Within the last weeks of 1944, the crews of an evening fighter squadron primarily based in France began reporting some uncommon exercise within the skies.
The primary report got here in November of that 12 months. Pilot, Lt. Edward Schlueter, radar operator Lt. Donald Meiers, and intelligence officer Lt. Fred Ringwald, all from the 415th Evening Fighter Squadron, have been flying alongside the Rhine River close to Strasbourg. They described seeing a sequence of orange lights maneuvering by means of the air close by. Neither floor primarily based radar or their very own onboard gear registered something, and any makes an attempt to fly nearer to the lights proved futile.
For the subsequent a number of weeks, pilots would report related encounters — mysterious lights of various colours that would seem within the sky and outmaneuver any try to have interaction them. Meiers dubbed them “foo fighters,” apparently a reference to the Nineteen Thirties “Smokey Stover” cartoon a few firefighter who used “foo” as a sort of slang time period or nonsense phrase.
On December 17, there was one other sighting over Germany, the place a sequence of mysterious lights trailed a pilot earlier than disappearing. 5 days later, two extra crews reported balls of sunshine showing to rise from the bottom and observe their plane.
These encounters may need remained relegated to after motion reviews and unit gossip have been it not for an Related Press reporter deciding to spend a few days with the 415th.
Robert C. Wilson had already lined the struggle in Europe extensively. On December 31, 1944, he was in southern France; the plan was apparently to fly alongside in an evening fighter from the 415th because the clock moved previous midnight into 1945. Climate conspired in opposition to this, although, so Wilson spent the day simply hanging out and speaking to members of the squadron, celebrating New 12 months’s within the extra conventional means.
The subsequent day he filed a narrative, and by January 2 it was within the New York Instances. The story was that of some night time fighter pilots describing unusual balls of sunshine or fireplace that they couldn’t clarify.
“There are three varieties of those lights that we name ‘foo fighters,’” the article quotes Meiers as saying. “One is pink balls of fireplace which seem off our wing suggestions and fly together with us; the second is a vertical row of of three balls of fireplace which fly in entrance of us, and the third is a bunch of about fifteen which seem off within the distance – like a Christmas tree up within the air – and on and off.”
Meiers additional described the flight capabilities of those mysterious lights, describing an encounter the place one of many “foo fighters” picked him up at low altitude. “I turned to starboard and two balls of fireplace turned with me,” he stated. “I turned to the port aspect they usually turned with me. We have been going 260 miles an hour and the balls have been maintaining with us.”
Meiers concluded together with his tackle the phenomenon: “They don’t assault us. They simply appear to observe us like will-o’-the-wisps.”
Wilson additionally described one other encounter from a pilot within the 415th, Lt. Wallace Gould, who described the lights following his wing tip for a number of seconds earlier than zooming not less than 20,000 ft into the sky and out of sight.
As Gould stated, “I assumed it was some new type of jet propulsion aircraft after us. However we have been very near them and none of us noticed any construction on the hearth balls.”
So, what was it that these pilots have been seeing? Flares? Climate balloons? Fight fatigue?
In Wilson’s article, Meiers speculated that it was a “psychological” weapon, however different pilots reportedly didn’t suppose that it may very well be a German weapon since these balls of fireplace within the sky by no means attacked them.
And whereas Wilson’s story, in addition to a subsequent article a 12 months later in American Legion Journal basically solidified the 415th’s encounters with these mysterious balls of sunshine, related tales had been circulating for years prior. As early as 1942, Royal Air Drive crews, which flew their bombing missions at night time, had additionally been reporting uncommon lights and fireplace balls within the skies. Throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and the Pacific, there have been occasional reviews of pilots encountering unexplained lights and strange phenomena that defied any identified explanations.
A couple of years after the struggle, the UFO phenomena actually started to take off. A personal pilot’s account from 1947 coined the time period “flying saucer.” Solely two weeks later, tales of the “Roswell incident” have been in newspapers, and by the Nineteen Fifties the thought of alien craft was a standard theme for science fiction motion pictures. And, after all, in recent times, there’s been the sluggish and regular leak of reviews on different unexplained aerial phenomena.
However as for the “foo fighters” of World Warfare II? They nonetheless stay an equally unexplained phenomena. And, sure, Dave Grohl has admitted that he was studying about them when he was trying to identify his post-Nirvana foray into secure, nice dad-rock.