• Home Page
  • UFO Topics
  • UFO Photos
  • UFO Cases
  • Sighting Reports
  • Report a Sighting


Project 1947 Report on 'Crashed Discs'

Jan Aldrich (reprinted by UFO Research Cincinnati)

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: Stories about people who found various balloon borne apparatus or items that fell off aircraft were featured in a large number of newspapers during and immediately after the wave. Besides natural material and man-made material which came to earth in the natural course of events, many prankster planted crudely made flying discs.

Jan Aldrich

author's bio

 By the 8th of July foolishness was starting to get the upper hand, reports had fallen off, and the P-38 Montana story had proved false. The popular columnist, Hal Boyle, ran a two-part story about being kidnapped from an Oklahoma bar by a big hairy Martian. These columns ran in well over 1000 newspapers. Many witnesses especially women felt, partly because of Boyle's column, they had to end their UFO reports with a statement about their alcohol consumption habits.


Dewitt Miller, a Fortean Society member, wrote a widely read article on Charles Fort, strange sky objects seen in the past and the possibility that UFO origins are extraterrestrial. Other Fortean Society members are quoted in local or national news stories during the 1947 UFO wave.


Towards the end of the day in some western newspaper the first news stories on Roswell started to appear. Generally they are not detailed and again the press is led on by a fantastic episode.


July 9th was about the center point of the worldwide coverage of the catholic priest with a circular saw blade which landed near him. Many newspaper headed this as a flying disc story or something like "See Saw, He Saw." Hal Boyle's second installment appears in many papers. He is able to escape back to earth, but is worry about his expense account.


The story of Roswell about "captured" disc appeared in most newspapers many times married up with the Brigadier General Ramey press conference. The contention was the debris recovered was a weather instrument.


Stories about people who found various balloon borne apparatus or items that fell off aircraft were featured in a large number of newspapers during and immediately after the wave.  Besides natural material and man-made material which came to earth in the natural course of events, many prankster planted crudely made flying discs.  Possibly some of these devices were built with the idea that the people who offered the rewards for a UFO could be fooled into awarding the prizes.  Since most "crashed discs" are very primitive, the fabricators probably decided instead to plant them somewhere and watch the proceedings.  A small sample of such "crashed discs" stories are shown below. 

  • Crashed Disc
    Oxford, Ohio, 7 July, another radar target similar to the Chillicothe one found today. It was first spotted on the 4th, but not recorded until the newspaper stories about the weather kites. Cincinnati Enquirer (KY Ed), 8 July
  • Crashed Disc
    Baker, Montana 9 July,, D. H. Baker, a farmer found a red balloon 26 inches long.  Attached to it was a bottle filled with ash.  On the 8th watched an object shuttling back and forth. The recovered object resemble balloons used for night pibal observations. Helena, Montana INDEPENDENT RECORD, 10 July
  • Advertising Stunt
    A restauranteur had paper plates printed up with "Take this Flying Saucer to....."  They were thrown from a plane, but did not land were he intended. Odds & Ends Column, Winter Haven DAILY CHIEF, 9 July, p. 1.
  • Black River Falls, Wisconsin, 10 July
    An elaborate contraption was found and turned over to the Civil Air Patrol. It was disc shaped with a motor, propeller and various electronic components none of which did any thing.  Associated Press 10 & 11 July Black River Falls, Wisconsin
  • Crashed Disc
    Woodworth, North Dakota, 11 July, Five Woodworth residents fabricated a disc-shaped object. It caused quite a stir people came from the surrounding area to view the disc.  Some even flew in by plane. Minot, North Dakota DAILY NEWS, 11 July,, p. 1
  • Crashed Disc
    Laurel, Md, 11 July, 9:45 p. m. A buzzing thing 3 and half feet across made of a circular piece of metal and a garbage can lid.  Had two small aerials, a dry cell battery, a camera lens, and a "ticker" Mr. Thaddeus Elder and young son found it. Called FBI.  They did not want it.  Turned over to Laurel police. Cambridge, MD, DAILY BANNER, 12 July,, AP
  • Advertising Stunt
    Eugene, Oregon 12 July, Dave Campbell wanted to throw metal discs from an airplane. Police would not allow it. He through them from his car instead. Ogden UT STANDARD-EXAMINER 13 July
  • Illuminated Kite
    Clearwater, Florida police responded to a call on the night of 15th of July. They found what appeared to be some type of device being flown like a kite. As they moved upwind the prankster cut the device loose and police found it in a vacant lot.  The device was a kite that had a silver disk painted on it. Clearwater, Florida SUN 17 July,, p 14.
  • Crashed Discs
    Marysville, Kansas 17 July,, Newspaper reports Bailyville man finds "flying saucer." It was a radiosonde. Marysville MARSHALL COUNTY NEWS 17 July, 47, p. 1
  • Crashed Discs
    Ragland, WV, about 23 July,. Radiosonde brought to local reporter.  Holden WV FOUR WIND NEWS 24 July,.
  • Crashed Disc
    Near Mullensville, WV, balloon, parachute and radiosonde launched 10 AM 3 Aug found.  Pineville, WV, INDEPENDENT HERALD, 8 August, page 1.

A former weather observer add his experience to the stories of downed

Letter to the editor, 10 July Cincinnati ENQUIRER (KY edition)


   "I noticed in this morning's paper an article on the last page, I believe datelined from Chillilcothe, anent [sic] a peculiar star-shaped object found in a corn field by a farmer.

    "I recognized the object immediately and am writing to clear up the mystery.  It just so happens that I am quite familiar with said objects having sent up several hundred of them while in the army weather service. They happen to be radar targets.  They are fastened about six feet below a large hydrogen inflated balloon, which I would judge is four or five feet in diameter when fully inflated, and contrary to the usual description of the flying saucer, they ascend almost vertically, depending upon the wind velocity and also go up very slowly.  They are made of laminated foil and kraft paper material and are supported by thin wooden sticks.  The foil covering on the under side of the target allows the radar signal to be reflected to the radar instrument.

   "These targets are very useful in plotting wind direction and velocity on cloudy days when a weather balloon could not be followed with the ordinary weather theodolite due to clouds.
    "I hope that this information will prove useful, and I imagine that I will be about the steenth person to tell you what the object was and what use it has in the weather service..
Richard P. Kast, former Army Weather Service, 2307 Oxford State Road, Middletown, Ohio

On the 9th of July at 1:00 p. m. reporters observed a balloon
release with radar targets at Alamogrodo. This story was carried in some
newspapers the next day. It was not widely reported.  Several balloon
releases by Army, Navy and weather bureau personal were made for newsmen
during the next few days. A story is headline on the "Army, Navy Work to
Still Saucer Rumors." (A variation of that story from a Nevada newspaper is
reproduced below.)  It basically reports that UFO stories are falling apart;
easily explained as common natural or man-made objects.  Many editors have
tired of the nonsense associated with the flying saucers and state so.
After this date, few sightings are carried on the News wires.  It is still
possible to find local news stories.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 9, 1947

                    FLYING DISC TALES DECLINE
                    AS ARMY, NAVY CRACK DOWN

                         By United Press

Reports of flying saucers whizzing through the sky fell off sharply today as the army and navy began a concentrated campaign to stop the rumors.

One by one, persons who thought they had their hands on the $3,000 offered for a genuine flying saucer found their hands full of nothing.

Headquarters of the 8th army at Fort Worth, Texas. announced that the wreckage of a tin-foil covered object found on a New Mexico ranch was nothing more than the remnants of a weather balloon. AAF headquarters in Washington reportedly delivered a "blistering" rebuke to officers at the Roswell, New Mexico, base for suggesting that it was a "flying disc."

A 16 inch aluminum disc equipped with two radio condensers, a florescent light switch and copper tubing found by F.G. Harston near the Shreveport, Louisiana, business district was declared by police to be "obviously the work of a prankster." Police believed the prankster hurled it over a sign board and watched it land at Harston's feet. It was turned over to officials at Barksdale army air field.
U.S. naval intelligence officers at Pearl Harbor investigated claims by 100 navy men that they saw a mysterious object "silvery colored, like aluminum, with no wings or tail," sail over Honolulu at a rapid clip late yesterday. The description fit a weather balloon but 5 of the men, familiar with weather observation devices, swore that it was not a balloon.
"It moved extremely fast for a short period, seemed to slow down, then disappeared high in the air," said Yeoman 1/C Douglas Kacherle of New Bedford, Massachusetts. His story was corroborated by Seaman 1/C Donald Ferguson, Indianapolis; Yeoman 3/C Morris Kzamme, La. Crosse, Wisconsin, Seaman 1/C Albert Delancey, Salem, West Virginia, and Yeoman 2/C Ted Pardue, McClain, Texas.
Admiral William H. Blandy, commander-in-chief of the Atlantic fleet, said like everyone else he was curious about the reported flying saucers "but I do not believe they exist." 

Lloyd Bennett, Oelwein, Iowa, salesman, was stubborn about the shiny 6 1/2-inch steel disc he found yesterday. Authorities said it was not a "flying saucer" but Bennett said he would claim the reward offered for the mysterious discs.

There were other discards. Not all the principles were satisfied with the annoucement that the wreckage found on the New Mexico ranch was that of a weather ballon.

The excitement ran through this cycle:

1. Lt. Warren Haught, public relations officer at the Roswell base, released a statement in the name of Col. William Blanchard, base commander. It said that an object described as a "flying disc" was found on the nearby Foster ranch 3 weeks ago by W.W.Brazel and been sent to "higher officials" for examination.

2. Brigadier General Roger B. Ramey, commander of the 8th airforce, said at Fort Worth that he believed the object was the "remnant of a weather balloon and a radar reflector," and was "nothing to be excited about" He allowed photographers to take a picture of it. It was announced that the object would be sent to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio for examination by experts.

3. Later, Warrant Officer Irving Newton, Stessonville, Wisconsin, weather officer at Fort Worth, examined the object and said definitely that it was nothing but a badly smashed target used to determine the direction and velocity of high altitude winds.

4. Lt. Haught reportedly told reporters that he has been "shut up by two blistering phone calls from Washington."

5. Efforts to contact Col. Blanchard brought the information that "he is now on leave."

6. Maj. Jesse A. Marcel, intelligence officer of the 509th bombardment group, reportedly told Brazel, the finder of the object, that "it has nothing to do with army or navy so far as I can tell."

7. Brazel told reporters that he has found weather ballon equipment before, but had seen nothing that had resembled his latest find.

8. Those men who saw the object said it had a flowered paper tape around it bearing the initials "D.P."

On the 10th and 11th two more "crashed disc" stories get worldwide coverage.  A disk shaped obect is found in Hollywood, California and another
in Twin Falls, Idaho. In both cases the hoaxes are quickly identified. The
FBI is involved in both case. The Twin Falls, Idaho hoax made of juke box
parts is turned over to the Army at Fort Douglas, Utah. No mention of this
case is found in the Project Blue Book files; just as no mention is found of
the Roswell case. The Hollywood and Twin Falls reports were the coup de grace of press wire coverage. Now mostly foreign or humor stories were the only ones reported. Seldom was a US sighting report seen nationwide on the wireservices after this date. Region reports were more common. Reports from South America and other parts of the world do appear.

Ted Bloecher curtailed his search in newspapers at this point. We have, therefore, and artifical drop off of reports at this time due to search methodology. The delay in reporting a UFO sighting can sometimes be three to seven days. There is a drop off due to wire service withdrawal, but the drop off is more gradual than previously shown.

Besides the US officials, the military or defense ministries in Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil all feel it necessary to comment on the sky phenomena.  The comments range from "Bring one in" to "fantasy." In Brazil the US AAF weather balloon explanation was cited by authorites.

On the afternoon of 10th of July a remarkable sighting took place which
would influence the official investigation of over the next two years and
would be reflected on their sighting report questionaire.  Near Stephenville
Cross, Newfoundland three men returning by car from a fishing trip when they
saw a bluish-black vapor trail. It cut a channel through the clouds estimated to be at 8,000 to 10,000 feet. It parted the clouds. One of the observers got a camera and took to photographs of the gap that had been
opened in the clouds. They viewed a seemingly translucent disk-like wheel
travelling at a high rate of speed and parting the clouds behind it. The
explanation generally put forth for this report is a low altitude meteor. If that were so, one would think that meteor tracer would want to see this
case and it would be examined in the scientific literature.  Not a chance.
It has the three letter intitials UFO that consign it to scientific limbo.
The only enquiring mines that will look a UFOs are the one's that get their
material of the supermarket checkout line magazine racks.

The importance attached to this event can be seen in the Project Sign, the first US Air Force UFO investigations project, "Essental Elements of Information" (EEI) form.  EEI are the data that the intelligence personnel
have determinded are absolutely need to answer intelligence requirements.
(Note item #11, Effects on Cloulds.)

(re Sighting of Unidentified Aerial Objects)

1.  Date of sighting

2.  Time of sighting

3.  Where sighted:
  a.  Ground
      1.  City -
      2.  Distance and direction from city -
      3.  From -
      4.  map coordinates -
  b.  Air -
  c.  Sea -

4.  Number of objects
  a.  Formation -

5.  Distance of object from observer
  a.  Laterally or horizontally -
  b.  Angle of elevation from horizon -
  c.  Altitude -

6.  Time in sight -

7.  Appearance of object
  a.  Color -
  b.  Shape - spherical.
  c.  Apparent construction -
  d.  Size
   1.  Estimated size -
   2.  Size as it appeared from the observers view -

8.  Direction of flight -

9.  Tactics or maneuvers
  a.  Vertical accent or decent,  horizontal,  etc. -

10.  Evidence of exhaust
  a.  Color of smoke -
  b.  Length and width -
  c.  Odor - none
  d.  Rate of evaporation -
  e.  Does trail vary with sound?

11.  Effect on clouds
  a.  Opened path thru clouds -
  b.  Formed cloud or mists -
  c.  Reflected on clouds -
  d.  Shown thru clouds -

12.  Lights
  a.  Reflected or attached -
  b.  Luminous -
  c.  Blinked on and off -

13.  Support
  a.  Wings -
  b.  Aeroclynamic lift of fuselage -
  c.  Vertical jets -
  d.  Rotating cylinder or cone -
  e.  Aerostatic lift (balloon or dirigible) -

14.  Propulsion
  a.  Propeller or jet - none visible
  b.  Rotor - none visible
  c.  Aerodynamic vanes -
  d.  Visible exhaust or jet openings -

15.  Control and stability
  a.  Fins -
  b.  Stabilizers -

16.  Air duots -

17.  Speed MPH -

18.  Sound -


1.  Name of observer -

2.  Address -

3.  Occupation -

4.  Place of business -
  a.  Employer or employee

5.  Hobbies -
  a.  Time engaged -
  b.  Observer is not an amateur astronomer,  pilot or engineer

6.  Ability to determine
  a.  Color -
  b.  Speed of moving objects -
  c.  Size at distance -

7.  Reliability of observer
  a.  Sources
    1.  Neighbour - excellent
    2.  Police Department - No record
    3.  FBI -
    4.  Employer -

8.  Notes relative to observer
  a.  Sightings in general -
  b.  How attention was drawn to object
    1.  Sound -
    2.  Motion -
    3.  Glint of light -

9.  Witnesses -

10.  Comments of interogator -.


1.  Sequences of local weather conditions -

2.  Winds aloft report

3.  Local flight schedules of commercial,  private and military aircraft
flying in the vicinity at the time

4.  Possible releases of testing devices in vicinity sent aloft by weather
unit -

5.  Projections or attachments visible.

[Credit to KJ Craft for this material.]

During the 7-11 July columnists, including the Alsop brothers, and editors expressed concerns that the flying discs have unpreparedness in the field of Air Defense. While it seemed unlikely that the Russian had jumped ahead, it was a possibility they felt which should be considered. Some research in the connection of Air Defense with the UFO question has been done. Much is left to be done. Of course such official studies would be out of the public's ken and without a whisper about flying saucers.

Exactly when the military began a serious concerted effort to investigate UFOs is not clear. Reports were gather early on, but the order to interview Kenneth Arnold and Richard Rankin only went out to 4th Air Force on the 10th of July. In the Chronicle Section are numerous examples of sighting by military personnel for which reports were  not in official files (NIOF) .  The FBI did investigate the reports almost from the first. The FBI dropped out when J. Edgar Hoover found that the Air Force wanted to palm off the hoax "crashed discs" on the Bureau and leave the actual investigations for the Air Force.


Read more articles on this topic:

UFO Crashes & Retrievals