Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 08:40:14 -0400
From: Fran Ridge
Detailed Case Summary: The Rapid City / Ellsworth AFB Incident (RV), August 5, 1953

The usual brief description we use on the one-page directories prevented us from using this detailed, but important, summary for this case. The dir also reflects the original introduction of this case into the NICAP record. For that reason we present the detailed one by Brad Sparks below which is based on careful examination of the BB documents presented elsewhere in our report..

Brad Sparks:
8:05 p.m. ­ 12:23? a.m. (MST). GGOC observer in Black Hawk, S.D., (about 8 miles NW of Rapid City), reported to Ellsworth AFB bright [red?] object first stationary to the NE then heading S [SE?] 30 degrees to the right, toward Rapid City. Radar controller found 2 targets heading S, had difficulty tracking due to ground clutter, 3 airmen sent outside to look saw a high speed light heading S. A few minutes later GOC observer reported the object had returned. An F-84 was vectored and made visual contact then directed to stationary radar target about 15 miles NE of Black Hawk, target started moving 320 degrees magnetic out to 70 miles range and F-84 intercept was called off. F­ 84 pilot was about to land in Rapid City when he noticed silvery object like the brightest star he'd ever seen, to the NW, which he pursued on 350 degrees magnetic keeping it at 11 o'clock high, 30 to 45 degrees elevation, it disappeared after 30 secs, reappeared for 30 secs then faded from sight. A 2nd F-84 was scrambled from Ellsworth AFB, and on a N 360 degree magnetic heading at 15,000 ft he saw a target 30-40 degrees to his right and at level elevation which "jumped" in elevation to 15-30 degrees, changed color from white to green, was much brighter than a star and was moving in relation to the stars (3 specific stars he picked out for reference). Pilot turned on radar gun sight which showed possible target beyond maximum range of 4,000 yards (2.3 miles) and GCI ground radar tracked target 5-10 miles ahead of the F-84 out to 80 miles for 5 mins [960 mph?] when intercept was broken off and target went off scope [about 11:42 p.m.?]. About 20 miles from base F-84 pilot, now at 12,000-14,000 ft, saw a red and white pair of lights 10 degrees below the horizon at 180 degrees magnetic and height-finder ground radar showed a target at 8,000 ft. Lights visible for 30 sec  periods. Radar scope photos and gun camera photos reportedly malfunctioned. (NICAP; Ruppelt pp. 232-5; CR pp. 132-6)