Green Fireballs? Not again!
From Jim Hickman <>
The Hickman Report

Lots of folks have never heard of fireballs and their long relationship with the UFO phenomena. Fireballs come in all colors not just green, and can appear almost anywhere in the world as you will soon see.
Once long ago, our Military took the idea of fireballs quite seriously, even had a secret project looking into them called "Project Twinkle".
I think we all should look at these mysterious fireballs more closely.
In the summer of 1949, a rash of "green fireball" sightings in New Mexico spurred a special study project, Project Twinkle. Because of the uniformity of the sightings many people reported the same type of object, and the proximity of the reports to a highly sensitive nuclear facility, Los Alamos, and missile testing area, White Sands, there was some concern the fireballs might be reconnaissance devices of some kind. When the fireballs faded away, so did interest in studying them. The official conclusion ultimately was that the objects were simply a rash of oddly colored meteors.
It seems to me the case for the Fireball's is still an open one. I have a quite a few examples of modern fireball sightings, along with a little known report written by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the Director of the U.S. Air Force's Project Bluebook called "Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge"
All reports listed are from either the U.S. Air Force's Project Blubook's 701 unknown's files or from the Magonia UFO database, or were investigated by myself.
First, a report on a contemporary sighting that occurred in my area, I called it:
At 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 1997, a bright green fireball lit up the sky over the central United States. The light was seen in five states, including Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.
Wayne Wyrick of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium in Oklahoma City said, "It looked like an airplane on fire and crashing."
Major Steve Boylan, a spokesman for NORAD, said the object was the "remnant of a Delta II rocket" used to launch a satellite in December.
A woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma said the fireball "appeared to crash just west of the city." See the newspaper The Daily Oklahoman of Oklahoma City for January 25, 1997.
Next, a fireball report from 1903, Strange light puzzled many in 1903 Akron The term UFO had not yet been coined on Jan. 22, 1903, when the Akron Beacon Journal reported that a mysterious light -- a ``ball of fire'' hanging low in the night sky -- was terrifying residents in Munson's Hollow and keeping ``timid people indoors after dark. ''Munson's Hollow was in Akron's Old Forge area in the Little Cuyahoga River valley just north and east of downtown.
Police were called to investigate several sightings ``the last few nights'' of a bright object the size of a man's head that remained perfectly still until searchers got to within 50 yards of its location. Then it disappeared, only to reappear when searchers left.
``All believe that it is some supernatural body,'' the newspaper reported. But the police guessed it was the work of mischievous boys. Published Saturday, January 22, 2000, in the Akron Beacon Journal
Next, a sighting report from my own back yard you might say, the following incident happened to my wife Debbie, and was reported worldwide and was documented in the book "UFO's in the USA". On Wednesday, February 25, 1998, at about 9:15 p.m., Debbie H. was driving west on Interstate Highway 40 in Oklahoma when she spied "a green fireball" in the night sky. Ms. H saw the object "at mile marker 126, west of El Reno, Okla. (population 15,414)." "I left Oklahoma City and was driving west on I-40 back to Elk City," she reported. "I had passed the towns of Yukon and El Reno and was at mile marker 126 when I spotted a green fireball in the sky west of my position.
It appeared to be about the size of a golf ball at arm's length and traveled straight-line. I spotted the fireball as it came into the view of my windshield. It was in view for three or four seconds as it traveled straight down and then impacted the ground... I saw green sparks fly up from the impact.
This next report is one I monitored with my ham radio gear; I'm a licensed ham operator, call sign, KA5UFO, (of course!).
MYSTERIOUS LIGHT FLASH PUZZLES OKLAHOMA DEPUTY An Oklahoma sheriff's deputy had a Halloween surprise when she spotted a mysterious flash of light on the outskirts of Reydon. On October 31, 1997, at approximately 8:23 p.m., a sheriff's deputy saw a "flash of light" northeast of Reydon, 120 miles west of Oklahoma City. According to Jim Hickman of Skywatch, the deputy's radio report was monitored, and he spoke of a "large flash of light in the sky." A partial transcript follows: Dispatch: "Was it lightning?" Deputy: "I don't see any clouds in the sky." Deputy: "It was one large flash to my northeast, and it wasn't lightning." I can tell you she sounded like she had just had a "Close Encounter!" this sighting was talked about in the area for quite some time, it's now referred to as the mysterious "Reydon Flash".
Next, I have compiled several reports of strange Fireball like objects reported over the last few years. Most of these come from "the Hickman Files".
On Tuesday, November 9, 1999, at 9:16 p.m., a "blue fireball" streaked through the sky over DeLand, Florida (population 16,491), a town on Highway 92 about 30 miles north of Orlando.
"A blue ball of fire that streaked across the sky above Volusia County has residents wondering whether the sight was something iut of this world." "Chet Jones, who caught a glimpse of the burning mass over DeLand Tuesday night, is betting it was a UFO."
"'I believe it's probable,' said Jones from his home on the St. Johnsbury River. 'I know they exist.'" "At 9:16 p.m., one caller told the Volusia County Sheriff's Office he saw a fireball pass over in the direction of Clyde Morris and LPGA Boulevards. It was headed for Ormond Beach."
"Sheriff's deputies, along with Daytona Beach police officers and a sheriff's helicopter, searched for over an hour. They found nothing."
"The National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida reported no unusual activity Tuesday night. Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration tower in Daytona Beach and at the FAA Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia said they saw nothing out of the ordinary."
"'If a pilot would have seen it, they would have reported it,' FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said." "Roger Hoefor, curator of astronomy at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, speculated that people might have seen a bolide meteor. Bolide meteors appear to be falling, when in reality, they're simply crossing the horizon."
"'This one was not falling,' Hoefor said, 'It was still going in its orbital path.'" (See the Miami Herald for November 10, 1991.)
On Wednesday, November 10, 1999, at about 11:15 p.m., people at the I Portal shopping center In Modena, a large city in Emilia-Romagna province, Italy, about 180 miles north of Rome, spotted a "large shiny luminous object" plunging through the night sky.
They saw "a bright luminous object that moved with incredible velocity, following a descending trajectory. The object left a luminous trail with three different colors ranging from an intense white and yellow to a brilliant green."
On Monday, November 8, 1999, ufologist Mike Harman was driving home to Granbury, Texas, located about 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth, when he caught a glimpse of an unusual object in the sky.
"I was driving home to Granbury at 10:15 or maybe 10:30 that night on Davis Road, heading southeast. The road is very dark and narrow, winding and lined with 20-foot trees It's hard to look at anything except the road, lest you end up in a ditch."
"I caught a very quick glimpse of a ball of fire, trailing a blazing trail. It was off to my left, a lot more east of my line of sight. I could only see it from where it came into view at the top of my car's windshield until it dropped behind the tops of the trees, maybe 10 degrees, from 45 degrees to 35 degrees above the horizon."
"It was falling at a very fast rate. It took less than a second to pass into and from my line of sight. It was a very bright yellow, and from my viewpoint, it appeared to be very large but a great distance away. It fell at an angle, from left to right east to west...I don't think I've ever seen anything move that fast."
Shortly after 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16, 1999, a giant luminous green fireball flew from west to east across the states of the USA's Upper Midwest region, startling thousands of eyewitnesses.
"A little after 6 p.m. Central time, Tuesday, a bright light--most reported it as green--streaked across the eastern sky of the Chicago, Illinois area for about 5 to 10 seconds and abruptly broke into a cascade of particles, causing a variety of reactions among viewers ranging from cosmically cool to panic-stricken."
"Don Troiani, an astronomer at the Cernan Earth and Space Center at Triton College in River Grove, Ill. was convinced that the light was caused by 'space debris' rather than a meteor shower."
"Shane Crone, the Adler Planetarium's observatory operator and sky show operator, agreed, saying the reported bright green color made him doubt it was a meteor. More likely, he said, it was a satellite." "But then again, he said, 'It's hard to say.'" "Joe Petersen of Island Lake, who was driving eastbound on Illinois Highway 176 when he saw the light, said he felt it was a plane crash." (See the Chicago Tribune for November 17, 1999, "Tuesday's spectacle of light a source of color, confusion")
In Indiana, UFO Roundup correspondent Steve Wilson Sr., who lives in Avon, Ind., received phone calls from 25 witnesses who reported "a very large fireball that flew over the south side of Indianapolis at around 7 p.m. Eastern time."
Police switchboards in Columbus, Ohio "were swamped by callers who mistook what might have been a meteor for a flaming aircraft." "'The average person won't see any that large in a lifetime,' said Bob Hollinshead, operations coordinator for the airport. 'We initially got calls from people who thought it may have been an aircraft breaking apart in the sky."
"The fireball streaked across the sky from west to east about 7 p.m., stunning stargazers as far away as Kentucky who were awaiting the arrival of the Leonid meteor shower." "The fireball lasted for twenty seconds before disappearing over the horizon."
"'It was gorgeous,' said Tom Burns, director of the Perkins Observatory in Delaware, Ohio." "Samuel Guess and Tiffany Parker had just placed an order at the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast-food restaurant at Cleveland and Oakland Park avenues when the fireball streaked by." "'It was big and it was really long. That's how we knew it wasn't an airplane,' Guess said."
"It was moving really fast and then it disappeared,' Parker said." "Gerald Newsom, an Ohio State University astronomy professor, said he believes the fireball was either a piece of an asteroid or a satellite entering the atmosphere...At 7 p.m., when the fireball took to the sky, the Leonid meteors were on the other side of the Earth, he said." (See the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch for November 17, 1999, "Fireball stuns stargazers, 'average' folks")
At 7:03 p.m., eyewitness O. Kinsbury was driving through New Philadelphia, Ohio, "just north of the Stone Creek exit," when he saw "a light train moving across my field of vision from west to east about 20 degrees above the road."
Further south, in Cincinnati, "If you happened to glance at the sky shortly after 7 p.m., you may have thought you were getting a piece of tonight's meteor shower." "Many callers to police described seeing a green ball of fire with a fragmented tail in the sky for about 15 seconds."
"But two Tristate astronomical experts said the green glow that was reportedly seen from Kentucky to Wisconsin wasn't part of the Leonid meteor shower due to arrive late tonight. Instead, it was probably a dead man-made satellite reentering Earth's atmosphere."
"'It's definitely not a meteor,' said Paul D. Mohr, an astronomer with the Cincinnati Observatory, who did not witness the light show. 'According to the descriptions, it sounds like it was a satellite.'"
"Rick Marra of West Chester Ohio was driving north on Snider Drive in Symmes Township Tuesday when he saw the fragmented object about 7:04 p.m. 'My wife kept saying, 'Rick, stop looking up--stay on the road,''he said, 'Whatever it was, it was huge.'" (See the Cincinnati, Ohio Enquirer for November 17, 1999)
At 7:04 p.m., Pamela Z. and her husband were "walking on the University of Cincinnati campus with 20 other people. We all stood and watched for what seemed like minutes. It was an enormous, Titanic-like aircraft. It was like a fireball with greenish exhaust behind. It was quite spectacular. It moved slowly from west to east, over the horizon. The triangular shape was apparent and circled with white/yellow lights. People saw red and green, s well."
In Kentucky, a Cincinnati resident "while traveling northbound on Interstate Highway I-75 in Florence, Ky., he and his wife observed two rows of lights shortly after 7 p.m. Traveling in formation." The formation, he added, "was way too wide to be an airplane."
On Friday, January 8, 1999, at 10:25 p.m., a fireball of "an eerie blue or green color" flashed through the sky of southern Alaska and exploded with "an earthshaking boom." According to the Anchorage Daily News, "Dozens of people phoned authorities last Friday to report the event, which happened at 10:25 p.m. Most eyewitnesses described a brilliant and colorful flash, followed several minutes later by a boom. The boom was so loud it shook homes in Palmer and Wasilla and was heard from South Anchorage to Sutton and beyond."
Palmer (population 2,866) is on Highway 1 about 30 miles north of Anchorage. Wasilla (population 4,028) is eight miles west of Palmer. Sutton (population 210) is 13 miles northeast of Palmer.
"'I wish I could describe it,' said Gina Gilmore, who watched the fireball from a hot tub near Palmer. 'It was an eerie blue or green color... It lit up the whole area. Then we heard an explosion and it stilled our conversation.'"
"Gilmore said that at first she thought the object was a shooting star, but its intensity" had her wondering if it could have been "a missile, an explosion or something from The X-Files."
"'It was greenish, and it was loud,' said Rachael Wagner, 16, another observer from Wasilla. She was inside her house and watched it flash through her window." Donald Masters, an astronomy professor at the University of Alaska at Anchorage told the newspaper that he "believes the flash came from a meteor or a comet fragment, probably the size of a pumpkin, that exploded about 50 miles above the Earth's surface."
Scientists thought the meteor to be a latecomer from the Quarantid meteor shower, which began on December 28, 1998. "'Imagine a cold rock coming in and getting very hot,' said Greg Durocher, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. 'It's under tremendous stress.'"
"Durocher and other observers of the fireball said they heard the boom about three to four minutes after they saw the flash. Based on this information, Masters estimated that the object was about 50 miles away at the time of the explosion."
"There were rumors Friday of the object striking the ground near Parks Highway at Mile Marker 141, and reports by pilots of debris falling, but meteorites are extremely hard to find, Masters said." (See the Anchorage Daily News for January 10, 1999, "Great ball of fire--Flash in sky is likely exploding meteor")
On Sunday, January 10, 1999, at 7:05 p.m., "Bill Slatton was driving home when he saw what looked to be a green fireball streak across the night sky" in Pittsfield, New Hampshire N.H. Pittsfield (population 1,717) is on Route 28 about 37 miles northeast of Manchester, New Hampshire's largest city.
"'My God, this thing is as clear as day,' he remembers thinking to himself. 'It was huge. It was right along side of us.'" "His fiance, Kathy Bickford, saw it, too. Police departments in Bow (population 600) and Northfield reported sightings, with callers describing 'a green flash' in the sky." "Slatton said he and his fiancee saw the fireball for a few seconds as they drove south on Route 20 in Pittsfield...He said it was like the fireball that crashes into the Earth in a recent Dunkin Donuts commercial."
"'It was descending almost like a plane descending. It's hard to describe,' Slatton said." "The object was about the size of a nickel or quarter in the sky, and perhaps a few thousand feet away and a few thousand feet up, although it was hard to tell, Slatton said."
"It was to the left of them as they drove south, perhaps landing or crashing in Pittsfield, Epsom or Chichester, said Slatton, a property maintenance contractor from Chichester," a town located six miles southwest of Pittsfield. (See the Manchester, N.H. Union-Leader for January 11, 1999, "'Green flash' streaks through central NH sky")
These next reports are from the Magonia files.
Feb. 17, 1949 France (exact location unknown). Alain Berard saw a large, bright object land near his farm with a green lightning flash. It became dark. As he approached the craft, the witness saw three figures with stocky short legs, apparently without heads. Frightened, he fired at them three times. A moment later the object took off vertically.
Dec.1953, Sherbrook, Canada Mrs. Orfei heard a knock at the door in the middle of the night and obtained no answer when she asked who it was. When more furious knocks were heard, her Alsatian dog jumped toward the door, but suddenly retreated, trembling as if terrified and retired to a corner. Mrs. Orfei went to an upper door and saw two "indescribable" shadows go away from the house. A while later a big, round object took off 100 m away with a blue-green lightning. The police found broken bushes as evidence of an enormous weight.
GREEN FIREBALL SHAKES UP THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST On Tuesday, December 17, 1996, at 6:15 a.m., people living in the Pacific Northwest were startled to see "a glowing green fireball" approaching from the western horizon. An early morning commuter in Maple Valley, Washington, east of Seattle, reported that the unusual fireball "came to within 500 feet" of his car before shooting off in an easterly direction towards Wenatchee. People living in King and Snohomish counties reported seeing the fireball "go down near Richmond Beach" on Puget Sound. The King County Sheriff's Department told the Seattle Times that they'd received many calls about the fireball from residents of Issaquah (population 5,536) and Bellevue (population 74,000). Bellevue is located across Lake Washington from Seattle, on the eastern shore. Issaquah is 15 miles to the southeast of Bellevue, just south of Lake Sammamish. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also received calls from Skagit County, Washington and as far south as Tigard, Oregon and Salem, Oregon. (See the Seattle Times for December 17, 1996) North of Seattle, in Anacortes, Washington, radio station KLKI received 40 phone calls about the fireball. Radio stations in Spokane, Washington, which is 280 miles east of Seattle, also received phone calls from eyewitnesses, who claimed the fireball was heading for Idaho. North of the border, in Courtenay, British Columbia (population 7,800), a man named O'Carrol was scraping the snow from his car windshield when, suddenly, the neighboring houses began to glow with a feeble green light. Looking skyward, he saw "a huge, flaming, sparking, greenish-blue light ball" that appeared to be "throwing off white sparks." The fireball hurtled toward the eastern horizon. "Several seconds later," O'Carrol said, "there was quite a boom, and I thought, 'Wow! I wonder what that was.'" The National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle reportedly said "two meteors" were responsible for the sighting. Gary Mayer, the FAA duty officer in Renton, Washington, said the light was not caused by any aircraft and he "assumed it was a meteorite." Perhaps one of the Geminids
On November 13, 1996, at 6 p.m., ranchers living 20 miles west of Salida, Colorado (population 4,900) sighted "a large, dazzling ball of light moving from north to south." Witnesses had the UFO in view for 4 to 5 seconds. "Some said it was huge, the size of the full moon, and was either white or a rainbow color." The UFO was seen by many people between Salida and Chama, New Mexico, on the state line. (Many thanks to Tim Edwards for this report.)
On Sunday, March 8, 1998, at about 6 p.m., a bright green fireball appeared over Placerville, California (population 8,355), a small city on Highway 50 about 44 miles east of Sacramento.
Minutes later, the fireball hovered in the sky over Sacramento, the state capital. Motorists stopped their cars on San Juan Road and Del Paso Road in the west end of the city to observe the phenomenon.
"Traffic on Interstate Highway 80 between Davis and Dixon slowed to a halt as motorists stopped to watch the fireball. Many drivers swamped the California Highway Patrol with phone calls, but the control tower at Sacramento Metropolitan airport insisted no planes were missing."
Sacramento (population 369,365) is 91 miles east of San Francisco. In Monterey (population 31,954), located 125 miles south of San Francisco, witnesses reported the green fireball hovering over the bay.
"The U.S. Coast Guard contacted Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, which confirmed that it was a big meteor shower." Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Alan Tubbs said,
"It was just getting dark and everybody was facing this direction just as the sun was coming down. It was the king of all meteor showers." (See the San Jose Mercury News for March 9, 1998, "Meteor Shower Stalls Traffic Near Sacramento)
This should be enough evidence for anyone that we need to reopen the investigation into mysterious fireballs.
Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge" by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt
In the following report titled "Green Fireballs, Project Twinkle, Little Lights, and Grudge" by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, Director of Project Bluebook, He reports that:
"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 areas 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 "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, and then seemed to level out. And it was too big for a meteor, at least it was larger than any meteor that anyone m 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 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 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.
Ruppelt continues in his report,
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.
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.
If two or more cameras photograph the same object, it is possible to obtain a very accurate measurement of the photographed object's altitude, speed, and size. Project Twinkle was a bust. Absolutely nothing was photographed. Of the three cameras that were planned for the project, only one was available. This one camera was continually being moved from place to place. If several reports came from a certain area, the camera crew would load up their equipment and move to that area, always arriving too late. Any duck hunter can tell you that this is the wrong tactic; if you want to shoot any ducks pick a good place and stay put, let the ducks come to you.
The people trying to operate Project Twinkle were having financial and morale trouble. To do a good job they needed more and better equipment and more people, but Air Force budget cuts precluded this. Moral support was free but they didn't get this either.
When the Korean War started, Project Twinkle silently died, along with official interest in green fireballs. When I organized Project Blue Book in the summer of 1951 I'd never heard of a green fireball. We had a few files marked "Los Alamos Conference," "Fireballs," "Project Twinkle," etc., but I didn't pay any attention to them.
Then one day I was at a meeting in Los Angeles with several other officers from ATIC, and was introduced to Dr. Joseph Kaplan. When he found we were from ATIC, his first question was, "What ever happened to the green fireballs?" None of us had ever heard of them, so he quickly gave us the story. He and I ended up discussing green fireballs. He mentioned Dr. La Paz and his opinion that the green fireballs might be man-made, and although he respected La Paz's professional ability, he just wasn't convinced. But he did strongly urge me to get in touch with Dr. La Paz and hear his side of the story. When I returned to ATIC I spent several days digging into our collection of green fireball reports.
All of these reports covered a period from early December 1948 to 1949. As far as Blue Book's files were concerned, there hadn't been a green fireball report for a year and a half. I read over the report on Project Twinkle and the few notes we had on the Los Alamos Conference, and decided that the next time I went to Albuquerque I'd contact Dr. La Paz. I did go to Albuquerque several times but my visits were always short and I was always in a hurry so I didn't get to see him. It was six or eight months later before the subject of green fireballs came up again. I was eating lunch with a group of people at the AEC's Los Alamos Laboratory when one of the group mentioned the mysterious kelly-green balls of fire. The strictly unofficial bull-session-type discussion that followed took up the entire lunch hour and several hours of the afternoon.
It was an interesting discussion because these people, all scientists and technicians from the lab, had a few educated guesses as to what they might be. All of them had seen a green fireball; some of them had seen several. One of the men, a private pilot, had encountered a fireball one night while he was flying his Navion north of Santa Fe and he had a vivid way of explaining what he'd seen.
"Take a soft ball and paint it with some kind of fluorescent paint that will glow a bright green in the dark," I remember his saying, "then have someone take the ball out about 100 feet in front of you and about 10 feet above you. Have him throw the ball right at your face, as hard as he can throw it. That's what a green fireball looks like."
The speculation about what the green fireballs were ran through the usual spectrum of answers, a new type of natural phenomenon, a secret U.S. development, and psychologically enlarged meteors. When the possibility of the green fireballs' being associated with interplanetary vehicles came up, the whole group got serious. They had been doing a lot of thinking about this, they said, and they had a theory.
The green fireballs, they theorized, could be some type of unmanned test vehicle that was being projected into our atmosphere from a "spaceship" hovering several hundred miles above the earth. Two years ago I would have been amazed to hear a group of reputable scientists make such a startling statement. Now, however, I took it as a matter of course. I'd heard the same type of statement many times before from equally qualified groups.
Turn the tables, they said, suppose that we are going to try to go to a far planet. There would be three phases to the trip: out through the earth's atmosphere, through space, and the re-entry into the atmosphere of the planet we're planning to land on. The first two phases would admittedly present formidable problems, but the last phase, the re-entry phase, would be the most critical. Coming in from outer space, the craft would, for all practical purposes, be similar to a meteorite except that it would be powered and not free falling.
You would have myriad problems associated with aerodynamic heating, high aerodynamic loadings, and very probably a host of other problems that no one can now conceive of. Certain of these problems could be partially solved by laboratory experimentation, but nothing can replace flight testing, and the results obtained by flight tests in our atmosphere would not be valid in another type of atmosphere. The most logical way to overcome this difficulty would be to build our interplanetary vehicle, go to the planet that we were interested in landing on, and hover several hundred miles up.
From this altitude we could send instrumented test vehicles down to the planet. If we didn't want the inhabitants of the planet, if it were inhabited, to know what we were doing we could put destruction devices in the test vehicle, or arrange the test so that the test vehicles would just plain burn up at a certain point due to aerodynamic heating.
They continued, each man injecting his ideas. Maybe the green fireballs are test vehicles-somebody else's. The regular UFO reports might be explained by the fact that the manned vehicles were venturing down to within 100,000 or 200,000 feet of the earth, or to the altitude at which atmosphere re-entry begins to get critical.
I had to go down to the airstrip to get a CARGO Airlines plane back to Albuquerque so I didn't have time to ask a lot of questions that came into my mind. I did get to make one comment. From the conversations, I assumed that these people didn't think the green fireballs were any kind of a natural phenomenon. Not exactly, they said, but so far the evidence that said they were a natural phenomenon was vastly outweighed by the evidence that said they weren't
During the kidney-jolting trip down the valley from Los Alamos to Albuquerque in one of the CARGO Airlines' Bonanzas, I decided that I'd stay over an extra day and talk to Dr. La Paz. He knew every detail there was to know about the green fireballs. He confirmed my findings, that the genuine green fireballs were no longer being seen. He said that he'd received hundreds of reports, especially after he'd written several articles about the mysterious fireballs, but that all of the reported objects were just greenish colored, common, everyday meteors.
Dr. La Paz said that some people, including Dr. Joseph Kaplan and Dr. Edward Teller, thought that the green fireballs were natural meteors. He didn't think so, however, for several reasons. First the color was so much different. To illustrate his point, Dr. La Paz opened his desk drawer and took out a well-worn chart of the color spectrum. He checked off two shades of green; one a pale, almost yellowish green and the other a much more distinct vivid green. He pointed to the bright green and told me that this was the color of the green fireballs. He'd taken this chart with him when he went out to talk to people who had seen the green fireballs and everyone had picked this one color.
The pale green, he explained, was the color reported in the cases of documented green meteors. Then there were other points of dissimilarity between a meteor and the green fireballs. The trajectory of the fireballs was too fiat. Dr. La Paz explained that a meteor doesn't necessarily have to arch down across the sky; its trajectory can appear to be fiat, but not as flat as that of the green fireballs. Then there was the size. Almost always such descriptive words as "terrifying," "as big as the moon," and "blinding" had been used to describe the fireballs. Meteors just aren't this big and bright. No ---Dr. La Paz didn't think that they were meteors. Dr. La Paz didn't believe that they were meteorites either.
A meteorite is accompanied by sound and shock waves that break windows and stampede cattle. Yet in every case of a green fireball sighting the observers reported that they did not hear any sound. But the biggest mystery of all was the fact that no particles of a green fireball had ever been found. If they were meteorites, Dr. La Paz was positive that he would have found one. He'd missed very few times in the cases of known meteorites. He pulled a map out of his file to show me what he meant. It was a map that he had used to plot the spot where a meteorite had hit the earth. I believe it was in Kansas. The map had been prepared from information he had obtained from dozens of people who had seen the meteorite come flaming toward the earth. At each spot where an observer was standing he'd drawn in the observer's line of sight to the meteorite. From the dozens of observers he had obtained dozens of lines of sight. The lines all converged to give Dr. La Paz a plot of the meteorite's downward trajectory. Then he had been able to plot the spot where it had struck the earth. He and his crew went to the marked area, probed the ground with long steel poles, and found the meteorite. This was just one case that he showed me. He had records of many more similar successful expeditions in his file.
Then he showed me some other maps. The plotted lines looked identical to the ones on the map I'd just seen. Dr. La Paz had used the same techniques on these plots and had marked an area where he wanted to search. He had searched the area many times but he had never found anything. These were plots of the path of a green fireball. When Dr. La Paz had finished, I had one last question, "What do you think they are?" He weighed the question for a few seconds then he said that all he cared to say was that he didn't think that they were a natural phenomenon. He thought that maybe someday one would hit the earth and the mystery would be solved. He hoped that they were a natural phenomenon.
After my talk with Dr. La Paz I can well understand his apparent calmness on the night of September 18, 1954, when the newspaper reporter called him to find out if he planned to investigate this latest green fireball report. He was speaking from experience, not indifference, when he said, "But I don't expect to find anything." If the green fireballs are back, I hope that Dr. La Paz gets an answer this time.
The mystery continues as we are still getting in reports today. MYSTERY METEOR LIGHTS UP WESTERN AUSTRALIA On Thursday, January 27, 2000, at 11 p.m., "a very bright white light," described as "a basket ball sized fireball with a fluorescent green train" crossed the southern coast of Western Australia state "Between Albany and Esperance and headed northeast at an estimated altitude of 60 miles." Esperance, W.A. is located 420 miles southeast of Perth, the state capital.
The mysterious object "reportedly split into three or four pieces at an estimated altitude of 50 miles by the time it reached Kalgoorlie and the Eastern Goldfields. It was observed from as far away as Shark Bay on Australia's northwest coast"
"Three pieces exploded east of Kalgoorlie whilst the fourth traveled some 1,200 miles to Wyndham in the northeast where it disintegrated into many smaller pieces at an estimated altitude of 12 miles" The Perth Astronomical Observatory "received hundreds of phone calls on the event." An observatory spokesman said the fireball could have been the Russian satellite Molynia returning to Earth. The Molynia was launched back in 1986. (See the newspaper The Western Australian for January 28, 2000.)
We may never know the real answers to the Green Fireball mystery. Fireballs are here to stay, and once again I'm reminded of Dwight D. Eisenhower's quote: "Things are more like they are now than they ever were before." _____
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." --Albert Einstein


This Site Served by TheHostPros