The Press 1940-1949 -> Documents -> Homeclick!
Cette page en franšaisCliquez!

UFOs in the daily Press:

The Army demonstration at Alamogordo, USA, July 9, 1947:

The article below was published in the newspaper The Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, page 1, on July 10, 1947.



[Caption of left picture:] Above is a small section of the radar experimental equipment and personnel of the Watson Laboratories, AMC, which is attached to the White Sands Proving Ground Guided Missiles Project, tracing a "flying disc" or corner reflector as the army knows it, in its flight by radar photographing of the flight, charting and projecting upon a screen its progress. Arrow at the right shows the movie camera recording of the flight as detected by radar apparatus and arrow on left is pointing to a screen upon which seven seconds later the picture of the flight is shown, (Army Air Forces photo).

[Caption of the middle picture:] Launching of the corner reflector radar experimental device is about to take place in the above picture. This is undoubtedly the device reported far and wide as the "flying disc". It is, in the above picture as snapped by a member of the Alamogordo News staff, shown to be a two-balloon carried pair of commonly-used radar reflector paper triangles covered with tinfoil and held rigidly by small wooden strips. Each of these corner reflectors is held to the other and the two supporting balloons by twine. On the edges of the board frames of each "flying disc" is stapled a slip of typed paper bearing the words "Property of Army Material command Watson Laboratories, Army Air Field, Alamogordo New Mexico." (Alamogordo News photo.)

[Caption of the right picture:] Above (reading left to right) Major W. C. Mangnum, Lt. S. W. Seigel, Major W. D. Pritchard, and Capt. L. H. Dyad, of Watson Laboratories Army Material command long range radar detection project at the Army Air Base nine miles west of Alamogordo. These are the officers in charge at the station and Major Pritchard the one who invited members of the Alamogordo News staff to view the launching of a corner reflector Wednesday at 1 p.m. (Army Air Forces photo.)

News Men Watch Army Radar Crew Launch "Disc"

Local "flying discs", and possibly those throughout the nation, summered down to balloon-piloted observation radar targets loosed from the Alamogordo Army Air Base and related bases throughout the nation.

These observed over Otero county were loosed from the north area of the local air base under the direction of Major W. D. Pritchard of the Watson Laboratories AMC experimental group for long range radar detection, or from the other White Sands Proving Ground and related groups.

On invitation of Major Pritchard, members of the Alamogordo News staff took pictures of the balloons and trailing angular cornered reflectors covered with tinfoil as they were prepared to be sent aloft and after their release on Wednesday, July 9 at 1 p.m.

The same group observed the flight of the balloons and trailing observation reflectors for approximately one hour until one balloon burst over the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains southeast of Alamogordo and the consequent descent of the device, known by rumor as the "flying disc" of this area, until it grounded about 200 feet from highway 70 southeast of Alamogordo.

In flight the reflectors and their towing balloons climbed by stages in the mid-day hot air currents and at times oscillated and appeared to the eye-sight as of various shapes with the reflectors losing their identity as they changed.

The towing balloons, however, remained identified throughout the seven to ten-mile flight and were observed by motor-operated tracking sights, field-glass and radar contact with the reflectors.

Major Pritchard who issued the invitation to the press group to visit and view the widely-discussed and reported ascent of the corner reflector device, explained the object was study and training of officers and enlisted men of the army in observing and tracking of objects slower than airplanes by eye and radar device.

The corner reflector being periodically released for this purpose, he explained, and had been for the past fifteen months from this local headquarter of the AMC under the Watson Laboratories group, who have headquarters at Red Bank, New Jersey.

Major Pritchard and his fellow officers Major C. M. Mangum, Captain L. H. Dyvad and Lt. S. W. Seigel, he explained, "had not realized that our balloon and corner reflector radar experimental device was in any way related to the widely-discussed flying disc observed over the nation until reading news dispatches on Thursday."

The major said, "after reading the detailed description of the discovery of one of our reflectors, or a similar one, from another base, we suddenly became aware of the possibility."

"We do not use the device here for weather observation," the major said, "but for training of men and experimental purposes," and he further explained the general use of the radar equipment at the base was tracking of rockets fired from the mother-base at the White Sands Proving Grounds.

Some of the balloons, of the type shown to the Alamogordo News representatives Wednesday, the commanding officer said, were used to carry at times devices that it was necessary for the group to recover and these were tracked to their destination by B-17's and other aircraft if they soared out of range of the radar equipment. The radar has been successful, he explained, up to 40 miles, while some of the balloon-towed groups have gone as far as Colorado.

Within the past week several groups of Otero county residents have observed from one to four "flying discs" in flight, with their descriptions varying according to height of observation, speed of flight and oscillation of the corner reflector towed as of these and other atmospheric changes alter the look of the objects.

These corner reflectors when packed before attaching to the towing balloons are about 48 inches across and are a perfect triangle.

The balloon, or balloons, are then attached by a string to the center of this triangle and it then opens into a paer covered by tinfoil with six triangles pointed at the top and braced by strips of wood which always present to the radar and to observing groups one flat shiny surface no matter at which angle viewed.

It is very light and towed by a synthetic rubber balloon made of neoprene which is boiled an hour before use so as to increase its life and resistance to the atmospheric conditions.

At times a balloon bursts soon after ascent with the reflector then falling to the earth and at other times the air currents force the balloons down with their burdens.

The balloons are about four feet in diameter and light colored.

Comparisons of the local corner reflector training device with stories of those recovered near Corona recently and picked up at other points the last several months hold a striking similarity.

Experiments the experiment groups from the proving grounds said, showed the early morning hours of from five to six to be the most successful to gain the 30 to 40-thousand feet altitudes attained by the device. They also explained the ordinary flight course of these experiments was from the base to the Sacramento mountains north of Alamogordo and thence along the mountain range on north. Others have, the group said, soared east to Roswell and other Pecos Valley areas and some stray west towards the mountains and on to Arizona.

These experiments and many others will continue at the local base, the group stated, with the hope of perfecting radar equipment to a greater range, more efficiency and towards the goal of photographic-radar tracking that is instantaneous.

AAF Weather Expert Forecast for V-2 Firings

A small but efficient weather station has been installed at the White Sands Guided missiles Proving Grounds by the Army Air Forces.

The weather station is unlike other stations in that technicians at White Sands are primarily interested in meteorological conditions of the upper air regions rather than weather close to the earth'0s surface which effects normal air traffic.

For this reason the weather technicians use the latest in radio equipment. Large 2.000 grams neoprene balloons carry delicate instruments to about 100.000 feet with ground radio receivers, direction-finding equipments, and surveillance radar units correlate weather conditions at extreme heights.

One of the major projects at White Sands is the series of captured German V-2 rockets firings in which leading scientists of major research organizations place various types of recording instruments in the warheads of the rockets in science's efforts to solve some of the mysteries of the upper atmosphere.

The importance of weather forecast for these rocket firings is vital to the success of the V-2 program.

Four complete forecasts ranging from 72 to 4 hours before each V-2 firing are required to insure the success of the program. The forecast have the following purposes. The 72-hour forecast is for the necessary planning of and setup of supplies for the day of firing. A48-jour forecast determines whether it is advisable to take the assembled rocket down to the site for launching or leave it in the assembly hangar. A 24-hour forecast determines the rate of installation of the instrumentation and whether to continue with the scheduled program. The final forecast determines the practicability of fueling the rocket for the firing.


On July 9, 1947, US Army Air Force personal lead by Maj. James R. Pritchard, public relations officer at the air field of Alamogordo, gave a demonstration to the Press to explain that "flying saucers" and "flying discs" maybe be misindentified weathers ballons and tinfil radar target.

Because this took place just after the Roswell incident, and in New Mexico too, because it involved balloons and radar target which were said to be the explanation of the Roswell incident by the Army, a number of Roswell researchers and Roswell books authors suggested or claimed that this was a part of a cover-up and "disinformation" campaign of the Army related to the Roswell incident.

The balloons demonstration generated articles in the Press, and this is one of those articles.

It is abvious that the Watson Laboratories people knew of what was later called "the Roswell Incident" as soon as the next day after it was announced. The knew it was rather near Corona than in Roswell.

At Alamogordo, the balloon trains of Project Mogul were launched.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict

 Feedback  |  Top  |  Back  |  Forward  |  Map  |  List |  Home
This page was last updated on June 1, 2017.