and stampede cattle. Yet in every case of a green fireball sighting the observers reported that they did not hear any sound.
But the biggest mystery of all was the fact that no particles of a green fireball had ever been found. If they were meteorites, Dr. La Paz was positive that he would have found one. He'd missed very few times in the cases of known meteorites. He pulled a map out of his file to show me what he meant. It was a map that he had used to plot the spot where a meteorite had hit the earth. I believe it was in Kansas. The map had been prepared from information he had obtained from dozens of people who had seen the meteorite come flaming toward the earth. At each spot where an observer was standing he'd drawn in the observer's line of sight to the meteorite. From the dozens of observers he had obtained dozens of lines of sight. The lines all converged to give Dr. La Paz a plot of the meteorite's downward trajectory. Then he had been able to plot the spot where it had struck the earth. He and his crew went to the marked area, probed the ground with long steel poles, and found the meteorite.
This was just one case that he showed me. He had records of many more similar successful expeditions in his file.
Then he showed me some other maps. The plotted lines looked identical to the ones on the map I'd just seen. Dr. La Paz had used the same techniques on these plots and had marked an area where he wanted to search. He had searched the area many times but he had never found anything.
These were plots of the path of a green fireball.
When Dr. La Paz had finished, I had one last question, "What do you think they are?"
He weighed the question for a few seconds--then he said that all he cared to say was that he didn't think that they were a natural phenomenon. He thought that maybe someday one would hit the earth and the mystery would be solved. He hoped that they were a natural phenomenon.
After my talk with Dr. La Paz I can well understand his apparent calmness on the night of September 18, 1954, when the newspaper reporter called him to find out if he planned to investigate this latest green fireball report. He was speaking from experience, not indifference, when he said, "But I don't expect to find anything."
If the green fireballs are back, I hope that Dr. La Paz gets an answer this time.
The story of the UFO now goes back to late January 1949, the time when the Air Force was in the midst of the green fireball mystery. In another part of the
country another odd series of events was taking place. The center of activity was a highly secret area that can't be named, and the recipient of the UFO's,
which were formations of little lights, was the U.S. Army.
The series of incidents started when military patrols who were protecting the area began to report seeing formations of lights flying through the night sky. At first the lights were reported every three or four nights, but inside of two weeks the frequency had stepped up. Before long they were a nightly occurrence. Some patrols reported that they had seen three or four formations in one night. The sightings weren't restricted to the men on patrol. One night, just at dusk, during retreat, the entire garrison watched a formation pass directly over the post parade ground.
As usual with UFO reports, the descriptions of the lights varied but the majority of the observers reported a V formation of three lights. As the formation moved through the sky, the lights changed in color from a bluish white to orange and back to bluish white. This color cycle took about two seconds. The lights usually traveled from west to east and made no sound. They didn't streak across the sky like a meteor, but they were "going faster than a jet." The lights were "a little bigger than the biggest star." Once in a while the GI's would get binoculars on them but they couldn't see any more details. The lights just looked bigger.
From the time of the first sighting, reports of the little lights were being sent to the Air Force through Army Intelligence channels. The reports were getting to ATIC, but the green fireball activity was taking top billing and no comments went back to the Army about their little lights. According to an Army G-2 major to whom I talked in the Pentagon, this silence was taken to mean that no action, other than sending in reports, was necessary on the part of the Army.
But after about two weeks of nightly sightings and no apparent action by the Air Force, the commander of the installation decided to take the initiative and set a trap. His staff worked out a plan in record time. Special UFO patrols would be sent out into the security area and they would be furnished with sighting equipment. This could be the equipment that they normally used for fire control. Each patrol would be sent to a specific location and would set up a command post. Operating out of the command post, at points where the sky could be observed, would be sighting teams. Each team had sighting equipment to measure the elevation and azimuth angle of the UFO. Four men were to be on each team, an instrument man, a timer, a recorder, and a radio operator. All the UFO patrols would be assigned special radio frequencies.
The operating procedure would be that when one sighting team spotted a UFO the radio operator would call out his team's location, the location of the UFO in the sky, and the direction it was going. All of the other teams from his