrees a minute and a half later. When Chase reported the location of the UFO (10 miles northwest of Fort Worth), Utah’s radar objectives detected it immediately. The UFO appeared to stop abruptly at 4:50, and the RB-47 flew past it. It mysteriously vanished from the scopes at this time, and ELINT #2 lost the signal.
Afterward, Chase was interviewed by University of Arizona physicist James E Mcdonald, and he recalled that there was simultaneity between the moment he began to sense he was getting closer at approximately the RB-47 speed and the moment Utah indicated that their target had stopped on their scopes. Initially unsure of the object’s altitude in relation to the RB-47, he reportedly veered to prevent bumping into the object, only to discover that he was approaching it from above as he closed in. At the moment it completely vanished, both from the second monitor and the radar scopes at the Utah site, it was at a depression angle of approximately 45 degrees relative to his position.
After the objects disappeared, Chase took a turn over the Mineral Wells, with the purpose of returning back to its pre-decided track moving towards Forbes AFB. Surprisingly, the light suddenly reappeared behind them, and as soon as it did, Utah and ELINT #2 began to record its presence. The RB-47 approached the UFO within five nautical miles before descending to 15,000 feet, blinking out, and again disappearing.
Chase notified Utah that he had to return to Forbes at 4:55 a.m. due to his fuel situation. After a couple of minutes, at a bearing of 300 degrees, McClure detected a signal, and at 4:58 p.m., Chase spotted the UFO 20 miles north of Fort Worth. At 5:40 a.m., the UFO mysteriously vanished over Oklahoma City after emitting signals that were picked up by ELINT #2. The UFO and the RB-47 had traveled 800 miles together.
Interrogation Of the Pilots Of The RB-47
When the incident took place, both the Project Blue Book and Air Defense Command Intelligence investigated the incident. However, no account of it emerged in print until the Scientific Investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects, also known as the Condon report, was published 12 years later. The Air Force-sponsored University of Colorado UFO Project (the “Condon Committee”) was led by Physicist Edward U Condon between 1966 and 1969.
Eventually, McDonald interrogated all the six involved crew members, uncovered public documents inaccessible to the Condon Committee, and rectified a lot of mistakes in Thayer’s account (primarily the date, which Thayer had as September 20). Notwithstanding, a convoluted redefinition by debunker Phillip J. Klass, who hypothesized that a complicated system of radio wave errors and the successive appearances of a meteor, the star Vega, and an airliner were responsible for the incident, the 17 July 1957 incident remains as confusing as it was in the morning of such a remarkable day.
This case is considered one of the most important UFO reports ever, this astounding case stayed classified for years. Years later, the Air Force acknowledged that the RB-47 crew had followed an airliner. The physicist who researched the altercation for the University of Colorado UFO Project, Gordon David Thayer, deemed this explanation “literally ridiculous.”
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Sources: The DonkeyJunk
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