< indyjones main


USS Macon over New York 1933





Caidin and UFOs


Late in his life, Caidin stated that he been a UFO investigator for CONAC, Continental Air Command, while he served in the Air Force circa 1948-9. In an afterword in "Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates" he discusses his own thinking on UFOs and reveals his own sightings.

He first describes an incident that took place when he was very young, when one bright sunny day he heard a thunderous roar, looked up, and saw a giant apparition:

It was a vessel utterly alien to me...it was absolutely incredible. Nearly a thousand feet long! It sailed across the earth maybe fifteen hundred, perhaps two thousand feet high. It was so huge it partially blocked out the sun. Its deep groaning roar sent birds fleeing and animals dashing for safety. It was silvery, splendid, magnificent as it passed over, and I watched until it vanished beyond the horizon.

What it was, he explains, was the USS Akron, one of two super-dirigibles the US Navy developed in the early 1930s, and one of the largest flying objects ever built.

And of course, never having seen such a sight before, or having known of these two massive sky vessels, the ship blocking out the sun was alien to me!

Even if it was some sixty years ago....

And remembering that moment, and others like it -- such as those times when I flew a jet fighter in pursuit of other objects in the sky that I never caught up with and never did identify -- helped me decide that in INDIANA JONES AND THE SKY PIRATES, everything that seems exotic, wonderful, marvelous -- and impossible -- is all based on hard, provable reality.

Caidin goes on to discuss briefly the issue of genuine UFOs and the US Air Force. He says he had "hundreds" of reports of UFOs from pilots and other qualified observers of objects which could not be attributed to the type of secret weapons he had described in the novel:

Also, when I was in the U. S. Air Force, I participated in UFO-sightings investigations, talking to hundreds of witnesses who had encountered, on the ground and in the air, objects they could not identify. Many reports turned out to be dead ends. Others were exactly the opposite. As a pilot, I have also pursued UFO's while flying high-speed jets. I have chased a startlingly huge disc at low altitude when flying a B-25 bomber; it easily outmaneuvered us and then flew away as if we were standing still in the air. What was it?


In another vein, in one of his earlier novels, "Marooned" (1969), Caidin describes a military operation with the goal of radar-spoofing a UFO incident:

Men were kicking off to the moon, but in the meantime there was a wicked test coming up with the SR-71. Pruett, with a radarman-navigator-radioman in the back seat of the big reconnaissance plane, was to attempt a penetration of the air defense zones of the United States. No one would know where he was in the air defense system, nor would they know what he would attempt to do. No more than seven men were fully informed of the mission, and these men were told only so that in their critical positions they could prevent any alarms from putting the nation on alert for war. The performance of the SR-71 would scare the hell out of anyone not familiar with the machine.

Pruett's scheme to foil the best electronic air defense system in the world was simplicity itself. With Captain Stan Roberts in the back seat, they took off from Edwards and boomed out to the east at a comfortable sixty thousand feet. Over the Atlantic just off the east coast they rendezvoused with a C-141 tanker and took on a full load of juice. From this moment on they were on their own.

"Jim, I think that storm front in the Gulf will work out just right," Roberts told him.

Inside his pressure helmet Pruett grinned to himself. If their little caper worked out there'd be a lot of red faces at the NORAD center...

"We got a full line?" he asked.

"Yep, solid, nasty line of thunderbumpers. Stretches about four hundred miles and it's unbroken."


"Not only that but the tops are between sixty and seventy thousand."

"That's even better," Pruett said. During their pleasant conversation were headed toward Florida at better than two thousand miles an hour.

"Want dessert?" Roberts quipped.

"A la mode. What's the pitch?"

"The height-finding radar in New Orleans area is out. Power failure or something. It won't be working until tomorrow afternoon."

Pruett whistled. "That's made to order. How the hell did you--"

"Don't ask and I won't tell."

Pruett laughed. "Okay. Same plan we discussed before?"

"Yep. Now pay attention to where you're driving. I don't want us running into a UFO up here."

They swept around the tip of Florida, gave fits to the Cuban radar defense scanners and tore for the Gulf of Mexico. Well over the Gulf, Stan Roberts released a decoy with a long-burning solid rocket motor that kept flying along their original path of flight. Within the missile a signal generator raised hell. Any radar picking up that signal would get a bounce that matched exactly the radar signature of the SR-71 which, at that moment, was swiftly disappearing from the heavens. Pruett had come back on the power, popped his speed brakes, and was plummeting oceanward at nearly twenty thousand feet a minute. When they were five hundred feet up they were finally level and headed northward for the underbelly of the United States.

They hit the south edge of the squall line exactly on target. At a signal from Roberts, Pruett went to emergency power and sucked up the nose in a steady four-g pull. The SR-71 thundered with power and ripped upward at a seventy-degree angle, climbing with a speed of six miles a minute -- vertically. No radar could pick them up along the south wall of the squall line, and none did. When they topped the storm and appeared on radar, the operator couldn't be certain whether he was scope-reading an airplane, a UFO, or interference from the electrical output of the violent thunderstorms. The blip on his scope seemed to be moving slowly. This was exactly as Roberts planned. Without height-finding radar, all the man studying his scope could see was a slow-moving blip, because the SR-71, in terms of covering ground was still moving slowly.

Pruett leveled out and streaked to the northwest. By now the radar operator knew his set was in need of repair. The slow-moving radar target had speeded up to nearly two and a half thousand miles per hour, and that was crazy. Or else it was a UFO, and no one in his right mind reported UFO's any more. He marked it down on his log and didn't tell anyone.

High over the Rockies, Stan Roberts smiled to himself and released three small missiles. They shot away from the SR-71 in a broad fan pattern. Two minutes later, each missile screamed in a high-pitched electronic voice that painted scope nightmares before two dozen defense radar operators.

Pruett went to open channel. "We have arrived--" he began, smiling broadly.

Caidin has the SR-71 going through gyrations that it probably was not capable of doing (an SR-71 does not have "speed brakes," for example), but the incident may be based on reality. Caidin had a habit of reusing -- and updating -- scenarios in his books. For instance, in Thunderbolt!, which he wrote with WWII fighter ace Robert Johnson, Caidin describes a gory scene in which a German pilot, bailing out of his falling plane, is accidentally rammed and dismembered by an American Republic Thunderbolt fighter. In "Marooned," Caidin replays the scene, but substitutes a more modern Republic plane, the F-105, and uses a North Vietnamese MiG pilot as his victim. The 1969 version of Marooned itself is an update of a 1964 book by the same name. It seems fair to speculate that the SR-71 UFO incident, if based on reality, might have happened at some point in the late 1950s or early 1960s, but may have involved a different type of supersonic aircraft.