July 25, 1948, Atlanta Journal

Plane Makers Dubious About Alabama 'Thing'

By William Key

   What was that Thing that scared the daylights out of two Atlanta Eastern Air Line pilots in the spooky hours Saturday morning?
   Is there some stratospheric Loch Ness fire-breathing monster on the Milky Way run between Atlanta and New Orleans?
   The pilots, Capt. C. S. Chiles, of Atlanta, and Co-Pilot J. B. Whitted of Hapeville, would like to know.  The Army Strategic Air Command would like to know.  Big airplane manufacturers also are curious, but slightly dubious.
   Pilots Chiles and Whitted told their thrilling story upon arriving at municipal airport here Saturday on the Houston-Atlanta-Boston run.  Here is what they say they saw, near Montgomery.
   A gigantic plane without wings, black against the night sky, streaking through the heavens at 5,000 feet altitude with a fiery comet's tail 25 to 50 feet in length.  It had a 100-foot fuselage, about four times the circumference of a B-29's, and two rows of brilliantly lighted square windows.  Creepiest of all, it was a veritable Flying Dutchman of the Skies.  Nary a living soul was seen aboard.

Continuous Light

   The copilots admitted they had goose pimples riding pick-a-back on goose pimples.  What's more, they said one of their 20 passengers -- C.L. McKelvie of Columbus, Ohio -- was awake and saw the same thing.
   Reporters nailed Mr. McKelvie at Kennett Square, Pa.  How about it, they asked him -- had he seen what the Atlanta pilots said he saw?
   Well, now, said Mr. McKelvie -- not exactly.  He said he saw "no form of ship" whatsoever.  He saw a "continuous light speed past" his window.
   "But," added Mr. McK., "I'm not very well versed in aeronautics, and certainly I wasn't looking for any Buck Rogers space ship."
   Out at Santa Monica, Cal., the famous Gen. George C. Kenney, chief of the Strategic Air Command, was bearded in his den.  His eyes twinkled.  No, he said, cautiously, it wasn't one of his planes.  The Army as yet hasn't got anything like the Thing seen over Montgomery.
   "I wish we did," the general said wistfully.  "I sure would have liked to see that Thing."
   So said William M. Allen, president of the Boeing Aircraft Co., up at Seattle.  "I'm pretty sure it wasn't one of our planes," said Mr. Allen modestly.
   Almost identical statements issued by the Army Air Forces at Washington and the United States Weather Bureau at Montgomery tended to throw some light on this fantasy.  Both sources suggested that the Atlanta pilots had flown past an air radar weather observation balloon.  These things, they explained, are 10 feet in diameter and have square, tinfoil boxes fastened to them.  The boxes reflect light and "give strange illusions" as they twist and turn.  Maxwell Field said they send 'em up at six-hour intervals.
   And Maxwell Field is at Montgomery.