By Terrence Aym
More than 60 years ago scientists from the United States Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) tracked flying saucers that regularly harassed US Navy vessels. The federal government and military had not yet become adept enough in their disinformation campaign against UFOs to successfully cover up the investigation, or the reported findings. In 1950, Commander Robert B. McLaughlin, USN, spilled the beans and told the whole story in a documented, true case of alien intrigue and U.S. involvement. The tracking occurred during April 1949 at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.
As far back as the late 1940s, the questions about whether flying saucers are real or not were answered: they are real. So, whether to believe or not believe in their reality is not the question to ask. Instead, the unanswered questions are where are they from, who pilots them, and what is the agenda or mission of the beings in those unknown craft?
Before the federal government and Pentagon began its campaign of denial, obfuscation and disinformation to turn the U.S. media from believers into skeptics, remarkable and credible reports circulated freely within the government and became part of the public record.
Part of that public record includes American fighter jets intercepting and firing on flying saucers, military interaction with alien craft on the high seas, and the testimony of astronomers, pilots, engineers and technicians.
One of the most striking testimonies was that of Commander Robert B. McLaughlin.
At the time McLaughlin was considered near the top of the nation’s experts in guided missile technology.
For years he oversaw the USN unit responsible for technological assistance, working with the teams of rocket scientists and technicians at the White Sands Proving Ground located in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The first atomic bomb was detonated at White Sands
During the years following 1949 many unidentified flying objects were seen in the vicinity of White Sands. This may not be too surprising as the facility was the location where the United States detonated the world’s first atomic bomb.
Later it became the home of the captured German superweapons, the V-2 rockets.
A captured Nazi V-2 rocket launched at White Sands
According to the archives, the balloon was launched 57 miles northwest of the base on April 24, 1949.
The air was crisp and clear making it easy for the ground crew to track the ascent of the balloon with its meteorological instrument package. They tracked it closely as it dwindled into the distance far above their heads.
V-2 being erected and mated to launch pad
The scientists tracked the balloon with a scientific instrument called a ‘theodolite’—an extremely precise telescopic device that measures angles in the vertical and horizontal planes. First developed for surveying topographical plots of land, it was eventually adapted for meteorological use.
A team of five observers attended the balloon launch. Each had a different responsibility, such as recording the readings, watching the sky with the theodolite, announcing the readings of wind and altitude, and so on.
Launch of a skyhook balloon, White Sands 1947
As the balloon ascended, carried into the distance by prevailing upper atmosphere winds, an amazing thing occurred: an unknown object suddenly appeared in the sky to the east. It passed the exact flight path of the weather balloon and the man operating the theodolite began tracking it instead.
Because the UFO appeared to a team of trained scientists and engineers, and they had state-of-the-art observing equipment, they were able to acquire quite a bit of information about the object.
UFO photographed over White Sands later in 1949
The conclusions drawn were remarkable. The object was manufactured, a craft—some kind of unknown elliptical flying machine—about 100 feet long and 40 feet wide, 56 miles up, and traveling about five miles per second, which works out to a speed of roughly 18,000 miles per hour.
An interesting side note: although traveling many times the speed of sound, no sonic booms were heard.
More amazing data was captured by the scientists and engineers. According to McLaughlin, writing in True Magazine, “At the end of its trajectory, it swerved abruptly upward, altering its angle of elevation by five degrees—corresponding to an increase in altitude of about 25 miles—in a period of 10 seconds. Rough calculation indicates that a force of more that 20 G’s (20 times the pull of gravity) would be required to produce this elevation in this time.“
The craft disappeared from site when it reached an elevation of 29 degrees above the horizon. It had been tracked for about one minute.
McLaughlin also asserts that “Close questioning of the observers prior to the official report that went to ‘Project Saucer’ at Wright-Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio [the base that the Roswell crashed saucer remains and ET bodies were allegedly flown to], produced an almost unanimous judgment that the object was discus shaped and that it was a flat white color. High powered binoculars showed no exhaust trail, no stream of light or other evidence of a propulsions system. And, no sound. What was it?
“I am convinced that it was a flying saucer and, further, that these discs are space ships from another planet, operated by animate, intelligent beings.
“I think it is safe to say that it wasn’t any type of aircraft known on Earth today. Even if, as is likely, there are top secret models which you and I know nothing about, there is no human being in this world who could take a force of 20 G’s and live to tell about it.“
Two more sightings of flying saucers were documented. One in May and another in June of 1949. McLaughlin describes the sightings fully here.
Official report to Project Bluebook
Captain Edward J. Ruppelt head of Project Blue Book
On several occasions during 1948 and 1949, McLaughlin or his crew at the White Sands Proving Ground had made good UFO sightings. The best one was on April 24, 1949, when the commander’s crew of engineers, scientists, and technicians were getting ready to launch one of the huge 100-foot-diameter skyhook balloons. It was 10:30 A.M. on an absolutely clear Sunday morning.
Prior to the launching, the crew had set up a small weather balloon to check the winds at lower levels. One man was watching the balloon through a theodolite, an instrument similar to a surveyor’s transit built around a 25-power telescope, one man was holding a stop watch, and a third had a clipboard to record the measured data.
The crew had tracked the balloon to about 10,000 feet when one of them suddenly shouted and pointed off to the left. The whole crew looked at the part of the sky where the man was excitedly pointing, and there was a UFO. “It didn’t appear to be large,” one of the scientists later said, “but it was plainly visible. It was easy to see that it was elliptical in shape and had a ‘whitish-silver color.’“
After taking a split second to realize what they were looking at, one of the men swung the theodolite around to pick up the object, and the timer reset his stop watch. For sixty seconds they tracked the UFO as it moved toward the east. In about fifty-five seconds it had dropped from an angle of elevation of 45 degrees to 25 degrees, then it zoomed upward and in a few seconds it was out of sight. The crew head no sound and the New Mexico desert was so calm that day that they could have heard “a whisper a mile away.“
When they reduced the data they had collected, McLaughlin and crew found out that the UFO had been traveling 4 degrees per second. At one time during the observed portion of its flight, the UFO had passed in front of a range of mountains that were visible to the observers. Using this as a check point, they estimated the size of the UFO to be 40 feet wide and 100 feet long, and they computed that the UFO had been at an altitude of 296,000 feet, or 56 miles, when they had first seen it, and that it was traveling seven miles per second.
McLaughlin believed craft powered by ‘radiation pressure motor’
Secret ‘Project Twinkle’ FOIA reveals independent confirmation
A top secret military project codenamed Project Twinkle was launched to investigate a rash of mysterious green fireballs plaguing the White Sands Proving Ground. Parts of the project report confirm an ongoing link between the observation of flying saucers and the V-2 rocket tests.
A November 27, 1951 report on the findings of Project Twinkle by a Dr. Louis Elterman, the Senior Project Scientist with the government’s Atmospherics Physics Laboratory, Geophysics Division contains this bombshell:
“On August 31, 1950, the phenomena was again observed after a V-2 launching. Although much film was expended, proper triangulation was not affected, so that no information was acquired. On September 11, arrangements were made for Major Gover to be on call so that aerial objects might be pursued. This would make possible more intimate visual observation and photography at close range.“
The pursuit Elterman recommends are fully armed fighter jets carrying aerial cameras to film the flying saucers in flight. No doubt this recommendation was followed.
Official report on White Sands UFO to Office of Naval Intelligence
So ends the amazing story of the White Sands Proving Ground, the first (but probably not the last), scientific tracking and analysis of extraterrestrial craft.