Thursday, 7 April 2016

Meteors, Electrical Discharges and Atomic Flashes

On Wednesday, 23 February 1955, during a Pan-American Airlines flight from New York to London, the navigator and the first officer saw a “flash resembling that of an atomic explosion.”
They were 400 miles from the Irish coast. “We were flying at 21,000 feet,” said Mr Fuller, the third officer. “The navigator and I were in the cockpit and one hour before dawn we both saw a mysterious explosion.
“We were too high for it to have been caused by a ship; and it was definitely not lightning and the sun had not risen.
“When the atomic bomb was exploded at Las Vegas, I was flying over Santa Barbara and had been warned to look out for the flash. What I saw this morning looked very much the same.”
There was a similar incident a few months earlier. This one had a number of geographically disparate witnesses. And though the reports differed, the timing makes it highly likely they had all witnessed the same event.
At 11pm on Wednesday, 8 September 1954, while flying from London, an Aer Lingus pilot saw a mysterious blue flash over Holyhead.
According to the Met Office at Dublin Airport, it may just have been an electrical discharge. But at the same time, two men in Carrickfergus saw a rocket soar into the sky and explode silently. Another man, who was on a boat leaving Belfast for Glasgow at 11pm, saw a rocket launched from the sea and explode. He thought it might have been a distress rocket.
And along the North Wales coast, witnesses reported seeing a blue flash that was followed by a loud, window-rattling explosion.
Dr Bruch of Dublin’s Dunsink Observatory was very confident that he knew what was behind these reports. “It seems quite certain for all the facts I have learned that it was nothing more than a meteor.”
It’s probably just a coincidence, but it’s worth mentioning that earlier that day a man in Derryhubert, Dungannon, reported seeing a three feet wide flying saucer that “crackled and hissed.”
The Irish Times, 24 February 1955
The Irish News, 10 September 1954
Belfast Telegraph, 10 September 1954 & 11 September 1954
The Dungannon Observer, 11 September 1954

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