The 1969 UFO Chronology
Magazine cover depicting 1969, courtesy of ufopop.org (Jim Klotz)
Map of sightings for 1969, courtesy of Larry Hatch's "U" Database
Map of Sightings for 1965-1969, courtesy of Larry Hatch's "U" database (Link no longer active)
On. December 17, 1969, Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans, Jr., announced the termination of the two decades of operations of the highly visible AF investigation of UFO's, Project Blue Book. This was only the announcement date, not the actual termination date, but the AF release was worded in such a way as to suggest immediate termination of BB. In fact BB did not terminate until Jan. 30, 1970, at 3:30 p.m. EST, as NICAP found out and published in the May 1970 UFO Investigator (p. 3a).
In the last year of its official existence, Blue Book received 146 UFO reports of which only one received the unidentified classification. For the 22 years that the Air Force investigated UFO's it received nearly 15,000 reports of which some 587 were classified as unidentified. (Air Force press releases listed the total number of 701 unidentified in the statistical summaries of yearly totals. But today only about 587 are listed by UFO sighting date and location in the declassified monthly indexes.) Due to diligent research, the number of "unknowns" has doubled from that 701 figure to more than 1,600 in Brad Sparks' revised catalog, and may reach as high as possibly 3,000 to 5,000, based on estimates of the late Dr. James McDonald and Sparks.
Towards the end the BB files received fewer and fewer military cases. The Air Force's position was that UFO's were no longer seen by the military simply because they were trained observers who cannot be fooled by such things. Historically, however, that was not true and did not explain why so many military observers in the past saw and even instrument-tracked UFO's. In reality, the trend in the BB files reflected the changes in UFO reporting channels. The Air Force had started shifting military reporting of UFO's into operational reporting channels such as those set up under AF Manual 55-11 of 1965 (now AF Instruction 10-206), and many classified regulations, which bypassed BB.
All seemed dead on the UFO front, but major events were just a few years away. The UFO debate was rapidly dying out in 1969 in the wake of the Condon Report and the closure of BB. NICAP and APRO catastrophically lost members, down from roughly 14,000 for NICAP and 8,000 for APRO to just a few thousand.
NICAP Site Coordinator
The 1969 UFO Chronology
Jan. 3, 1969; McDonald Less Alone: UFO's Get Official Recognition
Tucson, Arizona Daily Citizen. "There is no conclusive evidence about 'flying saucers.' Most men of science, therefore, have expressed either disdain or disinterest in the subject. The handful of bona fide scientists who did want to speculate on UFOs found themselves in the uncomfortable company of pseudo scientists, commercial cultists, pulp booksellers and crackpots. Last December's issue of the respected Journal of Aeronautics and Astronautics changed all that."
Source: The U.F.O. Investigator, Vol. IV, No. 9. Special - Published by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) A larger evaluation by numerous scientists and technical advisers was released later. The conclusions of the Colorado University UFO project were fully negative, as NICAP predicted.
January 8, 1969; NAS Letter to Secretary of the Air Force
National Academy of Sciences President Dr. Frederick Seitz letter to Secretary of the Air Force, stating that the NAS review panel "unanimously approved" the Colorado University (Condon Committee) report.
January 11, 1969; Press Conference
At National Press Club, Washington, DC, with Donald Keyhoe, NICAP director; Richard Hall, N1CAP Assistant Director; Dr. James E. McDonald; and Dr. David R. Saunders disputing conclusions of the Condon Report.
Sometime in 1969; Paris, TN
Witness was driving back to college with roommate. It was a clear, dark, starry night. They suddenly saw a long streak of light coming down from the top of the windshield. The sparks of light looked similar to holding a piece of metal to a grinding wheel.
Jan 17, 1969; Crittendon, VA (BBU 12607)
Amber lights, one blinking in elliptical patter.
Jan. 25, 1969; Plattville, IL
12:30 & 1:00 AM. (See drawing link above) A couple was driving home. She had picked her husband up after he had injured himself on a construction project and he was asleep in the front seat. She saw a bright light ahead of her and approaching. As it neared, it was revealed to be like a giant "ice-cream cone" traveling round end first. They were very near home, on the last roadway in fact. The object came to a halt over their landlord's house nearby. It then hovered at treetop level and reoriented itself with the point of the cone upwards. The thing was tremendous, perhaps between two and three stories high. It had a surface consisting of "paneling" each slab of which was the same bright white illumination. At the "bottom" [around the circular end of the cone], was a wide strip of multicolored lights, sparkling like jewels. The bottom "flat" area was mainly open and when the object tipped, it revealed a large dull light within and walls the color of iron ore. At one point, a panel on the surface swung out and closed again without anything else noticeably happening. All this of course was bizarre and mystifying but the worst was yet to come. The car engine died and the lights went out. The car rolled to a stop. The wife also noticed that all the outdoor farm security lights were out as well. And then...the front end of the car began to rise off the ground! "I thought: it"s going to pull us up inside it !" She frantically tried to restart the car, shouting as she did so. This woke up her husband to what was probably the strangest situation he ever had to rapidly adjust to. [the car was, by the way, a Chrysler Imperial; no lightweight]. He was nearly blinded by the brilliance of the object but recovered to try to help his panicking wife--himself ineffectively trying to restart the car. Both of them then felt the car lowering, ending in a final quite noticeable "bump" as the front end hit the road. The object rose and flew away to their northwest [they had been facing north]. The car was able to be restarted, and the farm security lights came back on. The couple drove the short distance to their landlords' home and told the story. The lady of the house said that she had seen a very bright flash of light that illuminated the interior of her house; however, none of the lights in her home were affected. To those who may be interested, a diagram of the object, "cleaned up" from the witness' drawing, has been attempted by this reporter (Michael Swords) and is appended to this case. Plattville stands as one of the best "mass-displacement" cases in the literature [due to multiple credible witnesses and some degree of corroberation] and is one of a handful of incidents which make researchers wonder if some sort of control or unexpected counteraction of gravity is possible with these objects. [Mike Swords; Reference: Fred Merritt. Narrative and report of investigation of the case (with J. Allen Hynek) , undated c.1973, Hynek/CUFOS files].
Feb. 1, 1969; CSM Response to Colorado Report
Dr: Roscoe Drummond, syndicated columnist, in Christian Science Monitor (response to University of Colorado report): "I find it hard to escape the conclusion that there are too many unexplained and presently unexplainable unidentified flying objects from too many credible and responsible witnesses to banish the subject from public concern."
Feb. 1969: "UFO's: Yes" - David Saunders
Dr. David Saunders, David & R. Roger Harkins. "UFOs? Yes!: Where The Condon Committee Went Wrong: The Inside Story released. Saunders was an ex-member of the Official Study Group." (Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, February, 1969)
Feb. 20, 1969; Undisclosed city, Australia
Luminous cigar followed car. Object rose quickly raising dust and leaves. (Perth west Australian, Norseman, Feb. 21, 1969. [E] car.)
March 4, 1969; Atlanta/ Elmer, MO
6:40 AM. This case takes on a special interest when combined with the case from Lancaster, MO which occurred less than a week later [the 10th,see below on this list] and just up the road a few miles. A rural postal carrier was rounding a curve in his truck. About 1/2 mile to his right there was a large reddish colored object traveling 50 feet above the ground. He judged it as 100 feet in diameter. It hesitated briefly, and then made for his vehicle. It took up position in the air over the road, traveling in his same direction slowly. As he closed the distance, a strong white light came from the bottom of the disk and shown on the road. This beam was the full diameter of the object at the top but narrowed to an 8-foot diameter spot as it hit the street. [note that as you read the Lancaster case below, that this is the exact opposite of what that beam was doing]. This beam was extremely hot, and it affected the driver. Also, when the beam shot down, the whole object changed colors. It became bright blue with a red aura about it. There was also a yellow band around it which gave the impression of small racing lights as if the thing were turning. The great brightness made it difficult to see any details, if there were any. His radio was breaking up though not completely out. But when he got right to the edge of the light beam, the radio did quit, and the truck's motor did also. His vehicle then rolled slowly forward as the object moved a small bit further along. Once away from the beam, the radio started again and he was able to restart the truck. The object gradually moved away, once flashing mightily as it crossed a power line. It had changed back to red, as it cruised along in synchronization with the contours of the ground and went out of sight. He said: " I had never believed in them too much until I saw this. Now I know that there is something to these UFOs. I don't know why it was there or where it was going. Neither do I know what it was after I saw it, but I don't care about being that close to another one." NICAP began with this case to attempt to marshall technical experts to give their opinions on what possibly could have gone on. The case was sent to physicists, a Ford Motor company engineer, James McDonald, Allen Hynek, Ray Fowler--all the heavyweights they could muster. No one could come up with a reasonable theory for what was described. The witness had a different solution for the feedback he was getting--he took a vacation to go fishing in the Ozarks. [Mike Swords; references: Letter, William Overstreet to NICAP, March 29, 1969; and NICAP case investigation form (NICAP files); and collection of correspondence and news articles on the case by Ted Bloecher (NICAP files); and "E-M Effect on Truck in Missouri", APRO Bulletin May/June 1969.]
March 6, 1969; Lancaster, MO
Light beam shone on road ahead of car, dog reacted. Witness drove beneath domed disc, car motion slowed. Eye irritation (Ref. 1, Section 1).
March 10, 1969; Westhope, ND
Disc with dome passed overhead, stopped, emitted light beam onto road, illuminating police chief's car. Finally ascended, flew away to south (Ref. 1, Section V).
March 11, 1969; Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Erratically-moving color-changing object hovered in front of car. Witness felt paralysis. (Ref. 3, Supplement 6; see Rodeghier, 1981, p.45 [E] car.)
March 14, 1969; Thailand (BBU)April or May 1969; Gulf of Mexico
Flight surgeon, crew of KC-135, observed huge black cylinder hovering, inclined in vertical position. Fighter aircraft sent to investigate, object disappeared (Ref. 1, Section II).
March 17, 1969; Lake Havasu, AZ
Cessna 150 encountered 15-20 oval objects.
The event occurred while the "British Grenadier" was sailing through the Gulf of Mexico. The UFO (like an arrowhead) appeared directly above the ship at exactly noon on the first day. It just seemed to appear as nobody saw it arrive and it remained above the ship for the next 3 days. E-M effects
April 3, 1969; Southern UK
7:38 P.M. Bright fireball meteor traveling south-southeast to north-northwest, leaving long trail, sparks.
April 14, 1969; Hill City, KS
Multicolored object came within 100', hovered. (Ulysses, Kans., News, April 24, 1969; CUFOS report, dated as April 19 [E] car)
April 23, 1969; Silver Spring, MD
Dogs, cats and horses reacted to object.
May 11, 1969; Pembroke, Ontario, Canada
2:00 AM. Chapeau/Ile aux Allumettes, Quebec [there is some confusion about the location of this event, and it is sometimes labelled for the town across the river, Pembroke, Ontario]. The dog was making a howling racket. The husband and wife were awakened and saw about 600 feet away in their farm field a bright light source. The man went outside noting that the source was so intense that it was easily casting shadows. The thing was hovering, apparently, 15 feet or less above the ground. The light switched off, but he could still hear a purring sound. This purring seemed to recede into the distance and all was back to normal. Before the switch-off the husband thought he could resolve the structure of the object into a dome-shaped object with a flat bottom. The following day, the man went out to the location where he judged the disk to have been and found "three circular depressions, equally spaced to form a triangle with a rectangular depression one to two inches in depth near the midpoint of the base of the triangle". A guess to explain this would be three "landing legs" and a hatchway which extended out of the object to press into the earth. Now, at this point it must be admitted that the various references describing this case don't agree. What has just been described was the most conservative of them [by J.Allen Hynek], but it is probably not the most accurate. Landing trace expert, Ted Phillips, says that yes such a trace was there but it was only one of four such markings. Phillips describes the circles as 32ft, 28ft, a 28 1/2ft half-circle, and a 9ft circle. The first was most like Hynek's with a true external ring [2ft 6in wide] of depressed grass and the three "pod-marks" arranged in the center grass. The second was similar, with again three internal marks in a perfect triangle. The half-ring had a rockpile placed at the centerpoint. The small circle was entirely of depressed grass. As Phillips is a trace specialist, this is probably fairly accurate and everyone else is dealing with second-hand newsprint. One element of the newsprint may have been true, however, in that some burning was allegedly evident. This caused samples to be taken and sent to the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests for testing. This apparently did happen but the report came back that nothing unusual was found. As a post-script to the case, less than a month later, and less than 15 miles away [at Meath,Ontario] another large [33ft] annular ring trace was found that had occurred overnight. In this case the affected ground would not grow plants for three years. [Mike Swords; References: a) Ted Phillips. Trace Catalog; and b) J.Allen Hynek. The UFO Experience; and c) Lore and Keyhoe. Strange Effects from UFOs (1969); and a more sensational presentation in Saucers, Space, and Science 56: 1969 ("Farm Invaded by Flying Saucers"). ]
May 31, 1969; Memphis, TN
C1 reported by Baird. No details available. (MUFON Skylook 8, 6)
June 5, 1969; St. Louis, MO
4:00 p.m. This radar/visual was "written off" as a meteor and observed by three air crews. Four dart-shaped objects witnessed by American Airlines Flight 112, a 707 heading east at 39,000 feet, a United Airlines flight eight miles to the rear at 37,000 feet, and a National Guard jet four miles further at 41,000 feet. Objects were tracked on FAA radar at St. Louis. The pilot of the National Guard plane later claimed the UFO formation had approached his craft almost "directly ahead" before altering its course abruptly and ascending quickly at the last moment. Two radar paints confirmed. (NICAP UFOI Feb 1972)
June 19, 1969; Docking/Bircham Newton, UK
E-M effects on car, static electricity; bluish object shaped like inverted mushroom hovered overhead. Took off at high speed (Ref. 1, Section IV).
July 13, 1969; Van Horne, IA
11:00 PM. (See link above for photos of crop circle). A high school girl was having her cousin [a beautician] over for a visit and a sleep-over. The two young women were still up when they heard a sound outside. Looking out their window, they saw an object above the field across the road. It was less than a mile away. The thing appeared to be a gray metallic disk, non-luminous, but with a orange-red band of light around the circumference. This light enabled the girls to see the shape clearly: like "a shallow inverted bowl with a curved bottom". The object was "clean" [no protrusions nor individual lights]. The object came directly over the farmhouse, its vibrations rattling the bedroom windows. [The parents were asleep already and did not awaken]. The girls felt that the disk was "the size of an automobile" and was rotating counter-clockwise as it rose and sailed away. The next morning they told the one girl's parents what had happened but were not believed. That morning however, the father was out walking the fields and came across a forty foot diameter circle of dried out soybean crop, which had not previously been there. This area was not only a "perfect" circle but in the proper location for the sighting of the UFO. The appearance of the affected crop was "all of the leaves of each plant were hanging wilted from the stalks" as if, the UFO field researcher hypothesized, "they had been subjected to intense heat". The spot was apparently the result of a "near-landing" rather than an actual touch-down, as the plants were not broken off nor crushed. A fine aerial photo of this circle has been made and is attached to this report. The UFO community was on the scene relatively early, with the APRO investigator taking the photos and soil samples, and Walt Andrus of MUFON/APRO interviewing the daughter [the only early interview of the cousin was by news persons]. As was almost universally the case APRO dropped the ball on the analysis of the samples and reported only that the plants were dry, shriveled, and not radioactive. Dr. J. Allen Hynek even visited the site and was later quoted: "I still don't know what the hell this thing is all about... It looked as though a big heater had been held six feet above the ground". Neighbors of the family contributed the remarks that their dogs were making a racket that evening. Van Horne stands as one of the best "landing effects" cases on record. This is because it has multiple witnesses, an immediate corroberation of the trace by someone who knew exactly the state of his farm fields, no desire for publicity [in fact a parent who blocked almost all of it], no motivation [in fact, a loss of valuable crop], multiple, early-on-scene investigators with good track records for straight-shooting, and a fairly large and mysterious effect. On some scales of rating "trace" cases, this might be #1. [Mike Swords; References: a). APRO UFO Report Form (case field investigation), undated but c. September 1969 (Hynek/CUFOS files); "Saucer Near Landing In Iowa", SKYLOOK #23, October 1969; "UFO Over Iowa Bean Field", APRO Bulletin, July-August 1969: Kevin Randle, "The Iowa UFO Landings", Official UFO Fall 1976; [news note] DATA-NET V(9): September 1971; Al Swegle, "Sight UFO Over Benton County Farm", Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 15, 1969.]
July 18, 1969; Apollo 11 Sighting
Object apparently not the S4B. Buzz Aldrin recounts encounter. Brad Sparks is convinced this is debris, a piece of mylar covering for the LM, that came off when attitude control rockets blew it off when the controls kept misfiring. It's trajectory and timing and size and shape all fit.
Aug. 5, Raleigh, NC
Shiny object approached, hovered over road ahead of car. (Letter from B.C.M., dated Aug. 7,1969, in NICAP files [R,L] car).
Aug. 31, 1969; Stover, MO
Flock of turkeys react to orange-red hemisphere or domed disc.
Oct, 1969; Leary, GA
7:15 p.m. Jimmie Carter sighting reported in 1973. Document is hard to read but the sighting was was investigated by the International UFO Bureau, Hayden Hewes. Exact date not known.
Oct. 10, 1969; Glenwood, MO
Dog in car agitated by domed disc.
The implications from this memo, issued just before the shutdown of Project Blue Book, is clear, and is found on page 2: " reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force Manual 55-1 and are not part of the Blue Book system." My thanks to Gildas Bourdais for this copy of the 3-page document. This reproduction is poor but readable and is a copy made from FUFOR's "U.S. Government Documents" package. The full story of the memo is presented by Brad Sparks.
Oct. 24, 1969; Chilian Navy, Chile
12:43 a.m. Chilean Navy destroyer radar detected UFO. The radar officer reported a long-range flying contact. A minute later the "contact" was at 400 miles. Because of the "object's" speed, the operator suspected a malfunction in his equipment. In the next minute the contact was approximately 150 miles away closing from 331 degrees of true north. But the operator and officer in charge during the late night duty (an officer of second-class rank) speculated that the contact was a "plane flying southeast" --but at 213 miles in a minute: 12,780 mph!
October 30, 1969; Waipukurau, New Zealand
Circular object with lights hovering over airport sped away making high, whining sound when security guard shone spotlight on it (Ref. 1, Section VI).
Nov. 30, 1969; Quincy, IL
5:30 PM. A family was driving between Plainville and Payson, Illinois, just SE of Quincy. They noticed a flashing red-colored object to their right, which then began to pace the car at a distance of about 200 yards. At a distance, the thing looked like a circle of lights, but as it came nearer it seemed that the entire object was glowing like neon red. The wife had the best view of it at that time and said it resembled an equilateral triangle with rounded sides. After two minutes of this pacing, the object made a right-angle turn and rushed directly overhead. The thing was larger than small airplanes but in that general size range. Despite its proximity, it made no sound. So far, this is "just" a good old fashioned close encounter of the first kind, but....[lets quote directly from the field report]: "When the object was directly over their automobile, their car seemed to rise from the paved highway about ten inches and then settle back to the paving with only a noticeable bump. [The driver] thought it was conceivable that it might have been less than ten inches, but the car raised up as if there were a suction or a force acting upon it. There was no sound of rushing air and the automobile did not sway either right or left, but remained directly in the right lane of traffic." The investigator returned to the site and drove the highway several times: there were no bumps in the road of any kind. After the car returned to the street, the father and the son saw the object make another very sharp turn a disappear behind a grove of trees. This appears to be a "mass-displacement" case, one of the rarest of the UFO types. To have two of these in one year in the same general area of the country [see, Plattville, IL, earlier in this year] is probably unique. [Mike Swords; References: Walt Andrus. Illinois APRO field investigation report, December 6, 1969 (Hynek/CUFOS files); and SKYLOOK 26, January 1970 "Car Rises From Highway As UFO Passes Overhead"; and Letter: Walt Andrus to J. Allen Hynek, February 25, 1971.]
Dec. 27, 1969; AAAS MeetingAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, in Boston, MA, included panel discussion on UFOs. Scientists joined in statement asking for preservation of Air Force UFO files for future study.
References:3. Flying Saucer Review Case Histories
1. Source: Volume II, The UFO Evidence, A Thirty-Year Report - Richard Hall, 2000
2. CUFOS report, see Rodeghier