Emails from Raymond Thomas to Dave Clarke June 3/4 2001
June 3 2001:
My name is Raymond Thomas. I was a GCA operator at Bentwaters in 1956 and I do remember a lot about the sighting of UFO's. One name I didn't see on your list was the name of the lone airman in the tower when the ufo's were first sighted. Wish I could remember he complete name, we knew him as "Buck" ( I think short for Bucanon, from West Virginia). I'll try to write down as many details as I can remember and send them on to you if you would like. Hope some day to read the results of your research.
June 4 2001:
12522 Ravena Ct.
Houston, TX 77089
This will be the first time I have tried to write down the events of August 1956. In the 45 years that have past since then I'm sure that my memory, of the actual events, has been dimmed by time. Although the memory seems as clear as if it was yesterday. I will tell it as I remember the event.
I don't know the actual day or time of the first sightings, but I know that it was at night and I believe it was after midnight. I say that because I was in our barracks, there was only one person in the control tower and GCA was closed. At that time GCA closed at midnight.
The telephone in our barracks rang and it was the lone control tower operator. We called him Buck. Buck said that there were some strange things flying around the runways and we should come see them. He also said that if we did come, not to come up to the tower because he was alone, afraid , and the only weapon he had was a flare pistol. If anyone or anything touched the tower door he said he would fire the flare pistol through the door. I went to the flight line that night after I heard that GCA had been opened. GCA was my work station and I was curious as to what was going on there.
There were several people in GCA that night. I was very junior and only had the opportunity to quietly observe. Everyone was very excited and talking about the UFO's that could be seen on radar and at certain times seen with the naked eye.
That night I couldn't get close enough to the radar long enough to tell much about them. I did see some lights hovering over the end of runway 26 (or 27, not sure which one we had at Bentwaters). I did hear the conversations as everyone tried to figure out what the objects were. We had F86 D aircraft at Bentwaters then and somehow one was scrambled. The F86D had radar so would be able to lock on to any target. Listening to the radio traffic I heard the pilot exclaim that he had locked onto a target and it was climbing. Not long after that I heard him say that he was at his ceiling and the object was still climbing and leaving him. Another time he locked onto a target and it went from a few hundred miles per hour to a dead stop and the F86 flew right by the object without seeing it. On radar the objects were moving anywhere from a thousand to two thousand miles per hour down to a crawl and sometimes a dead stop. A slow moving L20 aircraft was also sent up, but to my knowledge he was never able to spot anything.
The next night I was on duty after dark and they were back. I personally tracked them at over two thousand miles per hour. Saw some hovering over the approach end of the runway and ( the thing that amazed me the most) tracked the down final approach with our precision radar. The precision radar was actually two radars on one screen. One for elevation (glide slope) and one for azimuth. The objects could be seen on both, just like a normal aircraft. They could be tracked all the way to the runway,starting several miles out, once over the runway they could be tracked making a low approach. The strangest part was that when you knew they were only a few hundred feet from you , you could open the GCA door to look outside, and see nothing. The only times I saw anything with the naked eye was a couple of times I would see a single light in the distance moving at great speed, and two or three times I saw several lights hovering over the end of the runway.
This went on for a couple of weeks. Became old hat. We didn't make a big deal of it because some of us were taken to combat operations and questioned about what was seen and ridiculed for thinking we saw space ships or something similar to that.
I was never given an official explanation but a few months later I saw an article in "The Air Force Times" that stated that it had been determined that what we saw was "seagulls". Imagine that! I don't remember exactly how long the sightings continued, there was a lull and then at Woodbridge, about two years later, I was alone in GCA, sleeping, when the tower operator called and woke me up. He asked me to look out at the end of 26(or 27) and tell him what I saw. There were about 15 orange lights, looked large. Hovering over the end of the runway. The tower operator asked me to turn on the radar and check them out. I told him that it wouldn't do any good, that know one would take us seriously. I went back to sleep.
I don't know anything about the contacts with other radar stations, in 1956 I was very junior and wasn't in on everything.
This is my account. As I read over it, doesn't seem to be very much. Hope you can get some value from it. If you get the chance, let me know what your conclusions are.