|Occurred : 8/17/1960 21:10 (Entered as : 08/17/1960 21:10)
Reported: 3/12/2008 9:41:26 PM 21:41
Location: Long Beach (Terminal Island), CA
|9/17/1960 -21:10 hours-Terminal Island, Califronia, Four Crescent over LBNSY- observed 4-5 seconds above broken clouds
I was working the Swing Shift as a shipfitter at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. At lunch time (20:30 hours) most of us shipfitters and welders would go to our main shop (Building 128) for lunch, card playing, naps or whatever we could do in only half an hour.
This was the week after Echo I had been launched and was scheduled to be visible over the Los Angeles area. I think it was Tuesday the 16th when lunch ended and one of the welders called for us out to the front (South side) of the shop to watch Echo I pass overhead. It was a very clear night and was easily seen as a silver dot (about the size of a pencil lead held at arm's length). It's orbit from West to East was easily tracked and we all felt thankful to have had an opportunity to see it on one of the few nights it would be seen in our area.
The next night there were scattered clouds and as I left the shop building after lunch and walked toward Dry Dock 2 I looked up at the clouds and thought to myself, "Much too cloudy to see Echo tonight".
Then from above the clouds on a Southerly course I saw four crescent shaped objects "flying" in a reverse "V" formation. Being crescent shaped and not too long after sunset I first surmised it was the sun (now over our horizon) that was reflecting off of some type of aircraft like the Vought V-173 "Flying Pancake". I could only see them for about 4 or 5 seconds before they disappeared above another cloud. I tried to listen for a sound of aircraft engines but heard nothing except for the leaking air from low pressure air manifolds down in the Dry Dock. If they were the Vought aircraft, I would certainly have heard their twin propeller engines.
I checked my glasses for dust, backed up and stepped forward again to see if they were a reflection of something on the ground off my glasses. I did this for one or two minutes without being able to duplicate the apparent sighting. In size, and if circular or "saucer" shaped with the reflecting sun on their West edges, they would be the size of a pencil eraser held at arm's length (as opposed to a pencil lead in my description of Echo I).
When I mentioned this to a couple of my fellow workers they just laughed and said I've been reading too many Science Fiction books (actually I was reading Harold Lamb's historical novels at that time).
I have modified an historical map of the shipyard (that no longer exists) that I reconstructed from old maps and aerial photos for a book I am writing on the history of the Shipyard, Naval Base and attached Naval Air Station. In accordance with your instructions of electronically uploading images, I am emailing this map both as an insert and as an attachment for your study.
Because I transferred over to the Design Division 4 years later and eventually was the structural configuration manager of the 1980's reactivation of the Iowa Class Battleships I kept the story to myself - except with friends who like stories like that. I retired in 1994 but did not decide to file an official report until now when I realized the accuracy of my shipyard map may be of value.