by Robert Hastings
In 2005, while writing my book UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites, I emailed researcher Daniel Wilson, who I knew had been investigating UFO sightings reported during periods of atmospheric atomic testing. I was hoping to learn more about numerous cases involving metallic aerial craft—usually disc or cigar-shaped—at the Nevada Proving Ground (later renamed the Nevada Test Site) which had appeared in the media during the 1950s. The information I received instead was even more intriguing.
Wilson responded, “I have examined various sighting reports made during the Buster series of shots [in the fall of 1951], of fireball-like objects that were seen all along the trajectories of radioactive debris clouds after the tests, especially the Dog and Easy shots. Those were reported in many newspapers in Arizona and New Mexico and even in The New York Times. I have taken the time to plot out the fireball reports and they matched right up with the trajectories of fallout debris.”
Initially, the so-called “Green Fireball” objects had been repeatedly observed in the skies of New Mexico, beginning in 1947, many of them sighted at or near the Los Alamos and Sandia atomic weapons laboratories. Similar phenomena, described as green or blue “flashes” and “streaks of light,” had been sighted in the sky at Fort Hood/Killeen Base, Texas, where atomic bombs were being stockpiled.
At the time, Dr. Lincoln La Paz, a meteor expert at the University of New Mexico, had extensively studied the fireballs and ruled-out a natural explanation for them. In fact, declassified Air Force and FBI documents confirm that La Paz had confidentially informed the military and the Atomic Energy Commission that the fireball objects were probably either a top secret U.S. weapon of some sort or a secret Soviet device sent into American airspace to spy on our atomic weapons program. However, despite La Paz’ informed view on the subject, a half-a-century later, no credible evidence exists to support either hypothesis.
The documents Dan Wilson sent to me, relating to the atomic tests in Nevada, had been declassified by the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA) and the Air Force. Each report contained maps of the trajectories of the radioactive debris clouds after each shot, as recorded at different altitudes, plotting their progress as they drifted over various regions of the U.S. in the days following a given test.
Wilson explained, “Before each series of tests, a Fallout-Monitoring Network of collection stations, at more than 50 locations across the United States, was set up to collect surface debris on trays with a sticky paper on them. The data from this network was used to create maps showing surface distribution of radioactive debris. Isolines were drawn on these maps showing the areas of contamination.”
Other radiation sampling, within the wind currents themselves, was conducted by research aircraft provided by the U.S. Air Force’s Special Weapons Command, as well as certain, deceptively-named “Weather Reconnaissance” squadrons, which actually were tasked with sampling drifting radioactive clouds—both U.S. and Soviet—all over the globe.
Along with the declassified technical reports, Wilson sent numerous newspaper articles about various green fireball sightings which had occurred after one atomic bomb test or another, as well as a handful of declassified Project Blue Book reports summarizing a few of the sightings. I have to admit that I was startled by the number of apparent correlations, in case after case, where fireball sightings had taken place—almost without exception—at locations over which the drifting fallout had passed only a few hours or days earlier.
There are so many examples, with so much supporting documentation, that I cannot possibly do Wilson’s findings justice in this column. Therefore, I am going to make my book’s chapter on the subject available to anyone who contacts me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That said, here are three cases:
The “Buster Easy” atomic test occurred on November 5, 1951, at 8:30 a.m. PST. At the time of the shot, the direction of winds aloft varied significantly at different altitudes, sending the radioactive cloud in several directions. Above 24,000-feet, the debris drifted southeast over Arizona and into southern New Mexico, west Texas and northern Mexico. The next day, November 8th, a series of new fireballs streaked across the skies of—you guessed it—Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico.
This spectacular show did not escape the attention of The New York Times, whose article, “Southwest’s 7 Fireballs in 11 Days Called ‘Without Parallel in History’” described the display in great detail, noting sightings at Cloverdale and Rodeo, New Mexico; Sierra Blanca, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; Guzman, Mexico; Los Angeles, California.
Dan Wilson says, “With the exception of the sighting at Los Angeles, all of these fireballs were seen in areas where the radioactive debris cloud from the Buster Easy shot moved overhead on November 5th. However, on November 7th, one day before the California fireball, the 10,000 and 18,000-foot [altitude] trajectories from the Buster Easy shot passed over the Los Angeles area.”
Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, a reporter interviewed Dr. La Paz who said, “There has never been a rate of meteorite fall in history that has been one-fifth as high as the present fall. If that rate should continue, I would suspect the phenomenon is not natural...[they] don’t behave like ordinary meteorites at all.”
A second example of this apparent link between drifting radiation and sightings of Green Fireballs occurring during the Operation Tumbler-Snapper shot Able, detonated on April 1, 1952 at 9 a.m. PST. Wilson notes that the Able debris cloud continued eastward over time. “By late in the day on April 2nd,” he says, “there was an area of radioactive fallout covering a large portion of the central plains states, which was just starting to rain on northern Texas.”
On April 3rd, the Denton Record-Chronicle, in Denton, Texas, featured an article titled “Meteor or Flying Saucer? Fiery Fast-Moving Object Sighted In Sky Over Texas.” The story stated that the night before people from Houston to Fort Worth had seen a fiery object traveling south-to-north around 8:40 p.m. A Pioneer Airlines pilot estimated that the object was moving at an estimated 800 mph, far slower than a meteor. He described it as some type of rocket.”
A third example: On March 29, 1955, for the first time ever, two different atomic devices were detonated on the same day. At 4:55 a.m., the Teapot Apple-1 shot took place; radiation, as measured at the 30,000-foot altitude, moved east then southeast over northern Arizona, central New Mexico and into north central Texas. The 18,000-foot trajectory moved east, then southeast, over Utah, Colorado, eastern New Mexico, and western and southern Texas.
At 10 a.m., the Teapot Wasp Prime shot took place; the 30,000-foot trajectory from the blast moved east and then southeast over Utah, New Mexico, and into northern Texas. “For the rest of the day,” says Wilson, “a large area of moderate-to-heavy radioactive fallout was falling on Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. In fact, from March 29 through April 3, those states received virtually uninterrupted fallout.”
On April 6th, the Alamogordo Daily News ran an article titled “Fireballs Shower On State,” which summarized the latest outburst. Apparently, three or four fireballs had been reported in New Mexico, in rapid succession, on the previous night. Dr. LaPaz was quoted as saying that heavy shortwave radio and television interference had accompanied their appearance. He noted that the fireballs were reportedly silent and mentioned that no fragments had been found.
Summarizing, Wilson says, “We can make one statement of fact: the fireball sightings occurred in areas that received radioactive debris from [various tests]. Was this just a coincidence, or a planned occurrence? We simply don’t know, so all we can do is to continue to collect data and see if some overwhelmingly convincing pattern emerges. However, in my opinion, it’s clear that the green fireballs are real, probably artificial, and those responsible for them had an agenda of some kind.”
Wilson is not the only one to have arrived at that conclusion. In his book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, the former chief of Project Blue Book, Air Force Captain Edward Ruppelt, wrote of a very interesting group discussion in which he had participated at Los Alamos, early in 1952. He said that some of the scientists and technicians had been informally theorizing about the green fireballs and had proposed a rather startling explanation for their origin: “I was eating lunch with a group of people at the AEC’s Los Alamos Laboratory,” he wrote, “when one of the group mentioned the mysterious kelly-green balls of fire. The strictly unofficial bull-session-type discussion that followed took up the entire lunch hour and several hours of the afternoon. It was an interesting discussion because these people, all scientists and technicians from the lab, had a few educated guesses as to what they might be. All of them had seen a green fireball, some of them had seen several...
“The speculation about what the green fireballs were ran through the usual spectrum of answers, a new type of natural phenomenon, a secret U.S. development, and psychologically-enlarged meteors. When the possibility of the green fireballs being associated with interplanetary vehicles came up, the whole group got serious. They had been doing a lot of thinking about this, they said, and they had a theory.
“The green fireballs, they theorized, could be some type of unmanned test vehicle that was being projected into our atmosphere from a ‘spaceship’ hovering several hundred miles above the earth. Two years ago I would have been amazed to hear a group of reputable scientists make such a startling statement. Now, however, I took it as a matter of course. I’d heard the same type of statement many times before from equally-qualified groups…”
The informal discussion at Los Alamos is of course intriguing. That top nuclear weapons specialists would even consider such a radical idea as extraterrestrial visitors to explain the green fireballs would undoubtedly have shocked most of their scientific peers at the time, probably even today.
In any case, if Ruppelt’s revelation about the conversation at Los Alamos is intriguing, it is also ironic. In light of Dan Wilson’s research, as well as various declassified documents relating to the UFO-Nukes Connection, it seems arguable, in my view, that the appearance of the green fireballs—as well as the more frequently-sighted disc-shaped UFOs—was a direct result of the work the nuclear scientists themselves were doing at the Los Alamos and Sandia Labs, as well as at the Nevada Proving Ground. While the actual origin and purpose of the fireballs remains unknown, the available data are strongly suggestive of a link with atomic testing.
To be sure, many questions remain to be answered.
For example, why did fireballs and/or UFOs appear after some atomic tests but not others? Or, why did the unidentified aerial objects seem to materialize in areas near a particular radioactive debris trajectory, after one test or another, but were not in evidence near other debris plumes, drifting at different altitudes, over other regions of the U.S.?
Obviously, many other questions must be asked as well, and the data require independent, scientific scrutiny and statistical-modeling, to establish the validity of the apparent correlation between radioactive fallout and the fireball sightings.
Nevertheless, Dan Wilson has done a remarkable job gathering and analyzing the available evidence. I have encouraged him to publish his findings once he believes he has taken his research as far as he can.