The Fort Monmouth UFO Incident – A Case Study

First Published: January 13, 2019 Last updated: February 9th, 2019 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 17 minutes Posted in: Editorials

The UFO incident tracked from Fort Monmouth is one of the most detailed not to mention authentic UFO incidents on record. Not least due to the barrage of released official documents due to Freedom of Information requests. The events of September 1951 are perhaps one of the most important on record, and still of interest to researchers nearly seventy years later. The sighting was also one of the few UFO sightings of the late-forties and early-fifties to be officially investigated under Project Grudge, a project under the US Air Force to investigate such UFO sightings. Although the project had officially come to end in December 1949, it was still operating until late-1951 around the time of the Fort Monmouth incident. With UFO sightings, coincidentally or not, being investigated in absolute secrecy shortly after.

1951 Fort Monmouth New Jersey

The more we examine the Fort Monmouth UFO sighting, the more it appears to be a case that has been perfectly glossed over. As ever, the real question is not whether something occurred or not. The real question is what occurred over those two days in question over New Jersey? And perhaps more to the point, as we will see, why was there an effort to cover-up the events so intensely by the very departments whose remit it was to investigate such incidents.

In short, only years after the Roswell Crash and with the “UFO Craze” still in its infancy, the Fort Monmouth Incident is one that tells us UFO activity stretches back at least to the second half of the twentieth century. And most likely, long before that. And furthermore, New Jersey still attracts UFO sightings today, with 51 confirmed sightings throughout 2018 alone. Perhaps whatever was there in the fifties, remains there today?

All times used are Standard Eastern Time unless otherwise indicated.

Two Confirmed Sightings In Seventeen Minutes

On the morning of 10th September 1951, at 11:18 am at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, an Army Signal Corps student radar operator, Eugene Clark noticed something strange on his radar monitor. An unidentified object that moved so fast the automatic setting mode couldn’t keep up with it. If he had wanted to keep this anomaly to himself, he had little opportunity. By pure coincidence, several visiting high-ranking officers were stood right behind his station when the bizarre object showed on the screen. All watched, apparently in as much amazement as the young student.

The object took only seconds to travel up the north-east coast of the United States. Estimates would suggest it was traveling at a speed of at least 700 miles per hour. The strange object would disappear off the radar screen somewhere near Sandy Hook. And very close to the city of New York. Urgent and dramatic debate filled the room immediately following. Then, seventeen minutes later at 11:35 am, came a visual sighting just south of Sandy Hook. And what’s more, the witnesses were two US Air Force pilots in the air in their T-33 Jet.

The pair, Lieutenant Wilbert Rogers, who piloted the jet, and Major Edward Ballard Jr., who was in the rear seat, were flying northward at an altitude of 20,000 feet over Point Pleasant, New Jersey. They were heading towards Sandy Hook when they encountered the mystery craft.

They would give chase to the object for over thirty miles which according to their estimates, traveled in excess of 900 miles per hour. Rogers would later state that he didn’t “know if it was a flying saucer, but it sure was something I’ve never seen before”. Both he and Ballard were certain they had witnessed something quite extraordinary. And most likely, otherworldly.

It Was “Banking Left” And Was “Too Fast” To Be A Balloon!

It was as they made their way towards Sandy Hook that Rogers would spot a “dull, silvery object” passing beneath them and moving in the opposite direction. He would estimate it to be around 12,000 feet below their height, which would put the strange craft at an altitude of around 8,000 feet. As Rogers spoke to his co-pilot, even tilting the plane slightly to the left so as to keep the object in sight, their conversation spewed from the speakers in the control tower. Records exist of this conversation. And what’s more, it shows that both of the pilots were alert and completely aware of the bizarre scene unfolding around them.

They would describe the object as “discus-like” and between thirty to fifty feet wide. Both pilots, incidentally, would also reject the notion offered from the control tower that the object they were witnessing was merely a “balloon” stating it simply moved “too fast” to be such an object. Besides which, it was purposely “banking left” which a balloon wouldn’t do, and certainly not at that pace.

By the time the object had completed a 90-degree turn, it was obvious it was heading out to sea. Rogers would attempt to follow the object. But while he had lowered his altitude to 17,000 feet, he was still nearly 10,000 feet above it. And what’s more, he was losing pace with it. Eventually, it disappeared out of sight. He would add later that, from memory, a trained, military one at that, the object was “perfectly round” as well flat aside from a raised center section.

While the incident itself, at least for now, was over. The investigation and world’s glare wasn’t. Not by a long way.

1951 Fort Monmmouth

The Balloon Theory Doesn’t Support Its Own Weight!

The notion that the object was a balloon, based on the report’s notes of the radar operator during the initial sighting, is one that doesn’t support the weight of its own scrutiny. The radar operator would note how “unusually strong” the radar return was for this strange anomaly. So strong, in fact, that it was “comparable to that usually received from a coastal ship”. What’s more, the operator in question at first believed the return was from a ship off the east coast of the United States. Only when he noticed just how fast the object was moving did he realize it wasn’t a ship. In short, whatever it was, it wasn’t only moving extremely quickly, but it was huge in size – an anomaly in itself.

In fact, so fast was the object moving, that radar operators (a second operator also began to track the object shortly after it appeared) had to switch to manual tracking “in order to hold the target”. They would continue to do this for the “maximum tracking range of 32,000 yards”. Furthermore, the object was moving “at a speed several hundred miles per hour higher than the maximum aided tracking ability of the radar sets”.

In short, then, that it might have been an incident due to radar operator error was ruled out, as both operators quite obviously tracked the same object and experienced the same difficulties in doing so. And with that in mind, equipment error can also be ruled out, as both radar controls ran as exactly as they should have given their capabilities. That the two operators’ sighting was the same as the object seen by the two experienced aircraft pilots is almost beyond doubt.

Military Insistence The Object “Was A Balloon!”

Perhaps one of the most significant things in relation to the case is the new person in charge of Project Grudge, the department who would investigate such sightings, Edward Ruppelt. He would look at the Fort Monmouth case, not only with fresh eyes but a refreshingly open mind. And while he certainly erred on the side of caution, he also had solid respect for the testimony of such experienced pilots as Rogers and Ballard.

However, largely on the “expertise” of one of his most trusted colleagues, Henry Metscher, he too would officially conclude that what the pilots and the radar operators had witnessed was merely a balloon. In a report from 30th November 1951, it would state that “at approximately 11:12 am 10th September 1951, two balloons were released from the Evans Signal Laboratory, New Jersey”. Furthermore, by the time of the sightings by the two jet pilots, they would have “…moved into a position nearly in line with Point Pleasant”.

Incidentally, Air Force records do indeed show that military balloons were in the same location as the T-33 jet. However, they indicate that their altitude was much higher than that of the anomalous object. In fact, they were almost at the same height as the jet itself, at 18,000 feet. Furthermore, as opposed to descending, both balloons would continue to rise until a height of 104,000 feet where they promptly burst.

While the military would persist with the balloon theory, given increasingly more convenient explanations with each corroborating expert they brought in, the pilots would remain steadfast with their initial claims of a disc-shaped craft, very much of the nuts-and-bolts variety.

1951 Monmouth UFO

Further Immediate Sightings Over Fort Monmouth

Only hours after the incident on the afternoon of the 10th September, another sighting occurred. According to Ruppelt’s report, at 3:15 pm, once more at Fort Monmouth “an excited almost frantic call from headquarters” came through to the radar control room. They were to “pick up a target” in the same place where the mysterious object had vanished earlier. And they were “to pick it up in a hurry”.

When they did pick it up it was “traveling slowly at 93,000 feet”. Furthermore, they would have several officers go outside to attempt visual identification. Shockingly, they could indeed see the object as a “silver speck” in the afternoon sky. As Ruppelt asked in his report “What flies eighteen miles above the Earth?

The next day, yet another pair of radar sightings took place. Neither could be tracked automatically such was their speed. And both would “climb, level off, climb again, (and then) go into a dive”. Furthermore, “when it climbed, it went almost straight up”. Certainly not behavior that could be attributed to any known conventional aircraft of its day. Or even, for that matter, today. The second sighting was, like the previous afternoon, of a much slower moving object which remained in range for several minutes before it too vanished.

The Quiet Importance Of Republic Aviation

Although we know today the timeline of the incidents surrounding the Fort Monmouth incident, at the time, the full intention was to keep the incident well away from the press until it had been seen by Major General Cabell. This was in accordance with several new, and in reality, rushed regulations in response to sightings of “unconventional aircraft” by Air Force personnel. Not only were they to report such sightings immediately, but reports should be maintained at a strict confidential level until other instructions were received. In short, knowledge of any incidents should be denied and certainly not passed to the press or media.

However, it would appear, whether through error or purposeful leaking, details of the incidents involving the T-33 jet found their way to the press. And did so long before General Cabell was aware of the details of the incident.

Furthermore, it wasn’t merely the press who showed interest in sightings of UFOs. There were many other people in the background, each with their own agendas, who would come to the surface amid the sightings over Fort Monmouth. Two of these people who would show “unusually tenacious interest” in many UFO sightings of the early-1950s were Robert Johnson and “Mr. Brewster” of Republic Aviation. And this was certainly the case with the Fort Monmouth incident. Both men would seek permission from Eastern Air Defense Command to speak with the two pilots concerned. What’s more, they would receive permission to do so. And on 20th September, still before Cabell knew all the details of the case, Johnson and Brewster would speak privately with Rogers and Ballard.

Given their undoubted lofty positions in society, perhaps this interest is an indication of how credible and important the Fort Monmouth incident may still prove to be.

Conspiracies “To Kill The UFO Project!”

It would very much seem that General Cabell was also a “friend” to those wished to get to the bottom of the UFO mystery. And was so since the rise of such sightings in the late-1940s. Cabell initially appeared happy to let those under him at the Advanced Technology Intelligence Center (ATIC) deal with UFO reports on his behalf. However, by late-1950, early-1951, it seems he was not only concerned with the increased number of sightings. But also of the apparent lack of commitment to properly investigate them.

In fact, so deep was Cabell’s desire to properly investigate such sightings that he would issue orders that (in relation to such a sighting) he was “to be awakened during the middle of the night if he was needed”. Furthermore, he would actively confront those who he saw as “conspiring to kill the UFO project”.

All of this was taking place against the backdrop of the immediate run-up to the Fort Monmouth incident. Although it is mere speculation, perhaps the leak to the press was done not by those wishing to get the truth out to the population, but by those retaining that very information. Perhaps, in some “damage control” exercise, the leaking of the case to the press, while divulging certain details of the incident, would take control away from Cabell, who very likely wouldn’t settle for the balloon explanation either.

Perhaps, then, that is why it was a full eighteen days after the leak of information to the press that Cabell learned of such a leak. This despite it having made headlines in several national newspapers, perhaps most notably, the ‘New York Daily Times’.  And it wasn’t just Cabell that required information from ATIC. The Air Defense Command required a final report on the sightings involving their own pilots.

1951 Newspaper

Immediate Precursor To The “Shadow Government” Within Governments?

It appears obvious that certain elements within ATIC had no intention of investigating UFO reports. Or more accurately, of reporting on them. There was undoubtedly an interest within their ranks. But that interest was denied. As were any findings and reports that would put the UFO question into any other light than merely a mundane mis-sighting or something of that nature. Their reasons for doing this could be any of a plethora to choose from. Maybe the fear of causing panic in the wider populace was genuine, if only in the minds of the authorities? Or perhaps they were more than aware of what was behind the increasing UFO sightings? And, for reasons unknown, wished to maintain control over who had access to these visitors from another world? Or maybe they had direct involvement in such sightings? This would make the need to cover-up such involvement obvious.

This behavior, whatever the ultimate motivation for it, appears to be the immediate precursor to the persistently alleged “shadow government” conspiracies. The same conspiracies that intertwine around the UFO and alien question. And have done for some time. And, incidentally, these same conspiracies stretch into other dark and seemingly unrelated corners.

As another example of this, at least in UFO circles, when Cabell continued to put pressure on members of ATIC for information, they would discreetly arrange, through contacts, for Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten to travel personally to New Jersey and “oversee an investigation” into the case with Cabell. However, the ominous caveat in the orders were that Rosengarten should delay “giving the General any definite analysis until all the facts of the case could be studied”. Particularly given that the majority of these facts had been in national print for the better part of 48 hours.

The Caveat-Attached Role Of Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten

A conference at the Pentagon was due to take place on Monday afternoon, 1st October 1951. This was Rosengarten’s “deadline” for completing his investigation, which he began three days earlier on Friday 28th September. And he would take along the former director of Project Grudge, and Cabell’s predecessor, Jerry Cummings. A man certainly not likely to give the UFO question any credence. Even if such credence was appropriate. Despite this, many people’s opinion of him, including Rosengarten’s was extremely high.

The two men would arrive together in New York after boarding an 11:30 pm flight on 28th September. From there, they would make their way to New Jersey, arriving early the next day. They would visit with coordinators at Fort Monmouth, spend the majority of the day there. Part of that time was spent interviewing the radar operators who had witnessed the UFOs on the initial sighting of the 10th September. In fact, these “interrogation sessions” continued late into Saturday night, and didn’t finish until early Sunday afternoon 29th September.

Almost immediately following this interview, the two pilots, Rogers and Ballard, would each fly to Fort Monmouth especially. They would spend until somewhere in the early hours of Monday 1st October at the base.

Even at this late hour and having worked for pushing past 48 hours with little or no rest, the two men prepared and sent an “R and R” report (a routing and record sheet) to the Office of Special Investigations.

At a little after 3:30 am, the special transmission from Rosengarten arrived with the special investigations team. As well as stating that a “security breach” likely occurred which resulted in the two pilot’s accounts landing with the local media, they would also recommend “follow-up assistance” to investigate the case further.

The “Moment Of Honesty” Meeting At The Pentagon!

By mid-afternoon on the 1st October, with them having to be at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. by 4 pm, came the sudden realization that they would struggle to get a standard plane – commercial or military – to their destination in time. Using his position within the ranks, Rosengarten would request and charter a private plane to Washington from New Jersey. Once at the Pentagon, both men, as well as General Cabell were present along with several very high-ranking officers.

According to the notes of the meeting in Ruppelt’s eventual book, Cabell would chair it. Also there were his entire staff, Rosengarten and Cummings, as well as a “representative from Republic Aircraft Corporation”. According to Ruppelt, this representative was there for the interests of a “group of US industrialists and scientists”. All of whom wished for “more sensible answers coming from the Air Force regarding UFOs”.

The meeting would last around two hours. And furthermore, every word “was recorded on a wire recorder”. Although it was eventually (and purposely) destroyed for fear of another leak of information. And if Ruppelt’s recollection of the tape is correct – which he claims he listened to in its entirety several times – it is easy to see where that discomfort of such high-ranking military officers comes from. He would write that “…many of the people present at the meeting weren’t as convinced that the ‘hoax, hallucination, and misidentification’ answer was quite as positive as the Grudge Report and subsequent press releases made out”.

When it came to light that ATIC’s investigations were less then genuine, the entire room blew up into a flurry of rage and disbelief. Perhaps Cummings would sum up the whole scene, and indeed attitudes to UFOs. He would state, “UFO investigations was all fouled up”.

In Military Circles, There Are “UFOs”, And Then There Are “Flying Saucers”

On a personal level some military minds will undoubtedly be more openminded than others. Generally speaking, however, in military circles, “UFOs” and “flying saucers” are two completely different things. And, at least for the vast majority of the US armed forces, flying saucers are of little concern to them. UFOs, on the other hand, were of immense interest to them. And this was never truer than in the days of the Cold War. When these strange crafts could be top-secret Soviet spy planes. Or worse.

It is with this mindset that much of the outward policy of the US government, military, and intelligence services would approach the UFO question. Certain departments most certainly did concentrate on the “flying saucer” side of strange aerial sightings. The vast majority of official government “UFO investigators”, though, were concerned with Soviet invaders as opposed to Martian ones.

That being said, however, they didn’t ignore the flying saucer reports completely. Especially the ones where credible evidence was available or multiple, credible witnesses were prepared to speak publicly of their encounter. But their interest wasn’t one of finally being able to prove the existence of alien life. Rather their approach was for one purpose only. To discredit, smear, and ruin such claims.

According to their thinking, should just one credible case gain traction in the public arena, this would lead to a vast increase in people “watching the skies”. Not only would this result in more people witnessing things they otherwise ignored or were completely unaware of, some would also report sightings, due to their overall lack of experience of aerial phenomena, that were nothing more than conventional craft or natural occurrences. This, in turn, would take the attention those watching the skies for Soviet aircraft. And those watching much further afield.

1951 UFO Sighting

Further Analysis Of The Balloon Theory

The pilots would insist the mystery object was most definitely not a military balloon. It is something, though, that skeptics of the case have stuck to. Even into our contemporary era. However, an analysis by Brad Sparks seemingly further demonstrates that the sighting isn’t one of balloons. Certainly not the ones that the military offered as proof.

For example, he draws attention to the fact that official records state two balloons left at the exact same time. And from the same destination. Firstly, the most obvious discrepancy. The pilot would keep the UFO in his vision for the entirety of the incident. At no point did he see a second UFO. Not at any point did either pilot mention a second object. Or, for that matter, by radar operators. And nor is it on the radar records.

Perhaps of more interest, and certainly more damning to the balloon claims, is the rate the balloons would have climbed. At a rate of approximately 1,300 feet per minute, assuming the balloons were released at 11:18 am as indicated, by 11:35 am – the time of the visual sighting by the pilots – they would be approaching an altitude of 27,000 feet. Around 7,000 feet higher than the pilot’s position. Remember, they would clearly claim throughout that the object was a considerable distance below them.

To further hammer home the point, Sparks draws our attention to the fact that such balloons would be 0.6 arcminute. Basically meaning that they simply could not be seen by the naked eye. And especially from distances of over thousands of feet. While the pilots were themselves in motion at an impressive speed of their own.

The George Washington Bridge Sighting

We know that all areas of the United States have UFO sightings. However, as we also might expect, some regions are busier than others. The New Jersey/New York area, much like the entire northeastern area of the country, is one of the busier regions of America. And more to the point here, there are several similar sightings of strange aerial object in the New Jersey area in the early fifties.

Perhaps one of the first took place a little under a year before the Fort Monmouth incident in the Sandy Hook Atlantic Highlands area. At around 3 pm on 15th October 1950, the witness – only eight-years-old at the time – was with their grandmother. They looked out over the Sandy Hook and New York Harbor. Each sat in their seat of a 1947 Chevy. The engine still running so they could feel the benefit of the car’s heater.

As they sat there, each noticed “two triangle shaped objects coming down from the Hudson. From the direction of the George Washington Bridge”. From their position, the strange objects were at a much lower altitude to them. As they passed by them, the Chevy’s engine suddenly stalled and went dead. Several moments after the objects were out of sight, the engine came back to life – as did the heater. Around two minutes later, two aircraft flew past – planes that the witness would state were F-80s.

A short time later, the two triangular objects flew past again, and back towards the George Washington Bridge. The two F-80s followed them as close as they could. According to the witness, the two objects would “slow down and then speed up”. As if they were “playing with them”. They would then head out to sea.

“Six Glowing Lights” In Nova Scotia

So, if this account is true, aside from the similar ultimate destination of the strange craft (out to sea), it would also appear the US Air Force were aware of such strange craft at least a year earlier than the Fort Monmouth sighting. And not just aware of them. But aware enough to be scrambling aircraft

A little bit nearer date-wise was an account that occurred in late-1951 in the Nova Scotia region. The report comes from the child of the witness, whose father was on a frigate heading back to the coast. The journey began under blue, sunny skies which out of nowhere would suddenly turn extremely dark. At the same time, the electrics on the ship all failed. All around the vessel was “almost total darkness.

The confused crew stood on the deck of the ship. They watched in awe at the marvelous but chilling sight around them. Suddenly, they saw “six glowing lights in the water”.  They would be at a distance of around seven fathoms down and “too cylindrical” to be coral. Even stranger, just about all of the crew would struggle to recall the events. As they would how they strayed over 100 miles off course. Or why they were eventually two days late on their eventual return to port. According to the report, the Canadian military would approach the men and warn them not to speak of the incident.

These are just a handful of the UFO sightings to take place in the immediate region at a similar time. Obviously, more detailed, and intricate research of these strange sightings may very well unveil a whole host of UFO sightings.

A Connection To The George Stock Photographs?

Just short of a year later, on the afternoon of 29th July 1952 in Passaic, New Jersey, an almost identical craft as described by the two pilots of the T-33 plane was photographed by local resident, George Stock, as he stood in his back yard. In total, he took five photographs as the craft calmly passed overhead. You can view one of those pictures below.

52 George Stork

The craft was very much disc-shaped with a risen, dome-shape in the top and center. He would describe the craft as solid and metallic with a “transparent semi-projected dome”. The exterior was a blue-grey and perhaps of most interest, it was completely and utterly silent. He was with his friend at the time of the sightings, which occurred approximately 4:30 pm. They would estimate the craft to be around 200 feet high. And after moving (relatively) slowly, it stopped and hovered for several moments. Then, without warning, and much like numerous other accounts, the craft took off at high-speed.

What is perhaps most interesting, considering the lack of technology or ability to produce genuinely good fakes, is that for all their clarity and apparent genuineness, they would receive very little attention. Both at the time and since. It has only really been in the Internet age when the pictures have really received the attention they perhaps deserve. Was it merely a case of there being “too many UFO reports” for the media to concentrate on? Or might the snub be purposeful, possibly under instruction from dark shadow government agencies?

The real treasure of the Fort Monmouth UFO Incident really lays within the reactions. And subsequent actions of those with immediate connection to it. Before we contemplate that thought a little more, though, check out the short video below.

The “Real” Magic And Treasure Of The Fort Monmouth UFO Incident

Rather than offering proof of what UFOs are, and what intelligence (if any) is behind them, it really laid bare the different, and often competing agendas of the people who are for all intents and purposes are on the same side.

And what’s more, this pattern of behavior is certainly not a one-off, but very much replicated throughout the decades. Almost as if this particular incident set the tone and provided the blueprint for how successive “shadow” governments – in many cases under the guise of the “intelligence” services. As we have looked at – albeit briefly – the reasons are as varied, in terms of outlook and perception, as they are in terms of their residency on the moral social spectrum.

Almost as a by-product to the whole affair, then, was just who was behind the strange crafts over New Jersey over consecutive nights in September 1951? Was it an intelligence that belongs to an extraterrestrial race? Or might the strange crafts belong to the aforementioned “shadow government” of the United States? Might that explain the deep desire, somewhere high up within government to cover the incident up? But if that was the case, why would the government put on such a public show in the first place? Unless it was part of an experiment, surely this very public display, in the middle of the day, no less, suggests an air of authenticity.

It is yet another case, like the majority of such cases, that we must continue to juggle on the backburner. So we are ready to see the shining key to the case. As well as the UFO and alien question when it decides to present itself.

Check out the short video below. It looks at some of New Jersey’s more fascinating UFO sightings.

About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for anything interesting, from UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He also has a passion for film, music, and the NFL. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief at UFO Insight for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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