Case 57

Highwood Ranger Station, Alberta

3 July 1967

Investigator: Hartmann

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PLATES for this Case


The witness and two companions reportedly sighted and took two photographs of an object described as shiny, and approximately 25 ft. in diameter. The craft reportedly dropped a small object, which when recovered was reported to be composed of solder, aluminum, and magnesium. A report by the Royal Canadian Air Force implied substantial evidence that the sighting was authentic and that the object was, subject to certain assumptions, 40 to 50 in. in diameter. Although the case was widely described, both in the press and by several investigators, as being exceptionally strong, examination of the original photographs and the circumstances indicates no evidence of probative value for the existence of unusual aircraft. Only the sworn testimony of the witnesses could be described as making this case more impressive than most others.

The key witness and his two companions were hiking east in the rugged mountain terrain when all three of them reported seeing an object approaching (1a, b, c).

The key witness is described as a salesman and one of his companions as a student ca. 16 years old (1,3). Various individuals contacted by the project, either involved in or investigating the case, remarked on the "quizzical" nature of responses of the principals to certain situations (see below), questioning in particular the key witnesses' and companions' actions. Reference (2) describes the "two observers -- evidently the key witness and a companion as engaged in "gold prospecting." Reference (4) describes them as looking for a legendary lost mine.



Time: "At or about 6:30 P.M." (PDT?) (1a, 1b, 1c). Ref. 2 gives "approximately 1700 hrs."

Location: "Approximately 80 miles SW of . . . Calgary" (1); "approximately 30 miles W of Naton, Alberta" (2); "about 3 to 5 miles E of . . . Coleman-Kananaskis Highway" (1); "approximately 3 miles SSE of the Highwood Ranger Station" (2). Note: 80 mi. SW of Calgary would fall in British Columbia; it appears from the other data that the phrase should read approximately 50 mi. SW of Calgary.

Sightings, General Information:

According to the witnesses the object approached from east, and at a relatively close distance and passed out of sight behind some trees; it reappeared, hovered, and then was lost to sight to the south (1). There were scattered cumulus clouds with base level approximately 10,000 ft. above sea level (2, quoted from "Met Office"). The observers were at altitude approximately 5,000 ft. (2), where there were winds of 15 mph. (2).

When first sighted, the "craft" was at an altitude not more than 2,000 ft. and distance not more than 2 mi. (1a, b). It was gradually losing altitude (1a, b). According to the key witness in his deposition approximately eight months later (1a):

It was traveling toward us gradually losing altitude, passed in front of us, and as it passed slightly out of view behind some trees, it then reappeared and hovered in open sky, and something of a much smaller size fell from the craft.

One of the witness's companions reports in his deposition (lb):

It travelled towards us gradually losing altitude and at a distance of not more than 1/2 mile it hovered for moments, at which time some object was seen to fall from the craft. The fallen object was possibly one hundredth (.01) the size of


the mother craft. At tree-top level the craft in question then disappeared from sight.

I am not sure at this point whether it became invisible, or dissolved, or merely sped out of sight at such a great speed that it was hard for the eye to follow. At any rate, it was moving away from us at a great speed when it disappeared from sight.


The key witness took the two photographs in rapid succession (2), and stated (1a) "I . . . took two pictures of this strange craft and swear, to the best of my knowledge, that there were no other humans in that area and that there was no camera trickery involved." See Plates 61 and 62. The key witness was using an Olympus PEN EE. The slide format was 18 x 24 mm. (half the standard 35 mm. format). The film speed was ASA 64, set 7 ft. to infinity (2).


In the initial report to the Canadian Department of National Defence, dated "Sept. 67," the object was described as "circular, shiny, aluminium, approximately 25 feet in diameter. First observed 2,000 to 2,500 feet above the altitude of the observer, banked and descended much lower, disappeared behind the trees moving south at high speed" (2).

One of the key witness's companions, whose deposition is most detailed, states:

No sound accompanied the sighting and no exhaust or colours of any kind were seen. What we saw was a disc-shaped object with a silvery tone to it, with a size that the Department of


National Defence in Canada described to be 35 to 40 feet in diameter with a depth ratio of 4 to 1. My guess as to its size would put it as certainly no bigger than that.

(Note: The depositions referred to are signed and carry the proviso: "And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing it to be true, and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath, and by virtue of The Canada Evidence Act.")

In the weeks following the sighting, the UFO report gained some publicity. A report containing the details was sent from the "Can Pers Unit, Calgary" to The Royal Canadian Air Force Headquarters, Ottawa, dated 7 Sept. 1967. Further data were received by the Canadian Air Force through a telephone conversation, 11-12 October 1967.

On 18 October 1957 (sic), a report was sent by the Defence Photographic Interpretation Centre of the Air Force to the Director of Operations of the Air Force. This report, by Major K. J. Hope (ref. 2), contained an analysis of the photographs.

The Canadian analysis was in the form of four tests. In "Exercise A" it was concluded that the cloud masses shown in the two photos were essentially the same, consistent with the quick succession of the photos and 15 mph. winds, and that two different photographs were taken on the site, consistent with very slight differences in foliage pattern in the trees. However, the possibility that the case involved "a photo montage combining a studio prepared UFO with each of two on-site shots" could not be "proved or disproved."

"Exercise B" used the camera characteristics to conclude that the fuzziness of Plate 62 could be due either to out-of-focus recopying or camera movement. The shutter speed of 1/25 sec. was consistent with, but did not prove, camera motion.

"Exercise C" used meteorological data (clouds at about 5,000 ft.) to show that the alleged visibility of the objects at 2,000-2,500 ft. was credible.

"Exercise D" concluded that since the observation was made in a wilderness area, it was reasonable that no other reports had been obtained.


The Canadian report also concluded from the photographs that the object had a torus or possibly oblate ellipsoid shape, and that at about 2,000 ft. its diameter would have been 40-50 ft. and its thickness 11.5-14 ft. The two photos together indicated ascent or descent, in accord with the testimony.

The language of the report implies that since all tests were "passed," i.e., since the photos were in several ways consistent with the testimony, the case was very strong. Among the conclusions were the statements: "From statistical data supplied the object has a diameter of 40'-5O' and has a depth of 11.5'-14' . . ." (WKH emphasis); "A review of all technical data, . . . indicated a very acceptable degree of compatibility. If the story and photographs are a hoax, then it is a well prepared one, that would require on the hoaxer's part knowledge of photography and possibly photogrammetry to support the written and verbal information . . . . Alternatively, the data supplied a most fortunate and lucky combination of circumstances to make a hoax realistic; . . . the four exercises . . . reasonably substantiate the observer's report, by both technical data and logic; . . Conclusion: The findings arrived at above are supported by technical data . . . ."

At this time in the investigation (snow was already on the ground), one of the companions returned to the woods to locate the site and look for the object reportedly dropped by the UFO (3). He instructed friends to notify the authorities if he was not back within three days. (3) After one week, the key witness notified the local new media, instead of the police. When the companion emerged unscathed from the woods, he objected to the excitement and searches being conducted at that time by army and police (3). Dr. J. Allen Hynek, consultant to U.S.A.F. Project Blue Book, advised the Colorado project that a specimen or specimens brought out by the companion thought to be related to the sighting, were solder with particles of aluminum-magnesium alloy embedded in them (3).

Later investigators (3) questioned (without conclusive results) the motivation of the key witness in his handling of publicity, e.g.,


notifying the news media in preference to search authorities. Hynek, who later described the case (4) as being the closest he had come to fully documented, believable photographs, worthy of further investigation, studied the original slides in January, 1968. At this time, permission was obtained through a Montreal lawyer for the Colorado project to study the originals.

According to notes in the Colorado files (3), Hynek visited Calgary and interviewed the key witness and other persons involved in the case. This trip was made shortly after national disclosure of a photographic UFO hoax in Texas; Mr. Mike Adamson, of Calgary radio station, CKXL arranged at this time for lie detector tests to be given to the key witness and other companion who were both anxious to take such tests. These tests were to be at the expense of CKXL.

However, in a misunderstanding, Dr. Hynek left Calgary before such a test could be performed, and the radio station personnel, to whom the test was worthless without Dr. Hynek's participation in the resulting broadcast, canceled the test.


The analysis by the Royal Canadian Air Force, reported above, is regarded as technically valid, although I believe that the interpretation attaches unwarranted credence to the case. In particular, the statements that a hoax "would require . . . knowledge of photography and possibly photogrammetry to support the written and verbal information . . ." and that "it would require a most fortunate and lucky combination of circumstances to make a hoax realistic" are too strong. It should be remembered that if a hoax were involved, the written and verbal information would be prepared after the photographs were taken, in accord with what the photographer thought he had "recorded" on film.

Certainly, the "Calgary" photographs do not require photogrammetric knowledge or sophisticated photographic experience to produce. In fact, the rapid panning and blurring of the second photo, and the pitch of the disk toward the observer are characteristic of photographs of hand-thrown models. In my opinion, it is basically this problem that makes the "Calgary" photos of no probative value in establishing the existence of


"flying saucers": the photographs cannot be distinguished from photographs of a hand-thrown model.

The R.C.A.F. report is reminiscent of the early U. S. Navy laboratory report on the Tremonton motion pictures: the report was prepared by a group that was inclined to believe in the existence of "flying saucers" and while the analysis was more or less valid, it did not warrant the conclusion, presented to the Robertson Panel, that possibly alien intel- ligent control was involved.

An important test passed by the photographs is that the background cloud patterns are identical, consistent with the statement that the photographs were taken in rapid succession. (The Salem case, for example, was classified as containing fatal internal inconsistencies when this test was not passed.)

Measurements of Plates 61 and 62 (on 8 x 10 enlargements) give angular diameters of 0°.98 and 0°.84, respectively. The key witness and his companion testified (attested to by the other companion) that the object was initially "no higher than 2,000 feet" (1a), and "first sighted at an altitude of not more than 2,000 feet" (1b), and losing altitude. The object had approached from a distance of "no greater than two miles" to "not more than one-half mile" when the pictures were made. A horizontal range of, say, 2,000 ft. would require an altitude of approximately 1,400 ft. to be compatible with the elevation angle of approximately 35° measured in the first photo. In the second photo, the UFO has dropped vertically downward to an elevation angle of about 14 deg, corresponding to an altitude of about 240 ft. These figures are consistent with the verbal testimony.

Using a line-of-sight distance of about 2,200 ft., the measured angular diameter of 0°.9 corresponds to a linear diameter of 35 ft. The distance uncertainty results in a diameter uncertainty of perhaps 40%. Thus, the verbal testimony, combined with the photographs, indicates a linear diameter of 35 plus or minus 14 ft.

After examination of enlarged images, I see no evidence to support the R.C.A.F. assertion that the object has a toroidal shape. Only the


blurred image (Plate 62) is pitched up toward the observer, and a light zone not quite centered in the dark disk can be interpreted as a highlight, as opposed to a central hole.

Dr. Hynek reported to the project that Fred Beckmann, of the University of Chicago, had studied the original slides with a densitometer and concluded that the image was a "real," photographic image, and that there seemed to be some haze in front of the object suggesting considerable range (See the similar analysis of McMinnville, Ore., Case 46). However, in view of the shiny nature of the surface, the clear presence of bright highlights, and the relatively high contrast of distant ground details, it would be difficult, in my judgment, to get a clear indication of enough scattering between the observer and the UFO to indicate a distance of the order of only 2,000 ft.


The tests which could be performed were consistent in all respects with the verbal testimony. The tests included: (1) Time spacing of the pictures; (2) compatibility of reported range and altitude with measured elevation angle; (3) compatibility of reported size with measured angular size and reported distance. Characteristics of the reported "craft," assuming the reported distance, would be diameter 35 plus or minus 14 ft. and thickness 8 plus or minus 3 ft.

In spite of the internal consistency of these results, it must be stated that the photographs are also consistent with a hand-thrown model and that there is insufficient information content to rule out this hypothesis. Therefore, the case cannot be said to contribute significant evidence in establishing the existence of unusual aircraft.


Sources of Information

  1. Statutory Declarations, 28 February 1968

    1. By the key witness

    2. By the first companion

    3. By the other companion

  2. Hope, Maj. K. J. (18 October 1967) "Photographic Analysis - Two Copy Colour Slides of Alleged UFO"

  3. Notes on telephone conversations between Dr. Roy Craig (Boulder), Dr. J. A. Hynek, and others concerned with case. January - March, 1968.

  4. Grescoe, Paul. The Canadian Magazine, 25 May 1968.