Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tom Towers Speaks

Researcher Barry Greenwood has unearthed two brief TV (audio) interviews with Tom Towers, recorded at least several years after the national release of "U.F.O."  These clips, which I have transcribed below, come from KABC-TV in Los Angeles, and focus in large part upon Towers' opinion of the UFO phenomenon, the Kenneth Arnold sighting and the Senator Richard Russell UFO incident.  Together, the clips barely last seven minutes, so yes, they truly are brief.

Towers' mention of the Arnold incident and the origin of the term, "flying saucers" is rather tangled here, but because the UFO subject wasn't really his focus, as he concentrated mainly on aviation and airport issues, and because he was being asked questions for which he may not have been fully prepared, his response regarding Arnold and "saucers" can be forgiven.

Transcripts of the two brief interviews are posted below.  The interviewer was Baxter Ward, KABC-TV news director, and these portions were culled from a series entitled "Objects Unidentified," apparently concerned with a host of strange subjects in addition to UFOs.

(Thanks, Barry)


(Here, Towers recalls his interest in UFOs as a result of his motion picture role) 

"I could refer back to some correspondence I had with the very eminent Georgia senator, Senator Richard Russell, and I was then working for the late and lamented Los Angeles Examiner as aviation editor.  It was 1955 when Senator Russell went to Europe on a trip, and when he came back there were reports in the press that he had made some type of sighting or seen something in Europe that he could not explain.  I corresponded with him, and I have here a letter that I should like to read, which I think further points up the great mystery behind the flying saucer phenomenon -- at least it does in my opinion.

"Dear Mr. Towers -- this letter is dated January 17, 1956 -- Permit me to acknowledge your letters relative to reports that have come to you regarding aerial objects seen in Europe last year.  I have received your letter, but I have discussed this matter with the affected agencies of the government, and they are of the opinion that it is not wise to publicize this matter at this time.  I regret very much that I am unable to be of assistance to you.  With assurances of esteem, I remain, Sincerely, Richard B. Russell.

"Now, I guess many people can place many interpretations on Senator Russell's letter.  But to me it only means that he did see something in Europe in 1955, he dutifully reported it to our government in Washington, and somebody back there said keep still, don't talk.

"As long as we have this sort of atmosphere existing, I think we will always then have a certain mysticism, a certain fascination with the entire phenomenon of the unidentified flying objects. 

"I have also been asked my opinion of flying saucer reports, and the answer to this is that I've kept an open mind, very definitely, on this subject, and I lend a great deal of credence and veracity -- I should say I've never doubted the veracity of certain reports that have come in, namely from controllers of the Federal Aviation Agency, men who are very highly reliable, who work in the control towers 24 hours a day, and certainly of airline pilots such as Captain Willis Sperry, a jet captain for American Airlines, who has made a sighting and appeared in "U.F.O."  And I would never, for one moment, doubt the honesty and the reliability and the veracity of men like Captain Willis Sperry and other airline pilots flying five million, six million dollar jet aircraft today.  If we have to deny them and turn our back on some of the reports that they have offered, then I'm afraid they shouldn't be flying airplanes."


(Here, Towers responds to a question about the origin of  the term, flying saucers)

"I've done a little research on this at the time we were making this picture, "U.F.O." and I found that it had its start back in the late forties, when a man named Kenneth Arnold, a (fixed?) base operator at the airport in Boise, Idaho made a sighting of some objects that he could not identify.  He alerted a newspaper man, a friend of his, working for a Boise newspaper, and then took off in his airplane and flew as far as the Grand Cooley Dam in Washington, attempting to catch up to these objects, or make some accurate identification.

"The newspaper man that he alerted was a "stringer," or correspondent for United Press at that time in Boise, and he in turn contacted Roger Johnson, who was the Pacific Northwest news bureau manager for United Press, and told him of the sighting.

"After Arnold returned from his flight, Mr. Johnson, who is now a Beverly Hills public relations executive, questioned Mr. Arnold in great length on what he had seen and, as I recall, Mr. Arnold said that the objects that he  saw in the sky on that particular Sunday, the afternoon, resembled an inverted dish, and they talked about it back and forth on the phone, and Mr. Johnson then drew from Mr. Arnold that possibly they resembled not so much of an inverted dish, but possibly some kind of a saucer.  And Mr. Arnold agreed to that, and then Mr. Johnson reported all of this back to the New York office of  the United Press, and the story was actually written from back there, and when it came out from New York, that it came out saying that Mr. Arnold in Boise, Idaho had spotted flying saucers."