Friday, March 23, 2018

UFOs, Weather Balloons and Witnesses

Weather balloons were nothing new in the 1940s, and had been flying since the 1890s without causing much trouble - until the flying saucer fever of the 1940s. 

(Photo by Metropolitan News, 1935)
Pilot R. J. McNown of Northwest Airlines, watching Betty Burt release the 10,000th balloon for the Weather Bureau at the Chicago Municipal Airport, while government meteorologist E. D. Knarr prepares to follow the balloon's flight through the Theodolite instrument. 

In March 1953, Captain Edward Ruppelt prepared "Project Blue Book Special Briefing For Air Command," a lecture on the status quo of the Air Force's UFO investigation.  It included balloons in a section discussing common generators of false saucer reports. Some sightings were indeed balloons, but an AF study showed that during two months of peak "saucer fever," only about 14.5% of balloons launched had generated UFO reports.  
Project Blue Book Special Briefing For Air Command (Fold3)
The following is a collection of news clippings from 1952-3. All these flying saucers reports were explained as balloons - before being reported to the Air Force.

Dubuque Telegraph Herald Oct. 24, 1952
Radiosonde balloon release. U.S. Army photo
What these stories can tell us is that these Identified Flying Objects-to be can sometimes generate some reports with some unearthly sounding characteristics.

Jefferson City News and Tribune Nov.16, 1952

Clovis News-Journal, Nov. 16, 1952
1952 Radiosonde launch. Bracknell, Berkshire UK
Morning Avalanche Jan. 28, 1953

Bakersfield Californian, Jan. 31, 1953

In a follow-up piece, we'll take a look at the reports and excitement from what was flying in 1954.

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