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The Yellowstone Yo-Yo

Excerpt­ed from Intercept—But Don’t Shoot by Rena­to Vesco.

On July 7, 1947, a twin-engined P‑38 fight­er that had been con­vert­ed into a pho­tore­con­nais­sance plane for the pho­to-graph­ic ser­vice of U.S. Army Ord­nance was fly­ing at about 30,000 feet in the direc­tion of the Air Force base in Boze­man, Mon­tana.

The sky along the extreme north­ern edge of Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park was com­plete­ly free of clouds. Except for a lit­tle trou­ble with the oil sys­tem of the engines—a not par­tic­u­lar­ly seri­ous mat­ter, in any case—the flight was pro­ceed­ing rou-tine­ly.

Sud­den­ly the pho­tog­ra­ph­er shout­ed: “Look! They’re com­ing! They’ve almost caught up with us!”

“What? Who’s com­ing?” asked the aston­ished pilot. What could pos­si­bly threat­en this lone­ly flight? The war had been over, def­i­nite­ly over, for some time.

“Those things the papers are always talk­ing about.”

For a few moments the sin­is­ter shad­ow of a new Pearl Har­bor hov­ered in the minds of the Amer­i­can air­men. The “cold war” was by then an unpleas­ant but obvi­ous polit­i­cal state of affairs, and had­n’t the immense Asian north shown it-self to be an impen­e­tra­ble fortress hos­tile to tlie West­ern peo­ples?

The Euro­pean news release of an Amer­i­can wire ser­vice that had some­how learned about this mil­i­tar­i­ly “clas­si­fied” episode quot­ed Lieu­tenant Ver­non Blair:
”. . . And then turn­ing around to speak to the pho­tog­ra­ph­er I saw the yo-yo behind me, I call it a yo-yo because I sur­pris-ing­ly thought of that toy that I used to play with as a child. We had orders to shoot them down at any cost, but I did­n’t remem­ber that until after­wards, and although I was fly­ing at 360 miles per hour, the strange air­craft quick­ly over­took me. I was, how­ev­er, able to observe it for a few sec­onds; it had the shape of a very flat oys­ter and was, as it seemed to me, about fif­teen feet or so broad, and about three feet thick. It was fly­ing with­out mak­ing any sound, I mean any sound loud­er than that pro­duced by my own plane, and emit­ting a light, lumi­nous trail. Then, as soon as it had over­tak­en me and 1 was about to try to fol­low it, 1 saw it open in two, just like an oys­ter, and flut­ter down. 1 noticed that it was catch­ing up with at least a dozen yo-yos pro­ceed­ing in an irreg­u­lar for­ma­tion, almost like fight­ers peel­ing off for an attack.”

“Are you sure that they were metal­lic objects and not, for exam­ple, sim­ply shiny spots mov­ing of their own accord or the effect of some such mirage?”

“The mys­te­ri­ous air­craft seemed to be made of alu­minum. They were pearl-gray in col­or and on the upper side they all had a shin­ing bub­ble of some trans­par­ent mate­r­i­al.”

“Did you see who was fly­ing them? And why did­n’t you take any pic­tures?”

“We wast­ed some time watch­ing them fly by and try­ing to deter­mine whether there was any­one on board. They moved quick­er than we could act!”

“Did the leader by any chance graze your plane?”

“No, absolute­ly not. I have no idea why he fell. Per­haps he was already hav­ing mechan­i­cal trou­ble or per­haps he acci­den­tal­ly got into my slip­stream and was torn apart. As I said, we were going pret­ty fast.””

The pho­tog­ra­ph­er con­firmed that he did not have time to aim his large ver­ti­cal cam­era at the for­ma­tion because the objects flew by too rapid­ly, and his report on the event coin­cid­ed in its main par­tic­u­lars with that of the pilot (who was described by his direct supe­ri­ors as a “seri­ous and hon­est offi­cer, who takes his job seri­ous­ly”). He added that since he had con­cen­trat­ed his atten­tion on one of the craft that had briefly approached the P‑38 more close­ly than the oth­ers, it seemed to him that he had glimpsed a man, the pilot, inside, lying flat in the cab­in and look­ing out the glass port­hole in the front of the bub­ble.


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