- 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
- Once long ago, our Military took the idea of fireballs
quite seriously, even had a secret project looking into them called "Project
- I think we all should look at these mysterious fireballs
- 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:
- NORAD CALLS FIREBALL A "MISSILE"
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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".
- BLUE FIREBALL DAZZLES VIEWERS IN FLORIDA
- 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
- "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
- SPEEDY FIREBALL SHOCKS CROWD IN NORTHERN ITALY
- 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."
- GLOWING FIREBALL SEEN IN CENTRAL TEXAS
- 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."
- GIANT GREEN FIREBALL SEEN BY THOUSANDS IN THE USA'S UPPER
- 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."
- GREEN FIREBALL EXPLODES OVER SOUTHERN ALASKA
- 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")
- GREEN FIREBALL STREAKS OVER NEW HAMPSHIRE
- 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
- "'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
- "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
- UFO SEEN IN COLORADO'S MYSTERIOUS VALLEY
- 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.)
- GREEN FIREBALL CAUSES STIR IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
- 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
- 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
- "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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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