Guest Commentary

The Flying Saucer Era

Source: Bill Hamilton (

As the Flying Saucer Era comes to an end in this last year of the decade, and the last year of the twentieth century, we can at first reflect on the long road we have traveled to reach our state of knowledge on the brink of a new millinnium.

In 1947, General Nathan Twining wrote this now famous memo:

                                                 23 September 1947
SUBJECT:  AMC Opinion Concerning "Flying Discs"
TO:      Commanding General
         Army Air Forces
         Washington 25, D.C.
         ATTENTION:     Brig. General George Schulgen

1.  As requested by AC/AS-2 there is presented below the considered opinion of this command concerning the so-called "Flying Discs."  This opinion is based on interrogation report data furnished by AC/AS-2 and preliminary studied by personnel of T-2 and Aircraft Laboratory, Engineering Division T-3.  This opinion was arrived at in a conference between personnel from the Air Institute of Technology, Intelligence T-2, Office, Chief of Engineering Division, and the Aircraft, Power Plant and Propeller Laboratories of Engineering Division T-3.

2.  It is the opinion that:

a.  The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious.

b.  There are objects probably approximately the shape of a disc, of       such appreciable size as to appear to be as large as man-made aircraft.

c.  There is the possibility that some of the incidents may be
      caused by natural phenomena, such as meteors.

d.  The reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability (particularly in roll), and action which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar, lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically or remotely.

e.  The apparent common description of the objects is as follows:

      (1)  Metallic or light reflecting surface.

      (2)  Absence of trail, except in a few instances when the object
           apparently was operating under high performance conditions.

      (3)  Circular or elliptical in shape, flat on bottom and domed on

      (4)  Several reports of well kept formation flights varying from
           three to nine objects.

      (5)  Normally no associated sound, except in three instances a
           substantial rumbling roar was noted.

      (6)  Level flight speeds normally about 300 knots are estimated.

The characteristics of flying discs in 1947 now only describe a fraction of UFOs reported since that date.  We might even conjecture that we have entered the era of the Flying Triangles as many more of those have been seen in recent years while the phenomena of daylight disc sightings seems to have diminished.

Observers were startled or caught by surprise when a flying disc came into view.  Few were prepared for such a sighting or encounter.  All of that should have changed by now.  It is my opinion that observers should be trained and deploy to field locations to watch for sightings and be prepared to record the event with all scientific means at their disposal. When the evidence gets better, we make it harder for skeptics to spin their explanantions.

The Air Force took flying discs seriously in the 1940s and realized that unknown aircraft demonstrating such superior performance constituted a threat to national security as well as a focus of interest for collecting intelligence and attempting to ferret out the technology that could give the holder an edge in future battlefronts.

What does the future hold?  Will we ever solve the UFO mystery or will the answer be revealed by those already in the know?  There is no evidence that the phenomena is abating so what can we expect? Landings?  Messages?  Or some big event in the near future that will settle the UFO question once and for all?  Does anyone want to hazard a guess?



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