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UFO Case Report:

A Gigantic 'Cigar' Over the Atlantic In 1963

Date: May, 1963
Location: Over the Atlantic Ocean,

Almost beneath the DC-8, was a gigantic dark grey 'torpedo'. It seemed menacing and frightening, and I had the impression that it was stationary. It was utterly unlike anything that I had ever seen in my whole life. It looked as though made of steel. No portholes or windows were visible. No wings or projections. Nothing but the long perfect torpedo form, with its bullet-shaped head, and the rear end which was cut off sharply andsquarely.

Classification & Features

Type of Case/Report: StandardCase
Hynek Classification: DD
Shape of Object(s): Cigar
Special Features/Characteristics: Pilot/Aircrew

Full Report / Article

Source: Flying Saucer Review, Volume 46/4, Winter 2001
[go to original source]

A Gigantic "Cigar" Over the Atlantic in 1963. [Reprint from FSR
Vol. 27, No. 3 (Nov. 1981). In view of the extraordinary
similarity to the last case, I feel I really must republish this
earlier one -Ed.]

In 1980 we received a letter from a lady who had recently become
a reader of FSR, stating that she would like to talk with
someone from the 'Review' and give us a confidential account of
a strange experience that she had had many years before. It had
been terrifying at the time and had left a most vivid impression
in her memory. Having no knowledge of UFOs then, she had no
clue as to what she might have seen. It was only after the
chance purchase of a few books, and the discovery of FSR, that
she had realized the possible nature of her experience.

The lady is from one of the countries of Western Europe that are
members of NATO. She is now married to an Englishman, and it so
happens that her home is not far from mine. For reasons which
will be evident, she has asked that on no account should her
name and address, or her nationality at birth, be divulged. I
have interviewed her twice, and FSR Director R.H. Bryan Winder
also heard the first account which she gave. Her statements are
supported by a lengthy and detailed written version and a
sketch. For reasons of economy I have reduced her story to more
compact proportions. The gist of it is as follows:-

"The events which I now describe took place in the first or
second week of May 1963.

"I was at the time working for NATO as an English language
secretary, and based in Paris. On the day in question I was one
of a party of 50 NATO personnel who were en route to Canada for
the NATO Ministerial Meetings in Ottawa. Our plane, an Air
Canada DC-8, carried what seemed to be the usual crew, and two
stewardesses, though I had the impression that the flight was
under military or NATO control.

"We took off from Orly Airport, Paris, some time after 10.00
A.m., and we were told that the flight to Ottawa would take
about seven hours. As there were only 50 of us, the plane was
relatively empty. I took a window seat on the port side (left)
near the wing. The other two seats in my row remained empty
throughout the flight. As NATO personnel we were all of course
well known to each other, and very much a 'family group'.

"The weather was beautiful, and the Captain announced that we
would fly at 36,000 (or maybe 38,000 - I do not recall clearly)
feet. After lunch had been served, I sat enjoying the view of
the vast expanse of sky above the clouds. The windows of the
DC-8 were very large, the largest I seem to recall having seen
on an aircraft, and came down quite low beside the passenger.

"I was just reaching down to take a book from my hold-all, and
was astonished to glimpse below the 'plane something dark and
absolutely tremendous that stood out in vivid contrast to the
brightness all around. I could not believe my eyes. I pressed
close to the window in unbelief and there, almost beneath the
DC-8, was a gigantic dark grey 'torpedo'. It seemed menacing
and frightening, and I had the impression that it was
stationary. It was utterly unlike anything that I had ever seen
in my whole life. It looked as though made of steel. No
portholes or windows were visible. No wings or projections.
Nothing but the long perfect torpedo form, with its bullet-
shaped head, and the rear end which was cut off sharply and
squarely. (1) The monster - and I emphasise that it was this
terrifying size that impressed me - was well below us. I
thought maybe 2,000 metres or so below us, but of course I had
no way of being able to gauge this or to estimate the size of
the thing.

"I looked down again quickly at the monster, and saw that a
swathe of tiny clouds were beginning to pass over it, though it
remained visible through them for a few seconds before being
lost to my sight.

"I sat there in utter amazement that such a craft could exist.
Why, I thought, had I never heard, in all my wife, of the
existence of anything like this! I felt stunned, and dazed,
contemplating my utter ignorance that such things could be, and
that I could know nothing whatever about them.

"I glanced around the cabin. Most of my fellow-passengers were
reading, or dozing, or asleep. Only from the rear came sounds
of animation from a group who were playing bridge.

"I sat there feeling utterly frustrated, both because of my
inability to explain to myself what it was that I had seen, and
because apparently not one of the others had seen it. At any
rate, not one gave any sign of having done so, (2) and I felt
too baffled to ask, and too scared lest I might prove to be the
only witness in which case they would simply laugh at me. I sat
back and closed my eyes, feeling that my mind had been
completely blown. I resolved that, when back in Paris, I would
talk about it to one of the NATO experts on nuclear weapons, a
man whom I knew well, and with whom I had often chattered on all
sorts of subjects, such as earthquakes, problems of energy, and
so on. (But when I next saw him, and had the opportunity to
tell him about my 'monster cigar', I just could not bring myself
to raise the subject. My courage failed me. I did not want to
be laughed at. The whole thing seemed too incredible to be
taken seriously.)

"As for the rest of the NATO party, I never dared to mention it
to any of them, out of fear of being thought completely mad.
But I made a private resolution that I would go on trying to
find out what it could have been. (Little did I realize then
that it would take seventeen years.)

"I had of course heard the occasional story about 'flying
saucers,' but I always thought that the name meant that these
were just little things, no bigger than a real saucer. I had no
idea whatever that craft of all shapes and sizes were being
seen, all over the world, and that they were all being given the
blanket name of 'flying saucers.'

"To be truthful, I had already heard one story about a 'cigar',
said to be some 15 or 20 metres long, seen by people a few years
earlier at Santa Maria (3) in the Azores Islands. 'Fifteen to
twenty metres' was nothing in comparison with what I had just
seen. And in any case, everyone had said that the thing seen
over the Azores was simply a Russian secret device.

"It was only about two years ago that, while browsing through a
secondhand-bookshop, I found, and bought, two or three books on
UFOs. It came as an immense shock to me when I found that what I
had seen, came under the general term of 'flying saucers', and
that other people had also seen giant 'cigars' or 'torpedoes' in
other parts of the world, and at other times.

"But there is a second part to my story which was far more
terrifying than the sight of the huge 'torpedo,' and which I
found it equally impossible to explain to myself. I must
emphasise that whether or not it was in any way related to the
'torpedo' I cannot say, as I do not have sufficient technical
knowledge. Yet I have the feeling that it might be unwise to
exclude this part from my account, so I give it here now for the
experts to pronounce upon:-

"After my glimpse of the monster 'torpedo,' I sat there brooding
on it for half an hour or so, as I recall, when suddenly the DC-
8 started to shudder and pitch up and down violently, nosing
steeply upwards, then steeply downwards, and this went on for a
long, long time. I might explain that I had often encountered
turbulence and 'air-pockets' when travelling by aeroplane, but
it had never been anything remotely like this. This was as
though we were in a gigantic lift that was shooting up and down
madly. And, as though that was not enough, there now came a
succession of reports like cannon-fire or thunder, filling the
cabin. Meanwhile the plane continued to shudder and 'buck'
violently, and each time it came down I had the sensation that
it was going to break in half.

"Throughout all this, everybody in the passengers' cabin sat
there petrified, absolutely silent, white-faced.

"After a while of this, I felt such panic that I rushed up front
in search of a stewardess, and shouting ''What's going on? I'm
scared!'' I lifted a curtain in front of what seemed to be a
sleeping-berth, and found a stewardess lying on the bed there,
her hands covering her eyes as though she were weeping. She
gave no response to my shouts, and all around there was total
silence still, apart from the sound of the engines, overlaid by
the repeated 'claps of thunder' and the continued bucking up and
down of the plane.

"I went back to my seat, and suddenly found myself bathed in
perspiration. Every pore in my body seemed to be hard at work.
And yet I noticed that the light dress I was wearing was still
completely dry.

"A second time, I ran forward to the stewardesses' quarters but
there was nobody there. I hammered on the door leading to the
cockpit, and shouted again, asking what was happening, as I was
scared to death. The other stewardess came out and looked at me
as though I were an idiot, and for a while said nothing. Then,
calmly, she announced 'Ladies and Gentlemen, do not be alarmed:
the cabin is being depressurized.' Shortly afterwards, the
Captain was heard to make the same announcement.

"I should like very much to know whether all that I have just
described, about the violent behaviour of the aircraft and the
loud reports, is explicable as being due to the process of
'depressurization' and, if so, what are the circumstances that
are likely to have made it necessary for such alarming and
drastic steps to be taken? Is this sort of thing usual and
normal - as the calm behaviour of the second-mentioned
stewardess seemed to indicate? And why, in that case, had the
other stewardess - as it seemed - been weeping? Was this simply
because she, like all the rest of us, found the turbulence just
a bit too alarming? 'Or is it possible that she was still
suffering from shock after seeing the gigantic 'torpedo'? It
certainly would be interesting to know the answers to these

"If an expert were to say that the behaviour of the aircraft was
definitely not 'normal,' and not explicable as due to
depressurization, then it is possible that such a situation
could have been brought about by either the action or the close
approach of a UFO? (4) (Either the same thing that I had seen -
if it was indeed a UFO - or some other UFO that was also active
over the North Atlantic on that same day?)

"Whether or not this frightening behaviour by the DC-8 was in
any way connected with what I had seen is something that I have
so far found no way of knowing. Nevertheless, even if this
second part of my story is found fully explicable and
discountable, I am still anxious that my account of the great
'torpedo' shall find a place in the records.

"Did anyone else aboard the DC-8 see the 'torpedo'? That is the
key question. Given the position of the 'torpedo' in relation
to the passenger cabin, only a passenger looking out and
downwards at that precise moment would have caught a brief
glimpse of the object and, as I have said, I found no evidence
that any other passenger did see it.

"As for the plane's crew, there was only the one stewardess who
seemed upset. What is certain is that the pilots up in the
nacelle certainly would have had abundant time in which to see
the 'cigar,' as it cut slightly diagonally across their route
from their port side and well below them. No explanation or
comment whatsoever about the 'cigar' was given by the Captain or
any other crew member, and no statement was made by the
authorities when we landed in Canada.

"It must however be borne in mind that, although the machine was
to all appearances an ordinary DC-8 civilian passenger carrier,
the party on board consisted entirely of NATO personnel, and
NATO is a 'military' organization. We were flying under NATO
auspices and in that sense we were under military control. In
such circumstances it would not be surprising if the cockpit
crew and the stewardesses were less forthcoming about a UFO than
perhaps they might have been, were it an ordinary passenger


1. The documentary records of Ufology contain numerous
eyewitness reports of what are alleged to have been "tubular",
or "cigar-shaped," or "torpedo-shaped" UFOs, often of enormous
size, and there are also photographs. I recall that several of
these photographs reveal "bullet-shaped noses" and "squarely
cut-off rear ends." Quite a large proportion of such craft have
allegedly been seen over the sea, indeed in some cases entering
or leaving the sea. Nobody has written better on this aspect of
Ufology than our friend Toni Ribera of Spain, and it is a great
pity that his books have not yet been translated into English,
for one of them deals at great length with these reports of
"flying submarines."

The most impressive account of such a huge "cigar" craft that I
have read so far was contained in a letter written in 1954 to
Australian UFO researcher Edgar Jarrold by a lady named Mrs.
A.M. King of Nairobi, Kenya. She said:

"I left Mombassa (Kenya) at the end of June 1947, on the 'SS
Llandovery Castle' en route to Cape Town, and, as we were going
through the Straits of Madagascar about the beginning of July, I
was on deck with another lady passenger at approximately 11.00pm
when we noticed a particularly bright star. It was travelling
very fast and approached the ship. Suddenly a searchlight
appeared which flashed a strong beam of light on the water
within fifty yards of the ship. It descended, its beam
shortening and becoming brighter as it neared the water, and the
next instant there was no more light, but an object appeared,
apparently made of steel, and shaped like a cigar cut at the
rear end. It remained in the air about twenty feet above the
sea, parallel with the 'Llandovery Castle', and travelling in
the same direction.

"Gaining a little in speed, after a second or two the whole
shape disappeared without a sound, from the rear end issuing
fierce flames which shot out to about half the length of the
object. It appeared that there must be something like a huge
furnace inside the thing, but we still could hear no noise from
the flames. No windows could be seen, only a band of metal
around the entire thing which, if it had been a complete cigar
shape, would have been centrally situated.

"The object was very large, about four times the length of the
'Llandovery Castle', and at a rough guess, four times as high.
We had a wonderful view, but in a few seconds it had
disappeared. No light was seen forward on it as it left; it
just vanished soundlessly in the darkness. For a while we
thought we were the only ones on deck at that late hour, but,
walking to the prow of the ship, we saw there one of the ship's
officers with a few passengers; the entire party had seen the
same thing. Whether or not it is recorded in the ship's log, I
know not."

If Mrs. King's estimate is right, the 'monster torpedo' must
have been 'at least 1,600 feet long'.

A similar type of vast 'cigar', seemingly metallic, estimated to
be at least 800 metres (2,600 ft.) long, allegedly came down to
a height of only 2,000 metres in broad daylight one summer's day
in 1961 over the Russian city of Voronezh, and many thousands
who saw it panicked. When it departed, it stood straight up on
its tail, let out a tongue of flame said by some witnesses to be
as long as itself, and vanished straight up into the sky.
('Amazing News from Russia', in FSR Vol. 8, No. 6 (Nov./ Dec.,

An Italian named Luciano Galli has claimed (FSR Vol 8, No. 5,
September / October, 1962) that he was taken up in a small disc
to a huge tubular machine which he thought was "at least 600
metres long" and which had :one end cut like the end of a
cigar." Taken inside it, he claimed that he found it contained
hundreds of beings and scores of discs.

Probably the best known account of a "cigar-shaped craft" with a
"cut-off rear" is that described in Adamski's second book,
'Aboard the Space-ships'. One almost trembles at the thought of
even mentioning Adamski, for to do so nowadays is considered
very bad form in ufological circles "because everybody 'knows'
he was a fraud." In fact some of his alleged photos of such
craft do show precisely such long, dark, zeppelin-like forms
with "cut-off rear."

The emotional heat generated by the slightest mention of George
Adamski is curious because, if one troubles to reflect upon it,
one will see that, since the date of his experiences and his
photographs, which would have been principally around the period
1952-53, dozens and dozens of other folk, all over our planet,
in various countries and civilizations, have claimed to have
seen - and sometimes to have photographed - in these 29 years
since 1952, precisely the same types of "Mexican Hat discs" and
large "flying cigars" as Adamski claimed to have seen and to
have photographed. I notice too that, all over the world,
alleged UFO percipients have continued to tell "contactee
stories" that are far, far "wilder" and far more fantastic than
anything that Adamski ever said, and yet on the whole, these
percipients seem to be listened to with considerable respect by
many researchers. Almost never do they seem to be greeted with
the sort of obloquy that was heaped upon Adamski.

The fact of the matter, I suspect, is that we have all got used
to the UFO contactee syndrome now. We even 'expect' their
accounts to be wildly absurd and illogical and full of lies and
contradictions - as they usually are. Adamski is all old hat
and tame stuff now. But he hasn't stopped being "a liar and a
hoaxer". Others who tell the same stories go scot-free.

2. This mention of people "not showing any sign of having seen
anything" reminds me of an interesting report which I received a
few years ago. A middle-aged English lady, well known to old
friends of mine (and in background totally uninterested and
uninformed as regards UFOs) came to see me one day and described
an extraordinary experience that she had. She had been on a
holiday trip to the Scilly Isles (lying off the south western
tip of England) one fine summer's day about nine or ten years
previously. In the evening she boarded a small steamer to
return to the Mainland. The ship was filled with holiday-makers
and the decks were crowded. She was standing right against the
rail, enjoying the beautiful scene and the last of the day when,
out of the sea, right beside the steamer, a large, round,
shining silvery "saucer" came up swiftly and silently and shot
into the sky. She said it passed so close to her that she could
see the droplets of water swirling off its gleaming surface.
All around and behind her were the mass of other tourists,
pressed close together, and she said they could not have failed
to see it too. But, so she told me, not a soul amid that crowd
gave the faintest indication by word or gesture that they had
perceived anything out of the ordinary. As she remarked,
laughingly: "'They were all British They kept a stiff upper

(Admittedly however there do seem frequent to be cases where
some individuals "see" while others do not, and one is obliged
to recognize that, for all we know, the former category might
conceivably involve a minority of people who are 'clairvoyant' -
maybe only temporarily or intermittently. This idea takes us
instantly into the field of Parapsychology, which is too vast
and too mine-bestrewn for further discussion in the present
article. But it is something that we absolutely must always
keep in mind whenever considering any UFO sightings whatsoever -
including, of course the report from the lady secretary who was
with NATO.)

3. At this point I feel the lady's memory may be playing
tricks. For - unless of course there were 'two' quite separate
sightings of "flying cigars" over Santa Maria in the Azores -
the happening to which she here refers is entered in our
records as having been on July 9, 1965, and therefore two years
'after' her own experience.

The "cigar" or "torpedo" which we have in our documentation
passed over the Island of Santa Maria in the Azores on that date
at an estimated height of 20,000ft. and promptly stopped all the
electric clocks at the Santa Maria Airport, one report said for
twenty minutes, others said for forty-five minutes. (See FSR,
Vol. 11, No. 5, p. 24, and Vol. 12, No. 5, p. 32).

4. Readers will recall the recent experience of the U.S. Army
Reserve officer Captain (now Lieut. Colonel) Lawrence Coyne,
whose helicopter was on October 18, 1973 put by a UFO into a
powered descent of 500 feet per minutes and then 2,500 feet per
minute, only to be bounced up again into the sky at the rate of
1,000 feet per minute (see Jennie Zeidman's 'UFO-Helicopter
Close Encounter Over Ohio' in FSR Vol. 22, No. 4, 1976).


Finally, since this NATO lady's account relates to something
huge seen over the North Atlantic Ocean, and possibly not too
far from Canada, these notes should not be ended without a
reminder of one of the most famous cases of all time, that of
Captain James Howard who, on June 29, 1954, when piloting his
B.O.A.C. Stratocruiser 'Centaurus' on a flight from London to
Canada, flew on a parallel course for eighteen minutes with a
vast unknown object which he estimated to be "about the size of
an ocean liner." Captain Howard's crew of eleven and a dozen of
his fifty-one passengers also saw it, and one of the opinions
expressed was that it was "as big as the 'Queen Mary'" (one of
Britain's two huge pre-war Cunard liners).

This particular UFO does not seem to have been described by
anyone as a "cigar" or a "torpedo". It was in fact apparently
changing shape in a puzzling fashion, but seems mainly to have
looked delta-shaped or "like a telephone mouth-cum-earpiece
lying on its back", as indicated in Captain Howard's sketches.
It appeared to be accompanied by a group of much smaller
objects which finally seemed to enter it before it vanished from
sight. (See 'Mystery over Labrador', by Leonard Cramp, in FSR,
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 1955).


The case of the Stratocruiser, 'Centaurus' is given in slightly
greater detail in my editorial leader on pages 1 and 2 of this
issue (i.e. FSR 27/3).

My memory of Captain Howard's narrative is that 'most' of the
passengers saw the UFOs (larger craft and smaller ones).
Stewardess Daphne Walker came on to the flight-deck to ask the
skipper "what it was out there", as all the passengers wanted to

A few years ago, through a mutual friend, I secured the home
address of Stewardess Daphne Walker, so perhaps even more
details can be obtained from her one of these days. G.C.

Case ID: 139 edit: 139

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