January 20, 1952 Fairchild AFB, Washington
January 20, 1952--Fairchild AFB, Wash. Two master sergeants (intelligence specialists), reported a large, bluish-white spherical object with a long blue tail which flew below a solid overcast. [III].1
Section III has the case listed in a table which states the following:
Blue-white spherical object sped below overcast; speed computed at 1400 mph.[18.]2
The footnote lists Ruppelt’s book, The report on Unidentified Flying Objects. Ruppelt described the event as follows:
On January 20, 1952, at seven-twenty in the evening, two master sergeants, both intelligence specialists, were walking down a street on the Fairchild Air Force Base, close to Spokane, Washington.
Suddenly both men noticed a large, bluish-white, spherical-shaped object approaching from the east. They stopped and watched the object carefully, because several of these UFO’s had been reported by pilots from the air base over the past few months. The sergeants had written up the reports on these earlier sightings.
The object was traveling at a moderately fast speed on a horizontal path. As it passed to the north of their position and disappeared in the west, the sergeants noted that it had a long blue tail. At no time did they hear any sound. They noted certain landmarks that the object had crossed and estimated the time taken in passing these landmarks. The next day they went out and measured the angles between these landmarks in order to include them in their report.
When we got the report at ATIC, our first reaction was that the master sergeants had seen a large meteor. From the evidence I had written off, as meteors, all previous similar UFO reports from this air base.
The sergeants’ report, however, contained one bit of information that completely changed the previous picture. At the time of the sighting there had been a solid 6,000-foot-thick overcast at 4,700 feet. And meteors don’t go that low.
A few quick calculations gave a rather fantastic answer. If the object was just at the base of the clouds it would have been 10,000 feet from the two observers and traveling 1,400 miles per hour.
But regardless of the speed, the story was still fantastic. The object was no jet airplane because there was no sound. It was not a searchlight because there were none on the air base. It was not an automobile spotlight because a spotlight will not produce the type of light the sergeants described. As a double check, however, both men were questioned on this point. They stated firmly that they had seen hundreds of searchlights and spotlights playing on clouds, and that this was not what they saw.3
The Blue Book file
The Blue Book file contains descriptions by the two sergeants. The event happened at 1920 local time. Both indicated the object moved in a straight path, was visible only for a few seconds, and that it seemed to pulse in brightness.4
It also includes a report from the 57th air division at Fairchild AFB. Ruppelt was not exactly correct in his statement that it was a solid overcast. The report states that at 1830:
Single seven tenths (0.7) cloud layer at three thousand (3,000) feet (est); Visibility: Twenty-five (25) miles...5
At 1930, the weather was described as:
Single eight tenths (0.8) broken layer at four thousand seven hundred (4,700) feet (est); Visibility: Twenty (20) miles.....6
Blue Book did not classify this as Unidentified. They determined, in 1952, that it was a meteor.
The speed computation of 1400 mph assumed that the object was below the cloud layer but there is no such statement in the Blue Book file. Ruppelt stated this value in his book and the UFO evidence accepted it as a fact.
The best hypothesis for this event is a bright meteor. Everything, except for the cloud layer, indicates a bright meteor. There was no deviation in path, it traveled at great speed, and it was only visible for a few seconds.
Is the cloud layer a disqualifying condition for a meteor? I don’t think so. First of all, contrary to what Ruppelt wrote, it was not a solid overcast but a broken one with seven to eight tenths coverage. There is also no mention on how thick the cloud layer was so I am not sure where Ruppelt got his 6000 foot value. Like the 1400 mph value, it seems to have been something Ruppelt wanted to believe and not what was known to be a fact. The information we do have about the cloud coverage indicates it is possible that what was seen could have been meteor visible through breaks in the clouds like this fireball on July 1, 2020 over Japan.
Once again, it is hard to draw a definitive conclusion on a case like this. However, I can’t see any disqualifying factors that nullify the meteor explanation. As a result, I agree with project Blue Book’s conclusion and this event can be listed as a “possible meteor".
Quelle: SUNlite 1/2021