50 years ago: Missile explodes off North Side

The front page headline of the Caymanian Weekly on 28 Aug. 1969.

In the 28 Aug. 1969 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the front page carried a report headlined ‘Missile exploded off N. Side last week’. It read:

“Great excitement throughout the island was generated by the strange phenomenon in the sky over the north side of Grand Cayman between 7 and 8pm last Thursday.

“Many were frightened and some really thought the end of the world had come when a red ball moving across the sky grew bigger and changed to green surrounded by a foggy haze which grew huge. Surrounding cloud became fluorescent and as the object grew larger and gave off light, it turned into a funnel like an upside-down water spout and then that grew larger and as it grew larger, there was a huge ring in the sky like a moon which also kept getting bigger until it became fuzzy round the edge and the funnel faded away approximately at the same time, according to eye witnesses.

“The Airport tower here contacted the US authorities who first said it was a missile but later denied this.

“Mr. And Mrs. Bruce Parker at Rum Point, who have seen missiles exploded before, are certain that this was in fact a US missile which was exploded in the air, but the Commissioner of Police was given another theory, i.e., that it may have been what is known as ‘green vapour’, which is due to atmospheric pressure.

“Mr. T.E. McField, who was at North Side, phoned in a report to Police HQ that a plane had crashed into the sea. Inspector R. Archer went to investigate this report.

“Over the radio on Friday morning, it was reported that NASA at Cape Kennedy at first confirmed that the phenomenon was indeed a new guided missile which is to replace the Polaris, but which had to be destroyed in the air. They then denied that this was a missile but later announced they did experiment with a new missile and that it was unsuccessful.

“His Honour the Administrator sent to ask for an official explanation from Washington through London and received a cable saying “The unusual optical effect reported caused by normal firing of US Navy missile. No cause for alarm.”

“Many of those who missed this awesome sight were indeed disappointed and those who were eye witnesses will talk about it for days to come.”

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