UFO Conjectures

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jonathan E. Caldwell was the creator of flying saucers (UFOs)?

These two New York TIMES clippings from August 20/21, 1949, reproduced in Flying Saucers Over Los Angeles: The UFO Craze of the 50’s by Dewayne B. Johnson and Kenn Thomas [Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton, Illinois, 1998, Page 272] …
…tells of two flying saucers [Flying Disk “prototypes”] found in a barn near Glen  Burnie, Maryland, which is about eleven miles south of Baltimore.

It was determined that the constructs had been invented by a man named Jonathan E. Caldwell, who disappeared in the winter of 1940/1941.

The Air Force initially issued a Roswell-like statement: “…'some flying disks had been located  in Maryland,' and that Army special agents made an investigation.”

The Air Force then decided “that the two experimental aircraft … 'have absolutely no connection with the reported phenomena [sic] of flying saucers.'”

The TIMES continues “Less than  twenty-four hours earlier, however, and Air Force spokesman had said there was a 'a good chance' that the two weird devices … might be prototypes or forerunners of the flying saucers or discs.”

Roswell dé-jà vu surely.

But, more intriguing, who was Jonathan E. Caldwell and what happened to him?



  • Caldwell's bio on Wikipedia


    By Blogger Joel Crook, at Sunday, July 20, 2014  

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Edward_Caldwell

    Apparently they determined he wasn't involved.

    By Blogger Unknown, at Sunday, July 20, 2014  

  • See


    By Blogger UFO DNA, at Sunday, July 20, 2014  

  • There was an article by Henry J. Taylor in Readers Digest, sometime in 1950, which told all about the flying saucers being of US manufacture. He described them as being made in Maryland. So presumably these are the ones he was talking about.

    By Blogger cda, at Sunday, July 20, 2014  

  • Further to the above, this Henry J.Taylor even said that the notorious Chiles-Whitted sighting was a secret manned US aircraft of tremendous size and capability. Manufactured at this Maryland factory, so he said.

    Keyhoe referred to him in his early books, saying his 'facts' were bizarre to say the least.

    By Blogger cda, at Sunday, July 20, 2014  

  • Rich:

    Speaking of Déjà vu…….

    About 35 years ago I had just completed my MS degree in Aerospace Engineering and had gone to work for NASA in what was called the Rotor Systems Technology Branch. My job was to conduct performance analyses of all different configurations of rotor systems. One of the configurations I spent a lot of time on was the cyclogyro mentioned in the newspaper article. For what it’s worth, I’m probably an “expert” on that configuration (if only because there are probably no more than about 3 people left on the planet who have ever heard of it). My first peer-reviewed professional technical publication was on the subject, but before I read your article I did not realize that the configuration was actually invented by Johnathan Caldwell.

    It is from this perspective that I point out that the newspaper headline is incorrect; there were not two “saucer planes” in the barn. There were two different rotor systems in the barn both of which were designed to be affixed to an aircraft fuselage. One prototype device found in the barn was his earlier invention, the cyclogyro rotor and the other was his later invention, the disc-autogyro rotor.

    As can be seen in the line drawing at
    the cyclogyro configuration calls for a pair of rotors straddling a fuselage that look a lot like the paddlewheels on a Mississippi sidewheel river boat. The axis of rotation of the rotor is horizontal. In operation, that would look nothing like a “saucer plane”.

    His disc-autogyro rotor was designed to replace the conventional rotor on autogyros of the day. As such, it would also have to have been affixed to a fuselage with conventional propulsion, such as a propeller. The rotor itself would have borne some resemblance to the “flying saucers” that were being reported at that time, since its rotational axis was pointing toward the vertical. However, the rotor was only one component of the complete flight vehicle.

    In either case, a flying vehicle or “plane” utilizing either of his rotors would cleary be recognizable as some kind of conventional aerodyne and not a “flying saucer”.

    By Blogger Larry, at Sunday, July 20, 2014  

  • There was another guy who disappeared named Dr. Ross.. He championed an idea he called Ray Forms to explain UFOs, which sounded like what we today might call holograms. He was suspected of having been kidnapped by the Russians.

    By Blogger Bob Koford, at Sunday, July 20, 2014  

  • I would be hard pressed to determine a single source for the “flying saucer” craze unless you consider the original misappropriation of Arnold’s description of craft skipping like “saucers” You could almost go so far as to say the viral and unintentional misinformation of this report was the original sin of what later became “UFOs”
    The more I read about the origins of this pseudo term, the more I see it was a perfect storm of sociological, psychological and cultural forces..The cold war, the advent of nuclear holocausts, the upping of genocide in WW2, the infamous “God is Dead” cover story..To me this is all representational of the loss of what was called charisma in it’s original definition...the rise of this social phenomenon ( as opposed to the phenomenon itself) seems to have grown from the large scale evaporation of charisma on our globe..there seemed to be a subliminal search for what could be called the miraculous, the magical, the mysterious..as the world became more and more seen as the gear works of an empirical machinery gone awry.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Monday, July 21, 2014  

  • Arnold made drawings of what he saw and those drawings are very similar to saucers. There was no misappropriation of anything.

    Many of those things we now call UFOs were indeed described as being saucer like before Arnold’s sighting and after Arnold’s sighting, and many of them WERE NOT described as being saucer like, before Arnold’s sighting and after Arnold’s sighting.

    And the cultural "psychosocial storm" of such times has nothing to do with that, it is more or less the same "psychosocial storm" that exists today and that will exist for many years to come.

    So again, “psychosocial” babblers tell us nothing about the phenomenon, at least nothing that anyone could not guess.

    By Blogger Don Maor, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Don
    I referred to the social movement not the phenomenon itself. I think quite a few people have a difficult time discerning the difference between the two. There is a social component to this in everything from the Contactees trying to form the basis of a new religion to the film, "The Day The Earth Stood Still" to comic books to general paranoia to Blue Book.
    Again, rightfully or wrongly, the parsing of exactitude as to the first utterance of the word "saucer" as applied to this, tells me nothing. Again not seeing the forest for the trees is common in this..but all of the above is reflexive and has nothing to do with the nature of the phenomenon itself. Its simply entangled within our culture.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Don
    This is very similar to a saucer?



    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Actually Arnold's initial drawing looked like this:


    Setting the standard for UFO mythology,his shape changed over time (which, under the rules of saucerdom, makes the case better and more reliable!).


    By Blogger Lance, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Lance
    The pliability of imagery is a good point in of itself that is the essence of this...among other facets. Every citation is in effect grounded by betwixt and between in relation to alleged physicality.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Caldwell was in Medicine Hat, Canada in 1953, testing the ornithopter. He got it to lift, but not fly, got partners in Toronto and moved there. In 1955, the newspapers carried the story, told by his family, that he had died.


    I don't think there was a mass cultural event we can call the flying saucer craze in the summer of 1947. There was however a mass media event. We don't know if those people all reported seeing flying saucers. The newspapers reported them seeing flying saucers.

    'Saucer' or 'flying saucer' quickly became a term of art rather than a description of shape, which it was not to begin with, anyway. One can see this clearly even in Socorro. Newspapers stories had it that Zamora had reported a flying saucer. Zamora said no such thing, but his ovoid object was, to the press and now the public, a flying saucer.

    Thanks to Frank Scully, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and later Adamski, the classic saucer came into being (a circular disk with a dome on top).

    No one went back to the 1947 stories and interviewed those who were referred to in the news as reporting flying saucers, although Bloecher and McDonald did some investigation of it in the mid-1960s. I have one account from early 1950 of a newspaper that interviewed witnesses going back to 1947 but haven't found a copy of it yet.

    Except for the few people who became famous, such as Arnold, we really only have a newspaper's word as to what was reported, and no evidence the news stories were accurate or even true.



    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • I didnt say this nexus of the flying saucer as a cultural totem occurred in 1947. It was a cumulative effect, a viral and social reflex to what was reported that was demonstrated and portrayed in various social media.
    Which was the accurate rending of what was seen? The first or the second by Arnold? On this we can perhaps agree that there is no accuracy or science involved in any of this inasmuch as the physicality of the subject was always a matter of a net effect by way of consensus projections of the society that contained them.
    All we have are reflexive reactions or social effects versus empirical evidence of a physical craft..that was my point perhaps ill defined as it were.
    Again this is not to confuse cause and effects.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Bruce: "It was a cumulative effect, a viral and social reflex to what was reported that was demonstrated and portrayed in various social media."

    I'm wondering about "portrayed in various social media", and the 'just happened' connotations of "viral" and "reflex".

    In my terms the question is: was "flying saucer" being commodified?

    The saucers may have been propagated by the press, but the press did not create the narrative or if you prefer, the myth of the saucers. If something is popular, the market will notice and serve it. When did 'flying saucer' become a commodity? Late in 1949, I think, but obviously by 1950.

    (I am not referring to the few sous Palmer might have made with Fate in 1948).



    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • The image posted by Lance was the one initially drafted by Arnold. He made two such drawings one submitted to USAF and other very similar submitted to the FBI. The one posted by Bruce was made 5 years later.

    Apparently, Arnold's mind was later changed by the passing of the years. As an aviator, he probably felt that a disc or saucer shape was not aerodynamically suitable for a flying craft, which made him change his own depiction of what he saw, transforming it to something like a boomerang of flying-wing airplane thing, probably in the belief that it was likely a human made craft.

    At any rate, this situation does NOT support the debunker-land notion that Arnold’s description falsely influenced later descriptions of UFOs.

    By Blogger Don Maor, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Bruce's image is of a wood model, I've read, made by Arnold. The image is from the cover of Arnold's 1950 pamphlet. Lance's is from the PBB and FBI files from 1947. I do not believe those were available publicly.
    However, the crescent shape was, which appeared in Fate, Spring 1948, drawn by Arnold (as well as other images). It is likely, then, that Arnold had the crescent shape at least by the Winter of 1947. It appears Arnold's actual drawings had not the slightest effect on the classic image of a flying saucer. Credit for that, I believe, belongs to Silas Newton via Scully, reinforced by Adamski a few years later. Where they got it from may be simply due to the word "saucer" and "disk" suggesting it.

    The skeptics have a much better case, if they leave Arnold out of it.



    By Blogger Don, at Tuesday, July 22, 2014  

  • Dutch UFO archive found image of the Jonathan Caldwell UFO, the Dutch article was published on 08 September 1949. Click on the image for the photo.
    We will translate the artikel soon onto english.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, December 10, 2014  

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