Date of sighting: September 1957
Location of sighting: Fort Belvoir, Virginia, USA
Eyewitness: Army Private Stone
Source: Flying Saucers UFO Reports Magazine, page 6-9, by Ralph Rankow.
Flying Saucers UFO Reports Magazine states:
UFOs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but probably the most rare of all is that ring-shaped UFO. It's not quite an anomaly since it has been reported on several occasions, but it certainly is a rarity. To my knowledge, it has only been photographed on one occasion and on that one occasion, an alert army private took a series of six photographs which reveal a second rarity reported in connection with UFOs.
On many occasions UFOs are reported to become gradually engulfed in a vapor cloud. The fully developed cloud looks like any other cloud in the sky and affords the UFO with a very convenient hiding place. The series of photographs made by the army private, not only show the rare ring object, but also shows it gradually becoming engulfed in the vapor cloud.
This series of photographs, which are probably the most amazing and puzzling pictures ever taken of a UFO, have never been published any place. They are presented to the readers of this magazine as a UFO photo exclusive.
The army private who took the set of photographs has asked that I not use his real name in this story since the photos were taken on an army base and since he still is in the Air Force reserves. However, his true identity is known to many others, as will be seen in the story which follows. For convenience we will call him private Jim Stone.
In September, 1957, Private Stone was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was assigned to the Post Engineers. It was about 9 AM while he was working inside buildings in the Post Engineer section, when someone yelled to him and others to come outside to see the odd thing coming over head towards their area.
Stone and five or six others ran out and spotted an odd, black ring, moving slowly, high above the tree tops but below the broken cloud cover. The ring seems solid enough, not a smoke ring and Private Stone guessed the size of the ring to be about 60 feet in diameter, with the ring width about five or 6 feet. (This was a guess, possibly incorrect.)
Private Stone remembered his Kodak Brownie camera which was in his car. He ran over to the car, which was parked nearby, grabbed the camera and took six pictures in fairly rapid sequence. After the second picture was taken, the strange ring started to develop a mist around itself. The mist thickened rapidly until it was more like a small cloud and within 30 to 60 seconds the Black ring was completely enveloped within a small compact cloud of its own.
The complete sequence was recorded by Private Stone on his 127 brownie, but later he began to have some misgivings. Could this be some secret Army device that he should not have been photographing?
During their coffee break, the soldiers discussed the strange ring and Private Stone learned that some of the others also have photographed the object. They decided that it probably was some type of experiment and they decided against making any mention of the pictures they had taken. Private stone wanted to stay clear of trouble. He even waited until he returned home before having the pictures developed.
He was assigned to the Post Engineers for only a short time and had little opportunity to get acquainted with the other soldiers. Now 10 years later, he has no idea who the other soldiers are or where they may be reached. It is hoped that if any of the other soldiers happened to read this story, they will get in touch with the author. Their names will be kept anonymous if they so desire.
Over the years, Private Stone occasionally showed the pictures to friends, most of whom evidentially reacted as if it were some joke. In March, 1966 one of his friends made the suggestion that perhaps the pictures should be sent to the NICAP, to see what they thought of them. And so, the NICAP received the pictures from Private Stones friend with his notation: Due to the increased in UFO sightings, we felt these photos could be of interest. If any other information is needed, please contact Mr. X. Mr. Stone's real name and address was given. NICAP Forwarded the letter and photographs to me for photographic analysis. At the time, I was the NICAP Photographic advisor; I have since resigned.
I made a set of negatives from Mr. Stone's prints, and I sent a copy prints to Dr. James E McDonald and a Prof. Charles A. Maney, for their opinions. Dr. McDonald is an authority on atmospheric physics Professor Maney a mathematician and physicist now deceased.
Dr. McDonald Showed extreme interest in the pictures, and on September 9, 1966 he phoned Mr. Stone to get more details and further impressions on the credibility of the photos. In his report to the NICAP, Dr. McDonald stated that Stone, "sounded entirely straightforward about the whole thing." He also added that there was "no evident reason to doubt his story nor to doubt the authenticity of those peculiar photos."
Prof. Maney termed the photographs, "a most intriguing set of photos." He also said, "As Regards to the rings appearance, I refer to an old expression, 'there is more to it than meets the eye.' There are laws of physics yet to be discovered, and in this case, I believe that the human eye and the camera saw only a part of the aerial object."
I asked Prof. Maney if he could think of any circumstances under which such have vapor cloud might form, and if it would be possible to duplicate such a cloud under controlled conditions. To this he answered, "I am inclined to think that ionization of the air in the vicinity of the aerial object produced the vapor which was seen to form around and inside the ring." He then related to some experiments conducted by physicist Noel Scott in 1952 at of all places Fort Belvoir, Va. Scott, by introducing molecules of ionized air into the partial vacuum of a 3 foot Bell jar, created miniature masses of illuminated air.
At the time, Scott told the Air Force investigators, he had no idea whether the conditions of his experiment were likely to exist in the atmosphere. However, Dr. George Ray Wait, internationally known physicist of Carnegie Institute said, "I know of no conditions in the earth's atmosphere, high or low, that would duplicate those needed to make the laboratory models at Fort Belvoir."
Prof. Maney said he agreed with Dr. Wait's statement, but added, "the Ring of Mr. Stone's pictures may have introduced a high degree of ionization on the air about it, a condition not natural to the unaffected air itself."
It is surprising that NICAP, having known of these photos and of the favorable scientific evaluations of them has seen fit to keep all news of their existence out of the bimonthly publication. Since NICAP professes to "investigate and make known to the public, all reports of UFOs," it is inconceivable that such a rare series of photographs was not deemed worthy of mention in their publication.
Prof. Maney was kind enough to relate to me the case of a double ring which was observed March 31, 1952 in Greenfield, Massachusetts by Charles T. Early.
Mr. Early was burning leaves in his backyard on Sunday afternoon. The sky was clear and there was no wind. Suddenly he heard a swishing noise, as if a windstorm were coming up. He looked up quickly to see if the wind on his bonfire would endanger two large farms that were near.
What he saw in the sky were two large rings, parallel to each other with one about 4 feet above the other. He estimated their diameter to be about 30 feet. They were bright, like polished chrome. The tubes (if they were that) were estimated to be about 4 inches in thickness.
As the pair of rings whirled through the air, they did not change their relative positions. They came zooming down towards Mr. Early with such speed that he was certain they would hit the ground. However, just before reaching the ground they rose up again, into the sky, still spinning in a clockwise direction.
The planes of the rings at first were horizontal and then they turned on and to become vertical, (as wheels are arranged on a vehicle). The rings hovered over Mr. early for a minute, and move south about 50 feet where they resumed the horizontal position. As they began to pick up speed, there was a little irregularity of movement. When the speed became roughly that of a jet plane, the motion was smooth.
He noted that when the object hovered over him, it made a humming noise which reminded him of the sound sometimes heard while standing under a telephone wire in the country.
Another case of a double ring was pointed out by Gordon Creighton of the Flying Saucer Review, the well-known British UFO magazine. This sighting was made by Mrs. Millicent Harris and is detailed in the Review's Nov./Dec. edition. The rings were golden colored and were partially hidden by its own cloud. (See sketch)
The cover of the Jan./Feb. 1964 addition of the Flying Saucer Review contains a sketch of a ring object which had a thick spindle through the center. (See sketch taken from the F.S.R.). This object was seen on September 15, 1963 at 4:45 PM by James Poulton and Mr. P. R. Shergold. They were near Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire when James Poulton noticed the strange object moving along at a moderate speed and at a very high altitude. He described it as being very bright and silvery all over, except for the black spots at either end of the center spindle. The object was inclined at 40° towards the direction of flight. An interesting case of a cloud UFO is related by Jacques and Janine Vallee in their book, Challenge To Science, (Henry Regnery Co. 1966). On April 11, 1964 (just 13 days before the famous Socorro, New Mexico landing), a New York State physiotherapist and his family were having a picnic supper. The time was about 6:30 PM. There were four witnesses, and the sighting lasted 45 minutes. It involved a dark, oblong object, which assumed a vertical position and was seen through binoculars as "almost boiling out," with wisps of smoke actually streaming out of the main body of the cloud. That's one point, this object emitted a flash of light and shot forward at a very high velocity, then retracted its path in the same manner. (Certainly not the behavior of a normal cloud.) It finally seemed to divide into several smaller objects.
This object and its behavior, although unusual, is typical of the class of arial phenomenon first recognized by Aime Michel in a study of the French cases of 1954. For lack of a better term, Michel called this phenomenon "cigar cloud. It has been observed in Great Britain, South America, the USA, Australia, Poland, and the Soviet Union.
As Prof. Charles Maney put it, "There are laws of physics yet to be discovered, and in this case (the ring UFO) I believe that the human eye and the camera saw only a part of the aerial object." The truth or fallacy of that statement may be a long time away in the knowing, but our ignorance will be prolonged as long as our government "pooh-poohs" UFO reports, and creates an atmosphere which discourages scientists from seriously considering these reports. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara added to this atmosphere of squelching scientific inquiry in March 1966, when he told congressmen that he could "Categorically deny" the possibility that UFOs had extraterrestrial implications. The defense chief said all UFO sightings have been investigated by the military and there was no evidence to support the theory that they might be controlled vehicles from outer space or anywhere else.
McNamara's statement is contradicted by one who should know, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the Air Force's own scientific consultants on UFO cases, has stated that the Air Force has never conducted a scientific investigation of UFOs. There was was a military investigation to determine if any threat existed to national security. This statement was made before the current scientific study now underway at Colorado University. Indeed, the Colorado University study would not even have been contracted for if McNamara's Statement had been true.
Dr. Hynek told a NASA scientific seminar that UFOs have been picked up on NORAD and SAC radars... But we're scoffed at by the military. He added that 100 or so reliable reports cannot be ruled out without further evidence, and he said that on several occasions IGY optical tracking networks pictured unexplained UFOs.
Gratefully, not all scientists are swayed by these unscientific statements, even if they do come from the Secretary of Defense. Let's hope more and more of these thinking scientist join their associates in UFO research, to bring nearer the day when we may know for sure the "whys and wherefores" of UFOs.