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Project Grudge:

Project Grudge was the second UFO investigation project by the US Air Force and replaced project Sign in April 1949. In December 1949, a magazine article on UFOs written by the famous aviation writer, Donald Keyhoe, based on his private investigations and military contacts, elicited enormous media attention. In it, Keyhoe insisted that UFOs were alien spacecraft and that the U.S. Government was keeping this knowledge secret. In response to the furor that Keyhoe's article caused, and to demonstrate that there was nothing to get excited about, the Air Force reduced Project Grudge to a routine intelligence effort. However, in October 1951, Project Grudge was returned to its original status as a special project. This investigation ended in March 1952. The final report suggested that most sightings had been explained. However, a large percentage of the reports were left either unexplained or only conditionally explained.

A document related to Project Grudge:

The context:

For 18 months over 1949 1950, unidentified flying objects have been sighted over New Mexico. They were green balls of light, generally flying horizontally in complete silence, and they were often spotted near sensitive military installation, including nuclear installations.

In February and October 1949, two confidential conferences between scientists, intelligence personal, were held at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to evaluate what the "green fireballs" were.

The conclusion was that they were not explainable in terms of common phenomenon and that scientific study must be continued. The document underneath indicates it.

The text:

Page 1 is here.

File No: (24-8)
Subj: Summary of observations of Aerial Phenomena in
the New Mexico Area, December 1948 - May 1950

director of the Institute of Meteorites and Head of the Department of
Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of New Mexico. He was Re-
search Mathematician at the New Mexico Proving Grounds under an OSRD
appointment in 1943 and 1944, and Technical Director of the Operations
Analysis Section, Headquarters, second Air Force, 1944-45. Since 1948,
Dr. LaPaz has served on a voluntary basis as consultant for this Dis-
trict in connection with the green fireball investigations.

4. On 17 February 1949 and again on 14 October 1949, conferences
were held at Los Alamos, New Mexico, for the purpose of discussing the
green fireball phenomena. Representatives of the following organizations
were present at these meetings: Fourth Army, Armed Forces Special Wea-
pons Project, University of New Mexico, Federal Bureau of Investigations,
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, University of California, U.S Air Force
Scientific Advisory Board, Geophysical Research Division air Material
Command USAF, and the Office of Special Investigation (IG) USAF. A
logical explanation was not proffered with respect of the origin of the
green fireballs. It was, however, generally concluded that the pheno-
mena existed and that they should be studied scientifically until these
occurrences have been satisfactorily explained. Further, that the
continued occurrence of unexplained phenomena of this nature in the
vicinity of sensitive installations is cause for concerns.

5. The Geophysical Research Division, Air Material Command,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, has recently let a contract to Land-Air, Inc.,
Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, New Mexico, for a limited scientific study of
green fireballs. The results of the scientific approach to the problem
will undoubtedly be of great value in determining the origin of these
phenomena.

6. This summary of observation of aerial phenomena has been
prepared for the purpose of re-emphasizing and reiterating the fact
that phenomena have continuously occurred in the New Mexico skies
during the past 18 months and are continuing to occur,
and secondly,
that these phenomena are occurring in the vicinity of sensitive mili-
tary and government installations.

DOYLE REES
Lt. Colonel, USAF
District Commander

4 Incls
 1. Summary of sightings
 2. Photo of sighting N. 175
    w/comments
 3. Ltr fr Dr. La Paz to Lt. Col
    Rees, dtd 23 May 1950
 4. Graph indicating maximum

Scan of the orginal document:

FOIA document

Source reference:

The original of this document is at the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington DC, USA. Refer to the NARA web site on www.nara.gov for visiting the US National Archives.

Discussion:

The only sensible thing if you have not understood the document is to repeat its most interesting paragraphs:

"Representatives of the following organizations were present at these meetings: Fourth Army, Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, University of New Mexico, Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, University of California, U.S Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, Geophysical Research Division air Material Command USAF, and the Office of Special Investigation (IG) USAF. A logical explanation was not proffered with respect of the origin of the green fireballs. It was, however, generally concluded that the phenomena existed and that they should be studied scientifically until these occurrences have been satisfactorily explained. Further, that the continued occurrence of unexplained phenomena of this nature in the vicinity of sensitive installations is cause for concerns."

"This summary of observation of aerial phenomena has been prepared for the purpose of re-emphasizing and reiterating the fact that phenomena have continuously occurred in the New Mexico skies during the past 18 months and are continuing to occur, and secondly, that these phenomena are occurring in the vicinity of sensitive military and government installations."

Behind the document:

Here is what Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, first in charge of the third UFO Project of the US Air Force, the famous Project Bluebook, intended as an open UFO investigation to tell the American general public what UFOs are, wrote is his published book about the story of the green fireball and the Los Alamos conference.

Before this paragraph, Ed. Ruppelt explained that he became interested in the "green fireballs" because they started to appear again.

I added some emphasizes and [comments] of my own.

When I organized Project Blue Book in the summer of 1951 I'd never heard of a green fireball. We had a few files marked "Los Alamos Conference," "Fireballs," "Project Twinkle," etc., but I didn't pay any attention to them.

Then one day I was at a meeting in Los Angeles with several other officers from ATIC, and was introduced to Dr. Joseph Kaplan. When he found we were from ATIC, his first question was, "What ever happened to the green fireballs?" None of us had ever heard of them, so he quickly gave us the story. He and I ended up discussing green fireballs. He mentioned Dr. La Paz and his opinion that the green fireballs might be man-made, and although he respected La Paz's professional ability, he just wasn't convinced. But he did strongly urge me to get in touch with Dr. La Paz and hear his side of the story.

When I returned to ATIC I spent several days digging into our collection of green fireball reports. All of these reports covered a period from early December 1948 to 1949. As far as Blue Book's files were concerned, there hadn't been a green fireball report for a year and a half.

I read over the report on Project Twinkle and the few notes we had on the Los Alamos Conference, and decided that the next time I went to Albuquerque I'd contact Dr. La Paz. I did go to Albuquerque several times but my visits were always short and I was always in a hurry so I didn't get to see him.

It was six or eight months later before the subject of green fireballs came up again. I was eating lunch with a group of people at the AEC's [Atomic Energy Commission] Los Alamos Laboratory when one of the group mentioned the mysterious kelly-green balls of fire. The strictly unofficial bull-session-type discussion that followed took up the entire lunch hour and several hours of the afternoon. It was an interesting discussion because these people, all scientists and technicians from the lab, had a few educated guesses as to what they might be. All of them had seen a green fireball, some of them had seen several.

One of the men, a private pilot, had encountered a fireball one night while he was flying his Navion north of Santa Fe and he had a vivid way of explaining what he'd seen. "Take a soft ball and paint it with some kind of fluorescent paint that will glow a bright green in the dark," I remember his saying, "then have someone take the ball out about 100 feet in front of you and about 10 feet above you. Have him throw the ball right at your face, as hard as he can throw it. That's what a green fireball looks like." [Definitely not a meteor or meteorite.]

The speculation about what the green fireballs were ran through the usual spectrum of answers, a new type of natural phenomenon, a secret U.S. development, and psychologically enlarged meteors. When the possibility of the green fireballs' being associated with interplanetary vehicles came up, the whole group got serious. They had been doing a lot of thinking about this, they said, and they had a theory.

The green fireballs, they theorized, could be some type of unmanned test vehicle that was being projected into our atmosphere from a "spaceship" hovering several hundred miles above the earth. Two years ago I would have been amazed to hear a group of reputable scientists make such a startling statement. Now, however, I took it as a matter of course. I'd heard the same type of statement many times before from equally qualified groups.

Turn the tables, they said, suppose that we are going to try to go to a far planet. There would be three phases to the trip: out through the earth's atmosphere, through space, and the re-entry into the atmosphere of the planet we're planning to land on. The first two phases would admittedly present formidable problems, but the last phase, the re-entry phase, would be the most critical. Coming in from outer space, the craft would, for all practical purposes, be similar to a meteorite except that it would be powered and not free falling. You would have myriad problems associated with aerodynamic heating, high aerodynamic loadings, and very probably a host of other problems that no one can now conceive of. Certain of these problems could be partially solved by laboratory experimentation, but nothing can replace flight testing, and the results obtained by flight tests in our atmosphere would not be valid in another type of atmosphere. The most logical way to overcome this difficulty would be to build our interplanetary vehicle, go to the planet that we were interested in landing on, and hover several hundred miles up. From this altitude we could send instrumented test vehicles down to the planet. If we didn't want the inhabitants of the planet, if it were inhabited, to know what we were doing we could put destruction devices in the test vehicle, or arrange the test so that the test vehicles would just plain burn up at a certain point due to aerodynamic heating.

They continued, each man injecting his ideas.

Maybe the green fireballs are test vehicles-somebody else's. The regular UFO reports might be explained by the fact that the manned vehicles were venturing down to within 100,000 or 200,000 feet of the earth, or to the altitude at which atmosphere re-entry begins to get critical.

I had to go down to the airstrip to get a CARGO Airlines plane back to Albuquerque so I didn't have time to ask a lot of questions that came into my mind. I did get to make one comment. From the conversations, I assumed that these people didn't think the green fireballs were any kind of a natural phenomenon. Not exactly, they said, but so far the evidence that said they were a natural phenomenon was vastly outweighed by the evidence that said they weren't.

During the kidney jolting trip down the valley from Los Alamos to Albuquerque in one of the CARGO Airlines' Bonanzas, I decided that I'd stay over an extra day and talk to Dr. La Paz.

He knew every detail there was to know about the green fireballs. He confirmed my findings, that the genuine green fireballs were no longer being seen. He said that he'd received hundreds of reports, especially after he'd written several articles about the mysterious fireballs, but that all of the reported objects were just greenish colored, common, everyday meteors.

Dr. La Paz said that some people, including Dr. Joseph Kaplan and Dr. Edward Teller [main US atomic weapons scientist, uneducated about meteors], thought that the green fireballs were natural meteors. He didn't think so, however, for several reasons. First the color was so much different. To illustrate his point, Dr. La Paz opened his desk drawer and took out a well worn chart of the color spectrum. He checked off two shades of green; one a pale, almost yellowish green and the other a much more distinct vivid green. He pointed to the bright green and told me that this was the color of the green fireballs. He'd taken this chart with him when he went out to talk to people who had seen the green fireballs and everyone had picked this one color. The pale green, he explained, was the color reported in the cases of documented green meteors.

Then there were other points of dissimilarity between a meteor and the green fireballs. The trajectory of the fireballs was too flat. Dr. La Pazexplained that a meteor doesn't necessarily have to arch down across the sky, its trajectory can appear to be flat, but not as flat as that of the green fireballs. Then there was the size. Almost always such descriptive words as "terrifying," "as big as the moon," and "blinding" had been used to describe the fireballs. Meteors just aren't this big and bright.

No --- Dr. La Paz didn't think that they were meteors.

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