Ghost rockets

Ghost rockets

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Ghost Rockets Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

 Spøgelsesraketter (also called Scandinavian ghost rockets) were mysterious rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

- or missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

-shaped unidentified flying object
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

s sighted in 1946, mostly in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and nearby countries.

The first reports of ghost rockets were made on February 26, 1946, by Finnish observers. About 2,000 sightings were logged between May and December 1946, with peaks on the 9 and 11 August 1946. Two hundred sightings were verified with radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 returns, and authorities recovered physical fragments which were attributed to ghost rockets.

Investigations concluded that many ghost rocket sightings were probably caused by meteor
METEOR
METEOR is a metric for the evaluation of machine translation output. The metric is based on the harmonic mean of unigram precision and recall, with recall weighted higher than precision...

s. For example, the peaks of the sightings, on the 9 and 11 August 1946, also fall within the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower
Perseids
The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. The name derives in part from the word Perseides , a term found in Greek mythology...

. However, most ghost rocket sightings did not occur during meteor shower activity, and furthermore displayed characteristics inconsistent with meteors, such as reported maneuverability and being trackable on radar. (See descriptions immediately below)

Debate continues as to the origins of the unidentified ghost rockets. In 1946, however, it was thought likely that they originated from the former German rocket facility at Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

, and were long-range tests by the Russians of captured German V-1 or V-2
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 missiles, or perhaps another early form of cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

 because of the ways they were sometimes seen to maneuver. This prompted the Swedish Army
Swedish Army
The Swedish Army is one of the oldest standing armies in the world and a branch of the Swedish Armed Forces; it is in charge of land operations. General Sverker Göranson is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Army.- Organization :...

 to issue a directive stating that newspapers were not to report the exact location of ghost rocket sightings, or any information regarding the direction or speed of the object. This information, they reasoned, was vital for evaluation purposes to the nation or nations performing the tests.

However, some investigators for the Swedish military apparently believed the objects could not be conventionally explained, and instead hypothesized an extraterrestrial origin. (see below)

Descriptions and early investigations


The early Russian origins theory was rejected by Swedish, British, and U.S. military investigators because no recognizable rocket fragments were ever found, and according to some sightings the objects usually left no exhaust trail, some moved too slowly and usually flew horizontally, they sometimes traveled and maneuvered in formation, and they were usually silent.

The sightings most often consisted of fast-flying rocket- or missile- shaped objects, with or without wings, visible for mere seconds. Instances of slower moving cigar shaped objects are also known. A hissing or rumbling sound was sometimes reported.

Crashes were not uncommon, almost always in lakes. Reports were made of objects crashing into a lake, then propelling themselves across the surface before sinking, as well as ordinary crashes. The Swedish military performed several dives in the affected lakes shortly after the crashes, but found nothing other than occasional craters in the lake bottom or torn off aquatic plants.
The best known of these crashes occurred on July 19, 1946, into Lake Kölmjärv, Sweden. Witnesses reported a gray, rocket-shaped object with wings crashing in the lake. One witness interviewed heard a thunderclap, possibly the object exploding. However, a 3 week military search conducted in intense secrecy again turned up nothing.

Immediately after the investigation, the Swedish Air Force
Swedish Air Force
The Swedish Air Force is the air force branch of the Swedish Armed Forces.-History:The Swedish Air Force was created on July 1, 1926 when the aircraft units of the Army and Navy were merged. Because of the escalating international tension during the 1930s the Air Force was reorganized and expanded...

 officer who led the search, Karl-Gösta Bartoll (photo right), submitted a report in which he stated that the bottom of the lake had been disturbed but nothing found and that "there are many indications that the Kölmjärv object disintegrated itself...the object was probably manufactured in a lightweight material, possibly a kind of magnesium alloy that would disintegrate easily, and not give indications on our instruments." (Carpenter chronology, External links) When Bartoll was later interviewed in 1984 by Swedish researcher Clas Svahn, he again said their investigation suggested the object largely disintegrated in flight and insisted that "what people saw were real, physical objects."

On October 10, 1946, the Swedish Defense Staff
Swedish Armed Forces
The Swedish Armed Forces is a Swedish Government Agency responsible for the operation of the armed forces of the Realm. The primary task of the agency is to train, organize and to deploy military forces, domestically and abroad, while maintaining the long-term ability to defend the Realm in the...

 publicly stated, "Most observations are vague and must be treated very skeptically. In some cases, however, clear, unambiguous observations have been made that cannot be explained as natural phenomena, Swedish aircraft, or imagination on the part of the observer. Echo, radar, and other equipment registered readings but gave no clue as to the nature of the objects." It was also stated that fragments alleged to have come from the missiles were nothing more than ordinary coke or slag.

On December 3, 1946, a memo was drafted for the Swedish Ghost Rocket committee stating "nearly one hundred impacts have been reported and thirty pieces of debris have been received and examined by FOA
Swedish Defence Research Agency
The Swedish Defence Research Agency is a Swedish government agency for defence research that reports to the Ministry of Defence. It has its headquarters in Kista, Stockholm and other locations in Grindsjön south of Stockholm, Linköping and Umeå...

" (later said to be meteorite
Meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...

 fragments). Of the nearly 1000 reports that had been received by the Swedish Defense Staff to November 29, 225 were considered observations of "real physical objects" and every one had been seen in broad daylight.

U.S. involvement


In early August 1946 Swedish Lt. Lennart Neckman of the Defense Staff's Air Defense Division saw something that was "without a doubt ... a rocket projectile." On August 14, 1946, the New York Times reported that Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

 was "very much interested" in the ghost rocket reports, so was U.S. Army Air Force intelligence as indicated nonpublicly by later documents (Clark, 246). Then on August 20, the Times reported that two U.S. experts on aerial warfare, aviation legend General Jimmy Doolittle
Jimmy Doolittle
General James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle, USAF was an American aviation pioneer. Doolittle served as a brigadier general, major general and lieutenant general in the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War...

 and General David Sarnoff
David Sarnoff
David Sarnoff was an American businessman and pioneer of American commercial radio and television. He founded the National Broadcasting Company and throughout most of his career he led the Radio Corporation of America in various capacities from shortly after its founding in 1919 until his...

, president of RCA
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

, arrived in Stockholm, ostensibly on private business and independently of each other. The official explanation was that Doolittle, who was now vice-president of the Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil Company is the United States-based subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, a multinational oil company of Anglo Dutch origins, which is amongst the largest oil companies in the world. Approximately 22,000 Shell employees are based in the U.S. The head office in the U.S. is in Houston, Texas...

, was inspecting Shell branch offices in Europe, while Sarnoff, a former member of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

's London staff, was studying the market for radio equipment. However, the Times story indicated that the Chief of the Swedish Defense Staff, made no secret that he "was extremely interested in asking the two generals advice and, if possible, would place all available reports before them." (Carpenter chronology) Doolittle and Sarnoff were briefed that on several occasions the ghost rockets had been tracked on radar. Sarnoff was later quoted by the N.Y. Times on September 30 saying that he was "convinced that the 'ghost bombs' are no myth but real missiles."

On August 22, 1946, the director of the Central Intelligence Group. (CIG), Lt. Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg
Hoyt Vandenberg
Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg was a U.S. Air Force general, its second Chief of Staff, and second Director of Central Intelligence....

, wrote a Top Secret memo to President Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

, perhaps based in part on information from Doolittle and Sarnoff. Vandenberg stated that the "weight of evidence" pointed to Peenemünde as origin of the missiles, that US MA (military attaché) in Moscow had been told by 'key Swedish Air Officer' that radar course-plotting had led to conclusion that Peenemünde was the launch site. CIG speculates that the missiles are extended-range developments of V-1 being aimed for the Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland and the Archipelago Sea.-Name:...

 for test purposes and do not overfly Swedish territory specifically for intimidation; self destruct by small demolition charge or burning."

Nevertheless, there are no reports of rocket launches at Peenemünde or the Greifswalder Oie
Greifswalder Oie
Greifswalder Oie is a small island in the Baltic Sea, located east of Rügen on the German coast. The island covers an area of about 54 hectares.-History:...

 after February 21, 1945 (See also: List of V-2 test launches).

Swedish military opinion



Although the official opinion of the Swedish and U.S. military remains unclear, a Top Secret USAFE (United States Air Force Europe) document from 4 November 1948 (at right), indicates that at least some investigators believed the ghost rockets and later "flying saucers" had extraterrestrial origins. Declassified only in 1997, the document states:
"For some time we have been concerned by the recurring reports on flying saucers. They periodically continue to pop up; during the last week, one was observed hovering over Neubiberg
Neubiberg
Neubiberg is a municipality south-east of Munich, Germany, founded in 1912. It used to have an airport that was used as a Luftwaffe-base in the Third Reich and after the war as an U.S. airbase and in the following years as the German Air Force officer school. Today the largest part of the area is...

 Air Base for about thirty minutes. They have been reported by so many sources and from such a variety of places that we are convinced that they cannot be disregarded and must be explained on some basis which is perhaps slightly beyond the scope of our present intelligence thinking.

"When officers of this Directorate recently visited the Swedish Air Intelligence Service, this question was put to the Swedes. Their answer was that some reliable and fully technically qualified people have reached the conclusion that 'these phenomena are obviously the result of a high technical skill which cannot be credited to any presently known culture on earth.' They are therefore assuming that these objects originate from some previously unknown or unidentified technology, possibly outside the earth."


The document also mentioned a flying saucer crash search in a Swedish lake conducted by a Swedish naval salvage team, with the discovery of a previously unknown crater on the lake floor believed caused by the object (possibly referencing the Lake Kölmjärv search for a ghost rocket discussed above, though the date is unclear). The document ends with the statement that "we are inclined not to discredit entirely this somewhat spectacular theory [extraterrestrial origins], meantime keeping an open mind on the subject."

Greek government investigation


The "ghost rocket" reports were not confined to Scandinavian countries. Similar objects were soon reported early the following month by British Army units in Greece, especially around Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

. In an interview on September 5, 1946, the Greek Prime Minister, Konstantinos Tsaldaris
Konstantinos Tsaldaris
Konstantinos Tsaldaris was a Greek politician and twice Prime Minister of Greece.Tsaldaris was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He studied law at the University of Athens as well as Berlin, London and Florence...

, likewise reported a number of projectiles had been seen over Macedonia
Macedonia (Greece)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

 and Salonika on September 1. In mid-September, they were also seen in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, and then in Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

.

The Greek government conducted their own investigation, with their leading scientist, physicist Dr. Paul Santorini, in charge. Santorini had been a developer of the proximity fuze
Proximity fuze
A proximity fuze is a fuze that is designed to detonate an explosive device automatically when the distance to target becomes smaller than a predetermined value or when the target passes through a given plane...

 on the first A-bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 and held patents on guidance systems for Nike missile
Project Nike
Project Nike was a U.S. Army project, proposed in May 1945 by Bell Laboratories, to develop a line-of-sight anti-aircraft missile system. The project delivered the United States' first operational anti-aircraft missile system, the Nike Ajax, in 1953...

s and radar systems. Santorini was supplied by the Greek Army with a team of engineers to investigate what again were believed to be Russian missiles flying over Greece.

In a 1967 lecture to the Greek Astronomical Society, broadcast on Athens Radio, he first publicly revealed what had been found in his 1947 investigation. "We soon established that they were not missiles. But, before we could do any more, the Army, after conferring with foreign officials [U.S. Defense Dept.], ordered the investigation stopped. Foreign scientists [from Washington] flew to Greece for secret talks with me." Later Santorini told UFO researchers such as Raymond Fowler that secrecy was invoked because officials were afraid to admit of a superior technology against which we have "no possibility of defense."

Recent developments


In 2012, UFO-Sweden
UFO-Sweden
UFO-Sweden is a Swedish non-profit organization dedicated to the investigation of UFO sightings and/or alien contacts in Sweden. The organization was founded in 1970 and have 26 local groups all over Sweden with the central unit in Uppsala...

 will embark on an investigation into a “Ghost Rocket” sighting at a lake in an undisclosed location in the north of Sweden . The expedition headed by Clas Svahn chairman of UFO-Sweden, will consist of the original witnesses, members of UFO-Sweden and a professional diving team. The aim of the expedition is to scan the lake bed using a side-scan sonar
Side-scan sonar
Side-scan sonar is a category of sonar system that is used to efficiently create an image of large areas of the sea floor...

 attached to an inflatable boat
Inflatable boat
An inflatable boat is a lightweight boat constructed with its sides and bow made of flexible tubes containing pressurised gas. For smaller boats, the floor and hull beneath it is often flexible. On boats longer than , the floor often consists of three to five rigid plywood or aluminium sheets fixed...

 for any sign of foreign objects. The divers will document any findings using underwater camera equipment which will be released as part of a documentation project that is following UFO-Sweden's ongoing investigation into the phenomenon.

See also

  • List of major UFO sightings
  • Foo fighter
    Foo fighter
    The term foo fighter was used by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over both the European and Pacific Theater of Operations....

     WWII predecessor of ghost rockets
  • Unidentified flying objects

External links