of sighting: August 13, 1960
Location of sighting: Red Bluff, California, USA
California, August 13, 1960
Highway Patrol Officers Charles A. Carson and Stanley
Scott were patrolling on Hoag Road, east of Corning, California
when they saw what looked like a huge airliner descending
from the sky in front of them. Thinking that a plane was
about to crash, they stopped and got out of the car to
get a better look. They watched as the object descended
in complete silence to about 100 to 200 feet from the
ground, then suddenly reversed and climbed back to about
500 feet from the ground and stopped. Officer Carson described
it in a police teletype report:
this time, it was clearly visible to both of us. It was
surrounded by a glow, making the round or oblong object
visible. At each end, or each side of the object, there
were definite red lights. At times, about five white lights
were visible between the red lights. As we watched, the
object moved again and performed aerial feats that were
officers radioed the Tehama County Sheriff's Office and
asked Deputy Clarence Fry to contact the local Air Force
radar station at Red Bluff. Deputy Fry reported back that
the radar station verified that an unidentified object
was visible on radar.
they continued to watch the object:
two occasions, the object came directly towards the patrol
vehicle; each time it approached, the object turned, swept
the area with a huge red light. Officer Scott turned the
red light on the patrol vehicle towards the object, and
it immediately went away from us. We observed the object
use the red beam approximately 6 or 7 times, sweeping
the sky and ground areas.
object then began to move slowly to the east, and the
officers followed. When they had reached the Vina Plains
Fire Station, the object was approached by a second object
that came from the south. The second object moved near
to the first and both stopped and hovered for some time,
occasionally emitting red beams. After a time, both objects
vanished below the eastern horizon. They had observed
the first object for a total of about two hours and fifteen
they returned to the Tehama County Sheriff's Office, they
found that the object had also been seen by Deputies Fry
and Montgomery, as well as by the night jailer. All described
the same thing.
next day, Officers Carson and Scott drove to the Red Bluff
Air Station to discuss the sighting and to speak to the
operator that had seen it on radar. The Air Force, however,
now denied that the object had been seen on radar, contradicting
what the radar operator had told Deputy Fry the night
before. The visit was completely unproductive.
information regarding the sighting was obtained by NICAP(National
Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) advisor
Walter N. Webb, who contacted Carson and received a copy
of the report, drawings of the object, and a letter from
the letter, dated November 14, 1960, Carson said:
made several attempts to follow it, or I should say get
closer to it, but the object seemed aware of us and we
were more successful remaining motionless and allow it
to approach us, which it did on several occasions."
the original report, Carson also mentioned that:
time the object neared us, we experienced radio interference."
from the letter to Webb:
object was shaped like a football, the edges, or I should
say outside of the object were clear to us...[the] glow
was emitted by the object, was not a reflection of other
was the "official" explanation for the sighting?
In a letter to a NICAP member, the Air Force said: "The
findings [are] that the individuals concerned witnessed
a refraction of the planet Mars and the bright stars Aldebaran
and Betelgeux. . . [temperature inversions] contributed
to the phenomena as the planet Mars was quite low in the
skies and the inversion caused it to be projected upward."
contributing factor to the sightings could have been the
layer of smoke which hung over the area in a thin stratiform
layer. This smoke came from the forest fires in the area
hung in layer due to the stable conditions associated
with the inversions."
NICAP pointed out that Mars, Aldebaran, and Betelgeuse
were all below the horizon at the time of the sighting,
the Air Force changed the star involved to Capella, which
was slightly above the eastern horizon at the time. They
neglected to explain the fact that, as the sighting progressed,
Capella would have risen in the sky, whereas the objects
disappeared below the eastern horizon at the end of the
Carson had this to say about the Air Force explanations:
have been told we saw Northern lights, a weather balloon,
and now refractions.
served 4 years with the Air Force, I believe I am familiar
with the Northern lights, also weather balloons. Officer
Scott served as a paratrooper during the Korean Conflict.
Both of us are aware of the tricks light can play on the
eyes during darkness. We were aware of this at the time.
Our observations and estimations of speed, size, etc.
came from aligning the object with fixed objects on the
horizon. I agree we find it difficult to believe what
we were watching, but no one will ever convince us that
we were witnessing a refraction of light."
check of the meteorological records of the area for that
night by atmospheric physicist James E. MacDonald failed
to find any evidence that would indicate the presence
of a temperature inversion.
the next week, similar sightings were reported, including
another sighting the very next evening by Deputies Fry
and Montgomery that was also seen by a Corning police