Project Pinball: Alaska’s Quest For UFOs

Alaska radar dome with the aurora borealis overhead, key to the search for UFOs.

Alaska radar dome with the aurora borealis overhead, key to the search for UFOs.

Project Pinball: Alaska’s Quest For UFOs

Before it became a state, Alaska was home to a military project with the priority to track UFOs over Alaskan air-space. After WWII, the US military firmly planted itself in Alaska’s frozen tundra. During the 1940s, while the Lend-Lease Act was in place (1941-1945), the military presented itself as a strong force in the then-territory of Alaska and even had friendly relations with Russia in order to keep the Japanese government at bay. By 1950, the Cold War had begun and Alaska had become equipped with a plethora of radar and military sites.

A high-level military project began in 1950 called Project Pinball. It utilized the major radar sites of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line), Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sites (BMEWS), and the White Alice Communication Systems (WACS) that span across Alaska in order to track UFO activity over Alaska.

According to Jan Aldrich (Project 1947), a UFO researcher, the 5004th Air Intelligence Service Squadron was involved with Project Pinball. They worked alongside of the 10th and 11th Air Divisions, both of which provided air defense for Alaska; involved were also the Air Force Stations that manned the radar. Several men who worked at the Air Force Stations from 1950-1960 reported UFOs captured on radar, but only a few claimed knowledge of Project Pinball and gave warnings of “be careful with your research”.

The 5004th AISS shield from the Historical Report from CUFON. The 5004th AISS was key in early research for UFOs.

The 5004th AISS shield from the Historical Report from CUFON.

CUFON, the Computer UFO Network, has collected files on the 5004th AISS. The 5004th AISS had a Photo Unit which photographed all the sites involved in radar coverage. The AISS scoured the shoreline of Alaska for remnants that would wash up (Operation Beachcomber), would investigate claims of downed aircraft and enemy items, and scour the skies for enemy aircraft, as well as missiles and unidentified items. According to the course schedule for air techinical intelligence, on July 10, 1952 Captain Meyer taught a class called Investigation of Crashed Foreign Aircraft; the next day, Captain Meyer taught a class called Investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects. The air technical intelligence group had a mandatory 15 hours of classes, while the combat intelligence group had a full 50.

Project Pinball seems to be a strange government project that not only had roots in UFO tracking and possible recovery of downed UFOs (as NUFORC file S42462 suggests), but also recovered an unexploded Japanese fugo balloon in 1954 and investigated “several unusual incidents” related to 2 UFO sightings in 1956. The project also collected meteorites, investigated the sudden appearance of two steel towers in 1952, and provided research on the hydatid disease (a type of tapeworm infestation) in 1952.

Project Pinball, as well as the 5004th AISS, was discontinued in 1959. Did it move on to another name? Where did that ‘gathered intelligence’ end up? Did Project Pinball have ties to the dark pyramid reported by Linda Moulton Howe? Project Pinball seems to create more questions than it provides answers.

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1 Response

  1. Poppy says:

    Very interesting article, Jessie! Love learning the earlier military history, so many clues that are even harder to find in today’s environment.

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