Comment: Part Three has now been added. Scroll down.
The subject of UFOs spotted at missile bases and other sensitive nuclear facilities has received quite a bit of attention in recent years thanks to the great research of longtime ufologist Robert Hastings, author of the book UFOs and Nukes - Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. Hastings was also the sponsor of a significant panel of former military witnesses of these incidents at the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, DC on September 27, 2010. He wrote the cover story, "UFO/Nuclear Connection," for Open Minds magazine issue 7 (April/May 2011), where he discussed the media impact of his NPC event.
I have transcribed the article exactly as it was published back in February of 1982, except for the correction of a few typos. However, I've added at the end some of the official documents mentioned in the original story, so you can read the full document and not just the quotes excerpted in the article.
The News World, New York City, February 20, 1982
UFO surveillance of A-plants
U.S. documents show atomic link to saucers
By A. Hovni
Special to The News World
First in a three-part series
We often hear the statement that UFOs, whatever they are, have a tendency to buzz atomic plants and other similarly sensitive military and industrial installations. This is naturally used to support the theory that UFOs are extraterrestrial devices which understandably are engaged in a systematic surveillance of the Earth's military and industrial resources. And yes indeed, there is enough evidence to verify the assertion that UFOs do fly over atomic plants.
This is not based on hearsay or unconfirmed press accounts, but rather on dozens of declassified U.S. government documents from agencies such as the CIA, the FBI, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army, and last but not least, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). These documents have been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Dr. Bruce Maccabee, now with the Fund for UFO Research, and New York City attorney Peter Gersten, for Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) and Ground Saucer Watch (GSW). But let's plunge into the evidence.
UFOs - an energy link noted
Because the flying saucer phenomenon followed closely the growing development of atomic energy, it shouldn't come as a surprise that both subjects became mixed up in more than one opportunity. Take, for instance, a July 18, 1947 FBI memorandum concerning the opinions of an informant, a nuclear scientist from Stamford, Connecticut, about "flying saucers." The memo's sub-headline reads "Atomic Energy Act," and the scientist (name deleted) had worked at the MIT's Radiation Laboratory during the Manhattan project, and was employed at the time the memo was written with the American Cyanamid Research Laboratory in Stamford.
He told an FBI agent in New Haven that, "it is quite possible that actually the 'flying saucers' could be radio controlled germ bombs or atom bombs which are circling the orbit of the earth and which could be controlled by radio and directed to land on any designated target at the specific desire of the agency or country operating the bombs."
The possibility that UFOs were really "nuclear-propelled missiles" was discussed in another lengthy FBI memo, dated January 10, 1949. An FBI agent in Knoxville, Tenn. had received a "voluntary" visit by a Mr. Roterman, who was "the principal army technician at the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft Research Center at Oak Ridge, Tennessee," according to the document. Flying saucers had already been sighted and reported at Oak Ridge itself, and a concentrated flap would follow in 1950, as we shall see in our next article.
In any event, it was Roterman's personal opinion that "there is only one possible fuel which could be utilized (in UFOs) which is in accord with present theory, and that is the utilization of atomic energy." To support his theory, Roterman "called attention to the vapor trail and gaseous corona described as a ball of fire, which he states might give some evidence to the fact that a radioactive field is present."
This would lead some "CIA consultants" to state that the solution of the UFO conundrum "would probably be found on the margins or just beyond the frontiers of our present knowledge in the fields of atmospheric, ionospheric, and extraterrestrial phenomena, with the added possibility that the present dispersal of nuclear waste products might also be a factor."
Understandably, the CIA would elaborate further on this possibility, which is mentioned in several documents, memoranda and position papers from the time. Speculating that "UFOs may be electromagnetic or electrostatic in character," one of the documents from the summer of '52 added that, "effects of interaction between these natural phenomena and radioactive material in the air can only be conjectured." It gave as possible evidence the fact that UFO sightings had been reported at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, "at a time when the background radiation count had risen inexplicably." But convenient as this explanation seemed, the CIA was nevertheless cautious to conclude that "here we run out of even 'blue yonder' explanations that might be tenable, and we still are left with numbers of incredible reports from credible observers."
With Headquarters in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, the Fourth Army was responsible during the early post-World War II era with the protection of Los Alamos and Sandia Base in New Mexico, and Camp Hood in Texas. All these restricted areas were the subject of numerous unexplained sightings between 1948 and 1950. One Fourth Army document, dated July 2, 1949, gives a complete "Summary of Observations of Aerial Phenomena, Camp Hood, Texas," indicating that "over 100 men and officers have observed and reported the phenomena." Termed "fireballs" for lack of a better name, some objects were described "round" and others with "diamond or oblong shape." Beginning on March 6, 1949, the phenomenon was said to appear at Camp Hood "on the average of every nine days," and it was determined that no conventional aircraft had been flying at the time.
The FBI also became aware of the problem, as we can see from a memo written on January 31, 1949 by the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in San Antonio to Director J. Edgar Hoover, summarizing the series of sightings "toward the apparent 'target', namely, Los Alamos." Besides repeating both the sightings and hypothesis mentioned already, the memo cites a letter by a woman whose name has been deleted. Although the agent says "she has generally been considered unreliable and possibly mentally unbalanced" - presumably deduced from her numerous letters "to Military Authorities concerning her theories regarding Atomic Energy" - nevertheless he added that "she, however, has submitted to Military Authorities the only theory thus far known that has any credibility at all, namely, that the lights are manifestations of cosmic rays which are directed toward a specific point. She further theorizes that such rays may interfere with the ignition of motors and may account for various unexplained air crashes."
In his classic book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, the late former Project Bluebook Head, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, revealed that at one point the government was so concerned with the fireballs around Los Alamos that a high level scientific conference was called in. Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the H bomb, Dr. Lincoln La Paz, and other luminaries were among the participants. Eventually the Air Force established Project Twinkle, under Dr. La Paz, to study, photograph and measure the phenomenon with three "cinetheodolite stations" near White Sands, New Mexico. It is generally recognized, however, that by the time Project Twinkle finally became operational, the concentration of fireballs had also began to die out, so that no significant data was obtained. Yet the presence of "flying discs" around vital atomic plants was by no means over. (See the enclosed letter from USAF Lt. Col. Doyle Rees to the Director of AFOSI in Washington, Brig. Gen. Joseph Carroll, covering the entire fireball issue. The document was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and disseminated by attorney Peter Gersten).
Sample Official Documents
July 13, 1947 FBI memo, re. "Atomic Energy Act," with information provided by an informant who was a nuclear scientist at the American Cyanamid Research Labs in Connecticut.
USAF Briefing to the CIA, dated Aug. 22, 1952, with quote (point IV) about "flying saucer sightings . . . in the vicinity of atomic energy installations."
Confidential report from Los Alamos, dated Dec. 13, 1948, regarding Dr. Lincoln La Paz's own sighting of a fireball.
December 1948 document from Headquarters Fourth Army in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, re. "Unidentified Flying Objects New Mexico," summarizing the investigation of the so-called green fireballs seen in Los Alamos and other sensitive locations.
July 2, 1949 "Summary of Observations of Aerial Phenomena" from the G-2 Headquarters of the Fourth Army in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
May 25, 1950 comprehensive report from Lt. Col. Doyle Rees, AFOSI's District Commander, to his boss, Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Carroll, USAF Director of Special Investigations, re., "Summary of Observations of Aerial Phenomena in the New Mexico Area, Dec. 1948 - May 1950."
09 Aug, 2012
Other than correcting typos and adding illustrations, the article was transcribed identical as it appeared on the newsstands in New York City in March 1982. We've also added some of the FBI, USAF OSI and AEC samples official documents cited in the article, so that you can read them in their own context.
The News World, New York City, March 6, 1982
Waves of UFOs buzzed vital U.S. atomic sites
Hanford, Oak Ridge facilities saw alerts
By A. Hovni
Special to The News World
Second in a three-part series
The U.S. Air Force was assuring the public in 1949 and 1950 that their so-called Project Saucer (actually code-named Project Sign first, later renamed Project Grudge and finally Project Bluebook) had been terminated and that the whole flying saucer scare had in essence ended, or was on its way to do so. Yet at the same time and unknown to the public, a number of government agencies ranging from the CIA and the FBI to the military and the Atomic Energy Commission, seemed quite concerned with the unpleasant fact that many of the nation's "vital installations" - such as the atomic plants and research facilities at Hanford, Wash. and Oak Ridge, Tenn. - had apparently become "targets" for unidentified flying objects.
Fighters scrambled in Hanford
Another interesting declassified military document shows that there were other sightings reported at the Hanford AEC installations in Washington State, where radioactive waste material has been stored for years. Written by a Major U. G. Carlan and dated August 4, 1950, the memo states that "since 30 July 1950 objects, round in form, have been sighted over the Hanford AEC Plant. These objects reportedly were above 15,000 feet in altitude. Air Force jets attempted interception with negative results."
The incidents apparently caused quite a bit of stir. "All units including the anti-aircraft battalion, radar units, Air Force fighter squadrons, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation," continues the memo, "have been alerted for further observation. The Atomic Energy Commission states that the investigation is continuing and complete details will be forwarded later."
Less than three months later, on mid-October 1950, UFOs were buzzing once again over vital atomic installations for several days. This time, it was Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The Oak Ridge Flap
In fact, a confidential Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) "Summary of Information," dated Oct. 21, 1950, concerning "Objects Sighted Over Oak Ridge, Tennessee," reveals that a UFO had been first sighted and photographed around that restricted area on June 1947, right at the beginning of the flying saucer modern era. The FBI memo quoted in our previous article, regarding the opinions of an army nuclear technician at Oak Ridge, gives further details about these photos. It says that after submitting it to thorough analysis, government experts determined "that the photographs were, without doubt, authentic."
The document also reveals that when the security authorities of Oak Ridge learned that the photographer had distributed several prints "among his acquaintances at Oak Ridge," orders were given immediately "to recover as many as possible of the photographs, advise the persons in whose possession they were found to say nothing to anyone concerning them, and to return the said photographs to him for transmission to the United States Air Force Intelligence Service." Although the photos would be later officially labeled "the result of accident or purposeful hoax," it is interesting to note that, according to the CIC Summary of Information, "some officials at Atomic Energy Commission question the veracity of this statement. They also believe it significant that the Air Force did not return the negative of this print."
Again in June 1949, and on every day between March 1st and 6th, 1950, there were new reports of UFOs flying over the restricted area of Oak Ridge. But the highest security alert would take place later on that year, on October 12, 13, 15 and 16, when several unidentified objects were both detected on radar and seen by a number of competent witnesses which included AEC security personnel and civilian employees at the AEC Oak Ridge facilities. Fighter jets were scrambled on at least two occasions, but "made unsuccessful passes" and "could see nothing."
The 2×5 metallic card
A precise description of one of the objects sighted on October 13, however, is summarized in one of the intelligence documents regarding the mini-nuke flap. By tabulating the visual observations of AEC Security Patrol Trooper, Edward Rymer; Mr. John Moneymaker, from the University of Tennessee Research Farm; Mr. E. W. Hightower, an electrician employed in the installations by the Maxon Construction Company; and Joe Zarzecki, Captain of the AEC Security Patrol, the government investigators arrived to the following sequence:
Finally, the document indicates that, "when Trooper Rymer came within fifty (50) feet of the object," he also observed that a section of the tail "appeared almost transparent and was glowing, intermittently in sections. The tail appeared to have four or five sections which would glow intermittently."
Another significant point is that at 3:20 p.m., exactly the same time when Messrs. Hightower and Moneymaker and Troopers Rymer and Zarzecki observed the card-looking metallic UFO from the Kerr Hollow Gate, "radar scopes at McGhee-Tyson Airport indicated unidentified targets," added the report, and a fighter jet was "scrambled" once again. Yet as we shall see in our next article, still more reports kept coming in, enough to keep a sizeable number of experts from the AFOSI, the CIC, the AEC and the FBI busy.
NEXT WEEK: More on the wave of UFO sightings over Oak Ridge and other atomic installations as recorded in previously top-secret intelligence documents - including one which provides a precisely detailed description and sketch of a flying saucer chased by a fighter pilot over the Belgian Congo.
The documents, contrary to the official position of debunking UFO sightings or saying the issue is not their concern, show the U.S. military to be deeply concerned and thoroughly involved in the mystery of UFOs.
Don't miss it!
Confidential Memorandum for Record by Major U. G. Carlan, dated Aug. 4, 1950, about UFO sightings 'over the Hanford AEC Plant.'
FBI 'X-File' Memo to Director Hoover, dated Jan. 2, 1949, about 'Flying Saucers' over Oak Ridge Area.
Oct. 14, 1950 Confidential Memo, 'SUBJECT: Unidentified Flying Objects over Oak Ridge, Tennessee,' filed by AFOSI Detachment Commander William M. Price.
Secret Summary of Information list compiled by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Security Office at Oak Ridge, dated Oct. 21, 1950, concerning the mini-UFO flap at the restricted atomic installations.
UFOs over atomic plants
23 Aug, 2012
We publish the third and last installment of the original series that appeared in The News World's "UFO Supplement" in March 1982, under the pseudonym of A. Hovni. Based on then recently declassified documents from the USAF, FBI, AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) and other agencies released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), this article continues with the UFO mini-flap over the restricted zone of the Oak Ridge atomic facilities in Tennessee in 1950; as well as CIA documents about sightings over uranium mines in the Belgian Congo (currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in central Africa; and more flying saucer activity monitored by the FBI, this time over the Savannah River Plant managed by the AEC in South Carolina.
We transcribed the article identically as it appeared in The News World on March 6, 1982, correcting only typos and adding illustrations and some of the official documents discussed in the story.
The News World, New York City, March 6, 1982
Intelligence agencies began secret research
By A. Hovni
Special to The News World
Last in a three-part series
We covered in our previous article the beginnings of the October 1950 UFO flap over the sensitive atomic installations at Oak Ridge, Tenn., which would cause considerable alarm in various U.S. government agencies. On Oct. 12 and 13 of that year, unidentified objects were observed visually by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) security personnel while unidentified echoes were detected by the Air Force Radar Station at McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tenn. F-82 fighter jets were scrambled on both occasions.
The authorities were still sorting out the evidence of these initial incidents when, at 3:20 p.m. on Oct. 16, AEC troopers John Isabell, Lendelle Clark and Hank Briggs, and two other witnesses observed "objects hovering over the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, Tenn." (See AEC Patrol Incident Report by trooper John Isabell for a complete description of the sighting in the words of the principal witness).
The final evaluation
The document indicates next that a number of government agencies were consulted, including the AEC Security Division and Security Patrol at Oak Ridge, the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) Division, the FBI, AFOSI and the AF Radar Station and Fighter Squadrons in the Knoxville area. Yet CIC concluded that the opinions of all these officials "fail to evolve an adequate explanation for SUBJECT" (Capital letters in the original). Although they mention all the Air Force's favorite debunking gimmicks popular in those days, such as mass hysteria, birds, balloons, insect swarms, flying kites, insanity, etc., the document states in no uncertain terms that all these explanations "have been rejected because of the simultaneous witnessing of the objects with the reported radar sightings; because of the detailed, similar descriptions of the objects seen by different persons; and because of impossibility."
Less than two months after this authoritative report was written, in early December of that same year, 1950, UFOs were back on the radar screens near Oak Ridge. One FBI teletype informed that Army Intelligence "have been put on immediate high alert for any data whatsoever concerning flying saucers," and that the Army's CIC "advises data strictly confidential and should not be disseminated." Another FBI teletype from director J. Edgar Hoover instructs that, "arrangements should be made to obtain all facts concerning possible radar jamming by ionization of particles in atomic atmosphere."
From the Belgian Congo...
Despite its remoteness, this sighting had at least one competent witness in the person of Commander Pierre of the small Elizabethville airfield, who "immediately set out in pursuit with a fighter plane." Cmdr. Pierre chased the two saucers for about 15 minutes, and at one point he reached a distance of only 120 meters from one of the discs. He described it as a "discus-shaped" object, 12 to 15 meters in diameter, consisting of an "absolutely still inner core" connected through a knob with "several small openings" to an "outer rim (which) was completely veiled in fire and must have had an enormous speed of rotation. The color of the metal was similar to that of aluminum." According to Cmdr. Pierre's estimate, the saucers were flying at about 1,500 kilometers per hour "in a precise and light manner, both vertically and horizontally," until they disappeared from his view "in a straight line toward Lake Tanganyka." Another CIA document regarding aerial phenomena in the Congo indicated that by 1955, "the UFOs are coming more and more over this country."
...to the Savannah River plant
A May 12, 1952 urgent teletype from the FBI office in Savannah to director J. Edgar Hoover in Washington indicated that on May 10, at approximately 10:45 p.m., "four employees of Dupont Co., employed on Savannah River Plant near Ellenton, S.C., saw four disc-shaped objects approaching the four-hundred area from the south, disappearing in a northerly direction." For the next half hour or so, four more objects buzzed the area, flying both in pairs and singles.
UFO sightings over atomic reactors and other sensitive military and industrial installations have not diminished in more recent years, either. During the 1973 UFO wave, for example, UFOs were seen again in the vicinity of the nuclear installations in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In December of that year, Howard Whetsel and R. Clough filmed on a 300-foot, 16 mm color film over 30 sightings of UFOs flying over Oak Ridge. I have never seen the film, but both NICAP and Ground Saucer Watch have declared it "bona fide."
Another series of sightings took place during the same flap in South County, Rhode Island. According to ufologist Ronald Todd from APRO, of 66 sightings in the area, 47 were reported around Wood River Junction, where the United Nuclear Uranium Recovery Plant is located. In one particular incident, two UFOs hovered alternately over the plant for almost three hours. In another incident, witnessed by Todd himself, a UFO was chased by six helicopters and a radar plane. "A lot seemed to center around the nuclear plant," concluded Todd. And there is still the well known UFO "invasion" of several Strategic Air Command nuclear bases over a two-week period in late 1975.
* * *
Update since original publication
Of course there are many more UFO cases near nuclear power plants that took place since this series of articles was published originally in 1982. On June 14 and then again on July 24, 1984, barely two years after publication of these articles, one of the best known UFO incidents over atomic facilities occurred when "a huge elongated solid structure" was seen by security guards at Reactor No. 3 of the Indian Point Atomic Power Plants in Buchanan, just north of New York City. The details are described in the chapter "Close Encounters at Indian Point" in Night Siege - The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings, which was Dr. Hynek's last book, co-authored with Philip Imbrogno and Bob Pratt. Although the security guards were interviewed for this book, no official documents have ever emerged regarding this case. The late Col. Colman von Keviczky, director of ICUFON in New York, contacted the NY Power Authority, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC, which replaced the AEC), the Department of Energy, and other agencies in an attempt to obtain files under the FOIA, but was basically given a polite run-around but no papers about the Indian Point UFO incidents.
The next important case occurred on the evening of March 4, 1988 on Lake Erie, near the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio, 40 miles northeast of Cleveland. This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), which described it in a document as "a large object hovering over the lake," which "apparently dispersed 3-5 smaller flying objects that were zipping around rather quickly" and "had the ability to stop and hover in mid flight." This interesting case is described in some detail in a famous article by UFO historian Richard Dolan, "Twelve Government Documents That Take UFOs Seriously," posted by Open Minds. We've also included the USCG report in the list of sample official documents below.
The appearance of UFOs over nuclear power plants is certainly not restricted to the U.S. In their book UFO Case Files of Russia, authors Paul Stonehill and Philip Mantle included two chapters titled "UFOs over Soviet Nuclear Installations" and "UFOs over Chernobyl." The UFO allegations surrounding the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in Ukraine in April 1986 are particularly intriguing. The chapter provides the testimony of two power plant technicians, who "observed a fiery sphere in the sky...Two bright raspberry-coloured rays shot out from the UFO and were directed at the reactor of Unit 4." According to Mantle and Stonehill, readings taken by the technicians right before and after the appearance of the UFO showed a dramatic decrease of the radiation level. Other sightings and even a couple of photos were taken in 1990 and 1991.
Finally, an Argentinean UFO hunter called Cristián Soldano reported and filmed unexplained lights which he called "UFO flashes" near the Atucha nuclear power reactor in Buenos Aires province in June 2010. His story and footage was published and broadcast by Argentina's media, including Soldano's claims that "these objects were reacting to our signals" (he uses a protocol similar to Dr. Greer's C-SETI) and were seen on the road leading to the Atucha plant. There were also some reports and YouTube videos of alleged UFO activity during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Although there are several YouTube videos showing possible UFOs, I have not seen more solid reports documenting these cases. But even if we don't count Fukushima, the evidence outlined in this series clearly establishes a link between UFO activity and nuclear power plants. Their intentions and its implications remain elusive, but the evidence should not be ignored and ought to be researched more in depth.
Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Summary of Information, "Subject: Objects Sighted over Oak Ridge," dated October 17, 1950.
CIA reports including a translation of a Vienna newspaper article, "Flying Saucers over Belgian Congo Uranium Mines," from 1952; and a "Report of Unidentified Flying Objects" in the Belgian Congo from 1956.
FBI "urgent" teletype about UFO sightings at the AEC Savannah River Plant, May 12, 1952; and a memo by Director J. Edgar Hoover to the Air Force Director of Special Investigations on the same subject, May 15, 1952.
US Coast Guard "Incident Report: Unidentified Flying Objects," mentioning an incident "1/4 mile east of CEI Power Plant" from March 1988.