posted on Aug, 16 2010 @ 05:30 PM
The X-15 UFO sightings were very much like John Glenn's "fireflies." Frost built up on the fuselage in the area of the liquid oxygen tank and then
flaked off as the skin flexed. White's description of the objects certainly fits the frost theory.
It might also be important to examine how much excitement (or lack thereof) was generated by his sighting during and after the flight. I am looking at
the original flight transcripts as write this (NASA 1 is the control room at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB).
NASA 1: OK, looks like your'e about the peak and speed brakes out.
White: Roger. [pause] There's lots of things out there. Absolutely is! [pause] What's my angle of attack?
NASA 1: We don't have any better presentation than he does. We're coming back down through, approaching 285. Anticipate a position in correction
turn to the right whenever you have the ability to do so.
White then acknowledges the transmission and makes a garbled comment about the view from maximum altitude. The remaining transmissions pertain to
maneuvers and control setting for approach and landing.
There are no further comments on the mystery objects until the postflight debriefing. According to the transcript, White's very first comment at the
debriefing was, "The only thing that was unusual was the FCS [flight control system] tripout and it was the DC circuit breaker on the MH [adaptive
flight controls] system." The first several paragraphs detail White's comments on controllability of the vehicle during the climb to altitude.
White then offers "a few quick observations." From the NASA transcript:
White: "While I was level I started noticing some things and I said, 'Now wait a minute, they must be inside the cockpit,' but they were outside
the cockpit. It looked like perhaps it might have been residue or frost or very small little things going by."
He then describes the object that looked like a piece of paper about the size of his hand, just off to the left side and level with the cockpit
_ He describes several smaller objects on the right side that may have come from the nose of the vehicle.
At this point, White starts talking about his altitude and how it compared with his previous flight. There is no mention of frost or mysterious
objects throughout the remaining five pages of transcript. There is only a detailed discussion of vehicle controllability and handling qualities
through reentry and landing. There seemed to be no further interest among the pilots and project engineers at the debriefing.
NASA didn't exactly keep the incident a secret. Sometime between 23 July and 7 September 1962, the Public Affairs Office at NASA's Flight Research
Center issued NASA News release 11-62 stating that NASA Officials had released photographs taken during White's flight, taken by a motion picture
camera mounted in the aircraft's lower tail fin. The pictures showed "an undetermined sized object of a grey-white color tumbling slowly above and
behind the X-15."
NASA technicians had correlated the frames of film showing the object had with other flight data and determined that the photos were taken as the X-15
climbed through 270,000 feet. They could not say for certain whether the object in the pictures was the same one reported by White.
The news release also noted Joe Walker's sighting at an altitude of 246,700 feet on 30 April 1962. According the to release, "After a detailed
examination and study, NASA officials found these objects to be particles of ice flaking off the frosty sides of the research aircraft."
Now, looking at the radio transcripts from Walker's flight I see no mention of a sighting. Nor is there such a statement to be found anywhere in the
pilot's postflight comments. It's possible that Walker didn't deem his sighting worth reporting until after hearing White's comments following the
In any case, the X-15 UFO sightings seem to have generated little scientific or professional interest among NASA scientists and engineers, and
apparently NASA officials saw no reason not to release the photos.