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
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:
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
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
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.