A gifted storyteller, Oklahoma author Marilyn A. Hudson is quite talented when it comes to relaying the strange tales of UFO woe that puzzled many in Oklahoma for the roughly two-decade span from 1947 to 1969.
Those years bookend the “classic” UFO era in the United States, with 1947 being the alleged crash of a flying saucer near Roswell, New Mexico in the summer of that year to 1969, and the conclusion of the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book. It was the government-sanctioned investigation into reports of unidentified flying objects.
With Hudson’s focus on Oklahoma’s role in the UFO sightings during this time frame in her independently-released book Sooner Saucers, readers get a closer look at eyewitness accounts of reported UFOs darting about the Oklahoma skies while Hudson also includes Kenneth Arnold’s famous ’47 sighting, reported right before the Roswell Crash, and reports of menacing “men in black” who tried to silence folks who reported seeing strange lights in the sky — or, perhaps, more.
Hudson goes in chronological order, breaking up the coverage of this period into decades — 1940s, 1950s and 1960s — and references Project Blue Book and documents from NICAP (National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena) – notes the first Oklahoma UFO sighting for this time frame on May 17, 1947, where the eyewitness reported a “frosty white, round and flat object” that was traveling at great speed and made a “swishing sound.” The next report was on June 21, 1947, and was out of Yukon, Okla. Observed were “six objects like upside downwash tubs (domed silver shape) high and moving fast.” Hudson’s book soon picks up in the 1950s, when government secrecy and paranoia about the Soviet Union was at a height. Set against this backdrop was the continuation of saucer sightings in Oklahoma and elsewhere across the country.
With that paranoia was a lot of secrecy on the part of the government and a top-down decision to do everything they could to dismiss legitimate sightings as everything from “meteors” to “weather balloons” and the “planet Venus.”
A September 1955 report notes an Oklahoma State University professor who saw something strange moving from west to east and darting across the sky for an hour and a half.
The year 1964 sees the appearance of dogged civilian UFO investigator Hayden C. Hewes, who was based in Oklahoma City. Hudson notes that the intrepid individual “formed one of the first UFO groups in the state and was a front line figure for investigations into Bigfoot and other unsolved mysteries. In November of that year, Hewes took on the analysis of a “23 lb. meteoroid” that had fallen to earth, landing in Oklahoma City. It was unclear as to what the object actually was, as it was composed on materials not native to central Oklahoma.
Hewes and others would have their work cut out for them nine months later, in August 1965, when a serious UFO flap plagued the entire state of Oklahoma and other areas of North America for weeks on end. This initial flap resulted in a 14-year-old Tulsa boy taking what is believed to be the first color photo of a UFO.
Craft were witnessed near Tinker Air Force Base, but not before they were seen near nuclear missile silos in western states. It was truly an alarming period of sightings.
The reports across Oklahoma in early August 1965 are gripping in their strangeness and the impact it had on witnesses.
Hudson’s book was independently published, and in parts, it shows. Some editing and polishing in areas would have helped make it an even better book. That said, I enjoyed reading these reports that covered nearly every corner of the Sooner State over a 20-year period.
At just under 200 pages, Sooner Saucers offers the reader a lot of basic information about the UFO phenomenon in mid-20th century America — and Oklahoma, specifically — via Blue Book reports and other eye- witness accounts. These sightings have not decreased all that much in the intervening years. Websites like the nuforc.org of the National UFO Reporting Center keep a monthly tally of reports across the U.S. and some around the world. People are still seeing strange, unexplainable things in the Oklahoma skies.
And with recent U.S. military admissions that UFOs or UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena) are appearing and they don’t know who or what is operating them, it seems the world is entering a new stage in studying and observing these puzzling objects.