NOTE: There has
been a bit of confusion regarding this case due to ufologists efforts to
protect the crews identity. Not only was the crew given make-believe names,
but also the aircraft type and date of the sighting were changed. The pilot has
come forward, and I have the book that he has distributed in the past. As
soon as I have the time, I intend to publish it here with his permission. -CF-
UFO INVESTIGATOR/SEPTEMBER 1970
DATE: February 8, 1951
LOCATION: North Atlantic
Chapter 1 of Major Donald Keyhoe's last
book, Flying Saucers: Top Secret, is entitled
"Encounter Above the Atlantic." The chapter describes a sighting
made in the 1950s by the crew of a U.S. Navy aircraft en route from Iceland to Newfoundland. Keyhoe's source for the
report was Captain James Taylor, a retired Naval officer living in
Washington, D.C., whose name had been given to Keyhoe by another Naval
officer, Admiral D.S. Fahrney, a close friend of the major.
Taylor learned of the incident in 1956 from a friend and former
associate, a Navy pilot who was one of the primary witnesses. This man, a
lieutenant at the time of the sighting and now a commander, is identified in
the book under the fictitious name George Benton. Keyhoe used the pseudonym to protect the officer
from publicity because Benton was still on active duty at the time the book
April of this year, NICAP contacted Benton and requested a personal interview
in hopes that the original report could be updated and corrected with
The interview was conducted a
few weeks later at Benton's
home in New Jersey.
It was the first time he had confided details of his experience to anyone
except military intelligence and his own friends and associates. His memory
of the incident was only slightly affected by the passage of time since, as
he explained, "I have seen nothing like it in all my years of
sighting occurred in the early morning of February 8, 1951. Benton, 30 years old,
was flying an R5D transport which was returning to the United States from
England via Iceland and Newfoundland. Benton
had flown the Atlantic many times, having operated seaplanes over the South
Atlantic for two years, and been assigned to the Naval Air Station in Brooklyn, New York, and
later to a flight squadron at Norfolk.
At the time of the sighting, he was stationed at the Naval
Center in Maryland, where he qualified for 38 types
of military aircraft.
Predawn sighting occurred on second leg
of trans-Atlantic flight. "X"
marks spot where encounter took place.
Photo of a military Lockheed Constellation with superimposed saucer sketch
too poor in quality to reproduce here ] Text below photo:
Artist version of
sighting, based on faulty data, shows too much detail.
Night was not this
clear, and object did not come this close.
The weather on the night of the
sighting was excellent. The moon had set, but visibility was still good. As
Benton remembers it, "You could make out the horizon clearly, but... you
could not see the white caps on the water clearly."
Seated opposite Benton in the
co-pilot's seat was the plane commander, Lt. Com. F. K. (identified in
Keyhoe's book as Peter
Mooney). Back in the plane,
asleep, were two extra crews, one a relief crew for Benton's men and
the other on board as passengers. The aircraft was flying at 10,000 feet on
due course for Newfoundland. Ground speed was over 200 knots (230 miles per
Approximately three and a half hours
out of Iceland at mid-point in the flight, the plane passed over a weather
ship which was on station below off the coast of Greenland. The ship reported
sketch depicts UFO at various stages of its ascent toward
Shrouded in white glow, object had fiery ring at outer edge.
Investigator (NICAP publication) dated September 1970, p. 3
UFO INVESTIGATOR/OCTOBER 1970
DATE: February 8, 1951
LOCATION: North Atlantic
Crew members and
passengers on a Navy R5D aircraft experienced a dramatic sighting in the
early morning hours of February 8, 1951, while flying over the North Atlantic
(see last months issue). The details of that experience, as told by the
pilot, are published here for the first time.
"The aircraft was on
automatic-pilot (this was standard procedure during clear weather so both
pilots could watch for other aircraft). Lt. Com. F. K. and myself were on
constant watch for other aircraft. I observed a yellow glow in the distance
about 30 to 35 miles away at about the 1 o'clock position and below the
horizon. My impression was that there was a small city ahead because it was
the same glow you get from a group of lights on the surface before you get close
enough to pick them out individually.
"Knowing that we pass the tip of
Greenland, my first thought was that we were behind schedule and had drifted
north, but remembering that we had passed over the weather ship, I knew this
was not the case. I called F. K.'s attention to the glow and asked him what
he thought it was. He said that it looked like we were approaching land. I
asked our navigator to check his navigation. He did and replied that we were
on flight plan and on course.
"The lights were farther away
than we thought because it took us from eight to ten minutes to get close
enough to where the lights had a pattern (our ground speed was over three
miles per minute), about 15 or 18 miles away. At that time, due to the
circular pattern of lights, I got the impression that possibly two ships were
tied up together and that lights were strung between them for either
transferring cargo from one to the other or that one was in some kind of
"I asked the navigator to check
his ship plot. He replied that there were no ships plotted in this area and
that we were not close to the shipping lanes anyway. The radioman also went
on the air to the weather ship which verified that there were no ships in the
"Since it was time for Lt. J.'s crew to relieve us, I had the plane captain awaken
them. When Lt. J. and Lt.
M. came up forward, I pointed
the lights out to them. Their only comment was that it had to be a ship
because it was on the water and we were overtaking it fast. At this time, we
were five to seven miles away; it was about 30 degrees to our right, and we
had to look down at about a 45-degree angle. The lights had a definite
circular pattern and were bright white.
"Suddenly, the lights went out.
There appeared a yellow halo on the water. It turned to an orange, to a fiery
red, and then started movement toward us at a fantastic speed, turning to a
bluish red around the perimeter. Due to its high speed, its direction of
travel, and its size, it looked as though we were going to be engulfed. I
quickly disengaged the automatic-pilot and stood by to push the nose of the
plane over in hopes that we could pass under it due to the angle it was
ascending. The relief crew was standing behind us; everyone began ducking,
and a few heads were hit on objects.
drawing shows view from cockpit as strange object rose from
surface and approached aircraft on apparent collision course.
"It stopped its movement
toward us and began moving along with us about 45 degrees off the bow to the
right, about 100 feet or so below us and about 200 to 300 feet in front of
us. It was not in a level position; it was tilted about 25 degrees.
"It stayed in this position for a
minute or so. It appeared to be from 200 to 300 feet in diameter, translucent
or metallic, shaped like a saucer, a purple-red fiery ring around the
perimeter and a frosted white glow around the entire object. The purple-red
glow around the perimeter was the same type of glow you get around the commutator
of an auto generator when you observe it at night.
"When the object moved away from
us, it made no turns, as though it was backing up about 170 degrees from the
direction that it approached us, and was still tilted. It was only a few
seconds before it was out of sight. (Speed estimated in excess of 1500 mph.)
"All of our cameras were within
reach, but no one was calm enough to think about taking a picture. Most of us
were wondering what it was. Our impression was that this was a controlled
craft. It was either hovering over the water or sitting on it, then it
detected us and came up to investigate.
J.'s crew had taken over, I
proceeded aft and learned that most of the passengers had observed the same
thing. Since I was unable to identify the object, I asked Dr. M.,
CDR U.S. Navy, if he had observed the object. He replied that he had and that
he did not look because it was a flying saucer and he did not believe in such
things. I immediately returned to the cockpit and informed the crew to keep
quiet about what we observed because it might have been our first sighting of
a flying saucer (during those years when you mentioned you had such a
sighting, you were believed to be crazy). Lt. J. informed me that it was too late because
he had called Gander Airfield in Newfoundland to see if the object could be
tracked by radar.
"When we landed at Argentia (Newfoundland), we were
met by intelligence officers. The types of questions they asked us were like Henry Ford
asking about the Model T. You got the feeling that they were putting words in
your mouth. It was
obvious that there had been many sightings in the same area, and most of the
observers did not let the cat out of the bag openly. When we arrived in the United States,
we had to make a full report to Navy Intelligence.
"I found out a few months later that Gander radar did track the object in excess
of 1800 mph. I did not see the reports made by other members aboard
the aircraft. I did talk to the Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in 1957 but
did not look at the report. They said they had it and many similar
reference: UFO Investigator (NICAP
publication) October 1970, p. 3
UFOCAT PRN 16658 [DOS: ??-??-1956]
UFOCAT URN 027703 Flying Saucers: Top Secret by Donald Keyhoe, p. 016, © 1960
UFOCAT PRN 27703 [DOS: ??-??-1956]
UFOCAT URN 027705 The UFO Evidence 1, Richard Hall, p. 032, © 1964
UFOCAT URN 027704 Computerized Catalog (N=3173), #0938 by L. Schoenherr, no © date
UFOCAT PRN 16656 [DOS: 02-08-1951]
UFOCAT URN 016655 UFO Investigator (publication of
NICAP), September 1970, p. 3
URN 016656 UFO Investigator (publication of NICAP), October 1970, p. 3
URN NONE Alien Base by Timothy
Good, pp. 86-89, © 1998
UFOCAT URN 121549 Aircraft UFO Encounters by Dominique
Weinstein, 013-20, © 1999
UFOCAT URN 056212 Ted Bloecher investigation files, no
date of publication
UFOCAT URN 193076 UNICAT computer database by Willy Smith (727) #691, no © date
UFOCAT PRN 16656 [DOS: 02-10-1951]
URN 144300 UFOs Over Canada: Personal Accounts of Sightings and Close
by John R. Colombo, p. 211, © 1991
UFOCAT PRN 16658 [DOS: 02-10-1951]
UFOCAT URN 016658 Project Blue Book (files counted in
official statistics), date of pub.
UFOCAT URN 016657 Anatomy of a Phenomenon by Jacques
Vallee, p.?, © 1965
UFOCAT PRN 121550 [DOS: 02-10-1956]
UFOCAT URN 121550 Aircraft UFO Encounters by Dominique
Weinstein, 013-21, © 1999
UFOCAT PRN 151297 [DOS: 02-10-1956]
URN 151297 A Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies by George Eberhart, #1023, ©
UFOCAT PRN 181986 [DOS: 02-10-1956]
UFOCAT URN 136629 UFOs and
the National Security State by Richard Dolan, 494-069,
URN 181986 UFOs and the National Security State by Richard Dolan, 400-069,
Latitude 47-18 N, Longitude 54-00 W (D-M)
Reference: Canada Gazetteer,
prepared in the Office of Geography, Department of the Interior, Washington,
D.C., November 1953.
UFO Location (UFOCAT)
Latitude 49.83 N, Longitude 50.05 W (D.%)