I came across an online copy of Major Edward Ruppelt’s book about UFOs — he was the first head of Project Blue Book, and though a skeptic, he actually did serious and thorough investigations on reported UFO sightings. He’s also the guy who started calling «flying saucers» UFOs.
This is from Chapter 17 of Ruppelt’s «The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects». Ruppelt writes:
It was just a few minutes before midnight on January 28, 1953, when a message flashed into Wright-Patterson for Project Blue Book. It was sent «Operational Immediate,» so it had priority handling; I was reading it by 12:30 A.M… A pilot had chased a UFO.
The report didn’t have many details but it did sound good. It gave the pilot’s name and said that he could be reached at Moody AFB. I put in a long distance call, found the pilot, and flipped on my recorder so that I could get his story word for word.
He told me that he had been flying an F-86 on a «round robin» navigation flight from Moody AFB to Lawson AFB to Robins AFB, then back to Moody — all in Georgia. At exactly nine thirty five he was at 6,000 feet, heading toward Lawson AFB on the first leg of his flight. He remembered that he had just looked down and had seen the lights of Albany, Georgia; then he’d looked up again and seen this bright white light at «ten o’clock high.»
It was an unusually bright light, and he said that he thought this was why it was so noticeable among the stars. He flew on for a few minutes watching it as he passed over Albany. He decided that it must be an extremely bright star or another airplane — except it just didn’t look right. It had too much of a definitely circular shape.
It was a nice night to fly and he had to get in so much time anyway, so he thought he’d try to get a little closer to it. If it was an airplane, chances were he could close in and if it was a star, he should be able to climb up to 30,000 feet and the light shouldn’t change its relative position. He checked his oxygen supply, increased the r.p.m. of the engine, and started to climb.
In three or four minutes it was obvious that he was getting above the light, and he watched it; it had moved in relation to the stars. It must be an airplane then, he’d decided — an airplane so far away that he couldn’t see its red and green wing tip lights.
Since he’d gone this far, he decided that he’d get closer and make sure it was an airplane; so he dropped the nose of the F-86 and started down. As the needle on the machmeter nudged the red line, he saw that he was getting closer because the light was getting bigger, but still he couldn’t see any lights other than the one big white one. Then it wasn’t white any longer; it was changing color.
In about a two second cycle it changed from white to red, then back to white again. It went through this cycle two or three times, and then before he could realize what was going on, he told me, the light changed in shape to a perfect triangle. Then it split into two triangles, one above the other. By this time he had leveled off and wasn’t closing in any more. In a flash the whole thing was gone. He used the old standard description for a disappearing UFO: «It was just like someone turning off a light — it’s there, then it’s gone.»
I asked him what he thought he’d seen. He’d thought about flying saucers, he said, but he «just couldn’t swallow those stories.» He thought he had a case of vertigo and the more he thought about it, the surer he was that this was the answer. He’d felt pretty foolish, he told me, and he was glad that he was alone.
Up ahead he saw the sprawling lights of Fort Benning and Lawson AFB, his turning point on the flight, and he’d started to turn but then he’d checked his fuel. The climb had used up quite a bit, so he changed his mind about going to Robins AFB and started straight back to Moody.
He called in to the ground station to change his flight plan, but before he could say anything the ground radio operator asked him if he’d seen a mysterious light.
Well — he’d seen a light.
Then the ground operator proceeded to tell him that the UFO chase had been watched on radar. First the radar had the UFO target on the scope, and it was a UFO because it was traveling much too slowly to be an airplane.
Then the radar operators saw the F-86 approach, climb, and make a shallow dive toward the UFO. At first the F-86 had closed in on the UFO, but then the UFO had speeded up just enough to maintain a comfortable lead. This went on for two or three minutes; then it had moved off the scope at a terrific speed. The radar site had tried to call him, the ground station told the F-86 pilot, but they couldn’t raise him so the message had to be relayed through the tower.
Sent in by Jeanette C.- UFO Casebook Reader
[Editor’s Note: One of the main reasons that Jeanette mentioned this older case to me was the reference to the UFO changing into a triangle shape, and then morphing into two triangle UFOs. We were both wondering, when were triangles first reported?
Although triangle reports became very prominent in the 1980s, the first early documented sightings of triangles were during the «Operation Mainbrace» Sightings of 1952. There could well be reports earlier, and if anyone has that information, send it along.]