Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 10:32:44 +0000
From: Martin Shough <>
Subject: Re: May 22, 1964; White Sands, NM: RADCAT

DATE: May 15 1964 TIME: 1130 local  CLASS: R/V  ground radar/ground visual
LOCATION:             SOURCES: Lorenzen SEIOS 1966 225
Holloman-White Sands Ordnance Testing Range New Mexico
EVALUATION: No official

PRECIS: A rumored incident at Holloman AFB-White Sands involving a landing object reported by an RB-57 crew on an April 30 practice mission was pursued by Lorenzen, Arlynn Breuer (editor of the Alamogordo Daily News) and Terry Clarke of radio KALG. During inquiries a separate incident was anonymously disclosed by personnel
Between 1130 and 1215 local, two targets were simultaneously tracked on surveillance and FPS-16 radars at Stallion Site, the most northerly range of the army-controlled Holloman-White Sands complex a few miles west of San Antonio, N.M. The targets were north of the radar site, performing "perfect, precise flight maneuvers" in tandem, involving separations and rejoins and "up-and-down 'pogo' maneuvers". One radar operator obtained a visual sighting of two brown colored football-shaped objects which were flying at very low altitude and were lost from view behind buildings at the site.

The two targets were displayed as skin paints. However, IFF transponder codes were also received on two different frequencies alternately.

NOTES: That the targets were tracked on different radars argues that they may well have been airborne, radar-reflective objects. The FPS-16 is a C-band (about 5 GhZ/6 cm) tracking radar with a 1.2 degree pencil beam; most surveillance radars operate in a longer-wavelength region from S- to L-band, typically 10-50 cms. If two such very different instruments did detect correlating targets then this tends to argue against sporadic AP or partial inversion reflections, both of which are frequency-dependent effects. Mutual or remote RFI also seems unlikely, and internal system noise would appear to be ruled out. In general, two discrete targets performing "precise maneuvers" in tandem is not behavior diagnostic of AP.

There appears to be nothing in the report to definitely contradict the hypothesis that the two radar targets were conventional aircraft. The type of maneuvers described could be consistent with helicopters, possibly US Army helicopters operating from a nearby site on the range complex. The visual description of "football-shaped" objects could be "consistent with an ovoid helicopter fuselage, tail and rotor assemblies unnoticed due to the viewing angle and/or poor viewing conditions. The brown coloration might be consistent with an Army camouflage livery. Whether or not any sound was heard is unstated, but distant rotor noise might have been blown away on the wind or masked by local  noise. Finally, the association of the targets with standard FAA transponder recognition signals very strongly suggests conventional aircraft.

In conclusion, the information available is limited and the report cannot be regarded as more than hearsay. Nevertheless the IFF response alone would appear to be sufficient reason to suspect unidentified friendly aircraft, and the residue of the report is not inconsistent with helicopters.

STATUS: Probable helicopters