Apollo Investigation

Faked Apollo Atmosphere Re-entry from Space?

Alexander Popov PhD and Andrei Bulatov

Were Apollo Command Modules ejected from a Douglas C-133 Cargomaster to simulate a return from the Moon?

Of all the episodes in the official Apollo record, the rather surprising and little-known existence of numerous reports by airline passengers allegedly observing Earth atmosphere re-entry of Apollo vehicles were considered worthy of investigation.

These stories are of particular interest because no such incidents have ever been observed during the many years of Soyuz spacecraft re-entries.  Soyuz craft use the same technique to return to Earth and to date there have been more than a hundred such Soyuz missions.
Here are a few newspaper articles of that time, reporting on these events:

Apollo 11 arrival – champagne for all passengers!

The following article was published in The Sun Herald (Sydney) on July 27, 1969. Page 24 states that on route from Brisbane to Honolulu, Australian Qantas airline Pilot Frank A. Brown saw the Apollo 11 capsule re-entry:


Apollo re-entry

Fig. 1. The Sun Herald article "82 passengers and 13 crew members on a Boeing 707 saw Apollo 11's re-entry."

But an even more colourful description of the same episode was dramatized in The West Australian on Saturday 26 July 1969, page 12:

A Bird's Eye View of the Return
Melbourne, Friday

Passengers on a Qantas flight from Brisbane to Honolulu early today had a bird's eye view of the Apollo 11's re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.
The pilot of the jet, Capt. Frank A. Brown, gave a running commentary on the scene. It was relayed to radio stations throughout Australia.
Capt. Brown began his description when the plane was flying at 39,000ft over the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in mid-Pacific.

"There's a little cloud above us but we are going to get a perfect view of Apollo 11, he told the 82 excited passengers.
"We have about two minutes to go, the capsule is about 500 miles from earth now. It has just crossed the east coast of Australia above Mackay, Queensland.
"The astronauts are travelling at six miles a second. A staggering speed, isn't it?
"We expect to see an object behind us in just over a minute and a half. It will be brighter than a bright star.
"At that time it will be something like 500 miles away.”

A good view

Capt. Brown asked the passengers to move to the left side of the plane and requested them to share windows to get a good view.
Then he shouted: "Here they come on the left, one object brighter than the other. See the two of them, one above the other. One is the command module, the other is the service module. They both weigh six tons.
"They are picking up heat now. The bottom one is leaving an incandescent descent trail. See it flashing. See the trail behind them — what a spectacle. You can see the bits flying off. Notice that the top one is almost unchanged while the bottom one is shattering into pieces. The part that is disintegrating is the rocket service module, the top one is the command module.
"It looks to me like a pretty normal re-entry. Mathematically that seems perfectly sound and the timing is correct. It looks real good to me.
"In my opinion that was the spectacle of a lifetime.”

After the re-entry the passengers celebrated with champagne and Capt Brown presented them with certificates bearing a reproduction of the medallion left on the moon by Armstrong and Aldrin.

— Cable Service

The authors consider that there are far too many incredible coincidences in this article. What amazing luck for the Apollo program when, descending from space, the very first aircraft they come across was piloted by a man who just happened to be a space expert, totally familiar with the re-entry sequence of events. The pilot of the aircraft, Capt. Frank A. Brown, was a truly exceptional person. Not only did he know the time of the re-entry, but he also knew the coordinates of the entry – able to calculate the location of his aircraft relative to the capsule, and all of this within a few seconds accuracy!

He also provided an expert opinion: "It looks to me like a pretty normal re-entry."

Moreover, during the flight, the captain turned into something of a showman: he both commented on the event across Australia, and talked to passengers on his aircraft. He seemed to forget about his duties, gathering passengers on one side for a good view, jeopardizing the stability of his aircraft. He also knew, in detail, the module separation procedure, and where each of them should be. Without any special equipment the pilot was also able to identify that atmosphere re-entry was going well, and all this from a distance of 450 miles.

Apparently, his side job was some sort of NASA expert. It is probably worth noting that this was an extremely well thought-through event, as  champagne and Apollo 11 certificates were ready on board. And also in his spare time, pilot Brown had constructed a wonderful model of the moon rocket, with which he was caught, completely unprepared, by a photojournalist. Isn’t such 'confirmation' rather too much overkill on NASA’s part?

But this is not the last of these wonderful stories, undoubtedly orchestrated under the watchful eye of NASA.

Apollo 13 arrival – champagne for passengers!

Below is a newspaper account of a similar encounter at the time of Apollo 13 allegedly returning to Earth, published in The Auckland Star, on the same page as the news of the successful Apollo crew landing.

Apollo re-entry
Fig. 2. Auckland Star article "A champagne re-entry for DC8 flight" 18 April 1970, page 1. click for full page

The Auckland Star 18 April 1970, page 1 reads:

A Champagne Re-Entry for DC8 Flight

Sixty passengers and the crew aboard an Air New Zealand DC8, flying from Nandi to Auckland this morning had a grandstand view of Apollo 13, as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.
The whole spectacle lasted for about 14 minutes.
"A wonderful, never to be forgotten sight", was the reflection of crew and passengers after they landed.

First to see Apollo 13 was the air steward, Mr. L.W.Smith. "It was directly ahead like two headlights, at 5:55 a.m. travelling west to east. Then things began to happen - there was an explosion... a reddish flash... and sparks flew as the modules separated, and things began to disintegrate.
"Then the iridescent-coloured command module began to move across the sky in front of us.

One of the captains aboard, Captain Ross McWilliams, of Takapuna, described it as "very spectacular, the sight of a lifetime. It was right in front and above us about 60,000 feet and about 190 miles away. The service module fell away in a flash of bluey-white light. The command module had a long whitish tail, which turned yellow as it neared the sun.

"A tremendous experience", said Mr. Peter Davidson, an Air New Zealand crew member aboard the plane, who saw the re-entry from the flight deck. "It came down like a Roman candle and moved quite quickly from west to east.

Mr. Ken Hickson, of the Air New Zealand information service, described the separation as a "brilliant multicoloured flash, like a sparkler being lit.

Miss G. Hemp, of Auckland, a passenger: "A beautiful sight - so staggering I couldn't believe it was happening. It just looked like a comet coming down.

There was terrific excitement aboard the aircraft. A lawyer, Mr. C.O. Holten, of Minneapolis grabbed the stewardess and hugged her with joy. Passengers then celebrated the event with champagne.

The Press Association reports from Dargaville that observers at widely separated places on the Aupori peninsula, which stretches from Awanui to North Cape, saw something which was certainly either Apollo 13 or one of its jettisoned components re-enter the atmosphere.

While the direct radio commentary was describing the period before the splashdown a bright star like object was seen travelling from west to north, well above the horizon. It was white but did not twinkle. The colour later changed to orange. The object travelled level with the horizon before it appeared to arc down North Cape. It became brighter just before it disappeared, after being visible for about a minute.

The light was reported by people 30 miles apart.

[The Auckland Star ceased daily publication in 1977. This text was taken from a photocopy provided by Peter Gabelish. The front page was topped with a photo of the re-entry, apparently taken by a staff photographer seated near him on the DC-8; the photocopy is too contrasty for a useful scan of the picture. A short note on the back page says that the DC-8 had to circle Auckland for nearly an hour on arrival, waiting for the heavy fog to lift.]

Please note that although this is from another newspaper, another reporter, and the phrasing seems to be different, the general outline of both the story and the events aboard the airplanes are the same. The same fourteen minutes for the entire show, and again, everybody knows about command and service modules separation and of course, champagne in the end. Feels like some behind the scenes director probably orchestrated these reports and confirmations.

There is a similar account of  Pan Am flight 812 on route from Fiji to Hawaii observing the Apollo 8 re-entry – as printed in the National Geographic on page 624. Apollo 8: "A Most Fantastic Voyage", Lt. Gen. Sam C. Phillips. National Geographic Vol. 135, No. 5, May 1969, pp 593-631.

Here is another recollection of passenger Peter Gabelish on an Air New Zealand DC8 bound from Nadi (or Nandi, in Fiji) to Auckland. It is based on entries he made in his pocket diary at the time.

I found myself on a southerly flight across the Pacific to Auckland with the vague feeling that our route would be close to Apollo 13's re-entry trajectory. I was on my way home from a stint in the US and Apollo 13 was big news, particularly in the States, as the three crewmen on board the stricken spacecraft fought for their lives. We were no sooner seated for take off than a rather excited pilot announced, "you may or may not be aware that we are expected to see Apollo 13's re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. We are in communication with Houston and will be the first to see the returning spacecraft. Houston want us to remain in contact until vehicle recovery".

Much excitement on board as everyone who had a camera set it up for the spectacle. Fortunately I had a camera that allowed me to set shutter speed, aperture etc., unlike the average modern camera that won't let you do much except point and shoot. Having figured out what I thought would work I proceeded to advise a fellow passenger on settings. It turned out that he was a professional photographer assigned by a newspaper for the event. I hope he appreciated my advice as my photos came out beautifully on my basic equipment.

With the cabin lights out we waited expectantly. Running about two minutes behind schedule a brilliant fire ball, like a massive bright light appeared over the starboard horizon! Travelling horizontally, an incandescent, silver plume of brilliant light, leaving a blazing trail of constant width behind it, arced in from the west at an altitude that didn't appear to be much higher than ours. The silver phosphorescent tail it left behind seemed to retain its brilliance as a curved band of luminescent material while the leading body continued at constant velocity across our path. I presumed the tail to be the vaporized aluminium and magnesium materials from which the capsules were mostly constructed. My reaction was that no one could live through the incredible fireworks and that all must be lost. Every few seconds a bright yellow-orange spark would branch off the main spearhead and arc away on a different trajectory.

The incredible display continued across our path and arced towards the eastern horizon on our port side. The inferno diminished while still within our sight. When it died out, a minute red dot continued on the east bound path, curving out of sight over the horizon. This was the command module with its glowing heat shield that had survived the impossible inferno and miraculously had living humans alive inside it. I would guess that the whole display lasted three to four minutes.

We were fortunate that the whole re-entry was seen in total darkness. Several minutes afterwards day began to break and the trail of vaporized metal was visible hanging in the upper atmosphere for the next twenty minutes or so affording me the chance to photograph it as it hung there. The next morning the Auckland Star carried a photograph of the re-entry proclaiming that the passengers on our flight had been the sole witnesses to "The Sight of a Lifetime". It seemed that their photographer was lucky enough to get it right too! Perchance he used the settings I gave him?

re-entry trails
Fig. 3. The alleged re-entry trails taken by Peter Gabelish (cropped).

This is a very informative description, which allows us to comprehend many details of these mysterious observations and will help us to understand what airline passengers had actually seen over the Pacific more than forty years ago.

What did airline passengers actually see?

Firstly, Captain Frank A. Brown, the Qantas Boeing pilot, is not such a space expert as was suggested in The West Australian article. It turns out that NASA maintained radio contact with the pilots (bold font in Peter's account) selected to confirm Apollo re-entry and landing, and the pilots were being told where to look, what to say, and how to interpret what they saw.

We know this fact because the Air New Zealand DC8 pilot made an announcement to his passengers:
"We are in communication with Houston," and " Houston want us to remain in contact until vehicle recovery."

Secondly, Apollo certificates, champagne and flight delays of three hours are not a mystery anymore — all of this was planned well ahead of time, while aircraft were still on the ground.

Thirdly, returning back to Apollo13. We immediately noted that all three encounters took place in the dark, when it was not clear what was moving across the sky, but light effects (fireworks?) were perfectly visible. Why would NASA select night time for these landings? Isn't it safer to land a capsule in the daylight? And if there was no choice for the crippled Apollo 13 (although, in spite of tight time constraints, surprisingly the splashdown location was the same as for the other Apollo spacecraft), then for the other two (Apollo 8 and 11) it was quite possible to land later in the morning.

Of all Apollo missions, atmosphere re-entry was:

  • in the dark: Apollo 8, 10, 11, 13;
  • in the daytime: Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.

As a side note, only the key Apollo missions were observed: Apollo 8 – the very first Moon mission, the first alleged Moon landing – Apollo 11, and the crippled one, the most dramatic Apollo 13 — these are the very same missions that drew the most public attention.

Especially shocking is Apollo 8, the very first alleged human journey beyond low Earth orbit. The Astronauts splashed down back on Earth an hour before dawn, and there were instructions not to start the recovery operation until sunrise, unless there was an emergency:

Before the mission, a ground rule had been established that unless the flight crew required immediate aid, the recovery operation would be delayed until daylight. Therefore, the recovery forces held their positions around the spacecraft until first light at 1635 GMT [1], page 9-4.

So we have alleged aircraft observations of 'night time' Apollo capsules re-entering the atmosphere: 8, 11, and 13. Daytime landings were not spotted by jet passengers.

Likewise, NASA’s carelessness is not easily understood given that the agency allowed (or even wanted) an aircraft to be in a vicinity of the spacecraft entering Earth's atmosphere at high speed. And all of this despite the fact that the [alleged] astronauts were [supposedly] on the brink of life and death.

With regard to the Apollo 13 observations, The Auckland Star photojournalist by a fortunate stroke of serendipity turned up on board, so that the next issue of the newspaper on the following day included an article and a picture confirming the mission. The willingness for publicity on NASA’s part, when it came to coverage of 'returns', and direct participation in securing 'accidental' witnesses, is simply amazing. If one recalls the secrecy surrounding Apollo leaving low Earth orbit; neither the exact time nor the trajectory were revealed, so amateur and professional astronomers couldn’t observe, and ham radio operators couldn’t listen in to Apollo in cislunar space.

The following (screenshot and film) are from Honeysuckle Creek – The Apollo 11 Re-Entry [2] and it documents a KC-135 aircraft alleged encounter with Apollo 11.

Fig 4
Fig. 4 The Apollo 11 alleged re-entry, photographed from a USAF KC-135 (tail no.123)
at 43,000 feet, flown by Col. Oakley Baron of the ARIA fleet.

16mm film courtesy Bob Mosley (Lt. Col., retired.)
Bob Mosley writes:

"The film is coverage of the re-entry of Apollo 11, upon its return from the moon, and was made at approximately 12:20 EDT 24 July 1969, by USAF Col. Oakley Baron and his crew, in a photo equipped US Air Force C-135 ( 707) aircraft at 43,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.

"Coming from the West, the non heat-shielded Service Module soon disintegrates into a flaming fire ball, sending burning material in all directions; which turns night into day momentarily. The Command Module, is then seen to continue on, as a diminishing light, in an easterly direction, and a not too distant, highly successful, splash down; Man had been on the moon and returned safely, as per one of the National Objectives set down by President John Kennedy, approximately 7 years earlier."

Dual channel sound – right channel audio is from Peter Pockley’s broadcast, courtesy Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Apollo 11 Re-entry (linked December 14, 2011)

Also rather surprising was the capsule’s mostly horizontal flight course at such a low altitude. This horizontal trajectory is confirmed by the account in The Auckland Star and Peter Gabelish's photo. The newspaper article gives the height at the shooting time as 75,000 feet (22.8 kms), but this data was likely given to the photojournalist by NASA. However, in the picture we see that contrail is not much higher than the altitude of the aircraft (Fig.3. Peter Gabelish's snapshot and his own estimation, "an altitude that didn't appear to be much higher than ours").

But even if we take NASA’s data as being accurate, it does not change the subsequent arguments, because the trajectory of the capsule starting at a height of 100,000 feet (30 kms) is not horizontal but mostly free falling. Unfortunately, the Apollo 13 mission report does not include diagrams of the capsule descent trajectory. Such diagrams are available in the Apollo 8 mission report and this information is available almost up to the point of drogue deployment.

Can we use them to evaluate the profile of Apollo 13 descent? Yes, we can. Because all Apollo missions had to re-enter and splash down following the same routine. In any case, at an altitude just before parachute deployment the difference between the two trajectories would be minimal. Below are graphs of the final minutes of Apollo 8 CM descent, excerpts from the Mission Report [1]. Due to the extreme proximity of planned and actual plots, the former have been removed for clarity of presentation.

Fig 5
Fig. 5. Apollo 8. Altitude, latitude, and longitude from Mission Report [1] page 5-21.

Fig 6
Fig 6. Apollo 8. Earth-fixed velocity from Mission Report [1] page 5-22.

Fig 7

Fig. 7. Combined time-chart of Apollo 8 CM velocity and altitude in the final minutes of its descent. The red dot marks half time of Apollo 13 CM observation as reported by DC8 passengers.

Table 1. Sequence of landing events

The red dot in the middle (Fig.7), as noted above, represents the moment of half time of Apollo 13 CM observation as reported by DC8 passengers. As passengers noted, the entire event took 3-4 minutes. We have taken the minimum encounter time in favour of Apollo — three minutes and marked it on both sides by two blue dots. This represents encounter time brackets — 3 minutes.

Then we calculated the initial and final velocity and altitudes at those blue dots (event brackets) according to the mission diagrams (Fig.7).

Table 2. Initial and final velocity and altitudes at event brackets
Table 2

These velocity and altitude charts do not support the passengers’ and pilot’s stories. The picture of the alleged capsule contrail is not supported either. Until mission time of 146:52:00 the trajectory was mostly horizontal as the capsule had a top speed of more than 6600 ft/s (2 kms/s). But at this point it entered the dense atmosphere and in a minute its speed dropped down to 2500 ft/s (760 m/s). This is maximum deceleration phase. During the three minute observation time the capsule was to descend from 100,000 feet (30 kms) to an altitude of about 9800 feet (3 kms) where the main parachutes were deployed.

According to passengers and based on the photograph, the CM was flying horizontally. Similarly, the velocity for the discussed 3 minute time-frame had to drop from 3300 ft/s (1000 m/s) or 3M to subsonic 820 ft/s (250 m/s) at the time when the distance to the aircraft was closest and even to virtually zero at the moment of main parachute deployment.

The discrepancy in passengers’ narrative and the Apollo Mission Report is even more obvious if we draw a 3D GoogleEarth image. The most interesting part of the re-entry, starting at altitude of 90,000 feet (27 kms), is shown below (Fig.8). The mission time is 146:53:00 (146 hours 53 min 0 sec).

Fig 8

Fig. 8. The flight path of the Apollo capsule at the final phase of atmosphere re-entry according to Apollo 8 Mission Report.

Legend (Fig.8.):
A — approximate point where passengers, being on the plane at 12 kms altitude, saw something glowing "above us about 60,000 feet" [according to NASA].
T — time of drogue deployment at the altitude of 26,000 feet (8 kms);
S — splashdown in the ocean.

As we can see, mostly level flight at the height of 50,000 feet (15 kms) is totally out of the question. The spacecraft had already lost most of its velocity and was falling, rather than flying. From 50,000 feet (15 kms) (the approximate altitude of the airplane encounter) to splashdown, the capsule has only 3 miles (5 kms) of the distance to travel.

The eyewitness account: "a minute red dot continued on the east bound path, curving out of sight over the horizon," cannot correctly describe the flight of the Apollo craft in this part of its trajectory. Therefore, witnesses did not see an Apollo capsule, but something else. The craft could not "curve out of sight over the horizon", but was to dive quickly into the clouds and soon thereafter deploy its parachutes.

Comparing the mission report data on the Apollo 8 re-entry trajectory (which, in its final stage of the flight, should not greatly differ from Apollo 13) with the observations of airline passengers, the fictional nature of this staged performance, played out in front of observers eyes, becomes evident. They should have seen a capsule hanging under parachutes and coming down to Earth well before the intended point of splashdown, rather than the spectacular inferno they actually reported.

Also note an error in observation of the capsule trace, made by Peter. The trace could not actually have consisted of vaporized aluminium and magnesium. The capsule housing was coated with ablative material. This is a layer of plastic resin, which is heated to a gas which carried the heat away from CM interior. The capsule was flying with the heat shield facing forward and this part is the most exposed to temperature extremes. The heat shield was made of organic filler. On evaporation and ablation this filler cannot form a white trail. The descent capsule had only reaction control engines. These were low-thrust engines and they operated in pulsed mode and, therefore, were totally unable to leave a continuous and thick trace in the atmosphere.

What we see in the picture is a contrail left at an altitude of 33-40,000 feet (10-12 kms) by a turbojet engine(s). Also it is worth noticing in Fig.3 that this is more like a double trace. A twin-engined jet aircraft? What aircraft exactly? Well, the United States Air Force has to offer a variety of different types of aircraft and cruise missiles that can operate at various altitudes.

It seems that at the time most of the early Apollo missions had an 'convenient' airliner handy to confirm that a spacecraft was returning to Earth from space. Then such ‘shows’ ceased and observations stopped, and NASA seemed to switch to daytime landings, certainly less dangerous.

Today, we do not see this sort of light show when Soyuz spacecraft return back home from orbit. We have never come across any reports in the media that a Soyuz was spotted by someone on a passenger airplane. A capsule enters Earth atmosphere at the altitude of 330,000 feet (100 kms) over the eastern parts of Turkey or the Gulf countries (depending on the target landing site) and it flies for 1500 miles (2400 kms) slowing down towards the landing site some 150 kms south-east of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The initial descent phases are over territories of busy air traffic above Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Iran. According to the reports in the above-mentioned newspaper articles, an Apollo capsule was observed as far way as 450 miles (720 kms). This is a vast distance, and yet there are no reports whatsoever of any passenger aircraft observations of a Soyuz descent into the Earth’s atmosphere. We wonder why!

The initial phase of descent is at an altitude of 260-330,000 feet (80-100 kms); this is very high up, and to see something that high one would have to search at an precisely-known point and look for a thin plasma trail against the sky. Thereafter, a capsule decelerates, and its glow fades. It is not possible to see it. Parachutes are deployed and this all occurs in a flight-free zone. This is the moment we are used to seeing these days in the News.

Descending from an altitude of 128,000 feet (39 kms) Soyuz spacecraft have a similar flight profile as Apollo 8. The difference is that at 128,000 feet (39 kms) Soyuz is going faster 9800 ft/s (3000 m/s), and flies farther to the parachute deployment point — 100 miles (160 kms).

Flight Path

Fig. 9. The flight path of Soyuz TMA-21 in the final phase of its descent.

That's how things are today! Certainly not as it used to be in the old glory days of the first decade of manned space missions, when one found oneself at close quarters – 450 miles (700 kms) from an Apollo craft and would be able to see both the command and service modules coming back home!

What is wrong with these re-entry testimonies?

According to the Apollo 8 Mission Report, most of the horizontal flight and the plasma around a CM were, in fact, observed at a much higher altitude, above 100,000 feet (30 kms). Moreover, at such a height a CM could not be observed from an aircraft, and there would not be any confirmation or testimonies. In other words, there would not be any colourfully-described light shows and fire storms reflected in people’s memories and of course, published in newspapers.

But most likely this was not a mistake at all, on the contrary, it indicates a rather good understanding of human psychology. Having witnessed such a life-changing event with their own eyes and experienced such strong associated emotions, the vast majority of people will not easily forget these experiences. This will be their "experience of a lifetime" – they will defend it with total fanaticism for rest of their lives. Could this be one of the secrets to the endurance of NASA’s Apollo legend?

An uninvited guest at the NASA celebration

We have examined five accounts published in the media of airline passengers observing alleged Apollo craft returning to Earth. It turns out that counting all the eyewitnesses, NASA acquired more than a hundred desperately-needed sources of confirmation. The space agency’s efforts were not in vain: flights were delayed, pilots were instructed, and champagne and certificates ordered.

But a completely inappropriate witness got himself into the slender ranks of set-up witnesses watching returns 'from the moon'. NASA had not told him what he should have seen during Apollo's return. And he somewhat marred the overall jubilant mood with his rude and completely unexpected phone call. For this action, he certainly received neither champagne nor an honorary certificate. In addition, he could have lost his job. But he was obviously an honest man and therefore couldn’t keep quiet about what he had seen with his own eyes.

In his book We Never Went to the Moon [4], on page 75 Bill Kaysing writes:

"While appearing on a talk show, an airline pilot phones in and said that he had observed an Apollo capsule being ejected from a large plane at about the time the astronauts were due "back" from the moon. Seven Japanese passengers also observed the incident. The pilot did not give his name for fear of losing his job."

Apollo Drop Test

Fig. 10. Mercury capsule drop test.

Kaysing was, apparently, referring to the Tokyo-San Francisco flight, a route following the Jet Stream that flows close to Hawaii where Apollo 15 was scheduled to land. Passing Hawaii at this time must have coincided with the Apollo 15 splashdown (26°7'N 158°8'W — some 500 kms north of the Hawaiian Islands).

Rather obviously, NASA had not taken care of this flight, as the agency had done with all the others. Champagne hadn't been bought, honorary certificates weren't printed and the pilot’s commentaries were not aired live. For this pilot, his sighting was totally out of the blue. Actually, he had seen something that was very dangerous to see, because it violated all of NASA’s promotional efforts and schemes, and was therefore against the National Interests of the United States.

Consequently, unlike the true heroes of the day – Pilot Brown and others – this particular pilot who phoned in was not looking for fame. He was afraid of losing his job. Many thanks to him for his very brave phone call!

Flight Path

Fig. 11. Tokyo to San Francisco air route.

The following is edited from presentations by Jarrah White: Exhibit D and In Orbit or Grounded, in which he discusses how credible this episode could be. In general, this story supports the point of view that astronauts never left Earth, and 'returned' in a command module ejected from an aircraft, the CM appropriately blackened with re-entry damage and smoke markings.


Returning to our original question: Were these reported Apollo CMs actually ejected from aircraft to fake or simulate atmosphere re-entry from space and a return from the Moon? Taking these findings, together with all the recent evidence resulting from other Apollo investigations led by Russian scientists, the answer almost certainly must be a resounding yes.

Andrei Bulatov and Alexander Popov PhD
English translation from the Russian by BigPhil

Aulis Online, February 2013


  1. Apollo 8 Mission Report (copied on February 2, 2013)
  2. Honeysuckle Creek: The Apollo 11 Re-entry (copied on February 2, 2013)
  3. Soyuz TMA-21 Spacecraft Re-entry and Descent Module Landing (in Russian) (copied on February 2, 2013)
  4. Kaysing, Bill. We Never Went to the Moon: America's Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle.
    (Cornville, Az: Desert Publications, 1981) ISBN 0-87947-388-6

About the Authors

Andrei Bulatov graduated from Technical University in the Soviet Union. He became deeply interested in the veracity of the Apollo program after reading the book NASA Mooned America! by Ralph René.

Prior to that time, Andrei Bulatov had no doubts at all regarding the reality of the Moon landings accomplished by American astronauts many decades ago. Since then he has become deeply involved in studying this subject, and is now engaged in conducting his own investigations, based on all the source material available on this topic.

Alexander Popov
Alexander Popov PhD

Alexander Popov was born in 1943 and graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI) Department of Experimental and theoretical physics in 1966. He spent time in special design departments, but mostly he worked in MEPhI.

In 1973 he received his PhD in MEPhI with his thesis on "Investigation of the interaction of optical radiation with the active medium of gas lasers."

In 1984 he became a Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences in MEPhI with his thesis on "Laser absorption analysis of molecular gases." He currently teaches physics at a private school.

Alexander Popov is author and co-author of 15 inventions and more than 100 publications in the field of laser technology, spectroscopy, absorption analysis, gas analysis, and laser optics. With his developments he has participated in the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh). He is decorated with bronze (1978) and gold (1981) medals of the Exhibition, and a medal "850 years of Moscow."

Popov recently published Americans on the Moon – A Major Breakthrough or a Space Affair? in Russian, 2009.

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