If there is one thing more than any other that I like about the Flying Saucer era of the late 1940s and the early to mid 1950s, it’s the sheer wacky nature of some of the stories that surfaced during that long gone time. Indeed, they are of a caliber (and sometimes of a lack of caliber!) that we just don’t see today. The following is a classic example, and which, just maybe, does indeed have a degree, or nugget, of truth to it. Who knows?
It’s a very strange story that I suspect most people within Ufology will never even have heard of. But, it’s undeniably fascinating, and filled with tales of the FBI, clandestine sources and informants, Soviet secrets, mysterious “controlled clouds,” dead worms (yes, really) and much more. I have been delving into it for quite some time now, but have gone about just as far as I can – unless, that is, anyone reading this knows more…
To briefly summarize the approximately twenty pages I now have on the affair, it goes like this: During the first week of July 1947, FBI agents based out of the Los Angeles, California office were busy investigating a story of very odd proportions. It all started when the Los Angeles Herald Examiner newspaper received a letter a couple of days earlier that told a highly unusual story. In fact, it sounds like the sort of thing that would have had pride of place in the pages of Ray Palmer’s Amazing Stories magazine! Except, this was no tale of science-fiction-style proportions. Nope: it was all true. Allegedly it was, anyway.
The letter-writer stated they had been exposed to a sensational story that led them to believe “flying discs” originated with none other than the Soviet military. So the tale goes, the teller of the tale – who conveniently elected to omit including his or her name – claimed to have then recently met in the “Los Angeles harbor” an “officer aboard a Russian tanker.” After the initial meeting the two met for dinner, over which the Russian asked “where he could sell 18 polar beat pelts which he had received for very dangerous work.”
The mysterious Russian told our equally mysterious letter-writer that the Soviets had been dabbling in some very fringe-like areas of research, and which was connected with that aforementioned “very dangerous work.” That same research involved “experiments with controlled radioactive clouds in the Arctic, where birds, animals and even worms were killed.”
On top of that, the experiments also supposedly involved “atom-powered planes resembling the flying saucers” that controlled the movements of the clouds. The highly talkative (maybe suspiciously too talkative) Russian said that the saucer-planes were barely a couple of feet thick, had “a kidney-shaped outline” and lacked any propellers. As for the pilot, the commie officer assured his US contact that “the pilot lies on his stomach and is artificially cooled against the heat by air friction.”
The letter to the Examiner expanded further: “The outer surface [of the aircraft] is highly polished. Both upper and lower surfaces are convex, like a giant lens. The lifting force is an entirely different principle found about 10 years ago among unpublished papers of a Russian chemist. Energy is only required for climbing, but no energy is needed for support when the airplane goes along the earth’s gravitational contour lines.”
How, exactly, did the Russian officer know all of this? Well, so the wild tale goes, he had personally been “assigned to go over the routes of a radioactive cloud near Lake Baikal and pick up dead animals. They loaded a few small animals and directed the cloud over them.”
During this experiment, said the Soviet officer, “a violent storm blew the cloud far north into the tundra, but before it dissipated it destroyed all life on its way.” As for the cloud itself, it could be “controlled from land, from a plane or from a robot-piloted leader.”
“As I understand,” said the person who got the FBI’s attention, “the control is based on electro-magnetic waves and the cloud has two components: The carrier and the killer.”
And, aside from getting a few brief mentions in other newspapers that quickly picked up on the Examiner’s article (such as the Milwaukee Sentinel) that’s where things pretty much end. Truth, fiction, Soviet disinformation, a bizarre hoax or something else? Who knows? But, it’s an undeniably entertaining saga. After all, how could it not be?
Indeed, for a writer like me, it’s filled with the kinds of bizarre and almost cloak-and-dagger-type ingredients I thrive on: (A) a mysterious Russian informant; (B) what sounds like Soviet research mirroring certain aspects of Wilhelm Reich’s cloud-busting technology; (C) the FBI’s G-Men chasing down the strange truth; (D) weird and futuristic Soviet aircraft; (E) animals dead under unusual circumstances; (F) a mysterious “Russian chemist;” and, of course, not forgetting, (G) that “dangerous work” and a stash of “18 polar bear pelts!!”
Should anyone know anymore, let me know!