FLYING DISC FOUND BY AIR CORPS ONLY A WEATHER BALLOON
--Discovery Turns Out to Be Radar Reflector
By Dick Pearce
The Army Air Forces sent a shiver of excitement across a saucer-conscious Nation yesterday with the announcement that an actual flying disc had been found near the cradle of the atomic bomb in New Mexico.
Not until three hours later did the saucer shatter on the rock of hard fact. It was the box kite radar reflector of a weather balloon.
But while the mistake lasted, it was a honey.
TELLS OF FIND ---
The first sober announcement of the discovery was made by the Roswell, N. Mex., Army Air Field. It said definitely that "the many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday," and went on to declare that the disc had been found on a ranch near Roswell.
Roswell refused to give any more details, saying only that the disc had been rushed along to higher headquarters.
Roswell's announcement sent high brass from coast to coast scurrying to telephones for more information.
PHONE JAMMED ---
Lt. Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg, deputy chief of the AAF, hurried to the AAF press section in Washington and personally took charge as newspapers and wire services clamored for details.
Within an hour telephone lines into sparse New Mexico were jammed. Three London newspapers called Sheriff George Wilcox at Roswell, together with "every big newspaper in the United States, the radio networks and others."
(The Examiner did not call Sheriff Wilcox. Surmising that the find had been flown to Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commanding general of the Eighth Air force at Fort Worth, Tex., The Examiner telephone him.
(First to reach him, The Examiner got a complete description of the "disc" from him, together with his expressed suspicion that it was just part of a weather balloon. His description tallied with that of radar reflectors sent up with weather balloons every day at Oakland.
(As a result the Examiner was able to give a prosaic name to the Army's saucer long before the Army itself corrected the boner of its public relations officer at Roswell.)
A weather officer attached to the base weather station at Fort Worth finally was called in, took one look at the tangled mess of aluminum foil, strings and wood and made a definite identification.
Plans to fly it to the AAF laboratories at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, were abandoned promptly.
General Ramey went on the radio to quiet the furor. While he was at it, he threw in this disavowal:
"There is no such gadget (as the disc) known to the Army least this far down the line."
H.W. Gwyther, assistant supervisor of the Pacific Weather Project here and an expert on the weather balloons, expressed the belief that they explain many of the flying saucers seen by the public.
Many of the weather balloon radar targets are flat, with a hexagonal or star shape, would look like discs when spinning, and would reflect light strongly because of the aluminum foil.
Shortly after 7 p.m. last night hundreds of San Leandro residents reported seeing a silver object in the sky over San Leandro. People stopped their automobiles on the main street to watch it. They said it hovered over the city for a time, then rose abruptly and exploded in a shower of bright colors.
The Weather Bureau said a balloon was released at 7 p.m. and tracked by radar. It passed over San Leandro and burst at 7:24 p.m., the bureau said.
July 9, 1947, Oakland (CA) Tribune, page 3
EASTBAY TUMULT OVER THOSE FLYING DISCS DYING DOWN
The flying saucers that fact or fancy had in the skies over Oakland for the past week, apparently have shattered themselves against some faraway star, for there were few reports of anyone seeing any during the past 24 hours and it appeared the show is over.
A few persons still telephoned police and the newspapers to say they "positively" saw one or more of the flying discs, but under questioning they usually admitted it might have been something else altogether -- such as weather balloons.
The balloons sent up daily from the Oakland Airport could with some imagination look like saucers, authorities agreed, but they are an old, old story to those who have seen them before.
Hundreds of San Leandro residents had not up to last night, and got themselves in quite a tizzy over what they thought was their first view of the flying saucer. The show lasted nearly half an hour, during which the police switchboard was jammed, cars stopped in the middle of
East 14th Street and dinners were left to turn cold.
The object in the sky floated in at about 6000 feet above the city then rose almost straight upwards to burst in a show of sparks. But it was only a radio balloon released by the Weather Bureau.
Virtually the same thing happened in Contra Costa County yesterday, when Richard Secor, 14, a Mt. Diablo High School sophomore found what he thought was a grounded disc in a field near his Pacheco home. It turned out to be a weather observation balloon transmitter.