Letter from Forrest D. Perkins to Stanton Friedman, 21 August 1975
If you are able to contact any of the other people you can ask them: Confirmation of the CPS-5 antenna rotation speed, I know it was speeded up for our specific Air Traffic Control use but I would be reassured if they remembered the exact speed also. Was the Sector Scan and Elevation still hooked up and in use? I don't remember using it at that time but one of the other controllers could have been using it. I don't think they were but it's worth checking on. We had been working the UFO and the first intercept before shift change which would establish the telegraphic report as being in error as shift change occurred at 1145 PM and we had been working with the problem for an hour or two before this occurred. I remember they came in and helped with it at the end but perhaps Foundos could recall this timing better. I think he was either working with me or relieved me at midnight.
I did remember the time fairly close but since I left Lakenheath in September 1956, and I knew it occurred shortly before I left, I necessarily gave them a several month period to make sure they found the appropriate reports. Had I gave them them a specific month and missed by a day or two they mat not have found it (i.e. Blue Book reports).
I still thought the other station involved was Sculthorpe until you sent me the articles. This was due to Sculthorpe phone line being used and either a failure of the Controller to say the UFO was over Bentwaters, or a failure opf the Bentwaters Controller to state that it was Bentwaters Tower calling and my Controller just assuming it must be Sculthorpe tower calling, because the Controller specifically told me that Sculthorpe Tower was reporting a fast moving target on their GCA radar that the tower had seen passing iver the base and a C-47 pilot flying over the base had seen passing under him.
We could not have seen low flying targets at Bentwaters or Sculthorpe with the CPS-5 due to the radiation pattern of the radar. It is quite unlikely that we would have seen these targets if they were as low as the Tower report and the C-47 report would indicate.
What would any watch supervisor do when he received such a report? Probably exactly what I did. Have the controllers start looking for whatever it was. On a swing shift late at night when you have no traffic you simply don't sit at the scopes constantly scanning them for targets. You pay little attention to targets as there were RAF aircraft, Civil aircraft and others that you had nothing to do with. We had no coordination lines with any RAF stations or facilities except Uxbridge (London Center) and Marham an RAF Station 10 miles north of us, but they (Marham) were usually closed at night and I don't know if they had radar or not. Our procedure was to do what I did, Contact 7th Air Divivision (SAC), 3rd Air Force, the Base Commander, and the 7th Air Division patched in the RAF Liaison Officer to the line. I included my Squadron Commander because I thought he'd be interested.
I appreciate Klass using my figures as more accurate than the report because the 2 mile figure appears to be a typographical error. Real big of him considering what he thinks of the rest of it.
The second Venom returned to base because his engine mal-functioned or because he just wanted to go home, not because [indecipherable] targets had by then disappeared. That is an assumption Klass had no right to make. My letter was clear enough.
We tracked the intercept and the unidentified target continuously thruout their maneuvers and when the intercept broke it off and started for home it was the target in the rear that stopped, not the one in the lead as Klass so ineptly suggests.
As to other radar coverage of this incident, unless they were notified to look for this particular target, or unless they were just lucky enough to notice it as something unusual it is very doubrnful if it would be noticed. The GCA units usually have a standby room and unless they are expecting traffic or actually handling an arrival or departure they very rarely sit in the trailer at ten or eleven at night. Ours were in the trailer at the time but that was probably because we asked them to look for the target we had been alerted to look for. We had no phone lines to other locations with radar such as RAF or RRE as Klass mentions, so the only way they could have been alerted was through the RAF Liaison Officer I had on the phone and he made no mention of doing so.
Klass states that the RRE could not locate any RAF officers that could recollect the incident, and yet in the other article it is pointed out that the pilot of the Venom was interviewed. Why didn't he locate the pilot and ask him if he had a radar operator along. And other even more interesting questions?
As to the telegraphic reports, these are made up by office personnel using the Controllers written report. Naturally these are condensed, sometimes reworded and in some cases even changed by these people. I am surprised only at how close their report came to reflect the actual occurrence. I can assure you, this is not always the case. Thanks again for your interest.
P.S. Since my retirement I have completed a BA in Psych & Soc, an MA in Ed.Psych and a Secondary Teaching Cred.
Bye for Now