Blue Book memorandum by Dr. J. Allen Hynek
17 Oct. 1956


SUBJECT: (C) Evaluation of Lakenheath Reports

1. The original Lakenheath reprts and the preliminary evaluations made by ATIC were submitted to the undersigned for examination, evaluation and comment. Writer requested permission to discuss these with Dr. F. L. Whipple, Harvard University, and director of Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in view of the fact that the sightings occurred at the time of Perseid meteors and Dr. Whipple is a world-recognized authority on meteors. Following comments will accordingly be invited to cover the three points separately.

3. It is to be regretted that so unusual a sighting report did not contain more factual material on which to base an evaluation. The Lakenheath report is one of the more unusual reports, involving electronic and visual observations and subsequent pursuit by fighter plane. Yet, report does not state whether it was definitely established that visual and electronic sightings referred to same object, or even if they occurred precisely simultaneously. Further, report does not give exact weather information which might enable one to charge weather conditions, with any precision relative to "anomalous propagation" such as frequently occurs with radars.

3. It would be of extreme value to have independent statements from the various observers both at Bentwaters and Lakenheath. Report states that observers were traffic controllers and intelligence specialists. An analyst would be greatly aided by having independent statements from such highly trained observers, as the original report indicates the observers were.

4. The implication of the original report is that the objects were sighted simultaneously by ground-visual, air-electronic and ground-electronic means. Yet, report nowhere states stellar magnitude of visual sightings or nature of radar blips. Angular rate of motion of objects is likewise not included.

5. With the above in mind, the preliminary report submitted by Capt. Gregory covers the case as well as it possibly could under the circumstances. The present writer, upon more detailed examination of the report, and accepting the implications of the original report in the absence of specific statements, is led to differ somewhat from preliminary report. It seems highly unlikely, for instance, that the Perseid meteors could have been the cause of the sightings