From UFO Magazine, August/September 2002, Vol. 17 No. 4

An Early Sighting
At the Beginning of the Atomic Age

By Ann Druffel


Ann Druffel is one of Southern California's best-known ufologists and the author of HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ALIEN ABDUCTION and of the forthcoming (August 2003) book, FIRESTORM: DR. JAMES E. McDONALD's FIGHT FOR UFO SCIENCE. Her life-long study of the perplexing UFO phenomenon was sparked by her own sighting as a schoolgirl in Long Beach, California.

In the summer of 1945, shortly after 5:00 p.m., I was riding on a bus from downtown Long Beach, California, toward my home about two miles inland from the ocean. Traveling east along State Street (now Pacific Coast Highway 101), out of the left-hand window of the bus I saw a bright, unflickering, yellowish-white light in the north-northeasterly sky.

As I stared at it, I realized it was more than a point source but instead was a glowing, roundish object that seemed solid and stationary. It was not like anything I had ever seen before. It was still broad daylight, being summer at 34 degrees north latitude. I do not remember the exact day or month, but it was early in the summer, either very late June or July. I was on annual vacation from school.

World War II was still raging in the Pacific. The sky that day was very blue and cloudless, a typical summer day before the days of California smog, and Long Beach had been swept that afternoon by the brisk south-southwesterly breeze which daily came from the Pacific Ocean. Because the glowing object was stationary, it was plainly not a reflection off an airplane. I quickly became quite curious about it. It was definitely not an astronomical object, either.

From an early age I was deep into reading books, having been influenced in that direction by my mother, who had been a school teacher in Arizona before her marriage. By the age of nine, I had read several books on astronomy and (then theoretical) space travel. I was well acquainted with ordinary celestial phenomena and realized rather quickly that this glowing object was not anything anyone would ordinarily see in the sky.

The bus trip along State Street took about 15 minutes, and I stared at the object most of that time, being unaccompanied on the bus and too shy (in those days) to ask questions of strangers. I can only describe what I saw as a bright, seemingly solid "blob" of light, with fairly distinct edges. It was so very strange I literally could not take my eyes off it. It seemed very high above the Earth and in appearance was more like a daytime Venus than anything else I could think of. However, it was at least two times as large and bright and much more yellow in color. Besides, its position in the north-northeast sky was entirely wrong for that planet. (1)

I got off the bus at Cerritos Avenue and walked backwards the half-block south to my home in order to watch the object, which still seemed motionless. Utterly intrigued, I watched it from my front yard for several more minutes. During this time I became aware that it was moving very slowly toward the northwest, apparently straight across my line of vision and maintaining the approximate angle of 60 degrees elevation. Finally, convinced that it was something that did not "belong" in the sky, I ran into the house and got my mother, Mrs. William (Aileen) McElroy, to come out and watch it with me.

The author's mother, Mrs. Aileen McElroy in 1972, 27 years after the 1945 event.

We gazed at it together for several minutes. My far and near vision were both excellent with no need for glasses, and my mother, although she used reading glasses, had excellent distance vision. She agreed that it was indeed strange and unlike anything she'd ever seen. She finally suggested that it might be some kind of military device, perhaps a balloon associated with coastal defenses.

At this stage of World War II, violent fighting was still raging in the Pacific, and there was information being released in the media that the U.S. might be planning an invasion of Japan itself in a final attempt to end the war. Southern California had always been on the alert, with blackouts and other security measures since the beginning of that war, December 7th, 1941.

Although Long Beach had always been in an essentially strategic position, having a major harbor and dry-dock associated with wartime activities, and although I knew what my mother meant by "a balloon associated with coastal defenses" there had never been any balloon defense systems around Long Beach. I therefore thought it strange that my intelligent, well-read mother would call the strange object in the sky a "balloon," especially when it was apparently so very high and isolated in the sky. But Aileen McElroy was not the kind of mother a schoolgirl would argue with!

I continued to watch the object while my mother went into the house to finish preparing dinner, for she expected my father to arrive home soon from work. Sometime after 6 p.m., still in broad daylight, the object had moved 15 to 20 degrees straight across the northern sky toward the north-northwest, always at an elevation of approximately 60 degrees. I had now been watching it close to an hour and a half.

Suddenly, slowly-moving particles of light began separating from the object. My instantaneous thought was, "Maybe it is a balloon and it's breaking up!" The "particles," however, did not fall toward the Earth, as one would expect. Instead, they took slow, deliberate paths out, up, and away from the main object on both sides. They were numerous, perhaps 15 or more, and each trajectory was different from the others.

Each "particle" was about 20 to 30 times smaller than the main object, and the main object was in no way diminished in size by their departure. Each of these smaller objects faded from view as they reached a distance approximately one-half a degree of arc from the main orb. I had the impression that the smaller objects could be seen only because they were reflecting the light of the sun during the initial phase of departure,

I was awed by the activity associated with the bright object and felt extreme fear, as well. This fear came over me suddenly after I watched the departure of the smaller particles because, as puzzling as the main bright object had been, the smaller objects were completely inexplicable. Why did the departing pieces behave as they did?

I rushed into my home and tried to get my mother to come out and look at the object again. I tried to tell her, stumbling over my words, that "pieces are coming off the thing but the pieces aren't acting as if gravity was acting the right way on them." I didn't know much about gravity; my education to that point wasn't heavy on science, and my astronomical knowledge was completely self-taught, but "gravity" seemed essential to my explanation so that my mother would have a good reason to come out again to watch the object.

My mother, however, was absorbed in cooking dinner; she refused to come out again to watch. Although well educated, she was also extremely practical, and a "strange occurrence" wasn't as important to her as compared to cooking dinner for her hardworking husband and family. I could not force myself to go back out into the yard alone to resume watching. This fear was irrational, looking back on it, for the activity in the sky plainly had nothing to do with warfare or coastal defense, nor did it apparently present any harm to humans far below. Nevertheless, the fear stayed with me for several hours.

To the best of my memory, about two weeks later the first atomic bomb was detonated over Hiroshima. I was fascinated with the initial accounts about the A-bomb in the newspapers, although I understood nothing of the technical explanations given. But inexplicably, I felt the identical sort of awe and fear while reading about the atomic bomb as I had felt some days earlier while watching the object. Why the two separate events should produce identical reactions was beyond my comprehension. But the relief that the war was ending, and the fact that our city of Long Beach would no longer be in danger, swept many concerns from my mind.

Several years after the war's end, the history of the atomic bomb was published in various newspapers and popular magazines. Although still not comprehending much about it, I gradually realized that the initial experimental atomic explosion near Alamogordo, New Mexico, of which the American public had been totally unaware, took place in the same general time period that I saw the strange object in the sky. Concurrent with this slow realization, and after I had been active as an adult in the UFO field for many years, I began to speculate that the main brilliant object and its particles resembled in many respects the UFOs known as "carrier craft" (or to use a less scientific term, "mother ships") with their attendant smaller satellite disks (2).

It was then that I began to wonder if what I had seen in early summer 1945 was a huge surveillance ship, origin unknown, drawn to this world by the initial experimental A-bomb detonation that occurred shortly before Hiroshima. Had "something" from "somewhere" been drawn to Earth by that initial event, to survey and monitor a planet that had just entered its atomic age?

I never forgot the 1945 occurrence. In fact, it seems to have been the key that led me to enter the UFO field as an investigator with NICAP in 1957. By the mid-1980s, when other researchers began to hypothesize that the debris found near Roswell, New Mexico, may have been from a Japanese "Fugo" balloon, I began to speculate that perhaps the object I'd seen in 1945 had been a Fugo balloon also. These large, free-flying balloons, as is now well known, were released from Japan during World War II and traveled in high wind streams toward the American continent, a few landing as far east as some Midwest states. Their purpose was not only for propaganda; many carried explosive devices.

The possibility that my 1945 sighting might have been a Fugo balloon seemed highly unlikely, for the winds which carried these blew from west to east, or in a few instances made wide, curving paths downward and then easterly over the United States. These jet streams, as they were later called, however, never traveled east to west. The 1945 object viewed by my mother and myself traveled in a straight path from the northeast to the northwest.

If the object actually was high above the atmosphere (and its appearance seemed to justify this assumption), its angular speed was such that it possibly was in a stationary orbit above the Earth, with its apparent angular speed caused by the Earth's rotation. It traveled 15 to 20 degrees in approximately an hour and a half.

In an attempt to recover the exact date of my 1945 sighting, W.C. (Bill) McCall, M.D., conducted a hypnotic regression with me in 1977. Dr. McCall, who was active in UFO research, had his practice in Anaheim, California. Besides his medical expertise, he had 20 years experience in clinical hypnosis. The regression
confirmed that the general time span was the summer of 1945. I was unable to retrieve the exact date but recalled that it occurred "near the end of the month, either June or July."

In view of my conscious memory that the Hiroshima bombing occurred about two weeks after the sighting, it seems logical to think that the Long Beach sighting was made during the last half of July. The date of the Hiroshima bombing was August 6, 1945, whereas the first experimental explosion over New Mexico occurred at 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1945.

Ever since realizing that my 1945 sighting was possibly an otherworldly "scout craft," I searched through all available sources of UFO literature for 1945 sightings that might correlate with my own. I was totally unsuccessful until the mid-1990s when I was engaged in archiving the UFO files of the famed atmospheric physicist, Dr. James E. McDonald. From 1966 to 1971, McDonald courageously and publicly researched UFO phenomena in a scientific and persistent manner never before, or since, shown by any other scientist.

While transcribing his four handwritten journals in which he kept precise notes of his endeavors in the UFO field, I found what might have been a previously unrecorded 1945 sighting confided to McDonald by fellow scientists. Many details of this remarkable occurrence dovetail with my Long Beach sighting and it is recorded in my forthcoming book, FIRESTORM! DR. JAMES E. McDONALD's FIGHT FOR UFO SCIENCE (3).

During those five frenetic years from 1966 into 1971, McDonald spoke frequently before prestigious scientific groups, in civilian, military and governmental settings. His prestige and perseverance impressed numerous other scientists who had themselves viewed "UFOs" but had never spoken or written about these encounters due to the fear of being ostracized by colleagues. They trusted McDonald, however, and he justified their trust by keeping their reports confidential, if requested, referring to them only in private, handwritten journals.

In 1968 he gave a talk before a meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Washington, D.C., and afterwards went to a gathering in a colleague's hotel suite. There he met a German émigré scientist who was working at a U.S. Army research lab. This scientist trusted McDonald and described to him a 1945 sighting that was witnessed by 20 German scientists who, at the end of World War II in Europe, were fleeing from Russian soldiers. They were on a ship anchored in a bay near Schlesweig Holstein (northern Germany) where they viewed, in broad daylight, a bright object, "bigger than Venus", high in the sky.

Intrigued, the scientists watched the object for 20 minutes during which it moved 30 degrees toward the east. In spite of viewing the object through binoculars, none of the scientists were able to identify it. It was neither a balloon nor a plane and was never reported officially by any of the witnesses. McDonald wrote in his journal, "There was no explanation from any of the highly trained scientists and technicians" (4).

If the Long Beach sighting was evidence that some type of otherworldly craft came to survey and monitor the human race's entry into the atomic age, the German scientists' sighting might fit into such an hypothesis since victory in the European theater of war came on May 6, 1945, just about three months before victory over Japan.

My own investigations and research into apparently physical UFO sightings, most without reported presence of "occupants," continued from 1957 through 1975. In the mid-1970s, however, most sighting reports involved apparent alien abduction incidents that at the time were assumed by most researchers to involve a different phase of UFO surveillance. Although I investigated abduction reports initially under this same assumption, by the 1980s I had begun to suspect that visits by so-called aliens conducting experiments on humans might well be a separate phenomenon from apparently physical UFOs, which are viewed by witnesses in broad daylight and in full waking consciousness, are caught on radar, chased by military jet pilots and occasionally photographed by reliable witnesses (5).

Since 1988 I have conducted continuous research into various mental and physical techniques which enable abductees and experiencers to fend off visits from so-called UFO alien abductors. Such visits generally take place in altered states, and in many cases experiencers can employ these simple defense techniques, awaken fully, and abruptly end the abduction scenarios (6).

The fact that about 25 percent of the 400-plus abductees in my database can free themselves of the harassment of such creatures (whatever they are) confirms and strengthens my conviction that the UFO phenomenon is a two-edged sword; one edge being that of physical, unidentified craft and the other edge another phenomenon, perhaps interdimensional, which has been reported by all major cultures throughout the millennia and invariably described as deceptive, sexually harassing, or mischievous. At present, at least in the Western world, this persistent phenomenon seems to be posing as occupants from physical UFOs for reasons/motives not yet understood by the human race (7).

In view of my 1945 sighting, the details of which remain vivid in my mind to this day, I remain convinced that some UFOs are physical craft, possibly extra terrestrial, and that their present purpose might be continual monitoring of the human race's advances, both in technology and defense.

If any reader can offer additional data on 1945 sightings, particularly those which might fit in with my own summer 1945 sighting, please write this author at



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(1) Years later, after being active in the UFO research field with NICAP, MUFON and CUFOS, I looked up the position of Venus in June-July 1945. It was not a daytime object during those months.

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(2) In the 1960s and 1970s I conducted a study of large "carrier craft" that were periodically seen by multiple reliable witnesses over the coastal waters of Southern California. These were generally associated with smaller UFOs that flew over various coastal communities. [See article in this same website section, "Santa Catalina Channel 'Cloud Cigars". This note added 14 October 2006. AD]

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(3) FIRESTORM! DR. JAMES E. McDONALD's FIGHT FOR UFO SCIENCE, Granite Publications, publication August 2003. [Available on, also widely on the Internet and in bookstores, and from this website. See Section "Books."]

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(4) McDonald's handwritten 50-page journal, dated 4/28/66 through 3/17/71, p. 36.

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(5) Articles written on this subject by this author between 1988 and 1997 appeared in many UFO journals and magazines, beginning with "Can We Battle These Entities?" in FLYING SAUCER REVIEW (FSR), Vol. 33, No. 3, September, 1968, pp. 1-4. Many follow-up articles appeared in the MUFON UFO JOURNAL, the INTERNATIONAL UFO REPORTER (IUR), UFO MAGAZINE and FATE. [My articles, 190+ in all, are gradually being added to this website.]

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(6) Druffel, Ann, HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ALIEN ABDUCTION, Crown Publishers/Three Rivers Press, August, 1998. Book now in Print-on-Demand (POD) basis, by Random House. [Also available on, on various Internet sites, and on this website. See Section "Books".

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(7) Ibid. Specifically Chapter Eleven, "Abducting Entities in Other Cultures," pp. 179-205.

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