Saturday, September 19, 2009

UFOs One Year at a Time: 1949- The Norwood Searchlight

Link (FROM UFO Phenomenon at Close Sight)

On August 19, 1949, during the Jitney Carnival at the St. Peter and Paul Church in Norwood, Cincinatti Ohio, Reverend Gregory Miller, pastor of the church had purchased from army surplus, an 8 million candle power searchlight. Sergeant Donald R. Berger of ROTC of the University of Cincinnati would operate it. During the height of the festivities, at 08:15pm, Sgt. Berger's sweeping searchlight suddenly flashed across a stationary circular object in the sky. Reverend Miller and later others joined in and observed. This was only the beginning.

Reverend Miller took several photographs. He also took several films which show the object in the searchlight beam.

The filmings were done on request of Reverend Miller, by cameraman Sergeant Leo Davidson of the Norwood Police Department. Filming most of it on October 23, he used three rolls, 25 feet each and a Hugo-Meyer F-19-3" camera with telephoto lens.

Smaller triangle shaped objects seemed to come out of the larger main disc and fly around independently, about five objects to a group. They came down the beam and then turned off. The light beam BENT toward the discs when they were not in the path of the beam. Commenting on the smaller objects, Davidson said, "they were visibly the size of pinheads but they didn't have the intensity to register clearly on the film". He pointed out, however, that to the naked eye, he and all others present saw two groups of five small objects leaving the parent object, each, with halos, brighter than the searchlight beam. Said Davidson, "we watched each group fade out of view".

On October 23, 1949, again on the church's grounds, about 50 persons witnessed the phenomenon. Using a telescope, William Winkler, a businessman, said he observed one of the two groups of five smaller objects leave the parent object describing them as "triangular". Rev. Miller and his brother, Rev. Cletus Miller, agreed they were shaped "like the apex of Indian arrow heads". Robert Linn, Managing Editor of the Post, admitted later in an interview that he saw the searchlight beam "bounce off some definite object" but said the smaller objects were "something like bits of paper". However, Linn was concerned enough to join Reverend Miller in reporting the incident to Intelligence at Wright-Patterson AFB.

While no one among the thousands of Cincinnatians, including the experts, who saw the object, could guess its identity, Harry Mayo of the Post wrote a feature article April 6, 1950 under the headline, "What Glows on Here? Norwood Muses". At the close of the article, Mayo wrote, "Dr. D. A. Wells, professor of physics at the University of Cincinnati, and Paul Herget, U.C. professor of astronomy, took a look. Said Dr. Wells: "In my opinion its an optical illusion". Said Professor Herget, "It's not a fake. I believe it may be caused by the illumination of gas in the atmosphere. We need an explanation to squash people's fears."

The same Dr. Wells was there with camera and protractors and in discrete company of two 0SI members. Computations of the object's size were made and then confirmed by Dr. Wells. Like something out of Gulliver's Travels, the size was approximated to be 10,000 feet in diameter.

On July 1, 1994 the parishes of St. Elizabeth, St. Matthew, and
Sts. Peter and Paul formed one parish, Holy Trinity. The parish was
located on the sight of Ss. Peter and Paul Church.

Seargent Berger, who operated the searchlight on the first night of the sighting, cleverly realised this was a most unusual phenomenon and so decided to keep a written log of every occasion that the object made itself visible. This is his diary, as it was reproduced by Leonard H. Stringfield, CRIFO chairman and editor of Orbit Magazine:

August 19, 1949. Place: St. Peter and Paul Church, Norwood, Ohio. 2015 to 2300 hours. While operating for festival, picked up object at 1585 mils elevation. The object was stationary, appearing as glowing disc. When I moved the searchlight away the disc continued to glow. Estimated range: 4 or 5 miles. The sky was clear with thin haze at high altitude. I took no action, but next day articles appeared in two local papers re object.

September 11, 1949.

Place: St. Gertrude Church, Madeira, Ohio. 1915 to 2315 hours. Picked up object at 15,000 to 20,000 ft. at 1620 mils elevation. The object disappeared within a few seconds, travelling straight up. I picked it up again at much greater altitude. Then, when I changed carbons I lost it again until 2115 hrs. As soon as it reappeared, I phoned Wright-Patterson Field. The sky was clear with no visible clouds or haze. Several thousand people also saw object.

September 17, 1949.

Place: Milford, Ohio. 1900 to 2000 hours. Testing the searchlight about dusk, I had it set at 1600 mils. I could see an object which looked like a white glow. When I turned the light off, I could see nothing. I did this several times. As soon as it became dark I turned on the light at same elevation and caught object in the beam.

October 23, 1949.

Place: St. Peter and Paul, Norwood. 1915 to 2245 hours. I turned on the light and picked up object at 1600 mils. Among those present were William Winkler, Father Gregory Miller, Robert Linn (Managing Editor, Cincinnati Post) and Leo Hirtl (Post reporter). Reverend Miller and Linn phoned Wright-Patterson and reported object to Intelligence Officer. About 2200 hours, two distinct groups of triangular-shaped objects seemed to come out of the main disc. Each group had about five objects. They came down the beam then turned out of the beam. The same performance was repeated about half hour later. The disc was still visible when I turned out the light for the night.

October 24, 1949.

Place: St. Peter and Paul. 1915 to 2100 hours. Set light at 1600 mils. The object appeared immediately in the beam. ATIC agent and Lou Gerhart with me at the time. Held object in beam for about half hour until covered by clouds.

November 19, 1949.

Place: Norwood, Ohio. 1830 to 2245 hrs. At 1915 hours the beam of the light flashed on the object. Guiding the light back on the object, it then disappeared immediately. About a minute later I picked it up again much higher. The elevation was between 1605 and 1610 mils. Many witnesses, including William Winkler. Sky was covered with low broken clouds. At time objects appeared much brighter.

December 20, 1949.

Place: Norwood, Ohio. 2015 to 2200 hours. Turned light on at 2015 and picked up object immediately. At first it was faint and small. As haze cleared, object brightened. At 2130 it got much brighter and spread out almost as large as beam, then disappeared. Present were D. A. Wells (Un. of Cincinnati physicist), Dr. Paul Herget (Un. of Cincinnati astronomer), two OSI members, Father Miller, the mayor of Norwood (K. Ed Tepe) and Reginald Myers.

January 11, 1950.

Place: Norwood, Ohio. 1930 to 2115 hrs. Turned on light, but didn't find object until about 1945 hours when haze blew away. Observed it for about 15 minutes, very clearly, then it dimmed. It was called to my attention that some smaller objects were passing through the beam. I saw at least two objects several times. Also present were William Winkler and M/Sgt. K. Ekleberry, M/Sgt. John Savage and Sgt. W. Pflueger of the Air National Guard.

March 9 ,1950.

Place: Norwood, Ohio. 2000 to 2200 hours. About 2000 I picked up object with the light. About 2045 hrs. two small objects came out of the disc and it looked as if the disc was pushed out of the beam. In about ten minutes, the disc moved back into the beam. The sky was clear. Eleven people were present.

March 10, 1950.

Place: Norwood, Ohio. 1900 to 2300 hours. Caught object in beam at 1600 mils. At 1945 hours the object moved up and across the beam and disappeared. Half hour later, object reappeared in beam in same position. Object stayed in beam until I turned light off for the night. Present were Father Miller, Capt. Wilks, K. Myers, Wm. Winkler and others. Capt. Wilks phoned Wright-Patterson Field. Capt. Wilks watched the object with glasses while I moved the light.

The Mayor of Norwood, R. Ed Tepe, now deceased, told in an interview in 1954 that he also was present during the computing and heard Dr. Wells confirm the object's approximate size. Tepe, who gave a unbiased report of his observations, firmly believed that the object was a solid round body. "It had ridges or ribbing, which were very discernible". Tepe also said that "when the searchlight beam moved away, the target was lost".

The Post, a Cincinatti newspaper, on August 20, 1949, had an article titled "Balls of fire hung over Cincinnati during the night", and the article quoted a Weather Bureau official: "One of our men who was working last night saw them. He said they looked like two weather ceiling balloons but they weren't moving. There was a wind of 25 to 32 miles an hour, so if they'd been balloons they would have moved". Another witness mentioned in the article saw "two balls of fire" about 4 a.m. "They seemed to grow dim, and then get bright again."

Another source says the Cincinnati Enquirer was called about the Norwood object and while they did not publish the story of the night's activities, they did admit receiving reports of unidentified lights in the sky - and beyond the vicinity of Norwood.

One photograph has been reproduced in "Inside Saucer Post. . .3-0 Blue," by L. H. Stringfield, Cincinnati, 1957. L.H. Stringfield thoroughly investigated this case for the NICAP.

The weather balloon explanation has been ruled out because on the first occasion at least, the object was totally motionless, while a 25 to 30 mph wind was blowing. Another explanation attempt indicated that a local theatre also used a searchlight on the first night, and that the two beams might have crossed and created a luminous phenomenon. This explanation is easy to dismiss, since it does not account for the duration of the sightings for months, for the smaller objects ejected by the larger one, not does this explain the numerous visual sightings over the area. No consistent other explanation attempt has been proposed. Among the most ridicule dismissal, there was the suggestion that the searchlight illuminated a "gas" in the atmosphere, and the suggestion that "it was geese".

I point out that this is a stunning series of sightings who have received very little attention, and no plausible explanation. The number of witness, the corroboration by photographic and filmed evidence, make it hard to dismiss. Unfortunately in those early days of "flying saucers" interest, no sophisticated data gathering was publicly done, which is a pity when one considers the very impressive details in the accounts. Anyway, there is only one rational explanation to he events: non-human flying devices were observed.

(From the UFO Casebook)

The Norwood Searchlight Incident of 1949, as it has been called, is an outstanding series of 10 visual sightings of a strange aerial object that took place in or near the Norwood, Ohio area from August 19th of 1949 to March 10th of 1950. The alleged observation of a massive object by searchlight operator Donald R. Berger, and meticulously detailed in his logs, remain one of the more curious events in UFO history. This case is exceptional not only because of the dramatic event reported, but also because of the caliber of witnesses involved. The series of incidents were said to have been witnessed by civilians, by clergy, by scientists, by police officers and military officials. Photos were taken on October 23, 1949 by Norwood Police Sgt.Leo Davidson, and 2 reels of 25-ft. motion picture film were kept in the possession of Reverend Gregory Miller, last seen at WCPO Channel 9 TV studios in 1952. Still frames from the movie film were given to investigator Leonard Stringfield and published in his book "SAUCER POST 3-0 BLUE." That photo from his book was scanned and enhanced for this report. Using this same photo, an earlier analysis had been made by Dr. Richard Haines.

(For photos and analysis, click HERE)


The Norwood case involves 10 visual sightings by multiple civilian, clergy, police, scientist and military witnesses over a 7-month duration, facilitated by the use of a powerful searchlight ran by Army Sgt. Donald R. Berger. The first sighting took place during "The Jitney Carnival" of 1949 and witnessed by hundreds The following morning, three local newspapers- The Cincinnati Post, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Cincinnati Times Star- all had articles regarding 'strange lights' and 'comets seen over the city' from the previous evening. There was an explanation for the occurrence, according to one local newspaper. The Albee Theater in nearby Cincinnati, accompanied by the Ss. Peter & Paul Church in Norwood, were operating searchlights. It was said that the hundreds of persons calling newspapers and weather bureau officials were simply observing these searchlight beams 'bouncing off of clouds.' Despite this, the sightings began in earnest after 11:00 p.m. (Berger logs indicate that he observed the UFO from 8:15 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.) and continued to flummox Cincinnati residents until 6:30 a.m. the following morning. It seems unlikely searchlights would be operating all night long until daylight, and further still, one weather bureau official recounted his early-morning observation of two objects that looked like "two weather ceiling balloons" that weren't moving despite a wind speed of 25 to 32-miles per hour. Even the Berger logs indicate the possible presence of a second searchlight from that evening, whether Berger knew there was another searchlight at work or not.

"When I moved the searchlight away, the object continued to glow," Berger wrote in his 1949 logs that were later kept in the possession of Rev. Gregory Miller until 1954, when he imparted them to UFO investigator Leonard Stringfield. Meanwhile, during the festival in Norwood, Robert Linn, the managing editor of the Cincinnati Post, along with church pastor Rev. Gregory Miller, were certain that Berger's searchlight had found and been bouncing off of "some definite object." They entered into agreement and reported the situation to intelligence officials at Wright Field in nearby Dayton, Ohio. The August 19th episode is a mass-witness case, reported in all three local newspapers of Cincinnati, Ohio, a city not far south of Dayton, home of the airbase. A possible explanation is publicly toyed with: the deception caused by two searchlight beams strolling the dark skies. It seems as if Grudge folks would have likely been aware of the events at Norwood on August 19, 1949 - either from all the reportage or from the direct report to the airbase itself, by Robert Linn and Rev. Miller. Why does the Norwood Case not factor in to their investigation when, in fact, far 'lesser' cases may have been prominently addressed? If Project Grudge had sought to dismiss UFO sightings as psychological phenomena, they had a good case with the Norwood searchlight events at this stage of the situation.

source: Kenny Young

(From About Dot Com)

Between the dates of August 19 of 1949 and March 10 of 1950, an almost unbelievable wave of UFO sightings were logged in the Norwood, Ohio area. These visual sightings were of an odd, often stationary object which was witnessed by many ground observers. The Norwood searchlight incident was logged in detail by searchlight operator Donald R. Berger.

It is often said that a sighting's credibility is based upon the reputation of its witnesses. This case was reported by members of the clergy, scientists, police and military officials, as well as civilians. On October 23, 1949 Norwood Police sergeant Leo Davidson took photographs of the unknown objects, and Reverend Gregory Miller took 2 reels of 25 foot motion picture film.

Three Newpapers Carry Report: The very first reports of a UFO were made during the Jitney Carnival in 1949. There were literally hundreds of witnesses to strange lighted objects in the sky. The next day press reports were made of the sightings. The Cincinnati Post, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Cincinnati Times Star all carried a description of what occurred.

An Explanation Given: Some press reports minimized the sighting reports as nothing more than searchlight reflections from the cloud cover. Several churches and at least one theatre were operating searchlights on the first night of the reports. However, sightings were made all night long until daybreak, and it is very unlikely that the searchlights were operating the entire time. One official from the weather bureau made a report of an early morning sighting of "two objects" that appeared to be weather ceiling balloons, but they were motionless, despite winds up to 32 mph.

The Berger Logs: Refuting the searchlight explanations, Berger explained that even when he removed the searchlight from the sky, the brightly lit object was still visible. Berger would intrust his logs to Reverend Miller for five years. At that time, he gave them to UFO researcher Leo Stringfield. The photographs of the Norwood UFO have a very similar look to the ones taken during the Colares Island Incident

"Definite Object": Robert Linn, who was managing editor of the Cincinnati Post, along with Reverend Miller, both stated that Berger's searchlight had accidently found a "definite object, and the light only enhanced its view from the ground. They reported this to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Although many reports were made of the unusual objects, Project Grudge would not investigate the case, either from lack of funds or lack of interest.

No comments: