UFO Conjecture(s)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Rhoades flying saucer photo(s)


We've dealt with the William Rhoades UFO photo from July 7th, 1947 at this blog and elsewhere earlier.

Anthony Bragalia has provided commentary on the photo.

Hayden Hewes also evaluated the photos (two) in a UFO Report article [October 1978, Page 40 ff.], from which the image above comes.

There are several elements in the Rhoades story that intrigue...

First there is the date of the photos -- July 7th, 1947 -- the time frame of the Roswell incident. Rhoades took his photo(s) in Phoenix, Arizona where he lived.

Men in Black, allegedly, visited Mr. Rhoades and supposedly warned him about discussing the photos -- that "would be considered and act of espionage" they told him.

Air Force records indicate that the military took the matter seriously, as AF records show [INCIDENT 40, July 7, 1947, 1600 hours, Phoenix, Ariz] Mr. Hewes reports.

An analysis by John A. Clinton, for the Air Force, adjudicated the photos were faked.

But William Spaulding of Ground Saucer Watch disagreed, writing that the Rhoades photos were bona fide, showing a large object (30/35 feet in diameter), about 4000 feet from Rhoade's [box] camera. The object had a light source, not a hole in the middle as some saw it, and appeared manufactured, with venting holes on the back side.

Kenneth Arnold reportedly said, "On June 24th when I made my observation of the nine flying disks, the second one from the bottom looked just exactly like the piture that [a Captain Davidson] drew [for Arnold of the Rhoades craft].

The photos were taken from him by two members of the intelligence community Rhoades said, and they were never returned or found, Rhoades attempting a lawsuit to retrieve them, which was never brought to fruition.

The Rhoades story and photos fascinate some visitors and contributors here, and I can see why; The date of the photography, the men in black, the contrary evaluations of authenticity, the Arnold insinuation, and Rhoades credibility among other elements in this old episode.

More to come?

RR

17 Comments:

  • Why is the date July 7 significant? Do you really think it had any connection with the Roswell incident? Have you any reason to believe Rhodes had ever heard of Roswell (or that the AF guys at Roswell had ever heard of Rhodes)? It just happened to be a very early UFO photo, maybe even the first ever.

    Loads of UFOs were being seen at the time. It was a big flap, that's all.

    And yes, the AF were very curious about 'flying disc' photos in those early days.

    By Blogger cda, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Maybe, CDA, the Rhoades UFO was the one that "crashed" in Roswell.

    Aftr all, Rhoades' UFO had a hole in it, didn't it?

    And the second photo (not shown in the image I've provided here but with which you and others are familiar) seems to show a flying disk in stress.

    You can be soooo skeptical sometimes.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Rich, I haven't found the Hewes article. Can you send me a scan?

    The misspelling of his name (it is Rhodes) I hadn't seen before. The common variant is Rhoads.

    "First there is the date of the photos..."

    Roswell, Smith, and Rhodes events seem to be the cluster motivating the AAF to get proactive on the pr front. They even give attention to Arnold, finally.

    "Men in Black, allegedly, visited Mr. Rhoades and supposedly warned him about discussing the photos -- that "would be considered and act of espionage" they told him."

    In May 1948, Colonel McCoy informed Rhodes in correspondence regarding the Espionage Act. In language nearly identical to this from the first page of "Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the U.S.", which was Top Secret and which included the details of the Rhodes incident. I haven't checked all the incident files of the other cases mentioned in the report to see if there was a similar notice sent to others. Haven't found one, yet.

    "This document contains infomration affecting the national defense of the United States within the meaning of the Espionage Act, 50 U.S.C., 31 and 32, as amended. Its transmission or the revelation of its contents in any manner to an unauthorized person is prohibited by law."

    Rhodes might also have been informed by agents in person, but I haven't found anything. Does Hewes actually quote Rhodes about it?

    "An analysis by John A. Clinton, for the Air Force, adjudicated the photos were faked."

    No one I know of has identified Mr Clinton, his status, and associations, or even the date of the letter. My best guess is sometime after Sign and after Hynek arrived. 1949. A civilian document.

    "But William Spaulding of Ground Saucer Watch disagreed..."

    Haven't seen that, either. Rhodes thought it had a low canopy, and that it might wrap around under. He mentioned venting on the trailing edge in correspondence with Col McCoy, undated, but probably Spring 1948.

    This might have got the attention of AMC as it indicated an aircraft of unknown specification.

    "The photos were taken from him by two members of the intelligence community Rhoades said, and they were never returned or found, Rhoades attempting a lawsuit to retrieve them, which was never brought to fruition."

    BB doesn't contain any document from Rhodes asking for the return of his negatives, but something was going on. In 1952 both Fournet and Ruppelt were very fussed about it until an adult showed up and told them what to do.

    In 1954, something was returned to Rhodes -- or at least prepared to be returned to him. Two negatives and four 8x12 prints. It is not clear at all if they were original negatives, or copies, or negatives made by photographing the prints.

    As best I can tell in 1952, Incident #40 files were not available to Fournet or Ruppelt (unless they were doing a remarkable cya).

    The interesting bit is they referred to 'Rhoads', a misspelling of the name not seen in the files since the originating note from CIC S.A. Aldrich in July 1947 reporting securing the photos from the newspaper.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Don:

    If we can sneak in a scan, I'll have Josh provide it to you.

    We have other Rhoades (or Rhodes) material, which we'll be placing here.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Rich,

    I gave Bragalia family contact info (and some family history) on Rhodes. He might have found something. I don't know.

    I think Randle got a good lead from his informants that the object Rhodes photographed was the platform for an aerial surveillance project. What I think he should do is to reconsider that it was a USAF run project, and look to the Navy, instead.

    One reason I'd like to know if the AF shared its files with the Navy re "Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the U.S." I mentioned (the Office of Naval Intelligence, is listed as a co-author with the AF Directorate of Intelligence).

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Kevin Randle did a an excellent job on his Rhoads piece. He tried mightily to rationalize problems with the case and convince the reader that Rhoads wasn't a nut (for instance, I believe he lied about his educational credentials) and I'm sure that sufficed for most of the enthusiasts.

    I wasn't convinced.

    Lance

    By Blogger Lance, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Don:

    I'll pass on your info to Tony Bragalia, as we find he only reads our blog when his stuff appears inside it....(I kid, somewhat.)

    When and if we do more on Rhoades, upcoming, I'll see if we can incorporate some of the material that interests you.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Lance: "I wasn't convinced."

    Anyone who dismisses Rhodes because of the honorary degree issue is not worth reading on the incident, and it is good grounds to suspect anything else they've claimed to have "investigated" or "researched" -- in my opinion.

    Randle treads the line on it, but doesn't cross it. That is to his credit.

    There is no evidence at all that Rhodes ever promoted himself as a PhD. I've found one published article he wrote in 1949 in which he refers to himself as PhD (Honorary), and late in life refers to it again, but dismissively. Otherwise, he is Mr. Rhodes.

    Rhodes was, to quote Bugs Bunny, a "unique character". My unsupported opinion is he was lied to by Lee DeForest. I suspect Rhodes was naive and probably admired DeForest -- another inventor-type, rather than an academic scientist. He chose to believe DeForest, is all.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Don:

    That William Rhoades/Rhodes ostensibly photographed a flying dsik, two weeks after Arnold's sighting and over-the-top media coverage offers speculation that he (Rhoades) either was trying to capitalize (for what purpose?) on the Arnold publicity or he actually captured a photo of a flying disk with his Kodak box camera.

    Can we ever really know for certain which one of the scenarios applies?

    Does it matter?

    What is the -- to use my oft overworked phrase -- return on investment, the payoff?

    The story is, like many others, a curiosity....and maybe only that.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Rich "Can we ever really know for certain which one of the scenarios applies?

    Does it matter?

    What is the -- to use my oft overworked phrase -- return on investment, the payoff?

    The story is, like many others, a curiosity....and maybe only that."

    I don't know if Rhodes had heard of Arnold or even paid any attention to the saucer wave. He couldn't have seen Arnold's drawings anyway.

    Except for talking to Linda Howe in 1999 (2000?), and I guess Hewes (1978), if he interviewed him, I haven't found anything by Rhodes in which he refers to the photographs, or UFOs in general. He is simply not a presence in UFO history.

    He appears to have kept in mind the Espionage Act warning he got from Colonel McCoy for three decades (If Hewes interviewed him in '78). He just didn't write anything about it that I can find.

    So, he got no "payoff" from either a UFO connection or the Honorary PhD. He didn't try. His interests, and his major successes, were in optics and electronic imaging. He seemed to have dropped that, too, at the point of his success after devoting most of his life to it. I don't know why.

    A unique character.


    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Your interpretation of the episode, Don, suggests that Mr. Rhoades (or Rhodes) actually snapped a photo of a flying disk or something UFOish.

    He certainly had to have heard about Arnold's sighting.

    Since he (Rhoades) was a long-planner -- he patented things -- perhaps he saw a way to use a flying disk photo later on down the road to his advantage, much as Wilhelm Reich did with his flying saucer escapades.

    Or he (Rhoades) was an honest man, with a Kodak camera, who got a shot of a flying disk (or something) and wanted to know what it was.

    Either way, the "incident" doesn't take us very far.

    But it is a curious footnote to the flying saucer "history."

    (By the way, I passed on your comments to Bragalia, and await, like you, some kind of response.)

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Rich: "Either way, the "incident" doesn't take us very far."

    The incident file is incomplete. It argues there was a "Bluebook" of higher classification and not declassified. The points of incompletion are significant, imo.

    So, no, it doesn't take us very far.

    The case files stop cold in the summer of 1948, when McCoy writes to Larmore. What occurs with Grudge and Bluebook during the next six years is irrelevant, because from then on, the USAF is only interested in keeping the story out of the press, and Hynek wanting to find evidence against Rhodes' character to pillory him in public as a warning to others who might consider hoaxing a flying disc. Apparently, the AFOSI found nothing to warm Hynek's heart.


    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Don:

    I mean the Rhoades episode, by itself, doesn't take us very far, in the search for a denouement of the UFO enigma.

    It's just one more incident of chatter that shows how such sightings -- whether real or not --don't move the needle very far along towards an answer to what UFOs were or are.

    It's a curiosity, and that's it.

    If you pull it from the UFO data stream it isn't missed.

    Wait, it was pulled from the UFO data stream, and no one noticed or cared -- except you, me, and maybe Anthony Bragalia at one time.

    Even Hayden Hewes' article was dietetic.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • "I mean the Rhoades episode, by itself, doesn't take us very far, in the search for a denouement of the UFO enigma."

    Well, it strongly suggests there was more to it than what we have in BB. If the rest of the file is ever found, it might take us somewhere relevant.

    I agree, as it stands in BB, it doesn't do anything to resolve the "UFO enigma".

    Just a note: the BB manila folder for Incident 40 is labeled on the tab: Rhodes, W. A. Dr. 8-)

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Don,

    It isn't just the fake degree. I can only keep so many of these things in memory but I remember the stench of imposture elsewhere in the case.

    If you really think it is a super important case, I'll be glad to expand.

    Lance

    By Blogger Lance, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • Lance: "If you really think it is a super important case, I'll be glad to expand."

    I think it's a significant incident, and I'd like to see what you've got. Thanks.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 20, 2011  

  • I assume the search for "the stench of imposture" has borne bitter fruit.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Friday, September 23, 2011  

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