Page 11 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - May/June 2022 Edition
P. 11

1948 Mysterious Green Fireballs                                                                                     11

           Why Mysterious Green

         Fireballs Worried the U.S.

              Government in 1948

         The sightings were concentrated

            around the Los Alamos and
               Sandia atomic-weapons

           laboratories, and other highly
           sensitive military installations.

                      by Darryn King

        In February 1949, the Los Alamos, New Mexico
        Skyliner newspaper ran a piece on what it        him throw the ball right at your face, as hard as  lightning—mysterious hovering orbs of
        referred to, in typical newspaper parlance, as   he can throw it.  That’s what a green fireball   electricity that have only been taken seriously by
        “flying saucers”—and a possible conspiracy       looks like.”                                     science since the 1960s, well after the New
        around them:                                                                                      Mexico sightings.
                                                         When a crew of intelligence officers, led by Dr.
        “Los Alamos now has flying green lights. These   Lincoln LaPaz, head of the University of New     There is still no conclusive theory of what ball
        will ‘o wisps seen generally about 2 a.m., have  Mexico’s Institute of Meteoritics, plotted the   lightning is, but hypotheses include antimatter,
        alerted the local constabulary and their presence  fireball’s flight path and scoured the area a  light bubbles, microwave interference, retinal
        is being talked about in Santa Fe bars. But local  meteorite would have hit, they found nothing—  after-images, electromagnetic knots, even
        wheels deny any official knowledge of the sky    no meteor fragments, no debris, no craters, no   primordial black holes.
        phenomena. Each one passes the buck to           evidence of fire.
        another.”                                                                                         Dr. Hughes’ own theory of ball lightning, which
                                                         The inexplicable sightings continued in the      he believes fits the description of the New
        The story ended with, “Have you seen a green     area, with sightings on December 6th, 7th, 8th,  Mexico fireballs: electrified air. “It occurred to
        light lately?”                                   11th, 13th, 14th, 20th and 28th. December 20th   me, sometimes when something shoots through
                                                         proved a turning point, literally, and a         the atmosphere, like a meteor, it could be
        In fact, a great many had, and would continue to  particularly alarming one for those clinging to  creating a conductive pathway from the
        do so—enough to prompt TIME magazine, in         the theory that these were meteors: The balls of  ionosphere—a whole ocean of plasma above the
        November 1951, to publish a piece on the         fire descended from the heavens at a 45-degree   Earth—down to the ground.  The air becomes
        phenomenon called “Great Balls of Fire.” What    angle, then abruptly leveled off into a gravity-  electrified.”
        makes the multiple sightings of “flying green    defying horizontal flight path. And, as LaPaz
        lights” in New Mexico in 1948 and onward such    would note in a letter to the district           The phosphorescent green color, Dr. Hughes
        a significant chapter in UFO history is exactly  commanding officer of the United States  Air     says, is due to ionized oxygen, which also
        that—there were multiple sightings.              Force Office of Special Investigations, “none of  accounts for the striking greens of the aurora
                                                         the green fireballs has a train of sparks of a dust  borealis, also known as the Northern lights.
        That was unnerving enough. But most              cloud…”
        alarming—particularly to the United States                                                        This potential explanation could not have
        government—was that the sightings were           In the years since, there have been reports of   occurred to those on the ground in New Mexico
        concentrated around the Los Alamos and Sandia    green-fireball sightings around the world, from  in 1948. After interviewing more than a hundred
        atomic-weapons laboratories. And other highly    Alberta, Canada to South Africa. In June 2018,   witnesses, Dr. LaPaz went on to advise the
        sensitive military installations, including radar  a green fireball made an impressive appearance  military and the Atomic Energy Commission of
        stations and fighter-interceptor bases, weren’t  at a concert performance in the Netherlands by   his opinion that the fireballs were likely either
        far away.  That meant the sightings were         the Foo Fighters (coincidentally, the band       top-secret “unconventional defensive devices”
        reported by typically cool-headed pilots,        named for the U.S. pilots’ term for UFOs during  being tested by the U.S.—or Soviet spying
        weather observers, scientists, intelligence      World  War II).  And according to the            devices.
        officers and other defense personnel, and led    International Meteor Organization there were
        many to suspect the fireballs were Soviet spy    more than 170 reported sightings of the fireballs  When Edward J. Ruppelt, director of the U.S.
        devices.                                         that night, in at least five European countries.  Air Force Project Blue Book UFO
                                                         The band’s reaction, according to their official  investigations, visited the Los Alamos National
        Like a meteor—but not                            Twitter account: “The sky IS a neighborhood.”    Laboratory in early 1952 to interview scientists
                                                                                                          and technicians, he noted that they became
        On the night of December 5, 1948, two separate   An alternate form of lightning?                  particularly animated when the idea of
        plane crews reported having seen a “green ball                                                    interplanetary vehicles was suggested.
        of fire,” heading west to east. In one of these  The phenomenon came to the attention of the
        instances, the fireball raced head-on toward the  Australian physicist Dr. Stephen Hughes in      “They had been doing a lot of thinking about
        plane itself, compelling the rattled pilot to    2006, when several green fireballs were spotted  this, they said, and they had a theory,” wrote
        swerve the plane out of the way.                 in the sky in Queensland and New Zealand. “I     Ruppelt in The Report on Unidentified Flying
                                                         came to the conclusion that there was something  Objects (1953). They thought the fireballs were
        One pilot, sometime later, would vividly         a bit strange going on,” he says.                actually extraterrestrial probes “projected into
        describe the green fireballs: “Take a soft ball                                                   our atmosphere from a ‘spaceship’ hovering
        and paint it with some kind of fluorescent paint  Hughes went on to write a paper that theorized  several hundred miles above the Earth.”
        that will glow a bright green in the dark… Then  a possible connection between green fireballs
        have someone take the ball out about 100 feet in  and the well-documented, but still ultimately                          (Continued on Page 12)
        front of you and about 10 feet above you. Have   little-understood,   phenomenon      of   ball
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