Bellefontaine Radar Case
V-J and Fran,
Here is quick rundown of errors in Ruppelt's account of the Bellefontaine case. Please note that we don't have at hand the original file because it hasn't been copied by anyone yet. I saw it 20+ years ago. So what we are comparing it with is the BLUE BOOK Status Report 8 account, augmented with the Condon Report which did have the original file:
RUPPELT (with interspersed COMMENTS):
Bellefontaine, Ohio, RV Photo Case
At exactly ten forty-five on the morning of August 1, 1952,
COMMENTS: It seems the UFO was picked up at 10:51 AM (EST) according to the BB Status Report unless it really was detected at 10:45 and 10:51 was when they radioed the F-86, an ADC radar near Bellefontaine, Ohio, picked up a high-speed unidentified target moving southwest, just north of Dayton.
COMMENTS: Yes, 20 miles NNW of Dayton, reportedly traveling 400-450 knots (about 500 mph in round numbers) heading 240° which is WSW rather than SW but close enough.
Two F-86's from the 97th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Wright-Patterson were scrambled and in a few minutes they were climbing out toward where the radar showed the UFO to be.
COMMENTS: They were NOT "scrambled" which means on ground and
sent up, they
The radar didn't' have any height-finding equipment so all that the ground controller at the radar site could do was to get the two F-86's over or under the target, and then they would have to find it visually.
COMMENTS: An early postwar TPS-1B model search radar was installed Nov 1951 at Bellefontaine, Ohio, 664th Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron of the Air Defense Command, which was located atop Campbell Hill, the highest point in Ohio, at 1549 ft elevation (40°22'20" N, 83°43'10" W). The TPS-1B seems to have had a 10,000 ft height limitation which if used here would mean no one would be sending F-86's up to 48,000 ft. However more advanced FPS-3 search and CPS-4 height-finder radars were installed sometime in 1952, dates unknown.
When the two airplanes reached 30,000 feet, the ground controller called
them and told them that they were almost on the target, which was still
continuing its southwesterly course at about 525 miles an hour. In a few
seconds the ground controller called back and told the lead pilot that
the targets of his airplane and the UFO had blended on the radar scope
and that the pilot would
COMMENTS: Don't know about most of this. But the only radar that failed was apparently NOT the ground radar at Bellefontaine but the AIRBORNE RADAR on Lt. Donald J. Hemer's F-86. Major James B. Smith got a weak return on his radar gunsight (see below).
But at almost that exact second the lead pilot looked up and there in the clear blue sky several thousand feet above him was a silver-colored sphere. The lead pilot pointed it out to his wing man and both of them started to climb. They went to their maximum altitude but they couldn't reach the UFO. After ten minutes of unsuccessful attempts to identify the huge silver sphere or disk - because at times it looked like a disk - one of the pilots hauled the nose of his F-86 up in a stall and exposed several feet of gun camera film. Just as he did this the warning light on his radar gun sight blinked on, indicating that something solid was in front of him - he wasn't photographing a sundog, hallucination, or refracted light.
COMMENTS: Presumably if this filming and breaking off of the intercept was at 10 minutes into the mission this was at about 11:05 AM or so, since the BB Status Report indicates first contact by the F-86's at 10:55 AM. At the UFO's speed to the WSW this would have been at aboutr 100 miles from Dayton.
The two pilots broke off the intercept and started back to Wright- Patterson when they suddenly realized that they were still northwest of the base, in almost the same location they had been when they started the intercept ten minutes before. The UFO had evidently slowed down from the speed that the radar had measured, 525 miles an hour, until it was hovering almost completely motionless.
COMMENTS: This makes no sense, no one at ground radar said the UFO slowed down from 500-525 mph to 0 or hovering, and seems to derive from the file containing a statement that Bellefontaine ground radar had the UFO northeast and near Dayton (about 5 miles NW of Springfield) almost where they had started, when the intercept was dropped at 11:13 AM (a later time than Ruppelt indicates). (CR p. 162) But if Ruppelt is right for once here about timing the F-86's would have had about 8 minutes at 600 mph (10 mi/min) to get back to base from the intercept break off point roughly 100 miles away. The timing is about right and depending on the landing pattern this target near Springfield and Dayton might have been one or both F-86's. The reason why this is significant is that Ruppelt and the Condon Committee try to dismiss this as a combination of a weather balloon and a supposedly known jet flight. See below.
As soon as the pilots were on the ground, the magazine of film from the gun camera was rushed to the photo lab and developed. The photos showed only a round, indistinct blob - no details - but they were proof that some type of unidentified flying object had been in the air north of Dayton.
COMMENTS: Until the case file can be studied it appears the gun camera film was taken about 100 miles WSW of Dayton not N of Dayton.
Lieutenant Andy Flues was assigned to this one. He checked the locations of balloons and found out that a 20-foot-diameter radiosonde weather balloon from Wright-Patterson had been very near the area when the unsuccessful intercept took place, but the balloon wasn't traveling 525 miles an hour and it couldn't be picked up by the ground radar, so he investigated further.
COMMENTS: It was a rawinsonde so it was being tracked by radar
and should have been easily detected by the F-86 radar rather than giving
a weak return, if the UFO target was really the balloon. Supposedly
launched at 10 AM so at 11 AM it would have been at roughly 60,000 ft give
or take 20,000 ft depending on its ascent rate. But the BB Status
Report flatly says it went E and says nothing about first going W then
E. The Condon Report claims it went W then hit upper winds that sent
it E -- and they had to argue that otherwise the balloon would have been
too far E. We need all the winds aloft that were tracked with this
rawinsonde to verify its location; the Condon Report withholds the
full info and only gives 260°/31 knots at 50,000 ft and
The UFO couldn't have been another airplane because airplanes don't hover in one spot and it was no atmospheric phenomenon.
COMMENTS: Again from what's available no one said the UFO stopped and hovered. Surely air defense ground radar would have seen it stop. The story confusing which radar failed is too convenient.
Andy wrote it off as an unknown but it still bothered him; that balloon in the area was mighty suspicious. He talked to the two pilots a half dozen times and spent a day at the radar site at Bellefontaine before he reversed his "Unknown" decision and came up with the answer.
COMMENTS: If Lt Flues really spent an entire day at Bellefontaine ADC radar site then I'd expect an enormously detailed log and overlay charts of the entire encounter.
The unidentified target that the radar had tracked across Ohio was a low-flying jet. The jet was unidentified because there was a mix-up and the radar station didn't get its flight plan. Andy checked and found that a jet out of Cleveland had landed at Memphis at about eleven-forty. At ten forty-five this jet would have been north of Dayton on a southwesterly heading.
COMMENTS: This is all slick Ruppeltian lies. The UFO target
was reportedly FIRST picked up NEAR DAYTON even according to Ruppelt himself
earlier on, and was NOT "tracked across Ohio" -- as a jet that supposedly
took off from Cleveland and flew near Dayton would have had to do, it would
have had to be tracked across Ohio. From the highest point in Ohio
the Bellefontaine radar could pick up a target at the surface from nearly
50 miles away. If it was
When the ground controller blended the targets of the two F-86's into the unidentified target, they were at 30,000 feet and were looking for the target at their altitude or higher so they missed the low flying jet - but they did see the balloon. Since the radar went out just as the pilots saw the balloon, the ground controller couldn't see that the unidentified target he'd been watching was continuing on to the south- west.
COMMENT: Well Bellefontaine ground radar should have been tracking this alleged low-flying jet for ALMOST AN HOUR by this time ALWAYS HEADING SW, so why would the ground controller not project its flight path forward along the same SW heading???? Again, the BB Status Report says nothing about Bellefontaine radar going out, it says Lt Hemer's airborne radar failed.
The pilots didn't bother to look around any more once they'd spotted the balloon because they thought they had the target in sight. The only part of the sighting that still wasn't explained was the radar pickup on the F-86's gun sight. Lieutenant Flues checked around, did a little experimenting, and found out that the small transmitter box on a radiosonde balloon will give an indication on the radar used in F-86 gun sights.
COMMENTS: Again, according to Ruppelt's BB Status Report (we have to remember these 1952 BB reports were issued by Ruppelt who then headed BB) the balloon was a RAWINSONDE not a RADIOSONDE. It was just a FOIL RADAR REFLECTOR hanging from the balloon. NO INSTRUMENT/TRANSMITTER PACKAGE. The radar reflectors were designed as CORNER REFLECTORS to give STRONG RADAR RETURNS. But Major Smith got a WEAK RETURN.
To get a final bit of proof, Lieutenant Flues took the gun camera photos to the photo lab. The two F-86's had been at about 40,000 feet when the photos were taken and the 20-foot balloon was at about 70,000 feet.
COMMENTS: The BB Status Rpt indicates F-86's at 48,000 ft and UFO at 60,000-70,000 ft.
Andy's question to the photo lab was, "How big should a 2O-foot balloon appear on a frame of 16-mm. movie film when the balloon is 30,000 feet away?" The people in the photo lab made a few calculations and measurements and came up with the answer, "A 20-foot balloon photographed from 30,000 feet away would be the same size as the UFO in the gun camera photos."
COMMENTS: I can't verify these figures without film measurements. The BB Status Rpt says UFO was 24-40 ft in size if at 12,000-20,000 ft away which indicates 2 mils or 2 milliradians angular size was what they were working from. At 30,000 ft distance the size would be 60 ft. The BB Status Rpt also states the film showed the UFO had noticeable motion from upper right to lower left of the film frames, which doesn't seem consistent with a slow balloon.
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 20:51:12 -0700
At 08:21 PM 4/16/2002 +0200, Vicente-Juan wrote:
>Hi, Francis, I have just finished to review your web site´s photeographic
The official analysis and the Blue Book lising as Unknown is in
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 15:14:23 EDT
Subject: Re: Consultation/BELLEFONTAINE Case Aug 1, 1952
X-Mailer: AOL 5.0 for Mac sub 40
In a message dated 4/19/02 5:09:49 AM, email@example.com writes:
>Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 07:15:54 -0700
>From: Francis Ridge <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Re: Consultation/BELLEFONTAINE Case Aug 1, 1952
>At 06:43 AM 4/19/2002 EDT, you wrote:
>>V-J and Fran,
>>Here is quick rundown of errors in Ruppelt's account of the Bellefontaine
>>case. Please note that we don't have at hand the original file because it
>>hasn't been copied by anyone yet. I saw it 20+ years ago. So what we are
>>comparing it with is the BLUE BOOK Status Report 8 account, augmented with
>>the Condon Report which did have the original file:
>Any resaon why you would not want this on the List?
I originally stopped postings because discussions suddenly changed character
after 9-11 and because my email address got screwed up by AOL and had to
change again and again and I didn't want people trying to email me at defunct
addresses where I couldn't even get access. But now I am taking a very long
break from posting anywhere because I prefer not to get spammed and because
discussions overall on the lists (including UpDates) since 9-11 have been
essentially worthless wastes of time -- and I don't intend to waste my time
trying to prop things up (I had Jan post a few for me in re Psycho-Social
Hype and sure enough all I got in return was lies, distortions, and sheer
irrelevant nonsense -- no one EVER answered my question about how PSH could
explain the 1957 flap, etc., or why the Hill case in 1966 utterly failed to
trigger a wave of copycats, etc.). I've noticed a major decline is spam as a
result and I think I'll stick to that for a while.
If you want to post my comments MINUS MY EMAIL ADDRESS (so spammer search
engines and web crawlers don't get it) I don't mind.
More important, though,
>what about my posting of these comments on a web page with your credits
>for the case?
I think my comments are too tentative for posting on NICAP site when
should be redone in light of the full case file -- I'm having to guess a lot,
I'm forced to rely on a selective quote the Condon Com made where I can't
check context or find other mitigating info, etc. I have not incorporated
any of my own comments into my BB Unknowns Catalog for that very reason. At
some point as Jan works his way up to 1952 in his review and copying of
selected cases from the uncensored BB microfilm (he's at late 1950 now) he'll
no doubt send me a copy -- probably later this year unless I can bug him to
do Bellefontaine now (but why discriminate? there are lots of other 1952
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