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The RB-47 UFO Encounter | 1957

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posted on May, 20 2008 @ 05:16 PM
On July 17, 1957, an Air Force RB-47, equipped with ECM gear (electronic countermeasures)
was followed by an UFO for over 700 miles.
As the aircraft crossed the Mississippi coast near Gulfport, McClure, manning the #2 monitor, detected a signal near their 5 o'clock position (aft of the starboard beam).
It looked to him like a legitimate ground-radar signal, but corresponded to a position out in the Gulf.
This is the actual beginning of the complete incident.

What was RB-47 equipped with.

Under conditions of war, bombing aircraft entering hostile territory can be assisted in their penetrations if any of a variety of electronic countermeasures (ECM techniques as they are collectively termed) are brought into action against ground-based enemy radar units. The initial step in all ECM operations is, necessarily, that of detecting
the enemy radar and quantitatively identifying a number of relevant features of the radar system (carrier frequency, pulse repetition frequency, scan rate, pulse width) and, above all, its bearing relative to the aircraft heading. The latter task is particularly ample in principle, calling only for direction-finding antennas which pick up the enemy signal and display on a monitor scope inside the reconnaissance aircraft a blip or lobe that paints in the relative bearing from which the signal is coming.

The ECM gear used in RB-47's in 1957 is not now classified; the #2 monitor that McClure was on, he and the others pointed out, involved an ALA-6 direction-finder with back-to-back antennas in a housing on the undersurface of the RB-47 near the rear, spun at either 150 or 300 rpm as it scanned in azimuth. Inside the aircraft, its signals were processed in an APR-9 radar receiver and an ALA-5 pulse analyzer. All later references to the #2 monitor imply that system. The #1 monitor employed an APD-4 direction finding system, with a pair of antennas permanently mounted on either wing tip. Provenzano was on the #1 monitor. Tuchscherer was on the #3 monitor, whose specifications I did not ascertain because I could find no indication that it was involved in the observations.


As the lobe continued moving upscope, McClure said the strength of the incoming signal and its pulse characteristics all tended to confirm that this was some ground unit being painted with 180-degree ambiguity for some unknown electronic reason. It was at 2800 megacycles, a common frequency for S-band search radars.

However, after the lobe swung dead ahead, his earlier hypothesis had to be abandoned for it continued swinging over to the 11 o'clock position and continued downscope on the port side.
Clearly, no 180-degree ambiguity was capable of accounting for this. Curiously, however, this was so anomalous that McClure did not take it very seriously and did not at that juncture mention it to the cockpit
crew nor to his colleagues on the other two monitors
. This upscope-downscope orbit of the unknown was seen only on the ALA-6, as far as I could establish. Had nothing else occurred, this first and very significant portion of the whole episode would almost certainly have been for gotten by McClure.

Map of the RB-47 UFO encounter.

The signal faded as the RB-47 headed northward to the scheduled turning point over Jackson, Miss.
The mission called for simulated detection and ECM operations against Air Force ground radar units all along this part of the flight plan, but other developments intervened. Shortly after making their turn westward over
Jackson, Miss., Chase noted what he thought at first were the landing lights of some other jet coming in from near his 11 o'clock position, at roughly the RB-47's altitude. But no running lights were discernible and it was a single very bright white light, closing fast. He had just alerted the rest of the crew to be ready for sudden evasive maneuvers, when he and McCoid saw the light almost instantaneously change directions and rush across from left to right at an angular velocity that Chase told me he'd never seen matched in his flight experience.
The light went from their 11 o'clock to the 2 o'clock position with great rapidity, and then blinked out.

Immediately after that, Chase and McCoid began talking about it on the interphone and McClure, recalling the unusual 2800 megacycle signal that he had seen over Gulfport now mentioned that peculiar incident for the first time to Chase and McCoid. It occurred to him at that point to set his #2 monitor to scan at 2800 mcs. On the first scan, McClure told me, he got a strong 2800 mcs signal from their 2 o'clock position, the bearing on
which the luminous unknown object had blinked out moments earlier.

Blue Book file card for the case

Provenzano told me that right after that they had checked out the #2 monitor on valid ground radar stations to be sure it was not malfunctioning and it appeared to be in perfect order. He then checked on his #1 monitor
and also got a signal from the same bearing. There remained, of course, the possibility that just by chance, this signal was from a real radar down on the ground and off in that direction. But as the minutes went by,
and the aircraft continued westward at about 500 kts. The relative bearing of the 2800 mcs source did not move downscope on the #2 monitor, but kept up with them.

Flightpath of the RB-47 (dotted line) and of the UFO (plain line), drawn on their formal report by the captain of the crew.

Sources and references:

The RB-47 UFO Encounter - UFO evidence
James E. McDonald, "Twenty-Two Years of Inadequate UFO Investigations" (1969)
This case study by atmospheric physicist -- and leading UFO researcher -- James E. McDonald is excerpted from his paper presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) UFO Symposium, 1969. R

RB-47 UFO Case Study
James E. McDonald, PhD., Astronautics & Aeronautics, July 1971
Case report on the RB-47 UFO encounter, by Dr. James E. McDonald, for the UFO subcommittee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

The RB-47 radar visual multiple witnesses cases, July 17, 1957
UFOs at Close Sight (
Articles, background, and further references for the RB-47 encounter.

Roy Craig, in the Condon Report, 1968
Roy Craig, in the Condon Report, 1968
The RB-47 incident was one of the cases examined by the University of Colorado UFO study (the Condon Report), with Roy Craig as investigator of the case.

Top 100 UFO Cases - Revealed! - By Isaac Koi

Special thanks to Isaac Koi for providing me with informations and sources about this case, thank you, Isaac

[edit on 20/5/2008 by internos]

posted on May, 20 2008 @ 10:00 PM
reply to post by internos

Hello Internos -- at least I know I am not the only one delving into history for info on this subject Star and Flag. here is some info on this particular report that was reviewed by the infamous condon commity for some time and they were stumped with this one.

The selected case, which occurred on July 17, 1957, is treated in the Condon Report Condon, E. U., 1969, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, Bantam Books, N.Y., pp. 56-58, 136-139, 260-266, 750, 877-894). During the study by the University of Colorado group, the case files were not located due to an error in date. In addition, radar and weather analyses were made for September 19, 1957, rather than July 17, 1957. The conclusions drawn by members of the Condon Committee, based on available information are as follows:

If the report is accurate, it describes an unusual, intriguing, and puzzling phenomenon, which, in the absence of additional information, must be listed as unidentified (Condon, p. 57).
In view of ... the fact that additional information on this incident is not available, no tenable conclusions can be reached. From a propagation [Based on a wrong date.] standpoint, this sighting must be tentatively classified as an unknown (Thayer, p. 139).
If a report of this incident, written either by the B-47 crew or by Wing Intelligence personnel, was submitted in 1957, it apparently is no longer in existence. Moving pictures of radar scope displays and other data said to have been recorded during the incident apparently never existed. Evaluation of the experience must, therefore, rest entirely on the recollection of crew members ten years after the event. These descriptions are not adequate to allow identification of the phenomenon encountered (Craig, p. 265).
After review the unanimous conclusion was that the object was not a plasma or an electrical luminosity by the atmosphere (Altschuler, p. 750).

so I guess they did a disappearing act with the radar info, for our good fortune they could not do the same with the pilots who made good use of their reports and reconnaissance. >>angelc01

posted on May, 24 2008 @ 04:16 PM
It would appear that this was not an isolated incident, quite why this one alone escaped the net I don't know.

It is alleged by another pilot flying B47s, Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Bailey, that there were other cases and he himself was present at a similiar incident.

One of the other incidents involved a plane in which Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Bailey was flying as an ECM officer. Bailey, pictured at the left with me in his home outside of Dallas, Texas, back in 2006, has served as the de facto historian for the RB47 since his retirement (his book We See All is a wonderful airman's memoir of what it was like to fly back then).
He describes his crew's own incident in my just completed documentary, Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Cases. Bailey (third from right in the photo at left, back in his USAF days) also describes the aftermath, not only of his incident, but of others involving RB47 crews, including the classic 1957 case. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time he had talked about his case on camera.

Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Bailey's information on wiki:

His career in the Air Force (1956-77) was spent primarily as an Electronics Warfare Officer flying reconnaissance missions during the cold war. He has written several books on the subject and has become a sought-after authority. Bruce has flown many different types of aircraft, but most of his 9,000 hours were spent in the RB-47 and RC-135. Throughout most of his career he flew combat missions and wore the Combat Crew badge. During the height of the Cold War he was constantly either “On Call” or deployed. Air Force life was much better suited to Bruce. He was a highly effective leader and widely recognized as such by his peer and superior officers. The Air Force also allowed him to put his intellectual capacity to work. Quickly mastering electronics and Radio Frequency theory and processing, he quickly dominated his specialized field within the community. By the time of his retirement, Bruce was a highly decorated having been awarded the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross several times, and many other medals and awards. His life in the military enabled him to travel the world where he had the opportunity to meet and interact with a wide range of people and cultures.

According to UFO casebook this is what Project Blue Book concluded :

In joint review with the CAA of the data from the incident, it was definitely established by the CAA that object observed in the vicinity of Dallas and Ft. Worth was an airliner.

This refers to a near-collision of two DC-6 American Airliners near Salt Flats, Texas, 50 mi. from El Paso at 14,000 ft at 3:30 a.m. of this day. (See the map on page 68.) The case is now carried in the official Blue Book files as "Identified as American Airlines Flight 655."

Well I suppose that was to be expected

Oh,..and star and flag

posted on May, 30 2008 @ 09:40 AM
reply to post by internos

The crew consisted of:
Lewis D. Chase, pilot, Spokane, WA
James H. McCoid, copilot, Offutt AFB
Thomas H. Hanley, navigator, Vandenberg AFB
John J. Provenzano, No. 1 monitor, Wichita, KS
Frank B. McClure, No. 2 monitor, Offutt AFB
Walter A. Tuchscherer, No. 3 monitor, Topeka, KS

I live in WA state and tried to track down Lewis Chase in the Whitepages. I called a residence where an elderly lady told me her husband was an engineer and not in the military. I thanked her. No luck. Heck, I figured it couldn't hurt... many elderly people like to tell stories about their life. I would tell them I'm doing a research project on UFOs yada yada...

posted on Aug, 7 2008 @ 11:36 AM
Strange how the object was identified on the B-47 radar and not on the ground based systems.I wonder if they took the radar signal Text
from the object via ECM as being it was identified on radar rather than the B-47 painting that object with its own radar.
Also the fact that Blue Book identified the aircraft as AA Flight 655 but not sure that DC-6 airliners carried S-Band search radars to account for the signal.

posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 12:09 AM
reply to post by Scramjet76

After watching a program on NBC tonight regarding UFOs, I looked up the 1957 RB-47 case just to refresh my memory. Lt. Col. Lewis Chase, USAF Ret. was my uncle. I remember him discussing this event back in the late 1960's. Unfortunately, Col. Chase passed away about 20 years ago and his story of this event went with him. I do remember him saying, however, that although he wasn't sure what he was chasing that night, it wasn't an airliner or mirage. My Uncle Lew was a dedicated pilot who flew many missions in WWII. He was an intelligent, scientifically minded man who could be relied upon to make a rational observation. He knew what he was talking about. My own opinion is that many things about UFOs have been swept under the carpet over the years. And this particular incident is probably a fairly large bump in the rug.

posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 10:25 PM
reply to post by internos

great thread internos !

this is an amazing UFO case. the object was seen on ground radar and the aircraft radar system and it followed them for two hours ?

this is a rock solid UFO incident imo

here's a video...

thanks for your great presentation of this case

star and flag for you

posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:05 AM
Thank you for the write up and sources Internos, yet another great example. I was vaguely aware of this incident but I had never seen a good break down of it.

posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 11:22 AM
"McClure told me that this was what baffled him the most, then and now. All the radar signature characteristics, as read out on his ALA-5 pulse analyzer, were completely normal - it had a pulse repetition frequency and pulse width like a CPS-6B and even simulated a scan rate"

An alien EM frequency at 2800 megacycles conveniently matching our use of base 10 number system directed at a RB-47 ESM aircraft manned by the USAF finest crew.

Amusingly after McClure does not react to the signal,
aimed (
"But its intensity, McClure pointed out, was so strong that "it would have to had an antenna bigger than a bomber to put out that much signal."
at the aircraft, the UFO intercepts the RB-47 again.

posted on Feb, 1 2009 @ 02:51 PM
this is one of the best ufo cases involving the Air Force.

no wonder ufo's are a national security issue.

posted on Aug, 29 2009 @ 10:57 PM
Bumping what is obviously a overlooked thread

This is a GREAT CASE, one of the top 20 in my opinion. What an INCREDIBLE PRESENTATION (as usual) by internos. This is truly one case that can NOT be attributed to mirages or AP in my opinion.

posted on Feb, 26 2010 @ 06:45 PM
reply to post by internos

Internos -marvellous thread.

This has got to be up there as one of the most impressive (and bizarre) UFO cases of the lot - at the NICAP case directory for the incident they simply say this..

If we had to list only ten of the very best UFO cases on record, the RB-47 UFO incident would be on that list. its a great shame that many people haven't even heard of it.

There are the full Bluebook documents about the case below along with the links for individual pages - theres also an interesting section here where it describes the unknown objects 'reversing and hovering'.

Bluebook Documents (pdf file):



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 08:20 AM
Condon Report Scientist calls USAF explanation "literally ridiculous."

The RB-47 UFO Encounter

Possessing the most sophisticated electronic intelligence (ELINT) gear available to the U.S. Air Force, the RB-47 could handle anything.

Unfortunately, in the morning hours of July 17, 1957, over the southern United States, an RB-47 came across something it was unprepared for

In the first hint of what was to come, one of the three officers who operate the electronic countermeasures (ECM) equipment detected an odd signal. Moving up the radar screen, the blip passed some distance in front of the RB-47, then over Mississippi. Though puzzled, he sai­d nothing. However, a few minutes later, at 4:10 A.M., the sudden appearance of an intense blue light bearing down on the aircraft shook the pilot and copilot. Even more unnerving, the object changed course in the blink of an eye and disappeared at the two o'clock position. The aircraft radar picked up a strong signal in the same spot. The UFO maintained this position even as the RB-47 continued toward east Texas.

The pilot then observed a "huge" light, attached, he suspected, to an even bigger something that the darkness obscured. When the electronics gear noted the presence of another UFO in the same general location as the first, the pilot turned the plane and accelerated toward it. The UFO shot away. By now the crew had alerted the Duncanville, Texas, Air Force ground radar station, and it was soon tracking the one UFO that remained (the second had disappeared after a brief time). At 4:50 radar showed the UFO abruptly stopping as the RB-47 passed under it. Barely seconds later it was gone.
This incredible case -- considered one of the most significant UFO reports ever -- remained classified for years. When it became known years later, the Air Force declared that the RB-47 crew had tracked an airliner. Physicist Gordon David Thayer, who investigated the incident for the University of Colorado UFO Project, called this explanation "literally ridiculous."


posted on Oct, 19 2010 @ 12:20 AM
another excellent sighting which seems to have eluded many....

n deserving a serious bump here....

hmmmm.... what do you make of it?

posted on Oct, 19 2010 @ 12:25 AM

Originally posted by karl 12
Condon Report Scientist calls USAF explanation "literally ridiculous."

unfortunately, they too have not done much justice to this case....

But what is of greatest present interest is the point that here we have a well-reported, multi-channel, multiple-witness UFO report, coming in fact from within the Air Force itself, investigated by the Condon Report team, conceded to be unexplained, and yet it is, in final analysis, ignored by Dr. Condon. In no section of the Report specifically written by the principal investigator does he even allude to this intriguing case. My question is how such events can be written off as demanding no further scientific study. To me, such cases seem to cry out for the most intensive scientific study - and the more so because they are actually so much more numerous than the scientific community yet realizes. There is a scientific mystery here that is being ignored and shoved under the rug; the strongest and most unjustified shove has come from the Condon Report. "unjustified" because that Report itself contains so many scientifically puzzling unexplained cases (approximately 30 out of 90 cases considered) that it is extremely difficult to understand how its principal investigator could have construed the contents of the Report as supporting a view that UFO studies should be terminated.

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