From 1954 through 1958 I was a flight engineer/mechanic on USAF C-46 twin engine cargo aircraft.
I was assigned to the 2343rd Air Force Reserve Flying Center/AFRFC at Portland, Oregon.
Even though we were regular Air Force, we had to go to Chico, California with the reserve unit for 2 weeks summer encampment during the first part of August each year.
I do not remember the exact time, date or year, of this event, as we went to Chico for 4 or 5 years.
I was in the cockpit of a C-46 in a 4 plane formation that had been out over the Pacific Ocean for night time navigation training, long before GPS.
The navigators used a sextant through the astrodome, glass bubble, on top of the aircraft to determine our location.
We had completed the over water training and were headed southeast back toward Chico which was 35-50 miles distance, when we noticed a bright cherry red fireball coming from the South at a very high rate of speed.
It had a vibrating quivering motion as it headed North.
We were flying at 8,000' to 9,000' and the fireball passed across in front of us from the 12:00 o'clock to the 9:00 o'clock positions.
It was level to slightly below our altitude.
It was about the size of a dime at arms length at its closest point.
As the fireball got in our 10:00 o'clock position it split into 3 then pieces.
These pieces all continued North, more or less parallel to each other.
When we landed at the base in Chico and most of the ground crew that were waiting to park and service the aircraft after we landed had seen the fire ball pass at about a 30° angle to the west of them.
Over the next few days we heard that the fireball was first seen over southern California.
After it passed in front of us, the pieces supposedly joined back together over Klamath Falls, Oregon where it hovered for a short while.
Then flew off to the North.
About that time we had a C-46 transporting another flight engineer, who had injured his back, to our home base at Portland, Oregon.
The injured man and the flight engineer of the aircraft were both close friends of mine.
As they were on the final approach to the base, the control tower called them and told them to make a go around, as a UFO was following them in for landing.
They applied power, raised the landing gear and the flaps and made a go around to the left.
The UFO followed them down across the runway, then it also headed north.
From what I remember the UFO was last seen near the Canadian border.
Total elapsed time from southern California to the Canadian Border was about 5 minutes.
I have tried, to no avail, to go into the archives of some of the newspapers in that area to find and record of this incident.