Case 41

South Eastern
Winter 1967
Investigator: Levine

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A small bright object that divided into three parts was probably a weather balloon.


A meteorologist had stepped outdoors about 8:00 a.m. EST to make an observation when he noticed a small bright object high in the sky. He and two other witnesses observed that object through binoculars and with the unaided eye. The object was observed five minutes against clear sky, and then approximately seven minutes through thin cirrus clouds.

The object split into apparently three pieces when it was directly overhead. These three objects were observed for a short period; then two of them disappeared. The object had moved through an arc of 30° in about 12 min.

During the sighting, the High Altitude Control at an ARTC center indicated that they could not detect the UFO on radar.

A radiosonde balloon had been launched by the U. S. Weather Bureau 45 mi. west of the sighting at 6:25 a.m. EST. The balloon persisted until 7:59, when it was at an altitude of 30,600 m. and a slant range of 85,100 m. east. The horizontal range of the balloon was about 45 mi. The winds aloft at 80,000 and 90,000 ft. were from the east and inconsistent with the reported direction of motion. The winds at lower altitude were generally from the west, and therefore consistent with the eastward drift of the balloon.

If the observed object was at an altitude of 100,000 ft. the observed angular displacement of 30° in 12 mm. implies a speed of


about 20 mph. This is comparable with the reported wind speeds at similar altitudes: 80,000 ft., 20 knots; 90,000 ft., 8 knots; 100,000 ft., 6 knots.


The Weather Bureau stated that when such a balloon bursts, it splits into several parts which quickly disappear; then a parachute is deployed. This action fits the appearance of the UFO. The coincidence in time and location suggests that the witness had observed the balloon.