Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Capt. Sperry: What the Airline Pilot Saw

For just a little over a minute and a half, "U.F.O." features a runway interview with American Airlines pilot Capt. Willis T. Sperry about a 1950 incident in which he and others on his aircraft witnessed an incredible UFO sighting. To AA's credit, they allowed him to tell his story and never hassled him about the incident in the first place.

In February, 1976, around the same time that Tom Towers mentioned in a note that he hadn't yet heard from Sperry, to whom I had provided his address, the now retired American Airlines pilot send me a reply to my list of questions. He more or less rattled it out when he had the time, and I appreciated the time he took with the typewriter. I'll have to fill in some holes here because he answered by number and in some instances there is no indication to what he was responding.

For questions 1 and 2, I merely asked if he minded that I used promotional photos of himself from the movie, and wondered if he had a more recent photo. He did send a new photo along, but the magazine didn't use it and I returned it as requested. For question 3, I asked how it came to be that Sperry was interviewed in the movie, and I guess the person mentioned had a role in arranging this. For question 7, I only wanted permission to mention his place of employment, and his answer was affirmative.

For question 9, I asked for an account of what transpired during the flight discussed in the motion picture. I was particularly dumbfounded when he added that Capt. Henry Myers, who had once flown Presidents Roosevelt and Truman in "The Sacred Cow" (yesterday's version of Air Force One), also saw the UFO simultaneously from his commercial aircraft many miles in the distance. Myers was deceased by 1976 and Sperry had kept this little bombshell confidential until Myers' passing.