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FOIA declassified documents:

This is a US document, declassified because of the US Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) of 1977.

Reporting on flying discs:


Ballard and Rogers, participating in a training flight from Dover, DE, spot a UFO over Sandy Hook, New Jersey. "The strange object, which appeared to be the size of an F-86 but much faster (900 + mph), disc-shaped, steady in flight with no visible means of propulsion, and shiny silver in color."

Document references:

Title:Air Intelligence Information, Unidentified Flying Object
To:Not specified
Author:Lt. Col. Bruce K. Baumgardner, Intelligence Officer, USAF
Date:September 10, 1951
Length:1 page
Classification:Not specified
CC:1st Lt. W.S. Rogers Maj. E. Ballard Map Rpt. - Fort Monmouth

The scanned document:

FOIA document

The transcription:



Date of report: 21 SEPTEMBER 1951
Date of information 10 SEPTEMBER 1951

On 10 September, Major ballard and Lt. Rogers were participating in a training flight from Dover AFB, Delaware to Mitchell AFB, New York (Direct), when they spotted an unidentified object over Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

The time was 1135 EDT, and the weather was CALM. When spotted, the object was at an estimated altitude of 8,000 feet. Flying at 20,000 feet, the pilot immediately made a diving turn in his T33 and followed and timed the object until it disappeared two minutes later.

Both pilots observed the strange object, which appeared to be the size of an F-86 but much faster (900+ mph), disc shaped, steady in flight with no visible means of propulsion, and shiny silver in color.

At 1110 EDT a radar station at Ft. Monmouth plotted an unidentified, high speed (above 700 mph) object in approximately the same location.

This headquarters has no information regarding natural phenomena, experimental aircraft of guided missiles that could have caused the observations.

Request USAF evaluation of incident be furnished this headquarters.


Lt. Colonel, USAF
Director of Intelligence

The explanation, by USAF's Project Blue Book:

While I was in Lubbock, a temporary investigator, Lt. Henry Metscher, had made some sense out of the Jersey mystery that had lured me into saucer chasing. Among the data that Cummings had brought back on the "faster-than-a-jet" radar objects were some plots on locations and times. It turned out that the object that had outsped the automatic tracking and startled the VIPs actually plotted out at an unspectacular 400 mph. On questioning, the operator conceded that he had got excited because of the visiting brass. The object undoubtedly was a conventional plane.

The "disc" spotted over Sandy Hook by the jet? Metscher learned that a large balloon painted silver for radar tracking had been launched near Sandy Hook just before the pilot and the AF major saw their UFO. What about its maneuvering? Hang onto that question for a bit.

The excited call the next morning from headquarters? Another balloon carrying a radar target. The HQ officers had a bet on about its altitude, wanted a fast report, didn't bother to tell the radar crew the reason for the urgency. By this time the radar boys had the saucer fever and were ready to see anything. The second supersonic object proved to be a weather blip. The last saucer that hung ominously over New Jersey was definitely tabbed as another balloon.

I congratulated Metscher and settled down to the business of knocking off saucers like an ace skeet shooter. If the saucers can laugh (we had several that whistled), they probably zipped through the stratosphere chuckling to themselves.


A scientist doubts the explanation:

1. Case 31. Ft. Monmouth, N.J., September 10, 1951:

It is clear from Ruppelt' s discussions (Ref. 5) that a series of radar and visual sightings near Ft. Monmouth on 9/10/51 and the next day were of critical importance in affecting official handling of the UFO problem in the ensuing two-year period. Many details from the official file on these sightings are now available for scientific scrutiny (Ref. 7). Here, a sighting by two military airmen flying in a T-33 near Ft. Monmouth will be selected from that series of events because the sighting was eventually tagged as a weather balloon. As with any really significant UFO case, it would require far more space than can be used here to spell out adequately all relevant details, so a very truncated account must be employed. While flying at 20,000 ft from a Delaware to a Long Island airbase, the two men in the T-33 spotted an object "round and silver in color" which at one stage of the attempted intercept appeared flat. The T-33 was put into a descending turn to try to close on the object but the latter turned more tightly (the airmen stated) and passed rapidly eastward towards the coast of New Jersey and out to sea. A pair of weather balloons (probably radiosonde balloons but no information thereon given in the files) had been released from the Evans Signal Laboratory near Ft. Monmouth, and the official evaluation indicates that this is what the airmen saw.

However, it is stated that the balloons were released at 1112 EDST, and the sighting began at about 1135 EDST with the T-33 over Point Pleasant, N.J. In that elapsed time, a radiosonde balloon, inflated to rise at the 800-900 ft/min rate used for such devices, would have attained an altitude of about 17-18,000 ft, the analysis notes. From this point on, the official analysis seems to be built on erroneous inferences. The airmen said that, as they tried to turn on the object, it appeared to execute a 120-degree turn over Freehold, N.J., before speeding out over the Atlantic. But from the upper winds for that day, it is clear that the Ft. Monmouth balloon trajectory would have taken it to the northeast, and by 1135, it would have been about over the coast in the vicinity of Sea Bright. Hence, at no time in the interval involved could the line of sight from T-33 to balloon have intersected Freehold, which lies about 15 miles WSW of the balloon release-point. Instead, had the airmen some how seen the radiosonde balloon from Pt. Pleasant, it would have lain to about their N or NNE and would have stayed in about that sector until they passed it. Furthermore, the size of the balloon poses a serious difficulty for the official analysis. Assuming that it had expanded to a diameter of about 15 feet as it ascended to about the 18,000-ft level, it would have subtended an arc of only 0.6 min, as seen from the T-33 when the latter passed over Pt. Pleasant. This angular size is, for an unaided eye, much too small to fit the airmen's descriptions of what they tried to intercept. In a press interview (Ref. 40), the pilot, Wilbert S. Rogers of Columbia, Pa., said the object was "perfectly round and flat" and that the center of the disc was raised "about six feet" and that it appeared to be moving at an airspeed of the order of 900 mph. The entire reasoning on which the balloon evaluation is elaborated fails to fit readily established points in the official case-summary.


The possibility that a pilot can be misled by depth perception errors and Coordinate-reference errors to misconstrue a weather balloon as a fast-maneuvering object must always be kept in mind. But in the Ft. Monmouth instance, as in many others that could be discussed in detail, there is a very large gap between the balloon hypothesis and the facts. The basic sighting-report here is quite similar to many other daytime sightings by airborne observers who have seen unconventional disc-like objects pass near their aircraft.


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