Letter from Gordon David
Thayer to Philip Klass
1 July 1976
I shall try to make my commentary as brief as possible this time, as I am afraid our dialogue on this case could easily become endless. But first, please confirm the time I suggested in my last letter for our meeting in Auugust, Is this acceptable to you?
I cannot agree with your analysis of Perkins' comments in his letter to Friedman (incidentally, you are right, Friedman sent him a copy of your chapter). You ascribe to him motives that I find unsupported by any evidence. Most of what he says in the letter seems to me to be entirely consistent with his earlier letter (written in Feb. 1968, by the way, not 1967) to the UFO project.
I agree that Perkins' memory is far from perfect; whose is? I believe that his first statement that he didn't see the circling movement, but the other controllers did, was based on a partially correct memeory that he did not see it but someone else did. Perhaps the additional information he now has jogged his memory to where he remembered that it was the GCA radar controllers who reported this - as he now states.
You will note he states that "several problems were encountered" because the CPS-5 was AC&W equipment and not ATCC; could not one of these have been that the scan rate was too slow? Note that the other radars used for this purpose generally have scan rates of 15 rpm or so. I do not find it hard to believe that they (the ATCC staff) made a field mod to 9 rpm as Perkins reports. In his letter he does not appear to be offering this as an improvised solution, but rather as additional information that he remembered. No change in the PRF would have been necessary unless the original PRF was less than 20 PPS. And to change the rotation rate of a constant-speed, NON-SECTOR SCANNING antenna is a relatively easy engineering job. The electronics would never "know" the difference, since the antenna speed is relayed to the PPI scope via selsyn motors. I see two possibilities: either the PRF was 20 PPS, in which case one rev/9 sec was the fastest they could go and still cover the scope at 200 miles range (really, the range is immaterial: a 2° beam width will cover 360° in 180 applications, so the minimum PRF is 180/p = 20 PPS), or else the 9-sec scan was the most convenient number to shoot for in terms of keeping the engineering easy.
I can't agree with your reasoning on the phone call either. Someone else could have answered the phone, handed it to Perkins (or he picked up another receiver), and the caller never re-identified himself. In the excitement, this would have been understandable. The other possibility is that Perkins just didn't remember in 1968, but did remember that the phone he had used was the Sculthorpe line. I think he may be making excuses on this point.
I find your speculations on Perkins' possible third-shift status rather amusing. It's a very clever construction. But it doesn't jibe with other points. (1) Perkins remembers actually talking with the radar operator from Bentwaters. (2) Perkins remembers the midnight shift making relief "right in the middle of all this" - which would have been 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning if your hypothesis is true. (3) the UFO TWXs give 0330 as the end of the incident - which means the day shift could not have made relief right in the middle of the flap. Surely Perkins would remember whether or not it was broad daylight when he left the RATCC? On the other hand, Perkins states in his letter to Friedman that the midnight shift people may have been "in on the last part" - in other words, there may have been UFOBs after perkins left the RATCC. I would now concede that the 14/0330 Z may be correct for the last contact, and further that this may explain the discrepancy between Perkins' statement that the UFO left their scope and the TWX report that targets "disappeared" from the scopes - as if they might have just "evaporated" without going out of range. But I still insist that the time of initial contact - 14/0010 Z - is highly suspect.
Perkins shows no sign of being embarassed about any of this, in fact he seems damned mad and quite indignant that nothing was ever done to follow up the incident. By the way, he gives a list in his letter to Stan of everyone he believes was on duty the night of the incident and seems quite confident that if we (Stan or anyone else) were to interview any of these individuals they would bear him out.
I believe you may have missed the point I was trying to make about the U-2. Despite your allegations to the contrary, there is evidence in my file that a request for additional information was made. Gregory's memo of 22 Aug 56 has a note practically ordering Gregory to do so. A later memo from AF Intelligence dated 7 Nov 56 states that report IR-1-56 was "believed (to be) in response to this Center's request for additional information (see Inclosure # 2)." But IR-1-56 refers only to the Bentwaters sightings. Why? Also, the inclosure (sic) referred to above is carefully deleted from the copy of the memo. Why? I am forced to conclude that, despite a request for additional information from AF Intelligence, no such report was ever made from lakenheath. Why do so for the much less interesting Bentwaters sightings and not for Lakenheath?
Since the CMDR ATIC does not mention IR-1-56 in his Joint Messageform memo, I would assume he did not have it; i.e., that it was written prior to August 31. But the deleted refernce to "Inclosure # 2" on the 7 Nov memo can still be deciphered to the extent that the date was obviously 5(aug?) 56. Could it really be 25 Aug? The "order" to Gregory is dated 24 Aug. At any rate, it seems that somebody still thought a follow-up was required.
I did not mean to imply that USAF officers at Lakenheath tried to cover up anything. I believe they were either told to shut up, or simply not asked about the incident after 21 August. Or possibly that they were ordered not to say anything more about it and told to forget the whole thing. Your reasoning about the CIA and the U-2 is quite rational and logical; however, I have seldom heard the CIA accused of being either rational or logical. From what I have read and heard about the outfit, their password is "paranoia." And another thing - ther U-2 might not be itself an object to arouse suspicion, because of the official cover story, but the expensive, high-resolution aerial cameras that it contained would obviously blow that cover story for anyone who happened to see them. No wonder the base commander was not even allowed near the thing! But suppose some AF intelligence officer should happen to see them, unknown to the CIA, and accidentally spill the beans? I still say it's possible that the CIA reacted (or over-reacted) in their usual way and ordered a clamp-down.
I did not mean to imply that the Lakenheath case has the potential of demonstrating that there were hypersonic craft of unknown source operating in anyon'e airspace. I simply feel that it presents a good cross-section of the typical problems, ambiguities, official errors and blunders, muddy thinking, and all the rest of the garbage that comes with any really interesting UFO case. The others are, of course, easily explained as mistakes, natural phenomena, or hoaxes. I never undertook an investigation of my own because I had neither the time nor the resources. (I have the time because I was recently forced to retire on disability because of an eye problem, chronic Reiter's disease, which prevents me from working regularly in a public environment.) Nevertheless, I shall conduct some more investigation of this case on my own, using leads that have been supplied to me by Stan Friedman. You may rest assured that you will be among the first to hear of any results - positive or negative - that I obtain.
cc: Stan Friedman