Do you believe in flying saucers? Are there craft from other worlds entering our atmosphere? Are there secret explanations behind sightings that remain classified as Unidentified Flying Objects?

For the present it is a matter of each individual's belief, says this science writer who has spent months of research to prepare a series of articles which will appear each Monday in The Journal.

Perhaps his efforts will help you decide.

No Hostile Little Green Men,
Say U.S. Air Force Probers

Minneapolis Star Science Writer

Second of a Series

The Edmonton Journal
Monday, November 28, 1966

After 19 years of investigation of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), the U.S. Air Force has reached these conclusions:

No Unidentified Flying Object reported, investigated and evaluated by the air force has ever given any indication of a threat to our national security.

There has been no evidence submitted to or discovered by the air force that sightings categorized as unidentified represent technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge.

There has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as unidentified are extraterrestrial vehicles.

These conclusions, while they stand at the moment as the considered judgment of the Air Force, do not mean that the investigation is completed. It is continuing, and there is no indication that it will be dropped.

Acting under the recommendation of a U.S. Air Force advisory board ad hoc committee, which met this March the air force is contracting with a group of universities for teams of scientific experts to investigate some of the more significant of the unexplained sightings.


A grant of $300,000 had been allocated for this purpose. The University of Colorado has been selected as a co-ordinator and will be responsible for arranging for teams of experts at five other universities, making six teams in all.

The ad hoc committee recommended that each team include at least one psychologist, preferably one interested in clinical psychology, and at least one physical scientist, preferably an astronomer or a geophysicist familiar with atmospheric physics.

The committee believed that perhaps 100 sightings a year might be submitted to these teams for study in depth.

The United States is the only nation that officially is conducting an investigation of UFOs. The air force has the responsibility for the investigation and carries it out under a program called Project Blue Book.

The program, when it first was initiated, was called Project Sign, later Project Grudge. In 1952, it became Project Blue Book and since that time has been unclassified.


In the fall of 1953, the Canadian department of transport announced the establishment of a laboratory which would attempt to prove or disprove UFO reports. The program, dubbed Project Magnet, was discontinued after less than a year. The official reason: embarrassing publicity.

On Oct, 10, 1958, the Argentine embassy in Washington, sent a letter to the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), requesting information on the structure, scope and aims of NICAP. Officers of the Argentine Air Force, the letter said, were considering setting up an agency similar to NICAP. So far as is known, nothing came of it.

Why the embassy should have sent the letter to NICAP, rather than to the U.S. Air Force, which was conducting the official UFO investigation, is not explained. NICAP is not a government agency. It is a private non-profit organization that traditionally has been at odds with the Air Force investigation.

In Brazil, high-ranking military officers and public officials have shown a great interest in UFOs, visiting many of the areas where they have been sighted, but so far as is known there has been no official inquiry.

It is known that the British air ministry has conducted investigations of certain UFO events but never on an official or announced basis. Upon requests, the ministry has refused to release any information.

Selection of the air force as the United States' investigating agency is related directly to its responsibility for the air defense of the United States. Anything that flies is of interest to the air force.

The investigation hinges upon two questions. Do the UFOs constitute a threat to national security? Do they represent an advanced technology which might be the basis of scientific study?

Since the air force began its inquiry in 1947, it had investigated 10,047 UFO sightings through 1965. Of these, all were explained as caused by known phenomena except 646 cases, which still are listed as unidentified.


Under the list of identified objects, however, is lumped a category of sightings designated as "insufficient data." This means that the data was not sufficient to make a determination. No category breakdown is given in the air force reports for the years 1947 through 1952. But in the breakdown for 1953-1965, a total of 8,704 sightings is listed, of which 1,333 are listed as "insufficient data." For that same period of time, 253 are listed as unidentified.

Perhaps many of the sightings listed under "insufficient data" could have been explained if there had been more data. By the same reasoning, there probably would have been a small percentage of them that would have defied explanation and would have had to be listed as unidentified. By lumping them among the total number of cases, however, the air force manages to make the disparity between the unidentified sightings and those which have been explained seem somewhat greater than is the actual case.

The ad hoc committee that recommended the formation of the six university teams to study selected UFO reports expressed a belief that Project Blue Book was well-organized, but pointed out that the manpower assigned to it (one officer, a sergeant and a secretary) was limited.

The information provided by the university program, the committee stated in its report, might bring to light new facts of scientific value and almost certainly would provide a far better basis than we have today for a decision on a long-term UFO program.

Project Blue Book is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, Ohio, and operates under the Air Technical Intelligence Centre. The officer in charge is Maj. Hector Quintanilla. Public relations are handled by the press information section of the air force at the Pentagon.

In investigating UFO sightings, Project Blue Book attempts to explain the sightings in terms of known phenomena. Those which cannot be explained are placed in the unidentified category. The unidentified category is never closed. Later investigations may supply clues which will provide an explanation that will shift an unidentified case over into the identified list.

Astronomical phenomena explain many of the sightings. People mistake bright stars, planets, comets, fireballs, meteorites and other celestial bodies for UFOs. Man-made satellites account for others. Aircraft also bring in a number of reports. Several thousand balloons are released each day from airports and weather stations. At night some of these carry running lights and sometimes are reported as UFOs. Reflection from balloon surfaces, especially at dawn and sunset, may produce strange visual effects - thus, still more UFO reports.

Another category under which the air force lumps some sightings is listed as "hoaxes, hallucinations; unreliable reports and psychological causes." In the breakdown for 1953-65, this category explains 260 sightings. Birds, searchlights, temperature inversions, clouds and plane contrails give rise to still other UFO reports.

Each air force base carries on its roster a UFO officer whose duty it is to make a preliminary investigation and to report sightings to Project Blue Book. By checking the locations of satellites, by knowing the tracks followed by balloons and by the record of the air traffic - both civilian and military - air force investigators very often can quickly pinpoint an explanation for a UFO sighting.

For several years, procedures for investigating and analyzing UFO reports have been in air force regulation 200-2.

Paragraph 2c of the regulation reads: "Air force activities must reduce the percentage of unidentifieds to the minimum. Analysis thus far has explained all but a few of the sightings reported. These unexplained sightings are carried statistically as unidentifieds. If more immediate, detailed, objective data on the unknowns had been available, probably these, too, could have been explained. However, because of the human factors involved and the fact that analyses of UFO sightings depend primarily on the personal impressions and interpretations of the observers rather than on accurate scientific data or facts obtained under controlled conditions, the elimination of all identifieds is improbable."

NICAP points out that the language of this paragraph biases the air force investigation by implying that all UFOs are explainable as misidentified conventional objects, thus running counter to the air force public-relations pose that its investigation is completely objective and scientific. It, in fact, states what the conclusion of the investigation must be.

It is interesting to note that the air force conclusions apparently have not always been what they are today. There was a time when a top secret "estimate of the situation" is said to have stated that the UFOs were interplanetary. The air force now denies such a document ever existed.

Next: The story of a former head of Project Blue Book.


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