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Classic Case: Lubbock Lights, Texas (1951)

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posted on Jan, 15 2008 @ 08:04 AM
As part of a project I'm currently finalising relating to the most frequently discussed UFO cases of all time, I’ve been collating links to discussions of the relevant cases on ATS. I could not find any threads relating to some of those cases so decided to quickly start a few of them, including this one:

Several college professors from Texas Technological College at Lubbock (W I Robinson, A G Oberg, W L Ducker) and others reported observing a v-shaped formation of bluish green lights passing over Lubbock, Texas on several nights during 1951.

This incident featured in the results of a survey in 1965 by Jacques Vallee of the opinion of various UFO groups as to the most significant UFO sightings.

There is a wikipedia page in relation to these sightings.

Official US documents about this incident can be found online. See the material on the ambitious “Project Blue Book Archive” website in relation to Project Blue Book Case Number 978, which commences at the link provided (and continues on the pages which follow it).

For links to relevant articles and documents online, see:

Ruppelt's discussion of the Lubbock Lights in his "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects" (1956) at pages 96-110 (in Chapter 8 generally) of the original 17 chapter Doubleday hardback edition includes the following:

"Personally I thought that the professors' lights might have been some kind of birds reflecting the light from mercury vapor street lights, but I was wrong. They weren't birds, they weren't refracted light, but they weren't spaceships. The lights that the professors saw - the backbone of the Lubbock Light series - have been positively identified as a very commonplace and easily explainable natural phenomenon."

"It is very unfortunate that I can't divulge exactly the way the answer was found because it is an interesting story of how a scientist set up complete instrumentation to track down the lights and how he spent several months testing theory after theory until he finally hit upon the answer. Telling the story would lead to his identity and, in exchange for his story, I promised the man complete anonymity. But he fully convinced me that he had the answer, and after having heard hundreds of explanations of UFO's, I don't convince easily."

"With the most important phase of the Lubbock Lights "solved" - the sightings by the professors- the other phases become only good UFO reports."

The 1959 revised Doubleday 20 chapter hardback edition includes additional discussion of the "very commonplace and easily explainable natural phenomenon" which Ruppelt accepted as an explanation for the professors' lights. That discussion appears in the chapters that were added in that edition, specifically at pages 254 (in Chapter 18) and 276 (in Chapter 20). The discussion at page 254 is merely a passing reference, but at page 276 Ruppelt makes the following comments:

"[The Lubbock Lights case is] probably one of the most thoroughly investigated reports in the UFO files and it contained the most precise observational data we ever received. Scientists from far and near tried to solve it. It remained an 'unknown'."

"The men who made the original sightings stuck by the case and furnished the 'more detailed objective observational data' the Air Force speaks of."

"The mysterious lights appeared again and instead of looking for something high in the air the looked for something low and found the solution."

"The world famous Lubbock Lights were night flying moths reflecting the bluish-green light of a nearby row of mercury vapour street lights."

Whatever the merits of this explanation of the Lubbock Lights sighting, it is significant to note that the "men who made the original sighting" do not appear to have offered the explanation attributed to them by Ruppelt. In "Captain Edward J Ruppelt : Summer of the Saucers - 1952" (2000) Michael David Hall and Wendy Ann Connors refer to research by David Wheeler identifying the mysterious scientist as Professor Ducker. Their book suggests that "Ducker had had conversations with Ruppelt in later years and told him that he conclusively proved their UFO sightings were caused by birds. In fact, these author's have recently discovered this correspondence in Ruppelt's personal papers." (The relevant observation at page 35 is part of the discussion of the Lubbock Lights in that book at pages 30-31, 32-35 (in Chapter 1), 65, 74 (in Chapter 2), 245 (in the
unnumbered chapter entitled "Final Word - The Forgotten Correspondence of Edward Ruppelt") of the Rose Press softcover edition.)

Similarly, Jerry Clarke's Encyclopedia quotes from an undated Project Blue Book document which includes the following "In 1959 Dr J Allen Hynek contacted one of the professors at Texas Tech regarding [the] case. This professor informed Dr Hynek that he had conducted an extensive study of the Lubbock sightings and determined that they were definitely [of] birds" (discussed by Jerome Clark in his "The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning - 2nd edition" (1998) in Volume 2:L-Z at page 590 (in an entry entitled "Lubbock Lights") of the Omnigraphics hardback edition).

However, this resolution of the mystery created by Ruppelt's comment in the first edition of his book:

  • (a) is inconsistent with the comment made by Ruppelt in both editions of his book that "Personally I thought that the professors' lights might have been some kind of birds reflecting the light from mercury vapor street lights, but I was wrong"; and

  • (b) is inconsistent with the "night flying moths" explanation offered by Ruppelt in his revised edition;

  • (c) fails to explain why these inconsistencies exist.

These sightings are discussed in numerous UFO books, including the following discussions:

  • 23 pages by Brad Steiger (with extracts from relevant documentation) in his "Project Blue Book" (1976), at pages 78-100 of the Ballantine Books paperback edition (Chapter Four : Mystery of the Lubbock Lights") particularly at pages 83-90 and 98-100.

  • 21 pages by Kevin D Randle in his "Conspiracy of Silence" (1997) at pages 2 (in the Introduction), 80 (in Chapter 3), 81-97 (Chapter 4 generally), 227, 228 (in Chapter 11) of the Avon paperback edition.

    17 pages - Ruppelt, Edward J in his "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects" (1956) at pages 96-110 (in Chapter 8 generally) of the original 17 chapter Doubleday hardback edition, at pages 133-150 of the Gollancz hardback edition, at pages 130-148 of the Ace paperback edition, at pages 96-110 (in Chapter 8 generally), 254 (in Chapter 18), 276 (in Chapter 20) of the 1959 revised Doubleday 20 chapter hardback edition, at pages 70-80 of the reprinted Source Books softcover edition.

Kind Regards,

Isaac Koi

[edit on 15-1-2008 by IsaacKoi]


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