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In part 2 of this series we will revisit the very early years of the Cold War (well actually just one) and look at what the ‘official’ files and
statements from governments, the military and civil authorities tell us about UFOs during the period covering Kenneth Arnold’s sighting, Roswell and
the UFO Wave of 1947.
If you missed part 1 which looked at the Battle of LA 1942 (which happened 75 years ago this month), Foo Fighters and the Scandinavian Ghost Rocket
Phenomenon then please see this link: UFOs ‘Official’ History Part 1 : Before the
Now I was going to go into the early 1950s in this particular part. However I am aware of the significance of what went down in 1947 and how one
particular case will probably dominate any debate. Plus I’d been having PC trouble for a while which slowed me down substantially.
So this part focuses solely upon one year – 1947.
1947 – Operation ‘Charlie’
In the bitterly frozen winter of early 1947, the night of January 16th,
Britain’s radar defence operators began to twitch because of an object being tracked at 38,000ft. It descended towards the Eastern coast of England
and appeared to briefly stop then race at speeds of 400mph – 1000mph on radar scopes.
An RAF Mosquito was repeatedly sent in pursuit of the object for some 30 min. or more. But the target was finally lost on radar scopes inland over
Norfolk. This was by no means the only intrusion and there was serious concern about these mysterious incursions into British airspace. These phantom
aircraft seemed to evade the Mosquito fighters with ease. The Mosquito pilot was able to confirm a radar contact but was never able to make a visual
Above : Reports reached the British newspapers in May of 1947 with the UK Air Ministry denying there was any evidence to
support the ‘ghost plane’ stories.
These ‘ghost planes’ became the subject of ‘Operation Charlie’. An unofficial name for the Air Ministry’s investigation into the mysterious
object. No satisfactory explanation was ever given for the incidents. The lack of any conclusion to the investigation was to secretly influence
military policy on both sides of the Atlantic when, months later, “flying saucers” began to hit the news wires.
A later USAF inquiry offered the solution as a “..possible temperature inversion”, without any real evidence this was the case.
In conclusion “Operation Charlie” remains an unknown 70 years later. Had the incidents occurred in the summer of 1947 then perhaps ‘Charlie’
would have been dubbed as a flying saucer. It also seems to have the hallmarks of Project
Palladium. Palladium was an early secret study of the effect of radar and electronic counter measures which allowed the CIA to create and
control ‘ghost’ images on enemy radar. However, to this day, no one seems to have admitted to any such experiments regarding Operation Charlie.
For a full report on Operation Charlie see Martin Shough’s excellent analysis: Operation
Charlie (Free pdf)
1947 – The Coming of the Saucers
1947 is often viewed as year zero in modern UFO history. There were many sightings
of unexplained aerial phenomena in early to mid -1947. The Ghost Rockets reports (covered in part 1 of this series of posts) continued to come in from
Scandinavia and objects were being reported all over the world.
On Feb 6th 1947 five strange objects in formation were seen heading south at rapid speeds above the skies of Port Augusta, Australia.
In April of 1947 sightings of disc craft were reported in France. One disc was described as 30m in diameter seen from about 400m away, it vanished as
it ascended on an almost vertical path upwards.
There is also a well documented UFO case that lies on record from Richmond, Virginia in April 1947 and recorded in Project Grudge as Incident No.
A weather bureau observer at the Richmond Station observed on three different occasions, during a six month period prior to April, 1947, a disc-like
metal chrome object. All sightings were made through a theodolite while making pibal [balloon] observations.
On the last reported sighting, the balloon was at 15,000 feet altitude, the disc followed for 15 seconds. It was shaped like an ellipse with a flat
level bottom and a dome-like top. The altitude and the speed were not estimated, but the object, allegedly through the instrument, appeared larger
than the balloon.
Another observer at the same station saw a similar object under corresponding circumstances, with the exception that her balloon was at an altitude of
27,000 feet and possessed a dull-metallic lustre. There was good visibility on days of observation. Report of this sighting was not submitted until 22
Project Astronomer’s Opinion: There is no astronomical explanation for this incident, which, however, deserves considerable attention, because of
the experience of the observers and the fact that the observation was made through a theodolite and that comparison could be made with a pibal
balloon. The observers had, therefore, a good estimate of altitude, of relative size, and of speed – much more reliable than those given in most
More reports would follow. On May 5th 1947 – Seattle, Washington a silver object streaked across the sky leaving a strange pillar of gas hanging in
the sky. Two weeks later a round white object was seen travelling at an estimated 3 times the speed of sound over Oklahoma City.
By early June sightings were even being made in India (clip above from Times of India – 9th June 1947). Although perhaps in this case it
really was a comet people across the world were starting to notice things in the skies.
But it would not be until Kenneth Arnold’s report of craft ‘skipping like saucers…..’ that the wave of 1947’ flying disks (or saucers) would
really capture the imagination of the public and the attention of the military.
Further reading : The Day Before Roswell
edit on 15/2/17 by mirageman because: edit