The Philadelphia Experiment: Between Reality and Fiction

Table of contents:

The Philadelphia Experiment: Between Reality and Fiction
The Philadelphia Experiment: Between Reality and Fiction

The mystery of the Philadelphia Experiment has been alive for more than half a century. During this time, the movement in space of the US Navy destroyer Eldridge, which allegedly took place in 1943, managed to acquire an unthinkable number of myths, turning into an “urban legend”. But does this story have a real background, or is it all a talented hoax, from start to finish?


Missing destroyer

The legend began with the astronomer Morris Jessup. However, it is still completely unclear whether this person was really a scientist: it is only known for certain that Jessup sold auto parts and was fond of ufology. In 1955, he published The Case for UFOs. She did not bring fame to the author, but became one of the reasons that Jessup's life changed dramatically.

Shortly before publication, he received a letter from a man who identified himself as a retired sailor Carlos Miguel Allende. It told about an event no less mysterious than flying saucers. Allegedly, in 1943, the US government conducted a series of experiments at the Philadelphia Navy base with the participation of the destroyer Eldridge. By refracting electromagnetic waves in a very powerful field, the ship had to become invisible not only to radars, but also simply to the eye. The destroyer Eldridge (DE-173) entered service in the summer of 1943. The length of the vessel was 93 m, displacement - 1260 tons. It is believed that at the time of the "experiment" there were 181 people on board. From January 4, 1944 to May 9, 1945, the ship performed combat missions in the Mediterranean. On May 28, 1945, he went to the Pacific Ocean to support the American fleet in the war with Japan. In 1951, the ship was transferred to the Greek Navy and renamed Leon. In 1992, the destroyer was decommissioned, and in 1999, it was handed over for scrapping.

Allende said that after the start of the experiment, the destroyer was enveloped in a greenish cloud, and … the ship disappeared. Only a moment later he "materialized" again with his entire team. The author saw all this with his own eyes, while on the deck of one of the ships that were stationed at the same base. He also mentioned that the experiment did not go smoothly: several sailors died and some went insane.

According to legend, the second experiment took place in October of the same year. We decided to use a different team as guinea pigs. When the generators were turned on, the ship disappeared again - it is sometimes said that it temporarily appeared 300 km from Norfolk - and after the field was turned off, it returned to its original place.


Outwardly, everything looked almost like the last time, but now the test ended in a massive tragedy. At the time of the "transfer" there were 181 people on board, and almost all of them died or received the most incredible injuries. So, 27 sailors literally "merged" with the ship, as if they were walled up at the time of the ship's construction. 13 team members died from burns and other reasons. After the tragedy that shocked everyone, the US government abandoned further work on the project.

Where is your proof?

Carlos Allende's letter is difficult to take seriously due to countless errors and incoherence of presentation. His story is more like a stream of consciousness. In books dedicated to this legend, Allende's letter was almost always printed in an edited form, where his story was given at least the appearance of clarity.

Moreover, there is no clear evidence that the author of the letter is real and that he is not a figment of Morris Jessup's imagination.True, over the long decades, thousands of researchers of this phenomenon were able to find some evidence. It is believed that Carlos Miguel Allende is a pseudonym behind which a certain Carl Allen was hiding. Allen did serve on one of the transport ships and could theoretically see some kind of testing at the base in Philadelphia.

But that will be much later. And then the book of Jessup arrived at the naval department by mail, the same "Arguments in favor of UFOs", with a lot of all kinds of notes. After the book was presented to the ufologist, he announced that he recognized the handwriting - the author of the comments in the margins was none other than Carlos Allende. After some questioning, the military released Morris, who continued his investigation, although he began to frequently complain about the surveillance and strange phone calls that began to disturb him.


On April 20, 1959, Jessup was scheduled to meet with one of his friends to share the latest results of his searches. But the meeting did not take place: according to the official version, Jessup committed suicide, choking on the exhaust gases in his car. An autopsy was not carried out, and none of the subsequent enthusiasts could find the doctor who pronounced death. However, Jessup's suicide aroused few suspicions: in recent years, failures in business and personal life have pursued him one after another. Even if we take on faith the testimony of "eyewitnesses", it remains unclear whether a second experiment took place, or only one was carried out. Some researchers on this topic believe that the first experiment was carried out on July 20, and the second on October 28, 1943. At the same time, Carlos Allende's letter says only one experiment, but for some reason the author names different dates for its implementation.

Einstein and Tesla

There is also a legend that Albert Einstein himself had a hand in the Philadelphia experiment - indirectly, of course. The fact is that in his letter Allende referred to the Unified Field Theory, on which the great scientist worked for many years. Although this theory has not yet been created, this does not bother the lovers of mysticism: in their opinion, Einstein himself could have destroyed his papers, fearing that the discovery would fall into the unworthy hands.

However, there is some truth in the statements about Einstein's participation in this story. Judging by some documents, the brilliant physicist really collaborated with the US Navy in 1943-1944, although there is no evidence that he was somehow involved in the Philadelphia experiment.


Another great physicist, whose name is often associated with the missing destroyer, is Nikola Tesla. Alfred Bilek, who claims to have served on the Eldridge, claims that Tesla personally oversaw the organization of the experiment, although he did not live to see it. Of course, conspiracy theorists love to link these events, giving the death of an elderly genius a special conspiratorial meaning. It is believed that under the name of Carlos Allende was Karl Allen, who in 1943 served as a sailor on the ship "Andrew Fureset", which was based in Philadelphia next to the destroyer "Eldridge". Allen - Allende suffered from a mental disorder and sent letters not only to Jessup, but also to many other ufologists.

Destroyer Eldridge, today

A new wave of interest in the topic was sparked by the film The Philadelphia Experiment, which was released in 1984. It was after watching it that one of the members of the Eldridge crew - Alfred Bilek - suddenly regained his memory. During numerous interviews and press conferences, Bilek drew more and more new touches to history. He stated that during the experiment, the destroyer moved not only in space, but also in time, and briefly ended up in 1983 at Montauk base, after which it moved back to Philadelphia. In another story by Alfred Bilek, aliens were even present … A great many similar testimonies have accumulated today, as well as many witnesses of that "inhuman experience" were found.

For many years, the command of the US Navy refused to comment on the Philadelphia experiment. But in the 1990s, under pressure from the public, the military decided to dot the i's. All the records of the Eldridge's on-board log were freely available, which, of course, completely refuted Allende's story. Suffice it to say that the ship … had never been to Philadelphia at all. But the legend turned out to be tenacious, and this step only gave it a rebirth: supporters of conspiracy theories accused the military of falsification and began to search for real records.


In 1999, an event occurred that should have convinced everyone once and for all: all the surviving sailors who had served in 1943 on the Eldridge gathered. There were fifteen of them, including the ship's captain, 84-year-old Bill Van Allen. All of them unanimously assured the public that no one had conducted any experiment with the team, and that Allende's testimony was a hoax. That none of the team members knew Alfred Bilek. A former sailor, 74-year-old Ed Weisz, briefly and clearly commented on the rumors: "I think someone invented this, having fumigated."

What really happened?

It is possible that the experiments at the base in Philadelphia were really carried out, only they had nothing to do with teleportation. In those years, engineers were actively exploring the possibility of "demagnetizing", reducing the magnetic field of the ship in order to make it immune to magnetic sea mines, which were a huge danger. For this, the side of the ship was wrapped with electric wires, a current was applied to them - to an uninitiated person, this, of course, could seem very strange.

However, there is another version about which it is not customary to spread. After all, do not forget that in the 1950s, the United States and the USSR were embroiled in an arms race. And the Philadelphia experiment could have been an attempt to misinform the Soviet leadership. It is difficult to say how much this story could convince scientists in the USSR, but it was an overwhelming success among its own American public. Many writers and screenwriters drew their inspiration from the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment. The first film dedicated to these events was released in 1984, and in 1993 a continuation of the picture appeared. The newest film on this topic was filmed in 2012. In addition, there are many science fiction stories about the experiment.

Popular by topic