Objects Sighted Over "Control Zone"
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
October 20, 1950


FBI Report:

At 1655 hours, on 20 October 1950, Mr. Larry P. Riordan, AEC Badge No.522, Superintendent of Security at X-10 in the "Control Zone" at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, while enroute from X-10 to the Oak Ridge residential area, on Benton Valley Road, saw an object in the sky which appeared to be directly over the University of Tennessee Agricultural Research Farm. This object gave the general appearance of an aerial balloon which had lost its "basket." In other words, the object was generally round; appeared to come together at the bottom in wrinkles (rather indistinct), and something was hanging below. The balloon was described as being from eight to ten feet long; of a lead pipe or gunmetal color; and seemed to be approximately one-fourth (¼) mile from the observer, at a thirty (30) degree elevation above the horizon. The object was apparently stationary but since the observer was in a moving vehicle, he did not verify that it was stationary. As the vehicle in which he was traveling changed position, and went around a curve, Mr. Riordan noticed that this object appeared to be thinner. He concludes that by reason of his changing position, or the object changing its altitude, he observed another angle of the object which appeared to be thinner than upon his first sighting.

At the time of the observation there was adequate light and the object was plainly visible. Mr. Riordan is a responsible person, as is indicated by his position, and he has been aware of the many instances of reported objects flying in the sky. He is also very familiar with the weather balloons which are sent up hourly each day over Oak Ridge between 6:00 AM of one day until 1:00 AM of the next day. The size of these balloons vary, but generally they are similar to a circus balloon which is about twenty- four (24) inches in diameter. Mr. Riordan is certain that the object was not a weather balloon but his first impression was that this object was an experimental "gab" being utilized by the University of Tennessee Agricultural Research Farm.

Mr. Riordan has been the Security Chief of X-10 since 14 July 1943. His vision is normal except that he has negligible impairment of the right eye. Like many of the Atomic Energy Commission officials, Mr. Riordan has hoped for the opportunity to see one of these objects, and under the circumstances, he visualized it as accurately as possible.

On 20 October 1950, at 1527 hours, aircraft No. AF-409, Pilot Wolf, 5th AW-Fighter Sqd., took off from the Knoxville Airport for a "local patrol." The Radar Unit at Knoxville Airport received readings on their Radar scope and sent the aircraft after these targets. The aircraft pilot was unable to identify any flying object in the vicinity of the said targets. All targets were between eighteen (18) and twenty-five (25) miles from the Airport at 320 degrees. The aircraft was landed at 1713 hours. (Attention is invited to the fact that these targets were sighted at approximately the same time, and locality, that was reported by Mr. Larry Riordan.)

(Source: FBI, Clear Intent, 172)