Foo Fighter (originally “Fuckin’ Foo Fighters” before being sanitized for the general pubic) is a term used by pilots to describe UFOs and other unexplainable phenomena during World War II and thereafter, usually focusing on sightings and experiences in Europe and the Pacific. The term is said to have been coined by Lt. Donald Meiers, a radar operator in the 415th Night Fighter Squadron. “Foo” was a nonsense word used by Smokey Stover cartoonist Bill Hoffman in the 1930s, and was appropriated by Meiers following an encounter with a red ball of fire that seemed to follow the pilots through a series of maneuvers. In that incident, Lt. Fred Ringwald was flying at night with Lt. Ed Schlueter (Meiers was following on radar) near Strasbourg in the Rhine Valley when Ringwald spotted some 10 orange lights in formation. The lights then disappeared, and similar sightings began to occur with other members of the squadron.
Other Foo Fighter sightings occurred regularly during this period, with specific sightings in November 1944 over Western Europe, when pilots reported glowing round craft following them in formation and also making dramatic turns and vanishing. Reporting UFOs, or Foo Fighters, at the time did not carry quite the stigma it did in later decades as pilots of the time thought they were encountering sophisticated enemy craft. The craft were variously referred to as “Kraut fireballs,” and “Nazi UFOs,” in reference to possible new German technology, and were also considered by pilots and military leadership to be the result of tracer fire or aerial weather phenomena. Military command also hypothesized that the sightings were illusions by the pilots created by “vertigo,” or “electrostatic or electromagnetic phenomena.” The mystery surrounding the sightings established the term in popular culture and it was later adopted as a name by an American rock band led by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl.