Letter from T/Sgt Forrest Perkins to the National Enquirer, March 1972
Reference your recent article by William Dick (12 Mar 72) concerning UFOs and another article later restating the UFO reward, the Radar Sighting over Lakenheath England was reported by me to the official U.S.Air Force convened UFO Project conducted at 202 Woodbury Hall, Department of Physics and Astrophysics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, in Feb. 1968. I received an acknowledgement from Pauline Haslett, UFO Project, same address as above 8 March 1968.
I am not concerned with your contest, this letter is merely to point out several points of interest concerning this matter.
The UFO was first observed by Sculthorpe Control Tower when they were alerted by their GCA Unit (Ground Controlled Approach Radar) that they were tracking a target on radar that was travelling at 4,000 to 8,000 miles per hour. The target passed directly over Sculthorpe, the Control Tower Operator established visual contact with what appeared to be a bright light travelling at a high rate of speed directly over the field. A C-47 pilot also saw the light and reported that it had passed beneath his aircraft a mile or so away from his position. Both the pilot and the Tower Operator described it as "a blur of light". I was on duty in the Radar Air Traffic Control Center at Lakenheath, about 50 miles west of Sculthorpe. Sculthorpe GCA kept us advised on all this and we were constantly scanning our scopes for possible targets. Although our radar ranged 200 miles in all directions we were unable to pick up low flying aircraft over twenty or thirty miles from our station due to the characteristics of our type radar. Since the C-47 was flying at an altititude of 5,000 or 6,000 feet, and the targte had passed beneath him we were not expecting to be able to see him until he got within twenty or thirty miles of us.
Our first contact with the target on our radar scopes was as a stationary target. I should explain that we had what is called MTI in our radar, that is Moving Target Indicator and its function is to eliminate all stationary targets by comparing each return with the previous radar return. If there has been no change then it is presumed the target isn't moving and the target is automatically eliminated. This gets rid of all the trees buildings and other ground clutter such as mountains. Our MTI was working perfectly. And yet we were getting a stationart target of good intensity that was completely unexplainable. And while we watched for the target en route to us from Sculthorpe our stationary target suddenly moved. He didn't build up his speed he started at a constant speed of 800 to 1,200 MPH (measured on the radar) and travelled about 20 miles and stopped. He didn't slow down, he stopped, and the stationary target continued to stare back at us completely mystifying us. There are possible explanations for the stationary return, it could have been moving or shaking or vibrating just enough to send back different returns, the target could have been travelling vertically (up and down) yet remaining in one position laterally. It could have been spinning in one position which would present different returns as a result of the radar beam striking different parts of the target, but the ability to start from a standing position at these great speeds and then stop immediately was not explainable. This is why we alerted the 7th Air Division Command Post, our Base Commander and many others. We had them all tied in on the same line and I gave them a running account of the progress of the UFO. The Command Post finally made the decision to send up the interceptors and your article contains essentially the facts about the engagement between the first interceptor and the UFO, except that it seems to me the interceptor was at a lower altitude when he locked his radar gun sights on the UFO. However this is unimportant.
Now to the point of my letter. You were wise in cautioning people not to betray military secrets. Since all our radar is controlled by either the Military or the FAA (another Government Agency) and since ALL reports of UFO's are immediately classified Secret as a result of the reporting procedure to be used (i.e. CERVIX [sic.]) to even mention a sighting of this nature leaves one open to censure. Even though the occurrence I have mentioned occurred in 1956 I still would not have reported it or mentioned it to any other Project. The reason I felt it was permissible to send a resume of this and another similar incident to the UFO Project at the University of Colorado was because it was instigated and approved by the U.S.Air Force. However as a result of having a virtual lock on all such information due to their classification action I should have foreseen that this was another bogus attempt at concealment rather than a true investigation of the truth.
The light began to peep thru when I received a questionnaire from this August Agency in the COLORADO HALLS OF LEARNING. I was entreated to specify the number of FLYING SAUCER PUBLICATIONS i subscribed to. The number of INTERPLANETARY ORGANIZATIONS I BELONGED To. The Number of INTERSTELLAR GALAXIES I HAD VISITED. The number of verbal contacts I had made with Interterrestrial visitors (eg Martians, VENETIANS or is it Venutians). I won't repeat my comments at the end of this exciting little enquiry into madness but it settled any doubts I may have had as to the validity, objectivity and reliability of any findings people such as these that could concoct such a ludicrous questionnaire, could or would publish. In short I was not the least bit surprised when I read later that they had decided after extensive investigation that it was all a bunch of bull and Flying Saucers do not exist, that all reports of UFO's were explainable by known phenomena, etc.
It is regrettable that they didi not make an honest open attempt to arrive at an honest open conclusion on this problem. In my case alone there were records available of the event, the RAF Interceptor pilot could have been interviewd, other personnel on duty at Sculthorpe could have been interviewed, the pilot of the C-47 could possibly have been identified and located. But as long as all air traffic control agencies and radar is controlled by government agencies there will be little the general public can do to find out the truth of such matters.
The problem of ridicule is very real and when the very agency supposedly investigating UFO's helps heap on the ridicule it is a good indication of what you could expect from other disinterested agencies. I believe it is time we stopped laughing and started trying to understand.
I retired from the USAF in April 1967 with 20 years active duty as a Tech. Sergeant. I decided to go back to school and completed my BA here at UCSB in June 1971, majoring in Psych and Sociology. I complete my requirements for a Secondary Teaching Credential in June. I am not a NUT. I resent the UFO Project at the University of Colorado implying that I am a NUT. I welcome your attempt at puuling back some of the wool we have let our government pull over our eyes.
If I can be of any assistance in clarifying any of the points mentioned or anything not mentioned that should have been I would be happy to do so. Thank you.
Forrest D. Perkins