The 701 club Case 1236: May 29 ,1952
May 29, 1952; San Antonio, Texas. 7 p.m. Witness: USAF pilot Maj. D.W. Feuerstein, on ground. One bright tubular object tilted from horizontal to vertical for 8 minutes, then slowly returned to horizontal, again tilted vertical, accelerated, appeared to lengthen and turned red. The entire sighting lasted 14 minutes.1
One has to wonder about this case because of its duration. Fourteen minutes in daylight indicates something that should have been obvious to more observers than one individual.
The Blue Book file
The file contains a single message and an Air intelligence report describing the event. According to the file2:
It was a long tubular shape in a horizontal position that slowly moved from azimuth 300 to 325 degrees.
It had possible exhaust flames
It changed to a vertical position after 8 minutes
It then tilted to the horizontal before going vertical again.
It moved up and out of sight. As it did, it lengthened and change to a mild red/orange color.
The object was visible at about 25-30 degrees elevation. It moved upwards to an angle of 45 degrees prior to disappearing.
The sighting last 14 minutes between 1900 and 1914 CST.
There was high scattered cirrus in the area.
The air traffic information was unavailable to the investigators.
With such minimal information, it is difficult to come up with a potential solution but there are clues in the report. This was just before sunset when conditions for certain phenomena are likely to occur. The estimated azimuth of the sighting was roughly 20-30 degrees to the right of the setting sun. This is the direction one would expect for a sun dog reflection. While the elevation angle appears off for the sighting, this may have been an overestimate by the observer. The changing shape could have been the result of the shifting cirrus clouds that were seen by the observers. Towards the end of the observation the witness described seeing flame type colors. As one can see from these images, sun dogs have a yellowish-orange-red color.
Another possibility is a jet contrail. The jet contrails seen at sunset/sunrise, were not a common sight in 1952. These articles above demonstrate that, in the early 1950s, people were reporting contrails as “mysterious objects”3,4,5,6,7. An aircraft flying at high altitude could produce an interesting contrail that could be confused as something unknown. The witness was described as a pilot but that does not exclude the possibility that he mistook an unusual contrail for a UFO.
Both the sun dog or contrail explanation are possible answers for this sighting. It is interesting to note that Blue Book noted the possibility of a reflection of some kind on the record card. While the case can not be listed as “explained”, I feel that it could be re- classified as a possible contrail or sun dog.
Quelle: SUNlite 3/2017