MIG - Missouri Investigators Group

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Haines reviewed several possible interpretations of this event (cf. Perry & Geppert, 1997).  It seems most probable that the malfunction of the three compasses was due to a transient perturbing magnetic field that disturbed the two primary magnetic compasses, the sensor on the wing tip nearest the object (which was controlling the active autopilot at the time) being disturbed more than the other wing-tip sensor.  Upon landing, the compasses were checked and found to be in normal operating condition.

In responding to this presentation, the panel took the position that evidence of interference with aircraft equipment is interesting but, in the absence of corroborative data from flight recorders and other mechanical or electrical recording equipment, the evidence presented must be regarded as anecdotal.  It is quite possible that the persons making the report summarized above did indeed see unusual and striking phenomena.  It does appear that the airplane departed from its normal flight path, but this could have happened for a variety of reasons.  As with reports related to other categories of physical evidence, the evidence summarized in this section should be regarded as suggestive but far from sufficient to establish any actual physical linkage between the reported luminous phenomenon and the airplane's flight deviation.  In order to improve our understanding of these phenomena, it will be necessary to establish more definite facts from the case work.  To this end, there should be strong efforts to quantify the observations and to obtain multiple measurements of the same event, and investigators should bring a critical attitude to the compilation and analysis of the data.

Apparent Gravitational and/or Inertial Effects

In his presentation, Swords focused on reports with details that, if true, are difficult to understand in terms of our familiar concepts of gravity and inertia.  For instance, a report may describe an object that is stationary, yet completely silent and has no visible means of support; there is no rush of air and no roar such as one would expect if the object were being supported by a downward jet of gas.  It may be reported that the object makes an abrupt velocity change either a very sudden acceleration or deceleration, or a sudden change of direction, or both, and the witness may describe the event as being completely silent.  According to Newton's third law of motion, any sudden change of momentum of an object should be accompanied by an opposite change of momentum of either matter or a field to which the object is coupled.  According to reports of the type described by Swords, there is no indication of what force might support the object or what momentum transfer may have occurred.

It is clear that future reports must, if they are to be considered seriously by physical scientists, include very solid physical records that unfortunately present reports do not: most of these cases are anecdotal and therefore very difficult to assess.  One of the better-documented cases occurred at approximately 11:00 p.m. on August 18, 1973.  At that time, a helicopter of the US Army Reserve was en route from Columbus, Ohio, to Cleveland, Ohio.  In discussing this case, Swords drew upon an investigation by Ms. Jennie Zeidman on behalf of the Center for UFO Studies (Zeidman, 1979; see also Zeidman, 1988).  The four-man crew of an Army Reserve helicopter based in Cleveland, Ohio, flew to Columbus for their regularly scheduled physical examinations.  At about 10:00 p.m., after the examinations had been concluded, they left the medical facility, drove back to the airport (a distance of two miles), filed a flight plan, and then took off at approximately 10:30 p.m.  The night was clear, calm, starry and moonless, with 15-mile visibility.  The helicopter was cruising at 90 knots at an altitude of 2500 feet mean sea level over mixed terrain averaging 1100 to 1200 feet elevation.

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