UFO-Forschung - Projekt Blue Book - Teil-34

The 701 club:

Case 2490: Hackettstown, N. J. March 11, 1953

Don Berlinner’s describes the case as follows:

March 11, 1953; Hackettstown, New Jersey. 4 a.m. Witness: Mrs. Nina Cook, an experienced private pilot and wife of a Pan Am flight engineer. A large light, blinking at 10-15 times per minute, moved up and down along a mountain range.1

Brad Sparks states:

March 10-11, 1953. Hackettstown, New Jersey. 4 [2?] a.m. (EST). Mrs. Nina Cook, an experienced private pilot and wife of a Pan Am flight engineer, saw a large light, blinking at 10-15 times per minute, move up and down along a mountain range. Earlier sighting at 9 p.m.?2

These descriptions really don’t reflect the whole story because Mrs. Cook saw two more UFOs that night that had potential explana- tions, which makes one question the sighting that made it onto the 701 list.

The Blue Book file

The Blue Book file really does not exist. There is no record card or Blue Book investigation. However, there is a document in the system that describes the case. It is an Office of Special Investigations (OSI) report that documents an interview with the witness conducted by special investigator George Wertz.3

On March 16th, a friend of the witness had called OSI about the incident and told them that the witness had reported the incident to the Civil defense authorities. He gave a description of the event, which promoted an interview be conducted with the primary witness on March 17th.

The Sequence of events

Mrs Cook stated the sightings began at 2100, when she saw, out her kitchen window, an orange round object that was “as high as the lowest stars and four times larger than the largest star”. Over the next ten minutes, the orange ball would change its color from orange to red to white, and then greenish-blue. The light was blinking about 10-15 cycles per minute. This ball appeared to be traveling north to south but then headed northwest. It also began to lose altitude. After about an hour the object disappeared in the direction of the Delaware Water Gap, which was marked by an aircraft beacon light.

The witness added that, after the object had disappeared, a bright column of light came up from the ground in the vicinity of the Delaware Water Gap. This effect had been witnessed by her 13-year old son.

The report states Nina Cook went to bed at 2045 (which was probably an error of some kind) but then woke up at 2400 because she was upset about the 2100 sighting. She observed a similar object that blinked, changed color, and appeared to move along the Kittinney mountain range. After ten minutes, she went back to bed only to wake up again at 0400.

The 0400 sighting was very much like the 2100 and 2400 sightings. Mrs. Cook saw a bright object that was over the Kittinney moun- tain range, which appeared to move along the range, blink, and change color.

OSI investigation

The OSI investigation was interesting as it had an investigator actually asking probing questions regarding the witness’ observa- tions. They noted that the husband was skeptical of his wife’s observations but did not doubt her sincerity. He also stated that she was not subject to illusions and their son had confirmed the sighting of the light column. A neighbor revealed that Mrs. Cook had called them around 2200 that night and gave them an account of what she saw.

Agent Wentz also discovered that a new toll bridge was being constructed in the vicinity of the Delaware Water Gap and that the area was illuminated by floodlights that sometimes swept into the sky. Mrs. Cook stated that she did not see a floodlight. Addition- ally investigations by Wentz revealed that Hackettstown lay directly beneath an air traffic lane used by aircraft flying east-west from Newark Airport.

Blue Book

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Blue Book files mentioning their investigation. All we know is that in the monthly summary,

4the cases was listed as :

  1. Astro (Venus)

  2. Astro (star/planet)

  3. Unidentified

My evaluation

Anytime a witness starts talking about lights at night changing color and moving slowly in a westerly/northwesterly direction, I begin to think the witness was viewing an astronomical object that was scintillating and setting. Blue Book apparently had the same approach when they classified the sighting.

The first sighting was at 2100, which Blue Book declared was the planet Venus. The direction the witness was observing was to- wards the Delaware Water Gap. Based on Google Earth, this direction was between 290 and 310 degrees azimuth (but this could be greater depending on what the witness had defined as this direction). We don’t know the witness’ exact location of the witness because everything is redacted. However, we know her home was on top of a hill, which gave her a pretty clear view of the horizon.

2100 sighting - Venus was setting in the west at 2100. It was azimuth 288 degrees at 2100 and, when it set at 2122, it was at an azimuth of 292 degrees. It is the brightest celestial object and would have fit the description made by Mrs. Cook. The witness states the object was visible for approximately an hour but then stated she went to bed at 2045, which is before the event happened. We also have neighbor saying they were called around 2200, when the witness described what she had seen. All of this brings into question exactly when she saw what. I suspect the sighting was centered around 2100. It probably lasted about an hour but it may have started before 2100 and ended before 2200. This would indicate that Venus is the probable explanation for this sighting as Blue Book had surmised.


The light beam described by the witness was probably just a floodlight being used at the bridge construction site as noted by agent Wertz.

2400 sighting - The witness reported the time of the sighting as 2400 but I have to wonder if it wasn’t sooner. Jupiter was setting around 2245 at an azimuth of 291 degrees. To me this would have been a likely source of this second sighting. However, if one was a stickler for the 2400 time frame, we have another candidate. The bright star Aldebaran (magnitude 0.85) was only 2 degrees above the horizon at azimuth 289 degrees. Either is a good candidate for this sighting.


0400 sighting - Once again, we have to wonder about the time frame of the sighting. Brad Sparks gives a question mark of 0200 but I see no reason to use that time since there is no indication in the Wentz interview that Mrs. Cook hinted at this time. The 0400 provides use with some more first magnitude stars low on the West-Northwest horizon. The bright star Pollux (magnitude 1.15) was at an azimuth of 306 degrees and only 2 degrees elevation. The star Regulus was also visible in the west at an elevation of about 15 degrees but that seems to be less likely than Pollux, which was much closer to the horizon.



To me this case is nothing more than the witness misperceiving stars. Venus, a prominent IFO, sparked the witness’ interest in what was happening as she started in the distance out her window. Not once was the planet Venus mentioned in conjunction with the UFO, which means the initial sighting was likely Venus. With a sudden interest in what was happening over near the Del- aware water gap, Mrs. Cook kept going to her window, hoping to see if the UFO was returning. She found her UFO each time when she saw bright stars scintillating as they got close to the horizon. In my opinion, the 0400 sighting can be classified as “probably the star Pollux”.

Quelle: SUINlite 1/2018

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