The Washington Post
Sunday, September 19, 1954
ROME, Sept. 18 (INS). - I saw with the naked eye the mysterious flying "cigar" that flew over Rome last night, and which clearly registered for 39 minutes on radar sets in the area.
What attracted my attention was the strange sound the object emitted as it passed overhead. The sound was not the usual wine of a jet or the droning of an ordinary plane, but rather it was like approaching thunder, but with a staccato effect, a series of explosions that grew louder as the object got closer.
This was followed by a dead silence as the "thing" stopped, or appeared to, at a height of about 5 to 6000 feet.
Suddenly it shot upward and left an exhaust trail of milky white smoke. It went straight up into the sky. The air was perfectly still, and the smoke remained in a vertical trail.
The observatory at Ciampino initially described it as a "flying cigar" with a big antenna amidships.
The Defense Department pictured it as a "clipped cone" with a smaller surface on the bottom, or as two semi-circular disks, one bigger than the other, with the bigger one on top.
What was strange was the object's ability to "park" in mid-air for several minutes.
Frankly, I thought in seeing it that it must be some Italian or Allied experimental machine, or perhaps a British craft, in view of reports of Britain's progress in new type of aircraft.
Air Force officials said they do not know whether Italy is experimenting with such a type of plane.
Popular opinion is that the weird object may have come from the Communist East, but the Communist and left-wing press in Italy ignored the story.
The Italian Defense Ministry meanwhile ordered the country's radar stations to be on the alert for signs of the object.
The radar station at Rome, which picked up the "cigar" or "cone" on its screen, said it registered for 39 minutes.
Defense officials said the first "flying saucer" reports came from the town of Pitigliano, in the mercury-mining area 150 miles north of Rome, last Tuesday.