October 2, 1955 Ohio
October 2, 1955--Akron and Alliance, Ohio. Hovering disc- like UFO observed over wide area. [VII]1
Section VII has a rather lengthy discussion of the UFO reports seen by several people, who
2observed an object in the western sky around sunset. To summarize :
There were 8 observers. Six were interviewed by Walter N. Webb. They saw the object from three different locations. To summarize:
Alliance, Ohio. The Ansleys saw the object as they were driving west in town. It was about 15 degrees above the horizon and it was 6:10 PM EST. To them it looked star-like and they thought it might be Venus or Mercury. It was as bright as Venus. The object changed its size and shape. It changed from a small disc to a thin crescent and then a cigar shape. No angular size estimate, in degrees, was given but it appears to have been about a half-de- gree or less. By 6:20 PM, it had faded out.
North Georgetown, Ohio. Wilma Barker and Rudolph Holloway saw the object driving home to Alliance. To them, it also changed shape and faded out when they arrived home, which was around 6:20 PM.
Akron, Ohio. Donald J. Karaiskos, and his wife, saw the object in the west about 10 degrees above the horizon. They also gave one of those size comparisons that were meaningless (1/3 the size of a pin) but it seems that it was at the half-degree size, or less. It was first seen at 6:00 PM. It was visible for about 10 minutes.
The UFO Evidence then concludes3:
If the angular altitudes and azimuths given were absolutely dependable -- and they are not -- it might be possible to discover the object’s actual size, distance, arid height. It must have been huge - - several hundred feet in diameter - - to have been seen over such a wide area. Using the times and descriptions of all three groups of observers, it is possible to work out a continuous change-of-phase pattern for the UFO (see diagram). This apparent change in shape and size could have been due to a disc turning vertically in flight and presenting its edge to the observers. Or it may have been a real alteration... Whatever the explanation, it is evident that eight persons did see a UFO -- an extraordinary UFO - - from three different areas around the same time...
Ifound the UFO investigation to have been less than adequate. Angular sizes of the object were never truly determined. All we know is that it was small but large enough that a shape could be perceived. The largest it appeared to have been was about the size of moon. However, it could have been smaller than that. With the directional data, one might have been to determine a general location but, once again, the investigation did not attempt to get better azimuth values from the witnesses. As a result, the data was not adequate for computing a triangulation plot.
The fact that it was visible at sunset (6:06 PM EST), changed shape as the sun set further below the horizon, and then was not visible as it got dark indicates the object was being illuminated by the sun. As the sun set, the illumination of the object changed produc- ing the changing shape reported by the observers. The fact that the object was visible from a wide range of locations (the distance between the two farthest observers was about 30 miles) indicates the object was both very high, very large, and very far away. It is hard to say but the angle of elevation appears to have been between 10 and 20 degrees and the azimuth was almost due west. There were no bright, or large, astronomical objects visible on that date and in that direction. That means that what was visible was probably man-made.
The most likely candidates are a research balloon or airplane contrail. The duration tends to eliminate the contrail explanation, which leaves the research balloon. During 1955, Lowry AFB in Colorado had been launching balloons called “Moby Dick Hi”. Ac- cording to Curtis Peebles4, the balloon system carried a payload of about 1400 pounds which
included a large parachute and four packages of radar chaff that was released when the payload
was dropped. Moby Dick Hi was supposed to test the balloons capabilities for use in the upcom- ing Genetrix program, which would use these balloons to spy on the Soviet Union. The tests had problems in early summer and, according to Stratocat, the balloons were still being launched in September (the last listed is September 14). Stratocat’s database is incomplete as several Moby Dick Hi balloon launches that appeared in project Blue Book are not in the catalogue.
On October 5, the Bridgeport newspaper reported a balloon being found floating in the ocean on October 4.5 It probably was a Moby Dick Hi balloon as it was described as being associated with the 456th Troop Carrier Wing. That organization was practicing airborne retrieval of future Genetrix balloons.6 Moby Dick Hi was practice for launching such balloons. The fact that the bal- loon was found floating in the ocean, indicated it probably had come down recently. If this was a balloon from Lowry, its trajectory would have overflown the northern Ohio region a few days prior to this.
It is tough to solve this one because we are missing pertinent data regarding the activities at Lowry AFB and other research bal- loon launch locations. It seems likely, based on the descriptions, distances involved, and time of day, that this could have been a research balloon reflecting the setting sun. While this is not a conclusive solution, it is a possible solution that could explain what was seen without invoking the desire to proclaim it was a “manifestation of extraterrestrial life”. 7
Notes and references
Hall, Richard M. (Ed.) The UFO evidence. The National Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). New York: Barnes and No- ble.1997. P. 135.
ibid. P. 70-1
ibid. P. 71
Peebles, Curtis. The Moby Dick Project: Reconnaissance balloons over Russia. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press. 1991. P. 144-5
“Thing found at sea; Belongs to Air Force”. The Bridgeport Post. Bridgeport, Connecticut. October 5, 1955. P. 1
Peebles, Curtis. The Moby Dick Project: Reconnaissance balloons over Russia. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press. 1991. P. 137
Hall, Richard M. (Ed.) The UFO evidence. The National Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). New York: Barnes and No- ble.1997. P. 179.
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