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ACUFO is my comprehensive catalog of cases of encounters between aircraft and UFOs, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ACUFO catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file.

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Thule, Greenland, in 1942:

Case number:



US ufologist Jan Aldrich found in the "SAGA UFO Report" US magazine of October 1977, inside an article by Rufus Drake titled "UFO Crisis over Greenland", a brief report that basically told that A B-17 bomber being ferried to England in 1942 encountered "incandescent flying objects" near the Air Force Base of Thule, Greenland.

Aldrich notes that the article indicates that the "incandescent flying objects" were thought at the time to be from a German aircraft carrier.


Temporal data:

Date: 1942
Time: ?
Duration: ?
First known report date: October 1977
Reporting delay: 35 years.

Geographical data:

Country: Greenland (Denmark)
State/Department: Greenland
City: Thule

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: ?
Number of known witnesses: ?
Number of named witnesses: 0

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Rufus Drake in SAGA UFO Report magazine.
Visibility conditions: ?
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
UFO action: ?
Witnesses action: ?
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: German weapons or craft.


Sensors: [X] Visual: ?
[N/A] Airborne radar:
[N/A] Directional ground radar:
[N/A] Height finder ground radar:
[ ] Photo:
[ ] Film/video:
[ ] EM Effects:
[ ] Failures:
[ ] Damages:
Hynek: ?
Armed / unarmed: Armed, several defense machine guns.
Reliability 1-3: 1
Strangeness 1-3: 1
ACUFO: Unknown credibility, totally insufficient information.


[Ref. jah1:] JAN ALDRICH:

A post by Jan Aldrich from Project 1947, on the UFO mailing list UFO Updates, in 1997 ([jah1]), said:

Re: Foo-fighters over Greenland?

From: (Jan Aldrich)
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 21:52:18 -0700
Fwd Date: Fri, 12 Sep 1997 00:55:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Foo-fighters over Greenland?

THE SAGA UFO REPORT for October 1977, carried an article
entitled "UFO Crisis over Greenland" by Rufus Drake. A
sighting report in the article tells of an encounter near
Thule. A B-17 bomber being ferried to England in 1942
encountered "incandescent flying objects" thought to be
from a German aircraft carrier.... of course, there were no
German aircraft carriers.

I have a book about British and Canadian ferry operations
during World War II. No mention is made of Thule. Does
anyone know when the base there became operational?

The Germans did indeed have an aircraft carrier which the
Soviets towed off after World War II ended. In 1950 a
newspaper in Berlin claimed that the Soviets were using the
refloated and refitted aircraft carrier to launch missiles
over Sweden. Does anyone know the whereabouts of the old
Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier in 1950? Was it indeed in
the Soviet fleet?

A report to US or Allied intelligence about aircraft operating
from a possible German aircraft carrier in 1942 would have
probably caused a sensation. Has anyone seen anything like
this in naval or aviation histories? I would like to track
down this very interest report.

Jan Aldrich
Project 1947

Aircraft information:

The Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" did fly at this time, including those planned to equip the Royal Air Force.

As its nickname suggests, it was equipped with several machine gun posts - this number varies depending on the version.

In my opinion, there are no objections to the fact that such an aircraft could have been in flight near the US Thule air base (which became Pituffik Space Base in 2019) in 1942.

Below: B-17G of 1941.



Thule US base:

After the German occupation of Denmark on April 9, 1940, Henrik Kauffmann, Danish Ambassador to the United States, made an agreement "In the name of the King" with the United States, authorizing the USA to defend the Danish colonies on Greenland from German aggression.

On August 24, 1942, USAAF Colonel Bernt Balchen led a flight of two Consolidated PBY Catalina seaplanes to Thule, and then sent a report advocating an air base to USAAF chief Henry "Hap" Arnold.

The first US installations at Thule were established after the US Secretary of State Cordell Hull and the defected Danish Minister to the United States Henrik Kauffmann signed The Agreement relating to the Defense of Greenland in Washington, D.C. on the symbolically chosen date of April 9, 1941.


The German aircraft carrier:

There was a German aircraft carrier. The Germans had built the aircraft carrier "Graf Zeppelin" (photo below), the only one they built during WWII. It was decided to build it in 1935, construction began in 1936 in the Deutsche Werke in Kiel. It was put to the sea on December 8, 1938, about 85-90% complete in May 1940; but the construction was never finished and it never participated in the fights. However, because Allied intelligence would not have ruled out that he would start operating at one point or another, witnesses to the case might have, albeit mistakenly, believed that what they saw was from it, so the "German aircraft carrier" affair does not say much about the credibility of the case.

German aircraft carrier.

Rufus Drake

Drake was a US journalist at SAGA magazine who was interested in UFOs and "mysteries" such as the Bermuda Triangle saga; he interviewed UFO witnesses, and published UFO witnesses' letters in SAGA.

I miss the SAGA article so far, but I can confirm that Rufus Drake did sign an article in SAGA UFO REPORT for October 1977.

The sighting

The data is too meager. All we have is:

"A B-17 bomber being ferried to England in 1942 encountered "incandescent flying objects"..."

The "incandescent flying objects" could have been a patrol of other planes, for example.


Unknown credibility, totally insufficient information.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:


Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross September 24, 2023 Creation, [jah1].
1.0 Patrick Gross September 24, 2023 First published.

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This page was last updated on September 24, 2023.