The UFO Lore of Hamilton Field
According to Knights of the Cold War (Aug. 15, 2017), officers were at the base pool with their wives. The alarm went off and they saw six to eight flying saucers coming towards the base. The men scrambled and ran down to the hangers in response. Ellis Richards (the Dutchman) was a fighter pilot at the time. He came out of his hanger in one of the AVRO flying saucers, built for the Air Force in Canada. Hamilton was one of three bases on the West Coast that had a squad of the saucers. The base commander’s wife warned the remaining women not to talk about what they had seen.
After the pilots returned, one more saucer came back and landed, and a nine foot Reptilian emerged. Prince Naga came as an ambassador because their emporer had decided it was time to work with humans rather than eat them. Ellis became friends with Naga and both he and Mark Richards worked with the Prince over the course of many years.
There is no need to belabor the Richards story, but apart from that Hamilton played an interesting role in the lore of flying saucers. As discussed on this site, Hamilton could not have been a base for the Avro saucers because they never really flew and had not even been designed in 1952.
Hamilton was an important air base in the years following World War II. In particular it housed the Air Defense Command, which used the base as headquarters for the air defense of the Pacific Coast.
Perhaps because of this, the base was involved with one of the earliest UFO investigations of the modern era. In 1947, around the time that Kenneth Arnold reported seeing flying objects that skipped across the sky like saucers, it was reported that six saucers were seen near Maury Island. One was floundering and discharged metallic debris. Ray Palmer (Fate Magazine) sent Arnold to investigate. It immediately became associated with intrigue. A reporter received mysterious phone calls and the Men in Black were said to be involved.
Two Air Force colonels, intelligence officers from Hamilton, were dispatched to fly to the site. Some claim that they received a large box containing metal debris. Official reports stated that they did not have anything related to UFOs. On its return, the plane crashed shortly after takeoff, adding a further shroud of mystery to Maury Island. It was the Air Force’s first crash and fatalities.
The Air Force investigation concluded the underlying incident was a hoax for reasons that are beyond the scope of this article. (See Edward Ruppelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.) However, the pieces were in place for the conspiracies that followed. Indeed, one of the key players was Fred Crisman, who had claims to rival those made by Mark Richards. As one book states, “He fought bizarre underground beings in the caves of Burma, was wounded by a laser before it was invented, and had a background with the OSS.” His name also turned up with the investigation of the Kennedy assassination.
Soon after, sightings began to occur at Hamilton. The Air Force classified a 1947 report at Hamilton as being “unknown” after airmen watched two disc-shaped objects, 25-30 feet in diameter. The objects appeared to fly two to three times as fast as a P-80 fighter. One object flew straight and the other weaved from side-to-side like an escort fighter.
A 1950 sighting by three airmen described a high speed craft that made at least five separate passes over the base. It was estimated to have flown between 1000 and 1500 mph. It appeared circular and tapered on the edges. The newspapers reported that the object roared across the sky like thunder with a blue flame. The Air Force officially regarded it as “purely a local matter.”
The next day the airmen held a press conference at the base and changed their story. They denied that it had made any sound and stated that they could not definitively describe the object. (Oakland Tribune, June 22, 1950.) The article stated that a complete report was being prepared, but nothing further appears to have been released. The comic on this page appeared in Weird Science-Fantasy, Issue 26, 1954. The special issue purported to challenge the Air Force with a collection of true stories prepared through the assistance of Donald Keyhoe of NICAP.
August 1952 and Beyond
As discussed above, the EDH has focused on this sighting. A far different story was reported to NICAP and Project Bluebook. Eight military witnesses observed two discs with the aid of binoculars. The objects were approximately 80 feet in diameter that appeared to be dogfighting. They moved at a speed around 400 to 450 miles an hour. One object was at about 12,000 feet, the other at about 18,000 feet. They passed over the heads of the observers but did not circle the base. They were joined by six or eight other discs that flew off when jets were scrambled. Radar confirmed the sightings. News accounts quoted a witness and reported that the pilots soon returned to the base.
An Air Force investigation suggested the sighting was possibly a weather balloon. Noted debunker Donald Menzel wrote, “The objects looked like balloons, behaved like balloons, and weather balloons had been released in the area that day.”
To Photograph the Saucers
Hamilton was one of the bases selected in 1953 to receive special cameras to photograph saucers. The Air Force set up 75 UFO cameras in 33 states, all in places where saucers had been reported. One lens took regular pictures, the other separated light into color in order to determine the make up of the saucers. The program initially had technical problems, but officials stated that it would soon be operational. This site found no further news reports clearing up the saucer questions as a result of the project. Further research is being done.
At the very least the project demonstrates the importance of Hamilton Field during the classical era of UFOs. This was underscored by what is likely the last report of saucers at the base.
In 2011, a report was received that a saucer had landed at Hamilton in 1956. It touched down at the north end of the runway. Base security responded with red lights and sirens but the craft flew off. It was said that the personnel were relieved because no one knew what to do had they made contact.
Hamilton AFB was decommissioned in 1974. For years, dog walkers and hikers wandered the old runways. Today, much of the old base has been developed for housing with the runways restored to wetlands. For while though, Hamilton Field claimed its place in the annals of saucer history. If the saucers were not quite “serious business” (as NICAPS Donald Keyhoe put it), then at least people looked for something other than jets in the sky.