Well, as I have said, repeatedly, nothing is simple in the world of the UFO. Skeptics have made a big deal out of a letter written by Dr. James McDonald in which he quotes from his 1970 interview with Delbert Newhouse that he, Newhouse, was “…positive they had cut the first 10 or 20 feet [of the film], which were shot when the objects were very much closer…” There was also discussion by Newhouse that he had not received the original film back and that seems to be borne out by various letters and memos contained in the Project Blue Book files.
Given a review of McDonald’s letter, it seemed that Newhouse, at best was confused and confabulating and at worse telling lies to strengthen his case. One of the major points was that the Air Force had altered his film. I wrote:
The real point where this falls apart, at least for me, is when Newhouse began talking to McDonald about his film. Here is the one thing that is well documented in the Project Blue Book files and for the believers we have the statements made by Newhouse himself about the film when he submitted it to the Air Force…
So we talked about the length of the film and how it doesn’t seem that it had been altered. Everything pointed to there being some thirty feet of film of the UFOs and then additional vacation footage that was removed and returned to Newhouse. Everything in the Blue Book file seemed to line up and showed that Newhouse was mistaken.
Before we go on, I should point out that I was using a microfilm copy of the Project Blue Book files and according to the available index, the Tremonton case is on Roll 11. It is the first case there. The last case on Roll 10, according to the index was from Phoenix, Arizona.
The thing is, it seemed that some of the Blue Book file on Tremonton was missing, so I put Roll 10 in the microfilm reader, and found more documents that were part of the that case. All this would be irrelevant had it not been for an unsigned and undated document on Roll 10 that was addressed to “L/C [Lt. Col.] Adams w/orig film 10/22/52.”
This was a list of requirements for the Air Force investigation of the Tremonton Movie and point number five is the part that is relevant to us. It said, “The loose (unspliced) portion of 17 frames belongs at the end of the footage having a deep blue background and no sound track. The last frame of this loose portion is immediately adjacent to the splice with the broken frame having the sound track.”
The 17 frames comprise about one second of film and it was noted that it should go at the end of the film when the objects were farther away as opposed to the beginning when Newhouse said they were closer. We also know that the Air Force cut off the last 20 feet of film which was Newhouse vacation footage and had nothing to do with the UFO sighting.
What does this mean?
Well, if we attempt to look at it dispassionately, we see that Newhouse was correct when he said the film had been altered. True, he was saying the first 10 or 20 feet were missing but it was the last 20 that had been cut off. It had nothing to do with the UFOs, but after nearly 20 years, it seems reasonable for Newhouse to say that the film had been cut and some was missing.
That, of course, doesn’t quite match what he was claiming, and it was only the vacation footage… at least that was reasonable until we find this other memo. Now we know that some of the UFO footage was “loose” from the rest of it and we don’t know if the prints of the film that circulated afterward, especially those that leaked into the civilian world, had those frames reattached.
The thing we have to remember is that the documents now available to us were written at the time and I believe that those writing them didn’t think of the future or who might have access to them in the future. In other words, they were candid in what they said rather than trying to “talk around” a point. Had they detached a longer segment of the film from the beginning, I believe the description in the files would have related this. In this case, however, I suspect that the missing frames reveal nothing that can’t be seen on the rest of the film.
However, this does seem to strengthen, to a degree, Newhouse’s statements to McDonald some twenty (or 18) years after the fact. He said the film was altered, he said that frames were missing, and he was correct about both those things.
Is all this enough for us to now accept as real everything else he said after the fact?
Well, no. It points out that his memory was accurate to a point, but the details, the minutia of the sighting, still seems to be slightly in error. There is no evidence that any footage is missing from the beginning of the film, but there is footage missing from the film as documented in the Blue Book file... or rather that some 17 frames was detached from the original film.
What this does is add a little bit of strength to the overall case, showing that Newhouse was correct about some of what he said. It doesn’t really move the bar very far but moves it a little. For some that will be enough but for others it won’t matter at all. I just point this out for the sake of clarity in an otherwise complicated case.