Report on Project Mogul
Synopsis of Balloon Research Findings
by JAMES McANDREW, 1st Lt, USAFR
THE ROSWELL INCIDENT
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 Incident."
1. Roswell Daily Record, Jul 9,1947, p.1.
2. Intvw, Col Richard L. Weaver with Lt Col Sheridan Cavitt, USAF (Ret), May 24,1994.
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,
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
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 project.
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, sect II),p.5.
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
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).
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
38. Kevin Randall and Donald Schmitt, UFO Crash at Roswell (New York, 1991),
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 Attachment 10.
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
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.
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
Attachments (not available in this online version, but available from the US Government):
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