Fort Worth Army Air Field, Texas, 10:30 am, July 10, 1947

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This highly significant photo at the right appeared July 11 in the Fort Worth Star- Telegram, the same newspaper which was responsible for most of the photos taken in Gen. Ramey's office two days earlier.  There were two more photos of this demonstration (below), all three photos now residing in the Special Collections Division of the University of Texas, Arlington, in the Star-Telegram "Roswell" photo collection.  Pictured in the photos is a demonstration launch at the Fort Worth air base of a weather balloon radar target of the same variety sometimes used with the Mogul balloons (the contemporary USAF explanation for the Roswell crash).  Also in the background is a large radar trailer used to track the balloon (compare to radar trailer pictured in Kansas City photo below).  These photos almost certainly prove that these radar targets were readily available at the base.  Obviously the radar target displayed in Gen. Ramey's office did not have to come from a Mogul balloon.  The only other alternative is that the AAF went through quite a bit of effort to procure not only the balloon with radar target, but also the radar tracking trailer solely for this debunking demonstration.  The caption of the picture in the Star-Telegram is an obvious effort to debunk the reported saucers and the Roswell event as being the result of radar targets. 
New! Another edition of the Star-Telegram also had a story about local residents spotting the balloon and also of a balloon being found earlier in nearby Lake Worth.

NEW 2008!
Carswell AFB (former Fort Worth AAF), April 1951
LIFE Magazine

This is another balloon/radar target launch at Fort Worth, along with mobile radar trailers, but dating from 1951.  Again, obviously, these devices were available at Fort Worth, though 4 years later  This photo was from a LIFE Magazine article on the Strategic Air Command and B-36 bombers centered at Carswell AFB, the former Fort Worth Army Air Field.   Caption reads:  "SAC B-36 bomber targets are equipped with stations like this manned by this ground crewmen rounding up SAC trucks loaded with equipment to plot the fall of theoretical bomb, as they use hydrogen gas tank to fill weather balloon which measure the winds, at [high altitudes]."

Photo by famous photojournalist Margaret Bourke-WhiteA high resolution version can be found at Google images.

Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 9, 1947

-- Newsmen Watch Army Radar Crew Launch "Disc"
'Flying Discs' May Be Air Field Balloons
Alamogordo Air Field Weather Balloons May Have Added To Flying
Disk Hysteria
"Discs" May Be From NM Field
Alamogordo Air Field Balloons May Be 'Discs'
Saucers Might Be Balloons Used In Training Projects

The Alamogordo demonstration was staged on July 9 at 1:00 p.m. at the same site as the Mogul balloon launches.  The four-man launch team, however, was not composed of regular Mogul launch personnel (which had left Alamogordo early the previous day).  It is now suspected (including by some of the Mogul personnel interviewed in the present day) that they were affiliated with counter-intelligence [ref. 1].  E.g., Cpt. Dyvad, mentioned in the article as part of the phony launch team, is known to have taken a military UFO report in 1951 from Corona, N.M., suggesting his connection with intelligence.  Mogul engineer Charles Moore indicates Dyvad also flew chase planes for the Mogul balloon launches, but had no direct connection with the actual process of the balloon launchings. [ref. 1] Major Pritchard (who served as spokesperson for the launch) claimed to be the base public relations officer, but was not.  He was listed in the Mogul organizational charts under Mogul Project Officer Col. Trakowski, but Trakowski and Moore said they had no idea what he was doing. [ref. 1] The reporting of this demonstration seems to have been regional, in the New Mexico and west Texas press.  Stories and photos appeared in the Alamogordo News, El Paso Times, and Roswell Daily Record. United Press wire stories also appeared in a few other New Mexico newspapers.  New Mexico Magazine was also to use one of the Alamagordo News photos in January 1948 in an article on Alamogordo, which included a short paragraph debunking the flying saucer reports as being caused by balloons and radar targets.  (For other post-Roswell media mention and debunkery of Roswell as a balloon/radar target, see 1948 Popular Science and 1967 LOOK magazine articles below.)

The primary purpose of the Alamogordo launch, as evidenced by the headlines and accompanying stories, seems to have been to debunk the national and local flying saucer reports as being the result of radar targets attached to the balloons. [Click here for News story, Times/Daily Record story, UP stories and telexes.]  Chief among the debunked national stories were the widely publicized sightings in the Pacific Northwest, which they tried to attribute to a Navy project similar to their own.  (But according to the UP, the Navy flatly denied any such program.)  Secondarily, further in the News article, it was suggested that the Roswell incident was probably explained as the finding of one of their radar targets, and a cover story was also offered to explain the purpose of the Alamogordo launches (supposedly to train radar crews in tracking).  It is now known that a weather station at nearby White Sands (more accurately, Orogrande, 35 miles south of Alamogordo) was also using the identical radar targets to chart wind currents prior to V-2 rocket launches [ref. 2]. This was the likely source for the Alamogordo demo radar targets and balloons (since Moore believes they left none of these behind when they departed the previous day).  In fact, one V-2 launch had been aborted July 3 and rescheduled for July 10, the day after this demo.  The July 3 launch was to carry explosives and a Mogul launch had been planned to listen for the explosion at high altitude.  Thus, there was obvious coordination at some level between the two programs.  The use of radar targets at White Sands was mentioned not only in the Alamogordo News headline story, but also in an accompanying article [click here], where it was stated they had been used for the last 15 months since the beginning of the V-2 program.

Kansas City, Kansas, July 9

Picture Captions:
Cause of Confusion in Air?
"Flying Disc?"
This is what caused all the hullabaloo
New Mexico's 'Flying Disk' Proves to Be Wind Target

An excellent photo of a Mogul-style radar target launch at Kansas City (or, possibly, nearby Ft. Leavenworth, site of another radiosonde station) by the Army appeared on July 9 along with various newspapers' Roswell stories. It is unclear if this was an actual demonstration or a stock photo hastily distributed to the Associated Press.  However, it carried an AP attribution rather than one from the Army or AAF (as was the case, e.g., in most of the Alamogordo photos). Note the radar trailer in the background is of the same type as that shown in the Fort Worth photo.  The copy used here came from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but the photo also appeared the same day in other Midwestern newspapers such as the St. Louis Star-Times, Louisville Times, Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman, the Milwaukee Journal, Des Moines Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune.  (The Chicago Tribune photo was heavily cropped to show only the balloon and radar target.)  The St. Louis Star-Times also included a short item that the radar targets were launched twice daily by the Army from nearby Scott Field in Illinois.  The national Roswell story by the AP also reported that a radar target had been recovered the previous day by a farmer in Adrian, Missouri near Kansas City

Wilmington, Ohio, July 10

Flying Saucer's Twin Is Weather Device

Picture Captions:

This demonstration took place at the Army's Wilmington All-Weather Flying Center, about 25 miles from Wright Field, Ohio (where at least some of the Roswell debris was eventually flown).  The same weather station previously identified the Circleville, Ohio radar target on July 5 (click here).  It is now known that starting in late June, the Wilmington station launched several hundred of these radar targets as part of a thunderstorm study with the University of Chicago [ref. 2].  The Wilmington demo showed both the ML-307 radar target, also employed by Mogul, plus the more widely used radiosonde weather balloon, and suggested both could be mistaken for flying saucers.   This is one indication that at least some of the raob weather stations were also launching radar targets.  Note portion of caption referring to radar targets which states, "Weather stations in all sections send them up every day."  Once again, the Army was definitely trying to leave the impression that use of the radar targets was widespread and the cause of the flying saucer reports.  Finally note the cross-reference in the caption to the Atlanta launch immediately below.  Photos are from the Columbus (Ohio) Citizen,     July 11.

Atlanta, Georgia, July 9 and July 10

Navy Spends $25 to Show Facsimile 'Flying Saucer'
Navy Spends $25 to Prove Disks Illusions
Navy Balloon Test Brings Flood of 'Saucer' Reports
Flying Saucers Actually Being Seen, Navy Proves
'DISKS' DEBUNKED -- Gromyko, U.S. Navy Agree!
Pranksters Have Day, Navy Explodes 'Flying Disc' Myth

Picture Captions:
Here's one of the balloons with saucer attached
"FLYING SAUCER" -- A "Raywin" sails upward

The Navy carried out a demonstration on July 9 referred to as "Operation Saucer."  Unlike most of the other demonstrations which had mostly regional newspaper coverage, this one received national coverage (click here for local Atlanta Constitution coverage and national United Press wire stories).  The purpose was blatant debunking of the saucers, as evidenced by the headlines and contents of the stories plus the statement that this was the first radar target launch ever carried out by the Naval Air Station at Atlanta.  It was also explicitly mentioned that the demonstration was arranged by the Navy to illustrate how the radar targets could be mistaken for flying saucers.  Thus, this was a particularly striking example of the Army/Navy campaign to stop all the rumors mentioned in the UP lead-in of the same day.  Not content with just one debunking, the Navy followed up the next day with yet another demo, even sending a plane up to photograph the balloon in the air. A lesser meteorological officer further claimed that every flying saucer report took place near where radar targets were used.  Since saucer reports had come from all but one state, this again was a suggestion of widespread use of the radar targets to explain the saucers.  The Atlanta radar target was a different style from the ones used by the Mogul Project and other demos, and was carried aloft by a balloon cluster.  Notice that three of these balloons are dark, or maybe black, providing one possible explanation for the darkened balloon material shown at Gen. Ramey's feet in Fort Worth (see Princeton, N.J. launch below which likewise used dark balloons).  Weather balloons using various pigmentation were standard issue equipment at most weather stations.  Black balloons were frequently used for better visual tracking during overcast weather.

Seattle, Washington, July 9


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On July 10, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer showed photos of a nearby Naval Air Station launching a radiosonde (raob) weather balloon.  Again, it was suggested that these weather balloons could be mistaken for the "flying disks."  The story also has some interesting background material on the raob balloons.  For full article, click here.

Picture Captions:

Also on July 10, the Seattle Star carried two photos demonstrating the Mogul-style radar target in use at the nearby Boeing Aircraft field, where the civilian Seattle weather bureau was located.  Besides the photos, the previous day the Star also quoted the local bureau that they too used radar targets on occasion from ships at sea and in Vancouver, B.C.  They expressed skepticism, however, that the radar targets could account for flying saucer reports in the Pacific Northwest [click here for brief article].

New York City/New Jersey, July 11

SAUCER TYCOON TELLS ALL:  IT ISN'T ROUND, DOESN'T FLY -- Park Produces Savant Explaining Whole Mystery Except The Point

Picture Caption:

The Brooklyn manufacturer of the Army ML-307 radar target (the one used on Project Mogul and elsewhere) staged a demo at the Palisades Amusement Park, N.J., just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, with the aid of the nearby Clinton, N.J. neoprene balloon manufacturer, suggesting a deliberate and coordinated attempt to debunk.  (The demonstration site was perhaps inspired by the amusement park renaming one of their rides "the flying saucer" a few days before.)  The photo captions indicate the manufacturer was claiming that the radar targets definitely explained the so-called flying saucers.  Press coverage seems to have been confined to New Jersey.  [Photos from Bergen N.J. Evening Record and Newark N.J. Star-Ledger.]  A week later, a small New Jersey paper ran a story on the amusement park demonstration wherein the radar target manufacturer reiterated his opinion that they definitely accounted for the flying saucers. [Click here for story]

Asbury Park, New Jersey, before July 13

'Discs' Mystery To Even Officials But Could Be Weather Gadgets

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The Asbury Park Sunday Press on July 13 quoted a military engineer with the Army's Evans Signal Laboratory, who theorized that the flying saucer reports might be explained by the radar targets and radiosondes developed before the war at nearby Ft. Monmouth, only 5 miles away (and, interestingly enough, only 2 miles from the headquarters of the Mogul Project).  The engineer again indicated widespread use for the radar targets, and as in the Atlanta demo, a claim was made that many radar targets were constantly "used in the areas where flying discs have been reported." This may be evidence that those involved in these demos were working from a common script.  The photos in the Sunday Press showed both a weather balloon/ML-307 radar target combination and a radiosonde weather balloon.  The source of the photos could very well have been the Red Bank radiosonde station, which like Mogul headquarters was only 2 miles from Ft. Monmouth, and almost certainly used radar targets.  Similarly, the Lakehurst Naval Air Station radiosonde unit was only 25 miles away and another possible candidate for radar target use.

NEW 2010!
Kalamazoo, Michigan, July 9

Radar Weather Expert Claims Disc Solution--
Only Hydrogen-Filled Balloons, He Says

Picture Caption:

In a telegram the night of July 8, a Kalamazoo radio news editor was told by military intelligence in Washington that the flying saucers were caused by weather radar targets and that he should contact a Col. Duffy at Spring Lake, N.J., for more information. (Duffy had helped develop the radar targets during the war and later was the first Project Mogul project officer).  Instead of Duffy, however, the next day, the Kalamazoo newspaper published an interview with a local resident, a former army weather person previously stationed at Spring Lake, who similarly opined that the saucers were caused by weather balloons and radar targets or weather balloons equipped with radio transmitters. As in the Asbury Park story, it is again unclear whether this individual was expressing a personal opinion or if he was put up to it.  At the very least, it seems a reasonable guess that Kalamazoo news media contacting Spring Lake were referenced to a local expert who had previously worked there.  Col. Duffy was later to play a role in the 1994 Air Force debunkery of Roswell as a Project Mogul balloon, where the claim was made that debris was flown to Wright Field for Duffy's inspection and he supposely IDed it as coming from Mogul.  But the Kalamazoo news telegram would seem to indicate Duffy was really at Spring Lake.  Furthermore, later letters have Duffy being highly ambiguous about what he had really seen, if he had seen any debris at all.  Duffy story discussion.

San Francisco/Oakland, CA, July 9

The San Francisco Examiner showed a radar target used by the local weather services twice a day in Oakland.  The pictured target was not the ML-307 variety used by Mogul, but another style, also used in the Navy Atlanta demo.  From the accompanying story, however, the civilian weather expert pictured with the target was obviously also familiar with the ML-307, referring to its hexagonal or star shape.  As in Seattle and elsewhere, radar targets of various types were clearly familiar to civilian weather people and used by civilian weather services.  The expert also opined that this type target might very well explain many saucer reports.  The article further debunked saucers as mistaken weather balloon sightings by referring to a local weather balloon launched the previous evening reported by many people.  While there is no obvious indication that the military had a hand in the Examiner photo, the main story on the Roswell incident has the skeptical Examiner reporter calling Gen. Ramey in Fort Worth within about an hour of the crashed-disk press release, and Ramey describing a weather balloon and radar reflector to him.  The Examiner claimed to be the first ones to contact Ramey and to get the "real" story out.  This was an important story, and indicates that Ramey already had the weather balloon/radar target story in place a good two hours before it was officially announced and before the actual debris even arrived at Fort Worth      [Click here for story].  This is also in precise agreement with the Ramey memo, which states that the next press release on Roswell would be of weather balloons and recommends the use of RAWIN target demonstrations to firm up the explanation.

Princeton, New Jersey, July 12
(See also Popular Science Magazine below)

Balloons -- Not Discs:  Princeton Gadget Soars 20 Miles High; Records
     No Atomic Explosions
28 Balloons Fail To Send Reports On Cosmic Rays -- Attain 20-Mile
     Altitude, but Equipment Does Not Give Nuclear Explosion Data
Stratosphere Atom Explosions Probed
Sky Experiment Apparatus Found -- Flight in Stratosphere Fails to Show
    Nuclear Explosions Data

Perhaps coincidentally was this story of a large weather balloon array, very similar to those of the early Project Mogul, being used to conduct cosmic ray research.  This story seems have received mostly regional press coverage, but also received some limited national coverage.  Peculiar was the use of the term atomic or nuclear explosions to describe the cosmic ray data they were seeking, since the big (and only) top secret of Mogul was listening for distant Soviet nuclear explosions.  Maybe the unusual terminology used in these stories for the non-classified (though Navy sponsored) cosmic ray research did serve as a subtle cover story for the top-secret purpose of the very similar Mogul balloons.  It seems likely that there was a close linkage between the two balloon programs. They were based in close proximity to one another in New Jersey, used similar equipment, and the constant-altitude balloon technology being developed by Mogul was eventually applied to the cosmic ray balloon research.  Furthermore, less than two months prior to this, the first few Mogul launches also occurred very close by before the project was moved to New Mexico.  Other Mogul launches also took place at later dates at Lakehurst and Red Bank, N.J. Photos are from the July 13 Newark (N.J.) Evening News, Trenton (N.J.) Evening Times, July 14, and N. Y. Times, July 13.

Unknown site, July 1947 Newsreel

The pictures at the right are from a flying saucer debunking newsreel that was made at the time of the other demonstrations, but the exact location(s) where the newsreel was made and other details are still being determined. This demonstration may ultimately have been the most important of them all as a debunking vehicle, because the weekly newsreels were probably seen by millions of people all over the country.  The newsreel depicts multiple weather balloons prior to launch and during launch, and a Rawin ML-307 radar target.  The targets are again equated to objects that people claim to have been seeing (the targets are called the "famous flying saucer.")    Also depicted is a radar tracking trailer which is strikingly similar to those shown in the Kansas City and Fort Worth demonstrations of July 9 and July 10, 1947.  The star on the trailer also indicates that it is U.S. Army.  The Air Force public relations department released this film clip along with other video documentation as part of their media event on June 24, 1997, when they announced their "crash dummies" "explanation" for the reports of bodies at Roswell. The segment is somewhat misleadingly labeled as "Examples of equipment used in Project Mogul," although this balloon demo had nothing to do with Mogul, but was instead part of the military saucer debunking campaign post-Roswell.

(To order a videotape or DVD of the A.F. 30 minute presentation, see these links: link1, link2, link3.)  A shortened 9 Meg download (in Quicktime MOV format) from the Air Force Web site also contains this segment but is degraded in quality.. Better quality versions in MPEG format (either 1 Meg or 4 Meg in length) can be viewed by clicking at movie camera icons right.) 

The film clip has also been shown on a UFO special for FOX TV produced by Robert Kiviat in 1997.and as a backdrop during a NBC Today Show debate on the Roswell incident shown August 3, 2001, with Kevin Randle and Karl Pflock.  (The name of the segment was called "Truth or Conspiracy:  Roswell.") Hopefully the ultimate source of this movie clip depicting the radar target launch will soon be tracked down and the full who, when, and where of the event determined.

New!  Nashville Tennessee, July 9

A member of the Civilian Aviation Patrol (CAP) demonstrated a weather balloon, said he had previously released 3 of them and triggered local flying saucer reports, and claimed that all the saucer reports were caused by weather balloon sightings or publicity seekers.  He also said the CAP had been searching for the saucers without success. Although the CAP was an auxiliary of the Army Air Force and under its direction, it is unclear whether this individual was expressing a personal opinion and arranged the demonstration on his own, or whether he was doing it at the request of the military.  Photo from the Nashville Tennessean, July 10.

New, Dec 2009! Popular Science Magazine, May 1948

New Balloons Explore Roof of the Airways
--Are Secret Balloons the Flying Saucers?

This cover-page article detailed the new Skyhook balloon program, which was derived directly from Project Mogul.  Project Mogul balloon flights had already been used as part of the flying saucer/Roswell debunkery campaign immediately after the Roswell incident (see Alamogordo demonstration above).  Although sensationally called "secret balloons," the Skyhooks were anything but secret and were used as standard explanations for flying saucers for years afterward. (see Project Mogul UFOs and Balloon UFO sightings)  Before discussing the Skyhooks, the article (and title on cover) began with gratuitous debunkery of the "flying saucers" as Skyhooks and other balloons carrying radar reflectors.  ("Are Secret Balloons the Flying Saucers?:  ...the saucers could be Army weather radiosonde balloons, fitted with radar reflectors.")  Very interesting is the fact that the introductory photo caption also directly references the Roswell incident and the Princeton cosmic ray balloon flight at the same time (see Princeton above) . "One sure-fire flying saucer that fell to the earth in New Mexico turned out to be a weather balloon.  Another, near New York, was just a cluster of balloons carrying cosmic ray equipment."   The P.S. article also has many descriptions and photos of the balloon equipment, also used on Project Mogul, none of it really secret.  Finding of such equipment by a rancher would not be considered important and trigger a strong reaction by the military, as happened at Roswell.  This article is another instance of when Roswell was referenced in the popular press after July 1947, as is LOOK Magazine, immediately below.  (Full article at Google Books)

New!  LOOK Magazine article, 1967

In 1967 LOOK Magazine carried a special insert on flying saucers, which including a photo of a radar target of the same type shown in the Atlanta Constitution and San Francisco Examiner stories from 1947.  It also carried a photo of Gen. Ramey's weather officer posed with the wreckage of a weather balloon and radar target in Ramey's office on July 8, 1947, accompanied by the following rather confused account of what had happened:  "The year 1947 was the beginning of most American UFO sightings.  At that time military authorities believed that many of the objects seen actually were weather balloons.  In 1947, the Navy launched several objects such as this  with four balloons and tin-foil covered reflectors to measure wind velocities by radar.  When the wreckage of one of these was recovered in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1947, it was at first thought to be part of a flying saucer." Click on thumbnail at right for larger version.
FW Star-Telegram July 11
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