Monday, June 29, 2009

The Black Thursday case

This post is about a particular UFO case that should be given much more prominence, and in fact it should be considered as much more important than the Roswell story. It is about one of the better known cases of the “foo fighters” era, the Black Thursday, although the details of that era tend to be poorly known in most ufological circles.

The case

This case first became known publicly through the work of Martin Caidin, an aviation history journalist who wrote a condensed version of the story in Ghosts of the Air: True stories of aerial hauntings (New York: Bantam, 1991). On 14 October 1943 a group of over 300 B-17s were flying on a day bombing mission over Schweinfurt, Germany. During this mission, the American had one of their worst bombing missions of the war, with only 197 planes returning of which many were seriously damaged (hence the name Black Thursday). Many years later, Martin Caidin discovered a strange story while doing interviews for a book about the overall mission. He found several aircrew members confirming what happened. A few years later, the ETH ufologist Andy Roberts was able to find independently the original report about the event, confirming the information that Caidin was able to collect through interviews.

Here is the content of the official report, which is quite self-explanatory:

Recd. AMCS. 171129a hrs Oct.43

From - OIPNT


8 BC 0-1079-E
Annex to Intelligence Report Mission Schweinfurt 16 October 1943

306 Group report a partially unexploded 20mm shell imbedded above the panel in the cockpit of A/C number 412 bearing the following figures 19K43. The Group Ordnance Officer believes the steel composing the shell is of inferior grade. 348th Group reports a cluster of disks observed in the path of the formation near Schweinfurt, at the time there were no E/A above. Discs were described as silver coloured - one inch thick and three inches in diameter. They were gliding slowly down in very uniform cluster. A/C 026 was unable to avoid them and his right wing went directly through a cluster with absolutely no effect on engines or plane surface. One of the discs was heard striking tail assembly but no explosion was observed. About 20 feet from these discs a mass of black debris of varying sizes in clusters of 3 by 4 feet. Also observed 2 other A/C flying through silver discs with no apparent damage. Observed discs and debris 2 other times but could not determine where it came from.

Copies to:-

P.R. & A.I.6.
War Room
A.I.3. (USA) (Action 2 copies)

An electronic copy of the report is available on this website.


We have here a case that meets all of the most rigorous criteria put forward by ETH ufology, with the exception of capturing debris.

1. The sighting was made by several and physically separated witness groups, looking from different angles;

2. The witnesses are reliable, and what they said was confirmed in an official report which can be confirmed as being authentic;

3. We are dealing with UFOs in the shape of flying saucers;

4. There was an observed physical contact between military planes and the UFOs.

Given the spontaneous and non-recurrent nature of UFOs, it can hardly get better than that. Yet, this case was essentially dismissed by ETH ufology.

Here is an excerpt of Andy Roberts’ analysis

“At least we now know Caidin's reference exists! Besides that there is little to say really. The objects reported are intriguing but not completely mystifying. There were many types of flak being used by the Germans in W.W.II and several files in the PRO refer to coloured flak, flak which threw off unusual fragments, and so on. This explanation is made more likely by the fact that the 'F.L.O.' in Caidin's reference stands for 'Flak Liaison Officer', at least suggesting that the Air Ministry were treating it within a flak context.

The objects could also have been some kind of 'window' dropped by the Germans in an attempt to disrupt radar or radio communication among air crew. The explanation as to what the small objects were is now more of a task for the air historian than it is for the ufologist. What is clear from the original account is that the discs, whilst unusual, were clearly not any type of 'craft', under intelligent or purposeful control or dangerous to the air craft or crew.

In my opinion these objects do not belong in the category of sightings referred to as 'foo-fighters', both by their physical description and by their behaviour and characteristics. Although often lumped in with foo-fighter reports they are clearly different. This story has been a staple of UFO writers for the past three-four decades. Now we have further clarification and I believe that this particular mystery is more or less laid to rest.”

Roberts’ analysis is flawed, and profoundly biased, on many counts:

1. If it was flak shells, it would have caused some damaged to the planes. Planes are fragile machines, and in those days airframes were simply covered by plasticized fabric, easy to damage.

2. Coloured shells are for helping aiming anti-aircraft guns, a well-known fact that B-17 aircrews were certainly fully aware of.

3. The fact that it was considered a flak issue was perfectly meaningful in the context of World War II. If it was discussed as an alien spaceship in 1943, it would be a clear sign that it would be most likely a fake document. The fact that military institution did not pursued further the issue, besides the fact that it had a war at hand and no time to waste with oddities, is also further evidence that it was a genuine event. This institutional behaviour was very likely due to the fact that they saw no imminent danger in these things, and no technological knowledge could be extracted out of those objects or through the observation of their behaviour. This was the same logical and sensible military reasoning that lead to the closure of the Project Blue Book. The US Air Force, and the USAAF before, is not a mystery research organization.

4. The overall argument is simply completely lacking any form of intellectual integrity as it implies that if it is not an ET craft, then it is nothing....

What needs to be underlined here is that ETH ufologists are willing to believe tall tales from 3rd hand accounts (i.e., hearsay, and some of them have been proven to be lies in the case of Roswell) supported by bogus documents (i.e, the MJ-12 stuff), while they dismiss a case that is telling us something important about the materiality of UFOs. It just happened that it does not points towards ETs and their spaceships. The ETH is all but a believe system, and this proves it once more.

Forget Roswell and the like

This case is one of the very few available that meets so many criteria for quality, including physical interactions while the witnesses do not appear to have been in an altered state of consciousness. What does it tell us about the material nature of UFOs, and flying saucers in particular?

Well, the UFO behaved like psi-substance (to use the Evans’ expression), and this is line with what is known about UFOs. As well, given that there was an imminent crisis not yet known to the aircrew, we have an important condition to produce a social psi effect (i.e., collective unconscious knowledge of a near future event having a very strong emotional charge). The symbolism of the psi-substance was also perfectly in line with what was to come in the following hours of that terrible day of October 1943 (i.e. the B-17 were to become similar to clay pigeon to the German flak).

It is also important to underline that psi-substance is known to be harmless. For instance, Rogo (1986, p. 75) investigated a rock throwing poltergeist in Tucson in 1983. On one occasion a little girl was hit by a rock weighting several pounds and should have been very seriously injured in normal circumstances, yet she had only a red mark comparable to being hit by a basket-ball on bare skin. Another case, investigated by the German parapsychologist Hans Bender during the famous Rosenheim poltergeist of 1968, was a police officer who was hit by a brick coming out of the house. He too should have been seriously injured in normal circumstances, and yet he described the hurt as equivalent to a mosquito bite.

Given the rarity of quality cases involving physical interactions with a UFO, the Black Thursday case should replace the Roswell one in terms of “best” case pertaining to UFOs, as the Roswell case does not tell us anything about UFOs (although it tells us a lot about ETH ufologists...).

Copyright © 2009 Eric Ouellet

No comments: