Continantal Divide, New Mexico
26 January 1953
I. Description of Incident
On 26 January 1953 at 2115 MST Air Force personnel stationed at an AC&W
station in this area observed an aerial phenomenon simultaneously by electronic
and visual means. To the naked eye the object appeared as a very bright reddish-
white object estimated to be 10 miles west of the radar site. The object passed
behind a hill and then reappeared apparently heading in a northerly direction at
a slow speed. The airman making this visual observation reported it to person-
nel manning the radar equipment. They stated that they had an unidentified blip
on the radar scope, appearing west of the station approximately 9 miles away.
The scope showed the object to be on a 270 azimuth at an altitude of 10-15,000'
moving away from the site at 12-15 mph. It was eventually lost on radar at the
IS mile range. The object was under visual and radar observation intermittently
for k5 minutes. The elevation of the station is 7,50Of above sea level.
Weather at the time was characterized by a high thin overcast and low
scattered clouds. Winds aloft were from 27O0 at 30 knots at 10-30,000 feet. An
atmospheric inversion layer existed at 13,000 with the top at 21,000',
II. Discussion of Incident
This is the most complete report ever received by ATIC on the sighting of
an unidentified object. The intelligence officer of the 34th Air Division, ADC,
is to be complimented on his initiative and complete covering of all the angles
bearing on the observation. Moreover, the combination visual-electronic sighting
is the best type of sighting to work with because it affords the most information.
The intelligence officer preparing the report checked on weather balloon re-
leases in the area of observation as a possible answer to the sighting. It was
found that a 91 radiosonde balloon released from Winslow, Arizona, would offer
the only possibility^ The unknown object was observed to move from east to west,
against the prevailing winds aloft which rules out the balloon theory. Also the
sighting time of 0hl5 3 is 1 hour and 15 minutes after the Winslow release and
by that time it is probable that the radiosonde had burst at altitude long before.
The fact that the object was detected on radar and seen visually for so long
a period of time eliminates the possibility of an astronomical solution, such as
a star or fireball, ar.d especially if both radar and eye were seeing the same ob-
ject, it is unlikely that these objects would cause radar returns. Since the
object was tracked at 12 to 15 mph, aircraft are also eliminated as a possibility,
ATIC electronics specialists advanced the theory that the slow speed and
large visual radar size of the target make it appear that weather effects may be
the cause of the electronic pick-up. However, the inversion layer at 1*3,000f
appears to be too high to effect the radar which was tracking the object at 10
to 15,000* The weather-effect explanation cannot, of course, account for the
simultaneous visual sighting. There is a possibility which ATIC is now checking.
that the radar personnel may have been looking at the planet Venus, very low and
bright on the western horizon at this time of year, and that the radar possibly
encountered the aforementioned weather interference at the same time. This
would require a high degree of coincidence, however, and the radar and visual
sightings seem to coincide too exactly to give much weight to the theory that
both were observing different objects.
Two other items added to the completeness of the report, ATIC supplied the
reporting intelligence offioer with a USAF Technical Information Sheet, or a
visual questionnaire, and an Electronics Data Sheet covering the radar pick-up.
Further analysis of this sighting awaits adiabatio weather charts for the date
and area of sighting and until this information is received, this report is
carried in Project Blue Book''''''''s files as an unknown,