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Mariana was understandably excited about the event and called the local newspaper to report it. Such a reaction could be significant. Hoaxers usually wait for their film to be returned before they tell anyone, to be sure that they have the desired image on the film. Processing of Mariana's film took over a week, and it was probably late August or early September before he first saw the results.
During September and October, Mariana showed the film to various civic groups. At one of the meetings, a man suggested that Mariana send the film to the U. S. Air Force for analysis. The man subsequently wrote to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (the location of the Air Force's Project Blue Book), saying that Mariana would be willing to loan them the film. Debunkers consider it odd that Mariana didn't write the letter himself. He explained later that it just never occurred to him.
In October 1950, the Air Force entered the case. They sent an officer from Malstrom Air Force Base (formerly Great Falls AFB) to interview Mariana and obtain the film. Early analysis of the film proved nothing. Air Force officers said the images were caused by two jet interceptors that were in the area at the time. Sunlight reflecting from the fuselages washed out the other detail, they said, and that was why Mariana hadn't been able to identify them.
The Air Force then returned the film.In 1952, the Air Force UFO project was revitalized, and many of the old cases re-examined. Officers at Wright-Patterson asked Mariana if they could look at the film again, and he complied.The Air Force investigators found records of two F-94 jet fighters that had landed at Malstrom AFB about the time the UFOs were seen - if the correct date was August15. Bright sunlight reflected off the jets at just the right angle might have caused the images, they thought; but there was another problem with that explanation: Mariana claimed that both he and Raunig saw some jets in another part of the sky, just after observing the UFOs.
That should rule out the "aircraft" explanation, provided neither of the witnesses was lying. The Air Force politely labeled the case "possible aircraft," and let it go at that.This time, when the film was returned to Mariana, he became upset. The Air Force, he claimed, had removed the first thirty-odd frames of the film. According to Mariana,". . . those frames showed larger images of the UFOs with a notch or band at one point by which they could be seen to rotate in unison." Mariana demanded that the Air Force return the rest of the movie.
The Air Force denied having removed any of the film. All that Project Blue Book records show is that permission was asked to remove one frame only, because the sprockets were damaged, but otherwise, the movie was said to be intact. Mariana, on the other hand, claimed he had a letter concerning the removal of the thirty frames, which he unfortunately could not produce.
In his book “UFOs Explained” (1974), Philip J Klass referred to the Great Falls footage as “the most impressive and famous UFO movie”. In his book “Scientific Ufology” (1999), Kevin D Randle wrote that the Great Falls footage “would become one of the best, and, therefore most controversial pieces of physical evidence available”.
During 2003-2007, Isaac Koi reviewed a sample of 963 UFO and SETI books and noted the frequency with which various UFO cases were discussed. The Great Falls film featured in a list of the top 10 photographic cases (in terms of frequency of discussion). This incident was the fifth most frequently discussed UFO photographic case in the study, with 58 discussions being noted.
Mariana sent his footage to the Air Force. When the footage was returned, Mariana claimed that the best bits had been removed, including frames which “showed larger images of the UFOs with a notch or band at one point by which they could be seen to rotate in unison”. Barry Greenwood has published a review of relevant evidence regarding this allegation (including testimony from Mariana’s lawyer and the managing editor of the Great Falls Tribune that they thought they had seen a longer version than that returned by the Air Force). Greenwood concluded: “In spite of the
Air Force's claims to the contrary, there is strong evidence that the film sequence was clipped after it had been sent to the Air Force in 1950. Witness statements and Air Force documents allude to a longer sequence than currently exists.”
The Great Falls film was one of two motion pictures of UFO sightings considered by the Robertson Panel, organized by the CIA, in January 1953.
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force included these photographs in Project Blue Book as Case Number 792. Its evaluation of them was: “A/C”, i.e. aircraft.
The CIA’s Robertson Panel
The Robertson Panel, organized by the CIA, considered the Great Falls footage. The Panel members accepted the explanation that the footage showed aircraft.
In his book “UFOs Explained” (1974), Philip J Klass referred to Project Blue Book’s case file on the Great Falls footage. He stated that the case file “contained convincing evidence that there had indeed been two F-94s in the vicinity at the time of filming”. One landed at the Great Falls Air Force Base at 11:30am and one at 11:33am, several minutes after Mariana had shot his film.
Klass suggests that: it is possible Mariana knew the footage showed sunlight reflections off two jet aircraft, and had intended to use the incident and film “only as a means of getting a little local publicity for himself and the ball team”.
Alternatively, the identity of the two F-94s was obscured by an unusual atmospheric effect.
There are 18 pages of discussion of these photographs in the Condon Report (“Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects”, Edward U Condon (Director) and Daniel S Gillmor (Editor) (1969)).
It is designated as Condon Case Number 47. The main discussion was written by William K Hartmann.
The Condon Report raised doubts about Mariana’s statement that he filmed the footage on 15 August 1950. The Report notes that Mariana had stated that the film was taken at the local stadium, and that his purpose for being there “was to check the direction of the wind in preparation for the afternoon's game”. The Report also notes that Dr. Roy Craig determined by checking Great Falls newspaper records that no home game was scheduled for 15 August, and, in fact, the witness' team played that evening in Twin Falls, Idaho. The Report concludes “The 15 August sighting date is therefore certainly open to question”.
After reviewing the evidence, Hartmann concluded as follows (at page 635):
“The data at hand indicate that while it strains credibility to suppose that these were airplanes, the possibility nonetheless cannot be entirely ruled out.”
“There are several independent arguments against airplane reflections.”
“(1) Short-term variations in image size (correlated with brightness), time scale ca. 1 sec., are typically not more than ± 5%. A priori considerations of aircraft stability and empirical observations by Baker indicate that it
is very unlikely that two aircraft could maintain such constant reflections over not only the 16 sec. and the 20° azimuth arc photographed but also the minimum of 50 sec. visually observed. I have confirmed this by studying aircraft visually in the vicinity of Tucson airports; in at least a dozen cases none has been seen to maintain a constant or unidentifiable reflection as long as 16 sec”.
“(2) Assuming that 15 August was the correct date, Air Force investigators found that there were two F-94 jets in the vicinity and that they landed only minutes after the sighting, which could well have put them in circling path around Malstrom AFB, only three miles ESE of the baseball park. However, Witness I reported seeing two planes coming in for a landing behind him immediately following the filming (3), thereby accounting for those aircraft.”
Hartmann summarized his view as follows (at page 626): “The case remains unexplained. Analysis indicates that the images on the film are difficult to reconcile with aircraft or other known phenomena, although aircraft cannot be entirely ruled out”.
Originally posted by sherpa
Of course what adds spice to this sighting is the adament opinion of the witness and it would seem early viewers of the film that frames are missing.
This always indicates there was something to hide.
The F-94 (nicknamed "Starfire" in the "C" model only) was developed from the successful twin-seat Lockheed trainer aircraft known as the T-33 Shooting Star, which in itself was based on the single-seat P-80 / F-80 Shooting Star.
The system was designed to overtake the F-80 in terms of performance, but moreso to intercept the new high-level Soviet bombers capable of nuclear attacks on America and her Allies. The F-94 was quickly designed as such, to fill this role until more capable aircraft could be studied and developed.
The F-94 shared many visual similarities with the Shooting Star series including the single powerplant, twin intakes at front, wingtip fuel tanks and low monoplane straight wing assembly designs.
The system was crewed by two personnel and featured a powerful radar, so prized by bomber command in fact, that flights over enemy territory were restricted for fear that the system would fall into enemy hands and be researched.