Lawrence Fawcett & Barry Greenwood
The FBI file for 1949 shows considerably more interesting material than the previous year. Although the FBI's official responsibility for UFO reports was removed, this did not mean that they ignored information coming their way. The responsibility to investigate important information still belonged in the FBI's lap.
The first memo of significance was one dated January 31, 1949, titled,
"Protection of Vital Installations."
It was sent to the Director of the FBI by the San Antonio, Texas, field office:
"At recent Weekly Intelligence Conferences of G-2, ONI, 051, and FBI, in the Fourth Army Area, Officers of G-2, Fourth Army have discussed the matter of "Unidentified Aircraft" or "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," otherwise known as "Flying Discs," "Flying Saucers," and "Balls of Fire." This matter is considered top secret by intelligence Officers of both the Army and the Air Forces [emphasis in the original].
"It is well known that there have been during the past two years reports from the various parts of the country of the sighting of unidentified aerial objects which have been called in newspaper parlance "flying discs" and "flying saucers." The first such sightings were reported from Sweden, and it was thought that the objects, the nature of which was unknown, might have originated in Russia.
"In July 1948, an unidentified aircraft was "seen" by an Eastern Airlines Pilot and Co-pilot and one or more passengers of the Eastern Airlines plane over Montgomery, Alabama. This aircraft was reported to be of an unconventional type without wings and resembled generally a "rocket ship" of the type depicted in comic strips. It was reported to have had windows; to have been larger than the Eastern Airlines plane, and to have been traveling at an estimated speed of 2700 miles an hour. It appeared out of a thunderhead ahead of the Eastern Airlines plane and immediately disappeared in another cloud narrowly missing a collision with the Eastern Airlines plane. No sound or air disturbance was noted in connection with this appearance.
"During the past two months various sightings of unexplained phenomena have been reported in the vicinity of the A.E.C. Installation at Los Alamos, New Mexico, where these phenomena now appear to be concentrated. During December 1948 on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 20th, and 28th, sightings of unexplained phenomena were made near Los Alamos by Special Agents of the Office of Special Investigations; Airline Pilots; Military Pilots; Los Alamos Security Inspectors; and private citizens. On January 6,1949, another similar object was sighted in the same area.
"......, a Meteorologist of some note, has been generally in charge of the observations near Los Alamos, attempting to learn the characteristics of the unexplained phenomena.
"Up to this time little concrete information has been obtained.
"There have been daytime sightings which are tentatively considered to possibly resemble the exhaust of some type of jet propelled object. Night time sightings have taken the form of lights usually described as brilliant green, similar to a green traffic signal or green neon light. Some reports indicated that the light began and ended with a red or orange flash. Other reports have given the color as red, white, blue-white, and yellowish green. Trailing lights sometimes observed are said to be red. The spectrum analysis of one light indicates that it may be a copper compound of the type known to be used in rocket experiments and which completely disintegrates upon explosion, leaving no debris. It is noted that no debris has ever been known to be located anywhere resulting from the unexplained phenomena.
"Recent observations have indicated that the unidentified phenomena travel at a rate of speed estimated at a minimum of three miles per second and a maximum of twelve miles a second, or 27,000 miles an hour. Their reported course indicates that they travel on an East-West line with probability that they approach from the Northern quadrant, which would be the last stage of the great circle route if they originated in Russia. When observed they seem to be in level flight at a height of six to ten miles and thus traveling on a tangent to the earth's surface. They occasionally dip at the end of the path and on two occasions a definite vertical change in the path was indicated. These phenomena have not been known to have been sighted, however, at any intermediate point between Russia and Los Alamos, but only at the end of the flight toward the apparent "target," namely, Los Alamos.
"In every case but one the shape of the objects has been reported as round in a point of light with a definite area to the light's source. One report gives a diamond shape; another indicates that trailing lights are elongated. The size is usually compared to one-fourth the diameter of the full moon, and they have also been compared in size to a basketball with trailing lights the size of a baseball.
"On no occasion has sound been associated directly with the phenomena, but unexplained sounds have been reported from Los Alamos. On two occasions reports have been received of the sightings of multiple units.
"Some nine scientific reasons are stated to exist which indicated that the phenomena observed are not due to meteorites. The only conclusions reached thus far are that they are either hitherto unobserved natural phenomena or that they are man-made. No scientific experiments are known to exist in this country which could give rise to such phenomena."
So, while flying saucers were being dismissed publicly as misidentifications,
hoaxes, and the product of Saturday night drinking parties, the Army and Air
Force looked upon the matter as "Top Secret."
(This web page produced for the NICAP site by Francis Ridge)