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For years ufologists have studied accounts of the unidentified Green Fireball objects over New Mexico.

Since the late 1940s thousands of people in New Mexico have apparently witnessed them, and they have often been described as “green flares”.

New Mexico is the US  state which is famous for another of it’s towns, also concerning UFO’s – Roswell.

Press reports of an incident on September 18, 1954 described one as being a “blinding green” fireball the size of a full moon. The object had silently streaked across Colorado and northern New Mexico at 8.40 pm, lighting up the dark New Mexico sky. It passed over a crowded football stadium at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and witnesses in Denver said it “turned night into day.”  Thousands of people are alleged to have seen the fireball that night. The crew of a TWA airliner flying into Albuquerque from Amarillo, Texas, also saw it. Every police and newspaper switchboard in the two-state area was jammed with calls from witnesses.

The first reports began being reported in November 1948, and the first mentioned only a “green streak in the sky” which was spotted low on the horizon. From the description given in those first sightings the objects were written off as merely flares.

The Reports of Sightings Continued…

Albuquerque New Mexico

Albuquerque New Mexico

As the days passed the reports of sightings continued. At 9:27 P.M. on December 5 , 1948,  Captain Goede was flying an Air Force C-47 at 18,000 feet 10 miles east of Albuquerque when suddenly the crew were startled by a green ball of fire flashing across the sky ahead of them. It looked somewhat similar to huge meteor except that it was a bright green color and it didn’t arch downward, as meteors usually do. The crew agreed to report the incident because they had seen a similar object twenty-two minutes earlier near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The captain of Pioneer Airlines Flight 63 called Kirtland Tower at 9.35 P.M. to report a similar incident. He too had seen a green ball of fire just east of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The object seemed to approach the airplane head on, changing color from orange red to green. As it became bigger and bigger, the captain thought it was going to collide with them so he tracked the DC-3 up in a tight turn. As the green ball of fire got abreast of them it began to fall toward the ground, getting dimmer and dimmer until it disappeared. But it took the captain & crew only a split second to realize that whatever they saw was too low and had too flat a trajectory to be a meteor.

Additional reported sightings began being phoned in from all over northern New Mexico. By morning a full-fledged investigation was under way, and the military was getting a little edgy.

Meteoritics Specialists Were Called In…..

Modern-Day photo of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Town

Modern-Day photo of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Town

Since the green fireballs bore some resemblance to meteors or meteorites, the Kirtland intelligence officers decided to call in specialist Dr. Lincoln La Paz. Dr.  La Paz, world-famous authority on meteorites and head of the University of New Mexico’s Institute of Meteoritics, told a reporter that he would plot its course, try to determine where it landed, and go out and try to find it. “But,” he said to the reporter at the time, “I don’t expect to find anything.” He said the description of the fireballs was similar to that of meteorites, but in order to prove the green fireballs were meteorites it would be necessary to plot the point at which they would strike the earth.

After studying many sightings they finally plotted where they should have struck the earth and searched the area, but found nothing. They went back over the area time and time again, but found nothing. Dr. La Paz later was quoted as saying that this was the first time that he seriously doubted the green fireballs were meteorites.


Main Street of Roswell, New Mexico (Modern Day)

Main Street of Roswell, New Mexico (Modern Day)

Within a few more days the fireballs were appearing almost on a nightly basis. The intelligence officers from Kirtland decided that they would try to get a good look at one of them, and so on the night of December 8 two officers took off in an airplane just before dark and began to cruise around north of Albuquerque in search of the phenomenon. They had a carefully worked out plan whereby each man would observe certain details if they saw one of the green fireballs. At 6:33 P.M. they saw one.

This is their report.

At 6:33 P.M. while flying at an indicated altitude of 11,500 feet, a strange phenomenon was observed. Exact position of the aircraft at time of the observation was 20 miles east of the Las Vegas, N.M., radio range station. With me as copilot, and the aircraft on a compass course of 90 degrees. I first observed the object and a split second later the pilot saw it. It was 2,000 feet higher than the plane, and was approaching the plane at a rapid rate of speed from 30 degrees to the left of our course. The object was similar in appearance to a burning green flare, the kind that is commonly used in the Air Force. However, the light was much more intense and the object appeared considerably larger than a normal flare. At first sight, the trajectory of the object was almost flat and parallel to the earth. The phenomenon lasted about 2 seconds. At the end of this time the object seemed to begin to burn out and the trajectory then dropped off rapidly. The phenomenon was of such intensity as to be visible from the very moment it ignited“.

Back at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base all incoming UFO reports were being reviewed in order to see if the green fireball reports were unique to the Albuquerque area. They were. Although many other UFO reports were coming in from other parts of the U.S., none matched the description of the green fireballs.

Throughout December 1948 and January 1949 the green fireballs continued to be sighted over the New Mexico skies. By this time everyone, including the intelligence officers at Kirtland, Air Defense Command people, Dr. La Paz, and some of the most distinguished scientists at Los Alamos had personally seen at least one. The interested parties had done everything they could think of and yet still had no explanation or  answer.

1949 Conference at Los Alamos…

Dr. Lincoln LaPaz and Clyde Tombaugh at a meeting, 03/03/1954

Dr. Lincoln LaPaz and Clyde Tombaugh at a meeting, 03/03/1954

In mid-February 1949 a conference was held at Los Alamos to determine what should be done to further pursue the matter.  Notable scientists such as Dr. Joseph Kaplan, a world-renowned authority on the physics of the upper atmosphere, Dr. Edward Teller of H-bomb fame, and of course Dr. La Paz attended, along with a lot of senior military & Air Force personnel, intelligence people at Kirtland, people from Project Sign and scientists from Los Alamos.

By that time almost everyone at the meeting had seen the strange green phenomenon.

There have been reports of green fireballs outside the U.S. and often near sensitive government or military bases: Randles and Houghe* note in their book that a Royal Air Force pilot had a near collision with three unusual green fireballs near Manchester, England, and were also sighted near a nuclear power plant in Suffolk in 1983.


The Complete Book of UFOs: An Investigation into Alien Contact and Encounters;
*By Jenny Randles and Peter Houghe;
Sterling Publishing Co, Inc, 1994; ISBN 0-8069-8132-6

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Karen Banting

About Karen Banting

Karen Banting has written 26 posts in this blog.

Karen is an author & blogger with a lifelong interest in science & the paranormal.

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