September 6, 1956 Pasadena, California
September 6, 1950--Pasadena, California. Western Airlines pilot reported erratically moving white lights to Air Defense Command; visual confirmation from ground. [V]1
In section V is a table with the following description:
Reported UFO to Air Defense Command; erratically moving white light source confirmed visually from ground by 1st Lt. Mark Matlock, USAF.2
Footnote 21 comes from Leonard Stringfield’s Civilian Research, Interplanetary Flying Objects (CRIFO) ORBIT newsletter of October 5, 1956 case 210.3
Stringfield’s account in his newsletter read4:
Case 210, Pasadena, Cal, Sept. 6, 1956-The Los Angeles Times reported that members of the Air Force and the GOC spotted a strange light which moved erratically in the night sky for 47 minutes. According to the Times, lst Lt. Mark Matlock of the Air Defense Command said, “Pasadena police had many calls from people who saw it. So did we. Our first call was from a Western Air Lines pilot. I hurried to the roof of our building and saw a white light in the sky. It was moving slowly northwest. It kind of paused and jerked in flight and then would snake along. I knew it wasn’t a conventional aircraft.” . . . Finally two jets were scrambled.14
Footnote 14 states the information came from Viviane Machu of Los Angeles California. I assume that she sent Stringfield a newspaper clipping. A check of the LA Times archive revealed the story appeared in the September 10, 1956 edition.5 It mentions the events were “last Thursday”, which was the 6th.
Checking the Newspaper archive reveals that the Pasadena Independant noted something happening on the evening of the 6th but it seems that those reports did not agree with the LA Times account. Many people were seeing a bright object (or two) in the East.6 This, as the paper noted, probably involved the planet Mars, which was at opposition and exceptionally bright at magnitude -2.8. Fomalhaut was also in the same area of sky and could have been the second object reported. However, this is not the sighting covered by “The UFO Evidence”. On September 11, 1956, the Independant reported that the object visible for 47 minutes mentioned by the LA times was an unknown helicopter. However, they could not locate who was flying it.7 I could find no additional information about sightings on the 6th in Pasadena.
Blue Book file
Project Blue Book did have a case file for September 6.8 Details of that sighting involved a round gray object traveling East to West in a straight line at 0810Z. The record card gives conflicting information about the duration for their September 6 sighting. The duration is listed as 30 seconds but the comments mentions 30 minutes. There is no supporting report in the file. Blue Book identified this as an aircraft. While this event happened on the morning of the 6th, the event described by the LA Times was on the evening of the 6th.
What is more interesting is that the same file has an additional sighting on 9 September.9 This involves an object that was visible in the west for 41 minutes. The record card states it was stationary at an elevation angle of 45 degrees. This was between 2208 and 2255Z. While there is only a brief teletype report in the case file, the record card mentions that the object eventually went behind trees indicating it was slowly decreasing in elevation. It also mentioned an East to West motion. Blue Book explained this object as Venus.
I agree with Blue Book’s evaluation of the September 6 and 9 cases. The sighting on the 6th, assuming the duration was 30 seconds, had all the characteristics of an aircraft. The September 9th case was recorded as being between 2208-2255Z, which was 1508-1555 PDT. Venus was a morning object but was visible in daylight in the west if one used binoculars or had a really clear sky. It is too bad the teletype of the September 9 case was so brief.
It is possible that the time listed in the teletype, on the 9th, was local time but we can’t be sure. If it were local time, and the date in the paper was wrong about this particular event, this sighting would be consistent with what was described in the media account. Lt. Matlock is even listed in the report as one of the observers. Despite the similarities with the news account, we have to assume it is Zulu time and is unrelated what was described in the LA Times.
Since the Blue Book sightings don’t match the account in the news media, we have to assume they are different sightings. As a result, we only have the story in the LA Times as a source of information. The media account gives us the following observations:
It was visible for 47 minutes after 10PM
The Pasadena defense center received a call from Western Airlines pilot to alert them of the UFO. No details exist for this sighting.
Apparently, based on this report, Lt. Matlock had gone to the roof of the building and saw a light in the Northwest that slowly drifted in that direction.
Another witness saw three lights. Two were white and one was red.
Two jets were scrambled but there is no information about what they found.
The San Clemente radar station was calling for information about the UFO.
The object was low in the west around 10PM. The bright star Arcturus matches that description. It set around 11 PM at an azimuth of 294 degrees. Also visible was the star Antares and the planet Saturn in the Southwest (The moon was also present on the 9th). Saturn set around 10:30 PM and Antares set around 10:45 PM. These may be the additional objects mentioned by the other witness if they were looking in the same direction but there is not enough information to draw that conclusion. The fact that the radar had to call to locate any possible unknowns tends to indicate that the object was not visible on their display. If so, that reinforces the possibility that the sighting was astronomical in nature.
While the case can be considered “Insufficient information”, there appears to be a solution for at least one part of the sighting. The sighting by LT. Matlock was possibly the star Arcturus setting in the West-Northwest. The case should be classified as “Possibly Arcturus/insufficient information”. If it is “insufficient information”, one cannot classify this as “evidence” and it should be removed from the “UFO evidence” category.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2022