CIA tweets mea culpa on UFOs over Norway in the 50s

The US military is said to be responsible for the rash of “UFO” sitings over Norway in the 1950s during test flights. The more incredible part of this story is that the CIA has a twitter account. Cool.

Norway’s UFO mystery of 1950s finally solved.

The CIA has revealed sightings of mysterious flying crafts travelling at high speeds with flashing lights were actually test flights of US military aircraft.

Top secret U2 spy planes flying at 18,000 metres created the phenomena and the CIA recently posted on their Twitter account, reports Aftenposten newspaper, saying: “Do you remember the reports of unusual activity in the sky in the 50’s? That was us.”

The official explanation was kept secret to avoid the Soviets learning of US military intentions during the Cold War.

This is highly plausible and could account for many such “UFO” reports. But of course, official explanations do not serve to satisfied true believers or those that thing the government is covering up all sorts of secrets.

Honestly, I’d not heard of this flap. According to a tally of media reports at that time (especially 1954), France was a UFO hotspot! What was going on there?

We’ve reported before about the U-2 spy plane being misidentified as a UFO. The article points to this report of testing of the plane.

Twitter: CIA

These were the kind of planes that sparked rumors about UFOs in Norway back in the 50s.  Photo credit: Shutterstock

These were the kind of planes that sparked rumors about UFOs in Norway back in the 50s.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

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  17 comments for “CIA tweets mea culpa on UFOs over Norway in the 50s

  1. Perry
    July 6, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    This was the first tweet on that CIA account:

    CIA @CIA · Jun 6
    We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.

  2. David H
    July 6, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    Kinda cute of the CIA to admit their flights over Norway via tweet.

    However, there are a couple of problems with the article.
    First of all, I doubt sunlight reflecting off the U2 would have been seen. Almost every operational U2 was painted in a non-reflecting black. Some sported olive green camouflage paint jobs. I doubt any would have been shiny enough to reflect sunlight back to earth from 50000-65000 feet.

    The photograph accompanying the article is not, strictly speaking, a U2. It is a NASA-operated derivative of the U2 called the ER-2 (Earth Resources −2), based at the Dryden Flight Research Center. The white and blue paint scheme is NASA’s standard aircraft coloring. The pods on each wing hold instrument packages for atmospheric and earth research.

    And any sighting prior to July 1955 would not have been a U2. According to Lockheed-Martin, the first test flight was at Groom Lake on 8/1/55. And the first overflight of the USSR was July, 4 1956.
    I suspect the 1954 French sightings may have been due to a bad batch of Beaujolais nouveau.

    • Bill T.
      July 7, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      From the linked story: “When the sun set below the horizon the U2s were still high enough to reflect its rays, and other pilots saw them as bright, silvery objects “.

      Your points regarding the operational U-2s are well taken, especially the very dark grey coloration. I wonder if when, as described in the article, if the aircraft were illuminated by the sun and observed against a dark background if they would present the described appearance. I’m far from a subject matter expert on this question but I suggest that it’s plausible.

      I wonder if other (prototype/experimental?) aircraft could have been sources of the earlier eporst. My recollection is that the U-2 was the first aircraft capable of cruise at significantly over 15k meters?

      • David H
        July 8, 2014 at 2:32 AM

        It is possible there may have been some light reflection. However, I think it unlikely. And impossible for sightings prior to 1955 as the U2 was not yet operational. When it became operational it was cooking along at 70,000+ ft (21,300+ m).

        There are some other possible candidates:
        The RB-45C variant operated (clandestinely) over the Soviet Union by the RAF “special duties” unit at RAF Sculthorpe. Service ceiling: 46,400 ft (14,100 m)
        A strategic reconnaissance version of the B-50B SAC bomber, the RB-50 was developed in 1949 to replace the aging RB-29s used by SAC in its intelligence gathering operations against the Soviet Union. 36,900 ft (11,247 m)

        By comparison, commercial airliners were still flying fairly low and slow in the early 1950s.
        Douglas DC-6 ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
        Douglas DC-7: 28,400 ft (8,656 m)
        Lockheed L-1649 Starliner: 23,700 ft (7,225 m)
        Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation :25,700 ft (7,833 m)
        Any one of those airliners would have been flying well below the spy planes.

        • Bill T.
          July 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

          Your response is cogent and to the point.

          Actually, the prototype flew in 1955 and the aircraft were operational in 1956 (http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/100years/stories/u2.html). I only saw “50s” cited in the story, so I can’t say fersure whether the time period fits, but it appears to.

          As support for my speculation about a dark object appearing bright when lit by the Sun against a dark background, I cite the Moon, with an albedo similar to the U-2. I, again, emphasize the speculative nature of this.

          A fact that counter-argues is that apparently the early flights were out of Turkey, so flying over the USSR would not bring them over Scandinavia. But, the CIA apparently said they were, so …

        • Bill T.
          July 10, 2014 at 12:53 PM

          By the way, the planes, particularly early on, were not all the dark grey color: http://www.blackbirds.net/u2/u2_photo_gallery/u2_pic_pages/56-6676.html

  3. eddi
    July 6, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    For those interested in the dramatic details, look up “ghost rockets”. For those interested in the basic truth, look no further.

    • spookyparadigm
      July 6, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      They’re about 10 years earlier than the well-documented U-2.

      • eddi
        July 8, 2014 at 7:12 AM

        The U-2 was the dream machine spy plane of it’s day. But it was not the first high altitude recon plane. B-29s fitted with cameras were probably over the USSR before the war ended. And before the CIA got organized.

  4. spookyparadigm
    July 6, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    The CIA has used UFOs almost since they were invented (the UFOs, though they were invented in the same year :) for publicity efforts of various kinds. In 1953, they worried about UFOs causing panic and clogging phone lines in case of war, particularly that the Russians might purposely use something combining the War of the Worlds and the DC flap of 1952 (which did shut down the DC area phones). That year, if I recall correctly, they urged the reporting of UFO stories (as well as other human interest stories) in Guatemalan newspapers to take attention off reporting on covert CIA efforts in neighboring countries, the efforts that ultimately resulted in PBSUCCESS, the invasion and overthrow of the democratically-elected left-leaning Arbenz presidency, and the ushering in of right-wing military rule that eventually resulted in the brutal genocidal civil war in Guatemala.

    Since then, they’ve written internal documents on the topic (where the U-2 thing first appeared), made statements, etc.. They, and other agencies, seem to use this stuff as a fuzzy “secret” topic that isn’t as galling, scary, or offensive as actual covert activities. It’s a lot more fun to talk about this than it is kids dying of polio because of fake vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, or the secret rendition plane network and secret prisons.

    I think there is another angle: the CIA is traditionally the academic part of the intelligence community. Most of the US community is directly under DoD in the military (NSA, NRO, DIA, various intelligence agencies for individual branches, etc.). By contrast, OSS and then CIA pulled and pulls from universities and preferably the Ivy’s. That founders effect has made them the “wacky” intel agency from time to time, even if that gets very darkly “wacky.” Think of all the bizarre plans to embarrass or kill Castro (exploding conch shell, anti-beard powder), or the absolutely insane CIA experimentation with MK-ULTRA hallucinogens, much of which ended up spurring the counter-culture coming out of the universities. Or Project Stargate, the remote viewing program.

    At the end of the day, government people come from the larger populace, and institutions do develop cultures as a result.

    PS: No, I’d not heard of this particular flap either. But I increasingly believe that with a few exceptions (1947, 1952, France 1954, 1966, and 1973) there is almost a 1:1 correlation between flaps and UFO researchers willing to promote flaps. Very similar to how “window areas” work, all you need to do is set up a researcher/folklorist in one spot, let the stories of UFOs, cattle mutilations, demonic creatures, bigfeet, prophecies, winged weirdos, and black helicopters piloted by MIB roll into their notebook, and you’ve got a “window.” One probably not all that different from anywhere else inhabited by humans.

  5. Scott Hamilton
    July 6, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    There was also a story about a flying saucer crash from the 1950s on the island of Spitzbergen, Norway. I think there was some indication that the story was planted by CIA, either to cover for an operation, or to test if anyone would notice. Norway was obviously an area with a lot of CIA activity.

  6. H.K. Fauskanger
    July 7, 2014 at 6:30 AM

    I’m a Norwegian, and I can confirm that in the post-war period there was phenomenon involving “ghost planes” or “ghost rockets” appearing in our skies. I believe they were observed in neighboring Sweden as well.

    I don’t think many people ever supposed there was anything paranormal about this, or that we were being invaded by aliens, but clearly some foreign power was busy with undeclared activities in Norwegian airspace. Some would surmise, or fear, that these were Soviet fly-overs.

    As for the Spitzbergen “UFO”, I believe I have read that it was a garbled account of a downed American helicopter.

    • spookyparadigm
      July 7, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Ghost rockets predated flying saucers by a year or two. I’d be curious to hear if they continued past that as “ghost rockets” and weren’t subsumed into flying saucers as a category. But the U-2 cannot explain the initial ghost rockets wave of the mid-to-late 1940s.

  7. Chris Howard
    July 7, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    CIA Twitter account?

    I can just imagine:

    “Yay! You’re following our tweets, but then we knew you would.” #cia#ultimateservalliance#precrime#lookoutsideyourhouseacrossthesteetbluesedantwomendrinkingcoffeetakingnotes#drones

  8. busterggi
    July 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Once again the CIA is pushing disinformation. Those flights over Norway were not test runs, they were an attempt to discover the secret behind lutefisk.

  9. Naveisme961
    July 7, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    If that was us flying over Europe back then, I wonder who was buzzing Washington in 1952?

  10. Peebs
    July 7, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I notice they don’t admit to the evil Chemtrails.

    Further proof that they are responsible.

    Wake up Sheeple!

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