Sign Historical Group

Life Features
Dr. LaPaz

U.S. Air Force Admits
Flying Disk Mystery,
To Intercept Saucers

Lobo (Campus newspaper for U. New Mexico), April 4, 1952

"Green Fireballs" and other flying objects of unknown which received a 6,000,000-circulation "ride" in Parade, Albuquerque Journal Sunday magazine, have received even fuller treatment in Life Magazine, which goes on the newsstands today.

Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, UNM meteoriticist, expressed a deep satisfaction today that the U.S. Air Force admits in the Life story the existence of "unexplained luminous objects in the skies."

LaPaz says that the action of the Air Force in officially ordering military aircraft to intercept and recover the unknown objects brought to mind similar orders issued in the days of the Japanese paper balloons back in 1944-45.

Out of some 34 sightings of "fireballs," flying saucers, and other unexplained phenomena by the most reliable observers, Life Magazine has selected 10 incidents which are the most sensational of the lot.

Eight of the 10 happened in southwestern skies and six of them within the boundaries of New Mexico.

The leadoff incident, featured in a colored painting by Mrs. Lincoln LaPaz, tinted the snowcovered Sandia mountains a bright greenish hue at dusk in January, 1949. This fireball was witnessed by myriads of observers all over New Mexico and Texas.

Incident No. 3, a fast high flying ellipsoid in the skies was reported by J. Gordon Vaeth, a Naval Research aeronautical engineer, as he and his group of five technicians were preparing to launch a Skyhook balloon near Arrey, New Mexico, at 10:20 a.m., April 24, 1949.

In the summer of 1948 [August 20, 1949], Prof. Clyde Tombaugh, formerly a member of the UNM astronomy department and now director of the Optical Trajectory Section, White Sands Proving Grounds, sighted in the sky at 11 p.m. a strange cigar-shaped "ship" which gave off a blue-green glow.

For incident five, Life Magazine authors, H.B. Darrack Jr. and Robert Ginna, reported they were not at liberty to use the observer's name because as an Air Force officer he holds a top military post at a key atomic base.

This anonymous officer picked up on his radar equipment five apparently metallic objects flying south at tremendous speed and will probably tie in this incident with Alamogordo or Sandia Base. No location is given.

Incident eight has a local setting for as recently as Feb 18, 1952, C. F. Redman, photographer, and W. S. Morris, newsdealer, both of Albuquerque, saw two "long, gleaming silver objects" hovering over Tijeras Canyon at 6:45 a.m.

Life reproduced pictures of Redman, Morris and others making gestures of how the space objects appeared to them.

At least 165 people reported in observations of incident 10 which occurred on Nov. 2, 1951, at the beginning of an "epidemic" of "green fireballs" to which the Southwest was subjected for a month or more.

Life's conclusions were:

  They are not psychological phenomena.

  They are not products of U.S. research.

AMC Logo

Back to Life Article

Back to 1952 Reports