Le à minuit exactement, mon téléphone sonna. C'était Jim Phalen, un de mes amis du Long Beach Press-Telegram, et il avait un bon rapport de soucoupe volante, chaud depuis les lignes. Il me lu. Le titre était : Des milliers de personnes ont vu une énorme boule lumineuse s'éclairer dans le ciel sombre du Nouveau Mexique ce soir.

L'histoire continuait en parlant de comment une boule lumineuse d'un vert aveuglant de la taille d'une pleine Lune avait silencieusement foncé vers le Sud-Est au travers du Colorado et vers le Nord du Nouveau Mexique à 20:40 cette nuit-là. Des milliers de personnes avaient vu la boule lumineuse. Elle était passée juste au-dessus d'un stade de football rempli à Santa Fe (Nouveau Mexique) et des personnes à Denver indiquèrent qu'elle avait changé la nuit en jour. L'équipage d'un avion de ligne de la TWA volant à Albuquerque depuis Amarillo (Texas), la vit. Tous les standards de police et de journaux dans les 2 états avaient été bloqués par des appels.

Un des appels venait d'un homme demandant si quelque chose s'inhabituel était arrivé récemment. Lorsqu'il fut informé de la mystérieuse boule lumineuse il poussa un soupir audible de soulagement, Merci, dit-il, j'avais peur d'avoir pris du mauvais bourbon. Et il raccrocha.

Le docteur Lincoln La Paz, une autorité renommée dans le monde sur les météorites et directeur de l'Institut de Météoritique du Nouveau Mexique, prit apparemment l'événement avec calme. La dépêche indique qu'il avait dit à un journaliste qu'il relèverait les coordonnées de sa course, tenterait de déterminer où elle avait atterri, et sortirait dehors pour tenter de la trouver. Mais, dit-il, Je ne m'attends pas à trouver quoi que ce soit.

Lorsque Jim Phalen eut lu le reste du rapport, il demanda, Qu'est-ce que c'était ?

Quelque chose me dit que les boules lumineuses vertes sont de retour, répondis-je.

Que diable sont les boules lumineuses vertes ?

Que diable sont les boules lumineuses vertes ? J'aimerai le savoir. Comme l'aimeraient beaucoup d'autres personnes.

Les boules lumineuses vertes ont débarqué dans l'histoire de ovnis fin Novembre 1948, lorsque des gens autour d'Albuquerque (Nouveau Mexique), commençèrent à signaler voir de mystérieuses fusées vertes la nuit. Les premiers signalements ne mentionnaient qu'un trait vert dans le ciel, bas sur l'horizon. A partir de la description les gens du Renseignement de l'Air Force à la base aérienne de Kirtland à Albuquerque et des gens du projet Sign à l'ATIC décrivirent les objets comme des fusées. Après tout, des milliers de GIs avaient probablement été discharged with a duffel bag plein de Very pistols and flares liberés.

Mais alors que les jours passaient les signalements devenaient meilleurs. Ils semblaient indiquer que les "fusées" devenaient plus grandes et de plus en plus de gens signalaient les voir. On se demandait si cet "accroissement" était psychologique parce qu'il n'y avait eu aucune publicité - donc l'Air Force décida de reconsidérer la réponse des "fusées". Ils étaient dans le processus de le faire la nuit du , une nuit mémorable dans le chapitre des boules lumineuses vertes dans l'histoire des ovnis.

A 21:27 le 5 décembre, un transport C-47 de l'Air Force volait à 18 000 pieds à 10 miles à l'Est d'Albuquerque. Le pilote était un capitaine Goede. Soudain l'équipage, le capitaine Goede, son co-pilote, et son ingénieur furent effarés par une boule lumineuse verte clignotant à travers le ciel devant eux. Elle ressemblait à un énorme météore sauf qu'elle était d'une couleur vert brillant et qu'elle n'arquait pas vers le bas, comme les météores le font d'habitude. La boule lumineuse de couleur verte avait démarré bas, depuis un endroit près des pentes de l'Est des Montagnes de Sandia, légèrement arquées vers le haut, puis semblant s'égaliser. Et elle était trop grosse pour un météore, au moins plus grande que n'importe quel météore que quiconque dans le C-47 avait vu auparavant. Après une discussion précipitée l'équipage décida qu'ils feraient mieux d'en parler à quelqu'un, surtout depuis qu'ils avaient vu un objet identique avant près de Las Vegas (Nouveau Mexique).

Le capitaine Goede prit son microphone et appela la tour de contrôle de la base aérienne de Kirtland et signala ce que lui et son équipage avaient vu. La tour relaya le message aux personnes du renseignement local.

Quelques minutes plus tard le capitaine du vol 63 de Pioneer Airlines appela la Tour de Kirtland. A 21 h 35 il avait également vu une boule lumineuse verte just à l'Est de Las Vegas (Nouveau Mexique). Il était sur sa route pour Albuquerque et ferait un rapport complet lorsqu'il atterrirait.

Lorsqu'il amena son DC-3 jusqu'à la rampe des passagers à Kirtland quelques minutes plus tard, plusieurs officiers du renseignement l'attendaient. Il rapporta qu'à 21 h 35 il se trouvait en direction de l'Ouest, approachant Las Vegas depuis l'Est, lorsque lui et son co-pilote virent ce qu'ils pensèrent d'abord être une étoile filante. Elle était devant eux et un peu au-dessus. Mais, dit le capitaine, il ne leur fallu qu'une demi-seconde pour réaliser que quoi qu'ils virent cela avait une trajectoire trop basse et trop plate pour être un météore. Alors qu'il regardaient, l'objet sembla approcher de l'avant de leur appareil, changeant se couleur du rouge-orangé au vert. Alors qu'il devenait de plus en plus gros, dit le capitaine, il était convaincu qu'il allait entrer en collision avec eux et il étira donc le DC-3 vers le haut dans un virage serré. Alors que la boule lumineuse verte est à côté d'eux elle commence à tomber vers le sol, s'atténuant de plus en plus jusqu'à disparaître. Juste avant d'éviter le DC-3, la boule lumineuse était aussi grande, ou plus grande, qu'une pleine Lune.

Les officiers de renseignement posèrent quelques questions supplémentaires et rentournèrent à leur bureau. D'autres rapports, qui avaient été téléphonés depuis tout le Nord du Nouveau Mexique, les attendaient. Le matin une véritable enquête était en route.

Peu importe ce que ces boules lumineuses vertes étaient, les militaires commençaient à être tendus. Elles auraient pu être des météorites courantes, des fusées agrandies psychologiquement, ou de véritables ovnis, mais quoi qu'elles fussent elles jouaient alentours dans une des zones de sécurité les plus sensibles des Etats-Unis. Dans les 100 miles d'Albuquerque se trouvaient 2 installations constituant la colonne vertébrale du programme de bombe atomique, Los Alamos et la Base de Sandia. Eparpillées à travers le pays se trouvaient d'autres installations vitales pour les défense des U.S.: stations radar, bases de chasseurs intercepteurs, et les autres zones mystérieuses qui avaient été blocked off by high chain link fences.

Les boules lumineuses vertes montrant une certain ressemblance avec les météores ou météorites, les officiers de renseignement de Kirtland appelèrent le docteur Lincoln La Paz.

Le docteur La Paz indiqua qu'il serait heureux de pouvoir aider, et les officiers lui expliquèrent donc les étranges séries d'événements. Effectivement, dit-il, la description des boules lumineuses sonnait comme s'il pouvait s'agit de météores - à l'exception de quelques points. Une manière d'être sûr était d'essayer de tracer la trajectoire de vol des boules lumineuses vertes de la même manière qu'il avait réussi à tracer la trajectoire de vol de météorites dans le passé. D'après cette trajectoire de vol il pourrait déterminer où elles avaient frappé la terre - si c'était des météores. Ils chercheraient dans cette zone, et si ils trouvaient des parties d'une météorite ils auraient la réponse à l'énigme des boules lumineuses vertes.

L'activité des boules lumineuses la nuit du 5 décembre was made to order for plotting flight paths. The good reports of that night included carefully noted locations, the directions in which the green objects were seen, their heights above the horizon, and the times when they were observed. So early the next morning Dr. La Paz and a crew of intelligence officers were scouring northern New Mexico. They started out by talking to the people who had made reports but soon found out that dozens of other people had also seen the fireballs. By closely checking the time of the observations, they determined that eight separate fireballs had been seen. One was evidently more spectacular and was seen by the most people. Everyone in northern New Mexico had seen it going from west to east, so Dr. La Paz and his crew worked eastward across New Mexico to the west border of Texas, talking to dozens of people. After many sleepless hours they finally plotted where it should have struck the earth. They searched the area but found nothing. They went back over the area time and time again-nothing. As Dr. La Paz later told me, this was the first time that he seriously doubted the green fireballs were meteorites.

Within a few more days the fireballs were appearing almost nightly. The intelligence officers from Kirtland decided that maybe they could get a good look at one of them, so on the night of December 8 2 officiers décolèrent dans un avion juste avant l'obscurité et commencèrent à cruise around north of Albuquerque. They had a carefully worked out plan where each man would observe certain details if they saw one of the green fireballs. A 18:33 ils en virent une. Voici leur rapport :

A 18:33 while flying at an indicated altitude of 11500 pieds, a strange phenomenon was observed. Exact position of the aircraft at time of the observation was 20 miles east of the Las Vegas, N.M., radio range station. The aircraft was on a compass course of 90 °. Capt. was pilot and I was acting as copilot. I first observed the object and a split second later the pilot saw it. It was 2000 pieds higher than the plane, and was approaching the plane at a rapid rate of speed from 30 degrees to the left of our course. The object was similar in appearance to a burning green flare, the kind that is commonly used in the Air Force. However, the light was much more intense and the object appeared considerably larger than a normal flare. The trajectory of the object, when first sighted, was almost flat and parallel to the earth. The phenomenon lasted about 2 seconds. At the end of this time the object seemed to begin to burn out and the trajectory then dropped off rapidly. The phenomenon was of such intensity as to be visible from the very moment it ignited.

Back at Wright-Patterson AFB, ATIC was getting a blow-by-blow account of the fireball activity but they were taking no direct part in the investigation. Their main interest was to review all incoming UFO reports and see if the green fireball reports were actually unique to the Albuquerque area. They were. Although a good many UFO reports were coming in from other parts of the U.S., none fit the description of the green fireballs.

Pendant tout décembre 1948 et janvier 1949 les boules lumineuses vertes continuèrent d'envahir les cieux du Nouveau Mexique. Chacun, y compris les officiers de renseignement de la base aérienne de Kirtland, les gens du Commandement de la Défense Aérienne, le Dr. La Paz, et certains des scientifiques les plus distingués de Los Alamos en avait vu au moins une.

A la mi-février 1949, une conférence fut organisée à Los Alamos afin de déterminer ce qui devrait être fait pour pousser plus loin l'enquête. L'Air Force, le projet Sign, les gens du renseignement à Kirtland, et d'autres parties intéressées avaient fait tout ce qu'ils pouvaient imaginer et il n'y avait toujours pas de réponse.

Des scientifiques notables tels que le Dr. Joseph Kaplan, une autorité de renommée mondiale en physique de la haute atmosphère, le Dr. Edward Teller, connu pour la bombe H, et bien sûr le Dr. La Paz y assistèrent, aux côtés de nombre de gradés et scientifiques de Los Alamos.

Ce fut une conférence où il n'y avait pas besoin de discuter pour savoir si ce type spécial d'ovni, la boule lumineuse verte, existait ou non. Pratiquement tout le monde à la réunion en avait vu une. Le but de la conférence était de décider si les boules lumineuses étaient naturelles ou fabriquées par l'homme et comment en apprendre plus à leur sujet.

Comme cela arrive dans toute conférence, les opinions étaient divisées. Certains pensaient que les boules lumineuses vertes étaient des boules de feu naturelles. Les partisans de la théorie du météore naturel, ou météorite, présentèrent des faits qu'ils avaient sortis de journaux astronomiques. Des météores de couleur verdâtre, bien que peu courants, avaient été observés en de nombreuses occasions. La trajectoire plate, qui semblait être si importante pour prouver que les boules lumineuses vertes étaient extraterrestres, n'était également pas nouvelle. Observé sous certains angles, un météore peut paraître avoir une trajectoire plate. La raison pour laquelle tant de gens en avaient vu en décembre 1948 et janvier 1949 était que le temps avait été inhabituellement clair dans tout le sud-ouest durant cette période.

Le Dr. La Paz menait le groupe qui pensait que les boules lumineuses vertes n'étaient pas des météores ou des météorites. Son argument était dérivé des faits qu'il avait récoltés après de nombreux jours de recherche et de travail avec les équipes de renseignement de l'Air Force. Il buttait sur les points que (1) la the trajectoire était trop plate, (2) la couleur était trop verte, et (3) qu'il ne pouvait localiser aucun fragments même lorsqu'il avait trouvé les endroits où elles auraient dû toucher la terre si elles avaient été des météorites.

Des gens qui se trouvaient à la réunion me dirent que la théorie du Dr. La Paz était très intéressante et que chaque point était examiné attentivement. Mais à l'évidence ce ne fut pas suffisamment concluant puisque la conférence se sépara, après 2 jours, il fut décidé que les boules lumineuses vertes étaient un phénomène naturel de quelque sorte. Il fut recommendé que cette phase de l'enquête sur les ovnis soit donnée au Laboratoire de Recherche de l'Air Force de Cambridge, puisque la fonction de ce groupe était d'étudier les phénomènes naturels, et que Cambridge avait mis en place un projet pour tenter de photographier les boules de feu vertes et de mesurer leurs vitesse, altitude et taille.

A la fin de l'été , Cambridge établit le projet Twinkle pour résoudre le mystère. Le projet demanda à établir 3 stations de cinéthéodolites près de White Sands, au Nouveau Mexique. Un cinéthéodolite est semblable à une caméra de film 35 mm à l'exception que lorsque vous prenez une photographie d'un objet, vous obtenez aussi une photographie de 3 dials montrant l'heure où la photo a été prise, l'angle d'azimut et l'angle d'élévation de la caméra.

Si 2 caméras ou plus photographient le même objet, il est possible d'obtenir une mesure très précise de l'altitude, vitesse et taille de l'objet photographié.

Le Projet Twinkle fut un bust. Absolument rien ne fut photographié. Sur les 3 caméras prévues pour le projet, uniquement 1 fut disponible. Cette caméra était continuellement déplacé d'un lieu à un autre. Si plusieurs signalements venaient d'une certaine région, l'équipe de caméra chargeait son équipement et partait dans cette zone, arrivant toujours trop tard. N'importe quel chasseur de canard peut vous dire que c'est la mauvaise tactique ; si vous voulez tirer des canards repérez un bon endroit et restez sur place, laissez les canards venir à vous.

Les gens tentant de mener le projet Twinkle avaient des problèmes financiers et moraux. Pour faire un bon travail ils avaient besoin de plus et de meilleurs équipement ainsi que de plus de personnel, mais les coupures budgétaires de l'Air Force empêchaient cela. Le soutien moral était gratuit mais ils n'en bénéficiaient pas non plus.

Lorsque commença la Guerre de Corée, le projet Twinkle mourru en silence, avec l'intérêt officiel pour les boules lumineuses vertes.

Lorsque j'organisais le projet Blue Book à l'été je n'avais jamais entendu parler d'une boule lumineuse verte. Nous avions quelques dossiers marqués "Conférence de Los Alamos", "Boules de feu", "Projet Twinkle", etc., mais je n'y avais accordé aucune attention.

Puis un jour où je fus à une réunion à Los Angeles avec plusieurs autres officiers de l'ATIC, et je fus présenté au Dr. Joseph Kaplan. Lorsqu'il découvrit que nous étions de l'ATIC, sa 1ère question fus, Qu'est-il advenu des boules de feu vertes ? Aucun d'entre nous n'en avait jamais entendu parler, et il nous raconta donc rapidement l'histoire. Lui et moi finirent en discutant des boules lumineuses vertes. Il mentionna le Dr. La Paz et son opinion que les boules de feu vertes pourraient être de fabrication humaine, et bien qu'il respectait la capacité professionnelle de La Paz, il n'était simplement pas convaincu. Mais il m'incita fortement à entrer en contact avec le Dr. La Paz et entendre son point de vue sur cette histoire.

Lorsque je revins à l'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 Projet 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 6 or 8 months later before the subject of green fireballs came up again. I was eating lunch with a group of people at the AEC's 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 explainihg 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.

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 100000 ou 200000 pieds 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, 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 Paz explained 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.

Dr. La Paz didn't believe that they were meteorites either.

A meteorite is accompanied by sound and shock waves that break windows and stampede cattle. Yet in every case of a green fireball sighting the observers reported that they did not hear any sound.

But the biggest mystery of all was the fact that no particles of a green fireball had ever been found. If they were meteorites, Dr. La Paz was positive that he would have found one. He'd missed very few times in the cases of known meteorites. He pulled a map out of his file to show me what he meant. It was a map that he had used to plot the spot where a meteorite had hit the earth. I believe it was in Kansas. The map had been prepared from information he had obtained from dozens of people who had seen the meteorite come flaming toward the earth. At each spot where an observer was standing he'd drawn in the observer's line of sight to the meteorite. From the dozens of observers he had obtained dozens of lines of sight. The lines all converged to give Dr. La Paz a plot of the meteorite's downward trajectory. Then he had been able to plot the spot where it had struck the earth. He and his crew went to the marked area, probed the ground with long steel poles, and found the meteorite.

Of all the successful expeditions in his file this was just one case that he showed me. He had records of many more similar expeditions.

Then he showed me some other maps. The plotted lines looked identical to the ones on the map I'd just seen. Dr. La Paz had used the same techniques on these plots and had marked an area where he wanted to search. He had searched the area many times but he had never found anything.

These were plots of the path of a green fireball.

When Dr. La Paz had finished, I had one last question, "What do you think they are?"

He weighed the question for a few seconds then he said that all he cared to say was that he didn't think that they were a natural phenomenon. He thought that maybe someday one would hit the earth and the mystery would be solved. He hoped that they were a natural phenomenon.

After my talk with Dr. La Paz I can well understand his apparent calmness on the night of September 18, 1954, when the newspaper reporter called him to find out if he planned to investigate this latest green fireball report. He was speaking from experience, not indifference, when he said, "But I don't expect to find anything."

If the green fireballs are back, I hope that Dr. La Paz gets an answer this time.

The story of the UFO now goes back to late , the time when the Air Force was in the midst of the green fireball mystery. In another part of the country another odd series of events was taking place. The center of activity was a highly secret area that can't be named, and the recipient of the UFO's, which were formations of little lights, was the U.S. Army.

The series of incidents started when military patrols who were protecting the area began to report seeing formations of lights flying through the night sky. At first the lights were reported every three or four nights, but inside of two weeks the frequency had stepped up. Before long they were a nightly occurrence. Some patrols reported that they had seen three or four formations in one night. The sightings weren't restricted to the men on patrol. One night, just at dusk, during retreat, the entire garrison watched a formation pass directly over the post parade ground.

As usual with UFO reports, the descriptions of the lights varied but the majority of the observers reported a V formation of three lights. As the formation moved through the sky, the lights changed in color from a bluish white to orange and back to bluish white. This color cycle took about two seconds. The lights usually traveled from west to east and made no sound. They didn't streak across the sky like a meteor, but they were going faster than a jet. The lights were a little bigger than the biggest star. Once in a while the GI's would get binoculars on them but they couldn't see any more details. The lights just looked bigger.

From the time of the first sighting, reports of the little lights were being sent to the Air Force through Army Intelligence channels. The reports were getting to ATIC, but the green fireball activity was taking top billing and no comments went back to the Army about their little lights. According to an Army G-2 major to whom I talked in the Pentagon, this silence was taken to mean that no action, other than sending in reports, was necessary on the part of the Army.

But after about two weeks of nightly sightings and no apparent action by the Air Force, the commander of the installation decided to take the initiative and set a trap. His staff worked out a plan in record time. Special UFO patrols would be sent out into the security area and they would be furnished with sighting equipment. This could be the equipment that they normally used for fire control. Each patrol would be sent to a specific location and would set up a command post. Operating out of the command post, at points where the sky could be observed, would be sighting teams. Each team had sighting equipment to measure the elevation and azimuth angle of the UFO. Four men were to be on each team, an instrument man, a timer, a recorder, and a radio operator. All the UFO patrols would be assigned special radio frequencies.

The operating procedure would be that when one sighting team spotted a UFO the radio operator would call out his team's location, the location of the UFO in the sky, and the direction it was going. All of the other teams from his patrol would thus know when to look for the UFO and begin to sight on it. While the radio man was reporting, the instrument man on the team would line up the UFO and begin to call out the angles of elevation and azimuth. The timer would call out the time; the recorder would write all of this down. The command post, upon hearing the report of the UFO, would call the next patrol and tell them. They too would try to pick it up.

Here was an excellent opportunity to get some concrete data on at least one type of UFO. It was something that should have been done from the start. Speeds, altitudes, and sizes that are estimated just by looking at a UFO are miserably inaccurate. But if you could accurately establish that some type of object was traveling 30000 miles/h, even 3000 miles/h - through our atmosphere, the UFO story would be the biggest story since the Creation.

The plan seemed foolproof and had the full support of every man who was to participate. For the first time in history every GI wanted to get on the patrols. The plan was quickly written up as a field order, approved, and mimeographed. Since the Air Force had the prime responsibility for the UFO investigation, it was decided that the plan should be quickly coordinated with the Air Force, so a copy was rushed to them. Time was critical because every group of nightly reports might be the last. Everything was ready to roll the minute the Air Force said "Go."

The Air Force didn't O.K. the plan. I don't know where the plan was killed, or who killed it, but it was killed. Its death caused two reactions.

Many people thought that the plan was killed so that too many people wouldn't find out the truth about UFO's. Others thought somebody was just plain stupid. Neither was true. The answer was simply that the official attitude toward UFO's had drastically changed in the past few months. They didn't exist, they couldn't exist. It was the belief at ATIC that the one last mystery, the green fireballs, had been solved a few days before at Los Alamos. The fireballs were meteors and Project Twinkle would prove it. Any further investigation by the Army would be a waste of time and effort.

This drastic change in official attitude is as difficult to explain as it was difficult for many people who knew what was going on inside Project Sign to believe. I use the words "official attitude" because at this time UFO's had become as controversial a subject as they are today. All through intelligence circles people had chosen sides and the two UFO factions that exist today were born.

On one side was the faction that still believed in flying saucers. These people, come hell or high water, were hanging on to their original ideas. Some thought that the UFO's were interplanetary spaceships. Others weren't quite as bold and just believed that a good deal more should be known about the UFO's before they were so completely written off. These people weren't a bunch of nuts or crackpots either. They ranged down through the ranks from generals and top grade civilians. On the outside their views were backed up by civilian scientists.

On the other side were those who didn't believe in flying saucers. At one time many of them had been believers. When the UFO reports were pouring in back in 1947 and 1948, they were just as sure that the UFO's were real as the people they were now scoffing at. But they had changed their minds. Some of them had changed their minds because they had seriously studied the UFO reports and just couldn't see any evidence that the UFO's were real. But many of them could see the "I don't believe" band wagon pulling out in front and just jumped on.

This change in the operating policy of the UFO project was so pronounced that I, like so many other people, wondered if there was a hidden reason for the change. Was it actually an attempt to go underground - to make the project more secretive? Was it an effort to cover up the fact that UFO's were proven to be interplanetary and that this should be withheld from the public at all cost to prevent a mass panic? The UFO files are full of references to the near mass panic of , when Orson Welles presented his now famous "The War of the Worlds" broadcast.

This period of "mind changing" bothered me. Here were people deciding that there was nothing to this UFO business right at a time when the reports seemed to be getting better. From what I could see, if there was any mind changing to be done it should have been the other way, skeptics should have been changing to believers.

Maybe I was just playing the front man to a big cover-up. I didn't like it because if somebody up above me knew that UFO's were really space craft, I could make a big fool out of myself if the truth came out. I checked into this thoroughly. I spent a lot of time talking to people who had worked on Projet Grudge.

The anti saucer faction was born because of an old psychological trait, people don't like to be losers. To be a loser makes one feel inferior and incompetent. On , when the chief of ATIC sent a letter to the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces stating that UFO's were real, intelligence committed themselves. They had to prove it. They tried for a year and a half with no success. Officers on top began to get anxious and the press began to get anxious. They wanted an answer. Intelligence had tried one answer, the then Top Secret Estimate of the Situation that "proved" that UFO's were real, but it was kicked back. The people on the UFO project began to think maybe the brass didn't consider them too sharp so they tried a new hypothesis: UFO's don't exist. In no time they found that this was easier to prove and it got recognition. Before if an especially interesting UFO report came in and the Pentagon wanted an answer, all they'd get was an "It could be real but we can't prove it." Now such a request got a quick, snappy "It was a balloon," and feathers were stuck in caps from ATIC up to the Pentagon. Everybody felt fine.

In early the term "new look" was well known. The new look in women's fashions was the lower hemlines, in automobiles it was longer lines. In UFO circles the new look was cuss 'em.

The new look in UFO's was officially acknowledged on , when an order was written that changed the name of the UFO project from Project Sign to Project Grudge. The order was supposedly written because the classified name, Project Sign, had been compromised. This was always my official answer to any questions about the name change. I'd go further and say that the names of the projects, first Sign, then Grudge, had no significance. This wasn't true, they did have significance, a lot of it.