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Stock vs Riley - Anatomy of a Blue Book daytime UFO case too hastily classified as a hoax?

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posted on Aug, 20 2019 @ 09:19 PM
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The first seven months of 1952 were a busy time for UFOs and Project Blue Book. Following Kenneth Arnold's sighting in 1947, as UFOs gradually morphed from enemy spy vehicles into the far more enticing notion of ET craft, relatively few photographs had dropped into the lap of Blue Book (as it was now called in 1952). The Paul Trent photographs of 1950 remain both impressive and controversial, but a new case was presented to Blue Book in late July 1952 that also featured a set of black and white photos of a daytime UFO that potentially trumped Trent's. Or was it simply too good to be true? The twists and turns of this tale are cause for concern, but the integrity of the actual witnesses remains intact.

Moreover, it provides a useful anatomy of how Project Blue Book approached cases such as this, including actual telephone conversation transcripts and documentation (sources are listed at the end).


BEFORE THE TWIST - THE ORIGINAL STORY


On 31st July at 10.15am in Passaic, New Jersey on a sunny morning, self-confessed professional photographer, 28-year-old John H. Riley and his older friend George J. Stock (who spotted the object first) witnessed a gray disc, 30 feet in diameter with a large central dome, hovering 200 feet off the ground. Riley snapped seven pics with a fixed focus Kodak duo-flex camera near Stock's home at 221 Brooks Avenue. The object was travelling south-east at a “leisurely” speed, appearing to come to an almost complete stop when it neared the two men, hovering for a few moments. The entire sighting lasted for seven minutes.


“It was so near, it could have been hit with a rifle,” stated Riley. It made no sound, appearing to tilt “as though to observe the ground” before speeding off to the south-west. When Riley presented his pics for sale to the New Jersey Morning Call newspaper office, an impressed Mr Dixon telephoned Major Herman at Wright Field, describing how “phenomenally clear” they were and how Riley insisted they were genuine, even when threatened with arrest.

Dixon told Herman that no other papers had reported such a sighting, and as he spoke, he noticed two of the photo negatives seemed to indicate a pole above the saucer, potentially with a thread hanging from it. Dixon admitted that had he spotted this before, he would not have rung, but the two witnesses' sheer insistence was interesting. Riley said he didn't notice any such pole.


Riley was not a known news photographer but claimed he ran a photo developing service. “Too good to be true” was Dixon's first instinct about the pics, a friend of his suspecting they were copycats of a similar pic in Life magazine a year previously (Herman wondered if George Adamski was the inspiration). When Dixon described how Riley was attempting to sell the pics, Blue Book head Captain Ed Ruppelt (pictured below) butted into the conversation...



This is Capt. Ruppelt speaking. I have been listening in on another extension. Just from the sound of this thing, we've had quite a few pictures like that before and it doesn't sound to me like it is very authentic... The fact that nobody else saw this thing is always quite a factor... We have some experience with that type of picture, and from the description that you gave I would say that it is doubtful... We sure do thank you for calling because that's the kind of things that we want to look into.... Mr. Dixon, if it is possible that this man would release these negatives, we would be very glad to take it and evaluate and send it back to you...


The negatives were indeed sent to the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC – the umbrella for Blue Book) by the Newark-Star Ledger. In document 5DOSI – ATTIAA-5, headed 'Investigation Of Unidentified Aerial Object Photos', Colonel Donald L. Bower, chief of the Technical Analysis Division, believed they were hoaxes due to the lack of further witnesses and...


The relative sizes of the objects in the foreground indicate that the object would be about the size of a lady's sun hat at 30 ft. to 40 ft. away. If the object were farther away, it would be extremely large and again it should have been observed by other people.



Is this a woman's sun hat? It was a rather sunny day after all. Nevertheless, Bower requested that witnesses' backgrounds be checked, as well as the circumstances under which Riley took the pics, and any other potential sources in the area.

Charles Gregg, staff writer for The Herald News. informed Blue Book that Riley would not part with the negatives, and was probably in New York trying to sell them. However, Gregg noted that the object could not have been thrown into the air because one photo indicated it was very high. His opinion of course, but does it hold water?

Lee. S. Thomas wrote a report for the USAF OSI, stating that on 3rd October 1952, the FBI had done their legwork and informed them that Riley was self-employed as a photo finisher printer at the Belmont Photograph Service in Paterson, N.J. He did not take photos on a commercial basis but may have possessed more knowledge beyond just processing film. He had no police record and enjoyed good relations with his landlord, but a hardware store co-owner Harvey Baskinger believed Riley was unreliable due to some “trouble” he had caused in his store – he did not elaborate but said he'd been keeping a close eye on Riley thereafter...

And then came the twist...


[CONTINUED BELOW]



edit on 20-8-2019 by ConfusedBrit because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 20 2019 @ 09:20 PM
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[CONTINUED]


A TWIST IN THE TALE



George Stock (above) worked as a grounds keeper at the Parks and Recreation Department, and had good relations with Recreation Director Thomas Cavanaugh who noted Stock's interest in modern mechanics (including a fully-equipped machine shop in his garden). However, he had “peculiarities” and did not mix well with co-workers. Stock had discussed the UFO with Cavanaugh and shown him the original negatives currently in Stock's possession. And here the story takes a U-turn...

Stock revealed that he was the photographer, not Riley who was only supposed to develop and print the film, but Riley made copies for himself to sell to the local press. When Stock recovered the negatives, he examined them and concluded they were not 'touched up'. Cavanaugh was confident that Stock was not the kind of person to seek publicity. As a bonus detail, he also revealed that Stock's father William was a witness to the UFO.

On 16th October, Lt General D.G. North duly recognised Stock as the real photographer over that rascal Riley, and on 28th November, the OSI's George H. Wertz compiled a report stating same, including further information about the UFO's speed and movements:


Object estimated by Stock never to exceed speed of over fifteen miles per hour. Object developed vapor-like ring around outer edge just prior to starting off in northerly direction. Ring appeared to travel with object. George Stock furnished five negatives and seven pictures of object for technical observation. Two negatives and pictures when investigation completed.

Search of Stock residence did not reveal equipment of object capable of producing or resembling object. Sketch of object as described by Stock included with this report... Object does not resemble type of street light or play-ground light globes used by electric and playground departments in this area.


Riley had finally put his hands up and admitted Stock was the photographer. On 19th November, when Stock was interviewed at home, he said the object was initially motionless in the east, a quarter of a mile away with no vapour or smoke visible. He sprang into action to fetch his camera, his father accompanying him into the back yard. He elaborated on that strange turn that Riley had described (having stolen Stock's story wholesale), when it...


hovered again, turned up on its edge and at about a forty-give degree angle turned a complete 360 degree turn, using the lower end of the angle as its axis "as though to give its dome a clear view of what was below"... just prior to its change of direction to the north and just prior to its start of the its forward motion, the object developed what Stock thought to be a vapor ring around its entire outer edge. He said that this ring became more dense as the object got further away and picked up speed. He could not judge how dense or how thick the vapor ring was...

The surfaces appeared clean without rivets or seams... the dome and saucer part of the body appeared to be one piece... the object was between sixty and eighty feet in diameter and eight feet high from the saucer-like bottom to top of its dome... the vapor-like ring did not trail off in smoke fashion after the object started off to the north, however, the ring seemed to go along with the object without changing the vapor ring's shape.


Stock said two negatives were lost or mislaid. He'd stood by Riley in the dark room while the film was developed, reiterating that Riley had kept a set and had not been given permission to sell them. Stock further underlined that only he and his father were witnesses to the UFO. In other words, similar to claims about Larry Warren in the Rendlesham Forest incident of 1980, it seems Riley had transplanted himself into the story.

On 19th November, Stock and his father assisted Blue Book with a sketch of the UFO:


The same day, their neighbour, Anna Koch, stated that both men had appeared rational and sane at all times, and were “honest, trustworthy and loyal American citizens”. Interestingly, she said both did not appear surprised by their sighting, quoting them as saying:


"The Government knows all about them so why should we get excited".

Local shopkeeper, Mey Goldberg, was similarly convinced they were of sound mind and not liars. Grocery owner Dan Goodwin also stated that nobody regarded the two men as “crackpots” and believed they did see an object in the sky.

On 22nd November, Riley's mother was interviewed by Blue Book. She described him as an immature 28-year-old who was “slipping mentally”, exhibiting strange behaviour such as obsessively photographing trolley cars and cutting out weather maps from newspapers and magazines. She did not believe he was capable of touching up the original negatives.

The same day, Riley himself was interviewed. He'd known Stock for a year when he entered his store on 31st July to develop the pics – he made six sets of pics from seven negatives, and gave two sets to Stock; he kept the others to sell to the press, the cheeky scamp. He denied touching them up, having no equipment to do so, and further allowed Blue Book to duly search his store.

Blue Book confirmed with the Federal Telephone and Radio Corporation that no radar or micro-wave antennas had broken loose from their moorings on 31st July. Neither had experimental radar or micro-wave equipment been in operation that day, according to the Federal Telecommunications Laboratories.

Blue Book's exhaustive investigation led to no conclusive answers despite the integrity of the Stocks, so it was perhaps inevitable that in order to play down public interest, they classified Stock's case as a hoax – perhaps TOO hastily, because Stock's pictures still remain in circulation, and are the subject of continuing speculation seven decades later. Seeing just one photo of the 'hat-shaped' UFO can cause some to scoff, but seeing them as a series of pics from separate angles and within the context of the actual account, tends to stir the imagination a little deeper. I'm 50/50 on this one.

But what say YOU, fellow ATSer?



SOURCES:

www.saturdaynightuforia.com...
www.santafeghostandhistorytours.com...



posted on Aug, 20 2019 @ 10:28 PM
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a reply to: ConfusedBrit
Thanks for the post, interesting story.
I see what they mean about the high contrast suggesting it's fairly close.

It would be nice to see all the uncropped images, but at least some seem to be cropped in the links.
Dixon said he saw something like a fishing pole, and I looked at all the photos in your links, and I'm not seeing a pole, so I wonder if it has been cropped out of the pictures shown?



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 05:17 AM
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Old farmer Brown's hat , after the election.
Yee-Haw

edit on 8/21/19 by Gothmog because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 06:35 AM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur




Dixon said he saw something like a fishing pole, and I looked at all the photos in your links, and I'm not seeing a pole


perhaps thats why the object is always at the top of the picture and not in the middle

if i had a camera and saw an object like this i would keep it in the middle of the photo, wouldn't you ?



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 01:16 PM
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originally posted by: Arbitrageur
Dixon said he saw something like a fishing pole, and I looked at all the photos in your links, and I'm not seeing a pole, so I wonder if it has been cropped out of the pictures shown?


Yes, that was a curious point made by Dixon - he noticed it whilst actually speaking to the Major on the phone. However, it was only visible on the negatives of two photos.

Blue Book analysed the negatives that they were eventually given and made no mention of Dixon's observation, but Stock admits that two negatives had been lost/mislaid. Were those negatives the ones that Dixon had in mind? If so, was Stock, despite the respect he had in the community, deliberately hiding them to safeguard his case?

Riley clearly wanted fame and glory by stealing the story and selling the pics without Stock's permission; Stock was less of a glory seeker. His own machine shop in his garden was a potential big question-mark - did he actually construct this object? Blue Book found no evidence of this, although that doesn't mean Stock hadn't quickly got rid of it before they arrived.

It's a frustrating case with no easy answers, but did it deserve to be classified as a hoax by PBB? The lack of other witnesses at that time of the morning is certainly a concern that PBB shared immediately, but it seems there was certainly SOMETHING in the sky, whether a man-made hoax or not, and whether others saw it or not.



edit on 21-8-2019 by ConfusedBrit because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 01:54 PM
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Pictures and a story. These days, we know that really doesn't add up to much other than possibly another verification that weird things sometimes fly around and we don't know what they are. I think the ancient Greeks first concluded this, so that's how far we've come after a couple thousand years.

Nice photos, though. Good to show people who whine, "Why can't anybody get a clear photo of a UFO?" Well, here's a half-dozen. What did we learn? Only that flying saucers are cool.



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 02:05 PM
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Link

This site has links to higher resolution scans and to an archive of 1200dpi scans of the originals.

Sorry, forgot to mention the link is to the Trent photo's.
edit on 8/21/2019 by Blaine91555 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 02:11 PM
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a reply to: ConfusedBrit
Nice thread.

Foo Fighter.



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 02:26 PM
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originally posted by: Dr UAE
a reply to: Arbitrageur
if i had a camera and saw an object like this i would keep it in the middle of the photo, wouldn't you ?
It depends. In some UFO photography, where the camera is centered on the object, people sometimes complain if all you can see is an object in the sky with no context of any objects on the ground. So if I photographed a real UFO I might try to include some ground features also to provide some context. However in this case I think the context suggests the UFO is relatively close to the camera due to the high contrast of the UFO, compared to the lower contrast of the ground objects like trees, especially in this image from the OP:



a reply to: ConfusedBrit
As a general rule, the prints tend to be larger than the negatives, and unless there's some kind of error in the photo processing (like over or under-developing), what shows up in the negative should generally show up in the photo. Looking at the negative can have advantages though, since you might be able to tell if a line on the photo is part of the emulsion or possibly a scratch, not part of the original image, things like that.


originally posted by: Blaine91555
Sorry, forgot to mention the link is to the Trent photo's.
The Trent UFO has a shape very similar to a canning pot lid, as an ATS poster pointed out in a thread on that UFO. I'm not sure what is seen in the Stock photos this thread is about, except it doesn't look like the same canning pot lid. It could be another object relatively close to the camera though, as suggested by the high contrast of the UFO.



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 02:51 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur




It depends. In some UFO photography, where the camera is centered on the object, people sometimes complain if all you can see is an object in the sky with no context of any objects on the ground. So if I photographed a real UFO I might try to include some ground features also to provide some context. However in this case I think the context suggests the UFO is relatively close to the camera due to the high contrast of the UFO, compared to the lower contrast of the ground objects like trees


i wouldn't argue with you on this matter, you are an expert and i respect that, but during those times like the 50's who would think like that or put it in an argument, i understand today's thinking like yours in regards to putting the object in the picture with the trees for instance to give the people some context, but back then who would've cared?

anyways, my take on these pics is that putting the object far up in the pictures was intentional

dont get me wrong, i do believe in UFO's but i really do want proof



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 03:14 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

They look like a chimney roof cap for the vent from a heater to me and I think that's likely what the domed one is. Have someone toss it like a Frisbee, maybe from a roof and snap a photo.



Looking at the underside I think that's exactly what that one is.



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 04:41 PM
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Photographer sure jumped around a lot. I don't see any two photos with similar backgrounds that I could use to make a stereo image and maybe get a bead on how big and far away it was.



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 05:35 PM
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originally posted by: Blue Shift
Photographer sure jumped around a lot. I don't see any two photos with similar backgrounds that I could use to make a stereo image and maybe get a bead on how big and far away it was.


Yeah, that's a pity. Stock and his father estimated a diameter of 60 to 80 feet, which more than doubles imposter Riley's estimate, but then Riley was probably guessing if Stock hadn't mentioned it. Ironically, looking at the pics, I would have swayed more towards Riley's "30 feet" figure.

Young Riley initially told the press that it was close enough to be hit with a rifle - I assume by shooting rather than swinging it! - but whether he was embellishing his stolen account rather than parroting Stock's story is unknown.

Despite the questions posed by the case, learning how Blue Book investigated what they blindly believed to be a hoax at the first instant, is interesting in itself, including the FBI performing thorough background checks on the three men with no stone left unturned, it seems.



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 05:40 PM
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originally posted by: ConfusedBrit
Despite the questions posed by the case, learning how Blue Book investigated what they blindly believed to be a hoax at the first instant, is interesting in itself, including the FBI performing thorough background checks on the three men with no stone left unturned, it seems.

In 1952, I'm sure they were much more interested in whether these guys were Communists than whether they photographed a real flying saucer. And considering all the actual Communist infiltration of UFO organizations at the time, I can kind of see why.



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 06:38 PM
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originally posted by: Blaine91555
a reply to: Arbitrageur

They look like a chimney roof cap for the vent from a heater to me and I think that's likely what the domed one is.
Good suggestion. It didn't ring any bells for me at first so I did an image search, and found plenty of domed chimney caps but usually the dome took up most or all the diameter, and wasn't half the diameter or less like in the photos (The photographer estimated the dome was about 1/3 the diameter I think). I was about to give up when I got to page 25 and saw these, which do have a similar shape, and things may have changed since the 1950s:

amwfresno.com...



Have someone toss it like a Frisbee, maybe from a roof and snap a photo.
If the person who examined the negatives was correct, he thought he saw a fishing pole and possibly some line holding the object up though thin transparent fishing line would be very hard to photograph. So if held up by a fishing pole/line, no need to toss it.

edit on 2019821 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Aug, 21 2019 @ 07:06 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

It rang a bell with me due to growing up in the 60s with one like that on our house.

The house was built in the 1930s. I often used a fence to go up on the garage roof and up to the house roof because I liked to watch around the neighborhood and sat right next to it. It looks the same to me.



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