Daily Archives: November 4th, 2009

Paracast’s Tribute To Mac Tonnies and Project Kugelblitz

Gene Steinberg and David Biedny celebrate the life of Fortean/science-fiction writer Mac Tonnies on the November 1st, 2009 Paracast with guests Greg Bishop, Patrick Huyghe, Paul Kimball and Nick Redfern, people who were close friends or worked with Tonnies on various projects.

A very touching send-off for Tonnies.

Somehow, I have to think that in the many Universes of the Multi-verse, Mac got up that Monday morning as normal and went to work as if nothing happened, still thinking about publishing his book.



Western militaries have been searching for a technological edge against whatever enemy-of-the-decade we happen to be fighting against for the past sixty-five years. Power supplies happen to be part of that equation since if western militaries can lower the incidences of refueling airborn and ground fighting machines, that means they can spend more time fighting the ‘enemy.’

Enter Project Kugelblitz.

The announcement came in May 2006 that – after decades of secretly investigating UFOs – the Ministry of Defence had come to the conclusion that aliens were not visiting Britain. The MoD’s claims were revealed within the pages of a formerly classified document – entitled Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defence Region, and code-named Project Condign – that had been comm­issioned in 1996 and was completed in February 2000.

Released under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act thanks specifically to the work of FT contributor Dr David Clarke and UFO researcher Gary Anthony, the 465-page document demonstrated how air defence experts had concluded that UFO sightings were probably the result of “natural, but relatively rare phenomena” such as ball lightning and atmospheric plasmas. UFOs, wrote the still-unknown author of the MoD’s report, were “of no defence significance”.

Inevitably, many UFO investigators claimed that the MoD’s report was merely a ruse to hide its secret know­ledge of alien encounters, crashed UFOs, and high-level X-Files-type conspiracies. And although the Government firmly denied such claims, the report did reveal a number of significant conclus­ions of a genuinely intriguing nature.

The atmospheric plasmas which were believed to be the cause of so many UFO reports were “still barely understood”, said the MoD, and the magnetic and electric fields that eman­ated from plasmas could adversely affect the human nervous system. And that was not all. Clarke and Anthony revealed that “Volume 3 of the report refers to research and studies carried out in a number of foreign nations into UAPs [Unidentified Aerial Phenomena], atmospheric plasmas, and their potent­ial military applications.”

That such research was of interest to the MoD is demonstrated in a Loose Minute of 4 December 2000 called Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) – DI55 Report, which reveals: “DG(R&T) [Director-General, Research & Tech­nology] will be interested in those phen­omena associated with plasma form­ations, which have potential applic­ations to novel weapon technology.”

This was further borne out in an article on Condign written by James Randerson and published in the Guardian on 22 February 2007 (“Could we have hitched a ride on UFOs?”). It stated in part: “According to a former MoD intelligence analyst who asked not be named, the MoD was paranoid in the late 1980s that the Soviet Union had developed technology that went beyond western knowledge of physics. ‘For many years we were very concerned that in some areas the Russians had a handle on physics that we hadn’t at all. We just basically didn’t know the basics they were working from,’ he said. ‘We did encourage our scientists not to think that we in the West knew everything there was to be known.’”

And it wasn’t just the British Ministry of Defence and the Russians who recog­nised the potential military spin-offs that both plasmas and ball lightning offered – if they could be understood and harnessed, of course. Official documentation that has surfaced in the United States reveals that only two years after pilot Kenneth Arnold’s now-historic UFO encounter over the Cascade Mountains, Washington State, on 24 June 1947, the US military secretly began looking at ways to exploit such phenomena.

While the US Air Force was busying itself trying to determine whether UFOs were alien spacecraft, Soviet inventions, or even the work of an ultra-secret domestic project, the US Department of Commerce was taking a distinctly different approach. In its search for answers to the UFO puzzle, the DoC was focusing much of its attention on one of the most mystifying and controversial of all fortean phenomena: ball lightning.

A technical report, Project Grudge, published in 1949 by the Air Force’s UFO investigative unit detailed the findings of the DoC’s Weather Bureau with respect to ball lightning, which it believed was connected to normal lightning and electrical discharge. The phenomenon, said the DoC, was “spherical, roughly globular, egg-shaped, or pear-shaped; many times with projecting streamers; or flame-like irregular ‘masses of light’. Luminous in appearance, described in individual cases by different colours but mostly reported as deep red and often as glaring white.”

The Weather Bureau’s study added: “Some of the cases of ‘ball lightning’ observed have displayed excrescences of the appearance of little flames emanating from the main body of the luminous mass, or luminous streamers have developed from it and propagated slant-wise toward the ground… In rare instances, it has been reported that the luminous body may break up into a number of smaller balls which may appear to fall towards the earth like a rain of sparks. It has even been reported that the ball has suddenly ejected a whole bundle of many luminous, radiating streamers toward the earth, and then disapp­eared. There have been reports by observers of ‘ball lightning’ to the effect that the phenomenon appeared to float through a room or other space for a brief interval of time without making contact with or being attracted by objects.”

Possibly unknown outside of official circles – until I made the discovery at the US National Archives, Maryland, two years ago – is the fact that a complete copy of the Air Force’s Project Grudge document was, somewhat surprisingly, shared with US Army personnel at the Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, in early 1950.

Even more surprising is a curiously-worded entry contained in the covering letter from the Air Force to Edgewood staff that accompanied the Grudge report: “You are aware we have already discussed with Mr Clapp the theor­etical incendiary applications of Ball-Lightening [sic] that might be useful to the several German projects at Kirtland. Useful data should be routed to Mr Clapp through this office.”

Precisely who the mysterious Mr Clapp was, I have thus far been unable to determine; however, the fact that he is described as ‘Mr’ is a strong indication that he was not a member of the military. ‘Kirtland’ can only be a reference to Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Named in 1942 after Roy C Kirtland – the oldest military pilot in the Air Corps – the base is located in the southeast quadrant of Albuquerque, New Mexico, adjacent to the Albuquerque International Sunport airport, and employs over 23,000 people. Moreover, Kirtland AFB has been the site of numerous mystifying UFO incidents since the late 1940s.

As for the reference to “the several German projects” apparently in place at Kirtland at the time, this is almost certainly related to the US Government’s controversial Operation Paperclip which, in the post-World War II era, saw countless German scientists – some of whom were Nazis, and many of whom were engaged in advanced aerospace research – secretly offered employment in the US, and particularly at military install­ations in New Mexico, such as the White Sands Proving Ground.

So, can we assume from the hints contained in this letter that by early 1950 some sort of combined Army-Air Force project, or at the very least, an exchange of information, was underway at Edgewood Arsenal – possibly working in tandem with a similar project at Kirtland Air Force Base – to try to understand and harness the power of ball lightning?

The answer would appear to be yes. Documentation has disclosed the identity of a project nicknamed Harness-Cavalier, the purpose of which was indeed to understand and capitalise on the true nature of ball lightning, and which, from 1950 to at least the mid-1960s utilised the skills of per­sonnel from Edgewood Arsenal, Kirtland Air Force Base, and also Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio.

Via the Freedom of Information Act, a whole host of documents from the files of Harness-Cavalier – now numbering more than 120 – have surfaced, demonstrating that those attached to the project were kept well-informed of any and all developments in the field of ball lightning, and part­icularly how it might be exploited militarily.

Such documentation includes: “Theory of the Lightning Ball and its Application to the Atmospheric Phenomenon Called ‘Flying Saucers”, written by Carl Benadicks in 1954; “Ball Lightning: A Survey”, prepared by one JR McNally for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee (year unknown); DV Ritchie’s “Reds May Use Lightning as a Weapon”, which appeared in Missiles and Rockets in August 1959; and “An Experimental and Theoretical Program to Investigate the Feasibility of Confining Plasma in Free Space by Radar Beams”, which was written by CM Haaland in 1960 for the Armour Research Foundation, Illinois Institute of Technology.

The strongest evidence that confirms Edgewood Arsenal’s deep interest in the potential use of ball lightning on the battle­field can be found in a December 1965 document entitled “Survey of Kugelblitz Theories for Electromagnetic Incendiaries”. Written by WB Lyttle and CE Wilson, the document was prepared under contract for the US Army’s New Concepts Division/ Special Projects at Edgewood.

This is totally fascinating in that this explains quite a bit of why the US military kept the stories of ‘UFOs’ alive and were able to keep the prying eyes of the public away from their various research projects.

Exploring ‘ball-lightning’ and the use thereof would solve quite a lot of the problems of refueling fighters and other esoteric weaponry DARPA could dream up to kill people.

Tesla  invented the concept himself one hundred years ago when he imagined transferring artificial electrical ‘ball lightning’ from transfer station to transfer station around the world (spawning a theory about the 1908 Tunguska, Siberia explosion).

No wires or cables required. A completely ‘wireless’ network world-wide.

For free.

We don’t know for sure if the Pentagon has this ability and we only have people like Andrew D. Basiago’s claims they do, but imagine the implications!

Project Kugelblitz: Evidence that the US military planned to harness the power of ball lightning