Micah Hanks March 27, 2022
Since the early days of modern UFO studies, following sightings that began to make headlines in 1947 and thereafter saw many years of investigation by the United States Air Force, a leading theory that has remained about these aerial objects. This, of course, involves the notion that they might represent visitations by intelligent beings from other worlds.
Whether or not this is the correct interpretation of what unidentified flying objects may represent, the idea has certainly presented inspiration in a variety of disciplines. From astronomers who have become intrigued by the notion of Earth visitation by extraterrestrials, to biologists who wonder about the possibility of study life that evolved on other planets, UFOs are both a genuine mystery and a springboard toward inspiration in a variety of ways.
Such appears to have been the case for one USAF officer in the Spring of 1950, as news about flying saucers had been making headlines in U.S. newspapers. However, the inspiration derived in the case in question from mysterious reports of aerial objects didn’t involve the sciences, but instead poetry, of all things.
Strangely, a poem entitled “The Flying Saucer” was discovered as a result of the persistent FOIA efforts of longtime UFO researcher Jim Klotz, as revealed to him in a letter from Maxwell Air Force Base archivist Archie DiFante in a letter responding to Klotz’s FOIA request.
Klotz first learned of the poem as part of a larger batch of documents that were revealed to exist by Maryland researcher Michael Ravnitzky, who in the early 2000s managed to obtain a listing of more than 500,000 documents held by the U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base, many of which remain classified.
Witness description of a hat-shaped “flying saucer” released as part of a batch of formerly classified documents on UFOs (Credit: CIA/Public Domain).
“The document in question is unclassified and available to the public,” DiFante explained in a letter to Klotz dated January 7, 2005, and delivered from the Department of the Air Force Historical Research Agency. Although the print quality of the document in question was relatively poor, a quaint poem inspired by sightings of UFOs during the late 1940s had managed to survive over the years, and remained in the Air Force’s historical archives in Alabama.
Penned by a T/Sgt Barnes in March 1950, the poem, aptly titled “The Flying Saucer,” might not otherwise have seen the light of day without Klotz’s efforts. It reads as follows:
Hearing tales of little men and speeding ships on high. Around me all most every day, I cast a weary eye.
Today I saw men gathered around the hangar door. They said they saw a Saucer. A tiny ship they swore.
They pointed to the cloudless sky. “Past Vapor Trails”, they sigh, I saw a far off something, Shining in the sky.
We watched it hard, it seemed to move As vapors drifted by I felt the strangest feelings Of course I know not why.
A weather baloon sent up to give The weather for the day. Some said a star that shines so bright, We see it in the day.
Elusions, stars or man made things Ships from other planets. We watched, we talked and wondered. But none of us could name it.
Because I could not give them The answer is not given, What is the thing that shines so bright So far up in the heavens.
“It’s unclear why this item by Tech Sergeant Barnes appears in the March 1950 history of the 27th Fighter Group, Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas, but it does,” Klotz later noted.
As to who the author, the mysterious and lyrically inclined “T/Sgt Barnes” may have been, this remains a bit of a mystery. From the wording of his poetic debut, it seems Barnes might have been open to possibilities as far as what the ultimate source of UFOs might be, albeit aware of the various conjectures offered as possible solutions (i.e. weather balloons, and “Elusions [sic], stars or man made things” as referenced in his poem).
While the documents featuring Barnes’ poem obtained by Klotz may not represent the most earth-shattering Air Force document related to UFOs, it does provide a snapshot of the widespread cultural interest the subject was generating as America entered the 1950s; a decade that would see the official end of the USAF’s second official UFO investigative effort, Project Grudge, and the subsequent beginning of Project Blue Book, which still remains the longest-running systematic study of UAP in U.S. history.
And also still today, as Barnes surmised in 1950 as he wrote that “none of us could name it”, the UFO mystery remains as enigmatic for Americans and people around the world today as it did for Barnes in 1950, when he offered what might be one of the earliest—and perhaps the first—poems devoted to the subject of flying saucers.