Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 09:21:56 -0500
From: fran ridge <nicap@insightbb.com>
Subject: McDonald Case 34. Boston. Mass., June 1, 1954
To: AVCAT


Dr. James E. McDonald:

4. Case 34. Boston. Mass., June 1, 1954:
At 0930 EDST, a Paris-New York TWA Constellation was passing near Boston when the cockpit crew spotted "a large, white-colored disc-like object" overhead (Ref. 41). Capt. Charles J. Kratovil, copilot W. R. Davis, and flight engineer Harold Raney all watched it for a total time of 10 minutes as they flew on their own southwestward course to New York. They would occasionally lose it behind overlying clouds. Knowing that they were flying into headwinds, they concluded that it could not be any kind of balloon, so they radioed the Boston airport control tower, which informed him that jets were scrambled and saw the object, but could not close with it.

After landing in New York, Capt. Kratovil was informed that official spokesmen had attributed the sighting to a "weather balloon" released from Grenier AFB, in New Hampshire.


Discussion:

I am still in the process of trying to locate Kratovil to confirm sighting details; but the fact that four newspaper accounts for that day give the same information about the major points probably justifies acceptance of those points. From upper-wind data for that area and time, I have confirmed the presence of fairly strong flow from the WSW aloft, whence Kratovil's press comment, "If this was a weather balloon, it's the first time I ever saw one traveling against the wind," seems reasonable. The cruising speed of a Constellation is around 300 mph, so during the reported 10 minutes' duration of the crew's sighting, they moved about 50 miles relative to the air, so it would have been impossible for them to have kept a weather balloon in sight for this long. Furthermore, it was about 1.5 hours after scheduled balloon-release time, so that even a small balloon would have either burst or passed to altitudes too high to be visible. Finally, with flow out of the southwest sector from surface to above 20,000 ft, any balloon from Grenier AFB would have been carried along a trajectory nowhere near where the TWA crew spotted the "large, white-colored, disc-like object" overhead.

5. In my files are many other "balloon" cases from the past twenty years, cases that ought never have been so labeled, had the evaluators kept relevant quantitative points in mind. To ignore most of the salient features of a sighting in order to advance an easy "balloon" explanation is only one more of many different ways in which some very puzzling UFO observations have been shoved out of sight.