William A. Rhodes, a self taught scientist, was inside his house at dusk on July 7th when he heard a noise.
Strange as it may seem, he thought it was a flying saucer. We must not forget though the term UFO had not been coined yet.
Rhodes states that he took his plain Brownie box camera and quickly rushed out of the house. There he saw a strangely shaped object, like the heel of a man's shoe, drifting away to the southwest.
He had the time to take two pictures. He estimated the UFO to be 20' to 30' in diameter, traveling at speed of 100 mph, altitude 1,000' to 2,000'.
The plates were published in Arizona's Republic two days later, as upside down enlargements and cropped from the entire photographs.
Ray Palmer in Flying Saucer magazine claimed the 64,000 newspaper issues were confiscated by the U.S. Army Air Force, which is utterly untrue. A week after the publication of the photos in the Arizona Republic, Rhodes was visited by an FBI agent and a Intelligence officer from Hamilton Camp, CA and asked numerous questions, he accepted in good faith to lend the photo to the Air Corps for assessment. One month later Rhodes asked to have the pictures back but Washington replied that was not possible. The photographs, as in numerous other similar events, were never returned.
Six months later, at the beginning of 1948, the Air Force asked Mr. Rhodes to come to Wright-Patterson Base, in Dayton, OH, for an interview. Rhodes replied that he could not come. Shortly afterwards, two members from the Air Technical Intelligence Center turned up at Rhodes' house and interviewed him for a second time.
The photographer, tired of all that trouble, announced to the officers that was the last time he would be talking about what he had seen and photographed in 1947.
One fellow, who claimed that he had known Rhodes, said that he had known Rhodes well and that his expertise extended way beyond his brush with the world of UFOs.
People talked of flying saucers, but the name covered all sorts of objects from circular to cigar shaped to ball shaped and most of anything else.
Rhodes, who claimed to have a Ph.D, but who was unable to produce any document supporting that claim, might not have been the lunatic that some thought. According to what this friend of Rhodes said, Rhodes held a number of patents and had been working on a gravity shield, that Rhodes had gone to work for the War Department during World War II, and that had been working on something that either prevented the magnetic mines from detonating or a way of detecting enemy submarines by a means other than sonar.
Supposedly the Air Force had written off Rhodesí photographs as a hoax but the motivation there might have had nothing to do with Rhodes, and more with what the photographs looked like. They seemed to provide a corroboration of the Arnold sighting. Given some of the descriptions of the craft that crashed at Roswell, the photographs might have also shown an object similar to what had fallen there. At any rate, the Air Force was not impressed with either Rhodes or his background.
In an article, apparently written by Rhodes defending his degree. He wrote:
Additionally, after being thoroughly investigated by the FBI, I was issued top secret status. Not even my wife was to know. The creation was a method of neutralizing the earth's magnetic field in ships. Not a single ship or sailor was lost to magnetic mines during the war's remainder. One day, my boss summoned me to his office and explained:
We have a total absence of degree'd doctorates, and having already passed requirements, you have been selected to receive a Ph.D in Physics. The degree would be known by the nickname 90 Day Wonder, and my work would not be disrupted to gain it.
The way this was explained, was that Rhodes had taken some sort of test for the position he held. Depending on how well you had done, you were assigned work. Some were given work that would have been assigned to those who had the equivalent of a MS and some a Ph.D. Rhodes scored high enough for the Ph. D.
Rhodes explained that this evaluation extended beyond his work with the War Department. He wrote:
Working 16 hours daily, seven days a week, my health began failing. The degaussing system was in full production. My resignation was accepted by Commander Bennett from whom I received a letter of regret, and wished me the best. Back home in Phoenix found the same old agrarian system. Ph.D's could only find work picking oranges of veggies, so I began searching for clients nationally. Soon they found me without advertising. Forward to 1955. From the U of Michigan came Dr. Aden Baker Minel chosen by the National Science Foundation to locate what is presently Kitt Peak Observatory.
I applied and was hired immediately for development of instruments relating to the observatory's location. He inquired about my education. When I said 90 day wonder, he grinned and said Me too, and continued, Why are you not using it. Replying I didn't think it had any value. It has the same value as one issued by any university. Use it like I have, your research business needs it. After Kitt Peak was selected, Dr. Minel moved to the University of Arizona where he developed what is now know as the Hubble Space Telescope. A few years later he died from heart failure. I owe him a debt of gratitude for his insisting my degree should be used.
He also said that his background had been investigated by the FBI for a security clearance so he could do his classified work. It would seem that if this is true, then those investigating his UFO photographs should have known that, especially since the file suggests the FBI was involved. And if they were, then the smear campaign that took place about Rhodesí background and education was just that, a smear campaign. Even if the Air Force didnít know, and no one told them, someone at the top knew and didnít mention it.
If the information is accurate, and this is the same William A. Rhodes, then he got a short shift from the governmental UFO investigators. The questions about his degree become somewhat irrelevant simply because the government was the entity that suggested he had the equivalent of a Ph. D and treated his work accordingly. Then, because they didnít happen to like what he had photographed, they asked the questions about it, suggesting he was less than honest and therefore his photographs could be questioned. Talk about double dealing.
But that doesnít say anything about the pictures. There was no reason for Rhodes to have faked them, it gained him nothing, and given the information released by the government, made him look rather unreliable. This really is something that deserves more work.