ich bin ein ufo?

What if all those flying saucers weren't alien explorers, but a secret military program originally started by the Nazis?
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Apparently, the mysterious flying saucers that have been crowding our skies for the last 60 years don’t come from Zeta Riticuli. Instead, they come from Poland and the Swiss Alps if you believe conspiracy theorists who say that Nazi engineers brought the technical know-how needed to make flying disk shaped craft to the United States. This new twist on the UFO story seems to be yet another incarnation of conspiracy theorists reopening their research of Operation Paperclip and coming up with whatever conclusions they can draw from the rich theme of WW2 Nazi mysteries, creating an interesting hybrid of fact and fiction.

The story goes that in the last few months of the war, Allied fighter pilots saw odd shapes in the air that were named Foo Fighters. (Yes, hence the name of the band.) Zooming by at hypersonic speeds, they were the Nazi black aircraft designed in hopes of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Rumors of odd electromagnetic flying bells and disk shaped aircraft prototypes designed to take off vertically, thrived as Nazi scientists seemed to crank out wilder and wilder ideas with each passing month in secret bunkers under SS control.

After the war ended, thousands of the same engineers were brought over to the United States and began sharing their ideas and expertise. Soon, UFO reports began. A bell shaped object matching the rumored secret Nazi designs crashed in Pennsylvania. Flying disks were being tested on air force bases. Obviously, say some conspiracy theorists, Nazi scientists brought over their technology and the US government decided to use their designs in top secret craft. The whole thing about flying saucers and space aliens? Yeah, just a cover-up for testing Nazi ideas in which the Air Force was interested.

But hold on for a moment. Parts of this theory don’t seem to work. Let’s start with the bizarre Foo Fighters. During the war, when aircraft wanted to confuse enemy radar and pilots, they shot out clouds of chaff: shreds of shiny aluminum. If illuminated by searchlights, the chaff could easily be mistaken for a flying object. That was the whole point. As for the Foo Fighters’ reported speeds, I have to ask how they were calculated. In the air, with no frame of reference and all sorts of light deflections, how can even the most experienced pilot accurately measure the speed of a moving object without a tracking laser?

Next comes the infamous Nazi bell. When we get into the specifics of the rumors, we find that they’re well… not as solid as they’re presented. Advanced by former Jane’s Weekly editor Nick Cook in his book The Hunt For Zero Point, the bell has been given near magical powers and its existence is inferred from tall tales of Nazis looking for immunity from the Nuremberg trials. In the toned down version, the Nazi bell relies on electromagnetic propulsion which is a workable concept, only we’re still far away from making it viable sixty years later. The big problem is the sheer amount of power you need to consistently provide to a giant floating vessel. You pretty much need a nuclear reactor on board.

Well what about the Kecksburg incident in which a diving bell shaped object covered in heat resistant ceramic tile fell from the sky and was immediately carted off to Wright Patterson AFB? Hmm, well let’s think about this one. What’s oddly shaped, sometimes covered with ceramic tile and falls from the sky? Sounds like a satellite. Whether Soviet or American, the USAF wouldn’t want to leave classified technology laying around or share its schematics with the locals instead of just taking it to their main center for analyzing military technology while publicly insisting that it was just a big meteorite.

So what do we make of all this? It’s true that during Operation Paperclip, former Nazi engineers were brought over to the US to share their radical designs and ideas when it came to aviation. The project’s most famous alums played a key role in building the US space program. It’s also true that there were attempts of building flying disk shaped aircraft which were supposed to be very fast and have a service ceiling as high as today’s most advanced military jet thanks to their unique shape. Parts of some designs by these engineers did make their way into the Stealth, the B2 and possibly the SR-71 Blackbird. And it’s very likely that the government tried to use the UFO phenomenon to cover up tests of some black projects at Area 51.

But what’s also true is that the concept of flying disks just didn’t work out. The USAF decided that speed and stealth for surveillance and aerial dogfighting were more important and went in another direction. While the overall point of the conspiracy theorists may be a very valid one, they’ve exaggerated many of the details and use rumors to bolster their evidence. Interestingly enough, without all the trappings of Foo Fighters, Nazi bells and sinister crashes of mysterious craft, this idea could be a very compelling addition to the rich history of military black projects in America. For this theory, less is definitely more.

update 01.25.2020 : Corrected to reflect that the Foo Fighters did indeed name their band after the World War 2 UFO phenomenon.

# oddities // black projects / military / project paperclip / project silverbug

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