|The following pdf file contains all of
the resized Project Blue Book documents below and is now
housed on the NICAP site for security reasons.
The original over-sized docs from the footnotes.com site are listed below:
1 PROJECT 10073 RECORD CARD
2 INCIDENT 22 JANUARY 1951
3 ROUTING AND RECORD SHEET
4 Newspaper articles, Dayton Daily News
5 Information on Project Gopher
PROJECT BLUE BOOK MASTER INDEX JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1951 SIGHTINGS
When the Cold War began soon after the Second World War, U.S. military planners had the problem that they had virtually no information about what was going on in vast areas of the Soviet territory. Photo reconnaissance aircraft were used to obtain coverage of areas near the borders, and there were even very few overflights of the Soviet interior in the early 1950s. But these missions were extremely risky, and couldn't provide enough information for a good assessment of Soviet military strength. Satellites were still too far in the future, and therefore reconnaissance balloons were proposed as a solution for the problem.
In July 1950, Charles B. Moore of General Mills had conducted four test flights of Skyhook-type balloons with a camera payload. To the U.S. Air Force he presented the concept of camera-equipped balloons, which could float across the Soviet Union using strong winds (the "jet stream") at very high altitude, above the reach of Soviet air defences. In November 1950, the USAF officially began the development of a balloon reconnaissance system under secret project MX-1594 Gopher.
Design goal for Project Gopher was a balloon, which could carry a 225 kg (500 lb) payload gondola to 21000 m (70000 ft), and remain there at constant altitude for at least 16 days. Originally it had been hoped that Gopher could conduct the first operational missions by the end of 1951, but this proved to be far too optimistic. A series of test flights in 1952 was only partially successful, mainly because of continuing problems during balloon launch and with payload reliability. Because the USAF was dissatisfied with General Mills' progress, the balloon production contract was terminated in August 1952, and further balloons were ordered from Winzen Research. Project Gopher was a top secret project, but the balloon test flights could obviously not be hidden from the public. Therefore all test flights were officially part of Project Moby Dick (MX-1498), the USAF's unclassified research balloon project. Moby Dick had been started around the same time as Gopher, and used Skyhook balloons to measure global high-altitude wind patterns. Gopher's camera gondolas, which could parachute to earth anywhere after a test flight, were accordingly labeled as Air Force property (together with a fire hazard warning to discourage potential souvenir hunters).