R e s e a r c h
Martin SHOUGH & Wim VAN UTRECHT
Only one week after the incident near Boise, Idaho , a pilot and copilot of a DC-3 civil airplane sighted a similar black object silhouetted against a sunset sky. The Blue Book documents relative to this case can be found at www.nicap.org. In this unclassified file there's a page with this description of the incident:
Capt Jack Peck and his Copilot Vince Daly stated that on 4 Aug at sunset they sighted and followed a "flying saucer" northwest of Bethel, Alaska. The object which appeared as large or larger in mass than a C-54 and black in color appeared silhouetted against a brilliant evening sky. In order to avoid a possible collision (being unable at first to determine in what direction the object was moving) they pulled up to about 1200 ft in order to avoid possible collision. The object crossed their path at right angles to them. Seeing that it was moving away from them at a very rapid rate and flying at an altitude of from 500 to 1,000 ft they swung in behind it and followed it at an air speed of 170 MPH but the thing was out of sight in four minutes. They state the object was smooth-surfaced and streamlined and resembled a C-54 without motors (from the rear) and was without wings or any visible means of propulsion whatever. Wind was negligible and it was on an NW course.
In a letter sent to the Regional Director of the Weather Bureau in Anchorage the day after the incident, the Official in Charge of Al Jones Flying Services, the airline company for which PECK was working, included the following additional details from a conversation he had with Capt. PECK immediately after the flight:
He [Capt. PECK - WVU] and the co-pilot first sighted the "saucer" ahead of them and at about the same altitude at which they were flying. It was in silhouette against a brilliant evening sky and they, being unable to determine at first in which direction it was moving, pulled up to about 1200 ft. to avoid possible collision. In this new position they could determine that the object was moving away from them and at a very rapid rate. It appeared to be as large or larger, in mass as a C-54, and black in color. It maintained the same altitude but soon disappeared from sight because of its superior speed, which the pilots estimated roughly to be three times theirs.
I know Mr. Peck well and he is not the imaginative type.
R. Allen Showalter
Comment - There is one significant anomaly in the reports. A message by Harold JOHNSON, Signal Corps Operator, sent to the Commanding Officer of Alaska Communications System, Washington, on August 5, 1947, says that the object "crossed their path [plane's course was NW] at right angles [thus heading SW or NE]" and the plane "swung in behind it". The source of this information is not stated.
On the other hand, the August 5 statement by Capt. PECK's employer to the Regional Director of the Weather Bureau, based on a verbal report by the pilot immediately after the flight, says that they "first sighted the saucer ahead of them and at about the same altitude [500ft]" and couldn't detect any relative movement, so fearing a collision they pulled up to 1200ft and then saw that it dwindled rapidly in size, seeming to be heading directly away from them (NW). This is consistent with a telex in the file timed at 051112Z, less than 3 hours after the sighting, forwarded "WITH PECKS APPROVAL", stating "TRUE COURSE NORTHWEST", i.e. the same as the plane. So the statement that the object "crossed their path" appears likely to be an error or misunderstanding. In other words, we have an object or image near the horizon that exhibits no perceptible relative lateral motion.
An interesting element in this report is that the object disappeared after the aircraft had pulled up to a higher position. This is in good agreement with the observers leaving a hypothetical mirage-producing air layer.