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The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

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Author Topic: The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects  (Read 5865 times)
Mar-vell
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« Reply #45 on: April 07, 2009, 01:17:53 pm »

chance. This point was covered in the sighting report. A long-time friend of Mantell's went on record as saying that he'd flown with him several years and knew him personally. He couldn't conceive of Mantell's even thinking about disregarding his lack of oxygen. Mantell was one of the most cautious pilots he knew. "The only thing I can think," he commented, "was that he was after something that he believed to be more important than his life or his family."

My next step was to try to find out what Mantell's wing men had seen or thought but this was a blind alley. All of this evidence was in the ruined portion of the microfilm, even their names were missing. The only reference I could find to them was a vague passage indicating they hadn't seen anything.

I concentrated on the canopy-reflection theory. It is widely believed that many flying saucers appear to pilots who are actually chasing a reflection on their canopy. I checked over all the reports we had on file. I couldn't find one that had been written off for this reason. I dug back into my own flying experience and talked to a dozen pilots. All of us had momentarily been startled by a reflection on the aircraft's canopy or wing, but in a second or two it had been obvious that it was a reflection. Mantell chased the object for at least fifteen to twenty minutes, and it is inconceivable that he wouldn't realize in that length of time that he was chasing a reflection.

About the only theory left to check was that the object might have been one of the big, 100-foot-diameter, "skyhook" balloons. I rechecked the descriptions of the UFO made by the people in the tower. The first man to sight the object called it a parachute; others said ice cream cone, round, etc. All of these descriptions fit a balloon. Buried deep in the file were two more references to balloons that I had previously missed. Not long after the object had disappeared from view at Godman AFB, a man from Madisonville, Kentucky, called Flight Service in Dayton. He had seen an object traveling southeast. He had looked at it through a telescope and it was a balloon. At four forty-five an astronomer living north of Nashville, Tennessee, called in. He had also seen a UFO, looked at it through a telescope, and it was a balloon.

In the thousands of words of testimony and evidence taken on the Mantell Incident this was the only reference to balloons. I had purposely not paid too much attention to this possibility because I was sure that it had been thoroughly checked back in 1948. Now I wasn't sure.

I talked with one of the people who had been in on the Mantell investigation. The possibility of a balloon's causing the sighting had been mentioned but hadn't been followed up for two reasons. Number one

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« Reply #46 on: April 07, 2009, 01:18:08 pm »

was that everybody at ATIC was convinced that the object Mantell was after was a spaceship and that this was the only course they had pursued. When the sighting grew older and no spaceship proof could be found, everybody jumped on the Venus band wagon, as this theory had "already been established." It was an easy way out. The second reason was that a quick check had been made on weather balloons and none were in the area. The big skyhook balloon project was highly classified at that time, and since they were all convinced that the object was of interplanetary origin (a minority wanted to give the Russians credit), they didn't want to bother to buck the red tape of security to get data on skyhook flights.

The group who supervise the contracts for all the skyhook research flights for the Air Force are located at Wright Field, so I called them. They had no records on flights in 1948 but they did think that the big balloons were being launched from Clinton County AFB in southern Ohio at that time. They offered to get the records of the winds on January 7 and see what flight path a balloon launched in southwestern Ohio would have taken. In a few days they had the data for me.

Unfortunately the times of the first sightings, from the towns outside Louisville, were not exact but it was possible to partially reconstruct the sequence of events. The winds were such that a skyhook balloon launched from Clinton County AFB could be seen from the town east of Godman AFB, the town from which the first UFO was reported to the Kentucky State Police. It is not unusual to be able to see a large balloon for 50 to 60 miles. The balloon could have traveled west for a while, climbing as it moved with the strong east winds that were blowing that day and picking up speed as the winds got stronger at altitude. In twenty minutes it could have been in a position where it could be seen from Owensboro and Irvington, Kentucky, the two towns west of Godman. The second reports to the state police had come from these two towns. Still climbing, the balloon would have reached a level where a strong wind was blowing in a southerly direction. The jet-stream winds were not being plotted in 1948 but the weather chart shows strong indications of a southerly bend in the jet stream for this day. Jet stream or not, the balloon would have moved rapidly south, still climbing. At a point somewhere south or southwest of Godman it would have climbed through the southerly-moving winds to a calm belt at about 60,000 feet. At this level it would slowly drift south or southeast. A skyhook balloon can be seen at 60,000.

When first seen by the people in Godman Tower, the UFO was south of the air base. It was relatively close and looked "like a parachute," which a balloon does. During the two hours that it was in sight, the observers reported that it seemed to hover, yet each observer estimated the time

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« Reply #47 on: April 07, 2009, 01:18:32 pm »

he looked at the object through the binoculars and timewise the descriptions ran "huge," "small," "one fourth the size of a full moon," "one tenth the size of a full moon." Whatever the UFO was, it was slowly moving away. As the balloon continued to drift in a southerly direction it would have picked up stronger winds, and could have easily been seen by the astronomers in Madisonville, Kentucky, and north of Nashville an hour after it disappeared from view at Godman.

Somewhere in the archives of the Air Force or the Navy there are records that will show whether or not a balloon was launched from Clinton County AFB, Ohio, on January 7, 1948. I never could find these records. People who were working with the early skyhook projects "remember" operating out of Clinton County AFB in 1947 but refuse to be pinned down to a January 7 flight. Maybe, they said.

The Mantell Incident is the same old UFO jigsaw puzzle. By assuming the shape of one piece, a balloon launched from southwestern Ohio, the whole picture neatly falls together. It shows a huge balloon that Captain Thomas Mantell died trying to reach. He didn't know that he was chasing a balloon because he had never heard of a huge, 100-foot-diameter skyhook balloon, let alone seen one. Leave out the one piece of the jigsaw puzzle and the picture is a UFO, "metallic and tremendous in size."

It could have been a balloon. This is the answer I phoned back to the Pentagon.

During January and February of 1948 the reports of "ghost rockets" continued to come from air attachés in foreign countries near the Baltic Sea. People in North Jutland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Germany reported "balls of fire traveling slowly across the sky." The reports were very sketchy and incomplete, most of them accounts from newspapers. In a few days the UFO's were being seen all over Europe and South America. Foreign reports hit a peak in the latter part of February and U.S. newspapers began to pick up the stories.

The Swedish Defense Staff supposedly conducted a comprehensive study of the incidents and concluded that they were all explainable in terms of astronomical phenomena. Since this was UFO history, I made several attempts to get some detailed and official information on this report and the sightings, but I was never successful.

The ghost rockets left in March, as mysteriously as they had arrived.

All during the spring of 1948 good reports continued to come in. Some were just run-of-the-mill but a large percentage of them were good, coming from people whose reliability couldn't be questioned. For example, three scientists reported that for thirty seconds they had watched a round object streak across the sky in a highly erratic flight path near the Army's secret

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« Reply #48 on: April 07, 2009, 01:18:46 pm »

White Sands Proving Ground. And on May 28 the crew of an Air Force C-47 had three UFO's barrel in from "twelve o'clock high" to buzz their transport.

On July 21 a curious report was received from the Netherlands. The day before several persons reported seeing a UFO through high broken clouds over The Hague. The object was rocket-shaped, with two rows of windows along the side. It was a poor report, very sketchy and incomplete, and it probably would have been forgotten except that four nights later a similar UFO almost collided with an Eastern Airlines DC-3. This near collision is Volume II of "The Classics."

On the evening of July 24, 1948, an Eastern Airlines DC-3 took off from Houston, Texas. It was on a scheduled trip to Atlanta, with intermediate stops in between. The pilots were Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted. At about 2:45 A.M., when the flight was 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, the captain, Chiles, saw a light dead ahead and closing fast. His first reaction, he later reported to an ATIC investigation team, was that it was a jet, but in an instant he realized that even a jet couldn't close as fast as this light was closing. Chiles said he reached over, gave Whitted, the other pilot, a quick tap on the arm, and pointed. The UFO was now almost on top of them. Chiles racked the DC-3 into a tight left turn. Just as the UFO flashed by about 700 feet to the right, the DC-3 hit turbulent air. Whitted looked back just as the UFO pulled up in a steep climb.

Both the pilots had gotten a good look at the UFO and were able to give a good description to the Air Force intelligence people. It was a B-29 fuselage. The underside had a "deep blue glow." There were "two rows of windows from which bright lights glowed," and a "50-foot trail of orange-red flame" shot out the back.

Only one passenger was looking out of the window at the time. The ATIC investigators talked to him. He said he saw a "strange, eerie streak of light, very intense," but that was all, no details. He said that it all happened before he could adjust his eyes to the darkness.

Minutes later a crew chief at Robins Air Force Base in Macon, Georgia, reported seeing an extremely bright light pass overhead, traveling at a high speed. A few days later another report from the night of July 24 came in. A pilot, flying near the Virginia-North Carolina state line, reported that he had seen a "bright shooting star" in the direction of Montgomery, Alabama, at about the exact time the Eastern Airlines DC-3 was "buzzed."

According to the old timers at ATIC, this report shook them worse than the Mantell Incident. This was the first time two reliable sources had been really close enough to anything resembling a UFO to get a good

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« Reply #49 on: April 07, 2009, 01:19:03 pm »

look and live to tell about it. A quick check on a map showed that the UFO that nearly collided with the airliner would have passed almost over Macon, Georgia, after passing the DC-3. It had been turning toward Macon when last seen. The story of the crew chief at Robins AFB, 200 miles away, seemed to confirm the sighting, not to mention the report from near the Virginia-North Carolina state line.

In intelligence, if you have something to say about some vital problem you write a report that is known as an "Estimate of the Situation." A few days after the DC-3 was buzzed, the people at ATIC decided that the time had arrived to make an Estimate of the Situation. The situation was the UFO's; the estimate was that they were interplanetary!

It was a rather thick document with a black cover and it was printed on legal-sized paper. Stamped across the front were the words TOP SECRET.

It contained the Air Force's analysis of many of the incidents I have told you about plus many similar ones. All of them had come from scientists, pilots, and other equally credible observers, and each one was an unknown.

The document pointed out that the reports hadn't actually started with the Arnold Incident. Belated reports from a weather observer in Richmond, Virginia, who observed a "silver disk" through his theodolite telescope; an F-47 pilot and three pilots in his formation who saw a "silver flying wing," and the English "ghost airplanes" that had been picked up on radar early in 1947 proved this point. Although reports on them were not received until after the Arnold sighting, these incidents all had taken place earlier.

When the estimate was completed, typed, and approved, it started up through channels to higher-command echelons. It drew considerable comment but no one stopped it on its way up.

A matter of days after the Estimate of the Situation was signed, sealed. and sent on its way, the third big sighting of 1948, Volume III of "The Classics," took place. The date was October 1, and the place was Fargo. North Dakota; it was the famous Gorman Incident, in which a pilot fought a "duel of death" with a UFO.

The pilot was George F. Gorman, a twenty-five-year-old second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard.

It was eight-thirty in the evening and Gorman was coming into Fargo from a cross-country flight. He flew around Fargo for a while and about nine o'clock decided to land. He called the control tower for landing instructions and was told that a Piper Cub was in the area. He saw the Cub below him. All of a sudden what appeared to be the taillight of

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« Reply #50 on: April 07, 2009, 01:19:22 pm »

another airplane passed him on his right. He called the tower and complained but they assured him that no other aircraft except the Cub were in the area. Gorman could still see the light so he decided to find out what it was. He pushed the F-51 over into a turn and cut in toward the light. He could plainly see the Cub outlined against the city lights below, but he could see no outline of a body near the mysterious light. He gave the ’51 more power and closed to within a 1,000 yards, close enough to estimate that the light was 6 to 8 inches in diameter, was sharply outlined, and was blinking on and off. Suddenly the light became steady as it apparently put on power; it pulled into a sharp left bank and made a pass at the tower. The light zoomed up with the F-51 in hot pursuit. At 7,000 feet it made a turn. Gorman followed and tried to cut inside the light's turn to get closer to it but he couldn't do it. The light made another turn, and this time the ’51 closed on a collision course. The UFO appeared to try to ram the ’51, and Gorman had to dive to get out of the way. The UFO passed over the ’51's canopy with only a few feet to spare. Again both the F-51 and the object turned and closed on each other head on, and again the pilot had to dive out to prevent a collision. All of a sudden the light began to climb and disappeared.

"I had the distinct impression that its maneuvers were controlled by thought or reason," Gorman later told ATIC investigators.

Four other observers at Fargo partially corroborated his story, an oculist, Dr. A. D. Cannon, the Cub's pilot, and his passenger, Einar Neilson. They saw a light "moving fast," but did not witness all the maneuvers that Gorman reported. Two CAA employees on the ground saw a light move over the field once.

Project Sign investigators rushed to Fargo. They had wired ahead to ground the plane. They wanted to check it over before it flew again. When they arrived, only a matter of hours after the incident, they went over the airplane, from the prop spinner to the rudder trim tab, with a Geiger counter. A chart in the official report shows where every Geiger counter reading was taken. For comparison they took readings on a similar airplane that hadn't been flown for several days. Gorman's airplane was more radioactive. They rushed around, got sworn statements from the tower operators and oculist, and flew back to Dayton.

In the file on the Gorman Incident I found an old memo reporting the meeting that was held upon the ATIC team's return from Fargo. The memo concluded that some weird things were taking place.

The historians of the UFO agree. Donald Keyhoe, a retired Marine Corps major and a professional writer, author of The Flying Saucers Are Real and Flying Saucers from Outer Space, needles the Air Force about

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« Reply #51 on: April 07, 2009, 01:19:40 pm »

the Gorman Incident, pointing out how, after feebly hinting that the light could have been a lighted weather balloon, they dropped it like a hot UFO. Some person by the name of Wilkins, in an equally authoritative book, says that the Gorman Incident "stumped" the Air Force. Other assorted historians point out that normally the UFO's are peaceful, Gorman and Mantell just got too inquisitive, "they" just weren't ready to be observed closely. If the Air Force hadn't slapped down the security lid, these writers might not have reached this conclusion. There have been other and more lurid "duels of death."

On June 21, 1952, at 10:58 P.M., a Ground Observer Corps spotter reported that a slow-moving craft was nearing the AEC's Oak Ridge Laboratory, an area so secret that it is prohibited to aircraft. The spotter called the light into his filter center and the filter center relayed the message to the ground control intercept radar. They had a target. But before they could do more than confirm the GOC spotter's report, the target faded from the radarscope.

An F-47 aircraft on combat air patrol in the area was vectored in visually, spotted a light, and closed on it. They "fought" from 10,000 to 27,000 feet, and several times the object made what seemed to be ramming attacks. The light was described as white, 6 to 8 inches in diameter, and blinking until it put on power. The pilot could see no silhouette around the light. The similarity to the Fargo case was striking.

On the night of December 10, 1952, near another atomic installation, the Hanford plant in Washington, the pilot and radar observer of a patrolling F-94 spotted a light while flying at 26,000 feet. The crew called their ground control station and were told that no planes were known to be in the area. They closed on the object and saw a large, round, white "thing" with a dim reddish light coming from two "windows." They lost visual contact, but got a radar lock-on. They reported that when they attempted to close on it again it would reverse direction and dive away. Several times the plane altered course itself because collision seemed imminent.

In each of these instances, as well as in the case narrated next, the sources of the stories were trained airmen with excellent reputations. They were sincerely baffled by what they had seen. They had no conceivable motive for falsifying or "dressing up" their reports.

The other dogfight occurred September 24, 1952, between a Navy pilot of a TBM and a light over Cuba.

The pilot had just finished making some practice passes for night fighters when he spotted an orange light to the east of his plane. He checked on aircraft in the area, learned that the object was unidentified.

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« Reply #52 on: April 07, 2009, 01:20:25 pm »

and started after it. Here is his report, written immediately after he landed:

As it [the light] approached the city from the east it started a left turn. I started to intercept. During the first part of the chase the closest I got to the light was 8 to 10 miles. At this time it appeared to be as large as an SNJ and had a greenish tail that looked to be five to six times as long as the light's diameter. This tail was seen several times in the next 10 minutes in periods of from 5 to 30 seconds each. As I reached 10,000 feet it appeared to be at 15,000 feet and in a left turn. It took 40 degrees of bank to keep the nose of my plane on the light. At this time I estimated the light to be in a 10-to-15-mile orbit.

At 12,000 feet I stopped climbing, but the light was still climbing faster than I was. I then reversed my turn from left to right and the light also reversed. As I was not gaining distance, I held a steady course south trying to estimate a perpendicular between the light and myself. The light was moving north, so I turned north. As I turned, the light appeared to move west, then south over the base. I again tried to intercept but the light appeared to climb rapidly at a 60-degree angle. It climbed to 35,000 feet, then started a rapid descent.

Prior to this, while the light was still at approximately 15,000 feet, I deliberately placed it between the moon and myself three times to try to identify a solid body. I and my two crewmen all had a good view of the light as it passed the moon. We could see no solid body. We considered the fact that it might be an aerologist's balloon, but we did not see a silhouette. Also, we would have rapidly caught up with and passed a balloon.

During its descent, the light appeared to slow down at about 10,000 feet, at which time I made three runs on it. Two were on a 90-degree collision course, and the light traveled at tremendous speed across my bow. On the third run I was so close that the light blanked out the airfield below me. Suddenly it started a dive and I followed, losing it at 1,500 feet.

In this incident the UFO was a balloon.

The following night a lighted balloon was sent up and the pilot was ordered up to compare his experiences. He duplicated his dogfight—illusions and all. The Navy furnished us with a long analysis of the affair, explaining how the pilot had been fooled.

In the case involving the ground observer and the F-47 near the atomic installation, we plotted the winds and calculated that a lighted balloon was right at the spot where the pilot encountered the light.

In the other instance, the "white object with two windows," we found that a skyhook balloon had been plotted at the exact site of the "battle."

Gorman fought a lighted balloon too. An analysis of the sighting by the Air Weather Service sent to ATIC in a letter dated January 24, 1949, proved it. The radioactive F-51 was decontaminated by a memo from a Wright Field laboratory explaining that a recently flown airplane will be

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« Reply #53 on: April 07, 2009, 01:20:43 pm »

more radioactive than one that has been on the ground for several days. An airplane at 20,000 to 30,000 feet picks up more cosmic rays than one shielded by the earth's ever present haze.

Why can't experienced pilots recognize a balloon when they see one? If they are flying at night, odd things can happen to their vision. There is the problem of vertigo as well as disorientation brought on by flying without points of reference. Night fighters have told dozens of stories of being fooled by lights.

One night during World War II we had just dumped a load of bombs on a target when a "night fighter" started to make a pass at us. Everyone in the cockpit saw the fighter's red-hot exhaust stack as he bore down on us. I cut loose with six caliber-.50 machine guns. Fortunately I missed the "night fighter"—if I'd have shot it I'd have fouled up the astronomers but good because the "night fighter" was Venus.

While the people on Project Sign were pondering over Lieutenant Gorman's dogfight with the UFO—at the time they weren't even considering the balloon angle—the Top Secret Estimate of the Situation was working its way up into the higher echelons of the Air Force. It got to the late General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, then Chief of Staff, before it was batted back down. The general wouldn't buy interplanetary vehicles. The report lacked proof. A group from ATIC went to the Pentagon to bolster their position but had no luck, the Chief of Staff just couldn't be convinced.

The estimate died a quick death. Some months later it was completely declassified and relegated to the incinerator. A few copies, one of which I saw, were kept as mementos of the golden days of the UFO's. The top Air Force command's refusal to buy the interplanetary theory didn't have any immediate effect upon the morale of Project Sign because the reports were getting better.

A belated report that is more of a collectors' item than a good UFO sighting came into ATIC in the fall of 1948. It was from Moscow. Someone, I could never find out exactly who, reported a huge "smudge-like" object in the sky.

Then radar came into the picture. For months the anti-saucer factions had been pointing their fingers at the lack of radar reports, saying, "If they exist, why don't they show up on radarscopes?" When they showed up on radarscopes, the UFO won some converts.

On October 15 an F-61, a World War II "Black Widow" night fighter. was on patrol over Japan when it picked up an unidentified target on its radar. The target was flying between 5,000 and 6,000 feet and traveling about 200 miles per hour. When the F-61 tried to intercept it would get to within 12,000 feet of the UFO only to have it accelerate to an estimated

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« Reply #54 on: April 07, 2009, 01:21:04 pm »

 1,200 miles per hour, leaving the F-61 far behind before slowing down again. The F-61 crew made six attempts to close on the UFO. On one pass, the crew said, they did get close enough to see its silhouette. It was 20 to 30 feet long and looked "like a rifle bullet."

Toward the end of November a wire came into Project Sign from Germany. It was the first report where a UFO was seen and simultaneously picked up on radar. This type of report, the first of many to come, is one of the better types of UFO reports. The wire said:

At 2200 hours, local time, 23 November 1948, Capt. —— saw an object in the air directly east of this base. It was at an unknown altitude. It looked like a reddish star and was moving in a southerly direction across Munich, turning slightly to the southwest then the southeast. The speed could have been between 200 to 600 mph, the actual speed could not be estimated, not knowing the height. Capt. —— called base operations and they called the radar station. Radar reported that they had seen nothing on their scope but would check again. Radar then called operations to report that they did have a target at 27,000 feet, some 30 miles south of Munich, traveling at 900 mph. Capt. —— reported that the object that he saw was now in that area. A few minutes later radar called again to say that the target had climbed to 50,000 feet, and was circling 40 miles south of Munich.

Capt. —— is an experienced pilot now flying F-80's and is considered to be completely reliable. The sighting was verified by Capt. ——, also an F-80 pilot.

The possibility that this was a balloon was checked but the answer from Air Weather Service was "not a balloon." No aircraft were in the area. Nothing we know of, except possibly experimental aircraft, which are not in Germany, can climb 23,000 feet in a matter of minutes and travel 900 miles per hour.

By the end of 1948, Project Sign had received several hundred UFO reports. Of these, 167 had been saved as good reports. About three dozen were "Unknown." Even though the UFO reports were getting better and more numerous, the enthusiasm over the interplanetary idea was cooling off. The same people who had fought to go to Godman AFB to talk to Colonel Hix and his UFO observers in January now had to be prodded when a sighting needed investigating. More and more work was being pushed off onto the other investigative organization that was helping ATIC. The kickback on the Top Secret Estimate of the Situation was beginning to dampen a lot of enthusiasms. It was definitely a bear market for UFO's.

A bull market was on the way, however. Early 1949 was to bring "little lights" and green fireballs.

The "little lights" were UFO's, but the green fireballs were real.



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« Reply #55 on: April 07, 2009, 01:21:36 pm »

p. 47

CHAPTER FOUR
Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge
At exactly midnight on September 18, 1954, my telephone rang. It was Jim Phalen, a friend of mine from the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and he had a "good flying saucer report," hot off the wires. He read it to me. The lead line was: "Thousands of people saw a huge fireball light up dark New Mexico skies tonight."

The story went on to tell about how a "blinding green" fireball the size of a full moon had silently streaked southeast across Colorado and northern New Mexico at eight-forty that night. Thousands of people had seen the fireball. It had passed right over a crowded football stadium at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and people in Denver said it "turned night into day." The crew of a TWA airliner flying into Albuquerque from Amarillo, Texas, saw it. Every police and newspaper switchboard in the two-state area was jammed with calls.

One of the calls was from a man inquiring if anything unusual had happened recently. When he was informed about the mysterious fireball he heaved an audible sigh of relief, "Thanks," he said, "I was afraid I'd gotten some bad bourbon." And he hung up.

Dr. Lincoln La Paz, world-famous authority on meteorites and head of the University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics, apparently took the occurrence calmly. The wire story said he had told a reporter that he would plot its course, try to determine where it landed, and go out and try to find it. "But," he said, "I don't expect to find anything."

When Jim Phalen had read the rest of the report he asked, "What was it?"

"It sounds to me like the green fireballs are back," I answered.

"What the devil are green fireballs?"

What the devil are green fireballs? I'd like to know. So would a lot of other people.

The green fireballs streaked into UFO history late in November 1948, when people around Albuquerque, New Mexico, began to report seeing mysterious "green flares" at night. The first reports mentioned only a

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« Reply #56 on: April 07, 2009, 01:21:51 pm »

 "green streak in the sky," low on the horizon. From the description the Air Force Intelligence people at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque and the Project Sign people at ATIC wrote the objects off as flares. After all, thousands of GI's had probably been discharged with a duffel bag full of "liberated" Very pistols and flares.

But as days passed the reports got better. They seemed to indicate that the "flares" were getting larger and more people were reporting seeing them. It was doubtful if this "growth" was psychological because there had been no publicity—so the Air Force decided to reconsider the "flare" answer. They were in the process of doing this on the night of December 5, 1948, a memorable night in the green fireball chapter of UFO history.

At 9:27 P.M. on December 5, an Air Force C-47 transport was flying at 18,000 feet 10 miles east of Albuquerque. The pilot was a Captain Goede. Suddenly the crew, Captain Goede, his co-pilot, and his engineer were startled by a green ball of fire flashing across the sky ahead of them. It looked something like a huge meteor except that it was a bright green color and it didn't arch downward, as meteors usually do. The green-colored ball of fire had started low, from near the eastern slopes of the Sandia Mountains, arched upward a little, then seemed to level out. And it was too big for a meteor, at least it was larger than any meteor that anyone in the C-47 had ever seen before. After a hasty discussion the crew decided that they'd better tell somebody about it, especially since they had seen an identical object twenty-two minutes before near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Captain Goede picked up his microphone and called the control tower at Kirtland AFB and reported what he and his crew had seen. The tower relayed the message to the local intelligence people.

A few minutes later the captain of Pioneer Airlines Flight 63 called Kirtland Tower. At 9:35 P.M. he had also seen a green ball of fire just east of Las Vegas, New Mexico. He was on his way to Albuquerque and would make a full report when he landed.

When he taxied his DC-3 up to the passenger ramp at Kirtland a few minutes later, several intelligence officers were waiting for him. He reported that at 9:35 P.M. he was on a westerly heading, approaching Las Vegas from the east, when he and his co-pilot saw what they first thought was a "shooting star." It was ahead and a little above them. But, the captain said, it took them only a split second to realize that whatever they saw was too low and had too flat a trajectory to be a meteor. As they watched, the object seemed to approach their airplane head on, changing color from orange red to green. As it became bigger and bigger, the captain said, he thought sure it was going to collide with them so he

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« Reply #57 on: April 07, 2009, 01:22:06 pm »

racked the DC-3 up in a tight turn. As the green ball of fire got abreast of them it began to fall toward the ground, getting dimmer and dimmer until it disappeared. Just before he swerved the DC-3, the fireball was as big, or bigger, than a full moon.

The intelligence officers asked a few more questions and went back to their office. More reports, which had been phoned in from all over northern New Mexico, were waiting for them. By morning a full-fledged investigation was under way.

No matter what these green fireballs were, the military was getting a little edgy. They might be common meteorites, psychologically enlarged flares, or true UFO's, but whatever they were they were playing around in one of the most sensitive security areas in the United States. Within 100 miles of Albuquerque were two installations that were the backbone of the atomic bomb program, Los Alamos and Sandia Base. Scattered throughout the countryside were other installations vital to the defense of the U.S.: radar stations, fighter-interceptor bases, and the other mysterious areas that had been blocked off by high chain-link fences.

Since the green fireballs bore some resemblance to meteors or meteorites, the Kirtland intelligence officers called in Dr. Lincoln La Paz. Dr. La Paz said that he would be glad to help, so the officers explained the strange series of events to him. True, he said, the description of the fireballs did sound as if they might be meteorites—except for a few points. One way to be sure was to try to plot the flight path of the green fireballs the same way he had so successfully plotted the flight path of meteorites in the past. From this flight path he could determine where they would have hit the earth—if they were meteorites. They would search this area, and if they found parts of a meteorite they would have the answer to the green fireball riddle.

The fireball activity on the night of December 5 was made to order for plotting flight paths. The good reports of that night included carefully noted locations, the directions in which the green objects were seen, their heights above the horizon, and the times when they were observed. So early the next morning Dr. La Paz and a crew of intelligence officers were scouring northern New Mexico. They started out by talking to the people who had made reports but soon found out that dozens of other people had also seen the fireballs. By closely checking the time of the observations, they determined that eight separate fireballs had been seen. One was evidently more spectacular and was seen by the most people. Everyone in northern New Mexico had seen it going from west to east, so Dr. La Paz and his crew worked eastward across New Mexico to the west border of Texas, talking to dozens of people. After many sleepless hours

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« Reply #58 on: April 07, 2009, 01:22:22 pm »

they finally plotted where it should have struck the earth. They searched the area but found nothing. They went back over the area time and time again—nothing. As Dr. La Paz later told me, this was the first time that he seriously doubted the green fireballs were meteorites.

Within a few more days the fireballs were appearing almost nightly. The intelligence officers from Kirtland decided that maybe they could get a good look at one of them, so on the night of December 8 two officers took off in an airplane just before dark and began to cruise around north of Albuquerque. They had a carefully worked out plan where each man would observe certain details if they saw one of the green fireballs. At 6:33 P.M. they saw one. This is their report:

At 6:33 P.M. while flying at an indicated altitude of 11,500 feet, a strange phenomenon was observed. Exact position of the aircraft at time of the observation was 20 miles east of the Las Vegas, N.M., radio range station. The aircraft was on a compass course of 90 degrees. Capt. —— was pilot and I was acting as copilot. I first observed the object and a split second later the pilot saw it. It was 2,000 feet higher than the plane, and was approaching the plane at a rapid rate of speed from 30 degrees to the left of our course. The object was similar in appearance to a burning green flare, the kind that is commonly used in the Air Force. However, the light was much more intense and the object appeared considerably larger than a normal flare. The trajectory of the object, when first sighted, was almost flat and parallel to the earth. The phenomenon lasted about 2 seconds. At the end of this time the object seemed to begin to burn out and the trajectory then dropped off rapidly. The phenomenon was of such intensity as to be visible from the very moment it ignited.

Back at Wright-Patterson AFB, ATIC was getting a blow-by-blow account of the fireball activity but they were taking no direct part in the investigation. Their main interest was to review all incoming UFO reports and see if the green fireball reports were actually unique to the Albuquerque area. They were. Although a good many UFO reports were coming in from other parts of the U.S., none fit the description of the green fireballs.

All during December 1948 and January 1949 the green fireballs continued to invade the New Mexico skies. Everyone, including the intelligence officers at Kirtland AFB, Air Defense Command people, Dr. La Paz, and some of the most distinguished scientists at Los Alamos had seen at least one.

In mid-February 1949 a conference was called at Los Alamos to determine what should be done to further pursue the investigation. The Air Force, Project Sign, the intelligence people at Kirtland, and other interested parties had done everything they could think of and still no answer.

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« Reply #59 on: April 07, 2009, 01:22:36 pm »

Such notable scientists as Dr. Joseph Kaplan, a world-renowned authority on the physics of the upper atmosphere, Dr. Edward Teller, of H-bomb fame, and of course Dr. La Paz, attended, along with a lot of military brass and scientists from Los Alamos.

This was one conference where there was no need to discuss whether or not this special type of UFO, the green fireball, existed. Almost everyone at the meeting had seen one. The purpose of the conference was to decide whether the fireballs were natural or man-made and how to find out more about them.

As happens in any conference, opinions were divided. Some people thought the green fireballs were natural fireballs. The proponents of the natural meteor, or meteorite, theory presented facts that they had dug out of astronomical journals. Greenish-colored meteors, although not common, had been observed on many occasions. The flat trajectory, which seemed to be so important in proving that the green fireballs were extraterrestrial, was also nothing new. When viewed from certain angles, a meteor can appear to have a flat trajectory. The reason that so many had been seen during December of 1948 and January of 1949 was that the weather had been unusually clear all over the Southwest during this period.

Dr. La Paz led the group who believed that the green fireballs were not meteors or meteorites. His argument was derived from the facts that he had gained after many days of research and working with Air Force intelligence teams. He stuck to the points that (1) the trajectory was too flat, (2) the color was too green, and (3) he couldn't locate any fragments even though he had found the spots where they should have hit the earth if they were meteorites.

People who were at that meeting have told me that Dr. La Paz's theory was very interesting and that each point was carefully considered. But evidently it wasn't conclusive enough because when the conference broke up, after two days, it was decided that the green fireballs were a natural phenomenon of some kind. It was recommended that this phase of the UFO investigation be given to the Air Force's Cambridge Research Laboratory, since it is the function of this group to study natural phenomena, and that Cambridge set up a project to attempt to photograph the green fireballs and measure their speed, altitude, and size.

In the late summer of 1949, Cambridge established Project Twinkle to solve the mystery. The project called for establishing three cinetheodolite stations near White Sands, New Mexico. A cinetheodolite is similar to a 35-mm. movie camera except when you take a photograph of an object you also get a photograph of three dials that show the time the photo was taken, the azimuth angle, and the elevation angle of the camera.

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