For most of us, the term “foo fighter” is very familiar as a rock band. However, the phrase is much older than that. The foo fighter is a term that the Allied aircraft pilots used in World War II for the mysterious aerial objects or UFOs that were seen in the Pacific and European skies. The term quickly expanded to describe most UFO sightings during the times of World War II.
The first sighting of a foo fighter was reported officially in November 1944, by the crew of a Bristol Beaufighter plane on a night mission over the Rhine. The crew included radar observer Donald J. Meiers, intelligence officer Fred Ringwald, and pilot Edward Schlueter. They reported seeing about 8 to 10 orange glowing objects that moved at a fast pace and followed their aircraft.
The glowing objects were described as orange or fiery red, and compared to Christmas tree decorations. The objects did not show any hostile behavior but seemed to be under intelligent control. According to the reports, the glowing objects continued to appear for some minutes and then suddenly disappeared.
The foo fighters were initially theorized to be some secret weapons used by the Axis enemies. On 13 December 1944, a press release was issued by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force describing the glowing object seen by the pilots to be a “new German weapon.”
The stories that followed in the British Daily Telegraph and New York Herald Tribune used the term “Foo Fighters.” On 15 January 1945, a story named “Foo-Fighter” was printed in Time magazine in which it was stated that the “balls of fire” followed the USAAF night fighters for more than a month. The story also included the fact that the “Foo Fighter” was the name given to the “balls of fire” by the pilots.
However, they eluded identification, and reports about the glowing objects kept coming in. As the stories increased, with Japanese and German pilots also reporting seeing the glowing objects, the sightings were taken more and more seriously.
The mysterious aerial objects were reported to be seen flying at 200 mph (325 kph) alongside the aircraft. At times, the objects appeared singly, while at other times, they appeared in formations. However, neither the ground control nor the airborne radar could register the glowing objects.
A Mystery In The Sky
The foo fighters were seen on various occasions by different people around the globe. One of the significant sightings was reported in the Indian Ocean. Two sailors of S.S. Pulaski, a Polish vessel, reported that they saw strange green colored light balls nearly half the size of a full moon.
The U.S. Eighth Air Force’s Charles R. Bastien also reported seeing the foo fighters over the area of the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. He described them as fog lights that were flying at high speed and were able to rapidly change their directions.
Duane Adams, a Career U.S. Air Force pilot even reported seeing the foo fighters twice. He described them as a bright light that followed his aircraft for nearly half an hour, before quickly disappearing in the sky. Both times, he saw the glowing objects over the South Pacific in the nighttime, witnessed by the whole aircraft crew.
The pilots of a Pakistan International Airlines flight also spotted a foo fighter in the Karachi sky. However, they had seen this mysterious object during the daytime. They described the object to be round in shape with a metal ring, and it emitted white-colored light from its center.
The captain of the flight added that it was difficult to find out whether the glowing object was actually moving slowly or hovering due to the relative motion. However, when this case was investigated, it was found out that the object was a lenticular cloud. While these are just a few examples, there exist a number of other records which show that foo fighters were not an uncommon sighting.
Theories and Explanations
Different researchers and scientists offered different theories to explain the appearance of glowing objects in the sky. According to the author Renato Vesco, the foo fighters could indeed be the Nazi secret weapons which he had written about in “Intercept UFO.” He revived the wartime theory and stated that the foo fighters were a kind of jet-propelled, automatically guided, and ground-launched flak mine, dubbed the “Feuerball” or fireball.
On the other hand, some other researchers theorized that foo fighters could be the weather phenomenon called St. Elmo’s Fire. This phenomenon, although extremely rare, is well attested by sightings from a number of sailors who consider it to be a good omen.
St Elmo’s Fire is a plasma which sparks independent of the ground or clouds, which makes it distinct from lightning. The sparks can occur near the wings of aircraft and ship’s masts and produce a blue or violet glow. while this has some similarities with the foo fighters, the pilots who had witnessed the glowing objects discarded this idea owing to the striking difference in the color of the light.
Some researchers also believed that the phenomenon was nothing but a mistake made by the pilots: a reflection, or misidentified star, or outright hallucination. They stated that the pilots were likely seeing mysterious objects due to combat fatigue. The impact of the war led to a number of psychological and physical issues among the people, and the sighting was a result of one such issue.
However, the airmen did not find the theory to be credible. They were not ready to believe that they hallucinated due to battle fatigue. So, even after much research, the origins and nature of the foo fighters remain unknown.
Top Image: The foo fighters have remained unidentified for almost 80 years. Source: dreese / CC BY-SA 3.0.
By Bipin Dimri