Philadelphia Experiment

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Philadelphia Experiment

In October 1943 the U.S. Navy accomplished the invisibility and teleportation of a warship from Philadelphia to its dock near Norfolk. The World War II secret test has been covered up because of its tragic effects on the crewmen who participated in the experiment.

During the Philadelphia Experiment, scientists succeeded in causing a warship to become invisible, but a number of the crew burst into flames in spontaneous human combustion, and several others later lapsed into invisibility in front of their families—or, in one case, before the patrons of a crowded bar. Over half the officers and crew members had to be committed to psychiatric wards for the rest of their lives as a result of the fantastic experiment.

The mystery of the Philadelphia Experiment began on January 13, 1956, when Morris K. Jessup, author of The Case for the UFO (1955), received the first of a series of strange letters written by Carlos Miguel Allende—or as he sometimes signed his name, Carl Allen. Jessup brought an abundance of academic distinction to his study of the flying saucer enigma. After having served as an instructor in astronomy and mathematics at the University of Michigan and at Drake University, he was awarded a Ph.D. in astrophysics and was sent to South Africa by the University of Michigan to erect and operate the largest refracting telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. The Jessup-directed research produced the discovery of several double stars, which were catalogued by the Royal Astronomical Society.

The initial letter from the mysterious writer was in response to Jessup’s book, and Allende began by taking him to task for encouraging the public to request research into Unified Field Theory such as that sought by Einstein. In October 1943, according to Allende, scientists working for the navy had accomplished the complete invisibility of the Eldridge, a destroyer-type ship, and all of its crew. Allende was blunt in his assessment of the effect that the force field had upon the crew members. Seamen within the energy field for too long went “blank,” suddenly finding themselves fading into invisibility. To “get stuck,” Allende explained, was a side effect of the experiment that suddenly prevented a sailor from being able to move of his own volition. If two or more of his fellow crew members did not come to his aid at once and lay their hands upon him, the unfortunate sailor would “freeze.” Those who had entered into this condition were as if they were comatose—able to live, breathe, see, and feel in kind of a nether world. Fully as horrifying as the deep-freeze effects were the incidents of men who went “into the flame,” suffering spontaneous combustion.

Allende listed a number of personnel on observer ships’ crews and the crew of a Matson Lines Liberty ship out of Norfolk, Virginia. He also implied that he himself witnessed the experiment from aboard the SS Andrew Furnseth. Allende affixed a lengthy postscript stating his reconsidered opinion that the navy was probably quite blameless in the incident and really did not envision the ghastly effect the experiment would have upon the crew members. Before he closed, Allende tossed one more bombshell: The experimental ship had disappeared from its Philadelphia dock and, only a very few minutes later, appeared at its other dock in the Norfolk–Newport News–Portsmouth, Virginia, area. The ship had been clearly identified as being at that place, then it again disappeared and returned to its Philadelphia dock in only a very few minutes.

Jessup sent Allende a letter requesting more information. It was four months before he received a reply. In his second letter, Allende had Americanized his name to Carl M. Allen. He had also tempered the tone of his correspondence and seemed less piqued at Jessup. Allende offered to subject himself to hypnosis or sodium pentothal in an attempt to remember names, addresses, and service numbers of his shipmates.

At that point Jessup was invited to the Office of Naval Research in Washington. The astrophysicist was surprised when an officer handed him a paperback copy of his own book, The Case for the UFO. Jessup was informed that the book had been addressed to “Admiral N. Furth, Chief, Office of Naval Research.” The manila envelope in which it had arrived was postmarked Seminole, Texas. A cheery “Happy Easter” had been written across the face of the envelope.

Someone had taken the time and effort to completely annotate Jessup’s study of the UFO, and the book appeared to have been passed back and forth among at least three persons. Each individual wrote in a different color of ink. The annotators designated themselves as “Mr. A.” (assumed to be Allende), “Mr. B.,” and “Jemi.” The three individuals refer to “LMs,” who seem to be extraterrestrials either friendly or indifferent to earthlings, and to “SMs,” a group of hostile aliens. Throughout the text, the three used terms such as mothership, home-ship, dead-ship, Great Ark, great bombardment, great return, great war, little-men, force-fields, deep freezes, undersea building, measure markers, scout ships, gravity fields, sheets of diamond, cosmic rays, force cutters, undersea explorers, inlay work, clear-talk, telepathing, and vortices. Such terms have encouraged UFO researchers to speculate that the mysterious Carl Allen and his two friends were representatives of an extraterrestrial power that took root on Earth centuries ago and has long since established an advanced underground subculture.

Morris Jessup was found dead in his station wagon in Dade County Park, Florida, on the evening of April 20, 1959. Police officers reconstructed the death as a suicide. A hose had been attached to the exhaust pipe of the station wagon and looped into the closed interior. Some associates mentioned despondency over an approaching divorce as the principal reason. Most of his colleagues, however, were shocked and surprised that Jessup would seek the ultimate escape of a closed car and carbon monoxide. And ever since Jessup’s death there have been UFO researchers who have argued that the alleged suicide was the price the astrophysicist paid for getting too close to the truth about flying saucers.

There really was a destroyer named the Eldridge, and it remained on active duty until 1946. After it was removed from military service, it was mothballed until it was transferred to the Greek navy.

Although there will probably always be those who swear that they or their kin participated in the remarkable secret navy experiment in invisibility and teleportation in 1943, no newspaper clippings, military memoranda, or any other proofs of the Philadelphia Experiment have ever been located. Many researchers maintain that some kind of secret experiment took place with a navy warship in 1943 and thereby became the origin of the Philadelphia Experiment. Most speculate that it was probably an experiment in attempting to make ships invisible to enemy submarines’ sonar and that it very well could have involved high voltages of electricity—which might have burned and scorched seamen and even delivered a kind of shock that drove some of the crewmen insane.

Others insist that a government conspiracy is at work and that the secret experiment in 1943 ripped a hole in the space-time continuum, enabling alien intelligences to begin an invasion of the planet. Once the aliens began to explore the opening between worlds in 1947, secret government agencies cut a deal with the extraterrestrials to share technology in return for the natural resources of Earth—including some of its human inhabitants.

In 1980 the writer Robert A. Goerman managed to find the home and the surviving family of Carl M. Allen, alias Carlos Miguel Allende. Goerman’s research convinced him that the Philadelphia Experiment was quite likely all a hoax, a fantasy molded by a former sailor who loved to read about UFOs and strange, unsolved mysteries so much that he created one that may never die.