RADCAT Case Directory
  Category 9, RADAR  
Rating: 5  


RADCAT is a revitalized special project now being conducted jointly by NICAP & Project 1947 with the help and cooperation of the original compiler of RADCAT, Martin Shough, to create a comprehensive listing of radar cases with detailed documentation from all previous catalogues, including UFOCAT and original RADCAT.

The Rapid City / Ellsworth AFB Incident (RV)
August 5, 1953
East of Rapid City, SD

Brad Sparks:
Aug. 5-6, 1953.  Near Rapid City, South Dakota, and Bismarck, North Dakota
9:05 p.m. – 1:23? a.m. (CST).  GOC observer Miss Phyllis Killian in Black Hawk, S.D., (about 8 miles NW of Rapid City), reported to Ellsworth AFB bright red object first stationary 4 miles estimated distance to the SE [NE?] low on the horizon then rapidly heading S [SSE?] 30° to the right at roughly 2°/sec angular velocity (estimated by Hynek in interview), toward Rapid City, changing color from red to green becoming “greener” as speed increased.  Object then returned to original location to SE of Black Hawk but at a greater distance about 7 miles, disappearing behind hills.  ADC radar controller found 2 targets heading S, had difficulty tracking due to ground clutter, 3 airmen sent outside to look saw a high speed light heading S.  A few minutes later GOC observer reported the object had returned.  An F-84 was vectored and made visual contact then directed to stationary radar target about 15 miles NE of Black Hawk, target started moving 320° Mag out to 70 miles range and F-84 intercept was called off.  F-84 pilot was about to land in Rapid City when he noticed silvery object like the brightest star he'd ever seen, to the NW, which he pursued on 350° Mag keeping it at 11 o'clock high, 30°45° elevation, it disappeared after 30 secs, reappeared for 30 secs then faded from sight.  A 2nd F-84 was scrambled from Ellsworth AFB, and on a N 360° Mag heading at 15,000 ft he saw a target 30°-40° to his right and at level elevation which "jumped" in elevation to 15°-30°, changed color from white to green, was much brighter than a star and was moving in relation to the stars (3 specific stars he picked out for reference).  Pilot turned on radar gunsight which showed possible target beyond maximum range of 4,000 yards (2.3 miles) and GCI ground radar tracked target 5-10 miles ahead of the F-84 out to 80 miles for 5 mins [960 mph?] when intercept was broken off and target went off scope [about 11:42 p.m.?].  About 20 miles from base F-84 pilot, now at 12,000-14,000 ft, saw a red and white pair of lights 10° below the horizon at 180° Mag and height-finder ground radar showed a target at 8,000 ft.  Lights visible for 30 sec periods.  Radar scope photos and gun camera photos reportedly malfunctioned.  (Sparks;  NICAP;  Ruppelt pp. 232-5;  CR pp. 132-6;  Saunders/FUFOR Index;  NICAP;  BB Misc Microfilm Roll 1, pp. 123-151)

Fran Ridge:
There was a date discrepancy on this case. Ruppelt said it was the 12th and subsequently NICAP listed that date in The UFO Evidence. Project Blue Book, which didn't list this as an "Unknown", showed it clearly as August 5, 6, and the documents (see below) show that this case as "unsolved." This incident always impressed me, and apparently it impressed a lot of others, too. For the die-hard skeptics at Project Blue Book this was the one they had always asked for.  Here was a good UFO sighting. "This was an unknown, one of the best", a ground witnessed visual, with a ground radar tracking, and the pursuit of the object by a jet interceptor that also locked on with its radar, with all the maneuvers independently verified. The UFO was playing a cat & mouse game with an F-84 "Thunderjet",  the first USAF jet fighter able to carry a tactical atomic weapon. Major Lawrence Tacker not only confirmed this case, but he wrote one NICAP member and told him the Air Force had gun-camera photos of the object and radarscope photos. (FSTS,243). Ellsworth AFB is located about 12 miles from Rapid City, and in 1947, the base hosted the 28th Bombardment Wing (BMW), flying the B-29. In July 1949, the 28th began conversion to the gigantic B-36 bomber. Ellsworth was one of the original five Air Force Operational Storage Sites for nuclear weapons, and first received its atomic bombs in 1952.

Joel Carpenter:
I've been checking on the model of F-84 assigned to SAC, and it turns out that the F-84G was the one based at Rapid City at the time. This was a tactical-nuclear-capable day fighter-bomber with straight wings and gun ranging radar. 

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