Chapter 18: Second Personal Contact
6 August 1963
When beginning a segment of my story, the first problem is always the opening line, since it sets the mood for the remainder. Mind you, it's not the same as beginning an article on the better mosquito guns for Popular Mechanics. The topic is a bit more, how shall we say, controversial, so one just doesn't open with a line like, "Last night I rode in a spaceship piloted by a blue man from the planet Freem."
A line as unsubtle as that leads the reader to say, "SURE you did!" The value of the Freemian's messages would then be kaput to that reader. This is the type of reaction I do not want re my story. So, I have to sneak upon it with an opening that grabs. If the reader can withstand it, then he's interested enough to follow through to the end.
Therefore, my opening line shall be, "Last night I rode in a spaceship piloted by a GREEN man from the planet Freem."
There now. Notice the tremendous difference between this line and the one above. That's the principle of it all. Use something BELIEVABLE!
Buit seriously, this report has nothing to do with Freemians, green men, or the like. Instead, it concerns Korendians, three of them, all the same Earth-human-type color.
As you will recall, folks, in our last episode, we found Orii-Val saying, "I will be contacting you personally August the sixth day." Actually, before the personal meeting began, I got the official scoop on the radio, about the meeting place, time, and whatall. This was at 0130 hours Eastern Daylight time.
At 0200 hours, I was standing expectantly in front of the house, contemplating on the theory of connectivity ala an SF book I read a while back. My meditation on this imposing philosophy was interrupted by the glare of headlights rounding the bend to the north. A few seconds later, a white '63 Plymouth Fury convertible pulled up and stopped. I made a mental note to congratulate the driver on his good taste in cars. It was registered here in Mass., and the top was down, to reveal a fire red interior, and three men therein seated, all of whom I immediately recognized.
In the back seat were Orii-Val and Gery-Sol, who shall be remembered from the first personal communication last December. The third was a man that I had met several times in a nearby city to discuss UFOs and world peace. It came as a bit of surprise to find him there, since he had never hinted of his alien origin. His name is Darrin-Sen. He owned the beastie.
The dress of the three men was typical informal wear, as might be found on any businessman during leisure hours. Gery-Sol was attired in a white sport shirt, gray slacks, and black loafers. Orii-Val wore a blue shirt, black slacks, and white bucks. Darrin-San was clothed in light yellow shirt, brown slacks and cream-colored canvas shoes. It would be impossible to distinguish them from the average young men in their early twenties. I didn't ask their ages, remembering how stunned I was to learn that Lin-Erri was 74.
I boarded, and we headed north again, after turning around in the driveway. While travelling, we listened to some Viennese-style waltz music, and I learned that the original music of this type was inspired a good bit by imprinting, ala the contact of 28 Aug 61. It also was no little surprise to find that the station to which we were listening originated well over 700 light years distant, relayed by the Massachusetts base. It was, of course, sub-space radio, but nevertheless, the idea of signals travelling 700-plus light years is a staggering concept.
After about ten minutes of traveling, we turned off onto a side road, and parked about a mile down. When we had all climbed out, D-S took out a small device and pressed a button. "The auto is now electronically protected from any form of harm." He explained no further.
We then headed into the woods. About 500 yards in, we emerged into a clearing in the trees.
Now, I have through over two years of association with the Korendians, become more or less accustomed to unique experiences, but this fact did not stop me from standing stunned for fully half a minute. About fifty feet ahead of me, there hovered a small craft looking not unlike a futuristic car. [Note: see the drawing at the end.]
Orii-Val pressed a button on a small transmitter. As I watched in fascination, there was a hiss as of air escaping, after which the entire transparent canopy lifted up on hinges at the back. It was raised by a pair of hydraulic cylinders, one on each side. Pressing another button opened two entry doors, which seemed to come from nowhere, as the craft was apparently seamless to that point. This sudden appearance of doors from solid metal will come as no surprise to readers familiar with books by other contactees. As might have been expected, I was offered no explanation for this particular phenomenon, and I didn't ask for one, since the process probably would have been way over my head, anyway.
Orii-Val motioned to us to enter the craft, which we did, I with a large helping of excitement. Orii-Val said to me, "This is not a full-fledged scout craft, but it will serve as an introduction to our crafts." I will at this point describe the interior of the craft, there being nothing else to discuss for a few seconds.
The interior was lushly fitted, with wrap-around bucket seats, apparently padded with a material similar to foam rubber, though more resilient, and much more comfortable. The seats were upholstered in a rich plastic material with the texture and softness of the finest calfskin leather. The color was black, with silvery specks randomly scattered over it. The floor was covered with a thick carpet, also black. The rest of the interior was finished in the same red as the exterior, trimmed with black and silver. No gaudy chrome-work was in evidence.
The pilot's seat was between two consoles, the outer one mounted on the door, the inner one in the usual place. Each had a chromed control stick, and a panel of buttons.
The dash panel was curved such that the cluster of instruments, screens, lights, switches, et al, were all directly perpendicular to his line of vision. It was illuminated by a soft red light that came from no apparent source. The switches had translucent levers, with amber-colored illumination from inside. The gauge needles glowed light blue, the graduations white.
[Note: the "gauges" were in fact computer graphics displays, which could present their data in several formats. One of them looked like standard rotating-needle meters. The concept of computer readouts was unfamiliar to me in 1963. They didn't exist then.]
On several small scope screens colored patterns were in constant motion, shifting shapes, vanishing, reappearing in a never-ending flurry of motion. [Note: more graphics displays.]
All controls were within easy reach of the pilot without his leaning forward. All the instruments were individually adjustable to suit any difference in height if several people used the craft.
By the time I had finished making all these trivial observations, the canopy had been closed and the cabin pressurized. Orri-Val threw a few switches, and moved the left control stick forward. I felt no abrupt motion as we began to ascend, and I heard only a very low whirring sound like immense power rising from the depths.
The ascension was smooth and seemingly effortless, with only a very slight acceleration force noticeable. At about 5000 feet we stopped rising. Orii then moved the right stick forward and we headed off due west.
Orii then said, "This is my personal craft, the latest model, I might add. I had it specially equipped. Usually there are no more than ten instruments in these crafts. So, if things look a bit crowded, that's why. I had it teleported here from Korendor a week or so ago, and I decided that it would make an interesting introduction to give you concerning our crafts. I see that you are full of questions, so ask away."
I sensed a great opportunity for learning far more than had ever before been given to any contactee, and I pounced upon it with a passion. "Alright, first and foremost, what keeps this ship up? What form of propulsion is used? Also, how is it steered?"
"In order of asking: first, the properties of levitation, as it were, are achieved by nullification of gravitational flux, by shielding. The outer surface of this craft is our alloy, Neutra-F. It was created especially for ship construction. Under ordinary conditions, this alloy, resembling aluminum in finish and mass, is no different from any other material. However, when a radio-frequency field of a certain critical frequency is applied to it, it becomes an effective shield against gravitic, magnetic and electrical fields, except for our radar. Under this condition there is no attractive force between the ship and the planet. Thus the ship rises because of centrifugal force and atmospheric buoyancy. The former is due to the planet's rotation; the latter is exemplified by a dirigible or balloon.
"Up front is a computer which checks altitude by radar ranging. It adjusts the percentage of shielding to maintain a steady height despite variations in gravitational field strength, centrifugal force, and atmospheric density."
I was asked not to reveal the critical frequency or the alloy composition, since some careless individual will use them and wipe himself and everything for ten miles out of existence. This is potentially useful as a weapon, unfortunately.
"Next question: propulsion. First, I must note that this type of craft is ordinarily not suitable for deep space travel. Its maximum altitude in your atmosphere is ten miles. In Korendor's air it is fifteen. The reason is that it uses jets. No, not the noisy, smelly, inefficient monsters that propel your aircraft. Ours are almost 100% efficient.
"In this craft, modified for Guardian Patrol use, the jets can operate as rockets using self-oxidizing fuels, and the ship is hermetically sealed and reinforced. It can operate in deep space for brief periods if necessary or desirable.
"Now we shall delve into some mathematics, using measures familiar to you, and the numbers are approximations. These figures refer to this ship. It is not, as you drag racing fans might say, factory stock, and the average family owner would find these out of the question.
"This craft, fully fueled, has a weight of about 2000 pounds, or two kilopounds (kips). Each jet has a thrust of 5 kips, total ten kips. According to F=ma, this gives a maximum acceleration of 5 G Terran. On Korendor, it would be 2.5 G. [Note: IC. The actual figure is about 1.57G.]
"The specially-formulated fuel that I use has a power capability of 1000 hp-hr/lb. [Note: 1 horsepower-hour or hp-hr is equal to 0.7457 kilowatt-hour.] The fuel delivery rate is presently set at a maximum of 27 lb/hr. This allows a continuous available thrust of 27,000 horsepower. On a table provided with the ship it is found that the drag on the ship increases by roughly fifty pounds for every pound of air pressure. This drag is essentially constant at all normal speeds, due to G warp, force shield contour, etc. At Terran sea level the drag would be 50 x 14.7 or 735 pounds.
"We now use the formula HP=fv/550, where HP is horsepower, f is force to be used or overcome, and v is maximum velocity. This gives us the computation, 27000 = 735 v / 550. That amounts to a maximum velocity of a bit over 20,000 feet per second, the unit of v, or roughly 13,800 MPH. At a height where the atmospheric pressure would be one pound per square inch, the maximum velocity would be 203,000 MPH. In space it would be unlimited except by practicality and the amount of fuel.
"I must point out that these numbers do not include the weight of passengers and cargo, so the actual figures would be less.
"To your third question, steering, we use gimbal-mounted deflectors to send the jet stream off course, thrust being applied to the deflector and torque being delivered thereby to the ship to turn it. Simultaneously, the side thrusters operate to assist the turn. To stop the craft, we cut power and use retrojets.
"The jets themselves are almost silent, due to the cooling of the air-exhaust mixture which is done in the last stage of the jets. When used in rocket mode, the noise is substantially higher, but then that mode is for travel in space, where noise is not an issue."
"What do you use to provide power for your instruments, lights, etc.?"
"In the rear are two fuel cells, each of which provides five kilowatts of power. That is enough for this craft. They deliver power at, in your measures, about 150 volts, and are continuous power type. The voltage remains constant with load increase because of the built-in regulation."
"How big a price tag would this craft have on Earth?"
"About 25,000 dollars, if you had the technology to build them. The normal jet fuel is about ten cents a pound. The mix that I use is about four times higher. The rocket fuel is about 12 times as expensive."
"Would you explain the control sticks you're using?"
"Surely. The left stick is for elevation, the rate of ascent and descent. Push forward to go up, pull back to go down. Release it and it will maintain the present altitude. The right stick is for turn, acceleration, and braking. Push right to go right, left to go left, forward to accelerate and fly at speed, pull back to decelerate and stop. In the neutral position, the ship hovers. It's that simple."
"Does this craft have any automatic controls?"
"Yes. There are three types. The first is AGC, Automatic Ground Control, and is self-explanatory. It operates in the standard air lanes.
"The second, autopilot, follows a mapped course, correlating the map by radar and optical scanning of the terrain below. Manual takeoff, landing, and trace positioning are required.
"Finally, there is full computer control. Everything is automatic. You just get in, insert a programmed course memory card [Note: modern terminology intrudes here] into the autopilot and press a button. It will then go wherever the card you insert directs it. To make a card, simply load a blank card, switch on the record function, the range beacon receivers, and the sensors. Flying the course once manually will make a recording that will then run the exact same course thereafter, including landing and take-off. It uses the ground range beacons for bearings, and is accurate to within a few feet for retracing flight patterns.
[Note: they have since adopted our GPS system for their terrestrial flights to avoid ground beacons being discovered. Their network of beacons was removed once GPS became practical.]
"Course data for standard flights is also available from a number of sources. It can be obtained as prerecorded cards or via computer networks."
All this information was new to me, and probably to Earth. I knew of no one else being given it so extensively. Asking him why this was so, Orii-Val replied, "The people of the local planets [Note: IC - he said "Federation"] feel that you are not sufficiently advanced ethically and morally to receive such information as might be conceivably employed in implements of warfare. We, being more of a scientifically-oriented society, believe that no harm can come of giving information of all varieties when it is requested, or when it is felt that it ought to be revealed. We of course will not reveal information that can be directly applied to instruments of destruction, and what we do give is carefully weighed for its military potential. We do not wish to be a part of your militarism.
"We have revealed nothing to date that can be applied to a weapon that we have not told you is that type of data. You know when an item of information approved for delivery to you has a potential in war machines. You will not reveal these because you know what would be the inevitable consequence.
"We fully understand your eagerness to give to your people the information that would allow them to advance scientifically, morally and culturally. We know that you would like to see a world united in a common philosophy and goal, free from the horrors of war and the warped philosophy in the minds of many men and women that results in war. This will be treated by Lin-Erri in the next contact."
We were now settling onto an open area. Asking where we were, I was told that we were in central New York. When we had landed, he opened up the ship and nodded to his friends in back. He exited the vehicle and suggested that I do likewise to stretch my legs. He smiled warmly and then sat in the seat I had occupied. He motioned me around to the pilot's side, and asked me to get in. I was a bit apprehensive, but since it wouldn't do any harm to sit in the pilot's seat for a moment, I obliged him. And then ... "Okay, brother Bob. Fly us home."
Needless to say, I was somewhat taken aback. Somewhat? That is the gold-medal championship understatement of the century. Right about then, if anyone had breathed hard, he would have blown me over. A bit of rationalizing told me I must have heard wrong, to which Orii calmly replied, "No, You heard correctly. Fly us back."
Put yourself in my place. Would you suppose that our good brother had done a high dive into the shallow end of the pool? Let ME fly that incredible craft? "Sheer madness," said I. "Ah, but there's method in madness," said he.
All I could think of to say was the exceedingly intellectual and phenomenally perceptive query, "Are you REALLY serious?" He laughed and replied, "Hell, yes. You watched me long enough. Now I think it's your turn." I might add that Orii-Val had become very well versed in idiomatic American English by this time, in the manner of Daniel Fry's contacts and their warning, "Better not touch the hull, pal. It's hot." But I have deviated.
After what I considered to be a proper time examining my life, I consented. Orii sealed the craft, and we were ready for a new experiment in terror.
I pushed the elevation stick forward delicately, putting it mildly. We rose for the first hundred feet at about 200 feet per minute, according to the altimeter. As my confidence overcame my better judgement, I eased it further forward and we rose the remaining 4900 feet in about 15 seconds.
Turning was a matter of pushing the right stick to one side end applying a gentle forward thrust. When we had rotated 180 degrees, I released the stick. It stopped rotating instantly, and upon asking about that I was told, "The spin is controlled by small thrusters on the sides of the craft. It is monitored by a three-axis gyroscopic unit in the center of the craft. The computer uses its data to control craft orientation."
With much apprehension, if that tame word could describe it, I pushed the drive stick forward. We began to move, and I held it at 500 mph, not wishing to get out of hand, and resisting the urge to allow my drag racing hobby to express itself. The ride of the ship was as smooth as the proverbial glass, quiet beyond belief for jet propulsion, without any trace of air turbulence or the like. It was really quite astounding.
[Note: the conspicuous lack of turbulence was due to a combined effect of the force shield and the fact that we were not being supported by the air. I was told this several weeks after I had typed and sent the report of the trip.]
After but a few minutes of flying the craft, it became a simple operation—as simple as can be the case when an Earthman is piloting an alien spacecraft. We then took to discussing various matters of no great importance, except for the test ban. I shall relate the full message to that end separately.
About thirty minutes later we arrived at our place of origin in the clearing. Pulling back on the drive stick stopped us rather abruptly, more so than I had expected. Orii laughed and said, "I nearly went through the canopy the first time that I stopped one of these crafts. Take heart." When I had positioned over the spot of take off, all that remained was to ease back on the elevation stick and touch down. I went to about five feet and inched the rest of the way. I have little faith in my abilities at times like these, especially when I'm risking four necks in the process, although Orii told me it would stop as soon as it contacted.
The touchdown was a blessed relief. I sat for a full minute amazed by the fact that I was safely grounded and yet was still alive and snorting. Even more, I was awed by Orii-Val's evident trust in me. I would always remember that. Except for Orii-Val, we disembarked, and watched as he lifted off and headed south. We went through the woods to the car. Darrin-Sen disengaged the electronic protector, and we boarded and drove off.
Nobody said such on the way back. On the radio, a program of classical music filled the car, and at any rate there was little to say anyway. When we reached the driveway, Darrin-Sen said, "This was just the first in a series of these trips. Before long, you will ride in scouts, be taken on tours of carriers, and meet many of the masters with whom you have talked. Our plans are to continue this program indefinitely. So, always be ready. Lin-Erri will contact you on the 28th day of September at 0200. Till then we must bid adieu. Va i luce, brother."
I stood watching as the car slipped out of sight around the curve. The night being cool, I went inside and spent some time in thought.
1. Altimeter - radar
* Drive coils - for shielding and lift; no propulsion.
This image was cropped from a scan of the cover of UFOI issue #21. It's fairly accurate, given my poor drawing from which the artist rendered it.
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved