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Colonel C. D. Gasser

Col Clyde D Gasser at the controls of Oak Ridge Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion project test reactor at S-50 lab. ORNL ANP program director Sylvan Cromer at far left

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

An officer with the unlikely name of Col Clyde D. Gasser was Air Materiel Command's liaison officer at Oak Ridge, where the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) division of the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) program was based.

NEPA was established in the Spring of 1946 as a basic research project to establish the feasibility of powering a plane by nuclear reactions. The NEPA division at Oak Ridge was largely concerned with development and testing of materials that could withstand the intense radiation flux of an operating airborne reactor (which, for weight reasons, was expected to have a minimum of radiation shielding).

See: NEPA: Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft

Gasser evidently had private discussions with the authors of the Project SIGN report, circa late summer 1948, on the possibility that UFOs were nuclear-powered vehicles.

A fascinating series of documents in the FBI files details Gasser's growing alarm about the possibility that the Green Fireballs were Soviet missiles of some kind.

The Gasser letter below is reproduced from the DOE archives. It discusses the development of the ANP project at Oak Ridge, which was just being planned when the colonel discussed his UFO opinions with FBI sources.

On January 24, 1949, FBI official D. M. Ladd memoed J. Edgar Hoover on a confidential discussion that Gasser had had with an FBI agent concerning UFOs. Gasser revealed that he had discussed "Flying Discs" with personnel from Wright-Patterson AFB and intimated that due to the range limitations of conventional propulsion, there was quiet discussion of the possibility that, if Soviet, the Discs were nuclear-powered missiles.

Even more astonishing was Gasser's statement that "this matter, while still purely a matter of guesswork, is nevertheless a source of great concern to the military establishment of this country....it has given impetus to the research being done by the air force in their own program of nuclear energy for the propulsion of aircraft to develop guided missiles."

To repeat: according the military head of the program at Oak Ridge, Flying Discs were a major factor behind the Air Force's emphasis on nuclear aircraft propulsion research.

By the time the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program was cancelled in 1961, more than $1 billion had been spent on a technology that never powered a single flying vehicle.