September 20, 1950 - Denver, Colorado
The source of this information is from Project Blue Book’s files. The date and time listed is not exactly correct. The local time was 2245 MT on the 20th. Using Zulu time means the date should have been listed as the 21st.
While the Weinstein list mentions a B-25 crew, the case file also includes a list of reports from a variety of observers in Colorado and neighboring states. These are a sample of some of the observations:
Mrs. Borah of Eagle, Colorado sighted “five balls of fire” headed south at 2245 MT
Capt. McFadden, First officer Hansen of United Airlines and others, saw “balls of fire” heading south over Lowry and Stapelton fields at 2245 MT
Captain Graves, of Continental Airlines, reported a UFO that was triangular in shape. It was seen at 2245 MT “gliding along”
Captain Gurney, flying United 648, sighted an object over St. George, Utah. It was traveling west to east and broke into four pieces. No time was given.
A state Policeman sighted five objects in the sky over Akron, Colorado. There were estimated to be 500 feet above the ground and headed south.
Major Taylor, of Lowry AFB, sighted two round white lights near Cheyenne Wells, Colorado at 2245 MT. They were first seen at 16,000 feet. They then descended to 11,000-12,000 feet before returning to 16,000 feet. They went north, then east, and finally towards the south.
Mr. Wagner, at the Cornhusker Ordinance Depot (near Grand Island Nebraska), called the CAA station to report an aircraft in distress at 2247 MT. It had a bright blue light in front and white light in the rear. It appeared long and was traveling at great speed towards the south.
It is clear they were seeing the same object as the B-25 crew. The B-25 crew reported the following:
They first saw the object as a bright star approaching them at the same altitude (8000 feet).
They made a turn and the object appeared to also make a turn. At this point, they realized that they were going to miss the object.
The object now either accelerated or decelerated. It is not clear. They used both words.
It began to emit sparks, which quickly burned out.
They then noticed the object was actually two objects. One was traveling faster than the other.
The objects changed from white to orange.
• After 10-30 seconds, the objects disappeared.
• They estimated the initial altitude as 8000 feet but the final altitude was 8500 feet.
• They stated the object accelerated away rapidly.
• They described the object as an airplane on fire.
• They also stated it was not a conventional aircraft or jet and must have been rocket powered.
• The object was traveling towards 154 degrees magnetic (about 149 degrees true azimuth).
All of these reports sound a lot like the Chiles-Whitted case from two years previously. However, in this instance, Blue Book/Grudge got this one correct. It was a bright fireball and there was a lot of evidence in the case file to confirm this.
Some of the descriptions in the case file, that I did not list, stated the observers thought it was a meteor. There were also additional sources in the Newspaper archive. A common AP story that appeared in multiple newspapers described Captain Gurney, of United flight 648 (one of the Blue Book file witnesses), stating he saw the meteor go from west to east and slightly south. His remark, “I’ve seen a lot of meteorites. But I never saw one stay in sight like that.” There is also a comment that Astronomy students claimed they couldn’t be meteors and the CAA control tower at Pueblo mentioned “mystery rocket ships”.
The file also contains a selection of the American Meteor Society. Unlike the unknown “Astronomy students” mentioned in the AP story, they declared this a meteor.
The UFO had all the characteristics of a meteor. It was seen over a wide area and lasted a short period of time. For most observations, the object flew in a straight path and made no sound. Any additional characteristics (low altitude, changes in direction/altitude/speed, observed craft behind the lights, etc.) are all standard misconceptions of meteor observations reported as UFOs.
This case was a meteor fireball. The only reason it was considered something strange is because the B-25 pilot felt it was some sort of craft. However, after examining all the reports, it is obvious the pilot was in error and he, like many “expert” observers before and after this, had conceived that the bright fireball they had seen was something else. It should be removed from the list.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2022