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
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
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,
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?
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
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.
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?
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.
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).