1951 Aug/Sept, Texas, MA2 443

    The celebrated Lubbock Lights case from Project Blue Book:

    “When four college professors, a geologist, a chemist, a physicist, and a petroleum engineer, report seeing the same UFOs on fourteen different occasions, the event can be classified as, at least, unusual. Add the facts that hundreds of other people saw these UFOs and that they were photographed, and the story gets even better. Add a few more facts - that these UFOs were picked up on radar and that a few people got a close look at one of them, and the story begins to convince even the most ardent skeptics.

    This was the situation the day the reports of the Lubbock Lights arrived at ATIC. Actually the Lubbock Lights, as Project Blue Book calls them, involved many widespread reports. Some of these incidents are known to the public, but the ones that added the emphasis and intrigue to the case and caused hundreds of hours of time to be spent analyzing the reports have not been told before. We collected all of these reports under the one title because there appeared to be a tie-in between them.

    The first word of the sightings reached ATIC late in September 1951, when the mail girl dropped letters into my “in” basket. One of the letters was from Albuquerque, New Mexico, one was from a small town in Washington State, where I knew an Air Defense Command radar station was located, and the other from Reese AFB at Lubbock, Texas.

    I opened the Albuquerque letter first. It was a report from 34th Air Defense at Kirtland AFB. The report said that on the evening of August 25, 1951, an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission’s super secret Sandia Corporation and his wife had seen a UFO. About disk they were sitting in the back yard of their home on the outskirts of Albuquerque. They were gazing at the night sky, commenting on how beautiful it was, when both of them sere startled at the sight of a huge airplane flying swiftly and silently over their home. The airplane had been in sight only a few seconds but they had gotten a good look at it because it was so low. They estimated 800 to 1,000 feet. It was the shape of a “flying wing” and one and half times the size of a B-36. The wing was sharply swept back, almost like a V. Both the husband and wife had seen B-36s over their home many times. They couldn’t see the color of the UFO but they did notice that there were dark bands running across the wing from front to back. On the aft edge of the wings there were six to eight pairs of soft, glowing, bluish lights. The aircraft had passed over their house from north to south. 

    The report went on to say that an investigation had been made immediately. Since the object might have been a conventional airplane, air traffic was checked. A commercial airlines Constellation was 50 miles west of Albuquerque and an Air Force B-25 was south of the city, but there had been nothing over Albuquerque that evening. The man’s background was checked. He has a “Q” security clearance. This summed up his character, oddballs don’t get “Q” clearances. No one else had reported the UFO, but this could be explained by the fact that the AEC employee and his wife lived in such a location that anything passing over their home from north to south wouldn’t pass over or near very many other houses. A sketch of the UFO was enclosed in the report.

    I picked up the letter from Lubbock next. It was a thick report, and from the photographs that were attached, it looked interesting. I thumbed through it and stopped at the photos. The first thing that struck me was the similarity between these photos and the report I’d just read. They showed a series of lights in a V shape, very similar to those described as being on the aft edge of the “flying wing” that was reported from Albuquerque. This was something unique, so I read the report in detail. 

    On the Night of August 25, 1951, about 9:20pm, just twenty minutes after the Albuquerque sighting, four professors from Texas Technological College at Lubbock had observed a formation of soft, glowing, bluish-green lights pass over their home. Several hours later they saw a similar group of lights and in the next two weeks they saw at least ten more. On August 31 an amateur photographer had taken five photos of the lights. Also on the thirty-first two ladies had seen a large “aluminum-colored,” “pear-shaped” object hovering near a road north of Lubbock. The report went into the details of these sightings and enclosed a set of the photos that had been taken.

    This report, in itself, was a good UFO report, but the similarity to the Albuquerque sighting, both in the description of the object and the time that it was seen was truly amazing. 

    I almost overlooked the report from the radar station because it was fairly short. It said that early on the morning of August 26, only a few hours after the Lubbock sighting, two different radars had shown a target traveling 900 miles per hour at 13,000 feet on a northwesterly heading. The target had been observed for six minutes and an F-86 jet interceptor had been scrambled but by the time the F-86 had climbed into the air the target was gone. The last paragraph in the report was rather curt and to the point. It was apparently in anticipation of the comments the report would draw. It said that the target was not caused by weather. The officer in charge of the radar station and several members of his crew had been operating radar for seven years and they could recognize a weather target. This target was real.

    I quickly took out a map of the United States and drew in a course line between Lubbock and the radar station. A UFO flying between these two points would be on a northwesterly heading and the times it was seen at the two places gave it a speed of roughly 900 miles per hour. 

   *Site Editor’s Note: When double checking and calculating the time of travel from Albuquerque, NM, to Lubbock, TX, traveling at 900mph, it ends up being 21 minutes.

   This was by far the best combination of UFO reports I’d ever read and I’d read every one of the Air Force’s files.

  The first thing I did after reading the reports was to rush a set of the Lubbock photos to the intelligence officer of the 24th Air Division in Albuquerque. I asked him to show the photos to the AEC employee and his wife without telling them what they were. I requested an answer by wire. Later the next day I received my answer: “Observers immediately said that this is what they saw on the night of 25 August. Details by airmail.” The details were a sketch the man and his wife had made of a wing around the photo of the Lubbock Lights. The number of lights in the photo and the number of lights the two observers had seen on the wing didn’t tally, but they explained this by saying that they could have been wrong in their estimate.
    The next day I flew to Lubbock to see if I could find an answer to all of these mysteries happenings. 

    I arrived in Lubbock about 5:00pm and contacted the intelligence officer at Reese AFB. He knew that I was on my way and had already set up a meeting with the four professors. Right after dinner we met them. If a group had been hand-picked to observe a UFO, we couldn’t have picked a more technically qualified group of people. They were: Dr. W. I. Robinson, Professor of Geology. Dr. A. G. Oberg, Professor of Chemical Engineering. Professor W. L. Ducker, Head of the Petroleum Engineering Department. Dr. George, Professor of Physics.  This is their story: 

    On the evening of August 25 the four men were sitting in Dr. Robinson’s back yard. They were discussing micrometeorites and drinking tea. They joking stressed this point. At 9:20pm a formation of lights streaked across the sky directly over their heads. It all happened so fast that none of them had a chance to get a good look. One of the men mentioned that he had always admonished his students for not being more observant; now he was in that spot. He and his colleagues realized they could remember only a few details of what they had seen. The lights were a weird bluish-green color and they were in a semicircular formation. They estimated that there were from fifteen to thirty separate lights and that they were moving from north to south. Their one wish at this time was that the lights would reappear. They did; about an hour later the lights went over again. This time the professors were a little better prepared. With the initial shock worn off, they had time to get a better look. The details they had remembered from the first flight checked. There was one difference; in this flight the lights were not in any orderly formation, they were just in a group. 

    The professors reasons that if the UFOs appeared twice they might come back. Come back they did. The next night and apparently many times later, as the professors made twelve more observations during the next few weeks. For these later sightings they added two more people to their observing team. 

    Being methodical, as college professors are, they made every attempt to get a good set of data. They measured the angle through wich the objects traveled and timed them. The several lights they checked traveled through 90 degrees of the sky in three seconds, or 30 degrees per second. The lights usually suddenly appeared 45 degrees above the northern horizon, and abruptly went out 45 degrees above the southern horizon. They always traveled in this north-to-south direction. Outside of the first flight, in which the objects were in a roughly semicircular formation, in none of the rest of the flights did they note any regular patterns. Two or three flights were often seen in one night. 

     They had tried to measure the altitude, with no success. First they tried to compare the lights to the height of clouds but the clouds were never near the lights, or vice versa. Next they tried a more elaborate scheme. They measured off a base line perpendicular to the objects’ usual flight path. Friends of the professors made up two teams. Each of the two teams was equipped with elevation-measuring devices and one team was stationed at each end of the base line. The two teams were linked together by two-way radios. If they sighted the objects they would track and time them, thus getting the speed and altitude. 

    Unfortunately neither team ever saw the lights. But the lights never seemed to want to run the course. The wives of some of the watchers claimed to have seen them from their homes in the city. This later proved to be a clue. 

     The professors were not the sole observers of the mysterious lights. For two weeks hundreds of other people for miles around Lubbock reported that they saw the same lights. The professors checked many of these reports against the times of the flights they had seen and recorded, and many checked out close. They attempted to question these observers as to the length of time they had seen the lights and angles at which they had seen them, but the professors learned what I already knew, people are poor observers. 

     Naturally there has been much discussion among the professors and their friends as to the nature of the lights. A few simple mathematical calculations showed that if the lights were very high they would be traveling very fast. The possibility that they were some natural phenomena was, of course, discussed and seriously considered. The professors did a lot of thinking and research and decided that if they were natural phenomena they were something completely altogether new. Dr. George, who has since died, studied the phenomena of the night sky during his years as a professor at the University of Alaska, and he had never seen or heard of anything like this before. 


- The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, p. 96-110.