Form: Research Report
Dated: Sunday, June 28, 2009
From: VFrancis Ridge
Subject: October 29, October 30, and November 1, 1948

             Incident Nos. 188, 195 and 196: Goose Bay, Labrador

Goose Bay Air Force Base had been built in 1941. Adjacent to a Canadian base, by 1942 there were over 1,700 U.S. airmen stationed there, and it became the world's largest airport of its time. In a one-year period it handled over 24,000 flights.

Following the war, Goose Bay became an essential component of Defensive Air Command, and its radar stations were continually enhanced -- eventually becoming an integral part of the U.S. early warning system against aerial attack.

But at the time, Goose Bay was a prime refueling and servicing air base for all military and civilian aircraft flying the north Atlantic air routes. Ground Control Approach radar was an indispensible part of the system, and was 'on watch' on a 24 hour, 7-day basis.

The three incidents at Goose Bay were all radar sightings, with objects appearing on the radar scope. The first was Incident No. 188, with three radar operators involved. The military report notes: "All persons interrogated are either officers or fomer officers now in enlisted status. Their character is of the best."

The first radar sighting was by M/Sgt Frank D. Boerngen, a former navigator and bombadier whose reliability was rated 'excellent'. From the Project Sign files:

First sighting occurred at 0812Z, 29 October 1948 when an unidentified object appeared on Ground Control Aproach. Scope was approximately 2 miles from center of field on bearing of 170°. Object traveled about 2 miles and disappeared. No report on altitude determined. Estimated rate of speed was 25-30 MPH. CGA Operator had called in S/SGT MESSINA to verify his findings. Object again appeared at 0819Z and was observed by both Boerngen and Messina. It remained in scope until 0825Z. At 0819Z the object appeared on a bearing of 090° and moved slowly in a wide arc to 270° and again disappeared. It reappeared at 0916Z east of the field on a heading of 270° about 2 miles distant from the field in perfect alignment with runway 27. It appeared the same as a plane at either extremely low or extremely high altitude. Object was very clear on the scope at all times. M/Sgt. BOERNGEN and S/Sgt MESSINA remained in the unit keeping constant watch on Scopes 1 and 2. After about 4 minutes object faded from view into the ground clutter of the field. Plotting on base map indicates that object was in vicinity of Hamilton River at the time of the first spotting. Second spotting placed it in the immediate vicinity of Lake Melville and Dock Area. During the time the targets were noticed there were no aircraft in the air or ships or boats in the bay. The target was very clear though small.

NOTE: Radar PPI Scope Sketch seems to show some discrepancy when compared to statement as to direction of flight on the second sighting (0819Z). [Note: this comments refers to a sketch made later based on statements of radar operators. Therefore, it would be the sketch, not the statements, which was in error.]

LEON CHELETTE, S/Sgt, USAF, observed the blips while standing watch in the CGA Unit. He had been alerted by previous operator that unidentified blips were being observed at irregular intervals. He soon observed a small blip east of the field in the Lake Melville Area. He stated he observed as many as three blips at one time. There seemed to be no set course altho the speed of each blip was approx 30 MPH. Wind was checked and it was found that the blips traveled upwind and cross wind. Most of them were observed to the east and south of the field altho some were seen to the north and west. Attempts to observe the blips on precision elevation scope were unsuccessful. Exact times of CHELETTE'S observations are unknown but during his watch he observed six. He said he had observed unknown blips on one other occasion - while with S/Sgt MESSINA his attention was called to 2 objects SW of the filed moving away. They disappeared at about 6 miles. One was a very strong target.

The report was accompanied by two signed statements:

In another report was this note: 'due to darkness nothing could be seen'.

The Air Weather Service opinion:

No. 188: No actual sighting; a radar report, if accurate, definitely no weather balloon.

Dr. Hynek's analysis:

Incident #188 -- Goose Bay, Labrador -- 29 October 1948

      There appears to be nothing astronomical in this incident.

       Judging from the speed and apparent size of the object, it seems that a balloon may have been picked up by the radar.

       Radar experts should evaluate these sightings.

Blue Book listing: 'Other (Anomalous Propagation)'.

Two days later would come the next report, Incident No. 195. M/Sgt. Boerngen was again the radar operator. This time, though, the incident occurred in the midst of an inspection visit by VIP's, adding stature to the witness list:

Sighting was witnessed by:

Col John N. Jones, CO 1227th Air Base Gp
Goose, Bay Labrador

Group Capt Verner, Station Commander, RCAF
Goose Bay, Labrador

S/Sgt. E.V. Evilsizer (now stationed
Hq 103rd AACS Sq, Wright-Patterson AFB)

S/Sgt Leon Chellette, Jr. 1932d AACS SQ
Goose Bay Labrador

Cpl Johnnie R. McMahone, (now stationed at
1921st AACS SQ, Carswell AFB, Texas)

M/Sgt Francis H. Mills, Separation Point,
Westover AFB, Mass

S/Sgt A.E. Moraodo, now stationed 1916th
AACS Sq, Mitchel AFB, N.Y.

M/Sgt Frank D. Boerngen states that on 31 Oct 48 the CGA Unit was in operation on Runway #35. At that time (1535Z) the Canadian Air Vice Marshal Plant, the CO's of both bases and their party visited the CGA Unit. They were given a brief explanation of CGA and how it works when a target was spotted on Search Scope #1. Tower was called for number of aircraft in air. Tower stated there were no aircraft in the air. Target was called to the attention of both CO's and was viewed for about 6 minutes until it faded into the ground clutter about 6 miles from the field. The object first appeared to be about 3 miles south of the field and was traveling on a SW heading. The blip traveled at a speed of approximately 25 MPH. It faded into the ground clutter about 6 miles from the field. There were no clouds in the sky, yet after making a visual check nothing could be seen.

M/Sgt Boerngen would also provide a statement:

The Air Weather Service opinion:

No. 195: Very little information, only radar pipe; cannot determine if weather balloon or not.

Dr. Hynek's analysis:

Incident #195 -- Goose Bay, Labrador -- 31 October 1948

       The object reported in this incident has no astronomical explanation; speed was too slow and time in sight too long.

       The object, observed on a radarscope, was probably a balloon or unidentified aircraft.

       Question: Is the speed indicated the radial velocity of the object or true space velocity? If the latter, it is obviously too slow for conventional aircraft.

Blue Book listing: 'Other (Anomalous Propagation)'.

The final radar sighting occurred on November 1, becoming Incident No. 196. The operator was M/Sgt Francis H. Mills, who by the time of the investigation had transferred elsewhere.

Target picked up on GCA scope at 2145Z 1 Nov at 3-3/4 miles from station on a bearing of 123° from station. Object traveled on a heading of approximately 249° and disappeared at 7-/12 miles on a bearing of 182° from the station. Blip traveled the 4 miles in 4 minutes and 7 seconds timed with a stop watch. (A speed of approximately 60 mph). Operator stated blip was too small at 7-1/2 miles to be an aircraft and too large to be a bird. Wind was from 270° to 300° and at 5 to 10 MPH. Targe witnessed by two CGA Operators.

Discrepancy reported: 2d Incl dated 24 Jan 1949 f/Hq 1227th Air Base Gp. Newfoundland Base Command, MATS, para 3a and 3b states that

"By plotting a point 3 and 3/4 miles from the station on a bearing of 123° and following a flight path on a heading of 294° for a distance of 7-1/2 miles where the object disappeared would not put the object's disappearing point 182° from the station.

"This same message stated that the object travelled the distance of 4 miles in 4 minutes and 7 seconds timed by a stop watch. If this were true, the object could not have disappeared form seven and one half mile scope on which it was sighted; neither could it have disappeared at one-hundred and eighty two degrees from the station assuming that it did travel on a heading of 249° as stated."

The Air Weather Service opinion:

No. 196: Radar scope observation only; object traveling directly into wind. Cannot determine if balloon, but unlikely.

Dr. Hynek's analysis:

Incident #196 -- Goose Bay, Labrador -- 1 November 1948

       There is no astronomical explanation for this incident.

       The object could have been balloon radiosonde

Blue Book listing: 'Other (Anomalous Propagation)'.

Some of the incidents were later charted:

Analysis: Accompanying documentation showed that weather balloon releases were scheduled daily for 0300Z, 0900Z, 1500Z, and 2100Z. The only radar scope reading which might coincide in time was Incident No. 196, which occurred at 2145Z, but the Air Weather Service determined that the direction would have been directly into the wind.

Blue Book's attribution of all events to anomalous prorogation (radar 'echoes' caused by various physical impediments and/or atmospheric conditions) does not stand up to scrutiny: such 'echoes' do not show the continuous and consistent movements over time which were described in the reports.

One of the striking features in all three cases is that elevation was unknown, but the visual search made in Incident No. 195 revealed nothing could be seen at a low altitude, indicating high-altitude flight (ground clutter affects GCA readings at all altitudes), but in Incident No. 188 S/Sgt Chelette could not find the targets using the precision elevation radar.

Because the objects could not be located visually, and because they showed consistent and continuous movement over time, the incidents properly belonged under Evidence offered suggests no explanation.