List of UFO Sightings by Mogul and Skyhook Balloon Personnel


Compiled from multiple sources, including:

The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects by Cpt. Edward J. Ruppelt, former head of the Air Force's public
     UFO investigatio, Project Blue Book, 1952-1953.
Listing of 1500 Project Blue Book unknowns by Brad Sparks
Dr. Allan J. Hynek, The Hynek UFO Report, and The UFO Experience

Other sources as noted


June 27, 1947
Near Tulerosa (cited by one source as Oscuro), N.M., about 30 miles west or WSW of Capitan, unspecified time

--According to newspaper accounts, while flying in a private plane at 8000 feet, Capt. J. Dyvad (probably actually L. Dyvad) of the Alamogordo Army Air Base reported seeing a "ball of fire with a blue fiery tail" disintegrate about 2000 feet beneath him. Earlier, Lt. Colonel Harold Turner, C/O at White Sands Proving Ground had reported that Dyvad had seen "an object falling from the skies near Tulerosa." Dyvad attributed the sighting to a meteorite, as did Turner. Turner also made the rather bizarre claims that the meteorites were "coming closer to the surface of the earth" making them "appear much larger" and they "might look like a shiny disc if caught at a certain angle in the sun's rays."
.
(El Paso Herald-Post, 6/28; El Paso Times, 6/29, Hobbs N.M. Daily News-Sun, 6/28, Albuquerque Journal 6/29, Las Cruces Sun-News, 6/29) [Perhaps related to other fireball sightings in area on same day.  See New Mexico UFO reports section.  Dyvad was a chase pilot for the Mogul balloon flights, but was also part of the balloon/radar target demonstration team on July 9 in Alamogordo trying to debunk the flying saucers and Roswell.  There is an unproven suspicion, including by Mogul people such as Charles Moore, that Dyvad may have been affiliated with Army counterintelligence.  Click here for more on Capt. Dyvad)


Late August 1947
Alamogordo Army Air Field (later Holloman AFB), N.M., unspecified time

--Communications officer Lt. H. C. Markley of the Air Materiel Command's Project Mogul, was watching 2 balloons carrying a radar reflector to the SE in 10x binoculars when he saw a high speed, round, white object in horizontal flight traveling at "an unprecedented rate of speed" S to N several thousand feet over the tops of the Sacramento Mts. He lost sight of it after a few seconds. Markley added that there had been other times when manning an optical tracker that he had seen round or flat-round objects that were "unexplainable."

(Sighting report; Brad Sparks unknowns list )[Sparks wryly notes that the case was bogusly explained by the Air Force as "false radar targets" picked up by radar tracking, when this was a visual sighting and no radar tracking was involved. However, the same sighting report notes that a Mr. Rosmovski of the Watson Labs confirmed that multiple stationary objects had indeed been picked up on radar at some other time, at an altitude of 200 miles!]


April 5, 1948
Holloman AFB, N.M., afternoon
[Project Blue Book unknowns]

--Three scientists (Olsen, Johnson, and Chance), Geophysics Lab balloon observers, Watson Laboratories, watched 2 irregular, round, white or golden objects, one-fifth the size of the full moon, estimated at 100 feet in size. They were flying very high and very fast.  One made three loops then rose and disappeared rapidly.  The other flew in a fast arc to the west. Sighting time was about 30 seconds. 

[Ruppelt, Chapt. 6, p. 71; listed in Top Secret Air Intelligence Analysis from 1948 ]


April 24, 1949
3 miles N of Arrey, N.M. [50 miles west of White Sands] , 10:30 a.m.
[Project Blue Book unknown]

--General Mills/Mogul balloon expert Charles B. Moore, while tracking a test balloon with a theodolite, made important UFO sighting with 4 Navy technicians, (Akers, Davidson, Fitzsimmons, Moorman).  After tracking it across the sky, the whitish-silver, elliptical object, roughly 100 by 40 feet, disappeared in a sharp climb, calculated at 18,000 to 25,000 mph [5-7 miles/sec] , at an altitude estimated at 60 miles.  At one point the UFO climbed about 25 miles in only 10 sec [or about 80 G's acceleration!!].  The object left no trail and was observed for about 1 minute.  Moore still believes it was not a conventional object.  In 1986, responding to a question posed to him about Dr. Donald Menzel's debunking of the sighting as a mirage of their own balloon, Moore wrote, "What I saw was not a mirage; it was a craft with highly unusual performance. It was not a balloon; at the time we were the innovators and manufacturers of the new balloons and I certainly would have known about any new developments as I was newly in charge of General Mill's Balloon operations.  It was not the X-1 that was in its hangar at Muroc [Edwards AFB, California] that Sunday. It was nothing from White Sands nor from Alamogordo. ...We were in contact with Range Control and were informed our operation was the only one active on Sunday. For these reasons I am cynical about Dr. Menzel and his approach to science." According to Dr. Allen Hynek, Moore also told him he was "disgusted" with the Air Force for its lack of attention to the sighting. 

[Cmdr. Robert McLaughlin, in charge of the guided missile program at White Sands, later wrote an explosive article about the incident in TRUE Magazine, March 1950, stating it was a space-craft from another planet guided by intelligent beings.  Sighting detailed in Cmdr. McLaughlin's letter to Dr. James van Allen (also mentions McLaughlin's own saucer sighting during a V-2 launch around May 10, 1949, and astronomer Clyde Tombaugh detecting an explosion on Mars in 1941).  Moore quote in Dr. Bruce Maccabee's article "Still in Default." Full sighting report by Moore sent to CIA (Fawcett/Greenwood, The UFO Coverup); reprinted in Richard Hall, "Uninvited Guests".  Cited in 8/14/52 CIA study and LIFE Magazine, 4/7/52; Ruppelt, Ch. 6, pp.70-71; Hynek, Ch. 5;  ]


Unspecified date [1949?]
White Sands Proving Grounds, N.M.?

-- While tracking a balloon, an egg-shaped UFO, "of fantastic size," traveling possibly 3 to 4 miles a second, was observed through a photo-theodolite.  The object swept across the balloon's path, "cavorted" for about 10 seconds, "taking turns up to 22 times the force of gravity," before disappearing.  It had no visible means of propulsion. One unnamed officer [Cmdr. McLaughlin?]  thought this and other anomalous objects seen at White Sands were space ships. [Los Angeles Times, 8/30/49; possibly a distorted version of the Arrey, N.M. sighting above; Times article mentioned by Frank Scully in his 1950 book "Behind the Flying Saucers"]

Two other recent sightings at White Sands were also reported in the Times article.  In one, a military technician saw an object on June 14, 1949, at 3:35 p.m. while tracking a V-2 rocket through a 20 power telescope.  "I don't know what it was, but I had never seen anything like it before.  It seemed to be metallic, but I couldn't tell its size, its speed, or its altitude."  He informed his superiors and was told the next morning that he had seen a "disk."  One officer interviewed by the reporter tried to debunk it as a weather balloon, but admitted the technician was "a reliable man."  [Note:  Just 4 days before this, June 10, two white UFOs were observed by multiple tracking sites circling around a V-2 in flight, another classic UFO case written up by Cmdr. McLaughlin.]  The second report was from a "senior officer." On Friday, Aug. 23, 1949, a week before the article, the witness was preparing for a missile firing at 11:00 a.m. and scanning the skies through binoculars.  "I don't know what it was, but it came out of the north in a shallow dive and turned west."  He couldn't guess its size or speed.  He added that he considered himself a "skeptic."  [Note:  Just 3 days before this sighting, famous astronomer Clyde Tombaugh had a nighttime UFO sighting on Aug. 20, 1949, from nearby Las Cruces, N.M.  See LIFE Magazine article.]


January 16, 1951 (or 1952)
Near Artesia, N.M. [30 miles south of Roswell], Daytime
[Project Blue Book unknown]

--General Mills balloon personnel Raymond Dugan and another [Raymond E. Stiles?] of the Aeronautical Research Laboratory were tracking a 110 ft. Skyhook balloon at 90,000 (112,000?) feet.  They spotted a motionless, dull white, round object about 60%, either bigger or smaller,  than the balloon (Ruppelt places the size at about 60 feet).  Later the balloon crew and the crew of a C-47 tracking the balloon, and the manager of the Artesia airport, saw two disc-shaped objects approach rapidly side-by-side, tip on edge, circle the balloon, and speed off over the NW (NE?) horizon. The balloon when recovered was found to be ripped.  According to Ruppelt, the airmen, whom he knew, became confirmed saucer believers, as did many others with the N.M. balloon and missile projects, nearly all of whom had bewildering UFO sightings.  (See 1952 CIA scientific study, which said the same thing)

[Richard Hall, "The UFO Evidence," 1964, p. 131; Ruppelt, Chapt. 6.  Brad Sparks list of unknowns]


Jan. 22, 1951 (also given as Feb. 14, 1951)
50 miles SE [ESE?] of Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, N.M. 10 a.m.

--Primary witnesses were pilots Capt. Ernest W. Spradley of Aerial Photo Lab and Capt. James E. Cocker of All-Weather Flying Division, Air Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.  Also a General Mills Aeronautical lab project engineer Mr. McAleese [sp?] and an airman, were flying in a C-47 heading E [ESE?] at about 10,000-12,000 ft and tracking a large Project GOPHER plastic balloon at about 50,000-60,000 ft when they saw a bright star-like object seemingly next to the pear-shaped balloon or above and to the side.  As they approached and flew under the balloon they noticed the object descend to the balloon's level and grow larger in apparent size until about 1/4 to 1/2 the 70 ft balloon, when it appeared to be round and flat like a dime, milky white or silvery in color with a clear outline. According to Spradley, "We were following the balloon when I noticed a strange object in the sky.  It was flat and looked like a dime.  It was a milky color.  It wasn't doing anything, just hovering near the balloon.  Said Cocker: "I saw something I never saw before.  It was perfectly round, but I don't know what it was.  In a way it looked like a star without a twinkle although it appeared a perfectly clear silver color.  It appeared to hover next to the balloon and then it separated.   Cocker and McAleese left the cockpit, went to the astrodome to observe the object.  After 3-5 mins they saw the object separate from the balloon and head W at high speed, after about 1 min it emitted a series of 3 bright flashes like photo flashes at 1 sec intervals and disappeared from sight.  Naval officers at Whites Sands Proving Ground had no explanation for the object, though one suggested "it might have been some kind of reflector."  However, he couldn't explain the 3 bright flashes that Cocker said he saw.  

[Sparks index; also A.P story in NY Times, and Los Angeles Times, 2/16/51; incident mentioned in The New Yorker, 9/6/52, UFO article, "Something in the Sky;" Richard Hall, "The UFO Evidence"]


February 12, 1951

--Newspaper articles appear about a Look magazine article coming out the next day claiming that literally ALL "reliable reports" of unidentified flying objects from such people as airplane pilots, scientific observers, and reliable laymen could be readily explained as a Skyhook or similar large plastic Navy balloons, according to Dr. Urner Liddel, chief of the nuclear physics branch of the Office of Naval Research.  According to Liddel, everything else came from crackpots, hoaxers, psychopaths or people with "inaccurate vision."  These statements from Liddel on behalf of the Navy were widely trumpeted in the nation's press as the definitive solution to the flying saucer mystery.  E.g., the New York Times made this a front page story on Feb, 13, followed up with an editorial  on Feb. 14, and more debunkery Feb. 18 in a lengthy Sunday "Science in Review" by their science editor. 

[Note the irony of these efforts to debunk UFO reports as balloons with the previous sighting by the very sort of reliable pilot witnesses noted by Liddel who saw the unknown in addition to the balloon they were following.  The pilots went public with their sighting only 3 days after this round of balloon debunkery began.  The NewYork Times heavily edited and buried the pilots' story at the bottom of page 27, in contrast to the prominent front page and editorial page coverage they gave the Navy debunkery.]


October 10, 1951 (10:10 a.m.)
Near Minneapolis, Minnesota and St. Croix, Wisconsin 
[Project Blue Book unknown]

--First of two UFO sighting on successive days by General Mills balloon researchers.  The first sighting was by aeronautical engineer and former P-38 pilot Joseph J. Kaliszewski and Jack Donaghue.  In one account, such as the New York Times, they were flying inside an experimental manned balloon.  In another, provided by Dr. James McDonald in his 1968 Congressional testimony, they were chasing the balloon in a small plane at 6000 feet.  The Project Bluebook case report described both men as "very reliable" and "experienced high altitude balloon observers." Kaliszewski said he spotted "a strange object crossing the skies from East to West, a great deal higher and behind our balloon (which was near 20,000 ft at that time)." The object was cigar-shaped and "had a peculiar glow to it, crossing behind and above our balloon from east to west very rapidly, first coming in at a slight dive, leveling off for about a minute and slowing down, then into a sharp left turn and climbing at an angle of 50 to 60 degrees into the southeast with a terrific acceleration." The two observers had the object in view for about 2 minutes, during which it crossed a span of some 45 degrees of the sky. No vapor trail was seen, and Kaliszewski was emphatic in asserting that it was not a balloon, jet, or conventional aircraft.

[Dr. James McDonald's account; Sparks summary; Reported in N.Y. Times, 4/12/52, p. 13.  On p. 10, was an editorial ridiculing the LIFE magazine UFO article of 4/7/52.  Ironically, the Time's editorial claimed that nearly all UFO reports could be explained by the Skyhook balloon launches.]


October 11, 1951 (either 6:30 or 8:30 a.m.)
Near Minneapolis, Minnesota and St. Croix, Wisconsin 
[Project Blue Book unknown]

--In the second sighting the next day, Kaliszewski was riding in a balloon with pilot Dick Reilly north of Minneapolis.  On the ground were aerologist Charles B. Moore and Doug Smith (also Richard Dorian and Zuckert) observing through theodolites.  The flight crew saw two objects. The first object was brightly glowing with a dark underside and a halo around it. It "was moving from east to west at a high rate and very high."  Using a reinforcing member of the windshield as a reference point, the men estimated it was moving at about 50 degrees per second.   "The object arrived high and fast, then slowed and made slow climbing circles for about two minutes, and finally sped away to the east. It crossed rapidly and then slowed down and started to climb in lazy circles slowly. The pattern it made was like a falling oak leaf inverted. It went through these gyrations for a couple minutes and then with a very rapid acceleration disappeared to the east." Total time that the first object was seen was about 5 minutes.  Soon afterwards they saw another object shoot straight across the sky from west to east.  Kaliszewski radioed tracking theodolite observers at the University of Minnesota Airport.  Two of them (Smith and Dorian) got fleeting glimpses of what appeared to them to be a cigar-shaped object viewed through the theodolite, but they could not keep it in view due to its fast angular motion. Sighting of the second object lasted only a few seconds. While the Oct. 11 main sighting was officially categorized as "Unidentified," for some reason the Oct. 10 sighting was called an "Aircraft." Kaliszewski could not understand how such a distinction could be made, since in his opinion both objects matched no known aeronautical device.

[McDonald; Sparks; NY Times.]


January 14, 1952
Minneapolis, Minn.

--New Project Blue Book chief Cpt. Ed Ruppelt visits the General Mills balloon launch people to ask them about their UFO experiences.  Ruppelt states (p. 161) that, "They like so many other reliable observers, had been disgusted with the previous Air Force attitude toward UFO reports, and they had refused to send in any reports.  ... Every time I tried to infer that there might be some natural explanation for the UFO's, I just about found myself in a fresh snowdrift.  What made these people so sure that UFO's existed?  In the first place, they had seen many of them.  One man told me that one tracking crew had seen so many that the sight of a UFO no longer especially interested them. And the things that they saw couldn't be explained." Earlier (p. 102) Ruppelt wrote about some of their sightings, including the one on 1/16/51, and says, "I knew the two pilots of the C-47; both of them now believe in flying saucers.  And they aren't alone; so do the people of the Aeronautical Division of General Mills who launch and track the big Skyhook balloons.  These scientists and engineers all have seen UFO's and they aren't their own balloons.  I was almost tossed out of the General Mills offices ...for suggesting such a thing." Ruppelt also ironically contrasts the UFO experiences of the Skyhook balloon people with recent articles that nearly all UFO reports could be explained by the Skyhook balloons. 

(Ruppelt's book, Chap. 6 and Chap. 9)


July 29, 1952,
Washington, D.C.

--In an attempt to quell public concern of the many recent flying saucer reports (including widely publicized radar/visual/jet intercepts over Washington), the military held its largest press conference since the end of WWII, headed by Maj. Generals Samford, USAF Chief of Air Intelligence, and Roger Ramey [of Roswell incident infamy].  The public was told the saucers were mirages.  But the same day, the CIA started an internal scientific investigation.  In a SECRET, EYES ONLY MEMO to Deputy Director/Intelligence from Ralph L.  Clark, Acting Asst. Dir. of Scientific Intelligence it was stated:  "In the past  several weeks a number of radar and visual sightings of unidentified aerial objects have been reported.  Although this office has maintained a continuing review of such reported sightings during the past three years, a special study group has been formed to review this subject to date.  O/CI will participate in this study with O/SI [Offices of Central and Scientific Intelligence] and a report  should be ready about 15 August. 

[This memo would imply CIA UFO investigations dating back to at least 1949.]


August 14, 1952
Washington, D.C.

--First report of CIA UFO special study group, set up 7/29.  Stated that "outside knowledge of Agency interest in Flying Saucers carries the risk of making the problem even more serious in the public mind ... which we and the Air Force agree must be avoided."  Reviewed the history of UFOs, going back to the 1946 Swedish "ghost rockets," described the variety of UFO shapes and flight characteristics, including the 4/24/49 Charles Moore White Sands sighting of 18,000 mph and the fact that "evasion upon approach is common."  Various cases of simultaneous radar/visual sightings were cited, but also mentioned that all radar trackings were incomplete.  Seriously doubted that they were a secret project of U.S. or Russian origin.  Finally stated that there was no definite evidence of extraterrestrial origins, but noted that "Comdr. McLaughlin (of the White Sands report), a number of General Mills balloon people and many others are reported to be convinced of this theory." [Timothy Good, "Above Top Secret"]


August 29, 1952, 10:50 a.m.
West of U.S. Airbase, Thule, Greenland, 80 miles from North Pole
[Project Blue Book unknown?]

--Flying at 10,000 feet in the arctic while monitoring a Skyhook balloon doing cosmic ray research at 90,000 feet, the crew of the four-engine "Privateer" (P4Y-2) saw "three bright silver discs" attached to the top of the instrument pod hanging under the balloon.  The "saucer-shaped" objects had appeared suddenly, not having been there when the balloon was previously viewed. After watching them through binoculars for several minutes, the discs detached themselves from the tail of the balloon, formed up into a compact V, executed a sharp vertical bank to the left, estimated at 100 g's, then accelerated upward at blinding speed taking them out of sight in 3 seconds (estimated speed in the tens of thousands of miles an hour).  The pilot, Lt. John C. Callahan, reported the incident upon the plane's return to his officer in charge, Commander Edward P. Stafford.  Stafford first publicly reported it in the October 2004 issue of Naval History Magazine in an article titled "Cosmic Curiosity-- 'Three bright silver discs' seen over Greenland have never been explained."  Besides Callahan, the incident was also witnessed by copilot Lt. (jg) Bill O'Flaherty and the plane's captain, identified only as "Merchant."  Stafford said Callahan immediately wrote out a full report, which was forwarded to the Office of Naval Intelligence and Air Force authorities in Thule.  There was never an explanation or even an acknowledgement of the report.  (However, the case is apparently listed in Project Blue Book files.)  Stafford wrote that Callahan was normally a very steady professional pilot, but was badly shaken by this incident.

(Sparks list; Naval History Magazine article at UFO Updates


Oct. 15, 1953
Minneapolis, Minn. 10:10 a.m.

--During tracking of a Project GRAB BAG balloon launch, a 40 ft object leaving a brief vapor trail was seen by 3 General Mills Aeronautical Lab research engineers traveling South in horizontal flight 10° in 9 secs at about 40,000 ft altitude and 25° elevation at about 1,100 mph, then went into vertical dive for about 10-15 secs.  The object glowed or flashed in the sun 2-3 times for 1 sec each. It was seen as a gray mass in the theodolite leveling off, vapor trail stopped.  Sighting lasted 40-45 seconds.

(Sparks list; Hynek UFO Report pp.113-4; Hynek UFO Experience, Ch. 6, case DD-9)


Feb. 1, 1954
35 miles SW of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 3:15p.m.

--Crew of USN Office of Naval Research aircraft heading East towards a cosmic-ray balloon at 90,000-100,000 ft and 15-30 miles away saw 6 objects fly over and around the balloon, hover then vertically ascend out of sight

(Sparks list; Hynek-CUFOS-Willy Smith files)