ALBUQUERQUE, N. Mex.– Any discussion of the remarkable “green
fireballs” so frequently observed in recent years in the Southwest
must begin with an appraisal of the accuracy of eyewitness accounts
of these objects. Admittedly, the majority of fireball reports
relate to ordinary meteoric phenomena, although those reporting
usually believe they have sighted something strange.
Meteoriticists, however, have little difficulty in screening out
observations that merely describe exceptionally bright shooting
stars. The observations that remain differ in many important
particulars from those relating to ordinary balls. Is one justified
in accepting these non-conforming observations as dependable?
Perhaps it is well to be guided by analogy in answering this
question. The writer's service as Technical Director, Operations
Analysis Section, Headquarters Second Air Force, began while General
U. G. Ent was Commanding Officer. I well recall that at one of my
first conferences with General Ent, we discussed numerous bright
stationary fireballs sighted in North American skies. During
ordinary shooting stars showers stationary meteors are occasionally
seen; but since such immobile luminous objects are produced only by
those few grains of cosmic debris headed directly at each particular
observer, they are of such rare occurrence that few readers of this
column will recall ever having seen one – especially a blindingly
* * *
IT is therefore understandable why meteoriticists discounted the
reliability of frequent reports of bright stationary fireballs.
However, they soon had cause to regret their skepticism, for
recovery of Japanese balloon assemblies disclosed that the huge
hydrogen-filled paper envelopes of these balloons had a half-pound
charge of a magnesium flash powder mixture cemented to them.
The reader will recall that the founder of scientific rocketry, Dr.
Robert H, Goddard of Clark College, while seeking a signaling device
for announcing the arrival of a rocket on the moon, tested many such
flash powder mixtures and showed that ignition of a few grains of
magnesium flash powder would produce a flash “strikingly visible” more
than two miles away. It is therefore not surprising that ignition of
the half-pound powder charges which the Japanese attached to their
balloons produced a brief flash of such enormous light intensity as
to be visible as a “stationary fireball” at very great distances.
Stripped of some of our skepticism about strange fireball reports by
the example just given, we can profitably scrutinize more closely
some of the characteristics reported for the green fireballs. One of
the peculiarities of these objects is that, unlike the ordinary
meteors which flash across the sky at all angles to the horizon,
with few exceptions, each green fireball is described by all who
witness it (irrespective of the positions of the observers with
respect to the real path of the fireball) either as falling
vertically or as moving horizontally.
A self-destructive device functioning along the terminal arc of a
missile-trajectory, such as that traveled by the typical V-2 rocket
of 1944 on its way from German bases to London, would give rise to
a nearly vertical luminous path.
* * *
POSSIBLE explanation of the horizontally moving green fireballs is
suggested by statements on satellite vehicles and their “circular
orbits” and “approach ellipses” made by Dr. Heinz Haber and Dr.
Wernher von Braun, two of the foremost experts in the space-flight
field, in a handbook, Physics and Medicine of the Upper
Atmosphere, published in August 1952 by the University of New
Mexico Press. This handbook, which should be required reading for
those who ridicule the possibility of intercontinental missiles and
satellite vehicles, contains on page 576 the following comments by
“During the next phase, the development will be directed toward the
establishment of a manned artificial satellite as the principal goal.
In contrast to general belief, this project does not call for
rockets energized by atomic power plants, which are still rather
hypothetical. The manned artificial power plants exceeding 1,000
tons. No major objection can be advanced against the possibility of
building rockets of this size.”
A second curious characteristic reported for the green fireballs is
that they are observed to “gang up” those times when ordinary
shooting stars occur in greatest numbers. For example, the greatest
concentration of green fireballs so far observed occurred during
late October, November, and early December 1951 – a period
comprising the end of the annual Orionid meteor shower and the
epochs of the Leonid, Bielid, and Geminid meteor shows which also
put on a display each year. Furthermore, the visible paths of the
green fireballs in question radiated from approximately the same
position as the northernmost point in the sky from which the
ordinary unimpressive Bielid meteors have been seen to emanate.
* * *
ONE interpretation is, of course, that the green fireballs are,
after all, simply giant Bielid meteors of unusual composition.
Another like the bacteriologist who can readily brew up the cultures
he wishes to study in his own laboratory, the fireball investigator
is ...[words missing]
..a less reassuring interpretation is suggested by Dr. Louis N.
Ridenour's sombre play, “Pilot Lights of the Apocalypse.”
On the theory that use of a water pistol will attract least
attention in a shower of rain, it may be inferred that the testing
of long range missiles (which for one reason or another become, or
are purposely made luminous in the terminal portions of their
trajectories) will take place during such meteor showers as the
Perseids mentioned by Ridenour. Clearly, the identification problem
would be still further fouled up if the luminous paths of such
missiles were caused to appear to emanate from a known meteoric
Because of the puzzling nature of the green fireballs, they were the
subject of a protracted round-table discussion held during the 15th
annual meeting of the Meteoritical Society (an international
scientific organization affiliated with the American Association for
the Advancement of Science) at the Institute of Meteoritics of the
University of New Mexico on September 2, 3 and 4, 1952. A single
member of the Society flatly denied that any such objects as the
green fireballs had ever appeared, but under questioning conceded
that his remark applied only to the familiar skies of his home state,
Texas. The consensus of all other members was well expressed by
Professor Frederick C. Leonard, of the Department of Astronomy at
the University of California at Los Angeles. Dr. Leonard, founder of
the Meteoritical Society, stated that in view of the overwhelming
observational evidence presented to the Society, he was forced to
believe in the existence of the green fireballs which, in his
opinion, were certainly not natural objects like the ordinary
* * *
THE reader now will readily understand why meteoriticists
heartily welcomed the publicity recently given the “green fireballs”
by Columnist Robert S. Allen. Unsingularly dependent on the
cooperation of the general public in his search for any fragments
that may fall from these objects, descending as they do widely
separated in space and time.
The present guest column has been written in the hope of sharpening
the interest of laymen in observing and reporting to the Institute
any unusual luminous phenomena seen in the skies, particularly
during the meteor shower periods of autumn and winter just ahead.
All such reports will be thoroughly appreciated and, if desired,
will be kept in confidence; but, because of the volume of
correspondence already carried by the staff of the Institute,
acknowledgment will be made only in those cases where the phenomena
reported merit intensive investigation.
Charleston, WV Daily Mail - 27 September, 1952
The air force has a breathtaking report on “flying saucers.”
The study, prepared by noted scientists and air force experts,
expresses the belief that some of the mysterious flying objects are
genuine and that they originate from “sources outside of this planet.”
That is, these devices are interplanetary aircraft of some kind.
The air force document contains two other sensational findings:
In some instances, flying objects that have been sighted were
actually secret U. S. missiles undergoing tests.
Russia is profoundly mystified and worried by “flying saucers” and
strongly suspects they are a new U. S. weapon.
The Kremlin now has four different investigations underway in an
effort to discover the identity and source of the strange devices.
The air force study is based on more than 1,800 sightings in the
past five years.
One important point stressed in the report is that the most
authoritative and detailed sightings came from atomic plants and
military bases and research centers.
These highly significant sightings number around 20 per cent of the
Following is a list of the location of the most important of these sightings:
New Mexico - Los Alamos and White Sands atomic plant and testing
grounds, Albuquerque, and the Holloman, Kirtland and Walker airbases.
California - Muroc, Travis, Hamilton. George, Edward, Sacramento and
Mint Canyon airfields.
Tennessee - Oak Ridge atomic plant, Knoxville and Dickson airbase.
Arizona - Williams, Davis-Monthan and Luke airbases.
Alabama - Maxwell airbase.
Illinois - Scott and O'Hara airbases.
New Hampshire - Grenier airbase.
New York - Mitchell airfield.
Mississippi - Airbases at Jackson, Keesler and Biloxi.
Michigan - Selfridge airfield.
Massachusetts - Westover airfield.
Nebraska - Offutt airbase.
North Carolina - Chapel Hill and Pope airfield.
South Carolina - Spartanburg and airbase at Greenville.
Texas - Kelley and Randolph airfields and other bases at Carswell
and San Marcos.
Washington State - Mount Rainier, Mount Jefferson and McChord.
Oklahoma - Tinker airbase, and Norman.
South Dakota - Airbase at Rapid City.
Ohio - Air Force research center at Dayton, and Lockbourne airbase.
The sensational study is the work of the Air Technical Intelligence
Center, Wright Patterson air base, Dayton, O. A number of top
scientists are devoting their full time there analyzing reports on
flying objects. Their activities are so secret the air force will
not permit the publication of their names.
In fact, no one connected with the project or the report would
permit his name to be used.
However, air force authorities are considering publishing certain
portions of the report. Chiefly deterring them is fear the
sensational nature of the findings may cause undue public alarm.
These findings were described by a high air force official as
“fantastic but true.”
Note: Commenting on the recent flurry of “fireball” reports, Dr.
Lincoln La Paz, noted head of New Mexico University's Institute of
Meteoritics, said, “Sightings here and in Scandinavia lead me to
believe that fireballs and so-called flying saucers may be guided
missiles, possibly ours or possibly Russian. In any case, they are
ROBERT. S. ALLEN
1204 NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING
WASHINGTON 4, D. C.
July 8, 1953
Dear Lieutenant Nash:
I wish I could give you better news about that AF report,
but, unhappily, it has never been released. At the time I wrote the
column last year, my information was that the document had been
cleared and was in the process of being made public – that is, in
an edited and abridged form for security reasons. But almost at the
last moment, somebody in the Atomic Energy Commission, I assume the
Security Director, threw a monkey wrench and the matter was “held
That's where it has been ever since. Nothing has ever
happened on it and when it will be, no one seems to be able to
say. One reason for that in the last few months has been the many
changes that have taken place in the AEC, the AF and the Washington
scene generally. In the big turnovers and resulting uncertainties,
no one is pushing anything that they don't have to. And this report,
not being in the category of a pressing problem, is just hanging fire.
I have been prodding away at it for a long time but have had
no luck. If and when anything is ever done about it, you can be
assured that I'll do my utmost to publicize it. Also, I'll be more
than happy to make my information available to you.
Robert S. Allen
ROBERT. S. ALLEN
1204 NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING
WASHINGTON 4, D. C.
October 3, 1953
Dear Lieutenant Nash:
On the chance that you haven’t seen the enclosed,
I am taking the liberty of sending it to you as you doubtless will be very
interested in the item. It is from yesterday’s UP “ticker” report,
as we call it — a skeletonized telegraphic report of the UP
Robert S. Allen
Enc. (See Below)
DONALD E. KEYHOE, A RETIRED MARINE CORPS MAJOR,
ASKED DEFENSE OFFICIALS TO COURT MARTIAL HIM IF HIS STATEMENTS REGARDING MOTION PICTURES TAKEN
OF "FLYING SAUCERS" ARE UNTRUE.
KEYHOE HAS BEEN CARRYING ON A RUNNING FEUD WITH THE
AIR FORCE OVER THE VALUE OF THE FILMS, TAKEN IN
UTAH BY A NAVY WARRANT OFFICER.
THE AIR FORCE RETURNED THE FILMS TO THE
WARRANT OFFICER AS "OF NO VALUE." KEYHOE INSISTS INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS REPORTED THEY SHOWED A "SAUCER" FORMATION THAT "COULD NOT BE EXPLAINED AS ANY KNOWN AIRCRAFT OR OTHER CONVENTIONAL OBJECTS" SUCH AS
IN A TELEGRAM TO BRIG. GEN. SORY SMITH, DIRECTOR OF AIR FORCE PUBLICATION INFORMATION, KEYHOE SAID "YOUR OFFICE PUBLICLY IMPLIED THAT I MISREPRESENTED THE AIR FORCE ANALYSIS OF THE UTAH FLYING SAUCER PICTURES IN MY (FORTHCOMING) BOOK "FLYING SAUCERS FROM OUTER SPACE." IF THIS IS TRUE, THEN AS A RETIRED MARINE CORPS OFFICER I SHOULD BE SUBJECTED TO DISCIPLINARY ACTION."
KEYHOE SAID HE HAS A SIGNED STATEMENT BY ALBERT M. CHOP, FORMER AIR FORCE INFORMATION OFFICER WHO SECURED CLEARANCE OF A NUMBER OF "SIGHTING" REPORTS USED IN THE BOOK. THE AUTHOR SAID THESE CONFIRM THAT AIR FORCE AND NAVY LABORATORIES ANALYZED THE PICTURES AND CONCLUDED THEY COULD NOT BE CONVENTIONAL AIRCRAFT, BIRDS, BALLOONS, LIGHT REFLECTIONS OR IMAGES CAUSED BY WEATHER PHENOMENA.
THE COLOR FILMS, KEYHOE SAID, SHOW 12 TO 14 UNKNOWN OBJECTS OF EXTREMELY BRIGHT LIGHT MANEUVERING IN FORMATION. KEYHOE SAID THE AIR FORCE ANALYSIS DESCRIBED THE OBJECTS AS A
"LIGHT SOURCE" RATHER THAN AN APPARENT REFLECTION, WHICH WOULD MEAN THEY WERE SOLID.
KEYHOE REPEATED HIS ASSERTION THAT "WHEN THE COMBINED AIR FORCE AND NAVY ANALYSIS SHOWED THE SAUCERS COULD NOT BE CONVENTIONAL OBJECTS, AIR FORCE OFFICIALS DISAGREED AS TO WHAT SHOULD BE TOLD THE PUBLIC." THE AUTHOR SAID THE AIR FORCE HAD PREVIOUSLY INTENDED TO SHOW THE MOVIES TO THE PRESS AND TO MAKE AN ACCOMPANYING STATEMENT TO THE PEOPLE.
KEYHOE ASKED SMITH IF THE AIR FORCE "RETURNED ALL COPIES OF THE FILM."
"IF MY CLAIMS ARE INCORRECT, THEN I RESPECTFULLY SUGGEST THAT YOU ASK THAT IT (SIC) BE COURT MARTIALLED FOR MAKING
FALSE STATEMENTS ABOUT AIR FORCE ANALYSIS," KEYHOE'S TELEGRAM SAID.
Miami, Florida Daily News - November 23, 1953
ROBERT S. ALLEN
More Flying Saucers
Washington, Nov. 23 — There is a new of batch significant
“flying saucer” developments. While these mysterious
objects haven’t been in the headlines of late, they are
still frequently and authoritatively reported throughout the
world, and facilities and efforts to fathom them are
increasing both in the U.S. and abroad.
Following are important developments that can be
The Air Force is preparing another special report on flying
The Navy has established a research agency of its own to
study these aerial devices.
Six other countries now have official organizations conducting
probes of these mysterious objects. They are Canada, Britain,
France, Sweden, Norway and Russia.
So far, in the U.S. alone, more than 200 sightings have been
reported this year.
The Air Force will again take a “yes-and-no” position in its
Claims and rumors about space ships from other planets, and secret
foreign aircraft will not be confirmed. However, neither will they
be wholly rejected. The Air Force's experts will carefully make
They will admit being unable to explain some
15 per cent of the investigated sightings.
More than 3,500 such reports have been received by the Air Force in
the past six years.
Most of them, after thorough study, have turned out to be either
weather balloons, astronomical and climatic phenomena, birds, light
reflections, airplanes, or radar and other electronic disturbances.
But 15 per cent of the sightings do not fall into these categories
and the experts have no answers for them as yet. They could be
this, that or something else.
The Air Force's “flying saucer” research staff includes the best
scientists and technicians in the country, assisted by the latest
and finest equipment. Newest addition to that is a number of
specially-constructed high-speed cameras.
Air Force authorities are still debating whether to publish
anything produced by these stations. They are located in
strategic sections of the country particularly in the vicinity of
atomic plants where sightings are frequently reported. That is
one of the most significant facts regarding these mysterious
November 24, 1953
Mr. Robert S. Allen,
1204 National Press Bldg.,
Washington 4, D. C.
Dear Mr. Allen:
I enjoyed your column concerning the latest information you have
been able to dig up about the flying saucers. (UFO's as the
Military likes to call them). I read it in last night's MIAMI DAILY
It looks as though they offer less in the forthcoming report
than they were about to release last year. I had hoped for more,
especially in the light of President Eisenhower's recent
revamping of the government's policy on secret data,
asserting the public's right to "a maximum amount of information
in keeping with security."
Did you and Mrs Allen see the article by Captain Walter Karig, USN,
Special Deputy to chief of information, USN, in the AMERICAN
WEEKLY newspaper section of Nov. 22? He calls it the official truth
about flying saucers and says almost nothing, but at least it's
an admission that Space ships are more than just a probability.
I'm still half convinced that our military has more
"Hardware" from the saucers than they want to admit to
I've been doing a little writing since the first article last
October, 52, in TRUE, and have an agent in N.Y. now, who was
recommended by John DuBarry, Associate Editor of TRUE. If you and
Mrs Allen are interested, I have an article titled "ARE THE SAUCERS
OUR FRIENDS?" coming up in the March issue of a new magazine
called MYSTIC, by Palmer publications. It will be out on Jan 1st,
With best wishes.
One of your many readers.
William B. Nash
NEWS FLASHES–The unidentified flying object(s), that have been
mysteriously appearing over the U.S. for years, are going to be
investigated by the House Space Committee. Representative Overton
Brooks, D-La., chairman, has designated Representative Joseph E.
Karth, D-Minn., to make the investigation. The Air Force has
consistently maintained that the unidentified flying objects (UFO's)
are merely mistaken identificatified flying objects, that have [been]
balloons, meteors, and jet planes.
Just as consistently, a number of airline pilots have contended that
the Air Force is mistaken.....