PROJECT BLUEBOOK, Brad Steiger, Ballentine Books, 221 East 50th Street, New York N.Y. 10022, 1976, 425 pages, $4.90 TO $156.63.
Another version of this article can be sound at Air Force Bluebook | The UFO Spotlight On…
Copyright, C, May 2021 – applies only to words of Steve Erdmann. Other words may be under separate copyright and persons should contact the authors directly.
A rather interesting (if not a total rehash) about a few of the recordings from Air Force Project Blue Book files which add some insight into the many UFO cases collected. The famed Kenneth Arnold sighting is analyzed and some discrepancies brought to the fore. The distance that Arnold saw his UFOs on Jun 24, 1947 is disputed. “If Arnold actually saw the objects and if his estimate of distances is correct, that of size cannot be, and visa versa,” says the Air Force, “in view of the above, it appears probable that whatever objects were observed were intelligent and authentic agents in the sky, therefore, had been some sort of known aircraft.”
The Mantell case of January 7, 1948 has been stated as an UFO attack on Mantell’s plane. The Air Force files depict general confusion in which Mantell originally saw the planet Venus along with the flight of a Skyhook balloon—the two intrinsically tired into one sighting. “The sighting might have included two or more balloons or aircraft; or they might have included both Venus (in the fatal crash) as well as balloons,” said the Air Force.
One gets the impression from the files Steiger has gleaned from the Air Force that the Air Force didn’t have a heck of a lot of information about ‘saucers.’ Dr. J. Allen Hynek makes an appearance in various forms and reports throughout the book, perplexed and even cynical, until, approximately, the time of the April 24, 1964, Lonnie Zamora ‘UFO landing.’
It appeared that the Air Force got tired of chasing ‘ghosts’ and in 1966 turned the whole mess over to the Condon UFO Committee investigation.
Civilian investigators have howled about an Air Force conspiracy but all this book has shown is their perplexity and even disgust with the inability of people to properly identify or hoax air objects.
BY ALAN BOYLE on January 8, 2019 at 8:45 am
“Project Blue Book” turns some of the best-known UFO tales into a TV series, starring Aidan Gillen as investigator J. Allen Hynek. (History Channel Illustration)
“Project Blue Book,” the History Channel TV series making its debut tonight, takes its inspiration from classic UFO cases of the 1940s and 1950s — but for UFO fans who gathered to watch a Seattle preview of the first episode, the show hints at the shape of things to come as well.
“You won’t believe how many productions are coming down the pike right now to basically red-pill the public,” Michael W. Hall, the founder of a Seattle-area group called UFO iTeam, said at the screening. “The truth is out there, and guess what? We’re going to have to ‘fess up to it right away.”
“Project Blue Book” fictionalizes the real-life X-files of pioneer UFO investigator J. Allen Hynek. So it was natural for Hall — an attorney based in Edmonds, Wash., who styles himself as the “Paranormal Lawyer” — to put out the word to the more than two dozen UFOiTeam members to attend November’s movie-theater preview.
The series takes its name from the real-life Project Blue Book, a U.S. Air Force campaign that investigated UFO reports starting in the 1950s. Hynek was the scientific consultant for the project, as he was for two earlier investigations known as Project Sign and Project Grudge.
The trained astrophysicist eventually came to believe that some UFO sightings were genuine mysteries and deserved more serious scrutiny. Nevertheless, the Air Force shut the project down in 1970 .
Hynek, who passed away in 1986 at the age of 75, is a kindred spirit for UFO enthusiasts — and particularly for folks like Maureen Morgan, who is Washington state director for the Mutual UFO Network, also known as MUFON.
Morgan and other MUFON investigators take reports like the ones chronicled in “Project Blue Book” very, very seriously.
“Generally, when we call and interview everyone who submits a report about a sighting, invariably the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, ‘You’re going to think I’m crazy,’ ” she said. “And then I remind them who they’re talking to and say, ‘No, we’ve probably heard it before.’ ”
MUFON isn’t the only organization documenting anomalous aerial phenomena. The National UFO Reporting Center, or NUFORC, has been compiling records for decades. The center’s current director, Peter Davenport, has his headquarters in an converted ICBM missile site in Eastern Washington.
Washington state has a rich history of UFO sightings — going back to 1947, when private airplane pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing weird-looking aircraft flying past Mount Rainier at incredible speed. News stories about Arnold’s claims gave rise to the term “flying saucer,” and set the stage for the Roswell UFO incident weeks later.
Another 1947 UFO sighting in the Puget Sound region, known as the Maury Island Incident, entered local lore as well (and spawned a documentary that’s available to watch online).
The first few episodes of “Project Blue Book” focus on different locales — starting with North Dakota, the setting for a UFO incident reported by an Air National Guard pilot in 1948.
In the series premiere, Hynek (played by “Game of Thrones” veteran Aidan Gillen) is recruited by the Air Force to track down an explanation for the pilot’s sighting. He takes the job more seriously than the Air Force wants him to, however, and eventually runs up against shadowy spies and the infamous Men in Black.
Other early episodes take on the case of the Flatwoods Monster (West Virginia, 1952) and the mystery of the Lubbock Lights (Texas, 1951).
Will “Project Blue Book” become a phenomenon of “X Files” proportions? Based on the premiere, the show seems a bit too earnest to strike that chord. Throwing in some quirky “Monster of the Week” episodes and the geeky Lone Gunmen might liven things up. But that might clash with Hynek’s straight-arrow vibe.
The series’ serious tone certainly suited the folks on the UFO iTeam. For them, anomalous phenomena aren’t merely fodder for a retro TV show. In this age of media mistrust and government dysfunction, maybe programs like “Project Blue Book” are in line with the temper of the times.
“Without the MUFONs and the iTeams, without the National UFO Reporting Center, there is nothing out there, and it will revert to the deep state, whatever,” Morgan said. “It will go back to the same people who were behind Project Blue Book.”
The History Channel’s “Project Blue Book” premieres tonight. Check local listings for times.
GeekWire contributing editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of NBCNews.com, he is the author of “The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference.” Follow him via CosmicLog.com, on Twitter @b0yle, and on Facebook and MeWe.
Lucas Reilly – January 24, 2019
Between 1952 and 1969, the U.S. Air Force conducted a series of studies on UFO sightings called Project Blue Book. Not only is there a new History Channel series about the program, but this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the project’s termination. Get to know the secretive program better.
1. PROJECT BLUE BOOK WASN’T THE GOVERNMENT’S FIRST UFO STUDY.
In 1947, a private pilot named Kenneth Arnold reportedly spotted nine glowing UFOs zooming over Washington’s Mount Rainier. The public went wild for the so-called “flying saucers.” Shortly after, the U.S. government launched Project SIGN to determine if such objects were a threat. In 1948, Project SIGN purportedly published a document called the “Estimate of the Situation,” which suggested that extraterrestrials were a possible explanation for UFO sightings. As the story goes, Air Force officials destroyed the document and launched a more skeptical investigation in the late 1940s called Project GRUDGE. Blue Book came a few years later.
2. THE “ESTIMATE OF THE SITUATION” WAS INSPIRED BY A MIND-BOGGLING EVENT.
In the 1960s, Air Force officials denied that the “Estimate of the Situation” document ever existed. Those who vouch for its authenticity, however, say the report was inspired by a 1948 UFO sighting in Alabama, after two experienced pilots saw a torpedo-shaped “glowing object” zip past their aircraft and rocket into the clouds. The report shocked and baffled many of Project SIGN’s researchers, though scientists would later claim the sighting was consistent with a bolide, or bright meteor.
3. “BLUE BOOK” WAS NAMED AFTER A COLLEGE TESTING STAPLE.
Whether UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin is debatable. What’s undeniable is that, during the 1950s, people routinely spotted (or thought they spotted) objects flying over the United States—and it was the onus of the U.S. military to figure out what they were and whether they posed any danger. Blue Book would earn its name because, at the time, Air Force officials equated studying the phenomenon with preparing for a collegiate “blue book” final exam.
4. OFFICIALS DEVELOPED A SPECIAL PROTOCOL FOR HANDLING UFO SIGHTINGS.
A central part of Project Blue Book was the creation of a standardized questionnaire for UFO sightings. Some sample prompts: “Draw a picture that will show the shape of the object or objects … What was the condition of the sky? … Did the object: Suddenly speed up and rush away at any time? Change shape? Flicker, throb, or pulsate?” Eventually, every U.S. Air Force base ended up designating a special officer to collect these UFO reports.
5. THOUSANDS OF REPORTS WERE COLLECTED—AND SOME HAVEN’T BEEN EXPLAINED.
By the time Project Blue Book was closed, officials had gathered 12,618 UFO reports. Of those, 701 were never explained. Nearly half of those unidentified UFOs appeared in 1952 when a whopping 1501 UFOs were sighted. (Interestingly, that following year, it became a crime for military personnel to discuss classified UFO reports with the public; the risk of breaking the law could mean up to two years imprisonment.)
6. PROJECT BLUE BOOK SAW FIVE LEADERSHIP CHANGES.
Each person in command saw the purpose of Project Blue Book differently. Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, for example, treated the job as a serious scientific quest and is often lauded as the project’s most impartial leader. (Notably, he is responsible for coining the term UFO.) Major Hector Quintanilla, who took over the project in 1963, was more interested in turning Blue Book into a PR front and focused on quelling the public’s interest in UFOs—a desire that would eventually lead to charges of a government cover-up.
7. BLUE BOOK MADE SUCH BAD SCIENTIFIC MISTAKES THAT CONGRESS HAD TO GET INVOLVED.
In 1965, Oklahoma Police, the Tinker Air Force Base, and a local meteorologist using weather radar independently tracked four unexplained flying objects. Under Quintanilla’s advisement, Project Blue Book would claim that these witnesses had simply observed the planet Jupiter. The problem with this explanation? Jupiter wasn’t even visible in the night’s sky. “The Air Force must have had its star finder upside-down during August,” Robert Riser, an Oklahoma planetarium director, said at the time. A series of more badly botched scientific explanations eventually led to a congressional hearing.
8. THE PROJECT’S DESIRE TO DISMISS UNIDENTIFIED PHENOMENA BOTHERED ITS SOLE SCIENTIST.
Project Blue Book had one consistent scientific consultant, astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek. In 1968, Hynek wrote: “The staff of Blue Book, both in numbers and in scientific training, is grossly inadequate … there is virtually no scientific dialogue between Blue Book and the outside scientific world … The statistical methods employed by Blue Book are nothing less than a travesty” [PDF]. Hynek held Quintanilla in particularly low regard, saying, “Quintanilla’s method was simple: disregard any evidence that was counter to his hypothesis.”
9. IN 2007, A NEW GOVERNMENT INQUIRY INTO UFOS WAS LAUNCHED.
Between 2007 and 2012, the U.S. government spent $22 million on a new UFO study called the “Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program.” (Nowadays, UFOs are called UAPs, or “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena”: You can watch one here.) This January, more than three dozen of the program’s studies became publicly available, revealing the government’s interest in everything from warp drives to invisibility cloaks.
Debbie Siegelbaum, BBC News, Chicago
Amateur historian John Greenewald has spent nearly two decades requesting declassified information from the US government regarding UFOs.
Recently, he posted more than 100,000 pages of documents on the US Air Force’s internal UFO investigations to the internet. Here are the top five things to know from the open files of Project Blue Book.
1. Project Blue Book had a sizeable mission
The origins of the ambitious project can be traced to June 1947, UFO researcher Alejandro Rojas tells the BBC.
The editor of Open Minds magazine says a well-respected businessman and pilot, Kenneth Arnold, was flying over Washington state when he witnessed several unidentified flying objects.
Arnold later described the crafts as “skipping like saucers”, which the media adopted and took to calling flying saucers.
This high-profile incident – along with several others, including a rumored UFO landing in Roswell, New Mexico, the same year – led the Air Force to launch an investigative body.
Named Project Blue Book and headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, the program was reportedly comprising only a handful of staff.
Nonetheless the group investigated 12,618 UFO sightings in a two-decade period.
2. Project Blue Book was created in a time of public unease
Formed in the years immediately following World War Two, Project Blue Book was intended to stop the spread of public unease about a growing number of reported UFO sightings, including over such landmarks as the White House and US Capitol.
“There was a lot of hysteria with the public, and that to the military and government at the time was a big threat in itself,” Greenewald says. “It didn’t matter if UFOs were alien or not, they were causing a panic, so [the government] had to settle everybody’s nerves.”
Though frequently met with derision today, UFO sightings are said to have been discussed at the top levels of government in the 1940s and 1950s.
“It was taken very seriously back then,” Rojas says, with Central Intelligence Agency chiefs publicly claiming it was a real phenomenon and even then-Congressman Gerald Ford warning it needed to be investigated.
In 1966 a separate Air Force committee was set up to further delve into some of the cases within Project Blue Book. That group later released a report finding no evidence of UFO activity.
Project Blue Book was officially shuttered in 1969.
3. Many of the Project Blue Book cases appear open-and-shut
Though many credible sources, from Navy admirals to military and civilian pilots, reported seeing UFOs, most of the cases investigated by Project Blue Book were deemed caused by weather balloons, swamp gases, meteorological events or even temperature inversions.
In Seattle, Washington, in April 1956, a witness described seeing a “round, white object, one-half the size of the moon … [and] going round and round”, according to documents.
Investigators later concluded it was a meteor and closed the case.
In January 1961 in Newark, New Jersey, a witness reported viewing a dark grey object “about the size of a jet with no wings”.
That object was later deemed a jet aircraft flying in the area.
4. Some Project Blue Book cases aren’t so easily explained
According to Greenewald and Rojas, more than 700 Project Blue Book entries could not ultimately be explained by investigators. Many such cases cited insufficient data or evidence.
But even some of the closed cases raise more questions than answers for UFO researchers.
In one such example, a police officer in 1964 in Socorro, New Mexico, halted vehicular pursuit of a suspect after he saw a strange aircraft overhead.
The officer followed the craft – which he described as bearing a strange red insignia – and saw it land and two child-sized beings exit.
It later took off, leaving scorch marks and trace evidence on the ground.
“[Project] Blue Book labelled it unexplained; even after all these decades they still can’t explain it,” Greenewald says.
5. There is still information to be uncovered about UFO activity
Though Greenewald has amassed a stockpile of government documents, he says there are still many he – and the public – has not yet accessed.
One request to the National Security Agency yielded hundreds of pages, but they were so redacted only a few words were readable on each page, he says.
Other US government entities – including the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency – also conducted UFO investigations that have not been publicly released, Greenewald notes.
“I think Project Bluebook … is simply the tip of the iceberg,” he says, adding he will continue to request more information from the US government.
“There are secrets after conspiracies after scandals that continue to come out,” Greenewald concludes. “There’s always something to go after.”
In November 2004, several U.S. Navy pilots stationed aboard the USS Nimitz encountered a Tic-Tac-shaped UFO darting and dashing over the Pacific Ocean in apparent defiance of the laws of physics. Navy officials dubbed the strange craft an “unidentified aerial phenomenon,” but they have remained mum on what, exactly, that phenomenon could’ve been. Now, unsurprisingly to anyone who’s ever considered making a hat out of tinfoil, the military has confirmed they know more than they’re letting on.
In response to a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a spokesperson from the Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) confirmed that the agency possesses several top-secret documents and at least one classified video pertaining to the 2004 UFO encounter, Vice reported.
According to the ONI spokesperson, these documents were either labeled “SECRET” or “TOP SECRET” by the agencies that provided them, and that sharing the information with the public “would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States.”
The Secret of Project Blue Book
January 7, 2006, 5:53 AM
Feb. 24, 2005 — — Today, if you ask the Air Force about UFOs, it will cite its own 22-year study called Project Blue Book, which said there is no evidence that they are extraterrestrial vehicles and there is no evidence that they represent technology beyond our own.
Blue Book, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, investigated hundreds of UFO reports yearly throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
But the truth is Blue Book never became a serious, full-scale, scientific inquiry. The main purpose of the Air Force’s UFO office was public relations, says Robert Goldberg, author of “Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America.”
“That mission was denouncing the UFOs, dismiss the UFOs, debunk the UFOs and anybody who believes in them — just come up with answers and get this UFO thing out of the newspapers,” he told ABC News.
Blue Book was far from a massive institute with a staff of white-coated lab technicians, said UFO researcher Mark Rodeghier. “There was a guy at a desk and a secretary and a private or someone there typing stuff. It was a very, very small project,” he said.
Explaining It Away
Blue Book may have done some investigating, but it was overwhelmed by the volume of reports that were coming in.
Col. Robert Friend, the project’s director from 1958 to 1963, told ABC News: “We wanted to explain as many sightings as possible, but we recognized that the amount of resources that would have been necessary in order to do this would have been far beyond those that we were ready to commit at the time.”
He also recognized Project Blue Book’s real purpose: “What they wanted to try to do was, I think, to re-educate the public regarding UFOs, to take away the aura of mystery.”
And the best way to keep UFOs out of the newspapers — and therefore, out of the public mind — was to say repeatedly that they were nothing more than weather balloons or rare atmospheric conditions, like a star on the horizon.
The man most often responsible for making these explanations was Blue Book’s one civilian scientist, Ohio State University astronomer J. Allen Hynek. Between 1948 and 1969, he was the lead investigator on thousands of cases.
In interviews from that time, he insisted “there is no proof that I would consider valid scientific proof that we have been visited by spaceships.”
Michael Swords, a professor of natural science at Western Michigan University and UFO researcher says Hynek’s job “was to stretch his imagination to try to find explanations for every possible case he could, even if he knew it didn’t make any sense.”
In a 1965 interview with one witness, Hynek argued with a woman who said she saw a UFO, insisting it was a meteor.
She asked, “Don’t you think it would be kind of unusual for a meteor to just fall across the road and hover over there a minute and then drop to the ground?”
Hynek replied: “The coming over wouldn’t be bad. It’s the hovering that would bother me.”
Project Blue Book even dismissed a sighting by experienced military personnel on high alert during the middle of the Cold War.
On the night of Oct. 24, 1968, Mike O’Connor was dispatched to make a repair at a missile site at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
En route, he says he saw a bright light “lift off the ground, and parallel us down the road, until we came to the missile site.” When he got out of the truck, the light “just kind of hovered there,” he said.
The Minot control tower diverted a B-52 to investigate. The navigator on the B-52, Capt. Patrick McCaslin, remembers what he saw on the radar screen: “This thing was climbing out with us and maintaining the same heading we were. That was unusual. But what really watered my eyes [was] when this thing backed away and allowed us to turn inside of it.”
Capt. Brad Runyon, the B-52’s co-pilot, says he remembers the “overall object was a minimum of 200 feet in diameter and it was hundreds of feet long.”
“It had a metallic cylinder attached to another section that was shaped like a crescent moon. I felt that this crescent moon part was probably the command center. I tried to look inside the thing, but all I could see was a yellow glow.”
He says at that point he was fairly sure it was an alien spaceship, and when the crew members returned to base, they reported their sighting.
According to Blue Book’s investigation, the crew of the B-52 and 16 witnesses on the ground said they saw a UFO that night. In its final report, Blue Book concluded that they were all probably just seeing stars.
The Air Force finally got out of the business of trying to explain UFOs in 1969 and closed Project Blue Book after an independent commission concluded that UFOs were of no scientific interest.
But there was one loud, dissenting voice: Blue Book’s once-skeptical chief scientist, Allen Hynek. After more than 20 years and more than 12,000 investigations, Hynek had become a believer.
In an interview at the time, he recalled how embarrassing it had been to take UFO accounts from military pilots during Blue Book because the Air Force had trained those men.
“They could say civilian pilots might’ve been untrustworthy, but they could hardly say that of their own military pilots. And we got case after case after case from military pilots, which never hit the press,” he said.
Hynek spent the rest of his life investigating sightings and calling for a serious scientific inquiry into the UFO phenomenon. Most of his fellow scientists rejected his opinions.
In 1973, he founded the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago to conduct more research into alleged sightings. He died in 1986.
Steve C, Erdmann, C, May, 2021, Independent Investigative Journalist
Another version of this article can be sound at Air Force Bluebook | The UFO Spotlight On…