Dahl reported the incident to his ‘boss’, one Fred L. Crisman,
who at first did not believe his tale and reprimanded him for damaging the boat.
The next day Dahl was apparently visited by a man wearing the not-yet-then
stereotypical black suit and driving a brand-new 1947 Buick sedan. This man had
breakfast with Dahl and advised him that "if he loved his family and didn’t want
anything to happen to his general welfare, he would not discuss his experience
with anyone." But Dahl already had, and Crisman was later out checking Dahl’s
story by visiting the scene of the alleged incident.
Crisman found the beach covered in slag, estimating nearly 20
tons of the material, and then, one of the strange donut shaped machines swooped
out of the clouds towards him. Whatever else occurred, this event convinced
Crisman that Dahl had been telling the truth after all. Crisman wrote to Ray Palmer, then editor of the science fiction
magazine ‘Amazing Stories’ with details of the incident. (Crisman had
previously written to Palmer and had a letter published in the June 1946 issue
detailing his encounters with his outlandish ideas of ‘deros’
(detrimental robots) who ran an underground super-civilisation. Oh well…)
Palmer subsequently wrote to Kenneth Arnold (whose friend
Colonel Paul Wieland had just returned from Germany as a judge at the Nuremberg
trials) and asked him to investigate the story. He gave Arnold $200 to cover his
expenses – no small amount in 1947. Indeed it was such a large amount that
Arnold went on to boast about it at the office of the ‘Idaho Daily
Statesman’ whose editor, David Johnson, promptly sent a telegram to Air
Force Intelligence to advise them of Arnold’s pending investigation (12). (We
now know that Johnson was habitually supplying information to the Air Force and
other arms of government on a range of matters. His name also appears on the
bottom of a document released in 1969 when the Air Force terminated Project Blue
Book.) In the meantime, Dahl had had his photographs developed, but
they were unusable with the film being fogged beyond all recognition.
Arnold flew to Tacoma on 29th
July in his private plane and took a room at the Winthrop Hotel. He later phoned
Dahl, but found him reluctant at first to meet and share details of his story,
however he later agreed when Arnold advised him of his own current celebrity
status. Dahl repeated his story and told Arnold that since incident he had had
nothing but bad luck; family illness, engine trouble with his boat and loss of
then contacted a friend of his, airline pilot Captain E. J. Smith (Arnold and
Smith left) and asked him to come to Tacoma to contribute his expertise to the
mystery. At 9:30am the
following morning, both Dahl and Crisman turned up at Arnold’s hotel claiming
that someone had tried to destroy their boat. Apparently there had been an
object in the sky circling above them an object unrecognisable to Crisman,
despite being a former war pilot himself. Arnold then flew
off to collect Captain Smith who, after interviewing both Dahl and Crisman,
advised Arnold to contact Air Force A-2 (Intelligence) Officer Lieutenant Frank.
M. Brown who was stationed at Hamilton Field, California.
Brown made plans to fly to Tacoma with another officer, Captain
William Davidson and within an hour of Arnold’s initial phone call, both
officers were on their way to McChord Field, Washington in a B-25 bomber. (In
the 1950s McChord Field itself was to play host to a number of strange aerial
sightings. See Appendix II.) Shortly afterwards, United Press wire service
reporter Ted Morello contacted Arnold to enquire why the Air Force were flying
to Tacoma to see him. The significance here is that the media should not have
known about Arnold’s investigation.
This became more perplexing as Arnold had already been
receiving calls about his visit at the Winthrop Hotel even though only his wife,
Smith, Dahl and Crisman apparently knew he was staying there. These calls were
coming from the local newspaper stating they were receiving anonymous phone
calls from someone who apparently knew everything that Arnold and Smith were
involved in. Arnold began to wonder whether his room had been bugged, and if so
by whom and why.
The two Airforce officers arrived at Arnold’s hotel late in the
afternoon of 31st July 1947, however Dahl failed to show at the
arranged meeting, although Crisman did attend and talked at length about the
incident. He showed Brown and Davidson some of the metal and slag he had
collected and stated that he would return home to put together a box-load of the
debris for the officers to take back to California with them for analysis.
The intelligence officers shared their doubts about the story
with Arnold and prepared to leave at 11.30pm just as Crisman returned with the
box full of fragments, which they put in the back of their military staff
However the two
Army Air Corps Officers involved, 1st Lt. Frank M. Brown and Capt.
William L Davidson were killed when their B-25 carrying the photographs and some
of the alleged UFO residue crashed within a few hours of their departure. The
other crew and a passenger, an army enlisted man, bailed out and survived.
This man, Master Sergeant Elmer Taff later told Arnold that he had witnessed
Brown and Davidson load a large carton onto the plane and fifteen minutes into
the flight the left engine had caught fire. The B-25 crashed near Kelso,
Washington. The military cordoned off the site of the crash (FBI document
dated 6th August 1947 - below) and banned civilian aviation
investigators near the wreck on the grounds that the plane had been carrying
classified material at the time of the crash.