Go Back Report # 192


Note: There seems to be some confusion regarding the sighting date. Early reports seem to put the date at June 10th or 11th. While later publications put it at June 29 or 30th (depending on the time zone it was reported from). I have used the 30th as it was the date of the crew’s sighting.-CF-   


Note: In an e-mail from researcher Jan Aldrich, I learned the following:        

”McDonald had a letter in his file from Heyerdahl, which said this was not a UFO. I can't put my hands on it right now, but Heyerdahl told McDonald the report was distorted by the press.”           

Rotating rocket leaves ethereal pinwheel in its wake. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)     

Plumage of Navy "Bird" Gives Eerie Effect

       The sighting by explorer Thor Heyerdahl and two of his boat crew in late June (UFO Investigator, July 1970) has been traced to an unannounced rocket launch from Cape Kennedy. The launch was made on the evening of June 29 (June 30 for Heyerdahl, who was in a different time zone) to test the Navy's Poseidon missile. As the missile climbed into sunlight on its sub orbital trajectory, its exhaust spewed outward in ever widening circles, creating an amazingly geometric "cloud" that dominated the sky.

       The launch occurred at 9:31 p.m. EDT. This was 1:31 a.m. GMT, almost exactly the time Heyerdahl's navigator, N. L. Baker, first spotted a strange light on the northwestern horizon. At the time of the sighting, Heyerdahl's boat was some 700 miles out in the Atlantic, due east of the West Indies. This put him at the edge of the Eastern Test Range, which extends from Cape Kennedy into the North Atlantic. The Poseidon was launched down this range

       The distention in the phenomenon's shape as reported by the witnesses was due to the tendency of the missile to rotate as its second stage burned out. The contrail from the spiraling rocket created a "pinwheel" effect, which was enhanced by the rays of the sun. Heyerdahl could only see half of the pinwheel because the Earth's curvature obstructed his view.

       This is not the first time a Poseidon launch has generated UFO reports. A similar shot in August 1969 set off sightings throughout parts of the Caribbean and the United States. A year before that, on August 16, 1968, a sighting in South Carolina was tied to the first developmental-launch of the Poseidon (see the picture below).                                                                                

This reference: The UFO Investigator, (NICAP Publication), September 1970

With Thanks to Larry Hatch’s *U* UFO DATABASE, see http://www.larryhatch.net    

UFOCAT PRN – 161531 [DOS 06-10-1970]

UFOCAT URN – 051313 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, July 1970, p. 1         

UFOCAT PRN – 161531 [DOS 06-11-1970]

UFOCAT URN – 051317 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, June 1970, p. 1

UFOCAT URN – 051315 The APRO Bulletin July 1970, p. 9

UFOCAT URN – 051316 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, July 1970, p. 1

UFOCAT URN – 051314 Data-Net Report August 1970

UFOCAT URN – 161531 *U* UFO Computer Database by Larry Hatch, # XXXXXX © 2002     

UFOCAT PRN – 51352 [DOS 06-29-1970]

UFOCAT URN – 051352 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, July 1970, p. 1         

UFOCAT PRN – 51352 [DOS 06-30-1970]

UFOCAT URN – 051352 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, July 1970, p. 1

UFOCAT URN – 051349 Computerized Catalog (N=3173), #2840 by L Schoenherr. No © date.

UFOCAT URN – 051350 Flying Saucer Review, November 1970, p. 30

UFOCAT URN – NONE    Newspaper Clipping (Morgen Av ?? 07-01-1970)

UFOCAT URN – NONE    UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, September 1970, p. 1         

UFOCAT PRN – 90405 [DOS 06-30-197.]

UFOCAT URN – 090405 The APRO Bulletin September 1970, p. 3       

North and Central America

United States, Florida

Cape Kennedy Latitude 28-24-20 N, Longitude 80-36-18 W (D-M-S) [Formally Cape


Reference: The National Gazetteer of the United States of America, Prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, Washington D.C., 1990   

West Indies     Latitude 18-00 N, Longitude 68-00 W (D-M) [British West Indies]

British West Indies and Bermuda gazetteer. Prepared in the Office of Geography, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., September 1955


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