Joel Carpenter:
There might be another way to look at the Lubbock incident in terms of the obvious concern at the time about reconnaissance of nuclear sites (in fact, this might be why you're interested in it, and you may have already noticed these things).
Ruppelt links several incidents to the Lubbock case -- the August 25 Sandia sighting, the August 25 Lubbock sightings, the August 25 Washington State radar tracking, the August 31 Hart photos, and the August 31 sighting of a hovering object north of Lubbock. He also reports an anecdotal account of a sighting much like the Sandia incident by a resident of a ranch near Lubbock on the night of the 25th.
Later in his account he describes the interest of a team of aerospace experts -
 "The only other people outside Project Blue Book who have studied the complete case of the Lubbock Lights were a group who, due to their associations with the government, had complete access to our files. And these people were not pulp writers or wide-eyed fanatics, they were scientists, rocket experts, nuclear physicists, and intelligence experts. They had banded together to study our UFO reports because they were convinced that some of the UFO's that were being reported were interplanetary spaceships and the Lubbock series was one of these reports.The fact that the formations of lights were in different shapes didn't bother them; in fact, it convinced them all the more that their ideas of how a spaceship might operate were correct.
This group of scientists believed that the spaceships, or at least the part of the spaceship that came relatively close to the earth, would have to have a highly swept back wing configuration. And they believed that for propulsion and control the craft had a series of small jet orifices all around its edge. Various combinations of these small jets would be turned on to get various flight attitudes. The lights that the various observers saw differed in arrangement because the craft was flying in different flight attitudes."

Let's assume for a moment that this little bombshell is an indicator of the _real_ concerns about these incidents. What might it mean?

Essentially, the main cases involved one or more giant flying-wing-like aircraft that carried numerous small lights. In the Sandia case and apparently in the "Lubbock rancher's wife" case the actual wing-like structure was visible. In the professors' cases there was no visible structure.

The aerospace experts group visualized not a "formation of saucers," but a huge (perhaps a thousand feet wide or more) sweptback wing with an array of reaction control rocket thrusters around its perimeter. Ruppelt doesn't pinpoint the timeframe of this concern, but it seems likely that it was during his BB tenure, rather than later, at the time he was writing the book. Say 1951-53.

The vehicle is therefore much like Wernher von Braun's contemporary concept for a space reentry vehicle, which he first seems to have put on paper around 1948 while working for the Army missile development project at Fort Bliss, Texas.


By that time, rocket experts like von Braun had sketched out the basic engineering for placing objects in orbit, but returning them to Earth was a real unknown. Von Braun visualized a giant glider that would skim the atmosphere, slowly decelerating and descending until it could glide to a runway landing, much like the current Shuttle. He underestimated the temperatures involved due to the lack of knowledge about gas effects at hypersonic speeds. He also seems to have thought that conventional aerodynamic surfaces would have been sufficient for control purposes. But basically, there weren't many alternative ideas for building a ship that could enter the atmosphere from orbital speeds until the wingless "blunt body" concept was invented around 1953.

At the very time Hart took his pictures, a push was on by von Braun and people like Willey Ley to popularize the space expedition proposals, and in October 1951 there was a symposium at the Hayden Planetarium in New York which described the vehicles -- and in early 1952 they appeared nationally in Colliers Magazine.




The September 1952 Mars Lander concept is a later variant of the 1948 ship and the ship on the cover of the March 1952 Colliers magazine, but it's basically similar -- a huge sweptback wing with a small conical body.

OK, so this seems to have been the ship -- what about its behavior and places of appearance? Well, in the Sandia case, the Lubbock rancher's wife case, the professors' case, and Hart's case, the objects were travelling north to south. In the Washington radar case the track was moving SE-NW. It's interesting to note that under the assumption that the object was a shuttle-like winged space vehice as visualized with early-50s technology, it was moving in an apparent polar orbit, just like modern reconnaissance vehicles.

Sandia Base was of course a very sensitive nuclear stockpile location at the time. But what about Lubbock? Well if the object was flying north to south, it would have passed over Amarillo moments before reaching Lubbock. And 17 miles northeast of Amarillo is the Pantex plant, an important manufacturing facility for nuclear weapons, which in 1951 was just being placed into operation as a nuclear-infrastructure facility.


The precise location and track of the radar target aren't specified to my knowledge, but of course the suspicion might be that the object was heading for Hanford, another major nuclear infrastructure facility. This event is a bit of an anomaly since it was radar-only and was not on the polar-orbit path of the other major incidents.

On balance, it's apparent that the concern of the expert team may have been that a huge flying-wing-like vehicle, controlled by rocket reaction thrusters and travelling at many thousands of miles per hour was overflying sensitive nuclear installations. Its configuration resembled one of the main engineering proposals, by one of the world's top rocket experts, for a space reentry vehicle. It was obviously not a US vehicle, since none of the Northrop flying wing bombers were flyable at the time. Was it foreign? Highly unlikely due to the advanced technology implied. Therefore...

One of the main questions is who these experts were. Did they include people like Fred Durant?

Brad Sparks:
Joel is definitely onto something with the nuclear installation proximity and the likely reference to some form or modification of the von Braun design, though I doubt anyone was making a connection to von Braun having been based at Ft Bliss, because as of Dec 12, 1952, when the CIA team made the comments about Lubbock to Ruppelt, von Braun's team had been at Huntsville, Ala., for 3 years.  Durant was one of the three CIA officials who visited Blue Book to try to pry loose the UFO investigation reports that Ruppelt's boss Col Bower tried to prevent Ruppelt from delivering to the CIA the week before. 

The CIA group made reference in Ruppelt's account to "the part of the spaceship that came relatively close to the earth, would have to have a highly swept back wing configuration."  This makes it sound like there were different detachable "parts" or stages.  The discussion was how one vehicle with different "parts" seen at different attitude angles could appear to have different shapes.  This does sound like it was von Braun's multi-stage design where "the part" that returned and reentered the earth's atmosphere was the third stage with the "swept back wing configuration" (though not "highly" swept back, but neither was the flying wing seen in Texas or NM).

The CIA Office of Scientific Intelligence briefly came to the ETH conclusion about UFO's in 1952 but was reversed by the Robertson Panel, or as CIA Asst Director in charge of OSI then, Chadwell, told me (and confirmed by his deputy Clark), his ETH conclusion was "overturned" by the panel.  And of course the Lubbock case was one of the cases studied by the Robertson Panel and was commented on directly in the Durant Report. 

Jan Aldrich:
Ruppelt implied that the USAF did not exactly think Hart was credible, but did come right out and say it.  Again, what does the photo prove?  What information does it provide?

Francis Ridge:
I think all of us a getting "conditioned" to where we are always wanting more than we get. More on that later.

What does the photo prove? If it is a fake, then nothing. If it is real, it tells us quite a bit. I wish we had the negatives and could get Jeff Sainio or Bruce Maccabee to re-analyze them. The key here is that the objects ALL HAD to be very bright. To show up on the film the way they did (even the Air Force said this) they were not what the professors described in brightness, unless the film was effected by a wavelength outside the human eye capability. In otherwords, the brightness and shape and spacing preclude an type of bird or meteor chain. So if these are not fakes, they are real and important. There is no evidence for fraud in the case except the will of somebody (who wouldn't even be named) in the Air Force to explain the incidents away.

Bruce Maccabee:
Yes. I have always been puzzled by the apparent acceptance of light reflected from birds as explaining the images. There is a good question as to whether or not the film could have even registered such dim sources of light. However, to be certain one needs the type of film, the camera settings (f stop and shutter time) and the negtives (in order to determine the level of exposure).