UFO Photo: Project Blue Book #AF632255 (Parachutes?)

Giddierone

Active Member
This 28 July 1954 UFO report from the National Archives has recently been updated to include a new version of a photograph of supposed anomolous flying objects.

Source: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/311001658?objectPage=90

It's noticable that the description of a 1.5-2min observation describes "striations from the top of the dome" which, to me, indicates that the newly released photo has been labled and oriented incorrectly.

So what is this picture of?

The description also includes "Step formation...60ft diameter...striations from top of the arched dome...shimmering vibration...long sloping glide"

All of which seem consistent with a description of parachutes.

Original photocopy
23857159-001-001-0031 copy.jpg


Newly released photo (different orientation).
23857159-001-001-0090 copy.jpg23857159-001-001-0091 copy.jpg23857159-001-001-0093 copy.jpg23857159-001-001-0092 (1) copy.jpg23857159-001-001-0094 copy.jpg
 
If what I first took to be wisps of clouds was really the "subject observer's facial characteristics" reflected in the window as the report says (brow, temple, and top of his cheek on the top right, tip of the nose less clearly illuminated in the center, a little of his jawline in the bottom right, making a very believable face) then he is either standing on his head or the orientation is correct (and the description is wrong). If the photo illustration is upside down, would the top of a parachute be expected to come to a point like that? Or might the one who took the report simply be mistaken about the reflection of the face?
 
Can you annotate the image to show what you describe as the photographer's face?
 
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Can you annotate the image to show what you describe as the photographer's face?
I see something like this (with apologies for jumping the queue to respond.)
23857159-001-001-0090 copy.jpg
I'm not sure the proportions really work, but that may be as much my mis-perceiving boundaries of features only hinted at.

It's also worth exercising caution in finding faces in ambiguous stimuli -- what with pareidolia and all...

If it is NOT a face, the UFOs sure look a lot like reflections of ceiling light fixtures, with again the caveat that things can easily LOOK LIKE something that they are in fact not!
 
@JMartJr @Giddierone pretty much, but more an upward-looking view, with the eye socket in the dark portion between brow and cheek. Either way, I think either it's not a face, or it's not upside down.
IMG_2347.jpeg
 
If it is NOT a face, the UFOs sure look a lot like reflections of ceiling light fixtures, with again the caveat that things can easily LOOK LIKE something that they are in fact not!

Indeed! I'm not sure how the "face" works with him trying to take a photo unless he just put the camera up to the window and didn't use the viewfinder. It says he used an Eastman 828, also AKA a Pony 8282:

1707792240773.png

So, if he used the viewfinder, the camera would have cover much of his face. I think more likely it's reflection of his hands holding the camera.

As for the UFO, it does appear to be a repeating reflection, possibly form a dome light. The report says they were in a Grumman SA-16, which was more commonly known as a Grumman HU-16:

1707792558967.png

Here's some interior shots with dome lights and other doohickies in the celling:

1707792686208.png

This one has a light that looks a lot like the UFOs, but is from what looks like a commercial version of the plane:

1707792793403.png

Maybe there was something similar in the military version.

The whole report is a bit odd. The sighting was over the Gulf of Mexico, but the report was files in the Philippines it looks like? Also, it mentions a number of people on the plane, but seems to indicate only the guy that took the photo actually saw anything.
 
(Edited to add: Ah, was writing this while others had similar ideas before me. Anyway, I've left this unchanged.)

Maybe a reflection of internal light fixtures?

If so I think the witnesses would become aware of this pretty quickly.

Had a look at Grumman HU-16 (formerly SA-16) Albatross cabins on the net and they appear to have a row of circular lights in the aft cabin ceiling. They look almost flat or recessed, though.

099sa16.jpg

1959-grumman-hu-16-albatross-left-search-and-rescue-behind-looking-to-retire_2.jpg1.jpg

Last pic posted by Eric Friedebach on flickr, with some background information link here.
Wikipedia page on Grumman HU-16 Albatross, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_HU-16_Albatross

It seems quite a few of these aircraft were sold onto civilian owners, so it's hard to tell which pictures on the net show "authentic" cabins as used in service and which show tarted-up civilianized interiors.
Other light sources on-board I've seen include an oscilloscope-type device (see topmost pic, for maritime radar?) and in one or two cabins, desktop-style lamps.

Were disposable moulded transparent plastic containers a thing in 1954? The things in the photo look a bit like something you might have over a shop-bought cake or trifle. I'm wondering if something of that type might have been, um, accidentally stuck over a light within the aft cabin. Or maybe a rather ornate bulb cover (or two) found its way onto the aircraft.

I was originally confused by references to the Republic of The Philippines in the USAF report, as the aircraft was said to be 100 miles (approx. 161 km) southeast of Galveston Bay on its way to Alexandria Air Force Base, Louisiana (Jan. 1954).
1.jpg
-But no real mystery; it would seem the report was made by the relevant airman some months later while serving in the 13th Air Force, which was based in the Philippines throughout the Cold War
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth_Expeditionary_Air_Force

If the airmen concerned genuinely believed they were seeing powered flying craft, I find it difficult to believe- in the context of 1950s media coverage of flying saucers- that the guy who belatedly reported the sighting, Staff Sergeant Donald R. Andrus,
...was unaware of the intelligence value of the information
Content from External Source
(USAF Captain Bryant, on 1st page of the Air Intelligence Information Report), particularly when he had a rather striking photo.

Capture.JPG

When the photo was developed, it seems strange (to me) that SSgt Andrus didn't bring it to the attention of his seniors.
And maybe show his evidence to the guys who took "a humorous view of the whole subject", with the support of his fellow witnesses.
Lucky that he took the photo to the Philippines so it could be submitted when he decided to make a report.

Screen clippings above are from AF Form 112, Air Intelligence Information Report IR-31-54, 28 July 1954,
posted by OP Giddierone
28 July 1954 UFO report from the National Archives
 
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In NJ(Edited to add: Ah, was writing this while others had similar ideas before me. Anyway, I've left this unchanged.)

Maybe a reflection of internal light fixtures?

If so I think the witnesses would become aware of this pretty quickly.

Had a look at Grumman HU-16 (formerly SA-16) Albatross cabins on the net and they appear to have a row of circular lights in the aft cabin ceiling. They look almost flat or recessed, though.

099sa16.jpg

1959-grumman-hu-16-albatross-left-search-and-rescue-behind-looking-to-retire_2.jpg1.jpg

Last pic posted by Eric Friedebach on flickr, with some background information link here.
Wikipedia page on Grumman HU-16 Albatross, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_HU-16_Albatross

It seems quite a few of these aircraft were sold onto civilian owners, so it's hard to tell which pictures on the net show "authentic" cabins as used in service and which show tarted-up civilianized interiors.
Other light sources on-board I've seen include an oscilloscope-type device (see topmost pic, for maritime radar?) and in one or two cabins, desktop-style lamps.

Were disposable moulded transparent plastic containers a thing in 1954? The things in the photo look a bit like something you might have over a shop-bought cake or trifle. I'm wondering if something of that type might have been, um, accidentally stuck over a light within the aft cabin. Or maybe a rather ornate bulb cover (or two) found its way onto the aircraft.

I was originally confused by references to the Republic of The Philippines in the USAF report, as the aircraft was said to be 100 miles (approx. 161 km) southeast of Galveston Bay on its way to Alexandria Air Force Base, Louisiana (Jan. 1954).
1.jpg
-But no real mystery; it would seem the report was made by the relevant airman some months later while serving in the 13th Air Force, which was based in the Philippines throughout the Cold War
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth_Expeditionary_Air_Force

If the airmen concerned genuinely believed they were seeing powered flying craft, I find it difficult to believe- in the context of 1950s media coverage of flying saucers- that the guy who belatedly reported the sighting, Staff Sergeant Donald R. Andrus,
...was unaware of the intelligence value of the information
Content from External Source
(USAF Captain Bryant, on 1st page of the Air Intelligence Information Report), particularly when he had a rather striking photo.

Capture.JPG

When the photo was developed, it seems strange (to me) that SSgt Andrus didn't bring it to the attention of his seniors.
And maybe show his evidence to the guys who took "a humorous view of the whole subject", with the support of his fellow witnesses.
Lucky that he took the photo to the Philippines so it could be submitted when he decided to make a report.

Screen clippings above are from AF Form 112, Air Intelligence Information Report IR-31-54 28, July 1954,
posted by OP Giddierone
I've been on board many different Cold War era, piston-driven transport/cabin type military a/c, their interiors (including light fixtures) were about as stark as could be. An operational Albatross interior in 1954 would have looked alot more like the photos you posted showing basic seats and the stanchion mounted medical litters, far sparser than the commercially "tarted up" interior shown in the other photo. There are a series of very detailed aircraft book/magazines/photo albums published primarily for serious plastic modelers and aviation artists. I'd be happy to hit the USAF Museum bookstore to see/purchase such books on the Albatros if available to get to the cabin lights locations/layout in detail.


I also don't think the original photos are of parachutes. In the 50s, US military parachutes, whether they be personnel or cargo chutes, had what's known as "round circular canopies" and the looked like this.s-l1600.jpg TM-10-1670-269-23P_25_1.jpg
Very different to the aeroconical chute looking shape shown as "newly released" as taken by the Albatross crew/pax. They appear like this, with all such aeroconical chutes showing a nipple shape atop the canopies
llrp-hero.jpg
The point is, if the objects originally depicted in the photos taken from the Albatross were parachutes, there don't look like the stardard flat circular canopies shown above. The theory they look like aeroconical chutes is not possible since the aeroconical chutes didn't exist in the mid 50s.

To bottom line it, the parachute like images, neither those in the original photos or those newly released do not conform to the air drop chutes employed by the USAF with 1954. Those images look more like the aaeroconicial chutes but they were only introduced some 15-20 years later. So, what we see doesn't look the chutes canopies of 1954, but the shapes of the objects does resemble the aeroconicial chutes that won't be in service maybe for 20+years.
 
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Here's another thought about the "face" reflection. I increased the contrast as much as I could (first photo), then drew a reflection of a man holding a camera in front of his face in the second one.
IMG_2346.jpegIMG_2348.jpeg
 
Without the negatives or prints with the shot before or after we have to take the description of the account into consideration. This could have been taken anywhere. As such it could be anything that wouldn’t be found in an aircraft. When I first saw the image it reminded me of flush, dome ceiling lights.
IMG_0359.jpeg
 
The first thing that jumps out is the depth of field. If these things are distant, they will all have approximately the same level of blur, but they absolutely don't. The hyperfocal distance for that camera/lens would be something like a few tens of metres, max, surely? The second object's about 2/3rds the size of the first, so assuming they're the same size is 3/2 the distance. There's no way that something at 2km and 3km would be at a different level of blurriness with a hyperfocal distance of 20m, say. Also, as the further objects are very out of focus, the focus length chosen must have been well short of the hyperfocal length, which is a bizarre setting to use when taking photos of things in the distance - slamming up to infinity would have been quicker and better. Not that they were in a rush, they said they had minutes. These pilots clearly aren't experts in photography.

They are definitely not distant, the laws of optics forbid it, they are small and close - closer to ten metres than miles away.
 
The thing is, not only do they look like glass lamp shades/light covers. They seem to be a style I'd guess are roughly consistant with the time period.


Maybe they saw the reflection of these out the window. Like a peppers ghost thing or reflection if that's the not the right phrasing
 
Here's another thought about the "face" reflection. I increased the contrast as much as I could (first photo), then drew a reflection of a man holding a camera in front of his face in the second one.
IMG_2346.jpegIMG_2348.jpeg
I think you are just getting pareidolia from the reflections on the folds of the print.
 
what with pareidolia and all...
The only face I can see is that of the Bifrost alien from The Outer Limits episode The Bellero Shield...Screenshot 2024-02-13 at 10.55.06.png
Yes, I should have mentioned the ceiling lights hypothesis which others have mentioned elsewhere. Given the lack of any context for the image it could have been taken anywhere - not necessarily inside the aircraft, and what kind of military craft has ornate looking lights of any description?

Also
...was unaware of the intelligence value of the information
Yes this seems highly unlikely. Given that national newspapers were running competitions at the time to give cash rewards to anyone who could provide a photograph of a "flying saucer".

Just one example, from The Tribune, December 1953.
The_Tribune_1953_12_09_page_5.jpg
Also, given that the report always said "Unclassified" and is now "Declassified" doesn't that indicate that it was never thought to be of any intelligence value?
 
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I think you are just getting pareidolia from the reflections on the folds of the print.
Agreed (although I first thought of wispy clouds, not folds) but I wouldn't be looking for the face except for the statement in the original document that references his reflection. The official source said they saw it back in 1954, and presumably they had the original photo to work from.
 
So considering the whole thing is illuminated perhaps they are some kind of vintage "flycatcher" lamps shade which are made of glass.
1707854626153.png 1707854836738.png
or a glass pendant light.
1707854914926.pngUntitled-1.jpg
It's just curious that the report appears to describe something very much like drifinng parachutes and describes the striations as from the *top* of the dome. Which seems to mean the photo is presented upside down.
 
If the white dots could be shown to be stars (I'm bad at astronomy), then this would have to be a double exposure, right? Unless we're dealing with a "jellyfish" again?
Given that the report has the date and time of the shot, that ought to also confirm the orientation of the picture.
SmartSelect_20240213-220546_Samsung Internet.jpg
 
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SmartSelect_20240213-220508_Samsung Internet.jpgGiving this a shot. I think I've spotted a circular reflection of the lens ring, and the white fleck may be the bridge of the nose.
23857159-001-001-0090 copy.jpg
 
If the white dots could be shown to be stars (I'm bad at astronomy), then this would have to be a double exposure, right? Unless we're dealing with a "jellyfish" again?
Given that the report has the date and time of the shot, that ought to also confirm the orientation of the picture.
Or actual stars showing through the reflection of the "parachutes" on the window.
 
Or actual stars showing through the reflection of the "parachutes" on the window.
Think it's just dust specks on the neg that printed white. The bane of every darkroom jockey that ever slapped a hunk of film into an enlarger's negative carrier. I agree with posters, appears to be a shot of the night sky through a window with light fixtures behind the photog reflecting on the glass.
 
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So working with the assumption that the photo is either a double exposure or underexposed image of ceiling lights I thought looking for intieror shots of the kinds of buildings the photographer might have been in might provide an explanation.

Here's a 1942 shot of a base in nearby Texas - not a million miles from Alexandria Army Air Base - which has ceiling lights of a similar shape to those in #19.

I wonder if these are typical fixtures of military installations in the 1940s-1950s?

iiif-service_vhp_0896_089607_ph0046001-full-pct_100-0-default.jpg
Detail comparison.
Screenshot 2024-02-14 at 16.15 copy.jpg
Source: https://www.loc.gov/resource/afc200...ndria+Army+Air+Base&r=0.2,0.057,1.022,0.582,0
 

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