Wednesday, August 19, 2009

USAF Docs No Longer Missing

Research Development on Titanium Alloys (Snippet)
By Billy Cox
De Void
8-17-09

Billy Cox     With a nudge from De Void’s FOIA request, the Air Force has located and released long-withheld research papers on its investigation into the bonding properties of titanium with other metals. They contain at least one unanticipated blurb. But what it means ain’t exactly clear.

Those records — generated by Battelle Memorial Insitute on contract with Wright-Patterson AFB in 1949 and initially designated for “Limited” distribution — couldn’t be found just four months ago by archivists at either facility. Slugged “Second Progress Report on Contract AF33 (038)-3736,” the 60-plus pages forwarded to De Void had evidently been languishing at the Defense Technical Information Center in Fort Belvoir, Va. Roughly 30 percent of the docs are still unaccounted for, due to more than 50 years’ worth of film-storage deterioration cited by DTIC.

And obviously, a Second Progress Report implies the existence of a a First. Hopefully, another FOIA will resolve this little mystery.

The missing papers were noted this spring by Sarasota researcher Tony Bragalia, who contributed a sizeable appendix to the “Witness To Roswell” (Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt, New Page Books), a sad and sobering retrospective on the intimidation tactics aimed at those who participated in recovery operations.
Bragalia was following up on remarks made by the late retired USAF general Arthur Exon in a 1991 book, “UFO Crash at Roswell.” Exon was a junior officer at WPAFB in 1947 when military cleanup crews allegedly shipped spacecraft debris there. He went on to become base commander in 1964.

Exon never saw the stuff, but he stated that parts of the wreckage — some of which was described as a foil-like material that flattened into its original shape after being wadded up — had indeed been forwarded to Wright-Pat. “It was titanium and some other sort of metal they knew about,” he said, “and the processing was somehow different.”

Bragalia wanted to establish a paper trail between Nitinol — an amazing memory-retention alloy of nickel and titanium officially produced by the Naval Ordnance Laboratory half a century ago — and the Roswell incident. That would be a major coup, given the links between memory metals and future NASA technologies.

Among other places, Bragalia’s journey led him to the name of E.J. Center, a research chemist at Battelle from 1939-57 who died in 1991. The following year, former Battelle employee Dr. Irena Scott was told by a mutual friend that Center, in 1960, said he’d been tasked to evaluate “unique metal” that he understood to be Roswell debris, samples of which were impressed with incomprehensible glyph “writing.”
Center apparently said little more, and the anecdote can be easily dismissed as hearsay.

What’s interesting is how Center co-authored a subsection in the “Second Progress Report” titled “Analytical Methods for Titanium-Base Alloys.” His name hadn’t turned up in any of the indexed references to the heretofore missing papers.

Maybe it’s coincidental, and downright unsurprising that a man in his field should be part of team investigating cutting-edge technologies. Either way, what’s clear in the “Progress Report” is that two years after Roswell, Battelle scientists were working intensely to exploit the elasticity of new alloys.

Bragalia’s analysis of this latest development is worth a look. It won’t resolve anything, and objections to the circumstantial case he continues to pursue will surely be debated. And that’s the whole point.

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