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Events 1951

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Events 1951




1951-01-20; USA, Iowa, Sioux City


Category: UFO Sighting


Mid-Continent Airlines DC-3, piloted by Lawrence W. Vinther, was about to take off for Omaha and Kansas City, at 8:20 p.m. CST. In the CAA control tower, John M. Williams had been noting an oddly maneuvering light high in a westerly direction. Suddenly the light abruptly accelerated, in a manner clearly precluding either meteoric or aircraft origin, so Williams alerted Vinther and his co-pilot, James F. Bachmeier.


Newsletter Article: Why Don't Pilots See UFOs?





1951-03-10; South Korea, Chinnampo


Category: UFO Sighting


Mar. 10, 1951; Chinnampo, Korea. 9:51 a.m. Witnesses: crew of USAF B-29 bomber, including scanners and tail gunner. A large red-yellow glow burst and became blue-white. No further information in files.


"It is night. We are located on the slopes of a mountain, below [which] there is a Korean village. Previously we have sent our men into this village to warn the populace that we are going to bombard it with artillery. On this night, we were doing just that. We had aerial artillery bursts coming in.


"We suddenly noticed on our right-hand side what appeared to be a jack-o-lantern come wafting down across the mountain. And at first no one thought anything about it. So we noticed that this thing continued on down to the village to where, indeed, the artillery air bursts were exploding. It had an orange glow in the beginning. We further noticed that this object was [so] quick that it could get into the center of an airburst of artillery and yet remain unharmed.


"[The] time element on this, I would say, [was] anywhere from, oh, forty-five minutes to an hour all told.


"But then this object approached us. And it turned a blue-green brilliant light. It's hard to distinguish the size of it; there's no way to compare it. The light was pulsating. This object approached us.


Newsletter Article: Korean War Battlefield UFO Encounter

Source: Project Bluebook Unknowns





1951-07-02; USA, Florida, St. Petersburg


Category: Spontaneous Human Combustion


Mary Hardy Reeser (1884–1951) of St. Petersburg, Florida was a suspected victim of spontaneous human combustion.[1]


Reported events


On the night of July 1–2, 1951 she burned to death in her apartment and the nickname "The Cinder Lady" was given to her posthumously by the local media.


The alarm was raised at about 8 a.m. July 2 when Reeser's landlady, Pansy Carpenter, arrived at her door with a telegram. Trying the door, she found the metal doorknob to be uncomfortably warm to the touch and called the police.




Reeser's remains, which were largely ashes, were found among the remains of a chair in which she had been sitting. Only part of her left foot (which was wearing a slipper) and her backbone remained. Plastic household objects at a distance from the seat of the fire were softened and had lost their shapes.


Reeser's skull had survived and was found among the ashes, but shrunken (sometimes with the added descriptive flourish of 'to the size of a teacup'). The extent of this shrinkage was enough to be remarked on by official investigators and was not an illusion caused by the removal of all facial features (ears, nose, lips, etc.). The shrinking of the skull is not a regular feature of alleged cases of SHC, although the 'shrunken skull' claim has become a regular feature of anecdotal accounts of other SHC cases and numerous apocryphal stories. However, this is not the only case in which the remains featured a shrunken skull.


On 7 July 1951, St. Petersburg police chief J.R. Reichert sent a box of evidence from the scene to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. He included glass fragments found in the ashes, six "small objects thought to be teeth," a section of the carpet, and the surviving shoe.


Even though the body was almost totally cremated, requiring very high temperatures, the room in which it occurred showed little evidence of the fire.


Reichert included a note saying: "We request any information or theories that could explain how a human body could be so destroyed and the fire confined to such a small area and so little damage done to the structure of the building and the furniture in the room not even scorched or damaged by smoke."


The FBI eventually declared that Reeser had been incinerated by the wick effect. As she was a known user of sleeping pills, they hypothesized that she had fallen unconscious while smoking and set fire to her nightclothes. "Once the body starts to burn," the FBI wrote in its report, "there is enough fat and other inflammable substances to permit varying amounts of destruction to take place. Sometimes this destruction by burning will proceed to a degree which results in almost complete combustion of the body."


At the request of the Chief of Police, St. Petersburg, Florida, the scene was also investigated by physical anthropologist Wilton M Krogman. Professor Krogman, of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine, had spent some time in the 1930s experimenting and examining the remains of such incidents, in order to aid in the detection of crimes.


Krogman was frequently consulted by the FBI for this reason but after examining the scene and reading the FBI's report, he strongly disputed the FBI's conclusions concerning Reeser. However, the full circumstances of the death—and Krogman's objections to the FBI's version of events—would not become known publicly for a decade.




In a 1961 article for The General Magazine and History Chronicle of the University of Pennsylvania, Krogman wrote extensively about the Reeser case. His remarks included:


 "I find it hard to believe that a human body, once ignited, will literally consume itself -- burn itself out, as does a candle wick, guttering in the last residual pool of melted wax [...] Just what did happen on the night of July 1, 1951, in St. Petersburg, Florida? We may never know, though this case still haunts me."


With regard to Reeser's shrunken skull, Krogman wrote:


 "[...]The head is not left complete in ordinary burning cases. Certainly it does not shrivel or symmetrically reduce to a smaller size. In presence of heat sufficient to destroy soft tissues, the skull would literally explode in many pieces. I have never known any exception to this rule."


Krogman concluded:


 "I cannot conceive of such complete cremation without more burning of the apartment itself. In fact the apartment and everything in it should have been consumed. [...] I regard it as the most amazing thing I have ever seen. As I review it, the short hairs on my neck bristle with vague fear. Were I living in the Middle Ages, I'd mutter something about black magic."


Later, having put this statement on the record, Krogman moved away from this position. He instead put forward the theory that Reeser had been murdered at another location. Her murderer had access to crematorium-type equipment and had incinerated her body. The hypothetical murderer had then transported the results of the partial cremation back to the apartment and used portable heat-generating equipment to add the finishing touches, such as the heat-buckled plastic objects and the warm doorknob.


In this connection, the FBI files on Reeser's death contain a large number of photocopies from a book on organized crime, specifically about Lucky Luciano.



Newsletter Article: The Mystery of Spontaneous Human Combustion





1951-08-25; USA, Texas, Lubbock


Category: Night Lights


The Lubbock Lights




Capt. Ruppelt accidentally discovered from a talkative fellow airplane passenger that the rancher's wife at their home outside of Lubbock had a similar sighting that same late August evening. While taking clothes from a clothes' line, she was terrified as a huge, low-level craft swept overhead. It was a craft with a wing but no body, she had told her husband. "On the back edge of the wing were pairs of glowing bluish lights," Ruppelt wrote. He added that there was no way that the individuals in either of these two flying-wing cases could have known about the other case so they had to be accepted as legitimate.


That same evening four professors from a local college, Texas Technological College, were sipping iced tea and chatting in a darkened yard. Suddenly, they were startled to see an arc-shaped formation of soft, glowing bluish-green lights slips silently across the sky from the Northeast to the Southwest. Later that evening they observed a similar group pass in a less ordered formation moving in the same direction.


Drawing upon their joint scientific expertise, the men reported that the lights seem to appear at about 45 degrees from the horizon when approaching and disappeared when moving away at about 45 degrees above the horizon. The lights were traveling so swiftly that they only visible about three seconds as they traveled across 90 degrees of the sky they said.


The men were not alone in their sightings. Soon, hundreds of people around Lubbock reported similar objects flashing across the sky. Sometimes two or three flights in one night were reported. All were basically the same story: silent, dull, bluish-green lights traveling at high speed. But at the time nobody reported any more flying wings, just the lights in numbers of two, three, and groups of up to about 30 that were always high and swift.


Ruppelt does not supply specific examples of sightings by professionals around Lubbock other than tell about the professors' sightings that were already widely known. He does briefly mention (with no details) that airport tower operators in two nearby towns reported seeing the lights. Also, strangely absent is any mention of sightings or activities on the part of Reese AFB that adjoins the western edge of the Lubbock city limits.


The professors, being all men of science, attempted to solve the mystery and went so far as to send out teams of watchers so they could triangulate the sightings and gain some concept of altitude, speed and size of the objects-if nothing else. Over a period of a couple of weeks these same four individuals observed ten more passages of the lights, but their teams witnessed none.


About two weeks after the episode started, it ended.





1951-10-11; USA, Minnesota, Minneapolis


Category: UFO Sighting


Oct. 11, 1951; Minneapolis, Minnesota. 6:30 a.m. Witnesses: General Mills balloon researchers, including aeronautical engineer J.J. Kaliszewski, aerologist C.B. Moore, pilot Dick Reilly in the air, and Doug Smith on the ground. The flight crew saw the first object, a brightly glowing one with a dark underside and a halo around it. The object arrived high and fast, then slowed and made slow climbing circles for about two minutes, and finally sped away to the east. Soon they saw another one, confirmed by ground observers using a theodolite, which sped across the sky. Total time first object was seen was 5 minutes, second was a few seconds.


Minneapolis, Minn., October 11, 1951. Extremely important sighting by two airborne balloon observers, General Mills-Navy balloon project; observers were in a plane, sighted two smoky-gray cigar shaped objects moving at terrific speed. Also one of the objects was sighted and briefly seen in a theodolite by a ground observer.


Newsletter Article: Why Don't Pilots See UFOs?

Source: Project Bluebook Unknowns





1951-12-07; USA, Tennessee, Oak Ridge


Category: UFO Sighting


Dec. 7, 1951; Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 8:15 a.m. Witness: Atomic Energy Commission guard J.H. Collins. One 20' square object, white-grey but not shiny flew above ridge to clouds and back again twice, taking 30-40 seconds each time.


Hot Spot: Oak Ridge Tennessee

Source: Project Bluebook Unknowns




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