November 12, 1954
The UFO evidence lists the following:
Louisville, Ky. Spherical object moved quickly south, hovered for a long period [VIII}.1
Section VIII is not much more informative on the details. Their source is one clipping from a Louisville newspaper of November 13th:
November 12, 1954 Kentucky, (Indiana, Ohio) - Air Force interceptors chased spherical object seen over tri-state area; also followed by theodolite.2
While this listing is under radar cases, I saw no mention that it was tracked by radar. Perhaps radar was mentioned in the newspaper clipping but this is a minor point because the description appears to fit a common source for UFO reports.
High altitude balloon research
Throughout the 1950s, various research balloons were being launched across the country. They were often referred to as Skyhook balloons but there were many programs using these balloons (Gopher, Grab bag, Ash can, Moby Dick, etc.). One of the major launching points was St. Paul Minnesota (Fleming Field), where Winzen Research Inc, conducted many launches. Another major launch area was New Brighton, where the University of Minnesota performed their operations using General Mills balloons.Looking at the description, my first though was that it was probably one of these research balloons. However, could I actually identify one that was in the area?
Looking for a source
According to the Stratocat database, a candidate for this event was a balloon launched on November 11th from Fleming Field, Minnesota. Unfortunately, the stratocat database is incomplete and does not contain all the launches that had been made from these locations or the data that was associated with them. This specific flight is listed as “no data” and we do not know anything more than the balloon was launched on that date. I really could only suggest it was possible that it was this balloon but, without knowing the duration and recovery location, I could not say so for sure.
Since the case involved interceptors and a large number of witnesses, I decided to see if Blue Book was involved. A search of the Fold 3 web site produced a case file showing that the source of the report was a research balloon. Did Blue Book simply slap this identification on the case as many UFOlogists claim or was there reasonable evidence to support this explanation?
NICAP’s selective reporting
Examining the file, revealed that there was more to the news reports than what NICAP let everyone know in their reporting of this case. For instance,
the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on November 14th3, that the pilots (Lt. Melvin Bowers and Lt. Mark Studder), who were sent to intercept the UFO, quickly identified the object as a balloon of some kind. On November
15th, the Dayton Journal reported that a General Mills spokesman had suggested that it was possibly a balloon launched from Minneapolis.4
A further check of news papers from the area revealed more information to support the balloon explanation. The November 15th edition of the Middlesboro,
Kentucky, Daily News, had a sketch by a reporter, who saw the UFO through binoculars (see image to the right).5 The sketch appears to be very similar to a research balloon. There is also a statement by an individual, who saw the UFO with a telescope and stated it looked like a “man-carrying balloon”. 6 This is a limited search of all the news papers and I am certain that a large number of the papers from the area included the explanation and commentary by the pilots. For some reason, NICAP’s document failed to include this information. Was this a case of NICAP only having the one news clipping and not researching the case any further? I couldn’t find any mention of radar in any of the stories I read, so I am not sure how NICAP figured it was a radar case. It seems that NICAP simply placed it into their document with little or no investigation.
After receiving the reports, ATIC suspected they were possibly caused by a balloons T/SGT Dreppard contacted LCDR Ross at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on the 18th of November. On the 22nd of November, the ONR representative at the University of Minnesota called T/SGT Dreppard and told him that two balloons were launched on November 12 and 13.7 These payloads were recovered near Danville and Carlisle, Kentucky. For Blue Book, and myself, it was/is enough information to classify this case as “solved”. NICAP can say otherwise but the evidence is pretty convincing that this case involved a research balloon.
Quelle: SUNlite 2/2013