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Things That Fall from UFOs by Robert N. Webster

 Things That Fall from UFOs

by Robert N. Webster 

Here is an analysis of some of the most baffling of UFO phenomena—falls of
web-like, chaff-like materials.

ONE DAY last October 24, the town of Portales in Eastern New Mexico was blanketed by mysterious cobweb-like material that fell from the sky. Silk threads as long as 50 feet festooned telephone and power lines and created a nuisance in nearby corn and cotton fields where harvesting was underway.

What happened in Portales has been happening for many years—sometimes related directly to Unidentified Flying Objects and sometimes with no apparent connection.

Silk threads are undoubtedly the commonest kind of fall connected with UFOs and have been almost universally dubbed “angel hair.”

What is “angel hair?”

First of all, from information we are able to gather, a complete study of “angel hair” never has been made either from a viewpoint of chemical composition or from a viewpoint of location of falls.

Where does it occur, and when? It is even possible that “angel hair” may be several different kinds of substances with several different origins.

For example, on October 4, 1957, a “tadpole-shaped” object passed over Ichinoseki City in Northeast Japan—which was the same day, coincidentally, that Russia launched its first sputnik.

As the UFO passed over the city, “angel hair” began falling, and the fall lasted from 10 a.m. to noon. The material consisted of threads like spiderwebs, and in great profusion.

A chemical analysis of the material disclosed it to be organic, dissoluble in hydrochloric acid and inflammable. The report stated that from Roentgen photographic determinations it could not have been spider webs or fibres.

CAREFUL CONSIDERATION of this report discloses an apparent contradiction. First, the report says the material was organic. But then it denies that it was either spiderwebs or fibres. It seems contradictory to have determined the organic nature of the substance and then to state flatly that it was not two different kinds of organic fibres, one animal, one vegetable.

As a matter of fact there is a good case for both spiderwebs and vegetable fibres in many “angel hair” cases. It is known that heavy batches of certain species of spiders occur at times and that they are transported on filmy webs by the wind. The same thing is true of seeds surrounded by silky threads, such as cottonwood, milkweed and the like. As a matter of fact, nature created their fibres for wide dispersal by the wind and we ourselves have seen regular windrows of them blown by the wind into favorable traps.

At the same time they should be easily recognizable. The spider webs usually have the spiders enmeshed in their silky threads, and the vegetable fibres usually have attached the seeds which they were created to disperse. It would take an unobservant person, it seems to us, or unusual circumstances to confuse them.

A great deal, though not all, of the “angel hair” seems to fall in New Mexico. Last February 21, for example, a shower of the shiny cobwebby stuff fell near Los Lunas. It looked like tinsel and collected in trees, on wires and around clothes.

ON MARCH 20, 1957, W. B. Brown, an Air Force veteran and businessman who lives at Route 3, Steel Creek, N.C., but works in Charlotte, saw five UFOs as he left his office with his wife after he had been working late.

As the Browns watched, one of the objects separated from the other four and tumbled to the ground only 60 feet distant from the Browns. Mr. Brown approached it and said it was “foamlike but clear” with a “slimy” feel and had a cooling or numbing effect on his finger-tips.

Mr. Brown had a cold and was unable to detect an odor about the substance but his wife said it smelled like burned matches or sulphur. The object seemed to melt into and soak the ground. The report is like a number carried in Fate recently.

Could the object seen by the Browns be a kind of material that, under different circumstances, would be blown apart by winds and fall in shreds as “angel hair”? This is speculation only but we are dealing in an area where we have so little definite factual material to go on that all we can do is speculate.

One of the most detailed cases of a web-like fall from the sky occurred in Chemung County, New York, on August 27, 1956. Charles Reese of Sagetown, about eight miles south of Elmira, left his farmhouse around 6:30 a.m. to do his chores. Over a two-acre chicken range he discovered thousands of bright shiny metallic shreds scattered over the ground. They resembled the “icicles” used on Christmas trees. The material showed slight radioactivity.

Now it is a fact that a similar substance is used by military aircraft to jam radar reception. The British call this material “window” and our own Air Force calls it “chaff.” When dropped from airplanes in quantity it confuses the radar sets because they pick up the reflections from the “chaff” as well as from the airplane.

The main point at which this chaff did not look like the chaff used by the Air Force is that it was silver colored on one side and lavender-tinted on the other. Officers at Griffis Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y., admitted that they never had seen or heard of chaff of this color.

Whatever the substance was, it brings us to consider a theory that has been too long neglected.

That is that the falling material associated with so many UFO sightings may not be a by-product of UFO propulsion but is used for the same purpose that our own Air Force uses chaff!

It is well-known that time after time when radar operators have locked onto a UFO it seems to disappear or fade away. At other times, even when the UFO is visually seen by observers on the ground, it is invisible on the radar screens.

Is it not at least a possibility, therefore, that UFOs use chaff-like materials to make them invisible or to confuse the radar?

The only alternate theory that makes sense, considering report after report, is that UFOs are both material and immaterial—that is, capable of rendering themselves immaterial at will and hence invisible or transparent at least to radar reflections.

ON THE OTHER HAND we should not forget that all kinds of things keep falling from the skies all the time. A good many of them are identifiable as familiar objects and it may be that the others are not because we don’t know enough about them. The greatest mystery is still: where do they come from?

The frequent ice falls that have been going on for years, in our opinion, never have been explained. And if the CAA’s theory that the ice comes from aircraft waste water is partly true, how do we explain that ice was falling before there were any airplanes to have waste water? And how do we explain the occasional concentrated and repeated falls within confined areas?

How do we explain the falls of small fish, small toads and frogs? And many other things?

Last September and October there were falls of huge pieces of a thin, clear plastic in Eastern Klickitat County, Washington. They were observed over an area covering many square miles. Deputy Sheriff George McCredy found pieces on his ranch as big as 12 feet by 20 feet. They were of varying size and could be seen all over the huge fields. One piece on another ranch was big enough to cover a stack of baled hay. The area of the fall is several miles wide and at least 15 miles long.

The material was .002 inches thick and made from strips 60 inches wide welded together. Most edges had irregular tears although a few were torn at the seams.

It was suggested that the finds represented the remains of a balloon or balloons but their extent would indicate a balloon of absolutely tremendous size, or many huge balloons. No one, as far as we know, made an effort to determine the number of square feet of plastic in the entire area.

Cholly Knickerbocker’s column from New York last year stated that Countess Marie Laure De Noailles heard that a UFO had landed at Hyeres on the French Riviera, near where she was staying. She hurried there and found a small piece of metal which she turned over to the French Naval laboratory at Toulon for analysis. Experts later said it was a metal they’d never seen before and that they hadn’t been able to analyze it. We think this is somewhat questionable.

Then there has been a great deal of controversy over analysis of waste material supposedly dropped by three UFOs over Campinas, near Sao Paulo, Brazil. Most of it was seized by the Brazilian Air Force but a chemist, Dr. Risvaldo Maffei, claimed to have analyzed it and said it showed a strange alloy, with 88.91 per cent tin but without the common impurities of lead antimony, iron etc. Our information doesn’t indicate what the remaining 11.09 per cent of the alloy was.

BEFORE WE CLOSE, we ought to report that the spring of 1958 was only mildly active with UFO sightings. April and May showed some sightings, June hardly any. We are including a few representative reports.

• Six UFOs were reported over Mt. Hood, Ore., at 8:20 p.m. on March 10. At least seven persons reported seeing them in the Sandy-Eagle Creek area. Jack R. Reef, a former communications executive of the California Eastern Aviation Company, declared the objects were flying east to west. All were lighted and gave a faint droning noise quite unlike a jet aircraft. All had white lights and if standing still could have been mistaken for a star formation except that at intervals they showed flashing red and white lights similar to regular aircraft navigation lights. They took approximately six minutes to fly from horizon to horizon.

Comment: The only unusual thing about this sighting, which otherwise could be explained as a conventional military formation flight, is the droning sound of the aircraft. This has not been explained.

• A correspondent in Phoenix, desiring to remain anonymous, reports that he has seen something very peculiar in that area; a mist “like a white cloud” changing form as it moved along, traveling from west to east at a high rate of speed.

• Near Ellwood City, Pa., just before Easter, a two-foot red-blinking disc frightened children over the Walnut Ridge housing area. Police Officers Joseph Scala and Emanuel Mavero investigated and watched the bright disc for 10 minutes. They said:

“At first we thought it was an airplane or some kids with a balloon, shining a light on it. But the situation got mysterious when the radio in the police car went out of order and we could not get in touch with the department.”

The night was brightly moonlit and the patrolmen could see the object rising and falling, with its light blinking. After about 10 minutes they decided to get closer to it but when they got to the top of the hill the object had disappeared.

• Anne Lesnikowski of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., early in April saw a series of yellow lights low in the sky off East Chop. At first she thought it was a ship coming into the harbor but soon saw that the lights had neither the right color nor placement and were too high on the horizon. For the first minute or so they seemed to hold their position in the sky, although oscillating slightly. Then they moved slowly toward the mainland. Four went out; the other five slowly lost altitude and appeared to sink into the sea.

• A bullet-shaped lighted object flashed across southeastern states April 20. It moved rapidly, was fiery red with a yellow tail. It then appeared to burst with a blinding flash and two tremendous explosions.

Comment: Undoubtedly a meteor.

• A round flat object, about 45,000 feet high with green, red and white flashing lights, was seen over Houston, Tex., early on May 8. At least two police officers saw it.

• Sputnik watchers of the Jacksonville, Fla., Astronomers Club saw a bright light which appeared to be pushing a smaller, dimmer one on May 16. It moved straight across the sky to the horizon, then made a 180-degree turn, followed by another 180-degree turn. Then it disappeared. A television cameraman who photographed the UFO said it appeared to be “dumbbell-shaped” on his film.

• Mysterious patches of blackened grass covering an area of over a quarter of an acre on scattered pieces of property west of Estacada, Ore., were under close observation after they were discovered to be radioactive late in May. Marion Fletcher, Route 2, Estacada, found some of the spots on his property and asserted that the blackened ground burned his finger when he touched it.

At first the problem was referred to the county agent’s office since the blackened grass appeared to be stricken with some type of plant blight. Later it was reported that the radioactivity had disappeared and really had been negligible in the first place. The blackened blotches did not seem to follow any pattern.

• A bright, star-shaped object skimmed over the northeastern San Gabriel Valley in California for nearly an hour and a half before dawn on May 26. It did not appear to be an aircraft because of its slow speed and shape. To some it looked like a red flare. The object disappeared gradually at sunrise. It did not show up on photographic film. The night and atmosphere were clear.

These are the only reports we will have space to record in this article. The trouble with them, as with so much UFO material, is that they are unrelated to each other; they show no pattern. It is quite possible that they represent different types of sky objects for we never have been adamant in believing that UFOs represent but a single type.


Because of the confusion inevitable in these separate observations, this article marks the first in a series of interpretative analyses of UFOs which will attempt to bring some order out of the seeming chaos and which will be published in Fate from time to time. Our interest will be less in reporting individual sightings than in trying to discern a meaningful pattern in groups of sightings. Fate hopes readers will continue to send in their individual reports; they are essential to this project.

from FATE October 1958