Eleanors UFO Interest
There were a number of UFO sightings that had occurred in March 1950, and at least one appeared to catch Eleanor Roosevelt's eye. These sighting reports may themselves have been inspired by the widely read Major Donald Keyhoe article on flying saucers in TRUE Magazine a month earlier.
A summary of the saucer items as detailed by UFO and Roswell historian David Rudiak from the Oakland Tribune found the following items:
March 21: "PILOT MEETS A FLYING DISC -- Veteran Airman Says It was Plenty Fast": Described a flying disc about 100 feet across that crossed the plane's path in front by about 1000 feet at an estimated speed of 500-600 mph. Also described possible ports or windows along the edge with light coming out.
March 22: "Saucer's Are 'Imagination' -- Discs Called Mental Figments,Flaming Meteors by Savants" : Describes a talk at the Berkeley Lions Club by retired astronomer Dr. Robert G. Aitken, former director of Lick Observatory. 95% are pure imagination and the other 5% flaming meteors. Says he's never seen anything he couldn't identify, but doesn't discount possibility that so-called Martian canals could be artificial.
March 22: "MARS (NOT DISCS) NEARING EARTH": Routine article about how Earth, Mars, and the Sun would all be lined up on March 23, with Mars making its closest approach in 10 years, "but scientists insist that it;s no basis for the reports of flying saucers."
March 24: "DISCS 'OLD STUFF' TO ADOLF, DUCE": A Nazi flying saucer story. An Italian scientist claimed that both Germany and Italy were designing and studyng flying discs as early as 1942. He claimed "the principle of the flying disc was simple and construction with light metal very easy. An Italian Professo and former deputy, senator, and minister of the national economy under Mussolini also expressed the opinion that "some great power is launching discs to study them." It also says that "reports of flying discs in Italian skies have been frequent."
March 26: "Piccard Claims He May Be Responsible for Flying Saucers" -- Famed pioneering balloonist Dr. Jean Piccard thinks many instances of reported flying saucers are caused by his or other high-altitude research balloons. Most are caused by people's imagination. A few remaining reported cases by scientifically trained people have no clear explanation.
March 29: "Two Boys, 14, See 'Saucers' -- One Spotted At Night, Other in Daylight; Descriptions Vary": Two separate sightings, one from Oakland, the other from Albany, California. The Oakland night sighting through binoculars was of a whirling luminous white ball trailing smoke or vapor, close to earth, that came over the house, circled around, then disappeared toward town. Whole family saw it. The Albany daylight sighting was of a spinning, white, cone-shaped object the size of a small airplane that stopped overhead before heading east out of sight.
The article it is believed caught Eleanors eye was the following:
"PILOT MEETS A FLYING DISC -- Veteran Airman Says It was Plenty Fast"
LITTLE ROCK, March 21 -- (AP) -- Arkansas' first flying saucer in nearly three years was reported last night--and by a veteran airline pilot.
Capt. Jack Adams of Little Rock, pilot of a Chicago & Southern Airlines plane en route from memphis, Tenn. to Houston, Tex., radioed the C & S operations office here that he had sighted the object near Stuttgart, Ark.
On landing here a few minutes later, Adams described the object As circular and "about the size of a DC-3."
At Houston Adams said: The object, I'd judge, was about 1000 feet in front and above us. We were headed almost due west and this object crossed our course from the south. It was headed due north."
Adams, who was more than 7000 hours in the air, said the disc Appeared to be about 100 feet in diameter and was traveling at a terrific rate of speed--"500 to 600 miles an hour."
"There was a bright white light flashing intermittently from the top of the thing," he said, "and around the edge were what appeared to be ports, something like windows in an airplane. There was a light coming from the ports, but not a bright one."
Adams said he saw no vapor trail nor any exhaust flame that might indicate a source of power. It made no noise that he could hear over the sound of his own engines. "I have no idea what it was," he said, "but I'm convinced it was in controlled flight. My guess is that it's something developed either by the Army or Navy."
Thanks to UFO historian Barry Greenwood we have an actual 2-page transcript of the TV show "Today with Mrs. Roosevelt." The show was on politics but did include a UFO section on the sighting by Capt. Jack Adams. Adams was a guest on the show.