Provincetown Radar Case
Otis AFB, Massachusetts
September 21, 1950

J. Allen Hynek:

"An exceedingly puzzling event occurred during the 3rd run when the planes were heading northeast at 30,000 feet.  We picked up another plane (?) in the radar beam traveling about due north on a converging course toward the F-86s.  It was moving very rapidly and I told the pilots about it, its range and direction from them.  The echo caught up with, passed, and then crossed the course of the 86s, suddenly went into a very tight (for the speed) turn to the right, headed back toward Boston and passed directly over our flight.  (Perhaps went under.)  The sketch represents, as closely as we can remember, the relative positions of the two planes.  Two other observers were with me at the time and we have checked over the facts rather closely.  The pilots will undoubtedly recall the incident.  They said they didn't see anything which is not too surprising considering the speed of the object and the fact that it may have passed several thousand feet above or below them and still looked like coincidence to the radar.  Figuring conservatively, the speed of the object was approximately 1200 MPH, and the centrifugal force exerted on the ship during the turn amounted to something more than five g's.  It gave an excellent radar echo which could not be mistaken for anything else and in all respects except for the velocity seemed a normal radar target.  It passed out of the beam while we continued to track our flight, but we focused on it again for a few seconds shortly after it was rapidly approaching Boston. . . ."

The letter continues with the radar observer expressing disbelief at what he has observed:

"The whole thing doesn't seem to make sense as you will discover when you reflect a moment about it.  It was very evidently an interception of some sort on our flight, but what?  The turn was utterly fantastic.  I don't think the human frame could absorb it but if the object was radio controlled it had no particular business flying on such courses as planes occupied on legitimate business.  A few rough calculations concerning control surfaces, angles, etc., only adds to the puzzle that this object must have been entirely unconventional in many and basic respects. Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most is that it gave a very good radar echo, which implies irregular surfaces and conparatively large size, large enough so the pilots might have had a good chance to see it.

It seems highly probable that I may be poking into something that is none of my business, but on the other hand it may be something that the Air Force would like to know about if it doesn't already.  I wish you would take the matter up with your intelligence officer or C.O. and get their reactions.  The whole thing has us going nuts here and we don't know whether to talk about it or keep our mouths shut. Until I hear from you we will do the later.

Perhaps we could run another mission for the purpose of bring it out again and this time track it or at least get your pilots close enough for a look-- they'd never catch it I'm sure. . . ."

The officer was told that someone from Otis Air Force Base would contact him concerning the sighting.  However, he was never approached and no further information about the case was released.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek

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