UFOs and the Rogue River Incident

WWII was over, and in 1949 the Oregon Coast was thriving. I grew up in Southern Oregon, and the Rogue River wildly ran from north of Crater Lake all the way to Gold Beach, Oregon. There the angry river spilled into the Pacific Ocean.  At that time, the town boasted a population of about 677 people. May 24, 1949 a reported group of 5 five people (3 men and 2 women) were visiting from the San Francisco area. 2 of the men, Don Heaphy and Gilbert Rivera, a draftsman and a wind tunnel mechanic were employed by Ames Research Laboratory at Moffett Field south of San Francisco. Ames Research was in the business of researching jet engines and required top security clearance for the employees.

The two men Don and Gilbert, were with a group in a fishing boat in the Rogue River just 700 yards from Elephant Rock, at the mouth of the Pacific Ocean. They were sharing a pair of 8x power Naval binoculars.  It was about 5pm and they were using the binoculars to search for jumping fish, it was then they spotted it. It turned out to be a circular and thin object coming from the NE. It looked like a pancake to the group, except it had a vertical fin on the top. There were no wings, no antenna, no lights, no propellers and no jet engines. (1)


They watched it for about two-and-a-half minutes as it hovered east of them before it departed at high speed in a southward direction. The sky was clear and the afternoon sun was at their backs. To the naked eye, it appeared shiny and shaped like a coin with the flat surface parallel to the ground. At its closest it seemed to be only a couple of miles away and about a mile high. They heard no noise. (2)

The ship was about 100 ft. wide with a tail fin and “dirty” surface, rough wrinkled surface in the rear. It was at about 5000 ft. in altitude, about 1-4 miles away traveling at about C-47 speed (200 mph?) which accelerated to jet speed (about 600 mph?), and then the object was gone. (3)

What is interesting about this case is the two men from Ames Research Laboratory reported the incident to security when they got back to work.  Then security reported to the AFOSI (Air Force Office of Special Investigations) who then carried out an investigation.  What helped the credibility of the report was the multiple witnesses, and the two men were technically trained.  The AFOSI interviewed all the people. The others’ names were left out of the report though the original bluebook notation said they were; pharmacist Roy L. MacBeth with wives Mrs. Rivera and Mrs. Amlyne MacBeth. There was another woman who was said to be on the boat, she was the wife of Standard Oil distributor, William McBeth. Spelled different than the pharmacist and his wife.  When they interviewed one of the women she described the object as circular and then remarked it went as fast as a C-47 as her son showed those to her as they flew over Gold Beach.

In 1952, Project Blue Book hired the Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio, to carry out a statistical study of flying saucer reports that occurred between 1947 and the end of 1952. (4) The intention of the study (Project Stork) was to ascertain if the sightings were ordinary phenomena or actual UFO’s.

The scientists of the Battelle Memorial Institute believed this was an actual sighting. The AFOSI labelled the men’s reports as “aircraft” while labeling the woman’s description as “kites” because when they interviewed the woman, they left her description of it being ‘circular’ off the records. The sighting was valid according to the Battelle scientists, is it possible in order to calm the public and explain many of these sightings the AFOSI altered or ignored important facts? Are agencies still doing that?


  1. Maccabee, Dr. Bruce, Employees of aeronautical laboratory see metallic, disc-shaped object. http://www.unsolved-mystery.com/2389/
  2. Employees see metallic, disc shaped object, http://www.ufoevidence.org/cases/case728.htm
  3. Rogue River Incident, NICAP, http://www.nicap.org/Good_Cases/490524rogue_dir.htm
  4. Ibid

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