701 Club Case 1920: August 18, 1952 Fairfield, California
Don Berlinner describes this event as:
Aug. 18, 1952; Fairfield, California. 12:50 a.m. Witnesses: three policemen. One object changed color like a diamond, and changed directions during the 30 minute sighting.1
Brad Sparks suggests there might have been military witnesses:
Aug. 18, 1952. Fairfield, Calif. 12:50 a.m. 3 policemen saw an object change color from red-green-orange-blue, shaped like a diamond, and change directions [?] traveling in a straight line “sideways” [?] gaining altitude. Military witnesses [?]. (Sparks; Berliner; cf. Hynek-CU- FOS reeval;Jan Aldrich)2
These summaries leave a lot to be desired. I hoped the Blue Book file would contain additional information.
The Blue Book file
Alas, the Blue Book file is practically barren of good information other than one message, which gives us the description of the event. The rest of the file is just a record card and a worksheet that summarized the information from the message. The mes- sage gives us only a vague direction that, from Fairfield, the object appeared to be to the northeast of Travis AFB, which was east of town. This means the object was in the Eastern to Northeastern sky. The object appeared to gain in altitude in the 30 minutes of observation and moved towards the east. There appears to be no military witnesses associated with this event even though Travis AFB should have observers who saw the object.
Anytime I read objects moving rapidly back and forth, changing colors, and “gaining/losing altitude” over a significant period of time, I begin to suspect that this was an astronomical object. This means it might have been a bright star or planet. On the date and time in question, there were two good candidates for the object. The first was the bright star Capella and the second was the planet Jupiter.
Planet’s don’t change color as much as stars do but Jupiter was brighter and could catch the attention of the police officers. In my opinion, the object could be either Capella or Jupiter, which are common objects misidentified as UFOs. Based on the descriptions, if this were an astronomical object, Capella seems the more likely of the two. Both objects would slowly drift eastward in azimuth as they rose higher into the sky as one can see in the 0120 PDT image below(compare with 0050PDT image above).
The lack of reports from Travis AFB indicates the object may not have been as significant as the police officers thought. Recall that Allan Hendry noted that police officers tended to mistake astronomical objects for UFOs:
Scintillating stars were a favorite target of police witnesses.3
This sighting was during the 1952 UFO wave and the resources that could be devoted to individual cases seems to have been limit- ed. As a result, no follow-up was performed and the case ended up on the “unidentified” list because the witnesses were “reliable” police officers. With more information, we might be able to resolve it but we are stuck with what is in the file. In my opinion, this should be classified as possibly an astronomical object and not be listed as “unidentified”.
Quelle: SUNlite 4/2016