Case 36

South Mountain

Fall 1967

Investigator: Wadsworth

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Four independent witnesses saw a glowing, rapidly moving object that was evidently a "fireball" meteor.


A University Professor in the South Mountain area supplied statements from four apparently independent witnesses of an aerial event for possible interest.

  1. About 9:05 a.m., a man on a golf course six miles east of the city saw a glowing yellow and blue-green cylindrical object cross the sky northward at high speed.
  2. About 9:00 a.m., a commercial pilot flying about six miles southeast of the city saw a glowing yellow and blue-green cylindrical object travelling northward on a descending path at very high speed. It exploded or deteriorated in midair as it approached the White Mountain area. He judged it was a meteor.
  3. About 9:00 a.m., a rancher and mine-mill worker, north of town, saw a very bright object travelling at high speed northward on a descending path. It exploded in the air.
  4. About 10:00 a.m. a mining assayer driving west on the highway six miles east of town saw a cylindrical object glowing a metallic blue-green as it passed in front of him, travelling northward at high speed.

Sighting Features:

The four sightings are summarized in Table 5. The preponderance of similar features indicates a single event. Only in the


Table 5

NCAS Editors' Note: We have reversed the row and column orientation of this table in the interest of readability
Sighting 1 2 3 4
Time 9:05 a.m. 9:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m.
Location 6 mi. E of city 6 mi. SE of N of city 6 mi. E of city
Shape Cylinder Cylinder -- Cylinder
Color Brilliant yellow body surrounded by blue green welding color Bright yellow core, blue-green shell Glowing (no specific color) Metallic blue-green glowing
Size 200 ft. long 3 ft. diam. --- --- 4 ft. long
Speed Very fast Very fast Very fast Very fast
Path Northward descending toward White Mt. Northward descending 45° toward White Mt. Northward descending Northward straight toward White Mt.
Duration 2-3 sec. --- --- 2-3 sec.
Distance 1 mi. 1 mi. Appeared quite far away (couldn't estimate) 150 ft. ahead of car
Disappearance Vanished on course toward base of mountains Exploded or deteriorated in air --- ---
Other Short tapered tail Short tail Thought it was meteor --- May have had a tail or exhaust


fourth sighting is there some reason for doubt. The discrepancies in distance and size are hardly significant because such estimates are characteristically inaccurate. Further, these are consistent in that the ratios of size to distance estimated by witness I and II are roughly similar. These two witnesses were very near each other, and their accounts are similar except for the one hour discrepancy in time. However, witness I was prompted to report his experience by hearing a report of witness IV's experience on the radio, and so may have been influenced by it.

The time discrepancy of one hour has not been accounted for. The preponderance of evidence indicates an error in the time reported by witness IV, but is just as possible that two meteoric fragments came in on similar patterns an hour apart.

Reports of the first and fourth sightings were sent to Dr. Charles P. Olivier of the American Meteor Society, who stated that both accounts showed "every indication of being rather typical daylight fireball reports."


It is concluded that probably a single event was witnessed by four observers, and that the object was a "fireball" meteor.