About ten o'clock in the morning, during September 1952, Kirtland AFB radar picked up an unidentified target approaching at about 700 miles per hour, then slowing to
about 100 miles per hour northeast of the airfield, over a sparsely settled area.
Unfortunately the radar station didn't have any height-finding equipment. The operators knew the direction of the target and its distance from the station but they
didn't know its altitude. They reported the target, and two F-86's were scrambled.
The radar picked up the F-86's soon after they were airborne, and had begun to direct them into the target when the target started to fade on the radarscope. At the
time, several of the operators thought that this fade was caused by the target losing altitude rapidly and getting below the radar's beam. Some of the other operators
thought that it was a high-flying target and that it was fading just because it was so high.
In the debate which followed, the proponents of the high-flying theory won out, and the F-86's were told to go up to 40,000 feet. But before the aircraft could get to
that altitude, the target had been completely lost on the radarscope.
The F-86's continued to search the area at 40,000 feet, but could see nothing. After a few minutes the aircraft ground controller called the F-86's and told one to
come down to 20,000 feet, the other to 5,000 feet, and continue the search. The two jets made a quick letdown, with one pilot stopping at 20,000 feet and the other
heading for the deck.
The second pilot, was descending to 5,000 feet and was just beginning to pull out when he noticed a flash below and ahead of him. He flattened out his dive a little
and headed toward the spot where he had seen the light. As he closed on the spot, he suddenly noticed what he first thought was a weather balloon. But a few seconds
later he realized that it couldn't be a balloon because it was staying ahead of him. Quite an achievement for a balloon, since he had built up a lot of speed in his
dive and now was flying almost straight and level at 3,000 feet and was traveling near the speed of sound ( about 768 mph. ).
Again the pilot pushed the nose of the F-86 down and started after the object. He closed fairly fast, until he came to within an estimated 1,000 yards. Now he could
get a good look at the object. Although it had looked like a balloon from above, a closer view showed that it was definitely saucer-shaped. The pilot
described it as being "like a doughnut without a hole."
As his rate of closure began to drop off, the pilot knew that the object was picking up speed. But he pulled in behind it and started to follow. Now he was right on
About this time the pilot began to get a little worried. What should he do? He tried to call his buddy, who was flying above him somewhere in the area at 20,000 feet.
He called two or three times but could get no answer. Next he tried to call the ground controller but he was too low for his radio to carry that far. Once more he
tried his buddy at 20,000 feet, but again no luck.
By now he had been following the object for about two minutes and during this time had closed the gap between them to approximately 500 yards. But this was only
momentary. Suddenly the object began to pull away, slowly at first, then faster. The pilot, realizing that he couldn't catch it wondered what to do next.
When the object traveled out about 1,000 yards, the pilot suddenly made up his mind and did the only thing that he could do to stop the UFO. It was like a David about
to do battle with a Goliath, but he had to take a chance. Quickly charging his guns, he started shooting . . . . A moment later the object pulled up into a climb and in
a few seconds it was gone. The pilot climbed to 10,000 feet, called the other F-86, and now was able to contact his buddy. They joined up and went back to their base.
As soon as he had landed and parked, the F-86 pilot went into operations to tell his story to his squadron commander. The mere fact that he had fired his guns was
enough to require a detailed report, as a matter of routine. But the circumstances under which the guns actually were fired created a major disturbance at the fighter
base that day.