Synopsis of Balloon
1st Lt James McAndrew
THE ROSWELL INCIDENT
|This report by 1st Lt. James McAndrew is
a summary of the Air Force's findings on Project MOGUL, the top
secret project that some believe is the answer to the Roswell
mystery. The document is a key portion of the 1995 Air Force
publication "The Roswell Report: Fact Versus Fiction in the New
On July 7, 1947, W.W. (Mac) Brazel, a rancher from approximately 75
miles northwest of Roswell, NM, contacted the local sheriff and reported
that some metallic debris had come to rest on the ranch on which he
worked near the town of Corona, NM. This was during the "UFO Wave of
1947," and he told the sheriff that he thought this debris may be part
of a "flying disc." (1) The sheriff contacted Roswell (Army Air Field)
AAF, which in turn sent intelligence officer, Maj Jesse Marcel, and two
Counterintelligence Corps Agents, Capt Sheridan Cavitt and MSgt Lewis
Rickett, to evaluate the debris. The officers collected a portion of the
material and brought it back to Roswell AAF on the evening of July 7.
(2) The following day, the Public Information Office released a
statement saying that the Army Air Forces had recovered a flying disc.
This press release was provided to local newspapers who sent it out to
wire services. Meanwhile, Brig Gen Roger Ramey, Eighth Air Force
Commander, ordered that the debris be flown to Eighth Air Force
Headquarters at Fort Worth AAF, TX, for his personal inspection. Upon
viewing the debris, he and his staff recognized parts which looked
similar to a weather balloon. He then summoned the base weather officer,
who identified the debris as the remnants of a weather balloon and its
attached metallic radar target. (3) General Ramey then invited the local
press to view and take photographs of the materials and he declared the
episode to be a misunderstanding (Atch 1).
The above summarizes the previously reported information of what
happened on July 7 and 8, 1947. Before now, however, a larger portion of
the story was never told. Recent research indicates that the debris
recovered from the ranch on July 7, 1947, was a weather balloon
-- but it was not being used strictly for weather purposes; its real
purpose was to carry classified payloads for a Top Secret US Army Air
Forces project. The project's classified code name was MOGUL.
The current investigation discovered that an experimental balloon
project was being conducted at nearby Alamogordo Army Airfield (now
Holloman AFB, NM) during the summer of 1947. (4) An examination of
unclassified technical and progress reports prepared by the balloon
project revealed that a highly classified program, Project MOGUL was the
ultimate reason for the balloon experiments. Project MOGUL was
classified Top Secret and carried a priority level of lA. (5) It is
Project MOGUL that provides the ultimate explanation for the "Roswell
1. Roswell Daily Record, Jul 9,1947, p.1.
2. Intvw, Col Richard L. Weaver with Lt Col Sheridan Cavitt, USAF (Ret),
3. Intvw, Lt Col Joseph V. Rogan with Irving Newton, Jul 21,1994.
4. Ltr, Lt Col Edward A. Doty to Mr David Bushnell, Mar 3, 1959.
5. Ltr, Brig Gen E. O'Donnell, Deputy Chief, Engineering Division, HQ
AMC, to Commanding General, USAAF, subj: Change in Classification of
MOGUL, Item 188-5, Jul 8,1946.
Project MOGUL was first conceived by Dr. Maurice Ewing of Columbia
University, NY, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA. Dr. Ewing
had conducted considerable research for the Navy during World War II,
studying, among other things, the "sound channel" in the ocean. He
proved that explosions could be heard thousands of miles away with
underwater microphones placed at a predetermined depth within the sound
channel. He theorized that since sound waves generated by explosions
could be carried by currents deep within the ocean, they might be
similarly transmitted within a sound channel in the upper atmosphere.
The military application of this theory was the long-range detection of
sound waves generated by Soviet nuclear detonations and the acoustical
signatures of ballistic missiles as they traversed the upper atmosphere.
He presented his theory to General Carl Spaatz, Chief of Staff of the
Army Air Forces, in the fall Of 1945. (6) The project was approved, and
research was begun by the scientific research agency of the US Army Air
Forces (USAAF), the Air Materiel Command (AMC), early in 1946 The
project was assigned to HQ AMC, Engineering Division, Electronics
Subdivision, which in turn assigned the project to AMC's Watson
Laboratories, Engineering Division, Applied Propagation Subdivision,
located in Red Bank, NJ.
Project MOGUL initially focused on three areas of technology: (1) an
expendable microphone, capable of detecting, at long range,
low-frequency sound transmissions generated by explosions and missiles;
(2) a means of telemetering these sounds to a ground or airborne
receiver; and (3) a system from which to suspend the microphone and
telemetering device in the upper atmosphere for an extended period of
time. To meet these criteria, contracts were awarded by AMC to Columbia
University (AMC contract no. W28499-ac-82) for the acoustical equipment,
and to New York University (NYU) for the development of constant-level
balloons (AMC contract no. W28-099-ac- 241). After the initial contracts
were awarded, Project MOGUL branched out into many areas related to the
geophysical properties of the upper atmosphere, including radiowave
propagation, radar propagation, ionospheric physics, solar physics,
terrestrial magnetism, meteorological physics, and weather forecasting.
Considerable resources were devoted to Project MOGUL which included
numerous bomber and transport aircraft and two oceangoing vessels. At
one point the staff, exclusive of contractors, numbered over 100
persons. To accommodate this sensitive, high-priority project,
facilities of the secluded Oakhurst Field Station of Watson Laboratories
were used. Balloon operations associated with Project Mogul were
conducted at various locations throughout the United States and the
Pacific, the latter in reference to acoustical detection research
associated with the Sandstone atomic tests at Entiwetok Atoll in April
and May 1948. (7)
6. Rprt, Maurice Ewing for General Carl Spaatz, "Long Range Sound
Transmission in the Atmosphere," n.d.
7. Rprt, HQ Fitzwilliarn Fwd, "Sonic Balloon Test Kwajalein," May 17,
1948 (hereafter "Sonic
By December 1948, serious concerns had arisen regarding the feasibility
of the project as first conceived. Even though the principle on which
the project was based was determined to be sound, questions concerning
cost, security, and practicality were discussed-that ultimately led to
the disbandment of the project, and Project MOGUL as first conceived was
never put into operational use. However, MOGUL did serve as the
foundation for a comprehensive program in geophysical research from
which the USAF and the scientific community have benefited to the
present time. These benefits included constant-level balloon technology,
first developed by NYU for Project MOGUL.
The organizational structure of Watson Laboratories Applied Propagation
Subdivision, which was established primarily for MOGUL, as it appeared
in January 1947, is shown in Attachment 2. Over the course of the
project, MOGUL had three military project officers, or "chiefs": Maj
Robert T. Crane, spring 1946-July 1946; Col Marcellus Duffy, August
1946-January, 1947; and Capt Albert C. Trakowski, January 1947-May 1949.
Major Crane had been personally recommended by Dr. Ewing, originator of
the project, but by June of 1947, MOGUL had not met the expectations of
HQ USAAF, and Colonel Duffy replaced Major Crane. (8) Colonel Duffy was
a respected, highly capable career Army Air Forces officer. During World
War II, Colonel Duffy had reported directly to General Hap Arnold, Chief
of Staff USAAF, as the Army Air Forces Liaison Officer to the US Army
Signal Corps, with primary duties for securing meteorological equipment
from the Army for use by the USAAF. Colonel Duffy had a reputation for
accomplishing difficult assignments by getting the most out of his
personnel exactly what was desired by HQ USAAF to solve the numerous
administrative and personnel problems that had arisen in Project MOGUL
under Major Crane. In a short period, Colonel Duffy was able to make the
necessary corrections and was reassigned to become the Assistant Chief,
Electronics Plans Section, Electronics Subdivision, HQ AMC, at Wright
Field, OH. Colonel Duffy also continued to monitor "the upper air
research program" (i.e., Project MOGUL) in addition to his duties as the
Assistant Chief of the Electronics Plans Section. (9) The primary
scientist for MOGUL was Dr. James Peoples, assisted by Albert P. Crary,
the Field Operations Director. Both scientists had previous associations
with Dr. Ewing: Dr. Peoples at Columbia, and A.P. Crary at Woods Hole.
Both scientists were assigned to MOGUL for the entire length of the
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY "BALLOON GROUP"
From September 30, 1946, until December 31, 1950, the Research Division
of the College of Engineering of NYU conducted research under contract
for the Army
Balloon Test Kwajalein").
8. Memo, Brig Gen Tom C Rives, Chief, Electronic Subdivision,
Engineering Division, AMC, to Maj Gen Curtis LeMay, subj: Relief of
Major crane as Project Officer MOGUL and TORRID, Jun 8,1946.
9. Memo, Maj Gen Curtis E. LeMay, Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Research
and Development, to Maj Gen L.C. Craigie, Chief Engineering Division,
AMC, Apr 16,1947.
Air Forces, in conjunction with Project MOGUL. (l0) The NYU "balloon
group" was to develop and fly constant-level balloons while
simultaneously developing telemetering equipment to transmit data
obtained in the upper atmosphere. (11) Group members launched, tracked,
and recorded data only in regard to constant-level balloon flight and
telemetering of information. They did not have access to observations
and measurements that had military applications. MOGUL, in other words,
was conducted as a compartmented, classified project in which
participants knew only what they needed to know, and no more. Due to the
compartmentations balloon flights made by NYU were divided into two
categories, "research" and "service. (12) Research flights tested
balloon controls and telemetering systems and were fully reported in the
unclassified NYU reports. (13) A total of 110 research flights were
flown during the contract. Service flights were flown at the direction
of Watson Laboratory personnel, but the military purpose was Top Secret.
These flights carried classified equipment, which could not be fully
reported in the unclassified NYU documents. Further evidence of the
exclusion of classified information from the reports is the lack of data
for balloons flown in association with the Sandstone nuclear tests held
in April and May of 1948. (14) In recent interviews with former NYU
personnel, Dr. Athelstan F. Spilhaus, NYU Director of Research, and
Professor Charles B. Moore, NYU Constant-Level Balloon Project Engineer,
stated that they were never informed of the classified name, MOGUL, nor
did they ever have access to the scientific data that was obtained by
the USAAF as a result of their efforts. In response to inquiries,
professional or casual, project personnel simply said that they were
engaged in balloon research. (15)
The first balloon launches associated with Project MOGUL were carried
out at several locations on the east coast of the United States. (16)
However, unfavorable winds, conflicts with commercial air traffic, and
the need to gather data on the V2 flights currently being conducted at
White Sands Proving Ground, NM, led the NYU group to conduct further
tests from Alamogordo AAF. (17) The NYU group would make three "field
trips" during the summer of 1947 for test and evaluation, labeling them
Alamogordo I, II, and III. The majority of the balloon flights over the
next four years originated from Alamogordo AAF.
10. Research Division, College of Engineering, NYU, Technical Report
No. 93.03, Constant Level Balloons, Final Report, Mar 1, 1951
(hereafter NYU, Final Report), p. 3.
11. Research Division, College of Engineering, NYU, Technical Report
93-02, Constant Level Balloons, sect 1, General, Nov 15,
1949, p. 5.
12. NYU, Final Report, p. 13.
13. Research Division, College of Engineering, NYU, Technical Report
No. 1, Constant Level Balloon, Apr 1, 1948, Table VII, summary of
NYU Constant-Level Balloon Flights" (hereafter NYU, Technical Report
No. 1, Table VII); ibid., Technical Report No. 93.02, Constant Level
Balloons, Sect 3, Summary of Flights.
14. "Sonic Balloon Test Kwajalein."
15. Athelstan E. Spilhaus, C.S. Schneider, C.S. Moore,
"Controlled-Altitude Free Balloons," Journal of Meteorology, 5
(Aug 1948): 130-137.
16. NYU, Technical Report No. 1, Table VII.
17. Research Division, College of Engineering, NYU, Progress Report
No. 6, Constant Level Balloon, sect II, June 1947 (hereafter
Progress Report No. 6, sect II), p. 4
New York University, in accordance with contractual requirements,
produced monthly progress reports, technical reports, and final reports
detailing the various aspects of the balloon and telemetering research.
In addition, Crary maintained a detailed journal of his work throughout
his professional career to include the summer of 1947. The following
discussion is based on these two documents and interviews with Moore,
who was present on all three of the Alamogordo field trips, and, with
Trakowski, who was present at the Alamogordo II and III field trips.
NOTE: Technical Report No. 1, Table VII, "Summary
of NYU Constant-Level Balloon Flights," and Technical Report No. 93.02,
Constant Level Balloons, Section 3, "Summary of Flights," do not
fully account for all balloons flown during the initial stages of the
contract to include the Alamogordo I field trip. Absent from the reports
are service flight nos. 2, 3, and 4. Flight no. 2 was flown on April 18,
1947, at Bethlehem, PA, in an attempt to obtain acoustical data from the
explosion of 5,000 tons of TNT by the British on the German island of
Helgoland. (l8) NYU flight no. 3 was flown on May 29, followed by NYU
flight no. 4 on June 4. Both launched from Alamogordo AAF.
ALAMOGORDO I (May 28, 1947-June 7, 1947)
The first NYU "field trip" departed Olmstead Field, Middletown, PA, by
C47 for Alamogordo AAF on May 31, 1947, arriving on June 1, 1947. (l9)
Present on this flight was C.B. Moore, NYU Project Engineer, Charles S.
Schneider, NYU Project Director, and other supporting staff members from
both NYU and Watson Laboratories. A.P. Crary, along with other personnel
from Watson Laboratory, were already present in Alamogordo, but they did
not conduct any balloon operations. During this time, Crary and several
technicians detonated ground explosives, or "shots," for sound-wave
generation purposes, on the nearby White Sands Proving Ground. These
detonations were monitored by ground-based GR3 and GR8 sound ranging
equipment at locations in New Mexico and West Texas. (20) On May 28, the
advance party of the balloon group arrived by S17. (2l) On May 29, the
advance team made the first launch for Project MOGUL from Alamogordo
(NYU flight no. 3). The equipment carried on this flight was identified
as essentially the same as that carried on NYU flight no. 2 (Atch 3 ).
(22) NYU flight no. 4 was launched on June 4, with a configuration the
same as on flight nos. 2 and 3. Crary's diary indicated that flight no.
4 consisted of a "cluster of (meteorological) balloons" and a "regular
sonobuoy." (23) Presumably, flight no. 3 was configured the same.
18. Research Division, College of Engineering, NYU, Special Report
No. 1, Constant Level Balloon, May 1947 (hereafter NYU, Special
Report No. 1), p. 27.
19. Personal journal of Albert P. Crary, p. 13.
20. Ibid., pp. 4-16.
21. Ibid., p. 13.
22. NYU, Progress Report No. 6, Sect II, p. 5.
23. Crary personal journal, p. 12.
The objective of this trip, so far as NYU was concerned, was to perfect
the handling of large flight trains of meteorological balloons and to
evaluate the operations of altitude controlling and telemetering
devices. (24) Already established before the trips to Alamogordo was
that the use of the standard, 350-gram meteorological balloons,
constructed of neoprene, was, at best, a "stop gap" method of achieving
constant-level flight. (25) Balloons most suitable for this type of work
were made of polyethylene, a very thin, translucent plastic. These
balloons, however, had just been developed, and, although the NYU group
had contracted for some of them, the balloons had not been received
until after the group departed for Alamogordo. (26) For Watson
Laboratory scientists Peoples and Crary, the purpose of this trip was to
experiment with different types of equipment to collect and transmit
sound waves in the upper atmosphere. Therefore, just as the "balloon
group" was using meteorological balloons as a stopgap method in
attaining constant-level flight, the Watson Laboratory scientists
utilized an AN/CRT-1A Sonabuoy while awaiting the delivery of acoustical
equipment specifically designed for Project MOGUL. (27) The NYU
personnel developing the telemetering equipment experimented with
components of the sonabuoy, which was cylindrical, nearly 3 feet long
and 4 3/4 inches wide, and weighing 13 pounds (Atch 4). The sonabuoy
contained both the acoustical pickups, known as hydrophones, and the
means of telemetering the sounds by use of a FM transmitter, the T-lB/CRT-1.
Soon after arriving at Alamogordo AAF, a problem developed. Dr Peoples,
Project Scientist, decided not to bring the radiosonde recorder (an
AN/FMQ1 weighing approximately 500 pounds), due to the weight and space
limitations of the B-17 aircraft originally scheduled to transport the
equipment from Olmstead Field. Radiosondes were a widely used and
accurate method of tracking weather balloons consisting of a
transmitter, which was carried aloft by the balloon, and a ground-based
receiver/ recorder. Radiosondes, along with aircraft, were to be the
primary method to track the Project MOGUL balloons. (28) Dr. Peoples,
however, believed that the radar currently in place at Alamogordo for
tracking V-2 firings would be sufficient for tracking the balloons
trains. However, this radar did not work well and often lost contact
with the balloon while it was still within visual range. Accordingly,
Moore, the project engineer, experimented with an "unorthodox" method,
in the absence of a radiosonde recorder. He tried to track the balloons
using multiple radar targets. (29) A radar target was a multisided
object, which, in appearance, resembles a box kite constructed of balsa
wood and metallicized paper (Atch 5). Moore and his technicians
conducted test flights, attempting to obtain a better radar return by
attaching additional targets. They
24. Research Division, College of Engineering, NYU, Progress Report
No. 7, Constant Level Balloon, sect II, Jul 1947 (hereafter NYU,
Progress Report No. 7,
25. NYU, Special Report No. 1, p. 26.
26. NYU, Progress Report No. 7, sect II, p.6.
27. Research Division, College of Engineering, NYU, Progress Report
No. 4, Radio Transmitting, Receiving and Recording System for Constant
Level Balloon, sect I, Apr 2, 1947,p.1.
28. Intvw, Col Jeffrey Butler and 1st Lt James McAndrew with Professor
Charles s. Moore, Jun 8,1994.
29. Moore intvw, Jun 8,1994.
received satisfactory results when the number of targets was increased
to between 3 and 5. (30) Interestingly, during July of 1948, a similar
test would be made at Alamogordo AAF by another organization. (31) This
test confirmed Moore's theory that when targets were increased to at
least three, satisfactory returns were received by the radar. This
procedure, according to Moore, was employed on flight nos. 3 and 4, but
it was only marginally successful. This prompted Moore and his
associates to configure the two remaining flights of Alamogordo I,
flights #5 and #6, with radiosonde transmitters.
For these two final flights, Moore devised a method of manually
determining azimuth and elevation, in the absence of a radisonde
recorder, by counting clicks as pressure-sensitive contacts closed. NYU
Technical Report No. 1 shows two "interpretations" of the data which
confirm that manual calculations were used. In regard to flight no. 5,
it appears there was a typographical error in Technical Report No. 1,
Table VII, for the time of launch which is erroneously listed as 1517
MST, contrary to figures 32 and 33 in Technical Report No.1 and Crary's
diary (Atch 6). The correct time of launch for flight no. 5 appears to
be 0516 MST. With the launching of flight no. 6 at approximately 0530 on
June 7, the NYU group departed Alamogordo via a B-17 for Newark AAF, NJ.
NYU flight nos. 14 are summarized below:
* Depictions of flight nos. 3 and 4 are not provided in the NYU reports.
According to NYU Progress Report No. 6, Section II, p. 5, the equipment
to be used for the Alamogordo field trip in June was consistent with the
depiction of flight no. 2. This information also concurred with Crary's
partial description of flight no. 4 in his diary.
Note: An attempt to launch a balloon-train assembly which would have
been NYU flight no. 3 was made on May 8,1947, but due to strong winds,
restraining lines failed before the acoustical payload was attached.
Since the launch was unsuccessful, no flight number was assigned.
31. Rprt, Holloman AFB, "Progress Summary Report on U.S.A.F. Guided
Missile Test Activities," Vol 1, Aug 1,1948.
ALAMOGORDO II (June 27, 1947-July 8,1947)
On the morning of June 28, 1947, personnel from NYU and Watson
Laboratories arrived at Alamogordo AAF to resume balloon flights.
Present during this field trip were Dr. Peoples, A.P. Crary, Captain
Trakowski, C.B. Moore, and Charles Schneider. The objective during this
trip was to experiment with the newly developed polyethylene balloons
which replaced the neoprene meteorological balloons used on the previous
field trip. Also tested was an improved aluminum ballast reservoir that
had been developed to replace the plastic tubes used during the June
field trip. (32) Another improvement that resulted from the experiences
in June was the presence of a radiosonde receiver/recorder for improved
balloon tracking and plotting. This eliminated the need for radar
"corner reflectors" on the balloon train since radar was not to be used
as a primary method of tracking the flights. This is confirmed by
Technical Report No. 1, Table VII, "Radiosonde Reception %," which
indicates the use of the radiosonde recorder on all flights except for
no. 7. Flight no. 7 was not recorded by radiosonde because the equipment
was not operable. (33) Also Figures 36, 39, 42, and 44 in Technical
Report No. 1, corresponding to the July flights, do not depict corner
reflectors. All numbered flights (except for no. 9) flown during the
July field trip were summarized in NYU Technical Report No 1, Table VII.
Flight no. 9 appeared to have been launched on July 3. (34) On July 8,
their work completed, 23 members of the combined NYU and Watson
Laboratory group boarded a C-54 aircraft at 1030 AM and returned to the
east coast. (35)
Based on the above, it appeared likely that the debris found by the
rancher and was subsequently identified as a "flying disc" by personnel
from Roswell AAF was, with a great degree of certainty, MOGUL flight no.
4, launched on June 4, 1947. This conclusion was based on the following:
1. Descriptions of the debris provided by Brazel, Cavitt, Crary's diary,
and the photos of the material displayed in General Ramey's office.
These materials were consistent with the components of a MOGUL service
flight, with neoprene balloons, parchment parachutes, plastic ballast
tubes, corner reflectors, a sonabuoy, and a black electronics box that
housed the pressure cutoff switch (Atch 3).
2. According to Brazel's July 8 statement, the debris was recovered on
June 14, obviously eliminating any balloons launched in July.
3. Only two flights launched in June were unaccounted for, i.e., flight
nos. 3 and 4. Flight no. 3, most likely would not have had the
"unorthodox" configuration of corner reflectors devised by Moore, who
did not arrive until June 1, three days after flight no. 3 was launched.
32. NYU, Progress Report No. 7, Sect II, p. 5.
33. Crary personal journal, p. 15.
35. Ibid., p.16.
On July 7, as the NYU group members were winding down their work and
preparing to return to New York City, a train of events began to unfold
at Roswell AAF, 60 miles away. Roswell AAF was home of the 509th Bomb
Group of the Strategic Air Command's Eighth Air Force, the only unit in
the world capable of delivering nuclear weapons. It now appears that the
debris from MOGUL flight no. 4 had come to earth on the plains east of
the Sacramento Mountains, about 70 miles from the launch point at
Alamogordo AAF (Atch 7). The fact it descended there was not unusual.
Over the course of Project MOGUL, several balloons had landed and been
recovered from that area. In fact, in August 1947, the NYU group had to
receive special permission from the Civil Aeronautics Administration to
continue to launch balloons from Alamogordo AAF since "balloons have
been descending outside of the area [White Sands Proving Ground] in the
vicinity of Roswell, New Mexico." (36) According to the sole living
participant in the recovery, Sheridan Cavitt, he, Major Marcel, and MSgt
William Rickett gathered some of the material, which appeared to
resemble "bamboo type square sticks, one quarter to one half inch
square," that was "very light" -- reflecting material -- and a "black
box, like a weather instrument." Cavitt believed this material to be
consistent with what he knew to be a weather balloon. This debris, would
soon become, for a short time, the focus of national and even worldwide
attention when it was thought to be a "flying disc."
On July 8, the same day that the NYU/Watson Laboratory group departed
Alamogordo, the Public Information Office of Roswell AAF announced the
recovery of a "flying disc" and that it would be flown to Fort Worth AAF
for further examination. How could experienced military personnel have
confused a weather balloon for a "flying disc"? The answer was this was
not an ordinary "weather balloon." Typical weather balloons employed a
single, 350-gram neoprene balloon and a radiosonde for measuring
temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity, housed in a cardboard
box. If it was to be tracked by radar for wind-speed measurement, a
single corner reflector was added (Atch 8). The balloon that was found
on the Foster Ranch consisted of as many as 23 350-gram balloons spaced
at 20 foot intervals, several radar targets (3 to 5), plastic ballast
tubes, parchment parachutes, a black "cutoff" box containing portions of
a weather instrument, and a sonabuoy (Atch 3). After striking the
ground, the radar reflectors, constructed of very light materials for
minimum weight, would tear and break apart, spreading out over a large
area when pulled across the ground by balloons that still possessed some
buoyancy. It should also be understood that the term "flying disc" was
not at this time synonymous with "space ship," It denoted a disc-shaped
flying object of unknown (or suspected Soviet) origin.
Before the announcement was made, the "disc" was flown to Fort Worth AAF,
at the direction of Brig Gen Roger Ramey, Commander, Eighth Air Force.
General Ramey personally inspected the "disc," became skeptical, and
summoned the base
36. NYU, Technical Report No. 1, Table VII, p.43.
weather officer, Warrant Officer Irving Newton, to make an
identification. Newton positively identified the debris as the remnants
of a balloon and RAWIN target. (37) With this identification, the
incident officially closed.
THE "COVER STORY"
From research, it appears that the wreckage displayed on July 8
consisted of unclassified components of a MOGUL balloon assembly.
Possibly withheld, if it was indeed recovered, was the AN/CRT-1 Sonabuoy,
which could have compromised Project MOGUL. Although the Sonabuoy was
not itself classified, its association with a balloon would have exposed
a specific military purpose, an obvious violation of project
classification guidelines (Atch 9). A device described in "crashed disc"
publications as "a giant thermos jug" was allegedly transported from
Fort Worth AAF to Wright Field. (38) This description is consistent with
the appearance of an AN/CRT-1 Sonabuoy such as was used on flight no. 4
(Atch 4). At some point General Ramey decided to forward the material to
Wright Field, home of AMC, the appropriate agency to identify one of its
own research devices or a device of unknown origin. If the debris was
determined to be from an unknown source, the AMC, T-2, Intelligence or
Analysis Division, would conduct scientific and/or intelligence analysis
in an attempt to discover its origin. But since the balloons,
reflectors, and Sonabuoy were from an AMC research project, the debris
was forwarded to the appropriate division or subdivision, in this case
the Electronics Subdivision of the Engineering Division. There, it was
identified by Colonel Duffy, under whose purview Project MOGUL operated.
Colonel Duffy, a former project officer of MOGUL with specific
directions to "continue to monitor upper air programs," was the
appropriate headquarters officer to make an identification, which he
apparently did. According to Captain (now Colonel) Trakowski, the
officer who succeeded Colonel Duffy as project officer on MOGUL, after
returning from the Alamogordo II field trip, Colonel Duffy contacted him
by phone at Watson Laboratories and informed him that the "stuff you've
been launching at Alamogordo," had been sent to him for identification.
He described the debris to Captain Trakowski, and Trakowski agreed that
it was part of his project (MOGUL). (39)
Another occurrence sometimes said to "prove" that General Ramey was part
of a cover story is that portions of the debris were flown to Andrews
AAF, MD. Andrews would have been a probable location to send the debris
since it had components of weather observation equipment. Andrews AAF
was headquarters of the Army Air Forces Weather Service. It is also
interesting to note that the commanding general of the Weather Service,
Brig Gen Donald N. Yates, was quoted in wire service newspaper articles
on July 9, providing his opinion of the
37. Rawin is short for radar wind, a technique in which a single comer
reflector is towed aloft by a single neoprene balloon to measure wind
speed by radar.
38. Kevin Randall and Donald Schmitt, UFO Crash at Roswell (New
York, 1991), p. l03.
39. Intvw, Col Jeffrey Butler and 1st Lt James McAndrew with Col Albert
c. Trakowski, USAF (Ret), Jun 29,1994, p.4.
incident. Additionally, in 1949, General Yates received a full briefing
of the projects, including constant-level balloons, that made up Project
MOGUL. (40) While crashed disc proponents claim that General Ramey
ordered a "colonel courier" to transport portions of the debris in a
briefcase handcuffed to his wrist for the inspection of his superior,
Maj Gen Clement McMullen, Deputy Commander of Strategic Air Command, it
is more likely that any forwarding of such debris was another attempt to
identify the research agency to which it belonged. If it did go to
General McMullen, it would not have been difficult for him to have
obtained the opinion of the Weather Service, since SAC and the Weather
Service were located in the same building (no. 1535) at Andrews AAF.
One of the most puzzling aspects of the reports that a "UFO" crashed
near Corona in 1947 were the later descriptions of "hieroglyphic-like"
characters by seemingly reliable, firsthand witnesses. Research has
revealed that the debris found on the ranch and displayed in General
Ramey's office probably did have strange characters. These, however,
were not hieroglyphics, but figures printed on the pinkish-purple tape
used to construct the radar targets used by the NYU group.
The witnesses have recalled small pink/purple "flowers" that appeared to
be some sort of writing that couldn't be deciphered. These figures were
printed on tape that sealed the seams of the of the radar target. The
radar targets, sometimes called corner reflectors, had been manufactured
during or shortly after World War II, and due to shortages, the
manufacturer, a toy company, used whatever resources were available.
This toy company used plastic tape with pink/purple flowers and
geometric designs in the construction of its toys and, in a time of
shortage, used it on the government contract for the corner reflectors.
A depiction of these figures, as described by C.B. Moore, is shown in
Allegations have also been made that the debris displayed to the press
on July 8 and subsequently photographed was not the original wreckage;
i.e., a switch had occurred sometime after the debris left Roswell AAF.
However, statements made by Moore and Trakowski attested that the corner
reflectors they launched during that period had the same flowers and
figures that were later reported by Marcel, Cavitt, and Brazel as being
on the debris found on the Foster ranch in Corona. In fact, Trakowski
distinctly remembered the figures on the tape because, when the targets
first were produced, much fanfare was made over the use of a toy
manufacturer for production. He related that a fellow USAAF officer,
John E. Peterson, monitored the procurement of the targets and "thought
it was the biggest joke in the world that they had to go to a toy
manufacturer" to make the radar targets and an "even a bigger joke
when... the reflecting material on the balsa frames was some kind of a
pinkish purple tape with hearts and flowers
40. Rprt, Carnbridge Field Sta, AMC, "Review of Air Materiel Command
Geophysical Activities by Brigadier General D.N. Yates, and Staff, of
the Air Weather Service," Feb 10, 1949.
designs on it." (41) Furthermore, the Fort Worth Army Airfield Weather
Officer, Irving Newton, who was called in to identify the wreckage, also
remembers the purple/pink marks. Newton stated that when he was called
to General Ramey's Office he remembers meeting Marcel, who attempted to
convince him that the wreckage on the floor of the office was a crashed
"flying disc." Newton, having seen many weather balloons and targets,
positively identified the debris as a weather device. (42) In short,
descriptions of the wreckage found on the ranch near Corona and of the
wreckage displayed in General Ramey's office are entirely consistent
with each other.
THE REAL COVER STORY
On July 10, 1947, a newspaper article appeared in the Alamogordo Daily
News displaying for the press the devices, neoprene balloons, and corner
reflectors which had been misidentified as the "flying disc" two days
earlier at Roswell AAF (Atch 11). The photographs and accompanying
article quoted Maj Wilbur D. Pritchard, a Watson Laboratory Project
Officer (not assigned to MOGUL) stationed at Alamogordo AAF. This
article appeared to have been an attempt to deflect attention from the
Top Secret MOGUL project by publicly displaying a portion of the
equipment and offering misleading information. If there was a "cover
story" involved in this incident, it is this article, not the actions or
statements of Ramey.
The article in the Alamogordo Daily News stated that the balloons
and radar targets had been used for the last fifteen months for the
training of long-range radar personnel and the gathering of
meteorological data. The article lists four officers -- Maj W.D.
Pritchard, Lieut S.W. Seigel, Capt L.H. Dyvad, and Maj C.W. Mangum -- as
being involved with the balloon project, which was false. Moore and
Trakowski could not recall any of the officers in the photograph, with
the exception of Dyvad, whom Moore identified as a pilot who coordinated
radar activities. (43) Additionally, some of the details discussed
(balloon sighting in Colorado, tracking by B-17s, recovery of equipment,
launching balloons at 54 AM, and balloon altitudes of 30,000-40,000
feet) relate directly to the NYU balloon project, indicating that the
four officers had detailed knowledge of MOGUL. (44) Moore's unorthodox
technique of employing several balloons and several radar targets was
shown in one of the photographs. Other techniques unique to Moore,
41. Trakowski intvw, Jun 29, 1994.
42. Newton intvw, Jul 21, 1994.
43. Moore intvw, Jun 8, 1994
44. NYU, Technical Report No. 1, Table VII.
including the boiling of balloons before launch (which he personally
developed during World War II) and a stepladder used to launch balloons,
could not all have coincidentally been used by other organizations. (45)
The details may have been provided to the radar officers by Crary,
Project MOGUL Field Operations Director, who did not depart by C-54 with
the rest of the NYU/Watson Laboratory group on July 8, but who later
left by car on July 9, the day the staged launch took place.
Additionally, three of Crary's staff, Don Reynolds, Sol Oliva, and Bill
Edmonston, resided permanently in Alamogordo. It was apparent from
Crary's diary that he had worked very closely with Major Pritchard and
reported to him on occasion (twelve documented meetings from December
1946-April 1947). One instance, on April 7, 1947, Crary gave Pritchard a
"progress report for MOGUL project to date," indicating that Major
Pritchard had access to MOGUL information. (46) Another statement which
appeared to confirm a cover story appeared in the caption below the
balloon picture and described a typewritten tag stapled to the target
identifying it as having come from Alamogordo AAF. Moore believed this
not to be true because any equipment found was not to be associated with
the USAAF, only with NYU; therefore flights carried "return to" tags
identifying NYU as the responsible agency. (47)
Many of the claims surrounding the events of July 1947 could be neither
proved nor disproved. Attempts were not made to investigate every
allegation, but rather to start with what was known and work toward the
unknown. To complicate the situation, events described here took place
nearly 50 years ago and were highly classified. This Top Secret project
appeared to have utilized the concept of compartmentalization very well.
Interviews with individuals and review of documents of organizations
revealed that the ultimate objective of the work, or even the name of
the project, in many instances was not known. It was unlikely,
therefore, that personnel from Roswell AAF, even though they possessed
the appropriate clearances, would have known about project MOGUL. In
fact, when the NYU/AMC group returned to Alamogordo in September, their
first trip since the "incident" occurred, one of the first activities of
the project scientists, Peoples and Crary, who were accompanied by Major
Pritchard and Captain Dyvad, was to brief the commanding officer of
Alamogordo AAF and the 509th Bomb Group Operations Officer, Lt Col
Joseph Briley, on MOGUL. (48)
45. Moore intvw, Jun 8, 1994.
46. Crary personal journal, p. 10.
47. Moore intvw, Jun 8, 1994; Research Division, College of Engineering,
NYU, Technical Report No. 93.02, Constant Level Balloons, sect 2,
Operations, Jan 31,1949, pp. 36-38.
48. Combined Hist, 50th Bomb Grp and Roswell AAF, Sep 1-30, 1947, p. 79;
Untranscribed journal of Albert P. Crary, p. 64.
When the civilians and personnel from Roswell AAF (Marcel, Cavitt, and
Rickett) "stumbled" upon the highly classified project and collected the
debris, no one at Roswell had a "need to know" about information
concerning MOGUL. This fact, along with the initial misidentification
and subsequent rumors that the "capture" of a "flying disc" occurred,
ultimately left many people with unanswered questions that have endured
to this day.
JAMES McANDREW, 1st Lt, USAFR
Declassification and Review Officer
1. 4 Photographs of Balloon Debris
2. Organizational Chart -- Watson Laboratories
3. Drawing -- New York University Flight No. 2
4. 2 Depictions of AN/CRT-1 Sonabuoy
5. Drawing of Corner Reflector
6. New York University Technical Report No. 1, Table VII
7. Map of New Mexico
8. Typical Employment of Weather Balloon and Corner Reflector
9. Project MOGUL Classification Letter
10. Drawing of "Hieroglyphics" by Prof. C.B. Moore
11. Alamogordo Daily News Article