“I had a camera crew filming the installation when they spotted a saucer. They filmed it as it flew overhead, then hovered, extended three legs as landing gear, and slowly came down to land on a dry lake bed!. It was a classic saucer, shiny silver and smooth, about 30 feet across. It was pretty clear it was an alien craft.”
The event Cooper describes happened in 1957. At that time, he was one of the best test pilots at the Edwards Air Force Base in California. He also managed several other projects belonging to the Experimental Flight Test School at Edwards and his credibility has never been called into question.
On May 3 of that year, he had his crew of engineers setting up an advanced photographic system that took one frame per second pictures of aircraft landing. The location of the system was a dry lake bed and the weather was clear. The engineers had begun work early in the morning and were equipped with both still and motion picture cameras, in order to provide additional footage.
At a little pask 10 a.m., crew members James Bittick and Jack Gettys returned to Cooper saying they had witnessed a “strange-looking, saucer-like” craft that was dead silent during both landing and take-off. This aspect worried him, as there was no known, man-made aircraft capable of such a feat. He also knew and trusted his crew and they were all experienced cameramen who wouldn’t have been easily mistaken.
They would see experimental aircraft on a daily basis and were familiar with their landing procedures. However, Cooper recalled that this experience was out of the ordinary and had visibly shaken the men. They explained how the saucer hovered over their position, then extended its landing gear and landed not 50 feet away from them. Luckily, they never forgot they had cameras on hand and shot multiple photos and video footage. Once the men tried to approach the UFO, it rapidly took off without making a sound
Cooper decided to follow protocol and called a special Pentagon service to report the incident. He was instructed by a general to have the film developed and immediately send it via military courier. The high-ranking official specifically asked Cooper not to make any prints of the film. He did not, however, say anything about looking at the photo negatives.