Published: 1:00 PM 8/1/2010
Amazing reports of sightings of Green Fireball Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) have captivated ufologists for years.
Here’s a taster of what can be found in official reports. It was precisely midnight on September 18, 1954 when my telephone rang. It was Jim Phalen, a friend of mine from the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and he had a “good flying saucer report,” hot off the wires.
He read it to me. The lead line was: With thousands of people tonight witnessing a huge fireball, which light up the dark New Mexico skies.”
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.” Witnessed by the crew of a TWA airliner flying into Albuquerque from Amarillo. Every police and newspaper switchboard in the two-state area was jammed with calls.
One of the calls was from a man inquiring if anything unusual had happened recently. Heaving an audible sigh of relief after being told about the strange fireball he said, “Thanks – 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 did not flinch when told of the sighting. 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?” asked Jim.
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.
But as days passed the reports got better. For instance the report at 9:27 P.M. on December 5 by Captain Goede flying an Air Force C-47 at 18,000 feet 10 miles east of Albuquerque. The crew, were startled by a sudden green ball of fire flashing across the sky ahead of them.
At first sight appearing to be a huge meteor except that it was a bright green color and it didn’t characteristically arch downward, as meteors usually do.
After conferring quickly the crew agreed to report the incident, especially as they had seen an similar object twenty-two minutes earlier near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
The captain of Pioneer Airlines Flight 63 called Kirtland Tower a few minutes after the incident. At 9:35 P.M. he had also seen a green ball of fire just east of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Observing the object apparently traveling on collision course with their airplane, it changed color from orange red to green.
With the object becoming larger and larger, the captain said, he thought sure it was going to collide with them, so he took avoiding action by steering 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. In a split second they realized whatever they saw was too low and had too flat a trajectory to be a meteor.
He was on his way to Albuquerque and would make a full report when he landed.
More reports had also been phoned in from all over northern New Mexico. By the morning, a detailed investigation had begun. The military was getting a little edgy about the uncertainty of these green fireball sightings.
Since the green fireballs bore some resemblance to meteors or meteorites, the Kirtland intelligence officers called in specialist Dr. Lincoln La Paz.
True, he said, the description of the fireballs was similar to that of meteorites. One way to be sure was to try to plot the flight path of the green fireballs to determine where they would have hit the earth if they were meteorites.
After considering many sightings they finally plotted where they should have struck the earth and searched the area but found nothing. They went back over the area time and time again – nothing. As Dr. Later La Paz confided that this was the first time he seriously doubted that the green fire-balls were meteorites.
A couple of days later fireball sightings were being report reported almost every night. 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.
A carefully created plan was constructed for each person to concentrate on a specific detail when observing 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. With me as copilot, and the aircraft on a compass course of 90 degrees. I first observed the object, a split second later the pilot also saw it.
It was 2,000 feet higher, and was approaching our plane at a rapid rate from 30 degrees on our port side. 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 too intense, and the object appeared considerably larger to be considered as a normal flare.
At first sight, the trajectory of the object 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, the 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. Numerous sightings of the UFOs were reported in other parts of the U.S., none fit the description of the green fireballs.
Continually throughout December 1948 and January 1949, the skies of New Mexico seemed full of green fireballs. Everyone, including the intelligence officers at Kirtland AFB, Air Defense Command people, Dr. La Paz, and some of the most distinguished scientists at Los Alamos had seen at least one.
In mid-February 1949 a conference was called at Los Alamos to determine what should be done to further pursue the investigation. The Air Force, Project Sign, the intelligence people at Kirtland, and other interested parties had done everything they could think of and still no answer.
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. The attendees including La Paz, 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.