Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2010 19:16:14 -0400
From: Brad Sparks
Subject:  June 14, 1957; McChord AFB, Wash.
To: RADCAT



http://www.nicap.org/570614mcchord_dir.htm
1:14 p.m. PST. One normal radar target was picked up at a 25 miles
range at 355(0?) degrees and descending straight down at 2,000 FPM.
One T-33 aircraft was diverted from McChord AFB, no sighting was
made. The length of observation was 33 minutes.

This target was identified as a suspected deflated weather (WX) balloon and that fact should have been noted, along with any contrary argument (if any).  There was NO visual.

It was first and last seen almost due North of the radar station, headed East, if one reads the beginning and end point data, in this poorly documented report (it was obviously detected on height-finder radar yet the heights were not reported in the teletype!).  Since it was tracked for 33 minutes with an apparently consistent continuous descent rate of 2,000 feet per minute, it must have been picked up at around 70,000 ft and lost in the "ground clutter" at around say 4,000 feet at ranges of 25 miles reported for both the beginning and end points (or it could even have been tracked from 66,000 ft down to 0 ft since radars can sometimes pick up targets below the geometric earth horizon because normal atmospheric refraction bends the beam below the earth's curvature slightly, however this also depends on there not being terrain obstructions, and whether ground clutter problems cause radar operators to aim the beam above the horizon to avoid it, etc.).

The way I read the beginning track it was at 355 degs azimuth or just West of due North, at 25 miles.  The end point was at "01- DGS" which could be Azimuth 1 deg (or 01 deg) which is slightly East of due North, also at 25 miles, or the dash could be a typo or telex error for a missing digit, so maybe it should be 10 degs (or 010 degs), somewhat farther East of due North or even 15 (015) degs.  In either case, the object headed EAST.  If it was a balloon, the winds would have to be from the WEST -- and in fact they were, ranging from 5 to 20 knots from 240 to 270 to 300 degs (=roughly FROM the WEST) depending on altitude.

Were these winds aloft readings from this very same balloon, on its ascent?  The radar site failed to report the TIME of winds aloft readings which could have clinched it.