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The Philadelphia Experiment: Controversy and Conspiracy

Just a few days ago, I was chatting on radio about the notorious “Philadelphia Experiment” of 1943. Or, rather, the alleged experiment. There’s no doubt at all that when it comes to the issues of control and conspiracy, just about the biggest doozy of all is that which revolves around what is known as the Montauk Project. It’s a complicated saga which is filled with tales of mind-control, time-travel, government cover-ups, secret experiments, and much more. And it’s all focused around a certain facility located on Long Island, New York. It’s a story that has its origins in the 1940s and an incredible series of classified programs run by the U.S. Navy, but which didn’t start to surface publicly until the 1950s. It was in 1955 that a highly controversial book on flying saucers was published. The author was Morris Ketchum Jessup, and the title of his book was The Case for the UFO. It was a book which, for the most part, highlighted two particular issues: (a) how gravity could be harnessed and used as an energy; and (b) the source of power of the mysterious flying saucers that people were seeing in the skies above. It wasn’t long after the book was published that Jessup was contacted by a man who wrote Jessup a number of letters that detailed something astounding. The man was one Carlos Allende, a resident of Pennsylvania.

Allende’s letters were as long as they were rambling and almost ranting, but Jessup found them oddly addictive. Allende provided Jessup what he – Allende – claimed were top secret snippets of a story that revolved another nothing less than invisibility – of the type achieved, in fictional formats, at least, in the likes of The Invisible Man movie of 1933, starring Claude Rains. It wasn’t just invisibility that Allende had on his mind: it was teleportation, too, and of the kind which went drastically wrong for Jeff Goldblum’s character, Seth Brundle, in 1986’s The Fly. Jessup read the letters with varying degrees of amazement, worry, fear and incredulity. That’s hardly surprising, given the nature of the alleged events. So Allende’s tale went, it was at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, in October 1943, when the U.S. Navy reportedly managed to bring both teleportation and invisibility into the real world.

(U.S. Navy) USS Eldridge

According to Allende, the ship in question – the DE 173 USS Eldridge – vanished from Philadelphia and then very briefly reappeared at Norfolk, Virginia, after which it returned to the Philadelphia Naval Yard. How did Allende know all this? He told Jessup that he was on-board a ship whose crew were monitoring the experiment, the USS Andrew Furuseth. In one of his letters, that detailed his own, claimed sighting of the Eldridge vanishing form view, Allende wrote that he watched “the air all around the ship turn slightly, ever so slightly, darker than all the other air. I saw, after a few minutes, a foggy green mist arise like a cloud. I watched as thereafter the DE 173 became rapidly invisible to human eyes.” Allende’s story was, to be sure, incredible. But, the important thing was: was it true? It sounded like an amazing hoax. But, there was just something about the story which made Jessup suspect this was not a joke at all. The more that Allende related the growing aspects of the tale, the more and more Jessup was reeled in.

(Nick Redfern) Morris Jessup’s books

Allende told Jessup that while the experiment worked – in terms of achieving both teleportation and invisibility – it had terrible, adverse effects upon the crew. Many of them had gone completely and utterly insane and lived out the rest of their lives in asylums for the insane. Some vanished from view and were never seen nor heard from again. Others were fused into the deck of the ship, flesh and metal combined into one. Agonizing deaths were all those poor men had. There is, however, something else that needs to be made clear. Despite the intricacy surrounding the supposed experiment, nothing ever surfaced about the USS Eldridge, and about people turning briefly invisible or vanishing forever , before Allende was on the scene. Yes, retired military people have came forward – post-Allende and post-Jessup – to share what they knew. I only wish, though, we had a fistful of such sources back in, let’s say, only three months or eight months after the alleged experiment supposedly took place. Unfortunately, we don’t. It all surfaces in the 1950s.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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